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At Least Two Shot At High School; Mom Hopes Jeb Bush Won't Run; School Shooting Suspect In Custody; UNC Investigating Literacy Claims; More Youths Picking Up Smoking

Aired January 17, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We want to take you back to the breaking news we are monitoring right now in Philadelphia where at least two students have been injured in a shooting at a high school.

Let's bring in our Jason Carroll who just spoke to the Philadelphia Police Department. Jason, the shooter apparently is still at large?

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still at large and some updated information after speaking to Philadelphia PD. The shooting actually taking place at 3:29, taking place inside the gym there at Albert Einstein -- excuse me, not Albert Einstein Medical Center that's the hospital where the students were taken, at Delaware Valley Charter High School.

You can see some aerials there as the police now are actively searching for the shooter. Once again just at about 3:29 p.m. as students were gathered there in a gym at the high school, that's when the shooter apparently opened fire. Two students shot, a 15-year-old girl, a 15-year-old boy. I'm told that their injuries are not life threatening.

There were some reports that the young man and woman were shot in the arm. Police could not confirm that, Jake, but would simply tell me that their injuries were once again nonlife threatening. Police also say that they do not have an active shooter situation, which would lead me to believe that at this point, based on the active search going on there at the school by police, that the shooter may not be on the campus at this point, but has escaped somewhere into the area.

That's why you have police helicopters, other helicopters in the area searching for the shooter at this particular point. Once again, the police telling me that they will be looking at surveillance video at the school to try to help them with their investigation but, once again, just to recap, two students shot at Delaware Valley Charter High School in Philadelphia. The shooting taking place at the gym.

The 15-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl were taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center. Fortunately, for those students that medical facility is not located far from the high school, located just about a block north of the high school. Once again, an active search going on for the shooter -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jason Carroll, thank you so much. Of course, the police have asked the shooter to turn himself in as has been noted on the show. Jason, we'll continue to come back to you during the show as you get more information. Thank you so much for staying on top of this.

Let's turn now to the Politics Lead. Even if we're including cousins here, family dynasties in the White House have generally been limited to two presidents a piece included two presidents a piece, which includes the Adams and the bushes.

The speculation that former Governor Jeb Bush may try to make it three but there's a well-known person who does not necessarily want to see the Bush win office in 2016. I'm not talking about Paul Krugman. I'm talking about the Bush family matriarch, former First Lady Barbara Bush.


TAPPER (voice-over): When you think of modern era, presidential political power families, only a few names come to mind and former First Lady Barbara Bush is not so crazy about that.

BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Kennedys, Clintons, Bushs, there are just more families in there.

TAPPER: The Bush family matriarch didn't mince words on the subject in a C-Span interview that aired Thursday.

BUSH: If we can't find more than two or three families to run for high office that's silly.

TAPPER: Well, how is that sitting with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush? He's been talked about as a Republican candidate for a 2016 run for the White House. I asked Jeb about running in March.

(on camera): You'll make a decision sometime in 2014? Is that a fair assessment?

JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I don't know. I think that there's a lot of talent in the Republican Party and, you know, we'll see how it plays out.

TAPPER: While Jeb remains on the fence, his mother, the wife of the 41st president and the mother of the 43rd said she hopes her family is all done with 1600 Pennsylvania.

BARBARA BUSH: I would hope that someone else would run although there's no question in my mind that Jeb is the best qualified person to run for president. But I hope he won't because I think he'll get all my enemies, all his brothers, all -- and their other families.

TAPPER: Now one of the other Bush brothers, former President George W. Bush disagrees with his mom as he told CNN's John King.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: He's got a decision to make and if I could make it for him I would say run but I can't.

TAPPER: This isn't the first time that Barbara Bush has poo-poo the Jeb 2016 campaign. At the dedication of the George W. Bush Library, she told NBC --

BARBARA BUSH: We've had enough Bushs.

TAPPER: And at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Jeb responded to his mother's advice.

JEB BUSH: Even when I was a teenager, I would listen respectfully and never always follow what she'd said even though she was probably right and now at the age of 60, I've really feel I don't have to like listen to every word she says. At some point, you've got to make these decisions kind of like a grownup.

TAPPER: Jeb's response got a little more pointed this time. Last night, he tweeted this gem, "What day is Mother's Day this year, asking for a friend."


TAPPER: Speaking of tweets in response to me tweeting about this segment to preview it, President George H. W. Bush spokesman, Jim McGrath tweeted, "As has been reported, Mrs. Bush made the comments months ago though it only aired this week, I should note, and she believes Jeb is the most qualified GOPer.

We should also note, I said more importantly, Jim, how is Barbara Bush's health? He said she is doing great. Here to talk with me now about 2016, "USA Today's" Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page.

Susan, thanks for being here. So you sat down with Jeb Bush for an interview last year. I remember it was a big rollout of his book. If he runs, how formidable do you think he will be?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": I think he will tremendously formidable because he is one of those candidates, one of those rare candidates who is acceptable to the most conservative faction of the GOP, but also very well-liked by the establishment. He's someone who has links to the Hispanic community. That will be important for Republicans. Even though he's not really done that much to stoke the fires of a run, it is hard not to take him seriously.

TAPPER: You think the Tea Party likes him? I feel like the Tea Party is suspicious of him and the whole Bush --

PAGE: Could you spell that? I think he is acceptable to the Tea Party forces in a way that say Chris Christie will never be. So I do think that he is in almost a unique way able to kind of bridge that divide we see in the Republican Party today.

TAPPER: Let's talk about Chris Christie because obviously he is according to polls a frontrunner right now one -- the Bergen County Record reporting that the Port Authority official at the center of the scandal, David Wildstein, will cooperate with investigators if he gets immunity and his lawyer said that his statements could be used if he had immunity to test the credibility of others. How lasting do you think so-called bridgegate is?

PAGE: You know, I think we're going to have a year of one story after another about so-and-so receives immunity, so-and-so has testified, so-and-so has been subpoenaed. How damaging is that? I mean, I think it's brutal for Chris Christie. I don't think this scandal is going away and I think people are now looking to see if there are discrepancies with what the governor said in that big news conference and is there another example or more examples of times where he engaged in political retribution and that will be even more damaging for him.

TAPPER: What do you think is the New Jersey State Democratic Party, I wouldn't say it is in Washington, D.C., regarded as the strongest state Democratic Party and sometimes there's a tendency for people on the left and right, when they smell blood to overreach. They issued 20 subpoenas yesterday including the press secretary's wife and the communication's director. Is there a risk that Democrats here that they will shoot themselves in the foot and undermine their case against him by making it all look, silly and partisan?

PAGE: Yes, absolutely. If they become the issue, if they are acting in an unfair way or seeming to just really be piling on, I think that is a danger. I think they better rely on the facts and do the facts fuel a story that is damaging to Governor Christie.

TAPPER: I wouldn't be doing this justice if I didn't mention Hillary Clinton --

PAGE: It is the law.

TAPPER: Yes, it is the law. McCain said, if she wants to be president, she should come clean and reveal every detail of the Benghazi situation. How damaging do you think Benghazi is potentially to a Clinton candidacy.

PAGE: No, I don't think it's damaging the way that bridgegate potential to be --

TAPPER: Really? Even though one has dead bodies and the other ones with traffic jam?

PAGE: It does not at all minimize that you hit the human cost in Benghazi, but we've now had a serious of -- rather serious reports including one that came out this week that doesn't raise devastating questions about Hillary Clinton. Definitely the State Department should have listened more to those security warnings and so on.

I don't think it's good for Hillary Clinton, but the people who would not vote for Hillary Clinton because of Benghazi were not going to vote for Hillary Clinton in any case. It does tarnish a bit that reputation that she gained as secretary of state.

But I do not think it has the same potential to be devastating especially since we've had these series of investigations come back with reports that the bridge scandal does.

TAPPER: All right, Susan Page of "USA Today," thank you so much. We appreciate it.

We'll have an update on the breaking news, a high school shooting in Philadelphia that's coming up next.

Plus, we broke the story right here on the lead that a large number of college athletes of big-name schools are reading at elementary school levels. Now one of those universities is fighting back. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Returning now to that breaking news out of Philadelphia that we've been following for you all hour, police tweeted that they have a suspect in custody after a shooting inside a gym at the Delaware Valley Charter high school, at least two students, one boy and one girl, were shot in their arms. Both were taken to the hospital and are listed in stable condition.

We are told the shooting was caught on a surveillance camera. We'll continue to keep you abreast of this story as new information comes in. But to recap, a suspect is now in custody according to the Philadelphia police and the two individuals who were shot appeared to have injuries that are not life threatening.

In our Sports Lead, one week after a CNN report found that many student athletes at the University of North Carolina and other big- time schools across the country are reading at a third-grade level. UNC is finally responding and they are not parading the basketball team to the front of the classroom to read a textbook but Sara Ganim is here now with an update -- Sara.

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, you know, since our story aired last week, UNC has insisted that it does not believe this whistle blower, Mary Willingham's research. Her research, as you recall, showed that there have been athletes, football and basketball, who are reading at an elementary school level.

The story we have reported has raised serious questions about that university, about its academic integrity. The student body president says the institution has heard concerns from students, from alumni, from faculty, all questioning the institution's academic integrity.

The response, the university said to this, it would be doing its own investigation of the Willingham's findings and already today they just announced a few minutes ago they've completed it and they found that Mary Willingham's findings were, quote, "A tragedy and unfair to UNC students."

The school also released admission summaries that say it believes, it makes the point that they don't think things are as bad there as Mary Willingham says they are. Now we looked at a UNC analysis and we found there were still 34 football and basketball players who were admitted to play since 2004 with very low test scores.

Now, those scores, experts consulted by CNN, told us those scores would indicate these athletes were not able to read a college textbook. Now, that's about 10 percent of the athletes who, if they didn't play sports, would not have been admitted to the University of North Carolina.

UNC says those academic experts that we consulted, that they are wrong. So now there's been blow back from Mary Willingham. Her permission to do research was pulled yesterday. The university said she broke rules basically that she wasn't supposed to know the names of the students that she was studying, names that she never published in her findings.

Willingham has also received death threats so it's not surprising that some of the people that we've talked to in the last few days haven't wanted CNN to use their names, but we did speak to the psychologist who administered the tests that Willingham used in her research and that psychologist backs of the findings, that many of these student athletes could barely read -- Jake.

TAPPER: Sara, just to reiterate, the university is saying that Willingham's findings are a travesty. They disagree. They are criticizing her findings. The university also says that you did not ask them for their data when you began this report. Respond to that.

GANIM: Right. And that's important. You know, we asked for data from a lot of schools and we asked several times since September, we've repeatedly asked the University of North Carolina to comment on Mary Willingham's research, specifically asking if it was accurate. The university did not respond with any other data until now.

TAPPER: Sara Ganim, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Mr. Big may have broken Carrie Bradshaw's heart, but he did not do nearly as much damage as the Marlboro man apparently. The surgeon general is now taking on Hollywood for making smoking look sexier than a pair of six-inch stilettos. That's coming up next in the "Pop Culture Lead," the surgeon general.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In our Pop Culture Lead, a new report is asking for Hollywood to put down the cigarette, at least for the characters in their TV films and TV shows. According to the Surgeon General's report over 2 million people under 25 who are smoking in 2012 that's up from 1.9 million 10 years earlier.

Why the jump for kids when overall smoking has been in a decline? Well, maybe because we're still making it look so cool.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody else who uses tobacco is poisonous, toasted.


TAPPER: Toasted, the report says that young people are being exposed to 14.9 billion tobacco impressions in youth-related films and in a New York focus group a few years ago, the city health commissioner found that Carrie Bradshaw's pension for cigarettes and "Sex in the City" was keeping the habit in vogue among white women.

So, is Hollywood to blame for kids lighting up? Joining me now is the acting U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Borris Lushniak. Rear Admiral, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Jennifer Lawrence was just nominated for best-supporting actress for her role as a chain-smoking housewife practically. How much of an influence do you really think these images have on kids? Do you really think that they see this and they say, I want a cigarette?

DR. BORIS LUSHNIAK, ACTING UNITED STATES SURGEON GENERAL: Well, it's interesting. The 2012 Surgeon General's Report actually found the causal relationship, right, between exposure of seeing those types of images and actually the initiation of smoking. So yes, it plays a big role.

TAPPER: Has anyone in Hollywood -- you issue this report today, has anyone in Hollywood said they want to work with you.

LUSHNIAK: Not as yet, but we in the U.S. government, specifically the Office of Surgeon General, the Department of Health and Human Services really thinks that the answer to our tobacco epidemic is reaching out to multiple partners and that includes the film industry, the entertainment industry. Everybody has got to play a role to really achieve our goal and the goal is quite clear it's a tobacco-free generation.

TAPPER: I feel like I've heard this before. I feel like the government asked Hollywood to take care of this and stop glamorizing cigarette smoke years ago, didn't they?

LUSHNIAK: Yes. And there's been some connectivity with the film industry. We really want to reconnect yet again. At the end of all this, it's the building of that partnerships, right? What we have right now and with the issuing of our report today is that we're still in the midst of the tobacco epidemic.

TAPPER: Now I tweeted that you are going to be on the show today talking about this issue and somebody tweeted back, what about all of the murder and use of guns and all the violence in movies?

LUSHNIAK: Certainly from a health perspective, we're worried about gun violence as well as murders and other violent crimes. Right now, our emphasis today is on the tobacco epidemic. We realized that 18 percent of our population still smokes and every year about 500,000 people die from smoking-related diseases.

TAPPER: And the CDC announced that there are some new diseases that they think are now connected to smoking that they didn't think were connected before or the causation was not as strong? LUSHNIAK: It came out in our report today. So the real message here is that every single organ system is involved with tobacco exposure. At the end of the day, we have brand new diseases that announced today that formally were not associated with smoking. That includes diabetes. It includes rheumatoid arthritis, liver cancer, colon cancer as well as erectile dysfunction.

TAPPER: All right, Rear Admiral Lushniak, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

LUSHNIAK: Thank you for having me.

TAPPER: The first lady turns 50 today and as my special gift to her hosting, I will not be singing happy birthday. Michelle Obama has decided to take on her golden years (inaudible) by hosting a huge bash at the White House. CNN's Athena Jones has more.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you're a fan of the first lady -- it's the hottest ticket in town, an invitation to a White House dance party Saturday night to celebrate Michelle Obama's 50th birthday. And if you're picturing something like this --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OBAMA: My better half and my dance partner.

JONES: Instead think a little Saturday night fever. After all, while the first lady may be tweeting joining the AARP, she's known for her dancing prowess and the party's host, the president has told guests to wear comfortable shoes because even with two Ivy League degrees --

KATHERINE SKIBA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": She loves to dance, she loves music, and why not, you know, you only turn 50 once so why not make the most of it.

JONES: We've seen some of the first lady's moves before. Here she is doing "The Dougie" on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" last year and showing more moves with talk show host, Ellen Degeneres back in 2008.

JONES: Saturday's celebration is set to last from 9:00 p.m. until midnight and it's being dubbed snacks and sips and dancing and dessert.

LYNN SWEET, COLUMNIST, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": My guess, it won't be a cast of thousands. It might be big but not super big.

JONES: The White House is making a special request that will affect how much guests can share about the event.

SWEET: Here's what is interesting about the invite to this late- night party for Mrs. Obama. The invitation does say no camera, no photographs. Well, I've covered many receptions at the White House and even big shots like to take pictures. JONES: The Obama's inauguration after party last year drew the likes of Usher, Katy Perry and Beyonce who is rumored to be performing in Saturday's event. Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


TAPPER: And the "New York Times" report today gave us a little taste of what is expected to be on the menu tomorrow night, macaroons and fine American wines.

They say it's an honor just to be nominated, but Robert Redford didn't even get that this year. He was among some of this year's Oscar snubs for his critically acclaimed role in the film all is lost, but Redford says don't blame the academy for overlooking him, blame the movie studio for not doing enough to promote the flick.

During an appearance at the Sundance Film Festival, Redford called the Oscar race political and he said there was no campaigning for his movie and very little distribution. But Redford says while it would have been wonderful to have been nominated, he is not upset. The movie did earn at least one Oscar nod for achievement in sound editing, a category sure to drum up excitement in living rooms nowhere.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Right now, I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He is next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."