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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Denver Mayor Dealing With Legalized Pot; Are Uber's Tactics "Fare" Game?; Let The Grammy Guessing Game Begin; Richard Sherman Gets "Unguarded"

Aired January 24, 2014 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: But Denver Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock, well, he's been a less enthusiastic supporter of his state's efforts, while he opposed the legalized sale of recreational use of marijuana. He's the one left to enforce it either way since the law went into effect this year.

Earlier today, I spoke with the mayor about how his city is handling the new clientele.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Mayor Michael Hancock, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

MAYOR MICHAEL HANCOCK (D), DENVER, COLORADO: Glad to be here with you, Jake.

TAPPER: So I know you were concerned before recreational legal use of marijuana was passed in Colorado. You were worried about the impact on children. You were about Denver becoming known as the marijuana capital of America. It's been legal now for almost a month. How has it going?

HANCOCK: It's rode out smoothly in Denver and throughout Colorado for that matter. I think with the industry parting with government and law enforcement, it made a big difference and I can't say enough about the public officials I'm talking about, our licensing divisions, police department, public works division and the industry how they work together to make this a good, smooth rollout.

TAPPER: But you still don't think it should have happened?

HANCOCK: You know what? That's not water under the bridge. No, I didn't support it when it went for a bill before the people, but now it's legal in Colorado and my job as a sworn executive is to make sure that it works according to the people's plan.

TAPPER: How has it impacted crime at all?

HANCOCK: Well, what we do know is that where there is marijuana industries -- you have to remember, we've had medical marijuana for a little over a decade now and where we have the medical marijuana dispensaries, we've seen an uptick in crime, robberies and intrusions. And so we don't know yet again what retail -- I know of a few robberies that have occurred of retail facilities, attempted robberies.

But nothing that has raised a major red flag, again, we'll go back in a few months and monitor it. The police are on it and well see how that goes with our neighborhoods. Again, unchartered territory, we don't know how it impacts our neighborhoods.

TAPPER: The governor of Texas, Rick Perry spoke in Davos this week and he said that he supports policies moving to decriminalize but not legal marijuana. Do you see that as the future of the Republican Party? Are they going to soften on these laws?

HANCOCK: I tell you what, Jake, I believe that's why it passed in Colorado and in Washington State.

TAPPER: Because of Republicans?

HANCOCK: Not so much Republicans, but the fact that people don't want to see us continue to incarcerated people behind what they considered petty offenses of possession. Particularly people of color, young men of color have had their lives ruined, their futures impacted because they've been arrested with small amounts of marijuana.

And so when you see organizations like the Urban League and NAACP get on board, usually it's because of situations like that and they want to level the playing field with regards to sentencing around illegal substances.

TAPPER: Unfortunately the other reason that Colorado makes national news these days is when there's a school shooting that's happened a couple times in the last few years, at Aurora and Arapahoe High School most recently, I think people sometimes outside of Colorado say, especially with Columbine in the back of their minds, what's up with Colorado? Why does this happen?

HANCOCK: You know, I don't think there's anything in particular about Colorado. But this is just one of those issues, particularly around mental health and a broader approach that's why I support a broader approach to issues that are impacting our communities, like mental issues, like illegal guns in our community.

TAPPER: Lastly, and on a lighter note, Super Bowl is coming up. You have a team that is going to be playing. Congratulations on making the Super Bowl. First of all, any predictions for -- I know you're going to predict the Broncos.

HANCOCK: It's 3 to 6 points, absolutely. I haven't looked at all of the statistics, which I normally do before I make a prediction like that, but I think it's going to be a close game. I think Denver will go over the edge.

TAPPER: Do you want to make a bet?

HANCOCK: Yes, what's your bet?

TAPPER: I'll Seattle.

HANCOCK: You'll take Seattle. What do you put on the table?

TAPPER: I'm from Philadelphia. I don't know what I can bet, but I can bet something? What do they have in Denver? I don't want rocky mountain oysters.

HANCOCK: We have great beef. We have great green chili.

TAPPER: We'll figure something out, but my office to your office.

HANCOCK: Great pizza in Philadelphia.

TAPPER: Consider this a bet.

HANCOCK: Absolutely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Coming up next, it's like that old prank where you have 20 pizzas delivered to a friend's house. Only it's high tech and it could cost a company millions. Is Uber, a company that puts a taxi at your fingertips, playing dirty to squash the competition?

Plus, the Grammys is on Sunday and they will include music's first couple. Will our over lords Beyonce and Jay-Z perform together and living us a mindless huddle of goo. Some predictions coming up next in our "Pop Lead."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Now it's time for the "Money Lead." The taxi business is not usually thought of a cut-throat or savvy one, unless this guy turns out to be your cabby.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me? Well, who the hell are you talking to? Are you talking to me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Still terrifying. Short of a run-in like that with Robert Deniro's character, Travis Bickle, from "Gutsy Driver." It's turns out things can get pretty down and dirty in the competitive cab industry and it's apparently getting nastier with upstarts like Uber. It's the app that connects taxi drivers with customers at the click of a few buttons on your smartphone.

Uber has grown into a huge power player over the last couple of years expanding into 26 countries and it turns out they have not been exactly coloring inside the lines to attract all of that new business. As CNN's Laurie Segall reports even the company admits its latest strategy may have gone a little overboard.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Uber, the app that let's you order a car on demand.

(on camera): Open up the app and here you can see it's locating me. We have a driver who is going to arrive in 5 minutes. Uber?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

SEGALL: Awesome.

SEGALL (voice-over): It's quickly becoming an essential tool for urbanites and darling of the tech world. The company which was started by a couple of grads five years ago is now valued at more than $3 billion. But our investigation found that Uber success might be coming at the cost of playing dirty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me it's very unethical.

SEGALL: Jing Herman is CEO of Gett, one of many competitors that have sprung up in the wake of Uber's winning strategy. She says their company started to notice something strange, a pattern of abruptly cancelled cars.

JING WANG HERMAN, CEO, GETT: We started looking into, you know, the accounts of these people that had very cancellations, abusive behavior. Our system is sophisticated and we quickly blocked many of them.

SEGALL: But the cancellation frustrated drivers. We rode with one of them who didn't want to say her name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A customer orders a car and you're right there and then after you're there, they cancel you, you lose time. You waste your time.

SEGALL: She says a couple days after the cancellation, she got a text message from an Uber employee encouraging her to drive for Uber instead. She wasn't the only one.

HERMAN: Many of my drivers got at the exact same time the same message from Uber inviting them to leave us and join Uber.

SEGALL: Herman did a little digging and found something interesting. The cancelled cars and the invitations to join Uber were not sent by random riders.

HERMAN: It turned when we investigated that the online profiles of these people on LinkedIn, Twitter, based on the names that they used were Uber employees in New York.

SEGALL (on camera): Uber has a $3 billion valuation. You would think that this is a tactic that they wouldn't need to do. It seems a little scrappy.

HERMAN: You would think so. The way it was coordinated was not exactly like the A-team, but for us we really believe that within a short amount of time, we've proven that we are, for the first time, real competition for Uber at least in New York City. SEGALL (voice-over): Uber in a statement to CNN said while they are ambitious in their ground tactics, this went too far. Our local teams can be pretty determined when spreading the word about Uber and how our platform opens up new economic opportunities for drivers. We will make sure they tone down their sales tactics.

It's not the first time Uber faced heat over the business practices. The company braved onslaught of consumer outrage over its surge pricing particularly on New Year's Eve, which sent some fare skyrocketing to more than quadruple the usual price.

Josh Groban tweeted that sometimes Uber's prices fall on the, did I fly there category? Despite the bumps in the road, Uber seems to be an over drive. The company recently announced that they are quadrupling their staff and expanding to 500 cities in the United States and around the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SEGALL: And jake, you look at this company, valued at over $3 billion, they are growing so quickly. They are a tech darling in Silicon Valley and they seem childish but beyond that there's a gray area of legality. Are they preventing competition and when you prevent competition you look and see that surge pricing.

So it's an important issue. I'll tell you this, Jake, I've spoken with a couple of my resources who have competing startups and they say they are really not surprised and they say this isn't going to be the last we hear about it.

TAPPER: It's really interesting. I mean, I love Uber. I use Uber all the time, but it doesn't sound like -- they described this behavior as too ambitious. It's not ambitious. It's dirty. It doesn't sound like they take it very seriously.

SEGALL: Absolutely. You've got to think there are a lot of young folks working at this company, but this isn't, as you said, calling in and ordering pizzas at someone's home when they are not there. This is affecting the business of another company so there is obviously a lot of outrage because of this.

TAPPER: It's going to be bad publicity for them. Laurie Segall, thank you so much for the report.

Coming up next, will Bruno Mars be locked out of heaven on Grammy night or is it Taylor Swift that will see red? Well, we've got the scoop on the shoe in and long shots for the music industry's biggest night of the year.

Plus, brace yourself, Mork and Mindy fans for an out of this world reunion.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We're going to take a moment for our Pop Culture Lead. It's an award show to look forward to. The 56th Annual Grammy Awards are this Sunday night in Los Angeles. Beyond the glitz and glamour and questionable fashion statements, you can look forward to a special performance by power couple Jay-z and Beyonce and the material girl herself, Madonna.

Of course, the real fun of Grammy night is predicting which artist will get the most prizes. The folks at "Billboard" magazine are already locking in their predictions. Joining me now from Los Angeles is "Billboard" magazine editor, Joe Levy. Joe, good to see you.

Let's start with a category that is a curse and a blessing, best new artist. The nominees are James Black, Kendrick Lamar, Kacey Musgraves and Ed Sheeran. Who do you think has the edge?

JOE LEVY, EDITOR, "BILLBOARD": This is a strong category and there are a lot of good ones. One of the strongest new artists of this year and that was Lorde is not nominated in this category. This comes down to a battle between Kacey Musgraves is one of the great new country artists and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I'd like to see Kendrick Lamar, the terrific rapper out of Los Angeles take it away because I think he's one of the strongest artists in a long, long time, but I think it's between Musgraves and Macklemore. I'm giving the edge to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis here.

TAPPER: Why do you think Lorde was snubbed?

LEVY: You know, it's tough to say. There are always Grammy surprises and head scratchers. She's nominated in two major categories, record and song of the year. So she wasn't snubbed altogether by any means. She was 16 when this song came out and she's now 17. This song "Royals" was a hit across all sorts of radio formats. It started alternative and they ended up playing it on hip-hop radio and Latin radio as well. It's a great song. It's got a great song in the categories it's nominated in, but it's a surprise they didn't think of her in best new artist.

TAPPER: Another closely watch category, of course, is album of the year, the nominees are Sara Bareilles for "The Blessed Unrest," Daft Punk for "Random Access Memories," Kendrick Lamar for "Good Kid, MAAD City," Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for "The Heist" and of course, Taylor Swift for "Red," all of these artists had a huge, huge years, who do you pick?

LEVY: Wow, this is a tough category again and I think it's a battle between Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and Taylor Swift. I like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Chance" in this category. Grammys loves new music. It plays out old priorities. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have an album full of message songs. It is almost an after school special. Taylor Swift is nominated and you never bet against Taylor Swift at the Grammys. It's like being a member of the mafia and going against the family.

TAPPER: And then of course, in terms of performance, for those of us who don't watch every second of Grammy night, are there any can't miss moments that we should look forward to?

LEVY: You know, I'm really looking forward to the Daft Punk performance. Daft Punk who had this huge hit this summer with "Get Lucky." It's a 70s sounding song. They are also performing with Stevie Wonder. It's going to be pretty amazing. There are a lot of once in a lifetime moments at the Grammys. That's what they pride themselves on. Queen of the Stone Age are playing with Nine Inch Nails and Kendrick Lamar.

I think what everyone is watching for, Jay-z and Beyonce performing together. They have put out game-changing records. They are finding new ways to put out their records and connect with fans. They are both amazing. I think this is going to be a great moment.

TAPPER: Of course, record of the year is getting all of the buzz, it's another strong category. You say it's a horse race between two artists in particular.

LEVY: Well, there are two huge songs that dominated the radio this summer here and that's "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk and "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke. I would give the edge to Daft Punk. Robin Thicke, that song he was involved in a lawsuit with the Marvin Gaye family during the time of Grammy nominations. They've settled their differences now so everything is good, but there was supposedly a similarity between this and a famous Marvin Gaye song.

That's the kind of thing that could keep Grammy voters away. The lawsuit was still active. In which case it would be "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk, it's a huge song. I think it will take record of the year.

TAPPER: Joe Levy, thank you so much.

LEVY: Thank you.

TAPPER: Also in Pop Culture, Nanu, Nanu, Robin Williams will reportedly reunite with his former "Mork and Mindy" co-star, Handober on an upcoming episode of his new CBS comedy show, the "Crazy Ones." You may remember Robin Williams yelling jibberish in a ridiculous red jumpsuit while playing Mork, the alien from Ork who comes to earth in an egg-spaceship. Spoiler alert, he eventually marries character Mindy on the show that ran from 1978 through 1982. So set the VCR.

Sony is making a movie out of "Lean In," the best seller from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. It's not going to be a bio pick instead a screenwriter will adopt some of the book's themes and try to come up with an original story line out of it. Sandberg's book offered advice to women in the work place, but is not universally beloved. Some critics say that "Lean In" made her sound elitist, some say, especially to working moms.

Coming up on THE LEAD, they say all publicity is good publicity, but can a nationally televised rant really pay off? You bet it can. That's coming up next in the "Sports Lead."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now it's time for the Sports Lead. I'm trying to imagine a world in which a workplace outburst I have would earn me a $5 million raise. I can't imagine it for me, but it turns out that Richard Sherman's rant after the NFC Championship game has made him a hot commodity.

According to his agent, Sherman is poised to make more than $5 million in endorsement deals. That's nearly ten times his NFL salary. We're sure by now you've seen his post-game tirade against the fellow player following the win that sent his team to the Super Bowl.

Since then, Sherman has been candid about the fact that maybe he went a bit too far, but he's also not letting some of his critics off the hook. CNN's Rachel Nichols sat down with Sherman for an in-depth interview on the rant heard around the world and the fall out. Rachel, good to see you. What was your impression of Sherman? How did he seem?

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST, "UNGUARDED": Richard Sherman has become known as one of the most brash and outspoken players in the NFL, but he is also one of the smartest players in the NFL. He's got a degree from Stanford. He's insightful. It's interesting to hear him talk about the wave of reaction that followed his outburst during that post-game interview.

In the first day or two, there was a huge backlash against him and now we're seeing a backlash to the backlash, people wanting to go out of their way to support him. When I sat down with Sherman, he had an interesting take on all of that, and especially on the racially- charged tweets and e-mails he got right after it happened, some of them using specific hate speech, but a lot of racially coded language that Sherman said indicated a much deeper problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD SHERMAN, CORNERBACK, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: I think it used to be the "n" word and now they are using thug instead of "n" word as a more accepting way and it's still sad, man, because what -- what was thug about what I did? Because I said something about one guy about a football game, I didn't go talking about I'm going to fight the guy after the game. I'm going to go blow his car up or anything like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NICHOLS: You know, Jake, Sherman has apologized to his teammates for taking attention away from the win, but he told me that's about all that he regrets out of the whole situation. He also told me that if Seattle wins the Super Bowl and someone sticks a microphone in front of his face, he said he's just going to be himself. He said, that's what has got him here and he doesn't think he should have to be anything else than the complex, interesting person that he is.

TAPPER: Rachel, Sherman's agent says he's getting huge endorsement offers. Might we end up seeing more and more candid interview responses from other players to build up their brands?

NICHOLS: Yes, I don't think there is any question. Sherman was picked in the fifth round. He's a fifth round draft pick. He's a defensive player. These are not normally people getting and it's for all of the other things that he's been doing for the last few years to make himself known. And players are seeing this.

They are seeing that that's how you get a little attention and as Richard pointed out to me, it's great and he's certainly happy for it and it's part of the reason that he has the persona but if gives more attention to his charity work. He gives a lot of money back to Compton, Los Angeles, where he's from and he says the more high- profile other athletes.

And it helps his visibility overall and helps him on the field and the best guys in the world and having that confidence, having the reputation with someone who thinks that he's the greatest helps you get into the mind of the other guy and he thinks that is what he did with Michael Crabtree.

TAPPER: You know, I have to be honest. I think he increased the viewership of the Super Bowl by several million. I know I am more inclined to watch it. What about you?

NICHOLS: Yes, absolutely. So you're saying that Fox should cut him a check in addition to all of that endorsement money? We'll send them a memo on that. He's the guy that is going to be trying to bat down or intercept Peyton's passes. It's going to be a chess match.

TAPPER: All right, make sure to watch Rachel's show this evening, "Unguarded" with Rachel Nichols tonight at 10:30 Eastern. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'll turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Have a great weekend.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, thanks very much.