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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
100 Million Buried Under Snow And Ice; Al Roker Blast NYC Mayor for Keeping Schools Open; Massive Storm Leaves At Least 16 Dead; Son- In-Law Charged In Deadly Package Bomb; Comcast Buys Time Warner: Will You Pay More?
Aired February 13, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Next, breaking news, every state but one with snow tonight. The catastrophic winter storm wreaking havoc, now blamed for at least 16 deaths, including a pregnant woman killed by a snow plow.
Plus, more breaking news at this hour, two people dead after opening a bomb sent through the mail, and authorities tonight making a major announcement in that case.
And eight corvettes damaged when a massive sinkhole opened up under the National Corvette Museum. You were all fascinated by this and so were we. We go to the museum tonight for a close-up look at the destruction. Let's go, OUTFRONT.
And good evening to all of you. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with the breaking news, the deadly winter storm crushing the east coast, more than 100 million Americans buried under a blanket of snow and ice. The snow is not letting up yet. This is a live picture of the U.S. capitol. You can barely see the dome in the background. You see the flags, but barely the dome. This is a live shot of the White House.
Last night, you know, this storm was in the Carolinas. It's still over Washington, really, as you can see, staying for a long time. The federal government forced a shutdown today, and now, 16 deaths are blamed on the massive storm, including a pregnant woman, who was killed in New York by a private snow plow as she was loading groceries into her car. Her unborn baby was delivered by C-section and is in critical condition tonight.
To give you a sense of the size of this storm, take a look at the satellite photo from NASA. This shows you exactly how enormous it is, there's the storm, hugging literally the entire eastern seaboard of the United States. More than 600,000 homes tonight still without power in the freezing temperatures, snow and ice have knocked down trees and power lines up and down the coast.
Icy runways and almost no visibility have led to 7,000 flight cancellations, a million people are stranded by the storm, many of them camping out at airports. Most major cities on the east coast were shut down today. New York City, though, decided to defy that. Public schools were open. No joke. Mayor Bill De Blasio, that's the mayor of New York, now defended his decision, claiming it was an unexpected forecast.
But that's not the case, says NBC's Al Roker, who blasted the mayor on Twitter saying, how dare at New York City mayor's office, at New York City schools throws NWS, which is the National Weather Service, under the bus. The forecast was on time and on the money. That was just the beginning of what Al Roker had to say about the mayor.
CNN's Zain Asher is in White Plains tonight right outside New York City and Zain, there is more snow coming this way. We were looking at those live pictures of Washington. That snow looked really intense.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE/BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. Yes, for the time being, the skies have actually held up, for the time being, but I did actually bump into a New York City public school teacher who lives right around here. She told me that she made the very difficult decision to stay home tonight, today, partly because she wanted to avoid the sort of commute that we had, which is, basically icy roads, slush, and a commute that took twice as long.
ASHER (voice-over): It's a routine New Yorkers know all too well. Snow becomes rain, rain becomes slush, and slush becomes the commute from hell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't need to be in your car, don't use your car.
ASHER: By early this afternoon, more than 10 inches of snow had blanketed the city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty miserable especially on the side streets.
ASHER: This time, it came sooner, lasted longer, fell harder than expected in many places. But here in White Plains, New York, out of the bitter cold came some warmth. One man using his snow blower to clear a neighbor's driveway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that snow is really heavy, so, we don't want anybody getting heart attacks around here.
ASHER: While the massive snowstorm paralyzed cities along the east coast, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio defended his controversial decision to keep public schools open.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: Based on the information we had, it was abundantly clear, we were not going to have the kind of overwhelming snow that would make it impossible for kids to get to school.
ASHER: NBC's weatherman, Al Roker, while covering the Olympics in Sochi, jumped on the mayor, voicing his frustration on Twitter after De Blasio blamed a faulty forecast, tweeting, "How dare the mayor's office throw the National Weather Service under the school bus. The forecast was on time and on the money." The mayor responded at a press conference.
DE BLASIO: It's a different thing to run a city than to give the weather on TV.
ASHER: Roker tweeting back, "I could never run New York City, but I know when it's time to keep the kids home from school." Quipping, long-range De Blasio forecast, one term. According to New York City public schools, just under 45 percent of the 1.1 million students showed up at school today. Fran Guerin, a New York City schools teacher, also chose to stay home, saying schools should never have been open.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's too dangerous. It's really not fair.
ASHER: You know, Erin, this is sort of becoming a theme with Al Roker. He actually called out Atlanta officials just a couple of weeks ago for their handling of that snowstorm, and now it does seem as though it is Bill De Blasio's turn. But in terms of tomorrow, we are expecting another 3 inches of snow, on top of what we already have, so it could be another messy commute -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, for so many people and all of those people out of power. It's a horrible story tonight. I want to bring on our meteorologist, Chad Myers, who is at the Severe Weather Center. And chad, I guess just two weeks ago, we saw what happened when the governor of Georgia blamed the National Weather Service for his response to the storm in Atlanta, right?
You were the one who were sitting there for many hours on the air, telling everybody what the situation was. So when Al Roker writes on Twitter, I knew this morning, the New York City Mayor's Office would close the schools, talk about a bad prediction, long- range De Blasio forecast, one term.
All right, it's kind of funny, but do you share Al Roker's frustration? I mean, it's ridiculous schools were open in New York.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I listened to the fact that the mayor last night said schools were open. And I had laughed and chuckled to myself thinking, well, they won't be open tomorrow when he looks outside. And then I read all this, that they did stay open, and I was dumbfounded. I grew up in Buffalo. And if they close school every time it snowed, we would only go to school in the summer.
So I get the fact that he wanted the kids to get to school to get that day credit, but I'll tell you what, you know, now, as a father of a 9-year-old, I would have just kept my kid at home. That's -- that would be it -- or following someone to watch him if I had to go to work. That's my choice, even though now I'm hearing it's going to be an unexcused absence, whatever that really means.
BURNETT: Whatever that really means. The truth is, I understand -- and I don't know from every school, but I do know that in some schools, barely any kids showed up and the ones who did watched movies. So, yes, the day counts, but what the heck did they learn? Maybe the mayor's the one who need to learn something in New York.
All right, the storm hanging around. Last night, you and I are talking and it's snowing, you know, crazily, in North Carolina and now it's still in Washington. What is this?
MYERS: This is the size of this thing. This is all the way from Nova Scotia to Virginia. This is finally the end. This is the tail of the comma. When you see a big low, you always see the head up here and the tail where the cold front is. Now finally it's pulling through here. But all of this weather in D.C., you just saw pictures of how hard it's snowing. It will move into Philadelphia and New York City and finally up into New England overnight.
So at least another 3 to 5 inches for all of those big cities, on top of the slop that's there now, because for a while in the big cities, it either sleeted or it rained, it's going to refreeze, big cities down to about 25 degrees tonight. So black ice under the snow, so you can't see it before you fall on it. So, get home, stay there, and try not to go out.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much.
Well, the storm has been barrelling up the east coast. North Carolina alone has more than 100,000 people that don't have power. Charlotte, one of the hardest hit cities in the nation. David Mattingly is there tonight with the latest.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Caught in a vicious cycle, a second day of heavy snow in North Carolina keeps people at home again, while crews try to dig out and reopen roads. One aggravating lesson apparently learned, there was no repeat of Wednesday night's gridlock that jammed many motorists in the cold in Raleigh. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory using the National Guard to make sure no one is stranded in the cold.
GOVERNOR PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: What we didn't want was to have those delays and people abandoned overnight, like it's occurred in other states during other storms.
MATTINGLY: It was a dig at the city of Atlanta, paralyzed two weeks ago when 2 inches of snow trapped thousands overnight in schools and on jammed highways. This time, this storm, there were no surprises. The sun came out in Atlanta for the first time in days, melting ice on trees and power lines. People getting outside to play while state officials expressed relief.
GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL (R), GEORGIA: The fact that we were able to keep many people from being involved in the mix, I think, has made it not nearly as dramatic and traumatic as it might otherwise have been.
MATTINGLY: The good news, after three days, the snow seems to be over in the southeast, but overnight freezing could make roads treacherous for hundreds of miles. And throughout the south, recovery is only beginning. More than an inch of ice brought widespread damage to homes, trees, and power lines in Georgia and South Carolina.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No heat. Can't see.
MATTINGLY: At one point, in three states, nearly 700 people were without electricity.
MATTINGLY: And while the clean-up is underway, there is a word of caution going out to residents tonight, saying that while the roads may be clearing, they are wet, and as temperatures go down, they will freeze again. The freeze may be gone, but the dangers are not.
BURNETT: David Mattingly, thank you.
OUTFRONT next, breaking news in the case of the Tennessee couple killed by a package that exploded in their home.
Plus, more problems for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, you know, we've heard about bridgegate, but there is a new cover story today getting a lot of attention, suggesting his entire career reeks. Major, major analysis and an accusation, and that is OUTFRONT tonight.
Plus a major update on a search for a woman that spent nearly two years traveling around the world, only to return to Texas and vanish.
BURNETT: And the other breaking news tonight, police say they have arrested the American who left a package outside a Tennessee home. That package exploded after being opened and killed a retired couple. The suspect tonight, we now know to be 49-year-old Richard Parker. It turns out he's the son-in-law of the victims.
Police say he personally delivered the package to John Setser, who is a retired lawyer. John Setser was killed almost immediately after opening the package on Monday, but we have now learned that his wife, Marian Setser, has now died from the injuries she suffered in that blast. She had fought for her life for the past few days.
Our Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT. Now Jean, what have you learned about this person responsible, son-in-law, motive, who is he? Why did he do it?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That was the bombshell, authorities just finished a press conference and we learned that there was a suspect. They arrested him late this afternoon, and then he said it was his son-in-law, the son-in-law of the retired couple.
We have just learned some more information tonight that in fact this man you're looking at right here, 49-year-old Richard Parker, that he lived in the home behind his in-laws, with their daughter. So it appears as though he was still married, but authorities convened a grand jury this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. and that grand jury returned four charges, two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of felony murder. He's being held on $1 million bail tonight.
BURNETT: I mean, and for a while, they were saying, look, we might not know who it was, whether other people could be at risk. So this was a big development. Now, what about the bomb itself? And we know there was questions, was it put in the mailbox, was it put on the porch? I mean, how did they get it and do you know much about it in terms of why it didn't explode until they were inside the house?
CASAREZ: This is why it's good to have press conferences. It's been widely reported that it was in the mailbox, what we're learning now, that it was outside the front of the home, maybe leaning on something, and that's when John Setser, 74 years old, part-time minister, retired civil lawyer, took the package inside. It exploded inside the house, instantly killing him. His wife, 72-year-old Marianne, she was critically injured and died several days later.
BURNETT: Do you know anything about the relationship, have they said at all --
CASAREZ: You're talking about motive and we have not heard anything about motive. They say it will compromise the investigation. It's an on-going investigation. But I think to have someone so close, obviously, living on the property, what motivated someone to murder. This is a double murder now.
BURNETT: People would know that there might have been some problem between the son-in-law and the parents. Let me bring in Jeff Fulton with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. He is the special agent in charge of the investigation. Thanks so much for being with us, sir. What can you tell us? I mean, as we -- Jean and I, Jean reporting here on the motive, what the motive might have been here?
JEFF FULTON, BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS AND EXPLOSIVES: Well, there obviously was a challenge between the family members, but we're not at the point where we want to discuss that, as we're still finishing up some leads and continuing the investigation.
BURNETT: I've been told, Jeff, that there was a note, somehow left amid the debris. Was it in any way linked to the motive? Can you tell us what that was or what it said?
FULTON: I can't discuss what it said. It was not linked to the motive, and we know that it was placed there, as opposed to delivered by some common carrier.
BURNETT: All right, but you're saying not linked to the motive, which, obviously, is important. So, what about the relationship between -- saying they lived sort of back-to-back houses. Was this man the suspect, Richard Parker, still married to this couple's daughter?
FULTON: I believe that's correct. They were currently married.
BURNETT: And can you tell us anymore about the bomb itself, how this was designed? I mean, how sophisticated was the construction?
FULTON: We're still -- still have a lot of the bomb debris at our laboratory, and we are still investigating any possibilities that anybody else may be involved, although we're confident we have the person who was involved in this. We still want to close out some loose ends and try to determine if there's any chance anybody else was involved. So we're not really discussing at this point any of the particulars of the device construction.
BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Jeff. We appreciate that. And Jean, just before we go, to give you a chance to react, they're saying the note wasn't linked to the motive, but it also seems interesting, but there's still the possibility others were involved.
CASAREZ: They're telling us know at this point, but that note, I think, is critically important as evidence because, obviously, in a matter of hours, right, two, three days, they have found who they believe committed these crimes and will now be prosecuted.
BURNETT: All right, Jean Casarez, thank you very much for reporting on this story. Still to come, a massive deal between Comcast and Time Warner. It was officially announced today. And when we looked up, you all cared a lot about this, some are saying the government needs to kill this deal right away, and we're going to tell you exactly why.
And the rapper, Drake, under fire tonight, did he really insult Phillip Seymour Hoffman today?
And eight corvettes damaged when the massive sinkhole opened under the corvette museum. We went to that museum today. I mean, wait until you see this from every angle. This is stupendous. We will be live for the latest.
BURNETT: Money and power tonight, serious questions being asked about what Comcast's proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable is going to mean for what you pay for your cable and your internet. Comcast is already the biggest cable and internet provider in the United States, 22 million people are cable subscribers through Comcast and Time Warner is number two.
It's a pretty far distant number two, but about 11 million additional people. So you put those two things together and you have an even bigger, bigger, bigger company. Comcast is going to control cable for about 30 percent of the country, and up to 70 percent of the country would be able to use Comcast for high-speed internet.
CNN's senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter joins me now. Brian, let me just ask you. There are three crucial questions I have. First off, let's just talk about the price. Cable prices over the past ten years have surged. Is this going to make cable prices go up even more? Are they going to be able to control that? BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, the executives today at Comcast, of course, you know, wouldn't come out with me. I was trying to book them, you know, people have been trying to book them today, but they did do a conference call with press. And one of the questions, it was about price, of course. They said, this isn't going to create a discount for consumers. Of course, they're going to also claim, this isn't going to raise prices any more than prices --
BURNETT: But that doesn't really answer the questions.
STELTER: No, prices have been going up, they're going to keep going up because channels like this one and many others want higher and higher fees. I don't think this will do anything to keep prices lower.
BURNETT: But the question is would they be able to raise them higher than they otherwise would be? That's the question? The jury's out.
STELTER: That's why many people are very skeptical about this deal as they should be and the government is going to have to look at this very carefully.
BURNETT: Now what about high-speed internet? We talk about cable and a lot of people don't really care about cable anymore. They want high-speed internet, whether they watch their cable channels on that or anything else, right, 70 percent of the country. It's a much bigger possible monopoly on that front than it is on cable.
STELTER: Yes, we move to New York or Los Angeles, you'd still be getting Comcast internet.
BURNETT: Right. So how, if you're looking at this number of 70 percent, how does it not get more expensive for that?
STELTER: The internet is where Comcast sees its future profits. That's why there'll be such scrutiny on the internet piece. It's the most important piece of all of this because Comcast wants to be able to charge more and more for faster and faster internet. The television is important, but the internet is even more important.
Netflix, "House of Cards," people will be wondering if their connection will be slowed down when they're trying to watch "House of Cards," because Comcast might want you to watch their own programming instead.
BURNETT: That's true.
STELTER: Those are the kind of questions that will get more and more interesting as Comcast gets bigger and bigger.
BURNETT: That would be evil, but I wouldn't put it past them. They want you to watch their stuff. I'm being somewhat facetious but not really.
STELTER: When you don't have a lot of competition, when you can only buy internet from one source, that's why it matters. Now, thankfully wireless companies like AT&T and Verizon are getting better. I sometimes watch Netflix on my phone and the service is great. But for Comcast, you know, for wired internet, there are not many other options.
BURNETT: All right, now, what about this final thing. These companies stink when it comes to customer service in terms of their ranking. American customer satisfaction index the two worst cable companies by far. I think the long island power authority was the only company that fared worse. OK, when you join two companies with terrible customer service into an even bigger company that controls a lot of things, I would think the customer service is going to get worse.
STELTER: It sounds like some Frankenstein monster you're describing. To their credit, they know they've got to get better. They know how poorly perceived they are. And they know that people are going to go to alternatives, like the wireless companies I mentioned, or like Netflix, if they don't get better. That's the one thing maybe that customers have going for us, is that the companies know how bad they are perceived and they know they've got to improve somehow.
BURNETT: Well, they've got the technology. How about this? I advise, as a customer, get rid of the box.
STELTER: Yes, yes! Get rid of the box.
BURNETT: Come on, you can do it, guys! All right, thanks, Brian. Appreciate it.
Still to come, more problems for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, there's a new cover story out tonight. This is a huge one. It suggests it's not just bridgegate, his entire career, quote, "reeks," and wait until you see the picture on the cover and the revelations in this article. That is next.
And the killing of this healthy giraffe horrified people around the world. Now another zoo in Denmark may do the exact same thing. What would hamlet say?
And eight corvettes swallowed by a massive sinkhole. How are they going to get the cars out? We'll take the museum's director. We'll talk to him coming up.
BURNETT: And welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.
Texas police say a body found in a wooded area near a suburban San Antonio home is believed to be that of Leann Bearden. She's a 33- year-old woman who had traveled the world with her husband for 22 months. She came back to the States and on a visit to her in-law. She went for a walk and never returned.
At this point, they don't know what led to her disappearance. Her family last week, though, indicated she may have left on her own accord. She's been missing since January 17th. Well, Rob Ford tonight, a development. You know the Toronto mayor. CNN's affiliate CTV reports that he was spotted in a nightclub on Wednesday evening. This picture posted of him on Instagram.
Apparently, Ford cares so much about the youth vote, he wanted to visit their stomping grounds. He, though, was largely absent from city hall earlier in the day. His brother, Doug Ford, who always defends him, defended him today saying he was out supporting the city. He supported the night out, too, saying young people, quote, "know the mayor relates to them and understands them."
Well, the rapper Drake is not having a very good moment, because earlier today in a tweet, he first implied "Rolling Stone" fabricated portions of an interview, then he said the magazine, quote, "also took my cover from me last minute and ran the issue." That's because actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died and "Rolling Stone" took whatever they had off the cover and put Philip Seymour Hoffman up.
And then Drake tweeted, "RIP to Philip Seymour Hoffman, all respect due, but the press is evil."
That may be true, but if he'd made the cover, we doubt he would have said such a thing. Anyway, those tweets have all been deleted.
The world's largest solar power plant launched today on the edge of California's Mojave Desert. The technology amazing, 347,000 mirrors on a footprint four times the size of New York City's Central Park that generate enough power to 140,000 homes. One of the companies that are involved with this, Google, which happens to be facing criticisms over its eco-friendly employee shuttle bus program, that program takes the equivalent of 4,000 cars off the road and this power plant, that number goes up to 72,000.
And survival of the fittest or just bad luck? Another zoo in Denmark wants to breed its giraffes and the problem is that two they have are both male. So one, the zoo says, is not up to par to mate may get euthanized. Get this, though, the giraffe currently being considered is named Marius, which is also the name of the giraffe that was killed just days ago at another zoo in Denmark to avoid inbreeding. It's not a coincidence, Marius of Denmark is actually an older brother of Marius of Copenhagen.
Chalk it up to bad genes? Oh, that was a really -- I don't know what to make of that story.
All right. Well, a big-time slam of Chris Christie tonight. This is the cover of the brand-new issue of "The New Republic". It's not just the bridge, folks. Chris Christie's entire career reeks, is what it says. The author of the article is Alec MacGillis, who will join me in a moment.
But he goes on to write and I quote Alec here, "What bridgegate has laid bare is the skill and audacity with which Christie constructed his public image. He wasn't out to line his own pockets or build a business empire. He wasn't even seeking to advance a partisan agenda. And yet it was transactionalism all the same. Christie used a corrupt system to expand his own power and burnish his own image, and he did it so artfully that he nearly came within striking distance of the White House. When he got cozy with Democratic bosses, people only saw a man willing to work across the aisle. When he bullied his opponents, they only saw a truth teller. It was one of the most effective optical illusions in American politics, until it wasn't."
And joining me now is the senior editor at "The New Republic", Alex MacGillis, and CNN contributor, Reihan Salam.
Alec, you also write, "With mere weeks to go -- or weeks ago, Christie was a straight-talking, corruption-busting every man, now he's a liar, a bully, a buffoon."
Your language there, your writing, you seem very confident that Chris Christie is done.
ALEC MACGILLIS, SENIOR EDITOR AT "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Well, you know, I actually wouldn't go that far. I'm not a prognosticator, but what I really think has happened here is that, and this is what I tried to describe in my piece, is that we're suddenly seeing a different side of Chris Christie. This is a side of Chris Christie that I think was there all along, but we were somehow missing it.
Chris Christie was just incredibly effective at building himself up as a reformer, as someone who is going to take on the sort of murky political culture in New Jersey that we all know so much about. And what I found looking back through his whole clear, through the sort of new lens of bridgegate is that, in fact, he was incredibly adept at using that political culture to his own ends, even as he was fighting it in a very effective public relations kind of way.
BURNETT: Now, there's an example that I want to give you a chance to give, that I thought was very powerful in how you made your case.
But, first, Reihan, I want to ask you about the fundamental premise that Alec has here. Obviously, "The New Republic" is known as a liberal magazine, all right? I'll just put that out in the table. However, Alec's example after example, you've read it, he talked to 50 people in New Jersey, political operatives, people who know. I mean, this is reported out. And a lot of it's pretty damning, the allegations.
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's true, but a lot of them strike me as a little bit confused. For example, when you look transitional aid, this is one of the tools that any governor of New Jersey has to reward friends and allies, right? You can give money with few strings attached to mayors of local governments.
The thing is that Chris Christie actually transformed this transitional aid program to introduce terms and conditions, to introduce new transparency to the program that actually make it a lot harder for him to reward his allies. So, if it really was someone who was trying to use this to reward and punish people, why, exactly, would he introduce, why would he tighten these constraints on himself, rather than leave this power totally untrammeled?
There are a lot of little questions like this that were raised, and, of course, any like this who exercises power is going to have a lot of enemies, a lot of more than 50 enemies. And Alec has done a great job of finding those enemies and gathering stories from them.
BURNETT: Well, let me point out something that Alec pointed out, maybe some of you weren't aware, I wasn't aware. New Jersey is perhaps a very corrupt state for a couple of reasons. One of which Alec mentioned is the governorship in New Jersey, when you look at the absolute facts that the power that governor has, the most powerful governorship in the country, and there's nearly 600 towns. There's 600 possible ways to, you know, line people's pockets, shall I say.
Now, Alec, you do tell a number of stories in your article which demonstrate the way you say Christie does business, that show that he wouldn't be above the bridge scandal. And one story you tell goes to a question a lot of people have about the current scandal. And that's this. Why would the mayor of New Jersey, who is -- I mean, I'm sorry, the governor of New Jersey, who's considered a front-runner for the 2016 White House, care about a tiny Democratic mayor endorsing him to be governor? He was going to win by a landslide and he's a Republican.
MACGILLIS: Exactly. I think, but he was so set on building up these number of Democratic endorsements, and building up his vote tally in that re-election, because he wanted to send this message, that he was the bipartisan guy who could run in 2016, as someone who could win purple states and maybe even blue states for the Republicans.
What the piece gets at is that a lot of this sort of bipartisanship, this bipartisan aura he built up around himself had a lot to do with licenses that he built up with some very powerful Democratic power brokers, bosses in New Jersey, who are these very influential people behind the scenes, and he's had these relationships going back for years, and that, really, a lot of that aura goes back to these guys, and we need to take a closer look at that.
BURNETT: And, Reihan, one of the stories he told that made me go, hmm, was a very powerful Orthodox Jewish group that had in the last gubernatorial election endorsed a Democrat. So, this time got that endorsement, right, Democrat bipartisanship, and soon after, lo and behold, the state of New Jersey awards this group a $10 million grant.
You just put it that way out on the table, that kind of smells.
SALAM: Well, here's the thing, Erin, if you're trying to win votes, you can do it by trying to reward a small orthodox community this way with a few thousand votes, or you can look at the bigger picture. And the bigger picture in New Jersey is this -- the biggest, most controversial thing that Chris Christie did during his tenure, something that never made national news. And that's slashing property tax relief across the state, while also shielding poor communities across New Jersey from budget cuts.
Now, what does that do? That actually punishes Republican suburban property-owning voters and it rewards voters in a lot of poor towns across the state who were not going to vote for Chris Christie, no matter what, no matter which mayor endorsed him.
BURNETT: But isn't that the point? This is about 2016, showing he can reach across the aisle.
SALAM: This is from early on, before he was a national political contender or anything like that. The thing is that, if he's trying to reward his friends, why would he do something that's hurting suburban, affluent, property taxpayers.
SALAM: There was a huge counterpunch from Democrats who said he was raising property taxes. That is a big vulnerability in the state like New Jersey.
BURNETT: Now, the right is angry about this article, and not just seizing on the text of it, Alec, also on the company pictures. I want to show you one in particular, which got the attention of "The Blaze", obviously, a conservative blog. There's Chris Christie, obviously, that's a Tony Soprano picture, right? He's a mob boss, coming out to get the mail in his robe and his wife beater.
Is this, Alec, the right desperately grabbing on to anything to discredit criticism of Christie, or is their point there a valid complaint, which is that is essentially that racial, they say you couldn't have done that if someone was black, you couldn't have called them a gangster, how can you call him basically a member of the mob with that picture?
MACGILLIS: Sure, it's a fair question. We gave that image some consideration. I just want to point out, also, it's not on the cover of the magazine, it's inside. But we decided that the picture really, the picture for us was powerful, because it captures two things. It captures New Jersey in a way that evokes New Jersey in a way that almost nothing else can.
Tony Soprano is one of the top, you know, the ultimate New Jersey pop cultural icon along with Bruce Springsteen. So, it evokes New Jersey.
BURNETT: There's also Snooki.
MACGILLIS: Right. It also evokes the pathos, really, of the current moment for Chris Christie, and the sudden falling of his standing, for me, this image of him coming down the drive from the mansion to get his newspaper evokes that sort of moment. I would also like to point out that the piece itself, if you read the piece, and it's a long piece, so that's no easy thing, but the piece itself has zero insinuation whatsoever of any kind of ethical, organized crimish kind of, you know, insinuations about Chris Christie.
This is about Chris Christie, the prosecutor, and the politician. And it doesn't traffic in any such insinuation.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thanks very much to both of you. Two very, very different sides. But this is the question of which version of Chris Christie will end up dominating in voters' minds. And we can, of course, still remind you, at least over the past few days, he's been bringing in record numbers in terms of fund-raising.
Still to come, eight cars damaged when a massive sinkhole opened under the national corvette museum yesterday. So, how are officials going to get the cars out? And how exactly did this happen? We've been there today, taking videos, showing you how this works. We're going to be there next. And what's the most laid-back country in the world? Maybe you'd vote for New Zealand.
But, you know what, we found out something very dark about the Kiwis.
BURNETT: Now, let's check in with John Berman, who's in for Anderson with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360." Hey, John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. You know, we have breaking news on two fronts ahead on "360." Of course, the deadly storm tracking up the East Coast right now, coming back for a second round in Washington, D.C., look at that. We will have a live report.
One of the fatalities, a tragic death here in New York City. A snowplow struck a pregnant woman. Miraculous, that baby was saved. Randi Kaye will have that story.
Our other breaking news, the shocking arrest in the package bomb deaths in Tennessee. The man charged with the couple's death, their son-in-law, we will speak with that family's pastor.
Also, we'll take you back to the so-called baby lab at Yale University. Anderson speaks with researchers doing real unique research, including whether babies are born with an innate moral compass.
Plus, Anderson got to hang out with some really cute babies -- something I think, Erin, you know a little about. That's all at the top of the hour.
BURNETT: I know, I heard he's finding out what goes on inside their mind.
BERMAN: If we only knew.
BURNETT: If we only knew, right, besides, eating, going to the bathroom. We'll see.
All right. Thanks, John. BERMAN: Thanks, Erin.
The National Corvette Museum is back open for business today. Just a day after a 45-foot sink hole opened up. Just in the middle of the museum. It was caught on tape. Eight Classic Corvettes gone, all caught on camera.
I mean, this video, and then that was obviously happened when it was dark, during the daylight. It's incredible. They look like little matchbox cars. Among the losses, a 1962 black Corvette, a 1992 model that was the 1 millionth Corvette ever made.
The museum estimates damages in the millions of dollars. We have new video our cameras just captured that shows just how destructive the sinkhole was. I mean, look at this -- this is where you would be walking, right? You can't see it. You can't even see the guardrail. Just imagine if that happened during the day when people were visiting, right by the stairs where you'd be looking at the cars.
Joining me now, the national director to have the National Corvette Museum, Wendell Strode.
I mean, this could have happened right in the middle of the day when people were there. I mean, it's amazing! I mean, you work at this museum, you're there every day. Did you ever see anything off, any kind of -- I don't know -- crack in the carpet, little tiny hairline crack in the concrete, anything? Or this just happened completely out of the blue?
WENDELL STRODE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CORVETTE MUSEUM: Out of the blue, completely out of the blue. We had no indication. I guess the one thing that we would say, we're thankful that the Good Lord permitted it to happen at, you know, 5:44 in the morning, and no one was here. And no guests were here, no employees were here. And for that, we're very, very thankful.
BURNETT: And how are you going to get the cars out? You said a 40-foot wide hold, 40 feet deep, and there's eight cars in there. As I said, they look like little matchbox cars. How are you going to be able to pull them out?
STRODE: They sure do.
Well, the game plan is first that we're going to stabilize and secure the red spire. You can look and see that some of that, the bottom of that is not resting on soil, and so, the first game plan will be to stabilize that, and then to stabilize the area around the sinkhole. And we estimate our construction management firm estimates that will take two different ways with regard to extracting the car.
You know, if you look at the sky dome from the outside, it has those big yellow panels on it. So, one thought is to remove some of those panels and let the crane then hang down from sticking over into the museum.
The other option is to come down from the top. We do have a level flat probably about another 40-foot section up there that could be opened up and the crane actually then come down straight from the very, very top.
BURNETT: Before we go, obviously you're standing right in front of that hole. I just have to ask you, you said this was out of the blue. I mean, are you afraid it could be bigger? Do you know -- you had no idea it was there. So, could there be other sink holes under the museum in could this get any bigger? Do you have any idea?
STRODE: Sink holes are something that's real common for this area. We live with it. We deal with it every day.
This, of course, Mammoth Cave National Park is only 20 miles up the road from us. So, we have the technology, we have the understanding, we have the engineering of how to build on top of sink holes.
This is a very strange occurrence. We are anticipating that it was the rains, a lot of the rains that we've had have been more than normal the last two or three years.
And as you all will remember the 500-year rain that we had. Most of the publicity was national. But that raised, the water levels would come up and sink back down. Every time they would sink they would take some of that soil with them.
But engineers -- our engineering people all tell us that this building is safe, that the museum building is safe. So, we have -- we feel very comfortable with that. And the key is the storm water management and programs that you put in place to deal with that.
BURNETT: All right. Well, pretty incredible footage. I guess the only thing is you wish you had audio. You can only imagine the roar of what that was like.
Wendell, thanks so much and good luck.
STRODE: Well, thank you very much. And we wish you all the best.
BURNETT: All right, you too, sir.
And now, it's time for the OUTFRONT "Outtake".
New Zealand has a reputation for being a laid-back oasis. Headline after headline and online travel reviews celebrate the country as one of the most relaxed places on earth. Sadly it appears its may not be true.
Today, the country's immigration authorities banned rapper's Odd Future from come to New Zealand, refusing to grant them visas due to a two 2011 incident in Boston, in which some people said Odd Future incited fans to attack police officers. Now, no charges were ever brought against the group but it seemed rumors were enough for New Zealand. It's not just foreigners that the government is trying to control. They're also telling their own people what to do. I thought no one could tell a Kiwi what to do. Back in May, New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs started cracking down on children's names.
They drew up a list of 71 names not allowed. Here are a few of them. Justice, King, Messiah, Lucifer? All right. Duke? You can't name your kid Duke. You can't even have a Junior. Constable?
Yes, the government is dictating its citizen's name. Compare that to hear in the United States where a Tennessee judge who ordered a couple to change their son's name from messiah was fired and the decision reversed.
We talk a lot about the nanny states on this show. But it appears based on this evidence at least we might have forgotten a very important one, New Zealand, stopping musician at the border and banning children's names, as business as usual for the Kiwi.
So, is New Zealand smart or in a slippery slope to dictatorship? Let us know what you think on Twitter @ErinBurnett or @OutFrontCNN.
Next, 100 million Americans buried under snow and ice tonight. Jeanne Moos with the coolest way ever to clear snow without leaving your living room.
BURNETT: Tonight, millions of Americans are digging out from the massive winter storm that that pummeled the East Coast. What if you could get rid of that shovel, clear your driveway from the comfort of your own living room?
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You can shovel or use a snow blower. But wouldn't you rather make heads spin with your very own remote controlled snowplow?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't really have a fancy name.
MOOS: Let's just call it the plow that wows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that! Doing 360s.
MOOS: It made its debut this week not on the home shopping channel but on the Weather Channel. It's sort of like a rumba that plows instead of vacuums. It hasn't yet shown up on YouTube with a cat dressed as a shark onboard chasing a duck, or a cat swiping at a dog. But we digress.
The remote-controlled snowplow lets you plow from inside your toasty warm house. It's six-wheel drive, runs for two hours on two car batteries. An air compressor raises and lowers the blade with a pneumatic hiss.
Charlie Payne's company SuperDroid Robots made it as a novelty product. Usually they build search and rescue robots, sort of SWAT team robots for police and fire departments.
To prove the plow's strength, they show it performing feats like pushing around pallets or even pulling a pickup truck.
The meteorologists on the Weather Channel seemed smitten.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is beyond awesome. And I want one!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know what I'm asking for for Christmas next year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got to have me one.
MOOS: Yes, well, you got to have you some income to afford it. The price tag for this first one is $8,500.
(on camera): But like Charlie's wife says, what's 8,500 bucks compared to a hospital bill for a wrenched back or a heart attack?
In a big storm you'd have to use it a few times, every three or four inches. Actually the remote-controlled snowplow isn't even their weirdest creation. This is. Super Droid created the remote controlled golf cart as a prank.
CHARLIE PAYNE, OWNER, SUPERDROID ROBOTS: We were racing the golf cart around we lost control and it went through the chain link fence.
MOOS: So, they're not actually selling it.
As for the snowplow, imagine what the dog would make of it and what it would make or the door mat. Probably walk all over it.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: The coolest thing.
All right. Thanks as always to Jeanne.
"AC360" starts now.