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Revenge Killing?; Will Pay Gap Unchanged Under Obama; Playing With Your Emotions; Tim Howard National Airport?

Aired July 2, 2014 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In other world news, a renewed cycle of violence and retribution in the already bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When authorities discovered the bodies of three Israeli teens in a disputed West Bank, Israel's ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer told me on the show that Hamas, the group that the U.S. government qualifies as terrorist and Israel blames for the kidnappings and murder, would pay a very heavy price.

But Israeli leaders today were condemning another grisly discovery. This one in Jerusalem, the body of a 17-year-old Palestinian boy charred beyond recognition. Palestinian television says the body bore signs of violence and as word spread fighting spilled over into the streets. Residents hurling stones at Israeli security forces who shot back tear gas canisters and stun grenades.

Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is live in Jerusalem with the latest -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jake, we saw clashes throughout the day in one neighborhood of Jerusalem called Shuafat (ph). As you mentioned, as residents took out their anger on Israeli security forces, it went on really about 13 or 14 hours before Israeli forces finally pulled out. We saw several people being wounded and medical sources telling us as many as 70 Palestinians wounded in those clashes.

Now, we spoke to the father of Mohammed Abu Khder (ph), 17-year-old boy, who insisted this was a revenge killing for the deaths of those three Israeli teenagers who were laid to rest yesterday. The family is convinced that their child is paying the price for the policies of the Israeli government and really is just a tip of the iceberg of the anger that's mounting as this situation deteriorates.

It's worth pointing out, Jake, that in the course of the Israeli operation in the West Bank to look for those three teenagers and their killers, six Palestinians were shot dead in clashes with the Israelis so there's lots of anger at this point on both sides -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ben, what do Israeli police think happened to this young Palestinian boy who was killed?

WEDEMAN: Well, they say they are investigating whether or not this -- *

WEDEMAN: Well, they say they are still investigating whether or not this was indeed a revenge killing. It appears they should have a fair amount of informational ready. A closed-circuit television camera took pictures of the actual abduction of this boy as well as the car he was taken away in so there should be enough evidence to make fairly good progress in this investigation.

We did hear, of course, as you mentioned, it was wrongly condemned by the mayor of Jerusalem and by Prime Minister Netanyahu, but as one Palestinian I spoke to today said and he's the uncle of this young man, he said also crocodiles shed tears -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ben, you've covered this conflict for a long, long time. Does this feel like the start of something like another Intifada?

WEDEMAN: It certainly has the ingredients to really go downhill fast, and what's interesting is that the second Intifada, which I covered intensely, by the end of it there was a real exhaustion, but we're into a new generation, the Intifada really ended about eight or nine years ago and now you see young men on the street who don't really have a clear memory of how bloody, how difficult, how heart wrenching it was for many people. And they seem to be -- I don't want to say enthusiastic, but really worked up by the situation. So we have the ingredients for a situation that could be getting much worse -- Jake.

TAPPER: Horrible. Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem. Thank you so much.

Coming up, it's an issue that the president has pushed over and over and over again, equal pay for women. Does he practice what he preaches? The White House salary data is out. We'll have that next.

Plus, you might have been part of a secret test without knowing it. Facebook apologizing today for an experiment it did in 2012, but is there more that the company is not telling us?


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Politics Lead now. It was the very first bill that President Obama signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which made it easier to sue for alleged pay discrimination. The new minted president said the law would send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody.

Today, the administration wants women voters to turn out in the midterm election so the White House has made a great deal of political hay out of the issue of pay and equity, but more than five years into office how equal is the pay for the female staffers in the Obama White House itself?

CNN White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, has the hard numbers. So Michelle, bottom line, is for us is the pay at the White House fair or unfair for women?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, in a word, fair. I mean, they have sort of a pay grade for each title and male or female, everybody working in those roles within each level makes the exact same amount. Where this gets a little weird and this keeps coming up is that when you take the same kind of average that the White House continually uses to push for more pay equality in America and you apply that average to White House pay, then, yes, there is also still a pay gap right here.


KOSINSKI (voice-over): It's one of President Obama's top agenda items. Here just yesterday.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let's make sure women earn pay that's equal to their efforts.

KOSINSKI: And back in April this --

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The average full-time-working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

KOSINSKI: That's been one tricky statistic. That's the U.S. on average. What it doesn't explain is the fact that more women hold the lower-paying jobs in a number of fields. For the highest-paying roles, the pool of applicants in many fields is predominantly male for a number of reasons including choice and those fields include the White House where more women hold the lower-paying positions and where if you use the same average used in a lot of the rhetoric, then the White House pay gap has women earning about 88 cents to the dollar and that hasn't changed in six years.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no doubt that there is more that we can do to improve our record here at the White House, but when compared to the private sector, our record stands pretty strong.

KOSINSKI: However, when you look at equal pay for equal work, which has been the real push behind the White House's efforts, the White House itself seems right on target. Top tier assistance to the president, male or female, Dennis McDonough and Susan Rice, Josh Earnest, all earn exactly 172,200 and other groupings of employees by job also had the exact same pay rate, male or female. Again, overall more women do hold the lower paying jobs.

(on camera): If that average doesn't necessarily represent equal work for equal pay is it fair to say that in America it's 77 cents to the dollar, female to male.

EARNEST: Again, what I would say is there are a variety of metrics that could be consulted to evaluate whether or not -- whether or not equal work leads to equal pay.


KOSINSKI: So the White House doesn't want to back away from using that statistic even though at times in explaining the pay gap at the White House it has contradicted the value of using that average in America at all, but the White House says when you look at the top leadership positions here, there is about an equal number of women and men -- Jake.

TAPPER: Michelle Kosinski at the White House, thank you so much. Let's bring in our political panel, the editor of the "Weekly Standard," Bill Crystal, and CNN political analyst and senior political writer for "Politico," Maggie Haberman, and CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Paul Begala.

Paul, let's start with you. If you use the same disputed metric, the 77 cents on the dollar the White House is not practicing what it preaches, right?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: OK. Next. But here's the thing, right, it's a smaller gap. It's a 10 percent gap at the White House and 23 percent nationally and still not good enough. I thought it was really impressive that the White House spokesman, the new guy, Josh Earnest, the new guy.

TAPPER: Right.

BEGALA: He wasn't defensive. He said we have work to do. What I like is at the higher levels there are. The communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, a woman. When there are national security issues he turns to Susan Rice, a woman. I think he has a solid record on this. Fair is fair, if you will use that kind of gross statistic, people will use it on you.


WILLIAM KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Idiotic, false statistic and now let's bite the White House a little bit and that's amusing, but it's depressing the thought that this president and this is could be engaged in such a war on women. I know Maggie is upset about it first. Obama, Biden, Kerry, Hagel, McDonough, all of the senior job and Eric Holder, the cabinet position and state defense and justice.

TAPPER: Treasury, right.

KRISTOL: All men. The president and the -- the president and he got rid of her, you know? So I'm outraged about that. Why is Hillary still there? In the oval office.

TAPPER: If Sarah Palin had been vice president we can never be happy. This all comes on the same day that there's this Quinnipiac poll about who is the worst since World War II. President Obama topping the list with 33 percent, George W. Bush coming up a strong second at 28. To be fair, the last time the Q poll tested for this was in 2006 and President Obama was number one. It seems the easiest thing to be called the worst president and it does affect President Obama's popularity.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER: This is not really a surprise. I am curious about Richard Nixon coming in as a distant third and not even a close third. I would love to know the average age of the people who are answering this poll. TAPPER: What do you think is behind that? We were talking about that during the break. Is it the Nixon people pushing a renaissance of him, a reconsideration or absence makes the heart grow fonder or --

KRISTOL: Just the truth wins out. He was a pretty good president from the first person I voted for in 1972 and I am still proud they voted for Nixon over McGovern. I'm proud that the American people are so sensible. By two and a half to one 20 percent of them think that President Obama is the worst president than Richard Nixon.

BEGALA: Politically, it's a different metric, right? In the Bush presidency, he was also listed as worst president ever. His job approval was dropping and it hit a low of 25. President Obama, the last 12 months, he's never been below 40 or 45. He's cruising in a very tight zone. Not great but certain death. In '06, I was helping run campaigns and all we did was run pictures of Bush and the opponent. It's not the disaster it was for Bush in '06 at all.

TAPPER: One thing that was interesting in the same poll was the question would the nation be better off if Mitt Romney had won, 45 percent said yes, we would be better off, 38 percent said no. We'd be worse off. Not a huge surprise to me given that 47 percent of the country voted for Romney, but it does seem to be putting a spring in the step of some Romney aides who are actually looking for him to run again.

KRISTOL: That's not the right conclusion.

TAPPER: Just for the transcript.

KRISTOL: The right conclusion to draw and I think Paul was getting to this in indirect ways. Look, it helped the Democrats to run against Bush not just in '06 and '08 but in 2012. I mean, that was a key part of the Obama campaign. If you want to go back to the bad Bush days and one of Romney's failures was not to have enough of a forward- looking agenda. That it allowed President Obama and Bill Clinton, the alternative to Obama is Bush.

It's very good for Republicans that President Obama is more dis-favored honestly than President Bush. It was a pure snapshot of where the two parties stand and it's slightly good for Republicans, I think.

TAPPER: What are you hearing from Romney people today and from Republicans? Are they legitimately excited about this? We should say this is better than McCain was doing at this point in the first term. It's not an unimpressive number although 47 percent voted for them.

HABERMAN: Romney supporters that the country got this wrong that he should have been president. He should have run and the vast number of donors and elected officials do not think Mitt Romney should run again and they do not think that he ran a very good campaign and he was not a good candidate.

TAPPER: We were showing a picture of him endorsing Scott Brown running for Senate -- I'm sorry, he is now running for New Hampshire. One other thing, the Hobby Lobby ruling earlier this week, there's a lot of reverberations from that ruling in a lot of different ways, but one interesting, some faith leaders friendly to the administration wrote a letter to the White House today asking for religious exemption for any future executive order on LGBT issues.

And the letter says, we focus here on the importance of a religious exemption and they do not hire LGBT Americans from receiving federal contracts. This is from friends of the administration if you look at that list and one of them worked for the White House. What's doing here?

HABERMAN: This is predictable and this is what the dissenting view from this opinion thought would happen. It was not a narrow ruling at all. It puts Obama in an uncomfortable position. I think he ultimately will not grant an exemption and then the question becomes do people start an avalanche of lawsuits over this, but this is an administration that needs more friends right now. It doesn't have many.

KRISTOL: The actual legislation that Democrats have supported, the Obama administration supported in Congress to make it a federal law and not to discriminate against gays and lesbians does have a religious exemption.

TAPPER: Signed into law by president --

KRISTOL: And he did not have a religious exemption.

TAPPER: Maggie Haberman, Bill Kristol, Paul Begala, a great conversation, thank you so much. Coming up, Facebook defending itself again today, apologizing for its secret experiment to play with your emotions, but is there more that the social media companies doing that you don't know about.

Plus the head of the United Nations gave his OK, but apparently that wasn't enough. Why Russia said niet to a special request from the producers of an award-winning television show.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The Money Lead now. You know, it sounds kind of like a sci-fi horror flick and a secret psychological experiment on almost 700,000 people and you may have been one of them without even knowing it, but for one week in early 2012, it's true. It actually happened.

Facebook intentionally changed the number of positive and negative posts that appeared in some users news feeds so Facebook could measure the emotional impact. Not a lot of likes since that news the got out. Today, Facebook's Chief Operations Officer Cheryl Samberg stopped short of a full apology.

But she said, quote, "This was part of an ongoing research companies to test different products and that's what it was. It was poorly communicated." Ongoing research, sounds a little creepy, right. Well, my next guest says you might be angry with Facebook for manipulating what context you see, but you should not be surprised.

Let's bring in David Weinberger, senior researcher at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and author of the book "Too Big To Know" and the new opinion piece "When is Facebook not messing with your head."

So David, you say Facebook is always manipulating my new string. Explain.

DAVID WEINBERGER, SENIOR RESEARCHER, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It has to. Facebook says a normal user when she or he opens up their page there's maybe 1500 different messages and posts from people from your friends and people you are following and pages and the like all vying for your attention.

And if you went to your telephone answering machine and there were 1500 messages you would give up on telephone answering machines. So Facebook has to manipulate the messages that you are seeing. It's what its business is.

So I'm a little concerned that in the understandable concern any this experiment that people will think that once the -- if we stop the experiments then we would get a vision that is untouched by Facebook, but know Facebook also always manipulates and touches what they're seeing.

TAPPER: How do they do it and why do they do it other than the mass of messages you refer to?

WEINBERGER: The mass is enough. That means they have to filter. The question is how do they do it and towards what end? They don't randomly filter and so they say, they don't give away the whole algorithm, but they say it depends upon how many times you interact with someone that presumably drives up the score or how many times a post has been liked or clicked on and things like that.

They're looking at the overall behavior and they're trying to show you stuff that, here is the tricky part, stuff that will make you happy, but it's what a commercial company's definition of happiness, that's the question and for Facebook, it seems that Facebook's aim is best served if they can get you to click on a lot of things and that's sort of the definition of happiness.

If you're clicking a lot and then you're going to a lot of pages and you're seeing more ads. That's Facebook's interest, but it's not necessarily, in fact, it's clearly not our interest.

TAPPER: What would you want them to be doing? You seem to go along with the theory that it does need to be filtered somehow. What would you want them to be doing as opposed to just trying to encourage me to click as much as possible so I see as many ads?

WEINBERGER: Well, so there are a number of things -- there are a couple of things. One is that more transparency about how they're filtering, what they are filtering for and what aim they're trying to achieve and if we knew that we could say it's not exactly our aim and another is to give us more control over the waiting and over how the filters work and so we could say -- we can adjust the mix.

Maybe we want more commercial messages and more screaming headlines that will get us to click on the next button. Maybe we don't. More control would help and then there is the big thing that we probably can't do anything about, unfortunately, at least not immediately, which is we've taken this hugely important part of our culture, of the global culture, which is how we connect with other people.

And we've put it in the hands of a private corporation whose interests necessarily do not always align with ours. We did not do that with the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web connects people to pages and it was given to us as an open and free and non-commercial environment.

And it's quite wonderful because of that, but when it comes to connecting people to people, we somehow have gotten ourselves in a position where we have to deal with a corporation who has different interests than we do as people, as individuals and as a culture.

TAPPER: David Weinberger, thank you so much.

Coming up, a consolation prize, perhaps? Fans are so eager to reward U.S. goalkeeper, Tim Howard for his performance in the World Cup. They petitioned the White House on his behalf. Will their demands be answered? That's coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Time now for the Sports Lead. The U.S. men's national team's frantic comeback bid came up short Tuesday against Belgium. But the squad won big in the ratings, a tick under 16.5 million tuned in to watch the match. Tim Howard, the bushy, bearded U.S. goalkeeper stopped a record 16 shots. He deterred so many Belgian attacks it prompted one to Internet mischief maker to edit Wikipedia and appoint him secretary of defense.

His performance and that Internet joke earned him a call from the actual Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. The whole of Twitter wanted the goalie's face added to Mount Rushmore. But let's go ahead and have him replace that guy on the $1 bill. Washington has a city and a monument named after him after all.

If that seems like reaching for the moon, some soccer fanatics seemed to be OK for settling to the skies. Fans created a petition on the White House web site asking to rename the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport after Howard. We know of at least one senior Obama administration official to get behind the idea.

And finally, the Pop Culture Lead, an international showdown between the U.N. secretary-general and Russian President Vladimir Putin and not the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent annexation of Crimea. No, the Russian delegation to the United Nations absolutely will not and cannot stand for Frank Underwood, scratching the Security Council chamber tables with that ring of his.

Russia using its veto power to nix a request from producers of the Netflix drama "House of Cards." They want to film two episodes in the U.N. Security Council. "House of Cards" had planned to shoot at the U.N. in August, but the Russian representatives said the chamber needs to be available for unanticipated crises and maybe there's something Mr. Putin isn't telling us about his summer plans?

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also the leadcnn, and check out the show page for blogs, videos and extras. That is it for THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper and I turn you over now to Brianna Keilar. She's filling in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Brianna.