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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Kim Jong-Un Pledges To Expand Nuclear Program; Kim Jong-Un Named "Chairman Of Workers' Party"; North Korean Officials Pledge To "Annihilate The U.S."; North Korea Expels "Disrespectful" BBC Journalists; Trump Claims Bill Clinton Is "Worst Abuser Of Women"; Clinton And Trump Battle For Female Voters; Family Claims Negligence Against Terminix And Subcontractor; Former Facebook Employees: We Routinely Suppress Conservative News. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired May 9, 2016 - 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: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
In our world lead today, CNN's Will Ripley was given unprecedented access to North Korea's once-in-a-generation political gathering, during which its leader, Kim Jong-un, was officially coronated with a new title, the chairman of the Workers Party.
There was a lot of tough talk during this coronation against the United States, North Korea pledging to -- quote -- "annihilate the United States from the surface of the Earth" and promising that there will be more nuclear weapons made in Pyongyang.
The government of North Korea does not offer this access with no strings attached. Their censors closely watch what Western journalists report from their country. Three of Ripley's colleagues, a team with the BBC, were kicked out of North Korea for -- quote -- "speaking ill of the country."
Let's bring in CNN correspondent Will Ripley, who is live in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Will, thanks for joining us.
You were the first reporter to cover this first North Korean Congress in decades. The hostility towards the U.S. sounds quite ugly. Tell us about it.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, North Korea is certainly unlike any country that I have ever visited.
Just for example, you can hear behind me the 5:00 a.m. wakeup alarm is playing citywide to get people up for what North Korea will call a spontaneous celebration of loyalty in the streets later today, although spontaneity might be an overstatement, because we have seen people practicing for this parade that we believe is going to happen for weeks now. But, you know, the rhetoric against the United States, the talk of
annihilating the U.S., the talk of using North Korea's nuclear arsenal against the imminent threat of invasion from the U.S., and then that resolution at the Party's Congress over the weekend to grow the size and quality of North Korea's nuclear arsenal comes at the same time that clearly the government wants the United States audience to see what's happening in their country and view it as legitimate, which is part of the reason why we believe along with a handful of other media from agencies around the world were selected out of the larger group covering the Workers Party Congress.
We were put on a bus and not told where we were going. We went through a 90-minute security check and didn't know until we were pulling up to the Workers Party Congress building that we would actually be allowed inside to witness the moment when Kim Jong-un received this new, even bigger title that was created for him at the Workers Party.
He's now the chairman. He was the first secretary before.
TAPPER: And, Will, that BBC team was accused of insulting the dignity of North Korea. They were kicked out. What happened there? And have you experienced any sort of close calls while covering North Korea?
RIPLEY: Rupert Wingfield-Hayes is a correspondent. I work with him. We're both based in Tokyo. I have known him for a couple of years.
And we were just talking the other day about some of his reports that he's filed over the last week that he got a very harsh talking to from the North Korean authorities. I have been severely reprimanded several times about some of my reports, specifically reports pertaining to this country's supreme leader, Kim Jong-un.
It is the topic that is the most sensitive thing that reporters who are coming into this country talk about. And in this case, apparently, North Korea felt that Rupert's reports were so disrespectful that as he was about to board his flight, they pulled him out of the airport, they put him in a room, they questioned he and his team for eight hours before making him and his bureau chief sign letters of apology before allowing Rupert to get on a plane, saying he is banned from ever coming back into North Korea.
So it does really underscore the situation that we as foreign journalists face when we're working in this country dealing with a society that is very sensitive about its image, especially when it comes to the image of their leader.
TAPPER: All right. Will Ripley live for us inside North Korea, thank you so much.
A former Facebook employee saying the social network is trying to hide something from you -- that story coming up.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Sticking with our politics lead, Donald Trump taking direct aim at Hillary Clinton, calling her a -- quote -- "enabler" for her husband's past infidelities and the ensuing scandals and suggesting that former President Bill Clinton was the -- quote -- "worst abuser of women in American politics."
Just a few years ago, however, the presumptive presidential nominee had a completely different take on former Clinton's scandals.
Let's get right to CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who is traveling with Hillary Clinton's campaign in the Northern Virginia suburbs.
And, Jeff, Clinton just responded to Trump's comments that she's an enabler. What did she say?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: She did, Jake, just a few moments ago.
We asked her a few questions after her event here, and she said: "I have nothing to say to him or how he's running his campaign."
She's made it clear that she is going to focus on the substance of this, all these issues here. Her campaign believes that this good for her in the fight for women voters. That's why she's here in Northern Virginia.
ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton is hitting the suburbs.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great location. It's so bright and cheerful.
ZELENY: She won the Virginia primary two months ago.
H. CLINTON: Hello, Virginia!
ZELENY: But she's back today with the general election in mind.
H. CLINTON: There still is a challenge with equal pay for women, which is real, not made up.
ZELENY: Her battle with Donald Trump already hardening in their fight for women voters.
H. CLINTON: You are one honest young woman.
ZELENY: As she presents herself as a fighter for children...
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She just made something good. ZELENY: ... Trump is reviving old Clinton controversies.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's married to a man who was the worst abuser of women in the history of politics. She's married to a man who hurt many women.
And Hillary, if you look and you study, Hillary hurt many women, the women that he abused.
ZELENY: Trump defending those comments on CNN's "NEW DAY," telling Chris Cuomo that Clinton played the woman card first.
TRUMP: She's playing the women's card to the hilt.
ZELENY: Women, always a pivotal vote, even more so this year. She leads Trump 61-35 nationally among women, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll. The Clinton campaign is pushing back with substance, showing Clinton is a fighter for families.
H. CLINTON: It's clear that there are so many challenges facing young families today that we have got to come to grips with.
ZELENY: Her fight with Bernie Sanders wages on, but, today, he's going after Trump too.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, you know Donald Trump. Oh, I get it. You don't think he is a brilliant, successful businessman who can bring the kind of prosperity to America that he has brought here to Atlantic City.
SANDERS: Is that your point?
ZELENY: Clinton is taking her message to small groups of voters, like this gathering today at a cafe in Virginia.
The path to the Twitter goes directly through suburbs like here in Loudoun County, Virginia. Clinton visited for this reason. President Obama carried the county by 8 percent in 2008 and only three points four years later.
But in the 2014 midterm elections, Republican Barbara Comstock won the congressional seat by 17 points. She's torn, telling "The Washington Post": "I can't support Hillary Clinton and I won't be, but Donald Trump needs to earn the votes of me and many others."
These swing voters will be key to the fall election. The Clinton campaign is still trying to build excitement around her candidacy to be the first woman president, particularly young women, an effort mocked by "Saturday Night Live."
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: It feels like she's trying too hard.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZELENY: Now, Secretary Clinton said, Jake, that a lot of Donald Trump's rhetoric is quite frankly dangerous and she's trying to keep focused on substance.
But the question here remains is, there are so many new voters out there who were not even of voting age or of age when all this scandal was happening, so it is new information for them. The Clinton campaign is watching this very, very carefully, but her aides believe anything Donald Trump says to this regard actually helps her in the long run -- Jake.
TAPPER: We will see. One suspects Donald Trump has just begun on this tack. Thank you so much.
Coming up: their 9-year-old boy poisoned while they were trying to fix a common problem in their home -- whom his parents say are to blame for leaving their son with severe brain damage -- that horrifying story next.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In our National Lead today, the return of warm weather means the return of insects all across the United States. So it's common for families to turn to exterminators during this time of the year.
But one family says the decision to hire Terminex, one of the largest exterminators in the country, had devastating consequences for their family, exposing a 9-year-old to pesticides leading him to suffer from severe brain damage.
This is the second serious poisoning case involving Terminix in just six months. Here's CNN's Sara Ganim with the report.
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their Florida house had dry wood termites and needed fumigation, so Carl and Lori McCaughey decided the company for the job was one of the largest around, Terminix.
CARL MCCAUGHEY: I think the decision was made to go with them as opposed to just a local company.
GANIM: So in August 2015, the house was tented and fumigated, but it was a subcontractor hired by Terminix that actually did the work.
LORI MCCAUGHEY, PEYTON'S MOTHER: They had a sales representative, Terminix, that came out and sold us the job, you know, looked around the house with us, but it was actually another company that showed up to do the fumigation.
GANIM: That company was a small business called Sunland Pest Control, which was run out of this residence. When the McCaughey came back home, there was a notice on the front door saying the house was safe to enter. But almost immediately there was trouble, especially for their energetic and athletic son, Peyton, then 9 years old.
(on camera): Tell me when you first realized that something was wrong.
LORI MCCAUGHEY: A couple hours after we got in there he said he was feeling sick.
GANIM (voice-over): Things got progressively worse. They took Peyton to an urgent care center where a doctor had horrifying news.
LORI MCCAUGHEY: He immediately told us your son has been poisoned.
GANIM: Poisoned, doctors later told them, by the pesticide used in that fumigation. Peyton had severe brain damage.
LORI MCCAUGHEY: His arms would fly around. His head was going back and forth nonstop. To see your child running around on a Sunday to the next night completely with all these wires and things down his -- tubes down his throat, it was -- it was horrible. It was -- it was like a nightmare.
[16:50:01]CARL MCCAUGHEY: At times his tongue was hanging out of his mouth. When a doctor tells you, you know, that's as good it's going to get.
GANIM: It turns out Sunland Pest Control's owner, (inaudible) Williams posted the re-occupancy notice for the family to return home without properly checking to see if the air was safe. According to this investigation by the Florida Department of Agriculture, Williams knew his air quality devices should not be used since they did not work.
Moreover, investigators said the fumigation equipment was faulty. The pump was leaking, the printed circuit boards were not up to correct parts. There was no airflow to the unit.
BILL WILLIAMS, FAMILY ATTORNEY: It's our position that Terminix did not take the care that they should have taken in conducting a fumigation properly and overseeing the individuals that were doing that fumigation properly.
GANIM: After Peyton's poisoning, Sunland Pest Control was shut down by the Florida Department of Agriculture. Sunland's owner and his employee were charged in federal court and found guilty of improperly using a pesticide.
The family blames Terminix and is suing. In court papers, Terminix denies any responsibility, instead putting the blame on Sunland, the subcontractor.
LORI MCCAUGHEY: A positive, amazing little kid and tells us all the time don't worry because I'm going to be OK. He's stronger than us, that's for sure. GANIM: But for Terminix, this is already the second serious poisoning case in less than six months. A family from Delaware on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands suffered serious neurological injuries after checking into a vacation home that was improperly fumigated by Terminix. Their injuries are believed to be permanent.
Peyton is slowly getting better. He's able to go to school part-time but spends his days in intense therapy.
GANIM: The owner of Sunland Pest Control, when I reached out to him by phone, told CNN that he apologized to Peyton's father and never intended to hurt anyone. He denied that he had faulty equipment or that he did anything wrong.
He said he had been properly trained but when pressed about the federal charges he said, quote, "I'm not going to get into that." He and his employee are both set to be sentenced in federal court in Florida on Wednesday -- Jake.
TAPPER: Heart breaking story. Sara Ganim, thank you so much.
Coming up, Facebook says its users determine what topics are trending, but new claims suggest that may not be the case all the time. What are some Facebook employees allegedly hiding from users?
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Let's turn to our Money Lead now. Facebook's trending section may be how you heard about that thing that everyone's talking about in the office, you know that thing.
But now a new report claims that according to a former Facebook employee, the social media mega company sometimes ignores what is actually trending among its billion users if the story originated from a conservative news source or if it's a topic causing buzz among conservatives.
Now for their part, Facebook denies the allegations claiming they have procedures in place to assure neutrality in their trending section. Facebook said, quote, "these guidelines do not permit the suppression of political perspectives nor do they permit the prioritization of one viewpoint over another one or one news outlet over another."
For what it's worth the story alleging all this is currently trending on Facebook. Let's talk to the guy who broke the story, Michael Nunez. He is the technology editor from Gizmodo who broke it.
Michael, welcome. What did these former Facebook employees tell you?
MICHAEL NUNEZ, TECHNOLOGY EDITOR, GIZMODO: So what they told me was that there was a system in place that allowed them to either blacklist or inject stories that weren't trending into the news feed. So in a sense, there were human curators that were actually, you know, affecting what was showing up on Facebook's trending news feed.
You know, for the last two years Facebook has maintained that it's been an algorithm sorting these topics, so we obviously found these revelations to be pretty interesting to say the least.
TAPPER: And why might Facebook executives or officials want to keep stories about people such as Mitt Romney or Ted Cruz or American sniper, Chris Kyle, off the trending list and inject others into its trending list? Why do that because of their own personal bias?
NUNEZ: Well, you know, so it's important to note that Facebook isn't mandating this of the news curators. In fact, you know, they have basically tried to wash the existence of these curators from the Facebook planet.
For the last two years they've been saying an algorithm is doing the sorting. We have found that actually a small group of 20 journalists, they are recent graduates from East Coast private school, often Ivy League schools, are the ones that are actually, you know, activating a trend so that it can show up in your feed or blacklisting it.
So, you know, it's not that Facebook has any bias here is that these young journalists are the ones that are choosing what trends and what doesn't, and, you know, the question then becomes whether you trust recent graduates to determine what the most important news of the day is.
TAPPER: And quickly, if you could, Michael, did you find any evidence of political bias being applied the other way on liberal sites like msnbc.com or daily codes or think progress?
NUNEZ: No, we didn't find any evidence of that, but, you know, at least in one instance we had a source that was maintaining a list for the course of six-month period in which he found items like Chris Kyle, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, and a variety of other conservative news topics that were blacklisted by Facebook's news curators. In that case, they weren't allowed to trend on the news site.
TAPPER: All right, Michael Nunez, thank you so much. Congrats on the scoop.
Tomorrow on THE LEAD, we'll talk to Senator Marco Rubio, his first national TV interview since dropping out of race for the Republican presidential nomination.
He said today he does not want to be considered to be Donald Trump's running mate. We'll talk more about that and other things.
That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, will it --