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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Blinken Taking Questions About Chinese Spy Balloon; U.S. Adds An Astonishing 517,000 Jobs In January, Crushing Estimates; Zelenskyy: Ukraine Will Fight To Hold "Fortress" City Of Bakhmut; Ohio Education Officials Investigate Homeschool Network That Distributed White Supremacist, Pro-Nazi Materials; Analysts: ChatGPT Is Growing Faster Than TikTok Or Instagram. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 03, 2023 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And before we go, a quick programming note. Watch the all new CNN film "American Pain" this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Have a great weekend, everybody.

And THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: China says that contraption over the United States is just researching weather. Yeah, okay, sure.

THE LEAD starts right now. China is calling it a civilian airship. The U.S. calls it a spy balloon. Whatever you call it, it's causing a huge diplomatic riff between two global superpowers as the Pentagon contemplates shooting it down.

And hate in home schooling. The discovery of disturbing pro-Nazi and racist teachings to young kids in Ohio sparking a debate over what parents can teach their children at home under the auspices of education.

Plus, ChatGPT growing faster than TikTok or Instagram, bound to revolutionize how we operate, maybe even about to take your day job.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is speaking right now about his canceled trip to China. Let's listen in.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: In our skies is a clear violation of our sovereignty, a clear violation of international law, and clearly unacceptable. And we've made that clear to China.

Any country that has its air space violated in this way, I think, would respond similarly. And I can only imagine what the reaction would be in China if they were on the other end. And what this has done is created the conditions that undermine the

purpose of the trip, including ongoing efforts to build a floor under the relationship and to address a broad range of issues that are of concern to the American people, I believe to the Chinese people, and certainly as well to people around the world.

So, we took the step that I announced earlier today in postponing the planned visit for this weekend.

Meanwhile, we are going to remain engaged with the PRC as this ongoing issue is resolved. The first step is getting the surveillance asset out of our air space. And that's what we're focused on. And I thought it was very important for the senior policy official in Beijing to hear this directly from me. It would be premature for me to weigh in on any other specifics as this surveillance balloon remains in our air space. As I said, job one is getting it out of our air space.

We continue to believe that having open lines of communication is important. Indeed, this incident only underscores the importance. That's why we will maintain them.

That's also why, when conditions permit, I plan to go to China. But the most important thing right now in the moment is to see that this surveillance asset gets out of our air space and we'll take it from there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) of SPS, Andrea, we need to move on.

BLINKEN: Again, I don't want to get ahead of anything other than to say the first step is to get the surveillance craft out of our air space.


REPORTER: Thank you. I have two questions. Secretary Blinken, North Korea's nuclear threats are increasing every day, even hopefully, especially to South Korea --

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

We've been listening to Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking at the U.S. State Department after announcing that he is canceling his upcoming trip to Beijing, China, at least for now, after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was spotted flying over the United States. The balloon is about the size of three school buses, we're told.

Today, the Pentagon said the balloon is about 60,000 feet over the central United States, but would not give a specific location. Although most recently around 2:00 p.m. Eastern, a balloon was spotted over the skies over Columbia, Missouri, and shortly before then the national weather service in Kansas City, Missouri, tweeted these images of a balloon, decidedly not theirs.

Today, Republicans and Democrats are demanding answers from the Biden administration as to how this happened, how this would allowed to happen, and why the Biden administration has taken the steps they did, or did not. President Biden, we're told, has decided for now not to shoot the balloon out of the sky because of concerns that the debris could injure or kill civilians and seriously damage buildings.


But as CNN's Alex Marquardt reports for us now, the Pentagon is not ruling that out as a potential option in the coming days.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a ground stop on our airport, and this thing is up in the sky.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): This thing now believed by the United States to be a Chinese government spy balloon, flying 60,000 feet up in the atmosphere over the country.

BRIG. GEN. PAT RYDER, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We do know that the balloon has violated U.S. air space and international law, which is unacceptable.

MARQUARDT: U.S. Defense officials have been tracking it closely for several days, debating whether to shoot it down and advising President Joe Biden it would be too dangerous.

RYDER: We assessed it. It does not pose a risk to people on the ground as it currently is traversing the continental United States. And so, out of an abundance of caution, cognizant of the potential impact to civilians on the ground, from a debris field, right now, we're going to continue to monitor and review options.

MARQUARDT: The news breaking just days before Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to travel to Beijing. The administration's highest level trip to China so far. The trip now postponed, despite a rare Chinese apology and claim that the balloon was for civilian purposes and floated off course.

BLINKEN: The presence of this surveillance balloon in U.S. air space is a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law. That it's an irresponsible act and that the PRC's decision to take this action on the eve of my planned visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we are prepared to have.

MARQUARDT: The Pentagon says steps have been taken to protect sensitive intelligence targets on the ground. The balloon is the size of three buses, equipped with solar panels for power and a surveillance payload. Satellite and other data indicate the balloon may have originated in central China, with weather patterns pushing it out over the Pacific ocean into Canada and down into the United States, where it has been crossing Montana and into Missouri.

It can maneuver itself and has changed course. Currently floating over the central U.S., officials say, while offering little more on its precise location.

RYDER: The public certainly has the ability to look up in the sky and see where the balloon is.

MARQUARDT: And they have. Curiously training eyes and cameras towards the skies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What planet is that?


MARQUARDT (on camera): And, Jake, Secretary Blinken has said he will reschedule his trip to Beijing as soon as conditions allow. What those conditions are, they will not say. But, clearly, the temperature needs to come down. We just heard Secretary Blinken say the number one priority is to get this balloon out of our air space. The Pentagon believes that this could be several more days, in fact, so they will keep watching it as it floats on by, keeping their options open -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Alex Marquardt at the U.S. State Department for us, thank you so much.

Let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson in Hong Kong, CNN national security correspondent Kylie Atwood and CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean.

And, Pete, I want to start with your brand new reporting. You're learning that pilots are reporting seeing this balloon during their flights.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It was only a matter of time before pilots started spotting this, Jake. They're flying at high altitudes. What's so interesting is they're reporting this balloon only a few thousand feet above them. Look at this report from the crew of a Cessna citation private jet flying at 43,000 feet. They said, derelict balloon adrift at 50,000 feet, only a 7,000-foot difference.

They reported that not all that long ago, near the Kansas City, Missouri, international airport. What's also interesting here is the pentagon says the balloon was cruising at 60,000 feet. There's a question about whether or not this balloon is descending. Remember, airliners are typically at an altitude of 30,000 feet. So, the other big question here is whether or not this balloon will descend and have more of an impact on commercial air travel in the U.S.

We have already seen that happen once before. On Wednesday, there was a ground stop and flights were diverted from about a 200-mile swath of air space between Helena and Billings, Montana. We know that lasted for two hours.

Now the question is whether or not there will be more ground stops because of this. And how this balloon will descend to the ground, will it pop or come down gracefully? Remember, what goes up has to come down, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Ivan, Secretary Blinken's trip to China has been postponed. No future dates have been announced. We should note, it's not often a visit to such a significant adversary is made by a secretary of state, much less canceled. It seems like a fairly significant diplomatic breach here.


And the relationship between the U.S. and China have really soured over the past couple of years. This trip by Blinken was supposed to be building on a meeting between President Biden and the Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Bali at the G20 Summit in November.


The Biden administration had been complaining that Chinese officials simply weren't talking to U.S. officials. There had been an agreement to reopen lines of communication and try to build guardrails to prevent the world's two largest economies, the tensions from spiraling out of control.

So now you have this serious incident, which Blinken, we just heard him speaking from Korea, calling it irresponsible, a violation of international law, a violation of U.S. air space and sovereignty. But also saying, hey, we've been able to communicate directly about this, to prevent the tensions from spiraling out of control. That seems to be paying some dividends right now. At the same time, though, the Biden administration has said, we cannot have this visit at this time. This is going to be a distraction and there's a major problem here.

So, I do think we're seeing some results of that diplomacy right now. The big question, what to do about this balloon? I'm sure that U.S. security officials would love to get their hands on the technology that the balloon is carrying right now.

TAPPER: Yeah, indeed.

And, Kylie, the Pentagon confirmed today this is not the first time a surveillance balloon has appeared over the United States, but previous instances were not made public. So, why is this time different? Just because people in the public saw it?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I think that's part of it. I also think the fact that it happened on the eve of the secretary of state's planned visit is also quite consequential here. We heard that from senior State Department officials today saying, yes, this has happened before, but this is happening before this major visit, that we had all been planning for. We don't think that visit can now be as productive as we had hoped. That's why they're pulling down.

We heard just now from the secretary of state saying the decision to take this action is detrimental on behalf of China.

What that indicates is that the United States believes it was deliberate that China actually allowed or sent this spy balloon over the United States. Perhaps it was even deliberate that it happened right before this trip was going to go ahead, to test the United States. The other thing he said is that the United States right now is focused first and foremost on getting this spy balloon out of U.S. air space.

What they're asking China to do, we really don't know, but he didn't count out any additional repercussions for China as a result of this, you know, violating U.S. sovereignty, other than pulling down this trip -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Ivan, on CNN earlier today, the former secretary of defense under Donald Trump Mark Esper said he finds it curious the Chinese government is making excuses instead of outright denying that it's their balloon.

What do you make of how Chinese officials are handling this?

WATSON: I'm really stunned, actually. I mean, I've been based here in Hong Kong for more than seven years, Jake. I've never heard the Chinese government expressing regret over its actions before, something akin to an apology right here. Basically coming out and saying, yes, this is our balloon and it's flown off course. They claim it's a meteorological balloon, which of course the Pentagon has challenged that description of this thing.

But it is a far cry from the tone that we have typically heard in past years. This so-called wolf warrior diplomacy that's come out of the Chinese government and Chinese officials were aggressive and nationalistic and pounce on things. Instead here, there is acknowledgment that this is theirs.

Maybe part of this has to do with the fact that Americans can see this thing with the naked eye. We -- just -- the Chinese government is very opaque, so what is the motivation for sending it up at this time? Is it deliberate? Is it, in fact, an accident that this thing blew off- course?

But it is a huge symbol right now. It's not just affecting the U.S. China has summoned the -- sorry, Canada has had to summon the Chinese ambassador there because it flew through Canadian air space as well.

So, it does look embarrassing, I could argue, for the Chinese government to have this giant thing floating around, especially when China makes such a big deal about infringements on its own national sovereignty and accuses the U.S. of this almost on a daily basis.

TAPPER: And, Kylie, you spoke to some family members of one of the Americans currently wrongfully detained in China. They were closely watching Secretary Blinken's trip to Beijing to see if their cases were going to be brought up. They must be very disappointed in some ways.

ATWOOD: Of course. This was an opportunity for them. They were hoping the secretary of state was going to raise all three Americans who are wrongfully detained in China in these meetings and potentially, you know, get some action on some back and forth to try to get their release.

[16:15:06] But as we have seen in U.S./China relations, when there's one bad thing, it often happens to have ripple effects on other efforts that they're trying to get under way. So, this is not a good thing for these families.

TAPPER: Pete Muntean, Ivan Watson, Kylie Atwood, thanks so much.

Let's talk about this all now with Republican Congressman Mike Lawler of New York. He's on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, good to see you. Do you agree with the decision Secretary Blinken made to at least for now postpone his trip to China?

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Yes, I think that's the right decision. You know, China got caught with their hand in the cookie jar here, and I think we need more explanation, frankly, from the Biden administration, especially since it's clear they were aware of this for several days. But the fact that they have, you know, come into U.S. air space and violated our sovereignty and, frankly, I think there's certainly a question of the privacy of Americans here, I think there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.

So, I definitely think it was the right thing to do, to pause this trip. You know, China is our greatest geopolitical threat. And the reason Speaker McCarthy and the House Republican majority have created the Select Committee on China is for reasons like this.


LAWLER: We are, you know, in a serious situation with them, and we need to take them serious as an adversary.

TAPPER: The balloon was spotted earlier this week over the state of Montana, which is where 100 intercontinental ballistic missiles are buried in missile silos at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Are you confident the Chinese government was not able to access any top secret information or military secrets?

LAWLER: I'm not. I think there's serious concern. I mean, you know, obviously, the Pentagon is aware. I think, you know, there are questions as to why this was not shot down, this spy balloon shot down, as soon as we were aware it came into American air space. But, you know, I think there are a lot of questions still to be answered. And I think, obviously, the Biden administration should work closely with Congress here to provide those answers as quickly as possible.

TAPPER: On that subject, the Pentagon says that the decision was made not to shoot the balloon down, at least right now, because debris could injure or kill people on the ground, seriously damage buildings. Take a listen to what former defense secretary under the Trump administration, Mark Esper, said about that subject, shooting it down on CNN earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: My interest would be not necessarily shooting it down but bringing it down so that we can capture the equipment and understand exactly what they're doing. Are they taking pictures? Are they intercepting signals? What are they doing and what is the level of technical capability?


TAPPER: What do you think?

LAWLER: I don't think he's wrong at all. Obviously the Chinese are saying one thing, that this is about weather and obviously we have great concern that this is about spying. So, I think if we're able to, you know, bring this down safely, certainly, and examine the balloon and the technology that is being used as part of it, certainly that is something that would, I'm sure, be of great interest to the Pentagon.

TAPPER: Former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger who's also a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard, he suggested that maybe the Chinese government is trying to make the U.S. shoot down the balloon so the Chinese can get a better idea of the U.S. air capabilities. Can planes get up that high and function in that way. Do you think that's possible?

LAWLER: Look, I think we could play a lot of hypotheticals and what- ifs here, but the bottom line is, this balloon should not be flying over U.S. air space. The fact it continues to, unimpeded, is a problem. So I think the Biden administration needs to act to bring this to a swift resolution here and certainly as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am very interested in getting answers to many of these questions.

TAPPER: What kind of surveillance does the United States do over countries like China? I imagine, we do -- the United States does quite a bit perform I don't know if we limit it to satellites in outer space or what, but what might the counterargument or the greater context be on that?

LAWLER: Look, I'm not going to get into all of the dynamics. Obviously, every country, you know, does certain things to protect their own interest, but I think the bottom line here is that this is a very clear violation of international law, very clear violation of American sovereignty and air space. And we have an obligation to address it.

So, I think, you know, for the immediate, we need to bring this to a swift resolution. And, you know, it just, again, speaks volumes to the situation with respect to China. They are our greatest geopolitical threat. They are a threat economically, they are a threat militarily. And we need to take it serious.

That is why, as part of the House Republican majority, we created this select committee on China and we are going to be raising a lot of questions about this, including this latest incident.

TAPPER: Republican Congressman Mike Lawler of New York, thank you so much. Good to see you again.

Coming up next, the double take on today's jobs report. A whopping 517,000 jobs added in January. But how does that square with all the layoffs we keep reading about day after day?

Plus, the troops acting as Russia's right hand on the battlefield in Ukraine and when their dwindling numbers does what Putin is expected, try to ramp up his brutal invasion of Ukraine in the coming weeks.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: An astonishingly positive jobs report, showing the labor market is currently booming. The United States added 517,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate fell to 3.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the lowest unemployment has been since 1969 -- 1969.

President Biden touted these numbers today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, today, I'm happy to report that the State of the Union and the state of our economy is strong. Twelve million, 12 million jobs since I took office. Put simply, I would argue the Biden economic plan is working.


TAPPER: CNN's Richard Quest is here with us.

And, Richard, what do these numbers mean?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Well, it is a conundrum, Jake. I can give you the nuts and bolts of them, and I can tell you that it's in hospitality, it's in restaurants, it's in travel. Those are the people coming back into the industry.

But that really doesn't explain the eye-popping nature of this number. Economists are surprised that with 400 basis points plus, 4 percent of increase in interest rates, and more to come, that the labor market is still this robust. And the only way one can say it is that this is what it's like now, and that there will probably be a very different picture by mid to late of this year. Now, that doesn't mean to say it's not good news now, but it means it is the calm before the storm.

TAPPER: But, Richard, what about the tech industry because I keep hearing and reading about layoff after layoff.

QUEST: Yes, but put that in context. Those companies, the Amazons, the Apples, and the like, they are the once that really ramped up through pandemic. They are the ones that added millions of jobs and now find themselves overstaffed with the potential for a drop-off in orders. So, they are trimming back.

But the numbers are large, but they're not horrifically big. Yes, when you say 20,000 or 10,000 jobs, that's horrific in a sense of those involved, but it's often only 3 percent, 4 percent of the workforce. And the one thing we do know about tech, as soon as things pick up, they will start employing again. So, they are a bellwether as well as a follower.

TAPPER: Over the past few months we kept hearing from economists that the U.S. could be headed for a recession. We have these job numbers today. How is that possible?

QUEST: Jake, you know, it is perfectly possible. This is the calm before the storm. This is -- this is all the money everybody saved during pandemic, $2 trillion worth. Now, $1 trillion of it has since been spent.

But, Jake, it would be foolish to believe that 2023 is going to look like this right the way through. Every economist I've spoken to, pretty much, says that by mid to late year, that is when the recession, if it comes, will come, and most still believe it will come, the calm before the storm.

TAPPER: All right. Richard Quest, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the economy will probably be primary focus of President Biden's State of the Union Address, which is coming up next week, on Tuesday. Join me, along with Anderson Cooper for a special coverage Tuesday night starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

They reportedly shot when refused to fight. How Putin's brutal war is even running out of hardened criminals to join the battle.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, Russia's barbaric bombardment of densely populated areas of Ukraine. The strikes come as the war rages in eastern Donbas region, as Ukraine's military works to try to stop Russian forces from encircling key city of Bakhmut.

And as CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports for us from Ukraine now, authorities vowing to prevent a Russian breakthrough.

We want to warn you that some of the images you're about to see are rather graphic and disturbing.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Ukrainian reinforcements on the move around the embattled city of Bakhmut. While the Russians have made gains here recently, Kyiv is now sending in some of its toughest combatants. Ukraine's president vowing stiff resistance. We consider Bakhmut our

fortress, he says, we consider our soldiers who have fallen here heroes. If we get accelerated weapons, especially long range, we will not only gain ground around Bakhmut, we will also begin to de-occupy Donbas.

Russia's gains have come mostly thanks to this man, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the brutal Wagner private military company, now showing off his group's ever heavier weapons. Wagner has long styled itself as Vladimir Putin's most effective fighting force, often using convicts recruited straight from Russian jails for near suicidal assaults on Ukrainian positions.


The U.S. and Ukraine say Wagner troopers who refuse are often claimed on the spot. A claim Wagner has not denied. After taking a small village north of Bakhmut, these fighters even bragged about the appalling conditions.

The guys swam across the river, he says, their hand and feet froze, some lost their limbs, but they went ahead and did not ask for evacuation.

While visiting a new Wagner training center in an occupied part of Ukraine, Prigozhin admitted he wants more fighters, ruthless, brutal and expendable.

Here they finish their training, he said. First they make them into baby eagles and here they become cannibals.

But those so-called cannibals appear to be dying by the thousands. This drone footage given to us by Ukrainian forces purports to show scores of Wagner fighters littering the hills around Bakhmut.

The drone commander tells me Wagner's assault tactics are extremely wasteful. They mix in prisoners with no combat experience and send them as cannon fodder to exhaust our fighters, he says. Then they send their own special forces to attack our flanks. While Ukrainian troops are on the back foot in Bakhmut, Wagner's attrition rate might be so high, they can't even find enough convicts to use as cannon fodder, says the civil rights group Russia Behind Bars, that keeps in touch with those sent to Ukraine by Wagner.

Seventy-seven percent is the number of combat and noncombat Wagner losses in the current campaign, she says. That includes killed, wounded, deserted and captured.

And though Ukrainian troops say they themselves are losing too many soldiers, they vow to outlast Russian mercenaries dying in the thousands on the eastern front.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, you know, Jake, as we've been reporting, both the U.S. and Ukraine believe that Russia is about to launch a large-scale offensive in the east of Ukraine and possibly other areas as well. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of this country, he today said he believes that Vladimir Putin is out for revenge because so far his military campaign has been going so badly.

Now, of course, the Ukrainians say they want to stop the Russians at all costs. They also say in order to do that, they need more longer distance weapons.

One of the other interesting things we picked up on as well is Ukraine's defense minister said the Ukrainians need more artillery and artillery shells to hold up the Russians, once they start coming especially in the East, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Fred Pleitgen in Dnipro, Ukraine, thank you so much.

If you cover reading, writhing, arithmetic, can you also treat -- teach hate at home school?

Coming up next, a reported pro-Nazi home school network in Ohio renewing questions about the standards when parents are the teachers.



TAPPER: In our national lead, Ohio education officials are investigating the discovery of reported a white supremacist pro-Nazi home schooling network. With 3,000 subscribers that operates about an hour south of Toledo.

Some of the questions -- some of the lessons, rather, included quotes from Adolf Hitler and handwriting exercises. Martin Luther King Jr. is described as, quote, deceitful, dishonest, and riot inciting. The discovery renews the debate over what parents can teach children who are home schooled.

Let's bring in Frederick Lawrence, the CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and distinguished lecturer at Georgetown Law Center.

Frank, welcome back.

So, Ohio, like every state -- requires homeschooling instruction to include the basics, math, and reading and writing. It doesn't tell parents how to teach those things, right? Should that change?

FREDERICK LAWRENCE, FORMER PRESIDENT, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY: It should change to the extent that there has to be closer viewing in advance of the curriculum is going to be like. There should be strong deference to what parents want to do, but there are limits, Jake. And, obviously, I thought one of the limits that you can't implicate Nazi values as part of an American school curriculum.

TAPPER: What about denigrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

LAWRENCE: I think with all of these things, there are lines that we would and would not draw. And the parents are more than free to share these things with their children at the dinner table that night. I happened to disagree with their views. But they're free to express them. But this is in place of schooling. We have compulsory education in America, after more than 100 years. This is in place for being in school.

TAPPER: And you say that this situation demonstrates the difference between free expression and also academic freedom? What do you mean by that?

LAWRENCE: That's right. Free expression means parents have the right to express these views, they can discuss what their children, they could come on here and discuss them with you if you want to listen to them. What they can't do is make this part of the school curriculum not because they're not allowed to say these things, because it's not part of an educational curriculum. They can't teach flat earth science either. There are limits.

Obviously, there are shades of gray. Obviously, there's lots of ranges of ways of teaching things. But because they're shades of gray doesn't mean that sometimes it's new and sometimes it's midnight. This is midnight.

TAPPER: Do home schooling networks have to get approval from the state?

LAWRENCE: Different states work differently. My understanding is that Ohio has a fairly hands off view and I think that's what's going to be discussed right now.

And again, when they review these curricula, I don't expect it would be overly invasive. I want them to say needs to be liberal. It has to be conservative. That would be interference.

TAPPER: What do you make, while I have you here, of what happened with the AP advanced placement African American history course in Florida? There was a pilot program. Obviously, Governor DeSantis and the secretary of education, they're objected to some of what was in there.

And AP basically took away all the controversial part of that proposed course. They said, we don't do extra reading suggestions in any other AP course. So, we'll get rid of it here too. They insisted had nothing to do with the political pressure they were getting.

LAWRENCE: I'm skeptical of that. It looks to me like they blinked, and they blinked hard.


They should make judgment placed on academic values is what the curriculums should be. Apparently, they did that the first time. They pulled back and they pulled a lot of things out of the curriculum. It sets a very, very bad precedent. These should be academic decisions made by academics, not political decisions made by politicians.

TAPPER: Frederick Lawrence from the Phi Beta Kappa Society, always good to have you here. Thank you so much.

LAWRENCE: Good to be with you.

TAPPER: Good to see you to.

Coming up next, the warp speed growth of the website with that weird name, ChatGPT, and how big businesses are trying to capitalize on what it can do.



TAPPER: In our tech lead now. Imagine passing a medical school exam without even having to spend a single day in class for it? That's how good and convincing the artificial intelligence ChatGPT is.

CNN's Tom Foreman first introduced you to this revolutionary AI last year, since then you might have seen a flood of stories on how this is going to change our lives. And the Pandora's box that it's opened.

Tom's back to update us now on the fallout, how big tech is trying to catch up and what this all means for the future.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With an estimated 100 million unique visitors already this year, a two-month-old ChatGPT is growing faster than TikTok or Instagram initially did, analysts say. And it's generating endless headlines about an artificial intelligence revolution.

AMY WEBB, FOUNDER AND CEO, FUTURE TODAY INSTITUTE: If we had a day, that can fill every hour that day with some of the perils of this technology, and why we ought to be both fascinated and concerned.

FOREMAN: ChatGPT uses a vast database, coupled with artificial intelligence, AI, to solve math problems, generate computer code, and most of all write sentences, paragraphs, whole pages that seem very human.

At the U.S. Capitol --

REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): This is a critical step forward in a high and it's simple occasions are taking center stage in public discourse.

FOREMAN: A congressman gave a speech he said it was entirely written by ChatGPT.

AUCHINCLOSS: I want to spotlight this for congress, so we have a debate now about purposeful policy for AI, and not be ten years behind the ball like I think a lot of policy was for social media.

FOREMAN: The public debate is raging. Fearful of students using ChatGPT to write essays, some schools, including New York are banning it. Professor are saying they may not be able to spot it. And in business, ChatGPT is reportedly assisting executives, checking in with clients, and collecting converts.

KARA SWISHER, HOST, "ON WIITH KARA SWISHER": I don't see anything wrong with the CEO using it to send letters. That sounds like a good idea to me.

FOREMAN: In legal circles, the bot is passing law exams, and finding more fans.

JAKE HELLER, CASETEXT FOUNDER: You can have it read police reports. You can have it see if witnesses gave contradictory testimony.

FOREMAN: Even in medicine, the buzz over bots helping direct treatment is deafening.

JACK POE, ANSIBLE HEALTH CEO: What this technology can enable. It has already started enabling assist to suddenly suggest things that we might not be thinking of it all. It will absolutely save lives.

FOREMAN: Against that backdrop, Microscope is investing billions in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, even as other companies are scrambling to develop their own chat bots and apps to detect the work of AI in school papers, news reports, and more.

The big question, how many jobs can these bots do? And possibly, take from humans?

EDWARD TIAN, CREATOR, GPTZERO: It's an incredibly innovation, at the same time it's like opening up Pandora's Box.


FOREMAN: Now to slow the roll on this just a little bit. This ChatGPT, gets many things completely wrong. The website, CNET, uses a different AI program to write articles for, you have to pull them back, because they had things that were incorrect.

This is still very early, Jake. We're still just beginning to move on this, it's not clear how far it's going to take to the good or to the bad. But you and I sit here more than a month ago discussing this topic. We said it would be a big deal. And yeah, it's really, really big.

TAPPER: I think it's a horrible idea. On the, record I think the whole thing is a horrible idea.

This is like one Attenborough cloned only female --

FOREMAN: Really.

TAPPER: -- dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

Yes, it's a horrible idea.

FOREMAN: I'll see you back in -- TAPPER: It's the velociraptor coming. I'm hearing them right now.

Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

Coming up, the wicked cold snap. This is Portland, Maine. It's a brutal 22 below right now. The dangerous conditions that come along with the very low temperatures. That's coming up.



TAPPER: That wind only makes it worse. This is at the airport in Bangor, Maine, where the wind chill felt around negative 30 today.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

New England is getting the brunt of a brutal arctic blast. Get, this the top of Mount Washington and beautiful New Hampshire. It feels as though it's 100 degrees below zero today. And the cold snap is widespread.

Plus, in Texas, an arrest linked to those missing monkeys at the Dallas zoo. What police say about a 24-year-old man that's now in custody?

But leading this hour, that Chinese spy balloon apparently on the move, with reported sightings first in Montana, then Missouri, Pentagon not saying whether there are specific plans to shoot this spy balloon down.

CNN's Oren Liebermann starts us off this hour from the Pentagon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea what this thing is.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESEPONDENT (voice-over): A Chinese spy balloon drifting across the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the heck is that?

LIEBERMANN: The Pentagon calls it an unacceptable violation of U.S. air space and international law.

BRIG. GEN. PAT RYDER, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We know this is a Chinese balloon and that it has the ability to maneuver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's definitely moving.

LIEBERMANN: The balloon is headed east at 60,000 feet. It will be over the U.S. for several more days, the Pentagon says. Though officials not confirming its location.

RYDER: The public certainly has the ability to look up in the sky and see where the balloon is. LIEBERMANN: The balloon has made its way from where it was first

spotted in Montana on Wednesday down through the middle of the country and to sightings in Missouri, a slow, almost scenic route across the heart of America.

In a rare Friday night statement, China apologized, saying it was an off-course weather balloon.