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Three Officers Now on Trial In George Floyd's Death; Indra Nooyi's Amazing Journey To Becoming PepsiCo CEO; Massive Northeaster Takes Aim At East Coast; Sarah Palin's Meal Plan; Perks to Work. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 29, 2022 - 09:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, did you hear the one about the unvaccinated Alaskan who walks into a New York restaurant?

I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia.

Last Saturday, I gave a preview of Sarah Palin's imminent defamation trial against "The New York Times." That night, a New York magazine writer named Shawn McCreesh reported that Palin was having dinner at Elio's, a longtime Upper East Side Manhattan restaurant. Palin was dining indoors.

She's a vehement antivaxxer who last month told a group in Arizona that it would be over my dead body that I'll have to get a shot. So, it didn't take long for the New York media to recognize that her dinner visit ran afoul of city rules which require indoor diners 12 and up to show proof of vaccination.

Elio's manager was then quoted as saying, "We just made a mistake." And that Palin had dined with a longtime regular whose vaccination status had presumably already been vetted. Elio's escape punishment from the city for the vaccine mandate violation because the city only does so when a city inspector observes the infraction, not a fellow diner.

The night after the dinner at Elio's, Palin's lawyer notified a federal judge overseeing her trial that she had tested positive for COVID. Which delayed the trial until this coming Monday, provided she tests negative.

Quote, "She is, of course, unvaccinated," Judge Jed Rakoff said after announcing the results of Palin's first test. But then two nights later, on Wednesday, Palin returned to Elio's, this time, dining in the heated outdoor cafe section. This was just days after testing positive. And video soon circulated of her eating in an outdoor space with similarly unmasked companions while being waited on by a masked waiter.

The manager of Elio's released a statement, quote, "Tonight Sarah Palin returned to the restaurant to apologize for the fracas around her previous visit. In accordance with the vaccine mandate and to protect our staff, we seated her outdoors. We are a restaurant open to the public, and we treat all civilians the same."

But in a text to "The Washington Post," the owner of Elio's said that she had been against having Palin return at all. "It was against my clearly stated wishes that Sarah Palin dined outside last night."

Not surprisingly the restaurant's Yelp page started getting such a sudden ground swell of reviews that the site temporarily suspended its reviews at all.

Following the story, I thought it was reckless for Palin to interact with others in a public space while having COVID. But not just because of the risk of contaminating others. No. I mean, reckless in a legal sense.

She's about to be the plaintiff at a case that will be litigated in the Southern District of New York. A federal court that will draw jurors from these metropolitan and upstate New York counties, New York, aka Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess and Sullivan.

Surely, she knew that dining out with COVID at a Manhattan eatery would be news where it had already been reported that she was positive. It's as if she was returning to the same place so as to make certain that this got coverage. Why was there not caution, exercise, so as not to alienate prospective jurors who might receive a jury summons days after reading that Palin contracted COVID and still went out to dinner.

Of course, many have applauded her defiance. Among them, former GOP congresswoman Michele Bachmann who said this on Fox News Friday.


MICHELE BACHMANN (R), FORMER MINNESOTA REPRESENTATIVE: Honestly, Sarah Palin is to be commended because she's trying to act like a normal human being in the greatest city in America, New York City. She's going out to eat at a wonderful little boutique Italian restaurant.


SMERCONISH: Dare I say that many won't agree with Michele Bachmann. And Sarah Palin's going to need everybody in that jury box in order to win her case. By the way, the judge made clear that he will not automatically be excluding unvaccinated jurors. And then it hit me.

Despite the fact that "The New York Times" printed a falsehood about Sarah Palin for which she is suing. She knows she'll probably lose the upcoming trial. And that's OK with her.

In the short term, she'll appear in front of federal jurors, but Palin is playing long ball here. Her real goal is to get the case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. Banking on the potential reception that she'll receive from justices who currently divide 6-3 in her favor on ideological lines.

[09:05:10] And two of those justices recently tipped their hands on whether the precedent that will guide Palin's trial needs another look. That case is called "The New York Times" versus Sullivan. And it restricts the ability of public officials to sue for defamation because of the First Amendment.

During Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearings in March of 2017, Sullivan was actually one of the few cases that he'd agreed was settled law.


NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The Supreme Court said the First Amendment has special meaning and protection when we're talking about the media, the press in covering public officials, public actions.

Proof of actual malice is required to state a claim. That's been the law of the land for, gosh, 50, 60 years. I could point you to a case which I've applied it and I think might give you what you're looking for, Senator, in terms of comfort.


SMERCONISH: But then this past July in dissenting in a case the court declined to hear, Gorsuch joined Justice Clarence Thomas in saying that the court should revisit the breadth of the Sullivan ruling and explore how it applies to social media and technology companies.

Gorsuch wrote, quote, "Not only has the doctrine evolved into a subsidy for published falsehoods on a scale no one could have foreseen, it has come to leave far more people without redress than anyone could have predicted."

"Anyone can attract some degree of public notoriety in some media segment."

Clarence Thomas wrote that the court's earlier pronouncements that the First Amendment, quote, "required public figures to establish actually malice bears no relation to the text, history or structure of the Constitution."

And you know who's also been advocating for tightening the libel laws for a long time? That would be former President Donald J. Trump even before he announced his candidacy. Here he is calling into "Fox & Friends" in 2014 to claim that his words had been twisted by me concerning a controversy at the time about the L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via telephone): "The Huffington Post" is like pathetic. You have some guy named Smerconish who I never even heard of, he goes on the air, Trump is defending the - the - you know, Sterling. And anybody that read or saw it, you know how tough I was, probably tougher than anybody. But these are really dishonest people. And they shouldn't be - you know, we should reinstate libel laws so that you can go after people nowadays when they make really egregious statements. But unfortunately, the libel laws in this country are ridiculous.


SMERCONISH: Never heard of me but pronounced my name beautifully. What Trump and Palin don't like is that in order for a public figure to successfully sue for defamation, they have to show actual malice which is knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. That's the law they want changed.

And so, Palin is dining out on the fact that future defamation law won't be "The New York Times" versus Sullivan, but rather she hopes Palin versus "The New York Times." If Palin returns to Elio's for a third time tonight, you'll know I was right.

Up ahead. This is a live shot of Philadelphia. We're tracking a potentially historic nor'easter.

And thanks to the unprecedented great resignation of American workers during the pandemic. Many restaurants are so hard up for employees. They're offering up perks that would have been inconceivable two years ago from life insurance to college tuition. But might workers still just never come back?

I want to know what you think about what's driving this. Go to this hour and answer this week's survey question. Why are so many choosing not to work? Is it structural economic changes or government transfer payments?



SMERCONISH: They might be idle, but they're certainly not rich. A record number of able-bodied workers, mostly men are opting out of work. You've heard of the "Great Resignation." The term was coined during the pandemic to describe the phenomenon of millions of people quitting or changing jobs to improve their pay and lifestyles.

Yet, despite more than a year of plentiful job openings and rising pay, millions are still not working or even seeking work. Their absence is compounding the labor shortage causing supply chain problems and price spikes.

A record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November. And in December, the labor force participation rate of those 16 and over was just 61.9 percent.

In response, some employers like many in the hospitality business are going to extremes to attract and retain staff. As "The Washington Post" reports, "Restaurant owners are offering shorter workweeks, life insurance, mental health services, college tuition and more paths to career advancement. They are giving out free Spotify prescriptions, adding nursing stations for lactating employees, and promising signing bonuses and free food for anyone off the street who fills out an application." This past Christmas, the owner of a Chick-fil-A in Western Pennsylvania gave her employees lavish gifts, among them, a new car, a month's rent or mortgage payment, $1,000 cash, Steelers tickets, and big screen TVs.

According to ZipRecruiter, restaurant jobs advertised on the site in 2021 only received about 18 applicants. That's down from 61 in 2019. The National Restaurant Association reports that 84 percent of restaurants have raised wages. Hospitality industry workers now earn an average of $19.57 per hour. That's up 13 percent a year ago. Still, these initiatives have failed to bring many back to the work fold.


My next guest recently told "The Wall Street Journal" this isn't all about the pandemic. That the decline in the American workforce during their prime working years, men, 25 to 54, that it began decades ago. "In 1961, labor-force participation for prime-age men was at 96.9 percent." By November 2021, the seasonally adjusted rate had dipped to 88.2 percent.

So, right now, nearly 1 out of 8 men in their prime is not working. In other words, staying out of work even during good times has become somewhat of an American tradition.

As "The Wall Street Journal" put it, "The sum of these trends is a lot of missing workers."

"If the U.S. maintained its employment-to-population ratio from the year 2000, we'd have more than 13 million more workers today. That would be more than enough to fill the record number of open jobs."

And that's why I want to know, your opinion. Go to my website at and answer this week's survey question. Why are so many choosing not to work? Have there been structural economic changes or is it because of government transfer payments.

Nicholas Eberstadt joins me now. He's a political economist at the American Enterprise Institute. He wrote a prescient book on this subject in 2016, "Men Without Work: America's Invisible Crisis."

Let me begin with this. Was there a milestone moment? Was there something that happened in the last 50 years that suddenly fueled this trend?

NICHOLAS EBERSTADT, AUTHOR, "MEN WITHOUT WORK: AMERICA'S INVISIBLE CRISIS": There was a confluence of events in the 1960s when this trend really started rolling in earnest. One thing that happened was the beginning of the revolution and the family. I think change in family structure is unnoticed part of this.

Another was big changes in immigration. Yet a third was the explosion of crime. We don't mention the gigantic increase in our ex-con population, but that's in the mix. And of course, the beginning of the great society and the modern welfare state. SMERCONISH: When you say the growth of the ex-con population, do you mean those who have served time, they've gotten out and no one will give them a job?

EBERSTADT: It's very hard to - it's very hard to document this, Michael, because the government kind of forgot to collect numbers on this for the last half century. But the mob refers estimate that there are over 20 million men and women - and obviously, mainly men -- in society, not behind bars, who have a felony in their background today. They're kind of a big invisible population. We don't precisely know about their work status, but I think we've got a guess.

SMERCONISH: How can so many afford not to work? And what are they doing all day?

EBERSTADT: Well, it's not as if people who have checked out of the labor force who are neither working nor looking for work in their prime years of working life. It's not like they're living like princess. It's -- it's kind of a penurious existence living on disability and other government benefits. But many men do. And most of the men who are neither working nor looking for work in the prime ages are in our disability archipelago.

They report, they self-report about time use, in surveys to the U.S. government. It's a pretty depressing tableau. Pretty checked out from civil society. Not much worship or volunteering or charity. Surprisingly little help around the house or with other members of the home. An enormous amount of time in front of screens. We don't know exactly what they're watching, of course.

But like a full-time job, like 2,000 hours a year. And other homework, not my own, has suggested that those who are neither working nor looking for work, half of these guys are taking some sort of pain pills every day. Not necessarily opioids, but some sort of -- some sort of pain medication.

SMERCONISH: So, I think I know -- I think I know how you'll answer the survey question today. Is it government transfer payments or have there been structural changes to the economy? What is driving the fact that so many are not working and are not even looking for employment?

EBERSTADT: Well, we've had huge structural changes so have all of the other countries in the west. But why were we had this trend worse than any of the other western countries. We've got some unfortunate special sauce that's driving our rates lower. And I think that's got to do with both the disincentives in our peculiar disability system. And also, this really terrible increase in ex-con invisible ex-con population.

SMERCONISH: You were on this - a final question - you were on this when you wrote a book in 2016, to many, you know they're observing this as a pandemic - a function of the pandemic.


But obviously, your book was prescient. Now, you're getting your 15 minutes of fame. I don't mean with me. I mean, everybody is rediscovering the book. But what impact has the pandemic then had on what we're discussing?

EBERSTADT: The big change since the pandemic has been the flight from work for older men and women, for people 55 and up. That was the one bright light in the U.S. labor market over the last generation. The increase in older workers.

That's been crushed since the pandemic. And how much of that is pandemic shyness. And how much of that is banking some of the government transferred savings. American savings are up by that $2.2 trillion since the beginning of the pandemic. I think we'll know a little bit more about when the smoke clears.

SMERCONISH: And the sort of ripple effect from this data. It's a problem. I'm glad that you're here and I'm glad you described it in such detail. So, thank you.

EBERSTADT: Thank you so much, Michael.

SMERCONISH: Let's see what you're saying on my Twitter and Facebook and YouTube pages. What do we have, Catherine?

Hard work is -- short and sweet - "Hard work is not a value of the younger generation."

But you know MM 126, what I just heard from Nick Eberstadt is that it transcends just one age group. We're talking about 25 to 54-year-olds. And he just made a final comment about those who are 55 and older.

So, it's not just a function of hey, you know, the youth today, they don't want to work. You know get off my lawn, Mr. Wilson.

I want to remind you. Go to my website at and answer this week's survey question. It's exactly what I was just discussing. Why are so many choosing not to work. Is it because of the structural economic changes? You know he notes the whole world has had structural economic changes. But something else is going on in the United States, which leads, my guess, to say it is probably government transfer payments.

Up ahead. Parts of the northeast right now getting hit with heavy snow and fierce winds. We'll bring you the very latest on that.

Plus, while Derek Chauvin was kneeling on George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes for which he would then be convicted of murder. Three other officers were on hand and they are now on trial for not intervening to save Floyd. Even though two were rookies. Just days on the job. One of them had been trained by Chauvin. So, we'll talk about that trial in just a moment.



SMERCONISH: This week began the federal civil rights trial of the three former Minneapolis police officers who were with Derek Chauvin on May 25 of 2020 when he knelt on George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes and none of them intervened.

Chauvin, of course, was convicted of murder in a state court last year. The prosecution must prove that the three, two of whom were rookies ignored obvious signs of grave distress from Floyd and failed their moral and legal obligations to intervene.

Though this is a civil rights case, it doesn't hinge on race. The charge is that through their inaction, these officers denied Floyd his right to be free of unreasonable search and his right to liberty without due process. The three will also face separate state charges later this year.

Of the jury that will decide this, reports in the Minneapolis "Star Tribune" say, two of the jurors appeared to be Asian, the rest are white.

J. Alexander Kueng, 26 years old had officially only become a police officer three days before Floyd died. And his training officer was Derek Chauvin. Kueng's attorney, Thomas Plunkett, defended his client as a rookie who was failed by the PD training and who only saw what was right in front of him, not what a bystander famously captured on camera. Quote, "That video is not what Alex Kueng saw," Plunkett said. "It's not what Alex Kueng perceived, and it's not what he experienced on May 25, 2020."

Thomas Lane, 37 years old was on his fourth day as a Minneapolis police officer. The lawyer for Lane is Earl Gray. He contends that his client tried to revive Floyd and that Chauvin stayed on his neck twice raised the prospect of turning Floyd on his side. Lane said that plans through his counsel to take the stand at trial. The attorney described Lane as, quote, "not deliberately" indifferent about Floyd's health at all.

Tou Thao, 34 years old had been on the force since 2012. Thao claimed that the 2020 interview with state police investigators that he was unaware of what was going on behind him because he was too focused on trying to control the growing crowd.

Joining me now to discuss all of this is Christy Lopez. She's a professor from practice at Georgetown Law School who previously served as deputy chief in the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. She's also a contributing columnist for "The Washington Post."

Christy, how rare is a prosecution like this?


The prosecution -- a prosecution like this is really unprecedented. A federal civil rights prosecution charging officers for not intervening with a superior.

SMERCONISH: And why is that the case? I mean, why aren't there more prosecutions? Is it because it's so rare it doesn't happen? Or that they're so difficult? Or you just don't have video that shows it like it did in the tragic case of George Floyd?

LOPEZ: I think all of those things, alongside the fact that people's expectations for policing are changing so there are very few federal prosecutions of officers for failing to intervene at all. Even though every circuit has this requirement. Every federal court in the nation has this requirement. And it's been a requirement since 1972.


But it's especially unusual to charge officers for not intervening when it was a superior, whether formal or informal that was violating the person's rights.

SMERCONISH: So, the video is appalling. We've all seen it so many times. What happened to George Floyd was a crime, literally a crime. I mean, Chauvin is now in jail.

Is it nonetheless realistic to think that someone three or four days on the job would be willing to intervene in the case of their superior officer doing what transpired in this case? Does that provide them a defense?

LOPEZ: I think it is definitely something the jury will be thinking about. But legally, it's absolutely not a defense. And in the 8th Circuit in particular, the circuit that covers Minnesota, they have specifically said that the fact that the person who's violating the individual's rights is your supervisor, in that case, it was the sheriff, they said that the deputy sheriff still had a responsibility to intervene to prevent the violation.

And I think if you think about it, we can't have policing unless we ask officers to stand up or require that they stand up and intervene when they see another officer violating somebody's rights. But that also means they support them and ensure that they have every -- they're fully equipped to be able to do that.

SMERCONISH: So, what specifically should have transpired? What would the training tell them to do, in your view?

LOPEZ: That's a really important point. There's a duty to intervene in Minnesota, as I've said, not only under federal court law but under state law and under policy. But what they didn't do, in my view, is really fully train officers and then support that with accountability and a sense to create a culture of active bystandership.

So, you know, the program that I run at Georgetown Law ABLE that's one of the things that we try to do. So, for example, we teach officers that you have to -- you may have to ratchet up your intervention here. And that's, I think, what we saw with Lane in this case, officer -- former officer Lane. We saw him what you might call, probe, ask, should we turn George Floyd on his side? We train officers that in ABLE that you might have to ratchet that up. We use an acronym PACT, probe, alert, challenge, take action.

And I think officers need to be trained. And I'm not saying the legal standard here. This is just a tool that you can teach officers so that interventions are more effective to first probe. But if that doesn't work, you have to alert. Now if that doesn't work, you have to challenge. And finally, you may have to take action, including physical action.

SMERCONISH: But if someone three or four days on the job goes up and leans into Derek Chauvin, in this case -- and says, "Hey, chief, I don't see him responding." Or "Hey, chief, maybe we should roll him over," and doesn't get the response they are looking for, would you go so far as to say then they've got an obligation to yank Derek Chauvin off George Floyd's neck?

LOPEZ: Eventually, yes. The next step would be alert. "Hey, if you don't move him, if you don't take your knee off his neck he could get hurt." Then challenge, "You need to take your knee off his neck." And if that doesn't work, absolutely take action. Physically remove the knee from the neck.

And, you know, we've seen this in other industries. The hospital industry has trained nurses to speak up to doctors when they're about to operate on the wrong patient. The airline industry has done this. Colleges have done this, training students -- informal hierarchical situations to speak up.

The law requires it, and we should require that officers step up, even when it's a hierarchical situation. There are lots of hierarchical situations in this world. Policing is definitely one of them. We have to demand that officers understand that. And to be fair, when you do this training and we do this in ABLE, you teach officers to expect that this is going to happen with a superior and how to respond do that.

SMERCONISH: Christy Lopez, thank you so much. It's going to be interesting to watch -- this is federal court. I mean, they picked this jury in one day when they were in state court. And I thought that judge did a great job. It was a two-week proposition.

You heard me say that according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune there's no one of color. I think they said two Asian, nobody black on that jury. So it's a different dynamic than we saw in Chauvin and we should all pay attention. Thank you very much.

LOPEZ: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Social media, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, what do we got?

They had nine minutes. Mary Coyle, down and dirty. They had nine minutes and that's all that matters.

I'm just intrigued. I'm not defending the inaction. Do not misunderstand me. I'm just thinking about it in a workplace sense.

I also think about a military analogy to this, right? It's as if someone has given a bad order but, you know, you're in military or police, paramilitary organization, are you going to carry that order out? What are you going to do? Are you prepared to tell your commanding officer? You are mistaken? Still to come, Indra Nooyi not only broke the glass ceiling in corporate America when she was named president of global beverage giant PepsiCo in 2001.


She has now written a memoir offering insight on how we all can blend work and family and still see women advance. Her inspirational story is next.

Make sure you're answering the survey question at Why are so many choosing not to work? Is it because of structural economic changes or government transfer payments?



SMERCONISH: When Indra Nooyi began work at PepsiCo in 1994, white American men held 15 of the top 15 jobs at the company and that was nothing unique in corporate culture at the time. The number of female CEOs among the 500 biggest companies that year was zero.

Seven years later, Nooyi was names president of PepsiCo, the company's first female in that role and the first woman of color and immigrant to run a Fortune 50 company. She has just written a memoir which is called "My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future," and joins me now.

So great to see you. You say in the book there's no one reason why there aren't more women at the top. Well, what are some of the reasons?

INDRA NOOYI, FORMER CHAIRMAN AND CEO PEPSICO: Well, let's step back a little bit. In '94 when I came in there were no women CEOs. In 2006 when I became CEO, there were about six women CEOs. So, we were making progress.

I think the biggest issue is the pipeline, Michael, because a lot of women enter the workforce especially in management positions. By the time they get to the second or the third level of a company they drop out because that's their prime family-building years. And companies and workplaces do not have the support structures to enable young family builders to balance work and family.

So the stresses of doing both are just too much. And they drop out of the workforce which is a big loss to the economy because great talent cannot bubble up to the top.

SMERCONISH: I mean, one of the keys to your success, I know from reading the book is that you were surrounded by this great familial structure. And family members went to great lengths including your mother, you know, to help you with your obligations at home?

NOOYI: Let me start with my husband. I am married, right, and he was an equal partner and helped me in every step of the way. But because I come from an Asian family which has sort of an intergenerational responsibility and we somehow figured out how to live in a multigenerational household.

Everybody chipped in to help because I think they were just proud that somebody from the family was actually, you know, doing something that was quite important and unprecedented in our family. So, everybody stepped in to help. I think with the ageing society that we have here, we may have import some of those values to see how we can get multiple generations to help each other with the whole issue of, you know, care and care support functions.

SMERCONISH: Indra, before Pepsi, before PepsiCo, 14 years in doing management and consultancy work you've never had a female boss, another of those interesting breaking the glass ceiling aspects of your incredible story. But something that I take away from your memoir, the number of men willing to mentor you. There were any number of them and they went to great lengths to advance your career.

NOOYI: I must say most of them especially in the U.S. were all white men who stepped up, not just mentored me in terms of giving advice, they supported me, they promoted me, they helped me advance. And they were also my biggest critics because they realized that I had to change a lot of the things that I was doing because I was culturally insensitive at times.

And I honestly believe that my story is a bit of an American story because I worked incredibly hard. I believe that I owed the business world, you know, the duty of hard work. And I worked incredibly hard. And I think all of these people stepped up and said, "You know, here's somebody we see great promise in. And we'd like to be able to say we had a little say in her success, a little part in her success." So, I'm a beneficiary of incredible mentorship.

SMERCONISH: With regard to women in the workplace something you say in the book, "We really need to let go of perfection." What does that mean?

NOOYI: I think most women are born with the perfection gene. We want to be the perfect wife -- whatever that is. We define it. The perfect mother, the perfect daughter, the perfect business executive, the perfect community participant doing work within the community.

Somehow, we're never happy with what we do in each of these jobs. And so, we sort of work ourselves into a frenzy. And nobody -- most cases it's not external pressure. It's our own internal pressure. I think we all have to learn to let go of some, focus on some, a different part of the day, a different part of the week.

I'll be honest with you. I'm a victim of this perfection culture, except that I had the bandwidth to cope with it. Many people don't have the bandwidths to cope with it. In retrospect, I think about all the stuff I did. I wonder why I was wired so differently that I could do all of that. But it's a lot, Michael. It's a lot.

SMERCONISH: I don't know if you're able to see the photographs that we've been flashing during the course of our brief conversation. But one of them has you in the aisle of a supermarket and it looks like an official visit. But what I really got out of a kick out of in the book is where you're running this enormous apparatus and you would go out and make secret market visits.


Quickly, tell me what's that like.

NOOYI: Well, every weekend I just put on my regular civilian clothes, not business clothes, and just go to any market. I wouldn't tell anybody where I was going because I felt that I had to understand the consumer. What were they seeing on the shelf? How did that product look on the shelf? How did competition look?

And if a CEO loses touch with the consumer and what the market base looks like that's a formula for disaster. And so, I had to get out of the office. I had to get into the marketplace.

And I would just do these trips. I would buy products. I would taste them.

And then in the early days I would send emails right away on the weekend talking about my observations. Then I realized people waited on the telephone for my feedback, so I'd say, "Hey back off." I'd wait a couple weeks and then give them the feedback. But I think that was the best way to zoom in and learn the business, as opposed to sitting in an ivory tower, in corporate headquarters and trying to run the company.

SMERCONISH: Indra Nooyi, congrats on the book. It's terrific. Thank you for being here.

NOOYI: Thank you for having me, Michael. It's a pleasure chatting with you.

SMERCONISH: Still to come, sections of the northeast still being pounded with heavy snow and fierce winds. We'll bring you the very latest.

And I want to remind you, one more time, go vote at on the survey question. Why are so many choosing not to work? Is it structural economic changes or government transfer payments?



SMERCONISH: Nearly 55 million people are under winter weather alerts right now. Over 3,500 flights have already been canceled. In Massachusetts, over 110,000 customers are without power all due to a potentially historic storm bearing down on the northeast. A bomb cyclone bringing bitter cold, flooding and heavy snow stretching from Virginia to Maine. Ten states have blizzard warnings in effect. Some parts could see more than 2 inches of snow per hour. For more, I want to check in with meteorologist Tyler Mauldin. Tyler. TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, it is amazing how fast these snow totals are shooting up. Around the Delmarva, we're already seeing roughly a foot of snow. But then you go north into New York and New Jersey and we're seeing well north of a foot. And it is not letting up.

As you see on the radar behind me heavy snowfall continues across the mid-Atlantic and going on into the northeast. We have the cold temperatures in place too. It's 18 degrees in Boston, 15 degrees in New York, and then we have got single digits when you get away from the coastline.

And oh, yes, the wind is making it feel much colder. It is also contributing to whiteout conditions across this region. Notice Nantucket, a sustained wind, a 51 miles per hour gust as high as 67. That is near hurricane-force conditions. For that reason we have a blizzard warning in effect for roughly 11 million from the east coast, the coastline of Maine all the way down into the coastline of Virginia. That does include Boston. But New York and Philadelphia you are not in a blizzard warning. You are under a winter storm warning at this time.

What we're going to see here is as snowfall continue in intensity, in fact it's probably going to pick up in intensity. You see some of these darker bands here, that are -- that's the heavier bands pushing through the region. Boston you're really beginning to see it pick up in intensity now.

When it is all said and done through Sunday morning, we expect more than a foot across this region from portions of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, on into Maine. And some areas could actually pick up more than 2 feet if not close to 3 feet in some spots. If we did pick up more than 2 feet within 24 hours, a.k.a today in Boston, that could end up being a record snowfall event for the city of Boston.

The timing here it continues all the way through the afternoon and the evening hours. It doesn't let up until after midnight for Boston. But Maine will continue to deal with it through the wee hours of Sunday. And then once we get into Sunday morning around sunrise, that is when the drier air starts to filter in, but it's also when we see the really cold air spill in behind it. So if it is not one thing, it is another.

The bull's-eye will be right here in Boston. That is where we're really going to see the blizzard conditions and hurricane force conditions really come together.

SMERCONISH: Tyler, thank you for that. More of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments in a moment and we'll give you the final results of today's survey question from Why are so many choosing not to work? Go vote.


[09:58:26] SMERCONISH: Survey results now from This week's question, why are so many choosing not to work? Is it structural economic changes or government transfer payments?

Here's the result. What do we got? Wow, pretty decisive results. Structural economic changes -- three-quarters of more than 16,000 who voted. I'm surprised by that result.

If my guest Nicholas Eberstadt was still here, he'd probably be saying, well, why then don't you see this level of folks not working in the rest of the world because there have been structural economic changes all over the planet?

I guess we can debate why it is being driven. What we can't debate is that it is happening. Because if we maintain the same employment to population ratio as we had just in the year 2000, there would be 13 million more working right now.

Social media, what do we have, Catherine? I'm sorry to get long-winded there. I'm really surprised by that result.

You can't choose to not work without income. Either living off savings or depending on a family or a spouse. No magic here.

Joe Z, I said that they might be idle but they're not rich. I mean, there has not been enough that would pay someone to be leading an extravagant lifestyle, but those enhanced employment benefits, economists, some say were banked and allow for this to take place. One more if I have got time and I think that I do.

It's neither. It's crappy pay and exploitation. Have you worked in restaurants or retail?

Yes, my first job was -- I mean, not in a hell of a long time, but my first job was making $3.25 at McDonald's and one of the great work experiences of my life.


But you saw although employer tricks and wage increases still aren't bringing people back. So, it has gotten a lot better and still the jobs aren't getting filled.

Wish I had more time, but I don't. I'll see you next week.