About the Show

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

The latest on the crisis in Ukraine, plus why a 700-page book on economic theory is a best seller.

The latest on the crisis in Ukraine, plus why a 700-page book on economic theory is a best seller.

politics lead

December 18th, 2013
06:20 PM ET

New White House official apologizes for comparing GOP to deadly cult

(CNN) - The next time you hear someone toss around the expression "drinking the Kool-Aid," you might want to explain to them what they're actually saying.

Newly-returned White House counselor John Podesta caught heat from Republicans Wednesday, for using the Jonestown tragedy as an analogy for some members of the current House of Representatives.

The administration's big comeback should "focus on executive action given that they are facing a second term against a cult worthy of Jonestown in charge of one of the houses of Congress," Podesta told Politico Magazine.

After an uproar over that comment, Podesta apologized in a tweet, writing, "In an old interview, my snark got in front of my judgment. I apologize to Speaker Boehner, whom I have always respected."
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pop lead

December 18th, 2013
05:57 PM ET

One-on-one with 'Anchorman' Will Ferrell

(CNN) - It was the sound bite that launched the "Anchorman" franchise.

"I was a traditional 1970s male chauvinist anchor. I liked women, but I didn't think their place was necessarily sitting beside me on an anchor set," local Philadelphia anchor Mort Crim said in the lifetime documentary about pioneering anchorwoman Jessica Savitch.

"I got into the documentary, and I watched him say, 'You have to remember back then, I was a real male chauvinist pig. I did not like women,'" actor Will Ferrell said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper. Crim's comment "kind of was the genesis for us sitting here right now."
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money lead

December 18th, 2013
05:53 PM ET

Economist: Fed taper is 'a toe in the water'

(CNN) - Federal Reserve officials decided Wednesday to start gradually reducing their massive economic stimulus program.

Beginning in January, the Fed will buy $75 billion in bonds each month, down from the $85 billion it had been buying since September 2012.

"This is a toe in the water," said chief economist and managing director of Mesirow Financial Diane Swonk. "The Fed didn't dive into the waters of exiting stimulus."
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world lead

December 18th, 2013
05:42 PM ET

Openly gay, former Olympian's advice to athletes

(CNN) - Two-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis struggled with sexuality as a professional athlete. The former diver took home gold medals in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. A few years later, he came out as a gay man living with HIV, all documented in the new film "Back On Board."

"It was bad enough being gay growing up in the United States, and, you know, I didn't have legislation against who I was as a person," said Louganis.

Louganis is referring to Russia's strict law banning so-called "gay propaganda," which will be in full effect at the Sochi Winter Olympics in a few weeks.
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national lead

December 18th, 2013
05:18 PM ET

Review of NSA says snooping program should stay in place

(CNN) – An independent assessment of National Security Agency surveillance ordered by President Barack Obama recommends a controversial program aimed at collecting Americans' electronic communications remain in place.

But the effort predominantly covering so-called metadata relating to phone records and e-mail must have tighter constraints and greater transparency, according to the report released on Wednesday by the presidential Review Group on Intelligence.

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