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What's Next For Bloomberg?; Benghazi Report Questioned; Online Outrage Over Costumes

Aired November 7, 2013 - 07:30   ET



MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: In fact I've got to start learning how to say no to new things.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so what's going to be his legacy? What are his opportunities going forward at least politically? Let's bring in two of our commentators, from the right, Will Cain, who is also a columnist for the "Blaze" and from the left, Marc Lamont Hill, also the host of "Huffpost Live." Gentlemen, good to see you as always.

What's the general take? You had two feelings about Bloomberg when he was in there. One is this is a rich guy. The other one is he's building a rich legacy. What do you think? Is there a next for him in politics?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there's definitely a next for him. I mean, I'm not a huge fan, but he showed what can happen when you're not beholden to other people's money or special interests. You can actually do your thing and actually make progress. I see him leading some kind of independent think tank that is data driven rather than money driven. I think it can work.

WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He showed what he can do with all that because he's rich, Marc. You're right. First of all, let me say I think his political future is pretty bleak, Chris. For this reason alone, let's identify him. Let's define him. He's a technocrat. In fact, he maybe in the best of technocrats, what I mean by that, he's data driven, elite expert that knows how to kind of micromanage people's lives and works on a local level.

It's harder on a national level. He's lost his number one tool. His number one tool was force, the rule of law. That's how you can implement these technocratic solutions. He now has to rely on persuasion. His ventures in the persuasion, by the way, gun control ads in Virginia and Colorado have failed. You have to persuade, you can't force.

HILL: If you're working on particularly some -- take an issue like gun control, which was effective here in New York. Nationally there's a move towards gun control. With his money, data driven policy initiatives, he can actually move the ball forward. CAIN: He failed, Mark. He failed in Colorado.

HILL: But he was mayor of New York at the time.

CAIN: That's when he had force.

HILL: Not in Colorado. He wasn't there in Colorado. Now he can actually move forward and do this full force. I think it can work.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Take a step back now. Why isn't now a friendlier political environment for someone like Michael Bloomberg? I mean, he was talking about with Jake and he talks about often, look at New Jersey, look at Virginia, the two people who won. They ran towards the center to win that state. I know we're in a hyper- partisan environment in Washington, but around the country, are we entering a political environment that may want a Michael Bloomberg who you can't fit necessarily into the "r" or the "d" box?

CAIN: That's not the lesson I take from the last couple of days, Kate. Here was Michael Bloomberg. He's not comfortably an "r" or a "d." That's what the public wants. In fact, I think the last couple of days showed us, specifically Virginia that the public has a reaction against failed technocracies. For example, Obamacare --

BOLDUAN: I've never heard that word before.

CAIN: Look, it is just data driven experts and know how to micromanage your lives. The health care plan of Obamacare is exactly that. We know how to arrange this just perfectly. One-fifth of economy put us in charge. We're smart. We know what we're doing. That has been failing. The public is reacting. This is not a good environment for Michael Bloomberg.

HILL: The point is he's in the middle. People like people in the middle right now. There's the desire to have reasonable conversation that's not hyper-partisan, doesn't rely on ideological purity. That's what people want even if he's a technocrat.

BALDWIN: You can define his brand. Maybe that's his problem.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: He's 71 years old. He is at a point in his life. He has nothing to prove. He's got all the money in the world. What if he decides to wield his influence in a completely different arena, away from politics? I feel like he loves showing influence. What if he decided to do it behind the scenes and maybe did something on a more global -- with a more global reach, some of the philanthropy efforts that he's been doing.

HILL: I think he'd love to do that. I think his ego would love to do that.

BOLDUAN: Is he big enough for a global reach, though?

HILL: His money is. Money stretches. He wants to be a Bill Gates.

PEREIRA: He does. He puts himself in that category. HILL: He can put himself in the Bill Gates, Bill Clinton category, do a global initiative, put some right there.

CAIN: He's picking domestic issues. He's picking gun control. He is picking immigration.

PEREIRA: He's also talked malaria, food issues, et cetera. Those could transfer globally.

HILL: It's nonpartisan. Everybody is against malaria.

CUOMO: We are pro-malaria. The trick is, it's not just the money. It's also got to be the messenger. If you want to become a figure, I always felt one of the things that held Bloomberg back. He doesn't have the charisma. Will was talking about persuasion. That will be the big question.

PEREIRA: Is Bill Gates charismatic, though?

CUOMO: He's a money guy. If he wants to get into the political game you've got to have the charisma to get out there.

BOLDUAN: More than charisma.

CUOMO: Remember Forbes? Remember he had the money, the know-how but then he gets up on the stage, not so much.

CAIN: Bill Clinton had this role as well. The global stage is full of charisma. Look, the point is Bloomberg has changed his fundamental tool. He's changed it from the force of law to one of persuasion. He's not shown yet to be successful in that field.

CUOMO: Senate race or governor's race in the next eight years for Bloomberg, chances?

HILL: I say no. The governor's race would probably be his best bet. I think if he's going to do something it would be an executive level position.

CAIN: Federal government is about redistribution of wealth and national security. Local government is about delivering services. He's shown he likes delivering services.

CUOMO: Maybe he becomes a czar of some kind.

CAIN: That's what we need.

BOLDUAN: Stick around, guys. Coming up next on NEW DAY, an explosive "60 Minutes" report on the Benghazi attack and that report now, though, is coming under fire. The story from a security contractor at the heart of the piece is being questioned. We're going to take a look at it.

CUOMO: Fellows, stick around so we can chew on that one as well. How about this question? What could motivate someone to dress like the burning twin towers? How about a Boston bombing victim? Some of the most tasteless, tacky, downright terrible costumes you could imagine. How should we respond? That's the question we'll discuss at the table.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. Questions this morning about a "60 Minutes" report on Benghazi, that critics say was chalked full of inconsistencies. At issue, claims made by a security contractor who was in Benghazi at the time of the attack. Chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, has more.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The question has hounded the administration since the night, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi. Why didn't the U.S. do more to keep them safe?

A CBS "60 Minutes" story reignited the debate, citing repeated security warnings before the attack by a private contractor, but now parts of that story are being called into question. The contractor who used the pseudonym Morgan Jones for his safety trained local guards there.

"MORGAN JONES," BRITISH SECURITY CONTRACTOR: I was saying these guys are no good. You need to get them out of here.

SCIUTTO: Ambassador Stevens deputy and a top U.S. security official in Libya, told CBS they had made similar dire warnings about security at the compound, accounts, which together, prompted renewed demands from Republicans for access to witnesses.

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: How about we hear from the people that were on the ground during the attack? How could I possibly say to the families of the survivors of those that were killed in Benghazi, yes, we're going to get to the bottom of this when we haven't had access to the survivors?

SCIUTTO: However, an incident report obtained by CNN and first reported by "The Washington Post" revealed inconsistencies in Jones' account. In his book and to CBS, he said he went to the hospital after the attack where he saw Stevens dead body and then returned to the compound, scaling a wall and assaulting one of the militants.

The incident report which also revealed his real name, Dillon Davies, states those things never happened. In a statement to CNN, Jones said, quote, "The account in my book is consistent is what I gave to the FBI and U.S. authorities about what happened in Benghazi. We spoke to Jones' co-author, Damian Lewis, who told us Jones had never wavered in his story.

DAMIEN LEWIS, CO-AUTHOR, "THE EMBASSY HOUSE": He's been absolutely consistent in his story from the word go. Not only that, he's the kind of guy who --

SCIUTTO: Jones said he never saw or signed the incident report, but the version of events in it matches lies he told his supervisor to hide the fact he disobeyed the orders not to enter the compound that night.


BOLDUAN: All right, one more revelation to tell you about. That CBS had failed to disclose that Jones' book is being published by a CBS owned company. In an interview though with the "New York Times"/CBS correspondent, Lara Logan, she admitted it was a mistake not to disclose. CBS is defending its report. CBS News chairman and "60 Minutes" executive producer, Jeff Fager, told CNN in a statement the following that we are proud of the reporting that went into the story and have confidence that our sources told accurate versions of what happened that night.

Let's bring back in Will Cain and Marc Lamont Hill to talk about this. I want to get your take on it, but also this question, what does this say about how convoluted the narrative of this tragedy has become? It's difficult to follow at this point.

HILL: It absolutely is. I mean, there's the story of whether or not there was adequate security that night. There's a story of whether or not there was a cover-up and whether or not we can believe the witnesses. Again, this would be a compelling witness on the opposition side if he hadn't lied a whole bunch. We just don't know.

CAIN: You know, I wish -- this is when I wish I brought a visual aid for us to discuss this topic. What it is, the symbol of this entire story is a question mark and that's it. Question marks are important and honestly if I had the visual aid, what I would do is the controversy surrounding before, during and after this event, all of them?

The question marks remain for all of those. Did we have adequate security before? Did we spend appropriately during the event? Why were excuses made afterwards like blaming the YouTube video that were clearly false. All of these still demand answers. It's embarrassing that a year later these questions remain, not just unanswered be, but actively evaded.

BOLDUAN: Well, you have got questions and then you've got a tragedy that's getting caught up in politics.

HILL: That's what I'm worried about. I think the whole narrative of -- you know, there's questions that need to be answered. We haven't done enough --

CAIN: You just said a moment ago --

HILL: The 25,000 documents. I mean, there are certain things I have doubts about, but I don't think doing this ad nauseam will get us anywhere else.

PEREIRA: It's kind of like a hamster wheel.

CUOMO: When you refer to the incident here, you call in the opposition. This would be helpful to the opposition, not the witness, and that speaks to the problem with this controversy because there are questions, will. Clarity in process creates confidence in conclusion. There is no question about it. You learn it day one as an investigator.

But when you ascribe doubt and negativity to the prospect of what was happening in Benghazi, that's where it starts to get to be a distortion. Then you start to get pushed back from the other side because they don't like where you're going with the questions. It's not just what happened, you screwed up and you know it. That's not fair.

CAIN: Well, Chris, I feel like what that becomes is you attack the messenger instead of the message. You guys have invited Mark and I. It's been awesome we got to hang out much with you this week. On Obamacare, I said often, I don't think Republicans are best messengers, the best people to be holding the mega phone on the problems with this program because they're self-evident.

When it comes to Benghazi, Republicans is the messenger of these question marks, has been something were like, you're in a political witch hunt, why is Darrell Issa the guy? When the truth is whether or not you like Darrell Issa and whether or not you think Republicans are the right guys to be asking these questions, the questions need be asked.

HILL: Well, if you don't get the answer you want, you keep asking it as if it hasn't been answered.

BOLDUAN: What do you think about Lindsey Graham's approach? He says he's going to hold up nominations, even Janet Yellen, until they get these interviews, until they get the transcripts from the FBI interviews? Is that the right approach or does that speak to your --

CAIN: Kate, the debate there is stone wall versus how hard do you push? So in other words, Republicans feel like Democrats are stone walling.

HILL: They do.

CUOMO: Those kinds of interviews in an ongoing potential criminal investigation from the government.

CAIN: I'll respond to that with the question back. You have it compromise a criminal investigation?

CUOMO: That's the rule though. When you go to the FBI and you ask for things, you go to a government entity that's doing an act of investigation say give us your proof. They say no always, you know that.

HILL: They know that. They ask the question they're not going to get an answer to.

BOLDUAN: If they're not part of the investigation. PEREIRA: Doesn't it seem that politics need to be taken out of this and find out what happened that day and deal with the political ramifications later.

BOLDUAN: I don't think it has to be that hard to figure it out. There were people on the ground. There are cameras. There are -- I think where Republicans have a good footing on this is why are there still so many questions? Why isn't there one story? Why do people still think there was a YouTube video involved?

CAIN: Absolutely right. So Michaela, the answer to your question, which everyone would agree, yes, why can't we get politics out of this, is going to be an uncomfortable answer. I think you'll agree with this, Marc, in the end, war and all the extensions of war is inherently political. If you take yourself down any path on debating the concept of war, you will find yourself at the door step of politics.

CUOMO: This became a signature ironically with the Clinton scandal that really burst this error of these types of stories. He appointed the first special prosecutor. You can't trust the parties. You have a negative mythology that what happened in Benghazi is not supported by fact, it's supported by speculation.

HILL: Exactly.

CUOMO: You have pushback from the administration side that maybe isn't called for in this situation.

CAIN: In the end doesn't that highlight the importance of this conversation.


CAIN: Of the role of the media in asking these questions? In the end that's who should be in charge of this.

PEREIRA: Listen, guys, we are going to get -- keep you around for another discussion. Coming up after the break, we're going to put this question, good taste or bad taste or is this completely over the line? Insensitive costumes like this sparking controversy and causing outrage even death threat in some cases. Join us for a debate that is sure to be colorful, coming up.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. There is a fine and sometimes not so fine line between taste and offensive especially when it comes to Halloween costumes. We want to show you this. Two British college girls wore costumes depicting the twin towers being attacked. And a 20-year-old Michigan woman dressed up as a Boston marathon bombing victim.

What should we make of this? We put it to our panel. Here once again, CNN political commentators, Will Cain and Marc Lamont Hill. I actually want to produce on the fly and maybe call this segment what the bleep were they thinking?

CAIN: You take this one. Go ahead.

HILL: You give me this one. I think it's stupid. Obviously, the strong argument is people have a right to do what they want. We all agree.

PEREIRA: But aren't there societal norms?

HILL: Just be a decent person. Somebody whose family that was part of the Boston bombing is on TV, on the internet, seeing these things --

PEREIRA: Still suffering from the trauma.

CUOMO: Just because you have the right to do it doesn't mean it's right to do it.

PEREIRA: Exactly. It's that simple.

CUOMO: How about the reaction? How about the reaction from everybody else of the costumes?

PEREIRA: The reaction has been incredibly violent. Some of the girls in some of these instances have received death threats, have been told they are going to be raped, their throats -- the reaction has been seriously frightening.

CAIN: You know what's interesting about that is the crowd reaction is important because --

PEREIRA: Mob mentality.

CAIN: I agree with Marc. First of all, you've got to separate this. People start talking about censorship and first amendment. That has nothing to do with these things. That's government. We're talking about society. Society should condemn this. If we're all outraged, and I think we all are, this is the way you deal with it. It's social ostracization. You don't need to have death threats and these other things, but people need to make you aware of what you just did is not acceptable.

HILL: What is the line between acceptable and unacceptable?

PEREIRA: Don't you think you have a gut feeling?

HILL: I don't think you come with a smoking tower on, but you might have a fine line.

BOLDUAN: That's an extreme case.

PEREIRA: Making fun of victims.

CUOMO: Making fun of innocent victims, I think, is going to get you there. I think there are certain things like when you deal with pornography. You just know it when you see it. Obviously the twin towers, obviously the Boston bombings because you're making fun of national pain and victims, but that line then gets real blurry real fast for me especially where PC, political correctness, comes in. This is a no-brainer.

PEREIRA: Let's talk about political correctness versus just knowing it's not right.

BOLDUAN: We talked about this a couple weeks ago where there was a university saying --

CAIN: Colorado-Boulder --

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Thank you. There was some crazy stuff going on there. They were saying you shouldn't have a costume that could offend anyone.

CAIN: They had a list, geishas, Indians, cowboys.

BOLDUAN: You're from Texas. Is there something offensive about a cowboy?

CAIN: I don't understand this.

CUOMO: Cowboy was a mistake. What is the point of PC? The point of it is to make us more sensitive and my concern about it as we go forward and I see the rules is we start getting obsessed with what we say and appearances and not the actions that actually matter. Not the behaviors that we want.

HILL: But they're the same.

PEREIRA: Do you think that there's a difference between this and what your gut tells you? We can over think things, and I think that's where PC comes in. But I think your gut --

BOLDUAN: We need to reset our moral compass.

HILL: A perfect example.

PEREIRA: We need a collective reset of our moral compass.

HILL: Someone dressed up as a starving African child.

CAIN: Is this an after or you saw it?

HILL: No, someone was dressed as it. It wasn't a smoking tower, but it was an African kid. People didn't find it to be a problem. To your point, Chris, I think what people think connects to what they do.

CUOMO: Do you believe that because this was you dressed up?

PEREIRA: What's interesting, the British girl, her father, an airline pilot who was flying jets in the U.S. at the time those twin towers were attacked.

CUOMO: And they say it wasn't meant as a joke. They were doing it to make a point.

BOLDUAN: Zombies.

CAIN: We're always going to have this problem. Bottom line, you said it's about guns. I know it when I see it. The problem is we don't always see it the same way.

PEREIRA: Let us know what you think. Please tweet us. Get in on the conversation. Use #newday. Guys, really good to have you, Marc Lamont Hill, Will Cain. Are you kicking them out? Just like that. Wow! Use you, abuse you and send you on your way.

CUOMO: We should just have you there as the great chorus. I take exception. It's a tease!

Coming up on NEW DAY, the controversy -- now they're going to stay -- it's growing in Miami, why? Teammates are now coming to the defense of a Miami Dolphins player. You know him as the supposed bully of another player who's left the team, Ritchie Incognito. That's the player who were being called the bully, right? Now they say these two may have been best friends. We'll give you the facts, you decide.



SEBELIUS: There is no excuse for what has been a miserable five weeks.


CUOMO: Stepping down. The chief information officer behind the Obamacare website resigns. Is he just the first casualty? This as Kathleen Sebelius admits there may even be security risks on the site.

BOLDUAN: Undercover lover, the female cop under investigation for falling for the drug dealer she was sent in to bust and then allegedly ratting out her fellow undercover officers. The latest on that investigation this morning.

PEREIRA: Breaking overnight, a stunning meteor shower over the west coast the same day scientists reveal the risk of meteors hitting earth is greater than originally thought.