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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
Interview with Kenny Anderson; Bridgegate Grows; Interview with Gabriel Sherman
Aired January 13, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is Piers Morgan Live, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
You are looking live at New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie's bridge over troubled waters. And tonight, those waters are getting even more troubled.
Bridgegate to growing headache for the big man and the governor faces a new scandal tonight. Allegations for the use of Super Storm Sandy relief money to produce tourism ads starring himself and his family.
Tonight, I'll talk to the lawmaker who's leading the Bridgegate investigation. Plus, the woman who run against Christie and lost.
And speaking of scandal, this is the blockbuster book Roger Ailes doesn't want you to read. I've got the primetime exclusive with the author Gabriel Sherman who says that the Fox News is, in his words, a political machine that employs journalists.
Plus the gift that just keeps on giving except people aren't laughing anymore. Dennis Rodman, I'll talk exclusively to the one of the only people on earth who might explain exactly what Rodman's been up to. Kenny Anderson with him in North Korea.
I'm going to begin with our Big Story and that is Dennis Rodman, he arrived back on American soil tonight after a visit to Kim Jong-un's repressive regime and left people around the world trying to figure out exactly why he was there and what he was thinking.
Rodman made the trip to North Korea with several of his former NBA colleagues. And one of them Kenny Anderson joins me now exclusively and with his agent David Sugarman. Welcome to both of you.
I'll be perfectly honest with you, Kenny. I watched the scenes where Dennis Rodman was singing happy birthday to this tyrant, no other way to describe him and I felt pretty sick and I'm not even American. What were you thinking when that was all going on and particularly when you -- you saw the way this all played out back home.
KENNY ANDERSON, FORMER NBA ALL-STAR: I think, you know, the night before when the CNN interview came and I called home a few hours before that. I was like, "What have I got myself into?" you know, my family back home, you know, all the backlash, you know, my kids at school was getting approached. So my main focus was just doing a good deed, going over there, you know, being in a goodwill just playing basketball. That's what I've been doing all my life. And that's what I was, you know, doing.
MORGAN: Let's see what Dennis Rodman said to reporters at the airport in Beijing on his way back from North Korea. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS RODMAN: I'm sorry about all of people ask what's going on. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible).
RODMAN: I'm not the president. I'm not an ambassador. I'm Dennis Rodman, just individual, just showing the world the fact that we could actually get along and be happy for one day. I love to see the -- I love to see ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean many people were very, very angry at Dennis Rodman but they're also angry with quite a few of the others including yourself who went on this trip.
How did Dennis Rodman persuade you to go on? You know him, you're a neighbor of his, you live near him, right?
ANDERSON: Well, first of all, you know, I do camps, clinics with kids in the North Miami area and Dennis has helped me out. He came and spoke to the kids and helped me out.
So when he reached out about the North Korea thing, you know, I wasn't even sure if it was going to get done. And then all of a sudden, it happens so the turn around happened so quick. So I was just aiding a friend. And he knows how good I am with kids and instructions and clinics and camps. So that's why I got, you know, put on to this trip.
MORGAN: But what did you know about North Korea and about the regime?
ANDERSON: Nothing. And that is where I, you know, I hold myself accountable for, you know, I didn't do my due diligence, you know, with the trip. And I would like, you know, to apologize to David Stern in NBA, my supporters, my fans and Americans out there that I did not know, you know, the politics of North Korea.
DAVID SUGARMAN, KENNY ANDERSON'S AGENT: Yeah, I mean Kenny, you know, Kenny does these camps year round. I mean, he does it around the world, he does them in South Florida, travels around the world. And he just -- he goes to play basketball and that's Kenny as a person. Anybody that knows Kenny that's what he is about.
MORGAN: But you were his agent. I mean, did you also know nothing about North Korea, about the regime?
SUGARMAN: Well, I know nothing about Kenny going to North Korea.
MORGAN: Would you have stopped him?
SUGARMAN: I would have stopped him, correct. I would have, yes. I didn't know. I actually found that that he was -- the last tweet I saw from Kenny was wheels up. And then I, you know, started scrolling up his Twitter and I noticed that he was out of the country. So then I saw it on the news that Kenny Anderson was part of the ...
MORGAN: I mean, you know, but people sort of laughing the first time Dennis Rodman went out there, I couldn't really make much of what he was really doing. But then he all took a bit of this innocent term with this interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, the one you alluded to earlier.
I want to play a clip from that and then discuss that after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RODMAN: If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? And no, no, no you're telling me, no, no, no I'm just saying, no, I don't give a (inaudible) what the hell you think? I'm saying to you. Look at these guys here. Look at them. They dare to do one thing. They came in on -- they came here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, you know, he was clearly drunk, clearly very animated and over emotional but also pretty sickening what he was saying there about an American citizen who's being not seen now for a very long time. He's got health problems. He was an American missionary captured by this very evil regime. That was the moment whenever one of America went, "What the hell is going on?"
These are American sportsmen shaming their country.
ANDERSON: That's why, you know, as you know, I boycotted that. You know, I was off the set. I didn't want to participate in that interview. I was, that moment, I just wasn't, you know, I thought something was going to pop off and I said I didn't want to be a part of it.
SUGARMAN: I mean, I think, it's important, you know, that that you recognize that Kenny recognized that there was something wrong with Dennis at that point, right?
MORGAN: Most people will say look, you know, I don't want to be too harsh on you, Kenny because I know that you're the main culprit here. But I felt, you know, that for all these sporting stars to go out there and embrace this guy who is a pretty evil man running a very evil regime that you, yourself, met him Kim Jong-un, and you shook his hand, right?
ANDERSON: After the game. MORGAN: Wait. Right, when you were doing that, I mean, did you not think to yourself by then you knew the kind of fury that was going on. Did you know a thing?
MORGAN: Why am I doing this?
ANDERSON: I knew. I'm over that now. I'm over that now.
ANDERSON: I had no way, you know. I stayed at the hotel. I boycott. I was cloudy, you know, I'm over at another ...
MORGAN: You still shook his hand?
ANDERSON: I had no choice. I was going to do it, regardless.
MORGAN: Why did you have no choice?
ANDERSON: Because I was -- I feared, you know. You fear what you don't know, you know, and, you know, like I said, I got the phone call few hours before the game. My wife is crying. She was like, "Don't play." She's scared on my safety so I had no choice, you know. When we got there, they took, you know, they take our passports away, you know, and I just, you know, I had to finish what I ...
MORGAN: Did you feel ashamed as you were doing it?
ANDERSON: I felt bad. I felt bad. I felt very bad that, you know, for my family, you know, for my close friends, and Americans and people that looked up to Kenny Anderson.
MORGAN: He's been a hero to many.
MORGAN: He's been a sporting icon, people -- great role model in many ways. And, you know, you've come bravely on the show. I don't want to pillory you too much for it but, yeah, on behalf of the others who haven't spoken up, what do you think everybody feels about it? Did you feel that Dennis, in a way, sucked you in the something that you just really should never been there?
ANDERSON: First of all, you know, I'm 43 years old, you know. I make my own decisions and like I said, I'll keep -- going back to it is I was upset with myself just not doing my due diligence or about this trip and I didn't think it was going to give me, you know, so much backlash and ...
MORGAN: What reaction have you had from people?
ANDERSON: I did not, I mean, like, why did you go? Did you, you know, did you know? Did this, it's always, you know. Like I said, my main thing was my wife and my kids at school when they was getting approached.
And I'm -- all I do is play basketball and, you know, the game they gave me so many opportunities that, you know, that's what I've been doing since retirement, traveling around, playing games in different countries.
MORGAN: The NBA Commissioner, David Stern issued a statement saying, "The NBA is not involved with Mr. Rodman's North Korea trip and would not participate or support such a venture without the approval of the U.S. State Department. Although sports in many instances can be helpful in bridging cultural divides, this is not one of them."
I want to play the clip now. This is of when Dennis Rodman, to me, is the worst by the way when he sings Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-un. Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RODMAN: Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, it's awful imagery, isn't it? I mean when you look at that, what do you think he did, because you look like a bunch of puppets, stooges, people just who've been taken out there to basically prop up and support an evil regime.
You've been acting like the way that make their people clap.
ANDERSON: Now, looking back on it, you know. We were, you know, we're over that now. You have no choice. You know, I just did as I, you know, my last (inaudible)
MORGAN: It must have made your skin crawl there, doesn't it?
ANDERSON: They bought it, you know, after ...
MORGAN: When you're watching it now then what do you think?
ANDERSON: All the information ...
MORGAN: You're standing there. Clapping this monster.
SUGARMAN: Hold on. Let me interject.
SUGARMAN: Let me interject if I may. You know, like I said, at the beginning of the interview. Kenny, is about the kids, OK.
MORGAN: But he wasn't about the kids out there, right.
SUGARMAN: Hold on a second. Let me finish. Kenny ...
MORGAN: I don't mean to be harsh, but he's not out there helping the kids. He's helping Kim Jong-un.
ANDERSON: That's I was told that it was going to be clinics, camps ...
MORGAN: Right, right.
ANDERSON: ... we all deal with kids. That's why I was ...
MORGAN: But my point is when you watched that video of that moment, actually, what you were doing was being used as a stooge and a puppet for this regime.
SUGARMAN: Look, can I ask you a question?
SUGARMAN: What would you do if they took your passport out at a hotel? And you went there under false pretenses, if you will, not really knowing what you got yourself into but you're in North Korea. What does one do?
MORGAN: Well, let me ask (inaudible) you came in. How much did you guys get paid for this?
ANDERSON: It wasn't about the money. I've got compensated on so many, you know, different tours that I've made.
MORGAN: But, how much was the fee for the plays that went out there?
ANDERSON: Different guys got different fees. I'm not sure about ...
MORGAN: So, if you were being honest, what did you get?
ANDERSON: I had a few thousand dollars for it.
MORGAN: Five, 10?
ANDERSON: I got a few thousand dollars for it, $110,000.
MORGAN: $110,000. I mean, now people will say to particular Kenneth Bae's family will say, "Look, this is -- that's pretty close to blood money as he could get" you know, a father, a husband, this guy, his friend is out there being denigrated by Dennis Rodman, you know, on behalf of Kim Jong-un, this monster and he's duped all you guys into going along with this and you're all part of it.
ANDERSON: Yeah. There's nothing we can do right now. I, you know, like I said I go back and it bothers me that I didn't do my due diligence before making this trip.
And like I said, I've been going on these trips in some different time in 2005 playing different countries. I've been doing it around the world. In this trip, you know, I didn't feel I was going to get this type of backlash and now I'm feeling it.
MORGAN: Will you give the money back? Maybe give it to charity instead?
ANDERSON: You know what? I will do as a portion to a charity. I will ...
MORGAN: Why don't you give it all to a kid's charity?
ANDERSON: I will give a portion to a charity. I will do that.
MORGAN: Give it all.
ANDERSON: I will give a portion to a charity.
MORGAN: You wouldn't want any of that money from this trip shortly.
ANDERSON: I will give a portion to a charity.
MORGAN: But not all of it?
SUGARMAN: Can you guys meet halfway?
ANDERSON: I will give a portion to a charity?
MORGAN: And not all of it?
ANDERSON: I will give a portion to a charity.
MORGAN: You don't feel comfortable earning money to go on that trip, do you?
ANDERSON: It wasn't about the money in the first place.
MORGAN: But if it isn't all about the money. Why accept it?
ANDERSON: Because I got compensated for doing something. And I've gotten compensated -- I got compensated ...
MORGAN: But, Kenny, Kenny ...
ANDERSON: Everything I've done ...
MORGAN: Kenny, with the greatest of respect to you ...
ANDERSON: I've done stuff ...
MORGAN: Kenny, with the greatest respect to you, I can understand that you were ignorant about North Korea before you went. And you made wrong decisions as you've insisted (ph) and you're ashamed of it as you've said.
What I find harder to understand is now you know about the evil nature of his regime. And now you know how you were duped to news as you know, even your kids at school were getting attacked for what happened. Wouldn't the best thing to be to take no money and just say, "You know what? This was just fundamentally wrong and I'm not going to accept being paid for it."
SUGARMAN: But you're now turning a clear mistake on Kenny, you know, Kenny made a bad decision as I say others did. I can't speak for them and they did get compensated although not by the government ...
MORGAN: Shouldn't you as his agent be recommending or unrecommending that he just basically don't take the money?
SUGARMAN: I'm not in the position to do that.
MORGAN: Or will give it all to charity?
SUGARMAN: I'm not in the position -- it's his money.
MORGAN: OK. Listen, I appreciate you coming in.
SUGARMAN: Thank you.
MORGAN: I know it's been a tough ordeal for you. And I know you wish you haven't done it. And at least you have the guts to come in here and face the music so I appreciate that one.
ANDERSON: Thank you. It takes time.
MORGAN: When we come back, another big man who's facing some big trouble tonight from Bridgegate to the investigation of his Sandy ad. Chris Christie is under fire on the eve of what maybe the biggest speech of his life. I'll talk to two peoples for leading the charge against New Jersey's Governor.
MORGAN: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is getting ready for his State Address tomorrow
But instead, the Christie Administration is decidedly in question tonight. The governor faces a federal investigation over his use of Super Storm Sandy relief money and the federal subpoena in the Bridgegate Scandal that threatens to grow as big as the traffic jams in the George Washington Bridge.
Well joining me now, two people leading the charge against Christie. John S. Wisniewski, he's Chairman of the New Jersey State Assembly Transportation Committee. He believes that laws were broken when Christie's aids ordered those lane closures up into George Washington Bridge. Also State Senator Barbara Buono, she ran against Christie for governor.
Welcome to both of you. Let me start with you if I may Barbara Buono, what do you think here is Chris Christie's personal culpability based on all the evidence we now know.
BARBARA BUONO, RAN AGAINST CHRIS CHRISTIE FOR N.J. GOVERNOR: Well, you know, this is a pattern this governor has demonstrated since the beginning of his term. And that is that he put his own political ambitions ahead of doing what's right for New Jersey.
There are a lot of questions that need to be answered as you know. We certainly, Assemblyman Wisniewski has done a great job of gathering as much information as we can but so many of those e-mails are incomplete they're redacted, there's a lot of information we don't know.
But one thing is for sure, I know Chris Christie, I know his administration I've dealt with him for four years. He runs a very tight ship, it's almost a paramilitary organization. And to suggest that this governor had no knowledge that the head -- the New York appointee of the Port Authority wrote a letter and said that he thought laws had been broken because these lanes were closed without authorization, a strange credulity.
MORGAN: And in terms of this new allegation that the feds are investigating the suggestion that Christie deliberately chose a more expensive advertising campaign after Hurricane Sandy, using him and his family to promote himself politically. Does that seem to you at fair stick to beat him with because the agency itself has come out to said actually we never included in the original proposal any mention or suggestion of using the governor, decision to include the governor arrived after contract was awarded based on timing, availability, and federal expenditure rules, assertion to contract is simply incorrect.
Also it said that their final proposal came at $22,255,000 while the runner up proposal was actually more expensive at $23 million. So it wasn't even the most expensive. Given their statement, do you feel that that is a legitimate stick to go after Chris Christie with?
BUONO: Well, I did during the campaign against him and the fact of the matter is. Every single penny of Sandy relief money should go to the families that I met time after time people are still living in trailers and yet this governor through that -- the woman that headed the bidding committee made the decision to choose the bid that was $2 million higher. The critical difference being that it featured Chris Christie and his family in the ad.
Now I think that that was a misuse of the $2 million, I think it should have gone to the families that are living in trailers. And I raised that during the campaign and I'm glad to see that the federal government is finally opened its eyes to that and will conduct a full investigation.
MORGAN: John Wisniewski let's turn to Bridgegate as this now being termed. Where do you think this is going to lead? Well I mean that there's a suggestion today that no actual criminal law may have been broken, do you agree with that or do you think that ultimately there may will be a legal case to launch (ph) in a criminal court?
JOHN WISNIEWSKI (D) NEW JERSEY STATE ASSEMBLY: Well, this is an abuse of power and an attempt to cover up that abuse of power. We have a high ranking official in the Christie administration who used their personal e-mail account to direct that lanes on the George Washington bridge be closed for the simple purpose of harming the town of Fort Lee. No matter how you look at it, it's not a proper use of government resources to close lanes on a bridge for a political vendetta and that's what happened here. So I take exceptions any notion that no laws were broken. What we don't know are how many laws were broken and who broke them.
MORGAN: What is clear is at the moment, there is no smoking gun which links Chris Christie directly to what happened or be it we now know a large number of his own staff and friends of his and senior positions, to full authorities and so on. Clearly were all in the know? Do you think it stretches credulity that he knew absolutely nothing about this or are you prepared at the moment to take him at his word which was a very fulsome and extensive word of I'm very sorry for what happened but it had nothing to do with me.
WISNIEWSKI: Piers, it's hard to believe the governor statement. We have to put all of this in the context that this man was running for re-election against Senator Buono at the time this happened. Word went out from his office. Word went back to his office, a lot of people who are in his inner circle whose job it is to keep him a price of problems that come up as governor and also during the campaign. You have a letter from the executive director. The Port Authority is saying, laws were withdrawing (ph) -- laws were broken and that was sensed to among other people. He has now new chief of staff. It's hard to imagine that they all saw this dunning (ph) information, this questionable conduct, and nobody in this entire circle who's paid to watch out for his best interest ever raised the issue that's just not just not believable.
BUONO: Not to mention the fact that five weeks out from a political -- in the political campaign, you're not going to tell your boss that someone is alleging that laws have been broken, it's absurd.
MORGAN: But if you were in Chris Christie's position Barbara Buono, and you obviously lost to Chris Christie, so some people will say, we would sail this, wouldn't you, because you want to embarrass him predictably which may or may not be the case but may not be relevant either...
BUONO: Well, but I wouldn't use my power to punish political foes either.
MORGAN: Well, but you're making an assertion that is not being yet proven by the facts in the sense that if you are being, you know, supportive to Chris Christie's view, it is look clearly my staff here had behaved reprehensibly that I didn't know that they had done it and there was nothing at the moment which contradicts it. Now, I agree if he is proven to have lied about that then clearly I would say he is toast politically that if he doesn't lied...
BUONO: And that is why we're having this hearing.
MORGAN: Right, but if he hasn't lied, do you accept that in the end he could actually emerge from this stronger than he started in the sense that he would have shown the signs of leadership and fired the people who have created the problem.
BUONO: Oh no, on quite the contrary. I think either if the choices are not pretty, either he is lying, he is not being truthful, or he's incompetent. I mean, can you imagine if he was in the Oval Office and let's just assume that he's telling the truth and his closest allies went rouge on him and misused government power to the detriment -- putting couple of peoples lives at risk, can you imagine the potential ramifications if he had been in the Oval Office. So, no, I don't think he gets -- he comes out of this unscathed.
And you know, Chris Christie has a reputation for being vindictive and for using the levers of power against his political opponent. You know, there are incidence and after incidences of this and I could tell you during the political campaign when I was trying to raise money I would call people up and they would say, you know what, I can contribute above the $300 threshold where it would be reported publicly because I'm afraid if I'm on that list, this governor will seek retribution against me.
MORGAN: OK. Well, John Wisniewski, no one seems to think about this is that in New Jersey, he's approval rate has definitely taken a hit. So you now have an approval rating of 44 percent as the Monmouth University Poll compared to 70 percent back in February when he was the most popular governor I think in history. And -- but conversely, the national polls are not really moving. People don't really seem to care nationally about this. What do you think is going to happen with this investigation and indeed the political career of Chris Christie?
WISNIEWSKI: Well Piers, this is not about polls. We started looking at the efficiency in the operations of Port Authority and an important bi-state agency. And the mismanagement and the abuse of power has taken straight into the governor's office and then Senator Buono correctly pointed out there are two options here. Either this is a man who is not in control of his own senior staff or he's not telling the truth. This is an important issue and the fact to the matter is it while we've been talking about this for probably two weeks, this governor strenuously and mockingly denied any involvement in this for months and now it's coming back that people in his office plotted it, used the apparatus of his office to try to cover it up.
It's an abuse of power. It's a cover up of the abuse of power and this governor ought to be true to his words in his long apology and be very cooperative in making sure every document is turned over so that my committee and the legislature can look at this thoroughly and decide for itself what his involvement was. Look, there may not be direct involvement from him but what it does show is a man not in control of his own staff. He can't run a bridge, how does he want to run a country?
MORGAN: John Wisniewski, Assemblyman from New Jersey, thank you very much and Senator Barbara Buono, thank you very much as well. We also have a number of Republicans coming on the show tonight to defend Chris Christie that's for all the tellingly, we're still waiting to any of them to actually accept that invitation. It does still stand though. And if you want to come on tomorrow or a day after, we will happily have you on. When we come back, while members of Chris Christie's own party is stepping up. Marc Lamont Hill, Dana Loesch, and Ryan Lizza, do battle on that next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R) ARIZONA: Having gone through this, I know that you've got to answer every question. You can't leave any question unanswered. I think that he can now move on as long as another shoe doesn't drop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: John McCain pretty much shooting me now on the head as he often does and when all the shoe drop will Chris Christie come out of all this unscathed. Well breaking down the news tonight. CNN Political Commentator, Marc Lamont Hill, also with me, a new show on the blaze premier this past Friday allowing her back on my show and will air every Friday at 5 PM Eastern, titled, "Dana", the exciting new program, just as everything from politics to pop culture and speeches, Dana Loesch. Welcome back, Dana. And finally --
DANA LOESCH, HOST, DANA ON THE BLAZE: Thanks.
MORGAN: -- CNN Political Commentator and Washington Correspondent, The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza. So, all star panel, let me start with you, Marc Lamont Hill. Pretty telling, we couldn't get anybody on the Republican side of any imminence to come on here and to thank Chris Christie. Why wouldn't they do that?
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because no one wants to go on the record defending something that may ultimately be just proven in a week, or two, or four or six, and that's essentially the problem. There are many people who have spoken through privately who say they're open to the possibility that Chris Christie has essentially told the truth. But no one is entirely sold that I know because there are just too many question marks, the biggest one being, how can someone who runs such a tight ship in New Jersey has something going on under his nose and he is entirely unaware of.
MORGAN: Ryan Lizza, how damaging has this been to Chris Christie politically. I mean, it's in the poll say, let's just go over this again because they're quite, I mean, fascinating, to the politics both locally and nationally for him. The local one, Monmouth University, Jan. 10th to the 12th, favorable opinion Chris Christie is now 44 percent down from 70 percent in favor, so big drop then, his local popularity with 89 percent of New Jersey is apparently paying close attention to the scandal.
But on the national state, Pew Research, Jan. 9th to 12th, in the past few days, how's your opinion on Chris Christie, not changed 60 percent, some vast majority really saying it hasn't changed their opinion, 60 percent less favorable, 6 percent more favorable. So, not much, what does he save for his chances of surviving the scandal, and in fact, continuing to become possibly Republican nominee in 2016?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well look, what's taken ahead here is the -- Chris Christie that he wanted to presents nationally. And look, right now, the audience who really cares about -- he cares about the local New Jersey audience because he wants to get stuff down on New Jersey in the next few years. But, he's starting to courts the national Republican audience. And the story he wanted to tell to them is he's a different kind of Republican that can attract nontraditional voters and that even though New Jersey has this reputation as frankly a state that's full of crap politicians, he's something different. He won two terms in that state by overcoming all that by changing how business worked in that state. And obviously, what we're learning over the last week or so, is putting a pretty serious dent in that reputation.
MORGAN: OK. Dana Loesch, you tweeted this, you said, you don't have to be a Christie fan and you're not really, I think we have to take it from the start, to note the startling difference between the handling a Bridgegate and NSA, IRS, Benghazi. Do you feel there's a double standard here in the way that Democrats are going off to Christie, given the way those three other scandals played out?
LOESCH: Yeah, well, I knew you couldn't quit me, Piers. But, to answer your question, yeah, I do -- I do think that there's a difference. And I wanted to add too to Marc's point which I actually agree with. I think there's a little bit of political retribution going on here with the Republican Party as well after the relief funding with Hurricane Sandy. But, I do think there has been a double standard. I, myself, have asked many times, I wish that we could get more answers as to how involved the President was with the IRS when we knew that his top aids knew, when it went all the way up to the top, even the IRS's chief counsel.
When I asked that question, I'm attacked and the other conservatives are attacked and there are characters on the line. But I have the same question with Chris Christie, I, like the other two on this panel, don't think that all the questions have been answered. I still think that there's yet more to come out. But yet, when I asked that same question, what do Christie know, when did he know it, I don't see any of that criticism. And Bridgegate in comparison to the things that we've seen with Benghazi and the IRS scandal and Fast and Furious, there's a lot -- there was a lot more at stake with those other scandal.
HILL: I think there's like a verbal tick among conservatives that whenever you mention anything with a Republican, they have to say, Benghazi. And because of...
LOESCH: A verbal take you called for that Americans are verbal tick...
MORGAN: Let me just say something. I actually think Dana raises a very perfect and relevant point which is I think there is a hypocrisy there, yeah. I mean, leads through these three of other scandals that she cited. I do remember the way the Democrats behaved over that. And now, suddenly, it looks like it's a different criteria. Even though you could argue that Bridgegate is just a serious than any of the others. People's lives could have been lost there. All right, it maybe arguable but some of them were.
HILL: Absolutely. And let me clear so that I'm not mischaracterized. I'm not suggesting that four dead Americans is unimportant, I'm suggesting that the connection between President Obama and also the state department and those desks are not in a type of connection that people have alleged. That's the concern here. The IRS...
MORGAN: But it comes down -- it comes down to accountability, isn't it? It comes down to accountability.
HILL: It absolutely does.
MORGAN: If you're the -- if you're the boss, if you're the President or you're a governor, how accountable should you be ...
HILL: You should know.
MORGAN: ... to the actions of people working for you?
HILL: You should, I mean, you should know what's going on and you should also be responsible for the culture that you create in that place. That's why I think it was important to -- particularly Hillary Clinton in the State Department. I think it was important to question Barack Obama with regards to the IRS. But what's baffling to me is this idea that conservatives keep offering that somehow we won't talk about Benghazi. All we ever talked about is Benghazi ...
LOESCH: No, we don't.
HILL: ... (inaudible) when the world's -- this is the championship ...
LOESCH: We're just down finding out.
HILL: ... what about Benghazi, I mean (inaudible).
LOESCH: Marc, I have to disagree with that. We just found out that the New York Times apparently had someone there on the ground and they were interviewing people who are apparently participating in the attack and that came out a year after this happened. And we're just now finding out, how long have eye witnesses have been held back by the State Department. I think it's a perfectly legitimate and valid to ask these questions. But yet, we don't want to talk about that. You can't say that we have talked about Benghazi endlessly because we haven't. We are still learning information about it and so...
HILL: And it's OK if you learn...
LOESCH: I make it -- I think it's perfectly -- I just...
MORGAN: OK, let me bring it Ryan. Ryan, I want to ask you to say about the other big thing that brought today on the Christie story which is, that the feds are investigating whether he misused money raised from the Sandy hurricane relief funds. I got to say, I can't get to exercise about this at the moment, am I right...
MORGAN: ... to see this as a bit of a side show or not?
LIZZA: You know, I don't know. I think the question here is why -- look, I've been talking to a lot of New Jersey politicians all week. And the phrase that keeps coming up is, "New Jersey is a pay-to-play state". And it's not like Chris Christie came in there and reforms the whole system and changed that. You know, to be a successful politician, a successful governor in New Jersey, you have to master a lot of levers of power and you kind of had to live with the system as it exists and it's pay-to-play.
So, the question here is, did the firm that get -- got these contracts, did they get it because of their ties to Chris Christie? Did the government officials who gave it to them -- and there's some breaking news as I was just coming on here about new details, about this coming out. Did they award it to this one firm for reasons that weren't above board? That's the question.
HILL: I don't buy it, honestly...
MORGAN: OK. Dana -- Dana let me ask you this, as a conservative, many people on the Right share with the view on the Left that Chris Christie's bad news because they blame him for stiffing Mitt Romney by putting his arm around Barack Obama after the hurricane itself. They also think he's, you know, probably too moderate for that like, he maybe too moderate for your liking, but many Republicans also feel he may have stood the best chance of actually winning a general election. What do you think his chance -- his on -- of winning the Republican nomination? And secondly, perhaps winning a generalization if it was against Hillary Clinton?
LOESCH: Well, I know that there's a lot of different stories going back and forth, how he has pulled against Hillary Clinton. I think it's a way too early to say that, honestly, for 2016. I know everybody is running there behind the safe campaign but, really, I think it ultimately it's going to depend on how this plays out. And the investigation into those funds, I think that Ryan brings up a good point with that because if you remember Governor Chris Christie went out and absolutely blasted the Republican Party because they wanted to investigate, why 25 percent of this relief funding was poor. You were having millions of dollars go toward areas that weren't in New Jersey at all, Alaskan fisheries and repairing the Smithsonian Institute roof that had nothing to do with victims that needed money and Christie went out and blasted people. Even Michael Bloomberg disagreed with Chris Christie on this point. So, it -- that there's some ill-will there. There's some -- some Republicans...
LIZZA: I think it too.
HILL: Piers, you...
MORGAN: I've got to leave it there. Let me as ask you finally, Ryan -- let me just ask you Marc quickly, do you think if no more dirt comes out on Chris Christie linking him directly to Bridgegate. Do you think that he could still be Republican nominee?
HILL: Absolutely, I think that nothing else is going to come up. If nothing else, excuse me, if nothing else comes out about Bridgegate.
MORGAN: OK. So, Ryan, what about you?
LIZZA: Absolutely, I agree with that. That's right if he's -- if his statement in his press conference stands as a 100 percent accurate, I think he can -- he still -- he'll be fine.
MORGAN: OK. So busted (ph) would may be not big.
Marc Lamont Hill, Dana Loesch, Ryan Lizza, thank you all very much.
HILL: Thank you.
MORGAN: When we come back, this very unauthorized biography that's rocking Fox News and why Roger Ailes doesn't want you to read it. My primetime exclusive with the author Gabriel Sherman. That's next.
MORGAN: One place you were to find another coverage of the Chris Christie story is Fox News and that's undoubtedly the direction of Roger Ailes, not just to matter on top of folks. He might the most powerful minor Republican Party.
So as he's to getting his own way but a new definitely annual fraud biographies making ways over at Fox which is, of course, the competition. The book is The Loudest Voice in the Room, How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News and Divided the Country. The author is Gabriel Sherman joins me now on our primetime time exclusive.
Gabriel Sherman you've said that you wrote a few votes and raffled a few feathers with this book. Are you surprised by the reaction or was that exactly what you expected?
GABRIEL SHERMAN, AUTHOR, THE LOUDES VOICE IN THE ROOM: Well, thanks for having me Piers and you know anyone whose covered Roger Ailes knows that he is the most combative man in the American media. And going in to this project, I knew that it was going to be a very challenging reporting assignment but I did not know just how challenging it would be. It is been the toughest, most brutal reporting experience of my career. MORGAN: And tell me, what is the point of the book and why should we take Roger Ailes so seriously? Why is he not just a very clever guy running a very successful cable news show which actually is watched by 3 million or say 315 million Americans? Why put him on a pedestal of power?
SHERMAN: That's a great fascinating question. It gets to the heart of this book. The reason I reported this book is that Roger Ailes speaks to every single American, whether they watch Fox or not. His ability to frame the news and drive a message is so powerful through Fox that he is affecting every single news story whether viewers watch Fox or not. So, it is a tremendous importance for viewers to understand who this man is and how he thinks.
MORGAN: And we'd sort of dichotomy perhaps of Roger Ailes is that everyone that knows he was when it comes reading your book believes essentially are hard. Is actually quite moderate and likes moderate conservatives and yet he canvass and encourages a more extreme Tea Party types and extreme members of Tea Party like Sarah Palin and others because they are good for viewers. Is that a conflict? Do you think that he has or...
SHERMAN: Well, I would put it slightly differently. In fact, you know, Roger Ailes, his personal politics as I report in the book, are actually very quite extreme. But he's a brilliant political strategist and he knows throughout his career that he has had to work through moderates to win elections.
You know, his political hero is George H.W. Bush, probably the GOP's last great moderate. And so, Roger Ailes, is this brilliant political mind where his politics are way out on the Right but to win he works through conventional establishment GOP candidates. And that's a fundamental difference.
And what we saw in the 2012 election, what broke down, is that Fox's politics got so extreme. Ailes' world view was dominating the screen that it was a wave of crushing over Mitt Romney and he was not able to break out of that Right Wing image that Fox had created.
And so, in fact Romney was a moderate establishment candidate and yet Fox had paid to them as a far Right candidate. And that was a break. That was a fundamental break that we saw from Ailes' career because earlier in his career he worked with moderates. He was able to advance the interest of moderates and ultimately his extreme politics were in conflict with the party's aims of winning a national election.
MORGAN: I used to work for his boss Rupert Murdoch on British newspaper and he was very similar to Roger Ailes, created by his (ph) character, very powerful and utterly, I think in his politics as he less extreme than people probably think he is in many ways, and that was just my personal feelings with him.
But in terms of the position of Fox now and the Republican Party, many think that Roger Ailes effectively runs the Republican Party, decides who they should put up to be their nominees and so on. Is that true and if he is so powerful, politically, how come he's effectively they lost the last two elections?
SHERMAN: Well, I think that's a great point. You know, Roger Ailes has surpassed the GOP, you know, and during the 2012 election, he said to his senior executives, we're going to have to do a lot to get this guy elected, meaning Mitt Romney, and he said to Bill Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard and at the time, a Fox News contributor, that he did not think Mitt Romney had the spine to "rip" Obama's face off.
So, Ailes, through Fox took it upon himself to run Mitt Romney's media strategy and what was fascinating is that really for the first time in American history, a Republican candidate war room was being run out of the headquarters of a news channel. Mitt Romney's more war room was being run out of Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
MORGAN: You were saying not much coverage of the Christie's scandals since it broke on Fox saying nothing, a lot of the coverage we've seen on something like Benghazi for example. And is that an example of Roger Ailes exercising his power to be protective to somebody he thinks may will end up being the Republican nominee.
We know from your book that he say that Chris Christie or General Petraeus actually before he was brought down by scandal over Mitt Romeny for instance.
SHERMAN: Yes, this is fascinating. Now, this shows at the heart how Fox is a political messaging organization.
Personally, Roger Ailes has no love for Chris Christie. On Election Day in 2012, when it looked like Romney was going to lose, Ailes grumbled to his most senior team, "Thank you Chris Christie."
He blamed Christie for the photo-up that he gave Barack Obama with Hurricane Sandy. Now, so personally Ailes and Christie, no love there. But Ailes is smart enough that he knows that he has to balance the rest of the media.
Now, someone very close to Ailes that I quote in the book said, that Ailes' meaning of fair and balance is that Fox is the balance on the rest of the media. So, Ailes sees it as a political messaging device that if the media is covering Christie's Bridgegate, it is Fox's job to go in another direction similarly with Benghazi, this was a story Ailes thought wasn't very important. He told people that, you know, Obama hang these guys out to dry.
So, he thought as Fox's roll, he told to his executives that Fox had to drive this story. So, there you see that Ailes is willing to put his personal politics aside even Christie that had a falling out, but he's helping and he's protecting him for political purposes.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break, Gab come again talk more about the book and what Fox News is saying about you and the book. And also, the extraordinary stories and it's really one where Roger Ailes father tells him to jump out of a bunk bed from the top and then refuses to catch him. And I'll tell you why he did that after break.
MORGAN: And you're back with me. Roger Ailes has Fox News in turmoil. The author is here tonight's a tell all. Back with me now in a primetime exclusive, Gabriel Sherman, author of the "Loudest Voice in the Room".
Gab, let's talk about the nature of what Fox News has now become. People say it's no longer a cable news channel. It's basically a political entity masquerading as a news channel. Is that fair assessment?
SHERMAN: I think that's a fair assessment and that's what my reporting told me after three years in more than 600 interviews. Now, I think what's important to note is that the nature of Fox has changed through the years, through the 17 plus years that the network has been in existence.
Now, the seeds of its political nature were there from the beginning. But in the early years of Fox, you know, the blueprint -- Rupert Murdoch's original blueprint for a cable news network was more populist and tabloid, essentially sort of a New York Post on cable news than strictly political.
Now, Roger Ailes as he amassed power within the news corporation, now a 21st Century Fox Group, but as the amassed power within Rupert Murdoch's empire, he got more and more latitude to run the channel as he saw fit. And over the years, some of the checks and balances on Ailes' rule were released. And now, it's basically just Ailes' vision unfiltered. It's Ailes' unplugged. And so now, we see the real sort of unvarnished Roger Ailes. And that's why the sort political evolution of Fox has changed through the years.
MORGAN: A statement from Fox News recently from the weekend said that "This latest effort appears to be another example of the agenda-driven cottage industry built on attacking FOX News. The author's failure to secure an interview with the principal subject does not absolve his fact-checking obligations wit the network." That's the essential charge that you didn't submit the manuscript for them to fact-check. How do you plead to that?
SHERMAN: Well Piers, I reached out to Roger Ailes more than a dozen times in person and in writing. I traveled to meet him in other states when he was giving public appearances. He declined every request. And ultimately it's Roger Ailes' and Fox News' decision not to engage with the book.
I had a team of two professional fact-checkers spending more than 2,000 hours getting every word in fact in the book. So ultimately, Fox News is the one that did not fact-checked the book. The book was strictly fact-checked. And that's, you know, that's clear to everyone. And the book will be out tomorrow. It has more than 100 pages of end notes. The readers can see that the sourcing is very transparent. So ultimately, this is Fox News' decision.
MORGAN: There are some incredible stories in there about Roger Ailes, personally. The one I like most was in fact the most motivating thing you could ever imagine for a young boy. He's a young lad and his father says to jump of on top of a bunk bed. And he flings himself up assuming his father will catch him.
MORGAN: The father deliberately doesn't catch him and says, "Now, learn the lesson. Never trust anybody."
SHERMAN: I know.
MORGAN: When I read that, I was like, "Wow."
SHERMAN: That's a ...
MORGAN: That's pretty brutal but...
SHERMAN: ... it's...
MORGAN: ... what did you make about it?
SHERMAN: ... it's a harrowing story. And, you know, really at the heart of this book is a human drama. You know, this is not a book about the media. It's a book about a man who has transformed America through the media. And at the heart of it is a Citizen Kane-like story of a man who overcome tremendous odds. You know, Roger Ailes grew up a middle class mean and he has this amazing life story rags to riches to the highest corridors of American power.
MORGAN: Final question, is it possible to abhor what Roger Ailes stands for whilst massively admiring his success and ruthless ability to crash rivals?
SHERMAN: Listen. This book is a testament to his talent, his genius, and his vision. Hew has a major figure of American consequence. So it's up to readers to decide ultimately what his legacy will be. But I hope this book is a historical record of how he's changed the country.
MORGAN: Gabe Sherman's "Loudest Voice in the Room" everyone's talking about it. They'll be reading it from I think tomorrow. It's a fascinating book into a fascinating man. Thank you very much, Sherman.
SHERMAN: Thanks for having me, Piers.
MORGAN: That's all about tonight. AC 360 Later starts in a few moments.