Return to Transcripts main page


Gwen Ifill's Career; Remembering Gwen Ifill; Trump Tweets About Election Results. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 15, 2016 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:44] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Courage, fairness, integrity. Those are some of the words being used to remember Gwen Ifill whose historic career spanned decades. Ifill quickly became a pioneer for women and African-Americans, shattering gender and racial barriers.


GWEN IFILL, JOURNALIST: Judy and I will be bringing you the news and analysis you've come to trust.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): Ground-breaking, history-making, role model. Gwen Ifill was a veteran journalist best known for co-anchoring PBS "NewsHour."

JUDY WOODRUFF, CO-ANCHOR, PBS "NEWSHOUR": She was a super nova in a profession loaded with smart and talented people.

CAMEROTA: Her career included stints at "The Washington Post," "The New York Times," NBC News and PBS. Ifill, a pioneer for women and African-Americans in journalism.

IFILL: Let me turn this on its head, because when we talk about race in this country, we always talk about African-Americans, people of color. I want to talk to you about white people.

CAMEROTA: Becoming the first African-American woman to host a major political talk show as moderator of PBS' "Washington Week in Review" in 1999.

IFILL: I'm Gwen Ifill of the "NewsHour" and "Washington Week" on PBS.

CAMEROTA: And in 2013, once again making history, co-anchoring "NewsHour" with Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.

IFILL: And I'm Gwen Ifill.

CAMEROTA: The two women, the first to jointly lead a national nightly news broadcast. Ifill taking on the challenge of moderating two vice presidential debates and a 2016 Democratic primary debate.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She not only informed today's citizens, but she also inspired tomorrow's journalists.

CAMEROTA: While covering this year's presidential election, Ifill was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, but she chose to keep that diagnosis private. She was 61 years old.


CAMEROTA: Here to share their personal reflections on Gwen Ifill are our CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, CNN's senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, and CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

It's great to have all of you here to talk about Gwen Ifill.

Nia-Malika, I want to start with you, because you have this great story about how Gwen Ifill is the person that you wanted to be when you grew up and so much so you kept a little photo of her on your computer at all times. Tell us about that.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I did. I did. When I was a cub reporter at "The Baltimore Sun," and, of course, Gwen Ifill had worked at "The Baltimore Sun," she worked at "The Washington Post," she worked at "The New York Times" and eventually had a TV career. So I wanted to be her. And I went to my computer and I printed out a little black and white photo of her that I found on the web and I taped it to my computer because I literally wanted to look at her and aspire to be her. And that was my daily vision, Gwen Ifill and her career and her success. And I later told her about this.

CAMEROTA: And -- and what did she say?

HENDERSON: Yes. She said, Nia, that's really sweet, but it's also a little creepy. And that is who Gwen was. I mean she was very funny. Obviously very warm and smart. But she also had this sort of biting sense of humor that we all were sometimes on the other end of.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And, Dana, you know, sometimes if you believe that timing is of a coincidence, sometimes you lose people at a time for a reason. Leonard Cohen, Gwen Ifill, very different people, different areas of professional expertise, but also standards in their own way.


CUOMO: What is the reminder, for those of us in the business and those who watch, that we lost Gwen Ifill?

BASH: It's so well put, Chris. The highest of standards. To the point where -- and also just an intuition. A journalist intuition that I was always marveling at. And, you know, she would do things like I would see her and she would say something about a live shot that I did and note something that nobody else noted about how I phrased a sourcing quote or, you know, how somebody else who I worked with reacted to that. It was uncanny.

But after that, she would always, to Nia's point, say something hilarious and with her big, beautiful smile just light everybody up around her from the inside out. And that was what was so remarkable about her is that she was so, so successful and yet so in tuned with everybody else around her, especially women. I mean she was the ultimate, you go, girl, whether it was on Twitter or in personal e- mails or on -- you know, just when you would bump into her. And it was -- it was kind of remarkable that she would lead by example, but also by reaching out pretty regularly to people who she respected who are coming up.

[08:35:27] CAMEROTA: Suzanne, I know that you've brought some photos of your friendship with her as well that we're going to put up. Tell us what you remember most about her.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've known Gwen for 30 years. We worked together at NBC 20 years ago. And she really was somebody who was a -- you could confide in her and tell her about some of the things that, you know, in this business it can be a rough business and she was always very well-prepared and always willing to listen and always had that warm, wonderful embrace, that hug that she would give you.

And I remember it was 2008, the vice presidential debate, and Gwen was getting a little bit of heat, you know, for her book and her role as moderator. And she had fallen. And she was in a cast and had crutches. And I saw her from my live shot location and she was wheeling herself in this wheelchair and she was just surrounded by people. And I just went running to her and I -- I kneeled down and I gave her one of those warm, big hugs that she had always given to me because she was just that kind of person. She was always there. And to celebrate the good times as well.

She has this New Year's Day party that she has given for like the last 30 years, and people have grown up, I mean, journalists, artists, people in her home, they just pack her home every year. And it's like a reunion. And people bring their kids, their spouses, their dates, and they grow up going every year to this party. It was last year I brought my daughter, who was one years old, brand-new, to become a part of that family, that circle. And you've got 20, 30-year-olds who have been there as Gwen's kids and they call themselves -- you know, they're considered Gwen's kids. And I just think it was such an honor that I could have my daughter be one of those kids.

CUOMO: Suzanne, on a personal level, her fight with cancer, this was a tough form of cancer. She had tough treatment. I was reading that. She went in for a battle -- there was a complication, which is often the case with chemo, and she wound up coming out, interviewing the president like less than a month later. How strong was she in terms of her will to want to live and get through this?

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely. I mean she was -- she's a person of faith. She has a very strong faith. She is very close to her family and to her community. She has a sense of family, not only journalists and friends, but everybody who meets her. She welcomes them into the fold. My mom, perhaps, was her biggest -- her biggest fan because she represented such hope and what you can be generation after generation. She did not want to share her battle publicly. This was something that

happened very quickly last week when she took a turn for the worse and ended up in hospice this past weekend. But she wanted people to remember her resilience, her smile, her courage, and her hope. And if you see it on any of those photos on her face, that is really the lasting impression that she wanted to leave.

BASH: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Ladies, thank you so much for sharing your reflections and the photos. It's great to see all of those happier times, as well as your daughter, Suzanne. Thanks so much for showing us all of that.

CUOMO: A person may be gone, but the example lives on. That's the hope.

All right, so, the president is getting ready to speak from Greece in just a few minutes. What will his message be? We're going to bring you it live when it happens. We do know the president spoke out sharply against Trump during the campaign, but now he has a different tone. What is the message abroad and how does he explain it to the world, next.


[08:42:58] CAMEROTA: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Number one, turmoil inside team Trump. Vice President-elect Pence in New York this morning trying to finalize several key cabinet appointments. Sources describe the selection process as a knife fight.

CUOMO: President Obama arriving in Athens, Greece, the first stop on his final foreign trip as president. The six day tour also includes visits to Germany and Peru. He's going to deal with a wide range of issues cast in a new light by Donald Trump's victory.

CAMEROTA: The people of Aleppo, Syria, warned to flee or die in a terrifying mass text message. They're being told a high precision assault is coming within 24 hours. It is believed this text message was sent by the Syrian government.

CUOMO: A jury has convicted Justin Ross Harris of killing his 22- month-old son Cooper. You remember this story. He was locked inside a hot car for seven hours. Harris faces life in prison without parole when he is sentenced next month. His lawyers are saying they will appeal.

CAMEROTA: Google is cracking down on bogus news that is surfacing on the web. It is banning sites peddling fake news from its online advertising service. FaceBook also following suit, saying it will not display ads or sites showing misleading or illegal content.

CUOMO: Good luck. They are nowhere close to having a handle on that.

CAMEROTA: But it's a step in the right direction. For more on the "Five Things to Know," you can go to for

the latest.

CUOMO: President-elect Donald Trump, the gift that keeps on giving for late night comics. What did I miss? Here it is.


SETH MEYERS, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": According to a new poll, 75 percent of Americans were surprised when Donald Trump was elected president. Here's a photo of two of them.

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": I'm going to throw out some names. You tell me if they're being considered, OK? For labor secretary, Meatloaf's less talented brother, Casserole?


COLBERT: For energy secretary, a coffee can with googly eyes glued on it.

TRUMP: I found him to be terrific.

[08:45:02] COLBERT: And for secretary of education, a pack of wild dogs.

TRUMP: At the appropriate time, I will release them.

COLBERT: How many years do you see yourself as president, four or eight?

TRUMP: Fifteen max.

JIMMY FALLON, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": Donald Trump gave his first TV interview since being elected. And, get this, he said that he will only take a dollar a year as president. All part of Trump's unending commitment to never pay taxes. He's just not going to do it. He's not going to do it.


CAMEROTA: That was good stuff.

CUOMO: It is good.

CAMEROTA: I like the Stephen Colbert. A can with googly eyes glued on it. Who doesn't like that?

All right, the president is getting ready to speak from Greece in a few minutes. We'll bring that to you live when that happens. Also --

CUOMO: Donald Trump tweeting again. What is he talking about? You'll want to know. It matters, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: We are waiting for President Obama to speak as he makes his final foreign trip as president. He is in Athens, Greece. As soon as that comes, we will bring it to you.

Meanwhile, our next president is making waves this morning on Twitter once again, doing a couple of different things that are worthy of note. Two tweets in particular. The first one was about the popular vote. He obviously doesn't like people saying that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, which at last tally is her plus 800,000 votes over him. The tweet reads, quote, "if the election were based on total popular vote, I would have campaigned in New York, Florida, and California and won even bigger and more easily."

[08:50:10] He continues in a different tweet talking about the Electoral College. Now, this one is maybe even more interesting because he says the Electoral College is genius. It brings in all states, including the smaller ones. Campaigning is much different. Here's the problem, he tweeted earlier about the Electoral College saying that he hated it and that this should be about a simple vote, just a majority vote. "The Electoral College is a disaster for democracy."

CAMEROTA: That was after Mitt Romney lost (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: Yes, in 2012.

CAMEROTA: He didn't like the Electoral College.

All right, let's bring in CNN --

CUOMO: Also when he told people to get out in the streets and march on Washington because the result was a travesty.

All right, so let's bring in CNN political chief correspondent Dana Bash, also CNN political analyst David Gregory.

David Gregory, the ineffable question of why do you care about these tweets? What's in there for you?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, this debate about the Electoral College is something that should probably go forward once we're -- we come down a little bit from the heat of this election. The truth is that Democrats were quite exercised about this in 2000 after the Supreme Court ended the dispute and gave George W. Bush the presidency. Since 2000, where have they been? You know, I mean, there were plenty of opportunities to bring it up and to try to force a constitutional amendment, but that energy seemed to die when you had President Bush win re-election with the electoral College and the popular vote and Obama do it twice. So, the reality is, there's a chance to revisit this. It looks like you're undermining the legitimacy of the election when you put it on the agenda right now.

CAMEROTA: So what does come out of this?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, I just -- I think that what is even more sort of puzzling is that after Mitt Romney's -- you should put on the screen -- after Mitt Romney lost, Donald Trump said the Electoral College is a disaster. On Sunday, "60 Minutes" aired an interview where he said, just because I won doesn't mean I'm going to change my opinion. The Electoral College is still a disaster. And today he's saying differently, probably, I'm guessing, because he was reading something or seeing something of Democrats complaining about the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

I don't think it's going to change. And I think, look, the Democrats went into this election cycle just like they did in the last couple with the upper hand in the Electoral College. It was Hillary Clinton's to lose and she lost it. So, I mean, you know, if they're going to complain about the Electoral College now --

CUOMO: Right.

BASH: Perhaps they should have had a different campaign strategy in the rust belt states that have been blue for -- you know, since the '80s, which she lost because her appeal to the working class voter went away and Donald Trump got it.

CUOMO: I have a different type of these about these, is that what do these tweets reflect about something about Donald Trump that he's going to have to deal with as president? The first one goes about the popular vote and what he would have done to his intolerance of criticism. He does not like hearing that Hillary Clinton won. He really -- I don't even think they believe it. That it doesn't matter somehow. So, David, what does that speak to as a challenge going forward, his inability to let anything go?

GREGORY: Well, there's a couple of factors. Yes, I mean, I think this is something to be really watchful about as we watch President Trump who has a short fuse and a quick temper and doesn't like to be criticized. And how is that going to impact him?

You know, it's one thing in a presidential campaign to get the criticism from the media, the scrutiny from the media on you because it's shared with your opponent and it can move off of you. When you're president, it's all on you and it's on you all the time. And so we're going to have to watch and see how he manages that.

The other piece of Twitter for him, for social media generally, is it's a way to get past the filter of the media and go directly to the American people. And, guess what, every president that Dana and I have covered would have used the same thing if it was available to them. President Bush would have and Barack Obama did use it. And President Obama went around the media every way he could find and he would have done more --

CUOMO: Right. But did they -- but did they also say that the media is a bunch of dogs and that anybody who criticizes them is terrible at their job and should not be listened to?

GREGORY: No, not quite --

BASH: Not publicly. GREGORY: Not quite that way. Not quite that way. But Andy Carr (ph)

talked about the press as a special interest group. I mean this is a time-honored tradition that is bipartisan of disdain for the media.

BASH: Yes.

GREGORY: The vocabulary may change, but the sentiment does not.

BASH: And I think the question going forward when President-elect Trump is actually in the White House after Inauguration Day is how he's going to and the people around him are going to manage his criticisms and the fact that he does get upset about criticism and manage that fact with expressing it publicly. Whether --

CAMEROTA: Well, what's the answer to that?

BASH: I don't know.

CAMEROTA: Because, I mean, during the campaign --

BASH: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Well, during the campaign, there was that sort of moratorium on Twitter for that week --

BASH: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Or so. And there was a feeling that maybe Kellyanne Conway had like absconded with his iPhone.

BASH: And Steve Bannon. They did.


BASH: His Twitter (ph).

CAMEROTA: So -- so can we expect that --

CUOMO: Well, but you can get on Twitter even if you lose your device.

[08:55:02] CAMEROTA: What?

BASH: But maybe not when you're president, but that's (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: So can't we expect that to happen again?

BASH: Honestly, that is one of the -- it sounds trivial that that's one of the big questions of a Trump presidency, but it's not for the reasons that we're talking about because he has used it so effectively --


BASH: And also has used it to the detriment of his own message many times. And so -- GREGORY: But we also have -- we just have to be very contemporary about this, OK? As much as we may view Twitter and the way Trump uses it, because it's certainly true, as a way of showing that he can really be off the reservation. This is an extension of his bully pulpit. And he has an ability, as any president does, to try to influence public opinion through all the means at their disposal. I do think that Twitter is going to be one for him. I think he's got real needs to -- to rein this in. He has talked about that. I don't know what he's capable of (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: Well, he only needs to rein it in based on what he says and how he does it.


CUOMO: I don't think that there's any legitimate criticism of using the medium. Use whatever you want. Get your message out.


CUOMO: If you can bypass scrutiny, good for you. Politicians love that. It's what he says when he says something about the Electoral College --


CUOMO: That is factually contradicted by something else that he said, that's what makes it a problem.

CAMEROTA: All right, guys, we have to leave it there. Dana, David, great to see you guys. Thanks so much.

BASH: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: President Obama will speak any minute from Greece. We have full coverage on CNN when "Newsroom" with Carol Costello begins after this very short break.

CUOMO: A live look at Greece.


[09:00:09] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.