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Five Children Killed, Six Others in Critical Condition After Bus Crash; Trump Disavows White Supremacists, Defends Steve Bannon; Trump Versus the News Media. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired November 23, 2016 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[06:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Chad.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You're welcome.
CAMEROTA: All right. Donald Trump disavowing the support from the group in a wide-ranging interview with "New York Times." But did the president-elect go far enough? His critics say no. So, what else can he say?
CAMEROTA: Grief turning to anger in Chattanooga. Friends and family members mourning five young children killed in that school bus crash. The driver of the bus is charged with several counts of vehicular homicide.
CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Chattanooga with all of the latest.
What have you learned, Nick?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
Absolutely a devastating way to start out this Thanksgiving holiday week, not the way that you want to start this out, mourning this loss of five children. Twenty-four-year-old Johnthony Walker is in custody charged with five counts of vehicular homicide.
And at least from initial reporting, gathering from eyewitness testimony and physical evidence, this appears to be an intentional act. Mr. Walker was going well above the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit when the bus flipped and crashed, hitting a tree, killing five children. We're standing outside a children's hospital here in Chattanooga, where 12 children remain hospitalized, six in stable condition, six in critical condition.
We mentioned those grieving families -- well, so, too, is Mr. Walker, according to his mother. She spoke to CNN and said her son called her immediately after the crash to say, quote, "There has been a drastic accident."
[06:35:05] She actually claims her son tried to help get those kids off the bus before police arrive. We know that he has also been involved in past incidents. We looked
into his driving record. He had side-swiped a vehicle in September. He only gotten his certification in April.
Part of this investigation is going to also focus on this private company contracted by the school district. Investigators are going to be looking into whether or not more could have been done to stop this tragic accident -- Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Nick, thank you for the reporting.
President-elect Trump says that he disavows the support of white supremacists and he said he doesn't know why they are energized by him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hail Trump. Hail our people. Hail victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: This is a taste of the Nazi-saluting haters that we're talking about here.
Trump's team did put out a statement and he did disavow this group and their support to "New York Times" and, yet, he has been a lot stronger and more specific in his criticism and disavowals of other groups. Why?
Let's discuss with CNN commentators Symone Sanders and Mary Katharine Ham.
M.K., let me give you a shot to shoot down my premise. My premise is I've heard Donald Trump when he doesn't like somebody or something and how he comes out against them. It is different than what he's doing with these alt-right/hate groups right now. Fair premise?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think you're right, like on a gut level, he's more interesting going after Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail than this, which is one of the problems I brought up when he was running in a GOP primary. One of the things he does is give oxygen, even if he's outright supporting, he gives oxygen to these alt-right and white nationalist Twitter accounts just by using his Twitter account.
But I will say when it comes to the actual gathering of like several hundred people that have been going on for several years now, it's not like they sent an envoy over there or something. So, I'm glad to hear him disavow it. I think we do need to be careful to say he's not involved with this group, right?
CUOMO: Right. Well, that's, that's point to make. Symone Sanders, there have been a lot of alt-right types who are going
to D.C., who are trying to get entree, who do believe this is their opportunity to be more relevant. What do you make of that?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think that, for that particular reason, Chris, is why we need to hear Donald Trump specifically say, I disavow white supremacy. It has no place in our culture.
He needs to say these things specifically. He has said I disavow, I condemn. But what do you disavow and condemn? We've never heard Donald Trump say those words.
Particularly, that's my issue that I have with it. I think that's why you've seen a rise, if you will, in these hate crimes and hate groups. They have not specifically been addressed.
So, I want Donald Trump to use those Twitter fingers and specifically address the white supremacists, the hate crimes and these neo-Nazis that we see out there.
CUOMO: M.K., one of the things that we hear often in rebuttal to this question is why doesn't he do more? You think he's a racist? Do you think Donald Trump is a bigot, is that what this is?
I see that to be a very cheap ploy to avoid this situation. What is your take on that? Is that the ultimate test of whether or not Trump does the right thing? Whether or not he's a racist or bigot as long as he can say, no, I'm not and anything else he does or fails to do is okay?
HAM: Well, I'm with Symone where I think a more specific denunciation certainly, like way back during the primary when I was saying it, or now will be helpful.
Here's what I think you're running and what those folks who are saying you think he's a racist are responding to, is a tendency of the left of the media to say that many people are racist just based on the fact that they disagree with them about policy. And so, that has made this an argument to say, oh, you're just going to call me racist? Well, that card doesn't work anymore.
So, when you run into an instance where you might want more denunciation than you're getting, they can plausibly argue, well, you're not going to accept that denunciation, so what good does it do for us to give it? And I think there's actually a point there. I'm not sure Donald Trump did denounce further if it would do him all that much good with the people who are complaining. So, that's where you run into that.
CUOMO: Symone, that's a valid point M.K. is making and, yes, you get a full credit for saying it back in the primary, M.K., OK? I remember you saying it.
HAM: I was making the point for myself, Donald Trump supporters and for you. CUOMO: I remember. You get full credit for that.
So, Symone, the idea, you know, it's a little of the boy who cried wolf kind of thing. You call people racist all the time with a very low bar, and you wind up taking away the power of that notion when you need it most.
SANDERS: Look, I have said that I don't actually think Donald Trump is a racist. But he does give air and oxygen to racist things. He has stoked and participated and he's trafficked in racism and bigotry and I think that's absolutely okay to say.
In this instance, I really believe this is different than anything else we've seen. You know, Steve Bannon, the president-elect's new chief strategist in the White House, he has called his platform the platform of the alt-right, the platform of white supremacy.
[06:40:08] He has participated and trafficked in white nationalism. So, I think in this instance, it's absolutely okay. This isn't normal. This isn't something we've seen before.
So, I really do believe this is different and it's incumbent upon Donald Trump, his allies and the folks in his orbit to take this seriously because this could literally get out of hand. We're going down a very slippery slope here.
CUOMO: The confusing part, M.K., is that he loses nothing by going after this group, you know? Nobody who voted for him, they don't have enough votes to have changed the election and people who are for Trump, by and large, dismiss and disrespect groups like this 150 percent.
So, it raises the question, why isn't he doing it? Bannon's name comes up. Trump doubled down and went full Manafort in his support of Bannon yesterday, saying he's none of those things. Last time he did that, it was for a guy named Paul Manafort. He wound up being dead wrong.
What is your take on what's influencing him?
HAM: Manafort's gone now, too.
No, I think that Trump, regardless of ideology, almost completely regardless of ideology, likes people who likes him. That may be one of the reasons who -- why he's not super energetic about pushing back. He rewards Bannon because Bannon's on board and he did the things to cover Donald Trump that were necessary to get him to be president. So, that's how part of this works.
Donald Trump is not man tied to ideology or necessarily has been involved with any of these groups before the last year. So, it's very confusing as to how he's going to deal with this and repudiate.
He also has not a lot to lose from media criticism. As we've seen throughout the primary process and going through the general. So, I think that's part of the calculation, too, where he may not have much to lose over here, he also doesn't have much to lose from being criticized. It actually works for him.
CUOMO: We will see.
Last point, Symone, we've got to go.
SANDERS: I just want to say Donald Trump is going to be the president of everyone. If there's a segment of the population that feels disenfranchised or dismayed by this rhetoric, it's incumbent upon him as the president to shut it down and address it directly.
CUOMO: Surrendering the me to the we. Have hope. That's what Thanksgiving is all about. And I wish you both and your families a beautiful Thanksgiving.
SANDERS: Thanks, Chris. You, too.
CAMEROTA: All right. Basketball great Michael Jordan receiving the nation's highest civilian honor. This is an emotional moment that you've got to see, among others. That's in the "Bleacher Report", next.
[06:46:21] CUOMO: At the White House, star-studded, President Obama handed out the medal of freedom to a number of influential people.
We have Andy Scholes this morning's "Bleacher Report".
We had another Jordan in tears sighting.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, almost had another great crying Jordan meme there, Chris. But it was awesome and very emotional day for a lot of people at the White House yesterday.
The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor given to those who make a significant impact on cultural or other endeavors here in the United States. And President Obama said all 21 of people honored yesterday touched him in a powerful way and he had some fun presenting Michael Jordan with his medal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's more than just a logo. More than just an internet meme.
There is a reason you call somebody the Michael Jordan of. Michael Jordan of neurosurgery or the Michael Jordan of rabbis or --
The Michael Jordan of outrigger canoeing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: Some other sports figures receiving the Medal of Freedom yesterday were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dodgers legendary broadcaster Vin Scully.
All right. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott earning some high praise for simply picking up his own trash on Sunday. Now, Dak was caught on camera picking up an empty cup after he missed the trash can on the sidelines.
Now, yesterday, the rookie quarterback, well, he talked about heroics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAK PRESCOTT, COWBOYS QUARTERBACK: More people need to pick up their trash, if that was a big of a deal. But, yes, I simply missed the garbage can and didn't think much of it.
I don't shoot behind my back too much. I think the garbage can was kin of behind me. It was a little flip back. I still had some ice in it, so it threw off the rotation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: That litter campaign in Texas, you know, Don't Mess with Texas, Alisyn, seems like Dak Prescott would be a great spokesperson.
CAMEROTA: There you go. I'm sure listening. Thanks so much, Andy.
SCHOLES: All right.
CAMEROTA: All right. President-elect Donald Trump hates the media, he loves the media. What does this mean? His attitude towards the media. What does it mean if he shuts out the media? That's next.
[06:52:36] CAMEROTA: President-elect -- I think I'm drinking coffee too early in the morning. Donald Trump has been highly critical of "New York Times."
On Tuesday, after some back and forth, Mr. Trump sat down with "The Times" reporters and afterwards, he praised the organization as, quote, "a jewel".
Let's talk about this. We want to bring in, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES", Brian Stelter, and CNN media analyst Bill Carter.
Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here. Brian, what was all the agita yesterday about the meeting is on, the meeting is off, the meeting is on, the meeting is off. Why was there all of this issue?
CUOMO: Soris (ph) as your people would say, there was a lot soris about it.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: According to "New York Times" own reporting Reince Priebus tried to get this meeting killed. Tried to get this meeting canceled.
STELTER: Well, according to "The Times'" own reporting, Priebus was worried Trump wouldn't be able to handle it, wouldn't be able to answer all the questions that the reporters were going to ask for an hour-long interview. This was a sort of situation where there was a miscommunication by 8:15, the secretary was back on the phone trying to reschedule the meeting.
And this turned out to be a good thing for both Trump and "New York Times." We got a lot of information as Americans about what President-elect Trump is planning on doing and Trump showed some openness, showed some access.
CUOMO: Bill, what do you make of that idea, the one that Brian finished with there that, people can mistake this conversation about being the media's feelings, but, really, it is something for people, you know, citizens to be concerned about because they don't want the president to be the final word on what comes to them as truth, you know?
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: They can't -- that's risky, obviously, if that's the case. I think it's really important that they finally stepped up and said this is an organization that deserves respect and he wants respect from them. That's part of it.
He grew up in New York. If you grew up in New York, "New York Times" stood for something, still stands for something, it's so important to him for "The New York Times" to respect him and I think he sort of went out his way to make sure they felt like oh, they may have trashed you before but I know you're very --
CUOMO: He will trash them, again.
CARTER: And he will. Of course, he will.
CUOMO: One of the things that's different with our president-elect, we've never had a politician who can call themselves not a politician, who changes on the dime. You know, you're a jewel today, you're cow potty tomorrow.
CARTER: I think he thinks of himself as a jazz musician. Whatever tune is coming up that day and no specific notes that he's going to play. All different depending on his mood that day and his reaction that day and who wants to get back at and everything that has been in his psyche, during that day.
[06:55:05] CAMEROTA: But I do think at this point that you're both making is important to reinforce. And that is, for all the Trump supporters who call us and everyone the lame stream media and want us to go away, having just the YouTube channel where the president puts out his message directly unfiltered, that has a downside. Ask the people in Russia.
STELTER: Even if you embrace it during President Trump's time, you're not going to like it when a Democrat is back in power. People like Sean Hannity are saying maybe we need to rethink traditions of media access at the White House. How do his colleagues on the journalism side at FOX News feel about that?
You might like something -- yes, I think that's exactly right. You might like under one administration, but you're not going to like when it's another foot. And that's important to remind people in this moment and also appreciate the journalism set up last night. We were at a dinner last night, Alisyn, the Community to Protect Journalist dinner, editor of "New Yorker", the president of CNN, our own Christiane Amanpour saying this is a real urgent moment for journalism. Amanpour called it an existential crisis for journalism.
That's also a hue opportunity, and I think we can win some readers, win some viewers back by showing that we are taking this moment seriously and covering Trump the way he should be covered.
CARTER: An important thing about "The Times" is that they didn't play the roles, the game that the television network people play, was going to be off the record. They insisted that this be on the record. That it was going to generate news, it was legitimately a meeting between the president-elect and journalists, which they have done with all presidents of all parties in the past.
CUOMO: We haven't heard your take --
STELTER: Which is easier with only one organization versus five different networks all at the same time.
CUOMO: It's true. But I think they had different points of purpose. But what was your take on if it's that meeting was Trump pointing his finger and going at the media and even from the media's own leaks, nobody went back --
CARTER: I'm really shocked by that.
CUOMO: What do you think of that?
CARTER: I'm shocked by that.
CUOMO: What does it tell you?
CARTER: It tells me they're too involved in getting access and playing up to him and all that stuff because he was valuable to television and more valuable for ratings and things like that.
CAMEROTA: What about -- I'm sorry. You see it as them being cowed.
CAMEROTA: But what the notion that this was supposed to be a summit of some kind and to engage in some sort of shout fest would not have served anybody's purpose.
CARTER: You don't need to shout. But you can say, we'd disagree with you. That is not correct and here's our point of view. You don't back off and say, well, we're going to take it from you.
I think that's a mistake and I think they went into it with the wrong perception. I think "The Times" has rules for things like this, they are not going to do that meeting unless they can get something out of it.
STELTER: I think it's useful, though, to listen for at least some period of time, listen to the president-elect's issues and complains, hear where he's coming from. But, you know, according to sources who were there, it was inappropriate, Trump's tone early on. It was inappropriate, he did go too far.
CUOMO: But was it completely appropriate because maybe what Trump wanted to do was say, I am the man and you are not.
And those are very difficult moments and it's easy to say, you know, we've all lived it. It's easy to say, well, you know, I often say the media cannot yield the power. It's easy to say, tough to do and I don't think it's surprising that everybody in the meeting shut up and took it.
STELTER: I thought it was important last night at this dinner, the head of CNN, Jeff Zucker, in front of all these journalists, we will hold this administration's feet to the fire. And he said that's one of the message that was relayed at this summit on Monday.
CAMEROTA: I think that no one person at the summit wanted to make it about them or their news organization. And so, he was venting and they didn't know how long that would go on and maybe they, maybe they missed an opportunity as you're saying. But the point was just sort of to hear him out.
CARTER: I think it was the point. Again, if the president is going to be that kind of aggressive, I think it's incumbent on journalists to say, here's our point of view. We're not going to sit here and take it.
CUOMO: Yes, and I think a lot of people went to that meeting expecting him to say, the past is the past. Let's move forward. I get it. Kind of the accommodation he had with "The Times". And they didn't get it.
STELTER: That's why this is newsworthy. He's not changing and it's been weeks now. Two weeks since election night. We can all accept that now and move on. He's not going to change.
Candidate Trump is President-elect Trump, there's no shift in tone. If this is creeping authoritarianism, it is a moment for journalists to stand up very straight. And I think we're actually seeing that already.
CUOMO: It will be interesting to see who does what, because a lot of people are in the business for popularity, and you're in the wrong business if you want to be in the media and be popular.
STELTER: We can also become more popular by standing up to power.
CUOMO: We'll see.
STELTER: But we'll see.
CAMEROTA: Brian, Bill, thank you very much.
We're following a lot of news this morning. So, let's get right to it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop fighting with Broadway. Stop fighting with "The New York Times". Fight this division in the country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said that if he had learned that Steve Bannon was connected to, quote/quote, "alt-right", "I wouldn't have him work here".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important that a leader step forward, which is what he did.
UNIDENENTIFIED MALE: Trump said Kushner could perhaps solve the crisis between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His expertise might come in helpful as he tries to make the world and the country a better place.