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Bill O'Reilly Out at FOX News; WH Doubles Down On USS Carl Vinson Misstatements; Aaron Hernandez Hangs Himself In Prison. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 19, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Tonight, after years of sexual harassment allegations and millions of dollars in payouts reportedly to at least five women, it has happened. It happened despite hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue over the years and millions of viewers, after the staunch support of a president of the United States.

Today, after going so far as to ditch a network president over similar allegations and not ditching him, FOX News this afternoon dumped Bill O'Reilly. Now, we should say right off the bat, the goings-on in this business, let alone at a competitor, normally are not news, we wouldn't ordinarily lead off the newscast with this story. Ordinarily, most of us who do this job want only that, to just to do this job.

However, there is nothing ordinary about any of this. Not Bill O'Reilly's alleged behavior, not the company culture that tolerated it for so long, not the impact both in network and the man have had. So, tonight, the rise and fall of Bill O'Reilly as told by many people starting with CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.

So, Brian, Bill O'Reilly responded this afternoon. What did he have to say?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in a statement, O'Reilly once again suggested he is the victim here, that actually he's being accused of things that never happened.

We can put part of the statement on screen for our viewers to read. He is not going to be invited back on the air to say these words directly, but he went on to say, that this was a situation "over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and leave one of the most successful news programs in history, which is consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television. It is tremendously disheartening," he said, "that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today." He concluded by saying, "I will always look back on my time at Fox News with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved. And with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated views, I wish only the best for Fox News Channel."


BILL O'REILLY, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: Caution, you are about to enter the no spin zone.

STELTER (voice-over): Bill O'Reilly is a FOX News original, who got his start as a local news reporter.

O'REILLY: Happy New Year, everyone. I'm Bill O'Reilly.

STELTER: He later went on to report for both CBS and ABC News.

In 1989, O'Reilly joined "Inside Edition." He anchored the show for six years, known for his big personality, even back then, O'Reilly also became known for his temper, on display in this video that later went viral.

O'REILLY: I can't do it. We'll do it live.

Nope, we'll do it live! Do it live! I'll write it and we'll do it live! (EXPLETIVE DELETED) thing sucks!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In five, four, three --

O'REILLY: That's tomorrow and that is it for us today. I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks again for watching.

STELTER: O'Reilly took a break from television in 1995 and enrolled in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard School, where he got a masters in public administration.

O'REILLY: Hi. I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.

STELTER: The following year, he was hired by Roger Ailes to host a show at a start up network called the FOX News Channel.

The show was a great hit. For a time, O'Reilly also hosted a radio show, which combined gave him a massive audience for his outspoken, conservative viewers.

But for all his fans, O'Reilly also earned nearly as many detractors. He was called a bully for his aggressive interviewing style. And at a book fair in 2003, liberal comedian and now senator, Al Franken, called him a liar to his face.

O'REILLY: All he's gotten six and a half years is that I misspoke, that I labeled a Polk Award a Peabody, he writes a new book, he tries to make me out to be a liar.

Shut up, you had your 35 minutes. Shut up!

STELTER: O'Reilly was the chief inspiration for the bombastic and conservative character played by Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central.

The show routinely pokes fun at some of O'Reilly's more controversial comments.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Papa Bear Bill O'Reilly has found yet another reason she should be taken out of the not yet running.

O'REILLY: There's got to be some down side to having a woman president, right? Something.

STELTER: But his controversial comments were not what would eventually bring O'Reilly down. Accusations about his behavior toward women started surfacing in 2004, after a FOX News producer filed a sexual harassment suit against FOX News, alleging O'Reilly repeatedly spoke to her about his sexual fantasies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last time I had spoken to bill when this inappropriate conversation had happened, the last time. He said it was going to be in person. And I was -- I felt extremely threatened for many reasons.

STELTER: O'Reilly vowed to fight the charge.

O'REILLY: This is the single most evil thing I have ever experienced.

[20:05:01] STELTER: And filed a counter suit for extortion. The case was settled for a reported $9 million and it didn't end there.

In 2016, after accusations about FOX News founder Roger Ailes became public, some women also came forward with allegations against O'Reilly. FOX investigated Ailes and he stepped down under pressure.

"The New York Times" started looking into accusations against O'Reilly as well. Just a little more than two weeks ago, "The Times" story detailed a total of $13 million in settlements between O'Reilly and FOX and the women who had accused him.

The reaction was fierce: advertisers pulled out of O'Reilly's show by the dozens. And just like that, the cable news king who once seemed untouchable is off the air for good, at least at FOX.


COOPER: And, Brian, this is all playing out with O'Reilly on vacation. He was in Italy. I know he spent this morning in the VIP section in the Vatican, St. Peter's Square, in Vatican City. He shook hands with Pope Francis. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York reportedly requested the tickets for him and his family.

I want to bring in our senior reporter for media and politics, Dylan Byers, also, and our media analyst Bill Carter, and CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger to continue the discussion.

Brian, what about O'Reilly's attorney, is he saying anything at this point? Because up until today, he was calling this a smear campaign orchestrated by far left organizations. STELTER: That's right. But today, no new statement from the

attorney. We have heard from a lot of other groups, though. You know, advocacy capacity groups that fight for women in the workplace, trying to stop sexual harassment are cheering today's news. And Fox is just trying to make a clean break here, not letting O'Reilly come back on to sign off, already stripping his name from the logo of the show.

Anderson, I've never seen anything quite like this in my years covering television news.

COOPER: Bill, I mean, it's incredible, given the allegations against Roger Ailes and now, Bill O'Reilly, just the culture that allegedly existed within FOX News for years and years and years. I mean, it would have been difficult for the Morduchs to claim they were trying to maintain a culture based on trust and respect, which is what they said after Ailes left, after he was ousted nine months ago, if they had kept Bill O'Reilly on.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Well, that's obviously clear now, and I think it does speak to what looks like a toxic situation there that they just allowed to happen. I mean, beyond all the other things, they were giving under the table payments to these women in a publicly traded company. There's an awful lot here that even now, you have to question some of the executive hold-overs there, that -- you know, is this really the kind of company that people want to respect and want to work for, especially for women?

I think it's fantastic in a way, though, because it does say, no matter who you are in television now, if you go over this line, you just don't have protection, it took a long time, but at least it came to fruition.

COOPER: Yes. Gloria, I mean, to Bill's point, the -- you know, Bill O'Reilly was in terms of ratings, in terms of advertisers started pulling out, in terms of money he was making for the network, was probably at the top of his game. His show was averaging, I think its highest revenue ever, and in terms of advertisers, I think the show generated like $446 million in revenue from 2014 to 2016.

So, in terms of a message, to Bill's point, even somebody who is generating hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars for the company was held to account.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, but it's not exactly a clear-cut message, you know, if you ask me, Anderson. Look, it was a business decision to keep him. The company knew exactly what was going on, but as you point out, he was a huge money maker, but they had to pay money to women and they still resigned him.

So, that, on the one hand, is a signal that if the "New York Times" hadn't done that story, and it had not become a public issue, would Bill O'Reilly still be there and would that environment still be there?

So, I think it was a business decision to keep him, and I think in the end, it was a business decision to fire him, because once it did become public, it became untenable for FOX as a public company, it became untenable for the advertisers who started to pull out. And they had to just get out from under this morass. But it's not as if FOX acted, I believe when it should have, earlier on. They did keep him.

COOPER: Right. The Andrea Mackris allegation that came in 2004.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: You know, Dylan, as Gloria mentioned, I mean, O'Reilly did just resign a three-year multimillion contract just last month, and they were fully aware, not only the allegations against him but I guess even of "The New York Times" investigation which was ongoing at that point. Does he -- do we know -- does he get all that money? Do we know?

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS: Well, first of all, we should say, Gloria's point is absolutely right. I mean, there's no question that the Murdochs, that FOX News knew about these accusations. They were involved in many of the settlements that were reported by the "New York Times."

[20:10:02] So, this was a business decision, like Gloria said, a business decision to keep him for so long and a business decision finally to let him go.

As for what he goes with, all indications point to him going with tens of millions of dollars, just like Roger Ailes exited the network last summer with $40 million. O'Reilly's contract said to be somewhere in the ballpark of $20 million. he just re-upped with the network for a three-year period. You're looking, potentially, of $60 million, if not more.

Now, a lot of people are viewing O'Reilly's ouster as a victory for the accusers, certainly, a victory for progress in the workplace in corporate America, and yet, I think it will rub a lot of accusers and a lot of advocacy groups the wrong way that he will walk away with as much $60 million if not more.

COOPER: Yes. Bill, I mean, the accusers, even the ones who, you know, got settlements, got nowhere near that sort of money.

CARTER: No, they didn't. And, obviously, the idea that he's going to walk over that much money must make people cross stuff.

But I think there's also a feeling like this sort of sets a precedent. I mean, FOX wouldn't -- if a woman comes forward now, they really do have to respond. In the past, they were clearly burying these things, they weren't reacting at all. I think at a minimum, there's going to be at least an opening for people to say, we're not going to take this anymore, it's got to change the culture. If it doesn't, then they'll wind up in the same situation again.

I mean, I don't think anybody will be at O'Reilly's level every again for FOX, and he came forward saying all of these were lies, all of these were lies. It's exactly what Ailes said. So, whoever comes forward again to say these are all lies, it's pretty hard to believe them.

BORGER: You know, and the question -- and I think the proof will be in the pudding -- the question is whether more women will or have come forward, and whether they will be unafraid to do so. You know, some of the recent people who have come forward have said, you know, I don't want any money, because they felt that was the only way to be taken seriously, because otherwise, they would have been accused of gold-digging as O'Reilly have said in the past.

And so, these women were harassed and they walked away with zero, but they say, OK, we were able to make this point. Will women in the future feel that they will be able to come forward without any kind of retribution, either at FOX or, you know, at any other corporate environment?

COOPER: And, Brian, I mean, the idea that Bill O'Reilly now has a book out about kind of old school values and how he represents that, is, you know, obviously is interesting.

I want to play a clip, Brian, from the first time that FOX News addressed this on the air in the 6:00 p.m. hour.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, FOX NEWS HOST: O'Reilly's ouster comes nine months after the forced resignation of former chairman Roger Ailes, who several women accused of sexual harassment allegations that he denied. Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, have emphasized changing the company's culture so any form of harassment is unacceptable. For that reason, some female employees were uncomfortable with O'Reilly's staying on and pressure escalated once the company asked a law firm to examine the allegations.


COOPER: I mean, it's interesting to see the way they addressed this on the air. Did they do the same thing when Roger Ailes was ousted?

STELTER: Yes. Something very similar. I have sympathy for my counterpart over there at FOX covering this story, as it's going on. But what's happening here is bigger than FOX, as others were saying, this is about corporate America. It's a milestone for corporate America.

That's why the relatively scant coverage of FOX stands out like as sore throat rum (ph) when the rest of the nation's news media recognizes, this is bigger than O'Reilly, it's about the future of conservative media and about the future of standards in the workforce.

There are probably women watching this program, who feel they have been harassed by their superiors in the workplace, maybe they feel a little more confident tonight coming forward because they have seen a David go up against a Goliath in a couple of these cases, first with Ailes now with O'Reilly. COOPER: It's also interesting, Gloria, to hear -- you know, at FOX --

their statement that we just played, him saying that, you know, it would only be women who felt uncomfortable. I think anybody would feel uncomfortable in that sort of a work environment.

BORGER: I would hope so.

COOPER: Yes, you would think. I mean --

BORGER: You know, I would hope that men would feel uncomfortable if there were a colleague, a male colleague of theirs who was treating a woman unfairly and they heard about it.

I mean, you know, what if a woman goes to a colleague and says, look, I don't know what to do, and I feel uncomfortable, come with me and let's talk to a supervisor about this because I'm afraid to go alone. I mean, there are -- you know, I think women have been intimidated and the thing that we should not lose sight of here with FOX, is that this took a long, long time.


BORGER: And it didn't happen overnight. And it took a while after Ailes and it took a newspaper to put something, make something public for FOX to act.

BYERS: You know, Anderson --

COOPER: Yes? Go ahead.

BYERS: If I may, I just -- I think Gloria brings up an important point there.

[20:15:02] So much of what had to happen in order for Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly to leave this company happened because of women. Where were the male FOX News personalities, the male FOX News employees, you know, exhibiting that same level of courage? I didn't see it and I think Gloria brings up an important point there.


CARTER: And I think we should point out that a female reporter for the "New York Times" was in the middle of this story after Bill O'Reilly had actually threatened her on a previous story, and she stuck with it after she got this story.

COOPER: Yes. Thanks, everyone.

More ahead, including a look at one of Bill O'Reilly's fans, President Trump, their relationship and how the president defended O'Reilly just two weeks ago that. That's next.

Also later, a new explanation from the White House in the case of carrier battle group that it said was heading toward North Korea that was actually going in the opposite direction.


COOPER: The breaking news tonight, Bill O'Reilly is officially out of FOX News after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and the revelation that he and FOX paid five women $13 million over the years to keep quiet. O'Reilly was on the anchor desk for years, obviously, gathering huge ratings, legions of fans, among them, the current president of the United States who's also been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.

After "The New York Times" broke the most recent O'Reilly story two weeks ago, the president defended him, saying, O'Reilly is a good person and the didn't think he had done anything wrong.

[20:20:03] Brian Stelter reports on the two men's decades long friendship.


O'REILLY: I have known the man for almost 30 years, had dome some business with his jet fleet, and occasionally, we go to sporting events together.

STELTER (voice-over): That's Bill O'Reilly, on the day Donald Trump entered the race for president. The old friendship benefited both men during the campaign.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was watching last night, Bill O'Reilly, who's a great guy.

STELTER: Boosting Trump and O'Reilly's numbers.

O'REILLY: Look, we stand mano-a-mano here, you know --

STELTER: Their chumminess is no secret. They have been spotted at baseball and basketball games together, and apparently share a love of milk shakes. When Trump snubbed a FOX debate last year, O'Reilly almost begged him to reconsider.

O'REILLY: Would you do me a favor? You owe, because I bought you so many vanilla milk shakes -- I bought you so many vanilla milkshakes, you owe me.

STELTER: Trump has been a frequent guest on "The O'Reilly Factor", more than 20 times since 2003, by our count, more evidence of symbiosis between the president and FOX News.

He even called into "The Factor" during the Republican convention.

TRUMP: We want law and order.

STELTER: Now, their interviews happen in the West Wing.

In some ways, Trump and O'Reilly are kindred spirits, both bold, brash New Yorkers, TV stars who know how to entertain and shock.

O'REILLY: You are two thin-skinned. STELTER: Their friendly banter did lead to awkward moments.

O'REILLY: Do you get mad at people like me who ask you the negative questions?

TRUMP: Well, no, I think you'd become very negative. I do think --

O'REILLY: Yes, me? Why? Why would I do that?

TRUMP: I don't know, you'll have to ask your psychiatrist, but I think you have become very negative.

STELTER: But the two men also share something darker, both have been accused of exploiting their power, using it to sexually harass women, something both have denied.

Back when the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape threatened to sink Trump's campaign, O'Reilly threaded lightly.

O'REILLY: I'm not going to play too much of it because it's crude guy talk.

STELTER: He did admit the tape was an embarrassment for Donald Trump.

Now with O'Reilly ousted, some wonder what his friend, the president, will say about it.

Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Joining us now is Van Jones, Jason Miller and Kirsten Powers.

Kirsten, I want to start with you. You -- obviously, you used to work at FOX as a political analyst. You were on O'Reilly's program all the time. I'm wondering what your reaction to today's announcement?

KIRSTEN POWER, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Well, I mean, I think it's stunning because Bill O'Reilly was FOX News. He had so much power there and it was sort of unthinkable he would leave there except on his own terms. I did his show right early for a long time and I was thinking about an incident that happened early on in my career when I was on with Margaret Hoover, who's at CNN now, on a regular segment. We were on every Monday.

And he got Margaret's name wrong and Margaret said, hey, get my name right. And he said, "Oh, I'm sorry, there's a lot of blonds in this operation, I can't keep you all straight." Megyn Kelly is coming up, starts throwing all these blond names. And then at the end of the segment says, "Thank you for your blondness" to both of us.

So I went to his executive producer and I said, "He needs to apologize and he needs to never do that again or I'm not doing his show anymore", and I was told basically, well, you know Bill, there's nothing we can do about it. He's a throwback. He's kind of an Archie Bunker. And I said, "Well, if you mean he's a Neanderthal, then, we're on the

same page, he can never do that again. I'm a political analyst here." Went to Bill, came back and said, "No, he's not going to apologize."

Then, I went to my -- I was called into my boss's office and I was told, "What can we do, it's Bill, there's nothing we can do. You know, we're sorry this happened to you, but there's we can do."

I complained to Roger Ailes, I was told the same exact thing. "There's nothing we can do. It's Bill. He's a jerk. Nobody likes him."

And then Roger said, "You know, Bill, he likes to put up dirty pictures and ask girls to talk about them." And so, the whole thing was Bill -- oh, he said, you know, "What am I going to do, I don't like him, but he makes so much money. There's nothing I can do."

That was the culture --

COOPER: Wait a minute, who was it? Who said that?

POWERS: Roger Ailes.

And so, this was the culture which was Bill was, you know, just too big and so, there was nothing you could do about it. So, I did quit his show. I didn't do it for two or three years. This was an election year. This is the biggest show at FOX.

And then about three years later, I went back and I said, look, I'm willing to give this another try and he said, sure, and I came on the show and I never had another problem. We actually ended having quite a good relationship.

But it just -- it just spoke volumes that I had to handle it on my own, that there was nobody that was willing to even say anything to him just to basically say, you can't treat one of our political analysts this way.

COOPER: It is I mean, Kirsten, it -- having obviously not worked at FOX. I've only worked at Channel One, ABC News and CNN, I cannot imagine working in an environment where that was tolerated, where any of these allegations were tolerated, not only by O'Reilly, but by Roger Ailes. I mean, the guy was running the place.

POWERS: Yes. Well, I mean, I think that's right. I will say, you know, for myself, I sort of look back on it and think, you know, why -- I mean, I did quit his show, but I still did keep working there.

[20:20:05] I have to say I'm to a certain extent, I'm -- you know, my generation of women kind of grew up always kind of dealing with sexual harassment. It's not the first place. That's not sexual harassment, but sort of sexual discrimination I guess or -- I mean, I was never hit on.

But I -- you know, but I think I have dealt with this kind of stuff so much that to a certain extent, you just learn to tolerate it. You just learn to expect that this is going to be part of your job and because it wasn't something, this was an isolated incident for me, you know, you just learn to live with it. And that's not OK.

And so, that's why I think it's really important to give a lot of credit to Gretchen Carlson for coming out and really being the person who started this conversation. I mean, the only reason I'm telling this story I think is because Gretchen came out and took on FOX News. You know, a lot of women just don't talk about these things because if you make too much trouble, you're career is over -- or at least that's the way it used to be.

COOPER: And, clearly, from what Roger Ailes was saying to you, I mean, he knew about it but just kind of didn't care and threw up his hands. The idea that nobody can do anything about Bill O'Reilly.

POWERS: Yes, it was really like, what are we going to do. He's the most powerful person here. He makes the most money for the channel. And, you know, oh, well.

And it's just not -- yes, it is kind of astonishing. And that's why I think when everyone keeps saying like, what was the culture like? Well, that was the culture. I don't think that anyone really felt like explaining was really going to solve a problem.


Jason, you obviously worked with President Trump on it. You worked on the campaign with Donald Trump as a candidate, you know, Bill O'Reilly can be a tough interviewer, there's no doubt about it. I'm wondering what you make of their, I don't know if friendship is the right word, do you see it as a friendship, or has it been a mutual beneficial relationship over the years? How do you see it?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's been pretty widely reported that the president and Mr. O'Reilly have been friends for a number of decades, but during the time I worked for the president, it's really become a mutually beneficial relationship. Really, O'Reilly was one of the people who predicted the rise of President Trump and he was capturing the imagination of so many voters.

And it really seemed to me that who saw these opportunities where they essentially were both helping each other. And I'll tell you, from the campaign side of things, you're right, Mr. O'Reilly is a tough interviewer and there was no interview we would be the most nervous unless we found out that the president was going on O'Reilly because he threw hardballs at him, he threw tough questions. You never knew what was going to pop up.

But I think more important, as we talk about this last week or two, really what we seen following "The New York Times", what's more important is really what hasn't been said and I think the fact that you see the president focusing on what's important, obviously, you're going to see some steel EO come up tomorrow, talking about that congressional race in Georgia yesterday, this is really where the president's been focused -- COOPER: But the president did bring this up to the "New York Times"

and defend Bill O'Reilly. I mean, they did go out to sporting events together. So, I get that it was a mutually beneficial relationship, but it does seem to have gone beyond just a professional acquaintance?

MILLER: Oh, no doubt, but I guess the broader point I was making is if this was a big deal for the president, we would see him talking about it on a daily basis, but the president's clearly focused on leading the country and obviously the threat in North Korea, and all the other challenge that are facing us. I mean, heck, we saw with the congressional race yesterday, how many times did the president tweet with regard to making sure that the Republican finish to make it into the runoff there.

Look, if this was that big of a deal for the president, which again, I don't think it is --

COOPER: Well, clearly --

MILLER: -- he would talk about it all the time.

COOPER: Right. It would be ridiculous for the president of the United States to be talking about this -- I mean, just from a political standpoint, it would not be -- it would not, you know, serve the president well, and I'm sure he has people around him telling him that.

We're going to take a quick break. We're going to obviously talk to Van and the rest of the panel. We'll be right back.


[20:32:50] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We are talking about Bill O'Reilly's firing at Fox the corporate culture there and the water impact of it all, back now with the panel.

Van, I want to talk about your take on all of this. We actually found a clip of Bill O'Reilly talking about you, obviously, from a couple of years ago, let's watch.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX HOST: This guy, Van Jones, let's be honest about this. This was a guy who had like the lowest job you can have.


O'REILLY: This guy was sitting in a lawn chair, all right?

BECK: Not true.

O'REILLY: On the mall in Washington.

BECK: Not true.

O'REILLY: Trying to get guys to rake up leaves to make it cleaner. BECK: It's not true.

O'REILLY: He wasn't a big guy.

BECK: This guy is horrible, riddled with lies and distortion.


COOPER: That's obviously him talking to Glenn beck. I'm wondering what you make of Bill O'Reilly's downfall basically?

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, THE MESSY TRUTH: I think a number of things, I've been sitting here just squirming and try to hold it in so many things to say.

First of all, I have to point out that any normal situation, Donald Trump has egg all over his face, his chest, running down his leg. He came out saying this guy is great. He's never done anything wrong. It turns out there was a pattern and a practice in that organization, Fox News, of multimillion dollar payout as basically a cost of doing business with having this guy in the building. And lots of people had to have known. You don't hand out $10 million, $13 million because of one employee who can't keep his mouth shut, can't keep his hands to himself without lots of people knowing. The president of the United States put his name behind this man's name, that's terrible.

Number two, Ails, Trump and O'Reilly, three guys now known for a kind of braggadocios, a predatory behavior toward women. We're in this tug of war about what that means. One guy in the White House, two of them now out of public life. It looks like women and people who care about women, and people who have functioning brain stems and care about respect are starting to win this battle.

And so, you're watching a major moment now in American life in American culture, it's interesting to me, and I'll say this in my own, just, you know, I don't know, lack of decency, that when they were attacking me, leaving the Obama administration, Ails was in place, Glenn Beck was in place, O'Reilly was in place, they're all gone, I'm still here, let the justice train move on.

[20:35:19] COOPER: Jason I want you to be able to respond to what Van said.

JASON MILLER, FORMER SR. COMMUNICATION ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Look, I certainly can't speak to what Mr. O'Reilly was saying about Van Jones, but I do think to some of Van's rhetoric on this was a little bit overblown, I mean, I think there were a number of false attacks that came out against the president this past year. I think voters decided this. I think it was pretty clear the fact that the president got 306 electoral votes, voters took this information and they processed it and knocked it away.

I think to try to lump the president and some of what he said cases, I think -

JONES: There was a videotape of the candidate sir of the president, well candidate that time now the president, talking about grabbing someone, you know, by the vagina. That was not --

MILLER: And the president --


MILER: -- and the president apologized for using that verbiage.

JONES: That was not an accusation against him. You guys keep saying the same time every time.

MILER: -- and the president apologized for using that verbiage.


JONES: Every time you guys say two things and doesn't work anymore. You say, number one, it's all fake news. That wasn't fake news. And number two, because he got a bunch of votes, nothing now can stick to him. It's just not true. His numbers are in the garbage can because the stuff are starting to stick.


MILLER: -- why couldn't Hillary Clinton win the race?

JONES: Well, I mean -- your only argument isn't about his character. It's not about who he is. It's not about the fact that culture is now turning, even in Fox News, the last bastion of this sort of behavior is collapsing. You want to talk about an election from November. You're not getting the point. You're not getting the message.


MILLER: There are two different issues, what was going on at the other network and unfounded attacks against the president are two completely different issues.

JONES: Well, then why are you jumping --


JONES: If that's true -- two different issues, then why did the president put himself with on the line and associated himself with Bill O'Reilly? To your point, you've got other stuff to be worried about, but he jumps into it because he thinks this kind of behavior is OK and guess what Americans don't anymore. And even at Fox --


JONES: Van you're putting words in the president's mouth. I have not discussed this with the president, obviously, but what I can take from the situation. He's been friends with Mr. O'Reilly for a number of decades. And the all the interactions he's have with Mr. O'Reilly is they're very professional and they have that --

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: What does that have to do with anything? I'm sorry. (CROSSTALK)

POWERS: You know, but I know. This is what --


COOPER: One at a time. Kirsten go ahead.

POWERS: Come on, this is what Donald Trump said to me during the campaign about Roger Ails, that he's friends with him and Roger was always a gentlemen with him and therefore he knows that Roger would never sexually harass anyone. But, what on earth is he talking about? And I said this to him. Why would how he treats you, another man have any bearing on how he interacts in private with other women and that's what you just repeated again, but somehow, because he's friends with Bill O'Reilly that he can extrapolate from that. He knows how Bill O'Reilly --


MILLER: I think he was talking to his relationship with Mr. O'Reilly and what he saw in years --

POWERS: No he wasn't. He was talking about whether or not -- when I spoke with him, he was talking specifically about whether or not Roger Ails has harassed anybody. And he also said exact same thing what Donald Trump. He has claimed that he know something that he simply cannot know.


COOPER: He did say that Bill O'Reilly should not settle because he didn't think Bill O'Reilly did anything wrong.

MILLER: Right, but I think this is, you know, the effort to try to make this a big pig pile on the president somehow going with Mr. O'Reilly or even Mr. Ails is somehow connected to Mr. Trump. I think it's just a bridge too far here. I mean, what, the voters have decided this. The president was very clearly speaking to what he thought about his relationship with Mr. O'Reilly. And the president know what's like to have unfounded attacks being thrown at him.

COOPER: We'll leave it with Jason with the last word. I want to thank everybody in the panel.

Just had the White House doubling down saying it doesn't matter that USS Car Vinson was actually on his way to the Indian Ocean when they said they were sending it to North Korean to send a warning to Kim Jong-Un. They way they (inaudible) still heading to North Korean when you're going opposite direction. We'll try to figure out that one ahead.


[20:42:37] COOPER: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer doubled down today about questions about the statements the White House made about the USS Carl Vinson's location and movements. The Americans (inaudible) the impression the last week that the aircraft carrier and its strike force have been ordered to (inaudible) to the Korean Peninsula after North Korea's latest missile test. And the truth, it turned out to be more complicated though you wouldn't know it from Mr. Spicer's remarks today.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have an Armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact, it happens. It is happening rather. The statement that was put out was that the Carl Vinson group was heading to the Korean Peninsula, it is heading to the Korean Peninsula and it will arrive there.


SPICER: What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- it's headed there now. It was --

SPICER: Sure, no, no. But that's not what we ever said. We said that it was heading there. And it was heading there. It is heading there.


COOPER: Headed, heading, whatever verb tends the White House is now using, confusion began when Pres. Trump what sounded like a pretty direct message to North Korea's Kim Jong-Un after the missile launch.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENT: We are sending an Armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you, and we have the best military people on earth and I will say this, he is doing the wrong thing.


COOPER: Well, that same day, Sean Spicer said this.


SPICER: I think when you see a carrier group steaming into an area like that, the forward presence of that is clearly through almost every instance, a huge deterrence.


COOPER: Sending, steaming, without getting the grammar weaves, it sounded to most people think like something was happenings at that very moment. But, in fact, the carrier group is actually going in the opposite direction to take part in planned exercises with the Australian navy. With the past 36 hours or so the statements by the White House (inaudible) story Barbara Starr tonight has the latest. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: When the navy forst announced the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was headed near the Korean Peninsula, in neglected to mention, it would first do exercises out of Australia before heading for Korean. The White House today attempted to clean up the confusion.

SPICER: It was announced that it was going, it will be there.

STARR: The carrier will arrive as soon as next week on station between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, conducting routine but visible flight operations says a U.S. defense official. But those confusing media messages could have had national security implications.

[20:45:11] LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This couldn't be just considered a mistake or a miscommunication between the Navy and the Pentagon and the Pentagon and the White House, that's fine, you have mistakes sometimes in military operations. But when you have these kinds of mistakes and it sends an indicator that there is a lack of coordination, a lack of coordinated effort, it could be problematic to both friends and foes alike.

STARR: Defense Secretary James Mattis defended the mixed messages.

JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The bottom line is, you know, effort always be open about what we're doing. We said that we were going to change the Vinson's upcoming schedule.

STARR: As for the overall message on North Korea, those within the administration appear to be taking on the good cop, bad cop routine.

MIKE PENCE, (R) U.S. VICE-PRESIDENT: Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president, in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve.

STARR: A different tone from the National Security Advisor, emphasizing a peaceful solution and noting a reliant on what other administrations have tried.

LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: This problem is coming to a head and, so it's time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option to try to resolve this peacefully. And so we're going to rely on our allies, like we always do.


STARR: As we always do. So right now, it's a bit unclear how the Trump administration policy is new or different. Anderson?

COOPER: Barbara Starr, Barbara thanks. Keeping them honest now, on why the White House seems so reluctant to admit doing and make a mistake about anything not just this. Jason Miller is back. Joining us also is Paul Begala. Paul. I mean, is there -- is this just a mistake? Was this do you think intentional? Is there harm here long-term in terms of the trust that people have in what the White House says?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: The president has systematically damaged the credibility of the United States of America in just his 85 or 90 days and that's a big problem. Here's where we see it in a National Security context.

If I might pull on a different thread in Barbara's report though, Anderson, it's bad that they used the present tense when they should have used the future tense, the Vinson will be steaming. OK, I get that. And that was a mistake and it was an important one.

Much more important that he told Maria Bartiromo that we have stationed submarines off the coast. I used to have a top security clearance. And I'll get technical here. Submarines go below the water, they are covert. We don't want our enemies to know what covert capacities we are bringing to bear, and he's just bucket mouthing this stuff out. It just -- I really -- I would not be surprised if comments like that make senior military intelligence officials worry that maybe they have to edit what they tell the commander-in-chief, which is a disaster. Because he just is like -- he's just emotionally incontinent. He just spews out whatever has been fed to him. You can't tell your adversaries that you have covert submarines off their coast, because they're covert.

COOPER: Jason, I mean shouldn't the White House be saying, look, I mean if there's -- if the White House says we're sending troops to this region to, you know, bolster our security, it does sound like they're actually on their way or about to be on their way, as opposed to yeah, they'll get there in a week or two, once they make another stop elsewhere and do an exercise with another military.

MILLER: Anderson, I'm still trying to figure out what the big deal is here. I mean the fact of the matter is that the president said that the ships were on the way, and they are on the way. He didn't say that they would be arriving at this particular location at this time and they didn't arrive, he said they were on the way. And if they stopped somewhere, they were conducting some exercises on the way en route to the Korean Peninsula, then I don't think that's a big deal.

And quite frankly, I think from going back to Barbara's package, a moment ago, the bigger story coming out to this from the last 24 hours or so, is the tough message that Vice President Pence took to South Korea and Japan, other allies in the region, coupling trade and security issues and making it clear that we need our allies to be pulling their fair share. I think that was a very strong message. I think something has been -- very much under reported.

And even -- but going back to the military for just a moment. I couldn't disagree with Paul more. Everything I've seen from the president, whether it be with regard to Syria or his handling so far with North Korea, I think has been very good, I mean finally, we have an administration that's doing something about North Korea, after eight years of absolute inaction, which, again, it boggles my mind on the way out. President Obama said this was the single biggest threat, but what has done with regard to North Korean over the past eight years? So, finally, we have a president --

COOPER: But, Jason, isn't the point -- the fact that the reason the president highlighted the fact that an Armada, which is not what it is, but an Armada is heading toward North Korea, that is a way of projecting strength. I mean the reason the president brought that up was to show that he was doing something about North Korea. But what he said was not accurate. It gave the impression he was doing something in a faster way or in a more significant way than it really was.

[20:50:26] MILLER: So, Anderson, here is where I disagree, kind of push back. Obviously, we're getting information from public reports and things that have been coming out. Well, we don't know is the time when he said that what was happening in between. And certainly, they could have directed the ships and sent them immediately. And if there was -- that was the cause and what they needed to do. But for, you know, whatever reasons they're seeing, they made a decision that they can complete the exercises before going. I guess, I don't see where this is a big deal. Only seven ships are going to the region. They're continuing to go to the region. Now we're sending a strong message to North Korea. And I think the president is doing a very good job with the military and foreign affairs so far.

COOPER: Paul, I mean they were going the other direction when he said that.

BEGALA: Right. They were going 3500 miles in the other direction. And he just -- look, he's our president, he's my president. I really want him to succeed. But he's not up to this. And he needs to be quiet. He needs to let Gen. McMaster speak.

By the way, moving that Armada, moving that carrier strike group is a huge message and one you don't have to trumpet in an interview on cable news or on your Twitter machine president. (Inaudible) the thing speaks for itself.

I think he needs to increase pressure on North Korea and China. And that's good. And I'm glad my country is doing that. I'm glad my president is doing it. But he needs to shut up, because he says these things all wrong. This is the problem, America, that a minority of you voted for a guy, first time in history with no military and no governmental experience. And we may pay a terrible price for that.

MILLER: Paul, I would disagree with you as I do it's think it's important to send a message and sometimes that's going to be through the media, sometimes that's going to be when folks realize that there's a whole Armada --

BEGALA: Not from some loud mouth lout and a bar room, that's what he sounds like. He just sounds like a jerk not like a commander of the greatest military in human history.


MILLER: We're going to have to agree to disagree on that one.


COOPER: We leave it on that disagreement. Jason Miller thanks as always, Paul Begala as well.

Coming up, convicted murderer and former NFL player Aaron Hernandez found dead hanging from a bed sheet in his prison cell. Look as his rise to sport stardom and violent fall from grace. What happened next.


COOPER: It's an abrupt end to a short life filled with violence and tragic, convicted murderer and former NFL star, Aaron Hernandez, found hanged in his prison cell in Massachusetts early this morning. Hours later, some of his former teammates in the New England Patriots where in the White House celebrating their Super Bowl win. Prison official say Hernandez hanged himself with a bed sheet in a cell. He was just 27 years old. Randi Kaye has more.


[20:55:11] RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: They got it wrong. That's all Aaron Hernandez had to say as he began his life sentence without parole for murder. That was April 2015.

It was a stunning fall from grace for a player with so much promise. Trouble started early on. When he was 16, the future NFLer's father died from complications following a hernia operation. Hernandez began to rebel against authority.

Still, in high school in Bristol Connecticut, he set state records for touchdowns and receiving yards and was named player of the year.

Later at the University of Florida, he was an All-American tight end and a national champion.

He entered the NFL draft shortly after his junior season but some teams steered clear, given Hernandez's reputation for marijuana use, guns and gangs. Some who knew him considered his choice of friends thugs. But that didn't keep the New England Patriots away. The team took a chance on him as the 113th pick.

At just 20 years old, Hernandez became the youngest NFL player on an active roster. He got a contract extension, too. Signing a $40 million deal.

AARON HERNANDEZ, NFL PLAYER: It's a life long dream. And still kind of surreal. But, take it in over the next few days, months, years. And, just it's a blessing. And hopefully I make the right decisions with it. And have a good life.

KAYE: Life was good. But less than a year after inking his new contract, Hernandez was suddenly on the hook for not one but three murders. In 2012, Hernandez was accused of gunning down two men outside a nightclub in Boston. Earlier, one of the men had apparently spilled a drink on Hernandez.

PATRICK HAGGAN, SUTFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The defendant had become increasingly sensitive and angered by what he believed to be people testing, trying or otherwise disrespecting him when he frequented nightclubs in the area.

KAYE: The following year, a man claimed Hernandez shot him in the face and left him for dead.

And in June 2013, Hernandez shot and kill Odin Lloyd. Investigators found 45 caliber shell casings at the scene. Surveillance cameras at Hernandez's home showed him holding what police believed was the murder weapon before he went to meet Odin Lloyd. The gun was never found. There was also a text message from Lloyd to his sister, sent minutes before he was killed. NFL just so you know.

DEION BRANCH, FRIEND: That was shocking I think to a lot of us.

KAYE: Hernandez was found guilty and sentenced to life for Lloyd's death. But just last week, he was cleared in the 2012 double murder of the men outside the Boston nightclub. His little girl looked on in court. But Hernandez wasn't going home. Instead, Aaron Hernandez was returned to his 8x10 cell at state prison where he was expected to live for many years to come. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, we're going to take a short break. When we comeback the end of the Bill O'Reilly era at Fox News and it's ending with multiple sexual harassment accusations and exodus of advertisers. The latest on all of it. First, a look at the new CNN series premiering tomorrow night.