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New England Patriots to be Honored at White House; Bill O'Reilly Leaving FOX News. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 19, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: As I'm being reminded, let's play the Gronk moment in case you missed it. Take a look.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We'll see what pans out in the negotiation. But I think there's an opportunity -- can I just --



SPICER: I think I got this, but thank you. Maybe.


All right, thanks, man. I'll see you in a minute.

Hold on.


All right. That was cool.


Real quick -- how do you follow that?



BALDWIN: Rob Gronkowski, that's a big boy, offering help.


BALDWIN: Go ahead.

DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, THE NATION: I have breaking news -- it's not confirmed -- that Rob Gronkowski has been asked to join the National Security Council.


That's a joke. Sorry. BALDWIN: They do have some jobs open.

ZIRIN: Yeah.


BALDWIN: Thank you all so much.

New England Patriots at the White House.

Let's move on and talk about the president himself, he's patting himself on the back for the race in Georgia where the Democrat fell short of winning outright. So will the Republican actually want the president's help moving forward ahead of the big election in June?

Also, the clock is ticking fast on Bill O'Reilly's future in television. Sources saying his exit is coming amid new sexual harassment allegations. The host is now firing back.

Also ahead, a Florida state Senator goes on a racist and vulgar rant against two of his African-American colleagues. Hear what he's saying now.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:35:18] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: All right. Here we go. Breaking news on CNN, conservative media's biggest star and the face of FOX News is out. Talking about Bill O'Reilly here.

We have lots of voices to weigh in on this and how things are moving quickly behind the scenes. Senior media correspondent, host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter is here; Dylan Byers, senior media and politics reporter with us; in addition to Chris Cillizza in Washington.

Dylan, to you. I saw your tweet. Tell me what you know.

DYLAN BYERS, CNN REPORTER: That's right. We have a statement from 21st Century FOX. I want to read it to you in full: "After a thorough and full review, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the FOX News channel."

This comes after the revelation earlier this month that they paid out $13 million in settlements to five women who had accused him of sexual harassment and/or verbal abuse.

It's hard to overstate how stunning this is certainly in the cable news industry. Bill O'Reilly, the number-one figure in cable news. A very powerful and influential voice and very much the face of the FOX News channel. So a very stunning development today -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Brian Stelter -- Dylan, stay with me. Brian, back up, these is over multiple sexual harassment claims and

this multimillion dollar settlement that's came to light. He's been on vacation. He met with the pope.



Tell me more about what you know.

STELTER: That's right. Let me go back to 2004. He was sued by a former producer. He paid money. They settled out of court. It went away and he stayed on the air. But a lot has changed in 13 years. Corporate America has changed. Our society has changed and FOX News now hearing other allegations of sexual harassment from other women is no longer able to stand by O'Reilly. It says a lot about corporate America and our culture and about conservative media. Some of O'Reilly's fans are going to be furious about this but he has many, many detractors that were wondering if this could ever happen. If we sat here a week ago and said Bill O'Reilly may be leaving FOX, he was seen as invisible. Even Bill O'Reilly is not invincible. This network now has a decision to make about the 8:00 p.m. Hour. I think we should point out another historical element to this. Roger Ailes was the founding CEO and O'Reilly was his biggest star. Last summer, Ailes was sued and FOX had an internal investigation. Two weeks later, Ailes was forced to resign. The same thing happened here being Brooke. New York Times talked about the allegations and he's denied those claims and two weeks ago FOX started an investigation. Some women called up and said they, too, had been harassed and two weeks to the day the Murdochs are taking action.

BALDWIN: There are far reaching implications.

Chris Cillizza, not too long ago, even the president of the United States stood by Bill O'Reilly essentially saying he's a good guy.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yeah. And remember, that defense was sort of out of nowhere it came right after "The New York Times" story. He offered no real evidence of why he said that about O'Reilly other than that they know one another. It's hard to explain how Titanic Bill O'Reilly is they were in many ways the twin heads of the modern conservative movement and the Donald Trump candidacy as executed in many ways by Bill O'Reilly. That's no longer the Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ailes. So the idea that -- Brian touched on this. It really is stunning, Brooke. I don't think you can say is too many times. The idea that Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly are both ousted in similar ways with similar problems is just, you know, the conservative media. And it's a big deal for FOX and a big deal for which the conservative brand is sort of imagined in this country and that is what Ailes and O'Reilly did.

[14:40:19] BALDWIN: And the time frame of nine to 10 months, entirely separate reasons, still a megastar. You have Megyn Kelly, three of them out.


STELTER: I would add a fourth, Greta van Susteren --


STELTER: -- who was also a primetime player.

So partly, this speaks to the idea, Brooke, that FOX is bigger than any single star but Bill O'Reilly was by far the biggest star on FOX. He was what the network was built on.

I'm reading out an internal memo shared with staffers going beyond the statement --


BALDWIN: Are you talking about the Murdoch statement?

STELTER: That's right. "The decision followed an extensive review in collaboration with outside counsel." That means the law firm brought in two weeks ago to examine these allegations. The memo goes on to celebrate O'Reilly's ratings success --

BALDWIN: Let's read it.

STELTER: "By rating standards, Bill O'Reilly is one of the most accomplished television personalities in the history of cable news. In fact, his success, by any measure, is indisputable. FOX has demonstrated again and again the strength of his talent. We have full confidence that the network will continue to be a powerhouse in cable news."

So the Murdochs, Rupert Murdoch and his sons, are trying to say, we'll be fine, we're bigger than any single star. That's true. But at the same time, this has shaken the network in a profound way. There's about to be a staff meeting there at 3:00 p.m.

You can imagine what it's like when your primetime star, your 8:00 p.m. host, has been accused of harassment by multiple women who worked at FOX, were guests on the show. And the network has been silent for two weeks. The Murdochs recognize a lot of change needs to happen at FOX.

BALDWIN: Areva Martin, you're weighing in as well, CNN legal analyst. Ahead of this meeting with the NEWSROOM at FOX News channel, we've talked about the fact that there have been hotlines set up and there hadn't been complaints, but to the defense of some of these women, they didn't feel like they could call in and complain in this Roger Ailes era.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: None of these women have come forward and reported this harassment to the personnel, but the reality is you don't have to. The law doesn't require women to use these official grievance cha channels if they have been harassed. They can make their complaints known via their lawyers, which is what we saw Lisa Bloom doing on television the last couple of weeks, talking about two of the clients she represents or enter into private negotiations which has caused FOX and O'Reilly to spend $13 million in settlements. There's a lot of ways that sexual harassment complaints come forward and it's not always through hotlines or through internal processes because many women don't trust them, that the information is confidential and fear retribution.

BALDWIN: Dylan -- Areva, stay with me.

Dylan, based on this independent investigation, do you think that something else was found, something new, just based upon this Murdoch statement here?

BYERS: Certainly, it's very possible. Again, we should reiterate that 21st Century FOX was aware of many of the accusations against Bill O'Reilly that date back over a decade and of the settlements paid out because they were involved in those settlements. There's a good chance that something else came up in this review. It's also possible that 21st Century FOX understood that the public pressure was too detrimental not just to FOX News but to all of 21st Century FOX businesses to acquire Sky Broadcasting in the U.K. But what they are saying is that this was the result of the internal investigation. They are committed to fostering a positive and safe workplace environment Ailes, who had his own litany of sexual assault accusation is against him. I think there's going to be some doubts among staffers who have had to live through this nightmare again about what the commitments of the Murdochs really are to fostering that safe workplace environment.

BALDWIN: Areva, what about the overall federal investigation? Where does that stand with FOX News and Roger Ailes?

[14:44:51]MARTIN: I think it continues. The feds are looking into how the settlements were reported on the FCC statements and whether they were mistakenly or intentionally misreported as income rather than s settlements. The issue is, does FOX want to see changes? The employers have an ability to root out sexual harassment. They know who they are and that in terms of disciplining for the employees and ridding the workplace of this kind of harassment. And it probably goes a lot deeper than Bill O'Reilly.

BALDWIN: For now, it's Bill O'Reilly, and that's where we are, who is, as Brian and I were just talking off the top, he met the pope and he's on vacation in Italy. Was this a regularly scheduled vacation that was elongated?

STELTER: Right. He normally takes a short vacation over the Easter period. This was a longer vacation. He apparently bought plane tickets to fly to Italy many months ago. FOX was happy. It gave them a chance to conduct the investigation to find out if other women had similar accusations and to have a cooling off period, essentially. Advertisers were abandoning his show. We haven't talked about the financial aspects. Many withdrew their ads and without advertisers, all they had were ratings. He does have a big, big audience. O'Reilly grows every time, every night when O'Reilly is on. He has this massive audience that comes in for him. Without advertisers and without the support of his boss, the Murdochs, he did not have much. He didn't have much power. He's over at Italy listening to calls from his agents and lawyers trying to fight back but did not have that ability. He was at the Vatican today. There's a picture of him with the pope. He'll have a longer vacation. But I wouldn't be surprised if we see him on another network someday. Some smaller channel who needs or wants his audience. A lot of fans may be angry with FOX.

BALDWIN: I want all of you to stand by.

We're going to sneak a quick commercial break in. If you're just joining us, the cable powerhouse star, Bill O'Reilly, is out at FOX News.

We'll be right back.


[11:52:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: Welcome back. Breaking news on Bill O'Reilly at FOX. He is out. Let me read one sentence from this from 21st Century FOX: "After thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the FOX News channel."

Dylan Byers, is this the end of an era for FOX?

BYERS: It absolutely is. Bill O'Reilly has been the face of FOX News. He's very much defined that network for a very long time. Even when there were questions about other hosts potentially defining that network, she is gone as well, Megyn Kelly. He had a loyal following and very much contributed to this atmosphere that we've been living in for the past few decades. It's very hard to overstate how significance this is.

The question for FOX News is, can we find somebody to fill his shoes. The early indication is that they will move Tucker Carlson into the 8:00 p.m. Slot. They have yet to confirm that. They are likely to announce his replacement at a meeting later today. But we'll have to wait and see. All of my conversations inside FOX News, they say he's irreplaceable. We'll have to wait and see.

BALDWIN: Brian, what's happening. You mentioned that there is a meeting happening today?

STELTER: Yes, a staff meeting at 3:00 p.m. Presumably, Rupert Murdoch or his son will be there. Maybe they will announce Tucker Carlson will be moving to the 8:00 p.m. slot.

I've been thinking about what this means for women who charged O'Reilly with harassment or others. Gretchen Carlson is the woman who started some of this. Last July, she sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and retaliation. Many people were stunned that they were going up the powerful founding CEO of FOX News. Gretchen Carlson succeeded. Other women supported Gretchen. They said, I was harassed by Ailes as well. Now we're talking about Bill O'Reilly. But it took one woman, who was laid off by FOX, Gretchen Carlson, to stand up, to sue, and to get the attention on this issue. I'm really curious to see what she'll be saying and feeling on a day like today. Because there are women at other workplaces, not even TV newsrooms, other kinds of jobs that have been harassed by their bosses in the past, felt like they were retaliated against. Sometimes those stories don't have that kind of ending. Today, it's an ending that those women, the groups that have been advocated for O'Reilly's removal, will feel good about.

[14:55:05] BALDWIN: Go ahead, Dylan.

BYERS: Yeah. I just want to say we have additional breaking news. FOX News has confirmed what the new line-up will be in O'Reilly's absence. They will move Carlson from 9:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Moving into the 9:00 p.m. hour is the show "The Five," hosted by a round table. You'll see a new development in the cable news primetime landscape, rather than one host talking to viewers, talking to panels. You'll have a panel of five hosts that includes Eric Bolling, Dana Perino and others. So that is a new development for the FOX News prime time lineup.

STELTER: And what that means is the network is not moving away from its pro-Trump stance. Tucker Carlson, though sometimes skeptical of Trump, is a pretty reliable supporter, and "The Five," most of those hosts, pretty reliable supporters of the president, and Sean Hannity, the ultimate supporter of Donald Trump at 10:00. The network not moving away from its conservative identify in prime time. This is a test to see how big of a deal was O'Reilly, was he really the magnet for viewers, or has FOX become a brand bigger than anybody. And I think the answer is yes. It's bigger than any individual now.


STELTER: But no doubt, this is the biggest test for FOX in those 20 years.

BALDWIN: Everybody stand by. We'll take another commercial break. We'll be right back with more breaking news on Bill O'Reilly.


[14:59:41] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: You are watching CNN breaking news. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The most-famous face of conservative media, Bill O'Reilly, is officially out at FOX News. This coming after FOX faced weeks of pressure to fire their biggest star amid a slew of sexual harassment allegations against O'Reilly. 21s t Century FOX released a statement, and I quote, "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the FOX News channel."