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Global Conflicts; Bill O'Reilly Out at Fox News; Serena Williams Won Australian Open While Pregnant. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 20, 2017 - 05:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Facing a slew of adversaries, the Trump administration is standing firm. Iran and North Korea, Russia, all on notice. We have the latest on the diplomatic stare-downs.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And the king of cable news dethroned. Bill O'Reilly is out at FOX. We have his reaction. What's next following another black eye for the network?

Good morning, everybody. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Thursday, April 28th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And this morning, the Trump administration not backing off the tough talk in several fights it's waging around the world, with Iran, North Korea and with Russia. On the Iraq nuclear deal, President Trump has asked for a multi-agency review to determine whether lifting sanctions in exchanger for Tehran curbing its nuclear program is really in the national interest.

BRIGGS: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the deal forged by the Obama administration and U.S. allies, quote, "completely ignored all the other serious threats that Iran poses."


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining U.S. interests, in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel. An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it.


BRIGGS: Now, Tillerson's comments came a day after he certified to Congress that Iran is complying with the deal, but questioned whether sanctions shouldn't be re-imposed because of Iran's alleged sponsorship of terrorism.

[05:00:06] KOSIK: All right. You heard Secretary Rex Tillerson mentioning North Korea which already has sky high tensions with its neighbors and the U.S. Well, today, American and South Korean forces are conducting their annual Max Thunder Drill, the second biggest military aviation exercise on the Korean peninsula.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is at the Kunsan Air Base in Seoul with an up- close look.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, this is Max Thunder. This is a massive air operation between the United States and South Korea here in South Korea. There is more than 80 aircrafts involved in this. That's more than 1,500 people.

We know that it's routine. We know that it's annual. We are told by the lieutenant colonel in charge that they weren't actually carrying out these drills, they don't have a specific enemy in mind. But, of course, given the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, this is inevitably going to be more in the spotlight.

This kind of massive firepower being seen by North Korea as well. It is not what North Korea likes to see. Every single year when these drills happen, they become angry, infuriated. They believe that this is actually a dress rehearsal for an invasion, even though the United States say that they are defensive in nature.

But just bear in mind what's happening on the peninsula at this point. North Korea have said that the U.S. pushed the situation to a point where a nuclear war can break out at any time. China as well suggests these military drills should not be happening, saying that if the U.S. halts these military drills, potentially, North Korea could suspend the nuclear and missile program.

It's not a new situation. It's not a new suggestion and it's not one the U.S. welcomes.

Dave and Alison, back to you.


BRIGGS: Great reporting there.

To help us now with some perspective, let's bring in CNN politics reporter Tal Kopan live in Washington this morning.

Good morning to you, Tal.

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, Dave and Alison.

BRIGGS: Let's stay on the subject of the Korean peninsula and talk about the fuss this morning over what Donald Trump said, the president, regarding armada sailing to the Korean peninsula and how Sean Spicer is defending his actions. Here is both and we'll get your reaction on the backside.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.

SPICER: The statement that was put out was the Carl Vinson group was headed to the Korean Peninsula and is headed to the Korean peninsula. and it is headed to the Korean Peninsula. It will arrive there.

What's that?

REPORTER: It's headed there now. It wasn't headed there last week.

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

REPORTER: The president believed he might have spoken too quickly on this location of the vessel.

SPICER: The president said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact. It has happened, it is happening, rather.


BRIGGS: All right. I don't want to get caught up in semantic debate here, Tal, because the president did say we are sending an armada there. That is not on itself false. So, Sean Spicer is actually right there.

But what is the problem with the way the Pentagon handled this and what is it indicative of, in your opinion?

KOPAN: Well, yes, and it's a question of timing, and look, you know, on the campaign trail, Donald Trump was known for sort of being loose and saying things and throwing them out there and seeing how they stick. And, you know, we have been talking about it since the beginning of this presidency how foreign policy doesn't typically work that way. And so, you know, he is sort of having to adjust strategy.

But at the same time, you know, tough talk is a central approaches everything, from business negotiations to foreign policy. He -- you know, sort of puts out a front that is aggressive and perhaps peels it back in negotiation. So, it may not be entirely surprising a bit of bluster. In fact, there are some who think his strategy of keeping our allies and enemies an alike on their toes a little bit is a positive thing for foreign policy.

KOSIK: OK. Tal, you look at the big picture of the international -- the fingers that the U.S. is putting in international waters at this point. We've got the Trump administration taking action in Syria. We've got strong talk about North Korea.

And then, with Rex Tillerson, we hear about the Iran, the Iran nuclear deal specifically and the president asking a multiagency review to figure out whether lifting sanctions should be on the table. You know, it just feels like a lot of regimes that the administration is putting its fingers in a lot of regimes at this point all at once. It almost seems like it is upping the ante of the risk level.

What are your thoughts on that?

KOPAN: Yes, it is interesting, Alison. You know, during the campaign trail, Trump was against regime change as a U.S. policy. And, definitely, he is not Rand Paul anti-interventionist, but he certainly was a little bit scaled back from the Obama administration was trying to influence world affairs.

[05:05:08] And, you know, since he has taken office, we've definitely seen the administration come quite a bit closer to where the Obama administration was on foreign policy, which includes, you know, there are a lot of very concerning hot spots in the world. And this is an example of how the administration is trying to respond to those. And so, certainly, we see them trying to influence things. They are trying to find their way to do it which is the sometimes good cop/bad cop routine with some of these countries.

BRIGGS: They are also trying to find a domestic agenda, aren't they, Tal? And the vice president talked with Dana Bash about, oh, yes, there's also health care that we're trying to get to and perhaps even getting a vote as early as next week.

Here is what the vice president said to Dana.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While it was clear that a little more than a month ago Congress wasn't ready to do it. We never relented in our commitment to keep that promise to the American people. I'm very confident in the days ahead, we're going to see that Congress come together and we're going to take that important first step to repeal and replace Obamacare with the kind of health care reform that President Trump has envisioned.


BRIGGS: Tal, the president needs a "W." He needs a win. Are we any closer to anything approaching an agreement on health care?

KOPAN: Well, those in D.C. know we only have a few more days of recess and a lot of the lawmakers out of town. They probably notice traffic has been really light around town. But they all come back next week. They have been in their home districts, some of them have had town halls, hearing from constituents.

Some of whom are still angry that Republican lawmakers considered supporting the first health care bill. They are angry about that. It is not pleasure that the bill has been pulled.

And, you know, our reporting shows many talks happening over recess between the hard line conservatives and the more moderate members of the Republican Party who thus far have not been able to vote for the same version of a bill.

You know, there is a lot of talk. There is a lot of talk of optimism. Truth is in the pudding. There is no indication we are that much closer to a deal than we were with the spectacularly failed and pulled from the floor. So, we'll just have to keep watching. But keep in mind, next week when they get back, they have to make sure government doesn't shutdown by the end this week.

BRIGGS: The 28th.

KOSIK: Yes, right around the corner.

BRIGGS: That is on Friday. That's kind of important.

Tal Kopan, we'll see you in about 30 minutes. Thanks.

KOSIK: Thanks, Tal.

KOPAN: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Up next, a changing of the guard at FOX News, ad boycotts, harassment allegations too much to keep Bill O'Reilly. What's next for him and for FOX News?


[05:11:57] KOSIK: In a decision that is rocking the world of cable news, Bill O'Reilly, the long time host of FOX News' flagship show "The O'Reilly Factor", is out. The network finally yielding to public pressure as years of sexual harassment claims piled up.

Joining us this morning, Joe Concha, a former FOX News writer and now, a media reporter for the Capitol Hill journal, "The Hill". And full disclosure: Joe Concha and I worked together at FOX News.

JOE CONCHA, THE HILL: Not well, I might add.

BRIGGS: No, not well. You had to put up with me.

CONCHA: Everybody kept calling him Ryan Reynolds. And I'm like, it's Dave Briggs.

BRIGGS: Ryan Reynolds works, though.


BRIGGS: Fill in the blanks for me -- Bill O'Reilly is out of a job because?

CONCHA: Because 50 advertisers, more than, left his show and pulled their ads and FOX News saw this script playing out over and over again when they tried to add more advertisers, those advertisers because of social media -- it is no longer write a letter and lodge a complaint. Everybody has a megaphone now, particularly the Media Matters and other left wing groups that are basically in existence to make sure Bill O'Reilly never gets back on the air during his entire lifetime again.

BRIGGS: So, it is not a corporate culture thing. It is a bottom line decision.

CONCHA: Of course, always follow the money in these situations, Dave.

KOSIK: You know, it is interesting. You start to hear the stories from people who would not necessarily expect to hear from. We heard an interesting story last night from Kristen Powers. She's a CNN political analyst here at CNN. She's a former FOX analyst. She tells a detailed story about what happened to her at FOX News with Bill O'Reilly. Listen to this.


KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that it's stunning because Bill O'Reilly was FOX News. He had so much power there and was unthinkable he would ever leave there except on his terms.

I did his show regularly, for a long time and, you know, I was thinking about an incident that had happened early on in my career there where I was on air actually with Margaret Hoover who's at CNN now, on a regular segment. We're on every Monday.

He got Margaret's name wrong. Margaret said, hey, get my name right. He said, I'm sorry. A lot of blondes in the operation. I can't keep them straight. Megyn Kelly is coming up, start saying all these blonde names.

And then at the end of the segment says, "Thank you for your blondeness" 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 is 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.

So, I went to my boss's office, I was told, what can we do. It's Bill. There is nothing we can do. You know, we are sorry this happened to you, but there is nothing question 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.

Roger said, you know, Bill likes to put up dirty pictures and ask pretty girls to talk about them.

[05:15:00] And so, the whole thing was sort of Bill -- oh, and then he said, 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. So, this was the culture which was Bill is too big. There is nothing you can do about it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: So, he was just too big. I mean, if that's not a red flag, I don't know what is.

CONCHA: Is Roger Ailes still with FOX News?

KOSIK: We know the answer to that question.

CONCHA: Right. Is Bill O'Reilly is still with FOX News? I'm getting back to Dave's point before not being a cultural thing.

KOSIK: But here's the thing, it had to get to the point, boiling point, for any actions -- for FOX to take action. It could have handled this a long time ago. This wasn't yesterday when this story happened.

CONCHA: Correct.

KOSIK: She is not the first. Action could have been taken earlier before it hit that boiling point.

CONCHA: Margaret Hoover said she makes a point never to be alone with Bill O'Reilly while at FOX News as well. She is with CNN. You are saying retroactively this could have been taken care of a while ago. That's how it works in television. There are people that are above the law. Just like politics. They are above the law.

KOSIK: Are they really?

CONCHA: Well, until the complaints reached a boiling point like you say. Bill O'Reilly was -- generated something like $450 million for FOX News. This isn't me justifying it. I'm getting in the executive's head. We can't get into this because he called a woman blonde. What he wants to do?

BRIGGS: Several former colleagues told me, if it was anyone else, they had to be gone years ago. Here is what Bill O'Reilly --

CONCHA: Yes, different rules with different people.

BRIGGS: In a statement, Bill says, "Over the past 20 years at FOX News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history. Tremendously disheartening 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."

As we move forward, what is Bill O'Reilly's legacy and what is his future? Is it still on television?

CONCHA: Dave, sometimes we are remembered for what we do last. And when people hear the name Bill O'Reilly, it will be the same thing when they hear the name Joe Paterno, where Paterno was a great coach all those years, but they remember about Paterno and his whole scandal at Penn State. And we'll hear, Bill O'Reilly, oh, yes, he was that great cable news

host who was ousted from FOX News because of sexual harassment claims.

So, moving forward what happens with Bill O'Reilly? I got my money on Glenn Beck. "The Blaze." They're good friends. They exchanged e- mails just yesterday as O'Reilly was coming back from Italy.

BRIGGS: They might have an opening.

CONCHA: They might have an opening. Tomi Lahren no longer at the network. And trust me, Bill O'Reilly, 4 million viewers a night, that would be a huge get for Beck. Can he afford him? I'm willing to bet that Bill O'Reilly is worth $85 million.

KOSIK: And is that enough for Bill O'Reilly? I mean, you know, think about his ratings.

CONCHA: Right. Well, they have a good platform. It is not CNN. It is not FOX News. But he is not getting signed by CNN or MSNBC or ABC or CBS. He's going to have to go to a network like "The Blaze" and put them on the map.

For him, it's about being a culture warrior. That's what he's always called himself. He'll be willing to take a pay cut if he goes there because he just want -- he doesn't have anything else to do.

BRIGGS: Newsmax a possibility?

CONCHA: I don't know if Newsmax can has the distribution or can afford him or he has the relationship there. Chris Ruddy runs that place.

BRIGGS: Right.

CONCHA: I think that with Beck, he does have that relationship. So, if he is there a year, we will play back the tape.

BRIGGS: That's some intrigue. Joe Concha from "The Hill".

KOSIK: Joe, thanks very much.

CONCHA: Thanks, guys.

BRIGGS: Good stuff.

All right. We're going to talk some sports next. Do you think Serena Williams can dominant tennis even while she is pregnant? Sure, she could. She's Serena.

KOSIK: Absolutely.

BRIGGS: It turns out she did. Andy Scholes with details in this morning's "Bleacher Report". That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:22:58] BRIGGS: Well, the Thunder's Russell Westbrook put up huge numbers last night against the Rockets. His team still lost. A familiar refrain. Didn't just say he didn't hold back on his post- game press conference.

KOSIK: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report". Good morning, Andy.


Yes, Thunder's Russell Westbrook, it's been a one-man show all season long and it was no difference last night, as you said, Dave. And the show even started before the game. Check this out. Westbrook rocking this outfit. That is a fashion statement.

Westbrook ended up with 51 points in the game, but it took 43 shots to get that 51. He was ice cold in the fourth quarter when James Harden and the Rockets took this one over. Rockets would win 115-111.

And afterwards, Westbrook didn't care to hear how many points he scored.


REPORTER: When you look at your line at the box score, how do you grade your line?

RUSSELL WESTBROOK, THUNDERS: I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about the line. We lost.


SCHOLES: Now, Westbrook and the Thunders down 0-2. They really need a win in game three tomorrow night back at OKC.




SPICER: I think I got this, but thank you. Maybe. All right, thanks, man. I'll see you.

Hold on. All right. That was cool.


SCHOLES: You can always count on Gronk for a laugh. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski surprising Press Secretary Sean Spicer doing his press briefing. President Trump hosting the Super Bowl champions Patriots yesterday.

However, Tom Brady was not there. He posted this picture of his parents on Instagram saying it was their 48th wedding anniversary. Brady said he did not go to the White House to attend personal family matters. His mom is currently battling cancer.

Finally, Serena Williams sending the sports world in frenzy with the caption of 20 weeks. She quickly deleted the picture, causing speculation she is pregnant.

[05:25:02] Serena's agent confirming the news she is in fact expecting. If she is 20 weeks, that means she won the Australian Open while pregnant.

Serena turns 36 in September. She's engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Guys, she will miss the rest of the 2017 season. But the WTA confirming they expect Serena to return in 2018.

KOSIK: Congratulations to her.

BRIGGS: Congrats to her.

And return to dominating. This is Serena. This is maybe the best athlete of our time.

SCHOLES: We will see. She is getting up there in age.

BRIGGS: We have been saying that for a decade.

SCHOLES: We have been saying that for a long time.

BRIGGS: Thanks, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

KOSIK: All right. Two big stories we are following. U.S. not backing away from diplomatic standoffs with big adversaries. And Bill O'Reilly ousted from FOX. The latest on those stories when we come back.


BRIGGS: The Trump administration says it will not blink in the face of threats from global adversaries, Iran, North Korea, Russia, all in focus. We'll have the latest.