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Bill O'Reilly Forced Out at FOX News; White House Calls for Review of Iran Nuclear Deal. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired April 20, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill O'Reilly is leaving the network in the wake of mounting allegations of sexual harassment.
[05:58:37] LISA BLOOM, ATTORNEY FOR O'REILLY ACCUSERS: This is about women's rights not to have the threat of a job hanging over us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Murdochs recognize a lot of change needs to happen at FOX.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think Bill would do anything wrong.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: They're cut by the same cloth. They're two of a kind.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The Trump administration is currently conducting a comprehensive review of our Iran policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there is trouble in the region, you find Iran.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president said that we have armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact. It happens. It is happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These kinds of mistakes could be problematic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really a rudderless administration, from its aircraft carrier fiasco to their lack of coordination in their messaging.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, April 20, 6 a.m. here in New York.
Up first, FOX News firing Bill O'Reilly after more than two decades as the face of the network. FOX's parent company caving to pressure as sexual harassment claims piled up and advertisers left his show.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Now, O'Reilly always has and continues to say these allegations are completely unfounded. He says that they are the price of celebrity.
President Trump silent so far on the man he recently defended as a good person. Trump had said he didn't think O'Reilly did anything wrong.
All this as the new administration talks tough on Iran and looks for new ways to pressure North Korea.
We have it all covered for you. Let's start with "EARLY START" anchor Dave Briggs on Bill O'Reilly's demise. We should mention Dave, of course, worked at FOX News.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: With the lady you're sitting next to there for a couple of years.
CUOMO: I'm sandwiched by them.
CAMEROTA: Together, we have a lot of knowledge.
BRIGGS: You are sandwiched by former FOX News. Guys, it is a stunning turn of events for the king of cable news. These events all started in motion with a "New York Times" piece less than three weeks ago. Here now are the facts that led to the departure of the man that changed our industry.
BRIGGS (voice-over): Bill O'Reilly's two-decade reign as the king of FOX News coming to abrupt end.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, FOX NEWS: Bill O'Reilly, the biggest star in the 20-year history of FOX News, is leaving the network in the wake of mounting allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.
BRIGGS: His namesake show cancelled among growing sexual harassment allegations from women associated with the network. FOX News quickly removing the anchor's name from his show, Rupert Murdoch and his sons, who lead 21st Century FOX, announcing the decision in a statement on Wednesday that, in quotes, "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. This decision follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel."
O'Reilly, who has been on vacation for a week overseas, dismissed the accusations in a statement. It is 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. That statement, a sharp contrast to a "New York Times" investigation, which this month, revealed that O'Reilly and 21st Century FOX have paid out $13 million in settlements to women who have lodged sexual harassment claims against O'Reilly.
BLOOM: This is a disgusting human being. These women not only stood up for their rights not to be sexually harassed by their boss, but they were then driven out of FOX News and driven out of the television industry entirely.
BRIGGS: It was only nine months ago that FOX News chief Roger Ailes was ousted by the Murdochs after his own firestorm of sexual harassment claims. President Trump stood by Ailes, who also denied the accusations, and just two weeks ago, defended O'Reilly, a friend of 30 years in a "New York Times" interview.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a good person. I think he may -- I think he shouldn't have settled, personally. He shouldn't have settled. I don't think Bill would do anything wrong.
BRIGGS: Critics wondering if this latest firing by the Murdochs goes far enough in addressing what they see as a systemic problem at the network.
WATERS: Let me just say this. The day will come when rich persons with rich men won't be able to buy their way out of this criminal activity. And they will go to jail, and they should go to jail.
BRIGGS: Now, this comes in the aftermath of more than 50 advertisers withdrawing from O'Reilly's show. More than half in one week. "The New York Times" breaking it down this morning, saying 15 plus minutes of paid ads one month ago. Just more than six minutes last Friday. A stunning departure for the king of cable news, guys.
CAMEROTA: Dave, thank you very much for all that background. Let's bring in our panel. We have CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter; CNN media analyst Bill Carter; and CNN political analyst and "New York Times" correspondent, Maggie Haberman.
Brian, when this House of cards starts falling, it's shocking to me, the velocity that has picked up when -- ever since Roger Ailes was ousted from FOX. It was unthinkable just a few weeks ago that Bill O'Reilly, the largest star, would be gone, and today he's gone. Explain how the momentum picked up.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: We are seeing a chain reaction. I'm glad (ph) you set it up that way. Gretchen Carlson suing Roger Ailes last July was the first in this series of events, and they are all connected. It was only because Ailes resigned that "The New York Times" started looking into O'Reilly, looking into the settlements in O'Reilly's past.
The advertiser pressure, their business concerns, the public spotlight. There was a real confluence of events this month. Just in the past two and a half weeks, when O'Reilly went on vacation last week, he thought he was safe. He thought he'd be coming back to his show. He moved up his trip early yesterday, flying back from Italy. By the time he boarded his plane, though, he'd been canceled.
CUOMO: All right. So, look, the intrigue is going to be about O'Reilly and what this means and him being the big shot and going down. But it could also be a distraction, Maggie. At the end of the day, it seems a big motivator and -- to my mind. The metric was money.
CUOMO: That's what did it. "The Times" had been looking at this. People had been banging on Ailes. They'd been banging O'Reilly for years. He had to settle earlier cases. The money seemed to change the dynamic here. And we haven't seen the move on O'Reilly or even with Ailes with this parallel construction of a new culture at FOX News, you know, new initiatives. People being brought in on H.R. side, systems being put in place to engender the kind of confidence this kind of culture change should show. What's your take?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that that's true. And I think it's sort of amazing that in 2017, bringing in an H.R. person to deal with this is seen as a dramatic shift.
[06:05:13] But the reality is that Rupert Murdoch's sons have always sort of been recoiled at the culture at FOX, not this particular piece of it, certainly. But just the way that FOX plays to sort of the raw instincts of the Republican base. And so this shift has been coming over time even before we knew the specifics of this.
I would not -- you talked about money. I would not separate this. And I think this has not gotten enough attention. Rupert Murdoch is making his second effort to overtake Sky News. And I don't think that you can really separate this out in terms of how this was threatening to imperil that bid. The last time he tried, he had to walk away from it because of the hacking scandal.
Now, you had the Judge Napolitano issue, which involved the U.K., and now you have this issue. And I think that there is something broader than just advertisers pulling out. I think this is a much bigger thing. This is a crown jewel.
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: And I think that's a really important point, because Rupert was the one standing behind Bill O'Reilly, much more so than his sons. But I think he had to be convinced that this was bad for the whole company, and he couldn't just stand up, because I think he hates the notion that they gave in to the feminists and the leftists and the media on this topic. FOX News doesn't do that.
CAMEROTA: And you know, look, I was there for a long time, as you all know. And I know a lot about the culture and my friends there. There is a feeling that, Brian, that there's actually more to come, that this isn't the end. That just Bill O'Reilly leaving. There's more to come. We know that there's still an investigation, a Justice Department criminal investigation. And where do we think that might lead?
STELTER: Right. This is pursuing how payments happen to accusers and whether investors were not informed appropriately. The company happens to have a board meeting today. Presumably this will be on the agenda. But I've had people say this is fundamentally, from the top down, a toxic culture. I mean, is that a fair word? There was a toxicity because of these kinds of harassment by, for example, O'Reilly or Ailes. CAMEROTA: I don't know that I would call it a toxic culture, but I
would say that it was pervasive, that there was a feeling when I was there that Roger was the boss. Roger -- it was Roger Ailes's fiefdom. He was the king. There was no higher authority that you could ever go to, and there was harassment. And I tried in my own way to raise the flag and to talk to people about it. I went to my superiors to talk to them about it. And there was certainly a feeling of, "This is Roger. What are you going to do? Who are you going to go to?"
CARTER: There wasn't -- there wasn't really -- they talked about the hotline.
CAMEROTA: There was no hotline. I mean, I can't underscore this enough. If a hotline is a secret, it doesn't work.
CARTER: It's not very hot.
CAMEROTA: It's not hot. There's no -- you know, when you have a real hotline, you put up posters. Here's -- if you see anything, if you feel anything, here's the number to call. That did not exist. And so things, I guess, are slowly changing, certainly, you know, with Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes out.
CARTER: I wanted to say that, in light of this, I asked almost every professional woman I know in media, if they'd ever had an experience where somebody did something, said something. Almost every one of them said yes in some context or another. What seems to be true of FOX is that it was so pervasive and it was at the boss's level. And that's really what made it quite different from anywhere else.
HABERMAN: You know, I worked -- I mean, I worked at another news corporation before I worked at "The New York Post" for 10 years. And I'll tell you, I did not have this happen. I mean, that was not the culture of "The Post" at all. And I don't know what that says about the fact that "The Post" is a very long-established media holding that had predated Rupert Murdoch or that it didn't, you know, come from the ground up.
But A, Rupert Murdoch could walk into that newsroom and essentially layout the paper at any moment, which was interesting. That was not the way things were. And so -- when I was at "The Post," you know, Murdoch has sort of a history, and you guys can speak to this deeply. Having all of his media children fighting. FOX News and "The Post" were not exactly in sync. But "The Post" was a very, very different entity.
And to be fair, I don't think this was a FOX problem. I don't know that this was necessarily a news corporation problem.
CAMEROTA: I agree with that.
CUOMO: The proof will be in the change, you know? Don't just remove Ailes. Anybody who's been around any kind of corporate restructuring, when it comes to human resources and these types of issues, it's not just about removing people at the top. It's about what you put in your stead, in your place. So we're going to have to see how it plays out.
There's lots of branches of implications, though, O'Reilly being gone. One of them leads right to the White House. Not only was the president openly supportive of him. Although admittedly with no knowledge of the facts of this situation. He was supportive of O'Reilly.
But O'Reilly was very supportive of him.
CAMEROTA: Well, that's the other part.
CUOMO: He was a real maker of him. It reminded me of when Ailes put the glasses back on Geraldo. I've known Geraldo Rivera a long time. I have a lot of love for him. Ailes put the glasses -- said, "You're a lawyer. You're not that guy on the stage with the Nazis and the chairs. You're a lawyer." It changed him.
[06:10:11] O'Reilly did that for Trump. He started bringing him on and talking to him about serious things, making a case to his people. And it wound up helping him. What does it mean for him?
HABERMAN: When Trump decided to skip the FOX News debate, which was the last one before the Iowa caucuses, he went on O'Reilly's show. And that was -- that was how he explained his view. And O'Reilly, to your point, kept saying that, you know, wouldn't it make more sense for you to come on, whatever. And he was speaking to him almost like a friend/counselor/priest/therapist, whatever. But it is not what you would normally see. Trump genuinely liked O'Reilly.
I will say, though, it was to us, an interview with Glenn Thrush and me, my colleague, in the Oval Office two weeks ago where the president defended O'Reilly. He brought up O'Reilly in an off-the-record moment, in a completely different context. And I asked him if he felt that O'Reilly had been treated unfairly, because I know he likes O'Reilly. And what he said was very interesting. It wasn't just -- oh, he's a good person, sort of a typical defense. And remember, Trump defended Ailes, too, when this happened, and Ailes was sort of helping with debate prep during the debate. He was gone shortly after.
What the president said at the time was -- he said, "I don't think he should have settled."
And I said, "Why not?"
And he said "Because, you know, you go all the way." Or I might be slightly paraphrasing. But that was the idea. I just think that the O'Reilly issue touched a nerve for the president in terms of how he views legal issues from his own -- his own business past. But it was such a -- it was such a knee-jerk impulsive...
CUOMO: You think it was just legal issues and litigation, or do you think it also was about sexual harassment?
STELTER: The same specific issues. HABERMAN: I think that it was both. But I think that that is the
president's view, is essentially something you were saying earlier about don't give in to...
CAMEROTA: Right. And listen, this is O'Reilly's point. O'Reilly says basically the same thing. He should never have settled that very first case with Andrea Mackris back, you know, however many years ago that was, because then it's open season. This is him talking.
STELTER: That's right.
CAMEROTA: And then people who are opportunists, and then people know that he's an open target. That's what he has always claimed. But at the end of the day, FOX decided -- the Murdochs decided that was not true and that there were real cases here.
HABERMAN: There's also other issues with O'Reilly. And Bill, again, would know more than I do about this. But there were issues involving his ex-wife. It's not like this stemmed from the women who worked at FOX. And I think it just became sort of one thing after another.
CARTER: He had a very ugly divorce, as well.
CUOMO: Right. It wasn't until that link of logos was being put up on television...
CAMEROTA: That's right.
CUOMO: ... all the time that all this momentum started.
CAMEROTA: That's true.
CUOMO: All right. Well, we're going to be talking about this for a while, because there are a lot of routes that are going to lead places after this big decision of Bill O'Reilly being out at FOX News. But there are other political stories to discuss, as well.
The White House calling for a comprehensive review of the Iran nuclear deal. What will that mean? Well, so far, we've heard Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warning the Iranians that they could soon pose the same nuclear threat to the U.S. as North Korea. What will that mean in terms of a policy shift?
CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more on this -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, it is the latest example of the Trump administration essentially appearing to move in two different directions at the same time on an important foreign policy issue. This time it's the Iran nuclear deal, which Donald Trump railed against on the campaign trail, but now that he's in the Oval Office, it's a little more complicated.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The JPOA fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran. It only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.
JOHNS (voice-over): Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declaring the Iranian nuclear deal a failure. One day after the State Department said exactly the opposite, affirming in a statement that Iran has been compliant with its commitment to the deal. Despite this compliance, Tillerson ratcheting up the rhetoric against Tehran.
TILLERSON: An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it.
JOHNS: Announcing that the deal is under review, but stopping short of threatening to issue additional sanctions or dismantle the agreement, one of President Trump's top campaign promises.
TRUMP: My No. 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.
JOHNS: Tillerson's attempt to clarify the administration's position, the latest in a string of mixed messages on foreign policy. Earlier this week, President Trump called the Turkish president to congratulate him on a referendum that strengthened his rule.
Just hours after the State Department noted reports of irregularities in the vote. The White House also struggling to get its story straight about why the administration said in April that an aircraft carrier was racing toward the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea's provocations.
TRUMP: We are sending an armada. Very powerful.
[06:15:05] JOHNS: When in reality, the fleet was headed in the opposite direction.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president said that we have armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact. It happened. It is happening, rather. The statement that was put out was that the Carl Vinson group was heading to the Korean Peninsula and is heading to the Korean Peninsula. And it will arrive there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
SPICER: What's that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's headed there now. It wasn't headed there last week.
SPICER: But that's not -- that's not what we ever said.
JOHNS: Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan rallying NATO allies amid escalating tensions with another international power, Russia.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Russia interfered in our elections. And they are interfering in elections here in Europe as we speak.
JOHNS: As the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says the Russia investigation is back on track.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: I think we're very close to agreement on our initial witness list and the process going forward.
JOHNS: Today, President Trump will play host to the prime minister of Italy here at the White House in advance of the G-7 summit, which will be held in that country late next month. Then both leaders will take questions from journalists here.
Back to you, Alisyn and Chris.
CUOMO: Joe, questions being asked about this, and rightly so. Mixed messages, outright contradictions are a trademark of the Trump administration.
Now we get to the bigger questions, from how they handle the politics to policy. What is our foreign policy? Should it be articulated to you, the American people, by the man on your screen, the president of the United States? A closer look next.
[06:20:28] CUOMO: First it was the tough talk for North Korea. Now it is Iran. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Iran could soon pose the same nuclear threat as North Korea. So what is the U.S. going to do about it?
Let's bring in our panel. CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman; CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein; CNN political commentator Errol Louis.
Maggie, they like the tough talk. They feel it's moving the needle in the polls. They feel it's a projection of strength, but it has a very different feel abroad than it does at home against the Democrats or the Freedom Caucus. What do you see behind this move?
HABERMAN: Behind this move, I think, is to your part, I don't know how much strategy there is here, as opposed to a grappling with reality. In terms of the Iran deal, it was never going to be something that you could actually just come in and rip up, because this is not just a deal between the United States and Iran.
And so -- and of course, it's never explained that way in any political speeches that anyone has given. It has always just sort of slimmed down and boiled down into an easy package. You are seeing the difference between the president's rhetoric on the campaign trail. Is was so extreme on so many topics. I don't mean extreme as a criticism. I just think it was very, very out-sized, compared to the reality of governing.
And so you are seeing now, essentially, his aides having to grapple with that and figure out a way to deal with the reality in front of them, without making it look as if he has flip-flopped. The problem here where I think that they could have bought themselves
a little more help is the complaints that I heard on this were really mostly from conservatives and their allies among conservatives, who just said how can this be happening and, most importantly, why weren't we notified of this in advance? Why was there no head's up from the White House? This was coming. No heads up from the State Department just so that his conservative supporters could understand what this meant.
CUOMO: And what is the "this"? Is the "this" going at North Korea, pivoting away from healthcare? What's the "this"?
HABERMAN: The "this" right now, I'm actually talking about as Iran. In terms of North Korea, I think that is a whole different ball of wax, where I think that there was a series of, perhaps, accidental miscommunications.
But at the end of the day, a clear decision not to clarify what was happening. Because if you ever backtrack with Trump, as you know, you end up looking weak.
In terms of the Iran deal where you had the secretary of state say that Iran is in compliance, and we're certifying this. But we are now doing a review. And this is under review. That is where there is an area to try to get some support from allies in Congress. Those who are still there.
And this is where the White House, by sort of circling the wagons and keeping his circle very, very tight and not letting other people in in the way we are used to with governing has hurt itself.
CAMEROTA: So it ends up, Errol, with a muddled message, where it's hard to know what the U.S. policy is towards Iran, because Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, said they are complying with the deal. But then he basically says -- and I'm paraphrasing -- "but we don't know that they will be forever."
CUOMO: Then he says that they are still a state sponsor of terror.
CAMEROTA: Right. So where does...
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's exactly right. It leaves us in a much more, I think, perilous situation than most people realize. I mean, you know, Maggie is exactly right, that the, you know, leaders of foreign policy debate on the Hill are right to say, "Well, look, we got no head's up." Members of the conservative movement, political supporters also have a right to say that.
There is something called public diplomacy. There's an actual undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Because there's another super power out there called public opinion. You've got to talk to your political allies, which are not the same as your trading partners. You've got to talk to them, too.
You've got to talk to the whole world and try and convey what you're going to do, why you're going to do it and when you're going to do it. And to the extent that this administration, you know, and again, this is what happens when you elect somebody who doesn't have political experience of any kind. They come in. They circle the wagons. They think that it's some binary conversation with just a handful of leaders on the Hill.
And they're missing the bigger picture, and the picture is millions of people out there, including dissidents within Iran who need to know what the United States' values are, what the strategy is, what they're going to do, and how others can support them. So they're actually throwing away a lot of potential allies as they stumble around. And eventually, I think they will figure this out. But right now, I think they're really hurting this.
CUOMO: Ron Brownstein, Maggie Haberman just slipped in possibly the line of the morning. A clear decision not to clarify, she said, when she was discussing some of the messaging going on right now. And isn't that a beautiful way to describe what we're seeing with this armada and The Vinson, the destroyers that are being sent into the area and Spicer's explanation. Let's play some sound from Spicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[06:25:02] SPICER: The statement that was put out was that the Carl Vinson group was heading to the Korean Peninsula. It is headed to the Korean Peninsula. It will arrive there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
SPICER: What's that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's headed there now. It wasn't headed there last week.
SPICER: Sure, but that's not -- that's not what we ever said. We said that it was heading there. And it was heading there. It is heading there. So that -- that remains...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... the impression that allies have?
SPICER: If there's an impression, then that's not -- then there should have been clarification from people who were seeking it. But I mean, PACOM put out a release talking about what it's ultimate destination was going to be, and that's where it ended up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: So Ron, he wonders why the media keeps chasing him...
CAMEROTA: Why we're confused.
CUOMO: ... for trying to play them. Right? And now he says, "If you wanted to know if, when I said we're sending an armada, I meant I'm sending them right now, you should have followed up and asked that, about specific timing." You buy that?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a little like saying when the president visited Wisconsin this week, snow is forecast for Wisconsin. You know, it's going to snow this winter. It's not going to -- it's not going to snow this week.
Look, the challenge they face in this is obviously the original story. If you are -- if you are completely honest about it, the best you could look is incompetent. The problem is that this explanation is so transparently implausible to almost everyone who hears it. You compound incompetence with duplicity.
And, you know, if you look at polling, and I said this before. I think Donald Trump's problems in polling, the reason why his approval rating is so much lower than any new president at this point is more about personal qualities than policy at this point. Yes, there are aspects of the policy, the health care bill. The executive order on Muslim majority nations that were unpopular.
But by and large, what he's facing are questions about whether he's up to the job. Whether he is competent, whether he's temperamentally kind of stable enough, and whether he is honest. All of those numbers are going in the wrong direction. And this is a good example of why.
CAMEROTA: OK, panel. Thank you very much. Great to talk to all of you.
Meanwhile, North Korea is vowing to reduce America to, quote, "ashes." They're angered by the military drills being conducted right now between the U.S. and South Korea. So we're going to take you inside the air base where those drills are in full swing and get reaction next.