Return to Transcripts main page
Hurricane Victims Wait For Aid; Battered Infrastructure Hampers Aid Deliveries; Bush Criticized For Hurricane Katrina Response; Trump Administration Projects Confidence Amid Crisis; Price Criticized For Taxpayer-funded Use Of Private Jets; Warmbier Dies After 17 Months In North Korean Custody And Family Is Denied Full Autopsy; North Korean Businesses In China Ordered To Close By January; Twitter Suspends 200 Accounts with Russia Links; Controversial Legacy of Hugh Hefner; Fans Weigh in on Trump/NFL Feud. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired September 29, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, chokehold -- thousands of shipping containers filled with aid have arrived in Puerto Rico, only to be stuck at port and going nowhere. Plus, China up the economic pressure on North Korea, but how far is Beijing willing to go to enforce U.N. sanctions. And later this hour, feminist in a silk robe? Or misogynist smoking a pipe, even in death Playboy founder, Hugh Hefner, is polarizing as ever. Great to have you with us everybody. I'm John Vause. You're watching the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.
Despite a desperate need for the most basic supplies by millions of hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, thousands of shipping containers of food, water, and other necessities are sitting at port and going nowhere, mostly because of the shortage of truck drivers as well as fuel. And in the country side, roads are clogged with debris making it impossible to pass, bridges have also been washed out. But progress is slowly being made, U.S. emergency officials say some aid has actually reached the hardest-hit areas. In some cases, airlifted in because of blocked roads.
CNN has correspondents covering this story across this island. Boris Sanchez reports now on the collapse of the island's distribution network which is stopping emergency aid from reaching so many in need.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Desperate Puerto Ricans line up outside the San Juan ice plant, some say they've been waiting since midnight. Many just hoping for a small bag of ice to keep their remaining food or medication cool. But for the fourth straight day, they are told there will be no ice; they should try again tomorrow. Maria Rosario says she does not know what to tell her daughters when they ask for food.
MARIA ROSARIO, RESIDENT OF SAN JUAN (through translator): I'm getting desperate. This is no way to live, really. They should bring us water, other supplies because the kids keep asking.
SANCHEZ: Many like Rosario are angry because they say the government is not doing enough.
LYVIA RODRIGUEZ, COMMUNITY LEADER OF SAN JUAN: People are already finishing up their stocks of food. There are a lot of people in the community that are wondering if FEMA is going to come.
SANCHEZ: Officials are scrambling to clear the logistical bottlenecks that are hindering the flow of resources. Thousands of shipping containers packed with goods are sitting on the island's biggest port, stuck.
JOSE AYALA, VICE PRESIDENT OF CROWLEY: We're talking about medicines. We're talking about food. We're talking about water, ice, construction materials.
SANCHEZ: The vice president of Crowley's operations in Puerto Rico says there are not enough truck drivers available and not enough fuel to deliver these goods where they need to go.
AYALA: The frustration of knowing that maybe right now, right now there's a person in need of medicine. That right now babies, children, don't have water, a bottled water. And it's here. It's in Puerto Rico.
SANCHEZ: An endless tangle of blocked roads adding to the difficulties. Even contacting drivers is a problem, because cell towers are still offline. The Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin-Cruz, says FEMA officials have been compassionate, but she says the federal agency told her that her initial petition for help was not good enough. She was asked to write several memos.
CARMEN YULIN-CRUZ, MAYOR OF SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Now is not the time for memos. Now is the time for action. Now is the time for justice. And now is the time to get life support, supplies into people's hands.
SANCHEZ: Boris Sanchez in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
VAUSE: And the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin-Cruz is with us now from the island's capital. Mayor, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. I know you're, obviously, going to through difficult times and must be very busy. But first up, with regard to all those cargo containers at the port filled with food, medicine, and other supplies, are you any closer to getting them out of the port and to the people and to the areas where they are most need?
CRUZ: Well, from the information we've gotten there, we are not any closer. However, this morning, after I did a radio interview with CNN, l got a call from Mr. Bossert from the White House. In about half an hour, the regional director of FEMA was at the Coliseum, which is a center of distribution that we're using for San Juan, and two of the FEMA officials were kind of deputized. They were provided as part of the team of the municipality of San Juan, and lo and behold we got some provisions today. So, I expect and I want to thank the White House for getting things
running. But I expect that in the next 24-48 hours, we should really start getting things moving here. There is no real reason why those 3000 ships with cargo have not been unloaded. Look, if we have to, we'll just open the doors and do it the old-fashion way one by one, very people intensive, but we make it sure that it gets to people's hands.
[01:05:40] VAUSE: Do you have any idea how many lives have been put at risk, the longer this delay at the ports goes on?
CRUZ: Every minute. Every minute that we delay that aid and get it where it's supposed to. I just got a text, and I can show it to your producers that's in Spanish from retirement home that houses a 124 disability, crippled people, you know, and I say they're crippled, not because being offensive, but they really have no ability to get out of their building. So, they've become urban refugees, and they are crippled from their ability of doing anything. They have no running water, they have no electricity, they have no food, they have no diesel. And they're asking me, Mayor, can you help us? So, I'm going to go, after this show, to meet with them and see what we can do. I contacted that person from FEMA that has been deputized by the municipality. We have reached an agreement that anything that the municipality gives away to all of these, for example, retirement homes and all the communities. Outside of San Juan, also, I have the Mayor of Comerio which is a town very close by, just saying, Mayor, my people are drinking water from a creek.
We have no running water. So, we agreed that whatever San Juan could provide to other towns, it was going to be given back by FEMA. And lives are at stake every minute, and I cannot underscore this. Because some people may think and feel, well, maybe this is their kind of momentum. No, this is a humanitarian crisis. And the more time that those containers spend right there at the port, this is just like showing candy to a child, except that we're playing with people's lives. It's unacceptable and the FEMA people want to do their job. They are good-hearted people. They are committed, people. We have to rip that red tape. And today, I saw some shred of light coming from the White House direction, and I'm very, very thankful for that. We're going to get things rolling in the next 24 hours to get the provisions that we are receiving closer to where we're at.
VAUSE: Mayor, the Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert, he pushed back against those claims that the federal government response to this disaster in Puerto Rico has been slow. In fact, he says it's been quite the opposite. Here's what Bossert said at the White House. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I understand the coverage, in some cases, it's giving the appearance that we're not moving fast enough. What I will tell you is that we are mobilizing and marshaling the resources of the United States of America in a way that is absolutely professional, fast, and adequate to meet the needs. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So Bossert's assessment is that the response from the federal government has been fast and adequate to meet the needs. Is that how you see it from where you are?
CRUZ: Well, it's not how I see it. When you have people drinking water from a creek. You tell me, is the response has been adequate. I think the response has been heartfelt. I think the response has been -- has had all the good and greatest intentions. But when you have 3,000 cargos waiting to be unloaded, and you can't seem to get it done, then there is a logistics problem. The supply chain of aid, of life-saving is not getting to where it's supposed to. But I don't think this is a time for looking for blame. I think this is a time for demanding action and demanding the lives get saved every day.
As the days go by, and people have to remember, this isn't only Maria, we had Irma before that. So, we have spent the entire month of September with people not having adequate chemotherapy, not having adequate life-saving oxygen, not having life-saving health issues taken care of. So, time is of the essence. Somebody told me yesterday, sometimes you have to build a plane while you're flying. Well, this is the case here. The aid is there, the boots are on the ground, we just have to get them walking and we have to get them walking fast enough.
[01:10:05] VAUSE: OK. Mayor, we'll leave it there. I know you're busy. We're out of time. Good luck, and, you know, obviously, we wish you all the very, very best.
CRUZ: Thank you very much. And if I just may, thank you for allowing the world to know that we're here, for letting us know that we're not alone. And for all those FEMA employees that are out here, and are giving their heart and soul out, know that what you're doing for us will not go unnoticed. We will never forget you.
VAUSE: Thank you. You're too kind. And we wish you the best. Thank you. Well for more now on the federal government's response to the crisis in Puerto Rico, Politico Senior Reporter, David Siders, is with us. There's a lot of other political news, but we'll start with Puerto Rico. Because, you know, for a while now, not just with, you know, Maria in Puerto Rico but with Harvey, and Irma in Florida. There's a lot of self-praise, a lot of high-fiving within this administration. And it's starting to sound a little familiar. Let's go back maybe 12 years. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Again, I want to thank you all for -- and Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job. The FEMA director's working 24 --
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie. It's really become,
you know, synonymous with George W. Bush during Katrina. There is always this danger for a politician to want to self-congratulate themselves during a disaster. It seems, especially going through this with Donald Trump who seems to have an undiminished capacity of self- praise.
DAVID SIDERS, SENIOR REPORTER FOR POLITICO: Yes. I think this is a lesson he has not learned. And that clip you just played was for politicians who didn't already have the hesitation. I think the real acknowledgment that things could go terribly wrong, and that sound bite could be replayed. But there's something more fundamental that regardless of how good a job an administration is doing responding to any disaster --
VAUSE: It's disaster.
SIDERS: Well, right, and people are seriously affected. And so, most politicians want to temper, you know, the tone with which they praise themselves -- not so much we've seen in the last couple of days from the Trump administration.
VAUSE: Yes. And what you just hear in Puerto Rico. We saw it at Irma, we saw it in Harvey in Texas. I'm just wondering because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, it's not a state, it's an island, it's a long way away, at least when it comes to Trump's base, does this all goes badly? Does that minimize the political risk for him? Not that it should, but will it?
SIDERS: I think it's less of a risk than if it was in Texas. And we saw this poll a couple of days ago that what half of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. And maybe the interest in part of that poll was that the citizens are the American who did know that Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens. Well, much more likely to care about sending aid, whereas if you didn't know that, which is half the country, it wasn't a priority. Which speaks to your point that maybe most of the mainland is not so concerned about what's going on in that island.
VAUSE: Even though they should be. OK. The other sort of issue, which is, you know, in the headlines right now is the Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price. He's the latest member of the administration who's being chastened a little for this, sort of, extravagant use of private jets as well as military planes. Price says he will actually reimburse the government for the cost of his seat and his seat alone. And he was actually asked about that on Fox News a few hours ago. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're writing for -- we understand from you officials, $51,887. The total cost is estimated at more than $400,000 for the 26 flights since May, is that OK?
TOM PRICE, SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Well, as I said, there's an ongoing review being done by the inspector general. I think it's important that we wait for that review. All of the trips, as I mentioned had been approved, been approved by the legal department and approved by the administration and the department within HHS, and deemed to be appropriate official travel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. So, the good folks at Politico, your news organization, now reporting that the total cost of private jets including military flights for Tom Price alone, exceeding a million dollars. You know, by making this authority check of $50,000, it almost seems like he's made the scandal even bigger.
SIDERS: Well, and not just for $50,000, but didn't figure, if I'm not mistaken, including a few dollars and a couple of cents. It was a very specific figure.
VAUSE: 51, 887. Yes, exactly.
SIDERS: If you thought that the initial response who are doing these tricks was tone-deaf? To have that kind of response afterward, seem like it might not have been necessarily so aware of what the public is thinking.
VAUSE: Not probably through the implications of all of this.
SIDERS: That's the right word to put in.
VAUSE: There's also an added layer here for Tom Price. Because when he was Tom Price, Congressman, he really railed against, you know, such wasteful standing. Let's go back in our time machine again.
PRICE: Don't you fly over our country in your luxury jet and lecture us on what it means to be an American. Washington does not need to take more from hardworking Americans, it needs to start living within its means. We must be constantly asking how we can deploy the precious resources we have in people and in treasure to the most efficient and effective use on behalf of the American people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:15:08] VAUSE: You know, hypocrisy and politicians -- not exactly a new combination. But this seems particularly pertinent because, you know, Trump ran this very populace of campaign against, you know, the elitist in Washington, wasting your money, I'm going to drain the swamp, we're going to bring an end to all of this. And here he is with not just one cabinet secretary but three senior government officials caught up in this private jet scandal.
SIDERS: Normally, I think these waste, fraud, and abuse stories, well, they make a point with Americans, that are easy for Americans to understand. People kind of scratch their heads and say, well, but there are much bigger issues in the grand scheme of things. But here, this is a politician who contributed to making or trying to get the public to focus on -- I think he was talking about Nancy Pelosi flying in her luxury jet, right? And at that point, you're right, hypocrisy is just -- it makes it too rich. VAUSE: Is it -- where does this go, though? Has the administration,
actually, you know, have ordered this review. The White House did say, hey, it has nothing to do with us. You know, it's all on them. President Trump is apparently furious with Price. Have they done enough to sort of cut this off of the head? Or, you know, if there are further revelations, does this become bigger and bigger and bigger? And does it grow to a bigger picture if the whole administration is attached?
SIDERS: The administration was frustrated with the initial response from the agency, and we'll see. You know, Trump has asked if he's going to keep Secretary Tom Price on, and says we'll see. I think the bigger problem for Tom Price and what is the more lasting concern is his failure on health care. If he had delivered something there, I don't think Trump would care as much about these flights. Since he didn't, I think he's on thin ice now.
VAUSE: Yes. I guess the question too is he's also got a bit of a history of other, you know, fairly dodgy shared transactions as well and with all this thing growing up right now. But David, good to see you. Thank you so much.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., the family of Otto Warmbier says their son was tortured to death by the North Koreans, but there is now new medical coroner which casts some doubt over that. And later, Twitter takes action against internet trolls and their interference in U.S. politics. And some in Congress say the company just isn't doing enough.
VAUSE: Well, new questions are being raised about the death of U.S. College Student, Otto Warmbier. The 22-year-old was held for over a year in North Korea. His father says there's evidence that his son was brutally tortured, but a coroner appears to be challenging that claim. For more here's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The mystery over what happened to Otto Warmbier while he was in North Korean custody is deepening. Kim Jong- un's regime now denies allegations that the 22-year-old college student was tortured during the 17 months they held him. President Trump tweeted this week, Otto was tortured beyond belief by North Korea. Warmbier's parents told their story to CNN.
[01:20:04] FRED WARMBIER, FATHER OF OTTO WARMBIER: Otto was systematically tortured and intentionally injured by Kim Jong -- Kim and his regime.
TODD: Warmbier's father says after his son was returned from North Korea in June in a vegetative state and before Otto died a few days later, he examined his son's bottom teeth and found what he says is evidence of torture. WARMBIER: His teeth looked like they've been rearranged with a pair
TODD: But the Hamilton County Coroner in Ohio, who did an external examination of Warmbier and brought in a forensic dentist contradicts the father's claim.
LAKSHMI KODE SAMMARCO, CORONER, HAMILTON COUNTY, OHIO: There is no evidence of trauma to the lower teeth or the mandible. We were surprised that they -- yes, at that statement. The coroner says their post-mortem examination found no obvious signs of torture, but we may never know for sure. Warmbier's family declined a full autopsy, and the coroner went along with that request. Dr. Victor Weedon, a Forensic Pathologist, who's investigated hundreds of murders says that was a mistake.
VICTOR WEEDON, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: This is a case that has tremendous potential international repercussions. This a case where there's a possibility that it was a homicide. In those cases, there should be no questions. You should do an autopsy. It's possible that a torture can be committed and you don't see signs on the outside of the body but might see signs internally.
TODD: Warmbier's doctors have said he lost much of his brain tissue due to oxygen deprivation to the brain. Veteran coroners tell CNN, that could have been caused by strangulation but also possibly by medication, a heart attack, a blood clot, or a botched suicide attempt. Warmbier was sentenced to hard labor for allegedly stealing a political poster during a visit to Pyongyang. Some analysts believe it may not have been in the North Korean's interest to torture Warmbier severely because they frequently use American prisoners as bargaining chips.
BALBINA HWANG, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: It's as with any kidnap victim. It does you no good to try a ransom if the goods, frankly, are not, you know, still breathing and healthy and safe.
TODD: But most everyone agrees, whether the North Koreans tortured Otto Warmbier or not, his fate falls squarely on the shoulders of Kim Jong-un.
GREG SCARLATOIU, COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA: There is no doubt that this is the Kim regime's fault. If he hadn't been imprisoned by the North Koreans, Otto Warmbier would be with us today.
TODD: A key question now: what can the Trump administration do to punish North Korea for the death Otto Warmbier. Human rights advocates say the administration could push more sanctions on the regime or place the regime back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But so far, the State Department has been noncommittal about doing that. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Well, Beijing has moved to impose tough new economic sanctions on Pyongyang and has ordered all businesses, North Korean business, operating with Chinese borders to close by early January. Here's Matt Rivers reporting now from Can Dong, not far from the China-North Korea border.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this latest announcement by China targets joint ventures between North Korean and Chinese companies primarily operating here within China. And the move is in line with the latest sanctions that levied against North Korea by the U.N. Security Council. This is China just fulfilling its obligations that it signed on to when it agreed to those sanctions in the first place. What's going to happen, is China has already banned new joint ventures between both sides, but this particular announcement targets existing ventures, things that are already operating here in China that will now be forced to close within the next couple of months. Now, one of the cities that will be hit hardest by this is where we are right now -- this city of Can Dong, it is a border town on the Chinese-North Korea border.
In fact, North Korea is just a couple of hundred meters from where we are right now. And when we're talking about the kind of businesses that will be affected by this, North Korean businesses operating in mainland China -- we're really talking about that kind of business right behind me. That is a North Korean restaurant. It is operated by North Koreans, and people who work there are North Koreans, and most of the profits that they make get sent back across to help fund the regime. There are dozens of restaurants like that all over China and if this goes forward as expected, all of those restaurants will be forced to close within the next couple months.
So, really, a symbolic move by the Chinese to say we are ready to do the kind of concrete steps that the international community is requesting of us to try and put more economic pressure on Pyongyang. It's also probably not a coincidence that this announcement comes just a few days before U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to land in Beijing for a day of meetings with top-level Chinese officials including President Xi Jinping, ahead of President Trump's expected state visit to China that will happen in early November. Well, I think it's safe to say that North Korea and issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula will be high on the agenda. Matt Rivers, CNN, Can Dong, China.
[01:25:09] VAUSE: Well, for more on this, joining me now: Clayton Dube, who directs the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California right here in Los Angeles. So, Clayton, thank you for coming in. This is -- I guess on some level, this move by Beijing, you know, it's just doing what it has to do, it's enforcing those U.N. sanctions. But you know, it does look to be as if there is this commitment coming from Beijing. You know, many people didn't really expect. And now, this order to close these North Korean businesses within 120 days. How do you read it?
CLAYTON DUBE, DIRECTOR, U.S.-CHINA INSTITUTE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Well, the sanctions that have been placed on Chinese individuals, Chinese banks, and these sort of things, that's what's driving this. That's what's causing Beijing to act in this way, to close down these businesses and maybe to cut off a little bit of financial supply for North Korea. But it's not because they're trying to topple the North Korean government, not trying to isolate them.
VAUSE: So, that's the question: how far is Beijing willing to go? They're trying to ease a little bit of the pain from those other sanctions. Will they the put these economic sanctions all the way up to the point where they see the regime collapse or will they then pull back?
DUBE: No. I do not expect Beijing to push this regime over the edge. If they pushed it over the edge, then they have to deal with the crisis that will ensue and nobody wants that.
VAUSE: You know, there is this clear message, though, which I guess Beijing is also sending to Pyongyang right now that the days of the lips and teeth have come to an end. And I think you've said that you were in China recently and there's a real debate now about what the relationship between China and North Korea, what that relationship should be moving forward because the old days are over.
DUBE: Well, there was never a great deal of love between the two peoples. There was resentment over a number of issues for a long time.
VAUSE: You mean my mouth quote? Is it quite exactly --
DUBE: No, that's exactly -- it's an accurate quote because they did say that.
DUBE: But it didn't reflect the through the reality on the ground.
DUBE: And so, there's not a lot of love in China for North Korea, and there's not a lot of respect. And in fact, the North Koreans had to complain to the Beijing authorities about jokes that were being told about Kim Jong-un.
VAUSE: And they censored them too.
DUBE: That's right. And they started to block that on social media. And so, what has happened recently is a leading Chinese thinker, a scholar at Beijing University, Ja Ching Gua, he has written that China needs to prepare for something happening in North Korea, either war breaking out, the regime collapsing, any number of things. And then that preparation must include talking to the United States and talking to South Korea about what to do.
VAUSE: How sort of against orthodoxy is that point of view within China? DUBE: Completely. And so, there's been push back against that. But
serious thinkers in Beijing recognized that this is a possibility, that they have to prepare for it. And so, they've massed soldiers on the North Korean border, not to intervene in a war, but to ensure stability in the area.
VAUSE: You mentioned the economic sanctions on Chinese businesses which is a motivation. The U.S. president, we should say he received a lot of criticism for taunting North Korea's Kim Jong-un, calling him little rocket man. Former Director of the CIA David Petraeus says that sort of, you know, name-calling may actually be a warning for China. This is his reason, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE CIA: I think it's really more about getting China's attention. And making China realize, this is a strategically important development for us. And you've got to help us stop this where it is, at the very least, get to some negotiations and see where we can take it in the future. And obviously, there are military options. Everybody also knows they're all very ugly. So, this is about China, which controls the umbilical cord that literally keeps the lights on in Pyongyang.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: I see you nodding your head there along with David Petraeus. So, you know, this is madman logic of Richard Nixon, right?
DUBE: Right. Well, all of the theatrics associated with this, flying the bombers along the coast, having the military exercises, that's done partly for Pyongyang's benefit, but mostly for Beijing's and to reassure South Korea and to reassure Japan. And so, that kind of rhetoric, actually, it's quite disquieting Beijing -- and well, for people in Los Angeles.
DUBE: And so we're not used to a president, sort of, out --
DUBE: That's right. The North Koreans tend to always win those rhetorical fights.
VAUSE: Yes. OK. Well, maybe it's a strategy which is this administration could be working. Clayton, good to see you. Thank you so much.
[01:30:04] DUBE: Good to see you.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. Up next on NEWSROOM L.A., Twitter has suspended roughly 200 accounts with links to Russia. We'll take a look at what's making social media so anti-social these days.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
We have the headlines this hour.
VAUSE: Congressional investigators are looking into a social media campaign which used Twitter and Facebook to stoke racial tensions during the U.S. presidential election. CNN has learned exclusively the campaign is linked to the Russian government.
Meanwhile, Twitter says it has suspended roughly 200 accounts linked to Russia and said to have interfered in U.S. politics.
The Senators were not impressed during their meeting with Twitter executives Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARK WARNER, (D), VIRGINIA: The presentation that the Twitter team made to the Senate Intel staff today was deeply disappointing. The notion that their work was basically derivative, based upon accounts that Facebook had identified, showed an enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions. And, again, begs many more questions than they offered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: For more, let's bring in Internet security analyst, Hemu Nigam, the founder and CEO of SSP Blue.
Hemu, good to see you.
VAUSE: Twitter, the executives say they're trying to take suspicious activity, which includes introducing news and escalating enforcement for suspicious log-ins. OK. That's great. The question for Twitter, and Facebook, can they stop Russia or any other country from weaponizing their platforms, like as it looks it has happened?
NIGAM: John, the reality is, in this case, I will say straight-up, I agree with the Senator's comments that you just played. I read that blog. In essence, they're saying, we're going to do what we should have been doing for years as a company. What they're offering I actually not new in the industry throughout. It's not new technology, not new efforts, not new kind of approach. It basic stuff. Can they be weaponized? Absolutely, if you're not putting up the defense mechanisms and holistic approach to identifying those types of campaigns that they could have done. That's why I see why the Senator seems to be so upset with them.
VAUSE: It's also interesting to fight might not be bots but real humans, and that, actually, is a lot harder. NIGAM: That's the more interesting thing. Because the bot thing is
newer in the more recent last few years rather than the humans. The human thing has been going on, overseas, a lot of places they'll set up a hangar, an airplane hangar per se and stick a hundred people in there working together to act like real people, because they are real people, but setting up fake accounts and doing things. You're not identifying a new threat but an actual old threat that's making a comeback, because they're recognizing that the defense mechanisms are not there in a proactive way.
And this is all about proactivity. That's what the Senator was complaining. It's not - instead of reacting to what happened with Facebook, the question is, since the issue has been raised, there are so many different signs that you can look at inside a company's network and say wait, that's an address from another, another one, they're connecting around the same time, they're connected to each on the platform, let's do what we call in the industry a running operation like this, what we call a deep dive.
And look at all the connections happening and make a concerted effort to block, to remove, to identify, to get rid of quickly, to send message out that says this is not your platform go somewhere else, especially when you're collecting dollars or rubles in many cases.
VAUSE: What interesting is, like 2009, and Iran's green uprising, or to 2011 to Tahrir Square in Egypt, the prodemocracy movement which unseated Hosni Mubarak, they were called the Twitter revolution. Twitter was being praised, it's spreading democracy and ideals and freedom and liberty around the world. Now it's turned on its head. You have Russia, this undemocratic country, using social media to undermine democracies and elections in the United States.
NIGAM: What's really, remember the Facebook spring, I think it was called, I think what's going on here, there's a big battle, not so much a battle, a tension between Wall Street and Twitter, a public company that has to say, going up, my revenue streams are going up, my usage is going up, the excitement about the company is going up. And when that happens, a lot of times you can see a company that says maybe we shouldn't focus on that right now because that's more going to hurt that, let's show how excited everything is on our platform. That's where these things actually become reactive rather than proactive. And I think we're at that edge of that cliff. And a Senator like that can push it over the cliff, which is get proactive or they're coming, coming strong, and I think that's the message you're seeing from Congress in the Facebook probe last week and Twitter this week.
VAUSE: Yes, it has enjoyed a clear run of not facing a lot of regulations. It feels like change is coming.
Hemu, good to see you. Thank you very much.
NIGAM: You too, John.
[01:39:26] VAUSE: Next on NEWSROOM L.A, he glamourized that bachelor life style. He helped spur America's sexual revolution. And a lot of other things as well. We'll look back at the controversial "Playboy" founder, Hugh Hefner.
VAUSE: Well, there have been tributes and criticisms for the "Playboy" founder, Hugh Hefner, who died Wednesday. He was 91. He launched the controversial magazine back in 1953 and went on to become a fixture in popular culture.
Our Jeanne Moos bids goodbye to the silk-robed Casanova.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite what he said on "The Simpsons" --
CARTOON CHARACTER: Can I call you Hef?
CARTOON CHARACTER: No.
MOOS: -- he liked being called Hef.
HUGH HEFNER, PLAYBOY FOUNDER: Good evening. I'm Hugh Hefner, your host.
MOOS: Hef the hep cat from the '50s and '60s --
MOOS: -- who played the "Playboy" after dark, before dark, in any light.
Someone tweeted, "The man wore a robe for a living. Every morning was happy hour.
HEFNER: I do.
MOOS: He married three times. His last wife was 60 years younger than Hef when he turned 80.
MOOS: He was still relevant enough to be serenaded by Paris Hilton.
After making his name founding "Playboy," he appeared was the mystery guest on "What's My Line."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you part of the sports world?
MOOS: Does sex qualify as sport?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: What's your definition of obscenity?
HEFNER: Racism, war, bigotry, but sex itself, no. What a sad and cold world it would be if we weren't sexual beings.
MOOS: But even in death, not everyone was feeling warm and fuzzy towards Hef. The president of the gay rights organization, GLADD, tweeted, "Hefner was not a visionary. He was a misogynist."
But even if popular with some, he was a popular culture icon.
HEFNER: You wanted something?
PENNY MARSHALL, ACTRESS: No, thank you.
MOOS: From "Lavern and Shirley" --
MOOS: -- to a Justin Timberlake rap video.
And this icon will rest in peace next to another, Marilyn Monroe. Hefner purchased the crypt next to hers. After all, she was his first "Playboy" cover.
All these bunnies later --
MOOS: -- Hefner's tale is larger than life. He became not so much a sex symbol as a symbol of sex.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drinking with three blondes, I guess that's a regular day for you.
HEFNER: A slow one.
MOOS: Jeanie Moos, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: Within hours of Hefner's death, the opinions started flying, was he really a feminist in a silk bath robe or a pipe-smoking pimp who dressed women in funny costumes.
For more, I'm joined by former "Playboy" cover model, Leann Tweeden in Los Angeles. Also with us, activist, Carline Heldman.
Thank you for being with us.
Leeann, first to you.
As someone you posed twice for "Playboy" magazine, first time a rare occurrence, you were wearing clothes. But I want to share something with you. This is what Suzanne Moore wrote in "The Guardian," "Now that he is dead, the disgusting old sleaze in a smoking jacket is being spoken of as some kind of liberator of women. I don't know which women were liberated by Hefner's fantasies. If you aspire to be a living Barbie, it was as fabulous as it is to be in Donald trump's entourage." So do you see Hefner, that he was a liberator, that he really was a feminist.
[01:45:01] LEEANN TWEEDEN, FORMER PLAYBOY COVER MODEL: I think that back in the time that he created magazine in the '50s, he was a revolutionary. There was a lot of -- let's say he -- I think brought a lot of sexual freedom to women. He was a -- he brought a lot of free speech to America. He had a lot of great articles. I know people laugh, they say I read "Playboy" for the articles. But he had a lot of great writers back then and had a lot of writers that wrote in-depth articles, about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X at the time in America that a white publisher of a magazine wouldn't publish the stories. But, yes, he had sex. But everybody talked about sex. He talked a lot about it at a time that a lot of people weren't doing it. I think we have to remember, women weren't forced to pose in "Playboy." It was a choice to do it. And it was the time of the sexual revolution and the sexual revolution and sexual freedom. It was happening at the same time. He happened to come out at the same time. It exploded right about that time. You know, I think women had a choice and it was at the time -- in the '50s, you couldn't even say the word pregnant on "I love Lucy." Lucille Ball --
VAUSE: Things have change
TWEEDEN: She couldn't say the word pregnant on her show.
VAUSE: Hi back then. '
Caroline, you need to stove pipe certain things. The magazine was groundbreaking journalism in many regards. But there was the concern about how women were treated petition "Playboy" mansion, was this liberating women or exploitation? Take it away.
CAROLINE HELDMAN, POLITICS PROFESSOR, OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE: I think defining Hugh Hefner as a liberator of women is like defining Woody Allen as a good farther. It's not the case. What he did he was hijacked a sexual resolution that started 10 years before he first published "Playboy" in 1953. What he did is define sexuality as the objectification of women. He defined women's sexuality as rotating around serving the consumption of men. That has had profound effects on our culture. The biggest scheme, something we've been researching since 1997, the technical term is sexual objectification, but it's shorthand for saying, women, the more you think of yourself as a sex object, which is what Hugh Hefner introduced to our culture, the more likely you are to be depressed, to have lower cognitive functioning, to have body hatred and shame, to have an eating disorder. He created this culture that we today take for granted where we -- he has completely normalized and commercialize the sexual objectification of girls and women. It has been profoundly damaging in the last half of a century.
VAUSE: Leeann, can I get your response? Because that's a heavy point to lay all of that at the feet of Hugh Hefner.
TWEEDEN: I wouldn't blame that on Hugh Hefner. Men objectify women. I wouldn't lay that all on Hugh Hefner. There are plenty of magazines. Look at television shows. There are more -- you see rape and incest and misogyny on nighttime television shows and everywhere on television that children can turn on every single day. And nobody seems to complain about that. You know "Playboy" now is so tame that that's like the least of my worries. I have two young children and "Playboy" is the least of my worries. I -- you can't lay how men see women at the feet of Hugh Hefner. I think he started something that was -- sure, maybe a lot of people had a problem with it. Like I said, women had a choice to be in that magazine. Some people see it as objectifying women, sure, I can see that. I respect that point of view. A lot of people had a different point of view. In that day and age, that was a different time. It -- people were discovering themselves. Women were coming out in ways that they wanted to express themselves. And they had a different point of view. And he gave them a way to do that and express themselves.
VAUSE: Well, back to you, Caroline, a lot of famous high-profile women have come out and praised Hefner after he died. Here what a TV star posted on Instagram, "I have so many thoughts. I am me because of you. You taught me everything important about freedom and respect. Outside of my family, you were the most important in my life. You gave me my life. People tell me all the time I was your favorite."
So there are high approval woman, who believes that Hefner did, in fact, give her a life, if you like.
[01:50:00] HELDMAN: Well, for individual women, he may have done that. But there are also women like Holly Madison and other girlfriends who talked about how they had a curfew at the mansion. Felt like they were in prison. They were asked to engage in sex that they didn't want. And, in fact, did not get paid if they broke any rules. If there were anyone else, it would be defined as emotional abuse or spousal abuse or domestic abuse. This is not a man who treated women well in private or in public. And while he may have treated some women well or given them opportunities, no doubt about that, his bigger effect has been on the culture. To bring it back to that, he was the first to normalize it. Because he put images of sexually objectified women next to articles. He brought it to the mainstream. He brought it to Wall Street. He commercialized the buying and selling of women's bodies. It's not about sex. Objectification is not the same thing as sex. Because being sexy is about having your sexuality for someone else. Being sexual is about doing it for yourself. Sex objects, if you think about the binary, the way we simplify the world, we think up, down, black, white to simplify the world. Is particular binary is the subject object binary, subjects are acted upon. There's is nothing natural about defining men as sexual objects and women as sexual objects. And creating an entire industry around selling women's bodies, that's not natural. He normalized it. If you have a concern about rape and violence on television shows today, you can thank Hugh Hefner.
VAUSE: OK, well, this is a really interesting discussion. I wish we had more time.
Leeann, very quickly, 30 seconds, because we are out of time.
TWEEDEN: I have no regrets, by the way. When I did my first cover when I was 22 years old, like I said, I was on the cover because I was doing a fitness show on ESPN. They culled me personally because he asked if I would do it. I was on a fitness show the Olympics were coming to Atlanta and the United States. I didn't want to take off my clothes. He said that was fine. I was lucky. I knew I wanted to be on the cover of "Playboy." It was a big thing for my career, a young girl getting started in L.A. without having to do that. I did thank him for that because it did help launch my career without having to do the other staff.
VAUSE: You know what happens when they start wrapping on the ear piece, you have to wrap.
Leeann, thank you so much. Really appreciate your point of view. Appreciate you being with us.
Caroline, thank you as well.
I wish we could stay on this a long time.
But we have to take a short break on NEWSROOM. NFL players looking to unify in the sports around the world and in the country. More on their stand for solidarity, next.
VAUSE: Well there is that question, should athletes weigh in on issues of race and politics. And those questions seem to be a loud as ever. President Trump's message boils down to shut up and play. Many see racial undertones to some comments. The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears chose not to kneel for the national anthem, a form of protest Donald Trump and others have called disrespectful. Instead, they stood with locked arms and asked fans to do the same. Most didn't.
Our Randi Kaye spoke to the fans before the field.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the shadow of Lambeau Field, we found beer and braatz and opinions about Trump's rebuke of NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem.
[01:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a patriot. He's a U.S. citizen as well. He has his own opinion. And I agree with his opinion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe that this they should be fired. I think that the people of America have a right to express their opinion and the NFL players do as well.
KAYE (on camera): Do you agree with what the president said, that the quote, "sons of bitches" players should be fired for kneeling during the anthem?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It could be used his words a little bit differently, but I think overly his message was positive for patriotism in our country.
KAYE (voice-over): This Chicago Bears fan strongly disagrees. He says the players have every right to kneel and express their freedom of speech.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're just protesting racial inequality. And I think that the president should worry about bigger things.
KAYE: Jordan Lenahan agrees.
JORDAN LENAHAN, FOOTBALL FAN: The president should stick to presidential things and the NFL should stick to NFL things. It's a lot of intermix. I think Trump should be focused on tax reform and stuff like that.
KAYE: And on the issue of race, again, mixed opinions about the president taking on a league that's majority African-American.
(on camera): The president says this isn't anything about race. This is about respect for the flag. So like you don't buy that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I mean, look at the history. Go back to the stuff happened in Charlottesville. He didn't come out and denounce them, but the when a guy takes a knee for equality and things like that, unity, he is all over him.
KAYE: Do you think the president's comments were racist as some have suggested?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
KAYE: Were the president's comments racist in your opinion?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I don't think so what so ever. I don't understand the whole racist issue here. People who kneel, I think they're more racist than the people who stand for it.
KAYE: How can those kneeling be racist when their kneeling to try and help promote racial equality and against of police brutality.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they really?
KAYE: That's the message they say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they really, though?
KAYE: While this couple agrees that players should not be fired for kneeling during the anthem, ask them who is going to win tonight's game and it's a whole another story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rogers 300 yards rush --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they'll keep it a close game. But they'll be -- (INAUDIBLE). (LAUGHTER)
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause. We'll be back at the top of the hour with more news on NEWSROOM L.A.