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Harvey Weinstein Accusations; Veterans Volunteer To Help Puerto Rico Citizens In Need; U.S. Men's Soccer Team Doesn't Make It To The World Cup. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 11, 2017 - 8:30   ET


[08:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: Seeing more and more women coming out and saying, Harvey Weinstein harassed me, or worse. He is just the latest example though of an executive accused of abusing his power.

Are we at a cultural tipping point? Will there really be anything that changes after this? We'll discuss next.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: High profile actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie joining the growing chorus of women who say they were sexually harassed or assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. What happens to end this cycle of powerful men abusing those under them? This is the conversation we've been having all morning. Let's see where it goes now.

We have a great panel. We have CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, cultural critic and writer, Michaela Angela Davis and Nancy Erika Smith, an attorney who represented Gretchen Carlson who came forward against former Fox News Chief Roger Ailes last year. Great to have all of you and all of your experience here with us this morning.

Nancy, let me start with you, because this does feel like we've seen this movie before. This does really I think, smack of similarities between what happened with Roger Ailes - a mogul, an incredibly powerful charismatic man who then feels entitled to do whatever he wants with the people under him. In Roger Ailes' case, it was the women. And, you don't know that the flood gates are going to open the day before they open. The day before the dam breaks it feels like this is going to go on forever and then the dam breaks.


NANCY ERIKA SMITH, ESQ, SMITH MULLIN, PC: Yes, and the dam breaks because we break the silence. We break the secrecy. It's the secrecy that allows it to happen. You and many people have been forced in our country to sign away their rights to a public jury trial - a Seventh Amendment right - so that harassers harass in secret and harass again. And, victims are the ones forced to be quiet. And, when we're quiet, we don't know that there are other victims.

The flood gates open because we're not alone. We can come out. We have sisters. We feel more protected. So, a free press, public awareness and an end to secrecy is the only way to end this.

CUOMO: Now, all of those are components of culture, right? And, that's why - why do you call out Hillary Clinton and Obama? It's not because they are implicated in what Harvey Weinstein did. It's that every leader needs to step up immediately. That's how you change culture.

Now, I want to inject somebody else into the conversation, Michaela, and it has nothing to do with Harvey Weinstein. But, Terry Crews - you may know him - big star, big guy. He - you should go read his Twitter thread. He has a whole - over a dozen Tweets about something that happened to him - where he says that he was groped at a Hollywood function.

CAMEROTA: Let me just read two of them, OK?

So, he says, "This whole thing with Harvey Weinstein is giving me PTSD. Why? Because this kind of thing happened to me. My wife and I were at a Hollywood function last year and a high-level Hollywood executive came over to me and groped my privates."

CUOMO: So, he had to make a decision about what to do. And, his instinct was to give the person a beat-down. He decided as a black man and as a man, this wasn't going to work out for him so he decided to just leave.

Should this be part of the conversation?

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURAL CRITIC AND WRITER: Oh, absolutely. I mean, think of all of the negotiations that he had to make in that split second, right? So, if genocide and slavery are the United States' original sin, patriarchy is society's original sin.

When you see this imbalance of power where 50 percent of the population who are women, have so little equity in all these - whether it's Hollywood or college campuses or the Catholic Church - you see how it manifests itself, and it's not only to women.

So, in that moment, Terry Crews had to negotiate violence and racism and sexism and what would the headline say in the morning ...

CUOMO: What if he were a white man?

DAVIS: In front of his wife.

CUOMO: What if he were a white man, and he had - how would it change the calculus?

DAVIS: So, you know, I contend if he was a white man, it wouldn't have happened. There is a feeling of ownership over black male bodies by people in power - whether you're the NFL or Hollywood, that they are there for your entertainment. And, so, he's able to grab him because he's - you know, that's a commodity ...

CUOMO: Well ...

DAVIS: That black male bodies are much more of a commodity than a white male body.

CAMEROTA: Though I will say I do know several white guys - they're gay - who have also had this experience, where a powerful mogul comes up and tries to do whatever they want with them.

But, again, I think the point here is that it does happen to men too. It's about power, OK? So, it's so shocking ...

DAVIS: But, it happens way ...

CAMEROTA: Of course. Of course. I mean, I agree. But, I think that sometimes we overlook the idea that it's about power ...

CUOMO: You've got a different power imbalance.

DAVIS: And, it was very, very courageous of him.

CAMEROTA: I agree.

DAVIS: Because, he's known for like, making his pecs dance, right? And, he's a lovely guy.

CAMEROTA: He seems ...

DAVIS: He's a nice guy. But, if it can happen to him, imagine if you're a young actor.

CAMEROTA: Oh, all of it.

But, Areva, let's talk about what this means for Harvey Weinstein. Some of these things happened beyond the statute of limitations, some of them didn't. Some of them ...

CUOMO: In New York there is no statute of limitations.

CAMEROTA: Well, there you go.

So, he's - he is reportedly checking himself into a rehab for sex addiction. Can he be prosecuted?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely. I think we haven't seen the last of this - both potentially civil lawsuits that may be filed against him personally as well as against the company, as well as potential criminal allegations that may be made against him.

I think for me what's been so troubling about this case - even as horrifically repulsive as the Bill Cosby allegations is - we have this big company - the Weinstein Company. We have 16 employees that were in that New Yorker article that said they either witnessed or had direct knowledge of this.

Under federal law, these companies have an obligation to investigate claims of sexual harassment. They don't get to turn their heads. They don't get to ignore it. They had an affirmative obligation to take steps to investigate sexual harassment and to make the workplace safe for women. And, they failed in their obligation to do so. So, I'm really disturbed about - not just the individual conduct of Harvey Weinstein, which is repulsive, but the conduct of the people that were obligated by law to take action and they didn't.


CUOMO: The law is often not enough though, right? I mean, that's what we see here with Cy Vance, the district attorney for Manhattan. The tape that we're hearing with the young actress in this really ugly conversation with Harvey Weinstein out in the hallway, that was part of a sting operation.


CUOMO: It's not that easy to make the criminal case. It's not that easy to go after a corporation for an arbitration clause. That's why it's got to be more about culture, doesn't it, than just law?

SMITH: No. I believe we need both. The law should not allow secret arbitration clauses - secret corporate courts that take away our Seventh Amendment rights. We really should not be forced to give up our Seventh Amendment rights to a jury trial in order to work. And, the law can make corporations take responsibility and it's supposed to. But, it doesn't when ...

CUOMO: Right.

SMITH: You're the powerful. And, most sexual assaults don't take place with a witness or with the perpetrator on tape.

So, I disagree that the reason that Harvey Weinstein wasn't prosecuted was because there wasn't enough evidence.

CAMEROTA: Then what was it?

SMITH: It was powerful white men ...

MARTIN: With a lot of ...

SMITH: With a lot of juice - get away with all kinds of stuff in our criminal justice system. If it was a black man, I believe he would have been ...

CUOMO: But, Cy Vance would have had to prove an intent.

SMITH: Right.

CUOMO: Which is always hard to do in the law, and hard under these circumstances as well.

SMITH: A man forces himself ...

CUOMO: Look, I hear your case.

SMITH: To touch your breasts and then admits it on tape ...

CUOMO: I hear your case.

SMITH: That is an assault.

CUOMO: I hear your case. What I'm saying is, it's got to be more than the law, because of everything that you're saying now.

SMITH: Yes, I agree.

CUOMO: And, until you have it where from top down, you know if you're a powerful man, you will not be protected. People will come after you if this happens. You will be called out. And, not just about the victims, Michaela, because it puts too much pressure on the most vulnerable person in the equation.

DAVIS: That's right. And, obviously there are a lot of laws in place that aren't protecting people. It is also the activism. I think what you were saying now, that women have found a collective voice - look at what happened in Washington - the largest demonstration in history happened because women came together and said, enough. And, we're continuing to do that.

I mean, even if you look at other Hollywood figures like Ava DuVernay - she is so generous in showing - look at all these women I hired. Look at my directors. Look at my squad. Women tend to be more inclusive and generous in showing you how we work together. The opposite is true with this male power.

Again, it is really this gross imbalance of power that we're now challenging. And, women aren't afraid because we have each other and we have Twitter.

CAMEROTA: Well, Nancy, I want to back to you for a second. Because you and Gretchen successfully sued Fox, and that started the house of cards falling of Roger Ailes very quickly, much like this Harvey Weinstein thing - how fast, once it happens, they go down.


CAMEROTA: But, you obviously have to, as you said, jump off a cliff and be willing to do that. For women out there who say, how are you supposed to battle a powerful man if I don't have lots of money for a high-priced attorney - what is the answer today?

SMITH: Well, the answer is, go to an attorney. And, a lot of us aren't high-priced. We get paid at the end, when we succeed. And, going to an attorney is essential because the other problem is HR is compromised. HR is often not your ...


SMITH: Friend. No. They're your enemy. And, they're going to report and then they're going to help retaliate against you.

And, in corporate legal departments they are making women sign away their rights to speak in exchange for - and give up their careers in exchange for some money - in these cases, $100,000 - a paltry sum of money after you've been assaulted? It's really outrageous.

We need corporate boards to take responsibility. We need corporate boards to have committees that HR and legal report to.

DAVIS : With women on those boards.


CUOMO: Right. And, also if they knew - Areva, let's end with you on this - especially just in terms of corporate responsibility, you were right to point out the federal guideline, but it's about the bite that's involved - piercing the corporate vein is a phrase that all lawyers know and citizens doesn't make sense to know, but if you went after the people who knew what was going on, this would change a lot faster. True or no?

MARTIN: It would change very quickly, Chris - swift and severe consequences for the perpetrator of the harassment and then those that were complicit in covering it up. And, I think that's what the message needs to be today, that any corporate board member - any corporate executive that's turning the other way, you too may find yourself liable in a civil lawsuit facing severe damages, but you also may face some other penalties and I think that's the message we want women to know.

Come forward, speak up and hold people accountable in these jobs who are protecting these harassers so that women can be safe in the workplace. That's the key thing here.


CAMEROTA: On that note, Areva Martin, Nancy Erika Smith, Michaela Angela Davis, thank you very much for the great conversation.

MARTIN: Thanks Alisyn.

SMITH: Thank you.

DAVIS: Thank you.

MARTIN: Thanks, Chris.

CAMEROTA: All right. We have to tell you about this shocker in the soccer world. The U.S. men's national team will not be in the World Cup for the first time in decades.

What went wrong?

CUOMO: Nothing went right.



CUOMO: The road to the World Cup for Team USA - dead end.

Coy Wire has more in the Bleacher Report. They only needed a tie, Coy. What happened?

COY WIRE, CNN ANCHOR: As you said, nothing good, Chris.

This Bleacher Report presented by the new 2018 Ford F150.

For the first time in about 30 years, the U.S. men's soccer team not going to be playing in the World Cup. Team USA - they had the fate of their future in their hands last night playing Trinidad and Tobago, ranked 99th in the world - they have a population smaller than Dallas. All the U.S. needed to do to advance was win or even tie, as Chris mentioned. Just don't beat yourself, right? Well, they did essentially that. Look at this. This is an own goal - they scored on their own goal. That contributed to the two to one defeat ending a run of seven straight appearances in the biggest stage in soccer.

Many feel that what happened last night, Alisyn, is one of the most embarrassing moments in U.S. sports history and the loss has implications beyond the pitch as well - big corporations investing heavy dollars into sponsorship commitments to the team. So, we're going to hear more about the impact of that this morning.

CAMEROTA: I have a lot more embarrassing moments in sports history, but they're on home video that I could show you.

But, anyway, thanks so much for all of that, Coy.

WIRE: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: OK. The Good Stuff, next.



CUOMO: A special Good Stuff for you. We're going to introduce you to a real-life hero.

Jason Maddy is an Army veteran, a Sergeant - he's been traveling to different disaster areas helping folks affected by hurricanes, simply because he can.

Jason joins us by the phone right now. He is in Puerto Rico.

Sarge, can you hear us?

JASON MADDY, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: Yes, sir. Good morning.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you for being with us.

As you know, the recovery in Puerto Rico has been politicized. You are not part of the politics game. Let's put that to the side. Let's just deal with what you are seeing.

Where are you? What's it like?

MADDY: I'm currently in Anasco, Puerto Rico. It's a small town on the western side of Puerto Rico. And, what we are seeing on the ground or what we have for the past week - very limited supplies getting to us. We've been going up into the mountains to help people that are trapped up there and are isolated.

From what we have been seeing the past couple of weeks, they have been getting, you know, what we could give them as far as supplies was concerned, was one small boxed meal and six bottles of water per day per family. And, that's per family. And, sometimes, because it rains - the rainstorms are so bad and washouts, there would be days that we couldn't get back up to them. So, those families would be dependent on that one boxed meal and six bottles of water.

So, from our perspective on the ground in Anasco, that was clearly, you know, not enough. And, we tried everything possible to get more supplies. We didn't really know why the slow-down or not really much was trickling to this area, but we kind of put out a call to help for anybody to get anything to help them.

CUOMO: Sarge, tell us who "we" is, because you're not there with FEMA. You're not there with the National Guard. Who are you with? How do people help you help others?

MADDY: We're 13 groups - we're 13 veterans - volunteer. We've been to Harvey, Irma and now Maria in Puerto Rico. And, we just go to where the worst parts are in the disaster areas and just start helping.

CUOMO: How do people help you help others?

MADDY: For us, it's getting us supplies. We're mainly focused of the Town of Anasco, Marquez and Aguadilla and it's just getting supplies to us. We understand Puerto Rico is an island. We understand it's difficult. But, we're - our main focus is taking care of the people here.

CUOMO: Sarge, thank you so much for what you're doing. You are literally doing the Lord's work. We will direct people to your Facebook page. Be safe. Stay in touch.

MADDY: All right. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

CUOMO: All right.

Alisyn, you know, just more proof. Anybody who is down there on the ground knows the reality. There's a lot of people trying to help and a lot more needs to be done.

CAMEROTA: Good for him.

Meanwhile, CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and John Berman is going to pick up after this break.

We'll see you tomorrow.