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Deadly Niger Ambush; Kim Jong-Un Mass-Producing Biological Weapons; Sexual Harassment Scandals; The Opioid Epidemic. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired October 24, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:11] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --
America's highest ranking military officer asked for patience while investigator's try to find out how four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger and promises answers for the family of the fallen and the country.
While the world struggles against the nuclear threat from North Korea, new concerns over the regime's biological weapons.
And from the Women's march to the MeToo campaign, 2017 might be a pivotal moment in the struggle for equal rights for women.
Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'd like to welcome our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause.
NEWSROOM L.A. starts now.
Well, there is new information, not a lot to be sure, about the deadliest combat loss during Donald Trump's presidency, part of a pile (ph) of promise of transparency from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to the families of the four dead U.S. soldiers and the American people.
General Joseph Dunford revealed the timeline of the firefight. He said that had changed. Also a full hour passed before the U.S. troops called in air support. Another hour went by before French aircraft arrived.
We have more details now from CNN's Jim Sciutto.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs said that the ambush came despite intelligence that enemy contact was not likely.
GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: U.S. forces accompanied that Nigerian unit on a reconnaissance mission to gather information. The assessment by our leaders on the ground at that time was that contact with the enemy was unlikely.
Mid-morning on October 4, the patrol began to take fire as they were returning to their operating base.
SCIUTTO: Troops first requested air support a full hour after initial contact with approximately 50 ISIS-affiliated fighters.
DUNFORD: My judgment would be that that unit thought they could handle the situation without additional support. And so -- well, we'll find out in the investigation exactly why it took an hour for them to call.
SCIUTTO: A U.S. drone already in the air nearby reached their position within minutes. French Mirage jets responded next, arriving about two hours after initial contact though none conducted air strikes.
In response to criticism that the military has not been forthcoming, Dunford promised honest answers to the families and the public.
DUNFORD: I think we do owe the families and the American people transparency in incidents like this and we intend to deliver just that.
SCIUTTO: And as she said her final goodbye to her husband this weekend, the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson told ABC's "Good Morning, America" that she is still waiting for answers as well.
MYESHIA JOHNSON, WIDOW OF LA DAVID JOHNSON: I don't know how he got to where he got to or anything.
SCIUTTO: Still to be explained, why was Johnson's body recovered 48 hours after the attack and how did it end up nearly a mile away from the scene of the ambush.
DUNFORD: I can tell you once we found out that Sergeant Johnson was missing, we brought the full weight of the U.S. government to bear in trying to -- trying to recover his body.
SCIUTTO: Now, nearly three weeks after the attack, lawmakers are still demanding details.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Americans should know what's going on in Niger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.
MCCAIN: We should know what caused the deaths of four brave young Americans.
DUNFORD: What the American people need to know is with a relatively small footprint, we are enabling local forces to deal with these challenges before they become a threat to the American people and help them to deal with the challenges so they won't further destabilize their local area or region. SCIUTTO: General Dunford also detailed the wider footprint of U.S. military in Africa. He said some 6,000 U.S. forces are there spread among 53 countries, many of those forces fighting terrorist groups, many of those now aligned with ISIS and the intention in large part to train and assist local forces so they could do most of the fighting and therefore not require more U.S. forces to be deployed there.
Jim Sciutto, CNN -- Washington.
VAUSE: Well, CNN military analyst, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona joins us now.
Colonel -- this news conference by General Dunford seemed to be more about appearance than substance. He wished to appear to be transparent but at the same time, there wasn't a lot of new information about what actually happened.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No, I think the reason there's not a whole lot of new information is because they don't know the answers yet. I do appreciate his offer to be more transparent. And I think that's very important.
But I think he put the right tone on all this. And I think he appeared to try and answer the questions that everybody has. I feel sorry for the general because he's trying to field a bunch of questions, very difficult questions and very important questions. But we just don't have the answers yet. There are so many things that we don't know about what happened out there.
[00:05:01] And that's why I think the FBI's been brought into this. It's not unusual for the FBI to be brought in. But they don't do it all the time.
VAUSE: Well, the new details that we did find out on Monday, do they add any significant insight to you about how all of this played out.
FRANCONA: Well, not really. I mean this is very classic for an internal defense mission. This is a specific mission handed to the U.S. Army Special Forces, the Green Berets. They're very good at it. And these are very highly trained teams. They go out and work with the locals.
And, you know, Jim gave a pretty good rundown of how they do it and why do it. And it's been very effective throughout the world -- Africa being our latest challenge.
And if we can get these host nations to develop their own internal defense capabilities, we won't have to deploy large numbers of forces like we had to do it in Iraq and in Syria. We nipped the problem in the bud long before it becomes an issue required our intervention.
So that's what they were doing there. And I think that those missions are going to continue. And I think the General was upfront about that. VAUSE: Well, a number of U.S. lawmakers, in particular the Senate, have raised questions about the presence of U.S. troops in Niger. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: They're going to brief us next week as to why they were there and what they were doing. I didn't know there was a thousand troops in Niger.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS HOST: You heard Senator Graham there. He didn't know we had a thousand troops Niger. Did you?
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: No, I did not.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Did you know how many men and women were on the ground in Niger and what they're doing there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: It's not a covert operation. It was announced back in 2013 by President Obama. What's the surprise?
FRANCONA: The forward internal defense is an overt mission. It's something that we talk about. We're proud of how we're doing this. We like to talk this up that we're working with the local population.
The fact that none of these Senator knew is just -- it's unconscionable -- John. I knew about this. And I have no special access. This has been going on for years.
In Niger right now is the largest air force construction project on the books. A $100 million, rebuilding an airfield that will handle C- 17s and is going to be the central operations base for all of the drones operating in northern and in Western Africa.
And these Senators who are in the Armed Service Committee who had to allocate that money didn't know about it? This is absurd.
VAUSE: You know, General Dunford's news conference, it came while the President is in the midst of, you know, let's call it a disagreement with the widow of Sergeant Johnson about his condolence call. As someone as someone who served -- and you've served with men and women who have been killed in action, what's the impact of all this, what some have been calling the politicization of fallen soldiers?
FRANCONA: Yes. This is really a sad event. And you know, I'm not going to throw stones or blame or anything but this has got to stop. These families need to grieve. They need to be treated with respect. And this is the sacred bond between the American people and their fallen soldiers.
And no member of Congress and no member of the administration should get in the way of that. We should be supportive of this. And the last thing we need is to draw political battles over this.
And you could see it starting. You can see the party lines coming out. And we don't need this. So we need to stop this now and get on with the grieving and, you know, the recommitment to this mission.
VAUSE: Yes. Good advice. Just stop it.
Colonel -- as always. Good to see you -- thank you.
FRANCONA: Thanks -- John.
VAUSE: Here with me now, talk show radio host Ethan Bearman and Shawn Steele, a member of the California Republican Committee and former chairman of the California Republican Party. It's good to see you both.
Ok. So let's just start with, you know, the White House which has actually come to admit that there was a scramble to back up the President's claim that he made last week that he'd contacted every family of the service men or women who've been killed in action.
Once source is telling CNN the West Wing did attempt to expedite condolence letters to families of fallen soldiers after the President's remarks in the Rose Garden last week after a discovery was made that there were bureaucratic reasons for why some of the letters had not gone out.
So Ethan, the old bureaucratic bungle is to blame for all of this.
ETHAN BEARMAN, RADIO HOST: Right. And then to immediately turn around, instead of accepting that there was a mistake made, then to attack President Obama saying well, he didn't do it either which we know wasn't true because he did actually call and hug and give condolences to the families.
This is a problem that this president has, that he isn't compassionate to some of these people that are his citizens that have died serving our country.
And then for him to turn around and attack instead of accepting some responsibility, this goes all the way back to the campaign, he doesn't want to accept responsibility, he attacks instead of acknowledge.
VAUSE: And Shawn, you know, this is buck-passing. Is this the equivalent of a dog ate my homework. It's not even quite that. I think we're trying to create something where nothing exists.
[00:09:57] Trump actually called every single person that the military protocol gave to him, 100 percent of the time. And he had his generals list it and he asked them, how do you talk to somebody like her that's lost her husband, you know, when the wife is (INAUDIBLE) and he says well?
And this is exactly what General Kelly says, well, you know he knew what -- her husband was exactly where he wanted to be at the time. It's how he trained, he gave his life for his country. So Trump is best way possible, gave heartfelt condolences as he should, as a President should. And I'm sure Obama did too. And I have that personal information that he did do it.
The key is why are they politicizing it? And we have this congresswoman who dresses like a circus clown, that's making this thing something that was untoward and that's the line the Colonel was talking about.
VAUSE: Ok. Well, I think -- you know, most of us agree that at the end of the day, Myeshia Johnson whose husband, La David Johnson, was killed in Niger -- her voice should be the one that is the loudest and the one that is most heard. And she spoke about the condolence call she received from the President. She's -- this is what she said on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: The President said he knew what he signed up for but it hurts anyway. And I was -- it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of this voice and how he said. He couldn't remember my husband's name. I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband's name. And that's what hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, he risked his life for our country, why can't you remember his name?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Ok. Not long after that interview went out in "Good Morning, America" on ABC, the President seemed to cover (INAUDIBLE) I guess tweeting this, "I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson and spoke his name from beginning without hesitation."
And Ethan -- isn't this just one time when Donald Trump should throw away the no politics playbook and just allow a grieving widow to have the last --
BEARMAN: Yes, you're talking about a soldier who died in the line of duty in Africa for the United States of America. The widow is clearly grieving. But I think this also speaks to something else.
President Trump is known for winging it, not wanting to have notes, not wanting to be prompted by his advisers. Have the name written when you're on the phone calling with -- and all you have to do is say I am so terribly sorry. Thank you so much for your husband's service. It means so much to us. Please accept our condolences. And then --
STEEL: How small is our political world that -- when a president makes a heartfelt, good faith effort, when General Kelly who lost his own son never got a call from Obama, by the way, he loses his own son. He's standing right next to the President and he's saying this is a shameful moment when politicians -- and this is why Congress is so unpopular -- takes a cheap shot. What was the congresswoman doing in the room of a grieving widow? How did she get in that room?
BEARMAN: They were in a car together. They were in a car together on the speaker phone.
STEEL: Why did she -- why did she --
BEARMAN: The widow was on the speaker phone.
STEEL: Why did she set it up -- she tried to get involved in the conversation. A congresswoman shouldn't have been there. She politicized --
STEEL: -- you should be embarrassed.
VAUSE: She is an old family friend. She's known the family for years and years and years. The family invited her into the car - -
STEEL: Still why be a politician --
VAUSE: The President was calling Mrs. Johnson on the way to the airport to receive the body of her husband. It was on speaker phone. She listened in to that call. Just like John Kelly, the White House chief of staff listened in to the call on his end at the White House.
The President though didn't answer a lot of questions on Monday about what happened in Niger. He didn't talk about the feud with Mrs. Johnson. But he is not holding back on Twitter against Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. She, of course, is the one who revealed all this last week.
This is what he tweeted out. "Wacky Congresswoman Wilson is a gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party. A disaster for Dems. You watch her in action and vote Republican."
Really -- Shawn? I mean is this something that you should be, you know, politicking over? Is this an issue for politics?
STEEL: John -- I wouldn't do it.
STEEL: But Trump is a totally different type of person. And if you're going to attack, then he's going to counterpunch. That's his line. And you know what, a lot of people don't like that. A lot of people are uncomfortable with it.
But the last time I looked, he was elected president and Hillary wasn't.
STEEL: And the Democrats can't get over that. VAUSE: But Ethan, isn't this just common status of decency --
VAUSE: -- regardless of who you are?
BEARMAN: Absolutely. And on top of it all, I would suggest that the Republican Party is showing its misogyny again as well because General Kelly also said "that woman". She's a congresswoman. She has a title. You call her "representative". You call her "congresswoman". But you sure don't call her --
STEEL: He didn't even mention her name.
BEARMAN: -- he said "that woman".
STEEL: He didn't mention her name.
BEARMAN: She's a congresswoman. She's a congresswoman.
STEEL: She's an embarrassment.
VAUSE: Well, she also has her argument to make against John Kelly, the President's chief of staff. As you know, John Kelly called out Congresswoman Wilson last week. She's now hitting back. "General Kelly owes the nation an apology because he lied about me. He lied to the American public."
[00:15:00] And Shawn -- either, you know, General Kelly got a few attacks (ph)) because either he lied or he was given wrong information --
STEEL: I don't think --
VAUSE: -- or he misremembered. But regardless -- wait a minute -- regardless of how he got those facts wrong, does he deserve -- should he make an apology at this point? Does the congresswoman owe an apology?
STEEL: I think he made a mistake but I don't think --
STEEL: -- I don't think anybody at this table believes that he actually made a lie. And I think it will probably be appropriate but I still think she's had to reinvent the word "empty barrel" because she's ringing loudly. Frankly I like her in green than red. I don't you about you.
VAUSE: But what we're seeing here Ethan -- playing out is, you know, somebody asked who's been grading this administration with a reputation for honor, to service, to years of dedication to this country being tied by association with the President. The President seems to be trading off their image to protect his own and it's doing a lot of harm to their reputations. STEEL: There is no question. I think General Kelly has a sterling reputation and suddenly being trotted out to make -- somehow speak for the President on this call has hurt him because he was not telling the truth about Representative Wilson. And again, Representative Wilson, duly elected by the citizens in her district, not just some woman.
VAUSE: Sean Spicer had a very good reputation before he took the job.
STEEL: General Kelly came out on his own, we know that. It wasn't something put up or trotted out. That's embarrassing. And that's defamatory.
Kelly comes out and gives the most impassioned statement of any chief of staff for the last 50 years. It was a dramatic pivot.
STEEL: This is why Democrats lose. They listen to a perfectly good responsible person and it doesn't matter how kind and loving they are, they still attack, attack to destroy.
VAUSE: Ok. Well, you do should he should have corrected his --
STEEL: You can have the congresswoman, I'll take the General and you'll continue to lose elections.
VAUSE: Ok. Well, the current commander-in-chief, as most of us probably remember received five deferments during the Vietnam War. If anybody has forgotten, here's Senator John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: And one aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never, ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America. And the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong.
If we're going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So the fact, Shawn, here is that Donald Trump received one of those deferments because of bone spurs in his foot (ph). But Shawn, you know, liberals are certainly enjoying this feud between Donald Trump and John McCain. But at the end of the day what does it achieve?
STEEL: I think we see another politician that has completely lost his moral bearing. He's not making a lot of sense. He's desperate and I --
VAUSE: You mean --
STEEL: I'm talking about your politician -- John McCain. And it's embarrassing to watch John. He's not doing very well and I think we should respect for what he's --
BEARMAN: Because the President disrespected him during the campaign.
STEEL: I agree with that.
BEARMAN: It was horrible for President Trump --
STEEL: But on the other hand, that's politics. And he's playing -- and McCain's playing like he's a politician.
BEARMAN: And by the way, so now he's getting his due because this is the most powerful man in the Senate when it comes to --
STEEL: It's revenge.
BEARMAN: -- the Armed Forces.
STEEL: It's revenge. And he's not that powerful.
Let me say this. He's a man that's isolated. McCain's service for the military was excellent in every regard, beyond the valor of most Americans. As a politician, starting with the Keating scandal he's been a dismal failure and he's getting worse.
VAUSE: I guess Ethan -- last question though. Well, liberals have been cheering what John McCain has been saying.
BEARMAN: Of course.
VAUSE: Maybe it's a little late.
BEARMAN: It is a little bit late. But look Senator McCain has a very long and storied career in the Senate. He has himself run for President as well.
Yes, we would have liked to have seen him speak more strongly about now-President Trump back in the campaign. But look, this is his time to do it when this is what's going on. And the President is attacking -- essentially attacking a widow of a man, Sergeant Johnson, who was killed serving his country.
VAUSE: Ok. We will leave it there.
Ethan and Shawn -- as always. Good to have you both with us. Thank you.
Well, Japan's leader gets a vote of confidence but North Korea though has some tough words for Shinzo Abe. We will tell you what Japan's election will mean for the tensions in Asia in just a moment.
We'll also take a closer look at biological weapons in North Korea's arsenal.
[00:19:24] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Well, North Korea is lashing out at Japan after its Prime Minister won big in snap elections. Shinzo Abe won on a promise to confront Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile threat and that could mean an attempt to amend Japan's pacifist constitution.
None of that is going over well in Pyongyang. North Korean state media is now reportedly accusing Japan of laying the groundwork to re- invade the Korean Peninsula.
Meantime, the U.S. President congratulated Mr. Abe ahead of his upcoming visit to Tokyo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): President Trump will visit next month on the 5th. I received a phone call today and we agreed to spend time during his visit, discussing the situation with North Korea and cooperating closely over it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: This comes as the U.S., South Korean and Japanese defense ministers talk about the North Korean threat. Japan says it's more imminent than ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ITSUMORI ONODERA, JAPANESE DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): North Korea is steadfastly improving its nuclear missile capabilities. The threat caused by North Korea has grown to a serious and critical level. Therefore, we are being forced to take a response on a different level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: We're joined now by Paul Carroll, senior adviser at N-Square Group which aims to end the nuclear threat. Paul it's always good to have you with us.
You know, Shinzo Abe -- he won this election on a promise to confront North Korea over its nuclear missile program. So what does that actually look like? Japan has no diplomatic or economic ties with North Korea. Tokyo doesn't have particularly good relations with Beijing, which you know, is North Korea's only major ally.
So what does he actually do now?
PAUL CARROLL, SENIOR ADVISER, N-SQUARE GROUP: Well, it's a perfect question that illustrates the importance of a regional approach to North Korea. If you recall we used to have something called the agreed framework which while it certainly had its failings essentially froze North Korea's nuclear missile program for a good eight years. When that collapsed in the early 2000s, you had attempts at the six- party talks that included China and Japan and South Korea and Russia as well as the United States which, you know, it was halting and there were hiccups and there were setbacks. But at least there was a process in place.
Really for the last number of years, it's sort of in the wild west, if you will. The Japanese, the South Koreans, the Chinese and the U.S. are only occasionally on the same page with respect to what the main threat is; only occasionally on the same page with respect to a unified front.
The reelection of Prime Minister Abe is a very interesting dynamic here. He's clearly gotten better at becoming an effective statesman. He's courting Vladimir Putin. He's courting President Xi of China.
And if you recall, right after Trump's election, he was early to greet the newly-elected President Trump. And in fact was at the Mar-a-Lago estates when the North Koreans launched a missile. So he's right in the thick of it.
What I'm a bit concerned about however is his statements about changing the constitution of Japan to allow him more flexibility to basically join the armed conflict. That would really be a significant development in the region.
VAUSE: Is there some comfort though that Abe's election now means that all the key players in the region are now locked in? You've got Xi Jinping in Beijing, looks that for at least another five-year term, maybe a lot longer. Moon Jae-In in Seoul recently elected. Even Kim Jong-Un had his authority reaffirmed at the Workers' Party last year.
[00:25:02] In theory then, there shouldn't be a need for these leaders to, you know, flex military muscle for domestic civil effect, so it takes it off the table.
CARROLL: I think that's right. I think you think oddly enough Kim Jong-Un, the young leader of North Korea is one of the longest serving leaders in the region at this point, coming up on his seventh year in power.
You make an excellent point. I think each of the domestic audiences that these leaders have to satisfy have different needs to satisfy. In the case of Japan, it's likely economic.
I do know that Prime Minister Abe is very interested in salvaging the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership which Trump, like a number of other agreements and international efforts has at least rhetorically said he'll away from. That's likely to be also fairly high on the agenda when he visits Japan.
VAUSE: You know, in addition to this nuclear threat. There's a report from the Harvard Kennedy School looking at North Korea's biological weapons program. I know that Pyongyang is assumed to have pathogens like the plague, anthrax, botulism, cholera, small pox, typhoid fever, yellow fever, staph, typhus fever. You know, this list just goes on and on and on.
And here's the conclusion. "Threat's posed by North Korea's biological weapons program must be considered a realistic proposition and addressed by the international community. It should not be comforted by the scarcity of information on the program. It should instead redouble efforts to better understand the threat and prepare to respond to it."
I couldn't work out whether this is sort of, you know, the beating of the drums similar to what we heard in the months leading up to the Iraq war or this is just another reason why a diplomatic solution is the only real option.
CARROLL: Well, first of all, I have a lot of respect for the Bell (ph) Center at Harvard University. This is one of the topnotch analytical shops around when it comes to international security and particularly weapons of mass destruction programs.
I am curious about the timing of this. I mean we have known, or the international community has known or assumed for some time that North Korea has biological weapons. That's not really news.
What it adds to the mix at this point, from my perspective, is a very sobering reminder of the implications of what a military conflict would look like. So if you're not already concerned about the massive artillery shells aimed at Seoul, if you're not already nuclear warheads raining somewhere in the region or perhaps as far as Guam and the Pacific, here's another thing to consider.
Biological weapons are not militarily effective. But can you imagine if downtown Seoul or all our troops in the region were suddenly exposed to these kinds of pathogens. It would be frightening. And so it is something to be taken seriously.
I'm not completely sure what the conclusion is attempting to do in laying out a prescription for a response. I would add it to the list of things you want to avoid and therefore you want to avoid a war.
VAUSE: Avoid it like the plague -- pardon the pun but --
VAUSE: -- something else on that horrendous list.
Paul -- thank you.
CARROLL: My pleasure. Thanks -- John.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, the former Fox News host, Bill O'Reilly, he's playing the victim after a new report claims he's settled a sexual harassment suit for millions of dollars and was then resigned by the network.
Plus more and more women are done staying silent on issues they care about. They came out in droves for the Women's March in Washington, have now shared #MeToo thousands of times -- why 2017 is shaping up to be the year women hit back.
[00:28:44] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE (voice-over): Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. The headlines this hour:
VAUSE: The Harvey Weinstein scandal has sparked a movement in Hollywood and beyond. It's been two weeks since "The New York Times" published an investigation into the movie producer's alleged predatory behavior and more than 40 women have come forward with accusations ranging from sexual harassment to assault.
Weinstein denies having nonconsensual sex with anyone but now another Hollywood filmmaker, director James Toback, is being accused of similar allegations. The "Los Angeles Times" interviewed multiple women who say the "Bugsy" screenwriter sexually harassed them. Toback denies the claims and CNN has not been able to independently verify them.
And all the scandal is also back in the headlines, former FOX News host Bill O'Reilly reportedly settled a sexual harassment claim for $32 million just a month before FOX renewed his contract. The company fired him back in April in the wake of numerous additional allegations.
O'Reilly says this new claim is an attempt to smear him so he can't find a job anywhere else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: It is very frustrating for me -- you can imagine me sitting here being accused of everything under the sun and the end game is let's link O'Reilly with Harvey Weinstein. Let's make him that. That is what we want to do.
So we take him out of the marketplace forever, he never gets to give his opinion on issues again, we take him out because we hate him. And "The New York Times" obviously hates me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Joining me now here is sociologist Anna Akbari. She is the author of "Start Up Your Life: Hustle and Hack Your Way to Happiness."
OK. Anna, it's been a while. Good to see you.
ANNA AKBARI, AUTHOR: Good to see you, too. VAUSE: OK. So let's just start with the big picture. If this is the year that woman push back, it did seem to play out in real time on U.S. television on Monday. So the background here is this claim by former news anchor, Bill O'Reilly, that no one ever filed a complaint against him whilst he was at FOX. No one had called the sexual harassment hotline and that (INAUDIBLE) response from his former colleague, Megyn Kelly, who is now with NBC. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, NBC: O'Reilly's suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior is false. I know because I complained. This is not unique to FOX News. Women everywhere are used to being dismissed, ignored or attacked when raising complaints about men in authority positions.
They stay silent so often out of fear, fear of ending their careers, fear of lawyers, yes, and often fear of public shaming, including through the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So (INAUDIBLE) went on to publish that e-mail that she sent to her bosses at FOX about O'Reilly, warning them about O'Reilly.
Is this something we wouldn't have seen, that women have happened not so long ago maybe just a few years ago?
AKBARI: I think that's --
AKBARI: -- accurate but I think this particular case is complex in a different way, in part because you have Megyn Kelly and even Gretchen Carlson, who, we could argue, were largely complicit in creating a culture of misogyny, in which women were questioned in general if they came forward and claimed sexual harassment and this idea that is that really a saying.
VAUSE: But that's how they were.
VAUSE: And now they've got this change, right.
AKBARI: There has been that change but -- and that doesn't mean that they didn't experience that. It doesn't let Bill O'Reilly off the hook but it does say that women can be complicit in helping to encourage that culture.
VAUSE: OK, this is the year that started with the Women's March in D.C., continued on more recently with the #MeToo on Twitter, which encourages women to speak out, share their stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
And this does seem to be kind of the flip side of what happened last June, right?
VAUSE: Sort of mirror image, why did 2016 lead to what we're seeing now, is it a direct result?
AKBARI: Well, I think there is a lot bubbling and building. 2016 was a huge blow for a lot of women, not only did we fail to elect the first woman president but we elected a man who openly bragged about groping women.
So that was a real one-two punch. And so I don't think it was any surprise that immediately after that we saw the women's march and now #MeToo movement, the last attempt to sort of take back the power.
But I really do link that back to the election of Donald Trump. I think that was the watershed moment.
VAUSE: But you also say there is this sort of what we're seeing now as part of a 50-year cycle, sort of key moments in the fight for women's rights?
AKBARI: Yes, it's interesting; history often is very clarifying at moments like this and this "woman problem" that we seem to be having is not something that is new to us. This is something that goes back to the very beginning of our country, when our founding fathers weren't even thinking about a place for women to vote or to have equality or own property.
So if we go back to the mid-19th century, around 1868, with the Women's Suffrage Convention, and we had Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her writings and really speaking out and giving some powerful speeches, that's a punctuated moment.
Then we have 50 years after that. We have 1920 and women gaining the right to vote. And then if you fast forward another 50 years, we have 190 and the Women's March for Equality in New York City. Also sort of the culmination of everything that had been happening in the 1960s.
And now, again, we have 2017 and it makes a lot of sense that that would come after what happened in 2016.
VAUSE: OK and what we're seeing in 2017, it's now safe for celebrities to speak out and (INAUDIBLE) safety in numbers, if you like, and they can talk about Harvey Weinstein and what he did or did not do; Matt Damon, George Clooney, (INAUDIBLE) breakfast television on Monday, they're among those who say they knew Weinstein was a bad guy. They just didn't know that he was like a really, really, really bad guy, allegedly.
But then George Clooney added this. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: Harvey wouldn't talk to me about women that he'd had affairs with. I didn't necessarily believe him, quite honestly, because to believe him would be to believe kind of the worst of some actresses who were friends of mine.
And I don't -- and I didn't really think that they were going to have affairs with Harvey, quite honestly, and clearly they didn't. But the idea that this predator, this assaulter was out there, silencing women like that, it's beyond infuriating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: He didn't believe him because he didn't want to believe the worst of the actresses who were his friends, that they would actually have this affair?
VAUSE: It almost seemed like victim blaming.
AKBARI: Yes. That has pretty much been the way it's operated and one of the conversations I had repeatedly after the election was with these self-proclaimed liberal, progressive men.
And anytime I suggested that perhaps sexism was part of why the outcome happened the way that it did, they pushed that aside. And so it's not surprising to me that we hear comments like that.
However, I think something like the #MeToo trend is really helping a lot of even progressive and liberal men to see how widespread it is and how many women in their lives have been affected by this. It's not just the stuff of Hollywood or (INAUDIBLE) media.
It's the stuff of our daughters and wives and best friends and the women that are so important to us. So I think once there is a real human, personal side to that, people start to pay a lot more attention.
VAUSE: Anna, it's a big topic and it's not going anywhere. Good to see you. Thanks so much.
AKBARI: Thank you.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. You're watching CNN. A lot more news after this.
VAUSE: Later this week, President Donald Trump is expected to declare the opioid epidemic in the U.S. a national emergency. It means, among other things, a boost in funding and new policy initiatives.
For New Hampshire, with the highest overdose death rate from synthetic opioids in the country, firefighters there are on the front lines, answering calls for help which have nothing to do with fires. Here's Chris Cuomo.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New Hampshire has seen a huge spike in opioid overdose deaths.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
CUOMO (voice-over): Five hundred people a year in this small state, addiction is becoming the new normal. These days, the Manchester Fire Department responds to more overdoses than fires.
Just walking down the street, you're liable to see an overdose, this one right in front of a children's karate's studio in Manchester. Fire department soon arrives to administer Narcan, a drug that brings a seemingly dead man back to life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). It wasn't like you were, you know, you were (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) Narcan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the time has come. (INAUDIBLE) --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
CUOMO (voice-over): Saving this life is the easier part of the problem. Getting the man to save his own life, that's the real challenge. Chris Hickey is the Manchester Fire Department's head (INAUDIBLE).
CHRIS HICKEY, MANCHESTER FIRE DEPARTMENT: So he got a total of 9 mg before he woke up. So the most we can give is 10. So yes, 9 is a lot of -- and he'll live. He might have some brain issues because of the lack of oxygen for how long that he went. But he'll live.
This is what we carry on every piece.
CUOMO (voice-over): That man very well could have died without those 9 mg of Narcan. That is the brand name for the drug naloxone, which literally brings overdose victims back from death's doorstep.
HICKEY: You put it one nostril, block it; you give half the fluid that's in here and you switch over to the other nostril and squeeze it and give the rest of it. It's the quickest and closest route right to the brain.
CUOMO: What does it mean to you that you'll find someone who, even though they know, they just popped up and looked into your eyes and you saved their life, that they should be dead, they still use?
HICKEY: I think if you asked me or anyone of the guys here on the job that same question two years ago, we'd have been pretty upset. But what we know now about the problem and how it truly is a disorder, and it's not something they can control, like once opioids get their hooks into someone, it's very, very hard to get those hooks back out.
VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. Stay tuned now; "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.