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Trump and Putin Chat on Phone, Praise Each Other; Shocking New Reports about Rohingya Crisis. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired December 15, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:11] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour, a big Russian bear hug -- Vladimir Putin credits Donald Trump for fairly serious achievements.

A stomach-churning report on the Rohingya crisis -- thousands of Muslims in Myanmar dead from violence and disease.

And Disney makes a big move to outfox the competition but will U.S. regulators approve the media mega merger?

Hello and welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Isha Sesay. Newsroom L.A. starts right now.

Call them political BFFs -- President Donald Trump gave a shout-out to his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, hours after Putin praised him. The White House says Mr. Trump made a call to the Russian president to thank him for his positive comments on America's economic performance. Mr. Putin's words of support came during a marathon end of year news conference.

Our Brian Todd has all the details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: By Vladimir Putin's standards this was a brief new conference. Speaking for more than three and a half hours the Russian president didn't spare any degree of flattery for his controversial American counterpart.

Putin said President Trump has been working under constraints and limitations. But so far, so good.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Objectively, we can see a number of fairly serious achievements over the short period he's been at work. Look at the markets for example.

TODD: What's Putin's calculation for complimenting President Trump?

DAN HOFFMAN, FORMER CIA STATION CHIEF: Vladimir Putin wants to be in a position where he's grading the administration that elevates his status certainly in front of his own people, as if he's assessing the Trump administration.

He also wants to drive a wedge between the administration and the Congress. He's acutely aware that it was the Congress that pushed the sanctions over the summer.

TODD: Putin also brushed off the investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The former KGB colonel calling it espionage mania.

PUTIN: This is all dreamed up by people who are in opposition to Trump to make sure that everyone thinks that what he's doing and working at is illegitimate. It's just wearying (ph). It's madness.

HEATHER CONLEY, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: It also feeds into, I think, President Trump's concern about the intelligence community, the so-called deep state. President Putin acknowledged that this was something that was created to divide. So it just strengthens President Trump's views on this investigation.

TODD: Putin's own reelection next year is a foregone conclusion. Still this authoritarian leader had the nerve to say he wants a quote, "balanced political system" with competition. He was asked why there's no effective opposition running against him.

PUTIN: When you're talking about opposition it's not a matter of just demonstrating in the streets. What you have to do is propose something to make things better.

TODD: This, from the man whose opposition has an extraordinary habit of meeting up with violence. Alexei Navalny, the most vocal opponent of Putin's who's still alive has been arrested on corruption charges he says are concocted by Putin. Navalny's been jailed and prohibited from running for office. Prominent Putin opponents like Boris Nemtzov and Vladimir Kara-Murza have wound up dead or poisoned to the brink of death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People that threaten the stability and the longevity of that regime suffer consequences, fatal consequences or they are bankrupted, they are, you know, forced into exile.

TODD: After he wins re-election next year, analysts say Vladimir Putin may try to inject some fresh blood into his circle. He may replace some members of his team. He may even install a new prime minister to try to make Russians think he's actually undergoing reforms.

But at the core, they say, this will be the same Vladimir Putin who won't willingly give up power any time soon.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


SESAY: So much to talk about.

Dave Jacobson is a CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist; Joe Messina is a political radio host and conservative commentator. Gentlemen -- welcome.

To start with you -- Dave. So we hear the president of Russia, speaking in much the same tone and terms as President Trump when it comes to the suspicions of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

Just to remind our viewers what Putin said when it was brought up. He said this was all dreamed up by people who are in opposition to Trump so as to make sure that what he's doing -- that what he's doing, what he's working at is illegitimate.

What did you make of that? The two presidents on the same page -- surprising?


[00:05:02] And also if you look at the other talking points that Putin put forward he was talking about how the American economy is booming. It's almost as if he was sharing talking points with the Trump White House.

But you know what, when I was listening to his remarks earlier today, I thought back to November 11th. That was when Trump and Putin last saw each other and that's when Axios reported on Air Force One Trump went up to a gaggle of reporters and said look, I looked Putin in the face and he told me they didn't meddle in the election. I believe him.

And so the report obviously indicated that Trump has sided with Putin over the multiple U.S. intelligence agencies that have said Russia did hack and did meddle in our election.

And it's just mind-blowing that he's siding with an adversary of the United States over the United States government.

SESAY: Joe -- I want to give you a chance to respond.

JOE MESSINA, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, I think this is interesting that because two presidents agree with each other or they're complimenting each other, this is some kind of conspiracy. I mean how many presidents, how many prime ministers agree with each other and like what the other one's doing. We don't make comment on that.

As far as what's going on in Russia with the President, have you read "The Art of the Deal"? Do you know what the President is trying to do? Do you know what it is? When you're pumping up somebody else, you're trying to pull them into your corner. You're trying to pull them into your ring.

JACOBSON: Well, let's not forget, this is the guy that John McCain called a thug and a murderer. This guy is a known adversary of the United States. At a time when Donald Trump is alienating our allies like folks like the leader of the United Kingdom who we're supposed to have a special relationship with, he's fanning the flames and creating discord with us and our allies.

MESSINA: Well, they don't like what he's saying. That doesn't mean that he's creating discord with our allies. That means --


SESAY: Let me read some of the "Washington Post" piece published on Thursday in which it's saying that multiple sources are painting a picture of a president, President Trump that is, who is as Dave has referenced, unwilling to see any truth in the intelligence community's assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. And that's so much so that it is having a real world implication.

Let me read this for you as we put it up on the screen for our viewers at home. "U.S. officials declined to discuss whether the stream of recent intelligence on Russia has been shared with Trump. Current and former officials said that his daily intelligence update known as the President's Daily Brief or PDB is often structured to avoid upsetting him.

Russia-related intelligence that might draw Trump's ire is in some cases included only in the written assessment and not raised orally, said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter."

I mean on the face of it -- I mean this is coming from the "Washington Post" but that is remarkable.

JACOBSON: It's extraordinary. And not only that the story also says that there hasn't been a cabinet level meeting within the Trump White House to talk about Russian meddling. That's incredible.

I mean think about the discourse that we have in this country on a daily basis, your average American citizen, people at their kitchen tables talk about Russian meddling on a daily basis because it's part of the news cycle. It's part of this massive expanse of investigation with the Mueller investigation, congressional hearings and investigations. And yet Donald Trump and the Trump White House haven't held a high level cabinet meeting on the issue.

SESAY: Joe, I mean does it strike you as odd?

I mean to hear it said, according to the "Washington Post", that the President's intelligence briefings are being altered so as not to annoy him, upset him therefore information regarding Russia may or may not be included. Is that troubling to you?

MESSINA: I think this is just -- you know, it's really funny to say this but the last administration probably changing those reports when it went out to the public. They're ok in private getting what was really going on around the world. But they change some of those reports going out when they went out to the general populace.

As far as, you know, Trump -- I have a hard time believing that they don't want to get him upset. I think they get him upset on a regular basis. I don't think he just sits there calmly all day long --

SESAY: I think you're probably right on that point.

MESSINA: -- ok. But most successful people, most people that work in the positions he is and have the pressure on him that he has, you think they don't get upset on a regular basis? You don't think my bosses and other bosses don't get upset on a regular basis?

SESAY: That's something different. They're saying they're making analytical decisions to exclude information for fear of how the President would react to information that may have national security implications when they talk about Russia.

MESSINA: I find that hard to believe. I really find that hard to believe that they're not giving him everything that they're supposed to be giving him. They may not present it the way some people would like them to present it.

But again, you can go back to different administrations. They all have the way they want to see this, how often they want to see it. I believe that President Obama did not want it read to him. He was going to read it on his own, on his electronic device.

SESAY: That does not suggest that information was excluded --

MESSINA: No, it doesn't but everybody gets it they way they want it --

SESAY: That is a fair point.

MESSINA: -- and in the form they'd like.

SESAY: That is a fair point.

I want to move on and talk about taxes.

There's a rush on Capitol Hill to get the President's tax plan through and signed before Christmas, most specifically before Doug Jones gets there and wrecks the party, I think is the fear.

Joe Messina -- you're watching all of this. It's clear that they are rushing. It's clear that they're trying to get something done. Is this a move you are in favor of?

[00:10:03] MESSINA: I think if they work it through properly, yes. I don't have a problem with the time frame because we've seen plenty of things rushed through over the years, get them in before Christmas because we want to give the American people -- and we've heard this before -- a Christmas gift.

Whether you've read it or not they still want to give you a Christmas gift. So as far as it being rushed -- I think they're working pretty hard. I don't think this is something they've been working on for the last six weeks -- right. I mean they've been working on this for quite some time now.

SESAY: Dave -- how do you read this? I mean Democrats are making a last-ditch move to -- I don't know if appeal is the right word -- but calling on Republicans to slow this down, to hit pause, to allow Doug Jones to join the conversation in January just as President Obama did in the case of Scott Brown of Massachusetts in 2010. What was your assessment of their chances of success?

JACOBSON: It's unclear. Look, the fact of the matter is this is a double-edged sword for Republicans. It's got 29 percent approval, according to Quinnipiac, that's a lower approval rating than President Trump who's hovering around 33 percent according to Gallup.

SESAY: -- 32 percent.

JACOBSON: Right. So if they pass this bill that's extraordinarily unpopular, Democrats are going to hang this around their neck come mid-terms.

On the flip side they haven't got anything tangible passed through the Congress. So they want to probably campaign on some sort of deliverable.

And so I see their argument. The challenge that they have is they've lost the message war. The message now and the branding around this bill is this a massive hand out to the wealthiest Americans and big Wall Street corporations at a time that it raises taxes on millions of hard working families across the country from California, to New York, to New Jersey.

And so I think either way you look at it, it's a lose-lose scenario for the Republicans.

When it comes to the math and the votes you've got Senator Marco Rubio today who came out who's kind of a wobbler who said look, I want child tax credits. And then you've got Senator Lee, of course, who's close allies of Rubio --

SESAY: Mike Lee -- yes.

JACOBSON: -- who has also said that he's sort of sitting on the sidelines. John McCain is in Walter Reed, he might not be available to vote. Thad Cochran from Mississippi --


JACOBSON: -- he's also out on health leave.

So I think there's several challenges. Susan Collins earlier this week, or I think on Sunday had said, you know, that she hasn't made a final decision about this. So it's not clear that they have the votes as of today.

SESAY: Ok. Joe -- before you respond, I just want to put up Marco Rubio's objections which he summed up in two tweets. Let's put it up so we can -- we can share with our viewers. I mean he's very clear on his position.

He says, "Tax negotiators didn't have much trouble finding a way to lower the top tax brackets and to start the corporate tax cut a year early." Put up the second one. He goes on and says "Adding at least a few hundred dollars in refundable cuts for working families who seem to always be forgotten isn't hard to do either."

Joe -- has he got a point?

MESSINA: Yes. He has a point. But let me go back to what you said a little while ago. To say that only -- it only takes care of the businesses is not a true statement. You've got middle class Americans are going to be getting bigger tax cuts. You've got --

SESAY: You've got sunset clauses which will expire --

MESSINA: Right. The tax cuts will expire --

SESAY: -- on the middle class but for the corporations and rich people they will last forever.


MESSINA: Ok. But this is something we can go back to and deal with as we've done with plenty of things. We were supposed to go back and fix the ACA. Did we really do that and take care of it.

I think it's the same thing with the tax cuts. You need to start somewhere. I love the argument where we pull at the heartstrings and say look, we're taking -- we're taking money away from, you know, the lower socioeconomic rung. We're taking money away from the middle class.

When do we start dealing -- really honestly dealing with the tax problem we have in this country? We have -- now, I realize that some people have paid into the system -- but when you have 52 percent or 53 percent of the people in this country taking checks from the government, you can't sustain that. It's impossible.

JACOBSON: Go ahead.

SESAY: Go ahead.

JACOBSON: The reality is the economy is booming. But at the same time, we have massive income inequality. The rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. This does nothing to raise wages, to lift up all boats at a time when it cuts corporate tax rates for millionaires and billionaires and Wall Street fat cats and gives them permanent tax cuts. And then it creates a sunset for Americans and raises taxes for people in our state like in California where millions of people --


JACOBSON: -- are going to have their state and local taxes that are not going to be deducted.

MESSINA: California's hurtful (ph).

JACOBSON: That's Republicans and Congress's fault.

MESSINA: Listen, the 1 percent that got rich under President Obama nobody was screaming about that. You know, as far as -- no, we vote these people in California that raised our taxes and now they want to raise our taxes on mileage. So they got their money at the gas pump and now they go, we still don't have enough money. Let's go ahead and tax them on the mileage -- Democratic state.

SESAY: I'll tell what we're going to do. We're going to keep this conversation going. But for now, gentlemen -- thank you, very much appreciate it. >

JACOBSON: Thank you.

SESAY: All right. Well, President Trump is literally cutting red tape as he talks about his progress so far getting grid of what he considers to be unnecessary government regulations.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So this is what we have now. This is where we were in 1960. And when we're finished, which won't be in too long a period of time, we will be less than where we were in 1960 and we will have a great regulatory climate.


[00:15:02] SESAY: Well, Mr. Trump promises to take that stack down even further. The White House says, in all, agencies have issued 67 deregulatory actions, while imposing only three new regulatory actions.

Well, net neutrality could be done for in the United States. The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to repeal the protection. Yet again these are Obama-era regulations being undone by a Trump appointee, new FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

The decision rejects (ph) widespread protests from consumers, lawmaker and tech funds (ph). They say service providers now wield too much power over the online landscape.

Our Laurie Segall explains how the Internet is changing.



Well, the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission voting Thursday to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protection. So here is what's going to change.

Net neutrality meant every site and every app was created equally with access to the same speed and traffic as everyone else. So repealing those rules means creating a fast lane.

Think of it almost as a highway. We're all going the same speed. Now there's a fast lane. And it will allow companies to charge more money to get faster streaming video.

The FCC also eliminated a rule barring providers from prioritizing their own content.

So why the change? The FCC chairman criticized the rules last month saying it was essentially the government micromanaging the Internet. He said it was a drag on broadband investment and innovation. And it's also part of a broader regulation rollback by the Trump administration to boost business and increase hiring.

Now, tech companies say that this move gives the Internet providers too much control over what we see online and how that content is delivered. And it will also make it harder for new companies to compete when they have to pay to be in the fast lane.

There have been protests outside the FCC meeting and, you know, sites like Twitter, Reddit, Kickstart are posting messages this week in support of the rules and you can and others have protested and you can bet that we'll likely see a lot of legal fallout as well.

Back to you.


SESAY: Thanks to Laurie Segall for that. >

Coming up -- the U.S. has long accused Iran of supplying missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen. Now, it says it has proof.

Plus shocking new details about violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. We'll hear from an aid worker who has worked with Rohingya refugees, just ahead. >


SESAY: The United States says it has proof Iran is supplying missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley made that claim on Thursday while standing for debrief (ph). She said the missile fired from Yemen into Saudi Arabia. She called it concrete evidence Tehran poses a threat to global security.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: This evidence is part of what has led the U.S. intelligence community to conclude unequivocally that these weapons were supplied by the Iranian regime. The evidence is undeniable. The weapons might as well have had "made in Iran" stickers all over it.


[00:20:07] SESAY: Well, Iran's foreign minister scoffed in a tweet, "I saw the show and what it began (ph)". He was referring to then U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell's faulty claim back in 2003 that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction which helped set the stage for the Iraq war. Well, thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed in the first month of a military crackdown in Myanmar, not hundreds as the government claims. That's according to a new report from Medecins Sans Frontier, also known as Doctors without Border.

The aide agency is investigating the eruption of violence against the Rohingya and its aftermath. The group says at least 6,700 people were killed in attacks starting in late August. And that is a conservative estimate.

More than 700 of the victims were children under the age of five. Even more people died from disease and malnutrition.

Well, for more we're joined by Aerlyn Pfeil. She's a midwife and board member of MSF in the U.S. She recently returned from working with Rohingya refuges, many of whom have been impacted by sexual and gender-based violence.

Aerlyn -- thank you so much for joining us. For the benefit of our viewers, can you give us some insight in to how MSF arrived at that estimate of thousands of Rohingyas died in the aftermath of this crackdown?

AERLYN PFEIL, BOARD MEMBER, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Yes. So we did a study in various parts of the refugee camp in Bangladesh that was asking heads of households how people in their family passed away during a specific period of time. So from the 25th of August until the 24th of September.

SESAY: Ok. And then I'd imagine that you -- from that you extrapolated those numbers, is that how you did it? Weighted them, had a model and came up with that final figure?

PFEIL: Yes. Essentially just asking families how they had lost loved ones and came to the conclusion that this low estimate of 6,700 people died as causes of violence in Myanmar including what you mentioned -- the 700 plus children.

SESAY: OK. Now, as I mentioned, you were just in Bangladesh working with refugees. I've interviewed many, many people. CNN has covered this story extensively and we've heard the horrific stories of what many had endured, many of the women and the girls.

I am wondering from your experiences what you came away with, some of the stories people shared with you.

PFEIL: Yes. So I was in Bangladesh setting up services for survivors of sexual violence. The majority of my patients were assaulted in Myanmar.

And the stories are consistent with the report. So many women subjected to pretty gruesome types and levels of violence including about one-third of the patients were under the age of 18. And along with those stories consistent with our mortality report showing that families that were coming in for the services that we were offering for survivors of sexual violence also had stories of assault on their families.

SESAY: Yes. I mean from the work you've been doing and from spending time with these survivor, what's your assessment of how they're coping after everything they've endured and now they find themselves in Bangladesh living in truly awful conditions?

PFEIL: You know, the conditions are really terrible. There is not enough water. The sanitation is pretty low level. People are living in makeshift shelters of bamboo sticks and plastic sheeting.

That's a really big concern actually for the women that are coming in for post rape treatment is how they're going to feed themselves and their children, how they're going to put shelter over their heads.

SESAY: When you speak to them, Aerlyn, what did they say to you and the survivors of this awful violence? What did they say to you about their wants and their needs?

PFEIL: A lot of the wants and needs are specifically about, you know, survival. They're about having food and having shelter and having education and healthcare for their children. But there's also a big request to have their stories be told and to be given a voice to the world that, you know, that the bubble of violence is going on and that they would like some sort of justice.

SESAY: I want to pick up on that. Do they feel abandoned? Because I know having spoken to many of your colleagues from different aid organizations that, you know, people feel, and I think rightly so, that the world hasn't done enough to end this violence.

[00:25:06] I'm wondering how the Rohingya themselves feel? Do they feel abandoned by the international community? Did they touch on that in conversations with you?

PFEIL: No one specifically said that they felt abandoned but most everyone that I spoke to, both in the clinic and in the camp were telling their story for the first time. And did mention that they felt like nobody knew what was going on in Myanmar, what was going on for them, and had no access to telling their stories themselves.

So there was a big plea for sharing what their experiences had been and what they hoped for the future.

SESAY: So -- we're almost out of time but can you tell me what MSF, what Medecins sans Frontieres is doing for them, doing for all these people -- how they're helping them in their hour of need?

PFEIL: Yes. I mean the needs are much bigger than we alone can provide. We've had a massive measles outbreak. We're in the middle of a diphtheria outbreak. The survivors of sexual violence are increasing in numbers as women know what the information is and they're coming forward.

So the needs are really huge. There's a need to dig wells and set up latrines. I mean we're really talking about a muddy, dirty living condition. And, you know, it must have been completely horrible and terrifying and nightmarish to leave Myanmar if this is the hope that they're arriving at, are these conditions in the camps.

SESAY: Yes. And certainly the nightmare goes on.

Aerlyn Pfeil joining us there Portland, Oregon -- we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

PFEIL: Yes. Thank you for your time.

SESAY: Thanks.

We'll now take a quick break here.

Coming up, the House of Mouse hopes to outfox the competition. How the game changing deal promises to reshape the media landscape -- all of that, just ahead. >


SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

[00:30:00] I'm Isha Sesay.


SESAY: Now to the mega merger that could reshape the media landscape. Disney is moving to buy a huge chunk of 21st Century Fox for more than $52 billion.

The entertainment giant will acquire major TV shows and blockbuster movie franchises including "The Simpsons," "Modern Family," "X-Men" and "Avatar." With Disney launching its own streaming services, the new content will help it compete against Netflix and Amazon. CNN's Anna Stewart breaks it all down for us.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "The Simpsons" predicted it 19 years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it grows to a powerful emotional climax.

STEWART (voice-over): Much of Fox, including "The Simpsons," will soon be owned by Disney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's pretty clear today that consumers want access to entertainment, one that is high quality, but, two, they want access pretty much anywhere, anytime, anyhow.

STEWART (voice-over): Fresh from the "Star Wars" red carpet, Disney CEO Bob Iger will soon have many more movie premieres to attend. Disney already owns huge movie franchises, "Star Wars," "The Avengers" and "Frozen;" now with the Fox acquisition, it will add "X-Men," "Planet of the Apes" and "Ice Age" under its fold.

Then there's the pay TV groups, Sky, Star TV, a stake in Hulu and a load of cable TV channels, giving it a massive global footprint and more content for the streaming services it plans to launch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to remember that there will only be a handful of global brands in the streaming space. We know that one of them is Netflix, the other is called HBO. One of them is called Amazon Video and the fourth will be called Disney.

So Fox itself is just too small to even contemplate using its brand outside the U.S.

STEWART (voice-over): Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch's Fox empire will be slimmed right down to FOX News, FOX Sports and its broadcasting network. It's a big about-face for this media titan. He spent the last 30 years building up his empire, know he's selling most of it off.

Another mega merger in a space struggling to compete with digital rivals like Netflix and Amazon.

Disney has given some detail on this shopping spree but some big questions remain, will this help Fox's continued battle with British regulators to take over Sky?

What will happen to James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's son, and the CEO of Fox? Will he have a place in the new entity?

And finally, will this deal pass through the beady eyes of the U.S. regulators. The ATT-TimeWarner deal already ran into huge difficulties with the DOJ and this, a horizontal merger, is likely to raise even more antitrust concerns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There will be solutions that involve a depreciation, a sale of some of the assets.

STEWART (voice-over): If all goes to plan, Disney will soon be at the steering wheel of an even larger movie-TV streaming giant -- Anna Stewart, CNNMoney, London.


SESAY: Joining me now to discuss this mega merger is global business executive Ryan Patel.

Ryan, good to see you. This is a remarkable deal. And I know that some people are going to be at home, saying, how on Earth do such deals happen?

Let's hear from one of the parties involved, Rupert Murdoch. Let's see how he sums it up.


RUPERT MURDOCH: This started with Bob Iger, a friend of mine, sitting at (INAUDIBLE) one evening, having a couple of glasses and just talking about our businesses and the industry generally and the forces of disruption that were happening. That was all. Then he rang me back a week later, said, look, let's -- this

conversation a bit more. And a several -- this was only two months ago.


SESAY: As you do, sitting in a winery, discussing how to disrupt the entire media landscape.

Ryan, what do you make of this deal?

The implications here are huge. Let's talk about the industry as it stands now, what it means to have these two join forces?

RYAN PATEL, GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: First off, it's a game changer. Secondly, you heard the conversation, the key word was disruption. So I think that's what started this conversation --


PATEL: -- to keep going forward.

They came together and said, well, I have a problem here, Fox saying I can't keep going higher. Disney wanted to get into the streaming business.

Let me rephrase it: they needed to get into the streaming business and they needed to make a splash. And this deal is really around Hulu. For them to get the majority stakeholder to make decisions, it was a big deal and why they did this deal. They had a piece and Fox had a piece. But this was a big deal.

SESAY: With getting into the streaming space, Disney, that is, and really upping the stake in Hulu, what does that mean for Netflix?

Netflix is so far ahead in the game right now, we see its yielding awards come awards time.

Is this a deal that they would be afraid of?

PATEL: I think when Disney says we want to get straight to the consumers and cut the middleman out. I think when Netflix sees deal, OK, they're really attacking us, how will you have the different verticals attacking them?

Disney, this deal added multiple verticals, not just I'm coming off streaming, I think if I'm Netflix right now, I will try to go fast and continue to do what they're doing well, put high quality production, good shows, connecting with the consumers further.

I think that's what they need to do to create that loyalty that Disney has. There's a little bit of disruption that's going to happen like in anything. Obviously with Amazon right behind it, it's going to be all about content.

SESAY: This is going to be all around content. As you keep saying, it's huge and massive and the reverberations will be felt everywhere.

Is this going to pass the antitrust inspection?

When you look at these two behemoths joining, is this actually good for the consumer?

PATEL: I think there's two parts to that. One, it's more of a horizontal place where Disney is missing some holes. So, yes, they will be able to add value to themselves and Fox does still have a percentage of the shares they are selling.

Then the consumer, at the end of the day, I think it will. The economies of scale, they will say Disney is going to save $2 billion and obviously that's code of something else --


PATEL: -- of how they're going to get there.

SESAY: I was going to say, some people are not happy apparently in L.A., people worried at Fox about lost jobs.

PATEL: And I think the other piece of this, this is an international play. What's not being said, a lot is the Sky News deal that got automatically at 39 percent in the deal. Now with Disney stepping in, the deal could pass in the U.K. that the Murdochs are not involved anymore.

And Star in India is a big deal potentially for the future, because you have the cricket and the local news programs and India being one of the hottest media markets as well. So those are not just throw- ins, they're actually with the streaming piece you've got these two big markets that could potentially push this deal a lot larger.

SESAY: It did seem, to go back to Rupert Murdoch, considering all that it's taken to build up the empire, he saying it isn't a retreat, it's a pivot. It still is remarkable you look at his career and see all he has done to see him hand over.

PATEL: He built this over a lifetime. This decision wasn't easy, it can't be, because he built to it that point. I think for them as a strategy they needed to get leaner and downsize. They really looked at it strategically, where can we compete?

Right now, they couldn't compete like the big four they were going to talk about. That's what's remarkable about what they're trying to do.

Still, I think they got almost 20, 25 percent of shares of Disney. They're making a bet this will go smoothly and obviously Disney has a big task to make this transition go this smoothly.

Bob Iger, the one that brokered the deal with Rupert Murdoch, I think it's $100 million for him and he's now delayed retiring from Disney, there's a lot at stake.

PATEL: He's key in this. He's absolutely the reason why this deal got done and if they're going to be successful, which they have been under his leadership so far, it will be because of him.

SESAY: We'll be talking about the reverberations for a long time to come.

PATEL: Yes, we will.

SESAY: Ryan Patel, thank you.

PATEL: Thank you for having me.

SESAY: Quick break here. The Thomas Fire claims another life in California, this time one of the brave firefighters working to protect others. More on that fire just ahead.





SESAY: A firefighter was killed Thursday battling the Thomas Fire in Southern California. He was one of many responders trying to contain what is now the fourth largest wildfire in the state's history.

As of Thursday, it was at 35 percent containment with more than 100,000 hectares scorched and no end in sight.


SESAY: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT." You're watching CNN.