Return to Transcripts main page


White House Diversity Questions; Taxpayers Still Paying Omarosa; End of Net Neutrality; Disney Buying Most of Fox; Murdoch Dismisses Harassment Claims; Repeal of Individual Mandate. Aired 6:30- 7a ET

Aired December 15, 2017 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: She said we have a really diverse team at the White House.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. OK. Let's see some numbers.

CAMEROTA: But -- but not OK.

AVLON: No. I mean, no, if she's not ready for that question, let's find out at the press conference today.

CAMEROTA: Well, yes, we need some answers.

AVLON: But they know.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Then say, I don't know.


CUOMO: I'll get back to you about this.

AVLON: Correct.

CAMEROTA: Fair. But, optically, we don't see that, so they're hiding their very diverse team, if they have one.


I mean assume they're not hiding. Look -- look --

CAMEROTA: So then they don't --

AVLON: Compared to the Obama administration, clearly this administration, and more importantly the appointments, are not significantly diverse. You could point to Ben Carson at HUD but, you know.

And, actually, George W. Bush did a decent job of improving the diversity of his cabinet. Barack Obama's cabinet, obviously, incredibly diverse and his senior staff. Not true with this president. And, more importantly, of his senior appointments, you know, we looked at this, over 80 percent -- roughly 80 percent are men. So, you know, their gender diversity is a real issue at the outset too, let alone diversity when it comes to race and ethnicity. But let's see the actual numbers. My guess is it's nothing to crow about. Omarosa -- the folks on Omarosa, that's only one aspect of why she attracts a lot of -- a lot of attention and controversy.

CUOMO: Yes, but, also, look, it gets raised because she is supposedly a Trump loyalist.


CUOMO: And she left, you know, with obviously this very Trump-esque tantalizing tease about her story, you know, soon to hit shelves.


CUOMO: But she is saying there were things that upset me about how my community was being treated. Here it is.


OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, OUTGOING WHITE HOUSE AIDE: As the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.


CAMEROTA: Masterful tease. Masterful tease.

AVLON: That -- yes. I mean -- I mean that's what's called a book proposal.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's right.

AVLON: And that's what you do. Now, obviously, she's going to go write her book and she is framing it and teasing it in a way that she learned -- she learned from the best, the master hype man, the president himself (ph).

CUOMO: She says she's the only African-American female on the senior staff. So maybe there's a partial answer assuming she's right. There was the pun.

AVLON: Yes. I mean that certainly would seem to be the case. But let's actually see the numbers. Let's not take her to word.

I think the larger issue, of course, is, this is an extension of the problem of an administration that seems to be run on reality TV rules.

CAMEROTA: Another issue is that she's still somehow on the taxpayer dime.


CAMEROTA: She's still being paid, strangely, though she's left. So here's Jeff Zeleny asking about that.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: If she's resigned, but you said she will stay on -- Omarosa will stay on through January 20th, why are the taxpayers continuing to pay her salary for another month if she's not longer here at the White House.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As I just said, I'm not going to weigh in any further, as we often do, it is the practice. We're not going to get deeper into personnel matters.

ZELENY: Why is she still on the payroll for another month? Is that normal?

SANDERS: Look, there's a lot of different protocols that take place in the government. That's part of the process. If you want to reach out to HR, they might be able to walk you through that in a more detailed way.


CAMEROTA: These are the taxpayer dollars.


CAMEROTA: I mean I don't -- I don't understand her answer that we're -- I'm not going to get into that.

AVLON: Look, they are taxpayer dollars. There are a lot of taxpayer dollars that are routinely wasted. It sounds like there is a, you served in the administration one year criterial along the lines A.B. was describing around Rex Tillerson.

But, you know, this isn't a private business where that kind of face- saving can be done at the discretion of the CEO. And if the president, you know, likes to proclaim his personal wealth, you know, if the issue is salary, he could supplement that himself.

CUOMO: Right. Look, and I'm sure they'll find somebody in some area of government to justify her staying on. But it does go to Trump's process to be different, to be better, to clean up the swamp, not have this kind of excess. How does he explain this?


CUOMO: All right, so Obama era regulations that govern the Internet have been repealed. This is a very big deal. Who likes it? Internet service providers. Tech giants like Netflix and FaceBook, not so much. Why? We'll take you through it.


[06:38:14] CUOMO: Facts first. Net Neutrality. So, where did this start? 2015, President Obama's FCC at the time voted to classify Internet service providers as common carriers. What did that do? Well, under the law it required them to treat all content that they carried equally. No preferences. No sweetheart deals. No gimmicks to make you play more. But on Thursday, Donald Trump's handpicked head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, rolled back those protections.

So what does this mean to you? I means that Internet service providers will now be able to charge you different fees for different content, that they could slow down access to some content, they could block certain content, period.

Here's an example. Comcast owns the Internet service provider Xfinity, right? Comcast also owns 30 percent of Hulu. Hulu is a direct competitor of who? Netflix. So, thanks to what the FCC just did yesterday, Comcast could charge you more to access Netflix or serve it at a slower speed than it does Hulu. And while a big, establishment company like Netflix, it could probably handle that. They have such a big consumer base.

But what about the next Netflix? What about the little guy that wants to come up? They could just get squeezed out of existence. It could get blocked. They could get slowed down to the point where you're not going to use them.

And then it could get worse. Here's how. If an Internet service provider is owned by a company with a certain political agenda, you know what they could do now, they could slow down or block access to content that doesn't fit into that agenda. It would be perfectly legal.

Now, not everyone thinks that this rollback is the worst thing ever. There's an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" that points out if it goes through ISPs, the providers, will then be subject to FTC jurisdiction, which is just another agency. FCC. FTC. They're the Federal Trade Commission. Historically tough on anti-competitive practices, true.

[06:40:09] Pai says rolling back net neutrality just means the federal government will stop micromanaging the Internet. But that is not true. What it actually means is that big business will be allowed to micromanage it. And how is that going to be good for the consumer? Bear in mind, nothing is set in stone. The repeal doesn't take effect until next year. It could ultimately be stopped by the courts or by Congress.

All right, so there are the facts.

Wake up.

CAMEROTA: OK. So that was -- that was your broccoli serving.

Thank you, Chris, for explaining that in excellent detail.

So let's bring in our media experts to talk about it. We have Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," and CNN media analyst Bill Carter.

OK, so for the hot fudge, we'll just skip right to dessert right now. BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Sure.


CAMEROTA: So here's how the late night comics framed it.

CUOMO: That's helpful.


SETH MEYERS, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": The FCC today voted 3-2 along party lines to repeal Obama era net neutrality rules. And if you're not sure what that means, better Google it while you can.

TREVER NASH, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVER NASH": there's no evidence that this is going to break the Internet or whatever people are saying. So if you're watching this show right now online right now, I just want to remind you that -- that -- that -- big man (ph).

JIMMY KIMMEL, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Thank you, President Trump. Thanks to you and this jack hole you appointed to run the FCC, big corporations are about to take full control of the Internet. So, Merry Christmas, everybody.


CAMEROTA: So, Brian, I mean this is going to change the experience that people -- everybody has had with the Internet.

STELTER: And now this goes back to the courts. It goes back to the arguments that have been made for years about how to keep the open, free and open and regulate it with a light touch. I think we're going to beginning to see this back and forth, whether it's a Republican in office or a Democrat.

But what I'm really struck by this year is, this is now a political issue. You can now see a mobilization, especially among liberals who were afraid of what happened yesterday. Some of those late night comics who were referring to that. We are now seeing this as a political issue. And I think in 2020, and in future elections, net neutrality, the future of the Internet, is actually going to be an election issue.

CUOMO: Oh, it becomes a First Amendment. It becomes an access argument to content.


CUOMO: Now, it's interesting. What the argument is on the other side is, the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission --

CARTER: Trade Commission.

CUOMO: Is better at chasing after anti-competitive practices than the FCC. And all this stuff that we're saying would be the concern is going to be seen as anti-competitive and therefore not allowed. CARTER: Yes.

CUOMO: But it does still put the onus on catching this being done.

CARTER: That's right.


CARTER: Exactly. Because if it goes into effect, they have to then chase it down. Now there's a rule you can't do it and --

CUOMO: There's a presumption.

CARTER: Exactly. It reminds -- what I'm thinking of is, if you think of the way you have to fly now, you have to pay for everything. You have to pay for your pillow, for your blanket, for everything. It seems like they want to be able to let the companies do what they want and charge different things for different people and have tiered service if they want. Pai is basically saying, they won't do that. But, I mean, deregulation almost always brings about a big change like this.

CUOMO: He says that you're stifling innovation right now. That because the providers don't know what you'll allow and what you won't allow and that nobody can really have an advantage in terms of speed, that they don't put money into that. And if you do it this way, there will be tons of new innovation.

STELTER: And I do buy into the argument that if the current telecoms, the current companies that sell us Internet start to slow things down, start to make it a lot more expensive, then there will be innovation from upstarts, not that Google's an upstart at this point. It's a giant company. But that Google and FaceBook and others will come in and provide other options.

CAMEROTA: Hey, Brian, what do we need to know about Disney buying Fox?

STELTER: Disney buying Fox is the biggest media deal of the decade, other than the pending AT&T and Time Warner deal. That's the deal that involves our parent company that the government has blocked, is trying to block in court.

CAMEROTA: And one of them -- yes, one of them is blocked and the president doesn't like one of them and really likes another.

STELTER: And that's why I was so intrigued by this yesterday. So Disney and Fox, the deal gets announced. Rupert Murdoch gets a congratulatory phone call from his friend, President Trump. According to the White House, Trump thinks this deal will create jobs, which is bogus because this is going to have $2 billion in cost cuts and synergy.

CARTER: The opposite will happen.

STELTER: So we see the president here hugging Rupert Murdoch earlier in the year. I love this video because it is a physical representation of the relationship. You know, this is a mutual alliance that's been going on for years, but especially now that President Trump's in office, it seems he's supportive of this new deal. And that raises questions about what the difference is. Why is it the government blocking AT&T/Time Warner and it seems Trump likes Disney/Fox? We'll see what the government decides to do in this case.

CARTER: Why is -- is there any doubt about the reasons? I mean he doesn't like CNN. He has said that overtly. He's talked about it. And he likes Fox News. It's what he likes.

And the logic of this is so backward because the one thing should be what the government traditionally is against, which is a horizontal merger and not a vertical merger. And their -- and the opposite is what's taking place. They're against the Time Warner merger and they're for the Fox News (INAUDIBLE).

[06:45:10] CUOMO: This is what Rupert Murdoch had to say about it.


RUPERT MURDOCH, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, NEWS CORPORATION: There's a problem with our chief executive. Sort of -- over the year. But isolated incidents. As soon as we investigate it, he was out of the place in hours. Well, three or four days. And there's been nothing else since then. Now, of course, but that was largely political, because we're conservative.


CAMEROTA: OK, I hope you -- everybody could hear that.


CAMEROTA: It was so outrageous what he just said. That was about sexual harassment.

CUOMO: It wasn't about the president.


CARTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: It wasn't about the president. What -- he was asked about the raft of sexual harassment claims at Fox News. It turns out that we now know it was -- it truly was rotten to the core, as we now know, for all the people that had been paying settlements, and all of the women who had been sexually harassed there.

And what Rupert Murdoch, the head of it, just said was, there was one minor problem.

CARTER: Yes, one problem.

CAMEROTA: It was the head -- it was the CEO. And when we found out about it, we got rid of him within hours, OK, days. Not true!

STELTER: None of that's true.

CAMEROTA: He's not talking about Bill O'Reilly. He's not talking about Eric Bolling. He's not talking about Frankie Cortez. I could go on with the list of men --


CAMEROTA: Who have paid settlements and who have been ousted, and/or been ousted.

CUOMO: And that's still the easy change. What we don't know from Fox yet, right -- I mean, look, you were there for a long time -- what did they change systemically?


CUOMO: What is in place there so that women feel that they have avenues of opportunity to express themselves? What are the accountabilities? What's different now?

CAMEROTA: Yes, and until that moment, until we heard him say that --


CAMEROTA: I thought he was interested in changing the culture.

STELTER: Yes, you know, this is really notable because he rarely gives interviews. So now that he's out there promoting this Disney/Fox deal, he gets asked about the harassment scandals. He calls it all nonsense. He says some of the examples of harassment were just flirting.


CARTER: Right. Right. Yes.

STELTER: Well, tell that to the women that lost career opportunities because of predatory men. It is not just Roger Ailes that were executives and hosts who lost their jobs at Fox in the past year and a half.

CARTER: And they paid millions of dollars to settle the Bill O'Reilly suit. They paid millions of dollars.

CAMEROTA: $32 million to one woman.

CARTER: I mean -- well, I think O'Reilly had to pay that one.

CAMEROTA: That's what I mean.

CARTER: But they were covering up for Ailes. They were paying all this -- out this money, which was not the shareholder's interest, you know. And so he is -- and, by the way, the big deal that he wanted internationally, the Sky deal, was imped by this action and presumably Disney will be able to pull that off when he couldn't. So there are really --

CAMEROTA: Yes, no, I didn't -- that was so stunning to me. I didn't know if it was willful ignorance or something even worse.

STELTER: I think his sons are more enlightened than he is, but I actually think you see one of the reasons why there's a friendship between Trump and Rupert Murdoch is in that conversation. A certain generation of men with a certain kind of attitude toward harassment.

CUOMO: If the sons are different, we will know because the company will be different.


CUOMO: Firing people is easy. Changing a culture is hard. And it comes with financial liability that they don't want to take on.


CAMEROTA: Bill, Brian, thank you very much.

STELTER: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Nearly 5 million people enrolling in Obamacare ahead of today's open enrollment deadline. That's more signups than this time last year. So, how will the GOP tax plan impact coverage? We ask a key architect of Obamacare, next.


[06:51:49] CUOMO: Hey, guys, if you're looking for health care on the exchange, today is the last day for open enrollment in Obamacare. Some 4.7 million Americans have signed up so far which is more than at this point last year. What they'll call a year-over-year analysis.

So, if the GOP tax bill passes, it's going to eliminate the individual mandate at the heart of the ACA. What would that mean? Let's discuss it with Dr. Zeke Emanuel, former Obama White House health policy adviser.

It is good to see you. The best for Hanukkah. The best to the family.

DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Nice to be here. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right. So, Zeke --


CUOMO: What have you got?

EMANUEL: Yes. Well, look, if you get rid of the individual mandate, the estimate is that about 4 million people in the first year will lose insurance. And a lot of people on the Republican side keep saying over and over again, you know, this is voluntary. People don't want the insurance. They're just being forced to buy the insurance.

But the fact of the matter is that a lot of these people would like to have the insurance. One effect of getting rid of the mandate is, premiums are going to go up 10 percent because a lot of healthy people will stop buying. That affects people who have to pay the full fare out of their own pocket. It also means the government is going to pay more.

And those people who aren't buying insurance, let's remember, it's not like they don't use health care. They end up using health care. Sometimes, unfortunately, because they get into an accident, they get a new diagnosis that was unanticipated, they might be pregnant and have a premature baby.

CUOMO: Right.

EMANUEL: You know, lots of costs. And guess who pays for those? All of us.

CUOMO: Right.

EMANUEL: So they're not bearing the full cost of their decision.

CUOMO: Counter argument. Just because the Supreme Court said you have a right to make me get insurance doesn't mean it's right to do it. Shouldn't force people. Let them make their own choices. The reason that the premiums are so high is that there's not enough choice.

President Trump says I'm going to change that by giving you catastrophic policy options, which is where you just pay if the worst thing happens to you, like you were just explaining, they'll be very cheap. Young people will buy those. You'll get them in the pool anyway and everything will be fine. And you get a tax cut. Go away, Zeke.

EMANUEL: Well, first of all, President Trump claimed that he wouldn't get -- he wouldn't take insurance away from anyone. He'd have more people insured than President Obama. That's turning out to be not true.

Second of all, we have looked at these catastrophic plans. Very, very few young people buy the catastrophic plans. That's the first thing. Second, they're not actually all that cheap. I spent almost a year looking at catastrophic plans trying to design a plan around them and one reason they're not cheap is that we know a small percentage of people use a lot of health care costs. And that means they're having a catastrophe that requires a lot of cost. And if most of the costs are for a small number of people, you can't get a catastrophic plan that's actually that cheap. They still end up about 60 to 70 percent of a regular health plan, and that's not actually that cheap. And it won't bring a lot of people in.

It is true, I agree with the president, we need more choice. But all of his actions, changing the rules halfway through open enrollment, cutting back on the cost-sharing subsidies, all of these changes are driving insurance companies wacky. They don't know what the risk pool is going to be. And so they're increasing rates or they're just getting out of the market. That is hardly increasing competition and increasing choice. The president and the Republicans are actually driving choice down by a lot of their actions, making uncertainty in the market. [06:55:29] CUOMO: All right, let's drill down --

EMANUEL: They are doing exactly the opposite.

CUOMO: Let's drill down on that -- let's drill down on that a little bit --


CUOMO: Because people will hear that this mandate is being folded into the tax bill. It's helping to finance their tax cuts. And that's going to sound good to a lot of people. Getting rid of the mandate and what other things that you see happening on the executive need to be pointed out because the pushback from the White House will be, no, no, no, this is all you, Zeke, and this is Obama and this is -- whatever's wrong with the ACA is on you. What's your counter?

EMANUEL: Well, the president has been in office almost a full year. He has created a huge amount of havoc in the insurance markets. As I mentioned, getting rid of the mandate, not paying the cost sharing subsidies, making these decisions at the last minute so it's hard for insurance companies to price products, not doing a lot of basic things that would have shored up the exchanges, like having a risk corridor or reinsurance products for the companies in the insurance market.

All of those actually undermine insurance companies' willingness to participate. There's a lot of comments by insurance executives that the federal government is not a reliable partner. It's unpredictable. It doesn't reduce risk. It's shoving more of the costs onto the insurance companies. That is hardly a formula for inviting insurance companies in and allowing them to price their insurance plans as cheaply as possible.

And just look, repealing the mandate is going to increase prices 10 percent alone and we know that repealing the cost sharing subsidies also increase them. So people who have to pay full freight. People who make over -- families that make over $100,000, they're going to be particularly hard hit with seeing, you know, over $1,000, $2,000 increases in their premiums. That is hardly a formula for getting more people into insurance.

CUOMO: It winds up being functionally an indirect tax folded into a tax cut.

Zeke Emanuel, I missed you. It's good to have you on the show, as always.

EMANUEL: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: Be well. Alisyn.

EMANUEL: Happy holidays.

CAMEROTA: You too.

So, what seemed like a done deal on tax reform now could be in jeopardy. Can Republicans still deliver this by Christmas? We'll take a look.