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Villanova Wins National Championship; Scott Pruitt's Housing Situation; Severe Weather Risk; Trump Defends Sinclair; Fox Stands By Ingraham. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 3, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jim Sciutto was up late last night watching sports.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Does it show? Does it show?

CAMEROTA: Not at all. No, you are fresh as a daisy --

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Casting aspersions.

CAMEROTA: After a March full of upsets, a number one seed dominates in April, whatever all of that means. Villanova Wildcats are national champions again. Andy Scholes is live in San Antonio with the highlights in the "Bleacher Report."

How was it, Andy?


It's always a great game, the championship one. And I'll tell you what, Villanova certainly does love the state of Texas. They won in Houston a couple of years ago. Now San Antonio last night. They're just the fourth team in the past 40 years to win two titles in a three-year span.

Now, Michigan was hanging tough in the first half. And that was until red shirt sophomore Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench and had the game of his life. He normally averages about 13 points a game. He had 18 in the first half alone. He finished with 31, which was a record for a player off the bench in the championship game. He was your final four most outstanding player as Villanova just rolled through the second half winning 79-62.

And I caught up with DiVincenzo on the floor during the celebration.


SCHOLES: Donte, how amazing is this moment right here?

DONTE DIVINCENZO, VILLANOVA WILDCATS: It's undescribable (ph), honestly, because we've been through so much, this team. A lot of ups and downs this year. And we've competed every single day in practice. And we're sharing that -- we're going to share this for the rest of our life.

SCHOLES: Is this a moment you dreamt of since you were a kid?

DIVINCENZO: Yes, since I -- since I was born, honestly. Yes. And the biggest thing for me is just sharing this with these guys.


SCHOLES: And this was the scene in Philadelphia as fans took to the streets to celebrate the championship. A few fires were set, I understand. And no matter how much they grease up those poles in downtown, a Philly fans seem to find a way.

Guys, it's like a challenge any time a Philadelphia fan sees a greased up pole. They just have to find a way to get up there if one of their teams wins a championship. Of course, this is the second time they got to do that with the Eagles winning the Super Bowl just a few months ago.

SCIUTTO: Doing Philadelphia proud there climbing --

AVLON: Yes, seriously.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure that's a dignified look.

AVLON: Oh, there's no dignity in Philly, but tired of so much winning, that promise has been true for the people of Philadelphia. They have had a phenomenal sports (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: They have.

CAMEROTA: Is Andy still there?

Andy, how did my bracket end up in sixth and yours was 29th, huh?

SCHOLES: You know, sometimes you make bold moves in the bracket and they just don't pan out, Alisyn.


SCHOLES: I'm going to go ahead and say I'm actually rather impressed that I had that bad of a bracket.

CAMEROTA: I like it.

All right, Andy Scholes, thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

That kid who had 31 points, they call him the Michael Jordan of Delaware, Donte DiVincenzo. He's incredible. An incredible player. I got a family tie in this. My nephew, coach of the team. So we were happy to be there.

CAMEROTA: We can tell you're emotionally invested in this.

SCIUTTO: There were tears in my eyes last night.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we're going to talk with the star of the women's NCAA tournament, Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale, who made back to back game-winning shots in the last seconds. An incredible story.

CAMEROTA: All right, you're going to help me with that when we get there.

SCIUTTO: I will help you.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, will embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt be the next cabinet member to go? We discuss what he's done wrong, next.


[06:37:51] CAMEROTA: EPA Chief Scott Pruitt days in the Trump -- his days could be numbered is what I'm trying to say in the Trump administration. A senior White House official tells CNN that President Trump is angry over the ethical questions surrounding Scott Pruitt. CNN has learned the white House is looking into reports that Pruitt is renting this room from a D.C. lobbyist, way below market value. So that could be a problem.

Let's bring in our guests and dissect all of this. We have Chris Cillizza and A.B. Stoddard.

So, A.B., listen, on the set here, the three of us were just crunching the numbers. So Scott Pruitt is renting a room in D.C. for $50 a night, OK, from an energy lobbyist. That's perhaps the problem. But $50 a night ends up being $1,500 a month. That seems respectable. But then, of course, he's doing all sorts of other things with travel that I guess are running afoul of rules. How do you see it?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, what we're seeing is a White House who -- which is not defending Scott Pruitt. So they're doing the twist in the wind strategy that they usually do before you get fired. They might be looking for, you know, a replacement. But Scott Pruitt is doing what Donald Trump hates, which is producing a lot of negative headlines. So, as you point out, it's not just the ala cart deal with him and his daughter, who's a White House intern, having rooms at this apartment where she sometimes has privileges to use the kitchen or the common room and they're connected as lobbyists to his business and they're previous donors from before he was EPA chief.

And then you look at -- he has a 24-hour security detail, which he's used for things that are not business related. So on the taxpayer dime he's gone to Disneyland with his security detail. He has been looking into a private -- the use of a private jet after he got busted with his first class travel. He had to go back to coach. But he had said he had used first class travel because he was in danger from people who -- you know, voters who were on airplanes with him who were mad at him.

So it's just too much for the White House to bare. It's everything that Donald Trump can't stand is a torrent of headlines like this.

SCIUTTO: So, Chris Cillizza, it's something of a come down for Scott Pruitt because -- I mean there was talk until a few weeks ago of him being a possible replacement for Jeff Sessions as attorney general. He certainly accomplished a lot of the president's agenda at the EPA, which is basically dismantling EPA regulations. Quite a turnaround for him.

[06:40:17] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes. I mean I think some of that, Jim, was talk created by Scott Pruitt about Scott Pruitt being the next attorney general.

SCIUTTO: Does that happen in Washington? I don't know what happens in Washington.

CILLIZZA: Yes. But that doesn't -- that doesn't mean it couldn't come true.

I think I'll add to A.B.'s point that I think two things Donald Trump doesn't like. Number one -- well, actually four. Numbers one, two, and three, bad headlines that he doesn't create. Number four, what he views to be as over weaning ambition. People who aren't doing -- not taking care of their business in one place and already trying to move on. I don't see -- I'm with Chris Christie, I don't know how Scott Pruitt survives this because, again, it's not one bad headline. A.B. just ripped through about six bad headlines.

You know, I think what you're seeing here is probably a finding someone to take Scott Pruitt's job. It seems to me more of an if -- a when not if in terms of him going.

CAMEROTA: John, speaking of headlines, "The Washington Post" calls Scott Pruitt a swamp monster today.

AVLON: Yes. And usually you have to wear a costume to accomplish that.

No, look, I mean, Chris' point is that the president, as powers of projection, are really profound. And when you generate negative headlines and you provide distractions, the old rules of politics apply. Politics is perception. None of these scandals are good perception for Pruitt or the administration and so they deploy the let 'em dangle strategy.

And I think that's what's kind of -- what's kind of profound. And, A.B., why do you think this president likes to let his cabinet members dangle in the wind for weeks before he fires them by tweet?

STODDARD: I think he enjoys -- I mean people around him have said that he enjoys -- it's sort of a punishing experience to have the press speculate and say it's a matter of when not if. And them sort of, you know, walking around dejected with their demoralized agencies continuing to, you know, get more negative press before they're out the door.

But I think that Chris is right, I mean he's used this several times with Shulkin recently at the VA and other people, but I think that in this case it probably is they don't really have a replacement yet. Often Trump comes up with a good friend or someone he's seen on television as a replacement, and we hear those names floated immediately. But in this case, I think they're obviously looking for someone and it might take a while to fill the position.

CAMEROTA: All right, A.B., Chris, thank you very much.

Now, this. A congresswoman says she will not run for re-election after she mishandled a sexual harassment allegation against a former top aide. All of the details, next.


[06:47:03] CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Elizabeth Etsy says she will not run for re-election in November. The Connecticut Democrat under fire for her handling of sexual harassment claims involving her then chief of staff. Etsy kept Tony Baker on the payroll for months after a former staffer alleged that Baker harassed and threatened her.

SCIUTTO: Winter just won't quit. After Monday's snowstorm slammed the northeast U.S., more severe weather is on tap from the Gulf Coast all the way to the Ohio Valley.

CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar has your forecast.

So please tell me we don't have snow -- more snow coming this way.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. But I will say this, for the folks that got the snow yesterday, they're actually going to get rain today. So a lot of the states, we're talking Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, that had snow yesterday, today it's rain. The main snow event is actually going to be for the Midwest.

And that forecast is brought to you by Purina, your pet, our passion.

So let's take a closer look at the southern edge of this storm because we also have a severe threat to deal with. This stretches from Ohio, all the way back through Texas. Damaging winds, large hail and isolated tornadoes are going to be the main threats.

So when we talk about the target point cities, we're saying places like Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville even around Memphis, Tennessee.

Now, the timings of it, again, it's mostly a rain event for most areas for the first half of the day with the exception of the Midwest where we'll have mostly snow. But once we get into those late afternoon hours, John, especially the evening, that's when the severe threat really ramps up. So make sure you have your safe place ready to go if you need to use it later in the day.

AVLON: Thank you.

Well, sometimes it snows in April and we'll keep trucking on until spring comes. Thank you.

Next up, an uproar over Sinclair's media bashing promos read by local news anchors at stations nationwide. Now the company's getting a big defender. The latest, next.


[06:52:58] SCIUTTO: Welcome back this Tuesday morning.

President Trump defending Sinclair Broadcast Group after critics raised concerns about the company's controversial new promos. The president tweeting just minutes ago, the fake news networks, those that knowingly have a sick and biased agenda, are worried about the competition and quality of Sinclair Broadcast. The fakers at CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS have done so much dishonest reporting that they should only be allowed to get awards for fiction.

Sinclair's senior vice president of news, Scott Livingston, sent an internal memo blasted the negative coverage and defended the initiative as, quote, corporate news journalistic responsibility promotional campaign.

That's a mouthful. (INAUDIBLE) --

CAMEROTA: I'm glad they're done with the double speak.

SCIUTTO: Yes. CNN -- that clears things up.

CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter, and CNN media analyst Bill Carter.

We should mention that most of those Sinclair stations are CNN affiliates.

So, Brian, really, you know, sticking to their guns here, right? Sinclair saying, in fact, I noted another comment that they made to employees and said, listen, if you have a problem with it, you're welcome to work somewhere else.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right. And that was the message also delivered in meetings, inside news rooms yesterday. But there is a lot of descent, a lot of concern inside these local newsrooms about this initiative, and more broadly about Sinclair's promotion of conservative politics inside local newscasts.

It's come to a head because of these promos. But I think it's worth recognizing, as the president viciously attacks the media again today and promotes Sinclair and defends Sinclair, this story was not started by outsiders. It was started by insiders, by these local journalists who said, whoa, this is inappropriate. I've had enough. I have to speak out.

CAMEROTA: That's the bigger issue. I think.

STELTER: In fact, one staffer has resigned. One station's refused to run it. Others are also speaking out on social media. This is about an internal revolt.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and -- BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: I think it's also blowing up on them. I think Sinclair is calling attention to itself in a way that they probably didn't particularly want. And they -- they're trying to make this deal. They want to expand. And now I think what they really are, and their purpose is becoming much clearer, and I'm not sure that was really what they wanted.

CAMEROTA: Except we'll see if there's any viewership erosion. I mean people might like what they're putting out. You know, I think what Brian has touched on --

CARTER: Some people will and some people won't.

[06:55:06] CAMEROTA: Is actually the bigger part of the story, which is the people inside have noticed their story selections changing.


CARTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: The angles changing. They're becoming a conservative bent. What they said -- what they forced the anchors to say was basically like, we will never give you biased reporting.

CARTER: Right.

CAMEROTA: I mean, actually, if you look at it word for word, there was nothing particularly offensive.


CAMEROTA: It's that they all had to parrot it around the country as though they were in a hostage video. That was the weird part.

CARTER: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: But the more pernicious thing is way they're --

CARTER: They're going to slant the news.

CAMEROTA: They're slanting the news.

CARTER: Yes. Yes.

STELTER: And increasingly there's an alternative reality --

CARTER: That's right.

STELTER: Of a pro-Trump media in the country. Fox News being the core of that -- of that alternative reality. Shows from "Fox and Friends" to "Sean Hannity" promoting the president's talking points. To the extent that Sinclair is also doing that, it increases this sense of an alternative universe of information. And when we get to key moments in the Trump presidency, for example, of their new indictments in the Robert Mueller probe, and Fox and other pro-Trump allies are going to either discredit it, deny it, deflect it. That's ultimately why this matters.

SCIUTTO: Yes, you look at these -- there's a new poll out by Monmouth and -- this figure really struck me. It's worrisome. Seventy-seven percent of respondents to this poll believe that traditional news report fake news. I mean there's a real crisis of confidence, is there not, Bill Carter?

CARTER: Well, I think it's partly both sides looking at it and saying, what Fox News is doing is slanted. What MSNBC News is doing is slanted. And they think it's fake and they interpret that as fake. But there is a lot of news that is being passed out that's just not true and Trump is responsible for quite a bit of it. He says -- he says that, for example, Amazon costs the post office billions of dollars, and it's just the opposite.

SCIUTTO: Right. Yes.

AVLON: And so what you're saying, though, is that Trump has been largely successful in muddying the terms of the debate.

CARTER: He has.

AVLON: And so this 77 percent number, Brian, could also be reflecting the fact that folks on the right and the left have actually very different definitions of the sources of fake news and what that means.

STELTER: Yes. Right. Right. Even definitions of what trusted media is. Everybody has a different definition of what is media, what they trust, what sources they believe and conversely what is now fake news. The president was really effective at re-defining, exploiting the term fake news, trying to turn it around on real news networks.


SCIUTTO: Well, at a --

STELTER: But this poll also shows more Americans say they trust CNN --

CARTER: Than Trump.

STELTER: Than President Trump.


STELTER: More Americans say they trust MSNBC than President Trump. He has a very loyal base. It's what you all talk about every morning. They are with him on every issue (ph). And when it comes to his wars with various people, they're with him. But that's not a majority of the country.

SCIUTTO: Well, and the other thing about fake news, right, the president, you know, using that term again. There is actual fake news. It's weaponized by Russia.

CAMEROTA: It's fiction.

SCIUTTO: Right. I mean you have this --

CAMEROTA: Truly fiction.

SCIUTTO: Where they're created.


SCIUTTO: I mean fake stories, out of the blue, used to influence people and their thoughts and create division.


SCIUTTO: That kind of thing. That's the real fake news and yet it's used by the president as a way to attack critical coverage.

AVLON: Well, and -- and a specific example of that, which I think is really profound and worth remarking upon is, in this debate between Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host now on vacation, and the Parkland student, David Hogg --


AVLON: Over the weekend, Hamilton 68, a project that tracks Russian bots, found a dramatic increase in Russian bots using the hashtag surrounding that debate, trying to elevate the debate on Ingraham's side overwhelmingly. That itself is fascinating if folks want to see the extent to which these tweets are being weaponized.

CAMEROTA: And that Russian bots seize on these things. Whenever they sensed division --

CARTER: Division, yes.

CAMEROTA: In the country, they seize on it and gin it up.

AVLON: That's right.

CAMEROTA: But, Brian, explain how the Laura Ingraham advertiser boycott is different than what's happened in Fox in the past with say Glen Beck when he's gotten in trouble and then advertisers have penalized him or Bill O'Reilly.

STELTER: I think the one big difference is that Fox is very publically defending Ingraham, coming out with a new statement yesterday, her first day on vacation, saying we're not going to be intimidated by these efforts to tear us down, to intimidate the network. Here's the statement here saying, we're not going to be censored by agenda-driven intimidation efforts.

Fox isn't talking about David Hogg. They're talking about a group called Media Matters, this anti-Fox liberal media monitoring group that Fox believes is provoking this ad boycott.

CARTER: It's very important that Fox do this because their audience does not want to see them giving in to this subject.


CARTER: So even though she may apologize, she not going to go too far in --

CAMEROTA: Right. But why did they take this tact this time and they didn't with Glen Beck and Bill O'Reilly? There was just a bigger ground swell against them?

CARTER: Well, with O'Reilly it was obviously an entirely separate issue involved. But -- and Glen Beck had said something perhaps more outrageous. But, in this case, I think they can't do it again. I think it's too --

STELTER: They're drawing a line.

CARTER: They're drawing a line.


CARTER: They can't just automatically say, oh, the advertisers don't like our people, we better back off.

AVLON: Agenda-driven intimidation efforts.

CAMEROTA: Brian, Bill, thank you both very much.

SCIUTTO: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: All right, and thanks to our international viewers. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


CAMEROTA: A new court filing outlining the scope of the special counsel's probe into the president's former campaign chair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know what he's doing. I'm appropriately exercising my oversight and responsibilities.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians.

[07:00:04] Believe me, if I become president, oh do they have problems.

SCIUTTO: President Trump renewing his attacks on Amazon, sending the company's stock downward.