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Comic Sparks Controversy; AT&T-Time Warner Closing Arguments; Women Support Brokaw. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 30, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump, this morning, is blasting the White House Correspondents Dinner after that monologue from comic Michelle Wolf. Moments ago the president tweeted in part, the White House Correspondents Dinner is dead as we know it. This is a total disaster and an embarrassment to our great country and all that it stands for.

Here to discuss, we have CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and Jason Miller. He's the former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, who attended the dinner.

So, Ana, were you at the dinner?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, hell no. I get invited and I -- you know, I just -- I don't get roasts. I don't like roasts.

CAMEROTA: You don't like roasts? You don't like -- you think they're mean spirited?

NAVARRO: I think they're mean spirited. It's something we don't do in Latin America because, I tell you, we want -- there would be somebody dead by the end of a dinner like that.

CAMEROTA: And so do you think that it's OK that there are so many White House advisers and White House surrogates that are -- were offended or they say they were offended by Michelle Wolf? Do you see any hypocrisy in them not being offended at President Trump's sometimes off color and insensitive jokes?

NAVARRO: Listen, I'd say to Michelle Wolf, hallelujah, girl, you should be the one getting the Nobel Peace Prize. She was able to do what nobody else has been able to do for --

CAMEROTA: Which was?

NAVARRO: Get Trump supporters to actually go on TV and defend women from being skewered and offended for their looks. I have sat here now for I don't know how many months hearing people tell me that I should take it as a joke when Donald Trump goes after Elizabeth Warren, Rosie O'Donnell, Mika Brzezinski, you know, Carly Fiorina. I mean we could sit here and we could go through the entire morning me telling you women that -- whose looks he's offended, whose looks he's gone after and it's supposed to not be serious when the president of the United States or candidate Trump did it, but it's supposed to be dead serious, let us all clutch our pearls when a comedian does it. Give me a damn break.

CAMEROTA: Explain that disconnect, Jason.

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The disconnect between what the --

CAMEROTA: Between why we're OK when Donald Trump makes fun of Rosie O'Donnell's looks and Carly Fiorina's looks and Mika Brzezinski's looks and then when a comedian may be making fun of Sarah Sanders' looks, the White House goes berserk.

MILLER: Well, at the risk of diving into a master class episode of what about-ism, I think they're two completely different things here.


MILLER: I think what Saturday night was supposed to be about was the future of journalism and celebrating these up and coming journalists and handing out these scholarships and these awards.


MILLER: And I think what the White House Correspondents Association did by putting a comedian like this up there, who completely -- I think it was way out of bounds with her attacks on Sarah Sanders, I think it completely discredited everything that the association was trying to do. And so --

CAMEROTA: OK. And -- but my question was, do you think the president's attacks on women's looks are out of bounds?

MILLER: Look, I've -- sometimes I've disagreed what the president has said and wish he would have phrased things a little bit differently, but I think it's two completely different things.


MILLER: I think -- because, look, I think the president speaks very bluntly. He voices his opinion. Sometimes --

CAMEROTA: And don't comedians speak very bluntly and voice their opinions?

MILLER: But it was -- it's different. I think what people like about President Trump is that he speaks his opinion and we know what he's thinking at all times. And so whether we're talking about policy issues or personality things, the president is very direct.

CAMEROTA: Or women's looks.

MILLER: But I think with the comedian that was out there, it was just -- it was so mean spirited and attacking Sarah right there. And I think, you know, the president made --

CAMEROTA: Jason --

MILLER: The president made the comment that the correspondents dinner I think is dead.


MILLER: But I think it goes even a little step further. I think the White House Correspondents Association, in its current construct, is probably dead as well. I think there are probably going to be leadership changes.

CAMEROTA: So this -- so this is cause for crucifying the White House Correspondents Association because she may or may not have attacked Sarah Sanders on her looks, but we don't feel the same way when the president of the United States says things about women's looks? Just explain that, Jason.

MILLER: But they're -- but they're two completely separate things. And I don't see how a terrible comedian who wasn't funny at all and went out there just with the specific person or purpose of trying to get even because Hillary Clinton didn't win the election in 2016 --


MILLER: And the political left -- and the political left doesn't like Trump.

NAVARRO: Well, let me tell you --

CAMEROTA: Yes. I'm not sure that that's (INAUDIBLE).

NAVARRO: First of all, this is not a --

CAMEROTA: Go ahead.

NAVARRO: This is not a new thing, right? We have seen Don Imus skewer the Clintons, sitting there. We have seen Stephen Colbert one year at the White House Correspondents Dinner skewer George W. Bush with him sitting there.

I think part of what's happening here is that Donald Trump does not sit there. Usually you get the comedian doing their thing.


NAVARRO: And then you get the president doing the counter thing. But because instead he was in Michigan, where Hispanics were getting booed at his rally, where --

CAMEROTA: The media.

NAVARRO: People were going out after the media and calling them filth and get out of our country, where that night his DOJ was removing -- removing references to a free media from their manuals. I mean that's what was happening in the real world while the comedian was actually making bad jokes. He was making bad decisions and bad things happening.

I -- you know, I -- MILLER: OK, if we're going to -- hold on --

NAVARRO: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead. Yes.

MILLER: If we're going to talk about the real world, let's talk about what President Trump is doing to bring peace to the Korean peninsula.

NAVARRO: No, let's talk not talk about --

MILLER: Yes. Yes, let's talk about --


[08:35:01] CAMEROTA: Yes, just a second. Jason -- Jason, hold on --

NAVARRO: We're here today to talk about -- to talk about journalism. We're brought here today to talk about the White House Correspondents Dinner.

CAMEROTA: Yes, just a second. Jason -- Jason, hold on.

MILLER: That is -- that is (INAUDIBLE).

NAVARRO: We're not going with your pivot.

CAMEROTA: Hold on. Yes, don't pretend that we haven't been talking about that, OK? We've been talking for day about what's going on with the Korean peninsula.

This segment --

MILLER: But if she's going to say, let's talk about the real world.

CAMEROTA: This segment, Jason, however, is about the hypocrisy, just helping us understand why it's OK for the president of the United States to make fun of women's looks and mock a disabled reporter, but it's not OK for a comedian to. That's what we're trying to make sense.

MILLER: So if I'm following -- if I'm following your logic train then, then why are two wrongs right then?

CAMEROTA: I want you to answer it.

MILLER: And why would a --

CAMEROTA: I want you to tell me why you're less comfortable with a comedian doing it than you are with the president doing it.

MILLER: And I've disagreed with sometimes with the words that the president has used and --

CAMEROTA: And this morning you are roundly criticizing the president and asking him never to do that again because it's so offensive.

MILLER: What I'm saying is, I want the -- I want the president to continue to be direct. I want him to continue to speak the truth.


MILLER: Look, when --

CAMEROTA: Even when it involves women's looks?

MILLER: I think that he should keep things focused on his policy items. I think that's when he's doing his best. And, you know what, I think the Correspondents Association shouldn't bring up comedians, like they did on Saturday, that are just going to go attack Sarah Sanders with absolute terrible comments. And I think that's probably why we're not going to see the dinner probably ever again. And it's not just the political right, or President Trump or other people who are saying this. I mean look at the fact of the way the political left has really abandoned the dinner. I mean the fact that you have a, you know, a d list, and I use air quotes on that, celebrity is a top Hollywood person even there shows you the political left doesn't even care about this dinner anymore.

CAMEROTA: Right, I think --

NAVARRO: That's because no real celebrities wants to show up and rub elbows with the Trump folks.

But, look --

MILLER: Well --

NAVARRO: I mean that's -- that's why the celebrities aren't showing up, because you guys aren't all that funny and all that good to hang out with.

MILLER: But the president --

NAVARRO: But let me just say --

MILLER: But the president wasn't even there.

NAVARRO: Let me say one -- let me say part of the reason why --

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead. Last word.

MILLER: And it becomes so personal. Why does everything have to get so personal?

NAVARRO: Let me tell you -- that's such a ridiculous thing for you to ask when you are making this thing that Michelle Wolf did personal when she attacked Anderson Cooper, when she attacked CNN, when she attacked Ted Kennedy, who's dead, when she went after abortion, she attacked Ivanka, and the only person we are focusing on is Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I get it. She was, you know, sitting three feet away, which made it more awkward.

But part of the reason we are talking about this is because people like Maggie Haberman, who have gotten skewered, have gotten called third rate journalist and Hillary Clinton flunkies and the failed "New York Times" came out in defense of Sarah Huckabee Sanders because journalist whose have been attacked by this president and who this administration and Trump supporters have normalized and rationalized and justified those attacks came out in defense of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, something you are unwilling to do for people like Elizabeth Warren and for people like Rosie O'Donnell and for people like Mika Brzezinski, for people like Megyn Kelly.

MILLER: Well, hold on, Ana. Ana, you can't -- I mean you can't put words in my mouth. No, Ana, hold on. Hold on. I -- no, I think --

NAVARRO: I was the one giving you all the chances in the world to be consistent. You've got a lot (INAUDIBLE) --

MILLER: Ana, hold on, I'm a -- I think Maggie Haberman -- I think Maggie Haberman is a fantastic journalist.


MILLER: And I wish the president hadn't said that. I think Maggie is absolutely fantastic. And so please don't go and try to put words in my mouth because that's -- that's -- I know -- I know that's part of the --

NAVARRO: While -- saying while Maggie is fantastic is not saying -- is not saying --

CAMEROTA: Please don't attack (INAUDIBLE).

NAVARRO: Hey, I'll tell you what -- Jason, welcome to the snowflake club, honey. How does it feel?

MILLER: I mean, I don't even know what to say. I mean it's -- when you don't have an argument, you go to the personal attacks and then you try to go and attack President Trump.

NAVARRO: Well, when you don't (INAUDIBLE) an argument and you start talking about North Korea instead of talking about the facts, that you cannot be consistent --

MILLER: Because in --

NAVARRO: And you're being on TV, being a hypocrite because you're not unwilling to have the same outrage that you do for the president of the United States than you do for a one night comedian. You see, I thought both were awful. I can't stand either. I don't like the roasts. I (INAUDIBLE) bad jokes but I --

MILLER: So do you think -- so do you think the Correspondents Association should have apologized to Sarah Sanders or do you think it was OK?

NAVARRO: I think they came out with a statement that said it was not in the spirit of the dinner. I think that dinner --

CAMEROTA: Jason, yes, they -- yes, you know, look, they've certainly spoken out against it.

NAVARRO: As far as I'm concerned, if you can't take that kind of humor, you shouldn't -- you shouldn't hire a comedian or you should tell her to stick to making jokes about steel tariffs, you know?


All right, on that note, Ana, Jason, thank you very much for the debate. Obviously it will continue all morning long.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, twin bombings rocked Afghanistan's capital. There are many dead, including some journalists who came to cover a first explosion right before a second suicide bomber detonated. The late breaking details, next.


[08:43:26] CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Here's number one. President Trump urging Homeland Security officials to turn away Central American migrants who are at the border crossing at Tijuana, Mexico, seeking asylum.

CAMEROTA: ISIS claiming responsibility for twin bombings in Afghanistan's capital. At least 29 people killed, including eight journalists. Among them, AFP's chief photographer in Kabul Shah Marai.

CUOMO: All right, several media reports that say Dr. Ronny Jackson is not returning to his post at President Trump's personal physician after withdrawing his nomination for VA secretary.

CAMEROTA: Both President Trump and Vice President Pence expected to speak at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting this week in Dallas. It would be the third straight year the president has addressed the NRA gathering.

CUOMO: T-Mobile striking a $26 billion deal to buy Sprint. If the merger goes through, it would leave just three major wireless carriers in the U.S. Of course, anti-trust regulators still have to sign off on the deal.

All right, so for more on the "Five Things to Know," you can go to and you will get the latest.

CAMEROTA: All right, closing arguments in the AT&T-Time Werner merger trial are happening today. So we will preview what's expected to happen in court and what it means for you, next.


[08:48:44] CAMEROTA: Closing arguments will begin today in the AT&T- Time Warner trial. The judge's decision in the anti-trust case will have a huge impact on both companies and future mega merger deals and, therefore, all of us. We should also note that Time Warner is the parent company of CNN.

Joining us now is Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "Reliable Sources," and Hadas Gold, CNN politics, media and business reporter.

We have other issues to get to, too, involving the media, but, first, Hadas, what do we expect with the closing arguments?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, today are closing arguments. And this is really the last opportunity for both sides to make their case, not only to the judge, but also to the public and the media who will be crowding this courtroom in Washington D.C. today. And what the government needs to do is really present in clear terms to the judge how they see the harm that they believe will come to consumers. They've had an economist on who says that consumers' cable bills will be going up, upwards of 45 cents a month per subscriber, which does -- might not sound like a lot to us, but you have to keep in mind, they're trying to give it on a global -- on -- sorry, on a countrywide scale and how this will affect not only consumers, but also the industry.

AT&T will be trying to push back on that and say prices aren't necessarily going to go up and they're going to really rely heavily on the threat of these new social media and other Internet platforms that are getting into content games, like Netflix, like FaceBook, like Amazon and say, look at how these companies are doing. We need to compete with them. And that's why we need this merger.

[08:50:08] BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: And the business world is watching this so closely. You know, over the weekend we saw two of AT&T's smaller rivals, Sprint and T-Mobile, announce a merger that they have talked about this for years in the past. They've been wary of doing it because of concerns that it wouldn't be approved by the federal government. Now these two wireless companies are getting together. They're going to try to merge. But there's a lot of questions about whether the same anti-trust regulators that are now suing AT&T over this Time Warner deal would also take action in Sprint-T-Mobile. So the outcome here in this trial with this judge, whatever he decides to do about a month from now when he issues a ruling, it's going to effect a lot of other companies as well.

CAMEROTA: And that's the point, Hadas. I mean that's why we're covering this so closely. Number one, it affects us directly --

GOLD: Right.

CAMEROTA: But then is effects everyone in America indirectly, or even directly, because these mergers do end up having an impact on people.

GOLD: Oh, they definitely do. They have an impact on people not only on how much they pay at the end of the month for their television, but how they watch that TV and how they watch these things because everything is changing. We're all starting to go into streaming. We're starting to watch things more on our phones. And these companies are trying to keep up and adapt. And, most importantly, as we've been thinking about with all this

privacy stuff with FaceBook, is that they're starting to use our data in different ways. And that's a lot of what is behind these merger deals is that they're all trying to keep up with the FaceBook and the Googles and how they use data to sell advertisements. So this -- we might not see it effecting us directly, let's say, on the screens on what we watch, but it is effecting how we pay for things and how these businesses make money and how this entire landscape is changing.

And with Sprint and T-Mobile, I mean, we're going to be seeing the anti-trust chief likely in court today and I plan to ask him, OK, are you going to be going after these two? This is a horizontal merger. It's two direct competitors who are coming together. If you're going after AT&T and Time Warner, what about Sprint and T-Mobile?

CAMEROTA: So, Brian, is the judge going to give a yes or no answer? Yes, you can merge, no, you can't? Or is there possibly a more creative solution at the end of this where you -- the company has to break up into pieces and something different happens?

STELTER: There are solutions in between a straight yes you can go ahead with this deal, no you may not go ahead with this deal. There are a variety of scenarios in between. And it's possible there will be some sort of agreement, some sort of, you know, settlement type conversation that would happen in order to reach a deal that all sides can agree upon, but we don't know what way the judge is leading.

CAMEROTA: All right, Brian, I want to move on, and that is what's happening over at NBC.

OK, so, as you know, last week Linda Vester, who was a long time NBC correspondent and Fox News anchor, came out publically in "The Washington Post" and "Variety" and accused Tom Brokaw, legendary newsman, of unwanted sexual advances and sexual harassment. And then something interesting happened, 115 female NBC News employees signed a letter basically supporting -- in support of Tom Brokaw.


CAMEROTA: I'll just read a portion of it.

Tom has treated us each with fairness and respect. He has given each of us opportunities for advancement and championed out successes throughout our careers.

Then Linda Vester's people, her attorney, have given us a statement last night that said, my client, Linda Vester, stands by her allegations. She is glad to see the discussion of issues regarding sexual harassment continue. She will have more to say very soon.

Why, in this Me Too moment, where so many women have come out and told the stories of what they've experienced in Hollywood or the media or any other industry, why the backlash against Linda Vester?

STELTER: This angry denial from Tom Brokaw is a big part of it. He issued this letter, first to his colleagues, and then it quickly leaked out to the media, where he called her a character assassin, absolutely denied the allegations, said she was seeking fame and fortune. This was a shock response by Tom Brokaw. Clearly he believes he is the victim and not Linda Vester. I think that's one of the reasons why his colleagues are standing by him. NBC is standing by him. Apparently NBC doesn't feel there's enough evidence to investigate, to warrant any action right now. Remember, even though he's retired from the "Nightly News," he's a special correspondent on the network all the time.

I think the unanswered question here is whether there are other women who may come forward. I've been asking Vester's attorney if he's heard from other women. He will not answer that question. But that statement you just read alluded to Vester having more to say soon, that's curious because last week she said she is speaking out now because she wants to make sure NBC is taking this issue seriously. She believes there was a systemic culture of sexual harassment at that company that was not taken seriously. She wants a thorough investigation. She doesn't feel that's happening.

I'm told by NBC, they are going to be issuing some sort of report later this week. This is an internal review that's been going on --


STELTER: Ever since the day Matt Lauer was fired. The question is, whether that review will have enough legitimacy.

CAMEROTA: Yes, because it's an internal review, Hadas, and we've seen when other, you know, media companies, such as Fox, have had these troubles, they've gone sometimes to an outside legal firm to investigate. So NBC is doing something different and Linda Vester and her attorney were saying that that's not good enough.

[08:55:08] GOLD: Yes, I mean, that is often what companies will do is to try to give more legitimacy to their own investigation is to bring in an outside person who doesn't have any ties to the company to do their own investigation. NBC's investigation into what happened is going to be really harshly looked at I think because of how long this stuff going on about Matt Lauer was and also all these questions about Tom Brokaw. I know that there's a lot of people looking into other stories around NBC. And so this is clearly something that they're going to continue to be dealing with.

I am really fascinated by the number of women who have come forward to support Tom Brokaw. We have seen similar situations in the past where women came forward to support other men who were accused of such things. I don't know if we saw this number.


GOLD: And we're seeing huge names like Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchel. But clearly this story isn't over. So we'll see how it all works out.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. OK, Hadas Gold, Brian Stelter, thank you very much. CNN NEWSROOM with John Berman and Poppy Harlow will pick up after this

quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Indeed you are.

HARLOW: And I am here, in the flesh.

BERMAN: The long national nightmare is over.

Great to have you back.

I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: Good to be here.

BERMAN: A standoff at the U.S./Mexico border. A highly politicized standoff. A standoff designed to get attention perhaps on both sides. And it really is.


[09:00:06] BERMAN: But it's a standoff with dozens of suffering human beings caught in the middle.