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WarnerMedia CEO On CNN's Independence And HBO's Future; Scaramucci: Trump Should Stop Separating Kids From Parents; Roger Stone Met With Russian Who Wanted $2 Million For Clinton Dirt. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 18, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:31:20] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. AT&T's acquisition of CNN's former parent company Time Warner is now complete after a federal judge approved the megamerger. The new name for the media company that owns CNN is WarnerMedia.

And joining us now is John Stankey. He's the new CEO of WarnerMedia. He's our new boss and this is his first television interview since the merger.

Also joining us is Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent.


JOHN STANKEY, CEO, WARNERMEDIA: Thank you. It's good to be here.

CAMEROTA: Do you -- can we get any coffee or dry cleaning, perhaps?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, is there anything we can do?

CAMEROTA: And, John and I are here to serve.

STANKEY: Let's not push it, OK?


CAMEROTA: So, what a long, strange trip it has been for you to be sitting here today. Did it get -- was it much more complicated than you ever thought when this was first proposed?

STANKEY: That may be an understatement. I think it was a trip like no other. I'm really glad it's behind us. And we've closed it out and it's time to move forward and we're really anxious to do that now.

BERMAN: So why was it worth it given how hard it was? What is it about us, writ large, that was so attractive to AT&T?

STANKEY: Well, first of all, it's an incredibly talented company across a lot of different media domains and we felt it was really important that we have scale and capability to work on content from a variety of different segments. And so, just like sitting here, news is very unique from what you might get in scripted long-form but both are very important in terms of how individuals want to consume content.

For us, over time, the days of being able to get people just buy connectivity from you are coming to a close because connectivity is becoming very ubiquitous and very similar and you're going to have to find ways to differentiate your business over time. And there's no better way to do it than with emotional content that customers attach to.

CAMEROTA: What are you focused on, Brian?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, you said to me the other day CNN has a special social responsibility compared to TNT or TBS or the Cartoon Network.

And I think what I hear from staffers here is they wonder what happens when CNN's Jim Acosta, the other day, is told by the campaign manager of the Trump campaign you should have your credentials revoked?

What happens in that environment when it's not Time Warner, it's WarnerMedia?

STANKEY: First of all, Jeff's got to continue to do what he does, which is run this organization -- yes --

STELTER: Jeff Zucker, the CNN president.

STANKEY: -- incredibly well, and that, first and foremost, will continue. And as you know, he's here with us for the ride going forward and I'm really pleased and excited about that. He's a very talented individual and that will obviously be our first driver.

But secondly, as I said to you last week, we clearly understand that there's a different obligation of responsibility in running a news organization like this and we understand that it's a two-way street. That individuals, like yourself, work very hard to ensure that you're picking up factual and accurate information.

And our job is owning this asset and managing it with you is to make sure we back you up in that regard when you're doing your jobs well, and we're committed to doing that.

BERMAN: You know it's a heck of a time to be jumping into the news business right now?

STANKEY: It's a -- no, it's no different than the fact that this was a unique approval process, right? So we're --

BERMAN: Are they disconnected? I have to say -- I mean, were -- are they disconnected given the history here of what the president has said about the merger and about CNN in the past, going forward? You know, obviously, we cover the Trump administration very closely and it creates a lot of complications.

STANKEY: Look, I think everything in the industry right now is probably more complex and more difficult than it's ever been. And I think if you were sitting over at Facebook today asking about

what it's like to run their business, the transparency dynamic that any company has to run under and the volatility that it brings in the decision-making, that's just part of industry today and I don't think it's unique to our circumstances. I think it's just broad-scale across the economy right now.

[07:35:01] CAMEROTA: So for all of our viewers who are watching, they want to know what this means for them. Are their costs going up? What else -- how will this affect them?

STANKEY: Contrary to what the government alleged, no. Our goal here is actually to innovate on product.

And for me personally -- why I'm excited to be here -- I've always been happiest in my career when I get to build things, and do unique things, and do things that are different. And our goal here is to invest in this business and our goal is to do it in a way that provides for platforms and capabilities that are consistent with where technology is taking things.

And a classic example might be here at CNN. How can we broaden the distribution of the great content you guys build every day? How can we make it more readily available in the pushed lifestyle that everybody leads? And I think there's some very exciting things to do in that regard.

So it's about innovating, it's about building new product, it's about investing heavier in content. It's certainly not about going out and just trying to think about we want to raise prices on content for what other people buy.

STELTER: I think that's interesting because there's been some concern in the cable industry that we're in a period of decline or shrinkage as opposed to growth and investment. And you're saying that places like HBO, there's more money that should be spent.

STANKEY: Well look, I think that the model as we know it today -- you know, standard linear television -- is a very mature model. Standard linear television in the form of how ads are supported in it.

But there's an opportunity to innovate in that regard not only with how the content's configured but to think about how advertising supports that content. And that's why we established the advertising entity with an AT&T that's being led by Brian Lesser.

The purpose of that is to start building the new ad formats and the more targeted advertising that can lower ad loads and still monetize content in a way where it remains affordable for the customer.

So that's the kind of innovation we're going to be working on.

STELTER: So fewer ads but more valuable ads. But when you I hear you say that I think, wait, what about Samantha Bee, right, a few weeks ago. Advertisers started calling up because she offended a lot of people with her comments about Ivanka Trump. What do you do when that happens?

STANKEY: Well look, those moments are going to come up and I wasn't here at the making at the point in time when that one occurred. I had conversations with folks and I had at least a high-level view of what took place.

And I'd be lying to you if I didn't tell you that every time something like that was coming up there wasn't a conversation inside of AT&T -- you know, what would you do?

STELTER: Yes, what would you do, yes.

STANKEY: I would tell you that based on my understanding -- again, I wasn't there with every detail of it -- but the process that I think was executed in that regard and the outcome from it tracked very similar with my point of view and probably what I personally would have done.

You know, at the end of the day, our job is to kind of make reasonable judgments, work through these things, get the facts.

I think what is true is we're in a very transparent time. The speed at which you need to do that is changing pretty dramatically. It's going to have to be much faster than it's historically been and that's going to be one of the jobs.

STELTER: But look at Roseanne the other week, yes.

STANKEY: A good example, right?

BERMAN: So, HBO, obviously -- as much as we'd like to think it's all about us, I mean, HBO is a giant part of this. And what you want to do with HBO is, I think, something that a lot of consumers and a lot of viewers would like to know. Brian mentioned maybe more of an investment there in content.

Is the idea to make HBO more Netflixy for lack of a better word?

STANKEY: HBO is a fabulous brand and they've carved out a great position in the marketplace. And we candidly believe as we started this process that with the right kind of investment, the right kind of technology platforms, that it could do more. It can garner more engagement from a customer.

They do a great job with what they have today and I think if you went in and spoke with most of the folks at HBO if they had an opportunity to invest in more content they believe they can get more hours of the week of customer engagement. And that's really the battle we're all fighting is how many hours a week are we getting engagement from customers.

And we do believe that positioning the asset in a different fashion that we can start to drive that engagement up, and it's going to be a combination of product and content that enables that to happen. And that's clearly a place we're going to be spending some time. CAMEROTA: I think you should bring back "THE SOPRANOS" and "SEX AND THE CITY." Have you considered that?

STANKEY: That's their -- my job is to stay out of the content decisions --


STANKEY: -- and facilitate capital allocations, but I'll pass it on to them.

STELTER: You don't want to be hanging out in the writers' room? You don't want to be pitching your own shows?

STANKEY: I'm going to watch but I'm certainly not going to get involved in the decisions.

BERMAN: I would take "THE WIRE."

CAMEROTA: You would like that?


CAMEROTA: All right. I'll talk to Richard Plepler about all of that.

Brian, what do you have -- what are you keeping your eye on?

STELTER: Well, we talked about HBO and Turner and CNN. What about Warner Brothers? And you're also buying a huge movie studio. All of these television shows.

What is the future of a big studio like Warner Brothers?

STANKEY: So I think as things evolve over the next five years, one of the things that many companies are going to want to do is be able to more directly control their intellectual property. And if you can control your intellectual property then you have the flexibility as to how you move it around your technology platforms.

[07:40:03] And this becomes even more important if you start thinking about the global dynamics of this industry and how it's going to evolve over time.

So we're picking up an incredibly talented group of individuals that know how to make content -- know how to make content both in a variety of long-form cinematic and scripted short-form. And that becomes an engine and it becomes an engine to have more intellectual property that allows you to drive people into your technology platforms and get that engagement I talked about earlier.

So continuing to use that skillset, continuing to manufacture intellectual property that you can own, control, and library over time -- I think that's the flexibility of kind of what's driving the vertical integration in this industry.

STELTER: And it's interesting to hear that the bottom line is the goal is more hours per week, right?

STANKEY: That's right.

STELTER: All these big media companies, they want more time with more consumers.

STANKEY: If you think about the battle we're in right now it's a battle for customer engagement.

There's -- physics isn't going to change the number of hours in the day, unfortunately. Technology will enable some instances where people maybe can spend more time consuming as we see people spending less time behind the wheel, maybe in autonomous vehicles. More time in the back seat of a car -- 5G networks that enable ubiquitous distribution of video no matter where you are.

I think there's going to be an opportunity for more consumption of content within the context of that 24-hour day. Our job is to figure out how to get our fair share of it.

BERMAN: Is Alisyn safe?

STANKEY: Alisyn's safe. You're all safe.

BERMAN: That's all I wanted to know.

CAMEROTA: Thank you --

BERMAN: Thank you very much for that.

CAMEROTA: -- so much. Great to have you here and --

STANKEY: It's good to be here.

CAMEROTA: -- it's an exciting time.

STANKEY: I'm very excited to be with all of you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much.

BERMAN: All right. A Good Samaritan steps up and stops a suspected carjacker who had already shot two people. How the confrontation ended, that's next.


[07:45:24] BERMAN: At least three people were killed and more than 200 injured in Japan after a strong earthquake rattled the area during rush hour. This happened in Osaka in Japan.

The 5.9-magnitude quake shook that city around 8:00 a.m. A 9-year-old girl died, along with two elderly men.

Several homes and roads sustained severe damage. Water pipes burst and there was some pretty bad flooding in the streets. CAMEROTA: So, prosecutors say a suspected gunman who was killed during a shooting that injured more than 20 people in Trenton, New Jersey had just been released from prison. Authorities revealed that a dispute between neighborhood gangs triggered the gunfire at an all- night arts festival on Sunday.

The entrance to the festival did not have a metal detector. Hundreds of people were in the area at the time. This could have been much worse.

BERMAN: Police say an armed civilian shot and killed a gunman on a carjacking spree outside a Walmart. This happened in Washington State.

Officers initially responded to a call about a drunk driver going the wrong way before getting reports of this attempted carjacking and shots fired. Officers say the gunman wounded two people before he was confronted by two armed civilians, one of whom shot and killed the suspect.

CAMEROTA: All right.

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci tweeted last night against the separation of children from their parents at the border. So, his advice for the president when he joins us live, next.


[07:50:52] CAMEROTA: The Trump administration is trying to explain its policy of separating children from their parents at the border. There are reports that there is some division inside the White House over this policy and outside, we've seen division as well.

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci tweeted this. "Separating innocent children from their families is not the Christian way, the American way, nor what the president wants. Congress must act to stop this madness."

And, Anthony Scaramucci joins us now. Anthony, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: It's nice that you still visit us even when you're boyfriend's no longer here.

SCARAMUCCI: Good morning. My boyfriend, Chris?


SCARAMUCCI: Wow, OK. Well, that's great.

CAMEROTA: You know that was a bromance -- an epic bromance.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, that's breaking news, John. My boyfriend, now. CAMEROTA: Listen, that was a bromance --

SCARAMUCCI: No, I -- listen, I love -- I love Chris, but it's -- this is a lot better to be interviewed by you, OK? You can tell him I said that, OK?

CAMEROTA: Oh, I will. He won't like that.

OK, so Anthony, listen, your tweet makes no sense. It's not what the president wants. Congress must act.

This -- the president could stop this, this morning.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think he should.

CAMEROTA: He could make a phone call.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, first of all, I do -- well, OK, so there were a lot of tweets I sent out yesterday and I was sparring with a couple of Democrats. And I -- but I think the president should stop it. I think that the optics of the situation whatever -- however we got there, whether it was an Obama policy --

CAMEROTA: It was a George W. Bush policy --

SCARAMUCCI: -- if it was a George W. Bush policy --

CAMEROTA: -- but they didn't separate children from their parents. There was zero tolerance.

SCARAMUCCI: Whatever the facts -- whatever the facts are. I'm not here to defend the Democrats or the Republicans.

I'm here to say that it's very bad policy and that the president is a humane guy. He's doing an amazing job on so many different fronts and he doesn't need this type of visual or this type of imagery, OK, aside from which it's inhumane and it's cruel, which I absolutely don't like. I think he needs to step back, stop listening to his aides and his advisers.

This is a Wollman Rink kind of a moment where back with the Wollman Rink the government couldn't get it done -- seven-eight years. They couldn't fix the ice rink. Everyone complaining about each other. He stepped in and in a few months he got the ice rink up and running.

This is the same sort of deal. He's got to step in there and he's got to end this thing because I think it's an atrocious policy. It's inhumane, it's offensive to the average American, and when you think about American values it does not represent American values.

CAMEROTA: Look, you know that his advisers say that they're using it as deterrents. That's what Stephen Miller, that's what chief of staff John Kelly has said.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, I think it's -- I think it's -- like I said, I'm sure there's a lot of different opinions about this but I think at the end of the day the president will do the right thing here. I think he's got --


SCARAMUCCI: I think he's got to clear through the cloud of that sort of disagreement inside the White House as it relates to policy. Step back, look at the optics of this thing. The president is very good at imagery.


SCARAMUCCI: He's a television star. He understands that this is not good for him. It's not good for the Congress if we want to win the midterms.

CAMEROTA: How do you know he understands that this is not good for him?

SCARAMUCCI: Because I know the guy. I mean, this is not -- come on, step back. I'm sure there's more than one honest person inside the White House that's looking to the president straight on and saying hey, we have to fix this. This is really bad for us.

CAMEROTA: You know how it works in there. When do you think the president will change this?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I don't know. I hope -- I hope -- I hope he changes it today, frankly. This is -- again, this is not something that the American people -- by and large if you survey Republicans and Democrats, we don't want people separated from their -- from their children. I think -- I think there's a universality of understanding that that's bad policy.

Now, if you want to go into the blame exercise of who started the policy and can the Democrats bridge a negotiation with him related to DACA and other things, yes, I totally understand that. But the immediate remedial need is to change this right now.

CAMEROTA: And the president can do that single-handedly.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, we all know that the president can do that. He has the executive power to do that.

CAMEROTA: In terms of the blame game, I do want to go there because you, I think, went there yesterday.

"The president didn't invent the child separation policy. His chief of staff, former DHS secretary did.

John Kelly told NPR the children will be taken care of, put into foster care or whatever. That is not a humane solution. Expect the situation to be rectified."

So you are casting blame on John Kelly.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I'm casting blame on DHS starting in April of 2017 and that's exactly when it started happening. [07:55:06] You're going back to the Bush administration and the Obama administration and were both --

CAMEROTA: Yes, but just stick with me for a second.

SCARAMUCCI: -- and we're both saying that.

CAMEROTA: It sounds as though there's --


CAMEROTA: -- discord between John -- can I interpret this to be that there's discord between John Kelly and the president?

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, I don't know. Maybe there isn't discord between them.

I'm just saying that the president -- if he really steps back and looks at the situation will reject this policy and reject this behavior going on at the border. That's what I believe.

CAMEROTA: But you think that John Kelly has pushed him --

SCARAMUCCI: I don't -- I don't know -- I don't know if there's -- I don't --

CAMEROTA: -- too far on this. You think that this was John Kelly's brainchild. I mean, I'm just interpreting it from your tweet.

SCARAMUCCI: No, I -- no, I think -- I'm just going by the facts.

This happened in April. He was the -- he was the head of DHS in April. It's been promulgated since then. Reporters have picked up on it now.

People are saying that it happened before that. It doesn't appear that it happened before that if we're really looking at the facts.

Yes, the policies were in place since the Bush administration but you just said, and it seems clear, that neither the Bush administration or the Obama administration did this. And so, it seems like it started to happen in April, OK, based on the information me and my staff looked at. And so --

CAMEROTA: Yes, it did.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, so we're in agreement on that.

CAMEROTA: We're in agreement.

SCARAMUCCI: So let's knock it off because this is very, very bad for the Republican Party and it's very bad for the president.

CAMEROTA: And why do you think the president hasn't --

SCARAMUCCI: I don't mind -- I don't mind saying that because at the end of the day what should happen in our process is that I'm a big- time supporter of the president. I want to see him win reelection.

I've been very loyal to the president and I think loyal people have to also be very honest. They don't just fall in line into some kind of groupthink because that's very bad in terms of running an organization, an administration --


SCARAMUCCI: -- or even a network --

CAMEROTA: I appreciate your candor on this. So -- but why isn't the president overruling John Kelly? If he doesn't like this, why hasn't he overruled him?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, maybe he will.

I think here's the problem. You're the President of the United States, you're dealing with North Korea. You obviously want to denuclearize North Korea. You're working on policy that leads to economic growth of society and wages. So --

CAMEROTA: I understand he has a lot more on his plate, but he could stop it with a phone call.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think it -- I think it's coming into his focus now. I think it's inside his crosshairs right now.

He's just back from a historic trip. You're going to see a denuclearization of North Korea.


SCARAMUCCI: The economy is booming. Don't let this be a distraction going into the midterm elections -- this sort of nonsense happening at the border.

CAMEROTA: Do you -- but you actually think that this could hurt -- this could hurt Republicans, politically?

SCARAMUCCI: OK, I think the optics are very, very good. Do you think it could hurt Republicans, politically?

CAMEROTA: Look, I --

SCARAMUCCI: At the end of the day, the Republicans control the House, they control the Senate, and they control the presidency.

Now, you can say well, the Democrats are negotiating with us on DACA. OK, but to use this as a leverage point or a negotiating point, it just doesn't feel right.

You know, there's a -- there's a difference between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law, and this is outside of the spirit of it and I just don't think it's right. And I would rather speak up about it and tell the truth than sit around. I don't think the president needs, at this point in his administration

as he wants to win both the House and Senate, a lot of yes people -- yes men and women sitting around him and saying oh, yes -- no, no, no, this is the Democrats' fault. Leave it as it.

Because even it is the Democrats' fault --

CAMEROTA: It's not.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, but I'm not saying it is --

CAMEROTA: It's not.

SCARAMUCCI: -- I'm just --

CAMEROTA: I mean, that premise just doesn't even float.

SCARAMUCCI: But, Alisyn, I'm not stipulating that it is. Whether it is or it isn't, it doesn't matter. It's bad policy --

CAMEROTA: Whoever's fault it is, exactly.

SCARAMUCCI: -- and the president needs to abrogate it as soon as possible so that we can get back to talking about the great job that he's doing on wages, the economy --


SCARAMUCCI: -- growth, peace, and prosperity.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about Paul Manafort. Yes or no, will the president pardon Paul Manafort?

SCARAMUCCI: I have no idea. I have no idea.

CAMEROTA: OK, fair enough.

Moving on, we now know that Roger Stone met in 2016 with a Russian who was offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. This is starting to feel like deja vu all over again.

He didn't disclose it to Congressional investigators in front of the House Intel Committee. The deal fell apart, it sounds like because the Russian was demanding $2 million in return for this dirt.

Why does there seem to be a pattern of people connected to the Trump campaign who keep meeting with Russians?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean, in Roger Stone's case -- you know, because I read through the story last night as probably you did -- it doesn't seem like it was going anywhere. So --

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, he took the meeting. I mean, this is a pattern of people meeting with Russians who keep promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. This is outside the norms of what we generally think of goes on in United States presidential elections. SCARAMUCCI: I hear you. Listen, I mean, you've got an investigation going on for 17 or 18 months.

I don't think the president was even aware of that meeting. I don't the president has done anything near the Russians or has anything to do with any level of collusion.

That's just my opinion based on my observation inside the campaign and as one of his executive --


SCARAMUCCI: -- transition committee people.

CAMEROTA: And I think that's a valuable perspective that you have.