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2,263 Dead in Nepal, Thousands Injured; NBC Finds At Least 10 Embellishments; Obama Takes Aim at Correspondents' Dinner. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired April 26, 2015 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Homes, businesses, temples crumble to the ground when this quake struck. Roads, we saw a crack there in half. Stunned survivors, for a while just stared in disbelief, something like this hasn't happened in decades.

Now, the aftershocks continue. Three dozen or more of them to hit one of them at 6.7, striking Nepal just a few hours ago.

Let's get more on the aid efforts with us via Skype, Anne Petersons. She's the senior vice president of global affairs for Americares.

I want to start, Anne -- and I thank you for joining us this morning -- with what you're sending and the difficulties of getting it to the areas that need it most.

ANNE PETERSON, SR. VICE PRESIDENT, AMERICARES: Well, we have done this a few times before. Americares has responded to many of the recent large disasters from Indonesia and Haiti, to most recently, Vanuatu. It is always difficult getting in and that is part of the coordinated response.

Americares is a health global disaster relief organization, and so, our key items that we try and get in is medical supplies and medicines. And so, we actually have teams of medical doctors in India and prepositioned medical supplies already. They have gone in during our night, the day time in India and Nepal, and will be arriving.

We also have here in Stanford about 20,000 pounds container loads of medical supplies, medicines, that will be enlisting everyone's support to get across the word to Nepal as quickly as possible. And I would concur with all of your other guests that the next few days, hours, are doing for the benefit really critical. We need to find the people and then they are going to have very significant injuries. They will need the medical supplies. They need medical help.

One of the other things that Americare regularly does is that many of the care facilities, the hospital and clinics are also damaged by the disaster. So, identifying which ones are safe and fixing the ones that need to be repaired so those that are injured can continue to get critical aid will be one of the first priorities.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And we have heard reports that these hospitals are underwhelmed and having to triage outside of these hospitals, the ones that are still standing there in Kathmandu and in other areas of the country.

Are you getting responses or reports back from the personnel working there with and for Americares with what they are seeing on the ground?

PETERSON: I haven't heard from them yet this morning. It's nighttime there and early morning for us. I know we have got the first wave of supplies into Nepal and that they are doing both the assessment and getting it out.

We expect that -- we are very careful about which supplies we bring in. Kathmandu will be overrun with supplies, people, et cetera. So, it's key to make sure that what you bring in is really what they most need, and so we have triaged our own warehouse medical supplies to bring in medicines, bandage, the fluid replacement is going to be absolute key for a people who have what we call fresh injuries from the earthquake.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Well, unfortunately, these tragedies happen and we are so grateful that people like you and groups like Americares are ready to respond and such a large way for people who need it.

Anne Peterson, thank you for joining us this morning.

PETERSON: You're welcome. Thank you.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: You know, some of the most riveting pictures we are getting are from Mt. Everest. We know this morning 17 people died when yesterday's earthquake triggered avalanches all around them there on Mt. Everest.

This is what climbers -- look at this -- at the base camp heard and saw, that snow and debris just hurtling towards them. American hiker John Reiter is on Mount Everest and he spoke with us a bit earlier.


JON REITER, AMERICAN HIKER ON MOUNT EVEREST (via telephone): The earthquake started and it was long, going off for a quite a while. But base camp is in a bowl, there's high mountains all around us, and an earthquake that long set off avalanches all around us and they came down, they were large, they were massive avalanches. When it impacted base camp there was quite a cloud that was rock, took out a large section of the base camp.

We all ducked to cover until the cloud passed and then started dealing with the aftermath. We were lucky. All of Nepal is hit pretty hard. We are lucky we've got some great guys, great helicopters coming in this morning. One guy helped us last year and they are doing a fantastic job getting the critical guys down.

So, as long as our ceiling stays high and get the choppers in, we will get the guys down the hill.

[07:35:01] Right now, we are all in groups. We're moving guys. We have taken all of our tents and turned them all into field hospitals and as the choppers come in, we have made a helipad and as the choppers get close, we are working in groups and we are getting these critical guys up to the helicopters and loading them in and getting them out.

Everybody is pitching in. It's a fantastic team effort. All of the teams that are still around are pitching in, but it's -- we have a lot of snow yesterday. And it's tough conditions, but it's getting done. It's a good team effort up here.

We were in shifts last night. Yesterday was a long day, just trying to get everybody into our camp. Our camp is taking care of the injured but last night, we took two-hour shifts, so everybody got some sleep. Most of us did.


PAUL: So, let's go to CNN's Mallika Kapur in Kolkata, India, right now.

Mallika, when we talked about what happened just a little while ago, the 6.7 aftershock, did you feel that one as well?

MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We did. You know, I'm in Kolkata, which is 900 kilometers away from Kathmandu.

To put it in context, if we had to fly from Kolkata to Nepal to Kathmandu, the flight time would be an hour. So, we are that far away. But yes, we felt it over here in Kolkata. And many people came running out of their buildings and stood in the roads, stood in the gardens outside because they were terrified what might happen next.

So, you can imagine how severe the quake must have been in Nepal. This, of course, is having a serious impact on rescue and relief operations. It is affecting emergency crews who are trying to get into Nepal. Just within the last hour, I've heard of two flights that were trying to get into Nepal but couldn't land. We had colleagues on one flight. One flight of the Indian government was sending into Nepal to bring back Indian citizens who are stuck and stranded in Nepal and my colleague was telling us that they were circling around Kathmandu airport for about 45 minutes, but they were not allowed to land because of these aftershocks and they had to come right back.

I know somebody who was on another flight, which was carrying several international aid agency workers. They were carrying relief supplies. They, too, they sat on the tarmac in New Delhi airport three hours and told their flight was cancelled as a result of these tremors and these aftershocks, so they really are hampering rescue and relief efforts which are desperately needed in Nepal and the need is growing greater by the hour.

PAUL: All right. Hey, Mallika Kapur, thank you so much. We will see you at the top of the hour. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Embellishments from his pass could decide his future. An internal probe of NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams found even more instances of exaggerations. Is he going to come back? That's the bottom line here. Or is his reputation too damaged? We'll take a look, next.


[07:41:35] BLACKWELL: Nineteen minutes to the top of the hour now.

At least ten instances of exaggerated or embellished accounts of Brian Williams reporting. CNN has learned an internal investigation of the NBC anchor's past could mean a decision on his future is coming.

PAUL: Williams is suspended, of course, until August after he apologized for claiming he was in a helicopter that was shot by rocket fire during the Iraq war. Since then, Lester Holt has taken over NBC "Nightly News" but the investigation is not over.

CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter has been keeping an investigation into Williams.

And, Brian, at least, as they said here, ten instances thus far. What exactly did this investigation find?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It's still ongoing. You know, NBC hasn't said if they're actually going to release it or not. So, all we know about is what sources are willing to tell us. "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" reported this investigation had found several new instances that have not been publicly disclosed and I was able to confirm some of this yesterday.

We also know a big meeting was held this week with the CEO of all NBC Universal, Steve Burke, for him to be briefed on all these findings. Taken together, all these are indications that this is moving to a new phase with Brian Williams.

It's almost three months since he was suspended. This was stunning fall from grace for one of America's most beloved news anchors. But the question is whether NBC feels they can reinstate him to the chair and a very open question right now, feel there is increasing pressure to make a decision well before that August deadline where he is supposed to be returning to work.

But this morning, the "Los Angeles Times" reportedly actually, they're not going to make up their mind for at least five weeks. So, essentially, Brian Williams, Lester Holt and all of NBC just remain in limbo. A very bad situation to be in.

PAUL: Well, a lot of people saying, you know, it puts Lester at really awkward position as well.

STELTER: It does.

PAUL: Yes -- but this whole scandal, I mean, it has become a butt of jokes, even at the correspondents dinner last night. Take a listen to this.

STELTER: Right, yes.


CECILY STRONG, COMEDIAN: Here we are at Aaron Schock's own dinosaur island! Here we are after hunting the dinosaurs. But -- wait. Who is that? Brian Williams? You weren't there! What are you doing, you rascal?


PAUL: It's almost nervous laughter. Did you feel it?

STELTER: Yes. Well, Brian Williams has become sort of a meme in this way, people joking of him being in places he wasn't at. Because this is the talk of the TV industry, there definitely was nervous laughter last night.

Brian Williams' new boss, Andy Lack, was in the room, but Brian Williams noticeably was not there at the dinner last night. He hasn't been able to defend himself. NBC hasn't let him publicly compliment.

But this has hurt morale to NBC. You know, it's really done damage to the network. Internally, people want a resolution in this case.

I have seen data, Christi, that shows NBC's reputation as a network has recovered from the blow it took a couple of months ago. I think that goes to show that, you know, I'm an anchor, you're an anchor. I think anchors matter. I think viewers watch people and they like to watch specific anchors.

But that said, big networks are more important as a whole than any individual person. The fact that NBC has been able to rebound a bit and been able to hold on to most of their viewers goes to show that NBC might be able to let Brian Williams go and not take another blow. Do you know what I mean?

PAUL: But how easily could they do that? And I say that because we all know there are contracts.

[07:45:01] And I would think his lawyer is ready --

STELTER: That's right. Even if viewers are willing to stay tuned, it's going to cost NBC a lot of money if they're going to unwind this deal. We don't know if they are at that phase yet. We don't know what they're going to decide.

But, you know, Brian Williams signed a $50 million contract three months before he was suspended. Just imagine that, right? This is a deal reported to be worth $10 million a year and goes to five years. That means NBC is on the line for a possible big payout if they decide that Brian Williams is not returning to the NBC "Nightly News" chair.

PAUL: All righty. Brian Stelter, thank you so much for all your digging on this. We appreciate it.

STELTER: Thank you. Thanks.

PAUL: As much as I -- it's just -- I don't like to see anybody fall from grace.


PAUL: It's always hard, it's always hard, whether they're on our business or not.

BLACKWELL: It's difficult to talk about especially with someone in our business, but we will follow the developments as they happen.

Now, you did see just a bit there of "SNL's" Cecily Strong, making a White House correspondent dinner debut as host.

But, you know, I think big laughs to the president last night. He had some zingers there. he took on Hillary Clinton, climate change. Something like a bucket list? We'll have details, next.


BLACKWELL: D.C. got a little loose last night. The president and the journalist who cover him take part in the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner. It's a time for the president to poke fun at the networks that cover him, even took some digs at people who want to be next in line for that job.



[07:50:02] BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just have to put this aside. I'm going to stay focus on my job, because for many Americans, this is still a time for deep uncertainty. For example, I have one friend, just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year, and she is now living out of a van in Iowa.



BLACKWELL: Stephen Collinson was at the dinner last night.

Stephen, I watched that on my iPhone this morning, and I was not there in the room. How did the president play in the room?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: He went down pretty well. He's got a very sharp of sense of humor. He's very good at delivering speeches, you know, he's got great comic timing, he brings a chuckle before the joke he is about to give, and then a smile.

So, it went down very well in the room, and when you listen to some of the jokes, some of them are quite daring, you know? The president goes quite close to the edge, even take on the issues like race and religion. And there's a moment of almost shock when you hear what is said before people really start laughing. So, you get an interesting reflection of the president's character in this dinner.

President George W. Bush, I was in a number of dinners he did, he was in the self mockery style of comedy, and he took shots of the image people had of him, and that he was not good at speaking in public. And President Obama's humor is more sophisticated, more cutting, and more sharp. It's interesting how he used the dinners to say things which you think might be on his mind, but he can't say in a more formal setting in a White House press conference, for instance, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we've got an example of it. I think back in the control room, we got it.

Let's play it.


OBAMA: The science is clear. Nine out of the 10 hottest years ever came in the last decade.

LUTHER: I am not a scientist but I do know how to count to ten.

OBAMA: Rising seas, more violent storms.

LUTHER: We got mosquitoes, sweaty people on the train, stinking it up. It's just nasty.

OBAMA: I mean, look at what is happening right now. Every serious scientist says we need to act. The Pentagon says it's a national security risk. Miami floods on a sunny day, and instead of doing something about it, we have officials falling snow balls in the Senate.

LUTHER: OK, I think I got it, bro.

OBAMA: It is crazy!


BLACKWELL: Yes, that was one of the characters -- one of the hosts of "Key & Peele" from Comedy Central, the Luther character, the angry Obama voice.

But, again, as you say, the president took this opportunity to talk about some serious issues there were moments when there were more oohs and aahs than laughs.

COLLINSON: Right. Yes, and that's what I mean about, you know, him coming close to the edge. The show was very interesting because there was (INAUDIBLE) humor. You know, the president was lampooning Republicans who deny the existence of global warming, but he's also taking a shot at himself and that's why it works.

We have this image, the public image of President Obama as the sort of supernaturally calm character that rarely gets ruffled about anything, and he said last night, some people think he is aloof, perhaps, and doesn't react to things. So, that kind of anger translated there to use the dinner to put across, like I said, the things that the president might be thinking, might be telling his aides behind closed doors and it's not appropriate for the president to come out and say.

So, this dinner is not just a good night. It's a real political opportunity, and often -- you know, I have talked to a lot of people that worked with presidents on these things, and they say they actually dread showing up for an evening with a bunch of journalists who spend the rest of the year making the president's life misery.

But as soon as that light goes on and they step up, you know, these guys are real performers, they're in the spotlight where they love to be, of course, you know, having to run for president, and they really take this political opportunity to try and debunk some of the attacks of their opponents the rest of the year.

BLACKWELL: Yes, one of my favorites from last night was, and I let people look it up for themselves -- it was something like a bucket list, it got good laughs at the top there.

Stephen Collinson, thank you so much.



PAUL: All righty. Pulling out all the stops. LeBron James goes for a full court shot. Can he nail it? I don't know. What do you think?

We have the video that you have got to see ahead of tonight's Cavaliers and Celtics game.

And CNN's newest series, "High Profits", takes a look at the budding recreational marijuana business in Colorado. Join the green rush on "High Profits". That's tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.


[07:58:04] PAUL: We want to give you a look at what else we are talking about this morning.

BLACKWELL: Search and rescue efforts underway in Alabama after a severe storm capsized sailboats during a regatta. Officials say one person is dead and five people are missing this morning, and more than 100 sailboats took part in this event and as many as 50 people had to be pulled from the water.

PAUL: The relatives of the Boston bomber are under federal protection in Boston. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's family is under guard as they wait to prove that Tsarnaev should be spared the death penalty. Defense attorneys present their case this week. Now, they planned to show his older brother Tamerlan was the mastermind behind the bombings, and that Dzhokhar was just troubled and vulnerable young man influenced by his brother.

BLACKWELL: Protests in Baltimore which for the most part were peaceful. They turned violent yesterday. This, of course, in response to the death of a Baltimore man who succumbed to injuries suffered while in police custody. Now, the escalating tensions in downtown Baltimore forced a lockdown of Orioles ballpark. A sign was put up, look at this, on a jumbotron there, asking fans not to leave Camden Yards. The protests resulted in the arrest of a dozen people.

PAUL: And was it a stroke of luck, or is this what the Celtics are in for? Look at this! Full court from LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Effortlessly sinking a full court shot, you know, throwing it like he just casually thrown some laundry in the laundry basket.

Wait a minute. Men never do that.

BLACKWELL: The ones who live alone do.

PAUL: I know, I'm kidding.

That's true, the ones who live alone do.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we do.

PAUL: We know you do. Just a joke, give me a little Sunday smile there. Thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: Next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.


BLACKWELL: All right. Right at the top of the hour now. Good morning. I'm Victor Blackwell.