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CNN NEWSROOM

O'Reilly To Be Paid After Firing; Wendy Walsh Shares O'Reilly Story; CNN's "Soundtracks" Premier; Possible Health Care Breakthrough. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired April 20, 2017 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:32:42] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, breaking news on Bill O'Reilly and Fox News. He's out. We knew that. But now we know how much he's taking with him on the way out.

Joining us to discuss, CNN chief media correspondent, host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter.

You have some details of a big settlement.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, two very well placed sources say O'Reilly will be paid tens of millions of dollars on the way out the door at Fox. Let me take you to the math, John. O'Reilly just did a new deal, new contract that he signed. It's worth $25 million a year thereabouts, maybe $24 million or $26 million other years, but $25 million a year for four years. Now, what does that mean? That means $100 million.

However, Fox is not going to pay the full amount. They had clauses in the contract that said essentially they could drop O'Reilly and not have to pay all $100 million that he's owed through 2021. But he will get a portion of it. He'll get tens of millions of dollars as a condition of leaving, which is an extraordinary amount of money for anybody, especially someone who won't be back on the air.

BERMAN: Tens of millions of dollars. That's multiples of ten, not a single $10 million.

STELTER: You got it.

BERMAN: All right, joining us now to discuss this, American University professor, former weekly commentator at Fox News, Jane Hall.

Tens of millions of dollars, Jane. And if we believe "The New York Times" reporting on this, Fox and Bill O'Reilly paid out $13 million to settle accusation and claims of various degrees of sexual and other kinds of harassment. So Bill O'Reilly is getting more to leave, if you do the math here, than these women got because of their claims.

JANE HALL, PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATIONS: Well, I would call that a very regrettable message. And, you know, the point of this is, to me, is that this is a moment culturally where women have stepped forward. Women were settled with by 21st Century Fox after they promised to clean up the culture, after Roger Ailes was forced to leave, also with a reported multi-million dollar payout. So that, in some ways, is regrettable. More than in some ways it's regrettable.

But the point is, women have stepped forward. Fox had promised to change the culture. This is against the law, which I think has been lost in a lot of this. I hope this doesn't get politicized. This is not a right/left issue. Although, I think O'Reilly supporters may see it that way, that would be regrettable.

It's too bad because leaving and collecting millions when you have settled lawsuits, even though you deny the claims, that is not something you want to tell your children is a good consequence of this action. That just isn't.

[09:35:16] BERMAN: You bring up a good point, harassment is not a political issue. Harassment is a harassment issue.

Brian Stelter, one of the things that came out overnight that you dully noted in your fantastic newsletter, which had a ton of information this morning, "Vanity Fair" was saying, this could just be just the beginning. There could be, you know, more shoes to drop here. And I read that and I'm like, more shoes than Bill O'Reilly. If Bill O'Reilly is getting pushed out the door at Fox News, there aren't bigger shoes than that. What's the kind of things we're talking about here?

STELTER: Other kinds of shoes. Our colleague Alisyn Camerota used to work at Fox. She said something similar this morning saying she's hearing from her friends inside the network there's a widespread sense that, yes, there's more coming. That either more claims against O'Reilly or against others at the network. Essentially that the mess has not been cleaned up yet.

That's a big topic at the board meeting that's happening right now. This is the board of directors that really run the company, run 21st Century Fox. They realize they've got a number of problems on their hands, pending lawsuits, a federal investigation into settlement payments. A lot Fox still has to deal with here.

BERMAN: Jane, quickly, you call this a cultural moment. Do you think this is something that could not have happened ten years ago?

HALL: Well, it didn't happen when they settled with Andrea Macrus (ph) in 2004 and that was - that was a very public settlement. So, yes, I think something has changed. Corporations - O'Reilly didn't lose viewers. He lost advertisers. Corporations said we don't want to be associated with what is alleged here. I think that is new and I think that it means that women in the workplace can in some ways say that this is an important moment, that companies do not want to be associated with the kind of culture that is alleged to have been there.

BERMAN: Jane Hall, Brian Stelter, thank you so much. Again, the breaking news from Brian Stelter here, a settlement worth

tens of millions of dollars, a payment to Bill O'Reilly after he's been pushed out the door.

Now, it was the words of the statements of one woman that might have been the final factor to push Bill O'Reilly off "The Factor." We're going to speak to that woman live next.

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[09:41:10] BERMAN: All right, "The O'Reilly Factor" is no more. And Wendy Walsh may have been a key factor in making it happen. Two weeks ago she called the hotline set up to report sexual harassment at Fox News. She revealed how O'Reilly failed to follow through on an offer to make her a contributor after she wouldn't go to his hotel room. Wendy Walsh is a human behavior expert and psychologist, joins us right now.

Wendy, thanks so much for being with us. Obviously your story also reported in detail in "The New York Times."

The breaking news from just moments ago, Fox News agrees to a tens of millions of dollars settlement with Bill O'Reilly. He's leaving Fox with tens of millions of dollars.

Wendy, if you're still with us, and I fear we may have just lost you, can we get your reaction to that?

Wendy is gone.

All right, do you guys want to take a break or do you want to stay - all right.

Again, the breaking news, Fox News has agreed to a settlement with Bill O'Reilly worth tens of millions of dollars more, we believe, than the money paid out to women - the various women who have made claims against him and Fox News. We'll have much more. Stay with us.

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[09:46:39] BERMAN: All right, joining us now again Wendy Walsh, a CNN (ph) human behavior expert and psychologist. Wendy used to appear on Fox News. Wendy says that her career there was halted after she refused to go to a hotel room with Bill O'Reilly. That account came out in "The New York Times." It may have been a factor in his ultimate departure.

Wendy joins us now by phone. We lost her Skype communication.

Wendy, I want to get your reaction by the breaking news just in that Fox and Bill O'Reilly have agreed to a settlement for his departure worth tens of millions of dollars. Your reaction?

WENDY WALSH, HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERT AND PSYCHOLOGIST (via telephone): Well, you know, I don't have - I've said it over and over, personally a dog in this race. This was never being vindictive about Mr. O'Reilly. It was really just adding my piece to the story for the five other women who were forced to sign confidentiality agreements and could not talk.

However, having said this, they've got to do, from a business standpoint, what their contract says. And if they're breaking his contract early, they're going to have to pay him off. But that doesn't take away from the fact that every other corporation, large, mid-size or mom and pop business, is watching this closely as we are literally changing workplace cultures in America.

BERMAN: You know, I know you said you - this was never personal for you. You were speaking for the women you couldn't. But if it's tens of millions of dollars Bill O'Reilly is receiving more on his way out the door than those other five women you talked about received in their various settlements with Bill O'Reilly and Fox News.

WALSH: You know, life is never fair. I mean there are people accusing me online of making money off this. And I'm trying to get out of the door to go to work for a small teacher's salary right now because I'm just a single mom. I was not litigious. I did not sue. I did not ask for money. And life is not fair monetarily. But it now is becoming fair morally.

BERMAN: Bill O'Reilly in his paper statement said it is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. Do you get the sense he was talking about you there, Wendy?

WALSH: Yes. And I want to be very clear about the word "unfounded." My attorney and I called in a complaint to the 20th Century Fox sexual harassment hotline. They began a very detailed investigation of which I was grilled for more than two hours by four Fox attorneys. I gave them - I submitted a lot of e-mail evidence. They also corroborated my story by interviewing four of my friends and colleagues from 2013 who were aware of what had happened. They did an investigation. Obviously, they found that it was, you know, just for them to get rid of him. So to throw around this word "unfounded, no, they investigated. It's not just my word here.

BERMAN: Wendy Walsh, thank you very much for being with us.

Again, thee breaking news, tens of millions of dollars for Bill O'Reilly as he leaves Fox News.

Completely shifting gears right now, about ten minutes before the hour, what was the soundtrack to the civil rights movement in your mind?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES BROWN, MUSICIAN, (singing): Say it loud. I'm black and I'm proud. Say it loud. Say it louder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, James Brown makes the list for a lot of people. None other including than Kathy Sledge, a member of the R&B group Sister Sledge, featured in our new CNN original series "Soundtracks" that premieres at 10:00 p.m. tonight. Of course, just a reminder, Sister Sledge is awesome. Listen to this.

[09:50:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SISTER SLEDGE, MUSICIANS (singing): We are family. I got all my sisters with me. We are family. Get up everybody and sing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I force my ten year old boys to sing that with me. And they like it, I think, at least that's what they tell me.

Kathy Sledge joins me now.

So great to have you with us right now.

KATHY SLEDGE, SINGER, SISTER SLEDGE: Thank you.

BERMAN: It's an honor to be here with you as we listen to one of the great songs of all time.

SLEDGE: Wow. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: Let me ask you first, you know, about the documentary, talk about "Soundtracks" for a generation. And the sounds of the civil rights movement. You know, why was the music so important?

SLEDGE: You know, the music became the message, especially after the assassination of Dr. King. It gave us direction. And when I say us, not just one group of people. It gave us hope and it just was our leader. And basically I think "Soundtracks," especially the first episode, it's riveting and it's history. And you have to see it. (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: It's in a sense memory, because when you hear the songs, automatically you think of certain things. And, you know, you hear James Brown, "I'm black and I'm proud."

SLEDGE: Yes.

BERMAN: When you hear that lyric with that rhythm, what do you think?

SLEDGE: Well, I remember - you know, I was a little girl then, and I think what it gave me was a sense of identity. We didn't have music for our culture. We just didn't. So, you know, and, of course, "Soundtracks," it touches on that. It touches on everything. But that part of it, it talks about how there was solidarity. And we had to know where to go, especially after the assassination.

BERMAN: And, you know, when I heard "Soundtracks," and I knew I was going to be talking to you, I immediately thought of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. All baseball fans of a certain age will know what I'm talking about right now.

SLEDGE: Ah. (INAUDIBLE). BERMAN: The 1979 Pirates.

SLEDGE: Yes.

BERMAN: It was their theme song. They were the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates.

SLEDGE: Yes.

BERMAN: They decided that that was the message that they wanted to send, this team. And you're looking at a picture of them right now, Dave Parker, Willie Stargell, Ed Ott.

SLEDGE: Yes.

BERMAN: But what - you know, why - why is a song associated with a baseball team?

SLEDGE: I think, you know, that song has been associated with so many things. That was just one of the firsts. And it was Willie Stargell's idea. That's what we heard. You know, he shared the story how they needed a sense of unity and that's what "We Are Family" does. It's personal to me because it was written about me and my sisters.

BERMAN: I know you just lost one of your sisters too.

SLEDGE: Yes, we did. We sadly enough lost one of our sisters, and I feel like the world lost a family member, Joni.

BERMAN: You know, I think with that song, I think that's certainly true.

Do you think there's any songs today that sort of match with the moment?

SLEDGE: Sure. I think many, especially with the movements that are going on now, like Black Lives Matter. There's Kendrick Lamar. I think what happens is, it becomes relevant and it reaches a market that it should reach and it becomes the message. And, again, that's what - especially the first episode of "Soundtracks" is all about.

I have to say, this is something you watch with your family. You should watch it with your family. You should - because it is history. And at the same time some of us remember this, some of us weren't here. So it's a history lesson at the same time.

BERMAN: You know, it's hard to believe, because you look so young, that you were even -

SLEDGE: Oh, thank you.

BERMAN: You know, that you were listening to James Brown in the 1970s.

SLEDGE: I know. Yes, I was. You know, I was 16 when I sang "We Are Family," and a lot of people don't know that, but I can say I grew up on stage, and - yes. BERMAN: Kathy Sledge, it's an honor to be with you. I really do

appreciate it. Thank you so much.

SLEDGE: Thank you. Thank you.

BERMAN: Again, "Soundtracks," that premieres tonight. You are not going to want to miss it.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:58:57] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right, breaking news on health care. Word just in of what we are told is a possible breakthrough in the Republican, you know, the inside the Republican Party battle to repeal and replace Obamacare. Republican lawmakers now telling CNN that major progress has been made at winning support of House moderates in the so-called Tuesday Group and some of the more conservative members of the so- called Freedom Caucus.

CNN's MJ Lee has been working her sources, joins us with more.

MJ, you've been on the phone with some members. What are they saying to you?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. Well, what we know right now is that leaders of the Tuesday Group and leaders of the House Freedom Caucus have been in discussions over the recess and they are working towards a deal that could potentially bring on board 18 to 20 new Freedom Caucus members.

[09:59:46] Now, just to walk our viewers back a little bit, remember, it was just a month ago that the House Republican health care bill had to be yanked from the floor because they could not get enough moderates as well as some conservatives on board this bill. Now, we do know that the White House at the time suggested to members, if we don't get this done this time, you all are going to be stuck with Obamacare. Clearly that thinking has shifted and we know that especially Vice President Mike Pence has been very involved in speaking to members and members of the industry to try