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O'Reilly to be Paid Tens of Millions; Possible Breakthrough in Health Care Talks; Westbrook's Big Night Ends in Big Disappointment; Patriots Visit the White House; Serena Williams Pregnant; Aired 10:30- 11a ET
Aired April 20, 2017 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:17] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the breaking news. Details of the settlement, a big settlement, between Bill O'Reilly and FOX News on his way out the door, actually now fully out the door at FOX News.
CNN's chief media correspondent, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter broke that story. Tens of millions of dollars.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The math adds up this way. He was making $25 million a year on a brand-new contract that he just signed, so FOX owes him a lot of money between now and next, you know, 2020-2021. However, FOX will not pay the full amount. It would add up to almost $100 million. Instead it will pay tens of millions of dollars. They're not disclosing the exact figure, but honestly, John, it will eventually come out through corporate filings because FOX will have to disclose this. The number is that big that it will actually have to show up in their earnings reports.
BERMAN: And as you pointed out to me, big enough that it is more money than the money that we know was paid out to the five women who made various accusations against Bill O'Reilly of FOX News.
STELTER: This is the exact same scenario Roger Ailes experienced last summer. Ailes was forced out as the head of FOX News under a similar cloud of harassment accusations. He was paid $40 million. Gretchen Carlson, the one who sued Ailes, was paid $20 million. So Ailes ultimately bought a $36 million mansion right on the ocean, near Mar- a-Lago actually, down in Palm Beach, Florida. I wonder if O'Reilly is buying a new house now, too.
BERMAN: All right. Let's talk about some of the details of the settlement. I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Areva Martin and CNN media analyst Bill Carter.
Areva, you're a lawyer. Let me start with you here. You know, Bill O'Reilly had a contract with FOX News, a four-year contract. Obviously that's been cut off right now, but in that contract, there was a moral turpitude clause. Could they have gotten away with firing him and paying him nothing?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely, John. All contracts of this nature have that moral turpitude clause that you just alluded to, and it's up to the employer. What was in that investigation that was conducted by the Paul Weiss law firm? If there was evidence in that investigation that these sexual harassment claims, in fact, are true, and there is substantial evidence to support the claims, FOX could have triggered that clause and could have either negotiated for a much smaller payout or no payout at all.
Now that probably would admit that Bill O'Reilly would have sued FOX for breach of contract, but again, if there were -- if there was evidence to substantiate the sexual harassment claims, FOX would have been on solid ground in terms of not paying out tens of millions of dollars for someone who was involved in unlawful activity, and I think that's so important to note. Sexual harassment is unlawful activity. It's not just immoral, it's unlawful.
BERMAN: You know, Bill Carter, I've had several women say to me in the last day, you know, including one that I'm married to, you know, why should FOX News get a pat on the back for doing something that should be so obvious?
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: They shouldn't get a pat on the back. In fact, you could say why didn't they react to this a long, long time ago? They knew not only that he made a settlement, but they paid settlements for him a long time ago.
I think what's interesting here is the idea of them letting him try to sue them is crazy because they don't know -- they would not want all the stuff to come out, how they had covered up for him. If there was discovery what other executives would be called into question? I think FOX wants this out of their hair as fast as they can get out.
STELTER: I mean, wise is always right. And I do think a lot of women across this country are looking at this case and saying, in workplaces, in what places, not like FOX News, not in high-profile workplaces, but in lots of different kinds of companies, there are men, historically, you know, a different generation that may have gotten away with this stuff. And for FOX News to take action here, FOX News, known as a conservative bastion, I think it's a notable moment for corporate America.
BERMAN: I just --
CARTER: But remember they'd already done it with Ailes. I really think if Ailes had not been first, this would have been much harder for them to pull off. I think --
BERMAN: But the point that I haven't understood from the beginning is that the details of many of these claims were widely known beforehand and it was the advertisers pulling out now that sort of forced their hand, but where were the advertisers before, Areva? I don't understand, why, you know, three cases over 10 years was OK, but that fifth case that came out for the first time in "The New York Times," all of a sudden, you know, 50 companies are all up in arms.
MARTIN: John, it's important to note, it's not just the advertisers, it's the pressure from outside groups. It's the women that have come forward, it's the advocacy groups that have protested, that have gone to social media to shame and humiliate some of these advertisers.
Look, I've been doing sexual harassment claims for over two decades and oftentimes these cases are settled, there's a confidentiality agreement, no one talks about it. This is long before Twitter became the staple of almost everyone. So today when you have these claims, you can't just push it under the rug. They become very public, and the pressure on FOX from the women, from the media, from those protest groups is what led to the ouster of Bill O'Reilly, led to the ouster of Roger Ailes.
[10:35:10] BERMAN: You know, there's a really interesting moment that I want to play from our friend, Kirsten Powers, who's now a CNN political commentator. She was at FOX for a long time. And she talked to Anderson last night about what she faced with the culture over there and treatment that she received on Bill O'Reilly's show and how she then complained about it. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I went to his executive producer and I said he needs to apologize and he needs to never do that again or I'm not doing his show anymore. And I was told, basically, well, you know Bill, there's nothing we can do about it. He's a throwback. He's kind of an Archie Bunker. And I said, well, if you mean he's a Neanderthal, then we're on the same page, he can never do that again. I'm a political analyst here.
Went back to Bill, came back, said no, he's not going to apologize. So then I went to my -- I was then called into my boss's office, I was told, what can we do? It's Bill. There's nothing we can do. You know, we're sorry this happened to you, but there's nothing we can do.
I complained to Roger Ailes. I was told the same exact thing, there's nothing we can do, it's Bill. He's a jerk, nobody likes him, you know, and then Roger said, you know, Bill, he likes to put up dirty pictures and ask pretty girls to talk about them. And so the whole thing was sort of Bill -- oh, and then he said, you know, and what am I going to do? I don't like him, but he makes so much money, there's nothing I can do. That was the culture.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Wait a minute. Who was it who said that?
POWERS: Roger Ailes. And so this was the culture, which was Bill was, you know, just too big, and so that there was nothing you could do about it. So I did quit his show and I didn't do it for two or three years. This was an election year. This is the biggest show at FOX. And then about three years later I went back and said, look, I'm willing to give this another try, and he said sure. And I came on the show and I never had another problem. We actually ended up having quite a good relationship, but it just spoke volumes that I had completely handled it on my own, that there was nobody that was willing to even say anything to him, just to basically say you can't treat one of our political analysts this way.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: You know, Bill Carter, it's interesting, fascinating to hear that.
BERMAN: From Kirsten Powers, telling the story on TV last night. And you brought up the fact that FOX wants to end this as quickly as it can, but "Vanity Fair" reporting overnight this could be just the beginning.
CARTER: Yes. There's -- there could be a lot more to come. And Brian was talking about it this morning. I mean, there was a culture there, and they let this stuff go on and on. And you know, it was set by Ailes and Bill was the ringleader of this and he just did what he wanted. He was the biggest dog in the pound and he just took whatever he wanted.
BERMAN: And let me ask you, as a woman, when you hear something like that, testimony, essentially, public testimony from Kirsten Powers on what happened to her personally, Areva, you know, what do you think about that?
MARTIN: It rings so familiar, John. That statement from Kirsten is the statement I hear from thousands of women. I think every woman that's been in a professional environment probably has a very similar story to tell. And what's so scary about that statement is she said no one responded. Everyone told her, deal with it because this is how it is in the workplace, and that's what women have to go through. That's why we didn't see the calls to the hotline, as you will recall. One of FOX's first statements was no one made a call to the hotline. They don't call the hotline because they don't trust that anything will happen to their complaints.
BERMAN: You know, Brian Stelter, you know we know what the new FOX schedule will be. That doesn't interest me as much as the future of FOX News. You know, will it change its culture and will that change behind the scenes and will that change what we see on TV?
STELTER: You know right now the executives have to launch a new show at 8:00 p.m. Tucker Carlson moving over. They've got a lot of changes to deal with. The very question is what happens to those executives? And most of the folks running FOX now were Ailes deputies. And in some cases maybe weren't able to do anything about what was happening or were involved and knew about it. So there's a lot of uncertainty about that, and I think that's partly what the board is talking about right now. There's a big board meeting behind the scenes at FOX this morning and that has to be one of the subjects.
BERMAN: Bill, last word?
CARTER: Well, I think the best thing about it is I think now if a woman is in that place, she does have somewhere to go and they're not going to ignore it. I don't think it will be ignored anymore.
BERMAN: All right. Bill Carter, Brian Stelter, Areva Martin, thanks so for this discussion, important that it doesn't end this morning. Appreciate it.
All right, we do have new news this morning, breaking news on a possible bill, a possible agreement to repeal and replace Obamacare. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta talked to the secretary of Health and Human Services, who is a key figure in this. That's next.
[10:43:58] BERMAN: All right, back to our breaking news. CNN -- we're getting possible word of a breakthrough, perhaps, in Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Now the secretary of Health and Human Services has promised that the first failed bill will not deter the Trump administration from fixing what he calls America's failing health care system. The secretary sat down with our Dr. Sanjay Gupta earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM PRICE, HEALTH SECRETARY: I believe firmly that the bill that has been discussed and that was put before Congress is a significantly better program than the one that we currently have.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: But you want the best. You can have this for a long time. Why would you just settle for significantly better? Didn't you want the best possible bill after seven years of saying we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare? We want to put the best thing forward possible.
PRICE: The process that we have is not what Secretary Price thinks ought to be the legislation. It's what 535 individuals in the Congress of the United States and the president believes is the most appropriate thing and the best thing moving forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right, Sanjay joins me right now.
Sanjay, obviously, a lot of news right now about this effort, continued effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Did the secretary tell you what he thought went wrong the first time around?
[10:45:07] GUPTA: Well, I guess to put it in sports terms, which I know you like, John Berman, they rushed the pass. I think that's what he was essentially telling me. He said the timeline was too compressed. He saw his job really as educating, you know, the legislators who would vote on this, and he felt like he didn't have enough time. I mean, I think that's how he would characterize what he told me.
But there were some really specific things as well. One of them you may remember, John, came around essential health benefits. What should an insurance plan that anybody buys have as a minimum level of benefits? People say if you buy more benefits, it's going to cost more. Others say you need to have at least a minimum level of that. It's one of the more contentious points around the health care debate. I asked Secretary Price about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRICE: You've got 20 million people in this country who have said, nonsense, I'm not going to be forced to do what you want me to do because I don't believe it's necessary for me --
GUPTA: If those people get in an accident, though, you and I and everyone else in this room will pick up the bill.
PRICE: That's exactly right. So shouldn't we devise a system that actually allows them to purchase the kind of coverage that they want and then have a system that makes certain that nobody falls through the cracks?
GUPTA: I don't know what that means.
PRICE: What if they don't have coverage now, Sanjay?
GUPTA: What I'm saying is in an effort to get those people covered.
GUPTA: What you may offer are plans that are cheap but useless.
PRICE: So wouldn't we as a compassionate society step back and say, OK, that's a real problem, and we need to address it? That's what we're trying to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: So, you know, I mean, John, these essential health benefits are going to come up again. There are some who say, look, we actually should strip away -- insurance plans can be as skinny as you want them to be. They can offer very little and be cheap. Others say well, what good is insurance unless they offer at least a minimum level of benefits? So that's going to be part of the debate going forward, I think, John.
BERMAN: It's in fact part of the debate.
BERMAN: We're pretty sure it's part of the agreement being reached right now by the conservative and moderate factions, also the so- called community rating which has to do with preexisting conditions.
Did you get a sense from the secretary of what his next move is in this and perhaps the administration's?
GUPTA: Well, it's really interesting because he was a legislator. He was a congressman for a long time and he definitely has a new role, and I think he's settling into that role. He's no longer a legislator. But as health secretary, I think he is going to be switching from more wholesale politics to retail, in the sense of going to all of these people who are going to be voting on the bill and talking to them, trying to educate them.
And I think the idea that you can -- he's going to make the case that you can strip away a mandate and this can still be funded. He's going to make the case that nearly $1 trillion should go out of Medicaid over the next several years. And he's going to make the case again that essential health benefits, in his opinion, really take away choice for consumers.
Why should they be forced to buy something they think they don't need, even if, you know, it's insurance that they might need one day? So that's going to be I think what he sees his role as.
BERMAN: You know, it's an interesting philosophical discussion. I mean, it is where a debate could happen and you could hear diversion arguments there from both sides. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out.
Sanjay, you -- one of the first things you said was that the secretary thought that the repeal and replace effort was rushed. Now critics will say, you know, Republicans for seven years have been sitting in the House saying repeal and replace Obamacare. They had seven years to prepare for this. Secretary Price himself --
GUPTA: That's right.
BERMAN: -- had proposed all kinds of legislation to repeal and replace it over the last seven years, but now he says it was rushed?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, that's exactly the nature of the questioning I had for him as well. You know, if you've had seven years -- first of all, why wasn't the bill that you were putting forward the best possible bill, not something that you just say, well, it's better than what exists right now in their opinion, but why was it the best bill? And that means the best bill that they thought would actually do something for the American people, but also something that could get passed.
And that's the part that he, you know, really talked about being rushed. He created some distance between himself as an executive branch member now, as a Cabinet secretary, and the legislative branch. He said that's 535 members of Congress that are sort of figuring this out. I'm going to just do my best to educate them. So that's how he's really seeing his role, but he said he didn't have enough time to do it. That was the rush, in his opinion.
BERMAN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, fascinating, timely discussion, given the breaking news that perhaps a breakthrough in the discussion to repeal and replace Obamacare. Great to have you with us, Sanjay. Thanks so much.
GUPTA: Thank you.
BERMAN: All right, let there be no debate anymore who the greatest athlete of all time is. Her name rhymes with Serena Williams. The legend grows, and in fact, growing inside her belly right now. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[10:53:33] BERMAN: The Thunders' Russell Westbrook, he gets 50 points against the Rockets, but not enough. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. You know, Russell Westbrook has been a one-man show all season long. It was no different last night, and the show even started before the game. Check this out. This is what Russell was wearing as he entered the arena in Houston. Don't know what you'd call that other than a fashion statement.
Now Westbrook ending up with 51 points in this one, but he took 43 shots to get it, and he was ice cold in the fourth quarter, missing 14 times. James Harden and the Rockets would pull away to win 115-111. Houston now up 2-0 in the series. Game three tomorrow night in Oklahoma City.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON GRONKOWSKI, PATRIOTS TIGHT END: Need some help?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think I got this, but thank you.
GRONKOWSKI: Are you sure?
SPICER: Maybe. All right. Thanks, man. I'll see you in a minute. All right. That was cool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: That was Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski surprising Press Secretary Sean Spicer during his press briefing. President Trump hosting the Super Bowl champion Patriots yesterday. According to the "Boston Globe," 34 players were in attendance. That's actually the same number of players who didn't show up for the event. But the Patriots noted that the last time they won two Super Bowls in a three- year span back in 2004. Only 36 players visited the White House that time.
Now Tom Brady, one of the players who did not make it, he posted this picture of his parents on instagram, saying it was their 48th wedding anniversary.
[10:55:04] Brady said in a statement that he did not attend or did not go to the White House to attend a personal family matter. His mom is currently battling cancer.
All right, finally, Serena Williams turned the sports world into a frenzy yesterday after posting this picture to Snapchat with the caption "20 weeks." She quickly deleted the picture, causing plenty of speculation that she is pregnant, and Serena's agent confirming later in the day the news that she is, in fact, expecting. And it's just 20 weeks, that means that she won the Australian Open while pregnant. Serena turns 36 in September. She's engaged to Reddit co- founder Alexis Ohanian.
John, she's going to be out the rest of the season but is expected to be back on tour in 2018.
BERMAN: And I would not bet against her now or ever.
SCHOLES: Absolutely not.
BERMAN: Simply the greatest. Andy Scholes, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.
SCHOLES: All right.
BERMAN: All right. The breaking news today, a possible deal to repeal and replace Obamacare, back on the table. We're going to hear from a Republican member of Congress familiar with these negotiations, says he may be skeptical that the Freedom Caucus can deliver the votes needed. Stay with us.