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Disney Is Buying Major Chunk Of 21st Century Fox; Regulators Repeal Obama-Era Internet Rights; French Officials: Train Collides With School Bus; Memorial Held For Victims Of The Grenfell Fire; More U.S. Lawmakers Facing Sexual Misconduct Allegations; Omarosa Denies Dramatic White House Departure. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 14, 2017 - 15:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani live from CNN London. Tonight, Disney buys a huge chunk of the Murdoch

empire in a deal that will reshape Hollywood and beyond. We will tell you how it could impact you.

Also, ahead, the days of free and equal access to the internet may be over. What is happening in Washington could affect how we all use the web.

And grieving families and survivors join Briton's royals to mark six months since the fire that devastated Grenfell Tower.

We start with that major media deal that will shake up the entertainment industry as we know it. Disney says it's buying a huge chunk of 21st

Century Fox in a $52.4 billion all stock deal. The company is trying to win back consumers from streaming services like Netflix and appeal to

younger audiences.

We don't usually kick off this program with business stories, but this is big enough that it will affect potentially the entire world. Anna Stewart



ANNA STEWART, CNN MONEY PRODUCER (voice-over): The Simpsons predicted it 19 years ago. Much of Fox including the Simpsons will soon be owned by


BOB IGOR, CEO, DISNEY: I think it's pretty clear today that consumers want access to entertainment, one that is high quality, but two, they want

access pretty much anywhere, anytime, anyhow.

STEWART: (Inaudible) of Star Wars red carpet, Disney's CEO Bob Igor, will soon have many more movie premieres to attend. Disney already owns huge

movie franchises, Star Wars, The Avengers and Frozen. Now with the Fox acquisition, it will add X-Men, Planet of the Apes and Ice Age under its


Then there's the pay tv group, Sky, Star TV, Hulu and a load of cable tv channels, giving it a massive global footprint and more content for the

streaming services it plans to launch.

CLAIRE ENDERS, ENDERS ANALYSIS: You have to remember that they're only going to be a handful of global brands in the streaming space. One is

Netflix. The other one is HBO. One is called Amazon Video. The fourth will be called Disney. Fox itself is too small to even contemplate using

its brand outside the U.S.

STEWART: Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch's Fox empire will be slimmed right down to Fox News, Fox Sports and its broadcasting network. It's a big about

face for this media titan. He spent the last 30 years building up his empire. Now he is selling most of it off. Another mega merger in a space

struggling to compete with digital rivals like Netflix and Amazon.

(on camera): Disney has given some detail on this shopping spree, but some big questions remain, will this help Fox's continued battle with British

regulators to take over Sky? What will happen to James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's son and the CEO of Fox? Will he have a place in the new entity?

And finally, will this deal pass through the eyes of the U.S. regulators? The AT&T-Time Warner deal already ran into huge difficulties with the DOJ

and this a horizontal merger is likely to raise even more antitrust concerns.

ENDERS: There will be solutions that involve a depletion, a sale of some of the assets.

STEWART (voice-over): If all goes to plan, Disney will soon be at the steering wheel of an even larger movie, tv, streaming giant. Anna Stewart,

CNN Money, London.


GORANI: We're covering the angle -- all the angles on this major deal. Our senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter is in New York. CNN Money

correspondent, Hadas Gold joins me from Washington.

Brian, first of all, we're talking here about potentially creating a group that would control 40 percent of all box office revenues in the United

States. I mean, that is absolutely huge.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is a horizontal merger meaning we're going from six major movie studios in the U.S. to five

major studios. We are seeing a giant moment of media consolidation. That raises the question about how the U.S. government will react. Will the

Department of Justice, which is currently suing CNN's parent company, Time Warner over the AT&T deal also look very skeptically at this deal? It

remains to be seen.

But in the past hour, President Trump's press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said he called Murdoch to congratulate him today and thinks this deal could

be good for jobs. Even though Disney and Fox are going to try to squeeze $2 billion in cost savings out of this deal. So, we will see what

regulators decide.

GORANI: Right. That is the question, Hadas, right? Because a horizontal merger meaning these are two content companies. This isn't vertical like

AT&T/Time Warner. How will this change things for consumers in the U.S. and outside the U.S.?

[15:05:13] HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, consumers are going to see a change in terms of where they get their content from.

Disney was really looking to the future by doing this deal. They have been very open about the fact that they are planning to launch their own

streaming services.

So, a consumer who wants to find their Disney movie or 20th Century Fox movie might not be able to find it on Netflix. They will have to go and

buy the Disney streaming services that will be upcoming or maybe even go to Hulu, which now Disney has a 60 percent stake in after this deal closes.

That's where they are going to find that content. Disney is clearly bracing itself to compete with all of these upcoming technology companies.

It seems as though Rupert Murdoch recognized that they weren't in the position to do that. As he said a few hours ago on Sky News, that he wants

to go back to his roots, back to news and sports.

GORANI: And that was going to be my question for you, Brian, because, I mean, Rupert Murdoch was always this larger than life figure who built a

giant media empire. It was believed wanted his sons to then run this giant media empire. He is divesting himself of some of the crown jewels, keeping

Fox News and the Fox Networks, the movie studio and others. Why is he doing that? Is it because he believes he can't compete in the streaming

arena or is there something else behind it?

STELTER: He may be looking to the past and saying the best days are behind him. Not just behind him but also behind all the other media moguls of his

generation. Think about how he built Fox and how his rivals built their companies, on the back of the cable business, creating channels that were

must see tv.

That day, that age is fading away. We're moving toward this streaming world where Disney and Fox believe it's Apple and it's Netflix and maybe

it's Facebook and Google that they are going to compete with. It does feel like it' a lot about scale and Disney believing that its business is

fundamentally changing from a cable bundle to a streaming service model.

GORANI: As we mentioned, Fox News and the Fox stations though remain within the group that Rupert Murdoch controls obviously, which means that

that side of things, the visible side of the Fox empire, Hadas, is -- will remain the same.

GOLD: Yes. It will remain the same. It will be spun off into a new sort of new Fox company. There's even talk that it could be recombined with

News Corps, which they obviously split from in 2013.

Rupert Murdoch said today on an investor call that while that would be possible, that it would be years in the future before those two come back

together, but they are just re-concentrating themselves and actually what Brian was saying earlier about how the future of television is changing.

Rupert Murdoch actually spoke to that just a couple hours ago in that Sky interview saying, listen, people don't sit down on a Tuesday night and

necessarily watch -- do appointment viewing. They stock them all up and the only sort of appointment viewing that they really do anymore is live

tv, live news, live sports, and that's what he is really getting himself back into.

STELTER: If I can add, Hala, I kind of like the bet that he is making. We're here on a live news channel, no matter how the world changes, no

matter how we watch tv on our phones, people are always going to need live news and sports so maybe Rupert Murdoch is on to something.

GORANI: All right. Let's hope certainly in terms of that, that he is right, for all our sakes. Thanks very much, Brian Stelter and Hadas Gold.

Well, from a major deal in media to a major vote on how we all access that media. Tonight, the internet is on a fast track to slow lanes. Let's

explain. An official group in Washington voted 3-2 a short time ago to roll back rules that are intended to keep the internet open and fair.

Giant internet service providers now will be able to slow down or even block access to some content online. Now, that net neutrality as it was

called is all but gone. That phrase may strike you as a bit beige, but it's a stirring white-hot controversy. We'll have more on today's protest

in Washington in a moment.

First, though, I want to talk to Samuel Burke, who can tell us why this is such a controversial vote and what this means for us. Slow lane, fast

lane, so you can have an internet service provider that slows down a service that isn't part of their, for instance, business empire and would

force that streaming service or whatever it might be to pay more money.

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN MONEY TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Right now, all companies are treated the same in the United States, whether it's Netflix or a

competitor to Netflix, they all come in at the same speed. What this new vote will do -- it would probably take a few months before we actually see

an affect -- would allow it so that there's a fast lane, maybe a middle lane, and a slow lane.

So, you won't have to pay more to your internet service provider, but Netflix will want to get in that fast lane. They will pay more and, of

course, the cost will be passed on to you, the consumer.

GORANI: Yes. And it's not just big groups like Netflix. I mean, it's what about newcomers, what about startups, what about creative new

companies out there that want to be able to reach consumers at a faster speed?

[15:10:09] BURKE: And that is the real concern here because if you and I start a Netflix competitor, we won't have the money that Netflix has, but

we will want to get into the fast lane. We know that if a consumer looks at a video on and it takes three seconds to load instead of two,

they might just go away.

So, we want to be as fast as Netflix. But if we don't have that type of cash to get into the fast lane, well, then we can't compete. If we can't

compete, that means consumers are left with fewer choices.

Of course, if you are somebody who thinks that the government should never get involved, let companies charge as much as they want to charge and not

have to deal with regulation, then you would be one that people celebrating this decision.

GORANI: Quick last question, this is in the United States not in Europe or in the Middle East or Africa or wherever our viewers might be watching us.

Does it matter to them?

BURKE: It does matter to them because let's say Netflix has to pay more and they need to spread that cost. Theoretically, they could spread it

around the world. The other important point is that lots of other companies, internet service providers around the world will be looking at

this and seeing how they can get a bigger piece of the pie, charge more cash.

GORANI: More consolidation potentially as well in order to be able to afford that. Samuel Burke, thanks very much.

One person who was at today's protest as the vote took place is Symone Sanders. We spoke to her about developments in politics yesterday. She

was press secretary to former Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders. She joins me from Washington.

So, what -- I mean, I guess, you went out and protested against this. Why do you believe that this administration feels that it's right to overturn

these Obama-era protections of net neutrality?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I think part of it is just because these are Obama-era protections. But I think another

part of it is, President Trump has put a lot of folks in his administration in powerful positions that used to be in powerful positions in


You have really good friends that are in powerful positions and corporations, but if you come from a corporate entity and that is what you

know, I doubt that some of these policies that you are going to put in place are policies who will benefit consumers.

And so, folks out there protesting today because I actually believe net neutrality and ending that neutrality is class warfare. Yes, there's a

slowing down of these lanes, but there's something else to be said about a free and open internet, about people no matter their economic background

being able to access the internet, being able --

GORANI: But, Symone, the agencies who are making this decision are saying, stop -- the government shouldn't be micro-managing the internet. This

should be -- on the contrary, it makes it completely free and fair because there's no controls applied to it from above, from government forces.

SANDERS: And I would say, yes, it makes it free and fair for the corporations, but it hurts the consumers. So, that's a lot of the

arguments that we have heard, this is better for the consumers in the long run. I'm here to tell you it's absolutely not.

We have examples of what could happen a year or two years down the road right over in Portugal. I was in Portugal a couple weeks ago. There is no

net neutrality in Portugal. They are literally carving up the internet. You have to buy social media packages. You have to buy different types of

streaming packages. That's what can happen in the United States of America.

Look, folks are familiar with the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Women's March Movement. These are movements that were bolstered by the internet.

If movements and activists and young people across the country and across the world do not have access of free open access to the internet that curbs

their ability to organize.

GORANI: But now this is done, what's done is done. What are the options for, like you, people who believe that removing protections over net

neutrality ultimately hurts consumers and startup companies that might not be able to compete?

SANDERS: So, there's a couple of options. One, there are senators that have noted that they are going to file an (inaudible) brief and take this

fight to the courts. There's an option that Congress can take. There's something called the Congressional Review Act and activists like myself are

calling on Congress to institute a resolution that would basically make the vote that happened today null and void.

That's a long shot seeing the Republican Congress might be lock in step with the Republican on the FCC Commission that did this. But these are the

types of things that need to happen in order to help make this an electoral issue for folks who are running for Congress, whether Democrat or

Republican, in the 2018 midterm elections. So, net neutrality, that vote definitely happened today, but the fight is not over.

GORANI: All right. Symone Sanders, thanks so much for joining us on this issue. Certainly, as we mentioned, it's something that's happening in the

U.S., but that could affect users around the world.

A lot more to come this evening, six months on from the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, victims are remembered. It was an emotional day. Survivors still

demand answers.

And a U.S. state lawmaker is found dead one day after denying allegations he sexually assaulted a teen. The details are coming up.



GORANI: Well, there was a tragic incident in France today. A train collided with a school bus in the Eastern Pyrenees region. Our CNN

affiliate, BFMTV, reports at least four people are dead, they say they are children. The French transport minister, Elizabeth Borne, called it a

terrible accident and said emergency services are fully mobilized.

Victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy were remembered today at a service at St. Paul's Cathedral here in London. Families and friends attended along

with the British prime minister and several members of the royal family as well. Diana Magnay has this story.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The cool white stone facade of St. Paul's Cathedral where this memorial service took place, stark

contrast to the inferno of that night and the black carcass of the Grenfell Tower. Echoing across the cathedral in its somber congregation, messages

of thanks for the support from voices within the community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They provided their services, their clothes, their food, their money. You know, they're probably going through hardships


MAGNAY: A multi-faith service for those of faith within the community and for those of none attended by members of the royal family whose visits have

been welcomed at Grenfell and by the prime minister whose visits have not.

The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, with a direct message before the service for Theresa May, who promised quick relief that has been slow


JEREMY CORBYN, U.K. LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Make sure everyone in Grenfell gets a permanent place as quickly as they possibly can. Secondly, put the

resources in to building the social housing we need in this country to end homelessness and severe overcrowding which damages young people's lives.

MAGNAY: Because still six months on as many struggled to cope with loss, more than 100 families are stuck in emergency accommodation, cramped into

small hotel rooms. The counselors tasked with rehousing them asked to stay away from the service at the request of some of the families.

(on camera): This was a moment to mark six months since the fire to remember the 71 people who lost their lives, but to move on is so much

harder for a community who still feel that their voice is not being heard.

(voice-over): The public inquiry will begin to hear evidence in the new year, but there are complaints the diversity of Grenfell is not represented

here. Poet, Melissa Mendy, lost two of her cousins in the fire.

MELISSA MENDY, RELATIVE OF GRENFELL TOWER VICTIM: I lost my voice that day. I write, but I can't write, and I can't really express how I feel,

because it's not describable. There's no words for that kind of ending. You know, warnings were given. Nobody listened.

[15:20:04] MAGNAY: This Thursday for an hour, they did, a rare moment of unity. Justice for the survivors and for the bereaved still a long way

off. Diana Magnay, CNN, London.


GORANI: And also a long way off, some fear in terms of getting answers, answers to how this was allowed to happen in one of the richest

neighborhoods in London.

We are following several developing stories of alleged sexual harassment and misconduct by U.S. lawmakers. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is

calling for the resignation of Congressman Blake Farenthold.

He is under fire for accusations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse as well. Farenthold announced he will not run for re-election. That followed

a CNN report in which a former senior aid to the Congressman described a hostile and demeaning work environment.

There is also this story, Kentucky lawmaker, Don Jonsson was found dead. Authorities had reopened an investigation into a sexual assault allegation

against him just one day before his death. The county coroner called it an apparent suicide.

Let's go to CNN's M.J. Lee on Capitol Hill, who has been closely following it all. Let's talk first about Blake Farenthold and what's likely to

happen there. He is a Republican lawmaker.

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That's right. The big news coming out of Capitol Hill today is that the Congressman announced he would

not be seeking re-election. He will retire after next year. This is after CNN reported yesterday that according to a former staffer to the

Congressman, he had been verbally abusive, had made sexually demeaning comments and had regularly berated aides.

Just to show you two of the more colorful and egregious examples of what this aide told CNN, he said that back in 2015, he was about to leave town

to attend his own wedding and that the Congressman made a comment to him involving the aide receiving oral sex from his then fiancee.

The aide also told CNN that the Congressman regularly used a term that I will just paraphrase as f-tards and this was a way in which he berated

aides. Now the Congressman denied he had ever made the comment about oral sex.

But he did acknowledge that he did regularly refer to aides as f-tards and he also said in the statement to CNN that the comments were made in jest.

It was not in anger. But that in hindsight, clearly, it was not appropriate.

Now the question looming over today was whether the Congressman would resign right away. He of course said that he would not seek election but

would stay in office. House Speaker Paul Ryan was also asked about this. He did not call on him to immediately resign. He simply said that he

agrees with his decision to retire at the end of this term.

GORANI: All right. Yes, in hindsight calling someone f-tard is not a great thing. We can all agree. Kentucky lawmaker, Dan Jonsson, though,

appears to have killed himself after accusations that he assaulted a teen.

LEE: That's right. This is a really disturbing story. We don't know the full details. I just want to be clear about that since this is a new and

developing story. But the State Representative Dan Jonsson was recently accused of sexual assault. The accuser says that these events took place

back in 2013 and that she was 17 years old at the time.

Now Jonsson had denied these allegations of assault. Yesterday, he was found dead with a single gunshot wound. The local sheriff said that he had

-- appeared to have drove in to a bridge and parked the car and then that was where he appeared to have shot himself. Again, just want to be

emphatic that we don't know exactly what happened. This is sort of the preliminary information that is coming in at this time.

GORANI: All right. M.J. Lee, thanks very much, live from Washington.

Now, the aide to President Trump known for her reality show "Pass" said her White House departure wasn't as reality show dramatic as it's being

reported. Omarosa Manigault-Newman denies reports she left after a confrontation with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

The source close to the White House told CNN the one-time contestant on the tv show "The Apprentice" didn't resign and was escorted out. But

Manigault-Newman told ABC she never confronted Kelly during a White House Christmas party.


OMAROSA MANIGAULT-NEWMAN, OUTGOING TRUMP AIDE: I resigned and I didn't do that in the residence as being reported. John Kelly and I sat down in the

situation room, which is a very secure, quiet room in the White House and we had a very candid conversation. And I wanted to make the one-year mark.

That was one of the goals I set out to, and then get back to my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you resigned. You weren't fired as is being reported?

NEWMAN: No. You know, I like to hear all of these interesting tales, but I have to tell you that they are 100 percent false.

[15:25:06] One of the things I ask of those people who are making those assertions since they assert that I did it so publicly is where are the

pictures or videos? If I had confronted john Kelly, who is a very formidable person, it would garner enough attention for anyone in the room

to at least talk a picture or a video or something.

The assertion that I would do that in front of 600 guests at a Christmas party and no one has reported that except for one individual who has a

personal vendetta against me. So, I have to tell you, completely false.


GORANI: Mr. Trump, who famously fired her on "The Apprentice," tweeted her praise after the resignation announcement. The White House said moments

ago that Manigault-Newman will be at the White House today. There you have it. The latest developments on that front.

Still to come, more heartbreaking images from Yemen. It's not bombs or bullets that are chilling many civilians even though they are, but there's

a man-made humanitarian crisis that is claiming tens of thousands of victims. We'll be right back.

We'll also have the very latest on our top story. What is Rupert Murdoch thinking? We'll be right back.


GORANI: Well, with a dramatic backdrop that the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. hoped would give added weight to her words, Nikki Haley at the U.N.

today offered what she called proof that Iran is fueling the war in Yemen.

Nikki Haley unveiled weapons fragments that she says were made by Iran and sent to Houthi rebels in the country. She says Iran supplied the missile

that rebels fired at Saudi Arabia last month and she urged the world to join forces and hold Iran accountable.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We must speak with one voice in exposing the regime for what it is, a threat to the peace and

security of the entire world. We call on all nations to join us in a united front resisting this global threat.


GORANI: Well, Iran called Haley's allegations baseless and her evidence fabricated. The foreign minister tweeted this response. He compared

Haley's remarks to Colin Powell's speech at the U.N. in 2003 when he warned that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

Yemen has become a proxy war for regional powers. That clinical description can't even begin to convey what is actually happening on the

ground and how many civilians are really suffering. Some a step away really from catastrophic famine.

My colleague, Clarissa Ward just returned from Yemen and filed a heartbreaking report. We talked about the hospitals and now we're going to

talk about a man-made humanitarian catastrophe that involves starving people.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's so hard to get your head around in this day and age, the idea, first of all, that

people are starving to death.

But, primarily, that they're starving to death not for reasons of a bad harvest, but because of a man-made catastrophe. The UN saying 8.4 million

people are just a step away from famine. Many of those are children, as we saw for ourselves, and I just warn our viewers that some of these images

are quite hard to look at.


WARD (voice-over): This is how Ahmed Helmiz (ph) spends his days. Lying on the concrete floor, trying to swat away the flies with what little

energy he has.

Looking at his tiny body, ravaged by hunger, you would never guess that Ahmed is 5 years old. His brother died of malnutrition two months ago.

"We're in a war, there's no food, no water," his mother Surmaya (ph) says. "Only God knows our pain."

It's a pain shared by too many here. In the same small village, we meet Abdul Rahman (ph), an overwhelmed father of five. He's worried about his

son Abdul Wahab (ph). There's no doctor nearby and no scale. But he can't weigh more than five pounds. "The problem is that my wife doesn't have a

lot of breast milk," he says. "She's sick, too." And it's not hard to see why. There's almost no food in it.

(On camera): So, they have some bread. Some onions. No meat.

(voice-over): Hunger has always been a problem in Yemen, but two-and-a- half years of war has starved the country. Three million people are displaced. Many live in filthy camps where disease and infection are rife

and malnutrition difficult to combat.

(on-camera): There is food in the markets. It's just that few people can actually afford it. And that's what's so tough to get your head around

about this crisis. It's not caused by a bad harvest or a drought. It's caused by man.

(voice-over): A Saudi Arabia-led blockade has cut the amount of food and medicine getting into Yemen by more than half. What does come through is

heavily taxed along the way. Rural clinics struggle to meet the scale of the need.

Ten-month-old Ali has gained seven ounces since his last visit, a welcome improvement, but he is still suffering from severe malnutrition.

"You haven't done anything wrong," the nurse tells his mother. "But he's still weak. So, I really want you to focus on this problem."

For Ahmed (ph), it may be too late. He's been sick for years now. He only speaks when the pain is too much.

"He tells me, my tummy hurts, my head hurts," Surmaya (ph) she says. "He cries."

Hardship and hunger. This is Yemen's story.

"My whole life, agony and I are like lovers," this Yemeni song goes. "Why, world, do you only show us the terrible things?"

But the world doesn't hear his lament, while the silence of starvation tightens its grip on a forgotten people.


GORANI: And, well, Clarissa, what's really crazy making is the fact that there are markets with food, but people just can't afford the food because

so little of it is being allowed into the country and, as you mentioned, so much tax is being applied, so people just can't afford to buy food for

their family.

WARD: They can't. And we should be clear. There are no good guys and bad guys in this conflict. And both sides are using food as a weapon of war,

but there's no question that it is the Saudi-led blockade that is creating this terrible situation with a very real prospect of famine.

The UN now saying it's not a question of if, it's a question of when. It will happen and it will be one of the worst famines that the world has seen

in many decades.

GORANI: Because we saw Nikki Haley at the UN today very dramatically saying, Iran is providing Houthi rebels with missiles, that one of those

missiles landed on Saudi territory. But the other side, of course, has its own military partners and suppliers.

[15:35:05] WARD: And this was particularly jarring to hear, I have to say, because, of course, if you spend time in Sana'a, the capital, the rebels -

Houthi rebels there will show you a huge weapons depot that they've collected of weapons that have been falling on their areas that are US-

made, that are UK made.

This is not only a case of one proxy playing a role. You have the US and the UK, especially the US with that $110 billion weapons deal with Saudi

Arabia. There are many countries, Hala, that are complicit in what is happening -

GORANI: And it's interesting then to hear the US ambassador to the UN make these points that essentially blaming the war, this proxy war, on just one

side. What could the strategy behind that be?

WARD: One can only assume that perhaps this is part of a broader drumroll that I think we've been hearing, trying to garner evidence against Iran to

try to show that Iran is in violation of its nuclear agreement.

Where that ends, it's unclear, but, certainly, unlikely to have a positive impact on the people who are suffering in Yemen. Though, I should say that

the US, the White House has called on Saudi Arabia to lift the blockades and has promised more than $100 million in aid, Hala.

GORANI: But as you mentioned, it could be too late for so many people who have been suffering from malnutrition because this is long-term,

devastating on the human body, especially on children. So, these are individuals who might never be able to recover.

WARD: Exactly. And Ahmed is a classic example of this. His mother has now taken him for treatment in the last year. He's been given medicines,

but it's too late. The damage with malnutrition is really done in those first couple of years that you suffer from it.

And once you start to have stunting of growth and organ failure and brain damage, it's too difficult to bring them back.

GORANI: It's heartbreaking seeing you hold that little baby honestly. It's just really heartbreaking. We hope that we see fewer of these images

in the next few years, but it doesn't seem like our wishes there will come true.

Thanks very much, Clarissa Ward, with that great reporting.

It was a marathon event lasting almost 4 hours. In his annual end of the year news conference, the Russian President Vladimir Putin touched on

topics from North Korea to President Trump's first year to Russia's doping scandal.

Phil Black has more. Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, Vladimir Putin took questions for about 3 hours and 40 minutes in this, his 13th annual press

conference, and that's not even a record.

Over that length of time, surprisingly, there were a number of questions about the United States and the US President Donald Trump.

Vladimir Putin described the relationship as good. He was asked to give something of a first year report card on Trump's term in office. He

initially demurred saying that's a job for the American people, but he kind of did it anyway, pointing to Trump's major achievements as he called them.

And he was talking about the markets. He said the performance of America's economy, its markets is a vote of confidence in the company, and also a

vote of confidence in the man managing it, Donald Trump.

He was asked to comment on the large number of contacts between Russian officials and members of Trump's team particularly during the campaign.

These contacts, we know, are now the subject of multiple investigations in the United States. And this is how we replied.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: This is all dreamed up by people who are in opposition to Trump, so as to make sure that everybody thinks that

what he's doing, what he's working at is illegitimate. This is very strange because it's being done by people who aren't working against the

interest of their own country and against the duly elected president of the country.


BLACK: Vladimir Putin said he still hopes Donald Trump will make good on one of his election promises, to improve relations with Russia. Putin says

that will be good for Russia, for the US and the world because they can work together on all sorts of complex issues, like terrorism and climate


Much of the content, however, of his marathon press conference was really domestic in focus and substance. More than that, it was local, even


Putin took questions from journalists that had traveled from far-flung corners of the Russian Federation about very specific issues.

That's often the case with these press conferences, but perhaps more so this time because in just three months, Putin will be contesting another

presidential election. And he wants to try and ensure that the turnout and his support, his vote in an election that he's almost guaranteed to win

will be as high as possible. He wants the strongest possible democratic mandate to secure his fourth presidential term, one that will keep him in

office until 2024.


GORANI: Thanks very much, Phil. Let's get you back to one of our top stories, Disney's push to beef up its assets to compete in a rapidly

changing environment.

The company says it's buying 21st Century Fox in a more than $52 billion deal if it passes muster with the US Justice Department. It's a huge shift

for Rupert Murdoch who, after building this giant empire, is now selling it most of it to Disney with the exception of Fox News Channel and FOX

Business Network and the Fox Station.

[15:40:12] So, Rupert Murdoch is cashing out basically. Will he fade away or remain a powerful presence in media along with his sons James and

Lachlan. Suzanne Franks is a journalism professor at City University of London and she teaches about big media empires and knows a thing or two

about Rupert Murdoch.

So, what do you think is behind this, this move, because it goes against what we thought Rupert Murdoch's life ambition was, right?

SUZANNE FRANKS, PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM, CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Yes. Historically, we thought he was building this giant empire and he's going

to pass it on to the children and that was going to be his life's mission.

But, of course, the whole media ecology has changed over these years. Whereas previously we thought the Murdoch empire was the sort of giant

construct, actually, it's pretty much dwarfed now by the other giants who have come into play.

GORANI: Could it be - I mean, he's in his mid-80s, got a new bride, Jerry Hall. Could it be, he just wants to take it easy in his golden years or do

you think there's a strategic reason behind it?

FRANKS: Well, I didn't think he'll ever take it easy because, remember, he's still left himself the news and the sports and he's still got News

Corp as well, which he separated from a few years ago.

So, that's the kind of love of his life, his news, and he says he's going to now focus on - whereas most people are sitting in their retirement chair

in their 80s, he says he's going to be focusing on that.

There's another issue, in that there have been tensions within the family.

GORANI: What kind of tensions?

FRANKS: Well, I think he and - one could say that he and James were not necessarily seeing eye to eye. And he, in a sense, wanted to kind of not

carry on with this mission where he wanted to bequeath something like this empire to the children.

GORANI: Yes. He spoke to Sky News, of course, as part of his fable of assets, about how he came to this decision with the Disney - the head of

Disney. Listen.


RUPERT MURDOCH, CHAIRMAN OF FOX NEWS CHANNEL: This started with Bob Iger, a friend of mine, sitting at my winery one evening, having a couple of

glasses, and just talking about our businesses and the industry generally, the forces of disruption that were happening and that was all.

Then he rang me back a couple of weeks later and said, look, let's - this conversation a bit more. And I said - that's only two months ago.


GORANI: So, I don't know about you, but I don't usually strike $52 billion deals over a glass of wine. It sounds very casual, doesn't it?

FRANKS: Absolutely. I don't think -

GORANI: OK. Let's say we're confident. I will never strike a $52 billion. (INAUDIBLE).

FRANKS: And you might not be striking a $52 billion when you're 85.

GORANI: That's right. I can guarantee both of those things. But it sounds like it's - he's saying they came to this decision because they were

talking about the state of the media industry and then a couple weeks later, a phone call, and then, boom, it happened.

FRANKS: Well, I'm sure we can agree, it wasn't quite like that. But as we discussed, the whole media ecology has completely changed. And Disney will

make a fist of having all these businesses. It will make them a bigger player still in the global market.

And, obviously, it's all going towards this whole new streaming way that we now watch television.

GORANI: But is it going to hurt consumers because, fundamentally, the more consolidation there is, the less you'll see - you're likely to see

independent creative startups, right?

FRANKS: Yes. Because these -

GORANI: You have big box office hits and that's it.

FRANKS: Yes, yes. And also, you have more - fewer and fewer very, very big companies, the Netflix and the Amazon and Disney now sort of fighting

it out, whereas, yes, the little guys are being squeezed out.

GORANI: So, do you think it will hurt - ultimately, you think it'll hurt consumer?

FRANKS: Well, they say it won't. I mean, if you listen to what Bob Iger said, it was all going to be wonderful for consumers.

But we're looking at a completely new model for consumers. I mean, we sit at home streaming and we choose when we're going to watch. So, the whole

old model of the kind of television that Fox is pioneering is no longer the way that - we watched that kind of television -

GORANI: That kind of - because I think - I was just going to say, our senior media correspondent made an interesting point, this - a live new

show, thank goodness for us, this is something that you can stream and binge watch in one sitting on a Saturday night.


GORANI: So, there still is room there for appointment live television viewing.


GORANI: Although less of it.

FRANKS: But, obviously, sports, you're going to watch when it's happening and news you want to watch when it's happening.

But the interesting thing will be what now happens with things like Sky News because now they're going to be part of the - well, if this goes

through, part of the Disney empire and they're going to want to hang on to those big parts of the empire. So, that will be interesting.

GORANI: And it's also - last question. I mean, in terms of our parent company, the fact that AT&T, which is a communications company, is being

blocked right now or challenged from taking over, in a vertical integration model, Time Warner.

It's also interesting when this is a completely horizontal marriage.

[15:45:07] FRANKS: Yes. Yes, indeed. I suppose it's possible it might well not go through. And then, it will also have indications in the UK on

the whole Sky takeover as well.

GORANI: Sure. Suzanne Franks, thanks very much for joining us. Really appreciate your time.

Still to come, as the United States retreats from its traditional role as powerbroker in the Middle East, who is stepping in. We'll give you

something to consider. After the break.


GORANI: Welcome back to the program. While the world was transfixed by President Trump's latest headline grabbing tweet and the Alabama Senate

race, there was something else going on that perhaps as much as anything happening at home is cementing a radical shift for America.

And it's happening all the way in the Middle East. Consider this, Russian President Vladimir Putin went on a victory tour of sorts in Syria, visiting

military bases and meeting with Bashar al-Assad, the president he helped keep in power.

Speaking to Russian troops, Putin proclaimed mission accomplished.


PUTIN (through translator): In the last two and a bit years, the armed forces of Russia, jointly with the Syrian army, have destroyed the most

capable group of international terrorists.

And so, I made a decision that the major part of the Russian military contingent situated in Syria is returning home to Russia.


GORANI: So, he announced a troop drawdown. But the reality is that Moscow will be keeping a semi-permanent military presence in the country with too

important bases, including one in Tartus on the Mediterranean.

After former American President Obama failed to enforce what he himself called a red line if the regime of Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons,

Putin didn't rush. He waited almost two years to enter the conflict.

When he did, he saved Assad and shifted the balance of power back to the government, away from the rebels. And the war didn't come at much cost to

Russia. Unlike America's Iraq War, which caused chaos and ultimately gave Iran overwhelming influence there.


LINA KHATIB, HEAD OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA PROGRAMME AT CHATHAM HOUSE: If you are Russia, you will look at the Middle East and see a US in

action, US retreat from the region, lots of rhetoric, not coupled with any real activity to make this rhetoric happen as a reality and, therefore,

Russia has opportunistically moved in to occupy the space.

GORANI: What does it mean for the future?

KHATIB: For the future, it seems that the US has a lot less leverage than it used to in the Middle East. And it means that Russia is now the new

broker for conflicts like Syria.


GORANI: That was Lina Khatib of Chatham House speaking to me a few days ago.

Putin also changed the reality on the ground. Gone are the days of countries like Turkey demanding the removal of the Syrian president.

Russia and its allies have, for all intents and purposes, won the war of influence in Syria. In the end, Putin proved those who said he would

become embroiled in a Syria quagmire wrong.

[15:50:11] But Russia is not stopping at Syria. As the US, first under Obama and now under Trump, retreats from the region, Russia is moving in.

Mr. Putin traveled on a whistle stop tour to Turkey and Egypt. He is making friends with Turkish President Erdogan again after a rough patch a

few years ago and President Sisi of Egypt where Russia signed a deal worth billions to start work on a nuclear power plant.

Remember, when after the annexation of Crimea, the Western world united in condemnation. Those days are well and truly behind us.

Officially, of course, the US is still working on a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. But after the Jerusalem announcement and in the

absence of any measurable progress, it certainly appears as though the US retreat from the region is accelerating.

So, the next generation of Middle Easterners might be looking not to America, but to Russia for what could lie ahead for them.

We'll be right back.


GORANI: Well, a 21-year-old female singer in Egypt is facing two years in prison for a music video she released. According to Egyptian state-run

media, the court found the woman guilty of "inciting debauchery and immorality."

The music video for the song "I Have Issues" was released last month and sparked controversy for being sexually suggestive.

Shaima Ahmed and the video's director were also ordered to pay a fine of around US$560. Interestingly, the director is not facing prison time, but

the female finger is.

Finally, this hour, former US Vice President Joe Biden was a guest on a popular morning television show in America this week when it suddenly took

an unexpected turn. You might want to grab a handkerchief for this one. Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is the story of a guest who changed his seat on a talk show, so he could comfort a cohost. Joe

Biden and Meghan McCain may be from opposing political parties, but her father and his son shared a disease.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF JOHN MCCAIN: Your son Beau had the same cancer that my father was diagnosed with six months ago.


MCCAIN: I think about Beau almost every day and it was told - sorry - that this doesn't get easier -

MOOS: That's when Biden switched chairs on ABC's "The View".

BIDEN: BIDEN: It is about everyone. But look, one of the things that gave Beau courage, my word, was John.

Your dad - you may remember when you were a little kid, your dad took care of my Beau.

MOOS: Beau Biden died almost three years ago from glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer for which John McCain is now being treated. Who

better than Joe to hold Meghan's hand.

BIDEN: There is hope. And if anybody can make it, your dad - her dad is one of my best friends.

[15:55:12] MOOS: The former vice president even succeeded in making McCain laugh.

BIDEN: Even when your dad got mad and me and said I should get the hell off the ticket.

MOOS: John McCain later tweeted his thanks to Biden and called him a source of strength, bridging the party divide was popular online, read one

tweet. Whatever one's politics, decent human beings will shine through.

But after comforting Meghan, Joe choked up.

BIDEN: Beau was my soul.

MOOS: This father may have lost his son, but he says what you can't lose is hope.

BIDEN: I swear, guys, we are going to beat this damn disease. We really are.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


GORANI: And don't forget, you can check out our Facebook page for more of the show, and check out my Twitter feed as well,


Thanks for watching the program tonight. I'll see you same time, same place tomorrow. Stay with CNN. "Quest Means Business" is up next.