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Top Defining Media Moments of 2017; President Wishes Troops a Merry Christmas; President Spends 108th Day at one of his Properties; President Attacks Top FBI Officials on Twitter; Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 24, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone and welcome. It's Christmas Eve. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

President Trump in Florida at his private resort this holiday weekend, spending his Christmas Eve morning talking to U.S. troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just wanted to wish everybody a very merry Christmas. We say Christmas again. Very, very merry Christmas. We're going to have a great year. It's going to be an incredible year. I'm thrilled to bring season's greetings on behalf of the first lady and our entire family and most importantly on behalf of the American people. Today and every day we are incredibly thankful for you and your families. Your family have been tremendous. Always underappreciated, the military families. The greatest people on earth.

We have five deployed units joining us today. One from each branch of our armed forces. I want to welcome Colonel Chuck Lombardo and all of the soldiers of Iron Brigade. Deployed in Kuwait to support the Operation Spartan Shield, an inherent resolve the Iron Brigade is currently serving as an active partner in the Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Saudi and Jordanian armies for doing an incredible job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, the president then using the other part of his morning sending insults via twitter. His latest target, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who we just learned is now planning to retire. His other target is CNN.

The president retweeting this photo shopped picture, if you look closely, at the bottom of the president's shoe, a squashed image with the moniker of CNN. The president has tweeted since these attacks, but our team just spotted golfing right there. This video taken just a short time ago. But rather busy morning for the president.

Let's get straight to CNN White House correspondent, Sara Murray. She's live for us in West Palm Beach near the president's Florida resort. So, Sara, some significant changes unfolding at the FBI. The deputy director Andrew McCabe plans to retire. Also, one of the agency's top lawyers, Jim Baker being reassigned, all of this while the president continues to attack the institution of law enforcement and the free press.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Obviously, we haven't seen the president hold back in his criticism of the justice department broadly, but now he's taking aim at top law enforcement officials in the United States. Now, the White House in -- the president does still have confidence in the FBI now that he has named his own person to lead it. Here's what the White House director of legislative affairs had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: I think he is very pleased to have Chris Wray now running the FBI. He's very pleased to the changes that are taking place. But at the same time when we put all of our faith and confidence in the department of justice, the FBI knowing there should be no bias there, he's making -- he's making the point that we need to make sure there's no bias and I think there are serious concerns about whether or not there was or was not during the Hillary Clinton --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, was he telling the FBI director Chris Wray is his appointee as he telling him to clean house there?

SHORT: I think that he has full confidence of Chris Wray.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: You see it there. The White House saying that the president does have confidence in the FBI, but with caveats. Fred.

WHITFIELD: So as far as we know, this is the president's 108th day at one of his properties. The White House calling it's a working vacation. We know that he's also trying to craft a state of the union address. What do we know to be on his schedule in the next week?

MURRAY: Well, they haven't really given us a lot of detail about what the president will be up to while he's here, but I think next week is key to that. I doubt that today and tomorrow, Chris is saying are going to be really the working parts of this vacation.

As you pointed out, the president was spotted golfing today. He seemed he'll be getting some family time in today as well as tomorrow and that we will see more of his presidential duties kicking in next week. But so far, the White House being pretty quiet about what exactly that will look like.

One of the things though his advisers have noted is that they feel like it's good for the president to get out of Washington, D.C., to get out of the conference of the White House to go to his own resorts and gives him an opportunity to talk to some of his friends, to talk to a wider swath of people and we know that this is a president who likes to bounce ideas off of everywhere from his own advisers to the staff at Mar-a-Lago, to other people who were attendees there. So we'll see how that shapes his twitter feed and possibly even the state of the union, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Sara Murray, thanks so much from Florida.

The president's near daily swipes at the FBI and his firing of FBI director James Comey has some officials on Capitol Hill quite concerned about Robert Mueller, the special counsel. Listen to what these two senators have to say.

[14:05:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: I'm very concerned. Look, what Mueller was asked to do and by the way before this investigation as you recall, Mueller had widespread support all across the political spectrum for the very fine work he did as FBI director. What he was asked to do was to deal with a very serious issue. Did the Trump administration collude with the Russians in the campaign? Very important issue. That is what he is trying to do. And to attack his integrity in order to protect the president is unacceptable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if the president fires special counsel?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: It will be a big problem. A big problem. And I don't think that that will go over well at all here in the senate. I don't think he'll go there. He shouldn't go there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN political analyst, Josh Rogin is here. Also political commentator, Errol Louis. Good to see you, gentlemen. Merry Christmas Eve.

You just heard Jeff Flake, a republican all be it one who is a Trump critic say he's got concerns about Mueller, but at the same time he doesn't see how the White House would possibly venture to go there. So, Josh, how could this White House consider removing Bob Mueller

knowing that it would cause what some have said a real constitutional crisis?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Fred, this president has shown a propensity for making huge decisions that seem to end up hurting him politically. The end. That's what this firing of James Comey showed. He doesn't also think through the consequences or really understand them or follow them. What's important that I'm saying here is that this coordinated campaign of the tax on Bob Mueller, Andrew McCabe, James Baker is all part of the same effort. It's all part of parcel of the drive to undermine the investigation. But not just to undermine it, to muddy the waters that whatever they come up with will be downed by the support and to put the scare into them and to make sure that they know that as they proceed that anything is fair game. Andrew McCabe, a dedicated public servant who spent his life in law enforcement in public service has not -- there's no evidence that he did anything wrong. His wife's involvement in the political race in Virginia has not been shown to have implemented his subsequent role in the Clinton investigation in any way. In fact, she lost her race three months before he was involved in that investigation. And there are several other parts of the tweet that are just wrong, but we can go through that if you want.

But the bottom line here is that this is all part and parcel of a drive to make sure that when Bob Mueller comes up with whatever he comes up with, it will be whole chunk of the American public that doesn't believe in.

WHITFIELD: Errol, there was an acknowledgement from the White House a while back, via Twitter. How potentially dangerous it would be to do anything disparaging of the FBI or law enforcement agency. This was now White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, she wrote, more than a year ago, of course not when the spokesperson but saying this, when you're attacking FBI agents because you're under criminal investigation, you are losing.

So it's a little perplexing to hear this change of tone coming from the White House.

ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Sarah Huckabee Sanders was right a year ago. When you are attacking institutions that have the broad support of the American public, that have defended this nation decade after decade against foreign and domestic enemies and have in this case done absolutely nothing wrong and anybody can point to, you have to ask yourself are these the actions of an innocent man? When you see Donald Trump firing James Comey, attacking his successors, trying to discredit -- just as Josh says this investigation in any way possible, getting rid of Mueller's credibility if you can't get rid of him. Those are not the actions of somebody who has nothing to hide. Those are not the actions of somebody who thinks that this is all made-up.

If it's all made up, let the investigation proceed, put the facts out on the table and let the public decide. But that's not good enough for this White House. There's a reason why. I think we're going to discover the reason why as more facts come out from the investigation.

WHITFIELD: The White House is pushing back now on this New York Times report talking about a meeting, involving at least six individuals at the White House. They were talking about immigration and some inflammatory remarks were quoted to have been made by the president.

We're going to show them up on the screen. Some of the comments --

[14:10:00]

WHITFIELD: -- talking about 2,500 people coming from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven. The president complained even the president remarked when told that Haiti had sent 15,000 people to the U.S. and then reportedly by way of "New York Times." The president said they all have aids. He grumbled and then also making comments about Nigeria, the numbers being provided to the president, 40,000 had comments from Nigeria and Mr. Trump added according to New York Times reporting, once they have seen the United States, they would never go back to their huts in Africa.

Josh, some folks taking a lot of offense to those comments and the language also calling them not just ignorant, but racist. How does the White House even by way if Sarah Sanders's statement coming out early yesterday that this didn't happen? How potentially damaging is this for the White House, particularly, as you talk about the president and his travel ban?

ROGIN: Sure. Well, first of all, just on that extensive New York Times article and Trump's immigration article, a fascinating read. Whether or not he said there were particular racist slurs disputed by the White House, the New York Times stands by his reporting. I don't know.

It's really hard to know. Because of course people in the White House say he said it, others say he didn't say it. The White House has shown a propensity to lie about what the president says or doesn't say. So it's probably a black box that we have to figure out.

But all you really have to do is listen to what the president has said about immigration on the record, proudly, ever since he announced his campaign for presidency when he called Mexicans horrible things. You don't have to have a leap of faith to believe that this president has said racist things about immigration. And we know how he feels about it.

And if you read through the article, you see what he's done on immigration starting with the travel ban. Continuing on with DACA and things that we see all over the government, which is the point of the articles which is that has the administration gets better and governing that they're getting more effective in implementing the president's immigration agenda shutting down the settlement centers, cutting the numbers of immigrants that can come through the country.

This puts the president in tension with his own secretary of state, who's in charge of educational uses. Doesn't seem to be on the same page has him. This is a big mess. It all boils down to do you believe that controlled well over immigration and what could oversight can be a net benefit to the United States.

Most people traditionally, especially those people in government work on this believe that it is that this nation is a country of immigrants that thrives by immigration and even though that they perform and there are abuses and that's a general consensus or has been. The president doesn't agree with that.

Some of that may be his racism. I don't know. I don't know what's in his heart, but the things that he says sometimes are racist and the actions that he displays shows you that he has --

WHITFIELD: So, Errol, given some precedence, people have taken offense to a number of things the president have said this latest report, does it erode any support or even build on some of his support?

LOUIS: Well, I don't know how it will work out for him politically other than to say that anybody with an open mind who knows anything about the record knows that there's a 40-year record here. This isn't just like some straight comment out of the blue. He Donald Trump was sued along with his father by the Nixon administration for housing discrimination in the 1970s.

And it goes in an unbroken line through the 1980s when he demonized the Central Park Five and called for their execution. They turned out to be completely innocent. He's never apologized for that.

The birtherism that led to his -- coming to public life at the start of his run for president. Again, he's never apologized for that.

WHITFIELD: Right. So that's all the president's that people publicly know about but when you hear or read this report, is it a blip on the screen at all?

LOUIS: So when you read this report and the New York Times says they talked to 36 different people, they talk to somebody who was in the room and when you hear the denials frankly by the other people in the room, they're saying they don't remember. A handful say it never happened, others say, well, they don't remember.

I think anybody with an open mind who cares about these things would say there's clearly something else going on here. I mean the real bottom line is when Donald Trump on December 7th, 2015 called for a shutdown of all immigration by Muslims into this country, that was the policy he wanted, that was the policy he meant. He's taking steps --

[14:15:00]

LOUIS: -- to implement it. The courts have stopped him at multiple points along the way. What really matters is whether or not he'll be able to get away with something like that. As far as what's in his heart and whether or not he likes to make racist statements. I think the record is clear.

WHITFIELD: Errol Louis, Josh Rogin, we'll leave it right there. Thanks so much. Merry Christmas.

LOUIS: Thank you. Merry Christmas.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, North Korea says harsh new sanctions leveled by the U.N. are "an act of war" and warns countries supporting those sanctions will pay a heavy price.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:20:00]

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A new threat coming from North Korea today calling tough new sanctions by the United Nations an act of war. The rogue nation also saying countries that supported the vote will quote, "pay a heavy price." The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to put more restrictions on energy exports to North Korea and requires North Koreans working abroad to return home within two years.

A North Korean ballistic missile test in November sparked the latest sanctions. CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott is following the story and is joining me now.

So, what's this reaction from North Korea, surprising? Is it the same rhetoric that we often hear in situations like this?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I think it's pretty typical North Korean fare. I mean, when you have any type of action by the United States, by the U.N. Security Council, any type of sanctions, it's very similar to what we hear before. I almost get a little bit nervous when we don't hear anything from the North Koreans, because that's when they go ahead and they just do some kind of provocation whether it's a nuclear test, the missile test of perhaps even something more dangerous like going after a South Korean submarine or things that they've done in the past.

So I think it was pretty expected. The rhetoric is very tough at calling it an act of war, saying the countries are going to pay the price. But I think at this point you look more for what North Korean actions are rather than words. It remains to be seen whether this will squeeze the North Koreans. They call it a complete economic blockade. Will it squeeze them to the table or will it cause them to act out and do another kind of act such as a nuclear test or a missile test?

WHITFIELD: How key are these sanctions that the U.N. passed?

LABOTT: Well, I think they're pretty significant. Look, you've heard President Trump in the past say that the one thing he really wanted was for the Chinese in particular, but other states to cut off North Korean oil exports to North Korea. We're talking now about 90 percent of oil exports cut to North Korea, also those domestic workers. Even just in Russia alone, there are 40,000 North Korean workers. They send that money back home, that fuels the regime in part of its nuclear program. So I think they're very significant.

Take a listen to democratic ranking member of the senate foreign relations committee, Senator Ben Cardin talking about these recent actions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: That was a good move. That was a major accomplishment. I give our team a lot of credit for getting that done. They're pretty strong additional sanctions to be imposed against North Korea because of their continued testing of ballistic missiles. So that is absolutely was a strong move forward. And it's great to see China and Russia join us in that.

And now it needs to be followed up with diplomacy where we get China and the United States working with the same strategy with North Korea to find a way that we can ease the tension and get North Korea to change directions. So it was a good first step.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LABOTT: And so again, the question now is it's a good step towards what? Does North Korea -- they are calling it a total and complete economic blockade. Does that make them so desperate that they want to get to the table and start talking about giving up some of its nuclear ambitions or does that cause them to just hunker down even more and act out?

I think if you look and see if Russia and particular implement this sanctions, very key that they signed up to them, now they have to implement them, Fred. That would really cause a lot of economic hardship to the North Koreans.

WHITFIELD: Elise Labott in Washington. Thanks so much. Merry Christmas.

Late-night TV pulled no punches on the new administration this year. Up next, the top media moments of 2017.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one likes you. Begin today by apologizing on behalf of you to me. For how you have treated me these last two weeks and that apology is not accepted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:25:00]

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. 2017 almost behind us. But it definitely won't be forgotten by television and social media fans. CNN's Brian Stelter takes a look back some of this year's stand out moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Scoops, falsehoods, feuds, firings and a cultural reckoning. Here are the top seven media stories in 2017. Number seven, late-night in the age of Trump. From Jimmy Kimmel's emotional Obamacare appeal --

JIMMY KIMMEL, T.V. HOST: If your baby is going to die and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make.

STELTER: To the outcry after Charlottesville.

JIMMY FALLON, T.V. HOST: The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racism and white --

[14:30:00]

FALLON: -- supremacist is shameful.

STELTER: To SNL's (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say, Kellyanne, I'm in pouty baby mode.

STELTER: Late-night became an anti-Trump force, channeling the frustration and fear of many viewers.

Number six, the antitrust battle of the decade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news. The justice department is suing to block AT&T's takeover of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.

STELTER: The DOJ argues that the deal would harm competition. But some wonder if this is really about President Trump's vendetta against CNN. After all, there's another deal, this one involving conservative leaning Sinclair that's making far less noise.

Sinclair purchasing Tribune Media. And now Disney bidding for a big chunk of Rupert Murdoch's empire. Will that deal face the same scrutiny? That DOJ lawsuit brings a lot of uncertainty to the media landscape at a time when Facebook and Google's domination of the market is already caused an anxiety.

That brings us to number five. Russian ads on social media. Tech giants finally admitting that Russia used their platforms to meddle in the 2016 election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Facebook told congressional investigators that they sold political about $100,000 worth of political ads to a so- called Russian troll farm targeting American voters.

STELTER: Similar those disclosures from Twitter and Google followed, hauled before congress, the companies were shamed for missing Russian interference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I must say I don't think you get it. You have created these platforms and now they are being misused.

STELTER (on camera): Facebook, Google and Twitter have all pledged changes, but can they be trusted to police their platforms. Number four is the White House credibility crisis. It started with Sean Spicer's very first statement from the podium.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.

STELTER: As the press secretary's credibility crumbled, the ridicule ramped up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came out here to punch you!

STELTER: Spicer left, but his replacement didn't exact inspire confidence.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: She knows what the president said, she is pretending he said something else. STELTER: Fact checkers have been in overdrive this year and every false statement is another stain on the White House's credibility. But at the same time, there is more pressure than ever on us in the press to be careful and get it right.

Number three, the power of investigative reporting. It created the conditions for Michael Flynn's firing as national security adviser. It led to the ouster of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price following a story about his use of private planes and it drove the withdrawal of the drug czar nominee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was an explosive report by "60 Minutes" and "Washington Post."

STELTER: Readership and viewership all way up in 2017 as investigative reporting held the powerful to account. We saw it again in the top media story of the year, coming up.

Number two is Donald Trump versus the media, still. This time last year we wondered if the new president would tone down his attacks but no.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You are fake news.

STELTER: Soon after taking office, Trump called the media the enemy of the people and tried to redefine the term fake news to mean any coverage he didn't like.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: All I can say is it's totally fake news. It's fake.

STELTER: Trump lashed out with verbal attacks and empty threats.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. People should look into it.

STELTER: Trump's media bashing has sent a chill through newsrooms across the country, but the press and other champions of the first amendment are not backing down.

And the number one story in media this year is the sexual harassment reckoning. It was a moment foreshadowed by April ouster of Fox News star, Bill O'Reilly, following secret harassment settlements.

It exploded with the publication of two stories about movie producer, Harvey Weinstein. Exposes by the "New York Times" and "The New Yorker" sparked a "me too" movement that reverberated through every corner of industry and politics.

As the floodgates opened, titans of media tumbled.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Veteran journalist and political analyst, (inaudible), is leaving NBC news after CNN uncovered sexual harassment by five women.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, Charlie Rose fired and three more women are coming forward with sexual harassment allegations against the veteran journalist.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking details about the allegations against Matt Lauer who was fired by NBC today.

STELTER: The Weinstein effect is a watershed moment in American culture. Will it usher in real systemic change? Let's see how the media covers that story in 2018.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. What a year it may be. Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

Legendary Director Steven Spielberg said his movie "The Post" couldn't be more relevant in today's political climate. The film spotlights "The Washington Post" back in the 70s during its investigation of Watergate.

CNN entertainment reporter, Chloe talked with Speilberg about the timeliness of the film's release.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: When I sat down with Steven Spielberg, he said as soon as he read the script for "The Post," he immediately saw the parallels between the Nixon administration's conflicts with the press and what he called the, quote, "Attacks on journalists and news outlets today by the current administration," and told me that if he was going to make this film, it had to be this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR, "THE POST": The film has tremendous relevancy now. So many things happening with the attacks on the free press and the news being basically labeled fake so often. There is some kind of a disagreement and everything the news said is dismissed. Simply with a snap that just says fake. It was kind of startling that this started to happen with the Nixon administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:35:10] MELAS: But this film is not just about the First Amendment, but women finding their voice and having a seat at the table. The film also stars Merrill Streep, who plays Katharine Graham, the publisher of the "Washington Post" who at the time was the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Spielberg tells me that we still have a long way to go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPIELBERG: Many women have broken different glass ceilings over the last couple hundred years since the formation of our country, but Kate Graham shattered a pretty important glass ceiling, but we still have a long ago.

I mean, we are not anywhere near where we should have been based on the relationships that men and women have, and the way women are perceived by men or the way power is used and abused. Things are changing, and they are changing faster than I have ever seen things change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELAS: He also said that when it comes to the "me too movement," she was shocked, but not surprised by the amount of allegations coming out against powerful men in Hollywood. He called the time we are living in, a, quote, "national referendum on reality."

WHITFIELD: All right. Chloe, thank you so much for that.

All right. Between natural disasters, global crises, and history being made in Washington, we are looking at the most iconic moments caught on camera in 2017, "The Year In Photos," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:40:57]

WHITFIELD: The 2017 brought another year of major news event and many of the most eye-catching moments were captured in photographs. The "New York Times" is celebrating those photos in its annual "The Year In Pictures" appearing today in its Sunday review.

This year's cover story is titled "Tragedy, Triumph, Trump." The photographs that tell the story of a world in tumult. Joining me now to talk about some of the top pictures of 2017, Jeffrey Henson Scales is a photographer and a photo editor for the "New York Times." Good to see you, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY HENSON SCALES, PHOTOGRAPHER AND PHOTO EDITOR, "NEW YORK TIMES": Thanks. Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: All right. So, this issue always has so many incredible and powerful images. It has to be very difficult to narrow down the scope of the year by way of pictures. How do you do it?

SCALES: Well, we usually start with over 100,000 pictures. It's an intensive process that takes about five weeks. We try to set some aside, but as news changes, it's more comes in at the last month when we are going through all of the pictures that were shot for the "New York Times," all of the wire pictures and our staff pictures. A remarkable amount of work. It's quite rewarding.

WHITFIELD: It really enlightening for so many because sometimes people forget what happened or transpired in a year. A moment captured and can just say so much. Let's talk about some of these images individually as we see the montage go by us. Charlottesville, some striking images there. America that many people didn't realize existed in 2017. Here we are showing people who are saluting in a Nazi salute this this Charlottesville gathering.

SCALES: It was a very troubling event. I thought that the photographer really captured that moment. He was right there close and in the middle of it and did a great job of getting a picture that really described what the feeling of that march was that night.

WHITFIELD: And then that march also involved a real calamity. A car careening through a crowd and in this image, you see a man who was pushed on the vehicle. I think I recall he ended up breaking a leg, but this always happened to be the same moment where a young woman was killed.

SCALES: Yes. Heather Hieyer was killed and the photograph was done by Ryan Kelly of the "Daily Progress," the local paper there. It's like classic spot journalism where the photographer is right there and catching this tragic horrible moment, and the team flying in the air and the urgency and it's terrifying. It's one of the most important pictures of this year, I think.

WHITFIELD: It really speaks to the instinct for a photographer. The camera is an extension of their body and not being able to that quickly react by capturing that moment, that is extraordinary talent right there and exhibition of that talent.

Then the moment that doesn't seem to go away. We are talking about the former FBI Director James Comey after his firing. Then of course he was telling his story before the Senate committee about his encounters with the president and here you see what a spectacle this moment was.

SCALES: Yes. That was a great moment captured by our staff photographer, Doug Mills, and photographing in the capital in Washington is always a challenge because as you can see, there is so much media there and so many pictures being taken. How do you get a unique perspective, a great image?

He thought of something great. Having his camera up on a high pole that he was holding with a remote. I remember I was watching the television when this happened, and I saw him from the back with the monopod in the air and I said I bet that's Doug taking that picture.

[14:45:08] It really captured the sensationalism and the media attention on this moment. All eyes were on Comey right there.

WHITFIELD: Right and people don't hear it when they look at the still photograph, but if they were watching it as it was happening, you could hear all the shutters clicking. All those still images being taken.

This is a year of natural disasters. This image of Houston, Texas floating. Actually, this is Beaumont, South of Houston, Texas. The image makes it appear as though the homes are floating in water after Hurricane Harvey. Tell us about this. You can see the film and the oil -- the polluted water.

SCALES: Yes. Alyssa (inaudible) took this from a helicopter and it captured one of the cities under water from the nature's fury this year. It ties to a lot of issues like climate change and government's role in everything. I thought this image had a real point of view, the vantage point was perfect and the reflection off the oil in the water made it just a little bit extra. WHITFIELD: Yes. We tend to become very ethnocentric and think all of these things are happening in the United States, but the photographs around the world are capturing images, historic images and this image of this woman and many other women in the background in the world's newest independent nation of South Sudan. This is not brought pure celebration to this country and there remains suffering and these women are waiting for water?

SCALES: Yes, they were waiting for water and they were just near a camp in South Sudan refugees and the conflict is displaced thousands and thousands of people, and there is just not enough water to really go around. They wait for hours and hours.

WHITFIELD: Go ahead, sorry.

SCALES: One of our staff, Tyler Hicks made this and he was brilliant with his coverage of conflict of the situations like this.

WHITFIELD: Well, congratulations to all these photographers so committed to the craft. The incredible catalog of imagery taking us around the world in the year of 2017. An extraordinary year it's been. Jeffrey Henson Scales, an honor to talk to you, thanks so much.

SCALES: Thanks for having me, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back. Merry Christmas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:52:21]

WHITFIELD: Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchet and Ebenezer Skrooch, the iconic characters of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" are known around the world. CNN Nick Glass explains tow these characters were brought to life to create the Christmas classic.

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NICK GLASS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): In a gilded frame, three little photographs of the literary lion. This is Dickens as we remember him looking older than his years. Simply worn out and probably conscious of it, he died at just 58.

The Dickens Museum in London is in the Georgian Harrison Blooms Creek with the blue plaque. This is 48 (inaudible) Street, the house he rented as a young married man. Here on display are some of his writing tools, his quill and ink well, his magnifying glass and cigar box. And something that went with him every time he moved home.

(on camera): It's naturally showing its age. This is Charles Dickens's actual writing desk where he wrote Nicholas Nickel Bee and Oliver Twist and this little volume. This is the approved copy of "A Christmas Carol." Published on December 19th, 1843, 6,000 copies. They sold out on Christmas eve.

(voice-over): It's a beautiful object, finally bound gold lettering on the front and spine. The first story is a book rather than in serial form in periodical illustrations by John Leech, a young caricaturist in color.

The museum is showing Leach's initial pencil sketches and the first faint apparition that that wonderfully named Miser, "Ebenezer Scrooge." This is naturally a tale of two cities. New York is celebrating in this Christmas too, the special exhibition at the library.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the original manuscript of "A Christmas Carol." He is changing his mind and going back. It's all pouring out of him. The level of artistry was by himself a page.

GLASS: It's somehow thrilling to see the names in Dickens's own almost illegible hand. Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchet, and of course, Tiny Tim. Would you recognize dickens from the earliest men photographed from the type of 1850 who was then 38.

[14:55:04] In his 40s and 50s,"A Christmas Carol" became one of his favorite readings in his celebrated tours.

SIMON CALLOW, ACTOR: They were like rock concerts. They were so thrilled to be in his actual physical presence. The fact that he was a brilliant actor.

GLASS: Dickens' farewell American tour in the late 1860s earned in the modern equivalent of $1.5 million. Poignantly, a ticket stub per reading on London on February the 1st, 1870, it used to be among his last.

A mere four months later, the great writer and the great performer of his own works was dead, leaving an empty chair by his writing desk. This engraving became a Christmas bestseller that year. Nick Glass, CNN in London.

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WHITFIELD: Wow! What a tale this Christmas. We have so much more in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.

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