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CNN NEWSROOM

Puerto Rico Governor Says 45 Percent Without Power; NPR Creates Brackets for Top 2017 News Stores; Apple Now Apologizing and Dropping Battery Prices; CNN Counts Down 2017 Top Media Stories. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired December 29, 2017 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: There has been a noted absence of police officers on the streets of Puerto Rico in the months following Hurricane Maria. Island secretary of public affairs would not call it a sick out but there are reports officers are staying home from work until they get overtime pay that is owed to them. Now we are told with a $6 million in OT will be paid tomorrow.

Meantime Puerto Rico has just released figures on the number of people without power for the first time since Hurricane Maria hit 100 days ago. According to officials there on the ground, 45 percent of the island is still without power. Almost half. The governor is asking for some 1,500 power workers from all across the U.S. to come help. CNN Leyla Santiago visited one of the hardest hit areas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's more than just a flip of a switch, finally what the hint of life was like before Hurricane Maria. After more than three months without power, Ida is one of the lucky few that just got power.

IDA, VICTIM OF HURRICANE MARIA (through translator): She's able to take a hot shower. That's what she's excited about, a hot shower.

SANTIAGO: Yabucoa in south eastern Puerto Rico now has a massive generator to power its substation. Enough to power part of the town, not a permanent solution. Not enough to turn the lights back on for all 38,000 people. Yabucoa has always been known for its agricultural. Now it's known for that area. Where Hurricane Maria came in with 155-mile-per-hour winds knocking out electricity immediately. The mayor says he doesn't know when power will be restored. So, he believes they were the first to deal with Maria and they could be the last.

Mayor Rafael Sunillo was born and raised in these mountains near the coast. He calls Maria, monster that destroyed them.

SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (translating for Mayor Rafael Sunillo): He's saying the urban area could get power very soon. But this area, mountainous area it could be summer before they see it, which take note, summer is when the hurricane season begins.

SANTIAGO: Miles away from town, high up in the mountains where the power lines are harder to fix, Cheryl de Jesus has little hope her home will be back to normal soon. Maria rushed in through the windows and doors and ruined more than furniture, it ruined her life. For now, new paint is all she can afford to fix any of it.

SANTIAGO, (translating for Cheryl de Jesus): She has no idea when she will get power back. I'm asking her if she thinks it will be soon. No.

SANTIAGO: Without power, Cheryl and her children lost more than the lights.

SANTIAGO, (translating for Cheryl de Jesus): Without power, they don't have water.

SANTIAGO: The mayor says the problem constant bureaucratic delays. For a month they had power workers here, but not enough materials to actually carry out the work. Mayor Sunillo calls this a start. He says they need more generators, power poles, cables. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers admits a shortage of supplies stemming from other natural disasters is part of the reason why it took so long to get power back to people like Ida.

SANTIAGO, (translating for Ida): She doesn't have to wash clothes by hand anymore.

SANTIAGO: Back in town, Ida will spend tonight in home overjoyed. Power is the best Christmas gift they can ask for. But for the families up in the mountains the sun sets as they wait for their gift to arrive. Leyla, CNN, Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Such resilience. Thank you for that story.

Up next, the whirl wind year in politics summed up. Any March madness, see what stories rose to the top as the most influential of 2017.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Well, 2017 winding down very quickly. It's a year to remember. Arguably the most wild year for politics ever. So, our friends at NPR created March madness style bracket for the news cycle that has seemed to change by the hour on some days. From the Supreme Court to the travel ban to Anthony Scaramucci 10-day stint at the White House. Twitter users were asked to fill out these brackets for the top political story of the year.

The final four pits the women's march against the Mueller probe and the me-too movement versus the firing of FBI director James Comey. With us now to reveal where we are at in this bracket challenge, NPR lead political editor, Dominico Montanaro joining us live.

Thank you so much. I know you conceived of this idea. You did a lot of the vote tallying yourself. So, we have a few minutes left in the voting, but who are the final two? What are the final two right now? DOMINICO MONTANARO, NPR LEAD POLITICAL EDITOR: Final two right now

are the Mueller probe and fallout from sexual harassment. And right now, with less than an hour to go, less than half hour to go in the voting, Mueller probe is slightly ahead 51 to 49 in the readers participating on Twitter. You can go on @DomenicoNPR which is Twitter handle and you'll see the pin tweet is the final tally, final poll of this whole thing, which we've done way too many of over the past week. And I did a callout for it on Christmas eve and stunning to me how many people actually did submit handwritten brackets.

[15:40:00] I should have probably figured out a way to automate this, thankfully we have a couple good interns and people around the desk were willing to help out. Because more than 300 people, 285 people submitted brackets. And only two people left who can win. I want to give them shout outs. That's Dave Stedman and Courtney Norris.

CABRERA: Perfect brackets so far?

MONTANARO: No, no one had perfect brackets. Only two perfect brackets after the first round. After the second round no perfect brackets out of 285. But the two of them right now competing against each other. If the Mueller probe wins, Dave Stedman wins. If sexual harassment fallout, Courtney Norris wins. And they win David Green's voice on the voice mail, that's my joke.

CABRERA: Oh, what a surprise, right. What a grand award. But the fact that you even did this, this is something that you do every year or was it because this administration is unique and some way?

MONTANARO: I'm a big college basketball junkie, I wasn't trying to be glib in any sort of way to the seriousness of a lot of these stories, but I was trying to take all the stories that happened during the year, and find an end of year way to rank these and figure out what their significance was. And you just list so many of them, that you start to think, what can we do with this, in a way to sort of engage readers, engage people online to see what they think.

And what I tried to do is, let's say, I rank them all from 1 to 64, put them in this bracket, and see if people agreed and let them vote on it. And it was kind of a fun exercise. Also allowed people to show what kind of news judgment they have. Because certainly we have to make these decisions every day, what goes first on the show, what's the lead, what's not.

CABRERA: Definitely a way to take the pulse of the American people. What a creative idea. Thank you for coming on and sharing with us.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Thanks for having us.

CABRERA: Up next Apple apologizing for slowing down older versions of the iPhone. Details on their proposed fix they are offering to customers when we come back.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: After a swift backlash and getting hit with multiple lawsuits, Apple is now apologizing for slowing down older versions of its iPhones. The reason for some iPhones lag time? Aging batteries, Apple says. And starting next month they are slashing the battery replacement cost in half. Joining us now, Samuel Burke. What exactly does this mean for iPhone users?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Ana, Apple is calling all this a misunderstanding which is a nice word to use when you tick off millions of people. What this basically means now is they are trying to correct what's the problem at the heart of this matter. The battery. So, if you have one of these phones, let's put up the list to remind people, if you have the iPhone 6, 6S, SE, or relatively new iPhone 7, they have been slowing down your phone to stop it from turning off suddenly, 10 percent less and then boom it's gone.

So now what they are saying, you can go to the Apple store and get replacement battery, instead of $79, it will be $29 that way you won't have to choose between a slow phone or one that is shutting off. Also, they are saying within the next version IOS we will all get an update, so we can see how our battery is performing. Think of it as a heart monitor but for your battery for your phone.

CABRERA: OK. That explains a little bit of the mystery I've been having on my own phone. This was an issue that sparked some real outrage on social media, and beyond, with your pulse on the beat there, does this price cut for battery replacement do you think go deep enough for angry Apple fans?

BURKE: It's interesting because we found out about this because of a reddit forum, that is a social media site, and people complaining about it, then we got a tech blogger that gave us data. But people still seem to be upset. Even Marco Rubio the Florida Senator has been tweeting about this. I think he is summarizing what a lot of people are feeling.

Check out this tweet, the problem isn't just the phone, just arrogance of Apple remotely controlling how phones work and admit it only after getting caught. So, I think even when you have a U.S. senator talking about how upset they are, shows how much it got under people's skin and why Apple had to react now.

CABRERA: All right. Samuel Burke, thanks so much. Happy to see you. Happy New Year's Eve. I know you are ahead of us and you'll hit that ball drop in London earlier.

BURKE: Happy New Year.

CABRERA: Happy New Year. Still ahead tragic new details about how a deadly fire started in the Bronx, a child playing at the stove. What we are hearing now from the families of the 12-people killed.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Unfiltered is the one way you could describe "The New York Times" interview with President Trump, and President Trump took aim at one of his favorite targets, the media, saying he expects to run and win in '20, saying, quote, newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I'm not there because without me the ratings will go down the tubes. The president's relationship with the press, just one of the stories in 2017. Brian Stelter counts them down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: 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, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": 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, HOST, "TONIGHT SHOW": The fact it took the president two days to come out and clearly denotes racists and white supremacists is shameful.

STELTER: To SNL's searing satire.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, SNL: Sorry, Kellyanne, I am in pouty, baby mode.

STELTER: Late night became an anti-Trump force. Channeling the frustration and fear many viewers. Number 6, the antitrust battle of the decade.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Breaking news, the justice department is suing to block ATT's takeover of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.

STELTER: The DOJ argues the deal would harm competition, but some wonder if this is really about Trump's vendetta against CNN, after all, another deal this one involving conservative leaning Sinclair that is looking for 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? This DOJ lawsuit brings a lot of uncertainty to the media landscape. At time when Facebook and Google's domination of the ad market is already causing anxiety.

That brings us to number 5, Russian ads on social media. Tech giants finally admitting that Russia used their platforms to meddle in the 2016 election.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Facebook told congressional investigators today it sold $100,000 of political ads to a so-called Russian troll farm targeting American voters.

STELTER: And similar disclosures from Twitter and Google followed. Hauled before Congress the companies were shamed for missing Russian interference.

SEN DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I must say I don't think you get it. You created these platforms and now they are being misused.

STELTER: Facebook, Twitter and Google have all pledged changes, but can they be trusted to police their platforms.

Number 4, 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 witness an inauguration, period.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Sean Spicer our press secretary gave alternative facts.

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

MELISSA MCCARTHY, SNL CAST MEMBER: I came out here to punch you.

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

COOPER: Sarah Huckabee Sanders knows what the president said, she's just pretending he said something else.

STELTER: Fact checkers have been in over drive this year, and every false statement is another stain on the White House's credibility. At the same time there's more pressure than ever on us in the press to be careful and get it right.

Number 3, the power of investigative reporting. It created the conditions for Michael Flynn's firing as national security adviser and it led to the ouster of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price following his use of private planes. And I drove the withdrawal of the presence of drugs czar nominee.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is something where there was an explosive report by "60 minutes" and the "Washington Post."

STELTER: Readership, viewership, subscriptions all way up in 2017 as investigative reporting held the powerful to account. And he saw that again in our top media story of the year. Coming up.

Number 2 is Donald Trump versus the media, still. This time last year we wondered if the new president would tone down his attacks on the fourth estate, but, no.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

TRUMP: All I can say is it totally fake news. Just fake.

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

TRUMP: It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it. STELTER: Trump's media bashing has sent a chill through news rooms across the country, but the press and champions of the first amendment are not backing down.

[16:00:00] And then number 1 story in media this year, the sexual harassment reckoning, and it was a moment foreshadowed by the 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 tumble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Veteran journalist and political analyst, Mark Halperin is leaving NBC news after CNN uncovered accusations of sexual harassment by five women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news, Charlie Rose fired and three more women coming forward with sexual harassment allegations against the veteran journalist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shocking new details about the sexual harassment 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)

CABRERA: That does it for me today on this Friday. I am back tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 p.m. eastern, and for now I hand it over to Dana Bash and "The Lead."