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New Year's Eve Preparations In New York; Wind Chill Alerts; Top Seven Media Stories of 2017; 2018 Races Will Test The Power of Steve Bannon; College Football Playoffs Take Center Stage; Wisconsin Taking On Miami In The Orange Bowl; Penn State Beats Washington 35-38; Stephen Curry Scores 38 Points In Return; Ohio Deputy Saves Opioid Addicts Aired 6-7a

Aired December 31, 2017 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All righty. The pictures are beautiful through the screen, but can you imagine being there? That would be something to see. That is half a ton of fireworks lighting up the sky there in Auckland. Reportedly, it took five months to prepare for this sight. Happy New Year to them as they have beat us to it this morning. Hopefully, you all will have your own good celebrations a little bit later tonight.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Now to the breaking news happening right now, anti-government protests in Iran now widespread and also violent, deadly in several cases.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and we do want to warn you that you are about to see some imagines that are disturbing. There are bodies lying in the streets after a burst of gunfire. We don't want you taken aback, but here you go.


PAUL: This is video that was tweeted by Human Rights Organization. Now, I want to get you caught up on what we know at this moment. First of all, two anti-government protesters were killed overnight and at least five were shot. Iranian officials say their security officials had nothing to do with that.

BLACKWELL: Now, there are videos on social media that appear to show large groups of anti-government protesters fighting with police. CNN cannot independently confirm the videos, but in some, the crowds appear to be chanting "We don't want an Islamic Republic and death to the dictator."


So, this is one of the dozens of protests happening right now. These demonstrations, they began Thursday and have since spread across Iran. You see the locations where some of these videos and reports are coming from.

PAUL: A top Iranian official issuing this stern warning to protesters this morning saying they will pay the price for disorder. Golnar Motevalli, a reporter for "Bloomberg," based in Tehran, spoke with CNN a short time ago.


GOLNAR MOTEVALLI, REPORTER, "BLOOMBERG" (via telephone): They are having reports on official and semiofficial media in Iran, and some of the news agencies here, they have made references to overnight skirmishes and what they call vandalism by protesters on bus stops and some public property.

The fact that some of these official news sites, some of which are aligned for conservative and hardline elements in Iran's state establishment are actually addressing that in their reports in itself is interesting.

And not necessarily, you know, expected, but it shows that there is something definitely going on and that some official media sources, though not all, are addressing the protests that happened yesterday.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Is this mainly about the economy or is there something more here?

MOTEVELLI: Well, I think it's a very complicated picture and a couple of analysts that I've spoken to here, even they can't simplify or fully define what is going on. They say, themselves, that there are various things that they think have contributed to what happened.

I know that your correspondent just now referred to statements from the first vice president, referring to as a warning against people who are trying to stir resentment against the government, but I think what is actually to provide some context there, I wouldn't say that is a chilling warning.

I would say that is actually the first, you know, the vice president sending some kind of signal to the opponents of President Hassan Rouhani, who are a hardline party, factions within the Iranian politics here. That's what he meant when he said that.

The government right now, there are two different narratives, I think, emerging within Iranian domestic media.

[06:05:02] One is the government and the supporters of President Rouhani saying that these protests were started by hardline opponents, who were protesting and voicing their grievances about the situation in the economy, and they have something that is more broadly about the wider state system here.

The other narrative is being explained in more kind of hardline aligned news agencies in Iran, which is these are protests by people that are angry at the government, at the mismanagement of the economy and that the government needs to be accountable and President Rouhani's cabinet needs to be more accountable to those grievances.


PAUL: Thank you to Golnar Motevelli in Tehran for us as well.

BLACKWELL: There were reports of internet slowdowns and outages across parts of Iran, but they are not stopping protesters from trying to get the world's attention.

PAUL: Yes. We are getting several images from social media users. We want to point out, again, these are images we cannot independently confirm, but want to show what we are seeing, a woman standing in a busy street without her head scarf waving a white shawl.

This is apparently part of a social media campaign using the #whitewednesdays. It's to protests a law that's forcing women to wear hijabs and this is the latest symbol of the Iranian women struggle.

BLACKWELL: Joining us now is Frederik Pleitgen, CNN senior international correspondent, who has been to Iran about a dozen times. Also with us is Maziar Bahari, is an Iranian journalist and filmmaker, who was jailed by the Iranian government back in 2009. Good morning to both of you.

First, I want to pick up where Goldnar left off, Fred. The protests of the government. Is this focused on President Rouhani? Is this focused on the ayatollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard? Where is there consensus of the dissatisfaction?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, I think one of the interesting things about this protest, Victor, is that it seems to be focused on the entire power structure if you can say that it's focused at all.

Because this seems to have more from something whereas Goldnar was saying it might have been started by hardliners to criticize the government of President Hassan Rouhani, but it certainly seems to have turned into something that is a lot more than that.

Two things really stand out. The protests, themselves, aren't necessarily large but they are widespread in many areas of Iran, not only in the large cities, but also in smaller towns as well.

That seems to indicate that there is wider discontent in many places in the entire country that certainly has a root and a lot of economic factors, but seems to go beyond that as well.

The other interesting thing is what we were also pointing out is that it doesn't only seem to be directed at one or the other political group. This is not fighting between the political groups that we know in Iran, the hard liners and reformers.

This seems to be aimed at the entire power structure itself. You've seen pictures of Iran's supreme leader torn down. You've also seen people chanting against President Hassan Rouhani, which seems to indicate that this population in Iran at least part of it, which is very young and highly educated.

Does not feel that either the government or the existing clerical and revolutionary guard power structure seems to be delivering to them what they want and that is more than about economic factors, that's also about getting the possibility to unfold their potential, which many Iranians apparently, don't feel that they are able to do -- Victor.

PAUL: The Iran's interior minister promises that the country will definitely -- I'm quoting, "definitely confront disorder." What does confront disorder mean in Iran?

MAZIAR BAHARI, EDITOR, "IRANWIRE": Confronted disorder most probably mean they are going to imprison the protesters. They are going to shot down the media. They are going to narrow the internet bandwidth. They are going to shut down the mobile internet, and things that the regime knows how to do.

This is the manifestation of people's frustration with four decades of corrupt rule of clerics and that's why as your correspondent said it's targeted at the power structure at the system as a whole and not one faction of the government against another.

BLACKWELL: Maziar, I want to focus on something that you highlighted in "The Washington Post," and it's about what we are hearing from the Iranian government and what we are not. They are responding to claims that the two people have been killed at their hand and they deny that.

They are discussing violence and responding to the president of the United States, but they are not responding to the concerns of the people. You highlight that early on that this was going to be a likelihood they will blame this on some imperial foreign power and not discuss exactly what the people are frustrated about.

[06:10:03] BAHARI: The problem is that even if they want to, they cannot. They are not able to solve the economic problems of Iran because of corruption, because of mismanagement that has been going on for the past four decades, and because of the different monopolies.

For example, the Revolutionary Guards are not only in military force in Iran, but also, they have the biggest industrial complex in the country. The supreme leader supervises over some of the biggest industries and factories and commercial centers in Iran.

So, even if the president, President Rouhani wants to solve the problem, even if the supreme leader wants to solve the problem, they are not able to do that because of nepotism, because of cronyism, because of corruption of the system.

PAUL: Fred, Representative Will Herd yesterday said all of the folks that have ever stood up against the ayatollahs have been killed. Help us understand the risks people are taking when they stand in front of a police officer and say we don't want an Islamic republic or you know, death to the dictator.

PLEITGEN: Well, that is certainly a big risk that a lot of the protesters are taking especially in light of the fact that if you take every one of these demonstration that's going on by themselves, they aren't really that big and certainly are very, very tough security forces known as the besiege militias that are in place in Tehran and other places as well that do crackdown really hard.

So, this is definitely a big risk that a lot of these people are taking, but it seems to have now gotten to a point where people in many towns are willing to take that risk. If you look overnight, a lot of it was more than people chanting in the streets.

There were some government buildings that were apparently attacked. There were some posters that were torn down and that's something where the government says it's going to confront all this.

But I think one of the big issues that we also have to look at is the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers which many, many Iranians have really put a lot of hope into, a lot of hope in Iran not only opening up economically, but in general opening up to the world.

I think that that is one of the things where a lot of people feel that President Rouhani hasn't necessarily delivered what he promised. They also obviously the U.S. remaining very tough on that as well, but also where they see that a lot of the economic benefits simply haven't trickled down yet, guys.

BLACKWELL: Soon after that Iran deal was cemented, President Rouhani said that this would be the golden page in the history of Iran. That is two years on now, the people in Iran clearly do not believe that. Frederik Pleitgen, Maziar Bahari, thank you both.

PAUL: Thank you both. Well, Vice President Mike Pence is reacting to the unrest in Iran now.

BLACKWELL: Let's get over to CNN political reporter, Dan Merica. Dan, what is Vice President Pence saying?

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Hey, Victor. The Trump administration is issuing a series of forceful comments supporting the anti-government protests in Iran. Sarah Sanders issued a statement on Friday. President Trump followed that up with a tweet.

And now as you mentioned, Vice President Mike Pence tweeting as well. Here is what he said, "POTUS and I stand with peaceful protesters in Iran who are speaking out for freedom and we condemn the arrest of innocents. The time has come for the regime in Tehran to end terrorist activities, corruption, and their disregard for human rights."

So, I think Pence didn't say is something Trump did say, "The world is watching." Many experts took Trump's remarks to mean that the world, including the United States, will punish Iran if these crackdowns continue. Victor and Christi, that remains to be seen, however.

PAUL: All right. Dan Merica, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: There's this new report from "The New York Times" that identifies a former Trump aide as the person possibly responsible, the reason why the FBI started its entire investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. We have got details next.



BLACKWELL: All right. It's 17 minutes after the hour. This morning, a "New York Times" report is adding to the pieces of the intelligence in the Russian investigation even pointing out why the FBI started that investigation in the first place.

PAUL: According to the report, Campaign Aide George Papadopoulos knew Russia had thousands of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton months before the information was public. CNN's Sara Murray has more.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On another sleepy day on the president's vacation in Mar-a-Lago, the White House was left grappling with yet another "New York Times" bombshell, this one centered around George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy aide to President Trump back when he was Candidate Trump during his campaign.

And revelations that he told people he was aware that Moscow had damaging emails about Hillary Clinton and may have helped attract law enforcement's attention to this question of whether there was any collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russians in efforts to meddle in the election.

Now, before this report came out, the White House went out of their way to downplay Papadopoulos' role during the campaign.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was extremely limited. It was a volunteer position and again no activity was ever done in official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.


MURRAY: Now the White House took a cautious role in its response to this bombshell report over the weekend. Ty Cobb, who is the president's counsel within the White House, put out a statement that said, "Out of respect for the special counsel and his process, we are not commenting on matters such as this. We are continuing to fully cooperate with the special counsel in order to help complete their inquiry expeditiously."

But if you dig into this "New York Times" report, there are a couple of components that could be troubling for the Trump White House including the notion that George Papadopoulos actually help weigh in some of then-Candidate Trump's foreign policy speeches as well as helping to facilitate a meeting just two months before the election between then-Candidate Trump and the Egyptian president, both things that seemed well outside the spectrum of a low-level volunteer. Sara Murray, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.

PAUL: All right. Let's talk about this with deputy managing editor of "The Weekly Standard" Kelly Jane Torrance. Kelly Jane, good to see you this morning. So, we just heard there from Sarah Sanders. Being a volunteer for a campaign doesn't necessarily equate to being disconnected from it. Put into context Papadopoulos' role in all of this.

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": When Sarah Sanders says he was a volunteer for the campaign, I think she is trying to give people the idea that he was some kind of youngster that came in and answered phones or went door-to-door handing out leaflets because I think what a lot of Americans think of when they hear the words campaign volunteer.

But let's keep in mind, Paul Manafort, who was for a time Trump's campaign chairman could be said to have been a volunteer because he did that position unpaid and he volunteered his services unpaid. It's clear that he thought he was going to get something else out of it, of course.

[06:20:07] So, calling this guy a volunteer, I think, is misleading at best. It's clear that he had a lot to do with the campaign. You see him as you pictured him in meetings with the Trump foreign policy team, pretty close to Jeff Sessions who was the head of then Trump's foreign policy team.

He was in communication constantly we learned, especially from that "The New York Times" piece, over email with people like Stephen Miller who is then a Trump adviser and is now part of the White House. And he was in communications with Sam Clovis, who him for the Trump campaign and actually encouraged him if he wanted to, to go to Russia to meet with people.

Although, he said the campaign would not pay for it and that is apparently why Mr. Papadopoulos decided not to go. Sarah Sanders I think is being misleading at best here in trying to portray him as some low-level coffee boy volunteer. He had more to do with the campaign than that.

PAUL: All right. CNN political commentator, Errol Louis, is up with us as well. Good morning to you, Errol. I want to read to you from this "New York Times" piece that we've been talking about because it seems significant here.

First of all, they say the hacking, meaning of Democratic emails and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the FBI to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia's attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump's associates conspired.

Now that statement doesn't it contradict the theory from many on the GOP side, congressmen who have said the dossier was the catalyst for the FBI investigation?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That is exactly right. There is information coming from multiple angles that all led to the same conclusion. That is why incidentally you have an independent department of justice, while the president appoints an attorney general and while the president names the FBI director, both are substantially independent of the president for exactly just this reason.

You have information coming from the dossier floating around for a while and the actual hacking that leads to the Justice Department to say we are not sitting on our hand, we have to start looking. This has been known all along and when you hear, as we heard just the other day, the president saying, no collusion, no collusion.

That is not what this was always about, not simply collusion in some kind of Hollywood sense, but the fact there is clearly something wrong here that the sworn officers of the FBI and the Justice Department had to look into.

PAUL: Kelly Jane, we know that Papadopoulos has plead not guilty to lying to the FBI, characterized as a cooperating witness now. Is there a sense of what he really knows and what he is really sharing and what he is getting to do so?

TORRANCE: I mean, we know more than we did a few days ago, thanks to the "New York Times" report. That makes me wonder is there more we don't know? "The New York Times" got a hold of quite a lot of emails that went back and forth between George Papadopoulos and people in the campaign.

And he does not mention in any of these emails to people in the campaign the specific details of the emails he knows that the Russians have, you know, that the supposed dirt on Hillary Clinton which, you know, sounds to me not so much dirt on Hillary Clinton but some embarrassing emails from the Democratic National Committee, which hackers were soon to release after a few months, a couple of months after Mr. Papadopoulos talked about them.

So, it seems like they have a lot of information already, but given we had known about the existence of these emails until now, you have to wonder what else is out there. I have to say, I mean, this guy, at the time, was a 28-year-old and, obviously, poorly vetted.

This guy listed that he was a fellow at the Hudson Street, turned out he was an unpaid intern. He had modeled U.N. on his qualifications and they are saying he had nothing to do with them.

You have to wonder what the vetting the Trump campaign did with a low- level guy. This guy was in high listen helpful meetings and a surrogate for the campaign and talking to media throughout the campaign.

PAUL: So, Errol, with that said, how critical do you think Papadopoulos, himself, is going to be to the end result of this, whatever that maybe?

LOUIS: Look. He is extraordinarily important because again, you know, you have to keep in mind that there is a large puzzle with a lot of pieces to it. So, this is somebody who sat in high-level meetings including with the vice president or soon-to-be vice president.

This is somebody who felt strongly enough about his own involvement that he pleaded guilty to a felony. He is going to be in trouble for the rest of his life. This is somebody who is going to help I think the Mueller investigation and others get their tick tock together.

The day-by-day sort of development of a case and in Papadopoulos' case, I mean, again, they can dismiss him as coffee boy. I think something that was hung around his neck, but he doesn't have to provide all of the information.

[06:25:12] He can provide just enough with credibility to cause some real problems for a lot of other people.

PAUL: All right. Errol Louis and Kelly Jane Torrance, always good to see you. Happy New Year to you. Thank you for being here.

BLACKWELL: Speaking of a happy new year, let's take a live look at Times Square in New York City. They have cleared the streets and there will be a security sweep, but later it will be packed with hundreds of thousands and maybe more than a million, stretching down the streets to ring in 2018.

The woman who will push the button to start the ball to drop right before midnight, Tarana Burke, founder of the #metoomovement will be on with us this morning so stay with us for that.

We are about 25 minutes into the new year in New Zealand. The party has started. You see the fireworks here. Massive display in the sky. The sky tower here took reportedly five months to prepare this show. This year's laser light show was double the size of the show last year. Happy New Year, Auckland.


PAUL: All right. It's 30 minutes past the hour on the last day of 2017. Almost happy new year to you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It flies by every year.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: All right. So it's cold. Very cold.

PAUL: Breaking news. It's cold.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it is but, you know, New Yorkers are still going to flood the streets to celebrate the New Year.

PAUL: Of course, they are.

Officials are gearing up for one big celebration in Times Square. Take a look at the pictures now. I know nobody is there but that is going to be packed within the next few hours and that is a good thing because maybe all of that body heat will help keep people warm from the frigid temperatures that they are expecting.

Third coldest New Year's Eve ball drop in Times Square since the event started in 1907.

BLACKWELL: Now, of course, the folks in New York are not the only ones really dealing with some frigid temperatures. More than 140 million people are under wind chill alerts.

PAUL: And that is nearly, apparently, every state east of the Rockies even reaching nearly to the Gulf Coast. We are talking about Texas, Mississippi, Alabama.

Meteorologist Allison Chinchar here with the details for us. All right walk us through it. Give us the heads-up. How bad is it going to be?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: East of the Rockies the only two states you're missing are Florida and South Carolina. Otherwise take a look at the map. You pretty much got everybody.

Here's the interesting thing. Look at this. We've got the wind chill alerts on the U.S./Canada boarder and also the U.S./Mexico border.

Brownsville, Texas, also is under a wind chill advisory. This is important to note for folks in the south that are under these because we expect precipitation to move through there today and tonight and that is going to cause problems tonight when the temperatures change. So we actually have winter weather advisories for areas of Mississippi and Texas.

Here is a look at the radar. It's going to start off as rain because we will be warm enough during the day. It's at night tonight when those temperatures drop off. That is when we are going to start to see a changeover and there could actually be ice accumulations for areas of Texas, South Texas, all the way over towards Mississippi and Alabama.

Look at the map. This is showing the morning low temperatures tomorrow. Look at how far apart from average 26 degrees below average for international falls.

Twenty-six degrees below average for Chicago. Even New York is going to be about 20 degrees below average. But what does that mean for the folks, say, in New York that are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve tonight?

Here is a look at the forecast. It is going to be chilly. At 8:00 -- and we know there is still going to be plenty of people standing out there at 8:00, the temperature is going to be 15 with that wind chill hovering right around that zero mark. By the time you get to midnight, Victor and Christi, that wind chill is going to be definitely maybe, say, about minus 5 to minus 10 for that feels like temperature.

BLACKWELL: You know what I bought for the first time yesterday in a while?

PAUL: Oh, no.


PAUL: As you should.

BLACKWELL: I feel like it was going to be that cold, my fingers should be together. There is strength more (ph) in numbers.

PAUL: And they say keep you warmer than gloves.

BLACKWELL: Can't use my cell phone though.

PAUL: They're all together. It's all right. You'll be fine.

Allison Chinchar, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Allison.

PAUL: Listen, don't forget to celebrate the New Year with us. Two best friends, one epic night and I predict some fun shenanigans. Bring in the New Year.

BLACKWELL: I wondered where that was going.

PAUL: Come on. Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, you know it. New Year's Eve live begins tonight at 8:00 on CNN.

So as the world ushers in the New Year we are reliving the biggest stories of really, let's face it, a very hectic 12 months.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Slinging mud at journalists to crying foul about fake news. President Trump's complicated relationship with the press continues.

PAUL: Here is CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter with his top media story picks of 2017.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA 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, 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, THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON: The fact it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racist and white supremacist is shameful.


STELTER: To SNL's searing satire.

ALEC BALDWIN AS DONALD TRUMP: Sorry, Kellyanne, I'm in pouty baby mode.

STELTER: Late nights became an anti-Trump force. Channeling the frustration and fear of many viewers.

Number six, the anti-trust battle of the decade.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On 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 is another deal. This one involving conservative leaning Sinclair that is 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?

The DOJ law suit brings a lot of uncertainty to the media landscape at a time when Facebook and Google's domination of the out market is already causing 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.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Facebook told congressional investigators today that it sold about a hundred thousand dollars worth of political ads to a so-called Russian troll farm targeting American voters.

STELTER: 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've created these platforms and now they are being misused.

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

Number four, 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.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.

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

MELISSA MCCARTHY AS SEAN SPICER: 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 just 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 President Trump's drug czar nominee.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is something that 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 we saw that again in our top media story of the year, coming up.

Number two is Donald Trump versus the media, still. You know this time last year, we wondered if the new president would tone down his attacks on the fourth estate. But no.


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

TRUMP: All I can say is, it's totally fake news. It's 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 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, the sexual harassment reckoning.

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 throughout every corner of industry and politics. As the floodgates opened, titans of media tumbled.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Veteran journalist and political analyst Mark Halperin is leaving NBC News after CNN uncovered accusations of sexual harassment by five women. ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. Charlie Rose fired and now three more women are coming forward with sexual harassment allegations against the veteran journalist.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: 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. But will it usher in real, systemic change?

Let's see how the media covers that story in 2018.


BLACKWELL: And be sure to join CNN's Tom Foreman for a look at some of the biggest moments of the year. "All the Best, All the Worst 2017," airs tonight at 7:00.


BLACKWELL: Well, 2018 will test the power of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. The Breitbart executive chairman helped but Donald Trump in the White House and declared war on the Republican establishment. And then he hit the campaign trail to promote far right challenges to GOP lawmakers.

Well, several of those candidates lost their races. Will that trend continue in 2018 in the midterms or will he be able to turn it around?

Joining us now to talk about this CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy. Oliver, good morning to you.

And first let's just start broadly here. There's that almost comical pull quote from the "Vanity Fair" story a couple of weeks where Steve Bannon declares, I have power. Does he and how much?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes. I think since he helped usher Trump into office, you know, he has been hyped as a guy who is very powerful, who's a master strategist and can, you know, lead this great war against the GOP establishment.


I don't know if he has the record, though, to really support that if you look at what has happened this year. Ed Gillespie, he really rallied around that candidate in Virginia and that person ended up losing. You look at Roy Moore in Alabama who he went down there, he really championed, he campaigned for and Roy Moore ended up losing.

And even this week as reported earlier, you know, he had to distant himself from a candidate -- had been very favorable in the past as well Paul Nehlen in Wisconsin who is running against Speaker Ryan and is challenging him again in 2018, he had to distance himself after that candidate tweeted a number of inflammatory things, things that people, you know, widely interpreted as anti-Semitic and cut ties from him.

So, you know, it's interesting to see whether he does have the power that he's sort of being characterized in the presses (ph) is having or whether it's mostly hype.

BLACKWELL: So let me understand. I'm having difficulty understanding the Paul Nehlen separation. Paul Nehlen as you said, used this hash tag, it's OK to be white. Who's reading a book proudly that many people believe is anti-Semitic.

But this is a man who runs the Web site that prides itself on being the platform for the alt-right. Why was Paul Nehlen a bridge too far?

DARCY: I don't know. I think that Bannon one time said, you know, that they are a platform for the alt-right. I'm not sure that Breitbart editors anymore would make that comment.

But, yes, it really is remarkable that they are distancing themselves from this far right candidate because particularly if you look at the previous coverage from Nehlen they did everything they could to prop him up. They had run story after story supporting his candidacy in 2016 against Speaker Ryan and simultaneously they had done everything to tear down Ryan in that race.

And so the immediate severing of ties really, really says something and it says a lot about, I guess, Paul Nehlen, you know, that he went to the far right that Breitbart didn't (ph) support him.

BLACKWELL: So most of the country was introduced to Steve Bannon as part of the Trump campaign coming in and that I call it third trimester there, the end of the campaign. And then back to Roy Moore who lost -- as you said Gillespie lost in Virginia.

If we look pre-Trump, how is Bannon's record?

DARCY: Pre-Trump it doesn't really get much better. He hasn't really been able to usher in a candidate in his own into Congress if you look, for instance, like in Alabama -- or Mississippi, sorry. Thad Cochran versus Chris McDaniel. McDaniel ended up losing and I think he might run again.

But if you look at a lot the candidates that Bannon support in the past, they certainly been those who campaign against GOP establishments. They didn't necessarily been able to take that fire and really marshal it into office.

BLACKWELL: All right. We will see what becomes of Steve Bannon as we head toward the mid terms in 2018.

Oliver Darcy, thanks so much.

DARCY: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right -- Christi.

PAUL: Well, college football playoffs tomorrow. Big question? Andy Scholes, will the Heisman trophy winner be there to lead the Sooners?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. You know, Christi, Baker Mayfield is battling flu-like symptoms. What he is saying about his status for the Rose Bowl. We have that for you next.



BLACKWELL: Well, the Heisman trophy winner says it will take more than the flu to keep him from playing in the Rose Bowl tomorrow.

PAUL: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

SCHOLES: Good morning, guys.

PAUL: Down but not out, right?

SCHOLES: Yes. Right.

So Baker Mayfield's condition is kind of in a great mystery in the lead-up to the big bowl games tomorrow. Mayfield has been absent from all team activities other than practice. He didn't even attend any of the interview sessions.

That was until a surprise late arrival yesterday. Mayfield said he felt bad his illness was becoming the story of the Rose Bowl so he showed up to end all of the speculation about his condition.


BAKER MAYFIELD, QUARTERBACK, OKLAHOMA SOONERS: This whole thing is not about me. Oklahoma is here to play a playoff game. It's not about any sickness that I have.

We are here to win a game and that's what it needs to be about. My teammates don't need to answer questions on my behalf.

I'm not dying. I'll be playing and we are focusing on our goal.


SCHOLES: Certainly doesn't sound good. (INAUDIBLE) Sooners are going to take on Georgia in the Rose Bowl, 5:00 Eastern tomorrow. Then Alabama takes on Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. Winners meet in Atlanta January eight for the national title.

Wisconsin taking on Miami in the Orange Bowl. Not a great night for Hurricanes coach Mark Richt. He loses his cool right before halftime ends (ph) up (ph) actually grabbing an official while arguing about a miss call. He was flagged for a personal foul for that and he apologized after the game.

Now Wisconsin's quarterback Alex Hornibrook throwing four touchdown passes in this one. The Badgers won the Orange Bowl 34-24 over Miami.

Meanwhile, in the Fiesta Bowl, Penn State taking on Washington. The catch of the game coming from the Nittany Lions' mascot.

Check him out. He goes down and grabs the ball. Solid catch, considering he has paws for hands.


Penn State, they beat Washington 35-28 but you wouldn't have known it if you watched the Nittany Lions coach James Franklin after he gets the Gatorade bath. He looks furious and even going after the player that caught him with it.

Maybe he was just mad his glasses got knocked off. Franklin was probably just joking around looked kind of serious, though.

All right. Finally, Warriors' star Steph curry returning from his injury with a bang last night. The two-time NBA MVP back in the lineup against the Grizzlies after an 11-game absence. And I (INAUDIBLE) to say that Curry's right ankle appear just fine. He was on fire (INAUDIBLE) 38 points season high 10 three-pointers in the win.

Curry was supposed to play only half but pleaded with his coaches to stay in.


STEPHEN CURRY, WARRIORS GUARD: I mean, I was excited. It felt like the first day of school again, for real. And just wanted that feeling again. And it was pretty special.


SCHOLES: Guys, good to have Steph Curry back. It's definitely fun watching him out there on the court.

PAUL: No doubt about it. All right.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely.

PAUL: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

PAUL: Happy New Year.

SCHOLES: You too.


BLACKWELL: In today's inspiring people, we introduce you to a law enforcement officer in Ohio who has turned around the lives of dozens of opioid addicts.



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Charles Johnson has hung up this uniform for this uniform because of the opioid epidemic.

As a deputy sheriff in Lucas County, Ohio, it's Johnson's job to visit overdose survivors in the hospital and try to save them.

COHEN (on camera): You're not there to arrest them?


COHEN: What are you there to do?

JOHNSON: I'm there to convince them to live.

COHEN (voice-over): Every day, on average, six people overdose in his county.

JOHNSON: They are your mailman, they are your neighbors, they are your friends.

COHEN: More counselor than cop, since 2014 Johnson and his team have convinced nearly 80 percent of overdose survivors to go into detox.

COHEN (on camera): You stick around in these people's lives.

JOHNSON: You know what? I remember every one of their names.

I stop in and visit their homes, I know their families, I visit them in jails. It's like being a parent to 100 addicts.

CODY MORRIS, RECOVERING HEROIN ADDICT: He said, Cody, you can do this. He has got this.

He was staying in touch making sure I was doing the right thing. You know, are you working today? Yes, I'm working. That's what I would like to hear, you know.

COHEN: Does it take an emotional toll?

JOHNSON: Oh, absolutely. You can get really burned out doing this.

My phone never stops ringing. People are calling me 24 hours a day. I won't not answer that phone because someone's life could depend on it.