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A Call With The Troops On Christmas Day That Turned Into Much More Than That; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Is Leaving The White House; Grim Aftermath In Indonesia; Kevin Spacey Will Be Charged With Indecent Assault And Battery; The Number One Media Story Of 2018 Is President Trump's War On The Press. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired December 25, 2018 - 13:00   ET



[13:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and Merry Christmas. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Brianna Keilar today.

Closed until further notice. The President this morning in an impromptu press conference really with reporters laying out his conditions to end the government shut down. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can't tell you when the government is going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it.

The new piece, the new section is very, very exciting what is going on there and you will see it. Because in January I'm going there. We are almost having a ground breaking. It's such a big section. It is probably the biggest section we will get out.

So while we are fighting over funding, we are also building. And it's my hope to have this done, completed, all 500 to 550 miles to have it either renovated or brand new by election time.


BOLDUAN: And that's not all. The President also sending a clear message to the incoming Democratic majority in the House, likening any attempts at oversight by the party to, in his words, Presidential harassments. We are going to have more on that in just a moment.

But first, White House correspondent Abby Philip has all the details, joining me today, on President Trump's wall ultimatum, we will call that.

Great to see you again, Abby. So this was supposed to be a Presidential tradition, a call with the troops on Christmas day. It turned into much more than that once again.

ABBY PHILIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Much more, Kate. Airing the grievances that went on for some 10 minutes. And viewed in just really an unprompted territory. The President was asked first of all to talk about the government shut down. And as you pointed out, he talked extensively about his border wall and said he is not going to reopen the government until he gets money to either renovate or build parts of that wall. He also talked a bit about the controversy over the last week over what has been reported to be his thoughts about potentially firing the fed chairman.

Now that reporting really sent markets into a tail spin and started to worry that President Trump was delving into uncharted territories and digging into the activities of the fed. And then his treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to wall markets by calling up the big banks and causing more concern by asking about liquidity, whether or not they had enough money to lend to people. And so, President Trump today was asked whether he has confidence in Mnuchin and here is what he had to say.


TRUMP: Very talented guy. Very smart person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the fed chair?

TRUMP: Well, we will see. They are raising interest rates too fast. That's my opinion. But I certainly have confidence. But I think it will straighten. They are raising it too fast because I they think the economy is so good.


PHILIP: So praise for Steve Mnuchin, his treasury secretary but some guarded words for Jerome Powell, the fed chairman. The President still pretty upset about the rising interest rates that he blames on Powell. The question is, will President Trump allow the fed to continue what they normally do, which is act without political considerations.

Meantime, it is Christmas day here. And President Trump clearly is not letting go of all the slew of problems that he sees on the horizon. And of course, the government still is partially shut down. And according to President Trump, he doesn't see any plans to reopen any time soon. He is still demanding that border wall funding, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Great to see you, Abby. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Joining me now to discuss this is CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Alice Stewart and Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman.

It is great to see you all. Thank you so much.

Josh, let's start with the shutdown as Abby ever discussing. You covered many a shut down. What do you think is going to shake this one loose? I mean, the President is not budges or at least not giving any indication yet publicly. JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I think it's important to

note that this shut down is not like other shutdowns we have seen or covered. For one main reason is that usually when an administration goes into a shutdown, they do so with some strategy, OK. Some plan. Some idea of what they want to get out of it and how. And there is no indication that President Trump has any of that or if he does at least, doesn't seem like his officials or the Democrats for that matter know what it is.

So basically the shutdown will end when the President is satisfied that he can go back to his political base and say he fought as possibly, as hard as he possibly could for the wall or the fence or whatever we are calling it today. And that's in the President's mind. It is in the President's perception and the perception of those people whose opinion he actually cares about.

So I wouldn't be surprised if it ended Thursday. I wouldn't surprise it is stretches into January. It is all going to depend on what the zeitgeist is. And that's the nature of the unpredictability of this round to the presidency and we see it on foreign policy, we see it with the economy. It is all about gaming the President's mind and that is why everyone is so rattled. And why the white market are so freak out because it's getting inside that mind that is a really interesting and unpredictable place to be.

[13:05:12] BOLDUAN: Interesting is one word for it.

Alice, Josh was talking one thing, kind of whatever the President wants to call it at any given moment in terms of the wall. The way he is talking about it confuses me a bit. I mean, he has talk about of being a big wall, a 30-foot high wall, but then he downplays it in the next press saying that it's a fence or whatever you want to call it, he says today.

Nancy Pelosi spoke with "USA Today" and the way she puts it is -- she puts it this way. He says we are going to build a wall with cement and Mexico is going to pay for it. While he has already backed off the cement, now he is down to I think a beaded curtain or something. I'm not sure where he is.

If he can't get his story straight on what he wants, doesn't that make this easier for Democrats?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look. This is right now a great spot for both sides in order to come to the middle. And look, a beaded curtain might not be a bad idea at this point. At least it would be something.

BOLDUAN: I do love your optimism on this Christmas day, Alice.


STEWART: To add to the list of different descriptions of the big beautiful wall. Still slots comes to mind as well. But the reality is, look, this President realizes once the Democrats take over the house, there is virtually zero chance he will be able to follow- through on his basic major promise to his base which was he would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it.

Mexico paying for is off the table but the reality is he has to show some progress. And the best advice that I think he should take is that come down off that $5 billion number and encourage the Democrats to come up on the $1.3. And you can do so by throwing some other areas of interest for both sides.

Eighty-five percent of Americans would love to see some type of protections for Dreamers. And that would be something Democrats have fought for a long time. And if he gave some type of protections for Dreamers, that would help.

And at the same time he can do some of the things that he wants. He can certainly get some of that wall built and he could possibly throw in doing away with chain migration and the visa lottery. But there are a lot of different areas that are room for negotiation that have been agreed on in the past. The Dream Act of 2001, a bipartisan act. These were key components of that. So the numbers are one aspect of it and then the outside components with regard to Dreamers are something that the kingmaker or the art of the deal maker can certainly make happen.

BOLDUAN: But as we well know, every time there is an opportunity, Robert, if you will, an opportunity for negotiation, but also it's a land mine. Every time there is something new brought in, there is a new coalition that is either for or against it. But in terms of the end goal, I do wonder what you make of the line we heard from the President in talking about this that he says that he wants his goal to have the wall done or renovated or however he put it, by election time.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, there is an old parity expression. When Donald Trump has a gaffe, that's when he is telling the truth. This is all about reelection politics. And I have to differ with Josh and Alice in this respect.

It is not about interpreting the zeitgeist of Donald trump's mind or what his base wants. And it is not about coming to the middle. It is about when -- this will be resolved when a Republican leadership in Congress finally has the character. The patriotism to stand up to Donald Trump and demand that he not put Laura Ingraham ahead of the country's best interest.

BOLDUAN: So you are thinking - you are thinking to reach a deal and then just throw it - just jam him essentially? Unless you think that he eventually would go along with other Republicans would say.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, I think it's much bigger than that.


ZIMMERMAN: This is a debate between a wall and border security. You notice Donald Trump doesn't talk about the need to scan vehicles coming through the border that are carrying fentanyl and polluting and destroying the lives through the drug epidemic. He is not talking about the airports or about the harbors that need to be protected. He is only talking about a wall because that - a wall that by the way, Mexico is no longer building. We all recognized that was a lie. But he - we sort of shrugged that off now. But the reality is it's about his political agenda, not about the country.

And quite frankly, Josh, it is important for all of us to demand the Republicans finally step up and show leadership. Our country --.

BOLDUAN: I think -- Josh's point is don't hold your breath.

Go ahead, Josh.

ROGIN: Yes. That would be lovely if they did that, but I'm going to say we can't plan on doing that when we see Mitch McConnell saying very explicitly that this is between the Democrats and Trump. So they are going in completely the opposite direction, OK.

ZIMMERMAN: But Democrats and the public should accept that, Josh.

ROGIN: That's the way we wanted.


ZIMMERMAN: That's the reality with enough pressure.

BOLDUAN: No, no. I think what Josh is saying the reality of four days in, something's got to give.


ROGIN: The President, he broke from his national security team to withdraw from Syria above all of the generals and all of the Republicans and John Bolton. He broke his fed chairman that he chose. He is breaking with his congressional Republicans. Like it is not clear to me that even the Republicans said, hey, Donald Trump, now you got to do the right thing like he would even care, OK.

[13:10:12] ZIMMERMAN: And Josh, it is not about the --.

BOLDUAN: Wait. One part of this, Alice, you can answer this for me. One part of this --.


BOLDUAN: One is we are talking about Robert said the American people shouldn't stand for it. One of the things we heard from the President today, Alice, was that he says that federal workers, and he was asked specifically about the federal workers who are impacted by the shutdown. What does he say to them with regard the fact that he is holding out for the wall? And he says the federal workers are with him. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Many of those workers said to me and communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall. The only one that doesn't want the wall are the Democrats because they don't mind open borders. But open borders mean massive amounts of crime.


BOLDUAN: But a couple of things. I talked to one of the heads of the federal employee union, one of the biggest in the country and her message was the exact opposite. She said the border wall is not worth shutting the government down. Add to that, if you look at some of the polling, there is only about 30 percent of Americans polled that say a border wall is a crucial priority. If that is the case, can President Trump keep this up?

STEWART: No. Look, number one on that saying. Number one, federal workers' priority right now is ending the government shutdown and putting hundred thousand federal workers back to work.

Number two, his base wants the wall. That is who he evidently has been talking to about who wants the wall.

And number three, we don't need to continue to prolong this shutdown for the wall when there are many things that can be done to prevent this. And that is having the serious conversation that needs to be had not just about the funding, but how else we can do comprehensive immigration.

And look, to Robert's point, he talked about the President dictating by Laura Ingram. Look, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and all of those conservative voices that are being the boogie men in all of this, they actually represent the people that voted Donald Trump into office. Those are --.


ZIMMERMAN: But Alice, they represent 35 percent, maybe 40 percent. But here's the point. Here is the point and I go back to this. The Republican Congress has enormous leverage over Donald Trump certainly beginning with how they approach the Mueller investigation, how they conduct their own oversight activities. They have - and frankly, we all know that everything that drives Donald Trump has to do with the Mueller investigation. Let's not dismiss the leverage they can have if they put their country first into a leadership.

BOLDUAN: Well, Josh, let me ask - go head, Josh.

ROGIN: Surprised to say, they are going to put their careers first. And if a Republican leadership thought it was in their political interest to (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump, they would have done it already, OK. So we can hope that they will put the country both into politics.

BOLDUAN: Right. But --.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, the midterms may have walked up.

BOLDUAN: But we have seen this movie for two years now on how this relationship has gone. And there was nothing - that's exactly right, going in one direction. There is no indication that it is going to be different. The big difference though, Josh, is what comes in January which is,

the Democrats taking the majority in the House. When the President talking - in talking about it, he says that he calls it presidential harassment. And we know how anybody else who says he knows how to handle it. And I think that kind of - it seems to apply to oversight of the Russia investigation but it almost seem the way he was talking about it, that it applies to everything in terms of oversight from a Democratic majority. I mean, no president likes the oversight coming from the other side. But presidential harassment, I don't know if you see it that way.

ROGIN: No, listen. It's plainly obvious that there has been a lack of congressional oversight under Republicans for the last two years. And that these congressional committees have either failed to do their fiduciary responsibility or even worse, turn their committees into defense of Donald Trump committees. OK.

So the Democrats are going to fix that and they are going to have investigations. Can be a lot of them. They can dispense some money. It is OK. It's not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. And President Trump is not going to like it. He is not supposed to like it, but I bet they are going to turn up a lot of really interesting stuff. So, I'm not actually looking for to see more--.

ZIMMERMAN: Good point.

BOLDUAN: Well, one thing I do like is spending Christmas with you guys. So thank so much.

ZIMMERMAN: Merry Christmas.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. I know we painted a really happy picture of the state on Christmas, but let's all just do it together.

Great to see you. Thank you so much.

ZIMMERMAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: A final message to the troops from outgoing defense secretary Jim Mattis. He addresses the military one more time. This as new reports of his detailing his relationship with the President and what it was like.

Plus, a sobering look from within the administration on how decisions over national security are being made these days.

We are back.


[13:18:53] BOLDUAN: With just a week left until he leaves the Trump administration, defense secretary Jim Mattis is sharing his final holiday message with the troops. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Since Washington crossed the Delaware in Christmas at 1776, American troops have missed holidays at home for the experiment in democracy. To all you led and lasses (ph) holding the line in 2018 on land, at sea or in the air, thanks for keeping the faith. Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe.


BOLDUAN: Now Mattis' recorded that message last week just before handing in his resignation to President Trump.

News of Mattis' departure sparked anger and anxiety in the military and well beyond. But CNN has learned that some of the frustration now is actually aimed at the outgoing secretary himself. Multiple defense official telling CNN's told Barbara Stars that Mattis has tendency to exert tight control may have added to the chaos around President Trump's decision to pull out all troops from Syria and scale back in Afghanistan.

Lots to discuss here. Joining me right now is Samantha Vinograd, she is CNN national security analyst and former senior adviser to the national security adviser under President Obama and retired rear admiral John Kirby, CNN military and diplomatic analyst and former Pentagon press secretary. It is great to see you guys.

John, another frustration in the way Barbara puts it in her reporting is that something that Mattis - some believe that Mattis held on too long, if you will. If he and Trump were so at odds for so long that he should, they say, has earlier to allow someone new to possibly be able to convince the President on what Mattis couldn't which is basically don't leave Syria. Do you think that is right?

[13:20:33] REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I don't know, Kate. Look, I mean, that Monday morning quarterbacking. And I think he held on as long as he could because he believed that he was really doing the nation a service by being there. And he really believe that he was trying to implement the policies of this administration as best he can and to inform that policy process.

And I have General Mattis - Secretary Mattis a long time. It's just not in his DNA to quit. It's not in his DNA to walk away. He is always been about accomplishing the mission. And I think he was really trying to do that.

I do think though, Kate, there is a case to be made for the fact that in the last two months in particular, but probably well before that, his influence on Trump was weighing. And he began to see that. I think the last two months in particular with the space force, with Khashoggi, with the border mission and, of course, not getting his pick for chairman of the joint chiefs, I think that really was what cemented in his mind that it was time to go.

BOLDUAN: And Sam, a senior administration officials told CNN that national security decision making kind of at large has basically stopped. Jim Sciutto's reporting is that decisions are now made on a whim, on phone calls as the way that he describes it, obviously, Syria as an example of that, they would say. You have been in these deliberations and these national security deliberations. How much of a departure is this for how it usually works?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Every President has used their national security council different ways. But up until this point, Presidents invested in the process of actual policy making. President Obama didn't convene situation room meetings because he wanted status updates on how his cabinet was doing.

In these meetings, there is a formula that is followed. The President gets the most up to date intelligence briefing on whatever issue may be discussed and then her is finally tuned policy options for members of his team.

And then something really important happens, Kate. Other members of the cabinet weigh in to share how their equities may be impacted if the president makes a certain decision. They may raise things that he may not have considered. If this process breaks down and the President doesn't view at his full team, is making decisions when he is on the phone with a foreign leader, there is no way he can know the second and third order of facts of what the decision may yield.

And to the question that you asked, Kate -- John about, Kate, it is clear that the President is not listening to anyone. It's a national security council. One, Mattis was not alone in opposing the decision on Syria. We have reporting that secretary Pompeo and national security advisor Bolton were against the decision. So at this point, even if the President made it to the situation room, which I hope that he does, it's unclear whether he would even listen.

BOLDUAN: Well, John, what does it mean from your perspective if this decision making process, this formal process, the same as laying out? If it has completely broken down, what does it mean?

KIRBY: It means, in my view, misinformed or ill-informed and policy being made. I mean, the reason that the process Sam described is so valuable is because it allows all voices to be heard. You get the entire national security team together in the room to present their challenges, their ideas, you know, their advice and counsel and then you sort of integrate that and the President goes off and makes a decision.

And look, it can be overdone. And President Obama was sometimes accused of running a process that was too cumbersome and too many meetings and not enough decisions. But at least it was a process for everybody's ideas to get heard. And that is not happening now. I don't know that it ever was, but clearly, under John Bolton it's worse than it was before.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And what are does it mean going forward in this crucial moments? No one knows because no one is in his head.

KIRBY: Right.

BOLDUAN: Today on Christmas, Sam, I wonder and you give me your gut if I'm making too much of this. But I do think that it is still surprising and somewhat astonishing that the President of the United States is taking - is talking about a political debate in terms of at the same time he is making phone calls and taking part in a Presidential tradition on Christmas day in phone calls with the troops and he is inserting into these phone calls the most partisan of partisan debates. The most high stakes of debates that are going on right now in phone calls with service members that play out in front of cameras.

VINOGRAD: Yes. And this is really unprecedented. But let's keep in mind, these service members including the thousands of troops we currently have at the border, don't serve when it is a Republican president or when it is Democratic president, they serve the President. And they serve our country. So injecting politics especially today is deeply troubling to those of us who served as civilians. And I imagine those of us - those American who have served in the military as well. The President can't let go of politics even on a day like today.

[13:25:03] BOLDUAN: Sam and John, I was just handed this and this was just into CNN. We are just now learning that a second child has died in border patrol custody, this time an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy. And that he passed away in a New Mexico hospital. And officials are saying that the cause of death is still unknown. This comes on the heels of another death of a 7-year-old girl who died after being in custody.

Not only is this tragic news across the board, but this has real implications. Because this has become a very big conversation about border security, about how border officials are handling the border in a crisis at the border. And also, this comes back to the secretary of homeland security. I mean, she has answered questions about this and has been criticized for her response.

VINOGRAD: I think it is such a horrific bit of news that we just heard. This is also again comes back to your first question about process, Kate. We have implemented policies without the appropriate process, without the appropriate planning to ensure that any children are taking care of and that we don't have blood on our hands.

It is clear that there was not a well thought out process for the child separation policy at the border. It is clear that whoever is working with these children, whether be on the Mexican side of the border or the U.S. side of the border don't have the resources that they need to make sure that this humanitarian crisis doesn't get worse. And if the President was actually using his team, he would call an emergency meeting not to use a wall versus that is semantics, but to talk about how to avoid any more horrors like we just learned about.

BOLDUAN: And I'm just remembering, I was handed the statement that customs and border patrol have put out when the 7-year-old girl passed away. And they talked about the initial health screening, how it can take them for them to get to the little girls. They talked about it with Jakeline and said that their initial health screening revealed no evidence of health issues. And the father reported that she was in good health. That's what customs and border patrol say about it, but this gets to, right, what is happening at the border? What is the process? And who answers for it now? This is just another part of this conversation.

Guys, I really appreciate it. Sam, it is great to see you.

John, thank you so much.

KIRBY: Yes, ma'am.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next, in Indonesia, it is a race against the clock. Crews searching for survivors after that massive tsunami that killed over 400 people. And the threat is still not over.

Be right back.


[13:31:58] BOLDUAN: It was a grim aftermath in Indonesia today. The country is trying to begin to recover from a deadly tsunami but facing the threat of new disasters. The death toll there now 429 people and nearly 1500 people injured. And officials are expecting those numbers to rise. Officials are also warning people that the threat of more deadly waves is still very real.

CNN's Ivan Watson has more.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, since Saturday's deadly tsunami, the death toll, the number of people injured, that number of people missing just continues to rise. Among the victims of this tsunami, the wife of the lead singer of the Indonesian pop band, 17. Their concert was tragically cut short Saturday night when the tsunami struck.

All of the band members aside from the lead singer were killed. And he announced on Tuesday his wife was killed as well.

CNN journalists caught up some of the search and rescue teams that included a canine sniffer dog. Unfortunately, in the event of this team, we were informed that they had found along a nearby stretch of beach, the bodies of three adults and another toddler. So this holiday season just so devastating for so many people in Indonesia.

A survivor tells CNN that warnings begin for advance warnings in the events of these types disasters.


BAPA SUWAMA, SURVIVED TSUNAMI (through translator): An early warning system is so important. It took only seconds, not minutes, after hearing the thunder sounds and the waves hit us. From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely request that the government set up an early warning system so people can anticipate an incoming tsunami.


WATSON: Indonesian authorities say there was no system in place for this unique geological circumstance. A huge volcanic eruption on Saturday and a massive landslide and the subsequent tsunami in a time when there was a high tide and a full moon that would have led to a higher water level.

That said, Indonesia is so vulnerable to tsunamis. There was another one just last September that killed around 2,000 people in conjunction with an earthquake. And the volcano that caused this disaster is still very active. Our team could hear the ominous rumbling of the volcano in the distance on Tuesday. They said it sounded like distant thunder - Kate.

BOLDUAN: Terrifying. Terrifying. Thank you so much, Ivan. Appreciate it.

Still ahead for us, new legal trouble for Kevin Spacey. Prosecutors are filling charges against the actor now. Details on that, next.


[13:39:14] BOLDUAN: Kevin Spacey will be charged with indecent assault and battery following a 2016 incident with a teenage boy in a Massachusetts restaurant. News of the charges came as Spacey posted really kind of a bizarre video to you tube, channeling his famous character from House of Cards, Frank Underwood.


KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: You wouldn't believe the worst without evidence, would you? You wouldn't rush to judgments without facts, would you? Did you? If I didn't pay the price for the things we both knew I did do, I'm certainly not going to pay the price for the things I didn't do.


BOLDUAN: This is the first time that he has really spoken out publicly in over a year.

Jean Casarez is joining me now with more on this.

Jean, let's talk about these new charges. What are these charges mean?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And the timing is just amazing because this video he posted right when these charges were announced. It was Christmas Eve late in the day and the district attorney's office out of Barnstable, Massachusetts has announced that Kevin Spacey has been charged criminally with indecent assault and battery, a criminal case.

Now they say it arises from an alleged incident in July of 2016. They say nothing more. But his mother is a former news anchor in the Boston area, Heather Unruh. And she gave a press conference just about a year ago, detailing the facts of what he said at the time was criminal activity. She said her son was in a local bar restaurant on Nantucket island. Kevin Spacey was there. And that Kevin Spacey asked her son, are you the legal age to drink? She said, her son said yes. The answer was no because her son was only 18. But she then said that Spacey plied drink after drink until her son was drunk and was unable to consent. She says at that point he was sexually assaulted. Now, at this point, the district attorney's office said the arraignment is set for January 7th.

[13:41:11] BOLDUAN: So what happened, though, Jean? You talk about the mother. What happened after the alleged assault?

CASAREZ: Well, this is interesting because she goes on and she talks about that her son was frozen. He didn't know what to do. He moved for a minute. Because this was unwanted touching, allegedly. And then Kevin Spacey said let's go to an after party, but he had to go to the bathroom. She said in the press conference that there was a woman there that came up to her son while Spacey was in the bathroom and told her son, run! And he left. And then he went to his grandmother's house.

BOLDUAN: And now, I mean, these are really the first charges that he is going to be facing.


BOLDUAN: -- facing in any of these allegations. I think these allegations of misconduct.

CASAREZ: And I think - I think we have Heather Unruh from that press conference detailing about what she says happened to her son, Let's listen.


HEATHER UNRUH, CLAIMS SON WAS ABUSED BY SPACEY: The victim, my son was a star struck, straight 18-year-old young man who had no idea that the famous actor was an alleged sexual predator or that he was about to become his next victim. When my son was drunk, Spacey made his move and sexually assaulted him. Shame on you for what you did to my son.


CASAREZ: Now as I told you, this was about a year ago. She said her son had just gone to the police. She said a criminal investigation is happening right now. So it took about a year.

BOLDUAN: And Kevin Spacey, obviously, we have the video, but Kevin Spacey in speaking out about this --

CASAREZ: We have gone to his representatives. They are not responding. But if you look at the You Tube video and the timing is cannot be coincidental, thoughts about that you cannot believe just facts that you hear that are not proven.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming here, Jean. Appreciate it.

CASAREZ: Thank you. BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

So coming up for us, from high profile falls from Grace to the op-ed from the mystery anti-Trump who are inside the Trump administration counting down the top media stories of 2018. That's next.


[13:47:37] BOLDUAN: 2018 was one for the history books for so many reasons including for the media. Moguls were taken down, journalists were attacked and still anonymous Trump administration official declared him or herself a member of the resistance in an opinion piece.

Brian Stelter takes us through it all with the top eight media stories of the year.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Shocking stories, deadly attacks, falls from Grace and the undeniable truth that words matter.

Here are the top eight media stories in 2018.

Number eight, the Trump book club, making nonfiction great again. Starting in January, Michael Wolf's "Fire and Fury" sold monies of copies.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: The bombshell book that's raising the question, is Donald Trump fit to be President of the United States?

STELTER: Pro-Trump books by FOX News' Jeanine Pirro and Greg Jarrett were also best sellers. Omarosa's tell all didn't do so well. But Bob Woodward's "Fear," a world record.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, SITUATION ROOM: It is beyond stunning. In his latest book journalist Bob Woodward presents a devastating look behind the scenes of the Trump White House.

STELTER: The top seller of the year, even bigger that all of those, was Michelle Obama's "Becoming." But it was an unknown writer behind the biggest media mystery of the year. Just who penned this op-ed in "The New York Times?" The paper gave anonymity to a senior Trump official and he or she is still unknown.

Number seven, Me Too, marches on. The watershed movement against sexual harassment and abuse tumbled more tightens of media including at CBS.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news. Les Moonves, the embattled head of CBS who has faced sexual misconduct allegations in recent weeks including allegations by six women, new allegations just published today, is out.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We are learning Jeff Fager, the veteran executive producer of CBS's "60 Minutes" is leaving amid allegations of inappropriate conduct.

STELTER: Both men have denied wrong doing.

Number six, attacks against the guardians. Members of the media around the world, likes Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered at the hands of a Saudi hit squad. Khashoggi was a contributing columnist at "the Washington Post" which has now demanding justice for his death.

[13:50:09] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to continue shouting. We are going to continue pressing our U.S. officials to do more.

STELTER: Reporters and writers have always faced threats. But the dangers have magnified and multiplied which brings me to number five, the deadliest day for U.S. journalist since September 11th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baltimore Sun now reporting that there has been a shooting at a newspaper building in Annapolis, Maryland.

STELTER: Five people murdered in the newsroom of the "Capitol Gazette." The accused gunman had a grudge against the paper. Even as it dealt with tragedy, the gazette put out a new edition just hours later.

And number four, to high profile falls from grace, Roseanne Barr and Megyn Kelly. Two networks took a chance and it backfired for both. At ABC, the Roseanne reboot premiered to record ratings but then fell apart after Barr went on a racist twitter rant. She apologized but it was too late.

BALDWIN: Breaking news in the world of entertainment, the top-rated television comedy of the year is now cancelled.

STELTER: Hollywood was stunned but supportive of ABC. And "the Conners" without Barr, came back in the fall.

Over at NBC, disappointing ratings for Kelly's talk show led to cancellation chatter. Then her offensive remarks about black face Halloween costumes sealed her fate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what is racist because truly, you do her in trouble if you are a white person who puts on black face in Halloween or black person who puts on white face for Halloween. Like back when I was a kid that was OK as long as you were dressed up as like a character.

STELTER: Kelly apologized but NBC cancelled her show. So will she go back to FOX News now? Well, the network says it's happy with its current lineup.

And that leads to number three, the FOX News White House, a never before seen level of coziness between a TV network and a President. Trump watches the channel, promotes its talk shows and hires on-air personalities. Some White House aides have even dubbed Sean Hannity the shadow chief of staff. So maybe this was the logical next step.

BALDWIN: The White House today officially hired former FOX News executive Bill Shine.

STELTER: Yes, Bill Shine now running trump's communications. But former communications Ann Hope Hicks is now running FOX corporate PR. The line got even blurrier during the midterms.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So guess who was on the campaign trail with Trump just a few hours ago, Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro of FOX News.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the way, all those people in the back are fake news.

STELTER: FOX chastised him for that, though Hannity said he was not expecting to be called on stage. But it's just the latest illustration of how little space there is between the White House and some right-wing media.

Number two, a social media reckoning. Facebook, twitter and you tube under scrutiny as they struggle to crack down on misinformation, trolling, foreign meddling and hate speech. Hauled before Congress, tech CEOs admitted that they were too slow to act and they promised changes.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake. And I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our singular objective as a company right now is to increase the health of public conversation.

STELTER: Conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones have been kicked off the platforms. But is that the right solution? Should there be more oversight? Those are questions for 2019.

And the number one media story of 2018 is President Trump's war on the press, getting real. Anti-media words from the President are nothing new.

TRUMP: They are truly an enemy of the people. The fake news.

STELTER: But this year we saw actions and consequences. There were physical threats, like a series of package bombs, allegedly mailed by a Trump supporter. The targets were some of the President's critics and CNN.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The projectiles, I mean, that's - excuse me. That sounds like fire alarm here. We will keep you posted on that.

The device is inside the CNN building. It was a package mailed that made it into the building.

STELTER: The suspect was arrested and so were at least two other men who phoned in threats to newsrooms.

But instead of lowering the temperature, Trump amped it up with events like this.

TRUMP: Sit down, please. Silt down. I didn't call you. I didn't call you. I didn't call you.

That's such a racist question.

That's enough. That's enough. That's enough.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President - that the other folks who had --

[13:55:00] TRUMP: That's enough.

ACOSTA: Pardon me, ma'am.

TRUMP: Excuse me. That's enough.

STELTER: After that press conference, the White House yanked Jim Acosta's press pass. CNN went to court. With the support of dozens of news outlets, a judge sided with CNN and Acosta went back to work but the challenges persist.

Reporters are standing up for their values, supporting the free press with hundreds of papers coming together to say we are not the enemy.

Will the White House ever get the message? Stay tuned.


BOLDUAN: Brian, thank you so much.

Dana Bash picks up right after this. Merry Christmas.