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Government Shutdown Continues over Border Wall Funding; Undocumented Immigrant Arrested for Killing Police Officer in California; Black Man Removed from Hotel for Calling Family Member; Investigation Continues into Possible Voter Fraud in North Carolina Congressional Election; Asylum-Seeking Immigrants Reportedly being Released Before Trial Date; Furloughed Government Workers Experiencing Difficulty Paying Bills; Top Eight Media Stories of 2018 Reviewed. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 29, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The president tweeted and retweeted more than 3,000 times in 2018 and is the most tweeted about political figure of the year.



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, on New Year's Eve, don't miss Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen live from Times Square, starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome to Saturday, December 29th, 2018. We're so grateful to have your company as always. I am Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

PAUL: And getting you up to speed on what's happening in the world this morning. First of all, this morning, 14,000 EPA employees are joining the already long lines of government workers who have been told to stay home.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Overnight, the Environmental Protection Agency closed its doors, the latest department to shutter as the government shuts down, enters its eighth day with more agencies, more government services are expected to run out of funds as weeks go on, adding to the growing number of federal workers fearing for their financial futures. There are concerns the shutdown could stretch into the New Year. In fact that's the expectation because neither the Senate nor the House are expected to vote on any type of funding until Thursday when Democrats take control of the House.

PAUL: Despite his claims that he would shut down the government and he would own it, President Trump is putting the blame it seems on the Democrats, and threatening to close the southern border as well with Mexico if they don't fund the border wall. CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is with us now. So Boris, I know math changes for the president when Pelosi and the Democrats take back the house. Is there any indication there are any conversations going on to try to deal with this shutdown this morning?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Victor and Christi. No, no indication that these sides are even talking at the moment. The last update that we got was from the incoming acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, yesterday morning, and effective said the talks had broken down, and he alluded to what you noted there about Republicans waiting for Nancy Pelosi to be sworn in.

He actually said that he believes that Nancy Pelosi wants this shutdown because otherwise she wouldn't have votes to become speaker. That contradicts reporting that CNN had done previously that indicates that Pelosi had the votes long before the government shutdown. Nevertheless, Mulvaney made the case that Republicans approached Democrats with a deal that included a number far lower than the $5 billion demand from President Trump for border wall funding. He wouldn't specify what number that was, what the figure was. But ultimately he said that Democrats didn't present a counteroffer. They said we're leaving and left for the holiday.

Yesterday, President Trump had dinner at the vice president's residence not only with Mike Pence and Mick Mulvaney but with his son- in-law as well. He is hanging back here at the White House as his family, including first lady Melania, travel down to Mar-a-Lago for the New Year's Eve holiday. And with the president alone here at the White House, we get tweets. Yesterday, the president tweeted out this threat to shut down the border between the United States and Mexico. It's unclear how serious the president was with that threat. Keep in mind, a very small section of border near San Diego was shut down for a very short amount of time earlier this year to prevent part of that migrant caravan from going through the border there, but it was soon reopened. Shutting the entire border would present serious problems for the entire American economy. And this is coming at a time where there is turmoil in the stock market. So it's unlikely the president would follow through on that promise.

Further, he talked about going back to the days of pre-NAFTA, unclear specifically if the president meant that he would undo the new NAFTA, the USMCA that he put into place between Canada, the United States, and Mexico that he's been bragging about. But we've asked the White House, we'll let you know if we get a response, Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: We are watching Twitter often on Saturday morning. He makes some news, hasn't done it yet. Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you.

PAUL: So the shutdown is effecting thousands of federal workers, as we were saying, who aren't going to get a paycheck until the next cycle, or we don't even know when really, at the end of the day. But I don't know if you're aware, it's even affecting national parks. No workers are there to man them. It is becoming a free for all, we understand.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Kaylee Hartung has been following those stories for us. She is here with us now. And we're hearing from people through social media talking about the hardships and what that means for everyone.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're right. It's not just federal workers. This is not a problem that is in a bubble in Washington. This is a problem for people coast to coast. And when you talk about those national parks, no workers means free access to parks. But that comes with a different kind of cost.

[10:05:04] It means people are rushing to get in and leaving the park dirty. There's uncollected trash and filthy toilets, especially at Joshua Tree National Park. Some volunteers are trying to help, cleaning out trash and restocking bathrooms with toilet paper. "The L.A. Times" spoke to one volunteer who says he has supplied 500 rolls of toilet paper since he started restocking last Saturday, that first day of the shutdown. He estimates he spent 60 hours doing his part to try to keep that park clean and a safe place for visitors to still continue to come here. These are some of the busiest days for places like that. These are some of the busiest days for places like that.

PAUL: Around the holidays, when people are off and want to take the kids. And those are probably some of the hardest days, too, around the holidays for people who are dealing with the uncertainty of what's coming ahead, and they're so candid on Twitter and on social media talking about their struggles.

HARTUNG: These heart-wrenching stories have been pouring in from across the country. We are hearing how the shutdown is affecting federal workers who are parents, single parents some of them, and military members who are depending on every paycheck to keep their families going.

Here's what some of them are saying. They're using #shutdownstories. Ahbra, she says "My husband is an army veteran and suffers from PTSD. Because of this, he can't work, he barely leaves the house, and each day is a struggle. I am worried that because of this shutdown he'll not receive his V.A. pay on the 1st which pays our mortgage.

And Katy, she tweets "My husband is active duty Coast Guard. Everyone thinks the military is paid during the shutdown but the Coast Guard is facing no pay on the 1st due to being DHS and not DOD. We live in New York City, pay over $2,000 a month in rent, have a toddler and one on the way."

There is that candid sense you're getting from people, the real honesty of challenges that they're facing that they didn't anticipate and now have no income and are forced to make really difficult decisions.

PAUL: That's so stressful. That's so stressful. Kaylee, thank you. Kaylee Hartung bringing us those stories.

Now, the bickering between Democrats and Republicans, it's not doing a lot to ease the concerns of these federal workers who are depending on these paychecks.

BLACKWELL: Live look at Capitol Hill where nothing is happening. So this could be a photograph, there's nothing happening there. They're not negotiating, they're not moving forward on anything. Earlier this morning we spoke with a man that represents government employees to put a human face on the shutdown.


TONY REARDON, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, NATIONAL TREASURE EMPLOYEES UNION: We had an individual let us know that recently his wife died. He is unable at this time because of this shutdown to pay for her headstone. And he said at the tail end of his commentary to us that he is brokenhearted over that. And that I think in some ways encapsulates what is going on, what's happening to federal workers. Our federal workers do a great service to this country, and to be treated the way they are is indeed unfortunate.


BLACKWELL: Coming up, we'll speak with a 71-year-old woman who is a furloughed worker. We'll hear how the shutdown is impacting her life and her family.

Several people have been arrested in the death of a California police officer, and more arrests could be coming. Police say the state's sanctuary law is in part to blame.


[10:11:45] BLACKWELL: It's 11 minutes after the hour now. The manhunt for an alleged cop killer in California is over. And overnight, two more arrests were made. Corporal Ronil Singh was killed the day after Christmas during a traffic stop in Newman, California. Police arrested the suspect Friday about 200 miles from the crime scene. They say he came into the U.S. illegally and might have been trying to go back to Mexico.

PAUL: Seven other people have also been arrested, including the suspect's girlfriend and two of his brothers. Here's CNN's Sara Sidner.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, the manhunt is over for the suspect in a police officer's killing. Now we're hearing from his devastated family.


SIDNER: Less than 48 hours after losing his brother, his hero, his friend, Reggie Singh stepped to the mics. He had just learned his brother's suspected killer had been caught.

REGGIE SINGH, VICTIM'S BROTHER: He is not coming back, but there's a lot of people out there that misses him, and a lot of law enforcement people that I don't know that work days and nights to make this happen.

SIDNER: Ronil Singh came to this country as an immigrant from Fiji. He was living his version of the American dream. He wanted to become a police officer, and he did just that. He dreamt of a family. Five months ago, he and his wife welcomed their son into the world. But at 1:00 in the morning, the day after Christmas, Singh's dream abruptly ended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not know Christmas morning at 4:00 in the morning when I said goodbye to him and sent him off to his family that it would be the last time that I saw him.

SIDNER: Police say Singh was killed by Gustavo Perez Arriaga, who, unlike Singh, had come into the country illegally. Deputies caught up with Arriaga at a home near Bakersfield, California, after a massive manhunt.

SHERIFF ADAM CHRISTIANSON, STANISLAUS COUNTY: This criminal, Mr. Arriaga, crossed our border illegally into Arizona some time ago. He is a criminal. He has two prior arrests for DUI.

SIDNER: Several people were arrested, including Arriaga's brother and a co-worker, who were accused of lying to authorities and impeding their ability to find him faster. While Singh's family wept around him, the Stanislaus County sheriff could not contain his outrage over California's so-called sanctuary law.

CHRISTIANSON: And under SB-54 in California, based on two arrests for DUI and some other active warrants that this criminal has out there, law enforcement would have been prevented, prohibited from sharing any information with ICE about this criminal gang member.

SIDNER: Some law enforcement officials completely disagreed, saying the law actually encourages people to come forward who would otherwise avoid helping law enforcement because of citizenship status. But the sheriff's sentiment has been embraced by others, including the man with the largest megaphone. President Trump tweeted about the case, using it in his pitched battle to build a border wall to keep illegal immigrants out.

[10:15:00] No matter who wins the political battle, there is little that can ease the pain of the Singh family. Their one small solace, Singh's canine partner Sam will simply become the family pet. The police department is retiring the dog because, as the chief put it, the Singh family shouldn't have to lose another family member.


SIDNER: Police have arrested about six people in connection with this case, and they say there may be more arrests to come. Victor, Christi?

BLACKWELL: All right, Sara, thank you.

Portland's mayor is condemning an incident where a black man was kicked out of a hotel lobby for talking on the phone with his mother. Ted Wheeler tweeted, "No one should be tweeted this way, and I hope this serves as a catalyst for necessary changes that address the systemic nature of discrimination of all forms." CNN correspondent Paul Vercammen has the latest on what happened and the fallout from the incident. Paul, good morning. PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Victor, Jermaine Massey

says he returned from a concert, went back to his DoubleTree hotel, found a quiet place to call a family member concerning an emergency. And then says the security guard started harassing him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You really want this PR issue, Earl, do you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police will be here in a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Call them. I'm waiting. They're coming why? Why are they coming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To escort you off the property.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because what, and I am staying here?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I'm staying here at the hotel. I didn't do anything to you. I'm sitting over here taking a phone call.

VERCAMMEN: And Massey says he had the evidence that he was a guest. He showed them a card key envelope with the date on it and his room number. It didn't work. They still called Portland police. Police escorted him to his room and he was kicked out.

Now, Massey's lawyers say the next step will be a strategy that involves both a political possibility and a litigation possibility. They say their client is overwhelmed, and one thing, he does not want this to happen to anybody else. Interesting in all this, the lawyers also say that Massey has Justice Department experience in both human resources with a specialization in discrimination. He also works for Amazon right now in human resources.

As for the hotel, it issued a statement, essentially an apology, saying it was sorry, that it wanted to sit down and talk to Massey about all this. Here at CNN, we also reached out to the two employees responsible for kicking Massey out, and they have not returned our phone calls.

Back to you now, Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Paul, thank you. And two hotel employees have been placed on leave. Here's more of the statement from DoubleTree Portland on Twitter. "We will take the appropriate measures to ensure this does not happen again. We have zero tolerance stance on discrimination of any kind."

PAUL: And my goodness, today, it's just a downright mess in an unsettled North Carolina election derailed by accusations of voter fraud. Here Mark Harris says he won the Congressional contest in North Carolina's Ninth district. When Democrats take charge in Washington next week, apparently Harris can expect an icy welcome.


REP. STENY HOYER, (D) MARYLAND: His election has not been certified, and in light of that and in light of the fact that so many Republicans in North Carolina admit and observe there was fraud obviously conducted in the general election in North Carolina in that district that he should not be seated unless the cloud is lifted. My own view is we probably ought to redo the general election.


PAUL: From Washington now, CNN's Kristen Holmes. So what a crazy day, Kristen, yesterday in North Carolina. Help us understand what happened.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. I couldn't have said it better myself, a downright mess. So I am going to break this all down, but we've got to be patient because it is a lot of information.

Starting with what happened in North Carolina yesterday, a panel of state judges deemed the board of elections, the state board of elections, unconstitutional, and ordered them to dissolve, which they promptly did at noon yesterday. This is not related to the investigation into voter fraud. This is an ongoing legal battle back from 2016. But it has huge implications of what's going on now in the state because this voter board, this election board was doing the investigation into the voter fraud. They were also holding a hearing on January 11th to go over all of the evidence they had on voter fraud and determine whether or not there was going to be a new election.

And lastly, they never certified a winner. So despite the fact that Harris was leading his Democratic opponent by about 905 votes, they did not certify this election. Harris did file his last minute petition to try and get them to certify him as winner before they dissolved, and they refused to do so.

Listen to what the Democratic Party chairman has to say about that move.


[10:20:02] WAYNE GOODWIN, NORTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR: The Republicans are actively obstructing an investigation into electoral fraud, all to steal the election themselves. This is alarming and unconscionable, and a message to every North Carolina voter that it doesn't matter if you were defrauded and your vote silenced, Republicans would rather have power than faithfully represent you.


HOLMES: Clearly there, Harris had called for a reelection if one needed to be, he had said he would cooperate fully with the investigation. But now that last minute petition really angering Democrats in the state. So what exactly is next? When it comes to the investigation, it's also a complete mess. A new state law says that Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is supposed to appoint a new election board, but not until January 31st.

So he is saying he will appoint an interim board to continue working on this investigation. Republicans are saying, no way, you're not allowed to do that. We're going to take you to court over it. So it is looking more and more likely that there might not be a representative for North Carolina's ninth district on January 3rd when Congress starts.

PAUL: That is craziness. Kristen Holmes, thank you for breaking it down for us. We Appreciate it. Victor?

BLACKWELL: Hundreds of migrants are being dropped off in a border town. The town was not ready for this. This comes as Homeland Security Chief Kirstjen Nielsen is visiting to check on conditions.


BLACKWELL: The partial government shutdown is, you know this, about money for the border wall. The president is threatening to shut down the entire southern border if the stalemate continues.

PAUL: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is visiting the Mexican border today. Her visit is following of course the news of the death of a second child in government custody this month. CNN's Nick Valencia is in El Paso this morning. That's one of the places she visited. Nick, what do we know about the impact of her visit?

[10:25:06] NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The details about her trip are very limited. Her visit was closed to the press. But we do know that she was visiting a variety of border patrol stations here in the El Paso area, checking on conditions of those border patrol stations, and also following up on a series of measures that she implemented earlier this week. If you remember, she called them extraordinary protective measures, particularly for children in U.S. custody, those migrant children, the focus being on children under the age of 10. We understand she's going to be doing the same in Yuma, Arizona, today.

All of this is happening against the backdrop of migrants still being dropped off at the bus station. We have heard from the president who said that catch and release is over, but that's not what we're seeing here. We've continued to see migrants dropped off by volunteers in white vans with really very limited resources. If not for volunteers helping out, they would really have nothing at all and no plans and nowhere to go. In fact, it was earlier this week on Christmas Day that nearly 200 migrants were dropped off. And some of them had nowhere to go. In fact, it was just a short time ago that I spoke to one of the volunteers who was here that day. He describes a scene of utter chaos.


ZEB GREEN, REPRESENTATIVE, SACRED MISSION: They had been in the Greyhound station, but I heard the manager was kicking them out into the cold. And there were so many just incredibly sick children.

VALENCIA: You saw a lot of sick people, children among adults. How young?

GREEN: Babies, infants who are incredibly ill, too. Elderly folks who were also just so sick. And we began passing out cold medicine. And I've never seen in my life people so desperate for cold medicine.


VALENCIA: Health care has become a huge issue of renewed scrutiny about the ways that migrants are treated after they're taken into U.S. custody after the death of the eight-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo. And we understand we're just hearing from Guatemalan government that says it is going to potentially take another two weeks before his body is released to the family in Guatemala. It is different from what we're hearing from office of the medical examiner in New Mexico that conducted an initial autopsy, evaluations from nose swabs, nasal swabs. He tested positive for influenza b. They said officially, though, his cause of death could take potentially between six and 12 weeks. Victor and Christi?

PAUL: That's hard on that family. Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this now with CNN political commentator, Republican strategist Alice Stewart, and Democratic strategist and member of the Democratic National Committee Robert Zimmerman. Welcome back to New Day -- sorry, Newsroom now. I've been here since 6:00 a.m.


BLACKWELL: Welcome. Thank you so much for being with us.

So let's start here. The president railed against catch and release, Alice, for years now. These are people who are waiting for the adjudication of their asylum cases. Let's actually get a reminder of the president, this is right before the midterm election.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Catch and release, it's a disgrace that we have to put up with it. These policies lead to release of illegal aliens into our communities after they have been apprehended. But we're not releasing any more. Big change as of a couple of days ago. We're going to no longer release. We're going to catch, no longer release. They're going to stay with us until the deportation hearing or the asylum hearing takes place. So we're not releasing them into the community.


BLACKWELL: Alice, how is what's happening in El Paso not exactly what the president says is not going to happen anymore?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the most important thing to understand is that the president has been clear and consistent on where he stands on this issue, because what has happened in the past and in previous years is that when these people come into this country and they are released into this country and given a court date to appear, oftentimes the majority of them do not come back. And they just assimilate into society.

BLACKWELL: But Alice, hundreds of people have been dropped off at bus stations and parks and just street corners in El Paso. Is that not catch and release?

STEWART: This is right now given the volume of these immigrants that come into this country, given the volume that we have now, this is right now the immediate way to address the situation. We're certainly trying to get a better handle on this, but right now, this is the way to handle the huge volume of these immigrants that have come into the country.

BLACKWELL: So it's not any different than what the Obama administration did, correct?

STEWART: There's absolutely a better way to handle this. But as we stand now with the volume of them coming into this country, this is the only way to deal with it, currently.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Victor, if I could just make a point.

BLACKWELL: Go ahead.

ZIMMERMAN: In fact, the crisis we see at the border is entirely created and perpetrated by the Trump administration and their failed policies. For example, we have 14,000 children now held in custody by the U.S. in detention centers. Two tragically died this past month.

[10:30:05] And now the Homeland Security secretary says she's going to put in extreme measures. Why weren't they put in first to protect these children? Why are they being institutionalized in environments that experts tell us traumatize children. It is not making us safer, it's not making us more secure, and is tragically costing lives that we're responsible for as a country.

Let me also point out while the president is focusing on trying to protect this failed promise, this lie of a border wall, he is ignoring critical issues of border security. The fact is that in fact we're not putting money into screening drugs coming through the border, like fentanyl. It's coming through trucks and cars. We're not examining tunnels and putting tighter security in the blocked tunnels for people coming into our country, or going after our airports and our harbors.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about the border, because the president tweeted that if he doesn't get money for the border wall that he is going to shut down the southern border. And incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney says that that's the only way to get the Democrats' attention. Does that get your attention? Is that a concern that the president could or would shut down the southern border?

ZIMMERMAN: There are two rules in the process. One, and I think Alice knows this as well. You should never take credit for a shutdown. You blame the other person. And Donald Trump front and center announced that he, after the Congress, the Republicans and Democrats came together on a compromise, after Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh attacked the president, he then declared a shutdown and said he owned it. That was the first problem.

And the second point simply is, when you examine in fact his approach to the issue, back in 2017 and 2018, Congress appropriated $1.6 billion for border security barriers, and the Trump administration only spent six percent. So why in fact would Congress re-appropriate more billions of dollars just to humor Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter and support a policy that failed?

STEWART: Victor?

BLACKWELL: Go ahead, Alice.

STEWART: I think the notion of shutting the border in my view is a veiled threat on the part of the president, but in terms of who takes blame for this shutdown, there's blame to go all the way around. The president said he would be proud to shut the border down. Well, unfortunately that's where we are. He should, and I expect him to come down off his $5 billion request to build this wall.

But we have to remember that Democrats have been OK with a security fence back in 2006. There was a bipartisan plan for a security fence. And right now, it appears as though they don't want to have anything to do with the wall because it is Trump's big, beautiful wall.

ZIMMERMAN: That's just incorrect, Alice.

STEWART: Both sides need to put aside their appeasing the base by folding their hands and not working to come together on this, and they need to find some way to come to agreement. Both should come together with regard to the financial aspect of this, and to what degree whether we need a wall or more personnel or more infrastructure or technology, let's find the best way to secure the border.

ZIMMERMAN: But we have to also, Alice --

BLACKWELL: Alice, Robert, we've got to wrap there. We've got to wrap there. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

STEWART: Thanks, Victor.


PAUL: All right, there's a new poll that shows New Year's resolutions, I know we're all on the brink of that, right, they're not made to be broken, folks. Harry Enten has a forecast for us.


[10:36:23] BLACKWELL: I start my New Year's resolutions on December 1st.

PAUL: What? BLACKWELL: Because I want to get a head start on everybody.

PAUL: How do you do that?

BLACKWELL: I feel like I know what I want to do for the new year, so I try -

PAUL: What are you doing?

BLACKWELL: This year?

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: I want to, I heard over say this and I think it's important. I want my personality to be a truer representation of my spirit.


PAUL: You don't know how many people were laughing because his spirit is so good.

BLACKWELL: My spirit is good. What does that say about my personality, Christi?


PAUL: I am digging myself in a hole here. We love Victor, you know that.

BLACKWELL: I can be sharp at 3:00 in the morning.

PAUL: You can be sharp at 3:00 in the morning, yes. But it is all true. He never speak untruths, let's put it that way. So you I'm sure are at home, my gosh, what am I going to do?

BLACKWELL: What are you doing? I didn't ask.

PAUL: I don't know. I haven't decided yet, and I still have a couple of days to decide.

BLACKWELL: I'm a month in.

PAUL: CNN's Harry Enten is with us now. He has some new numbers for us when it comes to what you want to get done this year. Harry, are resolutions even really still a thing? I like to call them goals now.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER: I would suggest to Victor that he should come to New York. I am always myself. I say good Shab as it's a Saturday. I'm a Jew. I should be in Temple, I'm with you. But I'll go to Temple afterwards.


ENTEN: Look, yes, they're still a thing. For 44 percent of Americans they say they're at least somewhat likely to keep a New Year's resolution. That's a pretty big chunk of the population. And 56 percent said they're not likely at all to keep one. I think I'm more in that 56 percent camp, though perhaps I should be in the 44 percent camp. I would like to cut down perhaps on my Popeyes, maybe exercise a little bit more. I got some shin splints running for the bus the other day. That's probably not good for a man my age.


BLACKWELL: A man your age, Harry. So what are the popular resolutions, then?

ENTEN: Look, they all pretty much run are around health, right? Exercising more has consistently been the top of the list. That's at the top of the list this year as well. Stop smoking, 12 percent. Eat healthier, nine percent, so I guess I am there. Be a better person, nine percent. I could be a better person. It is my mother's birthday today. So happy birthday, mom.

PAUL: Happy birthday, mom.

ENTEN: Happy birthday, mom. I am not saying how old she is, but if I'm a young person, then she has to be a young person, too, right? It is all about where you are in the heart and soul. So I think that this is what we generally expect most people to say, right, eat healthier, live a healthier life, stop smoking. Fortunately for me, I will say my mom always told me never to smoke and I did take that lesson to heart.

PAUL: Good for you. I'm sorry we ran out of time.

ENTEN: What a beautiful time we had.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it was. It was.

PAUL: It was a beautiful time, Harry.

BLACKWELL: And we created all this beautiful background for you, Harry.

PAUL: That matches him.

BLACKWELL: It does match my tie.

ENTEN: It's certainly nicer looking than my apartment.


BLACKWELL: Harry Enten, thank you so much. Happy New Year.

PAUL: Happy New Year.

ENTEN: To you as well.

PAUL: He is a hoot. He really is.

A lot of stories made the top media stories of 2018 of course. Maybe the lesson we learned most, words matter.


[10:43:24] BLACKWELL: Lila Johnson's bills are adding up quickly. She's one of thousands of federal workers who will not be getting a paycheck because of the government shutdown.

PAUL: She works for Department of Agriculture, she's a janitor. But because she works on a contract basis, unlike full time federal employees who are furloughed, she likely will not get back pay when the shutdown is over. So now she's just so concerned about not just providing for herself but for her family.


LILA JOHNSON, FEDERAL CONTRACT EMPLOYEE: My last paycheck for my job would be 16 hours coming up this Tuesday on the 31st. I won't be able to pay my bills. It's as simple as that. I won't be able to put food on the table for my two great grands.


PAUL: So with us now, Jaime Contreras from the Service Employees International Union. Thank you so much for being with us. What kind of stories are you hearing from these people, because we need to reiterate, this isn't just about numbers. We're throwing out 350,000 people, 14,000 overnight at the EPA overnight. But these are people who have lives. Help us understand what they're going through.

JAIME CONTRERAS, SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERVIEW UNION: Lila, sadly, is just one of so many thousands of stories out there of contract workers. In this area, 32B represents around 2,000 federal contract workers. Some work at the Smithsonian, some of them work at the Department of Interior, Department of Ag, Department of State, you name it. Our members maintain those facilities, and our members keep those facilities safe.

And these are folks who for the most part live paycheck to paycheck. The government, our politicians are not able to get their act together is not their fault, but they're the ones paying the price, their families are the one paying the price. And it is not right and not what we should be doing as Americans.

[10:45:12] BLACKWELL: Jaime, tell me what you think about what the Office of Personnel Management tweeted out, saying that if you have some troubles, contact your personal attorney or suggest to your landlord that maybe you could clean the carpets or do some carpentry work, or paint the hallway to get a little money off your rent.

CONTRERAS: Well, they should say that also to our congressional leaders and our president. Why don't they do that? Why don't they go without pay? These are workers who already work two and three jobs. How dare you say something like that to these workers who already have some of them three jobs. They work two jobs during the week and they clean houses over the weekend. Where are they going to find time to do some extra work? These are people who already, like I said earlier, live paycheck to paycheck and have no other recourse but their jobs, and sometimes they have to borrow money from their families. And it is just wrong. This is inhuman. We should not be doing this to people. We should put country and people over politics of hate. And that's unfortunately not what this president is doing.

PAUL: We had a guest on earlier, Jaime, who said this is a fight they have no power to resolve. Is that an accurate representation of how they're feeling right now, is it that powerlessness?

CONTRERAS: Well, I think the American people sent a loud and clear message this past November where they want a government that works for the people, elected officials who are going to do the work of the people who put them in office.

And if the president and his friends in Congress did not get the message, they're about to hear it even more loud and clear in 2020. We want a government whether you're black, brown, white, middle class, working class, you want a government that's working for you. You want a government that's going to put people and country over hateful politics. Just look around in my area here in Virginia. Barbara Comstock, she ran on anti-immigrant hateful rhetoric and she lost. That's going to happen to a lot of elected officials right now who are sitting in Congress and are not doing the job and the job the American people elected them to do.

BLACKWELL: Jamie, we know that there are people you represent and there are federal employees who you don't represent who across the country are hoping that this ends quickly so they can get the money on which they depend to pay their rent, pay their mortgage, feed their families. And we hope this ends very quickly too. Jamie Contreras, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you, sir.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

PAUL: All right, so this year saw the rise of the MeToo movement, a social media reckoning, and the falls of two TV stars.

BLACKWELL: Here is CNN's Brian Stelter with a look at the top eight media stories of 2018.


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 Wolff's "Fire and Fury" sold millions of copies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bombshell that is raising a question loud and clear, is Donald Trump fit to be president of the United States?

STELTER: Pro-Trump books by FOX's Jeanine Pirro and Gregg Jarrett were also bestsellers. Omarosa's tell all didn't do well. But Bob Woodward's "Fear" broke records.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 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 than 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 "New York Times"? The paper gave anonymity to a senior Trump official, and he or she is still unknown.

Number seven, MeToo marches on. The watershed movement against sexual harassment and abuse tumbled more titans 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, he's out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 wrongdoing.

[10:50:00] Number six, attacks against the guardians. Members of the media around the world, like Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered at the hands of a Saudi hit squad. Khashoggi was a contributing columnist at "The Washington Post" which is now demanding justice for his death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to continue shouting, we're 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. journalists 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 "Capital 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.

Number four, two high profile falls from grace, Roseanne Barr and Megyn Kelly. Two networks took at 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 Connors" without Barr came back in the fall.

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

MEGYN KELLY: What is racist? You get in trouble if you Are a white person that puts on a blackface for Halloween or a black person who puts on a white face for Halloween. When I was a kid that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character.

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

And that leads us 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.

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So guess who was on the campaign trail with Trump just a few hours ago. Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro of FOX News.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: 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 is the latest illustration of how little space there is between the White House and some rightwing media.

Number two, a social media reckoning. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube under scrutiny as they struggle to crackdown on misinformation, trolling, foreign meddling, and hate speech, all 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 for that responsibility, and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake, and I'm sorry.

JACK DORSEY, CEO, TWITTER: 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 was President Trump's war on the press getting real. Anti-media words from the president are nothing new.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do they have projectiles -- excuse me, that sounds like a fire alarm here. We'll keep you posted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say that the device is inside the CNN building. It was a package that was mailed maybe into the building.

STELTER: The suspect was arrested, and so were at least two others men that phoned in threats to newsrooms. But instead of lowering the temperature, Trump amped it up with events like this.

[10:55:00] TRUMP: Sit down, please. Sit 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. That's enough. 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 challenge persists. 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.


PAUL: Brian, thank you so much.

And thank you for sharing some of your time with us. We hope you make good memories today.

BLACKWELL: All year long actually.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much. See you in 2019. The next hour of CNN's Newsroom with Martin Savidge in today coming up after a quick break.

PAUL: We'll be here tomorrow, right?

BLACKWELL: Oh, yes. We are here tomorrow.


BLACKWELL: See you in the morning.