Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

DEA Questions NFL Doctors and Trainers; Was Twitter Used to Skirt Election Laws?; New Outrage over Cosby Rape Allegations; Pay Rises for Young Low-Wage Workers

Aired November 17, 2014 - 10:30   ET


CAROL COSTELL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it seems to me like the DEA is putting the cart after the horse because the lawsuit has already been filed so you would think that the NFL would clean up its act if it had anything to feel guilty about at all.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: First of all, we have seen many times over this past year the NFL does not necessarily clean up its act after being called out on something -- correct. They are not quick to move just because the public or even in a lawsuit says they should. And also, remember, the lawsuit is civil -- that's a civil claim. The DEA gets their ears peaked by this lawsuit saying "Oh, all of this is going on and you have basically witness testimony now and these former players saying all this is going on? We want to see which laws are being broken." That's an entirely different bag of things.

COSTELLO: That's interesting. So what could happen to an NFL team if they're found guilty of criminal wrongdoing?

NICHOLS: Yes, I mean look, it could be penalties to the actual physicians involved. It could actually extend to the teams themselves. It could be fines. It could be more severe with jail time. The hope, I would think, of any federal investigation is that if you nab a few people then you clean up everybody because they get scared of being put in jail or being fined themselves. We'll have to see what happens here.

COSTELLO: Rachel Nichols, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

And a reminder, "UNGUARDED" with Rachel Nichols airs this Friday night at 10:30 Eastern right here on CNN.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, election laws tested by Twitter? That's the finding of a new CNN analysis which shows some Republican outside groups may have coordinated with campaigns in violation of the law. We'll talk about that next.


COSTELLO: Politicians often turn to social media when making their appeals to you, the voter. That's nothing new. But a CNN analysis shows that during the 2014 midterms, some Republican groups may have used social media specifically Twitter, in a way that pushed the limits of election laws. And that's sparking questions about the ties between social media and Washington. Chris Moody is our CNN senior digital correspondent. He has more for you.

CHRIS MOODY, CNN SENIOR DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT: So in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that outside groups or corporations or unions could spend as much as they want on political speech to influence elections so long as they did not coordinate directly with the campaigns or campaign committees. Smart lawyers have been trying to find ways to send signals between the campaigns and these outside groups that are all spending money for the same goal and that's to get someone elected.

Outside groups, including American Crossroads and the American Action Network collaborated with the National Republican Congressional Committee in order to share polling data. So because campaign cannot coordinate officially with outside groups, what these groups did was set up public Twitter accounts that no one knows about in order to post polling data and polling numbers in a secret code that you could only read if you had the formula. And they would post this polling data on these Twitter accounts.

One of these accounts was named after Bruno Gianelli which was the name of fictional a character on the show "West Wing". He argued in favor of using soft money to peddle issue campaigns.

BRAD LOWE, ACTOR: Does the ad try to influence the outcome of the election? So you can't use soft money, period.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well zipidee-doodah Sam?

MOODY: Here's an example tweet. It says "CA NA 48/36-50/17-30/30-NA- 10/28/14-21." What does that mean, right? We can guess possibly that California is the state and the number at the end, 21 is the district and then the polling in the middle is the top line numbers.

After I got wind of this, I e-mailed a spokesperson for the NRCC and the other groups and literally minutes after I sent the e-mail, all of the accounts were deleted.

We've exposed a couple of these Twitter accounts but there's nothing stopping other campaigns or outside groups from doing this in the future so long as these groups continue to hide their information in plain sight.


COSTELLO: Wow, Chris Moody joins us flow Washington. Is there anything you can report that's a direct violation of the law?

MOODY: Well, the law is so vague. So it's very difficult to just say what is legal and illegal. We talked to several experts, people who used to work for the Federal Election Commission and campaign finance lawyers and they say, "You know what, we really can't say authoritatively if this is legal. But what we can say is that the law is so murky that smart lawyers have found ways to get around rules that are supposed to bar coordination between political campaigns and outside groups." And using these Twitter accounts, which were technically public, allowed them to send signals to one another.

COSTELLO: It's weird all of those accounts disappeared after you started asking questions. That is strange. I'm sure you called the FEC. What is the FEC saying about this?

MOODY: Well, an FEC vice chairwoman after the story ran this morning said the same thing we said in the story, that this is murky and it's kind of hard to go after things like this, but she did signal that there's a possibility that the FEC could be looking into the ways the campaigns and outside groups are using social media to communicate. So we might get the ball rolling here. The question is will the FEC do anything about it? The answer to that question most campaign experts say is probably not.

COSTELLO: Chris Moody, many thanks to you. I appreciate it.

MOODY: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, Bill Cosby performed for a packed audience last night. That's right, he took the stage despite some ugly allegations. And guess what? Yet another woman has come forward. We'll tell you about that next.


COSTELLO: Last night, Bill Cosby took the stage in a sold-out show in Pennsylvania. There was an enthusiastic reception, quite a contrast to the awkward silence as NPR's Scott Simon confronted Cosby about rape allegations. Listen.


SIMON SCOTT, NPR RADIO HOST: This question gives me no pleasure, Mr. Cosby, but there have been serious allegations raised about you in recent days. You're shaking your head no. I'm in the news business. I have to ask the question. Do you have any response to those charges? Shaking your head no. There are people who love you who might like to hear from you about this. I want to give you the chance. All right.


COSTELLO: It was an extraordinarily uncomfortable interview and we did talk with the NPR anchor, Scott Simon, about Bill Cosby's demeanor during that interview. Here's what he said.


SIMON: As I began to say "This question gives me no pleasure" he began to shake his head and go like that. So I think he certainly understood which question was coming. He was -- you know, he gave what I would refer to as that delightful impish kind of little Cosby smile at first. And then was silent -- didn't answer the question.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: In a statement, Cosby's lawyer said the decade-old allegations were discredited and that quote, "the fact they're being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment."

Well, the allegations are not new. What is new is the reaction, especially from younger people, including fellow comedian Hannibal Buress who called out Cosby during an October performance.


HANNIBAL BURESS, COMEDIAN: I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom. It's great (inaudible) Bill Cosby. I don't curse on stage. Well, yes, you're a rapist, so --


COSTELLO: I'm joined now by comedian Chuck Nice who is from Cosby's hometown of Philadelphia.


COSTELLO: Thanks for coming in. I appreciate it.

NICE: It's great to be here.

COSTELLO: What do you make of what's going on around Bill Cosby?

NICE: Here's the thing. You have kind of a confluence of events. Number one, these are old allegations that have resurfaced and have taken flight again because of social media. And there's a backlash amongst younger people against Bill Cosby because of his statements, his political statements concerning the black community and the fact that there are clearly some problems in the black community.

But his statements were kind of statements of condemnation. It wasn't like, "Hey, I would like to see this community rise up in this manner." It was like, you know, the old man, shaking his fist, you know, like "You kids, you don't know what you're doing."

COSTELLO: There's a term for it. They call it the politics of respectability.

NICE: The politics of respectability.

COSTELLO: And Bill Cosby was trying to instruct the younger generation to, what, pull up their pants.

NICE: Pull up your pants you see because your pants are down by your ankle. And no one wants to hear it. You're old the old dude shaking the fist now. And that's not the way that you're ever going to resonate with young people.

I understand what he's talking about with the politics of respectability because any successful black person who comes from a middle-class background, hard-working parents was told this and I'm sure anyone listening will confirm this. You have to be twice as good to be just as good.

Well, there's a new generation coming up saying screw that, why do I have to be twice as good to be just as good? That's not acceptable. And so for Cosby to approach it that way has created kind of a friction within the community against him.

COSTELLO: Of course, all of this doesn't negate the fact that he really did pave the way for African-Americans on television series and in the world of comedy.

NICE: Absolutely. Listen, with no Bill Cosby, there's no me. I mean certainly it would have happened. I'm not saying he's my father -- wait a minute. What I'm saying is there's no career for me. There's no Oprah. He integrated television, ok? This man opened doors for pretty much every black entertainer in America working today.

However, that has nothing to do with the allegations that are made against him. The two are mutually exclusive. He can be the iconic ground breaker that he is and be a pervert. I mean, if that is the case, allegedly. I'm not saying that it is. But those two can co- exist without any conflict.

The way I handle it is I don't care what Bill Cosby did. I don't know Bill Cosby. As long as Dr. Huxtable is not accused of anything, I am fine.

COSTELLO: But you can't separate the two.

NICE: Yes, I can, because I know Dr. Huxtable, I know his wife Claire, I know his children.


NICE: Yes.

COSTELLO: But these are very -- and I don't mean to laugh about it because these are very serious allegations. And yet another woman has come forward and made similar allegations against Bill Cosby. I guess the thing is his interview on NPR, why doesn't he just come out and address them? Make a statement.

NICE: I'll tell you why, what he's thinking because, like I said, he's kind of an old guy now and I don't really think he understands how social media works and how you have to handle things, the media savvy that is necessary to handle crises is different than the way it was when he was Dr. Cosby on television, ok?

And so he's thinking this, well, if I dignify these with a defense, people will think I'm defending myself because I'm guilty. If I remain silent, people are think I'm silent because I'm guilty. No matter what I do, there will be a contingency of people who are going to say that I am guilty so therefore I'm going to allow this oil fire to burn itself out which, believe it or not, is actually how a lot of oil fires are fought. You can't put anything on an oil fire, you just let it burn out. However, in this particular media age that we live, you can no longer do that because you have the internet, you have memes, you have things that will take on a life of their own and that is what has happened to Bill Cosby right now.

There's only two things on the internet, Kim Kardashian's greasy butt and Bill Cosby. That's pretty much it.

COSTELLO: Thanks for putting it into perspective. Chuck Nice, I appreciate it. I appreciate your insight.

NICE: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Also, as I said, brand new this morning, a new accuser has come out with allegations against Cosby. Joan Tarsius (ph) says Cosby rained her twice when she was working for him back in 1969. Tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Tarsius speaks exclusively to CNN about these latest accusations.

I'll be right back.


COSTELLO: A bit of news to share with you on the economy. In the long, slow recovery from the great recession, a new report out shows that young workers are actually seeing low and medium-wages growing faster than their older counterparts and the little tiny bit extra in their paychecks could add up to a healthy boost to the U.S. economy.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here to tell us more.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I like what I see in these numbers -- Carol. These are from ADP -- that's the private payroll processing service. They see all of these numbers, they see how much money people make and what they found was these younger workers seeing annual pay raise of 6 percent. They tend to work in lower-wage jobs but they're seeing raise this year of 6 percent. Look at older workers -- 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent.

So what's going on here -- those younger workers tend to work in retail, in hospitality, restaurants, hotels, huge demand for those jobs and the wages are going up. Why? Economists aren't sure exactly, but they think it might be because of states raising in the minimum wages, people are getting paid a little bit more for those.

Also huge demand, huge growth for those jobs so simple economics would hold if you need to keep good workers you have to pay them more and they're trying to keep these young, in some cases college educated, workers on board so they have to pay them a little bit more. We don't know exactly reason for sure, probably a combination of all of these things but really interesting that you're seeing pay raises on the younger workers on the lower end of the spectrum because wages have been stagnant for almost everybody and that's been a real problem in this recovery. I like to see it loosening up at least somewhere.

COSTELLO: I'm sure everybody would.

ROMANS: Right.

COSTELLO: Christine Romans, thanks so much.

I'll be right back.


COSTELLO: It is not technically winter yet but it feels like it. Frigid air is blasting much of the United States again this week creating dangerous conditions. 30 million of us are sharing in the misery; extreme weather blamed for six deaths with snow hitting as far south as Texas. Four people died in Lubbock. Icy roads and reports of black ice causing havoc on a highway in Oklahoma City -- that looks terrible. Colorado residents are digging out from their second snowstorm in a week.

CNN's Indra Petersons is tracking it all so we're hearing a new phrase associated with this weather, what's it called? The omega something or other?

INDRA PETERSON, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The omega block -- that's what every one is blaming this time around. We have to have a phrase. To explain it though, I have to show you what normal is first.

Typically when you have zonal flow you see the jet stream in a nice straight line for the most part. That just means the cold air is to the north, the warm air is to the south. When you have something called an omega block. This pattern shifts. Remember we had that typhoon that literally took the jet stream and went like this and it sent that momentum all the way down to the south. We are still stuck in this pattern.

It's called omega block -- notice the letter, it looks like the Greek letter omega. This dome of high pressure is literally locking anything from moving. All this cold air continues to dive down series after series of it. So that's what we're continuing to deal with here.

Notice 30 million people today have the threat for winter weather and it's only one side of the equation. We have all the severe weather into the south.

Let's start with the winter weather, 30 million of you have this and the big story isn't even the snow that we're talking about today, it's going to be when that system makes its way offshore. All of this cold arctic air we're talking about is going to go right over the Great Lakes. So with that we're talking about that huge temperature contrast between the temperature of the lakes and, of course, that cold air above it.

What do we have? We know the answer. It is lake effect snowfall, tons of it. We're going to be measuring this in feet. We're hearing there's a potential for three to even four inches of snow per hour. That's what we're expecting as the cold arctic air makes its way in through the overnight hours then down to the southeast today we're still talking about that severe weather threat including tornado watches, even tornado warnings were reported early this morning, damage to the panhandle of Florida. So that's the other side of it.

Temperature-wise it feels good for one day, Carol. By tomorrow -- that's in the northeast -- those temperatures drop another 30 degrees including down to the south. We're talking about 30s as highs in Atlanta tomorrow.

COSTELLO: Oh, that's crazy.

PETERSONS: Here we go again.

COSTELLO: But we'll be ready -- thanks to you. Indra Petersons, many thanks.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.