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CNN NEWSROOM

FOX Resorts to Culture War Menu after Host Vow "No More Junk Food"; Suspects Who Posed at Pelosi's Desk Screams "It's Not Fair" in Tantrum; Doses, Duchess, Dr. Seuss: What a Year This Week Has Been; Meghan Markle Says She's Giving Interview Now "Because I Can" as Royals Investigate Her Alleged Bullying. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 5, 2021 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:30:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The judge said FOX was convincing as it made the case, quote, "That given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer arrives with an appropriate amount of skepticism about the statements he makes," end quote.

And yet still, what he dishes out is what a huge chunk of the country is consuming as if it is the gospel. Clearly, Carlson and FOX are, to quote Demi Lovato, "sorry, not sorry."

So this should come as no surprise. FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch, son of FOX founder, Rupert Murdoch, telling an investment group the network is now the loyal opposition to the Biden administration.

And quoting Murdoch here, "The main beneficiary of the Trump administration, from a ratings point of view, is MSNBC. That's because they were the loyal opposition. That's what our job is now with the Biden administration. You'll see our ratings really improve," he said.

CNN chief media consultant, Brian Stelter, is with me now.

Transparency, at least, Brian?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": I guess so. After 10 or 15 years of this network claiming it's fair and balanced, every time it's turned further to the right, now Murdoch is admitting what the network is all about. It is an anti- Biden network. That's the agenda.

The spin today, Brianna, as he was talking about the opinion shows, but the opinion shows are what defines FOX News. The newscasts have been shrinking and the audience for those news programs have been shrinking as well.

FOX viewers want the red meat provided by Tucker Carlson. And, by the way, who is Lachlan Murdoch's closest friend? It's Tucker Carlson.

The channel is increasingly the Tucker Carlson channel. That tells you everything you need to know about the FOX News playbook right now.

KEILAR: Look, we know there's a shrinking and small group of straight news journalists at FOX. But it is a small section of what is at FOX. They're in the reporter ranks. They're not the ones in general hosting shows.

And increasingly, FOX is moving into what the prime time has made them -- you know, has made them into.

Murdoch admitted that the FOX audience, Brian, is disappointed in the election results. How much does that factor into this strategy moving forward and the FOX lineup?

STELTER: That is the big story. That is the major factor. The FOX audience does not want to hear bad news about Republicans, does not want to hear good news about Democrats.

So it is all a ratings ploy. And it is very clear from the programming and the sources inside FOX who are speaking out about it.

It is notable that Lachlan was speaking to investors saying, hey, the ratings are going to come back, the viewers are coming home. To some extent, that's starting to be true. But this is all about business, all about profit.

I think when people want to understand how this propaganda machine works, and when it doesn't work, ultimately, it's about Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch and how much money they can make from this.

Brianna, there's another Murdoch, James Murdoch. He's on the outside. He's much more liberal. He is disgusted by the Tucker Carlson's of the world.

Right now, he's not involved. He's probably wondering if, some day, he might be able to come and take over. That would be kind of an HBO drama moment. But so far, there's no sign of that.

This channel is moving further and further to the right, to the point I had one FOX employee tell me, I feel like we've gone so far right we've fallen over.

KEILAR: Yes. I mean, Tucker Carlson 2020 has a problem with what Tucker Carlson 2021 is doing. So that tells you something.

STELTER: Yes.

KEILAR: Brian Stelter, thank you so much. Great to see you.

STELTER: Thanks. You, too.

I do want to get back now to the fallout from the capitol riots. Minutes ago, we told you how some of these suspects are melting down over orders to stay behind bars.

Areva Martin is a CNN legal analyst. She is also a civil rights attorney. These riot defendants, Areva, I wonder what you think of their behavior in court and the complaints they're lobbying, and what it says about how they view their actions on January 6th.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Brianna, what they're doing in court is consistent with what we saw them do on January 6th, and that's what we saw them do was exercise their privilege.

They are so entitled. They believed they were entitled to storm the capitol, to break windows, to break doors, to take weapons into the capitol, to go into Nancy Pelosi's office, put their feet up on the desk, to destroy property, to even defecate in our nation's capitol.

And now they're showing that same entitlement behavior as they make their appearances in court.

The nerve that one of the defendants to suggest that he had been detained for one month and somehow that was unfair to him.

We know the disparities that exist in the criminal justice system. We know the differences in terms of how African-Americans of the criminal justice system are treated versus how non-African-Americans are treated.

So to see these defendants have these meltdowns and to somehow suggest that the system is being unfair to them is really reprehensible and appalling conduct.

KEILAR: The defendant, Areva, who yelled at the judge, the so-called QAnon shaman, the man seen wearing horns and face paint during the riot, he's also downplaying his actions.

[13:40:02]

Let's listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOB CHANSLEY, CAPITOL RIOT SUSPECT: And my actions were not an attack on this country. That is incorrect.

Well, I sing a song and that's a part of shamanism. It's about creating positive vibrations in a sacred chamber. I also stopped people from stealing and vandalism in that sacred space, the Senate. OK? I actually stopped somebody who was stealing muffins out of the breakroom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: His defense is that officers allowed him in. Will that work?

MARTIN: Not at all, Brianna. And you see how they're all engaging in revisionism.

Somehow now he was the savior. He was there preventing this destruction from occurring. But what we saw immediately after the insurrection were people going

on Facebook, people giving interviews, bragging about how they had destroyed property in the capitol, bragging about how they had broken doors and had stormed the capitol.

So now all of that bragging is turning into somehow that we're supposed to feel sorry for them. They are the victims now of the insurrection.

It's not going to work. These defenses are not going to work.

But I just hope we don't see, Brianna, what we heard hint of, which is maybe all these individuals will not be prosecuted. So far, about 300 have been arrested. We know there are many, many more that should be arrested.

And we know they should be held accountable to the highest standards possible, given the reprehensible conduct they involved themselves in on January 6th.

KEILAR: Areva, thank you so much. Areva Martin, we appreciate it.

Detroit's mayor turning down thousands of doses and doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine because he says it's not the best. We'll have more on that ahead. We'll fact-check that.

And while some states begin lifting mask restrictions, a new CDC study says they do have an impact.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:41:41]

KEILAR: What a year this week has been.

Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine started going to Americans. Most states are lifting masks and mask mandates and fully reopening, defying CDC guidelines amid a surge in new alarming variants of the virus.

President Biden conceded to moderate Democrats, reducing the number of people who will get relief checks by lowering the income rate. The bill is cheaper but it ticked off progressives.

The Senate abandoned the backup plan to raise the minimum wage, which would have punished companies for not paying workers $15 an hour.

The passage of Biden's COVID relief bill is turning into a circus as Republicans launch a parade of stunts to delay it.

The firs jobs report in the Biden administration shows the economy added more than 300,000 jobs last month, many of them in restaurants and bars.

The FBI director testified about the January 6th insurrection, shooting down Republicans conspiracy theories that rioters were fake Trump supporters.

The blame game escalated as the D.C. National Guard said it was stunned by the Trump administration's delay for permission to defend the capitol.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM WALKER, COMMANDER GENERAL, D.C. NATIONAL GUARD: I was frustrated. I was just as stunned as everybody else on the call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: The U.S. capitol on high alert again as new threats emerge from extremist groups over an absurd QAnon conspiracy theory that Trump would retake the presidency on March 4th. It is, of course, March 5th, and Joe Biden is still president.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo apologized after being accused of sexual harassment by three women now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I'm sorry. I'm sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And his administration is accused of covering up the number of nursing home deaths in New York following a now-canceled order that would omit COVID patients in hospitals.

Donald Trump hit CPAC with a storm of lies and nonsense, still lamely lying about a stolen election. Republicans in more states are trying to turn the big lie into law, by rolling back access to voting.

The CEO of Goya under fire for saying Biden's presidency is not legitimate.

More Democrats sued Trump. Another committee subpoenaed his financial firm. And prosecutors are said to be focusing in on his long-time financial chief at the Trump Organization.

A watchdog report revealed that Trump's Justice Department ignored a criminal recommendation into former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao over ethics violations.

And we learned the Pentagon's watchdog had interviewed 78 witnesses who accused former White House doctor, and current Texas Republican Congressman Ronny Jackson of drinking and taking Ambien while he was on duty to care for his boss, the president, as well as making sexual comments to employees.

Biden lost his first nominee as his pick for budget director withdrew over bipartisan pushback against her past tweets.

Backlash erupted over Biden's refusal to punish to the Saudis for the murder of "Washington Post" columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, breaking a campaign promise.

The Dr. Seuss empire stopped publishing six of the author's books over racial imagery and language.

And a plastic surgeon is under investigation for appearing in virtual traffic court during a surgery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: I do not feel comfortable for the welfare of a patient if you're in the process of operating that I would put on a trial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[13:45:04]

KEILAR: And Meghan Markle accused the royal family, "The Firm," as she called it, of perpetuating lies about her as Buckingham Palace announces she is being investigated for bullying staff just days before a big Oprah interview with the duchess will air.

And the pope is in Baghdad for an historic trip.

We have some breaking news from the Hill. CNN is reporting a major development involving some intense talks that are underway right now on the COVID relief bill. So stand by for that.

Plus, damning reports accusing staffers of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of rewriting a report on nursing home deaths to hide the higher death toll.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:50:08]

KEILAR: Because she can now. Meghan Markle, the duchess of Sussex, says that's why she agreed to sit down for a much-awaited interview with Oprah Winfrey, set to air Sunday on CBS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: So as an adult who lived a really independent life, to then go into this construct that is different than I think what people imagine it to be, it's really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege, in some ways, to be able to say, yes, I'm ready to talk.

OPRAH WINFREY, FORMER TALK SHOW HOST: And say it for yourself.

MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: And say it yourself.

WINFREY: And not have to consult with anybody at this point.

MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: Yes. To be able to make a choice on your own and to be able to speak for itself. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: The interview comes as Buckingham Palace announced this week it will investigate allegations that Markle bullied several staff members.

Royals observers believe the revelation is no coincidence and it's an effort to undermine the duchess ahead of that interview that we know already will put the British monarchy in a bad light.

Omid Scobie is with us now. He is the royal editor at "Harper's Bazaar" and co-author of "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Royal Modern Family."

Omid, thank you so much for being with us.

Can you put the news of these bullying allegations into context? The timing can't be dismissed.

OMID SCOBIE, ROYAL EDITOR, "HARPER'S BAZAAR" & AUTHOR: Yes. It's a very interesting set of revolutions. Of course, these date way back to when Harry and Meghan were based in Kensington Palace in 2018 and early 2019.

And these allegations claim, or accuse Meghan, of bullying but actually lack examples of it at the same time.

Bullying in the workplace is a very serious subject that has to be investigated. I imagine Harry and Meghan want it to be investigated, too. As we've seen, from her response, they're very saddened by these claims.

Listen, I personally spent a lot of time getting to know the people working for Harry and Meghan over the years. Several different generations of staff.

And, yes, I've come across people who are frazzled, tried and tested by their jobs because often they found themselves stuck in the middle of the Sussexes and the institution of the monarchy. But never did I hear the word "bullying" used.

KEILAR: A lot of American fans of Meghan Markle look at this and they say there's a double standard here. They say she's being investigated for bullying, which as you mentioned, that is a serious charge.

But Prince Andrew wasn't publicly investigated even as he faced allegations of sex abuse of a minor and maintained a friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein even after he was convicted of sex crimes and registered as a sex offender, everything that was known publicly.

How do you see this claim of a double standard?

SCOBIE: Yes. We've often seen, when convenient for the palace, that "no comment" policy that often harmed Harry and Meghan when they worked within the royal family come into play. But I would say the timing of this story is obviously pretty noticeable. As is the fact the palace put out the statement to media organizations around the world to announce that they would be doing a full H.R. investigation into this.

You know, look, it's hard to be -- to look at this without thinking that there's more going on here.

It sorts screams of your final dump in the throes of a presidential election. Throw whatever you can at the opposition and hope something sticks.

Ultimately, it's not going to stop Harry and Meghan from sharing what they have to say on Sunday and the palace can't do anything about it.

KEILAR: The narrative from allies of the royal family appears to be that, in the big picture of this, Meghan is to blame for this secession from the royal family.

American observers, especially, have a hard time not seeing sexism and racism in that, having just had a recent awakening on these issues here in America.

Does the royal family understand that, in their calculations, and their view of what's going on?

SCOBIE: I think that's something that Meghan struggled with during her time as a working member of the royal family, was dealing with issues of racism.

Particularly in the British press. And having an institution that wanted to maintain relationships with those media organizations, and not defend Meghan.

You have to remember, when we had that resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement last year, the House of Windsor, or the palace, was silent through the entire thing. There was not one words of support.

The only people that were talking were Harry and Meghan over in the U.S. So it shows where things are at.

And going back to bullying accusations, it's hard to not see a pattern where women and women of color in the workplace are often accused of things that men and white individuals are not.

[13:55:02]

And it's something we've seen seriously being problematic in the past, and Meghan is clearly a victim of that.

KEILAR: Omid, we'd love to have you on after this big interview this weekend. It's certainly going to be revelatory. So we hope to see you again. And we appreciate you being here today.

Omid Scobie, thank you.

SCOBIE: Thanks so much.

KEILAR: Senators are in the middle of a voterama on the COVID relief bill that could take days. And moments ago, a key group was huddled up talking about jobless benefits. We are live on Capitol Hill, next.

Plus, were rioters at the capitol in communication with lawmakers? New details about a twist of the investigation that is looking at that possibility.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)