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CNN NEWSROOM

The Death of a SC Man in a Detention Center Raises Questions About Law Enforcement's Use of Force When Handling People With Mental Health Problems; A Group of 15 Police Unions is Working on Guidelines Now For Policing Their Own Members; New Mega Merger Between Warner Media and Discovery. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 17, 2021 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We have a live report from Charleston next.

(COMMECIAL BREAK)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: The death of a South Carolina man in a detention center is now raising questions about law enforcement's use of force when handling in particular, people with mental health problems. Jamal Sutherland died at a detention center in North Charleston on January 5th this year.

Body camera footage released just last week shows deputies pepper spraying and tasing Sutherland multiple times as they try to get him out of his cell for a bail hearing. Natasha Chen joins us now. Natasha, what more do we know about the circumstances leading up to his death?

[10:35:00]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, this was a very disturbing video to watch. We talked to the family attorney, the Sutherland's attorney, Mark Pepper, who told us that Jamal Sutherland suffered from bipolar schizophrenia.

Now, the family on New Year's Eve had booked him into a behavioral health facility because he needed that help. Just a few days later, the police were called there and took him into custody for allegedly assaulting a staff member. And that was when he was brought to this jail facility behind me here, the Charleston County Jail.

The following morning, January 5, two deputies tried to get him out of his jail cell to a bond hearing. And that's when things went wrong. In the video we can see that two deputies, they were pepper spraying into his jail cell to try to get him out.

At one point they enter and begin to tase him. In the body camera footage you can hear a deputy toward the end actually saying that he was tased at least six times between two deputies' tasers. And it's very disturbing to see ultimately at one point him being

lifted motionless into a wheelchair with EMS trying unsuccessfully for 35 minutes to revive him. Over the weekend we talked to GOP Congresswoman Nancy Mace who represents part of this county. And she compared what she saw in this video to what we saw with George Floyd.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): I was horrified. It was shocking. And with each iteration that I watched, I'd go back and see it again, it got worse. And this is -- this is an instances that I think is worse than the imagery that we saw of George Floyd.

It moved me. They can help lead our country through a crisis like this. And we've got to do -- we've got to good. We don't want Jamal's death to be in vain.

CHEN: A very emotional response for many people who saw this video, especially the attorney who told us last Friday, pointing out that in the body camera footage we can hear Sutherland saying at one point, what is the meaning of this?

That he was very confused about what was going on potentially in that moment. The sheriff held a press conference on Friday saying that the deputies involved were on administrative desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Meanwhile, the county solicitor, sort of a D.A. role, she has -- she has said that she's still working on the criminal case in this investigation. So a lot here still to be determined. And we're still looking for more details about the exact circumstances and cause of Sutherland's death and to see if the family might file any sort of lawsuit at this point. Jim and Poppy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Understood. Natasha, those videos always jarring to watch. Thanks very much.

Well, a group of 15 police unions is working on guidelines now for policing their own members. It's a remarkable change from the police culture that the critics say once promoted the so called blue wall of silence. In effect, officers protecting other officers, even when they're accused of wrong doing.

Let's bring back Brynn Gingras who's been covering this. This is quite a change and coming from unions, right, who often really hold the line on some of these practices.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you just said it there, Jim. The blue wall of silence. And it's hoping to change that culture within so that police departments, city councils don't make the changes for them. So this is very interesting exclusive reporting by my colleague Peter Nakias.

Essentially says these unions got together, it has the support right now, about 15 police unions representing hundreds of thousands of law enforcement members, police adjacent employers as well. And essentially means they hope that they can have, you know, an

examination when it comes to the issues of active bystander. Of course, we know about this because of the George Floyd incident where we saw three other officers charged in that case because they didn't do anything about what was happening before their eyes.

And so essentially it means that they want the unions to be able to take a closer look at their officers when they don't, you know, intervene if it one of their own is doing something that they don't agree with.

And the hope is the people will be, within this rank and file, will be able to feel empowered and to come forward and to say hey that didn't look right. We need to do something about.

But then there's more, of course. The hope is that this will just possibly, you know, weed out the bad actors and hopefully just have more positivity between the community and police relationships. So there's a number of objectives here. There's a number of issues that still have to take place.

So this is just a document that is out there right now. But certainly as you said this could change police culture certainly, Jim, for the better.

SCIUTTO: Brynn Gingras, thank you for bringing us that news.

GRINGAS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Other news we're following this morning CNN'S parent company, Warner Media, is joining forces now with Discovery. It's a mega merger. Many tens of billions of dollars but also shaking up the media landscape. We're going to speak to the CEOs of both AT&T and Discovery next.

[10:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Well, a mega deal in the media industry and the news that does involve CNN this morning. AT&T announcing it will combine CNN'S parent company, Warner Media, with Discovery, creating a new stand alone media giant.

The deal would merge assets that include the likes of CNN, HBO, HBO Max, TNT, TBS, Discovery, HGTV, the Food Network and a lot more. Of course this follows AT&T's 2018 acquisition of Time Warner.

Discovery president and CEO, David Zaslav will head the new media giant. He joins me now this morning, along with AT&T CEO, John Stankey. Gentleman, good morning. Thank you for being with me.

[10:45:00]

Let me state the obvious that I am, yes, interviewing my boss -- current boss, John Stankey, and my to be boss -- JOHN STANKEY, AT&T CEO: Can't go wrong today, can you.

HARLOW: No, it's good I had a whole four hours of sleep last night and just found out about this. Good to have you gentlemen.

Look, it's a big deal in a media world that has changed so dramatically, John, since AT&T took -- took us over. But, David, let me -- let me talk to you about why you want to do this deal because bigger is not always better. But is it necessary at this point?

DAVID ZASLAV, DISCOVERY CEO: You know, I think it is because you take a look at the assets that John has been able to develop and has invested in, it's probably the greatest entertainment IP in the world with real leadership also in sports and the number one news network in America.

And you look at Discovery; we're the leader in nonfiction, where we have about a 20 share here in the U.S. with HG, Food, Oprah, Discovery. And so we've been at it with Discovery plus and doing very well. Outside the U.S. we're free to air in sports and nonfiction.

And more and more we see that if -- more does make a difference. And people -- people now are signing up for Discovery Plus. And we think if you can say our content together with the great content on HBO Max, as well as the amazing production coming out of Warner Brothers that we'll have something that is truly unique.

We'll be the number one global IP company in the world in terms of content and quality of IP. And in a world where you can now reach people because everyone has a TV in their hand, we're positioned to get 200 million homes, 300 million homes.

And -- because we have all the content that people love. And so I think coming together, we're not just better together. I think we're the best media company in the world together. And it also allows, when you think about what John was doing and what we're going to do now; the number one communications telecom company in the world, the number one media company in the world, that's the mission the two of us are on.

And I think that this rejigger (ph) puts us on a path to give us every opportunity on the media side to be a real force.

HARLOW: All right. Let's talk about this rejigger, John, as -- as David named it. You know, both of you -- the world clearly moving to streaming, right. And both of your companies have launched your own streaming service this is year. John, is this a recognition that neither HBO Max nor Discovery Plus was big enough on its own to win?

STANKEY: Well, I think that what we're in, as David alluded to, is it's now really a global race. And what I would tell you is I think HBO Max has done incredibly well in the domestic U.S. market, which has been the initial focus. And it has won in many respects.

I think it's distinguished itself that, you know, on revenues, its number two for streaming platform in the U.S. market and its growth momentum is the strongest in the industry. And David keeps graciously using my name. But my name is a euphemism for a lot of great people at Warner Media who worked really hard to make that happen and done a lot of things over the last couple years.

And so I think we're now at this moment since we -- we know what the domestic market is going to look like, you really have to start playing outside the U.S. and as a result of that, that's where this scale kind of comes in.

And -- and I think the reason why the pivot right now is a recognition that while we were creating value by having connectivity like wireless plans and broadband together with the service that's Warner Media offered and that was really one of the reasons why HBO Max did incredibly well,

There's so much more value to be created from a global streamer than driving down churn or acquiring customers in the domestic U.S. market for wireless broadband. And I have to be -- I have to be sensitive to that and I have to allow the business to go out and seize that opportunity that is the best growth. And I think that's why we do this right now.

HARLOW: Well, I keep hearing the world global and, David, I mean you guys have had immense success in terms of your -- your global reach and your subscriber growth. HBO Max about to launch into a big push internationally.

You -- you know in 2008, I remember, David, when you called media a street fight. And that's what you're known for is being a fighter, to get the eyeballs, to get the households. What does this mean for me at home? Right, am I going to buy HBO Max and then Discovery Plus, is it all going to be one? What's the plan?

ZASLAV: Well first, to go to this global point. We've been on this global journey at Discovery. I've been there for 16 years and we've been at it really hard. We have between 10 and 12 channels in every country of the world. You know when we put something on our Discovery channel or some of our female channels; we could reach a billion people.

And so in any -- in every market in the world we have people on the ground. We know who the mobile players are, the -- we have content in language. We're also the largest player in sports in Europe. We have tree sports channels called Euro Sport. It's like ESPN here.

[10:50:00]

And so the symmetry of how this works together, you take -- you take this incredible IP that, you know, content at Warner that people would pay for before they pay for dinner, like Superman and Batman and "Game of Thrones" and you put that together with all the local content that we have in the market and the relationship that we have, I think it gives a big advantage in going global. We also have almost 100 million homes to start with today.

And John and I are at this together on a parallel basis and we're learning a lot along the way. And so, for instance, your question, you know, how do we offer this? You can offer it like Bob Iger does where he has a bundle and -- and that's working very well for Iger and Chapek at Disney.

Or you can do it the way that John and Jason are doing it where you have one super offering with HBO, HBO Max and both of them are good. What we're going to learn, you know, as -- as John rolls out AVOD this month is learn more about how people want to buy the content.

HARLOW: OK. So --

ZASLAV: Do they want to pay one price or do they want to, you know have a bundle?

HARLOW: So it sounds like to be determined on that point. John, I got to ask you, you know, I've been at CNN a long time. So of course, I remember well the 2018 acquisition of Time Warner that included us that you guys fought, I mean, incredibly hard for.

And through the courts, you know, and over $80 billion deal. And now for about $38 billion less, you are off -- off loading is not the right word. But its $38 billion less that you are now valuing -- that is now valuing the Warner Media Empire. What did you learn from this? Was -- was it, in retrospect, was the acquisition a mistake?

STANKEY: Well first of all, Poppy, I'm going to contest your numbers. I don't think that is actually correct. If it you want to think about it probably a closer comparison would be $100 billion for the original Time Warner transaction and if you kind of looking at taking the equity portion of this to direct to Discovery's multiple and the debt that we're bringing back in $33 billion, you're right around in that same neighborhood.

But you don't want to just conclude that's the only return. Because during dependency of owning it, there were, of course, cash flows generated over that period of time that the company and the shareholder got the benefit of. There are about $5 billions of transactions that were done on various assets that we monetized.

And more importantly AT&T shareholders will take 71 percent of this new company and part of why we're doing this is to expose the media asset to the market so that rerates to the appropriate multiple that other media assets are selling at.

And I would expect after this equity goes into market and in fact to the extent that Discovery trades up right now, AT&T shareholders benefit from that. And part of this is to unlock that value, that equity value that we think is suppressed by keeping the media asset in.

So not only will it have been an investment with a positive return up to point, I expect that to accelerate as multiples rerate moving forward here.

HARLOW: This is -- this is the cash and debt deal, John. And -- and when it was made -- when the acquisition of Time Warner was made in 2018, it did make AT&T the most indebted non financial company in the world.

For -- for shareholders this morning who are looking at this and looking at what looks like a cut to the dividend, what do you say to them?

STANKEY: I would tell you, look, we're -- when you do something like what we've done here, which is we're moving out a substantial portion of the cash flows with the media company and in return, giving the shareholder an equity interest in that, we recently sold off part of the DirecTV company, which also had cash flows associated with it.

It would be only normal for a company to come in and relook the dividend given that the asset base has kind of been resized a bit. And as we guided and shared with the market, we're going to be in about a 40 to 43% payout rate when we set that.

And that's still going to have the AT&T dividend for those cut -- those shareholders that stayed behind, the top 95 percent of yield for dividend paying stocks is still going to be very attractive dividend.

And so some of that money that we're not paying out dividends now we're putting back into the business to reinvest in higher growth, higher return opportunities in broadband and wireless. And -- and every shareholder should want us to do that because it's better rather than to pay a 5 percent dividend to go out and put it into something that can return 18, 19 percent and generate the value and growth associated with that.

HARLOW: So, David, again, just to state the obvious, we're talking about this deal on a channel, a network that is part of the deal that you're buying, which is CNN. So I want to spend a little bit of time on that because you're a news guy. People who don't know your previous career, I mean you love the news. You've built a number of news channels. What is your vision for CNN?

[10:55:00]

ZASLAV: Well, first, I think that Jeff Zucker and John are doing a pretty great job. It's the number one news network in America right now and it's the place that people go when they want to get the news. So I think the CNN brand is terrific.

We -- we can add a lot to it globally. We're in the news business in Eastern Europe in a big way. We're also -- we just -- we just invested in a news business called GB News in the UK. So our overall vision was that in addition to great content that people love, everyone wakes up every day and they want to know -- they want to know what the news is. What is going on in their community? What is going on in politics?

And so this is right up the sweet spot I think for us. And it makes us really unique. This puts us in a position to be the number one news -- global news force in the world. And you know a little bit -- a little bit, not a lot -- a little bit about it because I was around it when I was running the cable group at NBC.

And when -- I went to work for Jack Welch to start a news network. We did CNBC and we did MSNBC. And so it's -- we're super excited about it. And there's -- there is no better news network than CNN. I'm excited to get over there and meet all you guys and figure out not just how do we spread CNN around the world but building on what -- what John and Jeff Zucker have done in terms of investing more money in making sure the great work that you do is on every platform.

And so -- and I get to hang out and work with a good friend of mine. Jeff and I work together and I worked for him for many years. So I'm looking forward to that.

HARLOW: All right, I'm not counting but you just brought up my boss Jeff Zucker's name three times in that answer. And as far as I knew as of this morning, Jeff Zucker was leaving CNN at the end of the year. Does this mean you want Jeff Zucker to stay, David?

STANKEY: Did -- did he retain you at the beginning of the day there, Poppy?

HARLOW: Absolutely not. I just have a preference that --

STANKEY: You sure?

HARLOW: I just have a preference that Jeff Zucker stays my boss. So but an honest question I think a lot of people are asking, David, as someone who really rebuilt and revived this network, is Jeff staying? Do you want him to stay?

ZASLAV: Yes, Jeff and I haven't talked about it at all, though we see each other a lot. And so I think Jeff is hugely, hugely talented. And he and I got to talk about what he wants to do.

HARLOW: OK.

ZASLAV: And hoping that there'll be an opportunity for Jeff to stay with us.

HARLOW: OK. And -- and really quickly, before I get back to you, John; David, it sounds like you want more of a news presence. So for people who are thinking oh, might you sell CNN, it sounds to me like maybe you want to buy even more news assets, is that a maybe?

ZASLAV: No, that is our strategy. We were going to take news all across Europe.

HARLOW: Yes.

ZASLAV: We now have the advantage of having CNN. So for us, I think it's a core asset.

HARLOW: OK.

ZASLAV: We're not interested in selling it and we're going to invest in it.

HARLOW: OK. All right, well, good to know. All right, let's talk, John, about regulatory hurdles. You know a thing or two about regulatory fights. So the last time you sought approval, which was -- feels like yesterday to all of us, it was -- it was a huge ordeal that ended up through the courts. Do you expect any regulatory issues with this proposed deal?

STANKEY: You know you can't go through an experience like that without it leaving a permanent mark and set of learnings. And, you know, it certainly did that. And if I felt like we had the risk of that kind of an experience again, I would not have signed up for this transaction. I believe there's no reason why there shouldn't be straight forward, very clean approach in the regulatory process, the assets are highly complimentary.

There's all other kinds of other reasons why it makes great sense for the consumer in terms of bringing new direct to consumer products into the market. You heard David say it's an opportunity to grow globally, which I think should be a good thing in the overall scheme. So part of why we did this deal is not only a clean regulatory path, but we like the deal's certainty and we think that's -- that's all really important for our employees.

HARLOW: And David, we at CNN have enjoyed complete editorial independence throughout AT&T's ownership. Are you committing to the same?

ZASLAV: I -- we're fully committed that the brand stands for high quality news -- the highest quality news and one of our early investors, John Malone, was one of the investors in CNN to start.

And for me, in this business, I've always looked at that brand as being the patina. It is something we take so much pride in. So we'll invest in it and try to continue to do what you guys are doing which is tell great stories and be a great news brand.

HARLOW: John, how much of this is driven by Netflix?

STANKEY: I'm sorry, Poppy. You are clipped there, I didn't quite get you.

HARLOW: I said how much of this is driven by Netflix?

STANKEY: Look, it's -- I think the fact that we have emerging streaming platforms and the need to go global and Netflix being an established player there, it certainly there is that relationship. Is it Netflix alone or is it the entire changing media landscape?

[11:00:00]

I think it's the changing media landscape of let's -- you know, let's give Netflix its credit, it was one of the catalyzing events that kind of started to move things along. And so I think that movement is in fact what's causing some of the response here.

HARLOW: OK. Boss, John Stankey, thank you. Boss to be, David Zaslav, look forward to meeting you. And thanks --

ZASLAV: OK. I look forward to seeing you. HARLOW: -- thanks for the time.

STANKEY: Good seeing you again, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thanks, Gentlemen.

All right, that'll do it for us. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "At This Hour" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.