this is "nightline." >> tonight, the urgent manhunt. >> we got a level one, suspicious package. >> federal law enforcement zeroing in on leads in florida and across the country as they hunt for the person responsible for those suspected pipe bombs. today in new york city, actor robert de niro added to the list of targets. now, agents dismantling the devices from the tape to the wires and what they reveal. plus, facing controversy. >> what is racist? >> megyn kelly's fate now in the hands of nbc execs. her controversial blackface comments. >> back when i was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as like a character. >> and kelly's mea culpa.
good evening. thanks for joining us. as we come on the air tonight, we're learning more about the suspected pipe bombs mailed to outspoken critics of president trump. they're the same people who are also the frequent targets of his heated rhetoric. tonight, federal investigators examining every particle of evidence in painstaking detail. >> reporter: tonight, a nationwide investigation and manhunt under way. >> i can say with certainty that we will identify and arrest a person or people responsible for these acts. make no mistake. >> reporter: in search of the bomb maker and those who may have mailed them, ten separate packages containing suspected explosive devices all addressed to prominent critics of president trump. from new york to los angeles, florida to washington, d.c., and delaware. >> it's absolutely terrorism because it's an effort to use violence to make a political impact. that's the definition of terrorism. >> reporter: law enforcement now chasing leads in southern
florida where officials suspect some of the potential bombs may have originated. >> they're not going to move too fast because they want to make sure they cover all their bases so this could take a longer time than normal. that's something that will not be good for the public, especially in light of the fact that there is an election coming up in 12 days, and everybody wants to know who did this. >> reporter: early this morning in new york city, a suspicious package intercepted, this one addressed to actor robert de niro. >> at approximately 6:30 a.m., the nypd bomb squad removed a device from the offices of robert de niro in the neighborhood. >> reporter: before sunrise, a bomb containment vehicle whisked away a suspected pipe bomb to a secure facility. the man hired to go through de niro's mail is an retired nypd detective and had seen the other packages on the news. the package targeting de niro shared the same characteristics
as the others. six american postage stamps on padded yellow envelope. remember, at this year's tony awards, de niro took aim at the president. >> it's no longer down with trump, it's [ bleep ] trump. >> reporter: at the time, the president responding, calling de niro a very low iq individual. too many shots to the head by real boxers, he said. and federal investigators now believe all ten packages went through the u.s. postal system, leaving postal employees now hypervigilant. >> we have over 600,000 postal employees out there right now so we have their eyes and ears looking for these packages. i will say in the postal network, we have found nothing in the last eight hours. >> reporter: postal inspectors interviewing make carriers and workers, checking mail tracking data, reviewing surveillance footage, all in an effort to determine where the packages were mailed from. but abc news exclusively learning of a challenge. a number of these packages had no originated postmarks. forensic experts now
painstakingly dissecting the suspected bombs, each package a treasure-trove of evidence. the digital clocks inside, the pipe used to contain the device, the tape to hold it together, the wires, the suspected explosive powder, and glass used for shrapnel. >> they're collecting all the various components in these devices and they're cataloging them and they're figuring out where in the united states they would be sold. the agents are all over the country, going to these locations and seeing who bought these products, when, and where they bought them. >> from what i can see, this device is fairly basic, easily copied from a -- many of the manuals in the libraries and/or online. people can say they're crude, but if they function properly and kill, maim, or injure someone, then they are certainly a viable infernal machine. >> reporter: sources tell abc news that agents are searching for any trace left on the envelope, even both side of the tape used on the suspected devices and from how the wires
are trywisted, they can tell if the bomber is left or right-handed. >> hopefully somewhere along the way, the individual that did this or individuals left some type of dna and/or fingerprint, even a fiber of hair would be helpful in identifying a suspect or suspects. >> reporter: the first of ten bombs discovered monday afternoon at the home of philanthropist george soros in a suburb north of new york city. >> george soros is one of the top funders of democratic causes over the last couple of decades. >> reporter: then late tuesday night, another device, this one sent to hillary clinton, intercepted by the secret service before it reached her home in westchester county, new york. just hours later, a third suspicious package intercepted in washington, d.c., addressed to the home of former president obama. >> the package was found at a screening facility located in washington, d.c. the package was immediately identified during the screening procedure. >> reporter: then, yesterday morning, in new york city, cnn
was reporting on the spate of suspicious devices when their own alarms began to ring. >> to have projectals, i mean, that's a -- excuse me, that sounds like a fire alarm here. we'll keep you posted on that. >> reporter: that device was addressed to former cia director john brennan at the cnn address. then, in maryland, a package addressed to democratic california congresswoman maxine waters, intercepted by capitol hill police. then later, another device, also addressed to the congresswoman, was found at a postal facility in los angeles. in florida, police rushing to the office of democratic congresswoman debbie wasserman schultz. the device there had been addressed to former obama attorney general eric holder, but it had wasserman schultz as the return address. authorities do not believe wasserman schultz was the actual sender or associated in any way, according to our sources. wasserman schultz issuing a statement saying, this appalling attack on our democracy must be vigorously prosecuted and i am
deeply disturbed by the way my name was used. then, last night, two packages addressed to former vice president joe biden, both were intercepted at postal facilities in delaware. and this morning, the tenth and latest package addressed to de niro. meanwhile, across the country tonight, a renewed debate over political rhetoric going too far. last night in wisconsin, the president condemned what he called political violence. >> we want all sides to come together in peace and harmony. we can do it. we can do it. we can do it. >> reporter: but this morning, president trump once again attacking the media, tweeting, a very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposefully false and inaccurate reporting of the mainstream media that i refer to as fake news. it has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. mainstream media must clean up its act fast. white house press secretary sarah sanders coming to the
president's defense. >> there's a big difference between comments made and actions taken. the president's condemned violence in all forms, has done that since day one, will continue to do that. but certainly feels that everyone has a role to play. >> reporter: in a statement made last night, jeff zucker said there is a total and complete lack of understanding at the white house about the seriousness of their continued attack on the media. the president and especially the white house press secretary should understand their words matter. thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that. as the manhunt continues, copy cats remain a concern. >> law enforcement is definitely worried about copy cats and they're also worried that whoever made these bombs probably has some leftover explosive material. that's a public safety issue. >> reporter: in new york, a city stands firm in the face of yet another act of terror. >> this is a city where
8.6 million people live in a practical kind of harmony that's extraordinary. nothing that's happened in the last day or two has changed that. up next, the blackface controversy. as the fate of megyn kelly's show is on the line. the mercedes-benz of tomorrow will transform not just the automobile, but mobility itself. an autonomous-thinking vehicle protecting those inside and out. and it's the mercedes-benz of today that will help us get there. the 2019 e-class, with innovations that will change the way we drive from this day forward. lease the e 300 for $599 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer. mercedes-benz. the best or nothing. take prilosec otc and take control of heartburn. so you don't have to stash antacids here... here... or, here. kick your antacid habit with prilosec otc. one pill a day, 24 hours, zero heartburn.
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♪ ♪ connecting people... ...uniting the world. ♪♪ the once unapologetic and uncompromising megyn kelly finds herself apologizing for the controversial comments about blackface, sparking outrage and an inten debate over cultural appropriation, all while the fate of her show hangs in the balance. here's abc's lindsey davis.
>> reporter: take a look at what some now say is an offensive costume. >> reporter: tonight, megyn kelly's fate hangs in the balance just days after the journalist defended wearing blackface on her morning show. >> what is racist? because truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on halloween r a black person who puts on why is face. back when i was a kid, that was okay as long as you were dressing up as a character. >> reporter: kelly and her panel were discussing costumes like this one, worn by real housewife dressed as diana ross. >> people said that was racist. and i don't know. i felt, like, who doesn't love diana ross? >> reporter: the comment sparked fierce backlash, even inside nbc, with kelly taken to task on air by members of her own network. >> she owes a bigger apology to folks of color around the country. because this is a history going back to the 1830s, minstrel
shows, to demean and denigrate a race. >> reporter: and according to "variety," nbc news chairman andrew lack condemned those remarks during a staff town hall, saying, "there is no place on our air or in this workplace for them." >> the level and frequency of criticism was pretty unprecedented. this is supposedly someone who is one of the top talents on your network and you basically turned against her. >> reporter: kelly, first apologized in an e-mail to her colleagues, saying, in part, i realize now that such behavior is indeed wrong and i am sorry, she wrote. the history of blackface in our culture is abhorrent. the wounds too deep. i've never been a pc kind of person, but i understand that we do need to be more sensitive in this day and age. but that wasn't enough. just 24 hours after the initial comments -- >> and i want to begin with two words. i'm sorry. >> reporter: a second apology. some say too little too late from kelly who recollects hhad making racially charged statements.
>> santa claus should not be a white man anymore. jesus was a white man too. >> i think anyone who has followed her career is going to be surprised. nbc executives were very aware of her history and they decided to risk it and take a gamble on her, and now it's blown up. >> reporter: in response to the fallout, nbc decided to use megyn's live show the next day as a teachable moment, inviting journalist roland martin to speak to the issue of blackface and cultural appropriation. >> roland, i did listen yesterday, and what was very clear in what i read and what i heard is that the history here, when it comes to that term and this issue is deeply disturbing. >> i think the problem is for african-americans we know the history and too many white americans don't know or won't accept it. >> what was your initial reaction when you heard megyn kelly's comments on tuesday. >> surely it was shocking to hear someone who's been in national media for a very long time actually say they didn't really understand what the big deal was about blackface.
>> reporter: what's wrong with the pc defense and why do you think so many people had a problem with that? >> when she made her initial apology, and she used the phrase, pc, that still rankles people because what has happened is when we've had discussions, historically, about issues of race, in the last 20, 30 years, it's been put into this framework of, oh my god, we're pc. and so, as if we can't talk about these issues and not be upset about it. what they have to understand is that allowing those things to just take place over these decades and centuries has been the problem. we must deal with racism. we must deal with bigotry. >> reporter: for decades, cartoonish portrayals of black people appeared in songs, books, movies and as enduring american characters. >> you know what trouble i was talking about. >> reporter: like mammy, uncle ben, and aunt jemimi. >> when you see those images, you now begin to understand how white supremacy was able to tell african-americans not only are you second class citizens, but
you're less than. you're ugly. you're nasty. you're nothing. >> reporter: flash forward to today. in 2013, julie ann huff darkened her skin when she dressed as a black character on the tv show "orange is the new black." she later apologized on twitter, writing, it certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. i realize my costume hurt and offended people and i truly apologize. and on college campuses, where costume parties make headlines year after year. the disturbing phenomenon was even depicted in the 2014 movie "dear white people." >> we've seen this. how many white fraternities or sororities have been suspended because they had thug parties and ghetto parties. people don't understand that that caricature comes right out of the minstrel shows. >> something's a little off about luann's costume. >> reporter: and that real house wives diana ross costume, even
the house wives cast shocked by her choice. >> her costume is so disrespectful. i think she's tone deaf when it comes to cultural stereotypes. >> reporter: obviously, this is something that we have seen before. halloween seems to be a trigger. what is it that you would say to white people who are now saying, oh, so i can't dress up like diana ross? i can't dress up like my favorite black personality for halloween? >> you can dress up like diana ross. just don't put no damn black paint on your face. >> reporter: kelly's position on the costume has sparked a broader conversation about race. >> the issue is in this nation, we have a long history of taking what is black and then whites then doing it and enriching themselves and black folks going, what the hell. we created that and now all of a sudden you switch it up and now it's accepted? that's the root and the foundation of cultural appropriation. >> reporter: meanwhile, reports that kelly is out at nbc have been circulating but remain
unconfirmed. >> as we speak, there is a meeting scheduled between megyn's lawyer and nbc executives for friday morning, and after that meeting, we will have a clearer sense of wha megyn kelly's future is. >> reporter:fter netflix confirmed that the cast of "house of cards" backed out of an appearance on her show, nbc decided to air a rerun of kelly's show today while execs mull over exactly what to do. it's a stunning fall for megyn kelly, who was a coveted get for nbc after she left fox news. the network reportedly signed her to a multiyear contract worth nearly $70 million. >> this is just a really unfortunate situation on all grounds. you know, i think megyn kelly is an undeniable talent as a broadcaster, but seems she was miscast in this role and then made a big misstep. >> reporter: while it's unclear if this is the end of kelly's career at nbc, it is perhaps the beginning of a much-needed
dialogue in america. >> when i walked off her show, i tweeted that. i said, this should not be the end of this conversation. it should be the beginning of a conversation. we must have a reckoning in this country. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm lindsey davis in new york. up next, forget mastering the abcs. this sweet class took on a new language for a special surprise. ♪ happy birthday to you >> announcer: abc news "nightline" sponsored by swiffer. ♪ cleaning floors with a mop and bucket is a hassle, meaning you probably don't clean as often as you'd like. for a quick and convenient clean, try swiffer wetjet. there's no heavy bucket, or mop to wring out, because the absorb and lock technology traps dirt and liquid inside the pad. it's safe to use on all finished surfaces tile, laminate and hardwood. and it prevents streaks and hazing better than a micro fiber strip mop, giving you a thorough clean the first time.
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and finally tonight, the kindergartners learning their own language of love. ♪ happy birthday to you >> kids mastering sign language to serenade and sign "happy birthday" to their school custodian. for his big 6-0. james anthony, who is deaf, has been an employee of the district for nearly 30 years.
mr. james, as the kids call him, was brought to tears by this heartfelt gesture. ♪ happy birthday to you >> happy birthday, mr. james. thanks for watching "nightline," and as always, we're online at our "nightline" facebook page. good night, america. monitor their blood glucose every day. which means they have to stop. and stick their fingers. repeatedly. today, life-changing technology from abbott makes it possible to track glucose levels. without drawing a drop of blood, again and again.