tv CNN Newsroom CNN December 13, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PST
international race between the united states, canada and australia and the united kingdom, but seven days into the trek, doctors called off the racing element of the expedition for safety reasons. >> over the last coup of days, i felt a little uncomfortable with some of the stress being placed on team members as a result of very harsh terrain conditions that we were encountering >> to prince harry, this it was less about the competition and more about the journey and raising awareness. erin mclaughlin, cnn, london. >> pretty awesome journey there. congratulations. thanks for watching "around the world." cnn newsroom starts right now. have a great weekend. >> right now the white house is facing questions over robert levinson the american held in iran now identified as working for the cia. democrats now are taking direct aim at the new jersey governor chris christie, blaming him for a traffic jam on the george washington bridge.
now christie is responding to these allegations. and right now, a winter storm is poised to hit 23 states. that means a weekend of more snow and freezing temperatures affecting millions of americans. we're going to tell you how long it will last. >> hello, i'm wolf blitzer in washington. a fierce winter storm is taking direct aim the northeast and the great lake states. 23 states will be affected. that means more snow, more ice and more bone-chilling temperatures. our meteorologist jennifer grey is joining us from the cnn weather center right now. jennifer, we started this week with some bad weather. now what, another round. how bad will it be? how long will it last? >> this is our fifth winter storm this season. we had one the beginning of the week that went into last weekend. we have another one we're tracking. it's going to continue to head up the coast. we are going to see it pull up
to the east in the next couple of minutes. we're going to see -- hold on one second. late me get my maps squared away. that low will cause anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of snow in some locations. as it continues to make its way. as it continues to push into the northeast, by saturday night into sunday, we're going to see snow up to the north. snow in places like new york city. so this is going to continue to push to the east. it is going to first though impact places like chicag 2 to 4 inches possibly in chicago. 4 to 6 in grand rapids, 3 to 5 inches of snow possibly in detroit as well as cleveland. and as we look to the northeast, we'll see snowfall amounts in places like buffalo, 8 to 10 inches. new york city could see 3 to 6 inside the city, boston 1 to 3, wolf. >> jennifer, thanks for that update. we'll be careful out there.
we turn now to a bombshell in intelligence circles. a new report says robert levinson, the longest held american captive overseas was indeed working for the cia when he was captured in the iran. the news comes nearly seven years after he was taken and after nearly seven years of denials from the cia. susan candiotti is join us now. what was he doing in iran for the cia? >> to hear david magee tell it, he is a family friend and a former federal prosecutor who has been trying to help the. levinson family throughout. he says that levinson was under contract for the cia working to try to get information on nuclear program and also on hezbollah's work in iran for the cia and for other reasons, as well. but that time and again, the family was denied information, denied confirmation from the cia that levinson was actually
working for the agency. and it wasn't until magee tells me that the family was able to access both levinson's files and e-mails between him and a contact within the cia that they were able to get documentation which they then took to the senate intelligence committee at the time u.s. senator bill nelson was the chair at the time. and then that information was taken to the cia at that time. they conducted an investigation, but mr. magee believes that they really knew the whole time what was going on. in any case, eventually that led to the cia having a meeting with the family and according to magee, apologizing to them for not coming forward with this information a long time ago. eventually, a settlement was worked out between magee and the cia for the family amounting to $2.5 million.
>> the associated press says they've been holding the score for quite some time. why did they decide to go public with it now? >> the a.p. said explained it this way. they said that backing in 2010, they had been able to be document the information that there was a connection that levinson was working for the cia than they went to washington three times for them to work with them on the story to get comment from them, but on three different occasions, washington asked them to hold off on it saying that it had promising leads about where levinson was but because the a.p. said sources told them it was practically certain by that time iran knew exactly what levinson was really doing over there, that that was another reason why the a.p. decided to go forward with the information. and after 6 1/2 years, as you know, the family is still on pins and needles, still
desperate to find out what happened to bob levinson. >> and they think that the iranians knew because supposedly he had been tortured? is that the explanation they received? >> well, certainly interrogated using various methods. according to magee, it is practically a certainty that you know, by now, that iran would have known, would have been able to get information about what he was really doing over there. >> what a story this is. all right. susan, thanks for the update. susan candiotti report package. by the way, in about 20 minutes or so, i'll be joined by cnn law enforcement analyst tom fuentes. he worked with levinson when they were both at the fbi. i'll ask him about hits ties to the cia and his secretive work for the agency. now for political intrigue with one very high profile republican, the new jersey governor chris christie being accused of playing some petty traffic games as revenge on a
political rival. today the controversy grows with the port authority resignation. jake tapper has been following the story for us. tell us what's going on? >> it's a complicated local story that is only national because national democrats have taken aim and are now talking about governor chris christie's connection to this controversy. what happened is september 9th, two of the three lanes of traffic from fort lee, new jersey, onto the george washington bridge were closed. the allegation backed up by no evidence by local democrats is that this was in retaliation by the christie administration because the mayor of fort lee did not endorse governor chris christie. christie says that's not true and several members of his administration testified under oath this was because of a traffic study that didn't go through the proper protocols. today the director of the port authority bill baroni resigned. he was probably already on his way out but because of this
traffic study not going through the proper protocols he said, he was leaving early. governor christie said you have to be accountable in public life even if he was on his way out. christie also said he ultimately responsible because everybody who, would for him, is he responsible for their behavior. but this is an issue, democrats are trying to make a lot of hay about it. you had the democratic national committee put out a video alleging malfeasance, political payback. you had president obama's top political advisor david plouffe accepted out a tweet about in this morning. democrats trying to really make some hay. i want to play some sound for you, wolf. the first one is governor christie's response when he was asked about the fact that national democrats are talking about this issue. >> national democrats will make an issue about everything about me. get used to the new world, everybody. you know, we're not in kansas anymore, dorothy. >> and then of course, that was
christie's response when asked if he bore any responsibility even if according to what he said he didn't even know about the traffic study or what happened in the fort lee lanes that day. here's governor christie's response to that. >> i don't feel blamed for this at all because i had nothing to do with it. but in answer to matt's question, i'm ultimately responsible for anything that anybody does in my administration. whether i appointed the people or whether there are people who are career people. you know, you're the governor. you're in charge. you have to take responsibility. >> today's resignation of the deputy executive director of port authority, the political appointee, the governor christie signed off on is the second resignation. there was an earlier one this week, governor christie hoping to put this behind him. democrats obviously hoping that this is just the beginning of blemishes on governor christie's public record, but we'll see where the evidence leads us.
so far, wolf, absolutely no evidence indicating this was a political payback and anything other than incompetent, of course, the story is still developing. >> you make a good point though, that democrats are pouncing on this assuming that christie very popular guy, could potentially be the front-runner for the republican presidential nominationing in 20816. >> well, they're worried if he were able to get through the nominating process, he could win. he could be a formidable opponent. but most national democrats with whom i've spoken about 2016 say that however formidable christiemide be as a republican nominee, they do not think he would be able to make it through the republican nominating process because too many positions he's taken, including one he was taking at his press conference today about tuition equality, allowing dreamers, young people who came to this country illegally but through no fault of their own, allowing them to have in-state tuition in new jersey, the same way those
in this country legally do, that's an issue that could potentially hurt governor christie on the campaign trail. it would certainly hurt governor rick perry in 2012. so democrats always excited to knock down a republican star, but they're not really concerned because they don't think that he would be able to make it through iowa, new hampshire, south carolina, et cetera. wolf? >> jake tapper, we'll have more on this and a bunch of other news 4:00 p.m. eastern on "the lead." a brutal consolidation of north korea as kim jong-un's uncle is executed. from drugs to women to millions of dollars in secret cash. that's next. [ male announcer ] this is jim, a man who doesn't stand still. but jim has afib, atrial fibrillation -- an irregular heartbeat, not caused by a heart valve problem. that puts jim at a greater risk of stroke. for years, jim's medicine tied him
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palace intrigue in north korea. reports out of the secretive nation say the leader kim jong-un's uncle has been executed. he was reportedly found guilty of trying to overthrow the state by using, i'm quoting now, despicable methods. brian todd is covering the story for us. what is he accused of doing? jang song thaeking is accused of being a traitor. the official report on this called him "a despicable human scum and worst than a dog," it accuses him of double dealing behind the scenes and accused him of womanizing, drug use and gambling. a military tribunal moved quickly to convict him and read the charges against him. the north koreans often execute people by firing squad. not clear if that was how this was award out in this instance,
wolf. >> obviously shocking to a lot of the folks who watch the peninsula closely, the south koreans, the japanese, certainly the united states. the united states still has 30,000 thous troops along the demiller tarized zone. what does this say about the intrigue going on in kim jong-un's own family? >> the family dynamic is fascinating really for its opaque quality. you don't know much about their family dynamic. what we can say was that is kim jong-un was said to be very close to his uncle jang song thaek. he was considered an important mentor to kim when kim was transitioning into power after the death of his father in 2011. jang song thaek was till recently the second most powerful person. north korea. he was married to kim's fathers sister. her name is kim k yong he, a four-star general in north
korea. she was considered a driving force before the young kim's ascent to power. wolf, a lot of upheaval, a lot of intrigue and really behind the scenes the family dynamic could be thrown all off kilter with this. it's not clear what the young kim is going to do with members of his family surviving right now. >> a lot of nervousness on the peninsula right now, a lot of uncertainty. brian will have more on this in "the situation room" later today. one u.s. official sum the up the execution this way "it's a dramatic statement that kim jong kun intends to be ruthless in consolidating his control." joining us is the former u.s. ambassador to the united nations, former governor of new mexico, governor bill richardson. thanks very much for coming in. earlier this week we spoke about this uncle having been arrested. how surprising is it to you he has now been executed? >> what is astonishing is the
level of visibility that has taken place with the execution and public humiliation of this former north korean leader. it indicates that kim jong-un is sending a very strong message that any dissent, any disagreement is going to be receiving this kind you have punishment. my theory is a little different than many analysts about what's happening. i think there's a real contesting of power of kim jong-un. this is not the first case when he's been challenged. it seems that in the last after few months, he's replaced some of the key generals from his father's regime with his own people. yes, he's consolidating power, but it seems that their efforts within the leadership to undermine him to possibly replace him, and it shows a
little instability in the regime which worries me. you know, you don't want instability in a country that has nuclear weapons and shoots missiles and is generally in a hostile state. so i'm a little concerned about the kind of execution, the visibility, the message that kim jong-un is sending. he's basically saying don't mess with me. this is what's going to happen to you. and to the world. it's also look, i'm firmly in control. yet, the fact that there's been such discomfort with his leadership among some people like his uncle shows a little instability there. >> yeah, well, it's a source of concern. you and i were there exactly three years ago in north korea. there was a lot of instability at that time, a lot of tension on the korean peninsula when we were there. the u.s. was moving troops, aircraft carriers, stuff like that in the region. the south out koreans were on
alert. do you anticipate because of this urnt current instastability in north korea, the u.s. is going to be doing stuff like that? >> well, i think that no, i believe the u.s. is playing it correctly. basically, using strong words that this is a ruthless action. but beyond that, i think the way to play it is play it cool. let developments there happen. but watch it very closely. this is a time when perhaps china can try to moderate things. the last thing china wants is instability in the korean peninsula because if there's any kind of altercation or a breakup of the regime, that could be a lot of refugees that go into china. so all i'm saying is, we should stay cool. perhaps an china can send a signal that this is unacceptable, cool down, kim jong-un. let's have some stability there.
>> everything i'm hearing from the chinese experts is that they're very upset about this because they did have a good relationship with this uncle jang song thaek and they're very concerned concerned what's going on in their next door neighbor. they're afraid millions of refugees could pour across into china. that's something they're trying to avoid. bill richardson, as usual, thanks very much for i don't know joining us. >> thank you. the gloves are off. john boehner does battle against conservative groups. could this be a sign that those groups are losing some of their influence here in washington? that story and a lot more straight ahead. [ male announcer ] this is george. the day building a play set begins with a surprise twinge of back pain...
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take a look. these are live pictures. firefighters are on the scene at a petrochemical plant explosion in the chicago suburb of blue island. the explosion caused a fire. there are reports of the injuries. we have no information yet how extensive those injuries are. but you're looking at live pictures courtesy of wbbm. once again, an explosion and fire at a chicago petrochemical plant. other news, the budget compromise that was passed overwhelmingly by the house of representatives now heads to a contentious and combative senate. senates are locked in a bitter partisan struggle, part of the fallout from a democratic rule change on filibusters. the bill is expected to pass the senate next week but the margin could be thin. the budget bill sailed through the house of representatives overwhelmingly, the vote 332-94.
the speaker john boehner pushed for its passage, and he blasted those conservative groups that opposed the deal. our senior congressional correspondent dana bash has this part of the story. >> john boehner turned a spat with powerful outside groups in his own party into an all-out war. >> they're misleading their followers. i think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be. >> boehner first took his private ire public yesterday at conservative groups for pressuring rank and file republicans to spoos a budget deal he supports. many before they saw it. now it's clear the speaker is using this moment to take a broader stand against outside forces that have so often made it impossible for him to convince conservative members to compromise on fiscal issues. >> they've had a lot of sway in a lot of the decisions that your members have made over the past couple of years. does this budget mark a turning point, and are your members at your behest going to be more
focused on maybe compromise and less on what the outside groups are pressuring them to do? >> when groups come out and criticize an agreement that they've never seen, you begin to wonder just how credible those actions are. i thought it was my job and my obligation to stand up up for conservatives here in the congress who want more deficit reduction, stand up for the work that chairman ryan did. >> mike needham runs heritage action, one of the groups boehner is lashing out at. >> john boehner said groups like yours have completely lost credibility. >> i don't think it's for anybody in washington to decide who has credibility. it's very frustrating that an honest disagreement about a bill that was or a deal that was struck has deinvolved into name calling from the speaker. >> but boehner made clear this is about more than the budget. it's been brewing for a while. >> they pushed us into this fight to defund obama care and to shutdown the government. if you'll recall the day before the government reopened, one of the people, one of these groups
stood up and said we never thought it would work. are you kidding me? >> some activists in those consecutive groups think that the speaker's strategy is to clear the decks in advance of other devicive acts coming next year like immigration reform. senior sources say that's not the case, this is just a case where the speaker was genuinely upset and it boiled over in front of the cameras. dana bash. >> we'll see what happens in the senate next week when the bill comes up for a vote. new revelations about an american missing in iran. reports that robert be levinson was working for the cia, prom prompting a major investigation. we'll talk about that with cnn law enforcement analyst tom fuentes who knows levinson and certainly knows what they both did when this he both worked at the fbi. [ female announcer ] it's time for the annual shareholders meeting.
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>> reporter: can you be specific about what efforts you are taking to have him returned to the u.s.? >> as you know, mr. levinson disappeared from kish island in iran. in 2011, we received indications that he was being held somewhere? southwest asia. at the time, secretary of state hillary clinton publicly asked the iranian government to the undertake humanitarian efforts to safely return and reunite bob with his family because the iranian government had the previously offered its assistance in this matter. more recently, obviously, president obama raised mr. levinson's case in his phone call with president rouhani. in addition to the cases of detained american citizens abedini and amerian ma ta. >> secretary kerry has also raised these three cases with iran's foreignmanster. today we reiterate the same
request to the government of iran or anyone else who might have information about mr. levinson's whereabouts to undertake efforts to make sure that he returns safely to his family and again, this is something that we will continue to raise at the highest levels and to press and or to make clear to the iranians that we seek their assistance in having him returned home and to express that anyone else who might have information about mr. levinson's whereabouts undertake efforts to return him back home to his family. >> does the administration believe he's still alive? >> again, we were made aware in 2011 that he was in at the time southwest asia. but i don't have more details on or any more specifics about what we know about his whereabouts. obviously, we're very concerned about him and call on anyone
with knowledge of his whereabouts to undertake efforts to ensure that he returns safely home. >>. >> reporter: was rouhani aware of the case when the president raised it with him? >> i'd be surprised if he weren't. i don't have a direct memory of that conversation or the readout i received of it to say with assurance. but it would be surprising since this is something going back to at least 2011 when secretary clinton raised this issue and called on and asked for iran's help because they had offered help in the past in finding -- in helping us locate and return him safely. >> okay. separately, there was a high profile execution in north korea yesterday. what's your assessment of what's behind this execution? is this kim trying to consolidate power? >> so we're going to continue to monitor jay carney's briefing at the white house. they're moving on to north korea right now. but you just heard him hem make
the case for the release of robert levinson, the former fbi agent who's been held captive, maybe in iran, maybe some place else for the last seven years. it's now been revealed by the associated press and "the washington post" that he was in fact, working pore the cia in some sort of fashion when he was abducted in iran seven years ago. let's bring in our cnn law enforcement analyst, the former fbi assistant director tom fuentes. tom, i understand you worked with robert levinson at the fbi. you knew him. tell us a little bit about this man. >> yes, wolf. we worked together not directly together because i was running the fbi's organized crime program in washington, d.c. he was an investigative agent in the miami division. specializing in russian organized crime cases. so he worked pretty much those cases exclusively up till the time he retired. so at the time that we were, woulding together, this would have been in the late 1990s time
frame. >> and then he retired, i assume he left the fbi on good circumstances, right? >> yes, he did. >> all right. so then he retires and all of a sudden, now we're just learning that over these, after he left the fbi, he started some sort of relationship with cia analysts and then he winds up in iran trying to collect some information. when you heard about this, what went through your mind? >> at the time, i was running the fbi's international operations program. so i became aware immediately at the time he went missing from the island of kish which is an iran rannian island, iranian possession. what went through my mind was that he was not there to be a spy for the cia, that he was working as a private consultant or private contractor. and if he was doing work with analysts, he was probably acting at the moment he would have been acting at if my mind as an analyst, as someone who's in your travels around the world, if you come up with something
that might be pertinent, here's who you call. and then maybe have contacts at cia headquarters to let them know if you've learned anything. he is an unlikely capped to be ever used as a spy from that sense of the word because of his nearly 30 years in the fbi. so he's too well-known from that standpoint to be used in that kind of a capacity, but to be out there and working as a contractor in the region in iran even and the island of kish which is an open island, yes, he could have been there to, if he heard something, inform people back in washington that he learned something but not specifically tasked as a spy. >> did you know he was working for the cia and that he was actually getting paid by the cia? >> i did not know that that he ended up directly working with that. i was can the caed shortly after he retired that he may begin work as an analyst, as a contractor analyst for cia at
langley, virginia or wherever he was going to travel to, but again, at the most, and i defendant's exhibit know for sure that he ended up doing it, but the discussion at the time was that he was going to be an analyst for them. he was going to just report information if it came to him. he was operating many criminal informants with knowledge of russian organized crime back in the '90s, and that was a very key program of the fbi's organized crime program. and so you know, informants were telling about russian crime groups operating all over the world, including throughout the middle east, asia, europe, the russian federation and in north america. so he would have been in a position to hear things that might be of interest to the cia but not be tacked as a spy. >> very quickly, i want to play what jay carpy, the white house press secretary just said about the a.p.'s decision to break this news that he was actually working with the cia when he was
taken in iran. listen to jay carney. >> i'm not going to fact check every allegation made in the story you referenced, a story we believe it was highly irresponsible to publish and which we strongly urged the outlet not to publish out of concerns for mr. levinson's safety. i'm also not going to say anything that might further harm our efforts to bring mr. levinson home safe, which has been our goal for the 6 1/2 years he has been missing. >> do you want to react to that, quickly? >> i just think the whole issue of coming out with that information, that's been more or less reported or alluded to over the last 6 1/2 years that he's been missing. i think that the story can be misconstrued. an exchange of e-mail between analysts and him, if they were operating him as a spy, you're not going to have these e-mails that can be accessible and can be made public as they have been in this case.
so this again only adds to the idea in my mind that he was not working as a spy, but just maybe some analysts exchanged information with him or messages with him that if he sees something, say something. but i just don't -- i don't know that they would be communicating in such al open manner if he was working in an undercover spy capacity to conduct espionage in snirn tom, thanks very much. >> thank you, wolf. just ahead here in the "newsroom," the infighting among rebels in syria clearly escalating. the u.s. has serious concerns what that means for the country. how close is al qaeda to taking charge of big chunks of syria right now? [ male announcer ] if you stash tissues like a squirrel stashes nuts, you may be muddling through allergies. try zyrtec® liquid gels. nothing starts working faster than zyrtec® at relieving your allergy symptoms for 24 hours. zyrtec®. love the air. at relieving your allergy symptoms for 24 hours.
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there are real concerns right now that the syrian opposition is disintegrating. just yesterday, al nusra, the al qaeda tied militant group carried out a brutal massacre at a police station. earlier in the week, islamic front fighters seized a key weapons depot protected by the syrian army. and idris told cnn he's working to reconcile differences among opposition groups. at least temporarily, according to an official, there will be more turbulence within the opposition. what isn't clear yet is whether the various factions will refocus attentions on toppling the bashar al an sar regime or become embroiled in their own internal fighting that would
play to the regime's advantage. since then, the u.s. and britain announces they are suspending what's described as nonlethal aid to all of syria's opposition groups. they don't know where the aid could wind up. it could wind up in the hand of al qaeda related groups. fred pleitgen returned from syria and is now in new york. thanks very much for helping us better appreciate what's going on. the fear is bashar al assad will stay in power but his opposition will increasingly be al qaeda-led opposition. how concerning is that? >> well, it certainly is concerning and also something that you can see there on the groundswell. you know, i was in a neighborhood called yarmouk, on the outskirt skfz damascus where you with a transport line. when y looked eryo cou see th fla somethe of siti held coueeks the opposition a town caused ma loo la and with unthat means to
a lot of syrians, as well. and the ones leading the charge there were islamist fighters. i wouldn't necessarily say ta al qaeda is the one calling the shots or al qaeda is the one taking over everything, but certainly it it is islamist factions taking the lead. if you sauk about salaam idris trying to bring the opposition back together on the battlefield, i'm not sure at this point he's in a position to do that, wolf. >> he's not even -- apparently he's fled syria and is in turkey right now. is that what you're hearing? >> i'm hearing did he leave syria. he says he hasn't fled syria. he says he was in his office on the syrian-turkish border. there were rumors perhaps had he fled to qatar or something. he said that isn't true. certainly he is not the one calling the shots out there. he's not the one in any sort of position in power to reconcile the opposition. right now, the really strong factions on the ground are the is las yim state of iraq and syria, the isis which, of course
is also al qaeda linked. you have a more moderate but yet a very islamist faction that wants an islamist state called the islamic front. those are the real power players. the ones the u.s. is supporting aren't in a position of power at all at this point. >> bashar al assad may have given up his chemical weapons stockpiles but very much still in power, right? >> oh, he is. he certainly is still very much in power. one of the really odd things is this whole chemical weapons attack, which is something that almost led the u.s. to bomb syria is something in retrospect helped him consolidate power in many ways by the fact he's giving it up. if the calculation of the syrian regime was that these chemical weapons could never be used during the course of battle again anyway because they would trigger passive u.s. response so they said these things are more of a liability than an asset to the regime so they're going to get rid of them. it's brought them some credit in the diplomatic arena but also something that was the first
sort of diplomatic high point, if you will, in all of in that brought the u.s. and russia together but also did help him consolidate power there in syria. he still is very very much in control. if you look forward to the negotiations that are supposed to take place in geneva, the government has its ducks in a row. the question is who from the opposition is going to show up there, wolf. >> fred pleitgen reported extensively from inside syria. glad you're in new york right now, safe and sound. thanks very much for that analysis. more news right after this. are you ready grandma? just a second, sweetie.
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>> well, in that case, i will leave and in a few minutes, oprah will be here. >> thank you, mrs. obama. >> i'm here! >> very funny stuff. in the skich, they made fun of the fact there are no african-american women in the cast, but now the famed executive producer and creator, loern michael may be trying to change that. nischelle turner is joining us. the so-called secret auditions. what are you hearing, what are you learning? >> i'm not sure if i would call them secret auditions. they just weren't open to the public. lorn michaels, the executive producer of snl, has auditions through the year with hopefuls around the country. he did tell the "new york times" he's had several auditions over the past few weeks. the auditions we're talking about took place december 1st at the famed groundly's theater in
los angeles. he says by january, he is committed to adding the show's first black woman since maya rudolph left in 2007. the pressure isn't just growing on snl externally. it is internally as well. jay feral and kenan thompson got a lot of attention for publicly talking about the lack of color on the show. he said he didn't want to dress up in drag anymore so they needed to do something about it. apparently, there's a lot of african-american women who feel like they're ready. a host of black comedians talked about how they went to the auditions hoping to join the cast. one sent out an instagram picture of herself and ten other hopefuls who auditioned. according to what they said on social media, they were only notified a couple days before the auditions. there wasn't even a lot of time for those ladies to prepare. >> interesting stuff. i want you to stick around because we have a comedian and an actor coming up.
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have done a lot of hard hitting interviews over the years. this one, not so hard hitting. watch this little clip. >> we did some research. our crack unit, research unit, on you. >> you have a unit that smokes crack? >> no, a crack research unit. >> got you. >> back in 1991, correct me if i'm wrong, did you try out to be an anchor at a local cable access station called around and about orange county? >> that's correct. i was an anchor. i was also a field reporter. local cable access show, around and about orange county news. i did it for about six months. >> how did that work out? >> it didn't work out. i failed. >> worked out pretty well for him, i should say. he's had a pretty successful career. may have failed as a local news anchor, but did very, very well elsewhere. by the way, the interview will air later today in "the situation room," my interview
with will ferrell. we also get into the ron burgundy thing a little bit. i think you'll have fun. 5:00 p.m. eastern in "the situation room." thank yous for watching. "newsroom" continues right now with don lemon. thanks for joining me, everyone. we're going to begin with what appears to be a rogue cia mission, a diplomatic bombshell that top officials say iran has likely known for some time. robert levenson, the longest held american hostage, was working for the cia when he disappeared visited iran seven years ago. the associated press and washington post found he was gathering intelligence for an analyst in a rogue operation that led to the firing of three cia employees. and post and ap report that they paid $2.5 million to levenson's family to avoid the publicity