tv CNN Newsroom CNN February 7, 2015 4:00pm-4:31pm PST
hour this evening, we are following a ballooning scandal at nbc. so far it will cost their "nightly news" anchor at least a few days off the air. we're talking act brian williams. he sent a memo to his colleagues at nbc today saying he is stepping away from the anchor desk temporarily while the network investigates claims that he made several times about his experiences covering the iraq war. williams has admitted not telling the truth about being in a helicopter that was hit by an rpg in 2003. now the journalism community raising some questions about accuracy in other major stories that he reported on. williams in his internal memo saying it has been painful to be presently too much part of the news saying he is stepping aside for a few days to deal with the situation. the story was mentioned on nbc news just a short time ago, the weekend edition hosted by lester holt. let's bring in brian salter our senior media correspondent. what struck me about this
statement, first the fact that brian williams is taking himself off the anchor chair, not told by anyone to do so but also he said when i come back i will regain your trust. >> this is all the television news industry is talking about right now, as you can imagine, poppy. one thing i keep getting pointed to is that quote, several days. now a clock has started and now people like me and people like the executives at other networks are going to be asking how many more days how many more weeks until brian williams is back? it will create more pressure on nbc to get to this quickly because frankly every day brian williams is on the air is a better day. every day he's off the air is a worse day. >> what do you think we might see in terms of an external investigation? it's one thing to investigate it internally but will we see an external body come in here? >> doesn't seem like nbc has plans for that although there's a lot of external investigation going on by other news
divisions. it's not just cnn that's interested in covering this story. it's "the new york times," it's local media in new orleans, where he did famous reporting about hurricane katrina that's now somewhat being questioned. it's also military newspapers and beat reporters across the country looking into his past claims pap lot of that kind of external investigation going on. on a personal level, this is a hard story to be cover, a tough story to be covering pap lot of people in this business myself include, have admired brian williams for a long time. i used to joke because we have the same first name i used to look up to him a decade ago. i remember when he was on in the '90s. a lot of people have warm fond memories of brian williams. >> and you have to remember -- we can't talk about him in the past tense here. this is very early days and he has decades of credibility behind him and very strong reporting. >> yeah. that's what i'm trying to get at. he has a lot of goodwill. yet because these claims have
come up and because it's soldiers that have contracted his account and saying they thought he had been telling exaggerations for years and some of them feel his apology wasn't sufficient on wednesday, that's why this is a serious blow. >> let's play some sound just in to us from nbc's "nightly news" cast this evening, lester holt weekend anchor addressing this. >> a word tonight about our colleague brian williams who you may know has been under scrutiny this past week over his recollection of certain stories he's covered. this afternoon brian issued a statement that says in part it has become painfully apparent to me that i am presently too much a part of the news due to my actions. he goes on to to say, "i have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days." brian's full statement can be found on our website. >> there's so little out there to go on right now, poppy so, people are reading into that by saying they didn't read the part of the statement where he says he'll be back and when he comes back he'll regain people's trust. >> it also said several stories.
lester holt also said his recollection of several stories. >> he's acknowledging these questions about hurricane katrina reporting as well. >> right. >> we should be clear. we are not saying that brian williams made things up about hurricane katrina or made things up about iraq. it's about exaggerations of the truth. it's clear that he was in both locations. we saw him on television in those locations. but if he took stories and embellished them over time as he seemed to do with his iraq war story, then that's a serious offense, not necessarily for a comedian or celebrity or athlete, but for a journalist it's a serious offense. >> i want to get some more voices on this. i believe we have robert thompson and frank cezno joining us on the phone. gentlemen, thanks for being with me. frank, first of all, your assessment of brian williams taking himself out-the anchor chair saying i'm going to focus on the issue at hand i will be back and i will regain your
trust. >> this might be up there with somebody who's been booted out of a job saying i'm going to step down and spend more time with my family. not like he had a choice and it's a good way to put a spin on it. it's somewhat gracious. it's a smart thing to do to let everybody catch their breath. this investigation had to take shape and they need to see if there were any other shoes that would drop here. it's sad because as brian said brian williams has a very good track record. i, too, have admired his work. i think he's done very solid work. unlike dan rather when he was anchoring for cbs news brian williams did not have an army of critics out there screaming at him because they thought he was biased. it was a rather biased dan rather website. no such thing for brian. his embellishment, because he became too much of a personality even in his own mind? did he really forget any of this stuff? nobody is even talking about whether his memory may have been muddied, not that i'm sure that
matters because you're not supposed to do that when you're a reporter and not supposed to talk object yourself so much. this is deserved and everybody needs to take a breath. but i think it will be hard for him to come back unsullied and undamaged in any case. >> does he come back? >> does he come back? too soon to say. i mean you know, we talked earlier, you know, too big to fail he's not too big to fail. this can very much happen. this is a really damaging thing to his credibility. i do think it's important, though a we're all talking about this to point out that what went wrong here his offense nobody has accused him of making that offense in his reporting. it's in his talking act himself, embellishing his own personal record, you know turning the ernest hemingway from the brian williams. but it still sullies his credibility. and so it's taking on a life of its own, that's what happens in scandals like this. >> robert you have said that this announcement should have come a few days ago.
do you think that his apology on air wednesday was the appropriate way to address it? do you think he should have waited until they knew more? do you think on wednesday he should have had said and because of this i'm stepping down till we can figure it out? >> well that's what i think would have been the best way to handle this. didn't have those uncomfortable two days thursday and friday where he kept doing his thing. i mean i'll say this is very alarming. i also remember brian williams when our center here at syracuse first opened in 1997 and brian williams was doing "the news with brian williams" on cnbc he did a wonderful report on that. i think he's done a lot of really good work and that legacy shouldn't disappear. but nevertheless i cannot see the scenario in which whatever this investigation finds i think could only be worse, could only find more things that we don't know about. we already know what brian williams has already told us on
wednesday night and i don't see the situation -- he hasn't denied that. i don't know how nbc could put him back in that chair again even if the investigation does nothing but confirm what we heard on wednesday night and nothing more. >> one thing that came to my mind right away gentlemen, was should brian williams do an interview, should he allow himself to be interviewed by members of the media about this? brian stelter, you just got an interesting tweet about "meet the press." >> brian bolter was an anchor for years on fox 5 d.c. he said have brian williams on "meet the press" this sunday for an entire hour nbc's famous sunday morning hosted by chuck todd. he says invite reporters from every network and let those reporters question interrogate brian williams and get to the bottom of it. it would be interesting to see how he fared if asked all these questions. he may come out very well. he may convince us all that he
made some terribly innocent mistakes and that he should be write back in his anchor chair. >> the other thing, when we're talking if members of the journalism community talk too much about themselves these days do you want to spend an hour of "meet the press," a news program where americans tune in to learn about things like isis and the battle against isis just to talk about this? >> a fair point. by the way, i've been asking nbc why isn't nbc coming out and saying anything about this today? why is it brian williams on his own speaking? i'm told they are supportive of this decision. they didn't try to talk him into staying at the anchor chair, but for now saying nothing. >> brian stelter, thank you for the reporting. appreciate it. thanks for joining me everybody. also this story just in to cnn. we've been tracking this evening olympic champion turned celebrity bruce jenner involved in a deadly car crash in los angeles. the los angeles county sheriff's office saying one person is dead in this three-car accident five others are hospitalized with injuries. apparently actually a four-car incident we're learning now happened in malibu california. the person killed was driving
one of the cars rg pronounced dead at the scene. we don't have that person's identity yet. photos of the crash show medics and fire crew at the scene. you see it right there on the pacific coast highway shut down for a number of hours over this. no word on whether bruce jenner has been injured in this or not. the cause of the accident still of course being investigated is early going here. today's crash happened around noon right there on the pacific coast highway in malibu. joining me on the phone deputy ryan ruzan, a deputy with the l.a. county sheriff's office. thanks for being with me sir. what can you tell us? >> today on february 7th twift, at 12:12:00 p.m., l.a. county sheriff's department malibu deputies responded to a report of a four-car vehicle traffic collision on pacific coast highway just east of coral canyon road in malibu. when the deputies arrived on scene, they saw that there was
four cars and that they also determined that there was one person dead from the collision. there were also five others that were involved in the collision that were taken to a local hospital for their injuries. >> as we're speaking with you we're showing our viewers these are the fist photos that i have seen of the crash, a tragic situation all around. do we know if bruce jenner was driving one of the vehicles? >> yes, we have confirmed that mr. jenner was driving one of the vehicles. as far as what his role in the collision was we -- our investigators are still looking into that so we haven't determined that. we also don't know if he sustained any injuries in the collision. >> so he was driving one of the vehicles. we don't know if he was injured. >> he was in one of the vehicles. we can't confirm if he was driving. >> thank you for correcting me on that. are you at this point looking at any potential charges against anyone involved in this accident at this point in time or is it just too early to say?
>> it's too early to say at this point and that will be something that our traffic collision investigators as well as deputies at malibu's station will determine. >> finally, there's obviously been some people wondering could paparazzi have been involved at all. obviously, we don't want to jump to any conclusions but you're talking about a celebrity here that it's ban problem in the past. do we know? >> we haven't had any confirmation of that either if there was paparazzi involved. >> thank you and the best of luck to all of your teams on the ground trying to help these people involved in this four-scar accident in malibu. i appreciate it. after isis killed a jordanian pilot, jordan vowed revenge and is taking its anger out on those terrorists. did isis underestimate the reaction?
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the mother and father of an american aid worker kayla mueller, have a message for isis militants overseas -- get in touch with us and do it privately. kayla mueller's parents are not letting go of hope their daughter is still alive despite the extremist group's claims she died in an air strike. here's part of the statement the family issued. "you toll us you treated kayla as your guest. her safety and well-being remains your responsibility." isis insists that kayla was in a building hit by a jordanian air strike this week and that that killed her, but they haven't produced any evidence to prove that. the jordanian government says it is a p.r. student and the u.s. government also says there is no evident. >> to my knowledge we have targeted storage of ammunition and training camps for terrorists so that would tell you it would be difficult for us to believe or accept the fact
that an american hostage was there. what we know about this terrorist organization is that they are liars when it comes to these things. >> meantime jordanian fighter jets were back in the air over syria today striking isis targets. according to jordanian television all of the jets returned safely and in a new development our atika shubert reports f-16s from the uae will be rejoining the fight with jordan. >> reporter: the united arab emirates is sending a squadron of f-16 fighter jets to be based out of jordan. they will continue flying missions to hit isis targets alongside jordanian fighter jets. you might remember in december the ua ex-actually suspended flying with the coalition. that was around the same time that the jordanian air pilot was actually shot down over enemy lines. since then the uae hasn't been flying missions but does now seem it is resuming and this is
very important, to the coalition, to see another arab ally participating in these strikes, and jordan has said since the murder of that jordanian air pilot it sees itself as the spearhead in the war against isis and with the uae basing its fighter jets out of here it very much seems to support jordan in that role. atika shubert, cnn, amman, jordan. >> thanks for that report. joining me to talk about it michael weiss, co-author of "isis: inside the army of terror." first your take on how significant it is that the uae has jumped back in because in december they pulled back and didn't do any more strikes saying we feel like the search-and-rescue abilities over syria especially are not strong enough right now wishgs not going to risk it. now they're back in. >> they had a series of complaints. they feel the u.s. strategy is doing too much to empower iran in both syria and iraq and they feel as do many other arab countries in the coalition without sunni support you can't
defeat a sunni terrorist organization like isis. >> saying they're back in. >> good news certainly for the president of the united states who is worrying this whole coalition might crumble. indeed isis' core goal with the horrific immolation was to do that to drive a wedge between the united states and its arab allies. the first two-thirds of that they exhibited was completely just ante jordanian state propaganda. >> do you think that isis miscalculated when they decided to videotape burning alive the jordanian pilot, something clearly against all tenets of islam islam? >> i think it's too soon to tell. there are lot of indications the emotional response to this has been overwhelming. you had al azhar in cairo, sort of the hub of islamic theology the grand imam came out and said isis should be exterminated crucified, speaking in tones that even mod ral muslims were sort of shock to hear. i think there's a kind of high-level emotional response to this atrocity. the question is in the long term does action, the coalition have
what it takes to really do the job, and b, we still haven't seen the payoff, if you like i hate to use that expression but isis put this video out with a clear purpose. they wanted to fire intoxicate jihadis to bring them into the fold bring them into syria and iraq to join the cause. every time they do something like this their ranks swell. we're talking weeks down the line we'll be able to determine -- >> michael weiss, thank you. stand by. we'll talk more about this throughout the program. after a quick break, young americans, the next really recruiting targets for isis. they're already doing it. we're talking about kids as young as 13. we'll get a look at how the terror network is using social media to fill its ranks. ready for another reason to switch to t-mobile. get 2 lines of unlimited 4g lte data for just $100 bucks a month. it's america's best unlimited family plan. and it's only at t-mobile. grandpa bode, grandma said you used to be out of control.
u.s. officials have arrested and charged six people with provideing and equipment to isis insyria and iraq. three are naturalized citizens. five were arrested in the u.s. one arrested overseas in this coordinated effort. officials say two suspects did plan to actually go to the region to join the battle with isis terrorists. our pamela brown spoke with the fbi's head of counterterrorism about how it tracks down americans who are in touch with isis. >> we got a rare chance to sit down and talk with a man who was leading the fbi's counterterrorism efforts, michael steinbach, and he shared some disturbing insight into how isis is reaching into american homes to find their newest recruits and their next victims.
of all the weapons used by terrorists one of the most dangerous is social media. >> they're using it successfully to spot assess identify target folks outside of war zones. they're using it in europe and they're using it in the united states. >> when you say target folks, how young are we talking? >> we've seen across the globe kids as young as 13 recruited by isil. >> 13. >> 13. >> are they actually in direct contact in some of these cases with isis militants who are overseas in syria that are reaching out to them directly? >> what we've seen is individuals in syria reaching directly into the united states starting in public chats on different social media platforms and then moving to private chat where is they continue to recruit recruit, inspire, and coerce individuals to either travel overseas or even worse to conduct an attack here in the united states.
>> michael steinbach the head of the fbi's counterterrorism division says isis is also using facebook and twitter to identify potential american victims. i'm wondering is it an assumption or is there intelligence to back it up? >> there certainly is intelligence indicating that foreign terrorist organizations are using social media not only to spot and assess but select targets, targeting the military targeting law enforcement, targeting government officials. >> that threat led the fbi to issue a string of warnings urging u.s. government employees to scrub their social media profiles of any information terrorists could use to find them. >> everyone is on social media these days, though. how do you get through the noise of someone who's just mouthing off versus someone who is a legitimate threat? >> that's the trick of law enforcement and that's the trick of the u.s. intelligence community, to work through that using data, using strong
analytical skills but it's a full-time job and it's a challenge. >> something else steinbach said that really struck me he se there's been a deliberate focus by isis leadership to use social media to recruit people with sophisticated and specific skills like engineers and accountants, people to run the business and the caliphate. >> pretty shocking. michael witsz, co-author of "isis: inside the jihad." i'm sorry. i got your book title wrong. >> i get it wrong sometimes too. "inside the army of terror." >> let me ask you this when you hear that targeting people as young as 13 years old and say they it's being done pretty effectively. many have said the u.s. has not been able to counterit effectively with online with our own message online. would you agree with that? >> 100%. the state department has a twitter account, i think it's called think again, look away or turn away. >> right. >> essentially the u.s. government is trolling isis and
its legions of followers and fellow travelers and trying to throw in their face the fact this is a barbarous totalitarian organization. the problem i have with that is isis wants to broadcast the atrocities and all the things you and i would be horrified about. there are also programs that people don't even know about. there's one we document in the book, i think we were the first so figure it out, and what it does is allow young recruit, people who aren't even in syria and iraq they could if be in bahrain, saudi arabia whatever they can listen in real time to isis sermons. isis clerics getting up a in the mosque and delivering their friday prayer sermons and you can stream this on your phone. imagine like a christian revival, this is what they're doing. so they're brainwashing and proselytizing this way. >> i want you to listen to part of an interview that our christiane amanpour did wit a man named didier francois formerly held by isis he was leased returned back and he talked about the fact that religion, islam, was not part of
this at all when he was in captivity. listen. >> right. >> it was more hammering, going to meetings and teaching us about the koran because they didn't eve haven't the koran or give us a koran. it has nothing to do with koran. >> these are not religious fanatics. >> no. what they believe and think and try to hammer it to you because that's what they trust. it has nothing do with koran. >> we have seen first of all the atrocious murder of many, many fellow muslims by isis and the muslim community around the world increasingly turning against isis so many of which oppose them anyway and even more and more now. >> yeah. but still people are drawn to it. i mean look does this have to do with islam? well i mean you know in the book we quote an anthropologist who said read george orwell's 1940 review of "mein kampf." liberal democracy offers all these things emancipation of
women, economic redistribution and here's this guy in germany who offers death and people prostrate themselves to celebrate it. it doesn't surprise ne in the least to hear the former captive say these guys didn't have a koran. we talk to people including free syrian army guys who were arguing with isis and young recruits as young as 14 16 years old would say, well we're the real muslims, who are you, and they said you're real muslim can you resite some hadith? and they couldn't. they didn't know a single passage from the koran. >> the burning of the jordanian pilot going against that. >> sure. >> going against the ten edmontons of ss ss -- ten elts sets of islam. shocking to me how horrific it gets episode after episode. >> they're tapping into well springs of islamic history, islamic theology for sure. they're trying to make these ex post facto justifications for imlating a fellow muslim. but,