This is a rush transcript from “Special Report,” November 30, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, HOST: Breaking tonight, just in the past few minutes, CNN announces that it is indefinitely suspending anchor Chris Cuomo over the revelations of what he did to support his brother, the former governor of New York, and going after media sources to find information about the governor’s accusers in the sexual harassment allegations, just happening in the past few minutes.
Let’s bring in our panel, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, Bill McGurn, columnist for “The Wall Street Journal,” and Katie Pavlich, news editor at Townhall.com. Mara, it seemed like this was building throughout the day. Obviously, there are a lot of people saying something has to happen. CNN has done something as they investigate further.
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Yes, as they investigate further. And, look, he always was in a difficult position. His brother was the governor of New York. That makes it even more important to have really strong firewalls between a journalist Cuomo and elected official Cuomo, and CNN is going to have to finish this investigation and decide what to do.
BAIER: Katie, what he said publicly, Chris Cuomo, is not what was seen privately in those texts and emails.
KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Bret, this is something that we knew months and months ago. Over the summer it was obvious that Chris Cuomo was writing and approving statements for the governor’s office that were then officially posted on the New York state’s official government website. It wasn’t a matter of just family dealings. It was a matter Chris Cuomo being an adviser to his brother while also claiming to be a journalist. And now we are seeing this onion being pealed back even further, and that Chris Cuomo was going after his brother’s accusers, which, according to the report that Letitia James put out, a lot of those accusations by those women were true.
And so Chris Cuomo was afforded to a lot of privilege because his brother was the governor of New York, and now we are seeing as a result of that the opposite is now true, and it’s boomeranging back on him, and there has now been some kind of accountability for behavior that has been going on for months and months.
BAIER: Bill, CNN in part, in their statement says, “When Chris admitted to us that he had offered at vice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second. However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result we have suspended Chris indefinitely pending further evaluation.”
BILL MCGURN, COLUMNIST, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Yes. Look, I think CNN is right there. But look, let’s be clear. CNN brought this on themselves. This is just karma coming back. CNN allowed Chris Cuomo, as a working journalist, to cover his brother despite the manifest conflict of interest.
Now we found out, as you pointed out, that some of Chris Cuomo’s statements to the CNN audience about the extent of his involvement were misleading at best and lies at worse. So, they never should have been in this position in the first place.
And what a come down from two years ago when Governor Cuomo was being extolled and Chris Cuomo looked like the unbeatable host. There is some basics in journalism about conflicts of interest, and they just ran roughshod over them, and now they are paying the price. And it’s not all Chris Cuomo. CNN gave him the blessing to go on with his brother.
BAIER: I want to turn topics, and we will obviously follow this story and where it goes and what happens with CNN and Chris Cuomo. But the Omicron variant is obviously dominating people’s thinking, and so are these mandates and vaccine mandates. And just at the top of this show, a federal judge in the district — western district of Louisiana, ruled that the healthcare mandates for healthcare workers to get vaccines cannot be upheld. There needs to be a stop of that nationwide, and says a higher court is going to weigh in on this. Mara, this is significant in that these courts are making a stand, saying probably the Supreme Court is going to have to weigh in.
LIASSON: Yes, it sounds like it’s going to go all the way to the Supreme Court. And the question is in some cases are there are vaccine mandates, in other cases there is a choice. You can get a vaccine, or you can be tested weekly. That’s a choice. So it depends on whether it relates to healthcare workers or employers who have more than 100 employees, but, yes, it sounds like this is going to go all the way to the top.
BAIER: Katie, Sarah tweeted in “As a school bus driver, a district — our district is going ahead with requiring registration for the mandates. Deadline is January 3rd. I know that at least four drivers who will not comply.” Four is a small number compared to what we have heard from different law enforcement, fire, healthcare workers. It’s a big issue.
PAVLICH: Yes. We have seen the consequences of this mandate play out in shortages of law enforcement, firefighters, as you said, teachers in some cases, and bus drivers and healthcare workers. And the shoot down of this vaccine mandate for healthcare workers across the country today comes on the heels of the ruling yesterday from a judge out of Missouri who argued that the mandate for Medicare and Medicaid workers, or federal contractors working for Medicare and Medicaid, had a number of problems with it, the first being that Congress didn’t pass it. The second being that it’s arbitrary and capricious. There is a number of reasons why they can’t enforce it. And the third being that the risks and the consequences for a shortage of healthcare workers, especially in rural areas, was far worse than unvaccinated workers continuing to work inside of these government healthcare facilities or contracted jobs.
And so, when you look at the way the administration has handled this, they said six months ago that they didn’t have a mandate to do this and they weren’t going to implement any kind of vaccine mandate. Well, that has changed. You also had Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, saying that they did not have the power, the ability to institute mandates. The administration knew this was not constitutional. They knew that they couldn’t do it. They tried to get OSHA to do it, which is not implementing it at the federal level now. And so we saw this coming. They used it for months to try and push their agenda. But court after court continues to say there are a number of problems with this vaccine mandate for the private sector and for the government.
BAIER: All right, Bill, the administration surely is going to appeal this. It is going to go forward. What is the argument from the mandate side? Is it the public good? And is it legally tenable? Can you make that case in the court of law?
MCGURN: Well, certainly the public good, and it depends on which mandate you are talking about, what the legal basis for it is. The OSHA basis is very, very small.
Look, I think Katie alluded to this. The problem, again, this is karma coming back. In 2020, Joe Biden politicized COVID. He promised that he would be the guy that shut it down. He wouldn’t use mandates. President Trump was — shouldn’t be president because there had been 220,000 deaths. The travel ban was basically racist. It was aimed at black and brown people.
Now, he has reversed himself on all these things. There’s 350,000 deaths. So he is paying a price for this. And the worst thing of all is that none of it seems to be working. I think the Biden administration is giving off vibes that it is just artless and inept, and that the president is in way over his head and doesn’t know whether a to do.
It’s one thing — in some senses I think it almost doesn’t matter what the courts say about the mandates. I believe that the White House just did this to look like they are doing something. If it’s overruled later, it is kind of a footnote by that time. The problem is none of what they are doing works.
BAIER: All right, Bill, the double-barreled karma analysis. That’s pretty good.
BAIER: Thank you very much, panel. Thanks. A condensed show today.
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