Does the renewing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba augur an flourishing of independent media and Internet access on the island? Brian Stelter asks New York Times editorial board member Ernesto Londoño, recently back from a trip to Havana, and OnCuba editor in chief Hugo Cancio.
"People desperately want the Internet and it seems clear to me that the state has used Internet access to control information fairly tightly," Londoño said.
He said the Cuban government has recently signaled that it wants to expand access.
"And if they keep their word, I think that could have a transformational effect," he said. "I think the more information that flows freely, the more Cubans will start debating and challenging the system. And I think that would have a very healthy impact."
Famed defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Bold Films CEO Gary Michael Walters, and Variety co-editor in chief Andrew Wallenstein describe the consequences of the Sony cyber-attack and the postponement of the theatrical release of "The Interview."
A few of the highlights:
· Dershowitz: "This dictator managed to do what no American president can do - that is, censor a film because of its content."
· Dershowitz: "We must fight back, and the answer has to be, as it always is, if you try to censor, it will backfire. More people will see, more people will read, we will fight fire with fire."
· Walters on Hollywood's reaction: It's crucial that Sony "not stand alone... the industry, law enforcement, the government needs to come together and formulate a common policy, because when America unites in a crisis, we're unstoppable."
· Walters on the fate of the studio, which he is in business with: "I think it's like Mark Twain said - the rumors of Sony's demise are greatly exaggerated. They're a great company. They do a lot of great work."
· Wallenstein on the potential release of the movie: "Sony wants to strike while the iron is hot. There's a lot of controversy generating publicity. They spent a lot of marketing money. I think they want to make it happen soon."
"I think I agree with those who say this is only going to get worse. If this is in the hands of North Korea, imagine it in the hands of people with more technology than North Korea might have. I think this is a cause of grave concern."
–Former CNN host Larry King. He is now the host of "Larry King Now" on Ora TV.
Brian Stelter speaks with the RNC communications director Sean Spicer, who is calling on movie theater owners to show the controversial Sony comedy "The Interview."
Here's part of what Spicer said:
"This is not about the entertainment industry, and this is frankly not about this movie. I think what this comes down to is the very fiber of America. If we can be bullied into not releasing a movie, you have to ask, what's next? Is it an energy company? Is it a mom-and-pop small store that gets told don't show this? Is it someone who gets told you can't post a video to YouTube?
I think that we as Americans have a duty to stand up and show what we're all about when it comes to instances like this. Our view at the RNC was this was an opportunity. Somebody wanted to take away our freedom and so what we want to do is turn it into an opportunity to reward those who give our freedom.
And what we said to the studio and theater execs is show the movie and guarantee that a share of the profits go to military organizations like the USO and the Yellow Ribbon Fund to help show the rest of the world that America knows how to stand and fight."
Some of billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban's emails to Sony Pictures were leaked by hackers. He tells Brian Stelter it will happen again.
An excerpt from the conversation:
STELTER: Do you think that will profoundly change in Hollywood as a result of this hack?
CUBAN: Not until the next one. And there will be a next one.
STELTER: It takes one more to change...?
CUBAN: Yes, because everybody will think, 'Look, that's not going to happen to me.' It happens. Right. It can't - that's just the way people think.
And now that the hack has gotten so much notoriety and it's had such an impact, you know, that's a chip for any hacker. That's a 'trophy hack,' and people - hackers are going to want more trophy hacks just to put the trophy on their mantle.
The top story from Sunday's program: CNN correspondent Kyung Lah reports on North Korea's latest statement, and Hollywood executive Gary Michael Walters describes his concerns about the movie industry's reactions to the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures.
Alex Pinkleton is a University of Virginia student, a rape survivor, and a friend of Jackie, the subject of Rolling Stone's disputed article "A Rape on Campus." She speaks with Brian Stelter about discrepancies in Jackie's story and her anger at the writer of the Rolling Stone article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.
"I think that she should have fact-checked, and I'm really upset and angry, like a lot of people are, that that didn't happen and now we're in a very difficult situation," Pinkleton said.
Pinkleton said that Erdely has tried to contact her since controversy erupted over the article, but that she has declined to speak with Erdely.
"I think her intentions were good," Pinkleton said. "I just think that the job was done poorly, and I am upset with that aspect of it, but I also know that she was trying to come from a point of advocacy. But as a reporter, you can't be like an advocate and support a story and listen to it and think everything is true and then report on it without trying to figure out if it's true. My job as an advocate was never to question Jackie's story or question the details, because I didn't need to. But the role that she's in as a reporter, she needed to do that."
Variety co-editor in chief Andrew Wallenstein and CNN's Don Lemon discuss the fallout from the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures. The hackers have been releasing troves of secret documents and private email exchanges from studio executives.
Some of the highlights from the segment:
· In Hollywood, "this is all anyone is talking about," Wallenstein said. It's just amazing. And you have to wonder about the executives at the center of this, how this is going to impact their future."
· Regarding the racially insensitive emails to and from powerful producer Scott Rudin and studio chief Amy Pascal, Lemon said, "I think it really makes the point of what Chris Rock has said about Hollywood, when he wrote an essay saying Hollywood is a white industry and has a racial problem. It certainly does. And this highlights it."
· Regarding the decision to publish some of the leaked messages and information, Wallenstein said, "Essentially, we've done the bidding [of the hackers]. We've maximized the exposure to this content. I don't do that lightly. But on the other hand, it was going to get out there anyway, and we have to be part of the conversation."
Ali Rezaian calls for the release of his brother Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post correspondent, from Iranian detention.
"Jason shouldn't be there," Ali said, addressing the Iranian authorities directly. "He has been in jail for almost five months. Please, just let him come home and be with us. It's the holidays, and we all just want to be together."
Rezaian was detained in July. The U.S. State Department and an array of journalism advocacy groups have demanded that he be freed.
Earlier this week, Rezaian's mother Mary spoke with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
Web-exclusive: Brian Stelter also asked Ali Rezaian about what his brother Jason told CNN's Anthony Bourdain in a taping of "Parts Unknown" earlier this year:
This week the president was interviewed on Univision, Telemundo, Comedy Central, BET, and ESPNU. Next week he'll be on Ryan Seacrest's radio show. What's behind this media blitz? Brian Stelter spoke with Univision's Jorge Ramos and BET's Jeff Johnson.
An excerpt from the segment:
STELTER: I've been thinking about what the message is behind all of these interviews - speaking to BET and Univision and Telemundo and Comedy Central and now Ryan Seacrest next week. Maybe the message is, simply, that the White House is juggling many balls at the same time, that it's walking and chewing gum at the same time, that it's able to handle lots of different topics at the same time.
RAMOS: What he's saying right now is that he's an active president, that he's not a lame duck president. I think that this is very important. This is a person completely involved in race issues, completely involved on immigration.
JOHNSON: I think to Jorge's point, what we're dealing with now is a president who wants to show what the White House has the ability to do, without Congress, where some of his initiatives are going to be, whether it's through executive order or whether it's through utilization of mechanisms like the DoJ. He wants to be very aggressive in saying, here's where we're going to use our authority to be able to address these very pressing issues. And so that's very different.
Johnson also observed that "the difference between the African American community and the Latino community is that there have been much fewer interviews on television with African American press."
He added, "I hope that in between now and the end of his term, there's going to be a lot more conversation with the black press, not just on radio but on television."