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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

U.S. Devoted Enormous Resources to Help ISIS Hostages; Kayla Mueller Remembered; Brian Williams Suspended for Six Months; False Memories and Journalist's Job; Jon Stewart Leaving "Daily Show" Bobbi Kristina Brown's Case under Investigation

Aired February 10, 2015 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us. From the daily show to the nightly news, there is breaking news up and down the television dial tonight.

Late word just breaking now that Brian Williams will be suspended for six months without pay.

And a shocker on Jon Stewart, he is stepping down from his popular nightly show.

The Williams news directly from NBC, a statement coming as I said just moments ago. Quote, "We have decided today to suspend Brian Williams as managing editor and anchor of ""NBC Nightly News" for six months. The suspension will be without pay and is effective immediately."

We'll have a lot more on that shortly. Is it really just a six month suspension or it will perhaps lead to him actually being terminated? We'll talk about that ahead.

But we begin with other breaking news, in the cruel death and remarkable life of Kayla Mueller. Along with sadness at the confirmation of her passing and admiration for the courage and serenity, she displayed during a year and a half in ISIS captivity. There's a reaction tonight from President Obama, he spoke to "BuzzFeed's" Ben Smith.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN SMITH, BUZZFEED EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: If I may want to ask you that they kill anyone, she was confirmed dead today and I wondered that if you had any reaction to her murder and whether, you know, and really how you -- how you tell a family that the United States government is not going to do all of this again? That we have a policy of not doing all we can in this situation.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, first of all, my immediate reaction is heartbreak. You know, I've been in touch with Kayla's family. She was an outstanding young woman and a great spirit. And I think that spirit will live on. I think the more people learn about her, the more they appreciate what she stood for and how it stands in contrast with the barbaric organization that held her captive.

But I don't think it's accurate than to say that the United States government hasn't done everything that we could. We devoted enormous resources and always devote enormous resources to freeing captives or hostages anywhere in the world. And you know, I deployed an entire operation at significant risk to rescue not only her, but the other individuals that had been held and probably missed them by a day or two, precisely because we had that commitment.

The one thing that we have held to is a policy of not paying ransoms with an organization like ISIL. And the reason is that once we start doing that, not only are we financing their slaughter of innocent people and strengthening their organization, but we're actually making Americans even greater targets for future kidnappings.

So, you know, it's as tough as anything that I do having a conversation with parents who understandably want, by any means necessary, for their children to be safe. And we will do everything we can to short of providing an incentive for future Americans to be.

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: And the policy that you doing underway (ph), you're ruling out ransoms as anything you can be considered there.

OBAMA: I bet -- just as a general rule, what we don't want to do is make other American citizens riper targets for the actions of organizations like this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That's President Obama and "BuzzFeed's" Ben Smith.

More now from Jim Acosta at the White House.

The White House says they are not changing the ransom policy they are reviewing the hostage policy though, right. Do we know how?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this policy is been under review for several months now. The president started this back in November and so. My sense of it, Anderson, is that they're making progress but as you heard the president say and you know, he did say, that speaking with the parents of these American hostages is the toughest anything he does. But he is standing by this policy of not paying for the release of hostages and the concern we've heard this repeatedly not just from the president but several officials inside the White House is they don't want to provide an incentive for ISIS or other terror groups to take more hostage.

The other big reason, we've got a briefings on this, Anderson, is that they -- the payments made by other governments for their hostages to release their hostages, helps fund ISIS operations. But the president essentially acknowledged during that interview with "BuzzFeed" that this rescue mission he authorized last summer was aimed that freeing Kayla Mueller and those other hostages who are being held inside Syria. That was something we had not heard before. COOPER: In terms of how Kayla actually died the administration, they

still believe she was not killed by the Jordanian air strike.

ACOSTA: That's right. We heard that earlier today from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. He said that there's no evidence that they were any civilians or hostages in the area of those air strikes that took place and recall that those really Jordanian air strikes, part of the coalition -- U.S. coalition to really strike back at ISIS after the killing of that Jordanian pilot who was burned to death. But the White House saying today that that is not the case, that is a bogus claim from ISIS.

COOPER: And the president is expected to send a proposal on Congress for new authorization military force against ISIS. Do we know the details of that? Where does it stand?

ACOSTA: Yes. We are hearing from sources at the White House, we'll unveil this new authorization for the war on ISIS as soon as tomorrow, Anderson, it will get rid of 2002 authorization for the war in Iraq. Something Democrats like and replace it with a measure that would be ISIS specific.

Sources tell us the authorization will have no geographic boundaries so that they can go after ISIS wherever they are and that this will only last three years but keep in mind, that's beyond president Obama's time in office.

But on this key question, Anderson, of whether it will allow for U.S. boots on the ground or combat operations, this is where it gets interesting. According to this proposal that we're seeing from lawmakers and hearing from lawmakers, this authorization will prohibit what they calling enduring offensive combat operations. What is that mean? It means that the president cannot put boots on the ground and combat operations but the that those deployments cannot last indefinitely, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jim, appreciate the details. Thanks again.

We do not know precisely, we can't confirm precisely how or when Kayla Mueller died, whether in fact her death came from a Jordanian air strike as ISIS claims. We do however know how she lived. How she lived as a young woman who cared for others in places she didn't have to go. How she lived as volunteer helping victims in the war in Syria and even how she lived and survived as a captive.

Today, the family released a letter that she herself wrote them from her cell and it reads in part "I've come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it." She continued, "I pray each, each day that if nothing else you felt a certain closeness and surrender to god as well and form a bond of love and support amongst one another."

The family released the letter this morning late today. Friends and family at her hometown at Prescott, Arizona, talked about what a remarkable person Kayla was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERYN STREET, FRIEND OF KAYLA MUELLER: I'm not yet sure how to live in a world without Kayla. But I do know that we're all living in a better world because of her. So I'm going to end on a quote that reminds me of her. "Peace is not something you wish for. It's something you make. It's something you do. It's something you are and it's something you give away."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining us now from Prescott is Ana Cabrera. You were at the press conference today. What else did Kayla's family have to say?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They really want to make sure that she is defined by her life, not her death. And so they shared stories about Kayla and what was a common theme was just how giving she was and how much joy she brought to every life that she touched and so even though that this is such a painful moment for her family and friends, they are comforted by her memory and memory that lives on.

And they talked about the work that she did, not just here in Arizona, working with non-profit organizations but also around the world in her humanitarian work. At such a young age, she traveled to India. She traveled and worked in Israel and the Palestinian territories and lastly of course drawn to Turkey and the Turkey/Syria border where she helped out the Syrian refugees and they say it's really kind of almost ironic that in her death, it's shedding light on her message and what she deemed was so important. And the message of the people in Syria. And that is what continues to live on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORI LYONS, KAYLA MUELLER'S AUNT: Kayla has touched the heart of the world. The world grieves with us. The world mourns with us. The world wants to be more like Kayla. And if that is her legacy and the footprint that she leaves on the world, then that is a wonderful thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It's just devastating. President Obama called the family as well?

CABRERA: Yes, that's right. We understand he spoke with both of Kayla's parents. He expressed his condolences. He also pledged to relentlessly pursue those who had a hand in her death and we know the priority right now. The U.S. government working with the family to try to bring Kayla Mueller's body back to Arizona so that this community and her family, most importantly, can have some closure and Kayla can rest surrounded by those who love her, Anderson.

COOPER: Ana Cabrera, thank you very much. We read portions of Kayla's letter tonight, however, because we think you'll find it worth reading in full, we posted it, all of it on our web site, AC360.com.

Quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR, you can watch 360 whenever you want.

A heads tonight, the Jon Stewart bombed shell, he's leaving the daily show.

And next, the breaking news; Brian Williams suspended for six months. And a question, will that be it? Or could this lead to his termination as anchor of the ""NBC" Nightly News. The decision was made and announced just a short time ago. Details of that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. There are two major stories in the world of television to report tonight.

We learned an hour or so ago, that Jon Stewart will be leaving the daily show on "Comedy Central." We'll have details on that are coming up.

But first, Brian Williams, he is suspended for six months without pay effective immediately. Just a short time ago, just a moments before we went on air, in fact, "NBC News" released a statement from NBC News President Deborah Turness. And reads in part "Well, on nightly news on Friday of January 30th 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq war in 2003."

The statement continues, "It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same of telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian's position." NBC News President Deborah Turness' tonight Anchor Lester Holt would be filling in for Williams' worth holds. It is unclear though what will happen when the six month suspension is up? What is clear, however, is that Williams' credibility has seen a sharp declined since the controversy erupted.

Joining us now is Brian Stelter, anchor, CNN reliable story sources, also, "The Hollywood Reporter," Marisa Guthrie. Appreciate you both you being with us. Brian, first of all, were you surprised by this? What's the latest for what you're hearing?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Marisa reported earlier today the suspension was likely but six months, honestly, shocks me. Then again, I don't know what else "NBC" could have done.

COOPER: Shocks you because it's long?

STELTER: Because of how long it is and because people automatically in assume that he'll never come back. That six months is such a long period of time that this will become permanent with Lester Holt in the job. But I have to say that other than six months what else could have NBC done? The talk in the hallways of the network was that he was never going to come back at all. So at least this gives him the possibility or at least makes people think there's a possibility.

COOPER: Marisa, I mean, on one way to look at it, is it basically, tables the whole issue, it just gets him out of the public discussion and then six months from now when people aren't paying attention, he will simply go.

MARISA GUTHRIE, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER TV EDITOR: What? He'll pop up.

COOPER: Right.

GUTHRIE: And return or he'll just be fired. And you just prolong everything. I mean, that's the thing. It's like you're in the penalty box for six months.

COOPER: Do you think -- you think that would prolong it? If six months from now and once you've been out of the limelight and out of the headlines?

GUTHRIE: Well, does he -- well, does he come back and if he comes back, does it dredge everything up again? I mean, that's and also so they announced, why didn't they announce this last week? And so they have this internal investigation going on.

STELTER: Yes.

Which is still going on, it's not done yet.

GUTHRIE: Right.

STELTER: They're still investigating and they say, yet they're still doing this. Steve Burke, the head of NBC Universal, met with Brian this morning at his apartment on the upper West Side right on Central Park West and he said in the statement tonight he deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. I don't know if anyone in the country is going to believe that.

GUTHRIE: And I don't think, I mean, people inside NBC news are upset. It's like, you're either in or you're out. It does keeping him around in the suspended animations that continue to damage the credibility of the news division. I think that's what a lot of people feel inside NBC news.

COOPER: He, I mean, my understanding he'd signed recently a new five year contract.

STELTER: He had.

COOPER: He's suspended for six months without pay, if he's actually let go then, would he receive the, I don't know, $50 million or whatever it is that he would normally have been paid out over the course of five years?

GUTHRIE: Well, that's depends --

That depends if he has a moral turpitude clause in his contract. They can get out of it. They can conceivably get out of paying that that money off if that's in his contract.

COOPER: He could have also very easily had that language changed in contract negotiation, which many people do in the television business. GUTHRIE: Exactly.

STELTER: And we should say, Brian Williams did go to Iraq, he did go to New Orleans.

GUTHRIE: Sure.

STELTER: And made all of this. There's also been an outcry from his fans saying this is too much, that this public trial is too much and that he deserves a break and deserves a second chance. But by having him suspended for six months, he's not really getting a second chance at least not until way down the road.

GUTHRIE: Correct.

COOPER: Well, it also interesting, I mean, not being on the "NBC Nightly News" for six months I assume that means also no appearances on Jimmy Fallon, no appearance on various late night shows. He just in -- he's in hibernation.

GUTHRIE: Deep freeze. He's hibernation.

STELTER: And have this announced a few minutes after Jon Stewart steps down, folks might have automatically connect the two in their mind and wonder. But maybe there's another job out there for Brian Williams. He has been so funny in late night before, maybe he'll decide to make a career change and I'm sure I'm not the first person who say that in the last hour.

GUTHRIE: Or maybe Jon Stewart can become the anchor of nightly news.

COOPER: That's the entirely anecdote (ph).

STELTER: Or an hour. Now we're part of whole future of television right here, aren't we?

COOPER: But I mean, it is -- I mean, it is a remarkable or just a stunning turn of events when you consider, you know, his career, the power he had within NBC, the presence he had on television on a nightly basis that within the space of five days.

STELTER: Yes.

GUTHRIE: Five days.

COOPER: I wonder how much of this would have been different had he made a different statement on the "NBC Nightly News" initially and then not gone out to a ranger game with Tom Hanks immediately after making --

GUTHRIE: I think it would have been a lot different. If he had come out immediately and said, I was wrong, I did something I shouldn't have, I am very sorry and they could have immediately announced the suspension of, you know, a few weeks, a month, something. If he had a made, a transparent full-throated apology immediately I think it would have been a lot different. STELTER: And one of these is the media version it. It's not the

crime, it's the cover-up, it's not the crime it's the way it's handled immediately by the people involved. That's how it feels in some ways but also have to say, you know, if he hadn't tried to be so public about what he was doing, he was celebrating a veteran, a wonderful thing to do but made it about himself on the broadcast and said hit by a chopper an RPG. So he made it about himself and I think that probably, well, it clearly worsened the situation for him.

COOPER: And then the revelations about other stories coming out, other things he had said, you know, comments about seeing a body floating down outside of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which has been widely disputed.

STELTER: Which has been disputed. Yes.

GUTHRIE: Yes.

COOPER: The sheer (ph), there wasn't enough water to even allow that according to the hotel manager, I talked to a police, a police officer in New Orleans they who is stationed on canal street. They say there's no way there was a body floating down and else through.

STELTER: And it true, right. A lots of people tell tall tales but we've got to hold journalist at a different standard. I'd like to say, Anderson, and I probably said it to you before, we've talked about how social media can hold journalists accountable. Well, that's also theoretical idea but this is a very practical real life example. Because of the soldier on Facebook who spoke up when they heard Brian Williams misspeak about (INAUDIBLE)

GUTHRIE: Right.

COOPER: Also, how do you then in a future interview if you're confronting a politician about a mistake, you know, misstatement or a lie, or something that's factually incorrect. How do you do that with in that person not coming back and saying, who are you to talk to me about this?

GUTHRIE: And that's the hard of this issue and that's why people at "NBC News" who do take this very seriously are so upset.

STELTER: I had a person at NBC say to me, "today I can never trust him again." Now we all have short memories, but we all change our minds over time. But I wonder how much of that is real and how much of that is lasting.

COOPER: Well also --

STELTER: People won't be able to trust him again.

COOPER: I mean, regardless when things should have happened to -- I mean, I just -- I feel for the guy for the drastic turn of events his life suddenly taken and family and everybody involved.

STELTER: For sure. GUTHRIE: Yes. It's sad.

COOPER: That really is just a horrifically sad. Brian Stelter, appreciate you being on and Marisa Guthrie as well.

Next. How we got here and how some the other stories of Brian Williams has told jived with the facts or do not jived with the facts. We'll show you kind of a rundown on that.

Plus the news that has many fans saying it aren't so. Jon Stewart leaving the daily show. Details on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: As we said before the break investigation of Brian Williams has not ended with the announcement tonight of his sixth month suspension from "NBC Nightly News." It is ongoing reportedly wide ranging looking to not just his now discredited Iraq war story but also some of the other stories he's been telling over the years. We touched on it briefly a few moments ago. More now from our Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: Here at the super dome as we left there tonight, the first signs of restlessness.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT(voice-over): On the ground in the New Orleans, tale of dead bodies, dysentery, and wild games.

Stories that now have skeptics taking a closer look at Brian Williams' reporting.

In a 2006 interview, the "NBC Nightly News" anchor shared this.

WILLIAMS: When you look out of your hotel room window in the French quarter, and watch out a man float -- float by face down --

KAYE: How can that be? Others claim the French quarter remained mostly dry. The former general manager of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel where Williams stayed during the storm told the "Times-Picayune" newspaper that there was no physical way the water was deep enough for a body to float-in. Recalling just six to eight inches of water on the first floor. Some pictures show streets under water but it's still unknown exactly how deep the water was.

And there's more. In his own 2005 documentary about Katrina, Williams claimed he'd heard the story of a man taking his own life in the superdome. But what he told his predecessor, Tom Brokaw, just last year seems to go far beyond simply hearing about the suicide.

WILLIAMS: We watched -- all of us watched as one man committed suicide.

KAYE: That story, among others, is all under investigation by "NBC News," including his account about getting sick from sewage water while reporting on hurricane Katrina. Author Douglas Brinkley quotes "Williams as saying, he was fading in and out. And that the hotel was on lockdown to keep out armed gangs."

WILLIAMS: Our hotel was overrun with gangs.

KAYE: The "Washington Post" reports that three different people told reporters that no gangs had infiltrated the Ritz-Carlton.

Williams' coverage of Israel's war with the militant group Hezbollah from 2006 is also under scrutiny. In 2007, he spoke of Hezbollah rockets flying beneath his helicopter.

WILLIAMS: There were Katyusha rockets passing just underneath the helicopter I was riding in.

KAYE: But just a year earlier, on his own blog, there was no mention of that close call, only that there was activity on the ground. And a rocket launch six miles away. All of this came long after the incident in Iraq, now in question, from March 26th 2003.

In his first report, no mention of a rocket-propelled grenade attacking his helicopter.

WILLIAMS: On the ground, we learned the Chinook ahead of us was almost blown out of the sky.

KAYE: But ten years later, Williams told David Letterman his was one of two army choppers hit.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST OF LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: No kidding?

WILLIAMS: RPG and AK-47.

KAYE: RPGs and AK-47s, or nothing at all. That remains for the NBC investigators to figure out.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: On our discussion on this with a bit of difference, in addition to talk about the breaking news, whether the six months suspension will or should leave to Brian Williams complete departure from the NBC news, we want to look at this from a scientific angle. We want use it for how the human brain creates memories and sometimes turns them into false memories, I'm not saying that's what happened here but it does happen with a number of people and their memories. University of Illinois Psychology Professor Dan Simons, joins us, he's coauthor of the "Invisible Gorilla - How our intuition deceives us" Also Sam Francisco, Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz who has a simple bottom line for Brian Williams, "Fire him."

John, you said flat out that Brian Williams should not keep his job. I wonder what you think of this six month suspension and what do you think it's just a precursor to him actually being let go. JOHN DIAZ, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Well,

couple things, Anderson. First of all, the punishment is severe. But I also think it's appropriate. It reflects really the gravity of this breach of journalism ethics. I suspect that he is not going to come back as the face of the NBC news division, nor should he as managing editor. All of us understand journalism, Anderson that at the point of entry, that this is something fabricating information, something that simply cannot be done. You would get fired for this in the smallest market in the United States.

COOPER: Yes. Well, noticed that there's no doubt about it. I mean, Dan, Brian Williams says he misremembered. You know, A lot of people scoff at the idea of misremembering, what does that actually mean, he misremember what happened in the helicopter in Iraq, from what you know of this story, in all your work on memory issues, are you inclined to believe him? Because clearly NBC thought (INAUDIBLE)

DANIEL SIMONS, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS PSYCHOLOGY PROFESSOR: I think it's interesting. It's hard to separate from a single episode, whether somebody is misremembering or fabricating in case like this. It could well be a false memory. It had many hallmarks have a false memory and we know from decades of research now that our memories can become distorted over time. Even for traumatic or really emotional memories they get distorted in the re-telling. Whether or not it was a false memory, though, or deliberate lie, we can't really say. But that doesn't necessarily excuse a journalist like Brian Williams from responsibility. He ...

COOPER: Because a journalist should be - a journalist should be aware of how fallible memory is.

SIMONS: Yeah. Exactly. I mean journalists have covered memory failures by politicians and celebrities over the years. We all have had experience with memories being mistaken, we know that the courts have convicted a number of people who later were proven innocent, largely on the basis of mistaken memory.

So given that awareness, memory is just one of many sources and you have to corroborate your sources. Memory is not a particularly reliable one.

COOPER: The thing that makes me skeptical about that, Dan, is that all of these, whether you call them misremembered incidences or stories or lies, they all basically kind of bolster - or stories that bolster Brian Williams standing, it's not as if he was telling stories, which undercut him or made him look bad, they were all of a certain - there was a certain similar core to all of them. It was all about, I'm in a danger zone. I'm a brave guy.

SIMONS: Yeah, well, if you think about it, what our memory does for us is it helps us to predict the future, but it's basically a story about our past. It's how we make sense of our lives and you are the center point of that story. So if you're going to have a distorted memory, most likely it's going to make you look better. And that is completely in keeping with this and it's possible that this is a serial pattern, but it's still also possible that he's making himself the center of his memories over time. That's not inconsistent with what we know about false memory.

COOPER: John, do you --

DIAZ: Anderson ...

COOPER: Go ahead, John.

DIAZ: Yeah. Anderson, if I could add a point. First of all, I do not buy that this was a false memory. I would certainly be much more forgiving if it were a soldier who had multiple tours in Iraq but let's say it was. In this journalism profession, you don't do stories based on memory, even if it involved yourself. You go back and you look at the archives, you look at the original story. It would really be the height of irresponsibility for Brian Williams to go on the air with something that just based on his memory.

Yeah, you tell stories maybe if you're in a tavern or family gathering based on memory, but not on the "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS."

COOPER: Well, I've also got to say, you know, John D., the Iraq story, even when it was initially told, it was written very tightly, so that to a casual listener, it might have sounded as if he was in this convoy that was fired upon. So, even in the original telling, though, he didn't say, an RPG hit my helicopter. The way it was written, I mean it was written tightly, I thought.

DIAZ: I agree. And Anderson, one of the things that I think is really one of the casualties of this whole mess is not just for NBC News, but for the journalism profession in general because so many people are so distrustful of institutions generally in the United States, and we certainly see that in the news business that I think a lot of journalists including myself are pretty upset that this even happened and certainly the onus is on NBC News to correct it.

SIMONS: Dan, for people out there who ...

COOPER: Sure, go ahead.

SIMONS: Yeah, I was just going to say I think John is right, that there's a responsibility to the truth here and the key point is that relying on a memory exclusively is not a good idea because we know that memories can be false. So, whether or not he was deliberately self-aggrandizing, making himself look better or whether this was a natural sort of failure of memory, which is entirely possible, it still doesn't excuse using this as a primary and sole source for what happened, especially when there's documentary evidence there, but I think there's also a danger in too quickly jumping to the conclusion that just because somebody got something wrong, they must be deliberately lying. It might well have been a false memory and that's something that we know from decades of established science now that's entirely possible. Again, it doesn't excuse it. It's just a possible mechanism for why he might make up these stories about himself.

COOPER: How easy is it to develop a false memory? I mean I have seen studies where people implanted, you know, showed photographs of people - as a child in a hot air balloon, they weren't in a hot air balloon and a number of those people started to believe, oh, I actually was in a hot air balloon. So I mean how prone is memory to suggestion?

SIMONS: Yeah.

COOPER: Or hope or wishes?

SIMONS: It's remarkably prone to suggestion. It's remarkably prone to suggestion because our memory isn't like a DVD recording of what we experienced. It's every time we retell it, it's like an improvisation on a theme. It's like you are playing the child's game of telephone with yourself and the whispered message can gradually get distorted over time. There's a study about to come out in psychological science, one of the major journals in our field showing that it's possible to get college undergraduates to falsely remember having committed a felony when they were an adolescent that involved contact with the police, theft or an assault with a weapon.

So, 70 percent of undergrads through repeated recall of their memories and interviews eventually came to believe that they had actually committed a crime.

COOPER: That it's ...

SIMONS: So, it's not that hard to induce false memories.

COOPER: But John, to your point, also, there were other people involved in all of this. I mean there were camera crews with Brian Williams, there were producers with Brian Williams and there were other people at NBC News who were aware of stuff that was going on, what had been said in the past. So I think it's important to surround yourself with people who challenge you, who, you know, will say to you, I don't care if you're the anchor of the nightly news, what you're saying is wrong and it doesn't seem like there was anybody doing that with Brian Williams.

DIAZ: I find it inexplicable that nobody on that news crew at some point said, sort of came inside and said, hey, Brian, this isn't exactly how it came down. Anderson, if I can make one quick counterpoint to what the professor was saying about how susceptible people are to false memories. I would want to separate there the average person from a trained journalist. Anderson, you've been around the world covering stories. When you're really in the middle of a profound event, you document it, most journalists would write about it. Certainly Brian Williams had a video of that that was archived.

COOPER: Right.

DIAZ: I just find it, I think journalists are trained to remember things in a more specific way, detailed way, than the average person. I just do not buy it with Brian Williams.

SIMONS: This is not right.

COOPER: But ...

SIMONS: Document to their memories. COOPER: But Dan, that's the thing. There is documentation. I mean

there's video evidence. There's notebooks from back then. If you're going to tell a story, you need to consult, you need to consult back at the video, you can't just rely on your, the way you seem to have remembered it.

SIMONS: I agree completely.

COOPER: Yeah, it's a fascinating discussion.

Dan Simons, I appreciate being on, and John Diaz as well. Thank you very much.

Coming up next, what we learn about Jon Stewart's surprising announcement tonight. That he's leaving "THE DAILY SHOW". A Lot of TV changes suddenly. Legendary TV reporter Bill Carter joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: More breaking news tonight. Jon Stewart is leaving "THE DAILY SHOW," Comedy Central later this year. According to a statement from the network, "The fact that we're calling this breaking news is exactly the sort of the thing "THE DAILY SHOW" likes to make fun of, come to think of it, but it is big news to fans, everyone in this program included. Jon Stewart has been hosting for more than 15 years, hilariously skewering politicians an immediate every turn. We could play any clip of THE DAILY SHOW and invariably most likely be funny. So, we'll just go with the bit from last night show where Stewart addressed the Brian Williams story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON STEWART: Why?

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Why?

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Why, Bri? Why, Bri, lie?

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Sigh.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Were you, Bri, high?

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Because if they keep finding [EXPLETIVE DELETED], Bri, bye.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Joining me now on the phone is Bill Carter who's written two books on "Late Night" talk shows and covered television senior times for 25 years. Bill, it's good to have you on the program. You say Jon Stewart had been mulling his future after THE DAILY SHOW for a while now.

BILL CARTER, AUTHOR: Yeah, you know, his contract was up at the end of this year and he talked a lot about it, and that he was thinking seriously about leaving. A lot of people always think, well, that's a negotiating ploy, you know? And when your contract is up, but I know Jon and I knew he was serious. You know, he feels like he's done it all at that show. You know, he won ten straight Emmy Awards, he hosted the Oscars twice. You know, I think he's the kind of guy who looks at his future and thinks, what else can I do? And I think that's why he made this decision now.

COOPER: And, I mean, he directed a movie over the summer ...

CARTER: Right.

COOPER: He (INAUDIBLE). So, clearly, you know, he's interested and he's a talented guy. He could go in a lot of different directions. I mean the accomplishments he has, you know, you talk about some of the awards and stuff, but just the importance of "THE DAILY SHOW" in the national discussion, I don't think can be overstated. Certainly the last ten years or so.

CARTER: No, no question. And, you know, many younger people, younger Americans have looked at that as their newscast. I mean, they, obviously, Jon is making comedy and he will always say to me, when I press him, are you a journalist, no, I'm a comedian, I'm a comedian, but, you know, he really had impact on a lot of stories and especially for younger viewers, they look to him to sort of explain the news for them and boy, if you go on the wrong side of THE DAILY SHOW, it was not good for you if you're a politician.

COOPER: And beyond taking on politicians and - the media, he also championed causes back in 2010 ...

CARTER: Yes.

COOPER: He made a bill to benefit 9/11 responders big priority on his show and I just want to play just a short clip from that.

(BV)

STEWART: Before we go, I want to talk one last time about something called the Zadroga Bill. It was an NYPD detective who died in 2006 from respiratory illness thought to be caused by the dust he inhaled by working at ground zero in 2001. This bill would provide $7 billion in medical and financial benefits for ground zero workers who get sick and they're going to pay for it by closing a corporate tax loophole. It's a win, just [EXPLETIVE DELETED] do it.

(LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And that bill ended up passing later this year. I mean he really did have an impact or later that year, I should say. It's not clear who's going to replace him. And "THE DAILY SHOW" is a big moneymaker for Comedy Central. It's going to stay on the air.

CARTER: Oh, there's no question. You know, people forget it was on the air before Jon.

COOPER: Right.

CARTER: Jon was not the first. So, it's a franchise for them. And yeah, he expanded and he just gave them so much value and raised the profile of that network single handedly, I might say. I mean South Park obviously a big factor too, but, you know, he brought Stephen Colbert in the network, he brought Larry Wilmore in the network. He's brought all the other talents, Steve Carrell. I mean all these talents that he brought to that network. And, you know, to the American culture. So, he will be enormously missed and I really feel for the person that tries to replace him.

COOPER: Yeah, I also do want to ask you about Brian Williams. What's your reaction to the news of the six month suspension?

CARTER: You know, I'm really sad. I mean I like Brian. I've been friendly with Brian. You know, and I always thought he did a very good job. Obviously, this was, you know, a really indefensible situation. I think NBC put it that way tonight in their statement. You couldn't really find a reason why this was justifiable and they apparently have found some other instances. And, you know, that's what I feared for that because I thought if they find that, Brian is, you know, a serial embellisher, whatever you want to call it, that really puts a bad light on him. I don't think anything he did on the newscast was necessarily bad, but I do think, you know, credibility is a huge factor in those jobs, and, you know, I would hope that he can do something to restore it because I think he's a good guy and very good at his job.

COOPER: Yeah, and clearly his apology, which, you know, continued to kind of misstate things.

CARTER: That was a mistake. That was a mistake. The only thing he could do there was abjectly acknowledging how inexplicable it was and he didn't do that which I think is a mistake.

COOPER: Do you believe this really is just a six month suspension?

CARTER: Well, we don't - you know, for the moment, I guess it is. You know, we have to see how it plays out because, you know, will there be more to be revealed? Will they decide, you know, we've got to move on without this guy? Will the network take a tumble now without him? Can he be rehabilitated? I don't know the answers to that. I wouldn't jump to conclusions. I think everybody tries to jump to conclusions but I do think, you know, we have, I have sympathy. I think, you know, this is not the worst thing a person has ever done and I think he's been subjected to a kind of a lynch mob mentality in the media, which has been a little bit over the top but certainly, you can't make excuses for it. I mean so I would not, I just don't want to foreclose anything. I think you shouldn't jump to conclusion and foreclose it. I think it's a very bad situation now for him and for NBC.

COOPER: It certainly leaves options on the table for NBC to see how this plays out over the next several months.

CARTER: I think so. Yes.

COOPER: Bill Carter, it's great to have you on. Thank you very much.

CARTER: OK, thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Just ahead, there is breaking news on what police are calling an ongoing criminal investigation. What they are now focusing on in the sad case of Bobbi Kristina Brown, Whitney Houston's daughter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The daughter of the late Whitney Houston remains in a medically induced coma in Atlanta hospital as new details come to light about the investigation. Now, the breaking news tonight, the Roswell, Georgia, police chief has confirmed to CNN that there is a "criminal investigation ongoing." 21-year old Bobbi Kristina Brown, as you may know, was found unresponsive in the bathtub full of water in her home more than a week ago. Now, a friend of hers says police have questioned her boyfriend about bruises that were found on her chest and another source says police are looking at all angles to find out about those injuries. Alina Machado joins us from Atlanta with the latest. And where does the investigation stand tonight?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, as you mentioned, we now know that police are calling this a criminal investigation, obviously, we don't know what the outcome of this investigation will be or even if any charges will be filed when all is said and done.

We also don't know still what may have caused Bobbi Kristina to become unresponsive. A friend of Bobbi Kristina is saying that police have questioned Nick Gordon about some bruises that were found on Bobbi Kristina's chest. That same friend tells Nancy Grace that Nick said those bruises were the result of him performing CPR on Bobbi Kristina. Now, a source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN the probe is focusing on anyone who was in the house the night before Bobbi Kristina was found and also focusing on people who had contact with Gordon. It is worth noting that we have tried to reach out to Nick Gordon. We've also tried to see if there's an attorney who was representing him, but so far, we have not been able to get a statement from Gordon.

COOPER: Bobby Brown's lawyer, the father, his lawyer, I understand he released a statement today. What did he say?

MACHADO: Yeah, the statement was very lengthy and in it, the family thanked people for their prayers and for their support. They also said that this is a criminal investigation and that the integrity of the process requires silence. The statement concluded by saying that God is hearing their prayers, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Alina Machado, I appreciate the update. Questions have swirled around the nature of Nick Gordon's relationship with Bobbi Kristina Brown for years now. For now we came to be part of the family. It's even whether or not the two were married. Once again, here's Randi Kaye with what we know about Gordon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was just 12 when he joined Whitney Houston's family.

NICK GORDON, BOBBI KRISTINA BROWN'S BOYFRIEND: My name is Nick Gordon. My life changed dramatically when I met Kristi and Whitney. I was going to high school, my mom had kicked me out of the house.

KAYE: Whitney Houston took Nick Gordon in, at the urging of her only child, Bobbi Kristina Brown.

BOBBI KRISTINA BROWN: We were best friends long, long, long ago.

KAYE: Whitney never adopted Nick Gordon, but did allow him to live with her famous family, growing up alongside Bobbi Kristina. When the singer died in 2012, media attention began to focus on Bobbi Kristina and Nick Gordon's relationship. He downplayed the idea they were dating to ABC News saying, we're just close. Just going through her mom's passing and grieving together. He also confirmed on Twitter that he and Bobbi Kristina are not blood relatives, writing, "For the stupid people out there, she gave birth to one child and she trusted me with everything.

Whitney Houston's brother told ABC News years ago, that Nick Gordon was like a son to her but not everyone in the family is feeling the love. In fact, Bobbi Kristina's aunt got a restraining order against him last year. She claimed he posted photos of guns and made threats against her. A Georgia court granted the protective order for one year forbidding any contact finding she was in reasonable fear for her safety.

Gordon has had other trouble, too, like a DUI arrest last August. Despite his issues, Bobbi Kristina said yes when he proposed. She was spotted wearing an engagement ring. In July 2013, Bobbi Kristina wrote on Facebook, "Yes, We, Me, Nick are engaged. I'm tired of hearing people say, ew you are engaged to your brother. My mom never adopted him."

About six months later came the announcement on Twitter that the couple had secretly been married. A lawyer for the family says they are not husband and wife, but still, Bobbi Kristina tweeted in January, #happilymarried, so in love. A follow-up to gushing tweets like this one, "Nick Gordon, you are my moon, my sun, my love of my life. I'll be by your side forever. You are my world."

Meanwhile, the man she calls the love of her life is not at her bedside. Police are taking a closer look at his actions the day Bobbi Kristina was found and a family friend says he's not welcome at the hospital. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, up next, details on what was even by local standards a wild car chase near Los Angeles.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Get caught up into the other stories tonight. Amara Walker at a "360" bulletin.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. Virginia authorities have charged Jesse Matthew with first-degree murder in the death of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. She vanished from downtown Charlottesville last September. Her remains were found the next month on an abandoned property. A New York City police officer was indicted today for shooting and killing this man who was unarmed in a Brooklyn housing project in November. There's no word yet on the charges the officer faces.

And a "360" follow, authorities say the serial stowaway has struck again. 63-year-old Marilyn Hartman is facing trespassing and other charges after investigators say she snuck onto a flight from Minneapolis, St. Paul international airport and flew to Jacksonville, Florida. Hartman has been caught repeatedly after sneaking on flights.

And a wild car chase near Los Angeles, the suspect, an alleged gunman crashes and then carjacks a car and is on the run again. He abandoned that car, fails to carjack another vehicle. Police opened fire. He's wounded and arrested. He's hospitalized tonight recovering from surgery.

COOPER: Incredible. Amara, thanks very much. That does it for us. We'll see you again 11 p.m. Eastern, another edition of "360". I hope you join us. The CNN Special Report "CHASING A KILLER: THE MCSTAY FAMILY MURDERS" starts now.