TONIGHT ON METROFOCUS

March didn’t disappoint, dropping various sums of snow in our area. Loved by the far-left and reviled by the right, will freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s next title be Mayor of New York City? A program spearheaded by New York City’s first lady aimed to help to New York’s mentally ill. But, after spending a billion dollars has there been any benefit? A bill seeking to make revenge porn a crime is now poised to become a law in New York State. We have the details. Award-winning New York anchor Ernie Anastos is here with his insights on a more balanced and less negative media. Find out how local veterans are making a difference within their ranks and in our communities.

Aired on March 4, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

AMID SOME SNOW AND SCHOOL CLOSURES A NEW WEEK BEGINS IN THE BIG APPLE AND THE SPOTLIGHT, ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ.

LOVED BY MANY PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS AS THE NEW FACE OF THE PARTY, YET LOATHED BY REPUBLICANS AND OTHERS FOR HER SELF AVOWED SOCIALISM, AOC CONTINUES TO GRAB NATIONAL HEADLINES, BUT WILL OCASIO-CORTEZ'S NEXT POLITICAL MOVE BRING HER BACK TO MANHATTAN AS OUR CITY'S FIRST FEMALE MAYOR?

WE WILL EXPLORE THE PROSPECT.

> THRIVE NYC ON LIFE SUPPORT?

THE PROGRAM SPEARHEADED BY NEW YORK'S FIRST LADY AIMED TO PROVIDE HELP TO NEW YORK'S MENTALLY ILL BUT AFTER SPENDING NEARLY A BILLION DOLLARS WITHOUT ANY DETAILS, THERE ARE REPORTS THAT THRIVE NYC HAS FALLEN FAR SHORT OF PROVIDING FOR THOSE IN DIRE NEED.

THE FALLOUT AHEAD.

> REVENGE PORN, IT IS NOW POISED TO BECOME A LAW IN NEW YORK STATE.

WE HAVE THE DETAILS.

> LOCAL JOURNALISM AND THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD NEWS EVEN IN DIFFICULT TIMES.

LONG TIME NEW YORK ANCHOR ERNIE ANASTOS IS HERE WITH INSIGHTS ON A MORE BALANCED MEDIA.

> AND FROM THE FRONT LINES TO THE HOME FRONT, FIND OUT HOW LOCAL VETS ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE WITHIN THEIR RANKS AND BEEN OUR COMMUNITIES.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS MEEKS STARTS RIGHT -- 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪ ♪♪

Announcer: THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSLYN P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND BY --

CORPORATE FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF AMERICA, YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY PSE&G, SERVING CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND INVESTING IN THE FUTURE.

♪♪

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

IT WAS A SLUSHY START TO THE WEEK WITH PLENTY OF SNOW AND SHOVELING IN PARTS OF THE TRI-STATE AS ANOTHER WINTER STORM BLANKETED THE REGION, KNOCKING OUT POWER FOR SOME AND CLOSING SCHOOL FOR PLENTY.

DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU LIVE, MOTHER NATURE DUMPED ANYWHERE FROM A COUPLE OF INCHES TO NEARLY A FOOT OF FRESH POWDER IN TIME FOR THE MORNING COMMUTE.

LEAVING MANY NEIGHBORHOODS LOOKING AND FEELING LIKE A WINTER WONDERLAND.

JUST A REMINDER, BE SURE TO SHARE YOUR PHOTOS AND VIDEOS, JUST LIKE THESE.

WITH PHOTOS AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

YOU MIGHT EVEN SEE THEM ON THE SHOW.

BACK HERE IN THE CITY THERE'S ANOTHER STORM BREWING, ONE THAT PROMISES TO RESHAPE CITY GOVERNMENT FOR YEARS TO COME.

THE 2021 RACE FOR MAYOR MIGHT SEEM FAR OFF, BUT THERE'S ALREADY SPECULATION OVER WHO WILL REPLACE BILL de BLASIO, ONE POSSIBILITY ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, THE FRESHMAN CONGRESSWOMAN WHO HAS BEEN PRAISED BY THE FAR LEFT FOR HER PROGRESSIVE POLICIES AND DERIDED BY THE GOP FOR HER SOCIALIST WAYS.

IT'S JUST MONTHS INTO HER FIRST TERM INTO CONGRESS REPRESENTING THE BRONX AND QUEENS, BUT COULD AOC SAY FAREWELL TO WASHINGTON FOR NOW AND BECOME THE FIRST WOMAN TO BE MAYOR OF NEW YORK?

IT'S A POSSIBILITY OUR FRIENDS OVER AT CITY AND STATE RECENTLY TOOK A LOOK AT AND FOR MORE LET'S BRING IN EDITOR IN CHIEF JOHN LANCE.

JOHN, WE WILL COME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

GLAD TO BE HERE.

LET'S FIRST START WITH THE POSSIBILITY OF MAYOR AOC.

WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?

WELL, SURE, IT'S A LONG TIME UNTIL 2021 TO BE CLEAR, BUT, YOU KNOW, IT'S IN THAT TIME A LOT OF THINGS COULD HAPPEN AND SHE HAS DEVELOPED A LOT OF SUPPORT, SHE'S REALLY POPULAR, SHE HAS A HUGE TWITTER FOLLOWING.

COULD THAT TRANSLATE INTO A MAYORAL RUN, WE DON'T KNOW, BUT IT'S A REAL POSSIBILITY.

I MEAN, THE FIELD -- THERE'S REALLY JUST FOUR FRONT RUNNERS AT THIS POINT, THE CITY COMPTROLLER, SCOTT STRINGER, BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT ERIC ADAMS, BRONX WORE ROW PRESIDENT AND COREY JOHNSON.

THOSE ARE FOUR MEN AND THERE IS A LOT OF ATTENTION AS TO HOW MANY WITH EM ARE SERVING IN ELECTED OFFICE.

COULD SHE MAKE A STRONG RUN?

I THINK SO.

WHAT ARE THE AL WILL HE THINKS THAT SHE WOULD FACE?

SHE SEEMS TO BE A POLARIZING FIGURE IN D.C., BUT HERE IN NEW YORK THAT WOULD BE A DIFFERENT CASE.

SURE.

WELL, NEW YORK IS VERY HEAVILY DEMOCRATIC SO THERE IS AN ADVANTAGE FOR DEMOCRATS, SHE COULD WELL FIND A LOT OF SUPPORT.

ONE BIG QUESTION, THOUGH, IS SHE'S NEVER RUN FOR A CITY WIDE OFFICE BEFORE, OBVIOUSLY, SHE'S ONLY A FEW MONTHS INTO HER FIRST TERM IN CONGRESS, BEFORE THAT HAD NEVER RUN FOR ANYTHING, WAS REALLY LITTLE KNOWN.

BUT, AGAIN, HER DISTRICT SPANS PART OF THE QUEENS, PART OF THE BRONX, TO GO FROM THAT TO ACTUALLY WINNING A CITY WIDE POST YOU HAVE TO PICK UP STATEN ISLAND OR AT LEAST DO REASONABLY WELL THERE, I THINK STRINGER IS THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS WON A CITY WIDE OFFICE BEFORE.

SO SHE WOULD HAVE A KIND OF A TOUGH HILL TO CLIMB.

ARE THERE ANY ARGUMENTS THAT PEOPLE ARE ALREADY PROPOSING THAT WOULD GO AGAINST THIS IDEA AND SAY IT'S ACTUALLY NOT A GOOD IDEA AND WHERE SHE IS SHE WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE MORE OF AN EFFECT?

SURE, I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE NOTICED SHE'S HAD A REAL IMPACT, AGAIN, AS A FIRST-TERM MEMBER OF CONGRESS USUALLY THAT'S SOMETHING WHERE YOU'RE KIND OF IN THE BACKGROUND, NO ONE HEARS FROM YOU THAT MUCH, YOU WAIT YOUR TURN, BUILD UP SENIORITY OVER THE YEARS, FINALLY MIGHT GET A CHAIRMANSHIP.

SHE'S BEEN ABLE TO JUMP OVER ALL OF THAT.

SHE HAS A HUGE VOICE, SHE HAS A TWITTER FOLLOWING, SHE'S CALLED FOR HIGHER TAX RATES AND THAT'S GOTTEN A LOT OF COVERAGE.

SHE CALLED FOR A GREEN NEW DEAL.

YOU HEAR EVERYONE TALKING ABOUT A GREEN NEW DEAL, BUT ALSO HOW MUCH DOES SOCIAL MEDIA TRANSLATE IN A MAYORAL RACE?

WE JUST SAW A CANDIDATE FOR PUBLIC ADVOCATE.

HAD A HUGE TWITTER FOLLOWING, MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE, SEVERAL TIMES LARGER.

ONLY GOT LIKE 2.5 PERCENTAGE POINTS OF THE VOTE.

SO WILL THAT TRANSLATE?

IT'S HARD TO SAY.

I'M WONDERING NOW IF WE'RE ALREADY LOOKING AHEAD TO THIS 2021 RACE BECAUSE SO MUCH OF OUR CONVERSATION IS ABOUT 2020 ALREADY.

WELL, THAT'S ANOTHER GOOD POINT.

2020, WHO KNOWS WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE.

IF TRUMP IS OUT AND YOU HAVE A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT, WOULD THERE STILL BE THIS STRONG GRASSROOTS PROGRESSIVE SUPPORT THAT'S TURNING OUT TO THE POLLS, YOUNGER PEOPLE, THAT MIGHT DISSIPATE SOMEWHAT, CONCEIVABLY HURT HER IF SHE DID RUN.

SHE WILL THEORETICALLY BE ON THE TICKET AGAIN TO RUN TO CONTINUE REPRESENTING HER DISTRICT.

I DO WANT TO TURN NOW FROM NATIONAL/LOCAL POLITICS TO THRIVE NYC.

THIS WAS AN INITIATIVE THAT WAS, OF COURSE, STARTED BY THE MAYOR WIFE TO HELP PEOPLE STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS AND THERE HAS BEEN CRITICISM OF IT IN TERMS OF HOW MUCH IT'S ACTUALLY BEEN ABLE TO HELP.

SURE.

THERE IS A NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL HEARING JUST LAST WEEK, THERE WAS A LOT OF SCRUTINY ON HOW MUCH MONEY IS GOING INTO IT AND IT SEEMS THAT THERE'S NOT REALLY THE REPORTING THE TRANSPARENCY AROUND WHAT ARE THE RESULTS.

SOME OF IT'S HARD TO TELL, YOU KNOW, YOU TRY TO RAISE MORE AWARENESS AROUND MENTAL HEALTH, I THINK THAT'S AN INITIATIVE THAT MOST PEOPLE AGREE WITH, RIGHT?

YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT THERE ARE RESOURCES OUT THERE FOR YOU.

IT'S HARD TO ASSESS REALLY, YOU KNOW, WHAT KIND OF NUMBERS ARE THERE TO SHOW IMPROVEMENT.

BUT SOME OF IT IT'S WORKING WITH DIFFERENT AGENCIES, AT THIS CITY COUNCIL HEARING THEY WEREN'T ABLE TO PROVIDE ENOUGH EXPLANATION TO SATISFY COUNCIL MEMBERS.

IT'S A LOT OF MONEY, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

SCOTT STRINGER THE CITY COMPTROLLER SUBSEQUENTLY WENT AFTER IT AND SAID HE'S REALLY GOING TO ANALYZE THIS PROGRAM AND SEE IF --

IS IT A MATTER OF HAVING MORE OVERSIGHT OR DOES THERE NEED TO BE MUCH MORE TRANSPARENCY IN TERMS OF EXACTLY HOW THESE DOLLARS ARE BEING SPENT AND WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES OF THOSE DOLLARS?

I THINK IT'S MOSTLY TRANSPARENCY, SHOWING SOME ACCOUNTABILITY, HERE IS WHERE IT'S GOING TO, LET'S GET SOME EXPLANATIONS, LET'S MAKE SURE THE MONEY IS BEING SPENT IN THE RIGHT WAY, TAXPAYER DOLLARS.

OF COURSE.

AND NOW, OF COURSE, GOING FROM THRIVE NYC, ANOTHER VERY CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE IS THE ISSUE OF REVENGE PORN.

WE'VE SEEN LEGISLATION INTRODUCED AT SEVERAL DIFFERENT LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT TO ADDRESS THIS, BUT WHAT IS IT THAT WE'RE SEEING AT LEAST FROM THE STATE GOVERNMENT RIGHT NOW?

SURE.

JUST THIS PAST WEEK BOTH HOUSES OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE DID VOTE, I BELIEVE, UNANIMOUSLY TO MAKE THIS A CRIME, IF YOU DO REVENGE PORN.

IF YOU'RE POSTING PHOTOS OF SOMEONE YOU KNEW.

IT USED TO BE THERE WASN'T REALLY ANY RECOURSE, YOU COULD SEE THIS GO ONLINE AND THERE WASN'T ANYTHING TO BE DONE ABOUT IT.

INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, NEW YORK IS KIND OF BEHIND THE GAME ON THIS.

I THINK IT'S THE 42nd STATE TO GET THIS DONE.

FIRST THIS WAS INTRODUCED, I THINK, FIVE YEARS AGO.

AT THAT POINT NEW YORK WAS ON THE FOREFRONT OF THIS, IDENTIFIED IT AS A PROBLEM, BUT THERE WAS SOME CONCERNS, WOULD INTERNET PROVIDERS, SOCIAL MEDIA PROVIDERS WOULD THEY BE LIABLE FOR THIS, WOULD THERE BE EXTRA COSTS FOR THEM.

I THINK A KEY DIFFERENCE NOW IS THERE'S NO LONGER A REPUBLICAN MAJORITY IN THE STATE SENATE.

THAT BODY WAS MORE ALIGNED WITH BUSINESS INTERESTS AND I THINK HELD THIS UP.

NOW YOU HAVE DEMOCRATS CONTROLLING BOTH HOUSES AND IT'S GOING FORWARD AND LOOKS LIKE THE GOVERNOR WILL SIGN IT.

ALL RIGHT.

AND THEN LASTLY I DO WANT TO CIRCLE BACK TO CONGRESSWOMAN OCASIO-CORTEZ BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN A LOT MADE ABOUT HER RESIDENCY.

WE KNOW THAT SHE IS NOW OPENING SOME DISTRICT OFFICES AND THAT IS GETTING SOME ATTENTION, BUT HOW MUCH OF -- WHERE LEGALLY DOES IT STAND FOR A REPRESENTATIVE TO LIVE AND THEN HOW MUCH DOES THAT PLAY POLITICALLY FOR SOMEBODY?

SURE.

WELL, IN THIS CASE IT'S ACTUALLY FASCINATING BECAUSE HER PREDECESSOR, THE CONGRESSMAN JOE CROWLEY DID HAVE A RESIDENCE NEAR D.C.

I THINK THAT HURT HIM POLITICALLY AND POSSIBLY PLAYED A FACTOR IN HER KNOCKING HIM OUT OF OFFICE, THOUGH TECHNICALLY YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO LIVE WITHIN YOUR DISTRICT AS A MEMBER OF CONGRESS.

ONE EXAMPLE IS CONGRESSWOMAN VELAZQUEZ, SHE'S STILL IN THE COMMUNITY.

TO BE CLEAR, ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ DOES LIVE IN HER DISTRICT.

THERE WAS SOME QUESTIONABLE REPORTING ABOUT THAT, BUT EVEN IF SHE DIDN'T, IT WOULDN'T REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

MY GO HE IS IS IF YOU'RE CLOSE ENOUGH, EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT, IT PROBABLY ISN'T A POLITICAL ISSUE.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, THEN, PERHAPS ONE OF THOSE ISSUES THAT AT LEAST DRIVES SOCIAL MEDIA BECAUSE WE SEE A LOT OF THAT HAPPENING.

LISTEN, I WANT TO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US AGAIN.

WE OF COURSE LOOK FORWARD TO OUR CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE STATE AND THE CITY LEVEL AND ESPECIALLY WITH 2020 AND 2021 COMING UP.

GLAD TO BE HERE.

ABSOLUTELY.

THANK YOU.

♪♪

> WATCHING THE NEWS CAN AT TIMES BE NEGATIVE AND EVEN OVERWHELMING, THE OFT HEARD IF IT BLEEDS IT LEADS PERMEATES MANY A NEWSROOM WHICH IS WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO HIGHLIGHT THE GOOD IN OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND SHARE THOSE STORIES ALONG WITH WHAT ARE GOING TO BE THE NEGATIVE.

EMMY AWARD RES DECENT ERNIE ANASTOS IS DOING JUST THAT, ERNIE HAS COVERED MAJOR STORIES OVER THE LAST THREE DECADES INCLUDING INTERVIEWING WORLD LEADERS, PRESIDENTS, BUT HE ALSO COVERS US, AVERAGE NEW YORKERS, WITH THE SAME ENTHUSIASM AND CURIOSITY.

ERNIE'S MAN ON THE STREET STYLE INTERVIEW ON FOX 5 NEW YORK CALLED POSITIVELY ERNIE SPOTLIGHTS OUR OPINIONS ON A RANGE OF TOPICS BOTH LIGHTHEARTED AND HEAVY AND HE IS HERE TO TELL US MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD NEWS AND LOCAL JOURNALISM.

MY GOOD FRIEND, LOCAL NEWS LEGEND ERNIE ANASTOS.

I GOT STARTED --

JACK, WE GO BACK.

YOU AND I GO BACK A LONG TIME.

NO QUESTION.

COMING ON FOR -- STARTING TELEVISION IN THE BEGINNING AND I HAD THE GREAT GOOD FORTUNE OF BEING ABLE TO SIT ACROSS FROM YOU AND YOU INTERVIEW ME.

AND HERE WE ARE REVERSING THE ROLES SHOO WHEN I SAW THIS I SAID I AM TO THRILLED THAT ERNIE IS COMING TO CHAT WITH US.

IT'S SO GREAT TO SEE YOU AND I LOVE YOUR PROGRAM.

THIS DOES SUCH A GREAT SERVICE TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK CITY.

ABSOLUTELY.

IT'S A WONDERFUL GROUP OF PEOPLE PUTTING THIS TOGETHER.

QUALITY.

WE LIKE TO THINK SO.

COMING FROM YOU, THAT IS QUITE A COMPLIMENT.

I APPRECIATE THAT.

LET ME START OFF WITH A BIGGER PICTURE.

THERE'S SO MUCH THAT I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT.

WHENEVER WE SEE POLLS WE SEE, INTERESTINGLY, THAT THE PUBLIC IS LOSING TRUST IN NATIONAL NEWS MEDIA, BUT THEY STILL TRUST LOCAL NEWS MEDIA.

YES.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?

THAT'S TRUE.

I THINK THERE'S A CLEAR ANSWER TO THAT.

I THINK WHEN YOU WATCH LOCAL NEWS YOU'RE WATCHING REPORTING, WE'RE COVERING STORIES THAT ARE HAPPENING IN THE COMMUNITY.

WE'RE NOT GIVING OPINION.

YOU DON'T SEE THAT.

I MEAN, IT'S JUST STRAIGHTFORWARD REPORTING.

KIND OF THE LAST BASTION AROUND.

AND I'M VERY PROUD OF THAT IN MANY WAYS.

WHEN YOU TALK TO PEOPLE WHEREVER THEY ARE IN ANY CITY IN THIS COUNTRY, RIGHT, IF THEY'RE CHOOSING THEIR SERVICE ON CABLE OR SATELLITE, WHATEVER, THEY'RE ALWAYS GOING TO CHOOSE THE LOCAL CHANNELS.

PEOPLE WATCH PART OF WHAT'S GOING ON IN OUR COMMUNITY --

PEOPLE CALL YOU BY YOUR FIRST NAME.

FIRST NAME, ABSOLUTELY.

ERNIE.

YEAH.

THEY DON'T SAY ERNIE ANASTOS.

IF THEY SEE YOU, YOU'RE PART OF THE FAMILY.

AND I'M HUMBLED BY THAT.

I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

THAT'S BUILDING A CERTAIN TRUST THAT YOU HAVE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE BECAUSE THEY KNOW THAT YOU'RE PART OF THE CITY.

WHEN I FIRST STARTED DOING TELEVISION NEWS BACK WITH YOU AND YOU AND I WOULD SIT AND YOU WOULD INTERVIEW ME ABOUT A SUPREME COURT DECISION OR A CASE THAT'S TAKING PLACE.

YES.

YOU WOULD NEVER ASK ME FOR MY OPINION.

AND I WOULDN'T GIVE IT.

BECAUSE THE NOTION WAS WE ARE SHARING IDEAS PROVIDING AN UNDERSTANDING FOR PEOPLE, BUT NOT TELLING THEM WHAT THEY SHOULD THINK.

AND IT SEEMS THAT LOCAL NEWS, AGAIN, NOT COMPLETELY, AN OPINION HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN IMPORTANT PART OF JOURNALISM.

IT IS.

WHY HE.

UNDERSTAND THAT.

YES, IN ITS PROPER PLACE.

I THINK THAT WE BOTH DEFEND THE RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH AND UNCENSORED PRESS, BUT I THINK THAT WE HAVE A REAL RESPONSIBILITY.

YOU KNOW, WHEN WE HAVE SO MANY CHANNELS NOW, WHEN WE WERE -- YOU KNOW, OUT THERE, THERE WERE ONLY BASICALLY THREE OR FOUR CHANNELS OR THREE NETWORKS AND NOW, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A PLETHORA.

YOU HAVE ALL THE CABLE, SATELLITE AND ALL SOCIAL MEDIA AND SO FORTH, BUT THERE IS A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY THAT GOES WITH THAT BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL.

YOU CAN'T PUT RUMOR ON THE AIR, YOU CAN'T PUT, YOU KNOW, INFORMATION THAT'S BEEN NOT CONFIRMED.

WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT THE OPINION AND THE VIEWER HAS TO KNOW THAT IF THERE IS AN OPINION, THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE DARN GOOD AT IT, BUT IF IT IS AN OPINION IT HAS TO BE SORT OF LABELED THAT WAY AND HAS TO BE CLEAR.

LET ME ASK ABOUT YOUR SEGMENTS, POSITIVELY ERNIE SEGMENTS.

YES.

WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM AND WHAT ARE YOU HOPING THAT THOSE SEGMENTS WILL PROVIDE FOR THE VIEWERS?

I'VE BEEN VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE COVERAGE OF NEWS.

I'VE BEEN ON THE AIR SO MANY YEARS AND EVERY NIGHT WHEN YOU GO ON THE AIR AND YOU SAY GOOD EVENING AND THEN YOU PROCEED TO TELL THEM WHY IT'S NOT.

AND I SAID, DO YOU KNOW WHAT, IF WE'RE GOING TO PUT A NEWSCAST TOGETHER AND THEY WERE VERY KIND TO ME AT CHANNEL 5, WE SAT DOWN, TALKED ABOUT OUR 6:00 NEWS AND I SAID, LOOK, IF WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT A PROBLEM, LET'S TALK ABOUT A SOLUTION.

LET'S FIND WAYS THAT WE CAN FIX THE ISSUE.

WALTER CRONKITE WAS A DEAR FRIEND AND A MENTOR IN MANY WAYS AND WE WERE TALKING ABOUT NEWS COVERAGE AND HE SAID, YOU KNOW, OUR JOB IS TO BE A DOG.

OKAY?

A WATCHDOG.

WE ARE NOT A LAP DOG OR AN ATTACK DOG, WE ARE A WATCHDOG.

WE BARK AND WE LET PEOPLE HEAR WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT AND WHAT THE ISSUES ARE AND LET THEM RESPOND.

SO I FELT THAT, YOU KNOW, POSITIVE NEWS WAS VERY IMPORTANT, PARTICULARLY WITH YOUNG PEOPLE, BUT I THINK THAT IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO DO THAT AND THE KIDS REALLY WERE A BIG PART OF HELPING ME TO DO THAT.

AND THEN I WROTE A BOOK.

LET ME ASK ABOUT THAT.

I WANT TO COME BACK TO YOUR CONVERSATION BUT TELL ME ABOUT 'ERNIE AND THE BIG NEWS.'

BILL GALLO, THE GREAT COLUMNIST AND ILLUSTRATOR AT THE DAILY NEWS, GOD REST HIS SOUL, DID HE ALL THE ILLUSTRATIONS FOR ME.

AND IT'S A BOOK ABOUT THE ADVENTURES OF A TV REPORTER AND IT PRETTY MUCH FOCUSES ON GOOD STORIES AND HAPPY ENDINGS.

I GO OUT AND WE WORKED WITH A CHARITY, ST. FRANCIS FOOD PANTRIES IN NEW YORK, WE DOUGH MADE ABOUT 500 BOOKS EACH TIME WE GO OUT TO EVERY CHILD AND I GIVE THEM A CARD AND I'M GOING TO GIVE IT TO YOU, TOO, IT'S AN OFFICIAL PRESS CARD, IT'S CALLED ERNIE AND THE BIG NEWS OFFICIAL PRESS CARD, I MADE IT OUT TO YOU, JACK.

THAT MAKES ME OFFICIAL.

YEAH.

THAT DOES.

BUT THE LINE ON THE BOTTOM ABOUT THE REPORTER, IT'S AUTHORIZED TO COVER STORIES WITH ACCURACY, TRUTH AND FAIRNESS.

AND I THINK THAT THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.

I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE THIS TO EVERYBODY IN OUR BUSINESS.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE SENSE IS THAT THE NEWS, CERTAINLY NATIONAL BUT EVEN LOCAL, CHANGED AND MOVED AWAY FROM THE IDEA OF WOOEFB POSITIVE STORIES INTO THE NEWSCAST?

I KNOW PEOPLE HAVE SAID THEY'RE SO DRIVEN BY RATINGS.

THAT'S THE MAGIC WORD.

AND PEOPLE -- YOU WILL GET MORE EYEBALLS OR MORE CLICKS IF YOU'RE TELLING A STORY THAT'S A TRAGEDY THAN AN UPLIFTING ONE.

DO YOU THINK THAT'S TRUE?

JACK, I HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING.

YOU MENTIONED THE WORD RATINGS, OKAY?

NOW, THERE WAS A TIME WHEN NEWSCASTS WERE NOT RATED, WHEN THE FCC FIRST STARTED, I MEAN, WE HAD TO PROMISE THE COMMUNITY OF WHAT WE WERE GOING TO DELIVER, A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE OF NEWS, INFORMATION, WEATHER AND SO FORTH.

AND THEN YOU HAD TO PROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE AT THE END OF YOUR PERIOD TO SHOW THAT YOU WERE SERVING THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY.

AND THAT WAS DRIVEN BY THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY.

NO QUESTION ABOUT IT AND RATINGS WERE NOT A FACTOR.

SO WE WERE MORE OF A PUBLIC SERVICE.

OKAY?

WE WERE CONCERNED ABOUT JUST MAKING SURE THAT WE WERE INFORMING PEOPLE, THAT WE WERE DOING OUR JOB.

RATINGS DID HAVE A MAJOR FACTOR, OKAY?

THEY DID BECOME A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF WHAT WE DO AND AS A RESULT PEOPLE STARTED LOOKING FOR HOW CAN WE GET MORE VIEWERS, HOW CAN WE DO MORE?

I THINK THAT WE'RE VERY FAMILIAR WITH HOW WE TEASE A STORY, HOW WE WANT TO BRING IN THE VIEWERS AND MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE GOING TO STAY WITH THIS BROADCAST.

I THINK THAT'S AN AREA WHERE WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL.

THE COMPETITION IS SO MEAN OUT THERE, THERE'S SO MUCH OF IT, THAT I THINK MANY ORGANIZATIONS LOOK TO FIND WAYS TO BRING IN THE AUDIENCE AND AS A RESULT YOU BLUR THE LINE.

YOU BLUR THE LINE.

YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL.

ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT FOR ALL OF THOSE FACTORS, THE EXPLOSION OF MEDIA OUTLETS OUT THERE, THE COMPETITION, FOR VIEWERS, FOR CLICKS, FOR INTEREST, ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT WE MIGHT BE SEEING LESS OF INVOLVEMENT OF POSITIVE STORIES BECAUSE OF ALL OF THOSE FACTORS THAT YOU MENTIONED?

I'M HOPING THAT IT MIGHT GO THE OTHER WAY.

I TALK TO A LOT OF PEOPLE AS YOU DO, I'M ON THE STREET AND INTERVIEWING PEOPLE ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS AND THEY ALWAYS ASK ME ABOUT HOW COME THERE'S SO MUCH NEGATIVE NEWS ON THE AIR AND I LIKE THE FACT YOU'RE PUTTING SOME POSITIVE SORES.

I'M HOPING THAT MAYBE THERE WILL COME A POINT WHERE PEOPLE WILL SAY, DO YOU KNOW WHAT, WE NOTE THAT THE HUT LEVEL, HOMES USING TELEVISION DROPS, PARTICULARLY LATE AT NIGHT.

PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO GO TO BED THINKING ABOUT ALL OF THE PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD, THEY'RE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING BETTER.

PEOPLE WATCH OR DO SOMETHING THAT MAKES THEM FEEL BETTER, ESPECIALLY WHEN GOING TO SLEEP AT NIGHT.

I'M HOPING THAT MAYBE WE WILL STRIKE THE BALANCE, LET'S GIVE THEM THE NEWS, PUT IT IN THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE BUT ALSO GIVE THEM OTHER POSITIVE THINGS TO THINK ABOUT SO WE CAN FEEL THAT THERE IS SOME -- THERE'S A KEYBOARD, HOPE.

HOPE.

IF WE LOSE HOPE WE'VE LOST EVERYTHING.

I WILL SAY ONE LAST THING.

MAYA ANGELOU, SHE WAS WONDERFUL IN TERMS OF WHAT WE DO.

PIMA I NOT REMEMBER WHAT YOU SAID OR WHAT YOU DID BUT THEY WILL REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.

SO THIS IS A DELIGHT TO TALK WITH YOU.

YOU BE WELL.

SHACK I MY HAND.

THANK YOU, JACK.

MY PLEASURE.

TO CHECK OUT SOME OF OOERN'S POSITIVELY ERNIE STORIES VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

> WE CONTINUE NOW WITH OUR SERIES FRONT LINE TO HOME FRONT WHERE WE LOOK AT THE CHALLENGES OVER 3 MILLION POST 9/11 VETERANS ARE FACING SINCE THEY'VE RETURNED FROM SERVICE IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.

AMONG THAT GROUP A WIDE SWATH OF AGES, BABY BOOMERS, GEN-Xers, AND NOW GENERATION Z.

THE FEMALE VETERAN POPULATION ALSO BRINGS A NEW SET OF CHALLENGES AS THEIR RANKS IS EXPECTED TO DOUBLE IN THE COMING YEARS AND OUR VETS ARE FACING A NEW ILLNESS AS WELL.

BUT THERE'S GOOD NEWS.

AN ORGANIZATION CALLED IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA IS WORKING TOWARD FINDING SOLUTIONS.

JOINING US NOW WITH DETAILS, TWO VETERANS, VADIM PANASYUK AND CYNTHIA FANAA.

WE WELCOME BOTH OF YOU TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

LET ME START BECAUSE I WANT TO GET A PERSPECTIVE FROM EACH OF YOU AND HOW YOU LOOK AT THIS AND WORK ON THIS.

TELL ME EACH, VADIM, I WILL START WITH YOU, WHY YOU JOINED THE MILITARY.

BASICALLY WHAT YOU DID THERE AND WHAT YOU'RE DOING NOW WITH THE ORGANIZATION.

MY WHOLE FAMILY COME FROM UKRAINE, I'M AN IMMIGRANT, I WAS NATURALIZED IN THE MILITARY.

I GOT MY CITIZENSHIP IN BAGHDAD.

THAT WAS A GREAT STORY.

SECOND TOUR AND YOU GET YOUR CITIZENSHIP.

YES, SIR.

GOOD FOR YOU.

GOOD FOR YOU.

THE MILITARY HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF MY LIFE, ALL THE MEN SERVED IN THE SOVIET MILITARY, IN WORLD WAR II I HAD FAMILY FIGHTING THE SOVIETS AND AGAINST THE SOVIETS.

IT WAS ALWAYS PART OF MY LIFE AND AFTER 9/11 I WAS ALREADY HERE FOR A FEW YEARS, YOU KNOW, THIS WAS MY NEW HOME, MY NEW COUNTRY AND IT WAS A NO-BRAINER FOR ME.

CYNTHIA, HOW ABOUT YOU?

WHAT GOT YOU INTO IT?

I'M ALSO AN IMMIGRANT, I WAS BORN IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND I DID NOT GET MY CITIZENSHIP IN THE ARMY, IT WAS BEFORE THAT, BUT I FELT A SENSE OF SERVICE EVEN COMING FROM, YOU KNOW, FAMILY LISTEN ANALOGY OF MILITARY PEOPLE AND IT JUST FELT RIGHT.

IT WAS PART OF MY LIFE, INTO I ENTIRE LIFE.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE O, HOW IT GOT STARTED AND WHAT EACH OF YOU DO WITHIN THAT ORGANIZATION.

SURE.

SO IAVA HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE 2004, IT WAS STARTED BY OUR COO AND FOUNDER PAUL RIKOFF.

A LOT OF THE GENERATIONS BEFORE US HAD DEDICATED ORGANIZATIONS THAT PUSHED SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT WERE IMPORTANT TO THEM AND PAUL NOTICED THAT THERE WAS A LACK OF THAT VOICE FOR THIS GENERATION OF VETS.

CYNTHIA, HOW ABOUT YOU, WHAT DREW YOU TO THE ORGANIZATION?

SO I HEARD ABOUT IT FIRST FROM MY PROFESSOR, HE ACTUALLY -- WE HAD A MUTUAL FRIEND THAT WORKED AT IAVA BEFORE AND HE TOLD ME ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION, I HAD NO IDEA ABOUT IT WHICH A LOT OF VETERANS HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT THE SERVICES OTHER ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDE, BUT I STARTED IN THE HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT AND NOW I AM THE HEAD OF HUMAN RESOURCES.

WHAT ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ISSUES DO YOU SEE THE VETERANS EXPERIENCING WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THEIR EDUCATIONAL BENEFIT?

THE ISSUES RANGE FROM GETTING YOUR CHECKS ON TIME TO MAKING SURE THAT THE SCHOOL GETS PAID AN YOU ARE GETTING IN, TO OTHER MORE SIGNIFICANT ISSUES WHEN A SERVICE MEMBER IS TRYING TO TRANSFER THEIR BENEFITS AND THERE IS A LOT OF CONFUSION ABOUT THAT.

WE'VE WORKED WITH DEPENDENTS OF VETERANS WHO ARE STUCK WITH $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 BILLS BECAUSE IT TOOK VA A COUPLE YEARS TO CATCH UP TO A FAILED TRANSFERABILITY.

WITH OUR DEFICITS AND WITH EVERYTHING GOING ON NOW, EVERYTHING IS ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK.

SO I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO MAINTAIN THE PRESSURE ON CONGRESS AND MAINTAINING ON THE LEVERS OF POWER TO MAKE SURE THESE BENEFITS ARE PROTECTED.

I MENTIONED IN THE INTRODUCTION A VARIETY OF ISSUES, WE WERE TALKING ABOUT EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS.

WITH HE TALKED ABOUT THE FACT THAT THERE ARE SO MANY WOMEN NOW COMING OUT OF THE MILITARY.

SO WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THEN COUNSELING AND HELPING FEMALE VETERANS AS OPPOSED TO MALE VETERANS?

IT'S NOT EQUAL TO A MAN'S CARE.

WE LAUNCHED A CAMPAIGN CALLED THE SHE WHO WAS BORN TO BATTLE CAMPAIGN BECAUSE, WELL, THE IRS THING THAT YOU SEE WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE VA IS THEIR MOTTO, TO CARE FOR HIM AND HIS WIDOW AND SERVANT.

THERE'S MORE THAN HIM'S.

I'M WALKING INTO THE VA AND I SEE THAT MOTTO, I DON'T FEEL LIKE I'M BEING REPRESENTED, BUT THE SERVICES WE'RE LUCKY HERE IN NEW YORK THAT WE HAVE, YOU KNOW, MULTIPLE VAs THAT ARE BIG AND HAVE SERVICES, BUT WHAT ABOUT THOSE THAT LIVE IN SMALLER TOWNS, THEY DON'T HAVE MAMMOGRAM MACHINES, THIS HE DON'T HAVE PROSTHETIC STAFF TO FIT WOMEN TO THEY HAVE TO BE FITTED WITH MEN'S PROSTHETICS.

WE WANT EQUAL SERVICE AND IAVA IS LEADING THE WAY IN THAT WITH OUR DEBORAH SAMPSON ACT.

I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT ONE OTHER THINGS.

I MENTIONED THE NOTION OF ILLNESSES THAT VETERANS ARE COMING BACK WITH.

WE'VE HEARD TALK ABOUT THE BURNING PITS AND THE IMPACT IT HAD.

THERE HAVE BEEN PARALLELS SUGGESTED MADE TO AGENT ORANGE IN VIETNAM.

TO YOUR VIEWERS WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT A BURN PIT IS, IT'S BASICALLY A WAY THAT FORWARD DEPLOYED UNITS GET RID OF WASTE, WHETHER IT IS HUMAN WASTE, WHETHER IT'S, YOU KNOW, WASTE OF THE CHOW HALL, CERTAIN PAINTS, WHATEVER IS GOING ON, THEY THROW IT IN THIS BIG PIT, DOUSE IT WITH JET FUEL AND BURN IT.

TYPICALLY THIS CREATES VERY TOXIC PLUMES OF SMOKE AND THAT IS ALSO HOW, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE BURN HUMAN WASTE AS WELL.

YOU HAVE A PRIVATE WITH A PICKETT STIRRING THAT STUFF AS IT BURNS DOWN TO A PUCK SO YOU CAN BURY IT.

A LOT OF VETERANS ARE REPORTING RESPIRATORY ISSUES, DECLINE IN LUNG FUNCTION AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE.

YOU'VE MENTIONED AGENT ORANGE, WHICH, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF VIETNAM VETERANS WERE SUFFERING FROM, AND IT TOOK UP UNTIL, I BELIEVE, LATE '80s OR EARLY '90s FOR THE VA TO RECOGNIZE IT AS A PRESUMPTIVE ILLNESS TO WHERE THESE VETERANS WOULD GET COMPENSATED WHERE THEY WOULD GET THE CARE THAT THEY NEED, SPECIFIC CARE FOR WHAT THEY'VE ENCOUNTERED AND SOMETHING SOMETHING THAT IAVA IS DOING, WE ARE KIND OF USING THAT PLAYBOOK EXCEPT WE'RE TRYING TO ACCELERATE IT.

WE'RE NOT TRYING TO WAIT 30 YEARS BEFORE THE VA ACCEPTS THIS AS FACT.

WE ARE TRYING TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN TODAY.

BOTH OF YOU, VADIM, CYNTHIA, OUR THANKS TO YOU CERTAINLY FOR THE SERVICE YOU PERFORMED IN THE PAST, FOR OUR COUNTRY, AND FOR THE SERVICE YOU'RE CONTINUING TO PERFORM.

SO WE THANK YOU FOR ALL OF THAT AND A I'M SURE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING WITH YOU THANK YOU.

YOU BOTH BE WELL AND WE APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Announcer: 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSLYN P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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