This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 29, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks, Jesse. That laughing. Good evening. I'm Bret Baier. Breaking tonight, word of a potential treatment for COVID-19, sparking renewed optimism among government health officials, health experts, and investors.
We'll talk to one of our own medical experts about the developments shortly. The treatment news sent stocks soaring this morning. This afternoon, the Federal Reserve committing to keep interest rates where they are for the foreseeable future.
Statistics showing the economy shrank at nearly five percent annual rate in the first quarter, have many people calling for China to pay, literally, compensate for billions of dollars in losses. And that is where we will begin tonight.
Chief White House correspondent John Roberts, starts us off in the North Lawn. Good evening, John.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bret, good evening. President Trump has been careful so far not to hit China too hard about the virus because the United States is still reliant on Chinese supply lines for urgently needed personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals among other things.
But increasingly, the president is wielding a bigger stick when it comes to who will take the political blame for the virus and the havoc that it has wreaked.
ROBERTS: In the Oval Office with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, President Trump, today confirming he has asked for intelligence reports on whether China and the WHO hid information about coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's coming in and I'm getting pieces already, and we're not happy about it.
ROBERTS: The White House has launched a renewed effort to pin the blame for the pandemic on China, and to combat Chinese claims that the virus originated in the United States.
MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: When countries engage in disinformation, it creates risk. The Chinese government partly tells us they want to be our partner, they want to be transparent. We need partners who we can rely on.
ROBERTS: President Trump has talked about China paying some sort of price for letting the virus out, threats China today scoffed at.
LE YUCHENG, VICE FOREIGN MINISTER OF CHINA: Those claims are preposterous, they present an out and out political farce. First of all, asking China to make reparations for this kind of claims, they have no legal basis. There is no international law that supports blaming a country for simply being the first to report a disease.
ROBERTS: President Trump, also threatening to permanently withdraw funding for the World Health Organization, pointing out the United States is its biggest contributor, with the president charging the WHO is acting as a mouthpiece for China.
TRUMP: Even today, I've heard some statements That are very positive. There's nothing positive about what happened in China, having to do with this subject.
ROBERTS: As that war of words rages, President Trump continues his campaign to break free of lockdowns that have crippled the economy. Meeting this afternoon with a small group of leaders from the hotel, restaurant, and automotive industries.
CHRISTOPHER NASSETTA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, HILTON WORLDWIDE: What we're hearing from our customers is that they are desperate to get back out, and move around, and see their country again, and see their friends again.
ROBERTS: Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, predicting this morning that the pace of reopening will steadily pick up.
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I think you'll see by June, a lot of the country should be back to normal, and the hope is that by July, the country is really rocking again.
ROBERTS: The president also today moving to forestall any food shortage in a conference call with agricultural industry leaders, reviewing his decision to invoke the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants rolling.
By declaring them critical infrastructure, the president protecting corporations from certain liabilities, he says, were a bottleneck threatening to break the supply chain.
TRUMP: They are thrilled, and that whole bottleneck is broken up.
ROBERTS: On the WHO and China, President Trump, says that after an investigation is completed, he will make a recommendation on how to proceed. And the presidency today also firing a warning shot across the bow of the WHO, saying that the United States has plenty of other places to spend American taxpayer money when it comes to public health. Bret.
BAIER: And John, we heard the president say he wants to "get back out there", now he is going to.
ROBERTS: He is planning a trip to Arizona next week, our understanding is that there is a company out there that is making protective masks. The vice president has been out and about, he was at the Mayo Clinic yesterday.
So, it looks like the president is going to get rid of a little bit of cabin fever and probably head to the four corners next week. Bret.
BAIER: John Roberts, live on the North Lawn. John, thank you.
We have an exciting programming announcement for you as well. Please make plans to join Martha MacCallum and me when we host a special two-hour virtual town hall with President Trump.
It will take place from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Live from, perhaps, the most iconic monument on the national mall, the president will answer your questions. It happens this Sunday, May 3rd from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Stocks up big today. The Dow surged 533. The S&P 500 jumped 76. The NASDAQ rose 307 today.
Let's talk about all of this. Fox Business correspondent Lauren Simonetti, joins us tonight. Good evening, Lauren.
LAUREN SIMONETTI, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK REPORTER: Good evening, Bret. Well, the U.S. economy is unfortunately very likely in recession. In the first three months of this year, the economy shrank by 4.8 percent. It marked the steepest contraction since the great recession over a decade ago, and the data included just two weeks of the coronavirus shut down, which means the figures for this current quarter will be worst.
JPMorgan is forecasting a 40 percent drop in second-quarter GDP. Investors, however, are focusing on the size of the bounce back in the second half of the year, and how we get there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Do we need another stimulus package? I think the second half of this year is going to grow, big snapback. I'd like to see a more incentive minded approach that will get this economy roaring. It will come out of the chute in the second half and go right in the 2021 with a very positive rebound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMONETTI: What's cushioning the economy right now is stimulus, specifically, unemployment checks going out to what could be 30 million Americans when we get the latest data first thing in the morning. 30 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits in the past six weeks, most are receiving an additional $600 a week. That means the average weekly payment to out of work Americans is $978 versus 378 last year.
Here is the rub, Bret. $978 is more than what half of workers make when they are actually working. And critics say these big government checks complicate company's strategies to reopen because many of the furloughed workers are earning more now by not working at all.
But remember, the checks only last until the end of July. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska and other Republicans are warning that any attempt to extend the benefits in a potential phase four relief package could harm businesses in the end.
Bret, back to you.
BAIER: Lauren, thank you. Two additional states are easing their lockdown restrictions tonight. Two others will do so tomorrow and more than a dozen Friday. But, there is pushback. Tonight, correspondent Jonathan Serrie has that story.
JONATHAN SERRIE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Today, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, criticized hundreds of mourners who ignored social distancing and packed at small Brooklyn Street last night for the funeral of an orthodox rabbi who died from COVID-19.
BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: The people who go to that gathering, some will be sick with this disease. It's just a fact, we know this. Some will spread the disease to others. People, as a result, will die.
SERRIE: Although New York State has seen hospitalizations dropped for 16 straight days, Governor Andrew Cuomo, says bed capacity including ICU beds must reach 30 percent before he's ready to begin reopening the economy.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We're making progress, that's for sure, but we're not out of the woods yet, and we're proceeding with caution.
SERRIE: 30 states have already begun relaxing restrictions. By the end of the month, stay-at-home orders will have expired in a total of 12 states. And President Trump, says he will not extend federal social distancing guidelines past tomorrow's expiration date.
As the nation transitions to a new normal, federal health officials say continued vigilance will be crucial in keeping the U.S. below the 70,000 deaths forecast by some models.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we are unsuccessful or prematurely try to open up and we have additional outbreaks that are out of control, it could be much more than that, it could be a rebound.
SERRIE: Duke University researchers have confirmed the first U.S. case of COVID-19 in a dog, a North Carolina pug named Winston, apparently contracted coronavirus from his owners.
SERRIE: They've all made a full recovery, but federal health officials are aware of a small number of cases outside the U.S. of dogs and cats acquiring coronavirus from infected humans. So, the CDC includes pets in its social distancing guidelines. Bret.
BAIER: Jonathan Serrie in Atlanta. Jonathan, thank you.
We told you at the top of the program about new optimism over a coronavirus treatment being tested right now. One of the president's top advisors, Dr. Anthony Fauci, seems hopeful.
Let's talk about it with our own expert. Dr. Marty Makary, Johns Hopkins health policy expert, a Fox News contributor. Doc, thanks for being here. I want to play the sound bite from Dr. Fauci earlier today about remdesivir. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: Remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery. Although a 31 percent improvement, it doesn't seem like a knockout 100 percent, it is a very important proof of concept. Because what it has proven is that a drug can block this virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So, this sounds like good news, why is this significant?
DR. MARTY MAKARY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Bret, this was a study we were not expecting the results of until later in May, but one of the scheduled interim analysis that are done for ethical purposes, it was found that the average number of hospital days went from 15 to 11, that's the 31 percent of reduction.
Also, there was a reduction in the death rate from 11.6 percent, down to eight percent. But because the sample was small in the early analysis, it was not clinically significant, yet, a bit promising.
And this comes in stark contrast to the remdesivir study out of China that got a lot of criticism. That was much smaller, it had 237 patients. This had 1,063 patients at the time of this analysis. So, very promising and already --
BAIER: And I was reading that.
MAKARY: Yes, we're hearing about maybe an emergency authorization as early as this evening. So, that's pretty remarkable.
BAIER: I was reading, it's a double-blinded randomized controlled trial, which I guess is bulletproof in the -- in this medicine trial effort.
MAKARY: That's as pretty much as strong as it gets when it comes to evidence. That's what we call level 1a evidence, enough to shut down the trail and make it a standard of care.
BAIER: How does it work, like physically, how does it work?
MAKARY: So, the drug was developed for other coronaviruses, namely SARS and MERS, but those infections went away before they could really do big trials on it.
It inserts a molecule into the RNA and essentially short-circuits it. Now, one thing to remember, it's not a silver bullet, it reduces the severity and probably increases recovery.
But also, this is an I.V. medication, it's not something you can go to the pharmacy tonight and pick up.
BAIER: So, this is, would you say, a breakthrough -- a breakthrough on the way to something positive for a treatment? This is obviously different than a vaccine.
MAKARY: This was really good news because it came along ahead of the expected results. And I think ultimately, we'll beat this thing down with a number of tools in the toolbox, perhaps a vaccine, plus this, plus potentially the plasma therapy, and there's many other drugs right now currently in trials.
BAIER: Because remdesivir was already out there, I mean, it was being used already.
MAKARY: We're seeing the most enthusiasm about the medications that have been on the shelf. There are many that are still in the pipe and have not yet even hit the public or been in the media yet, and I've heard of many of those, and they sound very promising.
BAIER: And Doc, as we're getting ready to see these states, a number of them open up, what is the status of the vaccine efforts?
MAKARY: Well, there are 70 vaccines in different stages of development. There are seven that are being given in patients right now. We're sort of neck and neck with China. We've got three, they've got three. They're actually in further stages, their drugs are in phase two and three. And it's a real race.
As Scott Gottlieb pointed out in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, the country that gets there first will have a significant advantage because they will control the supply for the rest of the world, and the risk is, if we're not there first, we could get locked out. So, we're close and it's moving along, but it will take probably a year.
BAIER: That's a big story that we'll be following. Dr. Makary, as always. Thank you so much.
MAKARY: Good to be with you.
BAIER: Up next, the mystery status of Kim Jong-un, plus the latest from the race for the White House, we'll have those stories.
First, here is what some of our fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight. Fox 32 in Chicago, as extended security and body cam video show police shooting an unarmed short-order cook at the foot of a subway escalator. And then, again, with his back turned to officers after they tried to stop him for violating a city ordinance by walking from one train car to another. 33-year-old Ariel Roman survived but was severely injured. The officers have been stripped of their police powers during an investigation.
Fox 45 in Baltimore as Democrat Kweisi Mfume easily won a special election to complete the term of the late congressman, Elijah Cummings. Mfume held the seat for five terms before leaving to lead the NAACP.
Fox 46 in Charlotte, North Carolina, as city leaders there vote to accept a federal grant for security-related costs related to the Republican National Convention this summer. The move comes to spike concerns the event may not proceed as planned amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And this is a live look at Columbus, Ohio from our affiliate Fox 28 there. One of the big stories there tonight, the NCAA moves forward with a plan to allow college athletes to earn money for endorsements, and a host of other activities involving personal appearances, and social media.
The plan permits athletes to cash in on their names, images, and the likenesses as never before and without involvement from the association, schools, or conferences. The changes still must be voted on by the NCAA membership next year.
That is tonight's live look "OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY" from SPECIAL REPORT. We'll be right back.
BAIER: In tonight's "DEMOCRACY 2020" report, new insight into how the Joe Biden presidential campaign is trying to fight an allegation of sexual assault by a former Senate staff member for Biden, while the candidate himself still has yet to answer a single question about it.
Correspondent Peter Doocy shows us.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Don't take our word for it, read The New York Times. That's basically, how the Biden campaign is directing surrogates to answer questions about allegations of rape by former Senate staffer Tara Reade.
Biden talking points published by BuzzFeed include this line. "In this case, a thorough review by The New York Times has led to the truth: this incident did not happen." One potential running mate, Amy Klobuchar, told MSNBC, "I think, The New York Times -- I haven't read all the stories. I read that one. It was very thorough. They interviewed people." Another, Stacey Abrams went even further.
STACEY ABRAMS, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN OF GEORGIA: The New York Times did a deep investigation, and they found that the accusation was not credible. I believe Joe Biden.
DOOCY: The New York Times, says no, they didn't. In a statement to Fox, the paper explains, "Buzzfeed, reported on the existence of talking points being circulated by the Biden campaign that inaccurately suggest a New York Times investigation found that the Tara Reade's allegation did not happen. Our investigation made no conclusion either way."
A Democratic strategist who work for a rival top-tier candidate this cycle tells Fox News about the controversy. "I think character assassinations don't work with Joe Biden because people come into it already knowing him and having an opinion one way or another. That being said, he needs it to be asked and answered."
DONNA BRAZILE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: His campaign has addressed it, his -- the people who speak on his behalf have addressed it, and I'm sure that whenever he is asked the question, he will address it.
DOOCY: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, says, "I stand by former Vice President Biden."
Biden's accuser had claiming, for years he raped her, a stand heard higher than when Gillibrand went after Brett Kavanaugh, over another woman's claims of sexual assault.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): She told her therapist and her husband about it. Five years ago, she told a friend about it. A year ago.
DOOCY: Tara Reade filed a police report against Joe Biden in D.C. 20 days ago. And as of this afternoon, that investigation is now inactive. Reade tells Fox, she knew that was going to happen because the complaint falls outside the criminal statute of limitations, but she wanted to move forward with it anyway as a possible way to get -- to open up the door to have access to a victim's advocate. Bret.
BAIER: Peter, The Washington Free Beacon counts five weeks, 19 interviews, 142 questions for Joe Biden, no mention of the sexual assault claim. Is he letting himself, be question broadly with reporters?
DOOCY: No, in fact, at the beginning of quarantine when they stop hosting campaign events, the Biden campaign initiated a pair of Zoom conference calls where you could Zoom-in with the candidate, and if the campaign wanted you to ask a question, they would open up your webcam.
The last one of those, though, was April 2nd. That is a month from two days from now. Bret.
BAIER: All right. Peter, as always. Thank you. Republican turned Independent Michigan Congressman Justin Amash is seeking a libertarian nomination for president. Amash is a Trump critic who left the GOP and supported impeachment.
President Trump, tweeted, weighing in, "I think Amash would make a wonderful candidate, especially since he is way behind in his district and has no chance of maintaining his congressional seat, he almost always votes for the do-nothing Dems. Anyway, I like him even more than Jill Stein."
A federal appeals court panel is striking down a Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals panel found the statute violates the Equal Protection Clause and the National Voter Registration Act.
Meantime, governments around the world are working hard tonight to try to solve the mystery of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. He has been absent from recent state events leading to speculation he may be sick or even dead.
Senior foreign affairs correspondent Greg Palkot has our update tonight.
GREG PALKOT, FOX NEWS CHANNEL SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: New clues in the guessing game over Kim Jong-un's nearly three-week absence. There had been reports the North Korean leader had an operation, that he's brain-dead, or that he's passed away.
It's also been suggested, though, he could just be hiding away from COVID- 19, which despite official denials is reportedly serious in North Korea.
JOHN DELURY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, YONSEI UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The first guests should be, he's avoiding the public in North Korea because he's limiting his exposure to the pandemic.
PALKOT: South Korean officials, after saying for days Chairman Kim was alive and well, are also now publicly backing up that COVID line.
KIM YEON-CHUL, UNIFICATION MINISTER OF SOUTH KOREA: We have to consider coronavirus prevention measures.
PALKOT: They point out the subject that his last appearance at a politburo meeting was anti-COVID measures. And the rubber-stamp parliament he missed the next day was crowded and masked free.
Today, there was more possible evidence he went to his coastal resort home. Satellite photos of his yacht being moved nearby. And released earlier, aerial views of his personal train arriving there.
Still, some experts say if Kim was OK, there could have been images of him released. And others point to the recent elevation and power of officials including his sister, Kim Yo-jong.
No matter who is in charge, the Trump administration says it has one aim.
POMPEO: Our mission remains the same, it's to deliver on that agreement that Chairman Kim made with President Trump back in Singapore. And that's to fully denuclearize -- verified denuclearization in North Korea.
PALKOT: Secretary Pompeo, also mentioned the possibility that COVID-19 might be playing a role in Kim's disappearance. But it still remains anyone's guess. Bret.
BAIER: Greg Palkot in London. Greg, thanks. Up next, the tough and emotional decision of when to allow the nation's schools to reopen.
BAIER: When talking about easing coronavirus restrictions, there may be no more emotionally charged battlefield than the nation schools. Tonight, senior correspondent Alicia Acuna from Denver, looks at the possibilities.
ALICIA ACUNA, FOX NEWS CHANNEL GENERAL ASSIGNMENT REPORTER: More than 55 million students grades K-12 are waiting to hear when they go back to school.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): I think, we may want to consider getting that school year moved up a little bit.
ACUNA: California Governor Gavin Newsom, says class instruction could begin as early as July with strict guidelines and campus modifications.
In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis has raised the possibility of a January start. Hallways everywhere will look much different.
GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): And that might mean different scheduling, it might mean different entry and exit periods, and it might mean additional spacing in classrooms.
ACUNA: Denver public schools is working on a plan that is a moving target.
MARK FERRANDINO, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Whether it's masks, whether it's temperature taking, whether it's all those types of things of how do we do that in a way that can balance those different need.
LILY ESKELSEN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: We're actually quite terrified that people are not going to listen to the medical advice from the professionals.
ALICIA ACUNA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The nation's largest teachers union says remote learning is going as well as can be expected, even with knowledge of potential furloughs.
GARCIA: The funding for public schools, the taxes that aren't being collected, they're going to start saying, who don't we need to?
ACUNA: Schools will receive billions of dollars from the federal stimulus package, but superintendents are calling for an additional $175 billion from Congress, projecting an estimated 20 percent loss in combined state and local revenues that would likely result in some 275,000 teachers being laid off in big city public school systems alone. Experts say kids who are already behind will slip even further.
MARK FERRANDINO, DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS CEO: We know it's not reaching every kid in the same way.
ACUNA: School officials say it's not a matter of if but when some schools will need to close again if someone tests positive for COVID-19. Bret?
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Alica, thank you.
The coronavirus may soon have a big impact on the food you eat. There are growing concerns about the meat supply, and President Trump is taking action. Here is a senior correspondent Mike Tobin.
MIKE TOBIN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: The massive JBS pork processing plant in Worthington, Minnesota, has gone from processing pork for the consumer to destroying and discarding pigs bottlenecked in a broken food chain. In the face of 22 meats processing plant closures due to coronavirus, much of the livestock cannot get from farm to table. Farmers are faced with the reality of culling the herd of.
BRAIN DUNCAN, ILLINOIS HOG FARMER: The emotional side of doing that would be something very difficult to recover from, at least for me, and then let alone the financial aspect of it.
TOBIN: With the intention of keeping the meat-packing plants open, President Trump invoked powers from the Defense Production Act, declaring meat-packers essential, which among other things would protect them from liability, and also mean the federal government will provide PPE.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are so happy, they're all gung-ho, and we've solved their problems. We unblocked some of the bottlenecked.
TOBIN: In normal times meat-packers work shoulder to shoulder for maximum efficiency. The United Food and Commercial Workers union says at least 20 workers have died from the coronavirus, another 5,000 are sick. But the governor of Iowa says shutting down meat production in her state responsible for 10 percent of the nation's meat supply is not an option.
GOV. KIM REYNOLDS, (R) IOWA: We have a role and an obligation from our farmers to our processors to our supply chain to continue to feed the world and keep food on the plate.
TOBIN: The food workers union wants increased testing for plant workers, isolation of sick workers, priority access to protective equipment, and a slower line so employees can spread out. UFCW President Marc Perrone said we cannot have a secure food supply without the safety of these workers.
TOBIN: The Minnesota pork producers say this is a worst-case scenario. Farmers raise animals to feed the world. Killing and discarding them go against everything a farmer does. Bret, back to you.
BAIER: Mike Tobin in Chicago. Mike, thanks.
The coronavirus could be fatal for one of the great American institutions - - the movie theater. We'll tell you why when we come back.
BAIER: The Baseball Hall of Fame is canceling its induction ceremony scheduled for July because of the coronavirus. That means inductees at Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons, and the late Marvin Miller will be honored next summer. Major League Baseball officials are still working on plans to try to save the 2020 season.
The coronavirus could permanently change the way you watch movies. Theaters have been shut down for weeks. Now the largest change in the world says it will no longer play films from one of the major studios over its direct-to home policy. From Los Angeles tonight, national correspondent William La Jeunesse on a civil war at the movies.
WILLIAM LA JEUNESSE, FOX NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is the movie theater dead? Oscar officials said Tuesday for the first-time films released solely on demand would be eligible for Academy Awards this year. Universal Pictures released the animated movie "Trolls World Tour" exclusively on demand, taking in a record nearly $100 million in three weeks.
REBECCA KEEGAN, "HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": For theaters this is disastrous. This is accelerating a trend that they were already worried about, and because theaters are closed right now, they really have very little leverage to push back at the studios.
LA JEUNESSE: AMC, the world's largest theater chain, retaliated, writing "This radical change by Universal represents nothing but downside for us and is categorically unacceptable. AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the U.S., Europe, or the Middle East," putting in jeopardy upcoming Universal releases "Fast and Furious Nine," "Candyman," and the James Bond film "No Time to Die."
KEEGAN: For the studios, they don't want to release some extraordinary $300 million investment into a marketplace where no one is going to be willing to show up.
LA JEUNESSE: Until now, cinemas enjoyed an exclusive 90-day window, but closed theaters forced studios to sell some films directly to HBO and Netflix. "The results for "Trolls World Tour" have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of premium video-on-demand" CEO Jeff Shell told the "Wall Street Journal." "As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats."
LA JEUNESSE: Now the question is, will other studios follow suit? As for other theater chains, Regal voiced solidarity today with AMC, refusing to play Universal films. So this standoff caused by the virus is likely to change the movie landscape for years to come. Bret?
BAIER: It will be interesting to follow. William, thank you.
Up next, the panel on holding China accountable and demanding reparations.
First, Beyond our Borders tonight. At least 38 people are dead in one of South Korea's worst fires in years. It broke out at a construction site near the capital. Officials say the death toll could rise because more people are believed to be trapped inside a warehouse there.
The environmental minister in the Czech Republic says the country is facing its worst drought in 500 years, and some communities could see their supplies run dry. Drought conditions have persisted since 2015.
Israelis are celebrating their independence day at home amid a nationwide lockdown over the coronavirus. The national holiday honors the creation of Israel after the end of the British mandate in 1948. It's usually a festive occasion with people heading to the beach, hosting barbecues, and watching fireworks.
And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds have announced the birth of a son. It comes just two days after Johnson returned to work following hospitalization for the coronavirus. Johnson was present for the birth but was back at work, we're told, within hours.
Just some of the other stories Beyond our Borders tonight. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is nothing positive about what happened in China.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: What the Chinese Communist Party did here in not preventing the spread of this around the world, they are responsible for it. America needs to hold them accountable. This is classic communist disinformation. This is what communists do.
LE YUCHENG, CHINESE VICE FOREIGN MINISTER: The various claims are preposterous. They present an out and out political farce. First of all, asking China to make reparations for these kinds of claims, they have no legal basis. There is no international law that supports blaming a country for simply being the first to report a disease.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: China pushing back on investigations by the U.S., but not just the U.S. Other countries now saying they are behind investigations as well to see what China knew, when they knew it at the beginning of this virus. And who's going to pay for all of this? Will it be China?
Let's bring in our panel, Michael Crowley, White House correspondent for "The New York Times," Katie Pavlich, news editor at Townhall.com, and Jonah Goldberg, editor in chief of "The Dispatch." Jonah, let me start with you. Your thoughts on China at the beginning stage of this, but clearly China sees it as a gathering threat.
JONAH GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: And they should do. The crime that China is guilty of isn't that they are the first country to report this virus. It's that they didn't report it accurately, openly, transparently, and on time. If you talk to epidemiologists, the most important thing China could have done was just be clear in the information that it had, and it didn't do that. And that's one of the things that let this thing get out of hand.
I'm a little skeptical about whether or not the administration or the west or whoever it is, the world, could pull off imposing actual reparations on them, the law on that is pretty murky. But as a political matter, China is playing this very badly, is galvanizing a lot of the world, which it was starting to win over to its side, against it. And this is going to be a dividing line in American and western politics for a long time to come.
BAIER: Katie, it's galvanizing the world. It's also galvanizing Democrats and Republicans, who you see coming together on questioning China's actions, at least at the beginning after the virus got out to.
KATIE PAVLICH, NEWS EDITOR, TOWNHALL.COM: Right, because whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, this virus has affected your constituency, whether it's economically or with health. And if you look at what senators are planning on doing, for example, Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, they want to introduce new legislation that would make it easier for companies to come back to the United States, to bring their supply chains for manufacturing of PPE and pharmaceuticals to the rust belt to have a new American project to get the economy back on track.
And when it comes to China, they have a lot on the line when it comes to the stakes for them. You have Japan saying that they are now going to offer subsidies to companies to come back to their country, Australia demanding some consequences for China sending them faulty testing, whether it's for antibody testing or for the virus. And just in February, Bret, you had Secretary Pompeo in Germany and the Munich Security Conference where Huawei was a huge point of contention between the U.K. and the United States. Now you're seeing that the U.K. is going to drop Huawei as a result of China's behavior.
So overall, this is backfiring on China. Their lies are very easily disprovable. And they have a lot at stake when it comes to the Chinese Communist Party having to keep everyone in the country in line economically, and their biggest fear is that the United States would be able to prove to the people there the Chinese Communist Party has put this on them. They've lied about the numbers, and the economy ultimately in China will suffer as a result of their actions throughout the world.
BAIER: Michael, this started with a push against the World Health Organization by the administration, pointing to what they said was being complicit to what China was putting out there. Here's the president on the WHO.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's coming in and I'm getting pieces already, and we're not happy about it. And we are by far the largest contributor to WHO, World Health, and they misled us. I don't know, they must've known more than they knew. We knew things that they didn't know, and either they didn't know it and they didn't tell us, or right now they are literally a pipe organ for China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Michael, your thoughts on this and how China reacts to it all?
MICHAEL CROWLEY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": First of all, I think there's absolutely no chance that China is going to be forced to pay reparations, so this is kind of political theater, but it's useful for President Trump, who, as we know, like many politicians, but I think particularly so in his case, needs a foil, likes to be in a fight. It's hard to fight a virus, and fighting China is the next best thing he has. It also happens to be politically popular. China is not popular among Americans, was not popular even before this outbreak. And so it's a winning --
BAIER: You're breaking up here, Michael. Let me turn to Jonah real quick. There is this -- we'll try to reestablish your connection there. Jonah, there is this -- you have Joe Biden going after President Trump on whether he was too friendly to China at the beginning of this virus. So there is some interesting politics at play as we head towards November.
GOLDBERG: There are not the clear bright lines that political partisans would like there to be. President Trump at least publicly was saying he was taking China's word for how they were combating it. He does not doesn't like to criticize President Xi personally. But Joe Biden also has a long history of cordial relations with China and a legislative record to it. But at the end of the day, particularly on the right, it's not quite the cold war, but one of the few galvanizing ideas that unites a lot of people on the right these days is an increased skepticism towards China, a notion they have not turned into the member in good standing of the global community and global markets. Some people, I think, go too far, some don't take it seriously enough, but it is this idea that you can actually unite a lot of Republicans on that I think is actually pretty attractive to quite a few independents and Democrats as well.
BAIER: Michael, we cut off there, but I'll let you finish your thought, but I do want to add this this. Obviously, the U.S. is now considering pulling a lot of manufacturing supply chains, especially when it comes to pharmaceuticals, back into the U.S. Obviously China holds a lot of U.S. debt. You're saying there won't be reparations, but there could be pushback in other ways.
CROWLEY: Yes, absolutely. That supply chain issue is a big one. It's something that a lot of Republican members of Congress were already interested in, and they are doubling down on that. And I think that there's going to be a real push for it. How practical it is I think is another question. And particularly for Republicans who don't like to see too much government interference in the free market, it's going to be tricky to pressure businesses to change their supply chain structures.
Just one quick addendum. I think Jonah hit on a really important, interesting dynamic here, which is that President Trump is guns blazing at China and the World Health Organization, but he still does not criticize Xi Jinping by name. So he is really performing a difficult balancing act. I think he wants to maintain good relations with Xi because he still holds out hope that he will get a big trade deal and he's banking on that personal relationship. Whether he can straddle that for the next several months is going to be interesting to watch.
BAIER: Katie, last word, and different topic, and that is about the food supply here in the U.S., concern about some meat-packing plants possibly closing down because of all of this. The president taking action with an executive order. And the balance back and forth of telling people you got to get in there and protect the food supply for Americans. It's interesting to see the administration's take on this.
PAVLICH: Right, and I think it shows the overall impact economically of this virus and the domino effect it has had that will continue on even as the economy starts to try and open up in certain areas. The food supply chain is something that the administration and Congress thought was safe about a month ago with the grocery stores, but now we've seen that with the restaurants being shut down and not taking in a lot of that produce, and now seeing people on the frontlines of these meatpacking plants getting sick, that of course then in return makes it so that farmers are unable to sell their animals and they have to go to waste. So the government can do as much as they can, but in the end, the economics of this will play out in a long term unfortunately, and China is to blame for that.
BAIER: Opening up, a big part of all of this. Thanks, panel. We'll have our town hall with the president Sunday night, don't forget that.
When we come back, the brighter side of things, something to smile about.
BAIER: Finally tonight, the brighter side of things, a few silver linings. Jose, a 19-year-old student with Down syndrome, was surrounded by dozens of cheering health care workers as he was released from a Florida hospital after a grueling battle against the coronavirus. Outside that hospital, many of his family members and classmates were there to celebrate.
A nurse in Bethesda, Maryland, received a well-deserved round of applause from her neighbors as she headed to work to battle the pandemic another day.
A deliveryman in Massachusetts made a little girl's day purely by doing his job. A mom capturing this video of her daughter Charlotte waiting to greet their UPS driver at the door. She says seeing him is the highlight of Charlotte's week. Hi.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight, that's it for this SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and unafraid. "The Story" hosted by Martha MacCallum starts in just a minute.
And we have a great event, from the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. eastern time viewers will be able to submit their questions to FNC social accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram for a chance to appear in the national broadcast of this virtual town hall coming to you from one of the most iconic spots in the nation, on the National Mall, and it promises to be an amazing night.
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