Realize that this is a comment made "on the fly" without preparation. He switches from reported speech to direct speech but still back shifting from "Are there" to "Were there."
If you spend a lot of time analyzing what people say in interviews and expect that what they say will be completely grammatical, you will be perpetually confused.
If someone were writing this up carefully, you could say "The just said there was...and they asked if there were..."
- For Teachers