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Thousands Protest Hungarian Prime Minister Orban; Putin's Government Cracking Down On Rap Music; Couple Uses Two Ken Dolls To Create Same-Sex Bridal Set; U.K. Prime Minister May Dismisses Talk of Second Brexit Referendum; Reports Show Social Media Push to Help Trump; Acting Chief of Staff Slammed Trump in 2016; Hungary Protesters Fed Up with Orban's Government. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired December 18, 2018 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I'm John Vause. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Ahead this hour, and on she plods. The British prime minister sets a date for a do over parliamentary vote on her plan for leaving the E.U. while refusing to give in to crank (ph) calls for a second national referendum.

It now seems the only cyber attack greater to skirt (ph) than the Russian hack before the 2016 U.S. election is the Russian hacking since the election. Almost all of it focused on supporting just one man, Donald J. Trump.

And theirs has been a romance as perfect as their plastic model of proportionally unrealistic little bodies but they have been whispered questions after almost 60 years of no wedding. So now Mattel may be ready to embrace modern reality with their first same-sex bridal set.


VAUSE: Fourteen weeks now until the Brexit deadline and Theresa May, the British prime minister, appears to be running down the clock, announcing in Parliament that she plans to bring the agreement back there for a vote by mid-January.

She promised there will be reassurances from the E.U. before then, trying to maneuver some of the opponents. She's also rejecting the growing calls for a second referendum.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum, another vote which would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Jeremy Corbyn condemned the delay, accusing Ms. May personally

of trying to delay all of this, trying to run it down to the March 29th exit day. Corbyn is calling for a symbolic no confidence vote not in the government but in the prime minister herself.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: So, Mr. Speaker, the only way I can think of, of making sure a vote takes place this week, I'm about to table a motion which states the following, that this house has no confidence in the prime minister due to her failure to allow the House of Commons to have a meaningful vote straightaway on the withdrawal agreement and framework for future relationships between the U.K. and the European Union.


VAUSE: Downing Street described Corbyn's no confidence motion as a political stunt.

CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas is with us now from Los Angeles.

Oh, Brexit, it just keeps going and never ends. Another horror day for the British prime minister.

How many within her own Conservative Party are now asking, why they vote last week to keep her as leader?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: It's incredible, John, of course, since that vote last week where she got the number of two-thirds in favor, a third against, she's been to the European Union and come back empty-handed.

At the time of the vote last week she announced or negotiated that she would not run again in 2022.

So there is a sort of race for the leadership taking place now as different Conservative MPs are strategizing the future.

Of course she keeps going on about having a vote on her deal, which we all know will never make it through Parliament. So to answer your question, I guess, the absolute best number is 200 out of 650 MPs currently sitting in the Houses of Parliament or 200 out of her party, a number which we -- most certainly is going south every day.

VAUSE: And amid all of this, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabling the no confidence motion in Theresa May personally not the government. It seems to be, you know, more than a stunt as Downing Street said. In the days before Brexit, this may be considered a political tactic trying to embarrass Theresa May.

But it seems more churlish and childlike and adding more confusing and uncertainty to an already confusing and uncertain moment.

THOMAS: He's been standing by all along, which has so frustrated the opposition in general even beyond the Labour Party, hoping the Conservative Party would implode and this would be a path to a general election.

Now one could argue that pushing the issue of the vote and saying why wait until January for Theresa May's deal, which we all know will be voted down, why not give us an option of doing it now?

But what he did today is as the leader of the opposition, he had the opportunity to propose a motion of no confidence in Her Majesty's government and --


THOMAS: -- by choosing to target not the government but her, he essentially paved the way for the Brexiteers and the DUP to come out and express support for the prime minister and not for his motion. So it completely backfired in that respect.

VAUSE: I want to you listen to Theresa May, this is the vicar's daughter from Maidenhead in Parliament on Monday, she's pushing on and on, as we have seen so often with this Brexit plan of hers, listen to this.


MAY: We must honor our duty to finish the job. I know -- I know this is not everyone's perfect deal, it is a compromise. But if we let the perfect be the enemy of the good, then we risk leaving the E.U. with no deal.


VAUSE: She described this deal as an imperfect compromise.

Is there any deal out there that will have enough support among lawmakers to pass through Parliament?

If it doesn't pass, which is likely, after that week-long debate, is it then up to those members of Parliament to come up with what they want, their own version?

THOMAS: Yes. This is something that should have started 2.5 years ago, cross-party consultations, to come up with a deal that you could take to the European Union and begin the process of negotiating.

But as clearly you are just pointing out, there are so many different sides and factions in here, it seems almost impossible to come up with something. So the latest thing is, after all of this 2.5 years of talking about, you know, blind Brexit, no deal and Chequers and all sorts, we are talking about now about something called indicative voting, which is, in other words, deal by deal or issue by issue, presenting it to the Parliament for a nonbinding vote to see whether or not one can move ahead on this.

But as you have said, at the end of the day, there is not support for Theresa May's deal. And because of all of these cross-party divisions, it's very unlikely that we are going to come up with something that is really going to make its way through Parliament.

VAUSE: And you know, it was only a matter of time. Grab the popcorn and butter and settle in for Brexit, the movie. Here's a look at the trailer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take back control. Let's take back control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now the fight for Britain begins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are feeding a toxic culture of fear and pain. You can't close the box once it's been opened.

What's your edge, what have you found?

There isn't (INAUDIBLE) one that you cannot control.


VAUSE: It really does seem like Brexit has broken the political system. At this point a second referendum, which Theresa May opposes, would it actually resolve the crisis or just send the country spiraling out of control in a different direction?

THOMAS: It's spiraling out of control. The question of the referendum, at the end of the day, a referendum is not a general election, it's simply asking the British people, which seem to be forgot in this and parliamentarians seem to be forgetting as well, that they are there to represent the people. It is simply to take the pulse of the people on a particular issue at a moment in time.

We are now 2.5 years down the road where the average person living in the U.K. now has a PhD in Brexit talk and should be much better informed on this.

And I think at the end of the day, the politicians would benefit enormously from seeing what it is and where it is the British people stand. Of course, in this spectrum -- and Theresa May's opposition to this is precisely because the Brexiteers and the U.K. Independence Party people made this the single issue of their generation. They won the vote and they are absolutely terrified to go back to the people.

But going back to the people would give them this opportunity right now. And if anything, the prospect of a no deal is everybody more terrifying when you see the ways in which the parliamentarians are behaving at this particular moment.

And if anything, they would be very wise to think about the ways in which the European Union, with its rules and regulations, is actually keeping the U.K. together at this moment in history.

VAUSE: It is extraordinarily right now. And, as we keep saying here, that clock continues to tick, tick, tick, just counting down until that deadline. Dominic, thank you, good to see you.

THOMAS: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: To Washington now. Two new reports detailing Russia's interference not just in U.S. elections but in the lives of everyday Americans. It seems Russian trolls are sowing division via social media on everything from trust in the media to religion, to race relations. Details now from CNN's Alex Marquardt.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Efforts by Russia to meddle in American politics through social media are active and ongoing and far bigger than once thought. That's according to a pair of detailed and stunning new reports commissioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee released today. The reports tracked Russian activity during the 2016 presidential race and after.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to win back the White House.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Activity that during the campaign worked to support Donald Trump's candidacy and undermine Hillary Clinton's, including by trying to depress African Americans' votes and raise fears of a stolen election on the right.

RENEE DIRESTA, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, NEW KNOWLEDGE: They didn't just stop. After the 2016 election, if anything, on Instagram in particular, they really ramped up.

MARQUARDT: The analysis was based on troves of data handed over by Facebook, Twitter and Google. In one data set, analysts found that the Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency which is linked to the Kremlin posted more than 10 million tweets, 116,000 Instagram posts, 61,000 Facebook posts and 1,000 videos.

Earlier this year, the same group was indicted by special counsel, Robert Mueller. The Russian group's efforts went beyond misinformation on social media. The group regularly tried to co-opt unsuspecting Americans to do certain tasks or hand over their personal information, developing them as so-called assets. In one example, Russian trolls created a page called Army of Jesus, targeting Christians and offering free counseling to people with sexual addiction. The hotlines posted, the report says created an opportunity to blackmail or manipulate these individuals.

CNN also tracked down this Trump supporter in Florida who was paid by the Internet Research Agency to build a cage to bring to an event to call for the imprisonment of Hillary Clinton.

HARRY MILLER, CONTRACTOR: There is nothing -- nothing at all to lend you to think that it's anything other than people trying to support a candidate.

MARQUARDT: The group's most prolific efforts specifically targeted black American communities. Not just to depress their vote, but to develop them too as assets. One such operation convinced and paid martial arts instructor Omowale Adewale to run self defense classes for African Americans to, quote, protect your rights, let them know black power matters.

CNN's Drew Griffin spoke to Adewale.


OMOWALE ADEWALE, MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR: Very easily. Very easily. Some of the things were, you know, sketchy. But at the end of the day, it's still fitness.

MARQUARDT: And one of the most important things to note here, is despite the huge amount of evidence of Russian interference, one of the reports says that the big social media companies only handed over the bare minimum amount of data that was required by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

So there are likely many more Russian accounts out there not identified as we start to look ahead to the 2020 presidential election -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: With us now from Los Angeles, is Lori Schwartz, who is not just a technology expert but also a technology futurist.

Good to have you. It's been a while, Lori, nice to see you.

LORI SCHWARTZ, STORYTECH: Nice to be seen, thank you, thanks for having me.

VAUSE: OK. It seems we have three choices here for regulating social media in relation to that report we heard about, there's self regulation by the big social media giants, there's government regulation and then there's the China model, self regulation, the social media companies have done very little in regard to anything of meaning. The second option, government regulation: lawmakers, especially in the U.S., have an embarrassing lack of understanding of how the technology works.

And then the China model: just close it all down and control what goes in and out.

So is there an option four?

SCHWARTZ: I think there is the people option, which is that we have to be responsible and to fact check and to look at what we are reading and what we are passing on. Just as parents check their children's browsers and things like that, we all have to be responsible Americans and not just forward anything that we read.

VAUSE: OK, so the people's model. And ideally, it's great; 28 years ago when Tim Berners-Lee invented the Internet, he had visions of sharing and caring and how open data would make the world a better place.

I want to you listen to him back in 2010 in California. A TED talk shortly after the earthquake which devastated Haiti's capital. Listen to this.


TIM BERNERS-LEE, INVENTOR OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB: After the earthquake immediately, people all over the world, mappers who wanted to help and could, looked at that imagery, built the map, quickly building up or focusing now on Port-au-Prince, the blue is refugee camps these volunteers had spotted from the air.

So now we have immediately a real-time map showing where there are refugee camps. It rapidly became the best map to use if you are doing relief work.


VAUSE: Yes, he cites that example a lot. But it seems for every positive example like that in Haiti, there are about 100 others about how the open and free nature of the Web is being used against open and free societies.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, it's a good point. It's a balance right. It's always going to be a balance. The more we open up things, the more other things will come in. It's the yin and the yang, I think it's very similar to some of the things that are happening in the #MeToo movement with things going too far in one direction.

So we're going to have to learn a balance here --


SCHWARTZ: -- and I think it is actually going to be a combination of many of the things that you listed, maybe not the China government way. But I definitely think there needs to be regulation from the government.

There needs to be more responsibility from the social media companies. I think they need to be working together, really sharing data in a way that will surface a lot of the false information.

And they also need to provide data to the government when it asks for it in a way that they can decipher. Also our senators and our Congress need to actually start using social media and understanding it, as opposed to just asking their grandchildren what this all means.

VAUSE: "Can you get me on Facebook, son?"

"How do the Twitters work?"

There's been a lot of focus on Russia and election interference but here is a headline from "The Daily Beast," how YouTube built a radicalization machine for the far right and the subheadline is, former extremists say they were sucked in by propagandist teenagers, thanks to an algorithm's dark side.

The story goes on about this algorithm, which was originally written simply to keep users watching for longer because that increases profits. So when revenue is involved, this brave new world of new breed tech CEOs, who were meant to be idealistic and altruistic, it turns out they are like the old breed of CEOs.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, I think that large media companies are always going to have a revenue goal. And, you know for them to pretend that that is not the case, is just completely false. And I think anytime a large media company also pushes back on an artist, they are going to generate another hero.

And so it's the same as anything else. They are after money and if they try to manage anything of what is happening on YouTube, you know, users are going to rebel against it. And then you have young minds that are very easy to convert in to a political movement.

VAUSE: There is almost -- there is also, what, 8 million offensive videos, which YouTube removed last quarter because they violated the site's rules on spam or adult content or child safety. They also removed something like 200 million comments as well.

This is not the caring and sharing environment which so many had hoped for back in 1990. There was this hope of a new future, of a better world. It just seemed in the last, I guess, last 5-10 years, everything took a turn for the worse and everything they hoped for and thought it could be, somehow it went backwards and went in the opposite direction.

Is there one reason why?

Was there a tipping point that turned everything around?

Or was this always going to work out this way because of human nature?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I think the human nature piece is it. And I think when it comes to revenue and to profit -- and there is an emotional piece to this, right?

There is a real emotional piece to this. So you are dealing with corporate greed and then you are also dealing with human beings. And so those two things can go to the dark side. But I don't think it's all doom. I really don't.

I think we need to, again, find a middle ground, where we could still leverage these platforms in the way that they were originally conceived but put some checks and balances in.

And I do think that -- again, I'll bring up being a parent, that it's up to us to, from the get-go, manage the type of content that our children watch and so they grow up in a world where they are not already tainted by content that can get them leaning in the wrong way, per se.

VAUSE: The first paragraph by Colin Powell's biography is, "Things are never as bad as they seem. Things are never as good as they seem. And everything looks better by morning."

SCHWARTZ: I love technology so I would never say it's a bad thing.

VAUSE: OK, good to speak with you. Thanks for coming in.


VAUSE: Right now every aspect of President Trump's life seems to be under investigation -- his businesses, his companies, his presidency, his candidacy, his inaugural ball, his children, his charity.

And faced with that level of scrutiny, Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are now focusing their own attention and their criticism on the special counsel's Russia investigation. Kaitlan Collins reports now from Washington.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the cloud of the Russia investigation grows darker, President Trump is remaining calm in public.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's going to be a really exciting year.

COLLINS: But out of view making clear he's starting to feel boxed in, launching a fresh barrage of attacks on the special counsel, tweeting nine times about the Russia investigation this weekend, claiming it has nothing to do with collusion and is a Democrat scam.

Trump venting after a series of court filings from Robert Mueller and other U.S. attorneys revealed there are investigations touching --


COLLINS (voice-over): almost every aspect of his political and personal life.

The president also going after Michael Cohen, his former attorney and fixer, who is now a convicted felon and cooperating witness, calling him a rat and accusing the FBI of breaking into his office last April, despite agents using a search warrant.

As Trump remained behind closed doors Sunday, his lawyer was in front of the camera and on the attack.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You have got a serial liar who taped his own client and lied about it.

COLLINS: Arguing the hush money payments to women alleging affairs weren't campaign finance violations.

GIULIANI: Paying $130,000 to Stormy whatever and paying $100,000 to

the other one is not a crime.

COLLINS: And rejecting the idea the president will ever sit down with Robert Mueller.

GIULIANI: Over my dead body. But, you know, I could be dead.

COLLINS: All of this as Washington is bracing for a partial government shutdown Friday and the president and his aides are digging in on the border wall fight.

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We're going to do whatever is necessary to build the border wall, to stop this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration.

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS: And that means a shutdown?

S. MILLER: This is a -- this is a very -- if it comes to it, absolutely.

COLLINS: And Trump making good on his promise to shake up his staff, announcing his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, will lead amid a slew of ethics investigations, just hours after Trump abruptly named White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as his acting chief of staff.

Not long after Trump announced that pick, this video of Mulvaney at a debate in 2016 surfaced.

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: Yes, I'm supporting Donald Trump. I'm doing so as enthusiastically as I can, even though I think he's a terrible human being. But the choice on the other side is just as bad.

COLLINS: Now a spokesman for Mulvaney said those comments were old news and that he made them before he met President Trump. But that wasn't the only time he criticized the president before the election.

In another Facebook post, he said that, in a dream world, both he and Hillary Clinton would be disqualified from holding office. Quite a change in tune from what he said in recent weeks, when he has been privately lobbying the president to become his chief of staff, something he will take over just two weeks from today for John Kelly -- Kaitlin Collins, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: Still to come here, a sixth straight night of protests in Hungary, where thousands are angry over what they say is an increasingly authoritarian government.

Also the Kremlin cracking down on rap music. Why the Russian president says hip-hop needs to be controlled.




(MUSIC PLAYING) VAUSE: In Hungary anger is growing over the prime minister Viktor Orban and his government. Thousands protested in Budapest for a sixth straight night on Monday, angry at what they call a slave law that would allow employers to ask workers for up to 400 hours of overtime a year.

Others fear another controversial new law will chip away at the independence of the courts. Details now from CNN's Erin McLaughlin.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the crowds have grown, so, too, has the anger. For days now, protesters have been gathering outside Hungary's parliament. What started as a relatively small rally last week against new overtime laws has morphed into a much larger campaign against prime minister Viktor Orban's government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I've come to show a huge middle finger to the government and express that I'm really, really fed up. And I think most people are here for this.

MCLAUGHLIN: On Sunday afternoon thousands of people again took to the streets with a clear message about the direction of the government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I think that discontent is growing and with this, not only anger and frustration but also those voices which would like to make change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is intolerable. It cannot go on anymore.

MCLAUGHLIN: As night fall, protesters turned their attention to Hungary's state TV channel, which some view as a mouth piece for Orban. Police resorted to tear gas and pepper spray. Inside the building, opposition MPs tried to force themselves on air before eventually being dragged out of the building by security guards early Monday.

The sustained protests are significant sign of discontent over Orban's government and cover a wide range of concerns. Some are angry at new overtime laws which require employees to work up to 400 extra hours every year.

Others have taken to the streets over the decision to set up new administrative courts which critics say undermine judicial independence. As one observer told CNN, the rallyists have united traditional political enemies on the left and right against Viktor Orban.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm protesting against the government and I'm protesting for independence course. I'm protesting for human rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should be changed. They have to resign.

MCLAUGHLIN: The prime minister's office didn't respond to specific questions instead referring CNN to a statement blaming the violence on opposition law makers and those funded by Hungarian American billionaire, George Soros, a frequent target of the government.

Regardless, protesters are vowing to continue their campaign for change and hope that eventually Orban will listen -- Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.


VAUSE: They barely escaped with their lives in the years before World War II and the Holocaust. Around 10,000 Jewish children fled Nazi Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia for Britain.

As a part of a humanitarian rescue operation known as Kindertransport, now Germany has agreed to compensate about 1,000 of them. They're all elderly men and women now. They'll each get about $2,800. Many of the children's families did not survive the Nazi concentration camps.

Still to come here on CNN, fighting the power in Russia, rap is out in force, opposing censorship. But Vladimir Putin says it's just a little guidance.


[00:30:00] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause, with the headlines this hour. British Prime Minister Theresa May announced she will bring her Brexit deal to a vote in parliament mid-January, also rejecting calls to hold a second referendum.

The leader of the opposition Labor Party called for a no-confidence vote in the prime minister, Downing Street says it won't allow time for a debate on what it calls a stunt.

Russian trolls used every social media platform to support Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Two new reports commissioned by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, also show the groups tried to suppress the African-American vote, as well as discredit the Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton.

Thousands protest into a sixth straight night in Hungary's capital, over what demonstrators say is an increasingly authoritarian government. They're angry over a new law which allows employers to ask workers for up to 400 hours of overtime a year. It's also a legislation which they say will strip courts of their independence.

A rap battle over censorship is brewing in Russia. President Vladimir Putin says rap music needs to be guided or controlled by the state, and the arrest of a popular rapper is the latest move in what appears to be a government crackdown. Fred Pleitgen reports now, straight out of Moscow.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sex, drugs, and a dose of protest. Those are the topics that landed Russian rapper, Husky, in jail, for several days. Known for criticizing the Russian government, and Vladimir Putin, through his music, his concert was shut down for alleged extremism.

Then, he was charged with hooliganism when he tried to give an impromptu concert on a car roof. Overall, I was forced in to the situation, he later said, I had to talk to the people who bought the tickets and I felt that it's my duty to talk to them and they needed to hear me, so I did that.

Russian hip hoppers are on a collision course with the Kremlin, several artists banded together after Husky was arrested, raised money and successfully lobbied for him to get out of jail, early, sparking a debate about explicit and government critical lyrics and freedom of expression. A music producer during a meeting with Vladimir Putin, blaming American culture for allegedly creeping in to the minds of Russia's youth.

We have to keep in mind that hip hop and rap are not our inventions, he said. This is a global trend that came from America, this gangster rap. There were many iterations and it's based on three pillars, sex, drugs, and protests against everything.

It's not the first time government critical Russian musicians have faced problems. Members of the anti-Kremlin band Pussy Riot have spent a considerable amount of time behind bars. And they accuse Russian authorities of poisoning one of their musicians, claim the Kremlin, vehemently denied.

But in the case of the rappers, Vladimir Putin taking a fairly moderate line, consulting with language experts and then saying, if you can't stop them, steer them.

If you can't stop it, you need it to own it, he said. And lead in an appropriate way. But how does one do that? That depends on us.

Some politicians suggest age limits for concerts or warning labels for alleged explicit lyrics, as Russia's rap scene gears up for tough times ahead, trying to prevent the government from intervening in their music.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: Up next, here, move over, Barbie and Ken, Mattel may be looking for a new power couple planning a wedding, more appropriate for 2018.


[00:35:00] VAUSE: After an extensive makeover last year, Ken, of Barbie and Ken fame, is now available in three different body styles, slim, broad, and original, seven different skin tones, eight different hair colors, nine choices of hair style, including a hideous man bun, various eye colors, fashion choices range from athletic to business, 15 new Ken dolls were recently released including Hottie Ken, Preppy Ken, Camping Ken. But there is no official version of Gay Ken, perhaps, that might explain why he's been dating Barbie for almost 60 years and has never actually popped the question. And perhaps, the relationship never recovered from the wild and crazy rock and roll days of the 1980s.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Barbie asked me to join the band --




VAUSE: Anyway, manufacturers Mattel, actually sells a Barbie bridal set, with a Barbie in an elegant pink and white floor length gown, Ken, wearing sleek black tux, flower girls, in coordinated pink dresses. But, in 2018, with same-sex marriage, legal, in 26 countries, there's no version of two brides or two grooms.

Nothing like this makeshift version posted on Instagram by Matt Jacobi, who is engaged to be married to Nick Caprio, next May. But maybe, Mattel and Ken are about to reflect the world in which we live, with the meeting scheduled this week, with Nick and Matt, who are with us this hour from Scottsdale, in Arizona. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding.



VAUSE: OK, so, Matt, explain the reason behind the Ken-Ken wedding photo which you decided to post on Instagram. Why did you do it?

JACOBI: Of course. So, the back story is, it was my niece's eighth birthday, and we wanted to give her something meaningful, so we thought what could we give her that is connected to our upcoming wedding.

Because a couple of months ago, we asked her and her little sister to be flower girls in our wedding, which she thought was extra special. And our families have been so excited and our two niece have just been thrilled to be part of our special day.

So, when we went to think about a birthday president for Natalie, my eight-year-old niece, we thought why don't we go online and see what we could find that relates to our wedding. So, we went online and we looked, and we couldn't find anything that was associated with the same-sex wedding, even in stores.

So, we decided to get creative and create our own, and that's what we did.

VAUSE: And so, the photo appears on Instagram. Next thing you know, there's this upcoming meeting with the folks at Mattel, the manufacturers of Ken and Barbie. Here's the headline from the conservative website, The Blaze, nothing is safe: Mattel to meet with same-sex couple who demand gay Barbie wedding sets.

Nick, to you, did you demand gay Barbie wedding sets? And to be clear here, I thought Mattel reached out to you guys, it wasn't the other way around.

JACOBI: Yes, well, I'll take this one. So, Mattel actually responded to my Instagram post. And they have been nothing but wonderful and gracious. And we have a meeting set for early January. And we are absolutely thrilled.

VAUSE: And just the part about, you know, essentially demanding, you know, the gay Barbie bridle sets, there was no demands being made by you guys, was there?

JACOBI: Well, if you read the Instagram post, it says, we hope it inspires you. So, and it did. It did inspire Mattel. And that's how this all came about.

[00:40:07] VAUSE: The Blaze, in the headline, says nothing is safe, implying a certain level of anxiety, you know, tradition and norms are changing, many see that as a reason to celebrate, many others, Matt, actually, you know, they actually consider that may be a reason to be fearful.

JACOBI: We don't pay attention to those types of headlines. That headline sounds very dramatic. So, we're just focusing on all the love and all the positivity that has sent our way.

CAPRIO: Yes. We've got a lot of people that outreached to us and have been amazingly supportive and we just want every family to be reflected.

VAUSE: And Nick, obviously, you know, Mattel sees the value in reflecting diversity. You know, so the company could very well see this as an opportunity to be progressive, to normalize something which has been considered unconventional for a long time.

You know, to have -- to make a possible impact, or, in the other hand, you know, the meeting could be nothing more than a P.R. stunt, generating some good coverage for a few days, and nothing else.

So, what was your expectation here?

JACOBI: Well, I will say that our expectation is that to have a positive conversation with Mattel, inspire them, and to get the same- sex wedding set made. That has always been the goal and the inspiration behind it, and that is what our mission is.

VAUSE: Because if you talk to kids, you know, African-American kids, Asian kids, Latino kids, they also say how important it is to see themselves on T.V., to see themselves on the shelves of toy stores. And I guess, it's just as true for gay kids or for gay people, who want to see themselves reflected in the mainstream of society. So, if this does move ahead, it's more than just, you know, getting a Ken-Ken bridal set out there, in the market, right? It says a lot about where we are as a society.

JACOBI: Absolutely. Mattel is that iconic, and the marriage equality, you know, coming to life, and being legal, is historic, and I think, they all go together. And we are absolutely grateful and excited to be part of such a journey with Mattel. And the world --

VAUSE: I was just going to say, Nick, is if there is a same-sex Ken bridal set, can you still be Ken? Does he have to come out and, you know, break up with Barbie? Can there be another -- or can there just be gay Ken?

CAPRIO: I don't think that that's -- that Ken has to be -- it doesn't have to be Ken. I think that Barbie can maybe have some friends or meet a new neighbor and they can be introduced in to the Barbie world.

VAUSE: Because, you know, there's a lot of speculation about Ken that's been going on for a while.

CAPRIO: We understand.

JACOBI: But Ken is Ken.


VAUSE: Hey, guys, thank you so much. Good luck. Wish you all the best for those talks with Mattel. And if nothing else, you know, you made people think and talk about this, which is great, so thank you.

CAPRIO: Thank you.

JACOBI: Thank you for your time.

VAUSE: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" starts after the break.


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