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"Friends" Creator Apologizes for Lack of Diversity; Trump Threatens to "Take Back" Seattle from Protesters; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) Discusses House Intel Committee Fears of Foreign Actors Taking Advantage of Unrest in U.S. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 11, 2020 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: America's reckoning with racism has sparked a number of apologies, including from the creator of popular sitcom "Friends." Marta Kauffman is apologizing for a lack of diversity on her long-running show.

Speaking on a virtual panel interview, she said, quote, Sorry. I just wish I knew then what I know now I would have made different decisions." She went onto say, "I mean, we've always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn't do enough. And now all I can think about is what can I do."

"Friends" has long been criticized for its lack of diversity, even my cast members. David Schwimmer, who played Ross, said he was aware of the lack of diversity and campaigned for years to have Ross date women of color.

One of his girlfriends on the show was Aisha Tyler. She had a recurring role, you'll probably remember, as Dr. Charley Wheeler, who was Joey's and then Ross's girlfriend.

Aisha is joining me to talk about this.

Aisha, thank you so much for being here.

AISHA TYLER, ACTRESS: It's a pleasure. Good to see you.

KEILAR: So, when you saw her apology, what did you think?

TYLER: Look, this has been a conversation about "Friends" for decades. I mean, since the show was on the air. My appearance on the show was part of a concerted effort to diversify late in the show's life. I came on season nine.

I appreciate what she said and I'm glad she's making an attempt at a full-throated apology. She's an incredibly smart lady and accomplished a lot. I think she probably did know then what she knows now.

And it points to a larger issue, not just in Hollywood, but culturally. The casual racism of apathy, which is well, I know this is going on but it's not really my problem.

Or I'm just hiring people I know, I connect with, with no thought about the fact that most of those people are going to look and sound and have a similar experience to yours.

And even in Hollywood, where there's a narrative that black leads don't work or it's not enough. We've been hearing it every day. It's not enough to not be racist. You have to be actively not racist. And make the kind of choices that tell new and different stories.

I think that show was a function of her own experiences and she was telling the stories she knew and it happened to be about white people.

KEILAR: As you talk about their opportunities for antiracism in Hollywood, is there anything in particular, when you think of the shows we see now and there's so many more. What kind of opportunities in a tangible way do you say there. That's right for showing people different kinds of people, different experiences.

What do you think?

TYLER: That's a good question. I think there has been a move to tell a broader swath of stories with a broader swath and more complex group of actors and stories and characters.


I'm thinking of the second season of homecoming where -- I mean, there are a million examples and there's a growing move the diversify. They're still using this term in Hollywood, like we want a diverse lead. And there's always a code for a nonwhite lead.

This was just Americans. I think we need to get past the idea that we're doing someone a favor and just start talking about telling American stories.

It's important to tell black stories but that's because they're American stories. We have a lot of work to do because it should not just be that black stories are about inner city or struggling through poverty. These are diverse American stories with a lot of complexity.

And I think we're still stuck in the idea that we're going to step outside of what's normal to pick a diverse lead, rather than continually working hard to tell great, new, urgent American stories that come from a variety of areas.

We have a lot of black creators now, which is great. Shows predominantly black casts. We have to stop thinking that the idea is the middle-class white American story and everything else is alternative.

I think that's going to mean hiring and empowering and funding diverse voices behind the cameras, while not just putting a black character in a show and thinking that's got the job done.

KEILAR: I also want to ask you, Aisha, about an appearance you made on the show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" It's a clip of you and Wayne Brady calling out racism on the show.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Ma'am, can you pick out the man that robbed you?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Number two, number two.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You all know this messed up, right?


TYLER: Sir, can you pick out the man that embezzled hundreds of millions from the American economy and made you pay for it?


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You mean after systematically devaluing my education and relegating me to certain neighborhoods, whereas, I couldn't actually pursue the education that would allow me to reach a certain fiscal statue in this country?

TYLER: And also prevent you from getting homes or jobs or businesses or getting a car lease.


KEILAR: You were the host of the show. And I wonder if, looking back on the moment, as the initial improv skit played out, what did that feel like and how does this look now, looking back on it?

TYLER: Well, it's interesting there have been a lot of dialogue about this online. Because Wayne posted and it fell in my timeline.

At the time and now, what I took that joke to be was a comment on the way that police skew these kinds of situations against black people.

That they literally lined up three people and obviously the two white guys didn't resemble the black guy and the cops were obviously trying to gear the entire system towards convicting a black guy with no evidence. That's how I took that joke.

But I did want to reset the apple card here in case people were taking it the other way, which is how a lot of people have taken it, which is black people are always the criminal here.

It's a part of a larger conversation, which is that a lot of the time police pick a black guy, decide he's the criminal and skew the entire judicial system, the justice system and police system against that person.

And I think even with the Arbery shooting, what you saw is guys saying, I knew by looking at him he was a criminal.

I think that skit spoke to the ongoing prejudice that if there's a black guy around, he's great to be the bad guy. And then turning it on its head and say we can point to people who have done much worse in our economy and they seem to keep getting a pass.

KEILAR: It does explain as people were trafficking in stereotypes, right?

Aisha Tyler, thank you so much for coming on, joining us from Los Angeles. We're very thankful to have you on for the discussion.

TYLER: It's a pleasure. Thanks for having me.


KEILAR: Just in, as Seattle's mayor tells the president to go back to his bunker, President Trump threatened to take back the city from protesters. We'll have that next.


KEILAR: Moments ago, President Trump once again lashed out at the governor of Washington State and the mayor of Seattle over protests there.

In a tweet, he claims they're being played, and he warns, quote, "Take back your city now. If you don't, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stopped immediately. Move fast."

Let's go to CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

So, if you don't do it, I will. What exactly is he threatening here and what could he do anyway?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's similar to the threats against Minneapolis and Washington D.C., threatening to bring in U.S. military, if he doesn't feel it's being handled as it should be.


And what you're seeing in Seattle is where these protests have been going on, clashes for days between police and protesters. And finally, police removed a barricade outside a precinct.

Now, protesters can get close to it. It's called this autonomous zone where the police cannot come up and they're free to roam around, which some officers have said they view as a chance at potentially de- escalating the scene.

You're seeing here, where the precinct is boarded up. But there's no longer that barricade in front.

And the president doesn't seem to be pleased with the way they're handling this, saying he is going to get involved if it continues to go this way.

And local leaders are responding. The mayor is pushing back, telling the president to go back to his bunker. A reference to the White House bunker during protests briefly here.

And Governor Inslee saying he's not going to take advice from someone he doesn't think it good at governor. Of course, those two have clashed in the past.

But it is incredibly reminiscent of the president's threats to get involved with other cities where he's seeing large protests that he doesn't like -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Bad blood there. I think Inslee holds the record for lawsuits against the Trump administration of any state. At least that was true not long ago.

Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

We have more breaking news. Democrats on the House Intel Committee are worried that foreign countries will use the current racial unrest to interfere in this November's election. And I'll be speaking to a Congressman demanding action from the Trump administration next.



KEILAR: Sources tell CNN the Intelligence Community believes Russia is taking steps to meddle in the presidential election this November, and plan to use many of the same tactics as they did in 2016.

Now House Democrats are warning foreign actors could spread disinformation and encourage violence as protests against racism continue to sweep the nation.

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi is with me now.

And Val Demings writing to the director of the National Intelligence, "Let me be clear, the underlying issues that led to these continued protests are based and years of systemic racism and concerns that originated from American policies and American actors."

"But we do not want foreign state actor to exploit the injustice in America as we try to heal these wounds and build a more equitable and just society for all."

Sir, thank you so much for joining us.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Absolutely, Brianna. Thank you.

KEILAR: So, tell us what you've been seeing that made you say, I need to write this letter?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, as you mentioned, in a state of heightened tensions as we try to battle racism and enact police reform following the brutal murder of George Floyd.

But we're concerned that the Russian, Chinese and others might try to repeat what happened in 2016, which is spread disinformation, and in this case potentially try to incite violence or influence the election. We've already seen coordinated, I guess, spreading of disinformation by Beijing and Moscow directed outlets.

And concerned that the I.C. needs to plan for further coordinated attacks or spreading of disinformation and try to prevent it.

KEILAR: How concerned are you about the impact on November's election? How bad to you think it's going to be?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I'm very concerned. You know, before DNI Dan Coats left his position, he said that the Russians were already targeting us. Special Counsel Mueller in his testimony last summer said the same thing. And Chris Wray, head of FBI, said red lights are flashing. The Russians are already targeting this election.

Now that we have this unrest, my concern is that they'll have more fuel to continue with their disinformation tactics.

KEILAR: What do you want from the DNI?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: What we want from the DNI is information about, how is he planning for this, for the expected interference on the part of the Russians and Chinese and others.

How is he coordinating with private actors, such as Facebook and Twitter, and other social media platforms to deal with the problem, and what has happened?

And what has already happened? What efforts have been successful and what has now on the part of foreign actors pursuing their agenda and not ours?

KEILAR: Congressman, Raja Krishnamoorthi, thanks for coming on.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: thank you so much.

KEILAR: New reporting from CNN that U.S. spy planes were monitoring some protests of the death of George Floyd.


Plus, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs publicly breaking with the president, and doing something the president never does, apologizing.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Thursday afternoon. You are watching CNN.

This hour, President Trump arrives in Dallas, Texas, taking part in what the White House calls a roundtable on disparities in American communities. Those disparities and the systemic racism blamed for so many getting renewed focus during the nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd.


As the president prepares to discuss disparities, today, he is facing sharp criticism for his plans to resume rallies next week in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tulsa, Oklahoma, site of the 1921 massacre considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history.