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Trump Talks about White Privilege; Reed Hastings is Interviewed about Working From Home; New Poll Numbers on Coronavirus Vaccine. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 10, 2020 - 09:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So at a time when we are seeing protests across the country over racial injustice, a moment of real racial reckoning in this country, the Woodward tapes are giving us a lot more insight into the president's views on race in America, specifically white privilege.

Listen to this exchange.


BOB WOODWARD: OK, but let -- let me ask you this. I mean we share one thing in common, we're white, privileged, who -- and my father was a lawyer and a judge in Illinois and we know what your dad did. And do you have any sense that that privilege has isolated and put you in a cave to a certain extent, as it put me, and I think lots of white privileged people in a cave, and that we have to work our way out of it to understand the anger and the pain particularly black people feel in this country?

Do you --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. You -- you really drank the Kool-Aid, didn't you? Just listen to you. Wow.

No, I don't feel that at all.


SCIUTTO: Don't feel that at all.

Joe Johns joins us now live from the White House.

And Woodward there was offering the president a life line, you might call it, saying, you know, can't you and I agree, as white men of privilege, that we may not see everything, right, that black Americans experience. But the president's claims, not at all.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. And, you know, it's very interesting when you put it in context with some of the other conversations Woodward had with the president. For example, just two or three days later, he asked the president about institutional racism and got what seems to be an answer going in the opposite direction. And it just really points to what the Trump campaign is trying to do here in the country with the election, and that is have it both ways on the issue of race.

Listen to what the president said two or three days later.


BOB WOODWARD: Do you think there is systematic or institutional racism in this country?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think there is everywhere. I think probably less here than most places or less here than many places.

WOODWARD: OK, but is it here in a way that it has an impact on people's lives?

TRUMP: I think it is, and it's unfortunate. But I think it is.


JOHNS: I think it is. So, like I said, the president's trying to have it both ways on race during this election year.


On the one hand, he's reaching out to white voters, suggesting to suburbs they need to be afraid because low income voters might move in and the president has been hammering away at the issue of race in America, also the unrest for social justice, which he suggests Americans need to be worried about. He continues to push his law and order message.

But, on the other hand, he says to black voters, he's the best thing since sliced bread to them. And, frankly, that they've done better economically because of the president and he brings Herschel Walker out to his campaign to vouch for him during the convention.

SCIUTTO: But -- Joe, Poppy, it's a remarkable moment, right, because it's a -- it's another example of where the president's private message conflicts with his public, political message here, right, because part of this campaign, we heard Bill Barr to Wolf Blitzer, just a few days ago --

JOHNS: Right.

SCIUTTO: Say, no, there is no institutional racism. The president, in a private moment says, well, you know what, he grants it. It's remarkable.

JOHNS: Right, it's very remarkable. And a lot of people in the campaign are concerned because some other people, particularly presidents, have been able to run with some success using the same kind of strategy. But the president's problem is he's not subtle. He's not subtle in sending the message to white Americans that they need to be afraid, at the same time trying to appeal to blacks.


HARLOW: Joe Johns, appreciate your reporting this morning. Thank you very much, from the White House, for us.

Well, next, the CEO of Netflix is not a fan from working -- of working from home. I'm going to ask him why and, also, can you really run a company with no rules? He makes the case for it. Reed Hastings is next.



HARLOW: All right. Welcome back.

So we know the pandemic has changed the way millions of people work. That includes Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings who says this whole work from home thing is a, quote, pure negative. But Netflix has seen a major boost during the pandemic. They added 26 million subscribers in just the first half of this year.

So why does he think that. He's out with a new book, "No Rules Rules," co-authored by Erin Meyer. "Vanity Fair" writes it is, quote, not a mogul's brag book but an earnest attempt to bottle Netflix's business culture for a new generation of creative companies.

Reed Hastings is with me now.

Good morning. Thanks for being here.


The book has completely changed my outlook on the -- on the workplace. It has. And we'll get to that in the moment.

But help me understand why when FaceBook says half of their folks may work from home permanently and Twitter says something similar. You, jokingly, said you want people back in the office 12 hours after there's a vaccine.

Like, why is it so bad for people to work from home for your company?

HASTINGS: I love working from home. I've been doing it for 20 years on nights and weekends. And -- and I get to spend time with other people at work during the day. And we miss the in-person interactions that build relationships, especially internationally for Netflix. So when I say I look forward to returning to the office, it's not for the everyday thing, it's for the get-togethers with other human beings and forming those relationships.

HARLOW: Netflix seems to be all things shiny on the outside, right? This pandemic has actually been a big benefit to your business. That's not of your doing, that's just what your business is and that the reality of the pandemic.

Right before, it was like enemies at the gate. I mean Disney Plus, look how well they've done. Our parent company, Warner Media, with HBO Max, Peacock, all of these folks. And I just wonder if you could speak to that.

And, also, maybe what we don't know is, what has Netflix not been able to do in the pandemic? Like, what has it stopped you from doing that has hurt the most?

HASTINGS: You know, the pandemic's been incredibly hard on our employees and, of course, on (INAUDIBLE). (INAUDIBLE) employees, it's people juggling small kids at home because they're not having school. People who live alone, you know, just feeling very isolated. And that's part of why we look forward to returning to the office.

The hard things have been productions. So at the actual filming with actors on set, where you need a lot of testing and you need to be very careful. We're just coming back with that now. Fortunately, we're able to produce in Canada. We're able to produce in Europe, where Covid is less. And in Asia, like Korea and Japan. So we've got a lot of great content coming for next year.

HARLOW: You -- you mentioned loneliness. And there have been so many studies that show anxiety, depression, loneliness increasing the more time we spend online and staring at screens. And people are staring at screens a lot more right now. They're watching Netflix a lot more right now.

Do you worry about that and contributing to that and what it means for human connection going forward?

HASTINGS: You know, entertainment is really the relief from loneliness. And when people are alone, they can turn to a story and connect. And, like anything, if you do it too much, it's not good. But having, you know, a couple of hours a day of stories to escape is a world thing.

HARLOW: Let's talk about the book. My takeaway is radical candor. Your argument -- and people should read this book -- is that, you know, we should all tell our employees and we should tell our bosses everything they're doing right or wrong, the negative stuff, don't sugarcoat anything and let people go who aren't a-pluses, right? Your famous for saying, adequate performance gets you a generous severance package, sort of "Hunger Games" like.


Is that the future of Netflix? Is that the future of what you think an Amazon should be? Are basically no rules the new rules?

HASTINGS: We kind of get you to watch the "Hunger Games." You know, in "Hunger Games," you have to kill off all the other players and that's not at all what we do. Our employees help each other incredibly. There's great teamwork amongst them and it is definitely performance oriented, like sports, like professional sports. And we say we're a team and not a family. So we are very direct about that part and very honest.

But the key thing is giving employees freedom. That's the motivating example.

HARLOW: But --

HASTINGS: We've got almost no rules.

HARLOW: Reed, I've read that you even cried in one of these 360 feedback sessions. What is the toughest thing that an employee has told you about your management?

HASTINGS: Oh, I get feedback all the time. I mean last week I got some feedback from one of our vice presidents that I was un-empathetic and that I don't really encourage criticism. And for me getting feedback, even with all my success, it's still painful.


HASTINGS: And I have to remember that it's like doing crunches or push-ups. It's when it hurts that it helps you get stronger. And so then I'm able to counsel myself and say, like, tell me more, and what are other cases that I do that and really try to explore the feedback in a generous way as opposed to fight it, which is my natural inclination.

HARLOW: I'd like to talk about women for a moment. I'm not sure if you read Kara Swisher's (ph) fascinating column this week, but -- but she talked about the extraordinary wives and the women beside tech titans, right, Melinda Gates, MacKenzie Scott, formerly Bezos, Laurene Powell Jobs.

The book -- the part of your book that struck me the most was talking about going to marriage counseling and not only how it saved your marriage, but how it shaped the rest of your life. I wonder if you could share that.

And then also, what has your wife meant to the success of Netflix?

HASTINGS: You know, about 25 years ago we were having difficulties. We had young kids at home. Pretty typical, I think. And what the marriage counselor got me to see is that I was a systematic liar and I would say things like, family's the most important, because it's kind of conventional to say that, and then I would stay at work at night, you know, if some employee had an issue, and ignore my family. And so I was not acting in concert with what I was saying. And that in particular created, you know, real integrity issues.

The counselor helped me to see how much better it could be if I was really honest about the conflicts I felt between wanting to be a good spouse, a good partner and a good CEO. And those are all hard to do. But I wasn't honest about that conflict.


HASTINGS: And then, in my marriage, I became much more honest and candid and that has helped us tremendously. We just celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. So that's great. But also at work is the surprise. I really became a fan of exploring conflict and being able to say exactly what we were thinking in, you know, a professional way.

HARLOW: Right.

HASTINGS: So I would say that marriage counselor turned out to be the best CEO coach I've ever had.

HARLOW: Before you go, I do want to ask you about race because you -- Netflix has been far ahead of your rivals on diversity in your board, in leadership, in your content, frankly. You just personally donated $120 million to historically black colleges and universities.

After George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, you moved $100 million of Netflix money into black owned and run banks. And what you've said about that was that the move was to close the power gap between whites and blacks.

Can you explain that and do you believe that more white leaders need to step aside to make room for more black leaders, as we saw Alexis Ohanian do?

HASTINGS: As a consequence of slavery, Jim Crow, and housing policy, black families in America have about one-tenth of the wealth of white families. If we're going to start to close that economic and power gap, we need black banks to be able to invest in the black communities. If every major corporation takes 1 percent of their cash and deposits it in a black bank, it will be transformative in that sector.

Now, it's not going to solve all of our problems, but it will make a real difference and it's fairly easy for companies to transfer 1 percent of their cash to be in deposit in black banks. So already Costco has figured out that they want to do that and they're moving ahead with that. So credit to Costco. We hope others will do that and we can have a steady investment in black wealth creation, which will help heal the divide created by slavery.

HARLOW: I do want to end on this and ask you about censorship and human rights because you made the decision earlier this year to remove an episode from Netflix in Saudi Arabia from the show "The Patriot Act," right?


It was critical of the crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, and that was at the bet of the -- of the Saudi government, right? They said it violated their laws.

Would -- would -- can you explain why and if you'd make that same decision again today, or was that a mistake given your support of free speech and the First Amendment? HASTINGS: You know, it was actually a couple years ago, and it was a

very difficult decision. We ended up being able to keep the episode up in Saudi Arabia on YouTube, strangely not on Netflix. And with were able to have all of our other content, like "Queer Eye" and "Sex Education" and "Orange is the New Black" available in Saudi Arabia.

So it is a troubling compromise, not something that we approached easily or lightly, but on balance we think it's a good move.

HARLOW: Reed Hastings, appreciate your time. The book's fascinating. Thanks so much.

HASTINGS: A great pleasure, Poppy. Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, we'll be right back.



SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

This morning a new poll finds that a majority of Americans are now worried that the FDA will rush to approve a coronavirus vaccine -- look at those numbers there, before the November election due to political pressure. That's almost two to one.

HARLOW: Our senior Elizabeth -- our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is with us now.

Those are really scary numbers.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are. And it really just shows the kind of mistrust that is going on in this country around vaccines.

Let's get to these numbers in this Kaiser Family Foundation poll. What they found is that 62 percent believe Trump will pressure the FDA. So, in other words, most Americans believe Trump will pressure the FDA on a vaccine. Fifty-four percent said they would not get a free vaccine before the election. Now, more said that they would get it after, but 54 percent said they would not get a free vaccine before the election.

This, you know, you have to wonder if this plays into it at all since this poll was done. AstraZeneca has paused their trial twice because people got sick. The first time they paused it, they found that the sickness wasn't associated with the trial but they didn't tell anyone about it until now, and that certainly makes you wonder about trust issues.

Let's also take a look about testing. There's a new study out that shows that -- or suggests that there were more people sick with Covid back in the spring than we knew about. So back at this time there were 6.4 million possible cases of -- of -- they -- what they -- they find that there were 6.4 million possible cases by April 18th, but there were only about 720,000 reported by April 18th. So you can see there's a big difference there. There just wasn't enough testing done at the time. There's still concerns that there still isn't enough testing being done.

Poppy. Jim.

HARLOW: Elizabeth, thank you for the reporting this morning.

And ahead for us, much more on the Woodward tapes. What the president really knew about the pandemic.