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Santa Fe D.A.: Criminal Charges Haven't Been Ruled Out In Deadly "Rust" Shooting Involving Alec Baldwin; School Culture Wars Become Key Issue In Virginia Governor's Race; FDA Advisers Vote To Recommend Pfizer Vaccine For Kids 5-11. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Lot of news breaking tonight. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Anderson, appreciate you.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have some scary questions, and some answers, tonight. Here's a question. How many of us are going to get our younger kids vaccinated against COVID-19? It's been hypothetical, until now.

The FDA panel approved the use, meaning we could be a week or two away from having to make this choice. We're going to talk about it tonight, what we know, and what we need to know. We have answers on that.

But first, we have questions, questions of criminality, being asked in the "Rust" movie shooting. The D.A. of Santa Fe County says everything at this point is on the table.

The prosecutor tells "The New York Times," this investigation is focusing on ballistics. What kind of round was in the gun handed to Alec Baldwin, and who put it there?

The D.A. says there was an enormous amount of bullets on this set. Key question, of course, is why? But again, the larger question for me is will real guns keep being used to make-believe in movies?

Now, have you seen this?


CUOMO: This may be the last photo or one of the last. And it's not just about nostalgia or the macabre. This gives us the best sense of what was happening, when this tragedy occurred.

The cinematographer, on "Rust," Halyna Hutchins, she - you see her there, with the hat, the arrow, obviously. So, you see Alec Baldwin, where he is, this idea of "Hey, you never point a gun at somebody," but you see what they're doing here.

They're blocking a shot. She's in line with Alec Baldwin, and with the director, OK? And this is a very interesting angle into why did this happen the way it did. But the picture does not tell the entire story, because it's all about the weapon.

It should have never been in his hand for rehearsal. He shouldn't have been - look, again, I've been very clear. I don't think that they should have real guns in make-believe at all.

In truth, I used to say "Prop gun" all the time. There's no such thing. There should be. He should have had a prop gun, especially for a rehearsal. There was no need for anything approximating reality in a rehearsal.

Who gave it to him? Did they check it? Did he check it? How did it get a bullet in it that could blow a hole through somebody, and take their life?

We don't know when the picture was taken. But we do know that's Hutchins. We do know she cared tremendously about her job, and she had a young family, and that that's why this all matters. It won't be the last time this happens, if nothing changes.

Now, the detectives put together an inventory list. It shows what was seized on set. Among the items, ammunition found in boxes, and loose around the set. Some of it may have been live, meaning real bullets, ammunition haphazardly strewn around.

As for the gun that ended up in Baldwin's hands, reportedly used for target practice, in the hours before this tragedy. Target practice means live ammo. Some crew members apparently used it to go plinking, plinking, shooting at cans, that's the sound, plink.

Now, should you do that? No. But more importantly, bringing back and mixing live ammo, with the blanks, is that what happened here? When you aggregate all the red flags, we've heard about, so far, it really is jarring.

A gun used for target practice by the crew hours before? Reports of at least two accidental gun discharges, on the set, prior to the shooting, ammo found loose in a fanny pack, tray, boxes, not organized, crew members reportedly quitting, due to safety concerns, before this incident. A veteran prop expert saying he turned down a job on the set because of safety.

And then there's the two crew members at the center of this all, Assistant Director Dave Halls, he said the gun was cold. That means "You don't have to worry about it," when he gave it to Alec Baldwin. Why?

Does it have anything to do with why he was fired, by another film production, in 2019, over another gun incident that injured another crew member?

[21:05:00] And, of course, the "Armorer," why do I put it in quotes? Because I think that's a title that's earned, not just a name on a production sheet. Hannah Gutierrez is 24-years-old. She's only done this twice. This was her second time. She was in charge of this gun.

She even expressed doubts about her capabilities, specifically about loading blanks. She said that was really scary, in the job she did before "Rust," because she didn't know what she was doing. Those are her words.

So, what should happen, to those who made this happen? And what must change? Let's ask an actor and producer, who once worked with Halyna Hutchins, on a movie called "The Mad Hatter." His name is Armando Gutierrez.

Also with us, Dutch Merrick, an armorer, a real one, a prop master, with more than two decades of experience, in film and TV.

I welcome you both. I want to talk about the analysis here. But I don't want to forget about the people.

Armando? Halyna Hutchins, only 42 years of old - years of age, young family, but a lot of shine in the industry. People believed in her, believed in her talent, believed what she was about as a person.

You knew her. Who did we lose?

ARMANDO GUTIERREZ, ACTOR & PRODUCER, KNEW HALYNA HUTCHINS: You lost a very talented director of photography, camera operator, dreamer, and future director.

I worked with her on "The Mad Hatter." And from day one, I was extremely impressed with her capabilities. She knew everything about lighting, cameras, lenses. And she was on her way. This was her second career. She started in something else, and really, gravitated toward the creative of this industry.

We did stay in touch. And I was hoping to work with her again. So obviously, when I heard about this news, it was extremely tragic.

CUOMO: Especially because it didn't have to happen, right? I know that you were talking about how this usually works on set.

And do we have it right, in terms of, you're blocking a shot. You're going to set up how it is. And that's why you'd have your D.P., in this case, Halyna, and to have the director behind her, lined up next to the camera, trying to get Alec, to have the right line of sight, and what it's going to look like for them.

What stands out, for you, as strange, in that kind of setup that - and what - how it was done here?

GUTIERREZ: I mean just from what you were discussing, why is there live ammunition, on set, in the first place? And why is the armorer not an experienced individual with a Federal Firearms License, and years and years of training? There's no reason to use live ammunition in these kind of things. You could do it through CGI. You could do it through a rubber gun. There's a lot of options.

I was extremely angered by the fact that you had crew members that were calling out the red flags before, and people were ignoring it. These guys, just because you're on a Western set doesn't mean you can lower your guards, and not be prepared for the dangers of any kind of filming.

But the fact that there was live ammunition, and guns, of this sort, without the expertise, of either, officers, agents, somebody with 20 years, 30 years, of experience, is appalling.

CUOMO: Right.

GUTIERREZ: And that's where the real problem is.

There needs to be a law that forces you, to use experienced individuals, with the experience to manage this, if you are going to use it. But to also analyze the fact that if you don't use it, you're going to be penalized, and potentially charged criminally, for violating these kind of safety protocols.

If the union strikes, what, that means the medic can go home too? "Oh, if somebody gets sick? Oh, there's no medic." No, no, no, no. The medic, and armorer, these kind of individuals need to be on set, no matter what. And don't give me the excuse of a budget, because a life is worth a lot more than a few hundred dollars more a day.

CUOMO: Dutch, let me bring you in on this. Help me understand. I was talking to Bill Davis, I'm sure you know that name, another guy who's been in the industry a very long time.

And I said, "You know? I've always used the term prop gun."


CUOMO: I didn't know that most of the time these are real weapons. And you're just swapping out the type of slug in there, for a blank, instead of a live round.

Do you think the time has come to no longer use real weapons in making a movie?

MERRICK: No, I don't. I don't see that coming. We've used real guns, in Hollywood, for more than a century, a 100 years of an overwhelmingly safe craft, because it's fake. It does put fire out the front. But we accommodate for that, by blocking the shots, very carefully.

Hollywood shoots millions, literally millions of blank rounds, and without a fatality. It's been 28 years. And the last one was an anomaly, like this, with a chain of events that happened that was unpredictable. All the safety procedures were not met.


This show sounds like it was a disaster from the very beginning. And it was a recipe for something to go wrong, a stunt, or who knows what? And it was unfortunately that it was this.

And the day that it was happened, it sounds like it was a bit of mayhem on the set, with the camera crew leaving, bringing in new crew. One can only imagine what it was like, to stand on that set that morning.

And, of course, an inexperienced armorer, and I understand that the prop department, the original prop master, they asked to do it, asked for five people, to do it, because it's such a big show.

And the producers gave the prop master that took the job, two assistants. And they said one of your assistants will also be the armorer. So, a department that should have been five or six or seven people was three people.

CUOMO: So, yes--

MERRICK: They did not have enough money, to make this film, they shouldn't have made it.

CUOMO: You had two real issues here. One is that they may have been using the weapon, with live rounds, to target practice. And then they, or she, or someone, brought live ammunition, back onto the set, and somehow confused it, and put it into the weapon, assuming this was unintentional.

How hard is it to mistake a blank for a live round?

MERRICK: Very, very difficult. A blank is shorter. It's crimped. There's no bullet. When you look at it, it's very, very obvious, to the lay person, the difference between a bullet and a blank.

So, if they were shooting, and didn't empty the gun, and they - I mean, the thought of having actual gunfire, to goof around, at a lunch break, on a film set, I've - that's insane, absolutely insane, and goes against every standard and every common sense.

So, if they left over a round, after they were shooting in the gun, that's a major problem. If someone put it in there, deliberately, as a gag, also, a major problem. We don't know how it got there.

Who brought the ammo? There's just no reason in any film or television production to have real ammo. I've never heard of such a thing.

CUOMO: Why would they - if I handed you a gun, or the person who hands the gun, and says "Cold gun," meaning Dutch that this doesn't have, well, what does it mean? If I say "Cold gun," obviously, it means it doesn't have a live round. It will never have a live round. A cold gun means what? MERRICK: Well, the terminology we use, it started with special effects, when they wanted to make something hot, meaning you're ready to make it dangerous and ready to go, some pyrotechnics.

So, that kind of crept over into firearms. They say "OK, last thing before we roll, make the guns hot." And then from that you ended up, "Are the guns hot or cold?" So that's the term that we use, that there's a chain of custody that armorers have.

We take the guns from a locked gun safe. We transport them to set, on a cart, as you've seen a cart, in the photos. And we maintain custody of those guns, the entire time. Nobody else should be touching a gun other than the armorers, and the actor who's going to use the gun.

The first assistant director is the ultimate arbiter of safety. And they can inspect the gun. And they should inspect the gun, to make sure the barrel's clear, and it's only using authorized blanks for that gun. But he shouldn't touch it.

And then, the armorer hands it to the actor. They get the scene. When they're done with the scene, the armorer comes in, removes the gun, from the scene, and makes it safe. So, it only goes between the armorer and the actor. And it's a very regulated process. And we do it every day in Hollywood.

CUOMO: Armando, when you get handed a weapon, and they say it's cold, or it's safe, or it's whatever, do you check it?

GUTIERREZ: Oh, of course, I would check it again myself.

And it reminds me of when we're working on a movie, in the United Kingdom, not only I checked it. I had the director, and another producer, check it, on top of the armorer. And the armorer verified it several times.

So that - but, just like he said, the fact there was live ammunition, on the set, tells you everything.

CUOMO: Right.

GUTIERREZ: Tells you exactly how irresponsible they are. And they were - they thought this was a joke, because you're filming on a Western set. So, I mean, there's huge fundamental safety violations in this. And I think that they're going to be studying this for years.

But the bottom line is, unless there's some kind of federal law that actually forces you, to be responsible, and fined heavily, and prosecuted, when you make stupid mistakes, like this, that's the only way you're going to be able to prevent this from happening again.

CUOMO: Well the industry can make its own rules, and you guys have grown up in and around that process.

However, then you get to a point like this, where now you have a district attorney, who was going to say that what was being done wasn't just stupid, wasn't just unprofessional, but did it rise to the level of criminality, in terms of the level of negligence? We'll see. The D.A. said everything is on the table.

Armando, thank you for reminding us of who, Halyna was, to her colleagues, and of course to her kid, and her husband.

And Dutch, thank you, for reminding us how it's supposed to be done, when it's done, right.

Thank you both.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, now, to politics, a very different type of violence.


This Virginia race, why do you have to watch it? Because they're fighting, right now, about teaching in schools, race, what you read. Why? Because this is what they believe works. It's not about education. This is a bigger play than that. And it's probably headed to your state.

So, we have a veteran of Republican politics, to tell you exactly what the play is here, and what it means for Left, Right, and for the rare few, who are still reasonable, next.








CUOMO: The Virginia governor's race, got to watch it. It is a window into the national state of play. And it is ugly. The Right is all about what is wrong, namely, Democrat efforts, to take away your rights, even to control your kids' education.


Republican Glenn Youngkin is shrinking the gap with McAuliffe, who was supposed to run away with this election. Why? The messaging present in a new ad, "Terry McAuliffe, Democrat, doesn't want parents, to have a say in what their kids learn in school."

It features a mom expressing outrage, saying her child was exposed to explicit material in the classroom. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They passed bills, requiring schools, to notify parents, when explicit content was assigned. It was bipartisan. It gave parents a say, the option, to choose an alternative, for my children. I was so grateful.

But then Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed it twice. He doesn't think parents should have a say.


CUOMO: The mom in the ad, she made headlines in 2013, for campaigning against Toni Morrison's "Beloved." You've heard of it, won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize, considered one of the greatest novels in American history.

Her son was assigned to read it in an Advanced Placement English course. It's college level. Smart kid. The parent? Maybe not so much.

But you could dismiss the absurdity of this, right? This is like what is this, "Fahrenheit 451?" No. This is modern day. And it is messaging that may work.

You will likely see these kinds of scare tactics, "The government, the Democrats, they're the same thing. And they want to ruin the way you live. Testing! Masks! Vaccine! Now your kid's in school, Critical Race Theory, whatever that is."

Let's get some perspective, from former Republican Strategist, Stuart Stevens.

You know what always amazes me, young man? What is old is new again, in politics, all the time. This is no different than the kind of culture clash that we've seen in many different iterations. But it seems to be working for Youngkin.

What do you see, in this new version, of a tried and tested tactic?

STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think it was inevitable this was going to be a close race. It's an off year. That doesn't surprise me.

Look, this is a completely phony issue, for Glenn Youngkin. And here's a proof of that. He spends almost $40,000 a year to send his son to Georgetown Prep, where Toni Morrison is required reading, in certain courses. I mean, we're talking about the only African American Nobel laureate, in literature.

The idea you're going to be afraid of a book, I don't know what happened to the Republican Party. It used to be that we prided ourselves on standing up to dictators. And now, we can't - afraid to read a book, if you read a Nobel Prize winning book?

The irony is this is the ultimate Cancel Culture. They want to cancel a Nobel Prize laureate, who just happens to be African American? It's all about race. It's all about trying to up White turnout. I hope it doesn't work. But - and you say-- CUOMO: They're forcing it.

STEVENS: --there's nothing new.

CUOMO: That's the point, Stuart. It's not "Read the book. Don't read the book." It's, "You're going to read the Black book."


CUOMO: "You're going to do what they tell you to do. And you're going to appreciate the Black culture. And you're going to get away from your Whiteness. And you're going to be told what to do, if you won't do it, when we ask you."

That's what this is all code for, isn't it?

STEVENS: Yes. I mean, what was shocking about the book was that it wasn't about slavery, right?

CUOMO: Right.

STEVENS: So I mean, slavery is shocking.

And so, you have this kind of confluence of forces here. You have this attempt to rewrite history and deny history, which is one version of what's happening with 1/6.

You have this attempt to sort of hold on to some White identity in America, that won't acknowledge the pain and suffering that others, who are non-White, more often than not, particularly those, who are African American, have suffered in the country.

And I don't think Glenn Youngkin believes any of this. I mean, this guy wouldn't send his son, to a place - where he spends $40,000, to expose him to what is a good education. It's just completely phony. But it shows where the party is.

And he thinks that, you know, this is a guy, who wants to run for president. And when you elect people, who are reasonable, but act unreasonably, I think it's extraordinarily dangerous.

You see, this is what's happening down in Texas, with Governor Abbott, who is not a crazy person, but he's passing crazy laws, because he sees, that's the way, to advance, in this Republican Party.

CUOMO: But the challenge? You say "Dance." It takes two to tango, though, right?

And when McAuliffe says, "Hey, I don't think parents should be telling schools what to teach," you're creating an opening, of "They don't - they want to take away my rights." I mean, look, this is what Hillary did with "Deplorable." This is what Obama just did with "Phony culture wars."

[21:25:00] You don't want to play with legitimate pain, legitimate fear and frustration. You want to speak to it. You want to have a counter message that makes people feel included, and empowered.

Do the Democrats, you think, recognize what's coming their way, because McAuliffe opened the door to this?

STEVENS: Yes, it wasn't a great line. But look, Terry McAuliffe was governor, for four years, and Virginia seemed to do very well, under Terry McAuliffe.

CUOMO: Very well.

STEVENS: He's not a frightening guy. And that's why they're going this way.

I, look, I think that Democrats can't get drawn in, if we go into 2022, into these culture wars. And the way to counter this is with a message that is bigger, that is positive.

And I believe that what Democrats need to do is nationalize this race, about a defense of democracy, because ultimately, just as Donald Trump is on the ballot, on November 2, in Virginia, democracy itself is on the ballot, because that's what this is about.

Why all of a sudden is Donald Trump interested in who's governor? Because he wants to run again in 2024. And he knows in close states, if they pass the right laws, they'll empower these state legislatures, to overturn the results. And that's what he wanted to happen. It didn't happen. But it's not to say it's not going to happen again.

So, this is very methodical. It's about something much bigger than the Virginia governor's race, just as Georgia was about something much bigger than Georgia.

And really, what the Democrats have to do is make voting for democracy, patriotic, and they're the defenders of the democracy now. I don't think it's a perfect party. But they're the pro-democracy party in this country. And the other one isn't. So, take your pick. I want the pro-democracy party.

CUOMO: No, look, I hear you. And look, it'd be nice if you had more than two choices.

This is a big thing for me. The binary system, it started with a warning from Washington, not to get into the party game. The binary system has led us into a place, where it exacerbates all of our problems of division.

And you're right. Right now, the Democrats do have a big stick to swing, if they want, which is you have a party that is invested in ruining our democracy. But then, again, the Democrats let that fight go. They did not pick as a hill to die on, getting the Voting Rights passed. Maybe they'll come back to it. We'll see.

I'll tell you what, I'll come back to. You! Stuart Stevens, you are a gift to the audience.

STEVENS: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: You know the game. And you know how to explain it. And you're doing it for the right reasons. I appreciate you.

STEVENS: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well.

Let's go deeper. I'm telling you, this is the secret sauce for the midterms. It's being seasoned right now. And we can see the ingredients in play.

I want to bring in someone, who's no chef, The Wizard of Odds, but he can cook, when it comes to television. And he's going to show us what the issues are, and how you can play, to fear. The voters could gobble it up. The incumbents may get agita, sick stomach! Next.









CUOMO: The Virginia race isn't really about education. Of course, education matters. But it's about the context. See, the important thing is to see how the issue is being framed. You're going to see this on all major issues.

The issues will be obvious. It'll be the economy. It'll be education. It'll be COVID. But it's how? It's always about the how? The era of White fright is upon us. And we see the battle before us, in the numbers. So says, no less, than the Wizard of Odds.

Unpack it for us.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: It's fear. Fear is the big issue here. Fear of government.

One of the biggest shifts that we've seen nationally, from 2020 to 2021, is now the majority of Americans think that the government is doing too much. Last year, they said the government should do more.

And we see that on the issues that you mentioned, right? It's about that the government's doing too much on the economy that they want to make too big of drastic changes.

It's about education, as you pointed out, the government going in and telling you, how your kids should actually be learning, and taking away parental rights.

It's even on the Coronavirus, telling businesses whether or not they in fact have to basically regulate, who comes into the restaurants, or whether it's telling you that you in fact have to have a vaccine, in order to go to work.

It's fear of government intervention. And we're seeing that in Virginia.

CUOMO: So, show us in Virginia? Because, I remember, not too long ago, a really smart analyst, I think, was sitting on my couch, eating free food, saying "Terry McAuliffe should win this pretty easily." I forget who it was. But it's not looking like that right now.

ENTEN: No, it's not looking that right now. And I mean, look at this, who do you trust more, on the important issues? Look at this, Glenn Youngkin, with a 5-point lead on jobs, and the economy, even a 1-point basically to a draw on education and schools. Education is usually a big Democratic advantage.

And look at that. Even on the COVID pandemic, remember when Joe Biden had like these 20-point, 30-point edges, over Donald Trump, on who you trust more on the COVID pandemic? And now Terry McAuliffe has, yes, it's a lead. But it's just a 6-point advantage.

And the other thing I will note is how the issues have been changing, during the course of the campaign, right? It used to be that the Coronavirus was a huge issue, nationally, and it was one of the top issues in Virginia. I don't know if we have that slide.

But what we see now is that the economy and jobs, as well as education and schools have become the top issues in that race. And I think it's all just kind of falling back. This is going right into where Glenn Youngkin wants this race to be.

CUOMO: So, it's working for him there. At least it's making it very, very close.


CUOMO: Now, what does that look like projected onto the national scene?

ENTEN: I think it looks like the following is it sort of gets projected onto the national scene.

If we go to slide four, here, which is the economy, and Joe Biden, and what do we see? We see, look at this. Look at how the approval rating on the economy traces so well, with Joe Biden's overall approval rating.

You see, as basically, the economy, economic approval ratings starts to fall back from June, then August, 52 percent, to 46 percent to 42 percent.

Look at the overall approval ratings, 53 percent to 48 percent to 43 percent, as the - basically the Republicans gone after Joe Biden's handling of the economy, saying he's trying to do too much.


"They're trying to do too much. They're trying to change the ultimate size of government. They're not focusing enough on inflation, the problems that are actually hitting your everyday pocketbooks."

It's all coming back to the size of government, and the fear that government is not doing enough for you, and doing too much, to line their own pockets, or doing too much, to control your lives, whether it be on education, or whether it be on the Coronavirus.

CUOMO: So, I'm filling up my car today, literally. I'm at the gas station. Guy says to me - he says, "Hey, where do you think this deal is going to get made on spending?"

And first, it was interesting to me. All he was talking about was the amount. And I'm telling you, price tag politics does more bad than good. Very rarely do people talk about the size of programs, as a good thing. You got to break it down for them.

And he said, "Boy, $1.52 trillion?" And he may get beat by $1 at the gas pump. That's not a bad point. You may pass this spending bill. But if people play pocketbook economics, and don't understand the value of the bill, but they understand gas prices, Biden could be in trouble on that.

ENTEN: One of the more interesting things, to me, as I've sort of been digesting these numbers, as they've sort of come out, right? Initially, we all saw "Oh, wait a minute. Voters were heavily in favor." They heavily approved on the Build Back Better agenda, heavily approved of the infrastructure bill.

But then you ask them a second question. You ask them the question of whether or not, number one, it's going to help you and your family, number two, is it going to actually help the national economy?

And we see a far bigger split here, a far more of a split, a far more of a 50/50 split. And that's generally what we've been seeing all along, things that you think that Democrats should have large advantages on, all of a sudden get shrunk.

And all of a sudden, Republicans are basically saying, "You know what? We're going to fight to draw on the issues, in which you are ahead on, and we're going to blow it out on other things."

And we even see that on vaccine mandates. If we go to slide five here, I mean, look, vaccine mandates, an infringement of rights, what do we see? Look at that, only 51 percent say it's an acceptable way to increase vaccinations. 49 percent say it's an unacceptable infringements on rights. You and I have sat here before, right? And I was saying, "Vaccine mandates could be something good for the Democrats, especially given that now near 80 percent of adults have at least one COVID shot."

CUOMO: They work.

ENTEN: But Republicans have been able to change things so much, and really put it on to an infringement of rights. And it seems to be working for them, even in Virginia, a state Biden won by 10 points.

CUOMO: Literally, to be continued. Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: All right, so should be good news, but I think it's going to get slotted right into this conflict that we have, about us and them.

COVID shots going to kids, it's, look, even the way I wrote it, "Shots going into the arms of children, between 5 and 11," very menacing. Or is it what the science suggests, which is this is the final chapter, in being able to protect ourselves, and the people, we care about most, our kids, and this virus?

The FDA panel put out big, big news today. Will people do this? What do they need to know? And how might it get twisted? Keen insight, from a former FDA Commissioner, next.









CUOMO: COVID is scary for kids between 5 and 14. It's top 10 of what kills them. It's number six.

The FDA advisory panel had a unanimous vote today, saying that it's safe for kids 5 to 11. Could be a matter of days, week or two, has to go through the CDC, figure out the final processing, and then kids may be eligible for the vaccine.

Will parents choose for their kids to get it? Will the breakdown be the same that we've seen with adults? Or will it be different? Let's break it down. Former FDA Commissioner, Dr. Mark McClellan.

Doc, it's good to have you. Very different proposition, for you, or me, to get the vaccine, versus giving it, to our kids, especially younger kids. What do you want parents to know?

DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, DIRECTOR, DUKE-MARGOLIS CENTER FOR HEALTH POLICY: Well, you're right, Chris, that it is lower risk from COVID, in kids that are aged 5 to 11 compared to you or me. But Chris, as you mentioned, this is a serious outbreak, a serious pandemic, for kids in this age group.

We've seen over close to 2 million infections in this age group, more than 8,000 kids hospitalized, many of those in intensive care units, with serious long-term consequences. And close to 100 deaths. That's more than we have for chickenpox, or other conditions, where we've got vaccines available, and use them.

So, this is a very important option, especially with so much COVID around, and so many kids trying to go back to school, and prevent spread, within their families and in their communities.

CUOMO: This is going to be a mission not of science, but of messaging. With all due respect, it keeps getting screwed up, at the federal level.

One, they don't know how to message, scientists, because it's OK for a scientist, to change a position, based on a change in fact. People aren't used to that in politics. People hold on to a bad position, no matter what the facts are. So now things that change actually scare them, as opposed to it just being more empirical thought.

The messaging here is going to be key, Doc. What do they have to get right, right now?

MCCLELLAN: Well, this is a message that needs to get out very soon, because as you said, it's likely that the vaccines are going to be available in a week.

I think one important message is there is very unlikely, very unlikely there'll be any mandates, anywhere, for this age group. In most of the country, for kids, over 11, there are vaccines available now. Almost nowhere, Chris is there a mandate.

So that means people and parents can have a chance, to look at the facts, and make a decision. If you're in an area, where there's a lot of COVID around, if you look around, and see the cases that have happened, the hospitalizations, the long-term consequences of COVID, take a look at the data.


What it shows is 90 percent effectiveness of the vaccines, very few, very rare side effects, and those are able to be managed. That's much better, I think, for most people, given the way COVID is spreading now, in the country, for protecting their kids.

CUOMO: Doctor, thank you very much. I appreciate it. I want you to come back, once we get the final approval, and see what the government is saying, about this. I would actually flip the message. Leave mandates way to the back until you know that people aren't getting it. And start out front with why, you know, it's safe enough, to give your kid, and pound that message with compelling data. Let's see if they do it.

Dr. Mark McClellan, always a plus, thank you.

MCCLELLAN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, different kind of pandemic, misinformation. Facebook is under fire. And they did have a role in fueling. Their own documents show that. They're not the only one though, OK? We just keep learning more. And we got to be careful and not overdo what we know what the problem is.

We have a top insider, who worked there for more than a decade, with Zuckerberg, and other top execs. Let's talk about what matters here, what he knows from being there, and what he also knows that could make it better, next.









CUOMO: First, it's a trickle, then it's flow, then it's a flood. We're going to learn more and more about how Facebook has a formula, to foster rage, not because they want people angry, but because they want the profits that come from the provocativeness of anger and animus.

"The Washington Post" is the latest to report on leaked internal documents, keyword, internal.

Turns out, when Facebook gave you more than a thumbs-up, to react to posts, their algorithm treated five times more valuable than likes. That means things that made people angry, were pushed harder than what gave you a thumbs-up. Why? Because it pays.

Decisions like that caused my next guest to leave Facebook. Brian Boland is a former VP at the company.

It's good to have you. Do I have it right?


CUOMO: Now, look, the only problem I have, with going after Facebook, is it's not just about Facebook. He's just the biggest player in the space, especially with Instagram.

But every venue, to me, I don't like the word "Platform." You guys, not you anymore, but you're building the stadiums, OK? And just like at any event, you don't control the game. You don't control the concert.

But you're providing the venue for it. And you have people there. And you have rules about who can come, where they can sit, and what allows them to stay, and when they have to leave. This should be no different.

What could be done, to make social media better for us?

BOLAND: Well, Chris, you've got it, right. I mean, we see this with not just Facebook, but every platform that gives you recommendations, and algorithms. It could be YouTube. It could be TikTok, which frankly, hasn't studied any of these problems.

Now imagine your stadiums without building codes. They wouldn't be safe. Would the stairs fall down? Would everything collapse?

Well, we need the same kind of response, where we can have a regulatory body, kind of like the ones that provide us with building codes, or the FDA that can start to bring regulations in place, to protect people, and give them a base level of safety, which they're not getting today.

CUOMO: But we can't afford Boland's. So, we see this with like, every time the securities industry comes up with a new product that has to be policed, it's very hard. And I'll tell you, it's a lot easier to find people, who understand trading, than understand algorithmic suggestions through software.

So, can you do this? Or is it a yes, coma, but it's going to take a long time, and they're going to be ahead of the curve, on the business side, for a long time?

BOLAND: Well, I think it's going to be incredibly hard. These are very complex problems, with new technologies that just didn't exist, when you and I were growing up. So, this is brand-new stuff.

At the same time, we have a lot of researchers, at the academic setting, and world-class PhDs, who could really take data from these platforms, in a privacy safe way, doesn't need to impact anyone's privacy. And they could study these issues, and they can inform policy. And they can inform the kind of safety measures that you would put into one of these platforms.

We study medicines. We study drugs, for their effectiveness, and what they do to people. We can study the same things here. The problem is that these platforms are black box. They don't let academic researchers see the data. The only reason we're getting this insight, right now, is because somebody leaked a lot of data, from these internal studies. And these were done by PhD researchers. So, we could take this kernel, we could extend it, across all digital platforms, and give us a direction of where to go.

CUOMO: One of the things that pissed you off was that you're not special, that what you saw, and how you felt about it, you believe should have been common. But what was your experience that people at your level, of understanding what was wrong, and their attitude toward it?

BOLAND: You're told that these are hard problems, and then good people are working on it, or you're told that the media is overblowing, these stories.

And I started to look around, and read more of these things, and hear from, people like Maria Ressa, who just won the Nobel Peace Prize, for freedom of expression, in the Philippines. And they're raising hard concerns.

So, I started to look for myself. I started to look at data from CrowdTangle, an internal Facebook tool that lets you see what posts are getting the most engagement. And I started to see trends that were really, really concerning to me.

So, it was my personal journey that led me to that path, where I said, "You know, I'm either going to change this, or go." And I wasn't able to change it. And so, I left. And I'm now speaking up more publicly.

CUOMO: Do you think that we can balance rights, and responsibilities, in a way that doesn't censor or jail?

BOLAND: Yes, absolutely. I mean, anytime we have these rights - and freedom of expression is so important to us. And we've seen what happens when you limit speech.

At the same time, a lot of what we're talking about is hate speech, issues around safety. And some of it is an issue of investment, right?


So, Facebook's talking about $5 billion this year, on safety investments. But they're spending twice that on the Metaverse. In the last quarter, I think they spent three times that, on stock buybacks. And today, announced a 10 times that amount in stock buybacks. So, the priorities are out of whack.

I do think that there are solutions that researchers have put in place, where they could say, "Hey, if we take these measures, people will be safer. We just need that to be a priority."


BOLAND: And so, I think there's a path there. There are definitely interventions that people have suggested. We just need to have the pressure to do them.

CUOMO: I think that that pressure is going to come, from dealing with competition, and allow seed companies, to get into the game, of saying, "Come on our platform. It's safer. We police it better."

I think that's, if they don't get gobbled up early on, if guys don't get too selfish, too early on, the men and women, who create these platforms, and technologies, that'll drive a lot of it too.

Brian Boland, appreciate you and thank you.

BOLAND: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, we'll be right back with the handoff.


CUOMO: Thank you for watching.