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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Bogus Arizona Audit Backfires on Trump, Confirms Biden Won; New Details Emerge about Brian Laundrie's Behavior in the Days After Gabby Petito Went Missing; Sources: "The View" Co-Hosts Now Test Negative For Covid Two Times, After Positive Tests And Leaving Set Before VP Harris Interview. Ken Burns Compares Current Crisis To Some Of The Great Crises In American History. Minority Families Seek Help Finding Loved Ones. "The Lost Sons" Premieres Sunday At 9 P.M. ET. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired September 24, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening. Tonight, award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, he is here to showcase his latest work on the life and turbulent times in Muhammad Ali.
But we'll also be talking about this troubled moment, which he calls equal in magnitude to the Second World War, The Great Depression, and the Civil War. Having made widely acclaimed films in all three, Ken Burns' assessment about the state of democracy right now, we think is certainly worth listening to.
So is historian and "Washington Post" contributing columnist Robert Kagan's take. He writes today: "The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, or breakdown of Federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves."
Now, this is not some wild-eyed radical, by the way, nor is former C.I.A. Director Michael Hayden, who was early with the warning that only a thin veneer of civilization, as he put it, protects any democracy, even our own; nor are reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa being outlandish or alarmist with the final line of their new book on the former President's assault on democracy, the peril, they write remains.
So tonight, we're focusing on that peril from what continues to be a steady assault on the democratic process and democracy itself.
Today, a sign the current President considers the threat serious enough to set aside decades of tradition in response to a question about invoking executive privilege to shield Trump era records from the House Select Committee on the insurrection, the White House Press Secretary said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We take this matter
incredibly seriously, and certainly, we have been working closely with congressional committees and others as they work to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th, an incredibly dark day in our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, moments later, Psaki said that President Biden was taking an eye toward not asserting executive privilege, but that request would be evaluated on a case by case basis. Now, just to underscore though, this is something few Presidents do willingly, if at all, even when it's not their own records being sought.
No President wants to be the first to weaken executive privilege. The President apparently determining that the times and the threat may demand it and there were fresh reminders of that.
Today, we got the results of Arizona's bogus partisan amateur review, not even a real audit of presidential votes in Maricopa County, and it reaffirmed that Joe Biden won, which may have been good for, you know, an ironic laugh or two, but not much more than that, because the so- called Cyber Ninjas who conducted this thing were about as qualified to audit ballots as you or I.
The results had already been certified by Republican election officials and reaffirmed in several courts, but competently done or not, in the end, the count itself, it hardly mattered.
The former President simply reacted, of course, to the bogus audit, which had been launched by the big lie, and lied about the actual results. His statement reading, quote: "Massive fraud was found in the Arizona forensic audit, sometimes referred to as 'fraudit.' The numbers are election changing."
It's a lie. The fact that they're not election changing didn't stop it nor did it stop Arizona's top State Republican who ordered the so- called audit or review from firing off a letter to the State Attorney General raising fresh doubts about election security, which of course, was always the real aim. A point not lost in this Republican Congressman who by the way, is not one of the few who voted to impeach the former President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM REED (R-NY): Many of my Republican colleagues, conservative colleagues that just don't trust the system. They don't trust the media, they don't trust the election process, and that is a fundamental threat to our future existence and we have to overcome it, and fanning these flames of this lack of faith in our institutions is problematic. We just have got to stand firm against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, he is right about the first part. Recent CNN polling shows 78 percent of Republicans do not believe Joe Biden won. As for the second part about Republicans standing firm against the big lie, he simply couldn't be more wrong. It's now a pillar of their party.
Look no further than what happened last night, not in Arizona, but in the state the former President won. Yesterday, just hours after the President sent Texas Governor Greg Abbott an open letter demanding it, state officials there said they would re-examine ballots in four large counties, three of which voted Democratic.
Pennsylvania Republicans last week saw driver's license and Social Security information from every voter in the state in connection with their inquiry into the 2020 election. Wisconsin Republicans are pushing for a probe there. And as many political experts have noted on this program and elsewhere, these efforts are not just backward looking in nature.
I mean, by undermining faith in the last election, they're being used to justify new restrictions for future elections, which is a string of red states this year had passed, making it harder to vote and making the outcome easier for outsiders to challenge, which then of course, in turn undermines faith in elections even further and threatens democracy as we'll discuss with filmmaker, Ken Burns shortly, almost as never before.
Right now though, let's start with CNN's Kyung Lah who has been on this story for, I mean, God bless you, for months and sat in on today's hearing on the so-called audit. So, what did these folks say -- Kyung.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, those many hours, whatever presentation and misinformation campaign, if you will, I actually spoke to Ken Mata, who is with the Secretary of State's Office, the Information Security Officer, and he estimates 90 percent of some of the inflammatory information in there was inaccurate, 90 percent.
Let's start with the first presenter to the two senators, Senate President Karen Fann and Warren Petersen. This guy is a conspiracy theorist. He's an anti-vaxxer. He is known in the far right as Dr. Shiva. He has no election experience, and yet taxpayers paid him to examine envelopes.
And then the Cyber Ninja himself, Doug Logan. He also threw a lot of misinformation out there except for this one part, Anderson. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG LOGAN, CYBER NINJA: We take a look at the presidential race, Trump actually loses 261 votes from the official votes, Biden gains 99, and Jorgensen loses 204 votes.
And again, these are all, you know, very small numbers when we're talking about 2.1 million ballots, these are very small discrepancies. So we can say that the ballots that were provided to us to count in the Coliseum very accurately correlate with the official campus numbers that came through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: So the hand count, Trump lost, again. But you know, that was just a really short part of his presentation, Anderson. The rest of it really was conspiracy spaghetti that he kept throwing on the wall -- Anderson.
COOPER: And I mean, I hesitate to call them cyber ninjas, because it just seems -- I mean, it just seems so absurd, but this company, or these men who conducted this bogus audit are actually recommending legislation moving forward. What's that about?
LAH: Yes, it is really hard to say. But we're going to say it because I'm probably never going to be able to say the name Cyber Ninjas ever again on television. But Cyber Ninjas is recommending legislation, not just one recommendation.
But at the end of a lot of this misinformation that he presented in public, in the Arizona Senate, even though this is an official hearing, he didn't say it just once, he recommended 13 different points of legislation, all of which restrict voting access here in the State of Arizona, for an election that by and large, you talk to any election expert, they have been doing this well for a very long time.
The same paper used in 2016 also used in 2020. The only thing that changed was the outcome in 2020 -- Anderson.
COOPER: Kyung Lah, appreciate it. Thank you want.
I want to get perspective now from CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin and CNN political analyst, Kirsten Powers.
So Jeff, you look at not only Arizona, all these other states now taking their lead and conducting their own, you know, so-called sham audits or audits. I mean, this does seem to be the new way forward or one leg of the new way forward for Republicans, just keep auditing, keep sowing doubt, keep sowing fear.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And, you know, Anderson, I try not to be an alarmist about this or anything else, but we have to really recognize how profoundly this is a departure from the American political tradition.
One of the out -- one of the rules of the game has been when the votes are counted, that's the end. You can have a recount, which is an official process. But if that is the end, that is the end.
And the idea that Republicans are basically asserting that any election, any close election that Democrats win, is, by definition illegitimate, and they will find a way to discredit it. That's something new in American politics, and it is a scary thing and it looks like 2022 is only going to be worse because these forces are mobilizing in advance, limiting the right to vote and then creating systems where they can discredit any vote that they lose. It's really a scary business. And the Supreme Court in its new conservative orientation does not
seem inclined to stop any of this before it happens.
COOPER: And obviously, Kirsten, the former President, this is all he has going for him. This is what he is going to ride to his deathbed. And, you know, the polling confirms the President's influence, 78 percent of Republicans believe that President Biden didn't win the election. You know, how does this not just continue to undermine confidence in free and fair elections going forward?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It will continue and that is exactly the point. This is the reason that Donald Trump started this whole idea that he didn't lose the election, well, for a couple of reasons. One also, it allows him to declare he is a winner among a group of people that are willing to accept that, so he is actually not somebody who lost the presidency, he is somebody who had the presidency stolen from him.
POWERS: And so that puts him in a better position, but we saw it all through his presidency that he tears down all the institutions because he wants Republican voters to only trust Him, which is essentially where we are right now where they, whatever he says they accept, and anything to the contrary, they won't listen to.
And then finally, as you alluded to before, this is to justify in their minds coming up with all of these onerous laws around elections to keep people from voting, specifically keeping people who vote for Democrats from voting. And so I think that they are doing this in an effort to say, look, we can't really trust our elections, so we have to create all these new laws to make our elections, you know, functional, even though they are functional.
COOPER: Well, and also, the argument so many of them are making, Kirsten is, it is not even that -- I mean, some of it is, we can't trust, but it's just that so many people feel we can't trust, therefore, we need to act because so many people feel this way that we have to do something about their feelings, and therefore even though it's not factual, I mean, it's insane.
POWERS: It is -- yes, it's completely circular. But this has been something that's been building for a long time. Republicans for a long time were claiming that Democrats were, you know, registering dead people to vote. Mickey Mouse was, you know, registered to vote and these kinds of things.
We had all the controversy around acorn, many years ago. And so they have been planting the seeds for a long time that Democrats are stealing elections or Democrats are doing something to disrupt elections, which now sort of looks like projection, because they are the ones who are really interested in disrupting the electoral process.
TOOBIN: But they are the ones who control the states where this is going on, who at least can call the state legislatures in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and in Wisconsin, and the entire government in Texas. So it's not just rhetoric, they have the ability to make it harder for students to vote, people of color to vote, poor people to vote, people who vote Democratic, and that's what they're doing.
But even beyond that, they are going into the vote counting process itself, and that is something new. That is something that is an escalation of this -- of these tactics, and in many of these states, there is no check, and we'll see what the courts do about it, but the answer is probably not much.
COOPER: Well, also, Kirsten, what is so cynical, and frankly un- American about this and the being done by so many Republicans, is that this actually was an incredibly, probably the most successful election in terms of turnout, people casting votes on all sides of the political aisle, Republicans and Democrats.
It was actually a very good election for Republicans other than the fact that that, you know, their President did not get re-elected. I mean, that's what the cynicism of it, and it's kind of so shameless and brazen.
POWERS: Yes, exactly. I mean, it is completely cynical, and it is an attack on democracy and it is something that people shouldn't take lightly. People should see where this is headed, it's already highly problematic, it is already leading to them passing laws that are going to make it difficult for people to vote, and it's only going to get worse for the idea that it will become normalized for Republicans to never concede that they lost an election.
You know, that they have -- that they literally have the last Republican President who will not concede that he lost the election and the overwhelming majority of Republicans accepting that and believing that Joe Biden is an illegitimate President. Democracy can't work in those circumstances.
COOPER: Jeff, how does this fever dream that the Republicans seem to be in, how does it break?
TOOBIN: I you know what, I don't know, and I don't know that it does break. You know, these states are going to conduct a midterm election in a year -- in a little more than a year, and we're going to see these changes in action and we're going to see whether and how they change the vote counting process to skew it in their favor.
You know, there is no leadership in the Republican Party, except for Donald Trump now. But you know, at the moment, you know, it looked like after January 6th that Mitch McConnell, that Kevin McCarthy we're going to start to speak out against him, but they've retreated and Trump is the Republican Party now.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Kirsten Powers, thank you. Appreciate it.
Coming up next, new information in the killing of Gabby Petito and the disappearance of her fiance, Brian Laundrie. We will have the latest on that in a moment. And later, COVID scare on the set of "The View," two cohosts, Sunny
Hostin and Ana Navarro ushered out when the test results came in, as you'll see, that's just like not even half the story. Ana Navarro joins us ahead.
COOPER: There's breaking news even though the search continues for Brian Laundrie. We're learning more about his final days in Wyoming and more about his fiancee who was killed there and what could be critical information about the search for him.
Our Randi Kaye has the new information and joins us from the Laundrie family home in North Port, Florida. So what's the latest -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we've been working actually a couple of scenes tonight bouncing back and forth between the two. First here at the Laundrie home. Just about an hour and a half ago, there were reports of shots fired, 10 police cars came racing down the street, two officers went inside.
They had gotten a call about shots fired from an unknown number. They came here, checked it out, no evidence of shots fired. So, all was well.
KAYE: Earlier in the day, we were at the Carlton Reserve where they have been searching for days now for Brian Laundrie. The North Port Police say that they are just as committed now there, their drive is just as strong to find him as it was on day one. They have been searching the swamps, the woods, the marsh, very deep water in that area as well and they have all kinds of tools that they're using. They're really throwing everything at this.
They're using swamp buggies, air boats, ATVs, drones. They have officers on foot as well. They will continue, Anderson to search through the weekend, trying to find areas where they think he is more likely to be if he is there -- Anderson.
COOPER: And I understand, there are some new information from someone who was a friend of Gabby Petito.
KAYE: That's right. CNN spoke with a woman named Rose Davis. She is a friend of Gabby's and we wanted to know -- we had some questions for her about Brian Laundrie and she told us this. She said that, "He is out there." This is regarding the search. "If he's alive, he's out there camping out."
She also said, quote: "He is jealous at times." She said she had seen that when she was with the two of them, and she says, "He does not have friends," Anderson. "He reads books."
COOPER: I know you also spoke with another woman today who says that she had an encounter with Brian Laundrie in Wyoming.
KAYE: Correct. I spoke with a woman named Norma Jean Jalovec. We spent some time on the phone. She said that she picked up Brian Laundrie in Wyoming on August 29th. She said that he climbed into her passenger seat, they drove for a bit together. She was on her way home from church. She said there was a Bible on the dashboard. It fell when she went to make a right turn, he touched it.
She is offering it up to the F.B.I. force if they want to look at some fingerprints. She told me that he told her that he had been hiking for days along the Snake River. He mentioned that he had a fiance, he did not mention Gabby Petito by name. She said that he told her that his fiancee was back in their van working on their travel blog that they were keeping.
She also said that he asked her to drop him at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area. We know that is where Gabby Petito's remains were found. She said that she offered to drive him all the way in to where their van was, we've been there, that's about two and a half miles in. She said that he said, "No, no, just drop me here at the entrance," which she did, and went on her way.
But what's key here is the timing of everything. This woman called the F.B.I. after she had seen this other woman, Miranda Baker, who had done these TikTok videos saying that she too had picked up Brian Laundrie hitchhiking.
Miranda Baker said that she dropped him at the Jackson Lake Dam on August 29th, the same day at around 6:09 p.m. This woman says she picked him up nearby that same area on that same day around 6:15 p.m. and dropped him at that dispersed camping area.
So the puzzle pieces, Anderson, do seem to be coming together.
COOPER: Randi, appreciate it. Let's get some perspective on all this. CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the F.B.I. joins us.
So I mean the F.B.I. is spending this amount of resources in the nature reserve and local authorities in hopes of finding Brian Laundrie. What does it tell that investigators might know or is it a sign of not knowing?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, Anderson, at this point, I feel like it's a sign of not knowing. And by that, I mean, they don't have many other really hot leads to follow. Like, of course, the main lead, which they received from the parents about a week ago was that he had left to go hiking in this area. Of course, the car was found in that area, which substantiates the lead. So that's why, you know, they continue to work on the information they have.
It's a little bit confounding that they haven't developed additional information. There haven't been any other sightings that we're aware of, of Laundrie in the area or in any place else since he's been home. So, it's -- they're really focused, it sounds like on the one thing they have.
COOPER: You heard from Randi that according to a source, Laundrie left home without either his phone or wallet and his parents were worried he might hurt himself. How much weight would investigators give to something like that in this sort of a manhunt?
MCCABE: So not having a cell phone with him is a big deal because it means one of the primary ways that you can track somebody electronically is not at play in this scenario, so that's frustrating to investigators.
As far as not bringing his wallet, that's really up in the air. You can interpret that in different ways. It could be that he didn't want credit cards because he didn't want to be tracked through the use of those you know, access to those funds. Or it could be that he was going into the woods and he didn't really have a long time horizon of having to support himself on his own for a while either because he maybe intended to take his own life, or maybe because he actually was going for a hike and intending to come home. So, that's a hard one to call in either direction.
COOPER: I mean, in a case like this, how does law enforcement deal with the family of Laundrie? I mean, are they under suspicion? Are they -- does it depend on how they respond or what information they give?
MCCABE: It's incredibly sensitive, Anderson. I can tell you in across the range of my experience in similar manhunts, kind of kidnapping issues, things like that, you have to deal with the family in a very careful way. They can be an important source of information. They are, you know -- they could -- you know, there's a certain amount of empathy that you need to bring to the table in dealing with the family.
On the other hand, you have to really reevaluate everything they tell you from multiple perspectives, because there's always the possibility that they are actually aiding and abetting his efforts to avoid law enforcement and to avoid, you know, being taken into custody.
So I can tell you that the F.B.I. and local law enforcement are probably interacting with the family as often as they can to keep them talking, keep them engaged, but also really reevaluating everything they say with a fine-toothed comb to try to divine which direction they're actually leaning.
COOPER: It is so interesting, I mean, how many people have become interested, obviously, in this case, and how people are kind of coming forward, one hopes, accurately, describing things that they saw, you know, that 9-1-1 now recording popped up of somebody who called into police saying that they saw Laundrie hitting Petito, which then led ultimately to the Moab Police Department pulling them over.
MCCABE: Yes, so that tells us what we suspected from the beginning, right? Laundrie is highly recognizable, people are seeing these stories, they are seeing the media around it. People who had chance encounters with him on August 29th or other times are calling in and relating their stories.
So that -- for me, that's what makes it particularly strange that we haven't had any such sightings or information like that that we're aware of since after he came home to Florida, and that could indicate that he is actually deep in that reserve and is not being seen by folks, he is not being seen on the street or interacting or you know, hitchhiking for rides and things like that. It could be that he is still in that forest.
COOPER: Andrew McCabe, appreciate it. Thank you.
There is more breaking news. By now, you've likely seen the video, two cohosts of "The View" told to leave the set on live TV just moments before interviewing Vice President Kamala Harris because they were told they tested positive for COVID. There is an update, I will talk to one of them, Ana Navarro, next.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Its breaking news two sources tell CNN that The View co-host Sunny Hostin and guest host Ana Navarro have now tested for COVID twice one was a rapid test the other PCR. Sources say the two hosts are now waiting the results of a second PCR test. Hostin and Navarro, both of them are fully vaccinated were told to leave the set on live TV this morning, just before an interview with Vice President Harris, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, THE VIEW: There seems to be something happening here that I'm not 100% aware of. Can someone please apprise me of the situation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two of you to step off for a second.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CO-HOST, THE VIEW: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BEHAR: Ana and Sunny --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're going to bring back you later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BEHAR: Shall I introduce the Vice President?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BEHAR: OK. So Vice President -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
BEHAR: OK. Shall we dance? Let's do a tap dance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Ana Navarro joins us now. So, what happened? You have two negative tests now. How are you feeling? And just -- can you walk us through what happened?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm feeling great. First thing I want to do Anderson is say thank you to all the well wishes, there's been so many people on social media wishing us well and what we're doing great. I also want to thank the Vice President's office, Kamala Harris herself, her team Simone Sanders, Tina Flournoy, I want to thank the Secret Service they were all great and, you know, and the team at The View.
It takes so much work to do an interview like this is something that we were excited about, we were prepared to ask some tough questions. We were very proud to have the Vice President come on The View and then all of a sudden, it turned into like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was just --
COOPER: So how often are you tested? How often you're tested for live TV?
NAVARRO: I'm tested weekly
NAVARRO: I'm tested every two every, every time -- you know, I co-host a couple of times, a couple of days a week, and I usually get tested before I come into the building.
COOPER: So, so --
NAVARRO: -- we are all tested weekly. There's a lot of measures taken at The View --
COOPER: -- there's, you know what, like, like in your show, there's limited staff on the floor. Everybody's wearing masks, except for the people on cam.
COOPER: So I just want to watch this moment with you because it's just kind of -- it is something about it kind of stunning to watch. Let's just watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: There seems to be something happening here that I'm not 100% aware of. Can someone please apprise me of the situation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two of you to step off for a second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BEHAR: Ana and Sunny --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So at this point you don't know anything what's going on?
NAVARRO: No. We had -- we --
COOPER: You can talk over this. Yes, what's going through your mind?
NAVARRO: OK. No, we had, we had actually -- we had just been told we learned about these positive COVID tests, which, you know, all indications are might be false positives, while we're sitting there on the air. Now, because of COVID that the table at The View was like the size of an aircraft carrier. So, Joy is clear on the other side. I don't think she sees the commotion of when Sunny and I are told by the executive producer Brian Tita that this has happened. And of course, it's a very awkward moment. It's, you know, puzzling you (INAUDIBLE) --
COOPER: So you've been told before joy says that thing of like stuff is happening here that I don't know what it is, and I'd like to be apprised of it. That's my Joy impression. You had already been told in your ears or someone had whispered to you?
NAVARRO: We had just been told in our ears and we are you know, we're like, what, what could just -- could just say did I just hear you right?
NAVARRO: And this is in the middle of live TV.
COOPER: And as you know, Anderson the show must go on. And so, you know, we're trying to --
COOPER: So what happens to you when you leave that stage? Are you whisked away -- or delay is everyone like, OK just go this way or what happens?
NAVARRO: Well, we, you know, we're sent to the back -- to backstage. The Vice President was in a separate room, we had had no --
NAVARRO: -- contact with her for the entire day.
NAVAROO: And so, they're trying to figure out what is the safe way to conduct this interview? And how do we do this?
NAVARRO: And I've got to say her team rolled with it. You know, it was crazy.
NAVARRO: She ended up doing the, the interview from that room --
NAVARRO: -- via remote --
COOPER: Yes, it was.
NAVARRO: -- (INAUDIBLE) in her ears while we were locked up in our dressing rooms, waiting for the test results that we took.
NAVARRO: So we took the antigen test and we took a PCR, both have come back false positive for me. I can't speak for Sunny is that, you know, it's her privacy. It's up to her to talk about her test result.
NAVARRO: And I'm waiting for another one.
NAVARRO: So I'll fly home to Miami. And maybe one day (INAUDIBLE) my husband,
COOPER: All right. I wish you the best, keep in touch, let me know. Ana Navarro, thank you so much. Appreciate it. My goes to Sunny as well.
Coming up next, documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns on his new PBS biography of Muhammad Ali, which I'm very excited about. And his take on how, where we are right now in this threat to democracy.
COOPER: Whoever first said that history doesn't repeat itself but rhyme should be around for today is practically a poetry slam? American history, the darkest parts of it are back and are rhyming with a vengeance so much so that one of this country's most eloquent students of history and tellers of the American story is saying this, about this moment.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KEN BURNS, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: It's really serious, there are three great crises before this the Civil War, the Depression and World War II, this is equal to it. And we're, you know, for looking right down the muzzle of that gun.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: That of course, is Ken Burns, 16 time Emmy winning documentary, filmmaker and storyteller. He's introduced millions to the Civil War, the Second World War, the invention of radio, jazz, baseball, the life of Mark Twain, who might or might not have coined that phrase about history rhyming, his latest work airing and streaming on PBS is a remarkable look at the life and turbulent times in Muhammad Ali, who is just one of the great figures of our time, and such an arc of a life and a story.
We just heard you compare this moment to what you called the three great crisis before this, can you just -- I want to talk about Ali, but can you just explain a little bit more about what you meant when you said we're looking down the muzzle of that gun?
BURNS: Yes, I just think that we're -- hi Anderson. It we're in a an intersection without any stoplights or stop signs, and everything's coming at us. You know, there's a virus from one direction that COVID, there's a virus of racial injustice and white supremacy that's 402 years old. There's an age old human virus of lies, and disinformation and conspiracy and paranoia, and all of those things are sort of hitting at the same moment. So it's, it makes this as fraud as it gets. And because so much of the misinformation came from the previous occupant of the White House, there is a much bigger ripple effect, it continues to go. And you and I were speaking of course, around the time of the insurrection about it and I think that it's interesting that we're still arguing nobody's come together, nobody's laid down their arms or said, you know --
COOPER: And the other, you know, the other in the two party system, the one party has continued to just genuflect before this false idol. You brought up a comment by Abraham Lincoln, who said, quote, all the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of 1,000 years. No, if destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher as a nation of freemen. We will live forever or die by suicide.
Wow. I mean, that sounds so, yes.
BURNS: Yes, I mean, he got it, he understood it, you know, really well, and in fact, he would go on, he was a young lawyer, then, not even 29-years-old, he was speaking to a group of folks in Springfield, Illinois, and he'd go on to preside over the closest this country has ever come to national suicide, the Civil War. But you also begin to realize, you know, the great protection that two oceans and two benign neighbors have afforded us, since the British Burns the White House in the war of 1812 is gone, you know. And there's nobody going to be landing in Montauk, right to save us.
BURNS: There's not going to be an odd landing there. So we have to save ourselves. And it is disappointing that all the great movements of our country's positive growth have come from both Republicans and Democrats working together, they're not agreeing completely, but they're finding a middle ground. And when you have these splits the way we have now, it's incredibly dangerous.
COOPER: Muhammad Ali, the subject of your new films on PBS. What is Muhammad Ali's story, tell us about America where we are right now. Because the thing about Muhammad Ali, I mean, I'm not a person. I'm not a sports person. But I'm so fascinated by him. He was somebody who now everyone looks back and says, oh, my God, he was amazing. He was ridiculed. People wanted to destroy him, people hated him. He was a traitor. What did he say about us?
BURNS: Well, you know, he intersects with all the great themes of the last half of the 20th century, which are, of course, all the themes were wrestling with, the role of sports in society, the role of black athletes, the definition of black masculinity and black manhood, the nature of the civil rights or the human justice, movement, race, politics, war, sex, it's all there and he's there. And his story comes down to a kind of theme of freedom is really difficult for a black person in America to escape this specific gravity of the almost daily and justices that are visited. It's about courage, not just in the ring in this brutal and sometimes beautiful sport, but refusing in the case of Muhammad Ali to accept except induction into the United States Army during the Vietnam War, and it's about love. This pen died the most beloved person on his planet admired by billions with a B.
And so what we wanted to do Sarah Burns, David McMahon, my co- directors and I was to tell the complete story of Muhammad Ali from his birth and boyhood in segregated Jim Crow, Louisville, Kentucky, to his death from Parkinson's just five years ago, Anderson.
BURNS: And understand the ways in which his life speaks to us today the courage that was involved the freedom that it that it represents that we all want and the love that we seem incapable of reminding ourselves or to exist in order to even tackle these, you know, binary political problems that seem so intractable.
He understood something he speaks to us so well (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: You talk to somebody who stood up for beliefs who was almost destroyed because of his --
BURNS: Yes. COOPER: -- beliefs and then I mean that, you know, I mean then there's the whole, you know, the Kinshahim (ph) and Kinshasa and I mean, that whole it's just such an incredible, incredible story.
BURNS: So his fights are the collected works of William Shakespeare, you know, I mean, you just, it's just so dramatic, each one Kinshasa the first list and fight, the second list and fight, the three Frazier fights, I mean, the places when he lost, the places when he came back, but he did lose three and a half years at the height of his professional, but his fights before the draft thing consumed him are masterpieces. But he was willing, he said his teeth 22 (ph) to say I would stand before a machine gun. rather than go against the teachings of my faith. He made a faith based decision. But as a black man in America, in the mid '60s, or even now, that decision was seen as a middle finger to the United States, and it had to be taken care of.
So he, he was indicted. He was convicted --
BURNS: -- he was sentenced to the maximum (INAUDIBLE) --
COOPER: And this is on PBS streaming right now?
BURNS: Yes, yes. pbs.org/ali, any of the PBS platforms also, you know, Roku and Amazon and --
COOPER: I'm watching tonight. I'm going to start it tonight. How many episodes?
BURNS: Its four episodes, eight hours, and I can't wait for you to see it. Because I didn't make it for people that were interested in boxing, I knew they'd come along. What I'm interested in this person who turns out to be one of the most significant Americans who's ever lived in so relevant today, as we struggle with exactly what you asked at the beginning.
COOPER: I'm going to binge tonight and ultimately (ph). Ken Burns, thank you. I can't wait.
BURNS: Thank you.
COOPER: -- the interest in the disappearance and death of Gabby Petito has raised important questions why don't other missing person cases involving black people and other minorities get more attention, those stories should be told. We'll share some of them with you, next.
COOPER: Lot of attention paid to the case of Gabby Petito who's reported missing earlier this month and found dead last week in Wyoming. The reality is a lot of people go missing each year in the United States. According to the FBI, more than 540,000 people were reported missing last year and of those nearly 40% involved a person of color. Percentage is likely much higher because of the way the FBI combines whites and Hispanics together.
CNN's Adrienne Broaddus now in some of those others who are missing right now.
KAREN PHILLIPS, DAUGHTER MISSING SINCE 2018: She is at work on this one.
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Chicago, Karen Phillips is fighting to make sure the world knows her daughter Keirra Coles a mail carrier missing for almost three years.
PHILLIPS: I believe that if Keirra was a different color, we'll have more results by now.
BROADDUS (voice-over): This photo of course holding an ultrasound after learning she was pregnant is one of the last pictures taken of her in 2018.
PHILLIPS: We can't wait. We cannot wait.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Phillips is among dozens of black and minority families struggling to get attention on their missing person cases.
PHILLIPS: I just miss her. She was doing so good. Everything she wants to just come on (INAUDIBLE).
ZACH SOMMERS, CRIMINOLOGIST: There are thousands of cases out there of folks who have gone missing that we don't know about.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Zach Sommers, a criminologist specializing in missing persons cases, says only a fraction of minority cases received non-stop news coverage compared to white people.
GWEN IFILL, ANCHOR: If there's a missing white woman, we're going to cover that every day.
BROADDUS (voice-over): A systemic issue the late longtime anchor, Gwen Ifill coined missing white woman syndrome in 2004.
SOMMERS: Missing white woman syndrome is the idea that young white girls and white women get much more news coverage than other folks have different demographics when they go missing.
BROADDUS (voice-over): According to 2020 FBI data, blacks only make up 13% of the U.S. population. They account for nearly a third of the missing persons cases in the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If she's here, tell her we love her.
BROADDUS (voice-over): In Washington State, Mary Johnson's family is still waiting for answers. Johnson went missing late last year from the Tulalip reservation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a Native American woman.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry. I'm not racist or anything but she deserves the same, the same treatment.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Online black and brown families are using hashtag Gabby Petito to post about their missing loved ones hoping to gain momentum, a move that helped the family of Daniel Robinson raise awareness. Robinson went missing in June.
ROGER HOLLY ROBINSON, BROTHER MISSING SINCE JUNE: We shouldn't have to depend on other stories or the cases to push our own story. And I've just -- I just want we just want to answer just like anyone else.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Those families also saying they didn't get the same allocation of resources or treatment from law enforcement.
SOMMERS: There's data that suggests that when people of color go missing, especially young adults, teenagers, adolescence, that they're more likely to be classified as runaways by police, they're more likely to be considered missing of their own accord, by voluntary means.
BROADDUS (on-camera): How do we balance the coverage?
SOMMERS: No one is saying that Gabi isn't worthy of coverage. It doesn't have to be Gabby Petito or someone else gets coverage. The same spotlight should be getting shown on both of them.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Today. Phillips should be celebrating her daughter's 29th birthday. Instead, she made flyers with the message, find Kierra Coles.
PHILLIPS: What can we really do about it? Other than try to keep our name out there. No, keep doing interviews. And hopefully, one day somebody just called me. Just leave a tip. We grieve every day because we don't know where she is. What was going on?
BROADDUS (voice-over): Adrienne Broaddus, CNN, Chicago.
COOPER: Not knowing (ph).
A preview of the new CNN Film "THE LOST SONS," a story about a man who sets out on a lifelong search for the truth after he finds out some shocking news, when we continue.
COOPER: The new CNN Film "THE LOST SONS" follows Paul Fronczak, who discovered at the age of 10 that he was kidnapped from the hospital as baby. A discovery set him on a lifelong search for the truth about who he really was. You can watch it here on Sunday on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Here's a quick preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL FRONCZAK: My name is Paul Fronczak. I thought I knew who I was. When I was 10 years old my mom and dad said you were kidnapped from the hospital. The FBI found you a couple of years later. I had no idea what happened is this really true. I started really wondering am I really Paul?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For quite some time he was trying to find out who am I? He knew that DNA testing could help him find the answer to his mystery.
FRONCZAK: And the test results said there's no possibility that you're Paul Fronczak. But there's more, what the?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was shaking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were in shock.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.
FRONCZAK: Everything I thought I knew was a lie. This is bigger than what happened to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now the FBI is revisiting a half century old case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be careful what you wish for. You don't know where this leads.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He didn't know who he could trust.
FRONCZAK: I mean, this is really twisted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who might be the real Paul?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who was he.
FRONCZAK: The truth, that's going to come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's an incredible story.
The news continues. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.