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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Facebook Hit with Major Outage, Whistleblower Set to Testify; Former President Trump Asks Court to Put Him Back on Twitter; Protesters Confront Sen. Sinema, Follow Her Into Bathroom; Doctor's Book With Mistruths On Covid Still For Sale On Amazon; Andrew Yang Leaves Democratic Party, Registers As Independent. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 04, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Yes. All right, thank you so much, Kate.
And thanks to all of you for joining us. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. The lawyer for Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen joins us tonight on the eve of her testimony before a Senate subcommittee, and perhaps it was just a coincidence, but today the world's largest social network went down.
Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp were all unreachable for much of the day, prompting one Twitter user to write half-jokingly, "Instagram and Facebook are currently not working as our democracy, society and a healthy sense of self."
Except it is no joke, according to the whistleblower when questioned. Former Facebook employee, Frances Haugen, who revealed herself last night on CBS News "60 Minutes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: When we live in an information environment that is full of angry, hateful, polarizing content, it erodes our civic trust, it erodes our faith in each other, it erodes our ability to want to care for each other.
The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Tearing our society apart. No joke and no accident, she says. She's got evidence or documents to go with that claim. Haugen left Facebook in May, taking with her a trove of internal company documents, which she sent to lawmakers, Federal regulators, and "The Wall Street Journal."
On the program last night, CBS's Scott Pelley quoted one of those documents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: "We have evidence from a variety of sources that hate speech, divisive political speech, and misinformation on Facebook and the family of apps are affecting societies around the world."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, the company knew this, she says and made changes in 2018 to the computer programming that it uses, the algorithms, to determine which items out of potentially thousands you actually see on your Facebook newsfeed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAUGEN: And one of the consequences of how Facebook is picking out that content today is it is optimizing content that gets engagement or reaction. But its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it is easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions.
PELLEY: Misinformation, angry content is enticing to people and keeps them on the platform.
HAUGEN: Yes. Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site. They'll click on less ads, they'll make less money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And that's the bottom line, yet Facebook whether out of prudence or patriotism, fear of lawsuits, or simple decency or whatever, did make changes ahead of the 2020 election.
Now despite that, as we've been reporting for more than a year and a half now, the pre-election social media world was full of angry misinformation including, of course, from the former President. Analysis by the left leaning Media Matters organization reported in "The Washington Post" showing that a quarter of the former President's Facebook post for 2020 and until the Capitol insurrection contained extremist rhetoric and misinformation about the election, COVID, or his critics.
The study using Facebook's own data crunching tool found that the problematic postings were shared and liked more than 927 million times. As you know, he was not the only one, many of his supporters who attacked the Capitol either shared their exploits on Facebook or spread the so-called Stop to Steal messages across the network, making it easier Haugen says those pre-election changes to the algorithm, which didn't even fully work anyhow had been reversed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAUGEN: As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off or they changed the settings back to what they were before to prioritize growth over safety and that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the question though is, does Facebook see it that way? Here is Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg on a Reuters' podcast the Monday after the insurrection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERYL SANDBERG, COO, FACEBOOK: I think these events were largely organized on platforms that don't have our abilities to stop hate and don't have our standards and don't have our transparency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Keeping them honest, as a matter of fact, their lead story today centers on a whistleblower certainly says something about transparency. Sandberg went on to say that the company banned so- called Stop the Steal content from the platform. She did not mention, however, that Facebook only imposed that ban after the insurrection.
In addition to Facebook internal report obtained by BuzzFeed News described the company's effort against Stop the Steal is quote "piecemeal." Again, Frances Haugen is to be believed, by the time the Big Lies started spreading across social media, Facebook had already reversed some of the safety measures, which might have limited the damage or which might also have made the company less money.
Miss Sandberg did not mention that in her podcast interview and listen to what company founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said about all this during congressional testimony back in March.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER, FACEBOOK: We remove content that could lead to imminent real world harm. We built an unprecedented third-party fact checking program and if something is rated false, then we add warning labels and significantly reduce its distribution.
ZUCKERBERG: We invest a lot in directing billions of people to authoritative information.
The system isn't perfect, but it's the best approach that we've found to address misinformation in line with our country's values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, we've heard similar words from the company before in the wake of Charlottesville in 2017 when white nationalists used Facebook to spread hate. After the Cambridge Analytical scandal when Trump consultants exploited the data of millions of Facebook users.
We've heard it throughout a year and a half of COVID misinformation, Facebook has promised to change. And to its credit, the company has made changes, but they haven't been enough, certainly, according to this whistleblower.
Only now, thanks to the -- because of this whistleblower, we have a better picture perhaps of the financial incentives that Facebook has not to crack down harder and a better sense of what the company itself knew about the damage it allows.
We invited Facebook to come on the program, the company declined.
Joining us now as John Tye, Frances Haugen's attorney. John, thanks for being with us.
So Facebook didn't want to come on the program. I do want to read a part of a statement that they sent to "60 Minutes" in response to the report and your client's main allegation that profits outweigh safety.
They wrote, "Hosting hateful or harmful content is bad for our community, bad for advertisers, and ultimately bad for our business. Our incentive is to provide a safe, positive experience for billions of people who use Facebook that's why we've invested so heavily in safety and security." What do you say to that?
JOHN TYE, ATTORNEY FOR FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER, FRANCES HAUGEN: There are actually a few very simple changes that Facebook can make to its algorithm that would have marginal impacts on virality and growth of the platform, but would have huge impacts on the spread of misinformation, conspiracy theories, violent, and inciting content, hate speech, and they've been unwilling to take those steps, with even a fraction of one percent impact on virality and growth.
COOPER: What are those steps as you see them?
TYE: So, just requiring that people click on a link before they re- share it. A lot of people just re-share links right away without even reading through, and their own evidence shows that the most likely links to be re-shared contain misinformation and conspiracy theories.
Limiting re-shares to two or three hops instead of six, 10, 12 hops, the most re-shared links are actually the most misinformation content, other very simple steps with the algorithm that would have marginal impacts on virality, but would actually do a ton to restrain misinformation.
COOPER: When they say in that statement, well, you know, things that are hateful, you know, that's not good for advertisers, advertisers don't want that. That's probably very true.
The problem is, it's not always just hateful. It's -- you know, the counter incentive they have is to keep eyeballs on Facebook, to keep eyeballs on Instagram for as long as possible. I mean, that is the financial incentive to keep people engaged with the site.
TYE: And anger cells. People are actually most easily engaged through anger and other negative emotions like that. It's actually easier to generate anger.
COOPER: Well, of course, I mean, that's why -- I mean, look on cable news, you see the hosts who are, you know, yelling and full of anger, you know, that has the most buzz, that has the most clicks on -- you know, on any of these websites, you look at the headlines, and often the headlines are incredibly salacious or seem -- they're all about anger, this person, you know, attacked to this person, then you read the article, and often, it's very different than what the headline says.
I know you've received a copy of your client's --
TYE: And in fact --
COOPER: Sorry, go ahead.
TYE: And well, in Europe, political parties actually came to Facebook researchers and said, in order to get things to go viral on Facebook now after the algorithm changed in 2018, we have to take more angry positions, positions that we don't even necessarily agree with if we're going to get any traction on your site.
And so they very clearly tied these algorithms to policy differences in the political system in Europe.
COOPER: You know, we've had Facebook folks on before and we've had Mark Zuckerberg on during COVID, but we also had an attorney from Facebook on when they hadn't taken down, I think a Nancy Pelosi video that was or some videos that were very misleading. It made some political figures looked like they were drunk or something.
One of their arguments essentially is you're -- I mean, the dilemma it seems to me that they have is because they are so huge and seen in so many countries and have so many customers and want those customers to remain and want to remain in all these countries, for them to start getting into the business of actually being more than just, you know, a conduit of information to actually be an organization which actually vets information, they're going to have to -- which, you know they need to do because they are in the news business, they are spreading information in a huge way, they're going to have to -- they're going to have to start making really tough choices that they clearly don't want to make.
TYE: Well, that's true and definitely more content should be deleted. One of the things that we've disclosed to the S.E.C. and to Congress is that Facebook has essentially been lying about how much hate speech it is taking down off the platform. So in public, they say we're taking down 90 to 95 percent. Their internal documents, say we catch two percent, maximum five percent. So vast differences between what they're saying in public and what they're saying in private.
But Facebook has actually been quite successful, and a little bit of a bait and switch or framing the debate as one about censorship. And going back to my first point, a lot of the solutions here do not involve deleting more content, they actually involve very minor algorithm changes that would have huge impacts on things like Stop the Steal, on things like which groups are recommended when you come on the platform.
One of the internal studies, and you can actually recreate this, start up a new Facebook account, select a few things like follow the Republican Party, Donald Trump, but if you're pretending to be a teenage girl and Senator Blumenthal did this, select, you know, a weight loss -- a pretty standard weight loss thing. And within 24 hours, you're getting the algorithm to recommend more and more extreme content.
And within days, certainly within a week, you can end up in QAnon, you can end up in extreme anorexia or other types of groups. And so the -- it's not, they have to delete other people's content, they are promoting this content, and that's how they get engagement. They are amplifying some of the worst instincts in human nature.
COOPER: And it's one of the ways that QAnon spread, you know, even through like yoga sites. People who are interested in yoga, women who are interested in yoga, people who are parents, and ultimately, through that algorithm on that site and others, they would be -- kind of go down the rabbit hole.
TYE: Well, Anderson, one of the interesting things, the median Facebook user might be doing okay, I mean, this sort of 70 percent in the middle. But what Facebook has done, the platform is so huge, and you have some of the worst actors in the world, whether they're foreign intelligence agencies, whether they're insurrectionists, whether, you know, perhaps, jilted lovers who are trying to get back at somebody or seek revenge, they're able to weaponize the platform against the most vulnerable people.
So people who are either teenagers and looking for affirmation, people who have left a relationship and are feeling depressed or anxious and open to radicalization. And so, the platform is very easy to weaponize against the most vulnerable people. And so it's not the median user, it is those people on the edge. It is the percentage of vulnerable people who are most likely to become addicted, most likely to feel bad about themselves, most likely to go down these rabbit holes of conspiracy theories.
COOPER: John Tye, appreciate it. Thank you.
Facebook shares suffered their worst decline of the year today. Joining us now Scott Galloway, Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern School of Business and co-host of "The Pivot" Podcast and the "Prof. G." podcast as well.
Scott, Facebook has obviously weathered plenty of controversy. You think this time though, is different?
SCOTT GALLOWAY, PROFESSOR OF MARKETING, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: Yes, let me be clear, though, you know, I've gotten this wrong a lot. I wonder if they're seven or eight lives into their nine lives, but I think they poked the wrong bear here specifically in the 80s and 90s, Mothers Against Drunk Driving rally together and forced legislation that would restrict or withhold Federal funds for highways and we saw real -- we saw the state's race their age limits. I wonder if a lot of moms out there have finally said okay, I am not going to experience the terror of having my child to be depressed and it's clear that they don't care about our children and they can ramp up or ramp down rage. And I wonder if this is kind of a night light here that the moms are going to bind together, or more loosely speaking, parents and say, you know, at some point, "Enough is enough."
I have been wrong so far, Anderson, but I'd like to think that this is a bridge too far that we might actually finally see some action.
COOPER: I know. It is so deeply ingrained in the youth culture. You know, not just Facebook, but you know, whatever the latest thing is. You know, Snapchat TikTok, whatever. I mean any parent knows who try to -- I mean, you know this, you're a parent and trying to take away social media from your kid is, from what I hear, not an easy thing to do.
I know you've talked about this concept called the algorithm of deterrence. What does that mean in relation to these revelations?
GALLOWAY: So the greatest cop in the world is the algorithm of deterrence and simply put, it's the probability you're going to get caught doing something wrong or illegal times the penalty should be greater than the relative upside. And what we have here is a company that's added $700 billion in market cap in the last few years. They always get caught.
So there is huge upside and they always get caught. But the downside so far has been seven or nine weeks of free cash flow and fines. I'll be honest, Anderson, I don't think this stops until there's a perp walk. You have -- in 15 years, you're going to be thinking about getting your kid into college. If the Stanford sailing coach calls you and offers you an opportunity to get your kid in for $100,000.00 donation to the sailing program, you're going to hang up the phone because you saw Aunt Becky do a perp walk.
Until a tech executive does a perp walk, it is more of the same in my view.
COOPER: Do you think that could happen?
GALLOWAY: That's the correct question. Most lawyers say, be very sketchy of a legal foundation, but you have a cartel pricing case in Texas that could be federalized and the reason why that's important is the remedies there are criminal.
I think the S.E.C. could come forward and say that you have not disclosed mandatory disclosures around information. And also, I think there is now enough evidence that these individuals have lied in front of Congress, which my understanding is a criminal offense, but it might not even be that they win a criminal case. It's just someone is charged with a criminal offense. And I think you're going to see a lot of people -- what's most interesting with Miss Haugen, is it is obvious they're dropping dimes on each other now. They're starting to come after each other. So quite frankly, I think the perp walk is the missing piece here.
COOPER: This has always been the argument, though, of Facebook and others is like, look, we're just the -- we're the conduit of information. We're not the ones determining -- we can't determine, you know, what's correct -- what's true or not in, you know, in Bangladesh politics every single day. We are a platform just like the telephone company is a platform, we're not penalizing people for what they're saying on the telephone.
Does that argument still hold up? I mean, given that they are in the news business now, essentially.
GALLOWAY: Yes, that's their go-to, that the world is what it is, we're just a platform, but here's the thing. They have the ability to ramp up or down rage. And if you look at almost every problem in our society, it kind of stems around a lack of truth or polarization. And unfortunately, we have a company whose business model, their profitability is based on polarization.
And if Twitter can eliminate one-third of election misinformation by canceling one account, if Facebook has the ability to dial up or dial down rage that just -- that dog won't hunt. This is a company that knows it is dividing us, that knows it is depressing our teens, and knows that it is weaponizing our elections and has the ability to take that rage up or down, so that's absolutely not true.
This is not -- the world isn't what it is. The world is what we make of it, or specifically, what the world -- what Facebook makes of our world and that world is depression, rage, and a lack of democracy.
It is time for this company to stop wrapping itself in a flag that it then sets on fire.
COOPER: Scott Galloway, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
By the way, Scott and I recently had a great conversation on his "Prof. G." Podcast about my new book, "Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty." If you want to listen to it, you can find it on his podcast, "The Prof. G" Pod with Scott Galloway.
Scott, thanks very much.
GALLOWAY: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up next, the former President suing to get back onto Twitter after being booted off the platform back in January, speaking about misinformation. All this as new reporting says he was close to announcing a few weeks ago that he was running for President again. Maggie Haberman joins us talk about that.
And hecklers following Senator Kyrsten Sinema into a bathroom. Is that fair game or just ridiculously over the line? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: With the ill effects of social networks back on the national stage tonight, there are numerous new developments with one of the worst bad actors, the former President filing suit in Federal Court to force Twitter to reinstate his account and buzz building around his 2024 prospects. That and more makes it a good night to check in with CNN political analyst, "New York Times" Washington correspondent, veteran Trump watcher, Maggie Haberman.
Maggie, great to see you. So the former President wants back on Twitter. The multiple statements he blasts out to his supporters every day that are riddled with lies, I guess are not clearly not working for him.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What's interesting, Anderson, is he has been making a point of telling people that he is really happy off of Twitter, that he prefers these statements that they're more elegant. This is a better way of doing it. One does not sue to get back on a platform, if that were true.
So obviously, he wants back on. I do think that Twitter is going to try to stick with its ban of keeping him off, but if he does become a candidate, Anderson, then I think they're going to face a lot of pressure to reinstate him and I'm not sure how they're going to deal with that.
COOPER: So this is -- I mean, let's talk about that. It's been written about a lot. He is obviously a de facto leader of the Republican Party. There is still a pledge of allegiance to him. What is the -- what are you hearing about a run?
HABERMAN: Sure, even if you -- look, even if people were not pledging allegiance to him, he would still be the de facto leader of the party. He will be a de facto leader until there's another Republican nominee.
But what he is telling people is that he wants to run again and you know, his advisers -- more of them than not -- think he is going to do it, in part because he is sitting on a big pile of money, in part because candidly, he doesn't have a ton else to do. He's not running the day-to-day of his company anymore. His son, Eric, has been doing that for a long time. He went from having the most attention he had ever had in his life to having the least.
So that is where his head is now. He has left a carve out, you know, saying essentially, if he gets a bad letter from a doctor that he might not. I think there might be other reasons why he might not and you know, two years out is a long time, a year and a half is a long time. But at the moment, that's where his head is.
COOPER: How much of the calculus has to do with midterm elections in 2022? I mean, if Republicans don't win back the House and Senate, would that have any impact? Or is it -- is it purely as you said, you know, he's got a heap of cash and he loses all relevance if he is no longer the leader of the Republican Party and running?
HABERMAN: Right, Anderson. He has never really been somebody who considers his fortunes to be tied to Republicans' fortunes, particularly since 2018, when the Republicans lost the midterms quite badly. And so -- and he is well aware of that. They did better actually in 2020 than they did in 2018, but he has still treated himself as the separate entity.
I don't think that the midterms relate to it one way or the other, except for the fact that if Republicans win, then I think you will see him point to -- see, look what I did. People want me back.
But I still think that he will make a case to run, even if Republicans lose and that he, you know, he alone can fix it.
COOPER: I want to ask you about your piece over the weekend on this attorney, John Eastman. I mean, it's a fascinating look at the former President's attorney who is behind the memo that some have likened to a blueprint for a coup. Can you just lay out sort of what you learned?
HABERMAN: Sure. So John Eastman went into actually really extensive detail about this meeting that he attended in the Oval Office with former President Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence, with two of Pence's advisers on January 4th, two days before the riot at the Capitol that followed a rally with Easton himself spoke at, and Eastman laid out this argument for why Pence could, you know, at first it was that he could allow replacement, alternate slates of electors from different states.
None of that ever materialized. There were no slates of alternate electors. So he then switched his suggestion to that Pence could basically go for a delay in certifying the election and Pence was arguing that he didn't have that power.
He says at one point to Eastman, "Do you think I have that power?" And according to our sources, Eastman essentially admitted that he didn't and then Pence turned to former President Trump and said, "Did you hear that, Mr. President?" he was trying to -- as for why he didn't actually have that power and Eastman was going too far.
But it was really more vivid detail than we have had about this key meeting where they were trying to press Pence to do something that Pence was very clear with them, he believed exceeded his authority and we saw what happened next.
COOPER: And is Eastman still in the former President's orbit?
HABERMAN: The orbit is sort of loosely defined. He certainly has talked to the former President a few times. You know, I think he would like to be more involved, he made that very clear.
I don't think he is that deeply involved right now, but Anderson, as you know, as well as I do, the cast of characters around Trump is shifting sands and so, he could end up coming back in some fashion. Right now, he is not that deeply involved.
COOPER: It seems like you can always come back to Trump world if, you know, depending on the shifting winds.
HABERMAN: Very few people have never come back.
COOPER: Yes. Maggie Haberman, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up next, the question: How far is too far to go in the name of confronting an elected representative on issues or just politics -- should politics stop at the bathroom door? Ahead.
COOPER: Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema has garnered a lot of attention and frustration after she resisted legislation that supported President Biden's agenda. That frustration spilled over in a very public way Sunday. It actually happened at a bathroom in Phoenix she was leaving and classroom at Arizona State University when activists approached her. They attempted to speak to her about the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill when she told him she was heading out as she walked into the bathroom. One of the protesters and followed her while another one continued to video the exchange. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): So, I'll be back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still we want to talk to you real quick, can we talk to you?
SINEMA: Hi, actually I am heading out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now is a real moment that our people need in order for us to be able to talk about what's really happening. We need to build back better plan right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, we're not that (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need solutions. We build that better plan, need pass the solutions that we need.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We knocked on doors for you to get you elected and just how we got you elected we can get you out of office if you don't support what you promised us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can have justice and solutions that we need for immigration labor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Build that better, pass the bill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Build that better, pass the bill.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: Build that better, pass the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Videos since gone viral online attracted both criticism and support for the protesters. Senator Sinema's notoriously guarded really speaking to press nor holding town halls.
Joining me now, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Ana Navarro and S.E. Cupp also a CNN political commentator.
So Ana, I mean protesters confronting Senator Sinema in a bathroom too far?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think the cringe here is the fact that it was a bathroom right? And I think most of us think that that's a place where we should have privacy and the expectation that we can twinkle in peace. So I think that's the part that that is upsetting. But if you hear what these protesters were saying, if you hear what these and they're not just protesters, they're constituents of Kyrsten Sinema, they are people who supported Kyrsten Sinema. They are people who knock on doors for Kyrsten Sinema who feel betrayed and who are telling their senator their story and why this bill is important to them. I -- you know I watch it closely --
COOPER: But there -- but isn't there a difference between that and recording it all and then having someone record you recorded so then it's not about convincing her, it's about making a video for them so that they can put a video out and show themselves as activists which is what they are and they have every right tom, you know, believe very strongly what they believe but isn't this more about theatre and video?
NAVARRO: I think it's about -- I think it's about making it known their displeasure with their senator. And let's remember that this senator was a Kyrsten Sinema was once a protester herself.
NAVARRO: She is on video attacking Joe Lieberman, attacking Bill Nelson for being centrist and for, for not giving their vote to the Democratic agenda. So that's very ironic. She was elected as a progressive firebrand.
Look, I don't like any of this. I don't like the way -- I don't like this kind of political theater or rhetoric that gets tamped up. But what these people did with these young people did that wasn't threat that wasn't shouting. That wasn't bad words. That wasn't offensive.
NAVARRO: It was -- it's much worse what we saw being done to Lindsey Graham, or when Mitt Romney got called a traitor.
COOPER: Yes. S.E., what do you think? I mean, Senator Sinema put out a statement saying that the (INAUDIBLE) was not legitimate protest.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, I think it was worse than cringy. I mean, for one, it was illegal, it's illegal to film people in bathrooms for a very good reason. You do expect privacy. And I think when you're chasing a woman into a bathroom, you're probably out of ideas and being frustrated and desperate, as I know, many of her voters are is understandable. But it does not justify this failure to treat people with basic human dignity. I was repulsed by this video and by people who have been defending it. Why? Because righteousness, because politics because her politics are so bad, or what she has done to Joe Biden is so bad, that it justifies this kind of behavior. I don't think that's right.
I think protest, of course, absolutely. And I've been very critical of Kyrsten Sinema for her opacity, and lack of communication with both her constituents and the press. And even her colleagues in the Senate who still don't know what she wants. That's a problem for her. But chasing her in the bathroom is not the solution.
COOPER: Ana, the President was asked today, if the taxes are crossing along. I want to play what he what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: I don't think they're appropriate tactics. But it happens to everybody from the only people doesn't happen to people who have Secret Service standing around. So it's part of the process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki today kind of tried to clarify, I guess, would be the term they would use Biden's comments saying the President's comments saying that the freedom to protest and speak out is fundamental to our democracy. But the conversation with Senator Sinema is, quote, inappropriate and unacceptable.
Ana, would you feel the same way, if these were, you know, pro, you know, supporters of the, you know, who felt very passionately that the election had been stolen against the former president, and, you know, were following some Democrat into a bathroom while they were, you know, going into the bathroom following, you know, Speaker Pelosi into a woman's room. I mean, would that? Is it fair for anybody, just because they're passionate about something to be able to do this?
NAVARRO: Look, I think what Biden said is true. It's inappropriate tactics. He said that at the get go, and it does happen to everyone. We just saw Emmanuel Macron in France have an egg thrown at him. That is terrible. We've seen it happen to Lindsey Graham in an airport. We've seen it happen to Mitt Romney, at a Republican convention in Utah. We've seen January 6.
So what I'm saying to you is, I agree, this is inappropriate. But when you put it in context with what we have seen, there was no threats, there was no offenses, there was no, no screaming. Anderson, I've had worse --
COOPER: It's a little creepy, though, to have somebody.
NAVARRO: -- (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: It is creepy. I mean, look --
COOPER: -- let people show of my home, you know.
COOPER: I've had all this stuff. It's creepy. Someone's standing outside the stall in the bathroom with a video cameras --
NAVARRO: Yes, it is.
COOPER: -- and their friends in the doorway, saying, you know, we'll un-elect you and I mean, it's just creepy though.
NAVARRO: I agree with you --
CUPP: But also, I mean.
NAVARRO: -- I think that's the borderline, yes.
COOPER: Yes. S.E.?
CUPP: But also Anderson, I think Joe Biden really missed an opportunity, right? Presumably, these are the protesters or his supporters, right? People who are protesting on behalf of his agenda, he had a real opportunity to say not only that this was inappropriate, and definitely not to say this was part of the process. But to say don't do this, don't do this in my name. This is what we begged Trump to do for four years about his supporters and their tactics and what they were resorting to, and we were rightfully disappointed in him when he failed to do that when he nudged them along or excuse their behavior.
Now, I'm not equating, you know, different behaviors. But I'm saying that we would have been very disappointed in Trump had he said what Biden said and I think Biden has done an opportunity to set his protesters straight. Yes, protest make your voices be heard just not in a bathroom while a woman's in there.
COOPER: S.E. Cupp, Ana Navarro, appreciate it. Thanks. Good to see both of you.
COOPER: Coming up next, the doctor banned from YouTube for spreading COVID misinformation. So why is he still available to click your mouse? Answers next.
COOPER: At the top of the hour we told you about the Facebook whistleblower who alleges the social media platform turbocharged divisiveness in the U.S. by actively promoting false narratives, conspiracy theories and hate. Now there are other social media sites under fire of course accused of doing the same. Just last week YouTube removed any said they were moving any misinformation tied to COVID vaccines including videos from Dr. Joseph Mercola.
"360's" Randi Kaye tried to question the Florida doctor about the misinformation back in August. Take a look at how that one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Dr. Mercola How are you?
JOSEPH MERCOLA, AMERICAN OSTEOPATH: Hey.
KAYE (on-camera): I'm Randi Kaye with CNN. Give me a few couple questions?
KAYE (on-camera): We just want to talk to you about vaccines and what you've been saying about them. Do you feel responsible for people who didn't get vaccinated possibly got sick and died because of what you told them about the vaccines? What do you say to families who lost loved ones? Are you spreading misinformation?
KAYE (on-camera): Why won't you speak to us? Here's your opportunity to speak with us and answer questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: No answers there. And as I mentioned, he's been silenced on YouTube. His lies and false propaganda are still available on other sites of course, including the large bookseller in the world of Amazon. The question is why?
Randi stayed on the story set out to find out.
MERCOLA: It's an unproven vaccine. It's just been accelerated, eliminated virtually every safety study.
KAYE (voice-over): That's Dr. Joseph Mercola spewing lies about the vaccines for COVID-19 and much of it is neatly packaged in this book he co-authored, The Truth About COVID-19, available on Amazon. For about $15 you get 226 pages full of false claims and outlandish conspiracy theories about the vaccines. Despite that, the publisher told us the book has already sold about 250,000 copies in all formats.
(on-camera): For weeks, it's been a best seller on Amazon likely earning the doctor a tidy sum of money. But if it's full of misinformation, why is Amazon selling it all? Long before Mercola's book, the e-commerce giant had removed other books that make dangerous medical claims or peddle misinformation about vaccines.
(voice-over): Last year, removing a book that implied the virus was a bio weapon. The year before that, Amazon removed books falsely promoting an autism cure, such as healing the symptoms known as autism. The author reportedly claimed 115 children had been cured of autism using a form of bleach. Yet the FDA had warned that chemical could cause life threatening conditions. Another book they removed Fight Autism And Win suggests parents try medicating their children with an antidote for mercury poisoning, which the Mayo Clinic says can cause potentially deadly kidney damage.
We tried to ask Amazon about all of this, and what if anything makes Joseph Mercola his book, different from those that removed. After all, Mercola his book is filled with debunked myths and conspiracy theories and dangerous medical misinformation, just like the others that were taken down.
First, the e-commerce giant declined our request for an on camera interview. Then after we sent them a list of questions we hoped they'd answer via email, Amazon rejected that too, then refuse to even give us a statement. Instead saying, they hope to be more helpful on future stories.
Amazon's behavior has caught the attention of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who in this letter to Amazon CEO, wrote she is concerned that Amazon is peddling misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments through its search and bestseller algorithms. She accuses the retail giant of being unwilling or unable to modify its business practices to prevent the spread of falsehoods. In her letter, she notes that when her own staff searched for terms COVID-19 and vaccine, the first result that came up was you guessed it, Joseph Mercola's book, and it was tagged as a best seller. Warren goes on to point out to Amazon that the book perpetuates dangerous conspiracies about COVID-19 and false and misleading information about vaccines.
(on-camera): I'm Randi Kaye with CNN. Give me a few couple questions?
KAYE (voice-over): Dr. Mercola refuse to talk with us when we found him in Florida in August. But unlike Amazon agreed to answer questions about his book over e-mail, Mercola told us via e-mail that he encourages everyone to fully educate themselves to make individual decisions about medical risk taking.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KAYE: Amazon does have content guidelines for books, but those guidelines do not include anything about medical misinformation. Instead, they say in part, that they include content that may be objectionable in their books. We also reached out to the publisher Anderson, Chelsea Green to ask why they are continuing to publish this book and do they think they are contributing to the misinformation that is out there? The publisher told us there is no misinformation as far as we are concerned. We feel we are contributing to the truth about COVID.
And Anderson, I also asked Dr. Mercola what he plans to do with the proceeds from the book, he says he plans to donate all of them to the National Vaccine Information Center which is the country's leading anti-vaccine advocacy group. And finally, we did also reach out to Barnes and Noble, Apple and Google which is still selling Mercola's book for sale. We wanted to ask them why they continue to do so, the same questions we wanted to put to Amazon. They did not respond to our efforts to reach out as well. Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Randi, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
Still to come, former presidential candidate in New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang no longer part of the Democratic Party says, he joins me to explain why next.
COOPER: Andrew Yang, who ran as Democrat for President last year and New York City Mayor this year says he has left the party is now registered independent. He writes on his blog quote, breaking up with the Democratic Party feels like the right thing to do because I believe I can have a greater impact this way. This comes as his new books that are released tomorrow, the title Forward Notes On The Future Of Our Democracy. Andrew Yang joins us now.
Thanks for being with us. So why leave the Democratic Party? I mean you ran for president and mayors as a Democrat?
ANDREW YANG, LEFT DEMOCRATIC PARTY, REGISTERS AS INDEPENDENT: Oh, I've been a Democrat for 26 years, Anderson, but if there's a theme of all the segments on your show tonight that I saw, it was that polarization is at record high levels in the United States political stress is approaching Civil War levels. And the question is how can we bring the temperature of the country down. And I want to be the metaphorical wet blanket for the country. But I'm bringing not just hopefully some kind of soothing words, but an actual policy fix that will help bring the temperature of the country down by changing the political incentives of our leaders.
Because right now, if you're a member of Congress, your job is to please the 20% most extreme on either flank of the population. What we have to do is change it so that you have to try and appeal to 51% of the population. And that would bring the temperature of the country down very, very quickly, almost overnight. COOPER: I don't think you want to be a wet blanket. I think it sounds like you want to be one of those weighted blankets. That's like more comforting.
YANG: Yes, then the inside the snow cone, I want to be the thing that suits people and makes them happy.
COOPER: So, but -- I mean when you look at D.C., just look at the Democratic Party right now the splits in Washington over infrastructure, social, social safety net, who -- I mean, if you're an independent now, who do you think has the better argument between, you know, progressives with their $3.5 trillion pitch for news, pandering moderates who want to see the number, you know, cut in half, at least.
YANG: I'm someone who wants to solve problems Anderson that I happen to agree with one side's approach when it comes to infrastructure. Actually, it was a bipartisan bill, at least in the Senate. But the question is, how can we actually make our system work for us, the people of this country again, because we can sense it's not working that well right now. And we're being set up to fail.
Right now the incentives are such that Congress has a national approval rating of 28%, the reelection rate of individual members is 92%. Because again, they don't have to appeal to the general population, they just have to appeal to the 20% on either side. That's what we have to change. And I'm starting a popular movement to help implement open primaries and rank choice voting that would dramatically improve our legislators incentives, and reduce the polarization that right now threatens to tear our country apart,
COOPER: Given Republican control, though a lot of legislature how likely do you think it is to change voting like that? I mean, you know, there, there are now increasingly, bills in legislatures around the country to make voting actually more difficult.
YANG: I'm happy to say that this has already been done in one red state, Alaska. And all we need is enough Americans, they come together and say enough is enough. We're sick of being pitted against each other. We're sick of the dysfunction. And to push ballot initiatives that just require a lot of Americans signing in 24 states around the country from Missouri to Massachusetts.
Again, I mean, I watch, not just your show, Anderson, but all of us can feel the political tension rising and rising. And the question is, what can we actually do to fix it? If enough of us get together, we can actually make this happen state by state, you don't need Congress or even state legislatures and half the states in the country.
COOPER: You wrote, you've written about what it was like to run for president, you were running as a Democrat and about how was sort of like having a birthday every day and people and it became more of a sort of a brand that you were promoting. I'm wondering the run for mayor for -- you ran for mayor of New York, you lost in the primary. Do you regret running for mayor? YANG: It was a privilege getting to meet so many people all over New York City, we set a new record for a number of individual donors to New York mayoral campaign got over 115,000 first place votes. My only regret is that I'm not in position to do more good here in New York. But now I feel like this can do so much good for the entire country Anderson by proposing a real policy solution that will actually reduce polarization in this country. And get us to a point where we can actually have dinner with our families again around the holidays.
COOPER: Andrew Yang, appreciate it. Thanks so much. Again, the new book Forward Notes On The Future Of Our Democracy, it is out tomorrow.
Coming up next, more on our breaking news and the Facebook whistleblower and her expected testimony on Capitol Hill tomorrow, that comes as its other social media site Instagram used algorithms to grow up pages, which seem to glorify eating disorders. Who those pages were targeting, when we come back.