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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Ill-Fated Film To Wrap Indefinitely In Wake Of Deadly Shooting; Internal Documents Reveal Social Network's Antisocial Effects; First On CNN: Biden White House Rejects More Executive Privilege Claims By Trump; How Biden's Sinking Popularity Could Impact VA. Gov. Race; Charlottesville "Unite The Right" Civil Trial Begins; NYC Municipal Workers Protest Covid Vaccine Mandate; Miami Private Reverses Course On 30-Day Quarantine For Vaccinated Students. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 25, 2021 - 20:00   ET


GRANT WOODS, FORMER ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL: And days earlier, in the memos that he was writing to the Vice President of the United States trying to get him basically to have a bloodless coup in this country.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Grant Woods was the father of five kids, and our thoughts with the Woods family at this time with their sudden and terrible loss. Grant was only 67 years old.

Thanks so much for joining us. Anderson starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. The set of the movie "Rust" is dark tonight in more ways than one. In a letter, we learned about late today, the production team said it would shut down indefinitely the New Mexico location where Alec Baldwin fatally shot the film's director of photography and wounded its director.

CNN has new reporting tonight on the assistant director who handed Baldwin the fateful gun, and just before airtime, "The Los Angeles Times" moved the new item on a veteran Hollywood prop master who was offered a job on the film, but passed. He tells "The Times'" Meg James he felt at the time this was quote: "An accident waiting to happen." She joins us shortly.

Also, our Gary Tuchman with another Hollywood veteran as he learns exactly how gunfire is supposed to be simulated on screen safely with no one hurt, but the fictional bad guys.

A lot to cover tonight, CNN's Stephanie Elam starts us off.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A new red flag from the "Rust" set. The assistant director who gave Alec Baldwin the gun before that fatal shooting had been fired for gun safety issues before. A newly released affidavit says Baldwin was handed the weapon from a

cart by assistant director, Dave Halls, who did not know there were live rounds in the gun. CNN has now learned Halls has been the subject of safety and behavior complaints during two different 2019 productions and was fired from a previous movie after a gun incident.

DUTCH MERRICK, PROP MASTER FOR FILM AND TELEVISION: The ultimate arbiter of safety on a film set is the first AD, the first assistant director, but they know that they can inspect the gun, but they can't go take the gun.

ELAM (voice over): A prop maker on a 2019 film said Halls neglected to hold safety meetings or announced the presence of firearms on set.

On the "Rust" set, Alec Baldwin thought he was firing a cold gun during rehearsal. Director Joel Souza told investigators Baldwin was sitting on a wooden pew, cross drawing his weapon, and pointing the revolver toward the camera lens when he heard what sounded like a whip and then loud pop, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Souza was shot in the shoulder and Hutchins was killed.

STEVE WOLF, THEATRICAL FIREARMS SAFETY EXPERT: The first thing that went wrong is that they used a gun that was capable of having live ammo put in it.

ELAM (voice over): On the "Rust" set, there were concerns, the armorer or a person responsible for prop weapons was 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez.

On a podcast last month, Gutierrez said she had recently finished her first job as head armorer on a film titled "The Old Way" with Nicolas Cage, and that her father and industry vet had been teaching her about guns since she was 16.

HANNAH GUTIERREZ, ARMORER FOR "RUST": I was really nervous about at first and I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready, but doing it, like it went really smoothly.

ELAM (voice over): A crew member on the set of "Rust," Serge Svetnoy calls out the armorer's level of experience and made claims that the producer's cost cutting in a public Facebook post writing: "There is no way a 24-year-old woman can be a professional with armory. To save a dime sometimes, you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job."

And "The Los Angeles Times" reports there were accidental prop gun discharges on the "Rust" set before Thursday's shooting. On October 16, Baldwin's stunt double fired two rounds after being told the gun was cold, witnesses said.

No charges had been filed, but as a producer on the film, Baldwin may have some civil liability.

WOLF: There are two views on that. One would be that you know, an actor's job is just to act and they rely on the people around them to make things safe. The other point of view is that if you have a firearm in your hand, you are responsible for what happens with that firearm.


COOPER: Stephanie, I know, CNN has reached out to Halls and Gutierrez for comment, have you heard back?

ELAM: No. We have yet to hear back. We did hear from the production company behind "Rust" and they say that they are conducting their own investigation into their safety protocols, while also cooperating with law enforcement investigations going on as well -- Anderson.

COOPER: So at this point, it is known or do we know what was in the gun fired by Alec Baldwin?

ELAM: That's what everyone wants to know. And at this point, no. What we do know is that investigators here are waiting for the forensics to come back from the autopsy report to hopefully make it clear what this projectile was that ended up taking the life of Halyna Hutchins, but right now, we still don't know the answer to that -- Anderson.

COOPER: Stephanie Elam, thank you.

I want to go next to "Los Angeles Times" writer, Meg James with new reporting on the prop master who says quote, "There were massive red flags," unquote that led him to turn down a job on the film.

Meg, thanks for joining us. So, what are you able to tell us based on your reporting on why this veteran prop master turned down the job on the set of Alec Baldwin's movie?


MEG JAMES, WRITER, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": Yes, thank you, Anderson. It's a very interesting story.

I spoke to a veteran prop master, Neal Zoromski, yesterday, and he talked about how he was really excited to be part of this production because he's had this long list of credits in Hollywood, but never on a Western. But when he was talking to the production manager to try to iron out the logistics of his assignment, he felt like the producers were a little bit evasive. He thought that they were trying to do too much with too small of a budget.

And the one thing that really bothered him was that when he asked for two assistants, one to be in charge of the guns, and another to help him with the props. They said, no. They wanted that to be filled with only one person, the armorer or the gun person would have to also help out with props, and he found that that was a red flag.

COOPER: So, to just be clear, were the safety concerns most about just budget? I mean, not having enough personnel, not having enough training and preparation -- was that the main thing?

JAMES: I think that it was the fact that he couldn't have a dedicated person to handle the guns, and also that he thought it was odd that they reached out to him, like a little bit more than two weeks before the cameras were supposed to roll. And typically, these jobs are filled a lot longer, you know, lead time.

So the fact that they were sort of scrambling around at the last minute to have a prop master, and then it appears that the person that they did put in the job has very little credits and the armorer, as you pointed out, this was only her second, you know, major project.

COOPER: I mean, it's fascinating that, I guess, obviously the refusal to have two assistants, one a dedicated, prop assistant was basically just a budget concern.

JAMES: That was, Neal's understanding. It was that you know that they were really looking to be really tight on the budget.

This was a low budget production, and that's -- you know, last week, I spoke to camera operators and other staff members of the set, and they also expressed that there were some real concerns. There were some real concerns about safety. There were these accidental discharges.

And also the fact that, you know, so many of the crew members were asked to drive more than 50 miles each way, a day to go to a set when they were already spending 14 hours a day on set.

COOPER: I am wondering the prop master who you talked to who, as you said, is a veteran, had he worked on lower budget films before? I'm wondering if his surprise was in general. You know, a general surprise, that would be for anybody who hadn't worked on a low budget film and expected to sort of cut corners, and I assume, in some ways, with a low budget versus he had worked on low budget films before, but this one seemed different.

JAMES: He has been working on low budget films. He had just finished a streaming production on the East Coast before this opportunity came up. I think one of the things that we've seen sort of a trend line that's come out of this reporting is that, you know, Hollywood has been gearing up to just -- it was shut down for several months during COVID. It's gearing up and the producers are just, you know, it's go, go, go to try to make up for lost time and fill this whole, you know, plethora of streaming services that have come online in the last few years.

So, there are tons of work for everyone. And in some cases, I think the budgets are smaller because of the streaming productions, but also that the crews are stretched a little too thin.

COOPER: Yes, Meg James, I really appreciate you reporting. Thank you.

JAMES: Thank you.

COOPER: More now on the precautions that are supposed to be observed whenever a weapon is brought on set, also what blank cartridges can and can't do to actually harm someone. Gary Tuchman went to an expert for answers.




GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Larry Zanoff is a renowned motion picture armorer, a weapon safety specialist in the entertainment industry.

LARRY ZANOFF, MOTION PICTURE ARMORER AND WEAPON SAFETY SPECIALIST IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY: The idea is we have the cups here in this white background, because we're going to show this is going to make a lot of noise, but there's going to be no residue and no cups knocked over because this is not a live bullet.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Exactly. It is a blank cartridge.

ZANOFF: Okay, so I'll give you a countdown here. Three, two, one.

TUCHMAN: No residue, no cups. Created the illusion that you want in Hollywood without a bullet coming out.

ZANOFF: Correct.


TUCHMAN (voice over): We're at the Independent Studio Services prop house north of Los Angeles, props which they say include North America's largest private armory. Safety in the industry starts with a lockbox for weapons.

ZANOFF: The gun that we're going to use is inside here. This is a single action revolver. You can see that at the moment, it is empty.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And you keep turning it so we're sure it is empty.

ZANOFF: So, I show you this particular one has six cylinders. I always click it over seven times, just to make sure that we didn't miss anything and that you're comfortable with the fact that it is in fact an empty firearm.

TUCHMAN: I am comfortable.

ZANOFF: So, wonderful.

TUCHMAN (voice over): This is what a blank looks like.

ZANOFF: It gets a cartridge case that's crimped over. You can see there is no projectile.

TUCHMAN (on camera); No bullet or projectile.

ZANOFF: No bullet or projectile.

TUCHMAN: But it has gunpowder. ZANOFF: It does have gunpowder. It has a primer in it. This is what's

called a modern theatrical blank.

TUCHMAN (voice over): What looks like a typical bullet is sometimes used, for example to show a tight shot of a gun being loaded in a movie or TV show, but under safety regulations, such a bullet --

ZANOFF: Is a dummy cartridge. Empty shell case, no gunpowder in it. Totally inert primer. It can't go bang. There is a projectile on the end of it.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Bullet?

ZANOFF: That you can see, there's a BB. I can rattle it next to your ear.

TUCHMAN: It shows no gunpowder in it.

ZANOFF: It means that cannot go bang.

TUCHMAN (voice over): There are many other mandated precautions.

ZANOFF: So we have our single action revolver. We have our blank cartridge. You can see there is no projectile. I've measured out 20 feet for you here which is the minimum safety distance on a film set. We have a target there. I'm going to load up the blank into the gun and I'm going to announce that the gun is hot. So, hot gun on set.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And it's a hot gun when there's something in the gun, in the chambers that will go bang.

ZANOFF: Correct if the gun is going to go bang, it's a hot gun. If it's empty and it can't go bang, it's a cold gun. We are going to go three, two, one. I'm going to unload the gun now. Presumably, they've yelled "cut." And then I make as the armorer, the announcement, "Cold weapon on set. Cold weapon on set."

TUCHMAN (voice over): I asked the armorer --

TUCHMAN (on camera): What if someone walks right in front of a person as they're firing a gun with a blank? Could you be seriously hurt?

ZANOFF: As you'll see, there is some smoke and flame coming out. You know you might feel the effect of it a little bit, but there's no projectile.

TUCHMAN: Okay. All right, that's good to know.

ZANOFF: Okay, counting down. Three, two, one.


COOPER: Gary Tuchman joins us now. So did Larry Zanoff say people sometimes get too close to weapons being fired on a set?

TUCHMAN: Yes, Larry says that happens. He gave me one example in a movie he was working on. There were actors who were SWAT team members, so a lot of people had guns. He saw one guy pointing the gun kind of in the wrong direction.

He was alarmed. He jumped from the camera and he said "cut." That's an armorer's job.

You know, it's interesting, Anderson, next time you watch a TV show or movie, and you see people with guns, keep in mind, the armorer is very close to the people with guns. They stay out of camera range, but they stay as close as possible to the people, to the actors with the weapons.

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, next, new whistleblower testimony and internal Facebook papers reveal about the social and political damage Facebook causes and the financial incentive it has not to stop it.

Later, why the President might prefer to get out of the country now as he tries one last time to get his fellow Democrats to agree on huge pieces of his agenda before his trip overseas.



COOPER: We are learning more tonight about the antisocial tendencies of the world's leading social network and we're learning it from the inside. The information comes, as you know, from a trove of internal corporate documents being dubbed the Facebook Papers provided to CNN and other news organizations by Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen.

She testified today in British Parliament and spoke plainly about company research identifying the network's central feature, its algorithm for determining what people see more of as also being its fatal flaw.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FORMER FACEBOOK PRODUCT MANAGER: I've seen lots of research that says that kind of ranking -- engagement based ranking prioritizes polarizing, extreme, divisive content. It doesn't matter if you're on the left or on the right. It pushes you to the extremes, and it fans hate, right? Anger and hate is the easiest way to grow on Facebook.


COOPER: So the algorithm ramps up extremism, she is saying and Facebook's own research shows it. Other documents show discontent within the company at efforts to curb the so-called Stop the Steal movement, which was organized and amplified on Facebook. They also reveal an internal experiment from 2019 that essentially produced the same kind of radicalization that led to January 6th. Today, on the company's quarterly earnings call, CEO and founder, Mark

Zuckerberg told listeners something especially apt in light of the Facebook papers, quoting him now, "The reality is that we have an open culture that encourages discussion and research on our work so we can make progress on many complex issues that are not specific just to us."

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has been on the story now from the very beginning joins us with more.

So Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook has an open culture, do they?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have an open culture in the extent that we have seen from these internal documents. Certain employees certainly feel free to express criticism of the company. We saw that on January 6th where there was a lot of staff messaging executives saying we should take a look inward.

But seemingly, that message doesn't seem to make it to the top. I want to play a clip from that earnings call that Zuckerberg was on today. Have a listen.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO AND FOUNDER, FACEBOOK: My view is that what we're seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company.


O'SULLIVAN: Yes, this idea that these documents are being selectively picked. There are tens of thousands of pages in this leak and I mean, they point to very real issues on the platform and I will just say that Facebook's response, Zuckerberg there, it is starting to sound more and more like the former President Trump, rather than engaging on issues of substance going after the media attacking the company's critics.


COOPER: Well, I mean, obviously U.S. officials are focused on Facebook's connections to January 6th or the connections of the people involved in January 6 to Facebook.

But as I mentioned, whistleblower, Frances Haugen testified in front of the British Parliament today, discussed Facebook's role in other countries as well. What'd she say on that?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. So we're learning a lot about Facebook's biggest market that is actually in India and where the platform there has been used to stoke a lot of sectarian divisions; also in Ethiopia, with the ongoing conflict there, how it is being used by militias. And look, Anderson. I mean, there are countries -- there are many languages that Facebook is available and that Facebook doesn't have staff to moderate its content.

So as bad as the issues are here in the United States, they're far worse than other countries on this platform.

COOPER: I mean, that is one of the reasons, to me, it seems like it's one of the reasons they've always made -- tried to stick to the argument they've stuck to, which is, well, look, we're just a platform. We're not there to police content, we're not there to make decisions. We're not a news organization, even though they are making a lot of money from news and information because they are in so many countries that if they do start to go down this road of having to kind of monitor what is being said and make judgments about it, I mean, can they even do that with their business model? They're in so many places in so many languages?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, well, I mean, they certainly won't be as rich, right? But I mean, Facebook does make decisions every single day. In fact, their algorithms make millions of decisions every minute, and we saw that through these documents as well, where a researcher ran two experiments -- two different experiments were run both here in the U.S. and one in India.

Both setting up accounts as regular Facebook users, just following what the algorithms were recommending. So what Facebook's algorithms were recommending, nothing about free speech here. This is decisions that Facebook's algorithms are making. And after a few weeks, in both cases, in the U.S. and in India, that person was dragged down rabbit holes of misinformation, and in some cases, being shown content that could provoke or glorify violence.

COOPER: And meanwhile, they're still making massive profits. Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it.

Joining us now Scott Galloway, Professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business where he teaches digital marketing. Scott, I mean, I'm wondering what jumped out at you from these papers. I mean, they really seem to show, time and time again, Facebook, knowingly put profit before public safety.

SCOTT GALLOWAY, PROFESSOR OF MARKETING, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: Yes, it's sort of more from individuals to really more their business model and the structure of the business and the culture that you have a company that knowingly has led algorithms kind of run unfettered to elevate content distinct to the fact that it might result in an insurrection, it might result in human trafficking, it might result in much lower vaccination rates, and kind of this delay and obfuscation and hide the ball so that they can continue to engage in this kind of massive profitability that that type of unfortunate elevation of oftentimes misinformation results in.

This is -- I mean, this really is a bombshell report here.

COOPER: Do you think there's -- I mean, whether it comes from outside or inside, do you think they're from inside capable of making changes?

GALLOWAY: You know, it's interesting, we're waiting on legislators, we're waiting on media, and we're waiting on academics to have a change here, and it ends up that an employee, that it is people internally who are really having the most impact here. But if you think about the product launches of the last year, it would probably be Virgin and Amazon tied in terms of their rocket launches.

But I would say the product launch of the year has been the rollout of this whistleblower, whether it's the coordination, the 17 articles that have been branded the Facebook Files going on national TV. She has literally put on a masterclass.

She's kind of big tech, big tech. This has just been incredible.

I don't think so. For the first time, I actually believe this has elevated from regulation, from antitrust to criminal charges. I think there are now in these documents evidence of several different fronts that the company will be, or individuals will be charged criminally with.

COOPER: You know, it's so interesting, though. I mean, the future is -- I mean, these algorithms, which, you know, a lot of folks -- I am just kind of learning about them really, don't even really know, you know, Netflix picks the movies it thinks I might like, and I think okay, well, that's a good, good idea.

But we're allowing more and more control over to these algorithms using artificial intelligence that we have no idea, even the programmers themselves often don't know all the decisions, how the algorithms make the decision that they do.

GALLOWAY: Yes, and that's really the correct point, Anderson. I spoke to Roger McNamee today and he pointed me to Shoshana Zuboff's great work that at some point, a violation of your privacy becomes criminal when it results in a loss of autonomy.

So we decide children don't have their own agency and that they don't have the autonomy in child labor so we have laws against that.


GALLOWAY: Did the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6th have a loss of autonomy because they've been fed so much misinformation? Have we -- do have individuals all over the world that are losing their autonomy because Facebook is able to gather data and decide that you would like to hear a confirmation bias, you would like to hear more misinformation on vaccines?

Have we gotten to a point where literally billions of people have lost their autonomy and results in insurrections, low vaccination rates, being more subject to human trafficking? Have they -- you know, have we lost out to the algorithms? Have they taken over?

But, you know, Netflix's algorithm might send you the wrong program and send you "The Queen's Gambit" instead of another program, but these algorithms and the decisions that are making for an attention economy have resulted in incredible harm.

COOPER: I like "The Queen's Gambit" by the way, Scott, I don't know about you.

GALLOWAY: There you go. COOPER: I'm not sure what your beef is with "The Queen's Gambit,"

frankly, but --

GALLOWAY: Not at all.

COOPER: That's for another discussion here. You can address your hate e-mails about "The Queen's Gambit" says Scott Galloway.

Scott, appreciate it. Thank you.

GALLOWAY: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, late reporting on another executive privilege rejection for the former President. Also, our number cruncher, Harry Enten -- is that how we're calling him now? Number cruncher? On how President Biden's popularity or shortage of it could affect the governor's race next week in a reliable blue state the Democrats are terrified of losing.



COOPER: It is the start of a critical week for President Biden that could make or break his agenda and Senator Joe Manchin whose vote is essential to passing that agenda tells CNN that a deal couldn't be reached on the President's social safety net package as soon as this week.

Also tonight, CNN has learned the President Biden has once again refused to assert executive privilege over more documents that his predecessor sought to keep out of the hands of the committee investigating the assault on the Capitol in January 6.

CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins broke that story joins us now. So what's the latest?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is a letter that the White House Council sent to the National Archives today, Anderson saying that this next batch of documents that the former president has tried to keep out of the hands of the January 6 committee, they're not going to assert privilege over it here at the Biden White House. They say that, yes, this is something that is clear to them that the former president would like. But the White House Counsel, which is the top lawyer, of course in the West Wing says that she has reviewed this with President Biden and with the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department. And they still maintain the position that they had with earlier requests from the former president, which is that basically his executive privilege isn't justified here. And they say that that's because of the extraordinary events that happened that day.

Though, of course, we should note, this is likely to just add to that legal battle that is happening between this White House and the former White House where the former president is suing the National Archives and the January 6 committee to keep these documents out of their hands. And so, is only going to add to the court battle that is likely to play out in the coming weeks and months.

COOPER: In terms of the negotiations of the President's legislative agenda, where do things stand on that?

COLLINS: Essentially, they said that they feel optimistic about coming to a framework agreement on the social spending and climate change bill. But we should note the realities of this, which is that publicly, they still have not agreed to a price tag on this, which of course is important when you're deciding what's going into the bill, you need to know how much money they're willing to spend here. And so, when it comes to the substance, they're also still divided on a few key issues, which Democrats are openly acknowledging and that's paid leave, which of course, President Biden told you last week, he thought he was going to get four weeks that still seems to be up for discussion since he initially wanted 12 weeks, four weeks may not even happen.

Also, the expansion of Medicare to include dental vision and hearing that is something that Senator Manchin, who has been one of those key centers, holdouts has expressed opposition to. And so, there are a lot of sticking points here, including how to pay for it all.

COOPER: Do you have an idea on the Democrats timeline, and they've obviously been all over the place.

COLLINS: So this is actually interesting, what we're learning tonight from what the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus has told CNN, which is that Pramila Jayapal, the congresswoman, she still wants these bills to be back to that, and that is the social spending bill that they are still in disagreement over what it should actually look like. And that infrastructure bill, the bipartisan one that they passed earlier this year. Of course, that those votes, essentially the thinking had been lately was that if they came to an agreement on the framework, then they could have that everyone would be in agreement, and they'd go ahead and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which we know Democrats in Virginia would like to them to get passed before the governor's race next Tuesday. But Pramila Jayapal is saying tonight that she's still expects those votes to be back to back.

And so, that seems to downplay the idea that they are going to get an actual infrastructure vote this week, though. Anderson, a lot of this is up in the air before the President does leave for Europe on Thursday with meetings with world leaders and that big Climate Summit.

COOPER: Yes. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks.

Though. Lack of a deal is having a negative impact on the President's poll numbers. Senior data reporter we call him number cruncher earlier Harry Enten joins us now.

I know.


COOPER: You know, I was just shocked as anyone.


COOPER: Harry, what have you learned about the latest poll numbers and how they may be impacting the gubernatorial race in Virginia?

ENTEN: Sure. So, what we're seeing is, you know, nationally, President Biden's approval ratings have been dropping, and Virginia is no different. Look at this. This is the net popularity rating, right. This isn't the state that Joe Biden won by 10 points last November. Look at that in August, he was barely positive plus one, September minus one, now in October minus four points. My goodness gracious, we're seeing a clear drop there.

And, you know, what's so important is how is this impacting the race in Virginia? What do we see Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats lead in that race over Republican Glenn Youngkin. Look at that back on August 25th, McAuliffe's (INAUDIBLE) was five points, then September 25th, three points. Now, just two points.

So, Biden's declining popularity clearly having an impact in this race at this point. Well, within the margin of error, I really wouldn't be surprised if either candidate one.

COOPER: And what about the President's popularity in Virginia? I mean, how much is that, you know, predicting the -- what may happen in midterms?

ENTEN: Yes, you know, one of the reasons we look to Virginia isn't just because what's happening, Virginia is important, what's in Virginia. It's how is it telling us how the national sort of environment is going to be going forward. And what we look back over time, the last few times you have a junior gubernatorial election, right in 2009, 2013 and 2017. What we see is that the President, each of those cases, had negative net ratings, net approval ratings. That's the same as Joe Biden's is right now. And you can see look at that all three times the president's party lost seats in the House of Representatives.


And so that's why it's so important that Joe Biden has a negative rating right now Virginia because as Virginia has tended to gone in midterm in off year elections, the next midterm, that's how the nation has gone.

COOPER: And what does the polling tell you about what voters care about most right now?

ENTEN: Yes. Look, it's the economy, stupid. That's what -- well that's what the polling is telling us. It's not just nationally, right. What we see is also in Virginia, look, nationally inflation most important issue. And Virginia's voter's choice for governor, it's the economy and jobs. It's no longer the coronavirus that is gone now as a top issue for voters. And, you know what's so important? Why this is so important because look at who Virginia voters trust on the issue of the economy. If you look at the polling, what the polling tells us is that who do you trust more? Glenn Youngkin has a five point lead Terry McAuliffe on who voters trust more in the jobs in the economy.

So as this race has shifted from one in which COVID was a top issue to one in which the jobs and the economy has been a top issue, the polling, the top line numbers have changed as well. And Youngkin now is within striking distance of Terry McAuliffe and estate again, that Joe Biden won by 10 points last November.

COOPER: Harry Enten, appreciate it. (INAUDIBLE).

ENTEN: Thank you. And you can call me whatever you want out there.

COOPER: Well, we'll definitely call you.

ENTEN: There you go.

COOPER: Up next, organizers of the Unite The Right rally, some of them white supremacists returned to Charlottesville to face a civil trial.

Also in New York City, firefighters among those marching and protests over the COVID vaccine mandate for all municipal workers and mandates are in place in other cities. Take a look at what's at stake ahead.



COOPER: In Charlottesville, Virginia more than four years after white supremacists descended on the city, jury selection is now underway in a civil trial against the organizers of the Unite The Right rally. Ten people including town residents and counter protesters are seeking unspecified damages from 24 defendants. The plaintiff say they suffered physical and emotional injuries during the two days of clashes in August 2017. Hard to forget the images from that weekend white supremacist marching with torches, chance of Jews will not replace us. Dozens of people were injured, one person Heather Heyer died was killed in the chaos that followed.

CNN's Elle Reeve has more on this new legal battle. She was there that weekend. She stayed on the story ever since.


UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us.


TANESHA HUDSON, LOCAL ACTIVIST: I've never, ever seen anything like this?

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): It was crazy. It's so violent.

HUDSON: It was like a civil war happening --

REEVE (on-camera): On a Saturday morning. HUDSON: -- on a Saturday morning.

REEVE (voice-over): Tanesha Hudson and I came within a few feet of each other on the morning of the Unite The Right rally in 2017, hours before a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd killing a woman and injuring many people. I interviewed her after.

HUDSON: This is the face of supremacy. This is what we deal with every day being an African-American.

I just knew something bad was going to happen that day. I think free speech ends when violence begins. Right? I can say what I want. I can't do what I want.

REEVE (voice-over): That's at the center of Sines v. Kessler, a federal civil lawsuit against the organizers of the rally that goes to trial this week.

AMY SPITALNICK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTEGRITY FIRST FOR AMERICAN: Many of the plaintiffs in our lawsuit we're here that evening, they had been peacefully standing there, protesting white supremacist coming to their town.


SPITALNICK: Surrounded, beaten, punch, kicked all while these extremists were chanting things like Jews will not replace us and a variety of other violent racist anti-Semitic chants.

What happened that weekend was in many ways intended to be a surprise, the violence was planned in these closed discord chats where they discussed everything in advance from what to wear, what to bring for lunch, how do you best so a swastika onto a flag? How do you use free speech instruments to attack people? Cracking commies skulls, quote unquote. That is a racially motivated violet conspiracy. And that's not anything that's protected by the First Amendment or by any other sort of right that people have.

REEVE (voice-over): The defendants are men who made themselves white power brands, Richard Spencer, Chris Cantwell, Jeff Scoop, Matt Heimbach, Andrew Anglin, Jason Kessler, and more. They've argued there was simply engaging in their First Amendment right to speech and protest, and that the violence is the fault of the police for not separating them from the counter protesters.

But what made the alt right grows so quickly, the internet has been its undoing in this case, because the defendants left behind an enormous paper trail of what they say were jokes about racial violence.

KAREN DUNN, PLAINTIFFS' LAWYER: With an event like Charlottesville, that was national news, people may have seen the torch March, they might have seen the car attack on the news. But if you look beneath the surface, there's just so much more. And what that evidence shows is that there was a conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence. REEVE (voice-over): The discovery process has turned up documents that beyond what they might mean for this lawsuit reveal to the public how this movement worked. The exhibit list contains text messages that show extensive planning among leaders who have tried to distance themselves from each other since 2017. They show an embrace of violence, and they show they weren't just jokes.

(on-camera): This felt like one comment that stands out of here.

DUNN: The image that has stuck with me ever since the beginning of the case was one of the discord post pictures. It shows a tractor running people over and it's called the protester digester. Look, there's many, many posts in this case about running over people with cars prior to the car attack on August 12th. But that one to me was like I can't get it out of my head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hundreds of fascists on all sides.

MARY ANNE FRANKS, LEGAL SCHOLAR: If you're saying organized violence on the one hand is not protected by the First Amendment, but speech that does talk about violence is protected. There's obviously going to be a question of where along that spectrum can you say the law should step in or the First Amendment doesn't protect you? And that's what this case I think is interestingly going to be about which is what is that line?

You have to understand the nature of internet communication and how much that changes the nature of incitements.

REEVE (on-camera): In essence, like, no matter what the verdict is, you have already won because Richard Spencer said was financially crippling, Heimbach has quit white supremacy at least officially says Jeff Scoop. They don't hold public rallies anymore. Whatever they might be doing behind the scenes, they're not able to get numbers in public. What do you think about that?


ROBBIE KAPLAN, PLAINTIFFS' LAWYER: People really need to understand that that this is real, that it's out there, that it allows people from all over the country in the world to organize in ways that were previously impossible. And that's a real and present danger.

REEVE (voice-over): Tanesha says that, despite all the national attention, Charlottesville got after 2017, it didn't change the systems that benefit white men. But there are two systems and two sets of standards, whether that's for leaders in city government, or people fighting in the streets.

HUDSON: You know, I probably could have literally kicked one of their asses that day. But if I put my hands on them, I'm going to jail. But they did it all day, and they got to go home free.

REEVE (on-camera): Well, it's very interesting that this civil lawsuit has been the biggest consequence for those organizers not facing like criminal charges. HUDSON: Right.

REEVE (on-camera): What do you think about that?

HUDSON: I knew nothing was going to happen to them. Why would it? The police on their side. I mean, we just watched this replay again on January 6, and I remember posting when the insurrection happened in the Capitol. Hey, D.C., Charlottesville told you so you believe us now. This is what they did to us. They invaded us. But now that it happened at the Capitol is, oh, my goodness, they need to go to jail. Well, we told you, they needed to go to jail here and they didn't go to jail.

Charlottesville could have did the right thing and made such a big statement. And they didn't. Charlottesville failed us. And then after Charlottesville failed us, our president failed us.


COOPER: And Elle Reeve joins us now. Do we know what sort of strategies -- legal strategies the defendants are expected to use once the trials get underway?

REEVE: Yes, the plaintiffs have to prove both racial intent and conspiracy to commit violence. And the defendants do not deny that they are racist. They're not even embarrassed by it. But they do deny that there's conspiracy. They say that they didn't really know each other or if they did, they didn't like each other. The working class white supremacists say they weren't invited to the events hosted by the fancy white supremacists. And they say that, for all the violence, that's the fault of the police for not keeping the protesters separate from each other.

COOPER: Elle Reeve, as always, remarkable reporting. Thank you.

Up next, the issues and impact as New York City workers and public workers around the country show resistance to serving the public by getting vaccinated that they see differently and will have their viewpoints ahead.



COOPER: In New York City today, demonstrators including firefighters and sanitation workers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the COVID vaccine mandate for municipal workers. Anyone who receives a paycheck from the city must show proof of vaccination by 5:00 p.m., Friday.

CNN's Brynn Gingras was at the protest joins us now for what happened not only in New York, but also on similar pushback across the country. So, what were the crowds thing today?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Anderson, for a city that was once the epicenter of this pandemic, who lost so many members of service, I got to say, it was pretty striking to see the Brooklyn Bridge be shut down for all these protesters. They're all essentially coining this protest as not an anti-vaccine protest, but an anti-mandate protest saying that that's a big difference there. They just basically don't want to be told what to do with their bodies is what we heard a lot of times echoed throughout this crowd. But of course, if you ask them the question, are you vaccinated? The answer is usually no.

But like you just said, that deadline is coming up here in New York City, at least on Friday, where if the city's employees, about 46,000 of them are so don't get vaccinated don't get that first shot, their risk of losing their jobs are not being paid. And of course, we'll have to see how that plays out as the days come on, but this was a very strong protest against that mandate.

COOPER: New York's vaccine mandate isn't obviously the only one that's faced pushback. What's been some of the other responses elsewhere?

GINGRAS: Yes, I mean, really, collectively, it's the union's pushing back with lawsuits, right? We've been seeing them in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Baltimore. And they essentially say that they don't want these cities pushing that mandate without first coming to the table and trying to bargain with them. That's pretty much one of the arguments that we've been really seeing across the board today, the PBA, the largest union here in New York City, filed its lawsuit against that mandate, again, that's approaching on Friday, listing a whole number of issues, one of them being wide, not let us test out of this, which some cities are allowing, but that is now going to be off the table when it comes to New York.

And they also put in that lawsuit, you know, that's just going to bring morale down even more so particularly among police officers. And you know, what Anderson, state of Florida is actually trying to capitalize on that. We learned from the governor there, Ron DeSantis, that he is actually offering $5,000 for officers to move to relocate to Florida for law enforcement, in saying really, that it's about a morale issue trying to sort of take officers from the cities, saying it's not a mandate issue. It's a morale issue. So, we'll see if that works.

But certainly, there's a number of arguments that are being made all across this country as the mandates kind of pop up especially in larger cities. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Brynn, appreciate it. Thanks so much.


COOPER: Update on a story that we brought you last week about an about face from Miami private school that was making vaccinated students quarantine for 30 days.


[20:58:24] COOPER: Friday night, we told you about a Miami private school, the med students who received a COVID vaccine stay home for 30 days. Gary Tuchman brought the story to us. Here's part of his report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Family decision. And we should respect you know, like everybody privacy.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): It is a family decision, but it makes everyone safer, because so many people have gotten the vaccinations, tens of thousands of people are not dying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there's a lot of people who get the vaccine and is dying right now.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): That's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it is true.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): No, that's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fox News says the truth.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Fox News (INAUDIBLE) but that's definitely not true. It's false. That's the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fox News is the one that you can get, you know, like --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Let me just tell you, sir, the greatest scientists in the world know that this vaccine is saving life. So my question for you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) is not the best scientists in the world. That's just my opinion, you know.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Yes. You're hearing bad information, sir. But with all due respect, I wish you good health.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much, same to you. Have a great day.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Thank you.


COOPER: Well tonight that controversial policy is no longer in place. Centner Academy change course after the Florida Department of Education, said that the schools quarantine rule was being investigated and that it would cut scholarship funding if it was determined to be in violation of the law, or Florida law.

Centner's Chief Operating Officer Bianca Erickson wrote back to the DOE, department -- the DOE saying that the school quote, will continue to be in compliance with all applicable laws. As Gary reported the school previously asked parents to keep their children home for 30 days if the child received a COVID vaccine dose, citing false and disprove claims about the impact of the vaccine shot.


That's it for us the news continues. Let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Coop, thank you very much.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "PRIME TIME."