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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
NY Times Says DA Won't Rule Out Criminal Charges In "Rust" Set Shooting; Interview With Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Senators Sinema And Manchin Meet With President Biden At The White House; FDA Advisers Vote To Recommend Pfizer's Covid Vaccine For Children Ages 5 To 11; Facebook Is Having Tougher Time Managing Vaccine Misinformation Than It Is Letting On, Leaks Suggest; Biden Campaigning For Terry McAuliffe In Tight Race For Virginia Governor. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 26, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And so, we haven't heard from the former President on this, though, of course, we know his opinion is that he believes his top officials who were subpoenaed should not compel -- or should not give testimony and should not provide documents or anything of that nature.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, Kaitlan, thank you very much, and thanks very much to all of you. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, a very busy hour ahead, including news so many parents have been waiting for the F.D.A.'s Advisory Committee, recommending Pfizer's COVID vaccine for ages five to 11, but like nearly everything to do with what was supposed to be the simple way to end a pandemic, it isn't quite as simple as that. We'll have more details ahead.
Also Senator Elizabeth Warren joins us on her new proposal for funding President Biden's so-called Building Back Better legislation as Democrats in both chambers face growing pressure, including a key election next week to finally wrap it up.
We begin though with breaking news in the fatal shooting on the New Mexico set of Alec Baldwin's movie "Rust." The Santa Fe County District Attorney telling "The New York Times" that criminal charges are possible.
Speaking by phone with the paper she said, and I quote: "We haven't ruled out anything. Everything at this point including criminal charges is on the table." She went on to say as we look at what's believed to be the last known photo of photographer, Halyna Hutchins, before she was fatally wounded. "There was an enormous amount of bullets on this set and we need to find out what kind they were."
Our first guest tonight was not there, but only because he turned down a job on the film. Prop master, Neal Zoromski is a Hollywood veteran with more than 55 films and TV productions to his credit. He joins us now. Neal, thank you so much for joining us, appreciate it. When did you first have misgivings about this job on the set? NEAL ZOROMSKI, HOLLYWOOD PROP MASTER, TURNED DOWN JOB ON "RUST" SET:
Sort of the misgivings came about when I started speaking to the various powers that be on the production to secure my employment with really numbers and budgeting, staffing questions that needed addressing.
COOPER: I want to read an e-mail that you received back from a location manager saying "We'd really like one of the assistants to be the armorer that can push up on the gunfights and heavy armor days," end quote. We should mention, a source close to production tells CNN that production was not trying to combine the two roles and it was not a budget issue. I know you emailed back declining the job.
Can you just explain what you took that e-mail to mean and why you thought that might be an issue?
ZOROMSKI: Well, we should think about the climate in which that e- mail came. We were in the process of negotiating over several days. We had sort of been up and down with numbers and staffing numbers and what things would be, and then after things sort of seemed somewhat settled, then there was that sort of oh, and by the way, which I call kind of a slip it in, if you will, sort of slip it in at the last moment type thing.
So there really isn't an opportunity to agree or disagree with that, and to say that that person would then occupy those two jobs is a bit flawed. That premise is flawed.
COOPER: So how would it normally work? I mean, usually how many crew members would be needed, in your view to assist when there are guns being used like this?
ZOROMSKI: Well, the production did forward me the script. I did a significant breakdown on the script and identified where those scenes were. Obviously, the character of Harlan Rust is an outlaw. So, it's a recurring theme throughout the film that he is pursued. He is shot at, he also shoots back. There's a lot of detail there.
And as a professional in the industry that have been here for a minute, it is evident when you read the script, and furthermore, when you see the storyboards, you understand what the vision of the film is and what they want to achieve, and what it'll take to achieve that.
And then I present those concerns and needs to usually typically producers, producers, staff, and those concerns are sorted. So, sort of an initial thing was like, kind of a past off, we'll get to that. We'll have that conversation. That's negotiable.
And you're at the point where you're doing the negotiation so kind of to say it is negotiable is a little bit arrogant and flippant.
COOPER: Have you worked on? I mean, I don't know if this is a low budget film. I don't know, you know where it stands in terms of budget. You know, obviously they were having crew members drive all the way to Albuquerque, when a much longer drive than Santa Fe, so I guess to save money on hotel rooms. Was this kind of in the realm of what happens on low budget films? Or
was this to you more concerning than that? I mean, you have experience on low budget films, I assume.
ZOROMSKI: It's all in the culture of the film and how the film is being rolled out and implemented, how it's being staffed, et cetera. So, I would say myself, my experience here was that I was being flown in and hired as a distant hire. And basically, I would have landed in the middle of all of that fray, and been a little bit oblivious to those concerns that people say we're sleeping in their car on the way home from work, because they were too tired, et cetera, et cetera.
You know, I wasn't corded to come to the project with those terms, undefined. My terms were quite well defined. But it would be shocking and upsetting, to suddenly be inserted into that situation and literally see people in misery. You know, that is concerning,
COOPER: There is also something you referred to in that e-mail as all in one shot, and just in terms of filming, can you explain what that is? And if you think that's what they were trying to film in this movie?
ZOROMSKI: You know, I hope that I can answer your question, because a lot of the questions are multi-answered and multi-layered and multi- textured, as you can imagine. But basically, an all in one is typically, you see it in a lot of iconic westerns, it is sort of an iconic shot, if you will, but there'll be the vengeance shot. Or finally, the protagonist rises from the ground and has one shot left, and they'll rise up and they'll use that one bullet to bring down the quote-unquote, "bad guy."
So that's a scene where Hollywood filmmakers want you to be in that seat. They want you to be behind that pistol or weapon, and they want you to feel that vicarious experience that the character is actually going through. And there is a -- there is a need for us to get closer and closer to that, to quote, "Be as real as you possibly can." And I think that has maybe led us down a little bit of a slippery slope.
COOPER: I think, I said it was in your e-mail, it was not in the e- mail, but the overall -- what finally made you decide not to move forward on this?
ZOROMSKI: Well, I would say probably the fifth and final thing that they did was the slip it in e-mail, where they suggested and they actually referred to the consortium of producers as a group, we feel it would be best that you could compress those two positions. And it's just an awful lot of landscape for even a seasoned professional to cover.
If you're loading a gun, you're right up next to the camera. If you're an assistant key prop master, then you're in the background, loading the wagons, checking the bridles, making sure the trunk is being loaded and offloaded, and repeated over and over again. There are so many things that go on in between the foreground and the
background, and to have to cover that amount of territory and do it well is challenging for even a seasoned professional.
COOPER: Yes. Neal Zoromski, I really appreciate your expertise, and you speaking with us tonight. Thank you.
ZOROMSKI: It's been my pleasure. Thank you.
COOPER: Given what the Santa Fe County District Attorney told "The New York Times" about criminal charges, I want to turn next to CNN's chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
So Jeff, obviously, there's a lot that we do not know at this point. Just -- what could be the scale and the scope of legal liability in this?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, let's start with the easy part, which is civil liability. This whole misadventure was the definition of negligence as far as I can tell, and Miss Hutchins's family is certain to file lawsuits against everyone responsible for this production.
It's unclear who will have to pay that money, that depends on the structure of the insurance and further factual development. But certainly, there will be a multimillion dollar award of damages to her family.
Once you start to get into the criminal area, that's where I think it's very important to let the facts -- let's see where the facts go because at this point, I think it's very hard to speculate about who might be liable.
COOPER: "The New York Times" is quoting the Santa Fe District Attorney tonight and is saying everything at this point including criminal charges is on the table. I mean what do you look at to figure out liability?
I mean, if somebody hands someone else a gun who is an actor and tells them it's okay, whose fault is it?
TOOBIN: Well, that really could be, you know, manslaughter on the part of, if Person A and I don't know who Person A is and I don't know if there is a Person A, but if Person A hands a gun he or she knows contains an actual bullet to an actor, Alec Baldwin and Alec Baldwin shoots someone, I could definitely see that Person A had some criminal liability in terms of even something as significant as manslaughter.
But you know, as your previous guest discussed, you know, even on a low budget film, it's complicated how props move around, who is responsible, and the District Attorney is going to have to do a very thorough investigation of how this weapon got into a deadly situation.
At this point, we don't even know as far as I'm aware that there was an actual bullet in the chamber. It may be that a blank could have caused a lot of damage. So, all those facts really have to be developed before you can decide on criminal liability.
But criminal liability, as the DA said, is certainly -- is certainly possible.
COOPER: The District Attorney also quoted by "The New York Times" as saying that the investigation would probably take weeks, if not months before getting to the point of charging anyone. How complicated just as a legal question does this become if charges are brought and who they're brought against?
TOOBIN: It's a very complicated situation, and a lot of it has to do -- will have to do with state of mind, which is always difficult for prosecutors to show. What did these various people know about the status of this gun at this point? And again, I just want to say at this point, Alec Baldwin looks like, frankly, the least likely person to have any sort of criminal liability, because it's very hard for me to imagine that he could be expected to know that this was a gun that could have inflicted real harm, unless evidence comes to show that he had reason to know that, I think he would be criminally in the clear.
You know, as for all the other people, I mean, the first question you want to know as a prosecutor and as an investigator is who had custody of this gun? Who had access to ammunition? Was there any actual live ammunition on the premises, and who controlled it? And who put it into this gun? If in fact, that's what happened.
Certainly, following the evidence related to the weapon itself will be central to what the investigators have to do.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up next, we have more breaking news. Senator Elizabeth Warren joins us to talk about new movement in the push to pass the keystone of President Biden's social and economic agenda and her new proposal for funding it, which just got a boost from the White House.
Later, what you need to know about today's long awaited vote on vaccinating kids as young as five against COVID.
COOPER: There's breaking news tonight in the push to get President Biden's signature social and environmental legislation wrapped up. Two key Senate holdouts, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are now supporting a way of paying for it. They met tonight with the President who is also getting behind the proposal, which was unveiled late today by Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, and Angus King, a minimum tax on the country's most profitable corporations.
We will get a live report from the White House momentarily. But first Senator Elizabeth Warren joins us right now.
Senator Warren, thanks so much for being with us. Can you just talk about what your proposal is that's getting the support now?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Sure. The proposal is to fix the Amazon problem. Remember how Amazon declared $10 billion in profits, publicly told shareholders that, and then turned around and told the I.R.S., but not you, paid zero in taxes.
So what this proposal is about is to say whenever you're making more than a billion dollars in profits, that you report publicly, you're going to have to pay a minimum tax of 15 percent. It hits about 200 of the biggest companies and most profitable companies in the country, and it will raise a few hundred billion dollars that we can spend on childcare and fighting the climate crisis.
COOPER: And Senators Sinema and Manchin came out in support of the corporate minimum tax today, do you think you can win over the rest of your colleagues?
WARREN: I think we've got a very good chance on that. I talked about it today with all of my colleagues, but I've been doing this for a long time now. You know, I talked about this when I ran for President, I talked about it when we came back. I talked about it when we first started talking about Build Back Better, moved over to the Finance Committee, so I could get in there and argue for it, and it has taken a while.
Some folks have had to work through it, but I feel pretty good. Democrats understand that what the American people have known for a long time, and that is that the tax system is rigged, and letting these giant profitable companies get away with paying nothing has to come to an end, and that's what this minimum corporate profits tax is about.
COOPER: And how many corporations make a billion dollars?
WARREN: So, it's roughly around 200. That would be in this -- they are making more than a billion dollars and not paying up there at the marginal rate. And you know, this is -- I just want to draw a distinction here. We've talked a lot about raising the rate, but you have to understand, a company like Amazon, they don't care whether or not the rate is 23 percent or 33 percent or 53 percent because they're paying nothing.
So instead of putting our focus over there where we weren't getting a whole bunch of people together on it, we put the focus on, let's make sure that those who are not paying at all really have to step up and do their part. They've been free riding off the rest of us for long enough.
COOPER: So, there is -- what about the billionaire tax that have been discussed? There were people saying about people earning more than $5 million a year, a three percent tax on that. Are those still on the table?
WARREN: So, there's a second and a kind of complementary piece, the one you and I just talked about is in effect, the billionaire corporations that are paying nothing. The other one is about the billionaire people who are paying nothing. This would hit roughly around 700, a little over 700 people.
Here, it is the Jeff Bezos problem. So Jeff Bezos says to the I.R.S. that he only makes $83,000.00 a year in taxable income. That's all he makes on his salary, his W2, and so that's all he pays taxes on, while he sits on this enormous fortune. And your year by year, he grows that fortune and pays nothing in taxes on it because we have this distortion in our tax system that says, if you work hard, you've got to pay every year, if you get a W2.
But if you sit on a bunch of wealth, and it grows, you don't have to pay until you sell it or maybe even until you die, maybe never. What this says is nope, everybody who is creating wealth pays every year. It is just basic fairness. And here again, it only applies to billionaires, and those billionaires will produce hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue. There is childcare, there is home and community based care. There's a big downpayment in the fight against the climate crisis.
COOPER: And would there be -- are you looking at more taxes on other high earners?
WARREN: Well, if it were up to me, yes, I would raise the marginal rate on income taxes for the big corporations and for individuals. But we've got to get something that all 50 Democrats can get on board for, and this one is one where everybody sees the fundamental unfairness.
It basically means the United States Senate is finally catching up to the rest of America. You know, the overwhelming majority of Americans want to see us put a fair tax on the billionaires. They've done great for a long time.
And during the pandemic, they made more and more money while families were struggling. So this says, guys, it's time for you to get taxed. When you increase your wealth, the same way that people who are out there digging ditches or teaching in school or putting out fires, the same way they get taxed every year.
COOPER: And just when it comes to the timing of the votes, House Speaker Pelosi said earlier today that a framework agreement on the larger economic bill is enough to hold a vote on infrastructure. But Senator Bernie Sanders said that there should not be a vote in the House on the infrastructure package until there's an agreement of the Senate on the larger economic package. Where do you stand?
WARREN: Well, look, we've always said that this is basically one big package, and we recognize that we're going to be multiple votes in this, so that the roads and bridges made it in one set of votes. But now, it's time to do childcare and climate, and it's important that we have every confidence, all the pieces are moving together. That was the deal at the beginning. That was the deal in the middle, and that's still the deal today.
COOPER: Do you have a sense of when this will happen?
WARREN: I'm feeling optimistic. I think we've made really good progress. You know, it helps a lot when you know you're going to pay for it, and when the pay-for that we've got here is something people really get behind. And I think we're getting closer on all the rest of the pieces. So, I feel a lot of momentum, a lot of energy right now among the Democrats.
COOPER: You think by the end of the week?
WARREN: You know, I hope so. I have to tell you, I feel a lot of hope that we're really going to get good things done for the American people. I'm optimistic about that.
COOPER: Senator Elizabeth Warren, appreciate your time. Thank you.
WARREN: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming next, the White House and CNN's Phil Mattingly with a fair bit of news tonight. Phil, first of all, you just heard what the Senator said. I mentioned earlier Senators Manchin and Sinema were at the White House earlier this evening. What's the latest?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think you have to view this through the prism when you talk to White House officials that if they can move forward, if there is a pathway to move forward on both pieces, the vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal, or the economic and climate package you were just speaking with Senator Warren about, they are the only two senators they need sign off from at this moment, they hold the keys, and that's Senators Sinema and Manchin.
Now, Anderson, you know well, the President has spent a lot of time with these two senators over the course of the last several weeks. He met with Senator Manchin at his Wilmington home this weekend, but based on how things have progressed over the course of the last several days, hours of private meetings between White House officials and both senators. Both Senators meeting for hours with their colleagues on various pieces, the outstanding issues have to be reconciled now, if they want any hope of having the agreement that unlocks that infrastructure bill by the end of the week, the end of the week, obviously, when the President is heading to that U.N. climate conference where he has made clear he wants the climate provisions agreed to, he wants these proposals in hand.
He needs the sign off from these two senators that were at the White House tonight, a very clear effort from the White House to try and lock that in or at least get it closer to the finish line as they move forward on that timeline.
COOPER: But is it your understanding -- I mean that Kyrsten Sinema -- Senator Sinema is in fact, on board with this -- the corporate tax and the billionaire's tax.
MATTINGLY: The corporate tax, absolutely. She put out a statement when Senator Warren and the other senators released that proposal today since she was explicitly behind it. The White House put out a statement saying they were explicitly behind it as well. The billionaire's tax, we have heard from sources that she is open to it, amenable to it to some degree, but there is just a lot of technical work that needs to be done on that, and there are also a lot of Democrats that are concerned about whether it can be implemented, how it would be enforced, how you would actually tax maybe perhaps less liquid assets like artwork, all of that needs to be figured out in a very compressed timetable.
Corporate minimum tax without any question at all, there is significant progress forward today on that front -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Coming up, a vote to recommend the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children as young as five. We will tell you what comes next, critically how soon.
COOPER: It's more breaking news tonight and advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has voted to recommend Pfizer's COVID vaccine for children ages five to 11 under emergency use. The panel supports the dosage and it's one-third of what's given to those over the age of 12 in two shots three weeks apart. Pfizer says its vaccine for children ages five to 11 is 90% effective again symptomatic COVID. Members of the FDA committee agreed the benefits of the vaccine for younger children appear to outweigh the risk, but they had some concerns including whether states would now mandate the vaccine for children to go to school. After a few more steps about 28 million children as young as five could get the vaccine as early as next week.
Joining us now is Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital, author of Preventing The Next Pandemic Vaccine Diplomacy In A Time Of Anti-Science. And CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore Health Commissioner, author of Lifeline To Doctors Journey In The Fight For Public Health.
Dr. Hotez, the FDA advisory have struggled with this recommendation today in part because the CDC presented evidence that many more children have COVID-19 antibodies than previously thought. I'm curious as to what you think if a child between five and 11 years old, has COVID antibodies. Do you think they need both doses of Pfizer's vaccine?
PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT AT TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, first of all Anderson, it's very tough to know for certain if a child has previous COVID infection or not, and, and simply measuring antibodies is variable and you don't know how durable that protection is. But here's what's most important to remember, we saw the devastation among pediatric populations this summer, because of the Delta variant. We saw unprecedented numbers of children's hospital admissions and for the first time as I can remember, pediatric intensive care units overwhelmed. So, we saw this fivefold increase over later in the summer among pediatric hospitalizations here in the south, 8,300 hospitalizations all together for children about half a young children five to 11, half with that multi system inflammatory syndrome of childhood, which is very severe, 100 deaths between the ages of five to 11. And about 14% of the kids having long COVID symptoms lasting more than 15 months. Bottom line, we learned the summer that COVID-19 is a very bad actor in the children five to 11. And that's why we needed.
COOPER: Dr. Wen, I mentioned another point of discussion takes mandates and whether an emergency use authorization for Pfizer. Kids vaccines is going to lead to more mandates. Do you think that should happen or should parents with kids between five and 11 be able to choose to get their child vaccinated or not?
LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it's way too early for us to be talking about mandates in this age group. So far, we have an important study, but the study by Pfizer is just over 2,000 kids. I think the right next step is to have the parents who really want to get their kids vaccinated to allow them to do them. There are lots of parents who are living in areas that are not requiring masks in schools, where their kids are being exposed to a lot of risk factors. And maybe their kids have underlying medical conditions, including asthma and obesity that predispose them to severe outcomes from COVID- 19 if they were to have it.
So I think a lot those parents that are really eager to get their kids vaccinated to get vaccinated. Let's collect some more information. And then if we have more information, including about what it is that vaccines can replace, for example, can vaccines replace the need for masks in schools? Can vaccines help to prevent outbreaks and then stop the need for quarantining and having kids not be in school. Then maybe then we can have a conversation about mandates, but we're a long way off from that.
COOPER: Dr. Hotez, I mean, the advisors also discussed myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle and another a rare side effect of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. As a pediatrician, how concerned are you about myocarditis as a vaccine side effect in five to 11?
HOTEZ: Well, it's something we're going to have to watch. So in the -- with the concern was in the 12 to 17-year-olds, we did see a bump in rates, but it's still an extremely rare event between four and 10 per 100,000 so it's still extremely uncommon (INAUDIBLE) --
COOPER: So four and 10 teenagers per 100 got an inflammation.
HOTEZ: That's right. So it's an extremely rare event. I mean, we're talking about one in 10,000, on average. And so that's, that's quite uncommon. And almost all of those did quite well and had spontaneous resolution, sometimes requiring hospitalization. So, but they -- but the key point to remember Anderson is that the rate of myocarditis and other cardiac sequentially from the virus from COVID-19 is far higher, possibly as high as 450 per million.
So, not only that, we're also talking about other cardiovascular consequences, thrombotic events, strokes, so all of that has to be kept in mind as well. So, myocarditis is still an extremely rare event. It is something that we're going to have to watch. And as Dr. Wen points out, this study that that the bridging study to move forward on the authorization had only about 2,000 kids. So, we're going to collect a lot more information, hopefully in the coming months.
COOPER: And Dr. Wen, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost 118,000 children tested positive for COVID last week, as much as the country moves into colder months, cold or flu season, how big of a difference will getting younger, the younger population vaccinated, how much difference will that actually mean?
WEN: I think it will make a difference in terms of where COVID-19 goes because we could have 28 million more Americans who are now eligible to be vaccinated. I think it'll make the biggest difference when it comes to the lives of parents and their children. Kids have missed out on so much. They've been pulled out of sports, they missed other extracurricular activities. Maybe they stopped having sleepovers and going to indoor birthday parties. They can now resume many of these things once they're vaccinated.
Also, we're coming into holiday season and if we're able to get the vaccine, authorized by the FDA recommended by the CDC by next week, then kids can be fully vaccinated by the time that the Christmas and New Years and winter holidays come around. I think that will make a lot of difference. And for parents too, parents have been living with so much caution because of their kids, worried about travel, worried about occupational exposure, it will allow parents and their children to return to a large portion of their pre pandemic normal.
COOPER: Dr. Hotez, I want to change topics quickly ask you about comments made by former Trump Coronavirus Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx to congressional subcommittee. When interviewed earlier this month about the former administration handling the virus she said the 2020 campaign quote, took people's time away from and distracted them away from the pandemic. Dr. Birx also said she believes that more than 130,000 American lives could have been saved if more mitigation measures had been put in effect. I mean, that which is a pretty stunning statement, 130,000 needless deaths. I'm wondering what your reaction was to that?
HOTEZ: Well, you know, when I first heard it, my first thought was, you know what, what the President -- with President Trump did in the White House, the west wing in the Oval Office, it was far more than be distracted because of the campaign. They actively undermine COVID-19 efforts, they launched a horrific disinformation campaign in the spring and summer of 2020. Claiming COVID was a hoax, nothing more than the flu. Spectacular rising the benefits of hydroxychloroquine saying that hospital admissions were just catch up in elective surgeries and that was incredibly damaging and caused a lot of loss of life discrediting masks. And then in parallel, what they did was they ultimately refused to launch a national program to control COVID-19. What they did instead was leave it to the states and they never put the federal government out in front. And the consequences of that were the States didn't know how to do this. And so the loss of life was catastrophic and needless.
COOPER: Dr. Peter Hotez, Dr. Leana Wen, thank you. I appreciate it.
Up next, what internal Facebook papers reveal about COVID vaccine misinformation on the social media site and how it seems when Facebook officials were saying publicly was not the reality of what was happening behind the scenes. Kara Swisher joins us ahead.
COOPER: There's more to tell you about COVID tonight. New details from the so-called Facebook papers whistleblower Frances Haugen gave federal authorities they reveal that the company was seemingly having a tougher time managing vaccine misinformation than it was letting on. Earlier this year, as you know Facebook was publicly touting its resources, however, internal documents from March show employees raising concerns about vaccine hesitancy, some of it in fact misinformation in user comments. One report mentioned quote, our ability to detect vaccine hesitancy comments is bad in English and basically non existent elsewhere.
In a moment we'll talk it over with tech journalist Kara Swisher author of New York Times op-ed Critical of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, she writes, quote, Zuckerberg will continue to wield all the real power at Facebook for as long as he wants but the era of his being the adored dear leader and cultural touchstone at the company is effectively over.
Kara Swisher joins us now. Kara, you think it's a time actually for Mark Zuckerberg to step down as CEO. Do you think that's actually likely or possible?
KARA SWISHER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No, I don't think he's going to step down. I think they're going to create a new corporate entity, much like Google did last year when they created Alpha -- a couple years ago, I'm sorry, 2015 when they created Alphabet, and then Larry Page kind of just disappeared above the entity and --
COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) island or somewhere last I heard.
SWISHER: Yes, something like that, but with a lot -- with many billions of dollars. And so, so they're going to create this entity and it's a question about what is going to be called one of the rumors was meta and then someone will else will be CEO of Facebook and that that moves him out of out of the line of fire essentially, and takes the pressure off of him and he still controls the company because he has pretty much complete control of the company including the board, so it's not like he's going anywhere. COOPER: So the meta chain, that the meta kind of thing like Alphabet did. That's the rebranding that there have been reports about you think?
SWISHER: Yes, I think it's what it according to many sources I talked to it's this week, maybe, maybe Thursday, but they're thinking about this because it creates a div -- it creates a layer between Facebook and the other entities. They do have other companies, Oculus that are very promising some of their financial services, but everything gets overshadowed by the sort of the disastrous Facebook around misinformation and all these things that have come out these documents of which it's not just misinformation it's everything, it's all kinds of messages (ph).
COOPER: So, I mean why is it so difficult for Zuckerberg and Facebook leadership to admit fault or be accountable? Or, you know, do they just think that they have completely done nothing wrong? And that this is all I mean, their statements, their pushback is basically they're saying, they've done nothing wrong. And this is all just kind of a coordinated attack on them?
SWISHER: Well, they did this is unusual that a platform known for conspiracy theories is claiming conspiracy theory by a bunch of journalists who are just given documents and are looking over them. I think the issue is they have said, sorry, if you remember, that's what they do all the time. Oh, we're so sorry, we'll do better. It's kind of gotten to be a joke among tech journalists. And this time, they they're using a different strategy, which is it's conspiracy, or we're not responsible for hate in the world, which nobody said they were, they keep sort of putting up these false ideas.
What it is, is they've managed this massive platform, in many places, not everywhere, pretty badly. Like in other countries, some of these documents, that's what's really disturbing is that they put countries in tears and, and, you know, I just did it really interesting interview with Maria Ressa on my podcast called Sway. And she was warning me about this in 2015, '16, and also warning Facebook, about the data that was showing the government and bots and other things, misusing information about her to create this, this narrative around her that was untrue. And of course, you know, she spent undersea, she, of course, just won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work.
COOPER: I know Maria Ressa, I mean she's extraordinary what she's done.
SWISHER: Extraordinary. And so, I think the issue is, this thing has gotten so big and all over the place, and they can't run it well, in parts around elections, or vaccines, or whatever it is, because they've created this system, where they don't have full monitoring control of everything that's going on there.
COOPER: Is it -- is that something they could have? Because, you know, every time the few times, I've sort of had interviews with, you know, lawyers from Facebook, or whomever, they -- it seems to me, they don't want to start getting into that business, because they know, once they start even just a little bit there, they actually have to try to, you know, be responsible and have standards and do a good job. And they'd rather just not do it and just say, well, we're just a platform.
SWISHER: But they're not just a platform, they're protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, they have brought immunity so they could do something about it. I think the issue is that they try to hide behind this these First Amendment arguments, which by the way, are very important to them, too, because they should be able to have what they want on the platform. But you can't be an editor without editorial responsibility. And they do editing all the time. They do have rules, they just don't enforce them.
Like, I think one of the things that's interesting is President Trump, former President Trump has shown just how bad you can behave on a platform and not get kicked off. He's been a very good example and sort of has led the way to understanding that these sites are not run as well as they need to be and they don't have to do it. But obviously the government can move in and do things not about the information itself, but how they run the platform and the responsibility that they have at large when they create tools that create problems just the way cigarettes did or, you know, an oil spill or chemical spills or things like that.
COOPER: Yes, Kara Swisher is so great to have you on the program. Thank you. I'm a huge fan.
SWISHER: Thanks a lot, Anderson.
COOPER: You can hear more from Kara on the New York Times podcast Sway wherever you get your podcasts.
We also know we invited someone from Facebook to join the program tonight. They declined. Also, Kara does a podcast with Scott Galloway who we have on the show a lot. That's over at pivot.
Breaking news ahead, President Biden stumping for Terry McAuliffe who's in a tight race to win back his job as governor of Virginia. Will it be enough? We'll have more on that, ahead.
COOPER: It's breaking news, moments ago press button took the stage at a campaign rally in Arlington, Virginia for Democrat Terry McAuliffe who's in a burly tight race for governor with Republican Glenn Youngkin.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny is there with more of the President's speech and why the race is so important to Democrats. Jeff, what did the President say?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, President Biden seems to take great delight here tonight in trying to tie Republican Glenn Youngkin to Donald Trump. Again and again, he upbraided Mr. Youngkin, who's a businessman who's running for his first time in public office, but he's tried to distance himself from Donald Trump. President Biden wasn't having that tonight. Try to tie them directly together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Terry is running against an acolyte of Donald Trump. Terry has a problem, doesn't like to talk about how very much now. But to win the Republican nomination, he embraced Donald Trump. He started his campaign by saying that the number one issue in the race was -- is called the election he called for election integrity. Well this guy started he's calling for election integrity. Now, why did he do that? Because he wanted to hear Donald Trump, who was a price he'd have to pay for the nomination, and he paid it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So that is a flavor of what President Biden was saying here tonight, one week before Virginia voters choose their next governor. But President Biden's popularity is also on the line. He came here empty handed, still with no economic agenda, and that is complicating this race for Democrats.
ZELENY (voice-over): For weeks, Terry McAuliffe has been sounding the alarm about Washington gridlock.
TERRY MCAULIFFE (D-VA) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm tired of people having Congress sit around doing chitty chat. Let's pass these bills.
ZELENT (voice-over): Bringing in the President and other big name Democrats to help boost enthusiasm and the Virginia governor's race.
BARACK OBAMA (D) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We ain't got time to be tired.
ZELENY (voice-over): Yet Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin is barely talking about President Biden in the final days of the campaign.
GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Friends America needs us right now.
ZELENY (voice-over): Instead, he's calling hoping to capitalize on anger from parents who are fed up with government at all levels from mask and vaccine mandates to school curriculum.
YOUNGKIN: It's not Republicans against Democrats anymore, this is Virginia and standing up for our rights and particularly for the rights of our kids.
ZELENY (voice-over): He's trying to tap into the rising power of the parent's movement, releasing a new ad featuring a conservative activist who sought to block the Pulitzer Prize winning books, Beloved, from being taught in Virginia classrooms.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He understands parents matter. Join me in voting for Glenn Youngkin.
ZELENY (voice-over): McAuliffe blasted the ad is a racist dog whistle and an attempt to silence black authors. Across Virginia, early voting has been underway for more than a month, with more than 734,000 people already casting their ballots. The contest is a bellwether for both parties. But above all, the first big political test for Biden. He soared to a 10-point victory in Virginia last year. But now Democrats are on edge at the prospect of Republicans sparking a resurgence here. The President's weakened standing presents a clear challenge for McAuliffe a point he made explicitly during a virtual meeting with supporters earlier this month, he thought was private.
MCAULIFFE: We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington. As you know the President is unpopular today, unfortunately here in Virginia, so we have got to plow through.
ZELENY (voice-over): The off year governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey offer an early glimpse at the climate heading into next year's midterm races. And if the President's party is facing political headwinds.
ZELENY: So in the final week of this race, one question hanging over it is, is the former President Donald Trump going to come campaign for Glenn Youngkin? Youngkin does not want him to, but President Biden tonight, almost was trying to goad him into coming to Virginia. So we'll keep our eye on that. But next week at this time, Anderson will be counting the votes here in Virginia.
COOPER: All right, Jeff, thanks.
More news ahead. We'll be right back.
COOPER: News breaking tonight. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.