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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Enabling The Con; New Documents Released In Dominion's $1.6 Billion Lawsuit Against FOX News; Two Kidnapped Americans Found Dead, Two Alive And Back In The US; One-On-One With Dr. Fauci On "Lab Leak" Theory; "Tranq" Becoming Bigger Part Of Philadephia's Street Fentanyl Supply; Vikings KJ Osborn, 3 Others Rescue Man From Burning Car. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 07, 2023 - 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: The former First Lady also weighed in on the crowd size of the event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELL OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: You get on Marine One and you take your last flight off flying over the Capitol where there weren't that many people there. We saw it, by the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And that statement, of course, surely hitting a nerve with the former President.
Thanks so much for joining us.
AC 360 begins now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER: 360": Good evening.
We begin tonight, Keeping Them Honest with a simple and you would think obvious point. What you see at one moment doesn't necessarily reflect the reality of another or of the whole; footage of soldiers during a pause in battle doesn't mean there is no war. A Zapruder film before JFK shot doesn't make it a parade. Pretending otherwise is conning people; pretending otherwise, when you know better is something else, and enabling that con when you're a high ranking elected official accountable to the public and directly in the line of succession to the presidency is hard to imagine, or so you might think because that's just what House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has done. He enabled this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT" (voice over): The crowd was enormous. A small percentage of them were hooligans, they committed vandalism. We've seen their pictures again and again. But the overwhelming majority weren't, they were peaceful, they were orderly and meek. These were not insurrectionists, they were sightseers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: FOX's Tucker Carlson last night cherry picking from some 40,000 hours of footage that Speaker McCarthy released to him and only him of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
Now the FOX has attempted to con his viewers into thinking it was something it was not, not mentioning that 140 members of law enforcement were assaulted that day according to the Justice Department, that some were pepper sprayed, tasered, maimed, blinded, or died in the immediate wake of it as Officer Brian Sicknick did, which Carlson says without evidence was unrelated, even though the Medical Examiner concluded it was.
Nor did Carlson focus on the fact that the mom nearly broke into the House Chamber where members and staffers were barricaded, or that rioters shouting "Hang Mike Pence" came within just a few dozen feet and a couple of seconds of actually finding him, or that then Minority Leader McCarthy was so rattled by rioters breaking into his office as he called the former president demanding he call off the mob, only to be told in so many words to pound sand.
This reality is what Tucker Carlson downplayed last night by suggesting that the existence of less violent looking video meant the violence was no big deal. In short, conning people.
Here is what some Republican senators who were there say about Carlson's portrayal of what they actually experienced firsthand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): I think it's bullshit. I was here. I was down there. And I saw maybe a few tourists, a few people who got caught up in things, but when you see police barricades breached, when you see police officers assaulted. All of that --
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): I thought it was an insurrection at that time, I still think it was an insurrection today.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): I don't know how you want to describe it, but it was -- it was an attack on the Capitol.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As for whether Speaker McCarthy made a mistake in giving Carlson the video, Republicans by and large avoided saying so directly today.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney, though who called Carlson's portrayal of January 6 "dangerous and disgusting" did say Speaker McCarthy made a mistake. Carlson, by the way, said this about vetting the video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON (on camera): We do take security seriously. So before airing any of this video, we checked first with the Capitol Police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Multiple sources on the Hill say otherwise, that Carlson's show provided only a single clip to review, not all of them.
And in a letter to the department, the Chief of Capitol Police writes: "The opinion program never reached out to the department to provide accurate context."
Contrast that and our reporting with Speaker McCarthy's assurance just a week ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We worked with the Capitol Police as well, so we'll make sure security is taken care of. We are consulting with the Capitol Police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now if that happened, the Capitol Police Chief isn't saying so. He is apparently livid at the handling of this.
As for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, he spoke tonight to reporters including CNN's Manu Raju. He said he has no regrets about his decision to give Carlson the footage arguing he did it in the name of transparency, which is similar to his justification last week when he said, "I think sunshine lets everybody make their own judgment." That's what he said then.
But this was really never about sunshine, it was about appealing to the former President and his most extreme supporters in Congress, the ones who helped him become Speaker. And if that meant sowing doubts about the bravery of Capitol Police and DC Police that day and downplaying an attempt to overthrow a democratic and fair election, so be it.
Kevin McCarthy was scared on January 6, and with good reason. The sad thing is how scared he still appears to be today, not just to the former President and his supporters who roamed the Capitol Halls that day, but of some of the members in his own party, the ones he serves with and is so beholden to today.
Joining us now is CNN law enforcement analyst, Michael Fanone, who was tasered several times in the neck, beaten and suffered a heart attack as a result of his effort defending the Capitol as a member of the DC Metro Police Department.
I appreciate you being with us.
Last night, Carlson called people who breached the Capitol "sightseers," instead of insurrectionists. You were there. What do you make of what Carlson has done?
[20:05:14] MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I mean, I've heard the language that Tucker Carlson used to describe the individuals that were there. It's certainly not what I would have used to describe Albuquerque Head, the individual who pled guilty to placing me in a chokehold, ripping me off of a police line and pulling me out into a crowd of violent insurrectionists while he yelled, "I've got one."
It's not --
COOPER: His name was Albuquerque Head.
FANONE: Albuquerque Head. It's not the language I would use to describe Kyle Young who violently assaulted me, lunged for my firearm, who has also pled guilty to the assault. It's not the language that I would use to describe Thomas Sibick, who recently pled guilty to stripping my badge and my radio from my chest, and then burying my badge in his backyard back in Buffalo, New York. And it's certainly not the language I would use to describe Daniel Rodriguez, who admittedly struck me in the neck numerous times with a taser device, all while I was out in the crowd, defenseless and being assaulted from every direction.
So, you know, what Tucker Carlson forgot to talk about, like you said earlier, is that the 140 officers like myself that were severely injured as a result of this violent insurrection and attack on our Capitol.
COOPER: You know, I mean, the idea of Tucker Carlson, being in that mob that day and not wetting his pants is hard to imagine. I mean, I find it hard to understand somebody who has never put himself in harm's way in any capacity for anyone else, or reporting a story, and yet has the audacity to try to rewrite history.
I mean, that's what this is. It is an attempt to rewrite history on what is one of the most consequential, you know, certainly one of the biggest events in American democracy, the biggest threats to American democracy.
FANONE: I agree. I mean, Tucker Carlson is, you know, by his own admission an entertainer, not a journalist. And on top of that, he's just proven himself to be Donald Trump's chief propagandist, and that's all this was.
And I think that, you know, most Americans recognize that way before this segment aired that this was propaganda, and it was an attempt by Tucker Carlson to downplay and whitewash the events of January 6th.
COOPER: On Speaker McCarthy, you in your book, you write about a meeting that you had with him, as well as with the family of Officer Sicknick. Talk a little bit about what you saw in that meeting. And so based on what you saw in that meeting, I assume you're not surprised that the Speaker gave Carlson exclusive access to this material.
FANONE: Absolutely. I mean, the one takeaway that I had from my meeting with Kevin McCarthy was that he said clearly that he could not control the fringe members of his party, which is strange, because he is now seemingly aligned himself with the fringe members of his party.
He knew ahead of time exactly what Tucker Carlson was going to do with this footage. And yet, he gave him the exclusive access to the footage, 40,000 hours of which. There is no chain of command to discern, you know, what type of security protocols may have been revealed to whom, at what time, which in and of itself is outrageous.
And that being said, you know, this was all an attempt to appeal to or appease Donald Trump, who Kevin McCarthy has become a useful idiot for.
COOPER: Michael Fanone, I appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you.
FANONE: Thank you.
COOPER: We're going to turn now to breaking news, another batch of documents in Dominion Voting System's lawsuit against FOX News. More communications from inside the company.
CNN senior media reporter, Oliver Darcy joins us now with that. So what's new in this filing?
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: There are a lot of messages in this filing. This filing basically contains all the exhibits that Dominion has been using to make their case against FOX News in the previous filings that we've seen.
And so we're basically just getting raw text messages, raw e-mails, deposition transcripts, that again, continue to show that behind the scenes, FOX News knew exactly what they were doing. They knew these election lines that they were pushing were nonsense, but they allowed these election lies to gain a foothold on their air.
I want to read you an e-mail that Rupert Murdoch sent FOX new CEO, Suzanne Scott on January 21, 2021. He concedes in here, and he says he is talking about election lies and he says "Maybe Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham went too far." And he goes on to say, "Oh very well for Sean Hannity to tell you he was in despair about Trump, but what did he tell his viewers?"
And in another exchange in his deposition, Rupert Murdoch was asked repeatedly about election lies that were about Dominion and he rejected them over and over and over and over again.
I'll read part of it. He said -- they said, "Do you believe that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election?" "No," Murdoch replied. "Have you ever seen any credible evidence to suggest that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 election?" "No," Murdoch replied.
"Have you ever believed that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 election?" "No." "You've never believed that Dominion was involved in an effort to delegitimize and destroy votes for Donald Trump, correct?" He says, "I'm open to persuasion, but no, I've never seen it."
COOPER: Dominion is seeking a summary judgment. What would that mean and what is FOX's response have been?
DARCY: Yes. Dominion wants the Judge, basically to the rule on this. FOX's response has been, obviously against this motion. And so we're going to see what happens later this month when the Judge does rule on this.
I think most legal experts would say that this is likely headed toward a trial. So, we'll see what happens. But FOX is responding tonight. They are basically saying this proves that all of this is proof that Dominion has been engaged in smearing and they say that these raw transcripts do say that -- or prove their claim that they had been cherry picking information out of them and making it in their filing.
COOPER: Oliver, I want to bring in a veteran First Amendment lawyer, Lee Levine, who in his long career representing both FOX and CNN and many other media outlets in America.
So Lee, in a previous appearance on CNN, you said a similar filing was helpful, but "not a smoking gun." What would a smoking gun look like when the standard is actual malice?
LEE LEVINE, FIRST AMENDMENT LAWYER: Well, when I said that last time, Anderson, I was talking about the testimony that Murdoch gave when he said that various of the hosts on FOX had endorsed election fraud, and I said that was not a smoking gun because it did not relate directly to Dominion, it just talked generally about election fraud.
But what Oliver just read, I think, is a little bit closer to a smoking gun. Here we've got Murdoch saying that he who had at least theoretical authority to stop Powell and Giuliani from appearing on FOX's shows, in fact, never believed and has never seen any evidence of election fraud by Dominion, and that's pretty close to a smoking gun.
COOPER: So I just want to put those -- what Rupert Murdoch said on the screen and just read them out again, because it is, as you said, this is important. A Dominion lawyer said, "Do you believe that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election?" Rupert Murdoch said, "No."
Next question was: "Have you ever seen any credible evidence to suggest that Dominion was engaged in a maximum coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election?" "No."
And then the third question was, have you ever believed that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated efforts to steal the 2020 presidential election?" Again, "No."
And the fourth question: "You've never believed that Dominion was involved in an effort to delegitimize and destroy votes for Donald Trump, correct?" "I'm open to persuasion, but no, I've never seen it."
So Lee, why is that -- why does that matter?
LEVINE: Because the standard that Dominion has taken it upon itself to meet is that those persons at FOX responsible for broadcasting the information about Dominion that has, in many instances been acknowledged now by FOX to be false at the time, either knew it was false, or believed it was probably false.
And at the top of the food chain, of course, is Rupert Murdoch, and Dominion has made an effort to show that Rupert Murdoch was hands-on, that is, that he was aware of what people were saying on his air, that he had the ability to stop these guests from appearing and repeating these things that he apparently testified he has never believed to be true.
And if Dominion can convince a jury that Murdoch in fact was responsible for those broadcasts, that testimony would satisfy the standard of actual malice -- knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard of the truth.
COOPER: And Oliver, I mean, is there any doubt that Rupert Murdoch had the power at FOX News to call into the control room and say, get Giuliani off?
DARCY: There is no doubt and he has even testified that he did have that power, he just didn't exercise it. But at the end of the day, over at FOX News, make no mistake, whoever CEO, it doesn't matter, Rupert Murdoch is the one that calls the shots.
COOPER: And also, the on-air personalities at FOX seemed -- like Tucker Carlson was talking to other anchors about the stock price of, I guess at FOX. I don't know what the stock price of the parent company of CNN is. I don't know what -- like it's fascinating to me that that was in their mind, that was like a talking point amongst them like, oh, we can't do this. The stock price is being hurt.
DARCY: And this was because the stock price was falling because viewers were rebelling against FOX News. They were turning off FOX News, they were going to Newsmax.
COOPER: Because FOX had told the truth about the results in Arizona.
DARCY: Exactly. The viewers clearly did not want to hear the truth. They wanted to believe this fantasy that had been sold to them by Donald Trump and by people on FOX News at times. And so they were turning off the channel, they wanted to go to Newsmax.
Trump was attacking the network. It was at the height of the wake of the 2020 election. And you know, you see in these e-mails where they talk, like you said about the stock price, about viewers rebelling, about this as a very serious situation. Everything that FOX has been built on can be destroyed very quickly. Trump is a destroyer, Tucker Carlson said, but he's not going to destroy us. I mean, these e-mails really shed a lot of light on what was happening.
COOPER: Lee based on what you've seen, is there any part of Dominion's suit where you think they've overreached?
LEVINE: No, I think they, if anything in the complaint, which makes sense because they didn't have access to all of these materials then, they undersold what they will ultimately be able to prove. Now, that they've had discovery and have gotten access to all these text messages and e-mails, and they've had the ability to take depositions of all of these people.
COOPER: I mean, that's kind of amazing, isn't it? I mean, don't a lot of attorneys usually oversell something initially?
LEVINE: Well, they work off of what they know and what they have, but yes, sometimes, but these are -- I've said this before, there are very good lawyers on both sides of this case, and neither side is going to oversell anything. They're very good and they know what they're doing.
COOPER: Lee Levine and Oliver Darcy, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Next, an update on the four Americans taken at gunpoint in Mexico. The news, very bittersweet.
Later with COVID and the origins of it back on page one, a conversation with the recently retired, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
COOPER: When we left you last night, four Americans were missing in Mexico, some possibly wounded or worse after being fired on and abducted by drug cartel gunmen.
Tonight, they are no longer missing. Two are safe, but to have been killed.
More now from CNN's Rosa Flores.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two of four missing Americans are back in the United States and receiving medical treatment in Texas after being kidnapped in Mexico after what a US official tells CNN was a case of mistaken identity.
Two members of the party were found dead and one of the survivors is severely injured with a bullet wound to his leg according to US and Mexican officials.
In the party of four, Latavia Washington McGee and Eric Williams survived. Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard were killed.
NED PRICE, US STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We're providing all appropriate assistance to them and their families. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.
FLORES (voice over): They crossed the border from Brownsville Texas into Matamoros, Mexico on Friday for McGee to obtain a medical procedure according to a friend of McGee's.
They drove a white minivan with North Carolina plates across the border and got lost while trying to locate the medical clinic where they were headed the friend told CNN.
Before they were able to locate the clinic, disturbing video shows the aftermath of the kidnapping as heavily armed men loaded them into a white truck and transported them to various locations to evade capture according to Mexican officials.
(PRESIDENT ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR speaking in foreign language.)
FLORES (voice over): The Mexican President says those responsible will be found and punished. A US official familiar with the investigation told CNN they believe a Mexican cartel kidnapped the group after mistaking them for Haitian drug smugglers.
The State Department has issued its highest Level Four warning Do Not Travel to Tamaulipas State where the group was abducted due to heavy crime and kidnapping in the region.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: There are many people who cross over that border for these medical appointments.
ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET), COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS AT THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Attacks on US citizens are unacceptable, no matter where or under what circumstances they occur.
FLORES (voice over): McGee and Williams are now under the care of the FBI and US officials are making arrangements to bring home the bodies of Brown and Woodard.
PRICE: We want to see accountability for the violence that has been inflicted on these Americans.
COOPER: Rosa joins me now just across the border from where this all happened.
Has anyone been arrested in connection with the kidnapping?
FLORES: You know, Anderson, according to Mexican officials, one individual has been arrested, a 24-year-old from Tamaulipas, Mexico. Now according to Mexican officials, this man was somehow associated doing surveillance on the Americans, but here's the thing, the Mexican officials are not disclosing if this individual is connected to criminal organizations or the cartels or even if this individual had anything to do with the assaults, the kidnapping, and also the killing of the Americans.
Mexican officials are saying is that they received a tip early this morning. They followed that tip, they found the Americans in a wooden house outside of the city. What they didn't find, Anderson, according to them were the people who were responsible for the kidnapping and the killings -- Anderson.
COOPER: Rosa Flores, appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up, a congressional hearing begins tomorrow that will probe the lab leak theory of the COVID pandemic, which has now new support from the Department of Energy and the FBI.
Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us next for an exclusive interview to discuss whether you will ever get complete answers to this question.
COOPER: Almost three years after World Health Organization declared COVID a pandemic, House Republicans will hold their first hearing into its origins tomorrow, more than a week after the Department of Energy reopened that debate in a newly updated classified report.
Sources tell CNN, the agency now believes the pandemic escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. FBI Director Christopher Wray said publicly last week the FBI also believes the pandemic was likely the results of a lab incident in Wuhan. Other agencies aren't so sure.
Our next guest was the scientific voice of the previous administration. I am joined now by Dr. Anthony Fauci, formerly the nation's top infectious disease expert.
Dr. Fauci, it's good to see you.
Are the FBI and Energy Department right about the lab leak?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, it's very tough to tell that, Anderson, because they're talking about information that they have that we don't have privy to. So we don't really know.
They have made opinions on low confidence from the Department of Energy and moderate confidence, I believe, from the FBI. So I don't think there's a really correct and verifiable answer to your question.
It just still remains unknown at this particular point.
There are two theories, as we are all familiar with now. One is the lab leak theory, the other is that it was a natural occurrence from an animal spillover. The one thing is that we have to keep an open mind about this until there is definitive evidence.
COOPER: How important is it figure it out --
FAUCI: We know from study --
Well, it is, Anderson, because she wants to make sure that whichever of those alternatives it is that we do whatever we can to prevent it from happening in the future, because we have had outbreaks before.
I mean, we had SARS-CoV-1, which was clearly shown to go from a bat, to a civet cat to a human, and if there's a possibility, which there is certainly, we haven't ruled that out of there being a lab leak.
There are things that you can do to prevent the recurrence of these things. For example, the data showing that it might be a natural occurrence would make you want to be very careful about the animal human interface and make sure that we have strict regulation of bringing animals into wet markets.
If it turns out to be a lab leak, you want to be very much more stringent in the controls of the experiments that you allow to be done. So, it is relevant to understand.
Whether or not we ever will know, Anderson, I'm not sure, but it certainly is important to know
COOPER: This has obviously become very partisan. As we mentioned, House Republicans are holding a COVID hearing tomorrow. You're obviously someone they have been focused on. Would you testify if they asked you?
FAUCI: Of course, oh, without a doubt. If they ask me, I definitely will testify.
COOPER: You've had experience with antagonism from certain lawmakers over the past couple of years, specifically with Republican Senator Rand Paul. I just want to play something for our viewers to give them a sense of what's the back and forth has been.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: For years, Dr. Ralph Baric, a virologist in the U.S. has been collaborating with Dr. Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Virology Institute, sharing his discoveries about how to create super viruses. This gain of function research has been funded by the NIH. Dr. Fauci, do you still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?
FAUCI: Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely and completely incorrect, that the NIH has not ever and does not now fund, gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
PAUL: Do they fund Dr. Baric? Do you wish to retract your statement of May 11th, where you claimed that the NIH never funded gain of function research in Wuhan? FAUCI: Senator Paul, I have never lied before the Congress. And I do not retract that statement. And if anybody's lying here, Senator, it is you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator Paul, just today on Fox News accused you of orchestrating a cover up. Do you have any reason to think the new Congress is going to be any less contentious? Or do you think they're actually interested in seeking the truth?
FAUCI: Well, I don't know, Anderson. I don't really want to comment on that. I mean, the most important thing we've got to do is stick with data, stick with science, be transparent, and be honest, which I have been very much so literally for the entire 50 years that I've been at the NIH, and the 38 years that I directed the institute. So that was an unfortunate interchange with Senator Paul, but that was Senator Paul being Senator Paul.
COOPER: Are we ready for the next pandemic? I mean, you know, a lot of folks, I mean, Bill Gates has famously warned about, you know, the next one coming, he had a plan for, you know, said you could invest tens of billions of dollars, I think, in order to try to prevent these pandemics. Are we ready for something else?
FAUCI: You know, the answer was, we're partially ready. There was some things that have gone right with the pandemic preparedness and response for COVID-19. And some things that need to be substantially improved upon, Anderson. The thing that went right was the investment over decades in the basic and clinical biomedical research that allowed us to make a vaccine in unprecedented time of less than a year that turned out to be safe and highly effective.
And according to the Commonwealth Fund, has saved over 3 million lives, and prevented an 80 million hospitalizations and saved us about a trillion dollars where we need to do better is in the public health preparedness. We need to have greater coordination, greater transparency, greater availability of data, and to be able to analyze and get data in real time.
So you're asking me, are we prepared? The answer is in some respects, we are but we certainly can do better. And hopefully, the lessons that we learned from this terribly tragic experience that we've been through, would put us in better stead for the next inevitable outbreak, Anderson. It may not occur in the next year or 10 years or 15 years, but there will be another pandemic, as history has taught us.
COOPER: Yes. Dr. Anthony Fauci, appreciate it. Thank you.
FAUCI: Good to be with you, Anderson. Thank you for having me.
COOPER: Coming up ahead of a new CNN town hall, I'm hosting on the fentanyl crisis, that starts at 9:00 just less than 30 minutes from now. We're going to take you to Philadelphia to examine why this deadly drug is now being mixed with a veterinary sedative. Its graphic and disturbing report but important to understand the full scope of the Fentanyl crisis in America.
COOPER: Minutes from now, I'm going to host a new town hall on the deadly fentanyl crisis in this country. Lawmakers, medical professionals, family members will answer your questions and those in the grip of this drug will join us with their stories.
Because even as America fights this plague and make seizures as it did more than a week ago, millions of pills fentanyl is still finding its way into homes and onto our streets. And as our Elle Reeve found -- discovered in Philadelphia, fentanyl is being cut with a new substance in some places to make its effects lasts longer, but that also leaves users with open wounds that can last for months and even rotting flesh.
We warn you what you're about to see contains graphic imagery may be disturbing, but we think it's important to show to understand the scope of this crisis.
NICK GALLAGHER: Of course, it is bad. I don't know I did. I was one of the first victims out here with this kind of shit.
ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The opioid crisis has been going on for a long time. But in Philly, the problem has shifted. Most of the street fentanyl supply is cut with an animal tranquilizer called xylazine or tranq.
GALLAGHER: To be honest, I've already noticed the change, was just horrible, wasn't doing anything for me anymore. You build a tolerance for everything eventually.
REEVE (on-camera): Yes.
GALLAGHER: And then I started going tranq, and heroin disappeared altogether. They made it cheaper and easier to get, not just -- and killing everybody.
REEVE (on-camera): Does tranq give you the same feeling that fentanyl would?
GALLAGHER: No. Get warm and fuzzy from fentanyl, tranq puts us sleep.
REEVE (voice-over): Tranq was found in over 90 percent of the dope samples tested in Philadelphia, and it's spreading to other cities on the East Coast. In 2021, it was detected in 34 percent of overdose deaths in Philadelphia.
Users did not want xylazine, but now they're addicted to it.
(on-camera): OK, so someone told me you're a real OG out here. What does that mean? JENNIFER BARG: Original gangster. OK, yes, I've been out here for a long time. I -- a lot of people know me.
REEVE (on-camera): So you've been here when, like tranq started being in the supply, right?
BARG: Absolutely, yes. I've seen the whole transition go from real heroin to tranq and (INAUDIBLE), and it really changed a lot of people's habits, lifestyles.
REEVE (voice-over): Xylazine is a powerful sedative, not a proof for use in humans. It can cause users to be motionless for hours, even days.
MAGGIE: Elephants dealt with it.
REEVE (on-camera): Yes.
MAGGIE: That's why you see everybody on it, you know?
REEVE (on-camera): It also causes skin wounds that won't heal and that can become necrotic. Doctors don't yet know why.
GALLAGHER: They removed 7 pounds of flesh and a liter and a half puff. It's been open for 21 months. That's how horrible was tranq could have. Whether or not your body heal.
REEVE (on-camera): It's killing us.
MAGGIE: A little bit, sure, it's killing us. Some of them is burler than others, but it's eventually going to kill you if you keep going. I see it every day. Death. Every day. Wait next year.
REEVE (on-camera): In Kensington, the main avenue runs under the elevated train and on many of the corners, you can buy drugs. On the side streets and in the park, people without homes live and sleep and use illegal drugs.
SARAH LAURELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SAVAGE SISTERS: Hey, what's up, pop? Did you want to get on the list?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
REEVE (on-camera): A Percocet prescription led to Sarah Laurell getting addicted to heroin and living on the street. When she got sober, she created Savage Sisters, a harm reduction organization that offers showers and nurses to treat people's wounds.
LAURELL: Shower, wound care? Both or just shower?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both.
LAURELL: Everybody knows about Kensington. It's a tourist location for drugs. REEVE (on-camera): A couple of people mentioned that people will come down here for the weekend and never leave.
LAURELL: You just get stuck. Why go home?
JAMES SHERMAN, DIRECTOR OF MEN'S PROGRAMS, SAVAGE SISTERS: This is McPherson Square Park, but we call it Needle Park.
REEVE (on-camera): Why?
SHERMAN: Everybody shoots up here. There's a lot of syringes left around.
REEVE (voice-over): One day in 2019, a friend drove James Sherman to Kensington to buy Fentanyl, and he never came back to the car. He spent two years homeless, 18 months of them in this park.
SHERMAN: When I got to Kensington, this was like a Disneyland for drug addicts.
REEVE (on-camera): Why?
SHERMAN: Open air.
REEVE (voice-over): People without homes in Kensington still have their own community with its own economy.
SHERMAN: Well, I had two hustles. I don't know if one is necessarily appropriate to talk about a camera, but it's like hitting people. You know, people that are injecting. If they're not good at themselves, they need, you know, what we call a hitter.
And then my second one is what we call a runner. Somebody comes down from the county and they want to know where the good stuff is. You know, some people would say, hey, I need -- I want a bag of coke, but like, I don't want that subs (ph).
REEVE (on-camera): Yes.
SHERMAN: Or, you know, somebody would say, hey, I want tranq, but I want a little bit of fentanyl. And I would just know that from being down here. So I said, hey, I'll take it, but, you know, you're going to have to look out for me.
REEVE (on-camera): Wow. Kind of like a tourist guide?
SHERMAN: Yes, 100 percent like a tourist guide. A middleman of copying drugs, for sure.
REEVE (on-camera): So now what's the differentiator if tranqs and everything?
SHERMAN: Probably just which ones are heavier with the tranq and which ones are least tranqi.
REEVE (voice-over): The nurses at Savage Sisters use their experience with addiction to care for people who come in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I used to learn that you might be hydrate pains.
REEVE (on-camera): Have people come in here where you're like, dude, you got to go to the hospital?
STEPHANIE KLIPP, NURSE, SAVAGE SISTERS: All the time. It's really hard, scary. You know, you're going to the hospital. Like, are you going to manage my withdrawal? Are you going to manage my pain? Are you going to treat me like, absolutely who uses drugs, stigmatize me and throw me back out?
DR. JOSEPH D'ORAZIO, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN AND ADDICTION MEDICINE SPECIALIST, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL IN PHILADELPHIA: This has made it really difficult for patients to get into recovery. You know, they're so fearful of the withdrawal. They're fearful that the doctors and nurses don't know what xylazine is.
REEVE (voice-over): Xylazine withdrawal lasts longer than opioid withdrawal, and it can cause intense anxiety. Doctors don't know the best way to treat it, and they're trying different drugs to see what works.
But D'Orazio warns that cracking down on tranq will just push dealers to introduce other, more dangerous drugs. He says what will help is making it easier for users to get health care.
REEVE (on-camera): But how do you do that? How do you make that access to care better?
D'ORAZIO: Better medications, so better ability to manage withdrawal, creating more housing access, housing is a major issue in our community, and I think that's something that we're not concentrating on is the prevention of this disorder.
REEVE (on-camera): And what would that be? More mental health care?
D'ORAZIO: Yes, absolutely.
LAURELL: The same reason that that mom on the main line reaches for a martini glass at noon is the same reason that I reached for a rig and put a needle in my neck. I was in pain. That's it. I was hurting. The people that are out here numbing their pain with substances, whether it's heroin, alcohol, cocaine.
We need to address the pain. We need to stop isolating the substance and look beyond it.
And then you, I'm going to give you Narcan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
LAURELL: You know, and I had 5'1" purple haired, recovering heroin addict. I don't have credentials. I don't have a degree. And I had to come up with ways to convince people that we're worth saving.
COOPER: Yes. Elle Reeve joins us now. I mean, what did you learn about the backgrounds of the people that you spoke to?
REEVE: Most of them aren't from Kensington. They come from all over -- people from the suburbs, people who had wealthy families. There are several people who had children, even teenagers. One woman I spoke to had been diagnosed with cancer at 40 and she got addicted to pain pills. And now she's living in a shelter.
COOPER: It's so stunning to see up close. Elle Reeve, thank you. Appreciate it, Elle.
Again, our long CNN town hall, "America Addicted: The Fentanyl Crisis" begins just a few minutes from now. But first, one on one with NFL player K.J. Osborn, who's been called a hero tonight for helping rescue a driver from burning car with three others. He shares the details next.
COOPER: Right place, right time, that's what Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn is saying about helping rescue a man from a burning car with his Uber car driver and two other good Samaritans on Sunday night in Austin, Texas. According to report, the car crashed under a bridge and then burst into flames. And thanks to the quick action of Osborn and the others, and the driver is expected to be OK.
Joining us with more on the rescue mission is K.J. Osborn. Thanks so much for being with us. This is really amazing. Can you just walk us through what happened when your Uber driver spotted the burning car?
K.J. OSBORN, MINNESOTA VIKINGS WIDE RECEIVER: Right, man, it was crazy. First of all, you know, I appreciate you for having me on, man. You know, it was a crazy situation, mama, Uber driver, you know, I have my head down, I'm in the back of the Uber. And initially, you know, he starts making a lot of noise. And I'm asking, oh, what's going on, I look on the street, there's nobody there.
And then I'll look off to my right, and there's a car, like you said, under a bridge, you know, it crashed, and it's, you know, in flames. And my Uber driver whose name is Abdul, you know, we stopped the, you know, we said we got to call 911. And, you know, initially, you know, we both ran to the car. And there was another group that stopped.
And -- her name is Rita and Arthur, and they both stopped. And we all, you know, seen this car up in flames. And, you know, the driver, we seen that he was alive, it was initially my Uber driver that went out, and, you know, Abdul went down, open up the passenger door. And, you know, he seen this guy who was in the vehicle, he's seen that he's still alive, and the driver was able to muster enough strength to kind of move his body way over to the passenger seat. And that's when we all went down, we helped pull him out the car, but we were still close to the car. Because the whole time, you know, this car, we had no idea if it was going to blow up, obviously, that would have been the worst. So, you know, I picked the guy up. And, you know, we walked him, you know, 10, 15 yards away from the car.
But then, you know, the firefighters that came and the police and everything, and, you know, we were able to rescue him.
OSBORN: But like you said, right place, right time. You know, I think, you know, like I've said, my tweet, you know, God is real. And, you know, I'm happy I was able to do it.
COOPER: Had you ever, I mean, seen anything like this before, done anything like this before?
OSBORN: Right. Of course, I've never seen anything like this before in person. You know, I joked about it in another interview. I'm currently getting my master's in Criminal Justice at the University of Miami, so I have an internship left to finish.
So it wasn't for football, I was wanting to be in the FBI or a secret service.
OSBORN: So, you know, I walk up to this burning car, you know, I'm like, all right, you know, this is this is like bullets. And, you know, so of course, I've never seen anything like that. But to be able to act on it again, with the other three heroes that I was with, was definitely a good deed and something that, of course, I've never imagined myself being a part of, in a million years.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's awesome that, you know, four people randomly happen to all be in the same place at the same time and have the same, you know, drive to get involved and try to help and do something. It's kind of just --
COOPER: -- it's an extraordinary story. Do you know how the guy -- how the person is doing or how serious the person's injuries were?
OSBORN: We do not yet. We've been waiting for a police report, the police got all of our contact info and I've been in contact with Arthur, Rita and Abdul, waiting to hear back, you know, what's going on. Initially, when we pulled him out the car, his mouth was bleeding because when I picked him up, he had like, a lot of blood on my shirt.
And I heard initially that he had an ankle. I don't know if it was broken or whatever, but all his limbs seemed to be intact. He was speaking and things like that. So we're still waiting for a police report. I have dealt with like, you know, my marketing teams and things like that. We're trying to reach out to the police, so I can get in contact with the guy and we can, you know, get a chance to shake hands or do something.
COOPER: I love that you're going to have this bond with these three other people for the --
COOPER: -- you know, for rest of your life. It's this incredible. I love this photo that you tweeted out of all of you.
OSBORN: Yes. Yes, I think it's something important and it happened obviously so fast. And that night, I asked them to take a photo because Arthur and Rita -- no, Arthur, he had came from Cameroon. He has been here -- I've been speaking with these people last couple days, he came from Cameroon three years ago, man, he's a big soccer fan.
So he doesn't know much about the NFL and Abdul I don't think he watches much NFL football either. So they had no clue that I was NFL player or anything like that, because that wasn't important. You know, we were, you know, trying to save a man's life and doing the deed. So football was not even in the question.
OSBORN: But I told them, I'm like, you know, this is going to be a story. You know, people are going to talk about this. And, of course, they're going to say, you know, K.J. Osborn, the NFL football player and things like that. But I'm like, you know, this was all of us. You know, this was me. This was Abdul, this was Rita, this was Arthur.
And, you know, I wanted to make sure, you know, they got, you know, love as well, And I have something planned for them as well to, you know, show my appreciation for them because I know, you know, it's a little different obviously because I'm a football player.
COOPER: Yes. Well I love that, you know, that it's something you all did together and that you're celebrating them in that. K.J. Osborn, thank you so much.
OSBORN: Of course, man. Appreciate you having me again, man. Thank you.
COOPER: The CNN town hall, "America Addicted: The Fentanyl Crisis is next right after a quick break.
COOPER: Hello, and welcome to the CNN town hall, "America Addicted: The Fentanyl Crisis. We're looking tonight at a drug invented in 1959 and first approved in 1968 that went from a mainstay in hospital settings and a godsend to people with severe chronic pain to an illegally produced synthetic killer of Americans.
Many of them young people who were not hardcore drug users, not addicted but handed a pill they thought was a Xanax or Percocet at a party or by a friend One pill that may have only had a tiny amount of fentanyl, the size of a pencil tip, but it was enough to kill them.