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The Lead with Jake Tapper

U.S. Flights Trying To Move Backlog Of 10,000 Evacuees At Airport; Roughly 30 Percent Of Eligible Americans Still Unvaccinated; WA Governor Defends Decision To Mandate Vaccines For All School Staff; Mike Richards Out As Host, Staying On As Executive Producer; Tesla Working On A Humanoid Robot That Follows Orders. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 20, 2021 - 17:00   ET



SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. President saying this.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've secured the airport, enabling flights to resume, not just military flights, but civilian charters and other -- from other countries and the NGOs taking out civilians and vulnerable Afghans. And now we have almost 6000 troops on the ground.

KILEY (voice-over): But through the eyes of daylight today, no evacuation aircraft left the runway, leaving hundreds pressing on its perimeter as night fell. Some 13,000 people have been flown out by the U.S. since last Saturday, August the 14th. Many times that number are waiting in heat, chaos and gunfire threatened by Taliban whips, they fear worse awaits them if they stay.

The German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle (ph), says the Taliban fighters searching for one of their journalists, killed a member of his family and artists are fleeing and fear too.

SAHRAA KARIMI, AFGHAN FILM DIRECTOR: As a human being you should have a value, but under Taliban rules, OK, you live but with miserable life. OK, life is not about just eating or they're in (INAUDIBLE), it is about creativity.

KILEY (voice-over): The Taliban is dismissing allegations of reprisal attacks against those who fought them or work for NATO as fake news. Twenty years of fighting by the U.S. and its allies has resulted in a Taliban triumph, and an evacuation of local allies and foreigners that looks more like a route. Many European allies of the U.S. are rattled by the sudden withdrawal of American forces and the Taliban victory.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: There are hard questions that we need to ask ourselves over our engagement in Afghanistan.

KILEY (voice-over): The President defiant.

BIDEN: As a greater danger from ISIS and Al-Qaeda and all these affiliates and other countries by far than there is from Afghanistan. And we're going to retain on over the rising capability that they were to come back to be able to take them out, surgically move. So this is where we should be. This is about America leading the world. And all our allies have agreed with that.

KILEY (voice-over): The Taliban, meanwhile, celebrating with broadcast parades of its special forces carrying what appear to be captured American weapons. They were all born in a time of war, like this baby taken into marine medical care. But if he or she makes it out, they at least will have no memory of these dark days.


KILEY: Now, Jake, the good news is that that baby was treated, taken by the Marines to be treated at the local Norwegian hospital and returned to their parents. What we don't know is whether or not those parents are part of the plan to airlift to people who've been supporting NATO and the U.S. forces there. So their future remains as murky as the rest of the country is, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Sam Kiley in Doha, Qatar, thank you so much.

And earlier in the show, at the top of the 4:00 Eastern, I told you about a little girl, little baby and American citizen that was stuck outside the airport was deathly ill and was trying to get in and the U.S. forces had been looking for her, had not been able to find her again. She's an American citizen.

And just a few seconds ago, the veteran who has been working on this issue told me that thank God, she did get into the perimeter. She is inside the airport. So, in all this dismal news, at least one, one positive thing to tell you.

U.S. forces told CNN that soldiers had some 10,000 people processed and ready to ship out but nowhere to fly them. CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is one of the 1000s of people at the Kabul airport trying to get out.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After three weeks in Afghanistan, we joined the crowds at Kabul airport. Now, the only way out of the country.

(on camera): There's a huge block here, lots of cars.

(voice-over): hundreds of people wait in the blistering heat, hoping for a flight out.

(on camera): So we just managed to get into the airport compound and I have to say it was pretty intense. It was just like this crush of desperate people and screaming children and women and babies. And -- yes, it's not often you rarely see desperation like that.

(voice-over): The few people that do make it are exhausted and scared, but they're the lucky ones. They've made it past the Taliban checkpoints, Afghan security guards and finally the airport gate. But they can't forget those who they left behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're getting out. We're happy for that. But we're heartbroken for our country. Especially for those can't get out, those who are stuck here. And we're really heartbroken. Our heart bleeds for them.


WARD (on camera): What do you feel for all the mothers with young daughters will now be growing up under Taliban rule?

The back of a pretty long line now. Transportations are just strained, they said. And obviously, the priority is getting children and babies out as soon as possible. But I think we'll probably be here for a while.

You'd work for the U.S. military or?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not military, but we are working with the Ministry of --




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we are also work with the foreign people too.

WARD (on camera): And so you have visa?


WARD (voice-over): As we interview this couple, suddenly shouts behind us, a vehicle speeds through.

(on camera): That's a newborn baby that just flew past. That was a newborn. Did you see the baby? It was this big.

(voice-over): The baby we find out has heatstroke and needs treatment. A reminder for these families that they're close to safety, but not there yet.

We stand in the blazing hot sun for hours. Everyone's seeking what shelter they can. Patients wearing thin. It's an agonizingly slow process, but finally we're allowed inside. Out on the tarmac now safe, but the chaos continues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been waiting for two days, yesterday since 3:00 a.m.

WARD (on camera): Yesterday, since 3:00 a.m.?


WARD (on camera): Tell me what the situation was like trying to get into the airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was really busy. And a lot of people were just fighting and trying to make way for themselves. But we push through.

WARD (on camera): We are certainly some of the very lucky ones here. Others, as you heard from that young man, have been waiting for two days. Others we saw getting turned around, sent back, told you don't have the appropriate paperwork.

And there's no question, everybody here is doing their best. But it's not clear if it's fast enough, if enough people can get out and how much longer they have to finish this massive operation.


TAPPER: I want to bring in CNN's Clarissa Ward, she's on the phone inside the Kabul airport.

Clarissa, the Pentagon today put out several images that really get at the humanity, the sea of humanity there, and the compassion of the U.S. service members at the airport. You saw, of course, the Marine holding a baby and other fist bumping a child going through processing the lines of Marines on guard, directing a woman and child where to go for processing. Obviously everyone doing the best they can, as you noted.

The scene inside the perimeter strikingly different than the one outside the gates.

WARD: Yes, Jake. I mean, there's no question but everybody here is doing their level best to try to mitigate the suffering and misery of this curation. And we also saw I saw a young female soldier carrying an Afghan toddler boy. I've seen people helping those in wheelchairs, all sorts of acts of kindness and gentleness. But the reality is that this situation is horrifying.

And I'm looking around now to see if people lying on the floor or lying outside on the gravel, there's nowhere for them to sleep, and even a cardboard box. They are cold, it's very chilly. There's no blankets, the bathrooms here are in a very bad state indeed. And there's no sense of how long these people are going to be here. Because for over eight hours today no U.S. planes, even less (ph). So there's now even more of a backlog and a bottleneck then there was, Jake.

TAPPER: Is there any sense of order when it comes to the effort to determine who gets to come into the gates, into that that last parameter where the U.S. is and who does not?

WARD: I think in the initial process, you know, there's so many nodes along this chain. Initially, it's sort of like who can flash the document in the air and who can push the hardest flash who has a young baby or something like that or vulnerable and immediate risk.

Then as you get further along the chain and closer to the airfield, you go through things department processing and you really do have to show the appropriate paperwork. And that's where we saw quite a few people being turned around and they're all sort of manually escorted off the base.


And it does break your heart a little bit to see that because you can imagine, you know, you don't have all your paperwork in order, but you still petrified of this situation to get that far and get in and still not be able to get out of the country after all of that. It's a heartbreak.

Jake, I'm walking outside now, because I'm being told that our bird, our flight, might be taking out here. So, forgive me if it's a little loud.

TAPPER: OK. That's certainly takes priority, Clarissa.

We have seen images of armed U.S. forces along the perimeter of the airport. And all week, the Pentagon has said that troops have not been -- U.S. troops, have not been involved in any hostile interactions at the airport. But of course, any wrong move could quickly change the situation.

And I have to believe that that's one of the considerations as to why U.S. service members have been basically told to stay where they are in -- within the perimeter because of the real, legitimate risk to service members from not just the Taliban, but any one of the terrorist groups in the area.

WARD: I mean, there's so many different threats here, and so many different potential scenarios, where things could rapidly escalate to a very, very bad place. And that's why there's a lot of tension in the air, because everybody knows that this moment you cannot last (ph), it's going to be short lived and they've got to get it right and they want to get out as many people as they possibly can. Because they can't just go out by the wire, and start bringing people in manually.

The dollar bond, and this is bragging to those nations with the Taliban are so important. But the Taliban has the limit, right, to how much they will tolerate, had a limit to how much those normally, certainly fighters on the outer perimeter will tolerate. And so, that's what makes it a potentially very dangerous situation. It's like a powder keg, one thing goes wrong and it all goes very wrong.

TAPPER: Well, Clarissa, I'm so glad that you're getting on a plane to get out. And I just want to say on behalf of everybody here at CNN and everybody who's been watching CNN, your reporting has been brave and amazing, and with empathy and with courage, and we are so lucky to have you as a colleague. Thank you for what you have done to tell the story of what's going on there.

WARD: Thank you so much, Jake. Thank you for all of us very much. Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, they served in Afghanistan, and now they're watching it fall, back to Taliban control. We're going to talk to U.S. veterans who are distraught over what's unfolding in a place they fought to defend.

Plus, the number of COVID shots surging, thankfully, but there are still hospitals on the brink running out of bed. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, it's been a particularly tough week not only for Afghans, but for many American veterans who proudly serve their country in Afghanistan. Coming to terms with the fact that after two decades of war, a war that took the lives of their fellow service members and of innocent Afghans, one that took a physical and mental toll on too many others, that this is how it all ends.

I've been honored to cover many of these men and women who fought on the front lines, which is why we wanted you to hear directly from them about what went right and what went wrong, and what the withdrawal from Afghanistan means for their futures.


TAPPER (voice-over): With the Taliban taking over Afghanistan before the U.S. could even fully withdraw, we see now disturbing images such as these, Afghans desperate to leave, fearful of being hunted down and killed by the Taliban. Terrified the group will wipe away women's rights, returning to the days of executions and rapes and torture. So many journalists have been following this war from the beginning, both here in Washington D.C., and on the ground where so many of us have gotten to know the men and women who fought and sacrificed so much.

Some of those veterans giving us their raw reactions to this week's awful scenes in Afghanistan, a place they defended, a place where they live, where they lost friends, a place now back in Taliban control. All of them saying these are just their opinions not representative of every veteran, or the military, or the U.S. government or the honors they received.

CAPT. MATTHEW SCHACHMAN (RET.), AFGHAN WAR VETERAN: My thoughts are with the people who are trapped and trying to figure out how to get out and don't have time to be angry or sad or mad because their life is on the line.

TAPPER (voice-over): Ten years ago, Matthew Schachman, then with the U.S. Army's 227 Infantry, known as the Wolf Hounds, gave me a tour of Ford operating base Bostic at the tip of the spear.

SCHACHMAN: There's a couple different points up on the ridge line up here where they shoot at us from.

TAPPER (voice-over): Schachman was just 28 at the time, he had just had his second child who was not even a year old. A decade later, he is now a father of three girls and one boy.

SCHACHMAN: Being able to see the changes in the way that women and girls are treated, you know, I have three daughters myself. You know, it's certainly concerned for the citizens there and, you know, a huge step backwards in the last week.


TAPPER (voice-over): And the retired captain is upset to see so many of America's Afghan partners such as the translators and mechanics who work with U.S. forces left behind. He reached out to his member of Congress after he watched the evacuation unfold on T.V., sending her part of the Army Rangers creed that reads, "I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy."

SCHACHMAN: We look those people in the eye and said, America has your back. And there's just not an acceptable course of action where we go back on our word.

TAPPER (voice-over): On that same 2011 trip, I embedded with Major Graham Bundy and the dust off Medivac Company. He was the commander and he had just lost one of his staff sergeants.

MAJ. GRAHAM BUNDY (RET.), U.S. ARMY: He was probably one of my most capable, qualified and best talents and flight medics that I had.

TAPPER (voice-over): Bundy completed two tours in Afghanistan before retiring in 2013. He tells me his final tour when I met him was particularly grueling.

BUNDY: And it really knocked me through, I guess, is the best way of say it. The ability to get to a better place, I think has made what's happened this last week, somewhat easier to handle, right, in the sense that I came to terms with that very difficult appointment.

TAPPER (voice-over): He's been talking to his fellow veterans about the withdrawal. He says many have told them, they're angry.

BUNDY: The most of the folks that I've talked to it's, you know, we sacrifice for nothing. Frame of mind. And I think part of that is probably just because it's so raw right now. And maybe the farther you get away from it, you can take a wider view.

TAPPER (voice-over): And then there are the men from Combat Outpost Keating, who fought in the Battle of Kamdesh in Eastern Afghanistan in 2009, such as retired Lieutenant Andrew Bundermann.

1ST LT. ANDREW BUNDERMANN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: It's just super hard to come to grips with the fact that it's going to -- it's -- that maybe it isn't as bad as before, but it's certainly not going to be the nation maybe that we thought was going to be there when the American forces left.

TAPPER (voice-over): Bundermann ran the Tactical Operations Center during the battle, which I wrote about in my book, "The Outpost," that was turned into a movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger Captain Goris (ph), we're going to hang on to what we can.

BUNDERMANN: And it's going to be tough to watch how reality is -- how hard the lives of the Afghans are going to become in many areas.

TAPPER (voice-over): And while Bundermann says he was not surprised to see the Taliban's resurgence in Afghanistan, he was disappointed by how the U.S. executed its withdrawal from the country.

BUNDERMANN: Then at least put together something that doesn't look this terrible.

TAPPER (voice-over): Bundermann's fellow soldier from COP Keating, Ty Carter agrees.

STAFF SGT. TY MICHAEL CARTER (RET.), AFGHAN WAR VETERAN: The exit plan should have been a hell of a lot better than what we saw. People climbing onto airplanes, falling off airplanes, dying.

TAPPER (voice-over): Carter sat with us for a documentary we did after he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2013. Carter risked his life several times during that battle, running to save the life of Stephen Mace. He and another soldier ran through enemy fire to bring him back to the medic station.

CARTER: Every muscle in my body was on fire and I couldn't breathe. And tears were coming down in my eyes because everything hurts so bad.

TAPPER (voice-over): Carter believes that the U.S. should have pulled out sooner. He was not surprised that in the last few weeks, the Afghan army did not put up much of a fight against the Taliban.

CARTER: Being a service member who fought in the Battle of Combat Outpost Keating, the way the Afghan Department of Defense or their forces, the way they acted is no surprise to me. There were a select few that stood in thought and more power to them, but most of them they just gave up.

TAPPER (voice-over): Carter also agrees with the other veterans who say the United States has an obligation to save those Afghans who directly helped U.S. efforts on the ground.

CARTER: The linguist and interpreters are first priority, should treat them as they were Americans because they helped us.

TAPPER (voice-over): Despite how this war ended, all of these soldiers, all of these veterans look back at their work and accomplishments in Afghanistan with pride and hope that their fellow veterans feel the same way.

CARTER: We fought for each other. We died for each other. We are wounded for each other.

BUNDY: We can look back and say, hey, we did good.

SCHACHMAN: I'm proud of everything we accomplished.

BUNDERMANN: So, I'm super proud of every single soldier I had an opportunity to serve with.


TAPPER: Certain mean that I am honored to know.

If you are a veteran who is struggling or if you know a service member or veteran who needs help you can reach out to the confidential Veterans Crisis Line 24-7. The numbers on your screen, 1-800-273-8255, press one, 800-273-8255 or you can text 838255.


Again, this is a confidential source -- resource and it's available all day, every day. We will also share these resources on social media.

Coming up, the number of COVID shots are surging in recent days. But is it enough? We'll talk to our health experts next.


TAPPER: In our health lead, as COVID hospitalization soar for the unvaccinated, millions of Americans are now running to get their first shot.

CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

Elizabeth, give us a big picture look on where we stand a year and a half into this pandemic.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: All right, let's take a look at vaccinations, Jake. They are not where we would like them to be but they certainly are going in the right direction. So if you take a look at this graph, you'll see that we sort of hit a height last spring, and then it went down, down, down.

And now at the tail end, all the way to the right of your screen, it is slowly going up, that is good. We finally fit -- hit rather, a million a day. We haven't been there in quite a while. So that is good news.

But let's look at the other side of the coin. Let's look at who is not vaccinated. Still, about 84 million eligible Americans, so that's everyone 12 and up, has not gotten even a single COVID-19 shot yet. That's 30 percent of the eligible population. So there is still a lot of work to do to figure out how to reach this group.

This group could have gotten shots for months now. And they haven't -- it's been available -- and they haven't. I think it's unclear what the right messaging is to get to these people except to see more people die. Maybe that will get to them. But certainly that's not a great way to do it. Jake?

TAPPER: We talked a lot about herd immunity when the vaccine rollout began, getting enough people immunized so that even those who weren't vaccinated would be protected. Is the U.S. getting closer to reaching that goal? And is it still -- the appropriate goal given the Delta variant surgeon?

COHEN: I think, you know, that is always the ultimate goal. Whether or not we really can reach herd immunity with this virus, I think remains to be seen, but that is the goal. So let's take a look at what factors go into herd immunity and where we stand with all of them. So, the first factor really is, is the contagiousness of the virus. That is not great because delta is so very, very contagious.

Vaccine efficacy and uptake, a very effective vaccine, still effective with Delta not as but still uptake. As we just saw, about a third of Americans have not taken it who could, that's not great. Natural immunity. The CDC estimates that more than a third of Americans have had COVID-19 and may have natural immunity. But the problem is it's unclear how long that immunity will last. We just don't know. We do know from studies or it seems that studies are telling us that that vaccine immunity is stronger than immunity from having had COVID.

TAPPER: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

Joining us now Dr. William Schaffner, he's a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Schaffner, I have to say there are places in this country where I -- they are running out of ICU beds and they're -- it's almost all if not entirely, unvaccinated people and it's August. What happens in the fall, in the winter?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: We're going to get more COVID particularly among the unvaccinated obviously. There spill over into vaccinated people, but this is indeed an epidemic principally among unvaccinated people. And when the fall comes, all of a sudden, there's flu, there's another respiratory virus, respiratory syncytial virus.

The pediatricians know that even more than the internist, there'll be a lot of testing and there will be a surge into hospitals were afraid, including children's hospitals. So, we're all girding for a tough fall in.

TAPPER: So, President Biden this week started talking about the eligibility of people like you and I who are fully vaccinated to get a third shot, to get a booster shot. But the FDA and the CDC have been pushing back on the idea of booster shots.

One CDC official saying, quote, fully vaccinated individuals do not need an additional dose right now. Was this big booster push by Biden too much too soon, considering the fact that we don't even have a vaccine that's been approved for kids yet under 12, and considering the 30 percent of the eligible U.S. population still isn't vaccinated?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I will say it was a trumpet blast that caught our attention. And now we're going to have to work out the details. The CDC's advisory committee is working on that. Should there be a prioritization scheme? Are there subpopulations that really needed such as nursing home residents, and perhaps also health care providers because they were first in line? We'll work all that out and we'll get you more information as we come down the road. TAPPER: Congresswoman Katie Porter, a California Democrat, she told CNN that she thinks the FDA is failing to communicate effectively, especially when it comes to information about vaccinating kids. Do you agree?

SCHAFFNER: Oh, the Food and Drug Administration is waiting for data from the vaccine manufacturers, and the manufacturers are getting those data on how well vaccine works in children, what the appropriate doses are, what are the side effects at different age groups just as quickly as they can. Believe me, the manufacturers want to get that information in and the FDA is going to have to review the data.


So, I don't think the FDA has been hiding anything. They have to wait for the information to come in from the clinical trials. You can't do this off the seat of your pants. We need good data. Every parent knows that.

TAPPER: Dr. William Schaffner, thank you so much as always. Appreciate it.

Coming up, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee joins me live. He's ordering teachers and staff in his state to get the shot. Will that be enough though? Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our national lead, a growing debate raging on from coast to coast as children begin to return to school and the debate is whether teachers should be required to get vaccinated. Washington State issued such a mandate earlier this week in Oregon yesterday followed suit. Democratic Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State joins us now. Governor, I have to ask, did you get pushback from teachers unions, school boards, whomever?


GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): Well certainly there are people who don't believe in the vaccination yet, it's very regrettable because we know it's safe. It's 165 million people have received this virus safely or this vaccine safely. But the teachers union, school boards largely have supported this effort. Because they understand they want to protect the children and themselves. And obviously, this is necessary, given this incredibly transmitted virus.

This is a beast, it is at the throats of Washingtonians and our schoolchildren. And unfortunately, we have, you know, a demographic shift in the people who are in our hospitals today, they're much, much younger. And we're getting young people now who are exposed to this. This isn't the virus we dealt with in the first instance.

So actually, we've had considerable support from the union leaders. We're working through the, of course, the implementation parts of this, but I'm confident we'll be able to do that. So we're well on our way to getting people vaccinated. That is the only way to get on top of this beast.

TAPPER: So Governor, I want to get your reaction to two of your constituents, first responders, a firefighter and a nurse who were protesting these vaccine mandates. Take a listen.


MIKE JOHNSON, FIREFIGHTER: We're being threatened with our job loss, our securities, financial loss. I mean, this is -- it's horrible.

NANCY HILL, CARDIAC NURSE: First, they use fear, then they use guilt, then they use bribery, and now they're using force. That's how you manipulate people.


TAPPER: What's your response?

INSLEE: Look, if people make a decision to perhaps lose their life because they don't want cancer treatment, that's up to them. If they make a decision not to treat their heart attack, when they're having a heart attack, that's up to them. But when you make a decision to expose our children, and our patients to this deadly virus, when you have an -- a tool at our disposal to use, that's an issue for all of us in the community. And this is a very American thing to do to require all Americans and Washingtonians to come to the aid of their community right now, shouldn't (ph)?

George Washington required mandated his troops to get vaccinated for smallpox and we didn't have the FDA in those days. He just knew as a common sense measure against a common enemy. That's what we're doing here. It is not too much to ask to prevent our children from getting a deadly disease to get a safe, effective, free vaccine and the --


INSLEE: -- huge majorities or communities have already done that.

TAPPER: So Culver City, California, the school district is requiring not only teachers, faculty, staff, but also eligible students, any kid whose health allows them to get a vaccine who's 12 and older, why not go that far?

INSLEE: Well, we have not done that to date. If we can do that, we may do that. This is not a decision we made yet. But as you know, we typically have had requirements for our students usually has been reserved for when you get the final approval from the FDA, which we hopefully be relatively soon. So that potentially could be a decision that we make.

But right now let's start with the adults. Let's start with the adults who have these children in their arms. In under our care, we have a stewardship responsibility for these children. By the way, it's not just the children because if the children become infected, if a teacher infects a child, there's a couple of really bad -- three bad things. First, the child can become ill. Second, we may have to close the school again. Look, we are trying to keep our schools open.


INSLEE: We're trying to keep our businesses open, but that child can go affect their grandparents too. So this isn't just about the children. It's about all of us in stopping this raging pandemic, and it is. It's exploding in my state, it's exploding all across the country.

TAPPER: Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

This popular game show host --

INSLEE: You bet.

TAPPER: -- just lost -- game show lost its new host, nine days after being named. The quest (ph) answer in the form of a question right after this break.



TAPPER: Well, it's certainly not the final Jeopardy that Mike Richards was hoping to announce and that's our pop culture lead today. The newly named host of the popular game show was now out, only nine days after Sony announced the executive producer of the show would succeed the beloved late host, Alex Trebek.

Richards' new gig was suddenly in Jeopardy after the website The Ringer reported this week on sexist and anti-Semitic comments he had made on his now completely vanished podcast. Quite a messy situation for what has become something of an American institution just nine months after the heartbreaking loss of Alex Trebek to cancer.

Sony will now bring back more guest hosts, were told.

Joining us now to discuss, Dominic Patten, he's a senior editor for Deadline Hollywood. Dominic, good to see you. So Sony made this a very public try-out and is this isn't just any old game show, this is an institution. What do you think Jeopardy needs to do to fix this problem, especially considering that Mike Richards is still going to be executive producer?

DOMINIC PATTEN, SENIOR EDITOR, DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD: Well, first of all, Jake, I'd say what is fiasco? Clearly, this has been a huge problem for them, as you said in the introduction of what is an institution beloved, and has remained as one of the few things on television completely untainted, and almost always. But once the Anti-Defamation League came out and asked for an investigation into Richards' remarks on his podcast, his offensive comments, you could pretty much start the countdown clock on this one.

Now the question is, how do you reset? Is this an opportunity that Sony can take because ultimately the decision was with them even though Richards himself was a contender and a decider to some extent. Are they going to bring back guest hosts, are they going to bring back people like LeVar Burton who got a lot of attention, the Roots and Star Trek next generation alum (ph). A lot of people thought he was good.


Are they going to talk to Mayim Bialik, who is the Big Bang theory veteran who is now supposed to be holding -- hosting the Jeopardy primetime specials. Is this an opportunity to move her into the full chair? It's a completely open situation. And, honestly, it's uncharted territory that wouldn't make a very good category on Jeopardy.

TAPPER: Do we think so LeVar Burton, as you note, is a very popular Twitter and social media nominee prospect? Ken Jennings, of course, the former champion, their fan favorites, do we think that they're the front runners going forward? Might there be other contenders?

PATTEN: I think that if you're looking for any sort of primary in this, you have to have Jennings and Burton at the front. But I think, you know, Bialik is definitely someone -- she's a member of the Jeopardy family now, officially. You know, I also think this is, again, maybe there's time to really remake the mode here. You're never going to have an Alex Trebek. A beloved individual, like Alex Trebek.

But what you are going to have is someone who can say, look, this is a new generation of that. You know, there are many examples. When Steve Harvey took over Family Feud, he made it his own with his own personality, and continued to be a success, yes, after Richard Dawson left.

So, I think there's an opportunity here, the big opportunity that needs to be met. The standard here is fixing what's been a P.R. disaster for them. And clearly, they're going to have to figure out what's going to happen with Richards because his position as executive producer is one that is certainly under extensive scrutiny, and it's going to be very hard to manage to be completely honest.

TAPPER: So Alex Trebek and Ken Jennings discussed his guest hosting shortly before he died. There's also our colleague, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates, Trebek --


TAPPER: -- mentioned her as a potential successor, somebody he might like to see replace him as well as L.A. Kings Hockey announcer Alex Faust. Neither Laura Coates nor Alex, were given a try-out, which I found shocking because Alex Trebek is so beloved, why were his wishes not even included as a factor?

PATTEN: Well, Jake, I would also say there was a misstep by them not giving you a try-out as well, my friend. I think that there's a lot to be said for the way this process unveiled. There's a lot of people who say, look, this was just a show trial. This was a Potemkin guest hosting, if you want, for lack of a better expression, that's going to have to change. You know, we've seen in the past few years a number of times where Hollywood has learned the hard way that you don't mess around nowadays, transparency, being through the event lens or social media, what have you allows people to have their opinion, allows the past.

Even though Ken Jennings seemingly has erased his podcast from human history at this point, the past does catch up with you to paraphrase Faulkner. So I think that they're going to have to be a lot more open. They're going to have to open the aperture.

Hopefully, we'll see Laura. Hopefully, we'll see others. Hopefully, we'll see you my friend.

TAPPER: So you mentioned -- I think you misstated, you said Ken Jennings, I think even Mike Richards podcasts, which is where all these --

PATTEN: Oh sorry, sorry, my -- sorry.

TAPPER: Yes, yes, which were all these comments were -- offensive comments about women, about Jews. So, a, they didn't particularly do a very good job vetting him, which is maybe understandable, because he's the executive producer of the show. But then, b, so his comments are so offensive, he won't be the face of Jeopardy, but he's still going to be making all the money in the decisions as the executive producer, how does that work?

PATTEN: I'll tell you how this works, Jake, and this is going to take us both back and give our old we are. This is like Dick Cheney being in charge of the vice presidential picking for George W. Bush and picks himself as vice president. Now, did Vice President Cheney, former Secretary of Defense and chief of staff in two former presidents, did he have qualifications? I would say certainly he had as many did, but certainly some would say that was not exactly the most open process

I think that we've seen that here. And I think those decisions have to be made. If you're going to say someone's not good enough for one aspect of this as a public face, are you going to want to have them as a primary decision maker on such a beloved show? That is something that Sony and Mike Richards are going to have to discuss. And I think that's going to be a long weekend ahead of them.

TAPPER: All right, Dominic Patten from Deadline Hollywood, good to see you again. Thank you so much.

Coming up, Tesla just announced a new project and it is scaring some folks. We'll show you why next.



TAPPER: In our tech lead, just what you've always wanted, or not get a load of the latest gadget idea from Tesla's Elon Musk. It's a robot that kind of looks like a person except that we'll have a video screen for a face. It will, we're told, to navigate using eight cameras and the same computer chip Tesla is building in its self-driving cars. You know, those self-driving cars at the feds are investigating for safety issues.

Just like Rosey from the old Jetsons cartoon, Tesla's robot is supposed to do what you tell it to, take over boring, repetitive dangerous work, for instance, or just go to the store, pick up some milk and cereal, maybe anchor the second hour of The Lead on a sleepy Friday. Musk says Tesla may have a prototype ready next year but will not say if it ever will be for sale or what it will cost.

Tomorrow night, Join CNN for "We Love New York City: The Homecoming Concert", that's once in a lifetime concert event airs at 5:00 p.m. Eastern exclusively on CNN. On Sunday, please tune into State of the Union, I have a special interview for you. Before he died this week, Congressman Paul Mitchell talked to me about how he wanted to be remembered. It's a special conversation you will not want to miss.

In addition, Brianna Keilar will also talk to Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, that's all at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."