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The Lead with Jake Tapper
A.I. CEO: Worried Artificial Intelligence Will Be Used To Rush Election Disinformation Or Manipulate Voters; Hearing Highlights Major Benefits, Serious Risks Of A.I.; Hearing Highlights Major Benefits, Serious Risks Of A.I.; Biden & Top Congressional Leaders Meet As U.S. Nears Default; Rep. Don Bacon, (R-NE), Is Interviewed About Debt Ceiling; N.C. State Senate Vote To Override Veto Of Abortion Ban Bill, N.C. House Set To take Final Vote Tonight; DeSantis Rejects Trump Comment That Six-Week Abortion Ban Is "Too Harsh"; Student Suspended For Recording Teacher Saying The N-Word In Class; Elon Musk Baselessly Claims George Soros "Hates Humanity". Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 16, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, a high school student is suspended for recording her teacher using the N word in geometry class. The school says the student violated school policy by recording it. We're going to talk to the student's mother and lawyer this hour.
Plus, we're just minutes away from North Carolina state lawmakers voting to override the Democratic governor's veto of a 12-week abortion ban. But a few key lawmakers could potentially stop the override.
Leading this hour with our tech lead, a consequential hearing about the future and technology that could impact almost every job and industry around the world. We're talking about artificial intelligence or A.I. The CEO of OpenAI testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
The company is behind one of the most prominent A.I. tools, ChatGPT. But that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to A.I., there are already multiple apps and programs you can use to create art, pictures, phone calls, and even to impersonate people's voices.
The list of potential misuses of A.I. is terrifyingly long and getting longer every day. And it all leads to numerous questions about how and what and whether to regulate. CNN's Nick Watt takes a closer look now at some of the possibly life changing benefits and also terrifying risks posed by A.I. brought up in today's hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
SAM ALTMAN, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, OPENAI: My worst fears are that we cause significant, we the field, the technology, the industry, caused significant harm to the world.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today's Senate hearing is a crucial step in humanity's effort to prevent that harm and to rein in the handful of players controlling this tech.
ALTMAN: I think there needs to be incredible scrutiny on us and our competitors.
WATT (voice-over): His company created ChatGPT, you know, it can write a term paper or a song, captured imaginations and headlines.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Could artificial intelligence soon put us all out of work?
WATT (voice-over): A.I. has potentially world changing benefits, equitable education, helping eradicate disease, transportation, A.I. can be life enhancing, or maybe an existential threat to humanity. We know some of the risks, like rampant misinformation.
GARY MARCUS, PROFFESOR OF PSYCHOLOGY AND NEURAL SCIENCE, NYU: These new systems are going to be destabilizing. They can and will create persuasive lies at a scale humanity has never seen before. Democracy itself is threatened.
WATT (voice-over): As are jobs,
ALTMAN: GPT-4 will, I think entirely automate away some jobs, and it will create new ones that we believe will be much better.
WATT (voice-over): There are risks like automated weapons we can't imagine.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Could A.I. create a situation where a drone can select a target itself?
ALTMAN: I think we shouldn't allow that.
GRAHAM: Well, can it be done?
WATT (voice-over): And there are risks we can, for now, barely even comprehend.
ALTMAN: As these system do become more capable. And I'm not sure how far away that is, but maybe not super far. I think it's important that we also spend time talking about how we're going to confront those challenges.
WATT (voice-over): So, what do we do?
SEN JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Talk in plain English and tell me what if any rules we ought to implement?
MARCUS: Number one, a safety review like we use with the FDA prior to widespread deployment. WATT (voice-over): Suggestions today to licensed developers and or the most powerful A.I. systems.
ALTMAN: I think a model that can persuade, manipulate, influence person's behavior or a person's beliefs, that would be a good threshold. I think a model that could help create novel biological agents would be a great threshold.
WATT (voice-over): There was support in this room for a brand new government agency to oversee A.I. But --
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): For every success story in government regulation, you can think of five failures.
WATT (voice-over): And this technology is moving very, very fast. Government can be glacial.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): So, when you look at the record of Congress in dealing with innovation, technology, and rapid change, we're not designed for that.
SEN. PETER WELCH (D-VT): I've come to the conclusion that it's impossible for Congress to keep up with the speed of technology.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WATT: And right now, we are just 18 months away from an election. An avalanche, a growing avalanche of misinformation will probably be coming our way. So we don't have much time to do something about at least certain aspects of this.
The other question, you know, should this be a U.S. led effort? Should the U.S. propose things and then the world follow? Should there be an international body? There wasn't full agreement on that today.
But one thing, listen, three hours on the Hill, three minutes on T.V. is not enough to deal with this issue. That committee will be meeting many more times, many great brains looking into this. And in terms of us, you, me, everybody, experts tell me, every expert tells me, we need to educate ourselves so that we know what's coming down the pike and how it's going to impact us. Jake.
TAPPER: Yes, we tend to trail the advances in technology by several, several years. Nick Watt, thanks so much.
Joining us now to discuss, Amy Webb. She's a futurist. She's a professor of strategic foresight at New York University Stern School of Business and much more.
Amy, thanks for joining us. So we heard OpenAI CEO Sam Altman say today that one of his biggest concerns is the potential four A.I., four artificial intelligence to be used to manipulate voters, to spread election disinformation. I mean, we've seen videos of Trump and Biden that we're not real go viral ones that were generated by A.I. How worried are you that this could be a real problem as we head into 2024?
AMY WEBB, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFI CER, FUTURE TODAY INSTITUTE: Sure. Well, I think Senator Blumenthal used ChatGPT alongside a voice cloning tool at the beginning of his remarks to prove how simple it would be for anybody to generate content, sort of, auto magically.
But quite frankly, these stunts that we continue to see over and over again aren't moving the needle in terms of getting to outcomes that we all want, because we've been here before. Congress has a terrible track record of staying on the same pace as technology and trying to use the same regulatory actions and tools we have that make sense in other fields and applying them to this space where so much is happening so fast.
TAPPER: One of the witnesses in today's hearing suggested that there should be a cabinet level agency created inside the U.S. government to regulate artificial intelligence. Realistically, though, how do you begin to put regulations on something that is already out there? And it's obviously not just in the United States, whatever we do here won't necessarily have any impact on Russia or Iran or China or anywhere else.
WEBB: Jake, that's an excellent point. Regardless of what regulatory frameworks we develop, they will not carry any weight in China, where a lot of the same technology is already advancing, in some cases faster than it is in the United States. We hear a lot about ChatGPT, but there are similar large language models. So the same types of very powerful tools that exist in China. And whatever regulations we come up with -- will have very little bearing.
It is a good idea to have somebody in our government taking the longer view. We used to have something called the Office of Technology Assessment, they were charged not with making regulations, but making our regulators informed. They were a nonpartisan group of scientists and researchers. All they did was help the people who were in charge of regulating these things, just get up to speed and be more informed so that we weren't relying on third parties. But that got defunded in the '90s. It's left this incredible vacuum.
And as concerned as everybody is today about ChatGPT, this is one tiny sliver of A.I. It's also just one area of emerging science and technology that has the opportunity to drastically impact our society and our economy.
TAPPER: So you've suggested an international agency to regulate A.I., a mix of researchers, economists, futurists from around the world working together. What's the incentive for China or Russia to participate in something like that?
WEBB: Well, the model that I describe in my book, "The Big Nine," is really anchored in the Bretton Woods, sort of, economic model, where we're all putting in data, every country is putting in data, every country has something to gain or to lose, and it comes down to economics. Either we make it easy to continue to participate with China, perhaps not Russia, given the current situation, or just collectively make it a little harder on them. And I think we have to enact new pressure points in order to get folks to the table.
TAPPER: Senator Graham, Lindsey Graham asked the head of OpenAI how can this technology change warfare? And he came up with a scenario that's terrifying. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: You can plug into a drone the coordinates and it can fly out. And it goes over this target, and it drops a missile on this car moving down the road when somebody's washing it. Could A.I. create a situation where a drone can select the target itself?
ALTMAN: I think we shouldn't allow that.
GRAHAM: Well, can it be done?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It can be done, he's saying.
WEBB: That's right. I don't know why that was such a revelation. This is just simple computer recognition and computer vision. And then, I don't want to belittle the severity of what we're talking about, but these tools aren't brand new, they've actually existed for quite a while now. And if we have the capability of doing that in our military, we have to assume that others around the world do as well.
One of the things I'm hearing about as I talk to lawmakers and others in the field is a new type of A.I. arms race. It's less about automated systems and algorithms fighting each other and just more building up this arsenal of tools that involve things like automated missile systems, as well as things like combining A.I. and biology to create novel viruses and other types of things, and also new types of bio cybersecurity challenges, again, that are anchored in A.I. There's a lot, and I feel like we are always sort of a little bit behind.
WEBB: And I've been feeling that way for the past decade.
TAPPER: Amy Webb, come back and talk more about this. We really appreciate it.
WEBB: You got it. Thank you.
TAPPER: Any moment, President Biden is expected to speak after his critical meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the White House. They do not appear any closer to a deal to avoid the catastrophic default that's coming, the Secretary of Treasury warns in June.
Then, has Elon Musk taken off his Twitter mask? His latest tweets about George Soros that many experts say cross a line.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:14:29]
TAPPER: President Biden and top congressional leaders just wrapped up the high stakes meeting on the looming U.S. default on the national debt. A short while ago, house Speaker Kevin McCarthy said it's possible a deal could be reached by the end of the week. But he's cautioning that while he and the White House remain very far apart. President Biden, meanwhile, has canceled part of his upcoming overseas trip because the talks don't seem to be making much progress. Joining us now, Republican Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska.
Congressman, thanks for joining us. I assume you see President Biden returning early from his overseas trip, canceling a whole leg of it as a sign that these debt ceiling negotiations are not going particularly well.
REP. DON BACON (R-NE): I wish it was farther along than what it is right now, but I'm glad he's going to delay or cut his trip short, he's got to take this serious. Today we didn't get progress on an end state or an agreement. But what I did hear was both sides said they wanted to negotiate and both sides said they were willing to compromise. That is a step forward.
Unfortunately, we lost 90 days where the President did not want to talk or negotiate. I think his spirit is in a better spot right now when he's saying he's willing to negotiate. And he's already offered up some sense of compromises that he'll make with us. And for me, if I think for the GOP, these are victories. We know we can't get everything we want, but saying absolutely no compromise was not right either.
TAPPER: I want you to listen to what you're leading -- the Republican leading nominee for president said about debt ceiling negotiations last week during our CNN town hall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say to the Republicans out there, congressman, senators, if they don't give you massive cuts, you're going to have to do a default.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Does that make your job and the job of negotiators more difficult, having President Trump saying you should default and that a default is just psychological? Because obviously it's not just psychological, it would be catastrophic for the economy.
BACON: Well, it would be bad for our economy, and we do not want to default. I'm glad that Kevin McCarthy and President Biden say they want to negotiate and they want to raise the debt ceiling, but they got to meet in the middle somewhere. I point out President Trump negotiated with Speaker Pelosi and they raised the debt ceiling three times, and the spending went up. So I don't think the president followed his own medicine when he was the president.
TAPPER: You voted to raise the debt ceiling two of those three times under Trump without demanding spending cuts. Do you regret that?
BACON: No. You know, at the time, we supported most of the agenda at that point, especially the first year, where we voted for the tax reform, which I thought we needed. It built the strongest economy in 40 years. It actually raised the revenue. And then we had COVID where we thought we had to spend money to help people that were out of work as we shut down their businesses.
But I would say the difference now is I opposed most of the agenda under President Biden, and so did most of the Republicans. Two of those massive spending bills didn't get a single Republican on there. And now we're at the debt ceiling. So we do want a compromise. We do want to meet somewhere in the middle. But I supported most of the agenda under the previous president.
TAPPER: The bill that House Republicans passed, the debt ceiling bill, the budget bill, suggests an overall spending cut without actually detailing any specific cuts. Isn't it kind of the definition of having your cake and eating it too, pretending to make tough choices?
BACON: What we said is we could increase spending 1 percent a year. So that is a cut compared to what was projected at 3 percent to 5 percent. So raising spending 1 percent a year, it is a cut. Actually, President Biden has expressed interest in caps as well. It probably won't be 1 percent, maybe it'll be 2 percent, maybe 3 percent, but that's what we need to negotiate.
We also targeted the COVID money that has not been spent, that's 30 billion. We talked about the tuition, paying off those tuition loans, which I believe the Supreme Court will find unconstitutional. That is $400 billion. And we also detailed some of the Inflation Reduction Act tax incentives, that was also in the billions and billions of dollars. In fact, CBO is now scoring them three times higher than when the bill was passed.
So we did have some concrete proposals there. I will point out again, Jake, that I realize we're not going to get everything we want. We have to meet in the middle, and hopefully we can make some progress towards getting some fiscal sanity, because at $32 trillion in debt, it's going to grow about 2 trillion a year. We're building a debt to GDP ratio of 200 percent, and that is unsustainable for our country.
TAPPER: Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska, good to see you, sir.
BACON: Thank you.
TAPPER: Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
BACON: Thank you, sir.
TAPPER: Coming up, how one Democratic state lawmaker could change abortion laws in North Carolina, as state lawmakers take the first step to override Democratic Governor Cooper's veto. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: In our health lead, an abortion showdown. Moments ago, the North Carolina State Senate voted to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper's veto of legislation that would ban abortion in the state of North Carolina at 12 weeks, that's surgical abortion and medical abortion after 10 weeks. The bill will now head to the House where Republicans will have to stick together to use their slim supermajority in order to override the veto.
One of the deciding votes could come from state Representative Tricia Cotham, who switched from Democrat to Republican last month, giving Republicans a veto proof majority. She previously had been an outspoken supporter of abortion rights, but she changed her position to become one of the key votes who helped pass the 12-week abortion ban. The North Carolina House is expected to vote after 08:00 p.m. this evening.
Let's discuss all this. So, Paul, a recent poll shows a majority of North Carolina voters, 57 percent, and that's a purple state.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
TAPPER: They have a Democratic governor and two Republican senators, 57 percent, support maintaining the state's current 20-week ban or would expand it. So, it's even more liberal.
BEGALA: It is lengthen, right, lengthen.
TAPPER: Yes. Just over a quarter of voters wanted abortion severely restricted or completely banned. That kind of matches up with what we're seeing nationally. Voters support abortion rights and yet Republicans are coming in and taking them away.
BEGALA: Right. It's the Joni Mitchell philosophy. You don't know what you got till it's gone. The percentage of Americans -- the fact of abortion hasn't changed, but the legality has. And so, the support for abortion rights has gone way, way up.
The day the Dobbs decision came down, my friend Cecile Richards, longtime leader of Planned Parenthood, said, this will not age well. She was right. Right? This issue -- in other words, Obamacare aged well for the Democrats, crushed him in the first midterm, but over time, it got better for them. Gay marriage, the same thing.
This is not aging well for Republicans. You're seeing Mr. Trump getting wound around the axle on it. Tomorrow, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case on mifepristone, the abortion drug that the vast majority of Americans support and that conservative judge in Amarillo, Texas, outlawed. So, this is just going to continue and continue. It's going to be a huge problem for Republicans electorally, huge problem for women personally. TAPPER: And Ryan, this is obviously a big issue even in the Republican primaries where all the candidates consider themselves antiabortion. Donald Trump last week declined to tell Kaitlan Collins whether he would sign a national abortion ban. He also suggested that Florida's abortion ban was too harsh. Governor DeSantis has now directly responded to that. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Protecting an unborn child when there's the detectable heartbeat is something that almost probably 99 percent of pro-lifers support. He didn't give answer about, would you have signed the heartbeat bill that Florida did? They had all the exceptions that people talk about, the legislature put it in. I signed the bill. I was proud to do it. He won't answer whether he would sign it or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you make of this? First of all, that's -- we should know, I mean, it's really one of the first times that DeSantis, even though he just says he, not Trump, has said anything even mildly critical in person about Trump.
RYAN STREETER, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF, INDIANA GOVERNOR MIKE POMPEO: Yes. There are two really important elements going on when you look at this in the GOP, the backdrop of the GOP presidential race that are underreported, but I think really important. The first is there's a big split that's showing up in the polls between college educated, non-college educated Trump supporters among social conservatives, and the college educated crowd is really looking for somebody else right now.
And so, when it comes to the abortion issue, that's an incredibly important part of the electorate that's up for grabs right now. And so, DeSantis and the people getting into the race have to keep that in mind. And so, I think that's a part of wanting to push Trump on this, because those people are gettable from Trump's base of voters.
And then, secondly, the issue of intensity often doesn't get asked in polls. The majority of them don't ask about it. But when you look at large national surveys that ask about this issue in terms of how important it is, it's not as important as people think that it is even among socially conservative former Trump supporters. Other things like schools and crime and inflation still rank up there very highly. So voters are going to be making up their minds about candidates, essentially, how they put this issue in proportion against other things.
STREETER: And so, overplaying your hand on it can also work against you. So those two things are actually really important and you have to thread both of them at the same time.
TAPPER: What's interesting, though, also is this is the first time this has not been theoretical, right? JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Right, exactly.
TAPPER: Like, I mean, there was a time when people said, oh, Donald Trump's never going to do anything about abortion, George W. Bush isn't going to do anything abort. Like it was all kind of a wink and a nod. But now it's real and there are bans all over the country.
KUCINICH: And we've seen backlash against Republicans. I mean, look at what happened even in Wisconsin for that Supreme Court race where the Democrat or the liberal candidate talked explicitly about this.
TAPPER: Or Kansas.
KUCINICH: In Kansas. And -- but in Wisconsin she won (ph). She blew (ph) out of the water. And that is an evenly divided state. And so, I think in the Republican primary you're going to see a lot of people racing to the right.
Trump has actually come out and said about the potential political perils. Remember, he came out right after the 2022 election, blamed the right, and then immediately was, you know, smacked by the right saying, no, that's not what you're supposed to say. And I think they've resolved it at this point. But still, to be able to thread the needle of having a general election after running to the right on abortion, that is going to be the test here for whoever emerges from the Republican side.
TAPPER: It's interesting because Trump is obviously trying to distance himself from this, even though he, with the possible exception of Mitch McConnell, is more responsible for Roe v. Wade being gone than anyone else.
CAMILA DECHALUS, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, and he's even touted that it was under his watch that this happened and that, in his own right, is this is going to show that what he can do kind of down the line. I think something that's notable to Jackie's point about how the primaries can play out way drastically different than the general election is the fact that you do have some Republicans like Nancy Mace coming out saying, hey, this rhetoric on abortion is so extreme that this is going to hurt Republicans.
So I do think they're taking a bit of a step back, not everyone, but some of them, to say, what is the messaging that we're going to do to really appeal to not just really conservative Republican voters, but to moderate or people that are more pro-life?
So I think that's just something to watch. Some of them are just saying, hey, like let's just step away from this a bit or let's tone this down, because primaries is a completely different thing than the general elections.
TAPPER: Although we should note, Erick Erickson, the conservative radio host, seems to be pointing to Trump, who's trying to distance himself from this and say, why is this guy our frontrunner? He tweeted, "The conservative movement should be alarmed that the frontrunner for the GOP is running against the pro-life cause and against entitlement reform." What do you, what do you make of that?
BEGALA: This goes to Camila's point. There's a very big difference in running a primary run in the general election. This is the fix that they're in. Ryan talked about these college educated Republican voters.
They're hidden pro-Roe voters. One of the reasons that pollsters got the midterms wrong was a whole lot of Republicans got in that booth and decided, I don't want to lose Roe v. Wade, I want to punish my own party. And this is going to continue to play out to the detriment of Republicans.
Jackie talk about Wisconsin. Biden won this state by, I think, 1.2 percent. The liberal judge won by 11 percent exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
BEGALA: In April, in an off year, she won by 153,000 votes. It was a landslide because of the pro-choice position. This is -- beginning of my career, abortion was a huge winner for the Republicans. Now it's a huge loser.
TAPPER: It's interesting also because the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts tried to kind of find some sort of, I wouldn't call it middle ground, but, you know, he came out basically in favor of Mississippi's law 15 week ban, but not in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, right? And he was obviously he turned around and nobody was following him. But if you were advising a Republican presidential candidate, would you tell them to land at somewhere? I think Nikki Haley has tried to find a lane in the 12 to 15 week area, right?
KUCINICH: Yes. She said some stuff.
TAPPER: Yes, right. It's unclear exactly, but would you tell them to try to do that as opposed to the complete ban?
STREETER: Yes, I think you would want to try to land where most Americans are on this issue. I mean, it changes by trimester the 12 to 15-week area tracks where -- with where a lot of people are, including European countries, policies as well. It's defensible and it seems to be where the candidates kind of are trending right now, where they want to go on --
STREETER: -- on this issue. I mean, I'll point out that Erik Erickson also mentioned entitlement reform --
STREETER: -- in that tweet, which is something that Republicans, believe it or not, even as they look at primaries, are starting to talk more about real issues again because they learned some lessons last November about just how far the culture war issues actually take you.
TAPPER: All right, thanks to all.
Next, we're going to talk to the mother of a high school student who was suspended for recording her teacher saying the n-word. The school is not apologizing for punishing the student. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead in Springfield, Missouri, a 15-year-old high school student got punished for doing what many would argue was the right thing to do and constitutes whistleblowing. Fifteen-year-old Mary Walton recorded her geometry teacher using the n-word in class. Instead of being praised for capturing a very troubling and problematic incident, she was given a three-day suspension. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus looks into why.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the word (bleeps) not allowed?
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Video shared on social media shows a high school teacher using the n word at least twice in a Missouri classroom. Mary Walton, a 15-year-old student disturbed, began filming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not calling anyone a (bleeps).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can say the word.
BROADDUS (voice-over): That was May 9. The teacher was initially placed on administrative leave, the principal calling the language, quote, "inappropriate," and "inexcusable." A week later, that teacher has resigned. A statement from Springfield public schools announces he is, quote, "no longer employed." But Mary was also punished, suspended for three days over the recording, the harshest penalty for this type of offense under school cell phone rules her lawyer says.
NATALIE HULL, ATTORNEY FOR MARY WALTON: We've asked them to lift the suspension, let her go back to school immediately and apologize. Mary saw something that she believed needed to be reported.
BROADDUS (voice-over): According to a news release from Mary's attorney, Natalie Hull, the geometry teacher interrupted a conversation between students about the slur using the word several times before the recording starts. Students explain its derogatory context before one cautions the teacher about using it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just saying right now, as a teacher, if you want to keep your job. This isn't a threat from me.
BROADDUS (voice-over): About 50 seconds into the short clip given to CNN by Hull, the teacher notices the camera recording him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you saying?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your phone away.
MARY WALTON, STUDENT WHO FILMED TEACHER USING N-WORD: No.
BROADDUS (voice-over): The school district says its discipline is, quote, "confidential per federal law," but noted that the student handbook limits inappropriate use of electronics and considers the identification of minor students when disseminating video. The school district also prohibits quote, "recording of faculty or staff in the classroom" without prior approval and recording, quote, "acts of violence." Hull claims that the policy is problematic and it has a chilling effect on students like Mary looking to hold authority figures accountable.
HULL: They could get in trouble for capturing evidence of a crime.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BROADDUS: And Mary using that cell phone camera to hold that teacher accountable. And many of you may remember the judge who presided over the famous O. J. Simpson trial severely limited the use of the word in his courtroom. This after a key witness for the prosecution used the word dozens of times. That was in the '90s. Today, we're talking about a teacher in a classroom who used the same word that has a painful, painful history for so many people in our country. Jake.
TAPPER: One of the ugliest words, if not the ugliest word that exists. Adrianne Broaddus, thank you so much.
Joining us now, Kate Welborn, who is the mother of 15-year-old Mary Walton and Natalie Hull, the attorney represented -- representing Mary.
Kate, let's just start with your daughter. How's she doing? Does she want to stay at the school? What's your reaction to all this?
KATE WELBORN, DAUGHTER SUSPENDED FOR TAKING VIDEO OF TEACHER USING RACIAL SLUR: Mary does get to return to school tomorrow, and she does intend to return. I think that the amount of attention that things have gotten, that was an unexpected turn for her, and I think that she would prefer things to be a little quieter, but she does intend to return, and I'm proud of her for doing that.
TAPPER: She is, I mean, something of a whistleblower. But, Natalie, I guess the school argues that phones are not allowed in classrooms, and is this just a matter of her breaking the rules? We should note that the teacher was initially put on administrative leave and then ultimately resigned. But what's your argument, Natalie, about why Mary shouldn't be punished, given the fact that the school says, well, she did break the rules? HULL: Sometimes you need to break the rules for what's right, and this rule does not have -- well, one, it's inappropriate use is their rule, but this would absolutely be appropriate use for a video when there is misconduct or illegal activity occurring. Indisputable and refutable evidence is absolutely beneficial in situations like this.
We have a room full of teenagers, and if they had gone to the administration with only their word, who knows exactly how long an investigation would have taken? Who knows if they would have been believed? But being able to provide documented evidence such as this is absolutely essential for situations this or worse.
If you look at the policy itself, as you described, it specifically states that they are not even allowed to take video of acts of violence, which absolutely limits a student from even being able to take video of an actual crime.
TAPPER: Right. Right. And, Kate, as parents, we tell our kids to do the right thing, and when they see something, they say something, and to come forward. In this case, your daughter did that, she was punished. What message do you think the school is sending to young people about speaking truth to power, standing up for what's right?
WELBORN: I think they're saying know your place. And I think they're protecting the -- I think they're the adults and the status quo more than they are encouraging the students to learn or grow or apply critical thinking skills.
TAPPER: Natalie, how's this going to end, do you think? Obviously, you're saying Mary's going back to school tomorrow, so, your protest of the three-day suspension didn't work. What's next?
HULL: We're taking this on a step by step, day by day basis. Right now, we're actually just still hoping that the school district will take this as an opportunity to rethink their stance on lifting -- excuse me, on expunging this from Mary's record and still consider issuing an apology to Mary.
This is a perfect opportunity for the school district to show their students that it is OK to acknowledge when you have made the wrong decision, that it is OK to say, you know what, we were wrong with how we handled this, just like they're trying to say Mary was, that were wrong in how we handled this, and we're going to apologize. We're going to say that we did this incorrectly. We should have done it this way, and we're sorry for how we treated Mary.
TAPPER: Well, Kate, your daughter is a whistleblower. She's speaking truth to power. She's bringing injustice forward. There's a big future for her in journalism. If she wants to get into it, we need brave people like her.
Kate Welborn, Natalie Hull, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
WELBORN: Thank you.
HULL: Thank you. TAPPER: Comparing one of the world's richest people to a comic book supervillain, how Elon Musk's latest Twitter rant is getting him in trouble again. That's next.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, in a rare rebuke, Israel's foreign ministry today is slamming Elon Musk's recent series of tweets saying they have a, quote, "anti-semitic feeling to it." Yesterday, Musk launched a baseless Twitter attack against George Soros, the progressive Jewish philanthropist who's often the target of antisemitic conspiracy theories. Musk tweeted that Soros reminds him of Magneto, a comic book supervillain. Both, of course, Soros and Magneto are Holocaust survivors and Jewish.
Musk's reply he wrote, Soros does not have good intentions and, quote, "wants to erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity," unquote. Obviously, it's not necessarily anti-semitic to criticize George Soros, but the tweets do engage, critics say, in tropes that Jews are falsely cast as evil masterminds set out to harm the masses.
Here to discuss Sara Fischer, CNN Media Analyst and Axios Senior Media Reporter, along with Ted Deutch, who CEO of the American Jewish Committee, a former Democratic congressman from Florida.
So, Sara, Musk didn't say what prompted the attack, but you can't ignore the timing that Soros recently disclosed he had sold his entire holdings of stock in Tesla, which of course is owned by Musk. We're used to seeing controversial comments from Musk. Were you surprised by this?
FISCHER: I wasn't surprised by this, Jake. Musk has repeatedly, you know, engaged in far right conspiracies. You'll recall with the Paul Pelosi attack, he tweeted out misinformation around that. But I think it is important to note that Elon Musk, he still runs a publicly traded business in Tesla is going to have to be mindful of the fact that anytime he's going to pick on someone online for dumping his stock, he risks other people wanting to come in and buy it.
And so, you know, as a business person, this is not the strongest move. But Musk has long sort of held some of these, you know, more Republican right leaning beliefs. Shortly after he took over Twitter, he allowed a bunch of accounts back on the platform that had been banned, including some neo-Nazi accounts. And so, to hear this type of rhetoric coming from Elon Musk, it's not totally shocking.
TAPPER: Ted Deutch, former Congressman Deutch, obviously, criticizing George Soros is not inherently anti-semitic. What did you think of this? Did you think comparing him to Magneto, who is an evil supervillain who is also, like George Soros, Jewish and a Holocaust survivor, saying that he hates humanity, did that cross a line for you?
TED DEUTCH, CEO, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE: Sure, of course it did, Jake. No, it's not unacceptable to criticize George Soros or anyone else, but it is clearly not an accident when you compare him to a cartoon villain who, like George Soros, survived the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz. The tweet about this notion that Soros hates humanity is trying to destroy civilization just plays into the classic anti- semitic conspiracy theory about Jewish wealth and power.
And we've seen anti-semitism surge since Musk took over Twitter. We've seen massive cuts to the moderation team at Twitter. And our own survey showed that two thirds of Jews have experienced anti-semitism, seen anti-semitism online, 85 percent of those under 30, and people feel physically threatened as a result. There are repercussions when you do things like this. It's unacceptable, it's dangerous, and it plays into these classic conspiracy theories that are inherently anti- semitic.
TAPPER: And, Sara, it's interesting in terms of how Elon Musk has chosen to run the platform. He's constantly engaging with people who are bad faith actors. I mean, people who subscribe to QAnon, people who are white supremacists, people who are focused on black, on white violence, I mean, his -- people who criticize diversity in Hollywood casting. I mean, these are choices he's making.
FISCHER: Yes, and they're surprising choices, Jake, because Twitter has been marked down by analysts. It's hemorrhaging its ad revenue. And so, Elon Musk, you would think, as the CEO of this company, who said, by the way, that he wants to manage costs to ensure that it's profitable, would be very mindful of the misinformation that he puts out there and the types of accounts that he engages with because he wants to bring those advertisers back.
When we talk to agency executives, people who are buying ads on behalf of Fortune 500 brands and smaller companies, they will tell you that they have to caution their clients when it comes to buying ads on Twitter, not just because of some of the content moderations going down, but also because of Elon Musk himself spewing misinformation.
So it's puzzling to me why he continues to do this and to behave this way, but hopefully, now that they have a new CEO, you know, an advertising executive with a lot of experience, maybe she can rein him in.
TAPPER: So, how, Congressman Deutch, your governor DeSantis, Ron DeSantis, frequently criticizes George Soros. I mean, it is something he does. It's something that a lot of people do because he puts a lot of money into progressive causes, including progressive districts attorney, would you argue that is inherently anti-semitic? I mean, how -- go ahead.
DEUTCH: Yes, Jake, I don't want to parse tweets and criticism of George Soros. I think we have to acknowledge in this instance that comparing George Soros to a Holocaust survivor cartoon villain is not an accident. But it's not -- I also don't want to miss the opportunity, Jake, to point out that as we're having this conversation, the White House is working on a national action plan to combat antisemitism.
I hope that it calls for greater transparency at all the social media companies and access to the algorithms and the ability to share their community standards so that the world understands that antisemitism is not acceptable on any social media sites.
TAPPER: All right, Ted Deutch, Sara Fischer, thanks to both you for joining. Appreciate it.
Coming up next, see the scare during a Little League baseball game in an umpire's quick thinking that saved the day. But first, CNN's Wolf Blitzer coming up next in "The Situation Room." Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jake, we're going to have much, much more on a very disturbing intrusion at the home of President Biden's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. The U.S. Secret Service now investigating how the intruder actually entered the House, undetected by the agents who were guarding the property. This, as the violent attack at Congressman Gerry Connolly's office raising serious new concerns about the growing threat to U.S. lawmakers. All of that much more coming up right at the top of the hour in The Situation Room.
TAPPER: Five minutes and 15 seconds away, Wolf. Can't wait to watch.
In our national lead, a twisted scene at a youth baseball game in Jacksonville, Florida, when a dust double appeared out of nowhere. Stay tuned.
TAPPER: In our national league, scary moments at a kid's baseball game in Jacksonville, Florida, when a dust devil appeared out of nowhere, surrounded seven-year-old catcher Bauer Zoya. A quick thinking umpire grabbed Zoya away from home plate, moved him to safety. The young catcher said although the entire incident was only a few seconds long, it was terrifying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAUER ZOYA, CATCHER: I couldn't breathe that much, so I herded my breath and I feel like I couldn't touch the ground, so I kind of lifted up all the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Zoya returned to the game thanks to a little help from dad, who poured water on his face to get rid of the dirt. Zoya even thinks the whole situation helped him play better.
You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Bluesky if you have access to it @jaketapper. And tweet the show @theleadcnn. If you ever miss an episode of the show you can listen to The Lead wherever you get your podcast. Our coverage continues now with, one, Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door on the place I call "The Situation Room." I'll see you tomorrow.