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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Israel Approves Deal To Get 50 Hostages Freed By Hamas; Democratic Challenger Says, Biden Should Not Accept Hostage Deal; Qatar Announces Israel-Hamas Humanitarian Pause; 11:11 Pulls Ads From X; Iowa Evangelical Leader Bob Vander Plaats Endorses Ron DeSantis For2024 Presidential Election. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 21, 2023 - 22:00   ET


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: How many Americans will be included as part of this release.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Yes. Right now, the thinking is potentially as early as Thursday morning, but it's still fluid. So, we're still waiting to find out more on that.

Arlette Saenz, thank you for bringing us the latest.

And thank you for joining us tonight. CNN Newsnight with Abby Phillips starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Breaking news, a deal gets the green light after six hours of cabinet deliberations. But how soon could hostages be freed from Hamas' captivity? That's tonight on Newsnight.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in New York.

An outline gets approved and restores hope for 50 families. Tonight, a significant majority of Israel's cabinet has said yes to a deal that trades Israeli hostages during Hamas' savage terror attacks on October 7th. In exchange, Israel will green light a four-day pause in the fighting in Gaza.

Now, a senior U.S. official is telling CNN in the last hour that three Americans could be part of this deal. The message from the Israeli government also gives Hamas an incentive to release even more hostages. For every ten abducted Israelis or people in captivity that get their freedom, that translates to another full day of stoppage of fighting in Gaza.

Now, Hamas, minutes ago, confirmed this deal, and they said that 150 or so Palestinians held in Israeli jails will be released as part of this agreement.

Let's get straight to Matthew Chance. He's in Tel Aviv for us. Matthew, when do we anticipate that we will see the first of these hostages returning to Israel?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to be at least 24 hours from now, Abby, because under Israeli law, there has to be a 24-hour grace period when it comes to releasing Palestinian prisoners, which, as you mentioned, is an integral part of this deal, a grace period to allow appeals to the Supreme Court by Israelis, or anyone else, that want to try and stop that from happening.

Now, it's not necessarily going to be a real obstacle, but it's kind of like a legal hurdle that has to be jumped over before the actual implementation of the deal under Israeli law.

And so we're looking at sort of Thursday local time, about 24 hours or so from now, that we're expecting to see the first hostages released under this deal. Although, of course, remember, no real timeframe has been given, and so it's slightly speculative to give an exact time about when this is going to actually take place.

PHILLIP: Still a little bit more waiting for these families. Matthew Chance, we'll be back with you if there are any updates. Thank you.

And for more on this now and how this all came together, Aviv Ezra joins me. He's a senior Israeli diplomat at the New York Consulate and former consul general in Chicago. Aviv, thank you so much for being here again.

Can you tell us what took so long? It took about six and a half hours for the Israeli cabinet to approve this deal.

AVIV EZRA, SENIOR ISRAELI DIPLOMAT: First of all, I think that the entire process was a complicated process and I think this is the room also to thank the administration, specifically the president for weighing in and making a real difference in that.

When it came to the government, to the cabinet in Israel, it went to three processes. There's the war cabinet, the security cabinet, and then it came to the full cabinet where the entire ministers and governments are sitting there.

The entire back and forth was based in understanding that what we're going to be giving in return is also an ability for Hamas to regroup, rearm and recharge what they have and then come back at us at Israeli forces that are there.

So, the entire deal is a complicated deal, but we want to make sure that our hostages are back home. This is the number one priority of the government of the state of Israel and we have invested a lot of time and effort in that.

PHILLIP: So, I'm hearing you say the major sticking point was not so much the Palestinian prisoners that are being returned but the amount of time that there would be a pause in the fighting?

EZRA: I would say there's a lot of variables in the equation. There's a list of who is going to be returning. On the other side, there's, of course, the status underground itself. But what I really want to emphasize is that we're not talking about an exchange of prisoners. We're talking about 50 babies, mothers without babies, babies without mothers, nine-month-old, two years old, four years old, six years old, eight years old. And we're talking about an event where, as far as we're concerned, it's really a humanitarian event.

PHILLIP: Can you tell us more about the logistics of how this will occur?

EZRA: I don't have the exact details of how it will occur, but I think it's going to be gradual in a manner that the mechanism will be created, that the Hamas will hopefully stand for its obligation.

On the other hand, Israel will deliver the post that we have been talking about.


We are talking about 50 innocent Israeli civilians that were captured on October 7th that will be brought back, and in return, four days of a pause, and then a mechanism that allows, as you said, an incentive for the Hamas to continue releasing, again, innocent civilians, children, babies, elderly, and in return for every ten. Unfortunately, this is that kind of a trading of horses that Hamas is doing over here. It's a transactional act for them but we would like to release as many innocent civilians as possible. PHILLIP: Do you expect that Hamas will hold up their end of the

bargain in terms of stopping the fighting on their end?

EZRA: This is a great question. We know that they're not trustworthy. And actually we have experience in the past where they promised that they're going to be stopping the fire. But in return, they continued it after the specific time that we mentioned.

We know Adar Goldin, for example, that was later on attacked, killed, and abducted, his body was abducted by Hamas in the previous cycle. So we -- how the president says, we don't trust and we verify.

PHILLIP: Do you know exactly who the hostages are who will be released in this first tranche?

EZRA: I don't have the details, I don't think we have the exact details at this point. I know that it's heartbreaking and just no words to describe, mind-boggling for the families. Hopefully, we will know very soon.

I know that it's going to be mostly children, the mothers, and the elderly. So, we're talking about families that hopefully would not be broken, will be brought back to Israel sooner rather than later.

PHILLIP: Can you tell us about these Palestinians who are being released from Israeli prison? Our understanding is that there are hundreds of them who are women and teens in Israeli prisons right now. What are they accused of? And are you comfortable with this exchange?

EZRA: So, the list will be published soon, actually tomorrow, because there has to be a procedure or judicial procedure that if families that were actually heard by these terrorists, because they're either terrorists that are convicted, minor terrorists that either stabbed an Israeli or women that have created some kind of a terrorist attack and were convicted in a court of law. But I don't have the details about the names. They will be published to allow victims of the families to really go through that judicial process and go to the higher court in Israel.

I don't expect, by the way, that that will be an obstacle. Hopefully, this will move sooner.

PHILLIP: So, as this was being negotiated, you mentioned that President Biden was extremely helpful in getting these final details sorted out. Can you tell us more about the role that the White House played? What was it that President Biden did to help get this to the finish line?

EZRA: I could say -- I can't elaborate about all the details, but I could say the following. We don't speak with Hamas. The United States doesn't speak with Hamas because they are designated terror organization. But Qatar, for example, does speak with Hamas. And other players in the international arena like Egypt does speak with Hamas -- do speak with Hamas.

So, the idea was to create an investment in making sure that negotiation will yield fruit, will bear fruit. I think what the president personally weighed in made the difference that actually brought more hostages to be freed, hopefully also American citizens, including the three-year-old Abigail that will be released.

And his personal involvement made a difference. Know that about it. And, actually, the prime minister has specifically thanked the president on his involvement. So, we don't take it for granted. By the way, it's not just him, the intelligence agencies and many more players that were involved.

PHILLIP: And just the last thing, it could be 24 hours, maybe a little bit more, before anyone leaves Gaza. Will the IDF continue its campaign of bombings in this intervening time?

EZRA: 100 percent yes and I'll tell you why. We know that Hamas are not boy scouts. The reason that we need to go for a deal like that is only because they feel the pressure. They need the breath of air and that's why they're agreeing to that.

PHILLIP: Is there a risk that it could scuttle the deal?

EZRA: Is there?

PHILLIP: Is there a risk that continuing the bombing could scuttle this deal?

EZRA: I think that once the deal will go into place, including the fact that they will release the hostages, that way the post will kick in.

PHILLIP: All right. Thank you so much, Aviv Ezra, I really appreciate you joining us tonight.

EZRA: Thank you for having me.

PHILLIP: And tonight, many Israeli families are waiting for word about what their loved ones are and whether they are going to be part of the release of these hostages in Gaza.

I want to introduce now one of those family members, Maya Roman. Her cousin is currently held hostage by Hamas. And Maya has joined us on this program before.

Maya, you just heard what Consulate General Aviv Ezra just said. Any reaction to the news of this deal and anything that you may have just heard?

MAYA ROMAN, COUSIN HELD CAPTIVE BY HAMAS: I think Aviv spoke very eloquently. I think, you know, my family, like all the other families, is going to go through a terrible week.


We don't know if Yarden, my cousin, is going to be amongst those released in this round. And as it seems, we're going to have to wait and see every day who are going to be released the following day. And that's going to be extremely hard. Already we see that it's causing a lot of tensions among the different families, and it's going to be a hard week.

At the same time, without any cynicism, I am proud of my government. I think this is a good deal. This is what we wanted for our loved ones to start coming back. And you see that as Israel keeps saying, what is important for us is life and the living. And we're willing to exchange more people and to get our people back, to give this ceasefire. Because the one thing that's important to us here is to get the hostages back.

And me and my family kept faith all this time that our government really was putting the hostages at the top of the priority list. And this deal makes us feel like that faith has been rewarded in a way. Of course, it doesn't mean that we're complacent. We are still worried. For us, the families have all gotten together. I feel for every other family.

Whether Yarden gets released now or not, we have to get everyone back. And we know it's going to be a long and arduous process. So I still think that there's a long way to go. And we have to understand that this is just the beginning. But it does give us some much needed hope.

And I hope that as we see people coming back, though it's going to be extremely painful if Yarden is not there, that it helps give those of us who won't see their loved ones back the ability to keep going for as long as we need to until we see them all back.

PHILLIP: Have you received any messages from the government, from the prime minister's office in these 45 days since Yarden was taken? ROMAN: Yes. Gilles (ph), one of Yarden's siblings, was at the Cabinet meeting held a few days ago with many of the different family members. This was the first time we're really Prime Minister Netanyahu, along with the rest of the security cabinet and other members of cabinet, met with a large number of the families all together.

And again, Yarden's siblings were very strengthened by this, by what they heard at this meeting, that even though the war has two goals, the goal of bringing back the hostages and the goal of ending Hamas' reign, that the goal of the hostages is top priority, is something that won't be compromised for military gains, as we see right now. And, yes, we were quite strengthened by that meeting.

We've also had other meetings, not with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but with the rest of the cabinet through these days, where, again, they tried to reassure us that they are doing all that they can do to get the hostages back, especially at times when it seemed like maybe they weren't. There were many of -- you know, a lot of questions regarding previous deals that did go through, that didn't go through. And this has been a very hard process, and it required a lot of faith and a lot of pressure on our end and pressure on the American end, which, as we've mentioned, was crucial in this regard.

But, yes, we, all along the way, said, we don't need information. I don't need anyone to tell me any privileged information that they can't tell me, quite the opposite. If there is privileged information about a deal that I can't know, I would rather not know and just know that things are moving, that things are happening.

So, I don't need the government to keep me updated as much as I need them to truly work to get back our loved ones as quickly as possible.

PHILLIP: That's entirely understandable. Maya Roman, thank you very much once again for joining us and giving us that update.

ROMAN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And up next for us, President Biden's Democratic challenger says that he would have rejected this deal. Congressman Dean Phillips joins me on set. Plus, I'll ask him about his controversial comments about Vice President Kamala Harris.

And what this deal means for the battlefield and what the Israelis will not be able to do?



PHILLIP: More now on our breaking news tonight, the world is reacting to the hostage deal negotiated to free at least 50 captives held by Hamas. But there are some critics of the parameters of this deal, including President Biden's Democratic challenger.

I now want to get right into it with Democratic Presidential Candidate, Congressman Dean Phillips. Congressman Phillips, thank you for joining us in studio tonight.


PHILLIP: This deal that we've been discussing, the reporting is that Hamas would release kidnapped Israeli hostages in exchange for a three to one ratio of Palestinian prisoners, women and minors, children who are in Israeli prison. If you were president of the United States, would you accept that deal?

PHILLIPS: No, because we have nine Americans held hostage right now by Hamas, had been there for six weeks, including at least one child. And by now I would have expected American Special Forces to perhaps play a hand in extracting them. I think it's absurd, shocking, and dismaying that six weeks later we still have American hostages held by a terror organization in Gaza.

I'm happy for the Israelis. Don't get me wrong. Hamas should release all hostages. But the fact that we have Americans sitting in Gaza right now held hostage is appalling and should be addressed immediately.

PHILLIP: So, to be clear, you would turn down even this opportunity to free 50 hostages? And I want to just clarify for the audience, these are Israelis, but some of them are dual citizens. They hold dual passports, including some Americans.

PHILLIPS: If all Americans are included that are held hostage right now, of course I would approve it.


If there's a single American that is still held hostage after this deal, no. I think it's that important, Abby. I think the American president has an obligation to extract Americans. It's been six weeks, and I'm happy that some are being released, but every single American citizen should be part of that group. And if I were the American president, I would not agree to anything until every single one of them is released. I would demand it. And if it wasn't done, we have to use every lever available to us to ensure it.

PHILLIP: You have said that the war has taken an unacceptable toll on Palestinian citizens and civilians.

PHILLIPS: And Israelis.

PHILLIP: And, of course, on Israelis. But in terms of the toll on Palestinians in Gaza, you're saying a ceasefire only in exchange for the hostages. It seems pretty clear at this point. Those are not terms that Hamas will accept. So, how will you get them to agree to release all of the hostages, which they've refused to do up until this point, simply by putting a ceasefire on the table?

PHILLIPS: First of all, Hamas should have been eliminated years ago, years ago. The fact that a terror organization will not release 200 humans in exchange for the preservation of life of the people they ostensibly represent is appalling.

PHILLIP: But what will you --

PHILLIPS: This is a failure, Abby of the past.

PHILLIP: But what will you do about it is my question. What would you do if you were president? What would you do to change that?

PHILLIPS: Just like I proposed, release the 200 hostages. They will be immediate.

PHILLIP: Hamas has to do that. So, how do you get Hamas to do it?

PHILLIPS: Hamas has to do it. Because -- how do you get Hamas to do it? You make the -- this is exactly the presentation, release 200 hostages, an immediate ceasefire, a multi-national security force to maintain security for all Palestinians in Gaza that eliminates Israel's responsibility.

PHILLIP: Do you think that the Biden administration is deferring too much to the Israeli government in how this war is conducted? Because it kind of sounds like what you're saying is that you think that the United States government should simply just go in there and release the Americans.

PHILLIPS: I look at outcomes and facts. And the fact of the matter is this cycle has been going on for the 50 years that Joe Biden has been in Washington. And, by the way, the fact that Hamas is holding these hostages right now should have been addressed, I believe, years ago.

And to answer your question directly, yes, I think there's been too much deference to Netanyahu's right wing government for too long. He is a big problem for the safety and security of Israel. And I hope Israelis make a change soon, too.

PHILLIP: I understand that you, of course, are running for president. So, that is definitely your position.

I want to ask you about an interview that you recently did that was released today in The Atlantic. You said in this interview that other people have told you this about Vice President Kamala Harris that she is not well-prepared, doesn't have the right disposition and the right competencies to execute that office.

You've actually been around her. Do you agree?

PHILLIPS: No. In fact, what I said in that report, I hope, you just articulated, is that that's what people have told me.

PHILLIP: So why repeat what other people told you if you have firsthand experience?

PHILLIPS: I did not articulate that distinctly. That was asked of me. Others have said that to the reporter in question. What I've said is when I've been around her, I've been impressed. She's been kind. She's been thoughtful and decent. But what I'm trying to explain to Americans, whether it's relative to the president's age or the standing of Vice President Harris amongst Americans, if Democrats wish to beat Donald Trump, Abby, if Democrats want to beat Donald Trump, this is not about protecting people, it's about protecting the principle of democracy.

And I'm saying that Americans are saying -- if you look at their approval numbers, Americans are saying they do not want this ticket.

PHILLIP: I think critique though of this --

PHILLIPS: But I think she's a good person.

PHILLIP: Your comments in this interview is that you are saying that this is what other people have told you, but you said those words to the reporter and people are looking at that and saying you're hiding behind other people to articulate criticisms of the vice president. You are happy to criticize Donald Trump and Netanyahu and even President Biden. If you have critiques --

PHILLIPS: I'm the one who says the quiet part out loud. I think that's pretty well-documented.

PHILLIP: I guess the question is why repeat these comments?

PHILLIPS: Abby, I do not recall saying those words. I recall those words being shared with me and saying that's what people have been saying.

And I'm actually let me defend the vice president.

PHILLIP: You did not say these words?

PHILLIPS: I don't recall saying those words. Let me say this though. I'm defending the vice president because I think she's a good person. I think she is well-prepared. But I'm telling you the country has a different opinion, and that's exactly what I said there.

And, by the way, I think Joe Biden is a good person. I respect him. The country is saying they do not want him to be the next president. By the way, Democrats are saying that about both of them. That's all I'm pointing out. That's not by the way that's not me. Those are polls. And I will defend --

PHILLIP: By virtue of your running, you know, Vice President Harris is there on the ticket, are you tacitly saying that you don't think that she ought to be a successor to President Biden?

PHILLIPS: I'm not saying -- no, you know what I'm saying actually, and what I've said directly to many, and would actually say to her if she was right next to me, run.


The water is warm. We live in democracy, what is everybody so afraid to actually exercise our democratic muscles? It doesn't happen on its own. You got to plant seeds, you got to water them, and most of all, you got to participate. I made calls to certain candidates to jump in. They wouldn't do it. I would actually issue a call to Vice President Harris, Governor Newsom, Governor Pritzker, Governor Whitmer.

PHILLIP: Have you asked Vice President Harris to run directly?

PHILLIPS: I've not asked her. I've not asked her directly. But you would. I'll do it publicly right now. To all who believe that we need to do better, who all believe we need change, and who all who recognize the polls are saying that President Biden is going to lose to Donald Trump, enter the race, just like I did.

The water is warm. Vice President Harris, anybody, Governor Whitmer, Governor Pritzker, Governor Newsom, all the people who are kind of circling like vultures right now, right, join the race, that's what you do in democracy.

And most of all, I can tell you, if you haven't gone through the nonsense and the misery of actually simply doing what you do in democracy, it's actually joyful. It's amazing. And the country needs us now, not in 2028, because if Donald Trump wins, Abby, there will not be a 2028.

So, Vice President Harris, yes, you know what? It's probably hard because you're the vice president right now, but you know what? Jump in. Jump in.

PHILLIP: Congressman Dean Phillips, I appreciate you joining us here in the studio. Thank you.

And next, how will this hostage deal impact Israel's stated goal of getting rid of Hamas? I'll ask a counterterrorism expert.

Plus, why are some Jewish leaders now embracing Elon Musk after he tweeted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories? Well, Kara Swisher joins me next on that.

And Ron DeSantis is getting a critical endorsement in the state of Iowa. What that could mean for the 2024 race.



PHILLIP: Just in to CNN, Qatar announcing that humanitarian pause that we talked about at the top of the hour, 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for a number of Palestinian women and children who are currently detained in Israeli prisons. Now, Qatar has played a critical middleman throughout much of this very contentious process. CNN's Becky Anderson is live for us in Doha, Qatar. Becky, what are you hearing from them about what comes next?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, some hours after Israel confirmed that its cabinet had approved this deal, a deal that had been delivered on Tuesday morning in the wee hours to Israel by Qatar, who have mediated these talks throughout, we have now got word that Qatar has announced that this humanitarian pause has been agreed in Gaza. And it's important that we report on the Qatar announcement because

that effectively announces that this has been successful and it says in the next 24 hours the starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours and last for four days subject to extension.

It is 6:31 in the morning -- Wednesday morning here now. It is 5:31 Israeli time. So, within the next 24 hours from now, this announcement from Qatar suggests that a pause will be announced. We will get the timing on that pause. And that is crucial, of course, because of course, at the next stage we'll be actually seeing evidence that those hostages have been released.

We are talking upwards of 30 children at this stage as far as we can tell from multiple sources and 12 mothers and another 8 women on the Israeli side. Those are the women and children who will be released from Hamas captivity and in exchange there will be the release of the Palestinians, 150 Palestinians.

And this pause will be four days and it will be extended sort of on a rolling basis if Hamas continues to release hostages. It also importantly includes in the announcement the fact that there will be a significant amount of aid coming across the border and that will include fuel.



PHILLIP: Very critical and just to underscore what you're saying there, the pause begins sometime in the next 24 hours, not right at this moment. Becky Anderson, thank you very much. Now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is saying that this deal does have the full support of the IDF, but that Israel's military will in fact continue its war against Hamas.

Joining me now is Alex Plitsas. He's a former Pentagon counterterrorism official. Alex, so walk us through what the impact of a lengthy pause, four days will have on this battlefield which as you can see here in this image is incredibly extensive in the north. It bleeds even to the middle of Gaza and the south. What impact will a pause have on how this operation goes?

ALEX PLITSAS, FORMER PENTAGON COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: It's a great question and one that a lot of folks have been asking over the last, you know, almost two months as this has unfolded -- what that would look like. And so, as we just heard, the IDF is in support of this, and I think for a couple of reasons.

So, as you pointed out, on the northern side of Gaza, where the majority of the military operations have taken place, the hospital centers are and whatnot, that's where all the strikes have happened. And then down here about south for Wadi Gaza, all the civilians have kind of moved southbound.

The Israelis have given up the element of surprise because they don't really need it at this point. They have an overwhelming military advantage, so I don't think that the four or five-day pause will have a significant impact on military operations overall. There will be an opportunity to reset a little bit for Hamas, but Israel will still maintain the advantage in the long run.

PHILLIP: So, it's also a chance critically, as Becky was just saying, for aid to come in, a significant amount of aid.


Basically, all of Northern Gaza, it's decimated.


PHILLIP: Most of the people have fled to the South. How -- what are the logistics around getting that much aid? I think it could be as much as 300 trucks coming through one of these crossings. Will Israel have to consider potentially opening up more avenues for aid to come in?

PLITSAS: Well, it's entirely possible. I mean, the focus right now for the trucks coming in from the Israelis is ensuring that nothing that is not supposed to go into Gaza that is anything outside of humanitarian aid makes its way in. And so, it's a question of whether or not the volume can make it with the inspections that are required. And we've seen a lot of holdups for up to 70 trucks. We're talking nearly four times that, you know, going in for right now.

So, I think the first couple of days as they work out the mechanics of this will definitely be interesting. And I think if they can't get it through one gate, they're going to have to abide by the terms of the agreements. They may have to look at potentially a second opening. But as you mentioned, the vast majority of the civilians in the north have now fled south. And so, there's a dire need for aid in the south.

PHILLIP: And real quick before we go, the Red Cross now able to potentially see the remaining hostages in Gaza. How critical is that?

PLITSAS: It's extremely critical. It's a role that the Red Cross has traditionally played. They're going to be safe in being able to do so. They've already helped facilitate two previous releases of two individuals out of two separate occasions. And so, I would expect them to do the same thing and facilitate exit through Egypt. It's incredibly important also to check the disposition of the remaining hostages. So, the Red Cross will play a very key role here.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and also potentially to identify exactly who is there. Alex Plitsas, thank you so much. Always good to have you. And next for us as more companies flee from Elon Musk, why are some Jewish leaders now embracing him? Kara Swisher joins me live. Plus, actress Susan Sarandon gets dropped by her talent agency after remarks that she made at a pro-Palestinian rally. We'll tell you what she said next.


[22:41:03] PHILLIP: Tonight, an exodus from X. Paris Hilton's company, 11:11, pulling its ads from the social media company after debuting a big partnership with X just a month ago. 11:11 joins a growing list of corporations to now abandon the artist formerly known as Twitter. A list that includes IBM, Disney, Paramount and Warner Brothers Discovery, CNN's parent company.

Now, this all follows some sleuthing from a left-leaning media watchdog that revealed how ads from some of these companies were placed next to hateful content on this platform. Joining me now on this is CNN Contributor Kara Swisher. She hosts the podcast "On with Kara Swisher "and also "Pivot". Kara, your favorite topic, Elon Musk losing even --

KARA SWISHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, thanks so much. Happy Thanksgiving.

PHILLIP: Happy Thanksgiving to you. He's losing even more advertisers. And Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who, you know, a business professor at Yale, he says Elon shouldn't have any. He says it is self-destructive for any advertiser to be associated with him. It's pathological. Pathological, Kara?

SWISHER: Well, you know, I think Jeffrey's like that. That's something Jeffrey would do. He's quite passionate. You know, he's been doing all kinds of different boycotts and things like that in Ukraine and things like that with Russia. So, that's typical of him. You know, advertisers can choose if they can make money on that site, they should be on it, I guess. And if they don't mind some of the toxicity, they should be on it. I think Cheech and Chong are doing rather well with their weed business there.

But I think big advertisers are really worried about not just being placed by bad content, but the general toxicity of the site. X is pushing back very hard and saying that not a lot of people that these reports from Media Matters, who they're suing, are not true and say, you know, they're pushing back on this stuff, but every brand has to decide if they feel safe on this platform, which I think everyone who uses it understands what's happening there.

PHILLIP: So, Jonathan Greenblatt, he's the head of the Anti-Defamation League. He's been on the receiving end of some criticism for now praising Elon Musk. And here's what he said when he was asked about that today.


JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Then, two days later, it's important that he made a good policy decision and announced that he was no longer going to tolerate language, genocidal language, that called to eradicate the state of Israel and annihilate the seven million people who live there. Strongly. Again, I've already said it's problematic and dangerous when someone with his platform promotes anti-Semitic or validates anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

And so, when I said that Elon Musk showed leadership, he did. TikTok hasn't done this. Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, I mean, Snap -- no one else has done this. I think it's a good thing. I think it does deserve --


PHILLIP: Do you think he has a point that maybe too much focus on what Elon Musk is tweeting or whatever, not as much focus on what the platform is actually doing?

SWISHER: I think it's combined. I think you can't separate them. I mean, he is under quite a bit of attack from Elon Musk. And I think he doesn't want to get sued. I think that's the heart of this is I think that would be bad for the ADL and for him.

And so, you know, he's just taking his small victories where he can. It's essentially said, oh, my goodness, the child didn't, you know, break everything today. He did something good. I just -- I think it should be an overall thing because I think you can't separate the promotion of these tweets and the amplification that he gives them, given who he is. and some good policies, great. That's great that he's making good policies. I guess we should say great when he does that.

At the same time, you know, it's still a problem. It's still a problem. But John is right that other parts of the ecosystem, the social media ecosystem have just as many problems and they don't get as much focus. But you know, it's because Elon calls attention to himself. TikTok gets much more attention they probably deserve for some of this stuff because they're the biggest. That's just the way -- that's life in the big city, as they say.


PHILLIP: Yeah, that's if you can't stand the heat, as they say.

SWISHER: Right, yeah.

PHILLIP: So, Kara, I want to ask you about another thing. Susan Sarandon, who's always a figure who invites opinions from people, her talent agency, United Talent Agency, they cut ties with her today after she made some remarks at a pro-Palestinian rally. Listen to those.


SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: There are a lot of people that are afraid of being Jewish at this time and are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country so often subjected to violence. It's important to listen, it's important to have facts, try to take a breath before you answer, and if it's possible, have a conversation.

You don't have to go through the entire history of that region. You can just show the babies that have been dying in incubators. Those images are enough to show you that something is drastically wrong.


PHILLIP: This is becoming a big thing for Hollywood.


PHILLIP: Can they keep basically kicking stars off the island one by one for anti-Semitism or Islamophobia like this indefinitely?

SWISHER: Yeah, they can. Yes, they certainly can. It's a long history of things like this. And this is sort of on brand for Susan Sarandon. This is -- I'm not surprised she said any of this stuff. You know, she knows what she's saying and she knows there are consequences.

And anyone who runs an agency can do what they want. Maybe they shouldn't. Maybe they should let people have a wider range of opinion. But that was a little bit offensive to talk about stack ranking tragedy.


SWISHER: You know, I just -- I found that really needlessly cruel way to put it, like, you know, I'm sure she has a good point and we should have conversations. That's the part I liked about that, what she was saying there. But in her case, that shut down the conversation immediately.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of that ranking of pain and tragedy happening right now.

SWISHER: Yeah. Absolutely.

PHILLIP: Kara, thank you as always for joining us. Appreciate it.

SWISHER: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: And Ron DeSantis is scoring a key endorsement in the state of Iowa. But could that actually shake up this field? That's next.



PHILLIP: New tonight, one of the most powerful figures in Iowa politics has made his pick, Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats officially endorsing Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Presidential Election. Now, Vander Plaats has long been skeptical of Trump's re-election bid, and today he praised DeSantis' strong performance in the 2022 midterm elections. Joining me now to discuss this is CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein.

Ron, so Vander Plaats deciding to jump in. Also, you have Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds in the race. Last poll from Anne Seltzer, gold standard poll, Ron DeSantis is mid double digits, about 16 percent. Will this make a huge difference for him?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It'll help him. I mean, this is valuable in the context of the Iowa caucus. The problem is that DeSantis is essentially replicating a strategy that has failed in the past three Republican presidential primaries. You know, in '08, Mike Huckabee, in '12, Rick Santorum, and '16, Ted Cruz, all structured their campaign in the same way Ron DeSantis is.

They went all in on Iowa, they visited every county, they focused on consolidating support among the state's evangelical Christians and Bob Vander Plaats will be useful for DeSantis in doing that. The problem is, once each of those candidates were stamped that way as the candidate of evangelicals, they had enormous trouble reaching out beyond that community in other states. They all immediately crashed in New Hampshire.

None of them even reached 12 percent of the vote. None of them ended up winning even a dozen states. And right now, Ron DeSantis, even if he does well in Iowa, is facing that same risk. You look at the polling, he's in single digits in New Hampshire and Nikki Haley does seem to be in position. Whatever happens in Iowa, to potentially squeeze him out as the principal rival to Donald Trump in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

PHILLIP: Right and Iowa hasn't picked a winner since George W. Bush.


PHILLIP: So, it's been a while. On another topic on the Democratic side, Dean Phillips was just on the show earlier challenging President Biden. He also had some words for Vice President Kamala Harris in this "Atlantic" interview.


PHILLIP: I asked him about it.


PHILLIP: And he tried to walk them back, but this is something that is really gaining a lot of traction. There's a lot of push back for him repeating what he says other people told him about her weaknesses. What do you make of that?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, this is the core challenge. I mean, you know, it's hard to run against someone without ever criticizing them or their administration. And yet there's very little tolerance in the Democratic coalition right now for that because there's so much anxiety about Biden's position vis-a-vis Trump and the concern that, you know, if you push against the cracks in the window at all, that they could break.

PHILLIP: And hey, it's risky, I mean, for Black voters to be seen as criticizing the Black female Vice president.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, he is, there's very little chance he is going to be the Democratic nominee and beat Joe Biden in 2024. The only question, I listened to your interview with him. I thought, really, the only question, he talks about Eugene McCarthy, you know -- president -- from 1968 of running against Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy's initial success against Lyndon Johnson, what was the most, it brought in Bobby Kennedy to the race.


And you know, he talks about wanting someone else to come in. And I suppose if there's any way that he would have an impact on this, it would be as if in the early states, he demonstrates sufficient weakness for Biden to attract someone else in the race. Right now, he doesn't look like he's strong enough to do that. But there's a lot of resistance, there's a lot of concern among Democratic voters, and that may find some kind of expression next year.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of concern with Biden, but maybe more concern. about what a big fight among Democrats would do when it comes to a Trump competitor.

BROWNSTEIN: Exactly right. Exactly right. Especially now that he's trailing Trump so consistently.

PHILLIP: Yeah, exactly. Ron Brownstein, great to see you in studio here. And up next, more on our breaking news. Israel approving this deal to get back 50 hostages from Hamas. We've just learned some new details about that. Stay with CNN.


PHILLIP: Can Mick Jagger still start it up without spraining a hip? Well, 2024 will help us find out. "The Stones" -- they are back on the road in North America to support their latest album. It is their first stateside tour since 2021, and the tour is sponsored by, you guessed it, the AARP.

Thank you for watching "NewsNight". "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Laura, I'm not sure I could do that without breaking a hip, but you know.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, I don't know about you, but I have the moves like Jagger. I'm sorry. I don't know how you didn't work that into that.

PHILLIP: I believe you. I believe you.

COATES: I do. But let me like, I don't -- I don't want anything to come down on me because the "Rolling Stones" fans see the shade you just threw and I don't want any part of it. You think the "Beehive" is bad. "Rolling Stones" -- I don't know what you guys do. So, that was Abby Phillip, not Laura Coates.

PHILLIP: I'm sitting in this chair, so I have no shade to throw.

COATES: Okay. Well, there you go. Nice to see you, Abby Phillip.

PHILLIP: Me, too.

COATES: See you back tomorrow.