Return to Transcripts main page
CNN News Central
Violent Clashes In Dublin After 5 Injured in Knife Attack; Musk Faces Defamation Lawsuit After Accusations On X Claiming Jewish Man Had Far-Right Neo-Nazi Links; Families Await Release Of Hostages With Hope, Anxiety; President Biden Spends Thanksgiving On Nantucket With Family. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired November 23, 2023 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: We're following a developing story overseas right now. You're looking at video of violent clashes taking place in Dublin. We see a bus on fire in the Irish capital. Police also in riot gear.
There's also video on social media showing men and officers fighting. This comes as police are investigating a knife attack in Dublin. Several people including a 5-year-old girl were apparently hurt. A man in his 50s is currently detained. We'll of course stay on top of this story and bring you the very latest.
Elon Musk is facing a growing crisis at Twitter. More than a dozen advertisers, including some of the world's largest media companies, have cut ties with the social media site that's now known as X. This comes after a damaging report showing an unnerving amount of antisemitic and pro-Nazi content being shared on the site, including tweets from the CEO himself.
But rather than apologizing and ensuring his advertisers that he takes their complaints seriously, Musk is now suing the media watchdog that released that report. This is not the first time that a tweet has gotten the billionaire in trouble. A recent college graduate is now suing Musk for defamation.
CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has that report.
BEN BRODY, SUING ELON MUSK FOR DEFAMATION: I was just, oh my God, is this for real?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-two-year-old Ben Brody was at home in Riverside, California, when --
BRODY: I started getting these text messages from my friends. You're accused of being a neo-Nazi, Ben, look at all this stuff that's been said about you. And I was like, okay, this is just some prank. O'SULLIVAN: But it wasn't a prank. A thousand miles away near
Portland, Oregon, two far right extremist groups had gotten into a fight while protesting against a pride event. Ben Brody was not there, but online trolls tried to guess who was involved using a video of the crowd. They found random photos of Ben online.
BRODY: They said, oh, this person looks like him, he has to be this person, you know, there's no way it's not him. It was just, like, an assumption that went wrong.
O'SULLIVAN: The person in the video resembled Ben, but even though it definitely was not him, the trolls thought they had found their man. They pulled information from Ben's fraternity page which said after graduation, he plans to work for the government, and turned it into a lie that he was a federal agent who was infiltrating the extremist group to make them look bad, a so-called false flag operation.
BRODY: Hey, what's up, guys, my name is Ben Brody, and I wanted to address the false accusations against me.
O'SULLIVAN: Desperate to clear his name, Ben made this video. He even posted time-stamped surveillance footage showing him at a store in California at the same time the brawl was happening near Portland. But the false claims about Ben's involvement continued to spread.
Even the owner of Twitter, now X, Elon Musk, weighed in, posting to his millions of followers, looks like one is a college student who wants to join the government and another is maybe an Antifa member.
But nonetheless, a probable false flag situation.
BRODY: I knew that this was snowballing, but once Elon Musk commented, I was like, boom, that's the final nail in the coffin.
O'SULLIVAN: And how much did it intensify after Musk's involvement?
BRODY: It massively intensifies it. This guy DM'ed me on Instagram. He's like, now even Elon Musk thinks you're a fed. And what was really scary, too, is that these people were threatening to tell my school, and I was scared that I wasn't going to graduate.
O'SULLIVAN: Ben's friends and others tweeted at Musk, telling him the person in the video was not Ben.
MARK BANKSTON, BEN BRODY'S ATTORNEY: This case, at its core, is about Elon Musk being reckless and making an accusation about this young man.
O'SULLIVAN: Mark Bankston is Ben Brody's attorney and is suing Musk for defamation.
BANKSTON: Ben published a video to try to clear his name, it didn't work. So, there's this feeling of helplessness that there's millions out there, millions, who think that Ben was involved in neo-Nazi activities.
And that is how I know you lied to me.
O'SULLIVAN: Bankston is best known as the lawyer who successfully sued Alex Jones for the lies he spread about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Now he wants to hold Elon Musk accountable, writing in the lawsuit, Musk made these false and damaging act accusations against Ben Brody and it's led to severe personal harassment and permanent damage to his reputation.
BANKSTON: How did we get to a place where somebody so powerful can make that kind of accusation based on something so flimsy, from just anonymous people on the Internet?
O'SULLIVAN: His home address was posted online and he worries his name will be forever associated with neo-Nazism.
BRODY: Someone posted saying, a Klansman lives here and they gave the address with the picture of my house, and I was like terrified.
O'SULLIVAN: Ben, who is Jewish, says being called a neo-Nazi has been especially painful.
Did you think your life was ruined?
BRODY: Yeah, completely. You know, if you just put it my name into the search bar, you know, neo-Nazi fed, Ben Brody.
O'SULLIVAN: Ben is seeking damages in excess of $1 million, but both he and his lawyers saw it's about a lot more than money.
BANKSTON: We have to change how we deal with information, how we spread information, and how we attempt to influence others.
BRODY: The fact that this is happening to private people, that's just terrifying. And it's going to happen again unless someone stands up to this guy.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Elon Musk's lawyers have until the 5th of January to respond to this lawsuit in court. One of Musk's lawyers telling me last night that they expect this case to be dismissed, but really, this lawsuit really lists page after page, instance after instance of where it appears that Musk is repeatedly, over the course of many months, engaging with conspiracy theorists on his X platform, and sometimes appearing to engage or even amplifying racist or antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Now, that is obviously something we're expecting musk's lawyers to contest in court, but really, as you saw in that report there. Ben Brody, the 22-year-old, his life really turned upside down by these conspiracy theories.
Back to you.
SANCHEZ: Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much for that. This is now a gut-wrenching waiting game for those families of those
kidnapped by Hamas. Will their loved ones be among the first released in just a few hours? We're going to speak to the family of one hostage, when we come back.
SANCHEZ: Right now, the families of hostages being held inside Gaza are waiting anxiously to hear news about their loved ones. The first group of people to be released as part of the deal will be women and children, which means that for the families of hostages who are men, there's likely still a more anxious waiting ahead.
Joining us now is Moshe Lavi. His brother-in-law Omri Miran is being held captive.
Moshe, thank you so much for being with us.
First, I'm just wondering if you've gotten any information about him and how he's doing?
MOSHE LAVI, BROTHER-IN-LAW TAKEN HOSTAGE: Thank you so much, and I wish to wish anybody who is watching happy Thanksgiving, if they celebrate.
We have no information about his well-being or whereabouts. The last we've heard, about three weeks ago, he was alive, but it was indicated that this was for a specific timestamp and the situation is just so fluid, had what was known three weeks ago can't be relevant now, which is why we will keep pushing for the release of all the hostages, irrespective of their gender, their age. He deserves to be home, reunited with his wife, my sister, and his two daughters.
SANCHEZ: How are they holding up? I understand that they, at one point, were being held at gunpoint on October 7th, and they were fortunate to be rescued and make it out, but this has to be an excruciating process for them, and obviously for you, as well.
LAVI: Yeah, it's been an excruciating seven weeks now. I feel like we're in the midst of an odyssey, and it's an ongoing journey of the unknown of whether he will return to us or not.
All of our family is displaced around Israel, scattered around. All of them were victims of the attacks of October 7th. My sister and the girls were targeted, as terrorists barged into their home.
And they were held captive for hours. Luckily, they were rescued.
They're dealing with the trauma, they're dealing with the grief for the loss of the community that they saw burning literally and figuratively, and yet, my sister, a brave woman, continues to fight every day to voice the cry of my nieces, for the return of their father. They received the care they need, but what they really need right now is for everyone, irrespective of their political disposition, to unite behind the releasing of the hostages held by Hamas and their accomplices.
SANCHEZ: Moshe, I'm wondering if this initial deal to temporarily pause hostilities and release some 50 hostages between Israel and Hamas, it gives you some degree of hope, I assume, that a greater deal for others like Omri will soon come?
LAVI: First and foremost, it gives me a reason to be joyful for the first time in several weeks, because children and some -- some women will be reuniting with their families. Some of those children lost both of their parents, they are orphans now, and they'll be rescued and returned home.
So, there is a degree of happiness there, but there is also a degree of sadness from the fact that seven weeks in, and we are not able to release all the hostages. There is some optimism, but it's a barometer. And for this past seven weeks, we moved from optimism to a pessimism, and we are sometimes faced with the realization that perhaps it won't be a happy ending here.
We still hope for it, and I call all the international community, all the relevant stakeholders, Israeli government, as well, to continue and do all they can to ensure the release of all the hostages. All of them need to return to their home, to their loved ones. This odyssey, ongoing odyssey, needs to end, just like it almost this ended with Odysseus returning home.
SANCHEZ: It did take a long time for Odysseus to return home and it was a grueling journey. I can't imagine what you must be going through. You did share with "The New York Times" a piece where you described the humanity of the hostages, and you painted your sister and her family as spiritual lovers of nature and mankind. Tell us more about them.
LAVI: Yeah, Omri is a -- is a loving man, dedicated to raising his daughters, dedicated to allowing my sister to develop her career, avid reader of (INAUDIBLE), he loved nature. He loved my God and was a sciatic therapist.
My sister, as well, shared his optimism about humanity, optimism about raising a family on that region of Israel, the northwest Negev, the Israel-Gaza border because it is that region that fills people with hope that perhaps one day we can live with peace in our neighbors in Gaza. That day cannot happen with Hamas being behind the border.
Our family grew up to terror. I grew up in Sderot on the border. My growing up experience, living with rockets and terror attacks, so was my sister, but I still insist that we have to be optimistic and hopeful about the future, while being realistic how we can achieve it and achieving it right now is ensuring the release of the hostages, and ensuring that Hamas can no longer play a part in the realization of the hopes and dreams of both Israelis and Palestinians.
SANCHEZ: Moshe Lavi, your optimism is very much appreciated. We hope that soon you and your family are reunited with Omri, and you can have Thanksgiving dinner that you might have had today. Moshe Lavi, thank you so much for joining us.
LAVI: Thank you. I wish peace upon us all.
SANCHEZ: Thank you so much.
LAVI: Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: President Biden is spending Thanksgiving in Massachusetts, that her -- he and the first lady visited first responders working at the Nantucket firehouse on this holiday. Biden is also reacting to news that the hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas, which is set to include Americans, is set to kick in, in just a few hours.
CNN's Arlette Saenz is traveling with the president and she joins us now.
Arlette, even the Israelis have pointed to the role the outsized role that President Biden played in these negotiations. How is he responding to today's news?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, President Biden struck an optimistic tone about the prospect of this hostage deal, but said he would not provide any updates until it is completed.
Now, one big thing the White House is watching for is how many Americans might be part of this initial batch of hostages that are released. It's believed that there are three Americans that could be part of this release, including three-year-old Abigail Edan, whose parents were killed on October 7th during that Hamas attack.
And here is what President Biden had to tell reporters a bit earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Are you expecting the 3-year-old girl to be among the hostages released, Mr. President?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Keeping my fingers crossed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: So the president there hopeful.
Now, officials say that they will inform the families of American hostages once a release is complete. That essentially means that they will need to have an American official or a trusted third party set eyes on these American hostages before they notify their families. But the White House is hopeful this will all start to take place tomorrow.
SANCHEZ: And, Arlette, on a much lighter note, quickly, I believe the Biden Thanksgiving trip included something pretty chilly, right?
SAENZ: Yeah, it did. President Biden's granddaughter Naomi posted a photo of the family saying that they all partook in annual Thanksgiving polar plunge, dipping into the cold waters here off the coast of Nantucket. You can see President Biden there wrapped in a towel along with his son Hunter Biden, daughter Ashley and all of his grandchildren.
The Bidens also visited a fire station where they dropped off five pumpkin pies for the firefighters and first responders working there. They also called in to the Thanksgiving Day parade as well as making calls to all branches of the military this Thanksgiving.
SANCHEZ: Arlette Saenz, thanks so much for joining us. Happy Thanksgiving.
And thank you so much for sharing your holiday with us. We hope you enjoy that cranberry sauce whether from a can or made from scratch.
Our special coverage continues in just a moment. Stay with CNN.