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Princess Kate Apologizes For Confusion Over Edited Photo; Blinken Arrives In Jamaica For Emergency Meeting On Haiti; WSJ: Shipping CEO Angela Chao Drowned After Reversing Car Into Pond; Study: Teens Say They've Cut Back On Social Media Use. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 11, 2024 - 15:30   ET



MOLLY MCPHERSON, CRISIS COMMUNICATION STRATEGIST: However, there is no evidence that everything is and that's why this is a story that will not go away and one that's getting away from the royal family.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: So in those situations, would it be better to just be as transparent as possible and come forward and give a more thorough explanation of what's happening?

MCPHERSON: Yes, at this point, it's clear that they have been trying for quite some time through messaging and statements to tell everyone we are not going to release information about Princess Kate.

However, there is so much scrutiny online and now there's conspiracy theories and rumors and chatter and that's mixed with the algorithm. Silence is not golden in this case. So it seems as if the more they try, the worse it is.

It's so ham-handed at this point. And what's very interesting is how they're putting all of the blame, so to speak, on Kate herself. So here -- you know, here Princess Kate is recovering. We can't see her yet. She's operating as her own media agent at the same time. It's highly suspicious to people like myself who work in crisis management, but also to the general public as well.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it strikes me that they would post an image like that without it being vetted and without somebody pointing out, hey, there's like a sleeve that's in the wrong place and there's like a tile that's missing and this is like clearly messed up.

MCPHERSON: Yes, it's almost so amateurish. It makes some people wonder perhaps, is this a red herring? Are they hoping that everyone talks about how poorly doctored this photograph was, that they're not paying attention to other things happening within the royal family right now? No one can track it at this point because it really has been a challenge for them and one that they are failing at miserably.

SANCHEZ: Again, we hope that whatever's going on with Kate, that she's OK, but it is quite the story. Molly McPherson, appreciate you sharing your analysis with us.

MCPHERSON: Thanks so much, Boris. SANCHEZ: Still ahead on NEW CENTRAL, a nation under siege. Violent

gangs in Haiti continue to tighten their grip. Several embassies beginning to evacuate staff as the country now teeters on the edge of total collapse.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently in the region attending an emergency meeting on the situation. More details on that when we return.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Jamaica for an emergency meeting on the worsening crisis in Haiti. The U.S. Embassy in Haiti has evacuated all non-essential personnel due to the heightened gang violence near the embassy's compound. There are now growing concerns the violence could expand beyond the capital area.

Let's go to CNN's Patrick Oppmann covering Blinken's visit for us. Patrick, what's the latest?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Blinken has been meeting with the Jamaican Prime Minister and other regional leaders. Conspicuously absent, Brianna, is the Haiti's Prime Minister, who was not at the meeting today. Blinken has been calling on Ariel Henry to form a transitional government, something that Henry has resisted in the past. But the U.S. is pushing forward, saying that they have the funding for a force of about 1,000 Kenyan soldiers to come to Haiti and begin to restore order, take on those violent gangs that have pushed this nation to the brink of collapse.

You've already seen over the last several days several embassies beginning to take out their personnel from heavily guarded compounds, saying they simply cannot operate anymore in Haiti. The U.S. removed some non-essential personnel. They had to fly in a military helicopter in the middle of the night over the weekend and take out those non- essential personnel, also bring in more security to keep the embassies safe.

And you're starting to see around Port-au-Prince areas that had once been relatively safe, the presidential palace, the area where the embassies and diplomats' compounds are located, come under gang violence and gunfire and receive some of those coordinated attacks that we're seeing more and more of.

For the Haitian people, it is an entirely different story. Thousands have been forced from their homes, cannot receive any aid, cannot get to hospitals. They're essentially being terrorized before the entire world by these gangs that have said that they do not want Ariel Henry returning to the country. They do not want him as prime minister. They do not want the security force coming in, and they are flagrantly violating the calls from the international community to stop the violence. So this situation is not improving anytime soon -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Patrick, thank you for the very latest, obviously very alarming, the picture you're painting there in Haiti.

We are learning some new details about what happened to the sister of former Trump administration cabinet member Elaine Chao. Angela Chao died last month after her car was submerged in a pond. Next, we'll speak to a reporter who's been covering this disturbing story.



SANCHEZ: The Wall Street Journal is reporting on the apparent accidental drowning of shipping magnate Angela Chao. Angela is the sister of Elaine Chao, former transportation secretary, and the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Angela is seen here with her husband, billionaire Jim Breyer. The Journal reports that on February 10th, Chao mistakenly put her Tesla into reverse instead of drive, sending her car backwards into a pond.


KEILAR: The Journal details, quote, over the next several hours, her friends, then the ranch manager and his wife, and then paramedics and firefighters and sheriff's deputies rushed around and tried to break the windows, find an escape hatch or any way to get Chao out of the car. Somehow, an executive who made her living on the sea was drowning in a stock pond within sight of her home.

Joining us now is Cara Lombardo, one of the reporters who wrote the piece on Angela Chao. And you show this story of her. She's having this weekend with a number of her girlfriends. She's going back to her home to be with her child, and she mistakenly reverses her car, Cara. You report she'd made this error before. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened that night?

CARA LOMBARDO, DEPUTY WALL STREET BUREAU CHIEF, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, I mean, you know, she moves the gearshift into reverse by accident. The car jolts over an embankment and into a manmade pond that was on the property. She immediately calls her friend in the house, you know, says, I made a terrible mistake. I've done it before. Can you please help come get me?

Her friends rush out, one jumps in the water. Like you said, first responders arrived. It ended up to be a very difficult task getting the car out of the water. By the time they got to her, she was unresponsive and the car had been filled with water.

SANCHEZ: So, Karen, no autopsy was performed, though investigators told "The Wall Street Journal" and your team that they're treating this case as a criminal matter. Why is that?

LOMBARDO: So, I'm glad you brought that up. This is part of what prompted a lot of different theories to fly around on this terrible tragedy. This ranch was in a very remote location, you know, a small town. The sheriff's office probably hasn't seen a case like this.

Very few people knew Angela and her husband. They had been a little bit private with some of the information surrounding it. And in response to requests for information, they said a statement that was something along the lines of, our preliminary investigation suggests this was an accidental death, but we're treating it as a criminal matter.

So, that's simply a formality to say the investigation is ongoing from what our reporting tells us. This was an accident, as we described.

KEILAR: It seems to come down to a number of factors here, which, as you said, this was a very rural area. It was very dark. The water was cold and actually pretty deep, but also the difficulty, right, of breaking glass to get to her. Tell us a little bit about that.

LOMBARDO: One of the things so haunting about this and why this story resonated so widely is because, you know, most people's instinct, if their car is underwater, we think, oh, I'll open the door. I'll just, you know, get out of the car or I'll break a window. In fact, all of these things are very difficult to do.

We learned through our reporting that, really, you have about a minute to get out of a car that's submerging itself into water. And opening a door is nearly impossible because of water pressure. Even breaking windows, and even if you have a tool that will break a window, can be extremely difficult, not underwater and underwater even more so.

So, that's part of the reason why this reporting just was so surprising to us to learn that it would have been very difficult for Angela to know what to do in that scenario.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it had to have been a terrifying situation. Cara, what's the reaction been since the story ran over the weekend? Have you learned any more about how her husband and family are doing?

LOMBARDO: You know, what our reporting told us about that was that, obviously, they're completely heartbroken. I mean, the most painful part of this whole story is that she left behind a three-year-old son. You know, they don't blame anything on Tesla. You know, this had nothing to do with whether or not the car was a Tesla. They love Tesla. In fact, Jim considers Elon Musk a friend.

The family is in mourning for having lost Angela. They've been pained by the conspiracy theories floating around, and they, you know, simply want her to be remembered for the accomplished CEO that she was.

KEILAR: Yes. Well, it is such a sad story. And obviously, there have been many conspiracy theories, Cara, and your story puts a lot of it, I think, to rest. So, we appreciate you speaking with us about it. Cara Lombardo with "The Wall Street Journal." Thank you.

The new teen trend, unplugging their phones. Can you believe this? If you're a parent, you may like the sound of this. A new study says more teens are choosing to put their phones down. We've got the details next.



KEILAR: Well, I did not see this one coming.

A new Pew study shows teens may be starting to unplug. About 40 percent say they've actually cut back on how much time they spend on social media. The findings coming as concerns over the effects of social media on young users' mental health is obviously a big concern.

We have CNN's Clare Duffy reporting on this new study. Clare, what else does it say?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Well, Brianna, I mean, I think this is a really good sign. We have for years heard from parents, from lawmakers, from educators with concerns about the impacts of social media, of smartphone use on the mental health and well-being of teens.

And I think what this study shows is that teens themselves are becoming a bit more self-aware about the effects of social media and smartphones in their own lives.


You have 38 percent of the close to 1,500 American teens who were surveyed by Pew here who are saying that they're cutting back on the time that they're spending on social media. Another 36 percent saying that they're cutting back on the time that they've spent on smartphones.

And here's why. 38 percent of the teens surveyed here acknowledge that they spend too much time on their smartphones -- although you do see there about half of the teen respondents saying that they still think they spend about the right amount of time on their smartphones.

But look, I mean, this comes after a separate report in December from Pew that found that one third of American teens say that they're using major social media platforms almost constantly. So not necessarily a surprise here, Brianna, to see that some teens find that they have space to cut back a bit.

KEILAR: The study also looked at how they feel without their phones. Tell us what the findings are there.

DUFFY: Right. So 72 percent of these teen respondents say that they sometimes or often feel peaceful when they go without their smartphones. I think many of us could relate to that. But there appear to be mixed emotions. 44 percent of the respondents said that they feel anxious when they're without their smartphones.

I also want to highlight one other piece of information that I found really interesting from this. You have half of American parents who also participated in the study saying that they have at some point looked through their teen smartphones. It appears that the teens are generally aware of this. 43 percent of teens saying that they know that their parents have looked through their smartphones.

So a piece of interesting information for the parents watching here and wondering what their peers are doing -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Really interesting. Yes, the anxiety part. That's called withdrawal. The peace comes after, I find anyways. Clare, thank you so much for taking us through that.

Still ahead, France's appetite for frog legs is now threatening an entire species.

Bon appetit -- next.


SANCHEZ: There's some new warnings today that the French appetite for the delicacy of frog legs is actually threatening the existence of some species.

A group of more than 500 environmental activists are warning French President Emmanuel Macron that frogs are becoming endangered in the countries that export them to the EU and France.


KEILAR: Yes, the appetite is pretty big. That's the issue here. Europe imports more than 4,000 tons of frozen frog legs each year, most of it going to France. It's pretty crazy. Have you had one before?

SANCHEZ: I feel like I have.

KEILAR: This is like where I'm outing you for doing something terrible.

SANCHEZ: I mean, is it terrible to eat frog legs?

KEILAR: Well, if I'd known it was so terrible.

SANCHEZ: A little bit of salt. That guy looks pretty good.

KEILAR: He was over here. They switched it on me, in fairness. Pierre, we're very sorry.

SANCHEZ: The CNN NEWS CENTRAL logo does look delicious.

We have to toss it to the lead with Jake Tapper.

KEILAR: Yes, I fail. Total fail. I'm out.