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Don Lemon Tonight

New Coronavirus Cases, Hospitalizations Rise as Delta Variant Spreads in the United States; Mother Holds Vaccination Drive at Memorial For Her Son; Alabama City Councilman Refuses to Resign After Racial Slur; Tokyo Summer Olympics Open Amid COVID-19 Pandemic; The Ugly Truth About Facebook; CNN Heroes Salutes: Inspiring Kids 'One lawn At a Time.' Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 23, 2021 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Now, some Republicans are beginning to see the light on vaccines. There are plenty of others who are still pushing dangerous lies. The question is: How deadly has this misinformation become, Fareed?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: It is difficult to exaggerate how disastrous the situation is and how tragic it is, Don, because here is the thing. Most of the world, the vast majority of the world is facing a pandemic for which they have very little control.

Even in place like India, which has a lot of pharmaceutical capacity and has ability to make lots of vaccines and drugs, is finding critical supply shortages that are hampering its efforts to vaccinate the population.

In the United States, we have massive oversupply of vaccines. We have vaccines free for anyone who wants them, any age, no matter where you are. It is literally within one or two miles of wherever you are in the United States. If everybody were to get vaccinated, this whole pandemic in the United States will be over, finished, kaput. And yet, we are struggling like we are country that doesn't have the vaccine, struggling to get it.

We have the tools to end this pandemic. We are choosing to live with it because one political party, one very large media network, and certain associated forces have decided to come together and to propagate conspiracy theory that is probably the most damaging conspiracy theory in human history.

Think about the number of lives that are going to be lost because of these crazy conspiracy theories about the COVID vaccine. I don't think there is any precedent. We've never seen anything like it and we've certainly never seen as many lives directly related to this kind of falsehood and misinformation.

LEMON: Here is what you say, and I quote here, tell me if I'm wrong. You said, what science has given, politics seems to be taking away. Is this kind of political divide when it comes to public health and misinformation? Is this a uniquely American problem? ZAKARIA: Yes. There is absolutely nowhere else in the world where this is happening. Look, you have vaccine hesitancy, and I think that that is the right word to use, hesitancy in places. And you have it in America. And the result of that would be smothering of people. You would have a measles outbreak here or there. You have some of that in France. France actually has a fair amount of it, but almost everywhere.

Once the government gets involved, once the scientists get involved, people fall in line. As I say, you have a few scattered outbreaks here and there. But the American anti-vaxxer movement is without precedent. There is nothing like it in the world because, first of all, it is incredibly widespread. Secondly, it is being consciously fueled by a political party, by politicians, by media figures on the right, and it is having disastrous effects.

And just now, they are beginning to stop. This is -- we are now witnessing the January 6th moment for the pandemic, which is to say, you know, Republicans and conservative talk radio and Fox News have been feeding these falsehoods, fanning these flames, and suddenly, they realized, oh, my God, there are consequences to it, and so a few of them have finally seen the light and are speaking the truth, but as with the past, it may be too little too late.

LEMON: Fareed, the Des Moines Register is reporting that Iowa health officials may need to toss tens of thousands of doses of vaccines. You referenced this earlier. Because people just don't want them. So many countries will do anything for a tool to end this pandemic. But Americans, Americans are choosing to dive further into this mess. What message does that send to the rest of the world?

ZAKARIA: We just -- we just witnessed this tragedy going on in Haiti --

LEMON: Yeah.

ZAKARIA: -- instability in Haiti. They ask for American help. Not one person in Haiti, the last I saw, has been vaccinated. We are throwing away 50, 60, 70 thousand in garbage dams. And one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, not a single person has been vaccinated.

LEMON: Fareed, you know, you lost your mother to complications from COVID in April when vaccines were scarce in India. It has got to be personally infuriating for you to see what is happening now in this country.

What do you think that -- you know -- what does your family say about this? I have to ask you. Quite honestly, what do you think your mother would say to people out there, refusing to be vaccinated?


ZAKARIA: You know, I think that my mother was a great pro-American. She had incredible faith in America. She always thought America had all the answers. She used to quarrel with my dad, who was a little bit more skeptical. And for her, this would break her heart, because to see the United States -- you know, when it has the answer, not to be the shining example to the world of saying, you know, this is how you get out of the pandemic, we did it, we are now going to help you all with know- how, with technology.

Instead, we're floundering. We're going to go back. We're going backwards. We're going to go -- it's going to get worse because this delta variant is twice as transmissible as the original alpha variant.

So, you know, in a sense, we managed to get people vaccinated, assuming a certain pace of transmission. Well, it doubled. And peole need to -- you know, we need to be acting twice as fast. And in fact, as I say, we are going backwards. No, it would break her heart.

LEMON: Fareed, again, I'm so sorry we spoke about this, about your mom. We showed the beautiful picture of your mother. I'm sorry, but we're glad to have you her to talk about this -- these issues. Thank you so much, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Always a pleasure, Don.

LEMON: For more of Fareed, you can watch Fareed Zakaria, GPS, Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m..

And now to my home state of Louisiana, okay, now reporting the highest jump in new cases per capita of any state in the country. With just 36 percent of the population vaccinated, the governor had an important message just today.


GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): This is a storm that we can control. We're not powerless. We can be vaccinated.


LEMON (on camera): Joining me now from my hometown of Baton Rouge is Betty Antoine. Her son, Brandon, refused to get vaccinated, died just six days after contracting COVID. Betty, thank you. I'm so sorry, so sorry for your loss.


LEMON: I know you begged your son to get vaccinated. Why he didn't do it?

ANTOINE: Because he said not enough research had been done on the vaccine. And until that happen, he was not going to get it, he was not going to take it.

LEMON: Betty, I got to be honest. I have family there in Louisiana, and I've heard that same thing. It infuriates me. It infuriates me. What is your message to people?

ANTOINE: That this is real. The virus is real. And the vaccine should be taken by everyone if you want to stay alive. My son was a homebody person. He didn't go any place, he had his food delivered, he had his groceries delivered, and very few friends.

So somewhere down the line, somehow, he contracted the virus. So if he got the virus as -- that way, then I think people who are out in the world should get the vaccination. They should get the vaccination.

LEMON: And you had these conversations with him, right?

ANTOINE: Oh, yes, yes. I told him, because of his underlying health conditions, I told him he should be one of the first ones to get the vaccination. He told me, no. He told me I should not get the vaccination either. But I went on because I had lung cancer, and I felt that I needed to take the vaccine, I needed to take that. But he did not want to take the vaccine, so he did not.

LEMON: You had lung cancer. What was your treatment?

ANTOINE: I went to MD Anderson. And the strangest thing, it was found -- I was supposed to have back surgery done --

LEMON: Mm-hmm.

ANTOINE: -- and I had my pre-op test done before I had the back surgery, and they found out I had lung cancer, not knowing at all. So, I went to MD Anderson and had my right -- lower part of my right lung removed, had no chemo, no radiation. That was in 2017.

LEMON: And you're doing okay?

ANTOINE: Great. I'm doing well.

LEMON: You look fantastic and you sound fantastic. So, I'm glad -- I'm glad of that.

ANTOINE: Thank you.

LEMON: My point was is that it is science and medicine that got you through. You didn't have chemotherapy, but the surgery, which is science as well, got you through it.

Listen, you knew that a vaccine could have saved your son's life and you decided to hold a vaccination drive at his memorial service. Why was it important for you to do it there?

ANTOINE: Because when I went in and looked at my child, died -- dead on the bed, I said the only thing I could do to honor him was to ask his friends and my family to take the vaccine, to get the vaccine.


ANTOINE: And I held a memorial for him. And I have a friend who does vaccines for a hospital out here in Baton Rouge, and she set it up with her supervisor so people could come in and take the vaccine at the memorial service. And three people took the vaccine.

LEMON: So you got three people do it. How long have you been in Baton Rouge?

ANTOINE: Since 1976.

LEMON: Okay.

ANTOINE: I'm from New Roads, Louisiana.

LEMON: You're from New Roads?


LEMON: Oh, my family is from Port Allen. So, I'm not sure --

ANTOINE: I know.

LEMON: You know my family?

ANTOINE: Yeah. And I know you also.


LEMON: Were you at my school?

ANTOINE: Yes, I was that lady who you came to LSU --

LEMON: I remember.

ANTOINE: -- to make a speech. And you came by the school, and I met you.

LEMON: You heard about --


LEMON: We heard about your story. Let me tell people. We heard about your story --


LEMON: -- and reached out. You reminded my team that we actually met before because you used to work at my old school, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School in Baton Rouge.

ANTOINE: That's right.

LEMON: Do you get -- was that that day -- you know -- was that that day that you gave me the St. Francis Xavier t-shirt, the dark blue with the light blue letters?

ANTOINE: That was the day.

LEMON: Yeah. And then --

ANTOINE: That was the day.

LEMON: So, tell the story. I came in, I sat outside of the office where I used to sit when I was in trouble and I had to either speak with Sister Anne Marie (ph).


ANTOINE: We were having graduation.


ANTOINE: And you went in to the church and you spoke to the students. So you came back out, and I said, oh, I need a picture of a celebrity, and this is the picture.

LEMON: Oh, my Gosh. Yes. That's -- oh, my Gosh. That's it. Is that in the office?

ANTOINE: That's in the office. And guess what? You were being honored and I don't know if it was in Canada or somewhere, and they called the school to get some pictures of you. Well, I was not there when you were going to school, so I had to hunt down some pictures. And I sent the pictures and you asked where did you get those pictures from?


ANTOINE: They got it from me.

LEMON: From you.


LEMON: Yeah, I was doing a show -- a talk show in Canada, and I was like, where did you guys come up with those? Will you send me some of those pictures? I have lost all the yearbooks, all the pictures, everything. Do you remember -- do you remember the (INAUDIBLE)? Do you know the (INAUDIBLE)?

ANTOINE: Yes, I know the (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Okay, so --

ANTOINE: I went to school with Russell (ph).

LEMON: You went to school with Russell (ph). So, I went to school with Tina (ph) and Mona (ph). Mona (ph) was a year ahead of me. Tina was in my class. Tina and I are -- we've been best friends since nursery school and we speak every day about this issue and other issues. And we have been -- she has been trying -- she went to Tony's (ph) today to ship seafood to me. Anyway, that is another story for a longer conversation.

But I got to tell you. I love speaking to you. I'm so sorry to what happened to your son. I just want you, if you can, Betty, can you -- just give a message to folks out there, please, please. ANTOINE: I may not in what I did -- I was doing it for my family and friends. But if this reaches other people, not those who are diehards who will never get the vaccine, but to those people who are straddling the fence, then I hope this message make them fall over on the right side, which is to get the vaccine.

LEMON: Can we put -- if we have, can we put Betty's son's picture back up, please? His name is Brandon. He died --

ANTOINE: Brandon.

LEMON: How old was Brandon?

ANTOINE: Brandon was 46. He would have been 47 on August 27 -- 2nd. I'm sorry. August 22nd.

LEMON: Well, Betty, again, we're sorry, and you actually made a difference out of a tragedy. You did something good by holding that drive and you're speaking out for people now and to people, so let's hope they listen to you. Sorry for your loss, and we'll be in touch. Thank you so much. You be well.

ANTOINE: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.



LEMON: So this is in Nashville, something that I want to show you, okay? After years of demands, the bust of a confederate general and early KKK leader leaving the Tennessee capitol building. The image of Nathan Bedford Forrest was sparking protests ever since it was installed in 1978. But Republican Governor Bill Lee pushed to move the controversial bust to the Tennessee State Museum just north of the capitol.

And in Alabama, the city council is defiantly refusing to step down after he threw out a racial slur during a city council meeting. CNN national correspondent Ryan Young has video from that meeting. Ryan, can you tell us about it? What happened?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, good evening, Don. This story has a lot of people talking across the country because they are surprised by the councilman making this sort of gesture, the statement right in the middle of a council meeting.

To set this up just a little bit, there was an ongoing discussion about racial topics, especially when it came to social media. Apparently, Tommy Bryant's wife had made some claims on social media that people on that chamber were talking about in the open media forum. And that is when all of a sudden, he stood up and made this statement. Take a listen.




BRYANT: Do we?


BRYANT: Hey, do we? Would she please stand up?


YOUNG (on camera): The council meeting pretty much came to a standstill for a second. When you look at it, you can see Veronica Freeman started crying. She is another council member. That is who Bryant was addressing. You can see her in tears. At some point, she stands up and she walks away from the table.

Now, Bryant says he is just repeating what the mayor had said in closed session, and that started another back and forth. So, people were sort of concerned about what that was about.

Mayor Wayman Newton actually put out a statement that says they are trying to expose me for saying something I did not say. All of that was a political stunt that they did and it did not go very well.

Tommy Bryant is not backing down at all. There have been calls for him to resign. He says he does not plan to resign. He was quite defiant when he stood in front of the cameras as well, Don.


BRYANT: Oh, absolutely not, absolutely not. I may consider running for mayor next time. I did what needed to be done. It needed to be brought to light what kind of a person the mayor is in the city of Tarrant.


YOUNG (on camera): Don, the mayor says the video speaks for itself. Obviously, there are a lot of people in that community who still want to know more about exactly what was said behind closed doors and obviously talk about that moment that was caught on video.

There was a lot of conversation about how they move forward as a chamber. People are calling for Tommy Bryant to step down. But at this point, it seems he is pretty defiant. Don?

LEMON (on camera): Ryan, thank you so much. I appreciate that.

Now, I want to bring in CNN political analyst Natasha Alford. Good evening to you. So, here we go. Let's talk. So, Bryant was asked point blank whether he is racist. And well, just listen to this.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Are you a racist?

BRYANT: A racist? It is in accord (ph) to what your definition of the word racist is. What the public's definition is, I might be a racist, but according to what the true meaning of racist is, absolutely not.


LEMON: Okay. What is the true meaning of a racist?

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, see, Tommy Bryant wants us to debate that, Don. He wants to play this game as if we don't know what racism is. This man is over 70 years old. Do you know what I'm saying? He knows what racism is. He is absolutely using politics and the (INAUDIBLE) is that racism is such a, you know, igniter of controversy in our country to his political advantage.

Using the N-word, just to be very clear, is racist. And another thing that Tommy Bryant wants us to do is to debate whether Black folks should use the N-word, right? You see how in this instance he immediately deflected to Mayor Newton and tried to put the blame on him for sparking this whole controversy.

But he has been around long enough to know that it was absolutely demeaning and humiliating for him to call a fellow councilwoman the N- word. He did that to her face and we saw the humiliation and the pain that she felt when he did that.

So, it's insidious. It's disgusting. And frankly, it is an example of the time that we live in, where people, politicians in particular, appeal to the extreme. They want extreme constituents, right, to see that they are unafraid to break social norms, and they think that they will score political points for doing so.

LEMON: Just so you were saying, he said that he was repeating what the city's first Black mayor said in a private meeting. The first Black mayor denies that. But as you said, no matter what, it was just not appropriate to do in that meeting. You are right. He should have known better.

Thank you, Natasha. I appreciate it.

ALFORD: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. No cheering crowds, right? Risk of disease. It's an Olympics unlike any other. I'm going to speak with two former Olympians to get their take. Guess who is here? Wow! There they are! Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner. Hi, guys. After the break, we will talk to you.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: So, right now, I just want to show everyone, look how beautiful the White House is tonight. What a beautiful residence, right? All lit up in red, white, and blue in support of team USA at the Tokyo Olympics. The White House is saying the entire nation cheers on our Olympic team. Go, team! Go, USA!

So the summer Olympics really official underway, but these games will be like no other, right? No other games, taking place during the worldwide pandemic, COVID pandemic.

My next guests know all about the Olympic experience. Let us put them up. Looking great. Nadia Comaneci is a five-time Olympic gold medalist and Bart Conner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist. We see here people all the time. The reason I did that, Nadia, is because some people will say Nadia Comaneci. So --


LEMON: Thank you both for joining tonight. It's really, really, really special. Before we get to that, this is the first time you guys haven't been there, and how many years?


BART CONNER, TWO-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Forty-five, either from '76 through till now. This is the first that Nadia and I actually haven't been there in person. So, we are like all the other fans. We are watching from home.

LEMON: Forty-five years. You all look great. I'm not going to lie. Wow! Whatever you're taking, give it to me when we go to commercial break.


CONNER: The key is doing handstand every day, Don.


LEMON: Yeah. What do you think -- what do say? Do what every day?

CONNER: Handstand every day.


LEMON: I'm so old. I can't barely get out of bed with my --

NADIA COMANECI, FIVE-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: No, you're not. You're younger than us.

LEMON: I know, I know, I know. Okay, so, listen, it has been since 1976 that you guys -- sorry. What will be -- what was this experience, if I can get my lips to work right, what will this experience be like for the folks who are competing this year?

COMANECI: Well, first of all, it's one of a kind because when I think about the Olympics, you will think about all the experience that the athletes have after they work out, you know, so many years, and they can't wait to be at the Olympics.

But when you think about what happened at the pandemic, it could have been worse, because that's how I think. At least the athletes got a chance to compete because a big number of the athletes will not be able to wait for three more years to compete in 2024 because a lot of them wanted to check the box last year, when the Olympics is supposed to have -- to be. And now, at least, they are there and they are able to compete and just leave that only (ph) big dream.

LEMON: Yeah. Hey, Nadia, let me ask you about this. The U.S. women's gymnastics team didn't attend the opening ceremony there, also staying at a nearby hotel (INAUDIBLE) Olympic Village. The coach, Cecil Landi, spoke out about this decision.

I'm going to quote here. She says it was also a decision that we all made together. We know it isn't ideal for the Olympic experience but nothing is ideal during a pandemic. We feel like we can control athletes the athletes and our safety better in a hotel setting.

So aside from just the experience of this, you know, being wildly different, do you think everything going on could affect the athletes' performance, Nadia?

COMANECI: I do respect the choices that the coaches made for the athletes. To tell you the truth, I've never been to the opening ceremony in my two Olympics because the gymnastics starts the next day and our coaches said that they didn't feel that it was right to be on our feet for six to eight hours and then go on and compete the next day.

So, as you know, at every Olympic, the gymnastics is the next day. So, many delegations just choose not to go.

LEMON: I think they were very smart. I mean, that is wise. That makes sense. Bart, you know, there are several young women on the U.S. Olympics gymnastics team that we're keeping an eye on: Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Simone Biles, defending the Olympic all-around champion.


LEMON: I mean she could end up winning five gold medals. What do you think about the team's chances?

CONNER: Well, obviously, I mean, that is one of the locks of the Olympics, is the U.S. women gymnastics team (INAUDIBLE) that good. They come in to the competition with so much more difficulty in terms of skills than the other teams. They can even make some mistakes and still win it. Not too many mistakes, but a few. And I think, of course, being led by Simone Biles, who is certainly the most dominant gymnast in the history of the sport.

She has a chance to make history here to be the first Olympic all- around athlete to repeat as Olympic champion since Vera Caslavska back in the 1960s, and maybe win five Olympic gold medals, which would be the most of any gymnast ever (INAUDIBLE) from the former Soviet Union. So, yeah, she's on the brink of history, and of course, we are all just waiting to see how magnificently she does.

You know, when you think about the Olympics and the pandemic and all of the adversity that these athletes are facing, I think back to the time, you know, 1976, there were boycotts of African nations. In 1984, the big issue was traffic in L.A., how bad was it going to be?

COMANECI: 2016 --

CONNER: In 2008, it was pollution in China. In 2012, it was terrorism in England and London. And then, of course, in 2016, we were all worried about the --


CONNER: -- Zika virus. So, it seems to me, the normal flow of media going into the games is this doom and gloom. Then what happens every time is the athletes and the Paralympic athletes and Olympic athletes, they saved the day. They do miraculous things that we talked about for decades.

I mean, Michael Phelps, Nadia Comaneci, Carl Lewis, U.S. women soccer team, I mean, those are the legacy memories of the Olympics. So, I know once the Olympics get going, I know -- I watched the opening ceremonies and it's magnificent.


CONNER: I'm very emotional seeing the athletes out. They're experiencing this moment. And yes, it is different, their families can't be there with them, but these athletes are very resilient, and I'm sure that they will put on a magnificent show.

LEMON: Well, I got to say that I am totally fan (INAUDIBLE) right now because I love both of you. I grew up watching both of you. We are not that far apart in age, but I have to say you guys look amazing. So, again, and -- you know, Bart, don't mess it up.


COMANECI: A handstand a day.

LEMON: Thank you, guys. It's a pleasure. Be well. I hope you will come back to see us soon. You guys take care.

CONNER: We would love to.

COMANECI: You too, bye.

CONNER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

So ahead of the upcoming football season, the NFL is pushing to get players and team staff members vaccinated. But not everyone wants to. Here is CNN's Omar Jimenez.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As professional sports returned to full capacity, so do fresh concerns over COVID-19, driven by the delta variant.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Jonathan Bornstein is playing the drums in there.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Jonathan Bornstein is the defender for the Chicago Fire, the city's major league soccer team.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): He has double points right there.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): He has played all over the world, even stints in the World Cup for Team USA. He could not wait to get the vaccine.

JONATHAN BORNSTEIN, DEFENDER, CHICAGO FIRE: I wanted it for myself to be able to protect myself and protect the people around me. I was one of those very open people to follow what was going on and when I got the opportunity, to take advantage of it.

JIMENEZ (on camera): Not everyone feels that way, as I'm sure you know, even within the professional sports world.

(Voice-over): Some have been reluctant to share where they stand.

LEBRON JAMES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Me being available to my teammates on the floor is me taking care of my body. You know, me doing everything I can do to make sure I'm available mentally, physically, and spiritually as well.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): And do you mind me asking if that -- if you're confirming that you did get the vaccine?

JAMES: It's not a big deal.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): And as the Olympics begin in Tokyo, notably, without fans, several American athletes won't be there either, after testing positive for COVID-19, raising suspicions over whether they were vaccinated. Swimmer Michael Andrew says he wasn't.

MICHAEL ANDREW, SWIMMER: I didn't want to put anything in my body that I did know how I would potentially react to. I didn't want to risk any days out.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): It's still possible to get COVID post vaccine, but the effects are less likely to be severe, according to the CDC. But some still prefer the freedom of choice over a threat of health.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley made that clear in June, tweeting, if you are scared of me, then steer clear, or get vaccinated. Point blank. Period. I may die of COVID, but I'd rather die actually living. The NFL's policy is vaccinated players get tested once every two weeks, while unvaccinated players get tested every day. The league also told teams any COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players would lead to the team's forfeit and loss, if the game cannot be made up.

MIGUEL CABRERA, FIRST BASEMAN, DETROIT TIGERS: Hi. I am Miguel Cabrera with the Detroit Tigers.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Across leagues, vaccination rates have climbed in recent months.

CABRERA: COVID-19 vaccine.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The WNBA has led the way, announcing in late June, 99 percent of its athletes were fully vaccinated. And Major League Soccer hopes to follow the trend.

BORNSTEIN: I think the most important thing was always education. Our team doctors were always available for any types of questions that we had for them.

JIMENEZ (on camera): Do you worry, at all, in any way, that somehow, because someone else is unvaccinated, that it would be affect your health in any way?

BORNSTEIN: A lot of guys are taking care of themselves both on and off the field. So it hasn't been something that has been in my mind a lot lately. But the more that you hear about the delta variant and other variants that have been going around, it starts to creep in a little bit, just because a lot more people are starting to get sick again.

JIMENEZ (on camera): Now, right after the NFL made that forfeit policy for COVID outbreak, some players took issue with it, saying, it is pressuring people within the league to get vaccinated.

DeAndre Hopkins, for example, the wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, tweeted then deleted that the possibility of hurting his team for not getting the vaccine made him question his future in the league. And with the first preseason game, less than two weeks away at this point, it is likely going to be an issue all the way up until the first snap. Don?


LEMON (on camera): Omar Jimenez, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Misinformation spreads across social media, but they really do not do anything about it. And now, an inside look at Facebook is telling us what they really think. Stay with us.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Facebook and social media are taking a lot of heat for the spread of misinformation. And a new book is diving into Facebook's history and exploring how little the company has done in stopping it.

Joining me down is Sheera Frenkel, the co-author of "An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination." Sheera, thank you so much. The title of your book relates to an internal Facebook memo from 2016.

Executive Andrew Bosworth wrote this. He said, maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And still we connect people. The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is de facto good.


LEMON: So, the through line here is that -- what you are saying is that Facebook has put its growth and profits ahead of everything else. I mean, it is from 2016. Facebook has done a lot and spoken to Congress and has changed a lot of things in the way they operate. But, what are you saying there?

SHEERA FRENKEL, CO-AUTHOR, AN UGLY TRUTH: Yeah, I mean, I think that for a long time, Facebook's motto was move fast and break things. Even when they change that motto, that mentality of growth at any cost really persisted.

I think that is something that our reporting showed, going into this book, was that at every step, problems happen on Facebook's platform, because they were focused on their growth, they were focused on metrics like how many times a day you log into your Facebook page, how many hours of the day you spend there.

If that is what is driving your decision-making, getting people to log on as many times of the day as possible, of course, you are going to have to show people really motive things that elicit responses out of them and get them sort of logging in and getting you those hours as a company.

LEMON: You just said move fast and break things. That was the company's motto. You said that attitude persisted. Do you think it still persists?

FRENKEL: You know, it's funny, I can't remember of this detail made into the book. At one point, this book was, I think, twice as long. But the Wi-Fi password for their company, if you're a guest there, is still move fast.

So yes, I think, you know, the engineers we spoke to -- we did speak to over 400 people for this book, the vast majority of whom still work there, will say, yes, that is still the attitude. Engineers, policy people, lawyers, you know, they all feel this sense of Facebook still pushing for growth to be the North Star.

LEMON: You don't think they feel the pressure and some responsibility considering what has happened over the past? You said 2016. That was the year that Trump was elected and misinformation started really to skyrocket. You don't think they have made a difference or they have made an altar call, so to speak?

FRENKEL: Our book shows that they instituted some really important changes. They'll tell you themselves that they hired over 30,000 people to work in security. They now know a lot more about misinformation and how to look for it.

But, again, you know, I think one thing our book kind of chronicles, that until they change basic things about their algorithms, the problems they have are going to persist.

Here, I am really thinking of the news of the last week of vaccine misinformation and how that persists on the platform. Their executives care. They're not inhuman. They are very much upset about what happened in the 2016 elections. They are very much upset about what happened in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and many other countries where hate speech on Facebook led to people being killed.

But, you know, caring about something and then fundamentally changing your company to make it better and different are two different things.

LEMON: Yeah. Sheera, I just want to say that this is a statement given to our Brian Stelter from Facebook, Facebook's spokesperson. And it says, there have been 367 books published on Facebook, each claiming novel insight into how we operate. It seems this one is not only a rehash of history but relies on anecdotes supplied by mostly unnamed critics. Do you want to respond quickly to that, please?

FRENKEL: Sure. As a reporter, I can't help but notice that is two words different from their original statement, which is that there was 367 books written about Facebook. I think they now realize they have to shift that language because that is not true.

If you count Facebook for dummies, maybe you get to 367. Really, there have been a handful of books written about Facebook and the inner workings of the company. I think they know our book is different because we spoke to those people inside the company.

And yes, they are anonymous, but they are anonymous because they still work there and Facebook didn't allow them to speak to us. So, in order to keep their jobs, they have to speak to us anonymously.

LEMON: Yeah. Sheera Frenkel, we thank you so much. The book again is "An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination." Again, our thanks to Sheera Frenkel. We will be right back.




LEMON: I want to make sure that you know that I've got a really fun special coming out where we tried to answer the question, what happened to TV theme songs? Where did they go? Here is the sneak peak. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Outside of your own amazing show, which I love, I have to say that, what is your favorite TV theme song?




DRESCHER: Because I like when the song tells the story of the series. And I was very influenced with that growing up.




LEMON: They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky.

KNIGHT: Spooky and ooky. How do you spell ooky?



LEMON: Here is the biggest question. What ever happened to the theme song?

KNIGHT: It's a good question.


LEMON (on camera): I'll give you a hint about mine. We are moving on up. That's all I'll share. That's all I'll share. You have to watch it. The CNN special begins Sunday at 8 p.m. Make sure you tune in, I hope you'll check it out.

And you know, it may seem like cutting grass is a chore many kids would prefer to avoid, but one man has convinced hundreds of young people across the U.S. to volunteer to mow lawns for people who could use the help.

This week's CNN hero salutes Rodney Smith, Jr. Rodney Smith, Jr. created the 50-yard challenge and made a name for himself traveling the country, mowing lawns, and inspiring people one yard at a time.


RODNEY SMITH, JR., CNN HERO: Our 50-yard challenge is a challenge we have issued to kids nationwide and worldwide to mow 50 free lawns in their community. They will make a sign saying, I accept the 50-yard challenge, and in return, we will send them a t-shirt along with safety glasses and ear protection. Once they mow 50 lawns, I drive to wherever they are. I present them a brand new mower, weed eater, and blower. Today, we have about 2,000 kids nationwide. Kids are responsible for finding their own lawn so that's another way they can go out into their community and meet people they probably normally wouldn't have met.

At a young age, I used to mow lawns as a chore and I disliked it. I took something I disliked and turned it into something I love to do. And every single day, I get to mow free lawns and I get to encourage kids around the world to get out there and make a difference one lawn at a time.


LEMON (on camera): So, to get the full story of Rodney's journey, go to And while you are there, nominate someone you think should be a CNN hero.

Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.