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Virginia GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Walks Tight Rope Between Trump and Moderates; Netflix Chief Repeats Support for Chappelle Over Trans Remarks; Officer Details Attempted Hijacking of Afghan Evacuation Flight; Biden Renews Push to Get Eligible Americans Vaccinated; Idaho Doctors Says We Have Lost the War, COVID-19 Is Here to Stay. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 14, 2021 - 15:30   ET



LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The tradition not just in Virginia but in a lot of other states is in a midterm election even if it's the year before the national midterm, you have some kind of reaction, negative reaction, usually to the new administration or the incumbent presidential administration.

So, while Terry McAuliffe beat that when he was elected governor the first time in 2013, it had been consistently he case that the candidate of the party opposite the White House won the Virginia governorship. So, McAuliffe is trying to pull this trick twice. It's not easy, but President Biden ratings have been falling though they've also ticked up recently.

And I think that DC Democrats haven't helped at all by not passing either infrastructure or the social spending bill or both.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Larry, have you seen this phenomenon that Karen Tumulty wrote about in "The Washington Post" this week about women tuning out? That it's just so toxic that Democratic women in particular, black women in particular, are just sort of tired of, I guess, the toxicity in Congress.

And so, it's not even about policy necessarily, they were hoping, I guess, that the tone would change when they voted for President Biden but of course he's not entirely in charge of the tone in Washington and that they've just had enough.

SABATO: Well, the private polls and some of the public polls really don't show that. I've seen polls that suggest, that if anything, women are more activated and are more pro-McAuliffe certainly than men are.

So, I'm not sure I buy into that but I think it's generally true as Karen wrote that people are tired of the acid political climate. But people had better get used to it. It didn't start with Trump but he certainly supercharged it. And it's going to be with us for a long time because we are so incredibly polarized. And the atmosphere is so partisan.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Glenn Youngkin has been holding these rallies for parents, I believe there's another one tonight, after we heard from Terry McAuliffe decrying parents influence over the books that they're children read over curriculum. How central is that fight to this race?

SABATO: It's helping Youngkin gain some additional votes in suburbs and ex-urbs that have turned heavily Democratic in the last decade. And I think it might help him reduce McAuliffe's margins, McAuliffe will still win them. But Youngkin can reduce the margins by a couple points, three points, and that could be the difference in a close race.

Now I need to add, some of these issues are invented, critical race theory isn't even taught in Virginia.


SABATO: You know, I've been a teacher at the college level for 46 years and until a few years ago, I'd never even heard of it. So, you know, it's an invented issue but it works because it's dog whistle and it brings race into the elections and I've been around long enough to see Republicans do that many, many times in a tough race.

CAMEROTA: All right, Sabato, thank you explaining all of that.

SABATO: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, so this just in, a New York judge has ordered former President Donald Trump to sit for a video deposition next week. This is for a case involving an alleged assault during a demonstration outside of Trump Tower in 2015. At that time, people were protesting his immigration rhetoric.

CAMEROTA: And five of the protesters involved in the case say that Donald Trump's head of security hit one of the protesters after confiscating a cardboard sign and tearing that to pieces. So, we can see the security in the video grabbing the sign, I think. Lawyers for the plaintiffs want to discern if the former president is responsible for his employee's conduct during this incident?

OK, meanwhile, Netflix's CEO is doubling down on their support of Dave Chappell. Of course, you've heard about the comic facing criticism for being transphobic, some say. We'll discuss what they Netflix says in their plan.



CAMEROTA: Netflix's CEO is continuing his defense of the comedian Dave Chappelle and his new special, "The Closer."

BLACKWELL: And Chappelle has drawn criticism for his jokes and comments about the trans community. Now some Netflix employees are reportedly planning a walkout.

CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter is here. So, Brian, we're getting another statement sort of from Netflix because they're not really just releasing them to the public.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely right, these keep leaking out from inside Netflix. Which is a sign that there are employees that are really concerned about this special, bothered by the content, in fact, there were some employees who raising concerns even before it was released on Netflix according to Bloomberg.

But now in this new email from Ted Sarandos, the co-CEO, he sent this out on Monday, it leaked out overnight, so now the public has seen it today, and you can tell from these statements Netflix has an internal audience. They're trying to speak to their internal critics, their employees who are concerned. And here's a part of Sarandos said defending the special and why it remains on the platform.

He said, with "The Closer" -- that's the name of the special -- we understand that the concern is not about offensive to some content but titles which could increase real world harm such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence, et cetera. While some employees disagree, he said, we have a strong belief that content on screen does not directly translate to real-world harm.

That's the really interesting part of this. He is saying the leadership team has agreed that offensive jokes, tasteless jokes, something that's airing on Netflix does not lead directly to real- world harm


In the same way that if you see a violent movie, you are not then incited them to go and pick up a rifle. Of course, that's been a debate raging in Hollywood for decades, what are the effects of violent videos? What are the effects of violent video games?

And now we see this conversation about what are the effects of comments that are seen by many as transphobic, and what' the impact of that content when people are watching it? Does it increase insensitivity? Does it increase, you know, the kind of hostile environment that people are living in?

And Netflix, I think is doing something unusual, oftentimes when we see these kinds of pressure moments, where we see outrage, where we see Twitter outrage cycles, companies fold. Right, oftentimes we see management give in. Netflix is doing the opposite. They are defending Dave Chappelle.

CAMEROTA: I think that's what really interesting here, I mean first of all the special is really interesting, Victor and I have been talking about it for days.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we've watched it now.

CAMEROTA: It's super thought-provoking. I think they're just saying their offensive jokes is too simple. They are really thought- provoking. And as we all know. He's an equal opportunity provoker, I mean he makes fun of every demographic in this.


CAMEROTA: But I think what's interesting is everybody knows that about Dave Chappelle. Netflix likes that about Dave Chappelle. They are standing by their original decision that they wanted a thought provoking special and they got one. And they are standing by it and I think that in this moment of cancel culture that's noteworthy.

STELTER: Or of wokeness, there has been these different waves of so called wokeness. And I don't mean that in a negative way, but it's been in the public conversation for years. We are in an environment now where you are seeing companies push against the outrage, or against the concerns.

And in this case Netflix might be drawing a line that will apply in the future as well. They are saying it doesn't matter what the impact of coverage is or content, what matters is the intent. And Dave Chappelle's intent, and they are standing by him.

BLACKWELL: Yes, his intent as I got it, I mean I'm at the intersection, we talk about inter-sexuality, I am both a member of the LGBTQ community and black man, and he's trying to make some points here.

The special wasn't funny. It wasn't like a guffaw inducing special but he tried to make some points as clumsy as some things were, insulting as others, there are some elements there where I think there are a lot of people who agree with the plights of two different communities that must be viewed.

CAMEROTA: Sure, or at least we can talk about it.

STELTER: And you've actually watched it, and I always worry that some people hear about this don't actually go and watch it, they don't know what it's all about. So, the advice as always is go reckon with it, right, watch it. See for yourself.

BLACKWELL: Yes. All right, Brian, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Brian.

BLACKWELL: New details on the effort to get stranded Americans out of Afghanistan. The State Department says most evacuation flights scheduled to leave this week have been canceled. But officials are not explaining why.

CAMEROTA: We're also hearing about a terrifying new account of one of those initial flights out of the country, and it involves an attempted hijacking of a commercial airliner.

So, CNN's Kylie Atwood is at the State Department. Kylie, what do we know about this?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, this is a really tremendous account as to what was happening during those chaotic weeks when there was that tremendous evacuation from Afghanistan of both Afghans, Americans, Europeans.

The Air Force put out these new details saying that there was one commercial airliner and on that commercial flight the intelligence community got a tip that there were 5 people who intended to hijack that commercial flight.

Now we don't know many details, we don't know who those people were. We don't know exactly which commercial airliner they were on. We don't know the date of when this happened. But the Air Force put out some details as to how they dealt with this intelligence tip. And I just want to read to you some lines from that account that they put out.

Saying, quote, our teamwork to get them clear of the NATO ramp -- of course, that's the flight that had these hijackers on it -- relocated to the north side away from friendly forces, then ultimately onto the south side where the situation was handled.

They went on to say that one of our captains was on the rooftop taking effective sniper fire, every enemy combatant was taking every opportunity to incite more chaos in what was already a chaotic event.

Clearly demonstrating there that the action that they took -- though we don't know exactly what it was -- did prevent this hijacking from actually occurring because of course we never reported on any such incident.

What we're also learning is that there are still Americans in Afghanistan, about a hundred of them, who want to leave the country. And according to a State Department email that went to those Americans this week, most of the evacuation flights from Afghanistan this week that were scheduled were canceled.

Now we don't know the details as to they those flights were cancelled. The email didn't say that. I've talked to one American on the ground who is frustrated, was hoping to get on that flight.

Now the State Department is saying they aren't giving details particularly because there is an ongoing terrorist threat on the ground. But they are working to get these flights up and running to get Americans to get green card holders, excuse me, and Afghans out of the country. But we'll wait for my details as to when those evacuation flights are restarting -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Kylie Atwood, thank you for the update.

Now one doctor on the frontlines of COVID is warning, we've already lost the war, the virus is not going anywhere. And he's going to make his case to us next.



CAMEROTA: Despite dropping case numbers and hospitalization numbers, one doctor on the frontlines of COVID says we have lost the war. COVID-19 is here to stay. Dr. Steven Nemerson is the Chief Clinical Officer for the Saint

Alphonsus Health System in Boise, Idaho. Doctor, thanks so much for being here, that got our attention. What do you mean that we've lost the war on COVID-19?

DR. STEVEN NEMERSON, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, SAINT ALPHONSUS HEALTH SYSTEM: Thanks for asking me that question. It's a pleasure to be with you.

The fact is that we need to accept reality now. What's transpired is we are unable to vaccinate enough people to achieve herd immunity and in fact, in my state, only 42 percent of the state is vaccinated against COVID. And that's why we're operating in crisis standards of care and patients are still overwhelming our hospitals.

Yes, we've seen a slight decrease, but we are not in good shape currently. And understanding that continuing to beg people to get vaccinated and cover their faces for the nonbelievers, that's not going to change behavior.

So, we need to move from the concept of pandemic, which is this overwhelming epidemic we are experiencing, to endemic, meaning that COVID is going to be living with us for the foreseeable future and we need to deal with that.

CAMEROTA: But D. Nemerson, is it possible that some of your pessimism comes from being in Idaho? I mean, let me show our viewers what Idaho looks right now in terms of the seven-day average of coronavirus deaths. I mean look at what's happened, in October in your state versus June versus April and February and then in terms of the new cases. Once again you are just seeing this, you know, huge surge that overtook your state in October.

I mean, that's not how much of the country feels and the numbers in much of the country don't look like that. It feels like we are getting a handle on COVID.

NEMERSON: Well, it's not that we are getting a handle on COVID. It's that we are blessed to experience a decrease in COVID spread currently, and until the next variant comes forward, hopefully, that will continue and we are going to be able to function well.

But we do need to be concerned and vigilant about the next mutant strain that may emerge and how to handle that. And in fact, it's not about being despondent. Not at all. It's about being resolute and preparing our health care providers to be able to exist in this new world and also to prepare the public to be able to continue to accommodate the reality.

CAMEROTA: But I mean, you say we are not going to reach the point of getting enough Americans vaccinated to get herd immunity. Why give up? I mean, I think the White House at least thinks that every day we are ticking closer towards that number of herd immunity. Is it too late?

NEMERSON: Well, certainly I hope not. And absolutely we should continue those efforts. And indeed, that's the reason that we are beginning to see a decrease here in Idaho is that with this latest surge, there has been enough of the public that have gotten vaccinated that it's now prompted the decrease that we are experiencing.

However, to achieve herd immunity we know we need at least 70 percent, and probably closer to 90 percent of the general public vaccinated. Those numbers, given the division in our country, seem to me very, very difficult and unlikely to achieve.

So at least in the interim we have got to be prepared for continuing to care for COVID patients that are unvaccinated, that are going to come in and need our intensive care services, and most importantly, what I'm experiencing in my own health system and I know we are experiencing across the country is health care providers that are traumatized by what's going on, seeing the unnecessary deaths they are experiencing moral injury.

And so, it's our job now as leaders of health care systems to support those individuals, help them find resilience, help them to be able to accommodate to this reality and find comfort and also pride in the job they continue to do while, sadly, too many of the public are coming in disbelieving, harassing and worse, the people who work for me.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we've heard that so often, doctor. We really feel for you. That's not what doctors and nurses need, that additional trauma after everything that you all have been through. Well, Dr. Nemerson, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. It's really interesting to get your perspective.

NEMERSON: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Prince William is weighing in on space tourism. He is criticizing the missions and the billionaires behind them. Where he thinks they should spend their money instead. We take a look at that next.



CAMEROTA: Prince William, not a fan of the new space tourism industry. In his BBC interview, the Prince blasted the billionaires and their space race.

BLACKWELL: Now, he says they should focus their time and money instead on saving the earth and he raised concerns about the environmental impact of space tourism, especially the carbon costs.

And Jeff Bezos has defended his spaceflights, and claims that they can benefit life on earth.

CAMEROTA: OK, I like this debate. Fix earth or flee it. That's the debate, right?

BLACKWELL: Well, interestingly enough, Bezos says that, you know, what should happen is that the polluting industry should be taken to space and earth zone residential and light industry. So, I wonder if this part of his company, the Blue Origin arm of it, is aimed at that.

CAMEROTA: Well, I think that Prince Harry is saying let's put our best scientific minds -- sorry, Prince William, because not what Prince Harry said.