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New Details Emerge in Shooting Involving Alec Baldwin; Facebook Under Fire. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired October 25, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour I'm Alisyn Camerota.
Facebook under fire. A massive internal document dump reveals that the social media giant knew its platforms were being used in disturbing and harmful ways, yet failed to respond adequately.
Among the most inflammatory revelations, the company did little to combat the Trump supporters and their misinformation, leading to the rally that was based on the big lie that Trump did not lose the 2020 election. That failure culminated in the violent and deadly insurrection at the Capitol.
And the violence inciting hate speech found on Facebook spans far beyond the U.S. It's being seen in Ethiopia, Myanmar, Mexico and India. Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen detailed to lawmakers in London what she saw within the walls of the company just this past hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCES HAUGEN, FORMER FACEBOOK PRODUCT MANAGER: I think is a grave danger to democracy and societies around the world to omit societal harm.
To give like a core part of why I came forward was, I looked at the consequences of choices Facebook was making, and I looked at things like the global South, and I believe situations like Ethiopia are just part of the opening chapters of a novel that is going to be horrific to read.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: CNN chief media correspondent and "RELIABLE SOURCES" anchor Brian Stelter is here with me.
So, Brian, we have heard these things, some of these things before in terms of Facebook, but in the massive documents that I know you and Donie and everybody have been going through, what has been most surprising now?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the surprise is the breadth and depth of how many staffers inside Facebook are aware of the ill effects of the platforms. There's an old philosopher's quote that comes to mind today. When you
build the ship, you invent the shipwreck. When you build the train, when you invent the train, you invent the train wreck.
So when Mark Zuckerberg invents Facebook, he also is responsible for all of the damage, all of the harm that's caused. And what you see in these documents over and over again -- and, by the way, these stories are going to keep coming out for days. So this is day one of several days. You're going to see more of this all week -- is all the different assorted harms.
You hear how again they're talking about Ethiopia. There's another saying as well among reporters who cover Facebook that the version of Facebook here in the United States is the best version.
CAMEROTA: That's incredible.
STELTER: That what you see in India, and Myanmar, and Ethiopia and other countries is a much worse version of Facebook, because there's less moderation, less moderation happening.
And, as you mentioned, Haugen testifying today in the U.K., it's really striking what she's saying about echo chambers. I think we should listen to what she says about the normalization of hate, because it's not just that people are on these platforms hearing something once or twice.
She's saying it's normalized.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAUGEN: One of the things that happens with groups and with networks of groups is that people see echo chambers that create social norms. So if I'm in a group that has lots of COVID misinformation, and I see over and over again that if someone gives COVID vaccine -- like things that encourage people to get vaccinated, they get completely pounced upon. They get torn apart.
I learn that certain ideas are acceptable and unacceptable. When that context is around hate, now you see a normalization of hate, a normalization of dehumanizing others. And that's what leads to violent incidents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: She's talking about human behavior that is encouraged and amplified by these algorithms.
There was a great article in "The Atlantic" last week saying, hey, maybe we're just not meant to communicate this way. Maybe for all of human history, people were not able to broadcast to billions of other people. This is incredibly new, novel, sometimes scary technology, right?
We are kind of stereotypically just out of the cave, right, as cave men and women. Like, this is not a kind of environment where we're all used to be able to talk to each other and yell at each other all day long. Maybe we're just not meant to communicate this way.
But, Alisyn, we do it. We have got the technology. We have got the tools. We have got the weapons. We have to figure out how to use them responsibly. And this reporting from Facebook just shows how little Facebook has done to help us use these tools responsibly.
CAMEROTA: But that reminds me of what you're saying is that we also say things on Facebook, or people feel free and unbridled to say things on Facebook that they would never say would face to face ever.
STELTER: That they would never say would face to face, right.
CAMEROTA: And so I think we need to remember that this is a good form of communication. I mean, it's the best, I would say.
But I know you spoke to a Facebook oversight board member over the weekend. And so what did you learn?
STELTER: Yes. Yes.
Yes, and the oversight board is funded by Facebook, but it does have autonomy. It oversees Facebook's decisions about content moderation. So, if your post or your page is taken down, you can appeal to the oversight board, and they will look at your case.
What they found is, there are an overwhelming number of cases and that Facebook is very unclear about what they do and why they do it. It seems like the company is still making it up as it goes along. And you get that sense that even the oversight board members are frustrated by the lack of structure, the lack of operational structure there at Facebook.
So you have got pressure from all sides here. You have these oversight board members. You have these politicians. You have reporters dig into these documents. You have users, some of whom are fed up. You know what's going to happen in 55 minutes.
Facebook's going to report earnings. They're going to report profits out the wazoo. They're going to report incredibly strong business.
CAMEROTA: And so what does that mean? They're not going to make any changes?
STELTER: I think it means that Facebook's a lot like fast food. We all know that McDonald's isn't the best for us. But the drive-through line at McDonald's is always crowded.
And, yes, they add a salad or they add something healthy to the menu to make you feel like you have better options. But people still order Big Macs. And we're talking about an environment here where the Big Macs are served up 24/7.
That's a profitable company. So is Facebook. I just want us to be realistic as we talk about this. Facebook is going to report incredible profits later today, even as they're under unprecedented criticism.
CAMEROTA: OK, Brian Stelter, thank you for the reporting there.
Joining us now to talk more about this and what can be done is former FBI deputy director and CNN senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe and CNN contributor Garrett Graff. He's also a contributing editor for "Wired" magazine.
Great to see both of you.
Andy, I don't know if this surprises you, what's in Facebook, but it just seems like we learn more and more every day that they are aware of their hateful content. And, even internally, people were trying to sound the alarm that hateful content leads to hateful feelings, and sometimes hateful feelings lead to actions. And then you have the insurrection.
As an investigator, what do you want to know? Or what would you be looking at in these documents?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there's -- I should begin, Alisyn, by saying that there's probably very little chance of following any of these leads down to some sort of a criminal resolution.
There's no law that requires you to be a good corporate citizen. And I think what we're seeing from the Facebook documents is, we have many reasons to believe that Facebook, despite their profitability, has not been a good kind of global citizen in terms of the content that they're aware of, and continues to propagate on their site.
But as an investigator, there is always that question of knowledge, right? You want to know what the people at the top, the ultimate decision-makers, actually knew about the concerns and the warnings and the research that was being pushed up from the bottom.
Most of the comments that we hear around these documents is that Mark Zuckerberg was intensely involved in even minute decisions that are made in the corporation. So it does paint a picture that's -- in which it's very hard to believe that Zuckerberg wasn't aware of some of these strong concerns on the part of his research folks and his employees.
CAMEROTA: Garrett, one of the things that I was interested to read in these new documents was that their own internal research told them that people, Facebook users are more apt to believe politicians than just their neighbor.
So the misinformation that comes from politicians -- and we saw a lot of that before and after the insurrection -- is particularly potent. So here's what they found: "Individuals tend to trust information that is shared by politicians more than information from ordinary users, making politician-shared misinformation especially believable." Also, they did a focus group. "In qualitative interview sessions with
users in Chicago, people told us that Facebook has a greater responsibility for labeling the false content shared by political leaders than they do for ordinary users."
But they didn't do that, Garrett.
GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Brian was just talking about the comparison to the fast food restaurants.
And I don't think that that's actually the right analogy industry-wise to be thinking about. Facebook in these documents comes across much more as the tobacco companies of the second half of the 20th century, where what you're seeing is a company, an industry that understands that, if its products are used as intended, it still creates harm.
One of the sort of most striking aspects of these Facebook revelations is the extent to which the researchers realized that the basic algorithms were driving people towards more extreme content, and that that extreme content was flooding their system in ways that the product itself was driving, that they saw that as much as one out of every 50 views on Facebook in the United States, or 10 percent of all views of political material, was of content in the wake of the election that was declaring the vote fraudulent.
So this is sort of basic algorithms driving people to the most extreme misinformation. And part of what's remarkable in these documents is, you see people who just sort of express a general interest in conservative views, for instance, signing up to follow FOX News, are within days, within days, Alisyn, served QAnon-related content.
CAMEROTA: I mean, that's incredible. OK, that is -- just learning that is incredible.
That leap from FOX to QAnon is just astounding, that it can happen within days. And then they get more and more extreme and they become radicalized. Let's just be honest.
And so, Andy, you have experience in that in the real world. What's the solution here? I mean, I think that the analogy Brian was saying was people know that Big Macs may not be great for them, but they still want them. If people still want this content, what is the answer now about Facebook?
MCCABE: Well, if we know one thing, it's that we can't rely on the consumers to make that decision for the corporation, right?
And, here, I think Garrett has the analogy exactly right. Here, that entire algorithm issue is driven by Facebook's knowledge that inflammatory, false content gets a higher -- is more visible and more frequently engaged with on the platform.
MCCABE: And Zuckerberg is said to have really prioritized this idea of meaningful social engagement.
So that became the factor or the indicator that Facebook most directly pursues. And it's not just tracking likes and seeing what people scroll through, but it's tracking what people comment on. And this inflammatory comment -- content draws more of those sorts of comments, and therefore it's distributed to more people.
This is a direct decision to increase visibility, to increase the effectiveness and the scope of the platform. That is a bottom-line, money-driven decision, because it goes to their ability to charge bigger and greater advertising rates to their customers.
So there are intentional decisions here to do things that they know are more dangerous for the purpose of increasing growth and increasing corporate revenue. That's a very, very dangerous math equation for any corporation to embrace.
CAMEROTA: Well, we're told there's going to be more revelations coming out of these documents in the coming days. So we will call upon both of you.
Andy McCabe, Garrett Graff, thank you both.
CAMEROTA: OK, there were safety concerns and crew walkouts and accusations of a lack of experience, all of the new details in the investigation of the deadly on-set shooting in New Mexico, plus what Alec Baldwin was doing moments before the shooting.
And the White House scrambles to close the deal on key parts of the president's sweeping social agenda. We have the very latest on the negotiations.
CAMEROTA: New details in the investigation into that fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
The director of the movie, who was also injured in the incident, told investigators that actor Alec Baldwin was practicing drawing the gun and was told it was a -- quote -- "cold gun" with no live ammunition before it went off.
One crew member, an eyewitness, blamed Halyna's death on -- quote -- "negligence and unprofessionalism" and questioned the experience of the film's armorer, 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez.
In a Facebook post, he wrote -- quote -- "To save a dime sometimes, you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job and you risk the lives of other people who are close and your lives as well."
CNN's Lucy Kafanov joins me now from Santa Fe, New Mexico. So, Lucy, what more are you learning about these previous gun
incidents we're hearing about on set?
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alisyn.
CNN has learned that assistant director Dave Halls was a subject of complaints over safety, as well as behavior on set on two different productions back in 2019. Sources tell CNN that these complaints include a disregard for safety with gun safety and pyrotechnics, things like having exit lanes and fire exits being consistently blocked, and also reports of inappropriate sexual behavior.
Now, CNN spoke to Maggie Goll. She's a prop maker and a licensed pyrotechnician. She told CNN that Halls neglected to hold safety meetings and -- quote -- "consistently failed to announce the presence of a weapon set."
That's standard protocol on most sets.
She said -- quote -- "The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapons presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announced the situation each day."
Now, of course, according to the affidavit, it was Dave Halls, the assistant director, who picked up the weapon, handing it to Baldwin, shouting "cold gun," which should have indicated that it was safe. That weapon was prepared by Hannah Gutierrez. She's 24 years old, the daughter of legendary gunsmith Thell Reed.
This was only her second time working as head armorer on a production. And she discussed her relative lack of experience on a podcast that aired in September. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HANNAH GUTIERREZ REED, ARMORER: Dad has taught me everything, but a lot of things, I kind of just caught on by myself and everything, just like...
GUTIERREZ REED: Yes, just observation, watching him do things or like just knowing how the firearms work. I think loading blanks was like the scariest thing to me, because I was like, oh, I don't know anything about it.
But he taught me that. And, eventually, by the time I was, like, trying to figure out how to make a specific blank go when you want it to, rather than hitting like the empty cylinders and everything.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KAFANOV: She told CNN she nearly didn't take that previous film job because of her concerns about the experience. CNN has reached out to both Halls and Gutierrez for comment. No word yet, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK. And how are people remembering today Halyna?
KAFANOV: We haven't heard from the family today.
We know that the husband of Halyna and her son were in town this weekend, obviously devastated by this terrible, terrible loss. We have been hearing from folks who knew her. Her best friend, in fact, spoke to CNN holding back tears talking about the tragedy that has befallen this young family. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MASON, FRIEND OF HALYNA HUTCHINS: My heart just writes for her kid, who's -- he's almost like my own kid. I mean, we have hung out and been together for years. And I guess, in some level, I wish I had told Halyna that I would step in if she needed anything, like be her -- his godmother or something.
But I didn't even think of something like this. I mean, it wouldn't have even been something I could ever have imagined, honestly, happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAFANOV: A lot of grief, Alisyn, and so many unanswered questions about how this tragic, tragic murder -- shooting -- I'm so sorry -- shooting could have taken place -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Yes, just devastating to hear from her friend there.
Lucy Kafanov, thank you.
Joining us now to discuss is former NYPD officer turned stunt coordinator and armorer Scott Coscia.
Scott, thanks so much for being here. I have been looking forward to talking to you because I have some questions about how this happened.
When an assistant director hands the star, a gun and says cold gun, does that mean that someone has checked that the gun is empty? Is that normally how it's supposed to work?
SCOTT COSCIA, STUNT COORDINATOR: So, Alisyn, thank you for having me on.
First of all, a first A.D. should never be touching a weapon. The only people who should ever be touching a weapon is the armorer, any of their assistance, and the talent, when it's given to them right before a take, and then it's taken back after the take is done.
When I'm on a set, any of my -- any time I have a weapon, it's either in my holster, it's a case, or I will take it to the bathroom. An A.D. should never be touching a gun. They can ask for a safety inspection. They can ask questions, but they should never -- no crew member other than the armorer or the talent should be touching a weapon ever.
CAMEROTA: OK, so the fact that the assistant director by -- according to the affidavit and some witnesses, was touching it and handing it to Alec Baldwin -- and, by the way, we also learned that it was on a car outside of the building where the scene was being shot. So it was resting on a cart outside, they said, because of COVID-19 protocols, I guess.
So what does that tell you, that the assistant director is at fault here or the armorer or who?
COSCIA: So, everything I see, there's enough blame to go around in this scenario. It seems like no safety protocols were followed.
The armorer is at fault, first of all, for leaving them out. They never should be left out. And I don't know what COVID protocol would demand a weapon be left out. And that makes absolutely no sense to me. If that's the excuse that's being given, then it's just -- it doesn't make any sense. It's just plain wrong.
And I think, yes, that the A.D. has definite liability because he picked a gun up that he did not know was safe. He said it was a cold weapon. How did he know? Did he check it? No, the armorer should never left her guns on attended.
CAMEROTA: When you as an armorer hand a gun to the talent in a movie, do you check the chamber? I mean, forgive me if I'm using the wrong language. But do you open it up and look in that gun and make sure there are no blanks or live ammunition in there?
COSCIA: So, this is a prop weapon. This was furnished by Cop Prop Rentals New York. This is an airsoft gun. It's not a real weapon.
But whenever I'm on a set, I make sure that I hold it up for the talent and anyone else who wants to inspect to make sure that this is a safe weapon. And I never load a weapon unless we are actually going to be firing rounds, actually going to be firing blanks.
And on top of that, I only put the appropriate amount of blanks in. If the scene calls for two shots to be fired. I only put two rounds in, nothing more. And I announce to the cast, I announce to the crew, I announce to the whole set, live weapon onset, discharge two rounds.
It seems like there was no communication the part of this armorer to put the crew at any ease. And the fact that there were supposedly accidental discharges the week -- previously in this production, that's a huge red flag. Why nobody jumped on that, I have no idea.
CAMEROTA: Yes, what you're referring to -- and this is according to "The New York Times" and "The L.A. Times" -- there were two accidental gun discharges on this set in the days before this fatal shooting that did upset some crew members.
And people did feel that the proper safety protocols were not being followed or were being followed too loosely. And so I hear what you're saying, that that's a red flag. And so, I mean, Scott, from all of your experience of doing this and handling weapons on set, what do you think happened?
What do you think went wrong here?
COSCIA: So, I have actually got into arguments with armorers online and been called paranoid and nervous because a lot of them, with their private collections, they don't modify the weapons.
So most prop guns you get from a rental house, you cannot chamber a real bullet. You can't put one of these in. This is a .9-millimeter round. And you see the difference between the two. This is a blank on the right. This is a -- I think 115 grain of a hollow point, jacketed hollow point.
You can't load the actual round into most prop guns. And I have been called nervous and paranoid because I did not feel comfortable with armorers using these actual weapons on set, as opposed to the modified weapons.
Like I said, it seems like there's just a colossal -- colossal failure of safety protocols and negligence and irresponsibility on the part of everyone. And I say that live ammo and blanks should not be in the same zip code, let alone the same set.
CAMEROTA: So that's interesting. So a bullet, live ammo, meaning a real bullet, as you just showed us, and a blank should never be on the same set?
COSCIA: Yes. Yes. Never.
There's no reason to ever use a live ammunition in any set, any production. Look, it costs a little more. If you want to do some kind of shooting scene, you would have to rig up some kind of gag, some kind of special effects. If like say, you're shooting a can, you have to rig up some sort of special effects to make the can fall.
There's no need to ever, ever, under any circumstances have any live ammunition on any set. It's that simple.
CAMEROTA: Scott Coscia, thank you for your expertise. It's really interesting to talk to you. We appreciate it.
COSCIA: Thank you for having me, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, now to this.
President Biden is in a final push to get his agenda passed before he heads overseas later this week. Where the negotiations stand at this hour -- next.