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FDA Panel Votes on Pfizer Vaccine; Zuckerberg Attacks Media; Biden Rejects Trump's Executive Privilege Claim; Ammunition Found on "Rust" Set; Patrick Storey is Interviewed about "Rust" Accident. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 09:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No question about it. Huge commercial implications.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And instead of saying you're WFH, you would say you're WFS.

BERMAN: Right.


BERMAN: Right.

All right, Kristin, thank you so much. Really is interesting.

CNN's coverage continues right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


Today is a day that many parents have been waiting for. An important first step. An FDA advisory board is meeting right now. They'll decide whether to recommend authorizing Pfizer's vaccine for five to 11-year- olds. Again, though, this is just one step. We're going to take a closer look at that timeline for you, including when your kids could potentially get that first shot just ahead.

SCIUTTO: Plus, Facebook's CEO on defense once again. Mark Zuckerberg is blaming the torrent of bad press sparked from Facebook's own internal documents on a, quote in his words, coordinated effort to paint a false picture of the company. So far shares in Facebook have not taken a hit.

HILL: And new revelations about what was happening on set in the hours before Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer. We are learning why live ammunition may have been in that gun. Those details to come. SCIUTTO: We begin this morning with CNN's senior medical correspondent

Elizabeth Cohen and the meeting that is happening right now on vaccines for children.

So, Elizabeth, walk us through the steps here because there's more than one presuming today that there is a recommendation for these shots to go forward.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, there are more than one step. And that's because you've got two agencies, the FDA and the CDC, involved and then advisory panels to each of those. Those are outside experts who have nothing to do with the agencies themselves, who give their impartial opinion.

So let's take a look, big picture, at the timeline here for how this will all work out.

So today we have the advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration meeting and they will look at certain data that I'll get to in a minute. And then this -- later this week, or perhaps early next week, we're expected to hear from the FDA, a final decision on whether they'll give emergency use authorization for Pfizer to the vaccine for children ages five to 11. And then, November 2nd and 3rd, CDC advisers. So a whole new set of outside experts will take a look at this. And then sometime after November 3rd, we're thinking shortly after November 3rd, the CDC director, dr. Rochelle Walensky, is expected to give her green light, and that would be the final green light.

So, all of this, what it adds up to is what Dr. Anthony Fauci said a few days ago, which is that he is optimistic, that's the word he used, that children will be vaccinated with Pfizer, have the opportunity to be vaccinated with Pfizer sometime in the first two weeks of November.

So let's take a look at the data that the experts will be looking at today. The data, according to Pfizer, shows that for children ages five to 11, that this vaccine is 90.7 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19. What they did is they gave about 1,300 children the vaccine in a clinical trial and over time three of them became sick with COVID-19. They then gave 663 children a placebo, a shot of saline that does nothing. So a far smaller number. It was not 50/50, a small -- far smaller number and 16 of those children became sick. Those numbers are very telling. Far more children became sick who received the placebo, even though fewer received the placebo.

So the bottom line is these advisers will look at that data. And Dr. Paul Offit, who's a member of this FDA advisory committee, he put it very succinctly.

Let's take a listen.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Can promise you that when we have this discussion, that if we do end up recommending this vaccine, we would only do it if we would give it to our own children.


COHEN: So, again, Dr. Fauci saying that he is optimistic, he wants to see this committee do its work, but he is optimistic that children ages five to 11 will get vaccinated with Pfizer in the first two weeks of November.

Erica. Jim.

HILL: I'm focusing on that optimism.

Elizabeth, appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, this morning, Facebook is in crisis. The social media giant really trying to spin damning revelations about how it does business as more details emerge from tens of thousands of internal documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen. Now those documents laying bare how the company profits off the spread of false information.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: Good actors, good publishers are already publishing all the content they can -- they can do. But bad actors have an incentive to play the algorithm and they figure out all the ways to optimize Facebook. And so the current system is biased towards bad actors and biased towards people who pushed people to the extremes.



SCIUTTO: Remarkable. She's saying it's in the technology.

According to those documents, Facebook allegedly misled the public about the 2020 election and the Capitol insurrection, knowingly promoted conspiracy theories, knew that its platform was being used to incite violence, was aware of human trafficking taking place on its apps and may have misled its own oversight board.

CNN correspondent Donie O'Sullivan and Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona, they're here with more.

Donie, you've been covering this very closely here. Mark Zuckerberg pushing back very strongly, a defensive tone, this during an earnings call. I wonder, what did he say and is it your view, having covered this for so long, that Facebook considers what it's going through now different from previous bouts with bad press?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, they certainly have given up kind of, I think, engaging on the issues. We've seen over the past week a Facebook spokesperson telling "The Washington Post" that some reporting was beneath them. And yesterday we saw Zuckerberg having a pop at the media.

Have a listen to him on that earnings call.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Good faith criticism helps us get better. But my view is that what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company. The reality is that we have an open culture where we encourage discussion and research about our work so we can make progress on many complex issues that are not specific to just us.


O'SULLIVAN: And when he talks there about selectively choosing documents here, Frances Haugen has released tens of thousands of pages of documents. And it's the company's own research.

And to his point about it being an open culture, that certainly does seem to be the case in the extent in that we have seen many comments from employees, including on January 6th, to executives internally saying we have some culpability here. But it's all fine to have an open culture, but the message doesn't seem to be making its way to the top.

HILL: Doesn't seem to be making -- there are issues there.

You know, Melanie, I remember when Frances Haugen was testifying, of course, in Washington -- she was in the U.K. yesterday -- and there was really this bipartisan moment of, you know, we have to do something, this is not acceptable. But the real question is, what is that something? I mean is there any more movement this morning on Capitol Hill from Congress?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Capitol Hill has wanted to crack down on big tech for quite some time now. But these new revelations about Facebook are only adding momentum to those efforts. And one idea that's being kicked around right now is to reform the legal shield that protects internet companies from being held liable for content posted by its users. A bill introduced by energy and commerce chairman Frank Pallone would actually remove that shield when internet companies either knowingly or recklessly used personalized algorithms to promote content that ends up causing either emotional or physical harm.

The idea there is to focus on algorithms versus user generated content which could be a far more politically fought debate. But, I should note, there are no Republican co-sponsors on that bill just yet.

The other idea being kicked around is to create more competition in the marketplace. The House Judiciary Committee passed a package of antitrust bills earlier this summer. There were a couple of Republicans who supported those measures, but those bills have not received a vote in the House floor yet.

So, look, even though there's bipartisan anger, as you mentioned, Erica, it's unclear whether that is going to actually translate into action. And part of the problem is that Democrats and Republicans, while they agree about the need to rein in Silicon Valley, they have disagreements over how best to do that and what that should look like.

And the other big issue here is money. Big tech is one of the biggest political spenders in Washington. They've been some of the most powerful and untouchable industries on Capitol Hill.

This is what David Cicilline, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. told me. He said, with enormous economic power very often comes enormous political power. And they are spending millions and millions of dollars flooding this town with lobbyists and campaign contributions, doing everything they can to stop these reforms. This is the reason that battles against monopolies are hard.

So, look, we'll see what happens here. But I will say that proponents of reining in big tech feel like the tides have finally turned in their favor.

SCIUTTO: We'll see. There's some bipartisan support, but I'm sure those lobbying machines are churning into action now.

Melanie Zanona on The Hill, Donie O'Sullivan, thanks very much.

President Biden has rejected the latest executive privilege claim by former President Trump. This over documents that Trump is trying to keep out of the hands of the January 6th select committee.

HILL: CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond joining us now.

So, Jeremy, this is, of course, after the former president had filed a lawsuit to stop the National Archives from turning over documents.


What's the latest here?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Former President Trump filed that lawsuit after the Biden administration rejected his claims of executive privilege in one instance previously already. Now, this is the second instance that the White House and President Biden have formally decided to wave executive privilege over a batch of documents requested by the select committee investigating those events on January 6th.

Let me read you a snippet from the White House Counsel Dana Remus, her letter to the National Archives. She writes, President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States and therefore is not justified as to the documents provided to the White House on September 16th and September 23rd, 2021. Accordingly, President Biden does not uphold the former president's assertion of privilege.

One thing that the White House has made very clear is that they are going to continue to review these requests for documents on a case by case basis. President -- former President Trump has sought to assert this wide ranging executive privilege over all of these documents. The White House here is going to go methodically batch after batch and determine whether or not it is worthy of those claims of executive privilege or whether to wave that privilege altogether.

It appears that that is what the administration has decided to do now in at least two instances. And going forward, the White House has made very clear that they view this as a unique and extraordinary set of circumstances that because it involves an investigation into this insurrection, that they believe that that is a set of extraordinary circumstances that does not warrant the use of executive privilege. But they are going to continue to review that going forward.

One thing we don't know is that lawsuit that former President Trump has filed, whether that's just going to be a delay tactic or whether or not there's any merit to those claims that the court may find in terms of that request and claim of executive privilege.


HILL: We're waiting on that.

Jeremy Diamond, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, an accident waiting to happen. That's how one veteran prop master who actually turned down a job on "Rust" described the set of that Alec Baldwin movie. We have new details this morning about what was happening behind the scenes and why industry experts say it was way outside the norm.

SCIUTTO: Plus, I'll speak live to Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer. This as the clock ticks on a deal to pass Biden's agenda. Moderates and progressives adding new red lines in just the last 24 hours. What does that all mean?

And later, North Port, Florida, police admit that they made mistakes in the Brian Laundrie investigation. What those were, how important, just ahead.



SCIUTTO: There are new details this morning about events leading up to the fatal shooting on the set of the Alec Baldwin produced film "Rust."

HILL: "The New York Times" just reporting ammunition was found in a fanny pack on set, as well as some boxes and loose. That's according to court records from Santa Fe County.

We also learned yesterday that in the hours before cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed, crew members had used live ammunitions in the gun in a past time called plinking.

Here's more from Sharon Waxman, CEO of "The Wrap," who broke that story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHARON WAXMAN, FOUNDER AND CEO, "THE WRAP": There's this past time that crew members sometimes do. It's called plinking. And they go out into the rural areas and they shoot at beer cans. This is with live ammunition. We learned that this happened the morning of the day that Halyna Hutchins was killed.


HILL: CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Lucy, so in terms of this ammunition that was found, loose and in a couple of different areas, what more do we know about that? Were those live rounds? Were they dummies?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the court documents that were obtained by "The New York Times" don't specify what kind of ammunition it was, whether it was dummies or regular bullets or blank cartridges. The only thing we know from those court reports is that there was ammo in boxes, loose and inside the fanny pack, and that there were three revolvers that were seized from the scene.

Now, in terms of the other practice that you described, "The Wrap's" reporting on plinking, crew members essentially going out to allegedly shoot beer cans or whatever it might have been that morning, if that reporting is confirmed, which CNN has not been able to verify independently, that could explain how a live gun and live ammo could have gotten on set. But, again, authorities at this stage have not specified what type of projectile was emitted out of that gun killing Halyna Hutchins, the 42-year-old director of cinematography.

Now, we have learned that "Rust," the film, the producers behind the film "Rust" will be pausing production, pause filming here in Santa Fe while the investigation takes place. In a statement, the production company wrote, and I quote, as we go through this crisis, we have made the decision to wrap the set at least until the investigations are complete. Although our hearts are broken, and it is hard to see beyond the horizon, this, at the moment, is a pause rather than an end. The spirit that brought us all to this special place remains.

Now, "Rust" producers do tell CNN that they are cooperating with the investigation. They're also offering mental health services for the cast and the crew. Obviously, this was a tremendously traumatic event for everyone involved. No charges have been filed, but we are expecting an update from the sheriff's office on Wednesday. We look forward to seeing if there's any more details about this investigation, guys.

SCIUTTO: Lucy Kafanov, thanks so much.

Well, joining us now on the phone is Patrick Storey. He's a prop master who has worked with weapons on television shows such as "Homeland" and "The Walking Dead."


Mr. Storey, it's good to have you on this morning given your experience.

But my first question is a very basic one, why would there be any need whatsoever to have live ammunition on a movie set for any reason? I mean the idea of plinking, you know, shooting off rounds for the hell of it, you know, in between shoots just seems totally unnecessary, but what function could live ammunition have?

PATRICK STOREY, : Well, thanks for having me.

First, I really feel like yet another round of a broken record. There is -- there is no reason for this to happen. And I get a little choked up because I work really hard and I think all prop teams really are affected by this. And everyone in our industry is.

But there is -- there's just no -- there's no reason, and I guess this is where I feel like a broken record, because every single person who has been in the media that's in the industry and is close to this says the same thing, there's just -- there's no room for -- for this kind of mistake.


HILL: So to that point, Patrick, I mean I think you're right, everyone that -- you know, I know Jim and I have spoken with, and folks on our team here, have said the exact same thing, which then raises the question, right, is how it ended up happening on the set, if it's never supposed to happen, there is really this set of checks and balances that's supposed to be there, there are very specific rules and specific jobs for everyone. What are the questions that this raises for you?

STOREY: Well, I think that part of it lies in union jurisdictional rules. So, in other words, you know, if you're doing these kinds of things in a -- in a large -- in a large professional area, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, there's -- there's a big contingency of very experienced people who play by these rules. And, you know, I hate to just mention it as just a sense of physical proximity, but I can just imagine the situation where, you know, you're farther and farther away from -- from really experienced crew and a lot of the really experienced crew is not available right now.

But I just feel like it -- in some ways it's -- it could just come down to a cavalier attitude about, you know, we're out in the wild west and we're having a lot of fun and here we go, guys, let's shoot some targets.

SCIUTTO: OK, to that point, Patrick, "The New York Times" is reporting that detectives found three revolvers, spent cases, casings, rather, and ammunition in boxes, loose, and in a fanny pack. They don't specify what that ammunition was, whether it was blanks or live rounds.

But regardless, based on best practices in your experience, would something like this happen on a well-managed film set?

STOREY: Never. All those -- all those tools, and I mention them as tools because they're tools for us to tell stories, but they're all locked away. And, you know, as I'm just going to repeat this, as everyone has, with those -- those things don't come out until it is time to hand off the weapon to shoot the scene where we're actually firing blank rounds.

HILL: Does this concern you at all moving forward?

STOREY: You know, I think -- you know, as much as I hate to say it, I think that sometimes these incidents happen and they correct behaviors. You know, I'm standing -- I'm on my truck right now, about, I don't know, 100 yards from the stage where Brandon Lee was shot. And here we are very, very aware of what can happen. And so, you know, I guess it is -- I mean to me it is proximity. We're very close to where a former tragedy happened. And, you know, it's just -- it -- I think sometimes awareness is only raised when something this high profile goes down. And I just -- I feel awful for the film community. I feel awful for Halyna's family. And, you know, it's basically all I have to say.

HILL: Yes. Yes. Well, listen, you're right, unfortunately, it does take a tragedy, right, sometimes for things to change.

But, Patrick, really appreciate you joining us with your expertise and with your insight this morning. Thank you.


STOREY: Thank you.

HILL: Well, at this hour, at this very moment, an advisory panel is meeting. They're there to talk about whether they should recommend the FDA authorize Pfizer's COVID vaccine for five to 11-year-olds.


So how important could this be in that race to control the pandemic?

SCIUTTO: And we are moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Futures are up slightly this morning after another record close for the Dow yesterday. The market also pointing higher as investors look forward to a big day of earnings reports from some of America's largest tech companies such as Microsoft and Alphabet. Shares of Facebook were up as well in premarket trading this morning after the company reported higher than expected earnings yesterday. This despite all the bad news from internal documents. We're going to continue to follow all the market news.