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Jury Begins Considering Punitive Damages in Alex Jones Case; When Should You Give Your Child Their Own Phone; U.S. Struggles to Deal with Counterterrorism Threats in Afghanistan. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 05, 2022 - 15:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Jury deliberation are now underway in the next phase of the trial against Alex Jones. Jurors will decide whether the conspiracy theorist should pay punitive damages for his lies about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Just yesterday, the same Texas jury ordered Jones to pay more than $4 million in compensatory damages to the parents of a first grade victim. That's far less than the $150 million they were seeking.

CNN's Miguel Marquez joining me now. So, Miguel, one of Alex Jones' companies filed for bankruptcy and his attorney claims that his money is tight. But today an expert testified that he's actually just trying to hide his wealth. What did we learn?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think we learned quite a bit. The lawyers for the parents of Jesse Lewis, a six-year-old who died about 10 years ago there at Sandy Hook. One of 26 people who died, 20 of them were children, all of them under 7. He testified that from what he could tell, they asked for a lot of records and couldn't get a lot of records. They didn't -- he didn't have a full picture of what Mr. Jones' companies were worth.

But in all, he has nine companies that he controls. He believes that the companies are worth somewhere between $135 million and $270 million. On average he believes his companies is bring in about $53 million a year. 2021 though was significant. That was a year that Mr. Jones was found liable by default in a Sandy Hook case. In that year, said this forensic psychologist, Mr. Jones started moving $11,000 a day into one of his companies PQPR and he also withdraw $62 million from his companies during that year as well. Lawyers for Jesse Lewis's parents say that the jury must send a message in whatever figure they come up with today.


WESLEY TODD BALL, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: We ask that you send a very, very simple message. And that is stop Alex Jones, stop the monetization of misinformation and lies.


MARQUEZ: And the only way they say that will happen is if that jury returns the Maximum $150 million or thereabouts. It is not clear given Mr. Jones' financial situation and the bankruptcies that other families are saying that he's trying to hide money and given Texas law how much of that money will be seen.


Mr. Jones's lawyers who had their chance to speak today as well to the jury, said an appropriate amount is about $270,000 in punitive damages. The jury's been deliberating for a couple of hours now. It took them much of the day yesterday to come back with that compensatory damage of $4.1 million. So, we are watching closely to see when they come back today -- Dana.

BASH: Miguel Marquez, thank you for that report.

And join Drew Griffin as he dives deep into Infowars and Alex Jones's world. His CNN special report "MEGA PHONE FOR CONSPIRACY" airs tonight at 11:00 p.m. We'll be right back.



BASH: With the new school year approaching, a lot of parents are grappling with the question of when to give a children a cell phone. Well, I have an expert here to help answer some of those questions. Catherine Pearlman is a licensed clinical social worker and also the author of "First Phone: A Child's Guide to Digital Responsibility Safety and Etiquette." Catherine, so good to see you. First question is what is the right age for a child to get their first phone?

CATHERINE PEARLMAN, AUTHOR, "FIRST PHONE": It's a little tricky and it depends on the family. I used to say a little bit later like 13 and 14 but by the time kids are that age they've had so much access. So now I'm recommending somewhere between 10 and 12. And also it really depends on the family and what's the needs. Sometimes a younger kid may have a specific need educationally, medically, socially, so it really depends on the family.

BASH: And this book is really special for a lot of reasons. But specifically, it empowered children to make their own informed decisions about how to use their phone instead of lecturing them. And I want to read to our views an excerpt from your book.

You say: You are living in the most exciting time to be alive, with the greatest technology the world has ever seen. It's both a golden opportunity and a big burden. However, I truly believe you can -- and will -- handled well. Be smart. Be careful. Be compassionate. And, most important, be responsible.

And inherent in that it's clear and I should have mentioned this before that you write this -- this is for kids. Not necessarily for parents. Why do you write that and write it in the way that do you for children?

PEARLMAN: Well, I think that there are some books for parents but the problem is then parents have to do the implementation and that's honestly the hard part. I wanted something for kids so it didn't feel like a parent was lecturing them. But it felt like kids were talking to them, they were getting expert advice but they could also make use of this information for themselves even when their parents aren't around.

BASH: My friend Ali knew I was doing this interview and she joked that she would have a drinking game about how many times I mention my own 11-year-old son. So, to limit her day drinking I'll keep it at that one mention. But the question is how do you set good limits on phone use for kids?

PEARLMAN: I think it starts honestly with modeling good behavior as a parent. Kids are watching us and they're seeing how we're on our phones. And so, thinking about how we use technology is the first step. But then to have some screen free times, you know, maybe meal times, everybody puts their phone away. We have rules about, you know, maybe not sleeping with their phones in the evening and then maybe some screen free time like when we do homework. But it's good to set building expectations up when they get the phone so it's easier to follow through.

BASH: And you recommend a smartphone contract between parents and their children. What does that mean?

PEARLMAN: So, a contract is really just a common set of expectations and rules that we're all going to agree to. And what's so good about that is it opens up the conversation when a child gets their phone. All of the things that we need to talk about in terms of etiquette, self-care, safety and it also helps parents realize that kids are going to make mistakes an how are parents and kids going to handle the mistakes when they happen. Are kids going to shy away from talking to their parents? Hopefully not. And are parents going to stay calm when their kid inevitably comes to them. I hope so.

BASH: And there's a big question of course, of safety in the digital world. You could set some parameters, some technological parameters on phones for kids but there's only so much you can do. How important is it for kids to learn digital habits and what's really out there before they get this phone?

PEARLMAN: You know, I think scammers are incredibly clever and scams are evolving and they take their time with children. They might be in a chat room on a game for two years before they start asking for personal information or for pictures. So, it is important to tell kids about scammers, about phishing, what does that actually mean. And sometimes even I see a text from UPS saying I have a package and click here. And I'm thinking is this actually UPS or is this a scam and very often it is a scam. So, if constantly we have to be talking to our kids about it and updating as we go.

BASH: OK, so last question is about using the phone as a potential form of punishment. Never mind if they do something like don't clean their room or whatever, you hear a lot of parents saying, well, I'm going to take your phone away. But more importantly about the phone, if a parent finds out that they break this contract -- if the parent and child decide to go into that contract -- what's appropriate from your perspective about how to handle that?


PEARLMAN: I think it is appropriate sometimes to briefly take kids off phones or maybe put on limitations on their phones so they could only have a short amount of screen time a day before the phone turns off. But also, it's more important to be instructive and to use your education with your kids rather than being so punitive. Because honestly kids are very smart and they'll go underground. They'll use social media on their friends phone. They'll be on servers texting somewhere you don't know it exists while they're doing their homework. So, I think it's important to have an open mind and be instructive and put limitations on as appropriate.

BASH: Well said, it is very true. Kids will figure it out. Next interview I'll ask you how to find a Finstead (ph) account. Catherine Pearlman thank you so much. Again, the book is "First Phone, a Child's Guide to Digital Responsibility, Safety and Etiquette." Appreciate it.

PEARLMAN: Thank you.

BASH: And in another very, very big story, despite killing al-Qaeda leader this week, CNN is learning that the U.S. is actually struggling with how to deal with counter-terrorism threats inside Afghanistan. We're going to give you details of that next.



BASH: CNN is learning that despite the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the U.S. is struggling to deal with counter terrorism threats in Afghanistan. Shortly before the U.S. withdrawal, the Department of Defense created a task force that would keep Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terror groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. But more than a year later, sources say the team hasn't sent a single proposed target to the Pentagon for approval. CNN reporter Katie Bo Lillis is breaking this story now. So, Katie Bo, tell us what you're learning.

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Dana, this task force was intended to be a key part of the Biden administration strategy to be able to conduct counter terrorism in Afghanistan from over the horizon without a U.S. presence on the ground. But as we've learned, not only has it not carried out a single strike. They haven't even elevated a proposed strike to the Pentagon for approval. Now our sources tell us that this is in part because the task force has struggled to develop the intelligence that it needs to be able to meet the administration's strategy, or the administration's requirements for minimizing civilian casualties.

Now, for current and former military and intelligence officials that I spoke to for this story, that raises a pretty troubling concern that the United States' intelligence capabilities inside Afghanistan might not be sufficient to monitor and counter the threat that groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS might be planning external threats on the United States.

Now the White House is pushing back on this interpretation. And I want to share with you what a senior administration official who I spoke to earlier today had to say about this.

The official said to me: The fact that there hadn't been other uses of force of that type -- and in this instance this person is referring to the al-Zawahiri strike. The fact that there haven't been other uses of force of that type in the past year means that we are monitoring and we are being judicious -- and where we think it reaches the point of needing to act, we're acting.

So, in other words, for the White House the al-Zawahiri strike is evidence that, look, our intelligence gathering capabilities are sufficient. We're seeing what we need to be able to see. But, Dana, I wouldn't expect this debate to go anywhere anytime soon. In part because U.S. tolerance for risk for terror threats out of Afghanistan, relatively low. And as one former intelligence official who I spoke for the story to put to it me, we don't know what we don't know.

BASH: Well, you can say that about a lot of things. Thank you so much for that important reporting, Katie.

And China stops cooperate with the U.S. on a range of issues critical to both countries and the world as fallout from the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit to Taiwan continues.



BASH: One in 44 American children is believed to be on the autism spectrum. But studies have shown that black and brown children on average are diagnosed later than white children. They're also less likely to access critical assistance due in part to racial bias and cultural stigma. This week's CNN hero Deborah Vines is working to change that.


DEBRA VINES: Being a parent of a child with autism in the '80s and '90s was very, very challenging. The support groups that I found, I was the only black woman there. We a color barrier, income barrier, equity barrier, period. It was just all types of barriers.

VINES: Good morning!

VINES: Everything that we provide is a blueprint of what I was missing as a parent. And so, we have a support group. Kids go to their classes. We are a family. And I'm very adamant about educating community because people are afraid of what they don't understand. We want to make sure that first responders are trained in how to deal with our children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long has your mom been doing this kind of stuff? VINES: Because he's smiling, it makes it a little bit easier. But what

you get a hold of somebody that's not smiling and they are running around and biting themselves.

VINES: Advocacy is a gift. I'm good at it and it makes me feel so good.


BASH: To see Debra's full story, go to

And an unlikely star is born in Georgia -- or a fugitive. Police are on the lookout for a man who allegedly shoplifted from a Home Depot. And the man is the spitting image of Bradley Cooper. The Henry County Police Department posted this image on their Facebook page. Yup, just look at that image. The man was pulling a stolen rotary laser kit on a flatbed cart out of the store. No comment from the actual Bradley Cooper.

Exciting news at the Cincinnati Zoo. Bibi the hippo gave birth to her second hippo making baby Fiona a big sister.


Fiona emerged as an international celebrity after being born six weeks prematurely in 2017, only weighing 29 pounds at birth. Hippos are typically born at 100 pounds or give or take. The new baby hippo doesn't have a name yet but the zoo is taking name suggestions on their website.

And be sure to tune in Sunday for "STATE OF THE UNION." I'll be joined by Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal as well as Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams. That's Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and noon. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.