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Alex Jones Testifies After Emotional Day From Sandy Hook Families; Cancer Deaths Are Steadily Falling In U.S.; "Champions For Change": Pastor Trying New Ways To Disrupt Cycle Of Gun Violence. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Right-wing conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, is back on trial. And he took the stand today in this Connecticut defamation lawsuit against him.

His testimony follows the gut-wrenching testimony from the families of children and adults slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary. They describe the torment and the threats unleashed by Jones' claims that the massacre was a hoax.

CNN's Jean Casarez is joining us now and has been following the trial.

Jean, today, this trial is going to determine how much the families will be paid. And so he's on the stand. What's he saying under oath?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Frist of all, there's so much stress in the courtroom. There's so many sidebars and the jury is having to leave. And the judge said, Jury, you're going to get your exercise today.

But it's true he's already been found liable for defaming the families and causing them intentional inflection of emotion distress. So all of the questions in this portion are really directed to, what is the worthy amount of money damages to compensate the family members?

The judge has set parameters. The questions cannot be, and Alex Jones cannot testify to the First Amendment, Second Amendment, politicians or elections. So barring that, he can testify.


One of the first questions was, this is an important trial. And his response was, I don't think this is a case. He went on to ultimately have to admit that it is an important trial.

He also focused on the plaintiffs' attorney, some of his Web site's pages, and up went the multimedia screen. I think we have video of that.

You see on his Web site he talks about that you can click and you can watch these kangaroo court proceedings. Also there's the judge right there, fire in her eyes.

Now, this is also shown in the Texas trial but this is a new jury. It shows his state of mind, according to the plaintiffs, and also his intention.

Furthermore, Ana, he was asked, you called all these people actors, the family members. He said, no I didn't. Roll the tape. So they showed a part of his radio show that was on camera where he does, and he said, you refreshed my recollection.


I was thinking we might have had some sound with him. Here it comes. Let's listen to what he had to say.


JENNIFER HENSEL, PLAINTIFF: It makes it hard to just push that away. Because you have to push that away. That continual noise of -- of all of the people saying that we faked this. And that it never happened. And that she's still alive somewhere. God, if she were, wouldn't that be amazing.


CASAREZ: That was Jennifer Hensel. She's one of the grieving family members that was called a fake, a fraud, an actor, and this whole thing is a hoax.

And they've had to relive this, Ana, up on the stand almost point by point of what they went through after this happened.

And a lot of people didn't even know this was happening to them at this time.

CABRERA: Wow. It's been so eye opening to learn more of their stories and what they've experienced and have gone through.

Jean, thank you.

CASAREZ: You're welcome.

CABRERA: So what used to be a death sentence now has increasingly stronger chances of survival. Why more people in the U.S. are now surviving cancer than ever before. When we come back.



CABRERA: We have encouraging news for people battling cancer, those who had to endure it, those who will in the future, your families. A new report from the American Association for Cancer Research shows that cancer deaths are steadily falling here in the U.S.

CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is joining us now. This is the best news. Who hasn't been touched by cancer in this life?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I know. There's so many people. And we hear about these incremental changes that are happening with cancer therapies. But to see it laid out like you're about to see, it's incredible in terms of the impact and progress we've made.

If you go to 1991 and compare it to now, overall, cancer death rates have dropped 32 percent. Ana, we tried to calculate what does that mean in terms of lives saved, three and a half million lives saved, that's incredible.

Also, if you look at just the number of cancer survivors out there. Back in 1971, it was close to three million cancer survivors. Now it's about 18 million, which is about 5 percent of the population.

One in 20 people that you come in contact with is a cancer survivor nowadays.

Also, back in 1971, for any kind of cancer at all, living more than five years, less than half the people actually did that. And now it's closer to 70 percent or 75 percent.


GUPTA: So people are living longer overall. And they're -- they're saving many lives.

CABRERA: That's so fascinating. I was just telling you during the break, my brother is one of those survivors --

GUPTA: I know, incredible.

CABRERA: -- who had brain cancer. And at the time he was treated, it was the five-year rule. And here he is 20 years-plus in remission. It's so encouraging.

When you talk about where this is all headed, we recently reported on President Biden's moonshot cancer goal, right?

GUPTA: Right.,

CABRERA: And his goal is to cut cancer deaths in half by 20-- in 25 years. How realistic do you think that is?

GUPTA: I showed you the idea of 32 percent reduction in cancer death rates since 1991. So that's pretty significant. If you fast forward another 25 years, it's possible.

I think there's a couple things. First of all, the big areas where they made progress, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer. These cancers, they're identified mutations. They've been able to target those mutations.

But a big thing in President Biden's cancer moonshot is investing more in those therapies but also recognizing that probably about half of cancers, including the ones I just mentioned, are brought on by preventable causes.

So identifying those things -- smoking being one of them, diet being another one of them -- that can make a huge difference as well.

So if we're serious about it, not just treatments but preventions as well, it seems like we can get there.

CABRERA: We can be proactive instead of reactive.


CABRERA: Thank you so much, Sanjay.


CABRERA: Don't forget to check out Sanjay's podcast, "CHASING LIFE," an all-new season, season five -- congrats, by the way -- starts this week.


We'll be right back.


CABRERA: Nearly every American will know at least one victim of gun violence in their lifetime. This is a sobering statistic from Gifford Law Center.

And while mass shootings dominate the headlines, gun crimes are prevalent in our everyday lives.

Look at the numbers. In 2020, there were more than 45,000 firearm- related deaths in the U.S. That's about 124 people dying each day, according to the CDC.

Today's "CHAMPION FOR CHANGE" is Pastor Mike McBride, who is trying new ways to disrupt a cycle of gun violence in his community.

Our Jim Sciutto reports.



PASTOR MIKE MCBRIDE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LIVE FREE: The people are the most important part of any city.

People in the land have a story around violence that is systemic. And the trauma related to that story is often not told and even sometimes trivialized.

I am committed to ensuring that we can live in communities that are free from gun violence. JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Gun violence is almost a

daily story.

I am here in El Paso.

I remember covering the El Paso shooting in 2019 and then quickly moving from El Paso to Dayton.

Together, 31 people were killed in these two American communities.

It's impossible not to feel how pervasive it is. The fact of gun violence in this country is that most gun deaths don't take place in mass shootings.

MCBRIDE: By and large, gun violence in this country is overrepresented with suicides.

About 30-something percent of gun deaths in this country are a result of interpersonal conflicts that are associated with groups or "cliques," quote, unquote, in communities.

This has to be seen as a public health issue. It has to be seen as an extension of social/political conditions.

SCIUTTO: It is truly a vicious, deadly cycle. If someone gets killed in a shooting or wounded, and there's an act of revenge. And that's what Pastor Mike and his group, and others working with him are trying to stop.

Tell me why this place is so important to you.

MCBRIDE: One of my young people, his name was Larry, he got killed right here. I told him, if you can just graduate, bro, like, everything in your life will be better.

SCIUTTO: And he did it.

MCBRIDE: And he did everything I told him to do, and we still ended up having to bury him.

I did a funeral for Larry. And I asked the young people, how many of you have been to more than one funeral? There was 500 young people in there. All of them lifted their hand. And I just felt like, I'm not doing enough.

Live Free is a part of a broad ecosystem and we connect directly with the outreach workers or the families who have been shot or at highest risk of being engaged in shootings.

SCIUTTO: You've just been shot, or someone you love or someone you're close to has just been shot, it's emotional, it's fearful. How do you convince people not to shoot back?

MCBRIDE: Find that person at their point of despair and help them pause. What you decide today could actually create another cycle where we'll be at the hospital tomorrow or the next night. The key is to have individuals who can have multiple conversations,

credible messengers, people who have relationships in the streets. And those individuals do lots of groundwork to ease the tensions.

SCIUTTO: What was your first experience of gun violence yourself?

LONDELL "TACO" PORTER, COMMUNITY LIFE COACH: Standing right here, drive-by, two inches -- I've still got the scar right here, bro. It's like two inches away from death as a kid.

SCIUTTO: How old were you?


We've given false promises in this environment for a long time. I'm going to tell the kids the truth. This is how you're all going to come up if you're going to live this way or you can just follow my path. It ain't always good. It ain't squeaky clean. But just follow my lead. I'm telling you it's going to work for you.

With Live Free backing us and supporting us in other ways, it's like, they see it now. At first it was like, oh, you want peace, you want -- you want to be the good guy. No, I want to live.

SCIUTTO: Can you describe an example where your approach worked? You got there in time and you prevented the next shooting?

MCBRIDE: It's hard to count shootings that don't happen. But over time, we can say that at the height of our five-year reduction, we were under 65 homicides when our height was around 120-something homicides.

There is no hero or silver bullet. We have to have community members. We have to have public health. We have to have mental health, behavioral health, employment and opportunities in order to actually impact and affect. And that is our ultimate goal.


CABRERA: That is an important story, an issue that we don't shine enough light on so often because we focus on those mass shootings.

What gives you hope that the program that he's doing will make a difference?

SCIUTTO: You know, you and I are colleagues. We're covering these shootings all the time, whether they're mass shootings or just the daily kind of cycle of gun violence.

So it's understandable to get frustrated and hopeless. And I feel that. And certainly, the people in those communities feel that. The victims directly impacted feel that.

When I look at Pastor Mike and what his team does, the key seems to me to be -- and he believes -- that's more important -- getting there in those moments immediately following a shooting. Because so often, one shooting leads to the next one. Someone gets

shot and he or his family or his friends or his crew go back and shoot someone else. And then it starts again and goes in the opposite direction.


He gets there in those moments afterwards, at the hospital, in the living room, and just gets them to wait and think and try not to respond.

And I'll tell you, one other little sign of hope in this bipartisan gun package, there's a quarter of a billion dollars for programs just like this one. And he calls it -- Pastor Mike calls that a down payment.

CABRERA: Pastor Mike is breaking the cycle, it sounds like. And just hearing him speak and his drive gives me hope that, even a life or two saved, each one makes a difference and matters.

Thanks so much, Jim, for sharing that story.

SCIUTTO: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Be sure to tune in on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern for the "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" one-hour special.

That does it for us. The news continues right after this.