Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Year-Long Detention Of WSJ Journalist Gershkovich In Russia; CDC Issues Warning Over Rare Bacterial Infection; Fed's Desired Inflation Indicator Somewhat Increases; March Madness Men's Tournament Sweet 16, Alabama Defeats No.1 UNC; Beyonce Drops "Cowboy Carter". Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 10:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: ?Sharing that new interview, as Kylie (ph) said, with Evan's parents, in particular, about what this past year has been like for them.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you look at that photo, how does it make you feel?

ELLA MILMAN, EVAN'S MOTHER: It was hard to look at it when it just happened. It was so hard to admit. If you admit it, you make it real. And I don't want it to be real.


MILMAN: So, that's -- still painful.


CAMEROTA: Joining me now is Evan's boss at "The Wall Street Journal", World Coverage Chief Gordon Faircloth. Mr. Faircloth, thank you so much for being here. We know how hard anniversaries like this can be, how painful. So, what's the latest information you have about Evan and how he's coping?

GORDON FAIRCLOTH, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL", WORLD COVERAGE CHIEF AND EVAN GERSHKOVICH'S BOSS: It really is a -- just a terribly sobering milestone that we've hit and such a brazen assault on press freedom, and really a chilling example of the kind of hostage diplomacy taking place these days. You know, where you see countries like Russia just taking captives for geopolitical gain.

CAMEROTA: And are you in touch with Evan? Have you been?

FAIRCLOTH: So, we, don't have a lot of direct communication with Evan, obviously. He's being held in Lefortovo prison in Moscow. He does meet with his lawyers regularly and also gets consular visits from American diplomats in Russia which is comforting.

He does receive and send a lot of letters. I can tell you from the letters, his sense of humor is intact, and I hope that's an indication of how well he's holding up.

CAMEROTA: That's remarkable. Your editor in chief, Emma Tucker told our Oliver Darcy that she believes that Evan could be free by next year. She said that she believes, "There are enough pieces in place for this to happen." Do you share that opinion?

FAIRCLOTH: We're certainly hopeful. You know, there's some indications that a deal did come close to happening. Ambassador Carstens has -- you know, has indicated his optimism. And certainly, there have been no shortage of hints from Russian officials, from President Putin on down that they are open to some kind of swap that would allow Evan to come home.

CAMEROTA: We are seeing these tributes pouring in today from social media to Times Square. What do these mean to his family and to your colleagues in the newsroom?

FAIRCLOTH: I mean it's just -- I think for all of us, I just want to say thank you to everyone who is supporting Evan, supporting us. It's just been incredibly heartening to see from bipartisan support in Congress to, you know, really just an outpouring of solidarity from other media organizations. It just -- it definitely helps keep us going.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Gordon Faircloth, we stand with you. We're thinking of all of your colleagues. Thank you very much for being here.

FAIRCLOTH: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Next, the CDC is warning that a rare -- excuse me, bacterial infection is on the rise in the U.S. We're going to tell you the signs and the symptoms next.



CAMEROTA: New economic news, the Personal Consumption Expenditures Index, that's the one the Fed likes most to measure inflation, ticked higher last month. Joining me now is CNN Business Reporter Matt Egan. So Matt, what does that mean, that inflation is not cooling?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS AND ECONOMY REPORTER: Well, Alisyn, it means that the battle against inflation is not over, but there has been real progress here. I think both things are true. Let's take a look at this report and zero in on the big number here, which is 2.5 percent. That's how much prices were up year over year by the Fed's preferred metric here. And that is a little bit hotter than it was the month before, but that was really expected and driven by higher gas prices. I think it's really important to put all this in context.

Back in June of 2022, this metric was above seven percent. That's when gas prices were going through the roof, above $5 a gallon. We're miles away from there, thankfully. The problem though is that two and a half percent is not two percent. And two percent is what the Fed is targeting. That's what the Fed sees as the sweet spot for inflation. And we're not there, not yet.

And I think when we look at -- up the chart here, we can see, again, that inflation really did start taking off in 2021. That's when that line goes -- starts going straight up. The Fed stepped in and they tried to put out the fire, right, by hiking interest rates. And the good news is that it really did work, right? We're no longer, seeing prices skyrocket for things like eggs and cars and furniture. So, some of the pressure has been taken off of our wallets, thankfully.

I think the bad news is that chart also shows that some of the progress has started to level out here, right? It's not quite back at two percent and its, sort of, going in a straight line here. So, we need to pay very close attention to this because the implications are really massive, right? For the economy, the Fed is still trying to pull off this soft landing, right? Avoid the recession many people thought was inevitable. And the Fed is not quite ready to lower interest rates yet.

And then politically, Alisyn, you know, in a close election, which is what this one looks like, it could all cool down -- it could all come down to how people are feeling about the economy, right? Whether or not the cost of living is heating up or cooling down. Whether or not borrowing costs are going up or down. And so, the stakes here are massive and a lot of it really could come down to inflation.


CAMEROTA: OK. Matt Egan, thanks for explaining all of that.

EGAN: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: The Centers for Disease Control are issuing a warning to doctors about an increase in a rare bacterial infection with unusual symptoms. Health officials say that invasive meningococcal disease is on the rise and that doctors should be on the lookout.

CNN's Meg Tirrell joins me now. So, Meg, my producers were joking that the second I started talking about this, I started getting a scratchy throat. Is that one of the symptoms? And what are the symptoms we should be looking for?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is not one of the main things to watch out for. I mean, this is a very rare disease, although it can be very severe. So, the fact that we're seeing an uptick here, the CDC wants health providers to know to be on the lookout for it and also the fact that it is a little bit different than we typically see.

Now, in terms of the main symptoms of meningococcal disease, it typically presents either as meningitis, which is an infection of the lining in the brain or the spinal cord, or as a bloodstream infection. Things like fever, headaches, stiff neck, nausea, or light sensitivity, or if it's a bloodstream infection, which is actually what we're seeing more of here, fever and chills, fatigue, cold hands and feet, severe aches and pains, rapid breathing. Also later, in the stages of the infection, a dark rash appearing on the skin. Now, what we are seeing -- we can show you a graph here from the CDC, just to show you how big of a spike we're seeing, but it's really important to put this in context. The green line is what you want to be looking at there, the serogroup Y, this is one specific type of this bacteria. We are seeing that spike go up between 2022 and 2023, but we are talking about just more than 400 cases in 2023.

So, it is very rare, but that is the highest we have been seeing of these infections since 2014. And the CDC said so far this year, we're off to an even faster start. So, they want healthcare providers to be aware of it.

CAMEROTA: Who's most at risk?

TIRRELL: So, we're also seeing differences in the people who are getting infected here, which is, different. Typically, we see this in babies or in teenagers and adolescents and in older people, but here it's actually people between the ages of 30 and 60 who are disproportionately being infected, people who are black or African American, and people with HIV.

Now, this is spread typically by saliva, coughing, or kissing, or living in close quarters with other people. And the best way to protect yourself, according to the CDC, is to get vaccinated. The current recommendations are for kids who are 11 or 12 to get a dose of this and a booster at age 16. Also, those who have medical conditions get a primary series and then boost every three to five years. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Meg Tirrell, thank you.

TIRRELL: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Coming up, investigators believe that laced marijuana could have triggered a violent stabbing spree in Illinois. We're going to explain. Keep it on CNN NEWSROOM.



CAMEROTA: Heartbreak for the Tar Heels as number one seed, North Carolina, goes down in an upset, by Alabama in the sweet 16 of the men's NCAA basketball tournament.

CNN's Andy Scholes joins me now. Andy, you know the sports lingo rolls off my tongue so easily.


CAMEROTA: Yes, I know you know that. So, tell us what happened.

SCHOLES: Well, Alisyn, yes, I know you know that, you know, one of the most fun parts of March Madness every year is you just never know which teams are going to make deep runs in the tournament. And four seed Alabama, they were the first team to knock out a one seed this year and they can thank senior Grant Nelson for that. Down one under 40 seconds ago. Nelson gets the bucket here plus the foul. He'd make the free throw to put Bama up by two.

Then Nelson big time block on RJ Davis on the other end. And then with a second left, Nelson gets another block to seal the win. Nelson finishing 24 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks as Bama upsets North Carolina 89 to 87. And they were having a grand old time in the locker room celebrating the tighter end into the elite eight for the first time since 2004 and just the second time in program history.

Now, the defending champs, meanwhile, just rolling into the regional final. The Huskies beating San Diego State in a rematch of last year's title game, 82 to 52. Now, UConn has now won their three games in this tournament by 39, 17, and 30. They've won nine straight tournament games by double digits.


DAN HURLEY, UCONN HEAD COACH: We suck at winning close games. So, you know, you got to go with the alternative.


SCHOLES: Dan Hurley there. Now, four more sweet 16 games on the schedule tonight, including a doubleheader on our sister channels, TBS and truTV, and it's also streaming on a max.

Now, a couple of days ago, Michigan Republican State Representative Matt Maddock, he tweeted, happening right now, three buses just loaded up with illegal invaders at Detroit Metro. Anyone have any idea where they're heading with their police escort?

Well, they weren't illegal invaders. It was actually the Gonzaga men's basketball team arriving for tonight's matchup with Purdue. Now, many people pointed out to Maddock that he was wrong, but he has not deleted the original tweet and he's even gone back at people calling them names. And Alisyn, CNN has reached out to Maddock for comment, but not heard back about that.

CAMEROTA: How professional on his part.


CAMEROTA: Andy Scholes, thank you very much.

OK. Next, get ready for the country rocking "Cowboy Carter". And of course, by that, I mean Beyonce. How she's putting skeptics in their place.


BEYONCE, SINGER: Got folk down in Galveston, rooted in Louisiana. Used to say I spoke too country. And then the rejection came. Said I wasn't country enough.




BOYENCE: Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene. I'm warning you, don't come for my man.


CAMEROTA: Beyonce fans, time to saddle up. Queen Bey just dropped her eagerly awaited country album "Act 2: Cowboy Carter". You just heard a clip of her take on the classic Dolly Parton song "Jolene".


There are 26 more tracks to keep the beehive buzzing. My old pal and cowboy colleague, Victor Blackwell, joins me now. Looking so sharp, it should be illegal. Victor, you look great.


CAMEROTA: I mean, I don't remember this ensemble in your closet when we were matching outfits. Is this new? What's happening here?

BLACKWELL: The hat is relatively new, but the spirit has been here for a while.

CAMEROTA: That I believe.


CAMEROTA: So, listen, I know that you're a huge music fan. I know you're a huge Beyonce fan. You're also a great singer, which I feel you do keep secret from the viewers.


CAMEROTA: I don't think you should. This album reportedly took five years for her to make. So, was it worth it now that you've heard it?

BLACKWELL: Certainly worth the wait. I've said that this is an expansion and not really a departure from Beyonce's music that we've heard over the last several decades. She describes it not as a country album but as a Beyonce album and there's a lot here.

There are certainly some clear country tracks. "Texas Hold'em", which has been out for six weeks. You're hearing a bit of "Blackbird" right now, which is a remake of the Beatles track from the late "60s. "Just For Fun", "Protector", that's the country portion of this that easily you hear country music. But there's some other tracks that kind of play between some folk music and pop and R and B and hip hop as well.

I've said all day, my early favorite is "Sweet Honey Bucking". You hear a bit of Patsy Cline in the lyrics here, but listen to this beat as well. Here's a portion.


BEYONCE: I fall to pieces. Each time I see you there. And I miss all our secrets. So, tell me how you've been.


BLACKWELL: And country music itself has changed over the years, right? I mean, you hear the traditional Patsy Cline here, but it's not all Patsy Cline and Hank Williams on country radio even before this track comes out. So, this gives you those country roots, but also something you could dance to.

CAMEROTA: Wow. I mean, that's beautiful. What you just played there, Victor, is beautiful. Haunting, you know, the Patsy Cline kind of mix with modern sound. So, she also does some collaborations?

BLACKWELL: Yes, she has some collaborations. You played "Jolene" there. Dolly Parton records an interlude, an intro into that. We hear from Willie Nelson as well in an interlude. "Jolene" is really a remake, not a cover. So, she changes the lyrics. It's not, Jolene, please don't take my man. It's more like, Jolene, there's no way you can take my man, from Beyonce's perspective.

There are some collaborations with Miley Cyrus, also with Post Malone. I think it's no coincidence that she pairs with these two white artists who are able to move between genres easily. Miley Cyrus in country and pop, and rock as well. Hip hop for Post Malone while challenging, you know, can black artists do the same? And why haven't they been accepted that way? Featuring Linda Martell, the first black female country artist to have real success there. Listen here to a portion of "Blackbird", which we played. This is with four other black women singing country. And I'll tell you more about the significance in the full circle context.


BEYONCE: You were only waiting for this moment to be free. Blackbird fly, blackbird fly into the light of a dark black night.


BLACKWELL: Of course, those are the lyrics and the chords from the Beatles song released in 1968. Paul McCartney said that he wrote that song thinking about a black woman, not a black bird. A black woman then in the height of the civil rights era. And bringing that music back around to highlight and uplift black women singers in this genre. Beyonce, obviously, has that historical and cultural consciousness to use this to incorporate the initial mission of that song.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, Victor, that context is so important. It makes me even love these songs more. So, is it true that she says -- that Beyonce says that she was inspired to do this because she felt unwelcome at the Country Music Awards?

BLACKWELL: Yes, 2016 when she performed "Daddy Lessons" from the "Lemonade" album with the Dixie Chicks, then known as the Chicks. Many people believe that that is what she's talking about. She never explicitly says it, but that experience, she says that she then used this album, started working more than five years ago on this project and used what she saw or others saw as limitations as an inspiration for this album.