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Job Losses Mount Across America's Tech Industry; Americans Traveling By Plane At Near Pre-Pandemic Levels; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) Discusses Senate Report On Domestic Terror. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 17, 2022 - 07:30   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: -- morning.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I know. They have, like --

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Can we say thanks to the governor, please?


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: This morning it is a really troubling time in the tech industry. Sweeping layoffs at Facebook's parent company Meta, and now Amazon, Twitter. And Twitter's new owner Elon Musk says employees must commit to quote "extremely hardcore" work or leave the company by tonight.

Our Vanessa Yurkevich joins us now. What is going on in Silicon Valley?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's what we wanted to know, too. We were thinking what the heck is going on, so we took this to the experts. It seems like every single day we're hearing about a major tech company announcing layoffs.

What does this all mean? Should people in other industries be concerned? And how many more layoffs can we expect?


YURKEVICH (voice-over): In three weeks, the tech industry lost tens of thousands of jobs. Historic layoffs at Twitter, Meta, Lyft, and Amazon., a crowdsource layoff tracking site, puts it at more than 35,000 layoffs so far this month.


ROGER LEE, FOUNDER, LAYOFFS.FYI: And that's the highest month since the pandemic, so that beats April 2020, which was 17,000 employees laid off.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Meta cuts its workforce by 13 percent. CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying he's taking accountability and apologizing to those impacted. New owner Elon Musk slashed half of Twitter's staff with founder Jack

Dorsey tweeting "...the company grew too quickly. I apologize for that."

And Amazon is laying off 10,000 workers this week, citing an unusual and uncertain macroeconomic environment.

NELA RICHARDSON, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ADP RESEARCH INSTITUTE: There were big investments made during the pandemic time. While the rest of the economy, for example, was plummeting by 3.4 percent, tech grew by four percent.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): But in a post-pandemic, high-inflation world, consumer behaviors and spending habits are changing with the threat of a recession on the horizon.

RICHARDSON: I take this as a sign that maybe companies got over their skis at some point, right, and they're trying to kind of sit upright again.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Roger Lee founded as the pandemic unfolded. Recently, he's been digging deeper into the numbers.

LEE: There have been many companies who have been letting go half or more of their recruit and H.R. teams just because they're not hiring as many people anymore.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Aaron Backman, a recruiter at a tech company, was one of those layoffs.

YURKEVICH (on camera): What did that feel like for you?

AARON BACKMAN, LAID OFF FROM TECH COMPANY: It was a really awful feeling. We were told really early in the morning -- an email saying layoffs are coming today and if you get a call it's going to be you. And I sat there for six hours on slack and watched my colleagues get laid off one by one.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Then he got the call.

BACKMAN: It's depressing.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): As American workers watch tech giants shed jobs at a rapid clip, many in other industries are asking am I next?

YURKEVICH (on camera): Should they be nervous?

RICHARDSON: First of all, the tech economy are just two percent of the labor market. Tech is an important part of the economy but it is not the whole of the economy. The rest of the labor market is looking pretty good. The economy is adding jobs at a pretty healthy clip.


YURKEVICH: And the hiring that she's talking about there are in consumer-facing areas like health care, social services, and leisure and hospitality.

But we're talking about people's jobs, people's livelihoods here.

And Aaron Backman, who you heard from, said that in just the few short months that he's been laid off, he's applied for 125 jobs in tech --



YURKEVICH: -- and has only gotten two phone calls back.

A glimmer of hope here is that some economists believe that, yes, we may see more layoffs in tech but it might be short-lived. The rebound may be a lot sooner than we expect. Of course, tech is a small part of the jobs market but it's an important part. Tech is essentially the future.

HARLOW: Yes. Like you said, if it's your job it's everything.

YURKEVICH: Yes. It's your livelihood.

HARLOW: Thank you, Vanessa --

YURKEVICH: Thank you, guys.

HARLOW: -- very much.

YURKEVICH: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, brace yourself. Next week, airports expected to be busier than they've been in years. Harry Enten --

LEMON: Oh, boy.

HARLOW: -- is here with this morning's number.

LEMON: And next, the new Senate report on the rising threat of domestic extremism in the U.S. Michigan's Gov. Gretchen Whitmer -- who was the target, by the way, of a terror plot -- joins CNN THIS MORNING live after her reelection victory.



HARLOW: So, we -- all reporters -- all of us at this desk have had some trouble at some point with our live shots. But in Kenya, we want to show you a reporter and his uninvited guest took it to a whole new level.


ALVIN KAUNDA, KENYAN JOURNALIST: Human actions are destroying habitats, decimating our entire ecosystem, and disrupting the circle of life under the rise in (INAUDIBLE) cases. (Baby elephant tickling Kaunda's nose). It is up to us to be guardians

of our own natural world, save our one species, and provide a home --



HARLOW: That was Kenyan journalist Alvin Kaunda in the middle of the -- detailing the devastating drought in Kenya. He was standing next to that baby elephant in an -- baby elephant orphanage in Nairobi before being upstaged and tickled with the trunk. But look how -- look how calm he stays, guys. Like the ear, the head, then it's like too much when the elephant trunk --

COLLINS: He's like trying so hard to stay professional and then it just crosses the line.

HARLOW: I think his laugh rivals Anderson's, don't you?

COLLINS: This is -- oh my God, he does.

HARLOW: I think it -- right?

LEMON: No, nothing rivals that.

COLLINS: We used to think at the White House it was bad when the sprinklers would go off -- the water would go off. That's actually so distracting. But look, he kept going. He kept reporting.

HARLOW: Good job, Alvin.


COLLINS: All right. As many Americans are getting ready to travel for Thanksgiving there are big signs that air travel is nearing --


COLLINS: -- those pre-pandemic levels.

Joining us with this morning's number -- it might not be a number you want to hear, but it is -- senior -- CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten. Harry, what are -- should we be expecting if we're going to be flying next week?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I think that there are going to be a lot of folks who are going to be flying next week. So, look, we know, obviously, the COVID pandemic played a big role in limiting airline travel.

Take a look at airline passengers as a percentage of 2019 passengers. That is before the pandemic. Look at where we were over the last week -- 97 percent, 97 percent -- nearly back to those pre-pandemic levels.

A year ago it was 85 percent. We were making our way back. Look where we were back in 2020. It was just 37 percent. And I want to give you an idea why, right? So let's just take a look at the idea of risk to health returning to your pre-COVID lifestyle. Now it's just 35 percent of Americans who say it's a large or moderate risk. Small or no risk, down at 65 percent -- or all the way up to 65 percent. Compare that to November of 2020 when 71 percent said it was a large to moderate risk to return to your pre-COVID lifestyle.


And it's not just -- it's not just on flying where we see this type of movement, right? So, normal things people have done recently. Eating out, 64 percent. Not socially distanced, 72 percent. Visited friends or family, 64 percent.

Compare that to November of 2020, right, when eating out -- eating out was just 37 percent. Not socially distanced was 23 percent. Visited friends or family was down all the way to just 41 percent.

And, of course, I think there's this idea, right, the November- December holiday season -- we want to get together with family. We don't -- we don't -- it gets depressing to stay at home.

And you know, if you look back to the 2020 holiday season, folks feeling lonely. Fifty percent of Americans said they were feeling lonely during that holiday season.

So I think the idea of getting back together with friends and family can make us feel a little less lonely and feel a little bit more like we're part of the holiday spirit and the holiday season.

COLLINS: Harry Enten, thank you for that.

ENTEN: Thank you.

LEMON: Nothing snarky to say to you this morning.


ENTEN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

We want to talk about this new Senate report that finds that the FBI, Homeland Security, and social media companies aren't doing enough to address the rising threat of domestic extremism in the United States.

The investigation found that "Social media companies have failed to meaningfully address the growing presence of extremism on their platforms. The business models are based on maximizing user engagement, growth, and profits, which incentivizes increasingly extreme content."

Joining us now is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. She was the target of a terror plot to kidnap her in 2020. She also won reelection last week, defeating her Trump-backed opponent Tudor Dixon by double- digits in one of the nation's most important battleground states. Governor, thank you, and congratulations on your win. We're really glad that you could join us this morning.

And I want to talk to you about this and I -- because I know this can be very personal to talk about these issues, especially if you've been a target of one of these -- you know, of one of these plots.

Let's start with the warning over this domestic extremism. Homeland Security Sec. Mayorkas says that domestic violence extremism poses the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to the country right now.

What needs to be done?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI) (via Webex by Cisco): Well, first of all, congratulations on the show. I'm glad to be with you.

And I think our overwhelming victory last week tells you that the public doesn't want extremism. They want people who are going to make their lives better and solve problems. Extremism doesn't help people pay the bills. What does is a good-paying job and a governor who is going to solve problems.

All that being said, this rise in extremism is dangerous. My opponent from last week was a conspiracy theorist and election denier who stoked political violence and sought to undermine our confidence in our institutions. That represents the biggest danger to our democracy. Threats against fellow Americans are not acceptable, whether they are aimed at a Democratic governor or a Republican congressperson like Fred Upton or Peter Meijer here in Michigan.

We have got to take a stand against this. And I do think that social media plays a big role in it and I'm hoping Congress will tackle this.

LEMON: Listen, the FBI said that they're concerned about the lethality, especially the racially-motivated violent extremists, as well as the spike that started in 2020 of anti-government, anti- authority violent extremism. That was according to Christopher Wray who sat beside Sec. Mayorkas here at the hearing.

But this is a question we often talk about a lot. We hear a lot about foreign terrorism, right -- terrorism that is imported. But the biggest threat is coming from the United States.

Why is it so uncomfortable for people to discuss and tackle this issue?

WHITMER: I think just by speaking out against it you make yourself potentially a target of it. And yet, we need smart, strong, good- motivated people to do exactly that -- to hold people accountable.

I'm really grateful that we have prosecutors and an attorney general here in Michigan, and the FBI and federal prosecutors who are -- have prosecuted these plotters who wanted to kidnap and kill me. They've gotten a number of convictions. I think that accountability is really important. But just by taking it

on makes yourself a target of it and that's a -- that's a scary, dangerous prospect. But we can't let that dissuade us from being bold and holding people accountable.

HARLOW: Governor, good morning -- thanks. We're so glad you're here.

Let's talk about your win -- a resounding win -- 11 points. You won Independents by 13 points. And just more broadly in the state, you've now got the Statehouse and the Senate pretty soon. The first time that's happened in 40 years. And you said yesterday, "I'm excited about what I think we're going to be able to get done."


Can you tell us what's at the top of your list? What pieces of legislation is it?

WHITMER: Yes. Well, just to give you even a little more context, this has only happened four times in 130 years here in Michigan --


WHITMER: -- which is amazing.

So, I really think we're going to be able to do even more when it comes to the agenda, whether it's fixing the roads, expanding what we have done, or continuing to build toward making Michigan a top 10 state for literacy. It's these fundamentals that have always been front and center.

But fundamental rights were a big part of this election, too. And so, while we've amended our constitution -- we went from Michigan having one of the most potentially extreme anti-choice laws on the books in the country. We've now enshrined that in the constitution but I still want to wipe that 1931 law off the books and I know the legislature will be eager to get that to my desk.

HARLOW: What about on guns? Because I find it interesting you were able to win some traditionally red parts of your state and not all those voters there are going to agree with what you've been wanting to change on gun laws in the state. Are you going to compromise with them? What are you going to push for?

WHITMER: So we are now, sadly, almost on the 1-year anniversary of the Oxford shooting and it was -- of all the hard days I've had to navigate my state through, that was, without question, for me personally the hardest because I do this work because I love people and I want to support families. And a family that's lost a child to gun violence is -- there's nothing you can do to make that better.

What we can do, though, is enact common-sense proven policies that will keep guns out of the hands of people that pose a threat. So, whether it's secure storage for gun owners or it is background checks and red flag laws, I believe those are proven. We can take that action and I'm confident with this new group of legislators that we will be able to find some common ground pretty quickly on that front.

COLLINS: Governor, I've got two questions for you. One is a little bit Michigan-specific but noting the fact that Democrats are in control of the governor's mansion, the House, and the Senate for the first time since 1983.

One of the things you have said you want to do also is repeal the Right to Work Act, which essentially prohibits contracts that require workers to pay union fees as a condition of employment. There's been some criticism of that. Maybe it could hurt job growth.

What's the argument for repealing that?

WHITMER: So, I think one of the things that we often see when it comes to conversations like this is false choice, right? We are seeing our economy thriving here in Michigan. We've announced record investments, bringing supply chains home, building semiconductors in Michigan, E.V. batteries. This is -- you know, we are leading and earning incredible investment.

We also know that a worker's ability to negotiate fair wages and time off with their family is really fundamental to the middle class that we -- that was built in this country in the state of Michigan.

And so, I rejected -- you know, false choice is that you can only do one or the other. We know that the auto industry has been thriving. They have a unionized workforce. And so it's important that we are thoughtful and strategic as we move forward. But ensuring that men -- hardworking men and women can bargain for fair wages is something that is kind of front and center for so many families here and that's why I think we'll continue to look at making some progress in this space.

COLLINS: Yes. I know Republicans in your state have said they'd like to fight that.

On another note, you've been asked a lot in almost basically every interview you've done recently about a 2024 run and running for president. You said you're not interested in it.

I guess my question is if you're a supporter of yours and you're someone who doesn't live in Michigan but is national and wants to see you run, what is the argument for you not running for president?

WHITMER: You know, I, literally eight days ago, got elected to a second 4-year term. This is the state that I've always called home. I love the state of Michigan. I am so grateful to be the governor of the state of Michigan.

I've got a big task ahead of me and that's where I'm going to put 100 percent of my focus for now. I do think that it's flattering that people continue to ask but I've got a big job that I was just hired to do for four more years and that's where I'm going to stay focused.


LEMON: Thank you, Governor. I -- HARLOW: We heard for now in that answer.

LEMON: Yes. I'm glad you said it.

WHITMER: I know. Everyone's going to parse it. I'm staying right where I'm at. Thank you.

LEMON: And I feel ganged up on because apparently, you guys called each other for the pink memo.

HARLOW: The pink day? Yes.

LEMON: I didn't get it.

COLLINS: It's Thursday.

LEMON: But that's OK. I'm wearing white.

WHITMER: It's time to get on board, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, Governor.

HARLOW: Thanks, Governor.

LEMON: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

So, up next, we're going to get Jake Tapper's biggest takeaways from the town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. Jake joins us live.


HARLOW: And ahead, we will speak to the surgeon who is treating comedian Jay Leno right now after he suffered serious burns from a gas fire.


LEMON: Good Thursday morning, everyone -- November 17. We're so glad that you could join us this morning. There is a lot going on.

The outgoing House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, set to make a big announcement today about her political future just hours from now. And now that Republicans are set to retake control of the House, is Pelosi ready to step aside for a new generation of Democratic leaders?

HARLOW: Also this morning, former Vice President Mike Pence telling a CNN Town Hall there will be quote "better choices" than Donald Trump for president in 2024. Does he consider himself one of them?

COLLINS: I think the answer is yes.

HARLOW: I think so.

COLLINS: And Airbnb rentals are in high demand right now. The CEO even renting out a room in his own home. We'll ask Brian Chesky why he is doing that when he joins us live on CNN THIS MORNING.

LEMON: But we're going to start with the House speaker -- the outgoing House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who is about to reveal her political future. She is expected to make an announcement today on the House floor.