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Phil Weiser is Interviewed about the Colorado Shooing; Yair Rosenberg is Interviewed about Anti-Semitism; Orion Spacecraft Conducts Fly-By. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 08:30   ET



PHIL WEISER, COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL: Who's a responsible gun owner. This red flag law is not about you. This is about people who are dangerous who we know should not have firearms.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Can you talk to us about the type of firearms that were used? What do you know about them? And we've been hearing a lot about a second gun found at the scene.

WEISER: So, the main weapon that was used was described as a long firearm. I don't know that it's been identified exactly. We are still, again, in the investigation stage. So, there's limits on what I can share.

I do think, obviously, we've got to be concerned once again to have a mass shooting in Colorado. As I said, had one in Boulder quite recently. And, obviously, when you go back to Columbine, this is something that we have too much of in our state and - and we're going to keep looking at how we advance gun safety. We've made a lot of progress passing the red flag law. We have a magazine capacity limit in Colorado, a background check. We've just got to keep asking ourselves, how do we do better to save lives?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm going to preface this by saying that we don't yet know a motive. Everyone we've spoken to there, members of the LGBTQ community, they have said that they believe that there's - you know, where else could this point to? Again, we don't know the motive here.

But can you talk to us about - and you said that it was a safe haven, right, for members of the LGBTQ community. The importance of our elected officials, our leaders on social media, the importance of words and using members of the LGBTQ Plus community as sort of political pawns in politics, can you - can you speak to that please?

WEISER: Absolutely. We are living at a time of raising hate and rising demonization. And all of us in leadership positions have to recognize that our words matter. We can and we must have a more inclusive "we the people." That's a phrase that Justice Ginsburg used. The legitimate - or legitimization, I should say, of hating towards LGBTQ Plus individuals has to stop. The idea that we can say to someone that they're less than human or they don't have a place in our society is a very dangerous road because we know that sets the preconditions for people to think, oh, this person's not worth living. I can use my own - and you've heard people use this phrase, Second Amendment remedies or other such phrases, justifying hate crimes, violence. We can and we all must recognize that everyone has a right to be their best authentic selves, to love who they love and not have to live in fear that they are going to be demonized.

Colorado has been working on making progress. We recently ended what had been a so-called gay conversion practice that we said was inhumane and illegal. We've, obviously, been working hard on this issue. We were once known as the hate state in the early 1990s, having passed a law that limited civil rights protections for gays and lesbians. That law was deemed unconstitutional.

We've come a long way in Colorado. We now have the first openly gay governor elected in the United States. But, obviously, we know we've got more work to do.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Attorney General, can I ask you one more question to follow on something you said to Poppy. When you talked about educating law enforcement about the red flag law, is this a situation where law enforcement should have but did not implement that red flag law?

WEISER: It's early to make any decisions. And, in many of these cases, it's not really just one question, what did law enforcement know. Also, what did the community know? Does the community fully know that we have this tool and are they bringing the information to law enforcement to use the tool.

Colorado passed a red flag law in 2019. We had our first year of the law in 2020. 2021 was the second year of the law. So, it's still a new tool that we are learning how to use.

We know that each tragedy is a learning opportunity to ask, what - what did we miss? What can we do better in the future? This situation, like the one I mentioned in Boulder, is going to be one where people have to ask that question and have to learn from it. And (INAUDIBLE) is going to work on working with and educating law enforcement so we use this tool better in the future.

HARLOW: I think what Kaitlan's getting at is these were - these were officers who could have - and I think sounds like should -

COLLINS: They had a standoff.

HARLOW: Should have used it. Had a standoff. And, I mean, I vividly remember the story of the officer who was murdered at his front door, which is why the red flag law went into effect in Colorado. I mean officers, of all people, would be very up to date on a new law that had passed like that, that they could use to protect the people, no?

WEISER: I do believe officers know we have a red flag law. We need to make sure it's top of mind and that everyone understands how it works and what the rationale and reasoning for it is. I don't have enough information to know exactly what the officers



What we can do is make sure that we embrace this as a call to action to better educate about this law, to make sure that law enforcement understands it and is able to use it to protect lives.

HARLOW: We really appreciate you coming on.

LEMON: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thank you. You've given us a lot of really important information to our viewers. So, thank you very much, Attorney General.

LEMON: Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.

And I'm glad he mentioned -- he talked about hate. And - because we're going to discuss that as well.


LEMON: A lot to talk about when it comes to that.

HARLOW: Thank you, sir.

And on that topic, two men arrested in New York for allegedly threatening to attack a synagogue. How police were able to stop them, next.

LEMON: Plus, Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving back from an eight-game suspension and delivering one more apology before taking the court.


COLLINS: Hate in America running rampant over the last week. A deadly mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs left five people dead, 25 at least injured. In terms of whether or not it's a hate crime, authorities are looking at that.


The state's attorney general just told us he cannot imagine that the attack was not motivated by hate.

And on that same night, Saturday night, an LGBTQ bar in New York City was also attacked. Surveillance video here shows a man throwing a brick through the front window. The owner says it is the fourth time in the past month his bar has been vandalized with three attacks in just the last week alone.

Also in New York, two men have been charged in connection with making online attacks - online threats to attack a synagogue. The New York governor, Kathy Hochul, says that the arrests are related to a developing threat to the Jewish community. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): And are -- we are in contact with members of Jewish organizations and synagogues and others to let them know, once again, we understand the concern, the fear, hate crime is real and that the state of New York is taking every step possible to be in the business of preventing crimes and preventing instances and not just waiting to solve them in the aftermath.


COLLINS: Investigators say that the suspects charged with making threats against the synagogue had firearms, a high-capacity magazine, ammunition, an eight-inch-long military knife, a swastika arm patch, a ski mask and a bulletproof vest.

LEMON: Goodness gracious.

So, our next guest says that anti-Semitism and violence against Jewish people have been historically fueled by conspiracy theories, like many of those that were in the anti-Semitic documentary that Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving promoted on Twitter.

Now, Irving has since apologized and has returned from an eight-game suspension last night. Yair Rosenberg writes in "The Atlantic," he said, anti-Semitism is not merely a social prejudice, it is a conspiracy theory about how the world operates. This ignorance status quo has proved deadly for Jews, and that alone should be enough for our society take us it seriously.

Yair Rosenberg joins us now.

Thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining us.


LEMON: Just - let me just get what you - we're going to talk about anti-Semitism as a whole. But seeing Kyrie Irving come back to applause, the way he handled it, so on and so forth, how are you feeling about that?

ROSENBERG: It's a difficult situation. I don't think anyone really is under the illusion that you can suspend people out of anti-Semitism, and you sort of can punish people out of believing something that they might genuinely believe. And, you know, Kyrie said the right things and that's -- I'm sure that he regrets posting the documentary. But it's really a more complicated conversation, how to understand the misconceptions in something like that and how to have a -- ensure that things like this don't happen again.

LEMON: He's saying that he's learning and he says that - and he apologized. Do you accept his apology? Do you take him at his word?

ROSENBERG: I'm not here to speak for other people. I tend to err on the side of -- LEMON: But that's - not to speak for them but to accept -- can you

accept it? Do you accept him at his word?

ROSENBERG: Yes. And I also - I try to leave room for people to understand and grow. And I think our society, our culture isn't so good at that. And Kyrie's - you know, we look at basketball players in like the peak of their careers, but they're actually pretty early in their lives. And I think sometimes we have to recognize that people are still learning and growing. And when you're a public figure, sometimes you end up, like him, growing up in front of other people. And I would love to be -- I think we all would like to have a certain amount of grace when we have to fill in the blind spots about other people and communities we don't know much about. Jews are just 2 percent of the American population. Most people don't even meet a Jew in their daily lives. So, of course, they have lots of questions. They might not know things. And that's one of the reasons why I'm so - I'm skittish about punishment because then people become afraid to ask questions.

HARLOW: I always learn a lot reading what you write. In the last few weeks, you've had some really compelling columns and pieces. Both this one, but also a few weeks ago on the Dave Chappelle monologue on "SNL." And you make this argument about how this is all so critical to preserving democracy. And you say, societies that tolerate anti- Semitism take a fateful step for the loss of both freedom and prosperity.

Explain that to our viewers.

ROSENBERG: Yes. I think when people think about a prejudice, they often think about a personal prejudice. I don't like people that are different than me. Maybe they're Jews, maybe they're black folks, other folks. Anti-Semitism has that component, but it's also a conspiracy theory about how the world works, which says that there are these sinister string-pulling Jews who are behind all of society's problems, economically, politically, socially. And if you believe a conspiracy theory about how your society works, you won't be able to fix your society because you'll be chasing after invisible Jewish culprits instead of solving your actual problems in a rational way.

And so in that way anti-Semitism sort of undermines our ability to collectively address our problems because if you think say Jews are behind the financial collapse, you're not going to take the actual reforms and steps that are needed to fix your economy. You're instead going to, again, be blaming the wrong people and spending your time on the wrong things.

COLLINS: And so what you essentially articulated that I thought was smart was that fighting conspiracy theories is essential to fighting anti-Semitism. And basically, what you said was, conspiracy theories are easy to mock when everyone thinks they're ridiculous.


COLLINS: The earth isn't flat. We all know that. Chem trails, blah, blah, blah. But you said, such humor evokes unease when the conspiratorial thinking is common in society so you're not sure who's in on the joke and who actually believes it.


ROSENBERG: Yes, and I think that's what unsettled people about Dave Chappelle's monologue. I mean this is what Dave Chappelle does all the time. It's his type of - you know, of his type of comedy. He'll very carefully step on both sides of a line and he'll mock everyone involved. And he would turn to you probably and say, that's what I always do and why - why do people get particularly upset in this case. And I understand that. And I think the reason people have got uncomfortable was that he's mocking conspiracy theories and it's funny as long as you think everybody's laughing because they think they're ridiculous as opposed to saying, oh, he's telling the truth, right? Who's in on the joke versus who believes it. And in or society today, not just with anti-Semitism but with many other conspiracy theories, like who stole an election, people believe a lot of conspiracy theories, you know --

LEMON: He's reading my mind because he's explaining what's happening in our politics right now.


LEMON: You don't -- you blame, you know, the wrong people for what's happening when you believe in conspiracy theories like a stolen election.

ROSENBERG: You have this breakdown of this shared frame of reference.

LEMON: Right.

ROSENBERG: And a lot of people believe a lot of different things, many of which are conspiratorial. So then when you make a joke about a conspiracy theory, whether it's anti-Semitism or something else, everyone sort of looks around and says (ph), are they laughing because they think he's telling the truth or are they laughing because they think he's making fun of people who believe it.

LEMON: Dave Chappelle is going to do what he wants to do. So if you were - there are - I've got to tell you, there are a lot of people who said I thought what he did was brilliant.


LEMON: I thought that he - the way he did --

ROSENBERG: I thought it was very funny.

LEMON: So then is there - is there something that's productive about it? Is there a way that you think could have been more effective? Or do you think he just shouldn't have done it?

ROSENBERG: I don't want to be in the business of telling Dave Chappelle how to be a comedian, just like I hope he doesn't want to be in the business to tell me how to be a journalist. I think that the problem was less Dave Chappelle and more this - the

context in which his comedy happened. And if he was telling that joke in a different time and place, I think people would have reacted to it differently. It's because of the moment we find ourselves in. And so, really, it's easy to sort of get - you know, to say, you know, Dave Chappelle could have done a better job, and maybe he could have. But, ultimately, it's the cultural context that we have to fix.

HARLOW: The moment.

You have been a target, right? So, I think it was 2016 the ADL put a list out of the most targeted journalists, and you were the second most targeted Jewish journalist in terms of online hate and threats for your reporting on, you know, former President Trump's candidacy, yet you continue to do this. I just wonder what that is like for you to be - I mean we -- the media was attacked by the former president. This -- these were specific attacks to you for being Jewish.

ROSENBERG: Yes. So, the thing about being a very publicly Jewish figure, whether it's in journalism or something else, is that you go - sort of attracts this sort of attention. And regardless of what it is you're doing or what it is you're writing about, particularly for me when I write about Jewish subjects, I get this sort of blowback.

But, actually, because I -- what I normally cover is, unfortunately, anti-Semitism in the real world, you know, which can be a shooting in Pittsburgh, right, it can be something happening in Europe. It's around the world. It's been going on for a very long time. So, you know, I get -- I get angry messages on Twitter. But I'm aware in the context, and actually I have -- I'm pretty lucky and I also feel pretty fortunate to live in the United States of America where we're having this conversation on television.

LEMON: But you're also human, because I can relate to it as someone who's black and gay and the target of the former administration and all of the trolls who were -- supported him on social media, and death threats and all of that. You're still human. It hurts.

ROSENBERG: You feel it. But, you know what, I -- because people know -- this got noticed in the media in 2016 because it was centered around a presidential campaign. But, of course, I'd been writing journalism for years before that and getting this stuff for years before that. So you develop a certain, like, thick skin.


ROSENBERG: It would be nice, though, of course, in journalism if people didn't have to develop that kind of thick skin.

LEMON: But you're still worried about the people around you, your family.

ROSENBERG: I'm fine being criticized for my reporting. Less, you know, about who I am or my identity.

LEMON: Yes. But you do have a family and you have loved ones who, like, are on the street with you or in a restaurant with you or who live with you who may be -

ROSENBERG: And you make decisions about the sorts of things that you share on social media for sure -- and I'm sure you're familiar with this -- based on the reaction you know you might get from certain unwell people.

COLLINS: I also love how you respond to it, though, with such humor and, like, this kind of biting sarcasm on Twitter. I think it's so good.

HARLOW: Maybe Dave Chappelle could learn, you know.

ROSENBERG: Well, that was the thing. So, like, t hat's why I have respect for what Dave Chappelle does, which is that you can fight bigotry with mockery, right? But it is challenging because if you mock a conspiracy theory but people don't realize you're mocking it, you know, and like that's something that I think about a lot.

LEMON: I love that you're open - as I always say, it would be more curious and less to know that you're talking to people, even you - people you disagree with vehemently. That's - that's a great place to be.

Thank you, Yair.

ROSENBERG: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: So good to see you. So good to have you.

HARLOW: Thank you very much.

COLLINS: Great conversation.

HARLOW: All right, let's take a look at this video. Moments ago, NASA's Artemis 1 did a little fly-by, passing about 80 miles above the lunar surface. We'll tell you more ahead.

COLLINS: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks.

COLLINS: That was great.

LEMON: That was amazing. Thank you. That was really, really, really great.

HARLOW: Thank you so much.

Did you meet Annie (ph)? Did you meet Annie, our producer?



HARLOW: Moments ago, NASA's Orion spacecraft, part of the Artemis mission, just made its closest lunar fly-by. It is traveling to within 80 miles of the moon's surface and will soon be in orbit and that will take it thousands of miles beyond the moon.

Let's go to our colleague, Kristin Fisher, who's live in Washington, D.C.

We all saw your jubilation on the program last week when it launched. Talk to us about what's happening right now.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to jump up and down in a black studio all by yourself, but what's happening right now is almost as cool because what you're seeing is this spacecraft that was on top of the rocket, the Artemis rocket that launched just five days ago. That spacecraft right there, that's it. This is a real video of it approaching the moon. And that little speck in the distance is planet earth.

And so right now it has just finished making its first orbit around the moon, the first time that a spacecraft designed to carry humans had done this. And we're getting these incredible images back.

But the money shot, Poppy, Don and Kaitlan, we're still waiting for. The money shot is going to be when it's just 80 miles off the surface of the moon, you're going to be able to see all those craters in very high definition.


You're also going to be able to see the site of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

But look at that. That pale blue dot in that image that you just saw right before - I mean look at that. The Orion spacecraft took it just about ten minutes ago. We saw it live. And it's just incredible to think about everything that y'all have been talking about this morning on this show, everything that we talk about on this network, all 8 billion of us in all of our problems and hopes and dreams all right there on that little speck in the vast expanse of space. It's crazy to think about, right?

LEMON: That little dot?

FISHER: That's us.

LEMON: That little dot?



Thank you, Kristin. Appreciate it.

FISHER: Of course.

LEMON: So, I mean, is that it for us? Are we done?

HARLOW: More McDonald's now?

LEMON: Shh, don't tell anybody. I threw it away. We had some hash browns this morning. That's it. It was Kaitlan's idea.

HARLOW: No, it wasn't. No, it never is.


LEMON: Thanks for joining us, everyone. Happy Monday. Thanksgiving soon. So we're hoping you have a good -- great holiday week if you are watching us and, if not, get to work.

CNN "NEWSROOM" starts right after a break. We'll see you tomorrow.

HARLOW: See you tomorrow.

COLLINS: They're all watching us.