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LGBTQ Plus Advocates Call Out Politicians after Shooting; Calls from a Russian Soldier; Dr. Chris T. Pernell is Interviewed about Alzheimer's. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 06:30   ET




DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We really need to talk about hate in our politics after that massacre at Colorado Springs LGBTQ club, why it matters, it matters what leaders say. Advocates say that this year marks a major jump in anti-LGBTQ legislation and sentiment in politics, and in the country, really. The data - the latest data from the FBI shows that hate crimes are up against LGBTQ people.

And when I talk about why it matters about what leaders say, that includes campaign ads. And I want you to pay attention. Campaign ads like this one just released by Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker.

Here it is.


RILEY GAINES: I'm Riley Gaines, a 12-time NCAA all-American.


GAINES: For more than a decade I worked so hard, 4:00 a.m. practices, to be the best. But my senior year I was forced to compete against a biological male.

WALKER: That's unfair and wrong.

GAINES: A man won the swimming title that belonged to a woman, and Senator Warnock voted to let it happen.

WALKER: Warnock's afraid to stand up for a female athlete.

GAINES: Herschel Walker stands up for what's right.


LEMON: That was released just 48 hours after the shooting. And we have reached out to the Walker campaign and have not heard back.

So, joining us now is op-ed columnist for "The Los Angeles Times" and the host of the podcast "Life Out Loud," LZ Granderson.

LZ, thanks so much for joining. Appreciate it.

We're going to talk about the whole thing in general, right, what's happening - what happened in Colorado Springs, the LGBTQ sentiment in the country and the hate and the danger and the violence that members face.

But what do you think about that ad and the timing there?

LZ GRANDERSON, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "THE LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, I - I'm confused to be quite honest with you because when you look at the exit polls, the issues that are on voters' minds, number one, obviously, was the economy. How do you put food on the table. Paying for gas. The inflation. Number two was abortion. Following down from that are issues regarding security, and safety, education. I did not see very many voters stress confusion or anxiety regarding trans-athletes competing in sports, in high school or in college. And so this seems to be a manufactured issue from Herschel Walker, who had nowhere else to turn because he has no credibility when it comes to discussing the economy because we understand his business dealings. He's surrounded by controversy regarding abortion. So, where else is he going to turn? Hate. And that's what this ad is, hate.

But here's the important thing to remember, trans-athletes are already banned in Georgia. That was signed into law earlier. I'm not saying that to celebrate, I'm saying that to say, what exactly is this ad supposed to do for Georgian voters? It's already abandoned in the state. So why -- what is the purpose of this ad? Only to spew hate. That's it.

LEMON: To use -- to use gay people, members of the LGBTQ community, as political pawns, which has been happening in the country. But this specifically is that because, as you said, it's already banned. So then why -- the whole question, LZ, is, why? And does he not, and the people who are around him, not understand the danger of sort of, you know, injecting this into the culture?

GRANDERSON: Of course they -- they may recognize it, but it's secondary to their main purpose, which is to get Herschel Walker elected. And oftentimes, when people are focused in on that singular issue, you know, they will try to take advantage of groups that, you know, people may have, you know, negative feelings about. And as a queer person, you know, you and I both know, we've been targeted multiple times.

I can remember shaking in my office in New York City when the Bush campaign was trying to get re-elected and targeting queer people by trying to pass an amendment in the Constitution banning same-sex marriages. We have been pawns in this conversation for politics for decades and decades and decades, like many other oppressed groups. And this is just another example of that.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: To your point about legislation, the data show there has been an - you know, there are over 300 anti-LGBTQ proposed bills so far this year. And I want to get your reaction to what the president of GLAAD said when it comes to legislation, but also rhetoric and a direct tie to violence.

Listen to this.


SARAH KATE ELLIS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, GLAAD: And that is a direct response from the rhetoric from these politicians that we've been seeing, rhetoric does lead to violence. And we have been -- we're seeing a 12-year high in hate crimes, 41 percent increase in hate crimes against the transgender community, and we see a direct line between that and what our politicians are saying on the airwaves and how they are pushing forth over 300 anti-LGBTQ bills this year so far.



HARLOW: You see that connection as well?

GRANDERSON: Oh, absolutely. You know, I wrote a piece back in 2009 that I won a GLAAD award for. And forgive me if I get a little emotional because I think about that night all the time still. I was covering the NBA all-star weekend, and I was surrounded by a group of really large men who did not appreciate the fact that I wore my t- shirt really tight. And they were going to basically kick my ass. And I thought I was going to die that night. And if it wasn't for police officers who were nearby and (INAUDIBLE) intervened, I may have been killed. So, I think about rhetoric all the time. I think about violence against my community all the time because I could have very well been a victim as well.

And to the politicians who are utilizing this rhetoric just to get re- elected, you know, you can't duck the fact that this blood is on your hands when you're - because you're contributing to the mentality that allows for this to happen. When you allow slurs to exist, when you allow certain attitudes that are - that are really harmful to exist in your space, or, worse yet, use it in campaign ads, what you're doing is giving permission for people who have really nefarious intentions to go through with those intentions.

And we've seen it time and time again. It's not antidotal. There are other groups that are also suffering in the exact same way. We've experienced this globally. So, I just really encourage, you know, particularly Republicans who, you know, are prone to have these kind of ads, I'd just ask you just to be really cautious in terms of how you engage in these conversations because whether you believe it or not, this blood is on your hands because you're contributing to this echo chamber that is leading to all this violence.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Just talks about the power of the - of words.


LEMON: I -- this is funny. I - they're so impressed by your tight t- shirt. There's a whole lot of other stuff going on there. I just - I had to say that.

LZ -

GRANDERSON: You know what's - you know what's so funny, Don, I was actually on my way to the Playboy party on top of that. So, I was like -- I was going to the epitome of heterosexuality wearing a tight t- shirt because I was feeling myself and almost got gay (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Yes. I mean -

GRANDERSON: But it was just -- it was so much. I just spent the entire night in my room crying and didn't go back out that weekend. That was --


LEMON: I'm just saying thou doth protest to much many times, you know, and it's usually the people who have something to hide or they don't want to talk about who can be the most homophobic, you know what I'm saying.

HARLOW: There you go.


GRANDERSON: Now, that's a -- that's another conversation.

LEMON: That's a whole nother show.

LZ, I appreciate your candor. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for standing up. And we know it's early where you are but so appreciate it even more. Be well.

COLLINS: Thank you, LZ.

GRANDERSON: Thank you very much.


Up next -

GRANDERSON: And prayers to the families that lost in Colorado Springs. Prayers up to those families.

LEMON: One hundred percent.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

LEMON: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thank you.

LEMON: Up next, we're going to take you live to Ukraine and show you new video of Russian soldiers surrendering in recently -- a recently liberated town. COLLINS: And CNN THIS MORNING is also live in the Florida Keys. We

have dramatic images of the Coast Guard rescuing migrants from an overloaded boat.

LEMON: You know what this reminds me -



HARLOW: All right, welcome back to CNN THIS MORNING.

We have obtained intercepted calls from a Russian soldier revealing the desperate situation facing Putin's forces on the front lines in Ukraine. In one of these recordings, the soldier described -- this is a Russian soldier -- describing what he sees on the ground as a third world war. And a warning before you see this report, some of the images are very disturbing.

Our Matthew Chance reports from the ground in central Ukraine.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As Russia's military highlights its barrage at Ukraine, CNN has obtained exclusive recordings of a Russian soldier describing the brutal reality of life on the front lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The commander's position was shelled, so he packed up and move farther back. But what about us? Aren't we humans, too?

CHANCE: The Russian soldier was recorded phoning his girlfriend back home, according to Ukrainian intelligence, and telling her candidly about the severe military setback suffered in the two months since he arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We had 96 people in our unit, but now there are less than 50. You don't know what to expect here. Sometimes there's friendly fire and idiots shoot at us because they don't see our coordinates.

CHANCE: But it is advancing Ukrainian forces that are the major threat, compounding low morale with high bloodshed. Ukrainian officials now reacting to this extraordinary video of Russian soldiers apparently surrendering, geo-located by CNN, to a recently liberated town in eastern Ukraine.

Come on out, one by one, the Ukrainian soldier calls out.

Then a short burst of gunfire before the video cuts off.

Later, a Ukrainian military drone shows what appears to be the same men in pools of blood. The Kremlin says it's an execution. But Ukraine says the soldiers feigned surrender and fired at the Ukrainians, accusing Russia of its own war crime. No one disputes the horror. It's unclear if the dead Russians were regular troops or deployed as

part of the Kremlin's partial mobilization, seen here earlier this year. But the soldier recorded on the phone indicates he was recently conscripted, complaining bitterly at being unable to leave the war zone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Being mobilized is crap. Nobody can go home until Putin announces the order. There's no way to return. And if we weren't here, they, the Ukrainians, would already be at our borders. They would shell Moscow, Yekaterinburg, shell everything.

CHANCE: And that constant threat of Ukrainian attack is having a terrifying effect. In particular drone strikes, which appear to have left the soldier particularly nervous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My nerves are on edge. I'm afraid of every rustle. Every bang, every click makes me drop to the ground.

CHANCE: In Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine, the funerals underway for more of those killed on the brutal front line. Deaths Ukrainian officials insist would never have happened but for Russia's war.


CHANCE: Well, Poppy, the big change here in Ukraine over the past couple of days has been the freezing temperature. You can see the first snow of the season has fallen and settled on the ground. This, of course, as Russian forces continue to pound energy infrastructure targets across the country, causing supply shortages and power cuts, plunging millions of Ukrainians into a very cold, very dark winter.

Poppy, back to you.

HARLOW: Matthew Chance, thank you so much for your reporting, live from central Ukraine.

Well, this is really, really fascinating. We're going to talk about the fact that Chris Hemsworth, famous actor, is stepping back from doing what he loves because of a medical discovery that he says has made him re-evaluate his life.



LEMON: That is a beautiful shot of New Cork City there.

The former "Tonight Show" host, Jay Leno, has been released from a Los Angeles hospital after a gas fire in his garage that left him with serious burns to his face. Look at - look, you can see it. His face, his chest and his hands. He is seen with members of his care team at the burn center right there. The 72-year-old needed two surgeries to treat his injuries but is expected to make a full recovery. We wish him all the best. Get better.

HARLOW: He still has that great Jay Leno smile.


HARLOW: Completely.


HARLOW: You know?



COLLINS: We're absolutely wishing him the best.

Also this morning, the actor Chris Hemsworth, you know him as Thor, says he is taking a break from acting after he learned that he is at heightened risk of developing Alzheimer's.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a very rare combination, which is, you have two copies of APOE4, a set from your mom and a set from your dad.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH, ACTOR: And what does that mean exactly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That means you have an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.


You're constantly thinking you're going to live forever, especially as a young individual. And then to, all of a sudden, be told, or this may be the thing that might take you out was like, whoa.


COLLINS: Right now, 6.5 million people over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer's according to estimates from the Alzheimer's Association.

So, joining us now to talk about this and what Chris Hemsworth just learned is Dr. Chris T. Pernell, regent at large for the American College of Preventive Medicine.

This genetic predisposition that he learned about that he has, it's not a diagnosis, but would you describe it more of a strong indication that this could happen, or what's the - what's the sense?

DR. CHRIS T. PERNELL, REGENT-AT-LARGE, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE: I think the easiest way for everyone to understand it is that, if you have this particular gene, and this variant, that your risk to develop Alzheimer's increases. Normally, if you're 65 or older, about 2 percent of persons of that age group will develop Alzheimer's in the year. If you have one copy of that gene, that risk triples. If you have two copies of that gene, that risk increases by 10 to 15 percent. So it's not a certain diagnosis.

LEMON: But does it help - as far as like researching, right, I mean, listen, I come from - I am particularly interested in this story. My grandmother had Alzheimer's. I had a cousin who had early on set. I have other family members who I don't want to call out, whatever, but having issue with Alzheimer's. And if you're able to diagnose this early, are there - is there a medication that you can take, are there things that you can do, does it help you in at least knowing so you can get your affairs in order? Do you know what I'm saying?

PERNELL: I totally hear what you're saying. So, for me, I'm a preventive medicine physician, right. So, prevention is power. Knowing that you have increased risk, you can focus on general behaviors to help you remain healthier. What are those general behaviors? Ensuring in physical activity. Ensuring that you have a healthy diet so you're not developing overweight or obesity or you have diabetes or high blood pressure or even depression and memory loss and hearing loss or things like that can put you at risk to developing it. So, knowing is a way for you to develop a road map to live healthier.

LEMON: Was it - so is it then -- what do you think the point is for him? Is there a point to what he's doing or - you understand what I'm saying, because he says, I'm going to step back. Would this mean that other people, if we're talking to people across the country, should other people sort of step back and enjoy their lives if they're at an increased -- or just reassess what's happening?

COLLINS: It's tough news to (INAUDIBLE).

PERNELL: I think it's - I think it's tough news to get. He's a fairly young man. But everybody should step back and enjoy their lives, right? We're living through an unprecedented crisis. We're living through the worst pandemic that we've seen in 100 years. The battle with knowing about a disease like Alzheimer's is that we have limited tools in our war chest, if you will. The fact that he does know, he says he wants to embrace his family more.

But, more importantly, I hope that all of us walk away with the more that you can be active, physically active, eat well, the more that you can prevent common diseases, like high blood pressure, the better off you'll be.

HARLOW: I just keep thinking about, you know, that saying, what will you do with this one precious life?


It reminds us of that, right?

PERNELL: Very important. Very important.

HARLOW: Like how my dad was 49 when he died.

LEMON: Wow, Pops, I forgot about that. (INAUDIBLE). HARLOW: Forty-nine.


HARLOW: And he had like this big life by 49. But, still, 49. And for so many people, I thank Chris Hemsworth for helping us, like, remember that.

PERNELL: Yes. Definitely. I just lost my cousin who was 62.

HARLOW: I'm so sorry.


PERNELL: Unexpectedly heard this news.

HARLOW: So young.

PERNELL: And, yes, when you hear about someone very young losing their life or someone very young caring about what could be a terminal illness, it should give us all pause to embrace life more fully.

COLLINS: Absolutely.

HARLOW: What are we doing with each day?


COLLINS: What a great message, and thank you for bringing us, you have such important perspective on all of this.

PERNELL: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks, Doctor.

LEMON: Thanks, Doctor. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

PERNELL: And happy birthday.

LEMON: Oh, wow, it's your (ph) birthday.

HARLOW: What? Wait.

PERNELL: Tomorrow - tomorrow is my birthday.

LEMON: Like, I don't know, 26.

HARLOW: This is why you're -


PERNELL: Forty-seven, believe it or not.

HARLOW: I - I was -

LEMON: Wow! HARLOW: I was going to say you're glowing especially today and for the glow.

PERNELL: Yes, that's why.

LEMON: Forty-seven.

HARLOW: All right.

LEMON: Wow, I will have what she's having.

COLLINS: Well, we wish you the happiest of birthdays. Thank you for joining us.

HARLOW: Thank you, Doctor.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

HARLOW: Awe, what are you doing -

LEMON: Forty-seven, are you kidding me?

PERNELL: Yes. I kid you not.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh.

HARLOW: What are you going to do?

PERNELL: I'm going to have -