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Tapper's Special with Bill Maher; Sweetener Linked to Heart Attack and Stroke; NYC Sees Biggest Snowfall of the Season. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 28, 2023 - 08:30   ET



DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Is in a position where he's not a candidate. So, there's certain legal requirements that he doesn't have to abide by until he's a candidate.


AXELROD: But he's also not as much of a target right now because he's not an active candidate.


AXELROD: And, yes, he's clearly actively campaigning. And it will be interesting to see how long people take a hands-off posture towards him in this race.

HARLOW: Part of that campaigning that I find so non-campaigning campaigning so fascinating is the culture war element. But as it -- vis-a-vis Disney, it really collides with the role of government and what the Republican Party standards for, big government or limited government.

I mean yesterday when he signed that bill, David, that gives him control over the land that Disney is on in Florida and names -- he gets to name all his own board members now, this is what he said. Today the corporate kingdom comes to an end. There's a new sheriff in town. Accountability will be the order of the day.

I'm just so struck by that remarked change in philosophy in terms of the role of government and corporations.

AXELROD: You know, Poppy, you're so right. You know, Ron DeSantis, when he began in politics, and he wrote a book around these principles, was a small government libertarian. Now he's a kind of right-wing authoritarian in the sense that, you know, if you disagree with him as a corporation, he's going to come after you with the power of the state. And that's going to create a lot of debate within the Republican Party, I think. But he is reveling in the culture war elements of this, as you say. That is -- he believes that's his ticket to getting some of those Trump votes.

I always say, you know, the hope - his hope -- the hope of his supporters that he'll be a kind of transition drug for Trump supporters who want to kick the habit of Trump, he gives you the same culture war high but may not be as dangerous to your political health. And -- but he certainly isn't the libertarian that he purported to be. And his book is called "The Courage to Be Free." But if you're a woman who needs an abortion in Florida, if you're, you know, a corporation who expresses itself on a public issue, you know, if you're a -- the parent of a -- you know, if you are a gay parents in Florida, I mean there are a whole range of people who don't feel as free in Florida because of the kind of politics that he's practicing.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: David Axelrod, always a pleasure, sir. Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks, David.

AXELROD: Great to see you guys.

LEMON: You as well.

HARLOW: All right, ahead, Bill Maher, a man with a long history of amusing and, you know, sometimes offending, both ends of the political spectrum, he sat down with our very own Jake Tapper for their special. It airs tonight, 9:00 Eastern, on CNN.

Take a look.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think Democratic politicians have changed their views or do you think they're just afraid of their party's activists the way that a lot of Republicans are afraid of their party's activists, the MAGA folks?

BILL MAHER: B, they're afraid, yes.

TAPPER: They're just afraid?

MAHER: Yes, I think - I think both sides. I think, again, there's four tribes I think in this country. I think there's old school liberals and old school conservatives, republicans and Democrats, the kind of people who used to - I think that's the majority of the country.

TAPPER: Like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush or something?

MAHER: Yes, the kind of people who never agreed on a hell of a lot but they found ways to work together. They didn't hate each other. It wasn't all about making liberal tears and cry and all this stuff and, you know, owning and destroying people. It was just, yes, I don't agree with Bob Dole, but, you know, we can work together, we can get a grand bargain, that kind of stuff. And so I think that's the majority.

But then you have Trumpers and then you have wokesters. And, you know, those fridges are not doing this country any great favors.


HARLOW: Joining us now is CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper.

Jake, good morning.

Why did you want to sit down with him? What's the most fascinating takeaway?


Well, you know, I think he's a -- one of the preeminent political comedians in the country, if not the most. And, obviously, he works for HBO Max, our sister channel. So, it seemed like a great opportunity to sit down, pick his brain about politics, about comedy, about any number of things that he talks about on Friday nights on his show "Real Time." And, you know, it was just an interesting, wide ranging conversation on a number of topics.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And he's pretty political. He delves into the political issues. He's up - he's made big donations -- million dollars donations in the past famously. I know you talked to him about that.

What is his - what is his take on what we're predicting for 2024? You know, we were just talking about DeSantis, obviously Trump, Biden, his age. What was his view on that?

TAPPER: Well, I mean, those are a lot of topics you just mentioned. And we talked about every one of them. But I think he thinks that inevitably probably going to be Biden versus Trump, although he's not 100 percent sure of that. He thinks Biden can defeat Trump.


He thinks that the big field of Republican candidates taking on Trump in the Republican primary will likely mean that Trump wins the nomination again.

He was not particularly concerned about Biden's age. Thinks that he's able to do the job. And he had a lot to say about how most cultures honor their elders and seek advice from them, and that is the way he sees President Biden, although he certainly disagrees with quite a bit that Biden has done.

LEMON: I've got to ask you, Jake, for those of us who are old enough to remember, I mean, Bill Maher got canceled, right, in -- back in the day, "Politically Incorrect." He got canceled by the right. And then now he speaks a lot about -

TAPPER: That's right.

LEMON: You know, yes, about wokeism and being canceled by the left. I mean this whole Bill Maher arc has been fascinating to watch. And especially his stances on, you know, who's canceling and who's responsible these days.

TAPPER: Yes. "Politically Incorrect" was his show that started in the '90s. It was on Comedy Central. Then it transferred - then it went over to ABC. And it was after the Gulf War had started, the Iraq War had started, rather, and he had made a comment about whether or not people who are suicide bombers or people on planes, sending planes into buildings, whether that is cowardly as opposed to sending missiles out. And it was -- he was very criticized, as happens. And the Bush White House weighed in. Ari Fleischer said people need to watch what they say. And Disney - the Disney-owned ABC canceled him soon after that.

I think he would argue that he hasn't changed, it's just that the people doing the canceling have changed. And it used to be more people on the right and now it's just as many, if not more people, on the left.

HARLOW: He famously predicted that Trump wouldn't leave the White House and then, you know, we all saw what played out. Did you guys talk about that?

TAPPER: We did. Quite a bit. I'm not sure if we have the montage ready of all those clips of him predicting that.

HARLOW: I think we do. Yes, let's play it.

TAPPER: Yes, let's watch that.


BILL MAHER (April 13, 2018): I don't see him leaving willingly.

MAHER (2018): I don't see him leaving under any condition, including people knocking on the door with guns. He'd be Scarface.

MAHER (JUNE 15, 2018): I don't think he would even leave if he lost an election in 2020.

MAHER (September 28, 2018): People have been saying, I'm an alarmist and I'm crazy because I keep saying he's not going to leave even if he loses.

MAHER (October 18, 2019): And I will bet you a $1 million right now that if you lose the 2020 election, I'm right, and you won't leave.

MAHER (April 3, 2020): I've been saying for a number of years that if Trump loses the election, he's not going to leave.

MAHER (May 1, 2020): I cannot picture that man gracefully conceding and walking away.


TAPPER: Interesting. One of those comments was to Steve Bannon, if you saw there.


TAPPER: He was saying that to Steve Bannon. Yes, I -- I said, how -- you know, what made you predict that? And he

said, have you - have you been watching Donald Trump? I mean, like, it's -- it was - it was - he was a - he's a guy who doesn't acknowledge ever losing, ever conceding - he never concedes defeat, he never concedes mistake. It was imminently predictable. He didn't think it was difficult to see that coming at all.

LEMON: It's going to be shocking to some people on a different level. I don't know if you remember this, Jake, I'm sure you do, and I predicted that, I said, Donald Trump will probably win this -- the election in 2016. Look, I lost a lot of liberal friends. I actually got kicked out of parties in Brooklyn who were saying what's -

HARLOW: Really?

LEMON: Oh, my gosh, yes. And I said, have you guys seen the newspaper? The newspapers? He's on every section. He's on the business section. He's on the political section. He's on the real estate section. (INAUDIBLE). He's in the -- on the front pages. It was just -- because he knew how to manipulate and use the media. And so it's interesting to, you know, see Bill Maher say, hey, listen, this guy isn't going to leave the White House. I think the evidence was there, but people just kind of ignored what's in front of their faces. Jake, do you think I'm wrong about that? Willingly.

TAPPER: No. And you're reminding me of that great - that great skit on "Saturday Night Live" after Trump was elected when Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock are at a party full of white liberals watching the election returns come in. They're the only two people in the room not surprised at all.

LEMON: The two black guys in the room going, why is everybody freaking out? Like, we could have told you this was going to happen.

HARLOW: Jake, thank you.

COLLINS: Can't wait to watch.

TAPPER: Yes, this is going to happen. This was (ph) never going to happen.

Thanks so much, guys.

HARLOW: We can't wait.

TAPPER: Appreciate it.

LEMON: Hey, Jake, always a pleasure. Good to see you.

TAPPER: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: You're going to watch Jake with Bill Maher one-on-one tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

You can also, of course, you'll see Jake at 4:00 p.m. Eastern as he hosts "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" LEMON: Straight ahead, the new study that may make you reconsider how you sweeten your coffee this morning.

COLLINS: Also, back-to-back winter storms have been spreading misery across the nation. Not really here in New York. Just a little bit of snow. The situation is growing dire, though, for some California mountain towns where they say food, gas and baby formula are running out.

LEMON: Actually how you sweeten your coffee every morning, not just this morning.

HARLOW: Every - but don't - don't -



LEMON: All right, everyone. There's a new study finds a zero-calorie sweetener that is commonly used to replace sugar may contribute to stroke and heart attack.

Joining us now, CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

Good morning to you, Elizabeth.

The experts who spoke to CNN are feeling very strongly about the findings. Was is it, Erythritol? What's going on?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You've got that pronunciation right, Don. It is so interesting, Don. Usually when we talk to doctors about studies, they're very measured. For this one, they actually said they were alarmed. They used that word. Some of them even said, you know, we think that folks who are at high risk of a heart attack or stroke should actually reconsider using these products.

Let's take a look at this product because you may be eating it and not even knowing that you're eating it. It's Erythritol, and it's a carbohydrate that's naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, but it's artificially manufactured in quantities, in huge quantities. It's used in Stevia. It's used in certain keto products.


It's used in lots of, lots of products that people use when they're trying to avoid sugar.

So, let's take a look at what this study found. This was a big study, had a lot of people. And what they found when they divided people up into four groups, the highest -- the folks who had the highest levels of this in their blood versus the lowest. The folks who had the highest level had twice the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke compared to folks who had blood levels in the bottom 25 percent. In other words, the folks who ate the most of this had the high -- had a twice higher risk of heart attack or stroke. And the authors said they weren't even expecting this. This is just

what they found when they took a look.

Let's read a response from the industry association that makes these sweeteners. They say, the results of this study are contrary of decades of scientific research showing reduced calorie sweeteners, like Erythritol, are safe, as evidence by global regulatory permissions for their use in foods and beverages.

Don. Poppy.

LEMON: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: All right, to weather. Fifty million of you are under winter weather alerts across the northeast this morning. You're looking at live images of Hartford, Connecticut, where the snow is coming down. Meanwhile, here in New York City, where Harry has appropriately found a snowball?

COLLINS: Is that supposed to be a snowball?

HARLOW: I don't know. And a Bills hat. We're not getting very much. We'll go to Harry live in Central Park with this morning's number.

LEMON: Looks like a lump of coal, which is what he deserves.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

Today could show New York City the most snow it has seen all season, and it's not every much, even by East Coast standards.

Our senior data reporter, Harry Enten, is live in Central Park.

My kids woke up this morning, they sent me a picture of them staring out the window because they hadn't seen snow all season.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: No, no, they hadn't seen snow. You know, I've got to tell you, as a huge snow fanatic, this has been a pathetic winter. And that's why this morning's number is 1.8 inches of snow because that is the biggest snowfall by far this season. It makes for a seasonal snowfall total of 2.2 inches. I've never been more excited for 2.2 inches of snow overall at this point given where we were just a few days ago. And indeed, if you look at how much snow has fallen so far this season, we still rank in the bottom five for the least amount of snowfall through February. But here's the key, Poppy. The key is, before this latest snowfall, we had ranked as the least amount of snow through February. So at least we are no longer in the bottom, although we are still in the bottom five for the least amount of snow through this point in February.

HARLOW: I don't know if I follow that, but where does this rank in terms of, you know, past years in New York City net-net? ENTEN: Right. So, you know, before what we were looking at was

essentially through February did we have the least amount of snow? But now let's look at through overall. If, in fact, that 1.8 inches continue to hold, what we would see is we would have the least amount of snowfall ever -- ever in Central Park history. So, we need a little bit more snow.

But I want to give you an understanding of why such little snow has fallen. And I think the temperatures that we have seen so far in Central Park gives you an understanding. If we look at all the years that we've had, all of them, what we see is this ranks as the second warmest winter on record. We get only beaten out by one winter. So, essentially what you're seeing is, a la nina winter, which essentially means a pattern that is very unproductive for snowfall in New York City, has created very warm weather and then basically we've had a ton of rain but we've not had a lot of snow.


ENTEN: But I can say, I've never been so happy to see snowfall. You have made my dreams come true reporting live from Central Park on snow. My 16-year-old self has never been -- would be so excited over this. So, I want to thank you for this, guys.

HARLOW: This is -- guys, this is because he went to weather camp.



COLLINS: Which is a thing, weather camp.

HARLOW: Who knew.

ENTEN: I did go to weather camp. Penn State weather camp. I went there when I was 15 years old. The guys would be so jealous of me right now.



LEMON: I've -- speechless.

HARLOW: We love you, Harry. Thank you.

ENTEN: Don, don't - Don, don't be so silent. Come on. All right. See you later, guys. See you inside the warmth tomorrow.

COLLINS: Thanks, Harry.

LEMON: Oh, boy.

OK, so, it is a film that is actually raking it in at the box office, so we went deep into the news archives to see how the media covered the real life cocaine bear.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't eat that. Don't eat that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see what kind of affect that has on him.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, don't eat that. Don't eat that.


COLLINS: Today's "Morning Moment," quite a trip into the news archives to the actual real-life story from 1985 that inspired the new box office hit "Cocaine Bear." It was actually covered by our Atlanta affiliate WXIA back in 1985. This was the news segment at the time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 200-pound bear fell victim to one of three duffle bags full of cocaine dropped in north Georgia and Knoxville, Tennessee, three months ago when parachutist and reputed drug smuggler Andrew Thornton plunged to his death. Thornton's parachute failed to open. He had 77 pounds of cocaine strapped on him. GBI agents found a second bag a short time later. They ran across the dead bear in Fannin County last week while looking for the third bag, what they believe to be the last of the Thornton badge (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bear probably got an initial rush and perhaps became disoriented and somewhat confused because of the sensation.


COLLINS: The idea that this is actually based on a real life story.

HARLOW: Wait, tell - tell them --

LEMON: Awe, the poor bear died.


LEMON: But I'm laughing at the movie. It's funny.

HARLOW: And the other thing you told me about.

LEMON: Oh, there's now a meth gator.


I think it's by the Sharknado people.

HARLOW: I had no idea.

LEMON: Yes, what are you going to do?

Sad the real bear died, but the movie looks like it's really fun.

Wasn't that Ray Liotta's last movie?

COLLINS: Yes, he's in it. Yes. Yes.

LEMON: Yes. Yes.

OK, well, now that you know all of that, you know everything this morning.

HARLOW: You got the crew laughing. That's a high bar.


CNN "NEWSROOM" starts right now.

COLLINS: Is it a high bar?

HARLOW: It's a high bar.


HARLOW: It's a high bar.