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CNN This Morning

San Bernardino Digging Out from Record Snowfall; Chris Rock Fires Back at Will Smith Nearly a Year Later; Police and Protestors Clash in Atlanta over Building of New Police Training Facility; President Trump's Speech at CPAC Fact Checked; Republican Presidential Candidates and Potential Candidates Consistently Criticize "Wokeness" in Speeches. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired March 06, 2023 - 08:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Some of the protestors and activists are fighting to preserve the forest while others are opposed to the facility in and of itself. CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Atlanta. Nick, police say that about 35 people have been detained. What else do we know about this morning?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Kaitlan. Some dramatic video that we're showing there in what police are calling a coordinated attack on police. Protesters had been promoting this weekend as the start of a week of protests and festivities, with the goal being to stop the construction of this proposed $90 million, 85- acre police and fire training facility. It would be the largest of its kind in the country if it ends up being built.

And what according to police they say happened, at least 35 people were taken into custody. They say several of those that were detained were from outside of the Atlanta area. And this really has become a staging area for activists across the country to protest police, and we have seen several acts of violence in recent months. Listen to what police had to say at a press conference late last night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not appropriate. This is criminal activity. And the charges that will be brought forth will show that. When you throw commercial-grade fireworks, when you throw Molotov cocktails, large rocks, a number of items at officers, your only intent is to harm.


VALENCIA: Opponents of this fire and police training facility have dubbed it "Cop City" and it's been the target of a robust coalition of activists, some who say that this is further militarizing police, others who believe that the environment is being compromised by the building of this 85-acre facility. In January, tensions were fueled by the death of one of the climate activists there, Manuel Teran. A Georgia state trooper was also wounded in that incident. Kaitlan? COLLINS: Definitely worth noting what you're hearing from police,

that they believe most of these people were not actually even from the Atlanta area. I guess the question is, as this construction is continuing, are they anticipating more protests over the coming days?

VALENCIA: They are. And as I mentioned, this was the start of a proposed week of action by these demonstrators. We understand, and we did reach out to the mayor and we understand that they are in a meeting right now to figure out how to address this situation going forward. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: We'll see what they decide. Nick Valencia, thank you.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: A Southwest flight from Cuba to Florida forcing an emergency landing. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cover your nose and face, please, and remain seated, please.


LEMON: The airline saying that birds hit the plane's engine and nose, a cabin filling with dark smoke, and the pilots decided to turn around. No reports of any injuries, thankfully, there. In a statement, Southwest says, "The pilots safely returned to Havana where customers evacuated the aircraft via slides. We commend the swift, professional actions of our pilots and flight attendants in responding to this event."

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are getting the clearest preview yet so far of a possible Trump-DeSantis primary matchup in 2024. They delivered back-to-back speeches over the weekend, Trump headlining the conservative conference known as CPAC. DeSantis made the pilgrimage to Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Now they're both heading to Iowa in just a couple of days. DeSantis still hasn't announced if he will run for president. He is certainly positioning himself as a leading rival, though, for Trump's bid for reelection. Trump's 106-minute address to the rightwing gathering in Maryland had its fair share of inaccurate claims. Our Daniel Dale dubbed the speech, quote, "wildly dishonest." So he's here with the facts. Good morning, Daniel.


HARLOW: Let's start with the economy. It's what so many people care so much about. And the former president promised to save American jobs if he's elected again. Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We had the greatest job history of any president ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Is that true?

DALE: That's not even close to true, Poppy. Over the four years of Trump's presidency, the economy lost a net 2.7 million jobs. That is the worst net jobs record of any modern-day president. You can say, well, we did have a COVID-19 pandemic. Let's go pre-pandemic. But over those three years, the economy gained about 6.7 million, so better than losing, but not even close to the record. In bill Clinton's first term in the early and mid-90s, the economy added 11.5 million jobs. So even pre-pandemic, Trump's job record was not even close to the greatest.

HARLOW: OK, well, that's a really important thing for people to know given the uncertainty of this economy. Let's go on to this. He said in that speech, Trump, that he went above and beyond his promise when it came to building that border wall. Here's his claim.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: As you know, I built hundreds of miles of wall and completed that task, as promised. And then I began to add even more in areas that seemed to be allowing a lot of people to come in.


HARLOW: What does your fact check say on that?

DALE: That is not true. Former President Trump is trying to justify why they were still building at the end of his presidency when he claims that he was going to finish it.


That's because it was not finished. We know this from an official border wall status report from the government's Customs and Border Protection two days after Trump left office, they reported about 458 miles of wall had, indeed, been completed under President Trump. However, about 280 additional miles that had been identified for wall construction had not been completed. So, again, it just was not done.

HARLOW: Can we talk Nord Stream 2, this significant pipeline project that was. Can you talk about -- well, let's just let people listen to his claim and then explain if it's true or false.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because I ended the pipeline, right? Do you remember? Nord Stream 2, nobody ever heard of it, Ric, right? Nobody ever heard of Nord Stream 2 until I came along. But I ended it. It was dead.


HARLOW: Did he? DALE: Both parts of this are false. Of course it's not true that no one had ever heard of this before he came along. Then Vice President Biden denounced as vice president in 2016. Second of all, he did not end the project. By the time he imposed sanctions on companies constructing the project in late 2019, that's about three years into his presidency, the pipeline was about 90 percent completed. Now, the sanctions did appear to slow down the project, but the Russian state- owned company behind it said about a year later, hey, we're just going to finish it ourselves. They announced they were resuming construction. Germany announced also under Trump that it was granting another permit for construction in its waters. The project was eventually completed before being abandoned by Germany under Biden as Russia was about to invade Ukraine last year. So Trump certainly did not kill Nord Stream 2.

HARLOW: And it ended under this current administration.

DALE: It did, indeed.

HARLOW: Given Germany's moves. Daniel, thanks very much on all of that.

COLLINS: OK, also this morning, the 2024 GOP official and not so official, but pretty much official presidential candidates, are all taking aim at the same term, "woke." Listen to this.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: And I think these liberal states have gotten it wrong. And why are they getting it wrong? I think it goes back to this woke mind virus that's infected the left and all of these other institutions.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Change only happens if we plow fearlessly ahead and declare with one voice that the era of woke and weaponized government is over.

We will demolish woke tyranny and we will restore the American republic.

NIKKI HALEY, (R) 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for president to renew an America that's strong and proud, not weak and woke.

Wokeness is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down.


COLLINS: Why is wokeness, or at least Republican's understanding of it, become such a unifying theme for clearly 2024 and their platforms? Joining us now with her perspective is CNN political analyst and the vice president of the digital content and senior correspondent for "TheGrio," Natasha Alford. Thank you for joining us. There aren't a lot of things Republicans all agree on these days when you look at the 2024 field, but this is a message that all of them are using in their platforms so far as. NATASHA ALFORD, VICE PRESIDENT, DIGITAL CONTENT AND SENIOR

CORRESPONDENT, "THEGRIO": I always say so-called "wokeness" with quotes, right? Because we know that the origin of wokeness, actually it's a term that we used in the black community. It was about being socially conscious. And it's almost like when your grandparents find a word or someone finds a word and, you know, they're using it out of context, they're using it wrong, on fleek. I cringe every time I hear it because the origin intent of the word is not represented.

But it's a grate to be a dog whistle, to essentially talk about issues that have to do with racial justice and social justice without saying that race is a part of the issue. And also it becomes this umbrella term for anyone who is liberal, right? So I think by keeping it vague, it's strategic. It allows them to use it broadly, whether you're talking about education or environmentalism. And yes, essentially, it's a cover for attacking anything that is progressive.

LEMON: A pejorative for anything that is -- people who are at least socially aware, and aware of the ills of society, and comparing to it pandemic, it's worse than the pandemic, is beyond.

ALFORD: And you know what's heartbreaking, is there are so many elements that are being attacked as woke that are part of American principles and democracy. The Civil Rights movement, fighting for social justice. Allies were part of that movement. So what do you say about America when you attack things that actually make America better and call it woke as a pejorative?

LEMON: Civil rights, gay rights, women's rights, is that all wokeness?

ALFORD: Right, no --

LEMON: It would be under the wokeness umbrella, wouldn't it?

ALFORD: Absolutely. And so I think it's both insulting, but again, it's strategic, because as long as you keep your -- keep it vague, right, then you can just attack any and everything as woke, and the average person who doesn't understand the nuance, they're going to just go along with it and rally them against certain policies, like so-called parental rights, or what's happening with Disney in Florida. And again, it undermines the true value of the word.

HARLOW: It's interesting given what you just said to reflect on what was said by President Biden this weekend in Selma on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and President Trump at CPAC.


So let's just listen to the two of them.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The sinister forces trying to kill America have done everything they can to stop me, to silence you, and to turn this nation into a socialist dumping ground for criminals, junkies, Marxists, thugs, radicals.

I am your warrior. I am your justice.


TRUMP: And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution. I am your retribution.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The right to vote, to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty. And this fundamental right remains under assault. The conservative Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act over the years.


HARLOW: What are your thoughts as you listen to the former president and the current president addressing --

LEMON: Why'd you look at me?

ALFORD: The juxtaposition --

LEMON: It's like American carnage and then optimism.

ALFORD: Thank you. I thought of that day when there were people who were holding out hope that maybe Donald Trump maybe could be a president for all. And then he gave that speech about American carnage. And it's the same. Does America have an appetite for vengeance right now? Do they have an appetite for a president who represents this retribution, that I'm going to come back in office and sort of get revenge for the things that were taken away, for the progress that was interrupted.

We saw with January 6th, what that type of rhetoric produced. So, again, I don't think -- I think it plays to the base. I think that there are people who are certainly moved by this, and they want a champion, but again, this is another reason why so many Republicans are saying, we need an alternative.

COLLINS: I thought it was interesting. It seemed almost like Steve Bannon made a more effective case for Trump in 2024 than Trump himself did at CPAC. Steve Bannon saying, the other candidates are fine, but we don't have time for on-the-job training. And then Trump did have that retribution tone.

But I want to say something else with President Biden, because this week the Senate is going to have a vote on that D.C. crime bill that he has said he's not going to veto this Republican-led effort to overturn it. Even though he's said D.C. should have its own statehood, it should be self-governing, he actually caused a lot of controversy, though, by saying he's going to sign this and do that, as given what we've seen happening in Chicago and other places. What do you make of that? ALFORD: So I think it is a reaction to the national politics of the

moment, right? We saw that crime was a concern. And this is not just for Republican voters. This is for Democratic voters, too, in Democratic cities. And that is what I think Mayor Eric Adams was getting at. You can't put your head in the sand on this.

And so even though he supported local control, he knows that this is an opportunity where the GOP can come back later and say, you reduced -- you supported reducing the maximum sentence for carjackings at a time when people are afraid of their lives. But the devil is in the details. That code reform in D.C. also increased the penalties for sexual assault, for example, right?

But we live in such a time where people don't care about those details. They don't care that activists worked for 10 years with the community to try to revise this code in D.C., and that they're really just reflecting proportionality. This code was last revised in 1901. So it's a totally commonsense criminal justice reform that's happening, but the political consequences of being seen as soft on crime are part of why I believe President Biden made that decision.

The question that we, I think, as the media, we have to be vigilant about making a distinction between soft on crime rhetoric and policy that actually reduces crime. Just because you're a tough on crime politician, so to speak, it doesn't mean the policies you're advocating for actually reduce crime in communities and make people safer. So it's very important to distinguish that.

COLLINS: A lot of house Democrats unhappy that they voted against that before this announcement from the White House. But a very good point on the nuance there. So thank you for joining us.

LEMON: I think you touched on the theme of the weekend, details and nuance. When you look at what happened with Chris Rock, when you look at what the president was saying, you look at what happened at CPAC, there's a lot of nuance, and also, Mayor Adams, and the devil is in the detail. The theme of the weekend. You hit it. Thank you very much.

ALFORD: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Meantime, California, San Bernardino County still digging out from the nearly 100 inches of record snowfall in the past week alone. In crestline, residents are at a standstill. I have noticed this weekend, like, we have switched coasts, right? This is what the east coast would usually look like. We're talking about the west coast. They're at a standstill there, as they worry about access to food and emergency supplies after the roof of their one and only grocery store caved in from the weight of the snow.

Let's get straight to CNN's Camila Bernal live for us in San Bernardino. Good morning to you. The situation this morning there dire.


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Don, and the grocery store, the one here behind me, it is obviously still closed.

People need food. People need help. A lot of the residents here are frustrated, they're angry, and they say they need a lot more help than what they've been getting over the last couple of days.

Authorities say that they've already cleared out about 80 percent of the county roads. The problem is that there are a lot of side roads and small roads that lead to their homes, so they are stuck even though the main roads are clear.

Authorities also saying they're working 24/7 doing everything they can, but it's just not enough. They're apologizing for how slow this process is going.

And I've been talking to a lot of residents, Derek Hayes being one of them. He's been stuck at home for more than 10 days and he says he feels forgotten. Here's what he told me.


DEREK HAYES, STRANDED IN SNOW: We were promised that help is coming, but I'm getting a little impatient here. We may have a week's worth of food left. You know, a lot of our stores are closed now because of roof collapse and the gas station seems to be short on fuel still.

So you know, I'm not really sure how much longer it's going to take for help to get here, but I'm also not sure how much longer we can hold out.


BERNAL: And they've had food donations here at the supermarket, people coming to pick stuff up. But the reality is that people like Derek, he is 12 miles from where I am, he cannot get here to get donations.

So a lot of people just don't have that access because of the snow. Authorities say it's going to take a couple of more days before these people can get out, so it's a really frustrating situation and it has been very difficult for the people who live here -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Camila Bernal, thank you.

HARLOW: Well, Chris Rock takes on what he calls selective outrage, addresses that infamous Will Smith Oscars slap in his new Netflix Special. We will tell you all about it, ahead.


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: But I'm not a victim, baby. You will never see me on Oprah or Gayle crying. You will never see it. Never going to happen.




ROCK: I am going to try to do a show tonight without offending nobody, okay. I'm going to try my best. You know why? Because you never know who might get triggered.

You know when people say they always say "words hurt." That's what they say. Got to watch what you say, because words hurt.

You know anybody that says words hurt has never been punched in the face.


LEMON: Chris Rock debuting his much anticipated Netflix Special, finally giving his take about getting slapped by Will Smith at the Oscars.

It took almost a year for the comedian to respond and he held very little back -- more.


ROCK: You all know what happened to me, getting smacked by Suge Smith. It still hurts. I've got summertime ringing in my ear.

I loved Will Smith. My whole life, I loved this [bleep]. My whole life I root for this [bleep], okay, and now as I watch "Emancipation" just to see him whooped.


LEMON: So joining me now "LA Times" op-ed columnist and host of "Life Out Loud," the podcast, LZ Granderson. LZ, good morning.

Why are you laughing?

LZ GRANDERSON, LA TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Good morning -- because that was funny.

LEMON: Okay, before I get to --

GRANDERSON: That was a good joke.

LEMON: Okay, so a lot of it was social commentary, which Dave Chappelle does as well, but this one was more of a mixture than Chappelle, as far as laughing out loud. Am I wrong about that?

GRANDERSON: Yes. No, no, no, but that's kind of, you know, been Chris Rock's hallmark.

You know, I think, you know, comparing those two comedians, while I understand why people want to do it, they're very different when it comes to their approach to stand up. You know, Dave has gotten a lot more into satirical sort of commentary

and social commentary, while Chris obviously still likes to hold on to the fantastical so he can make these over the top jokes that really brings on a big laugh.

LEMON: Okay, so let's rewind a bit because last year, you said that it was wrong for Will Smith to hit Chris Rock, but that you understood it.

Now that Rock is speaking out in his own terms, do you still understand it? What do you think?

GRANDERSON: Yes, absolutely.

Listen, I think it's important that we still have oxygen for nuance. I know nuance doesn't do well in this country. I know we like black and white things.

But to me what transpired last year at the Oscars is filled with gray, because there's a backstory here, there was a present conditioning that was happening, and there was also individual conversations people are having with themselves that we're just not privy to, and I think oversimplification does more damage in terms of commentary, in terms of what happened last year than good.

LEMON: So look, he used what happened in his life, he used Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, at least the story, as a broader conversation about selective outrage, right, there was a lesson not only in it for Will Smith and what he did, according to Chris Rock, but also for the larger culture, for all of us, where he talks about this is from "Vogue," Janelle Okwodu, who talks about when Will Smith mentions exercise companies and supposedly being too woke and what have, said Rock's targets, this is a quote from "Vogue," "Rock's targets are united by what he considers hypocrisy. The selective outrage that allows luxury brands to tout their antiracism stance while using exploitative labor practices, and allows bad actors to shield themselves by coopting the language of social justice."

Meaning, people don't actually walk the walk; they fake it, and in their real lives, they're not living up to the actual language that they're putting out there.

GRANDERSON: Well, absolutely. But we've known that for a very long time, right? And I wouldn't say, you know, it's just about corporations, but I think Rock did a very good job in talking about how we are also personal hypocrites in a lot of ways by comparing people who listen to R. Kelly, but have a problem with Michael Jackson or vice versa.

LEMON: Michael Jackson.

GRANDERSON: Exactly. So I think that Chris did a really good job of pointing out not just the corporate hypocrisy when it comes to outrage, but also the personal outrage hypocrisy and reminding us that at the end of the day, we can control what we do, but we can't control what Lululemon does. LEMON: Right. Okay, so let's talk about what folks are saying sort of

on the street, right? So he ended by saying his -- the lesson in it for him is that the reason he didn't do it is because his parents taught him not to fight in front of White people, right?


LEMON: Again in "Vogue," I thought this is a really good quote, I thought this was the best review of it. He said -- and she writes, "While it provided a suitably pithy ending to this Special, it also offered a glimpse of what could have been had Rock talked a bit more about what it means to be a Black man beneath the crushing glare of the spotlight."

GRANDERSON: It is spot on, spot on statement, spot on passage. You know, there were opportunities there for Chris Rock to push the conversation forward.

You know, one of my criticisms from last year, you know, wasn't just about the violence that happened on stage, but also the fact that I felt Chris was kind of lazy in doing a GI Jane joke to begin with in 2022.

I mean, especially after, you know, if you want to talk about bald Black women, you have all of Wakanda to make that joke, and that would have been a lot more current.

But with that being said, there was an opportunity for Chris to not just talking about Will Smith's trauma, and all these talk of unresolved anger. But if you really listen to Chris Rock, I felt like he was still very angry and hadn't processed a lot of things.

Remember, he made the joke that everybody basically in the hip-hop community thought he was emasculated. How emasculated did he feel knowing that he was the one person Will Smith felt secure enough to actually strike?

You know, that's also a mental toll that I'm not quite sure if Chris Rock has processed or not, instead he is making jokes about it. But I think that's an aspect of the conversation that would have been interesting for him to flesh out a little bit more, but he's not required to do so, and I don't think that it is fair to require Black artists, Black comedians to address every single ill that impacts the Black community.

There still needs to be a space for them just to have a levity and fun. I thought it was a fair balance. But I do think there was somewhat of a missed opportunity there for Rock, but he was required to take that opportunity.

LEMON: I loved that it was live. I liked that it wasn't all shiny and edited as they normally do with stand-up specials and that it was messy and he messed up and he acknowledged and he went back and did it and I thought it had more impact.

GRANDERSON: Yes. LEMON: I thought it was pretty brilliant. Thank you, LZ.

GRANDERSON: He is a beast, man. He was an absolute beast that night. That's not easy what he did.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. Good to see you.

GRANDERSON: Thank you.

HARLOW: Always fascinating hearing from LZ.

Okay ahead, the economy, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has used the economic term Wile E. Coyote to describe the moment we may be headed for and he has a point.

We're going to talk to him about what that means as we brace for a whole lot of economic data ahead.