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Americans Kidnapped in Mexico Found in Wooden Shack; New Trove of Documents Made Public in Dominion Lawsuit Against FOX; Fed Chief: Interest Rates Likely to Be Higher Than Expected. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 08, 2023 - 06:00   ET


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And this is the significant problem we're going to see here, with some of these rivers rising significantly.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Does it refill the reservoirs or just goes out to the ocean?

MYERS: It refills a lot of them, especially through the San Joaquins. Yes, absolutely.

ROMANS: All right. Well, that's good news, I guess.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. Thanks, Chad Myers, to you.

CNN THE MORNING starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was crying. I asked her how's she doing? She was doing OK, but she was crying, because her brother got killed. She watched him die. She watched two of them die. They died in front of her. I've got my daughter, and she's alive.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, everyone. Welcome to CNN THE MORNING. We're glad you're with us. But we do begin with quite an update from Mexico and some tragic news.

Two Americans are dead this morning. Two are alive, though. They are back on U.S. soil after those four were kidnapped at gunpoint in Mexico. We will break down where they were found and what we're learning about the man who has been detained.

Later, the family of one of the survivors will also join us.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And more exposure for FOX News. A trove of private text messages and e-mails have been revealed as part of a lawsuit against the network. What Tucker Carlson said about Donald Trump leading up to the January 6th attack on the Capitol. KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also, a bipartisan group of senators are

now trying to give President Biden more power to ban TikTok in the U.S.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

HARLOW: We do begin with that deadly kidnapping of four Americans in Mexico.




HARLOW: Two of them have been found dead. The two survivors brought to the border in an ambulance, protected by heavily-armed convoy of Mexican soldiers with Humvees and machine guns.

Officials say the group of friends were on a road trip for a surgery procedure when they were caught up in a drug cartel shootout and abducted in broad daylight in one of Mexico's most violent and dangerous cities.

Mexican officials say they were eventually found. They found in this wooden shack -- look at that -- guarded by a man.

The local governor says the cartel moved the Americans around to different locations, including a medical clinic to create confusion and to try to avoid efforts to rescue them.

This is an image of LaTavia Washington McGee in the back of an ambulance after she was rescued. You see her right there. We will speak with her mother later.

Rosa Flores starts us off in Brownsville, Texas, where the survivors are recoverin.

Rosa, thank goodness that two survived and they're alive. But still, two killed in this, and Mexican police have detained someone?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have. According to Mexican officials, they detained a 24-year-old man from Tamaulipas, Mexico. They say that this man was doing some kind of surveillance on the Americans.

Now, Mexican officials won't say and won't disclose the affiliation of this individual. They won't say if he is related to the criminal organizations here.

What Mexican officials do say is that they received a tip on Tuesday morning. They followed that tip, and they found the Americans who were in Mexico getting this medical procedure. What they didn't find were the kidnappers or the killers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FLORES (voice-over): Two Americans back on U.S. soil after a U.S. official says a case of mistaken identity left two of their friends dead.

NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We're providing all appropriate assistance to them and their families. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.

FLORES (voice-over): LaTavia Washington McGee and Eric Williams are safe and receiving medical treatment in Texas. Zindell Brown and Shaeed Woodard were killed in the attack.

A U.S. official familiar with the investigation told CNN investigators believe a Mexican cartel kidnapped the group after mistaking them for Haitian drug smugglers.

The deadly incident seen here in the surveillance video happened in the Mexican border city of Matamoros.

Authorities there announcing one person held and believed to be connected with the deadly kidnapping, the detained individual has been identified as 24-year-old Jose En (ph).

According to the governor of Tamaulipas, the individual kept watch on the captured victims. However, officials would not confirm whether the person is connected to a criminal organization.

The incident revived the debate over violent crime in Mexico, drawing attention and some friction between the U.S. and Mexican governments.

PRICE: Ultimately, we want to see accountability for the violence that has been inflicted on these Americans that tragically led to the death of two of them.

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We're not allowing any foreign country to intervene on matters that only relate to Mexicans. We do not get involved in seeing what the gangs in the United States distributing fentanyl are up to, or how the drug is distributed in the U.S.

FLORES (voice-over): The sharp rebuke from the Mexican president before this admission.

OBRADOR (through translator): So there is cooperation. We are working in a coordinated manner, with a respect for sovereignty.


FLORES (voice-over): A source familiar with the investigation told CNN the deceased will undergo autopsies by Mexican authorities prior to their remains being turned other to the U.S. Government.

Meanwhile --


FLORES (voice-over): The Mexican president said those responsible will be found and punished. The White House is demanding accountability.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOSE PRESS SECRETARY: Attacks on U.S. citizens are unacceptable, no matter where or under what circumstances they happen.

We will continue to work closely with the Mexican government to ensure justice is done in this case.


FLORES (on camera): Now aside from the investigation that's going on in Mexico, the FBI is also conducting a criminal investigation. The FBI saying that they're working with the DEA, HHS (ph) and the Department of State, as well as with their Mexican partners.

Now the FBI also saying that they have sent victims services personnel so they can help the victims and their families. And, Poppy, the FBI is also working with the Department of State to recover the deceased, to make sure that they can return to the United States and so they can reunite those individuals with their families.

HARLOW: Of course. Tragic. Rosa, thank you for the update.

In the next hour, we are going to speak with the mother and the daughter of LaTavia Washington McGee. Of course, she has six children. She's one of the two survivors of this.

COLLINS: Also this morning, new texts have been released as part of Dominion's $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against FOX News.

They show some of the clearest indications yet that people inside the network had serious doubts and misgivings about the election fraud lies that were being openly touted on the network.

A 2021 e-mail reveals that the FOX Corporation chairman, Rupert Murdoch, conceded that two of his top hosts possibly, quote, "went too far" with the election denialism after Trump's loss, though Murdoch himself also once said, according to these new texts, that he hoped Trump would win Arizona, even after FOX's own decision desk, which makes those election calls, was the first to call it for President Biden.

Murdoch saying at the time, quote, he was "still hoping for AZ to prove them wrong."

CNN's Paula Reid joins us now. Paula, these texts are pretty incredible when you look through what they show, what they were saying, you know, behind the scenes compared to what we saw publicly.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Kaitlan. Quite the contrast. And all of this comes from the hundreds of pages of previously unreleased documents that we got last night.

But clearly, some of the most damning revelations in these documents come from FOX Chairman Rupert Murdoch. You see here, he is repeatedly denying conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems that his own network was promoting.


REID (voice-over): New internal communications from some of FOX News' most prominent figures show concerns and misgivings some had about then-President Donald Trump's claims of election fraud and the company's handling of the 2020 election results.

According to court documents, host Tucker Carlson texted a producer on January 4th, 2021, just two days before the Capitol attack. "We're very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights."

The conversation continues. Referring to Trump, Carlson says, "I hate him passionately. I can't handle much more of this."

The private communications from Carlson are a sharp contrast to his public support for the former president, as seen on his program that night.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The president, as you may have heard, believes the election was stolen from him. Georgia's secretary of state, whose job it is to oversee elections, disagrees. You can listen to the call yourself. It's online, and you can make up your own mind about who's right on that question. By the way, if you have time, you ought to do that.

REID (voice-over): The text messages are part of a trove of documents and communications released Tuesday from Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the right-wing network.

FOX, responding to the latest document release, in part, saying, "Dominion has been caught red-handed using more distortions and misinformation in their P.R. campaign to smear FOX News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press."

Dominion saying in a statement, "The e-mails, texts, and deposition testimony speak for themselves."

The communications reveal FOX corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch was furious FOX News called the 2020 election for Biden and wrote in an e- mail to the former "New York Post" editor in chief, "CNN declares and FOX coming in minutes. I hate our Decision Desk people and pollsters. Some of the same people, I think. Just for the hell of it, still praying for Arizona to prove them wrong," referring to FOX News' decision to project Biden the winner in Arizona.


More than a month after the 2020 election, FOX News's D.C. managing editor wrote in a private message to a colleague he feared that the network's coverage of Trump's election fraud claims were becoming "an existential crisis" for the company.

Murdoch conceded, in an email to FOX News CEO Scott in January 2021 that some of FOX's top talent went too far in their coverage. During his deposition, Murdoch asked: "Do you believe that Dominion

was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election?"

Murdoch replied, "No."

LEE LEVINE, FIRST AMENDMENT LAWYER: Dominion has made an effort to show that Rupert Murdoch was hands-on; that is, that he was aware of what people were saying on his air; that he had the ability to stop these guests from appearing and repeating these things that he apparently testified he's never believed to be true.


REID: Both sides of this case have asked a judge to resolve this matter in their favor without going to trial. There's also a slim chance this could settle.

But if none of that happens, this will go to trial in Delaware next month. And this will truly be a landmark case. Absolutely one to watch.

COLLINS: Yes, certainly. Paula Reid, thank you.

LEMON: Let's bring in now CNN's media analyst and Axios media reporter, Sara Fischer.

Sara, good morning to you. Listen, these text messages are between Tucker Carlson and -- and what he wrote about Trump is amazing.

I'm just going to read the entire text message, because I think it's important, and I don't want to dumb it down here. It says, "We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can't wait. I hate him passionately. I blew up at Peter Navarro today in frustration. I actually like Peter, but I can't handle much more of this. That's the last four years. We are pretending we've got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it's been too tough to digest. But come on. There isn't really any upside to Trump."

That's pretty harsh.


LEMON: That's not what he's saying on the air.

FISCHER: It's definitely not. And that's the point that that lawyer was just making.

What Dominion is trying to prove is that FOX News hosts knowingly put stuff on the air that they didn't actually believe. And this comes to show that not only did Tucker Carlson not believe Trump, he didn't believe the election lies, but that he's in real time venting about it and frustrated about it, but then can completely pivot on-air. It's actually a very strong case for Dominion.

And I thought the other piece of news that was brought out last night that was brought up in the clip, that is a very strong case for them, was Rupert Murdoch conceding now Dominion did not, to his knowledge, mislead the public about the election. That is a direct piece of proof point for Dominion.

COLLINS: What does it say about FOX overall? Because, you know, lot of this concern in what was being said publicly was the fact that they were worried about losing viewers after the election.

And you know Republicans in Washington as well as I do. There is a deep mistrust at times of them. And to see a lot of Republicans coming out yesterday, being so openly critical of some of the hosts that before they would never criticize, was remarkable.

FISCHER: Totally remarkable. You know, I'm kind of confused about this, you know, big fear around losing viewers.

FOX, of all the three major cable news networks -- CNN, MSNBC and FOX -- has always had high ratings. And so I don't think that they needed to pander to election lies to be able to manage their business. I think that they went completely off the wall there.

But I also think, to your point, about Republicans, they do need to book them. They want to get them on their air. They want to get interviews with them. They want to be able to bill them as exclusives.

And that's not just the far-right Republicans, but it's also House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. It's also Senate -- you know, Senator Mitch McConnell. And so they have --

COLLINS: He was very critical yesterday.

FISCHER: Very critical yesterday of the decision by Tucker Carlson to continue to sort of release misleading footage from those January 6 tapes that McCarthy gave him.

I think that FOX is in a very precarious position, though. The one thing I will say, if we take a 30,000-foot view, they're in a precarious position about this lawsuit. But their shareholders have not really come down on them. It's not like FOX's stock is taking a huge beating because of this.

And the end of the day, they're going to be frustrated that they lose, you know, 1.6 billion or more to this defamation suit when it could have gone towards sports rights for FOX Sports. They just signed Tom Brady for $375 million.

But it's not like the shareholders are demanding critical action at this moment.

LEMON: I just -- the idea -- I know that it's a reality. But that shareholders really are the ones that kind of -- really have the strongest say in what a news organization puts out there. It's just really sad.

Do we have time to listen to -- because I think it was important that you guys mentioned what happened with Republicans yesterday. Let's -- let's listen to what they said. This was about January 6th and what Tucker Carlson said.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It was a mistake, in my view, for FOX News to depict this in a way that's completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): To somehow put that in the same category as a, you know, permitted peaceful protest is -- is just a lie.



SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): There were a lot of people in the Capitol at the time who I think were in fear for their lives. So you can -- I don't know how you want to describe it, but it was -- it was an attack on the Capitol.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): I thought it was an insurrection at that time. I still think it was an insurrection today.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): The point is, what happened that day shouldn't have happened.


LEMON: And shouldn't FOX News be listening to what is right for journalism? That they should report to their -- to their viewers exactly what happened? To the lawmakers.

But then as you said, shareholders, you know, that reminder to us. What do you make of that?

FISCHER: I mean, I know for a fact that folks inside FOX think that Trump is something they want to get away from. So I'm surprised that Tucker Carlson is even doubling down on this in this way.

Because Republicans clearly want to get away from Trump. He cost them the midterm last election. And FOX News probably wants to get away from Trump.

I think it will be wise, to your point, to listen to them. I don't know why they're not.

COLLINS: Well, they have distanced themselves from Trump, I think, since he announced his re-election. It's come to great frustration tot the Trump campaign.

LEMON: The lawmakers or FOX, you mean?


LEMON: FOX. FISCHER: Yes, but you know, painting January 6 in this light is not

distancing yourself from Trump. It's actually the most intense thing you can do to relink yourself to Donald Trump. And so I just can't understand and fathom why they would do it, to your point, if every single one of these Republican lawmakers, both from the most -- some of the most extreme ends and some of the more moderate ends, it just makes no sense. =

LEMON: Sara Fischer, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Thank you, Sara.

OK. Today is International Women's Day. And throughout the show this morning, we'll spotlight the hard-fought battles of women, many of those battles continuing across the globe. First, let's take you to Ukraine.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Melissa Bell in Kyiv, where this International Women's Day is being marked with all the more solemnity for the war. A war that has changed so much in what was a relatively patriarchal society.

The number of women signing up to the army since the invasion began last February going to 50,000 from the 30,000 it had been. And also, of course, all the women who have had to pick up the jobs in the mines, the fields, the factories, that the men left behind, even as they continue to carry the burden of looking after their families in the middle of a war.




JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: The latest economic data have come in stronger than expected, which suggests that the ultimate level of interest rates is likely to be higher than previously anticipated.


HARLOW: Quite a day for the economy. This morning Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell will be back on the Hill after that testimony yesterday, telling senators we should all brace for higher interest rates that are going to stay higher for longer.

Wall Street did not like that. Stocks fell sharply lower. And Senator Elizabeth Warren certainly didn't like his comments either. Listen to this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Chair Powell, if you hit your projections, do you know how many people who are currently working, going about their lives, will lose their jobs?

POWELL: I don't -- I don't have that number in front of me. I will will say it's -- it's not an intended consequence.

WARREN: But -- but it is. And it's in your report, and that would be about two million people who would lose their jobs.

If you could speak directly to the two million hard-working people who have decent jobs today who you're planning to get fired over the next year, what you would say to them?

POWELL: I would explain to people more broadly that -- that inflation is extremely high. And it's hurting the working people of this country badly. All of them. Not just two million of them. But all of them are suffering under high inflation. And we are taking the only measures we have to bring inflation down.


HARLOW: Yes. The only tool they have. Christine Romans, our chief business correspondent, is here. And one thing that wasn't in that cut that was interesting that Powell said is maybe we could do it without firing -- all of those people getting fired. It could be with there being less job openings.

ROMANS: Yes. And that would be the best outcome right here. But the idea here is the job market is just so strong and is going to spin off inflation. And that's what the Fed is really worried about.

Look, this means something for every American here. Whether you're talking about your job or you're talking about all these ways the higher interest rates are going to affect you.

And I want to just look at the mortgage market, for example. Thirty- year fixed-rate mortgages are indirectly tied to these Federal Reserve rate hikes. And you've already seen mortgage rates rising here.

You're paying about $700 more a month in interest on a typical mortgage today -- a new mortgage today than you would have if you'd got that mortgage last year.

On credit card interest rates, those are record highs here. Nineteen percent for a typical credit card interest rate. This bears repeating, you guys.

If you are putting money on a card and not paying it off, you will spend a long time and a lot of money to get out from underneath that debt.

So that's a really important part here, too.

And now in savings rates, you're seeing a little bit money. Eventually, you might get a little bit more by having your money in a certificate of deposit or in a savings account. That has lagged, I'm going to say, sadly. But eventually, saving money because of these higher rates could be a little more advantageous. It's just not happening.

You will feel higher rates in just about everything, and the Fed is signaling higher rates for longer here.

COLLINS: Right. So higher rates, because the economy is so strong. But doesn't this just signal a declining confidence in the Fed's ability to be able to touch inflation, to be able to bring in down?

ROMANS: That's really one of the worries here. The Fed only has that one big tool, and that is raising those interest rates. They've done it eight times. How come inflation is still above 6 percent? How come the job market is still so strong? How come consumers are still so flush with cash and still spending so robustly?

You have underlying strength in this economy that means the Fed has to move harder to get these interest rates higher so that they can cool down the economy. And that could throw the economy into a recession. It's a very, very dangerous and delicate balance that the Federal Reserve is trying to do.

And I think what we heard from the Fed chief yesterday is that this economy has been stronger than they thought. It really has been. And we're going to hear a lot more information over the next week to ten days that could, I think, really rattle markets and rattle that confidence in whether the Fed has -- has done the right thing at the right time here.

COLLINS: Yes. Feels like that 2 percent inflation target is so far away -- further away.


ROMANS: So far away. It's so far away.

HARLOW: Christine Romans, thank you.

ROMANS: Nice to see you guys.

LEMON: I think they're extending it, but we'll see. Thank you.

Let's talk about TikTok now. Viral TikTok dances like this --




HARLOW: I thought you were going to do it.

LEMON: No, I'm not going to do it.

Could be in jeopardy. The popular social platform now facing the threat of being banned in the United States. We're going to tell you why.





LEMON: Now I'm going to have that song stuck in my head --

COLLINS: Me, too.

LEMON: -- all day.

The ultimate -- look at my tie. TikTok trend.

OK. So TikTok trends like that Beyonce "Cuff It" dance, that challenge could soon be a thing of the past. You know why? The White House now backing a new bipartisan Senate bill that could potentially ban TikTok, citing national security concerns about the popular Chinese- owned video app.

It is used by more than 100 million Americans, including my sister who's watching, who's saying you can't ban TikTok. No, please don't do it.