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CNN Tonight

Republican Candidates Using Conspiracy Theories In Their Campaign; Midterm Elections And The Inflation; Three Weeks Into The Midterms And Things Are Heating Up; Alaska's Snow And King Crab Season Cancelled. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 14, 2022 - 23:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: I don't have to tell you we are a nation awash in conspiracy theories. This week, Alex Jones hit with a nearly $1 billion penalty for spreading disgusting lies about Sandy Hook families. The election lies that led the Capitol riot were of course on full display when the January 6th Committee laid out their case on Thursday. But this next conspiracy takes the cake, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: I mean, first off, would you believe that in some schools, I mean to say, students who identify as cats are using litter box inside of bathrooms. We shouldn't believe it. You shouldn't believe it as it's not actually true. CNN's (inaudible) did a deep dive into the claim that has been made and found that it's an internet hoax, but that of course has not stopped the claim from taking off on the right.


SCOTT JENSEN, MINNESOTA REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Why do we have litter boxes in some of the school districts so kids can pee in them because they identify as a furry? We've lost our minds. We've lost our minds.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): They're embracing lies. I mean, literally embracing lies. Okay, if some student wants to pretend like a cat and use a litter box after school, that's prerogative, whatever. But, no, the school and school resources and the other students and teachers should not have to be put through that because it's a lie.


CAMEROTA: How is that happening? How is that even possible? Why are conspiracy theories like this being taken seriously. So, listen, we're going to do this thing right now Laura. We're going to try this thing --

COATES: Full time?

CAMEROTA: -- it's time and we're going to do something called dueling panels. So, I'm going to start with my panel. We're going to put five minutes up on the clock to tackle the kitty litter conspiracy, and then we're going to toss it back to Laura and we'll see if her panel can do any better.

So here with me is Kevin Madden who is a top aide to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, also CNN political commentator Scott Jennings and Nina Turner who is co-chair of Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign. Okay, I know you guys were thinking, wait, I went into politics for this? Yes. Yes, you all did, because this is really happening, okay.


Elementary school kids are not peeing in litter boxes, okay? Scott, that's not happening.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Why are you addressing me? I've literally -- I've been a defending this New York panel all night. We're the Harlem Globetrotters. The other panel is the Washington Generals.

CAMEROTA: You're wasting time. We're wasting time.

JENNINGS: Because there's nothing to say about --

CAMEROT: -- a lot to say because politicians, Kevin, are falling for this. There's a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota who you just heard who is falling for this. There's another one in Colorado who is falling for this. How are they so gullible?

KEVIN MADDEN, FORMER TOP AIDE TO MITT ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Look, it says a lot about how people process information in a very hyper partisan world, right? I mean, like one of the things that's the hardest things about combat and misinformation or disinformation is just how strongly people want to believe it when it confirms a prior worldview that they have and it confirms an us versus them mentality.

And then you compound that with the simple fact that everybody has a supercomputer in their pocket, where they can communicate with everybody instantly --

CAMEROTA: But they could also --

MADDEN: And spread that.

CAMEROTA: -- and debunk it. They could do it if they want to.

MADDEN: And that's the amazing thing, is that you have rational people who sort of search out an irrationality when it comes to trying to confirm a lot of their political biases. And it's a very, very difficult problem for politicians.

We saw it when we worked on campaigns, like when I worked on campaigns this happened back in probably 2008 where, you know, voters would come to us at town halls in New Hampshire asking about the NAFTA super highway. And we're sitting there going what's the NAFTA super highway? How do we combat this this misinformation? So, it's very difficult. CAMEROTA: Okay. Hold on. I have one thing before we get there because

I do want to pose this to you. It does seem like Republicans fall for this more than Democrats. The Republicans fall for conspiracy theories more than Democrats, yes?

JENNINGS: I don't know if that's true.

CAMEROTA: I have polls. I have polls to prove it. Here's the COVID conspiracy, adults who think that COVID outbreak was planned. Republicans 34 percent, Democrats 18 percent. QAnon by party, Republicans 43 percent, Democrats 19 percent. People who believe the election lies, Republicans -- no, people who believe that Biden is the legitimate president, Democrats 98 percent, Republicans 34 percent.

JENNINGS: I lived through the Bush administration and a lot of people believed a lot of crazy things about George W. Bush that weren't true either. So, I agree with Kevin, that I think that if you have a prior view, like in the case of these schools, if you believe that there are people in the schools who are making the schools into something crazy.

So, then that's your prior view, and then some the thing come -- it's just easy to just tack that on to what you already believe. So, I do think that is happening. Actually, preparing for this, researched this today.


JENNINGS: There actually is kitty litter in schools. You know why?

CAMEROTA: Because there's cats?

JENNIGS: No. Because sometimes schools put it in there in the event of a lockdown or emergency situation and if the students are in the classroom and they cannot get out and go to the bathroom. So, it's actually in some schools has been used for emergency purposes.

CAMEROTA: That's, you know what, that's actually really interesting because you just proved that you can debunk something. You can debunk a hoax; you can debunk something that sounds absurd by doing one minute of research on your phone. Nina, your thoughts on this.

NINA TURNER, CO-CHAIR BERNIE SANDERS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I mean, just a lot of distrust in institutions and the government that's really being peddled more often on the right.

CAMEROTA: Don't you think that Republicans are more susceptible to conspiracy theories?

TURNER: Yeah. They definitely are more susceptible. They -- in a propensity --

MADDEN: I would say they have networks that are much better, more disciplined at sharing this information, who are aggressive at sharing this information.

CAMEROTA: I mean, the pizza parlor where Hillary Clinton is supposedly running a -- stop. I mean, that's just -- Democrats don't --

TURNER: It's ridiculous.

CAMEROTA: -- don't spread that stuff.

JENNINGS: Not on this network but on a kind of competitor. I see some crazy things said on a nightly basis that come from the true fever swamps of the American leftist --

CAMEROTA: Oh stop.

JENNINGS: This is not -- this is not purely --

TURNER: Are you serious?

JENNINGS: This is not purely a conservative issue. Yes, I'm very serious.

TURNER: No. And this -- but this -- this issue, I mean, it's hard enough for elementary school teachers to get them to line up in the hallway to -- nobody is around children to use the bathroom kitty litter in the classrooms. It's unsanitary as hell. (Inaudible)

CAMEROTA: I mean, but they are also -- they are further pretending that these kids identify --

TURNER: Want to be as --

CAMEROTA: -- as cats.


CAMEROTA: I mean, when something like this -- you have to just --

TURNER: They're complaining --

CAMEROTA: -- and these facts that these two people running for governor in Colorado and Minnesota that they fall for, the gullibility is stunning.

JENNING: You know what, what's really crazy is, who would identify as a cat? If you're going to identify as an animal, dog is really superior. Just saying. Who's stronger? If you're thinking of doing it --

TURNER: The dog.

JENNINGS: Yeah. And then you go outside, they have trees at schools.

CAMEROTA: Okay. I see this has gone off the rails, but I'm not surrendering my last 18 seconds. Bring it home Kevin. You got 16 seconds, go.

MADDEN: Well, look, again, this is one of those things we're you're using that supercomputer to share misinformation, actually use that supercomputer in your pocket to actually research the information and get to the bottom of the truth.

CAMEROTA: Okay, well done everybody. That's it. Okay, Laura? Your panel can now see if you guys can get to the bottom of this (inaudible).


COATES: I mean, does your panel need a supercomputer in their pocket to know that kids are not peeing on kitty litter? Okay.

JENNINGS: Research it. Research it.

COATES: Yeah, research. Okay. Thank you, Inspector Gadget. Go back to Penny's little computer.


Rina Shah, Nayyera Haq, and Margaret Talev here. You guys --


COATES: Really?

HAQ: I don't think Scott Jensen actually believes that this is really happening, that children are peeing at kitty litter in classrooms. He is running in a state where a Republican has not won statewide since 2006. And he is going to tap into whatever code-switching sensibility he can come up with to say, okay, those people who might turn out to vote for me, this is what they're all talking about.

I'm going to tell them, as a doctor, that I actually believe and know everything they're saying. It's the equivalent to me of the idea of razor blades in apples that go around, you know, that theory that goes around every Halloween.

COATES: Every Halloween?

HAQ: I have never seen one of these things. Yet, somehow, you have people here if there's a kernel of truth, it gets socialized, and -- but somebody is putting those out, somebody is taking advantage of it of all the gullibility, and that somebody is leadership in the Republican Party.

COATES: But why?

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, these people are triggered by pronouns. They're triggered by the fact that society is like going one way and people are able to identify as something they're not born as. So, then they take it further. They are like do you know people are out there identifying as fairies? Okay, look, that is not happening anywhere. Kids are not using litter boxes in their schools. We know this.

And I struggle with this a little bit, because I think if you give air and oxygen to these conspiracy theories on a national stage, then we're kind of giving credence to them. But I think it's important. I mean, this has changed people's lives. People have gone into rabbit holes and their lives have been changed, their families' lives have been changed because they got Reddit and other forms at their fingertips where they're finding communities of people who believe the same bizarre stuff that they do. So, --

COATES: Where does it originate? You were talking earlier in the break about the idea of Republican women being trained to be skeptical and this has gone totally awry.

SHAH: Totally susceptible to conspiracy theories, why? Because I made my entire career on the right. I can tell you, even at the collegiate level, it was sort of ingrained in sort of how you come up in young conservative world. Let's question everything. Question big brother. Be skeptical of it. That healthy skepticism turned into full on, no, that is something that is happening.

And even though it's not happening, that conspiracy theory seeps in and becomes a part of your daily life because you are just inherently skeptical. And that's why women on the right are more likely to give (inaudible) conspiracy theories, sorry, compared to them.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I feel you make -- there's a parallel reality going on here, which is, that most Americans until this week, had never heard of the kitty litter conspiracy theory. And maybe a lot of people watching this now are like, what are they talking about? But quietly, for months now, in Michigan, in Nebraska, in Iowa, in Colorado, where else, in Minnesota, right.

But it takes -- for this to go into mainstream to breach the walls from conspiracy theory to pop culture discussion point, it takes something like a Joe Rogan mentioning it or something like a big network news investigation about the issue. It seems like funny or fun to talk about when it's kitty litter, but on a much more basic level, like as a journalist, I struggle a lot with how do you inform people who have already made up their mind about something that's nonsensical or not based in fact?

We've been dealing with this about the election lie theories. We have been dealing about a lot of tenets of January 6th --

COATES: COVID-19, there was issues with the vaccines.

TALEV: Duke University researchers -- a couple of Duke University researchers undertook this very interesting research assignment where they try to understand which kind of political combination group is most susceptible to misinformation. They identified a group they called LCC's. These were low conscientious conservatives. And it was -- their research found that this was -- it's not that all conservatives -- we're talking about this (inaudible) a few minutes ago.

It's not that all conservatives are more susceptible and all liberals are all centrist to conspiracy theories, but there was a particular subgroup that researchers found that were -- had traits of both impulsiveness and of wanting to disrupt the status quo. Being dissatisfied with the status quo and wanting a disruption.

And that group, what seemed to be the most susceptible to disinformation because they didn't want to question or look for counter-information. They didn't respond to fact checkers.

HAQ: It starts with a kernel of truth. Snake oil salesman is a term we all use now, but it's based in a fact that actually rattlesnake oil in ancient Chinese medicine was used to heal. And it turned into this big propaganda thing in the 1800s, where grifters were capitalizing on this vague sensibility that people had a kernel of truth.

When you get to socialize and connect that and it helps people come to some answer of how their world works, that's what makes conspiracy theories so engaging and relevant. Not just here in the United States, I mean, this is something (inaudible)globally.

COATES: Nayyera, you saw that my belt has the serpentine emblem on it. That's what (inaudible). Oh, I made it open. Oh, it's primetime. Alisyn?


CAMEROTA: Laura, we're a little jealous here because your panel said really smart things and ours went for the comedic effect (inaudible).

COATES: Alisyn, I ended just now with my belt coming loose, like, I think I lost it for the panel. Sorry, guys. We were so good. I'm going to go ahead and button this up.

CAMEROTA: Wow, that's a good panel. If your belt flies off that's a very, very good (inaudible).

COATES: Well, Alisyn, we are flying by the seat of our pants.

CAMEROTA: Friday night in Washington. Well done, ladies. Well, done.

Okay, everybody stick around. We have much, much more to talk about. Tell us more what you think about all of this. You can tweet us at @AlisynCamerota and @thelauracoates. We'll be right back. It's not bad.



CAMEROTA: Inflation is crippling many families. You probably notice it when you go to buy groceries, that the prices keep rising. So, what does all of that mean for the midterms? Let's bring in Catherine Rampell, Scott Jennings and Nina Turner. So, Nina, let's look at food right now. So here is, I think, we have a graphic. Cereals, baked goods still going up by 0.9 percent there. Meat and poultry, this is just in September, okay. So, just, in other words, not -- since a year ago. This is just since last month. Fruit, vegetables, everything is up. What do you think this means for the midterms?

TURNER: I mean, people are hurting, and we have to deal with the personal economy. That's most important. Part of the challenge, though, is that corporations are gouging at this moment. You have CEOs on record saying, I prayed for inflation to happen. There's something wrong with that.

And unfortunately, the Republicans, although they say that they're the party of family values, they don't necessarily value pushing policies that actually help to lift the American people. This is one stat since 1978, the average CEO pay adjusted for inflation has gone up 1,400 percent. The average worker, 18 percent. It is criminal and it is actually crushing this country.

CAMEROTE: Before I let you respond to that, Scott, here's what has happened to the average home price of $400,000 a year ago. The mortgage was about $1,700 a month, and then, now, it's $2,400. So, it's gone up by $712.

JENNINGS: Yeah. I mean, what you can afford to do right now is much less than what you could afford just a few months ago. I mean, it feels like the country is off the rails when you consider how fast it all happened, and, respectfully, Republicans aren't in charge of the country. Democrats are in charge of the White House, the House, and the Senate. And this inflation crisis has entirely happened on Joe Biden's watch.

And in these campaigns, all across the country, there is an attempt by the Democrats to deflect blame for this, but not only did their spending policies cause the inflation, the Inflation Reduction Act, which I can't even believe I'm saying out loud and dignifying that name by speaking it, did nothing. Did nothing. In the Georgia debate --

TURNER: (Inaudible) Helping people in a pandemic --

JENNINGS: It did nothing.

CAMEROTA: Okay, Catherine?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR: I disagree with almost everything that's been said so far.

JENNINGS: You disagree that there's inflation?

RAMPELL: No, I think there's absolutely inflation, but it's much more complicated than either corporations suddenly remembered to be greedy or Democrats spent too much money. It's a combination of things. I mean, you do have very expansionary fiscal and monetary policy, partly because of Democrats, partly because of Republicans, frankly.

There was a lot of fiscal spending, both during the Trump era and, and Biden last year, and the Fed kept rates too low for too long. And you have major supply chain issues. And when you have really strong demand hitting really constrained supply, that's going to drive prices up.

So, it's complicated and the solution is mostly involving the Fed raising rates, but there are things that I do think that the president and Congress could be doing to take some pressure off of things. CAMEROTA: I also wanted to give us a status report on wages, because

I remember that wages, so back, obviously, in COVID days, the height of COVID, have really spiked. So, like, June 2020, wages were way up and I think here we see wages versus inflation. I think the blue is -- are the wages, and now that, they're crossing over. So where are we with wages right now? Is it still an employee's market?

RAMPELL: Wages are growing in nominal terms. So, by that, I mean, like, the actual dollars that appear in my paycheck have gone up, but the amount of stuff that those dollars can purchase has gone down. So basically, wage growth has not kept up with the rising cost of living. And this has been going on for over a year now in the United States.

I should be clear that inflation is a global phenomenon. This is not only in the United States. I do think that there were some policy mistakes that were made that may have made it worse, but inflation is a global phenomenon, in part because the supply chain problems are a global phenomenon as well.

So, yeah, workers are hurting. They may be able to negotiate for higher raises, but even those higher raises that they are able to secure are not keeping up with the cost of groceries and the cost of gas and the cost of rent and everything else that they have to pay.

CAMEROTA: Speaking negotiating for higher wages, this is a sidebar issue, but it comes up from time to time, and I'm really intrigued by it, and its transparency of salaries. Should you share with your co- workers what you make? Because, honestly, transparency helps people bargain better and no better, but it also, I think, can increase resentment, and, like, no good can come of it.

That one side says no good can come of sharing your salary with somebody else, sharing what the number is, and one side is, no, it helps everybody, actually deal with the bosses better.


And I know that Laura has some strong thoughts on that. So, Laura, where are you with that?

COATES: Well, I do, but here's why I have some strong thoughts about it. I mean, first of all, I think that sometimes the powers that be in different fields want people to be paid against one another to be able to make the competition there. On the other hand, I can't help but say, in some respects, it feels like rich people problems because most wage earners in this country, know what one another is making. And they don't have the same constraints or conversations are surrounding how they have the power dynamic in negotiation power.

On the same token though, I absolutely see the value of being able to have people be transparent. And I see it in the sports world in particular, Alisyn. We talked about this. I mean, look at say the NBA versus the WNBA. The idea of the major soccer teams versus -- the men versus the women.

This comes up to really demonstrate pay inequalities, how it takes women that much longer to be able to make what their male counterparts make for black women, or women of color to make that much longer to make with their white counterparts make.

These are the conversations more broadly, and I think you're right about transparency helping society in general. So, let's start with you. What exactly are you making?

CAMEROTA: So, you see, here you go. This is exactly my point. It all sounds good. It's all great in theory until somebody asks you. Nina, what are your thoughts?

TURNER: Transparency I think, overall --

JENNINGS: No, she meant what are your thoughts on the (inaudible)

TURNER: Oh, how much (inaudible). No, Laura brings up a good point. I think transparency overall does help in the workplace especially if workers have a plan to really fight against the bosses and really work really hard to make sure that they are making better wages (inaudible).

CAMEROTA: But they don't have information.

TURNER: Yeah, information is power.

JENNINGS: Yeah. I'm old-fashioned guy. When I was growing up, if -- when we were kids and we asked somebody about money or what they were making, we will get the taste slapped out of our mouth.

CAMEROTA: We didn't talk about politics. They ain't either (inaudible).

JENNINGS: Well, now, asking from a political -- I come from a family of Democrats. I mean, they're not all Democrats now, thank, God. But we were taught like, this is not -- you don't ask people about this and I've kind of carried that forward. I know it's a different time and we all over share and, you know, now everybody knows everything about everybody, but I just -- I still carry that with me and so I have it inside of me.

CAMEROTA: Oh, of course it's a delicate topic. No doubt it's a delicate topic and we're all, I mean, you can see. It's a little bit uncomfortable. But your thoughts on -- would it be helpful?

RAMPELL: Well, so -- I do -- Laura mentioned something that I have noticed as a journalist, you know, I often interview workers about what they do and their working conditions. And I have found that norms are very different. Blue-collar workers are often much more willing to tell me how much they make. I can ask them a question, it's not an awkward question.

I talk with professional workers, white collar workers, people who make much higher salaries, very touchy subject. People don't want to get into it. It's almost like asking, you know, a lady her age or something, you know. It's like a faux pas, you don't ask about it. I will say that there are a number of resources that don't require the

awkward conversation that can help workers get more informed about whether they're making a fair wage. You know, there is like, Glassdoor and PayScale and other websites where people submit anonymous data. So, you can look up what does someone in a comparable field or a comparable experience make so you don't have to have those awkward conversations.

CAMEROTA: That's great. That's great. That's the way to go.

COATES: Well, you know what wasn't awkward, Alisyn, at all? I mean, I just want to point this out, that Scott Jennings is my kindred spirit now because I thought only my family said you could slap the taste out of someone's mouth. So, we are alike more than we are un-alike.

JENNINGS: No, my tastebuds are gone. I got the taste slapped out of my mouth so often, it's irrelevant what (inaudible).

COATES: That was (inaudible). It was always figurative. It was always figurative.

CAMEROTA: This is wonderful. Dueling panels, building bridges. It's so great. Alright, we want to hear from all of you. Tell us what you think about co-workers sharing salary information and if that helps or hurts. You can tweet us at @AlisynCamerota and @thelauracoates.



COATES: Look, the midterms, can you believe it, are about three weeks away. And races across the country are really heating up. John Fetterman talking about his stroke in delivering a fluid speech tonight as Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock debated in Georgia's tight Senate race. And that's not all.

We have a lot to talk about with Nayyera Haq, Rina Shah, and Margaret Talev. You know, when you think about how the week begins versus how it ends, let's talk about Fetterman for a moment because if you can -- well, look at this on Tuesday. This is how the conversation surrounding his controversy with Dr. Oz sounded.


JOHN FETTERMAN, PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I use captioning, so that's really the major challenge. And every now and then I'll miss a word, every now and then. Sometimes I'll maybe mush two words together. But as long as I have captioning, I'm able to understand exactly what's being asked.


COATES: That's what happened on Tuesday. And then today, they released a brand-new ad. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FETTERMAN: After my stroke, I was just grateful to see Gisele and our

kids. Across Pennsylvania I keep seeing families that don't have enough time to focus on each other. They're struggling, left behind. We got to make it easier for people to spend time with those they love.


COATES: Think about how it started and how it's ending and how it's going forward right now. We are less than a month away from the midterm elections.


It's going to be very consequential and I just wonder how you guys view these bookends. We often talk about the stories as they're coming, but now that the week has wound down, this will be old news by Monday possibly, how do you view it?

HAQ: So much of it is about relatability, right? Your ability to be able to connect to people, we break it down sometimes the idea of kitchen table issues or pocketbook issues. And yes, inflation and the economy are important, but so is how people feel about their connection to each other, their ability to exercise their freedoms and their family.

And so that -- this moment usually in campaigns, is where you start to pivot towards getting out the vote. GOTV, they call it. You're no longer really trying to persuade voters. Debates are the last moment you're trying to really convince that hold out. And so, it's going to be about which issues really driving people to the polls and how do every one of these candidates, especially Fetterman, how does he get more and more people to turn out for him in the end.

COATES: You're not converting them, but you do -- what about independent voters. You're still trying to woo them, right?

SHAH: Yeah, of course you are. It's that confidence that every candidate is looking for. How confident do they feel in this. Personally, I think Fetterman, he just resonates in Pennsylvania. I've spent a lot of time throughout the state, and I can tell you. It's got very different pockets. We've talked about it many times.

Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, you got almost two different worlds when you're talking about those areas. But the reality is this. Is that race really is made up of two just starkly different people. One lacks empathy. I mean, Dr. Oz had some real opportunity this week to jump in and find that common ground and show himself as a person that is -- has a passion for policy making.

To me, he's continuing to show that this is just another act in his grift and frankly, just something he's doing next. He's been on TV before. He wants to continue his celebrity, so why not just go serve in the highest chamber of the land?

TALEV: I think that the fact that we started the week talking about Lieutenant Governor Fetterman's stroke and are ending the week talking about it, is because it's an issue that his campaign is still trying to address and move beyond. And they began the week thinking that, maybe just break it down quickly and explain the processes he's going through, everyone will see that he's actually competent and fine and he can do it and that this is just about a process.

And by the end of the week, it's sort of -- it's a different tack which is to say, this isn't really about me and a stroke. This is about how this crisis in my family life has made me much more sympathetic to what other families are going through.

That's because this race is probably within the margin of error, because OZ has closed a huge gap from when he was so closely tied to Donald Trump to his efforts to drive into the economy and crime fears and separate himself from Trump.

And now, Fetterman wants to make sure that this -- that his stroke recovery is not something that hangs him up, but the proof is going to be in the pudding in their upcoming debate in a few days as that is I think what voters will be watching.

COATES: Well, I'm thinking of a gap. I mean, there's a bit of a gap from how it began with when maybe you've heard of Paul Ryan to where we are right now. Alisyn, you've got some discussion about this very point. There's a bit of a gap of how things began and how things ended.

CAMEROTA: We do have a then and now example, you're so right, Laura. So, back in 2017, Paul Ryan, former Speaker of the House, was very reluctant to speak about Donald Trump. He dodged many questions about Donald Trump. Here are a few examples.


UNKNOWN: I want your take on the president's comments saying?

PAUL RYAN, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I haven't seen all of his comments. I've been a little busy today. I haven't even been looking at Twitter.

I'm not familiar with the statement. Sorry. I was pretty busy in the House today passing our budget.



COATES: Pretty busy.

CAMEROTA: There was more. But now, today, well, this week, he was very willing to talk about what he thinks Donald Trump's prospects are for reelection. Here he is.


RYAN: I think Trump's un-electability will be palpable by then. We all know that he will lose or he's -- let me put it this way. We all know that he so much more likely to lose the White House than anybody else running for president on our side of the aisle. So, why would we want to go with that? So, the only reason he stays where he is because everybody is afraid of him. They're afraid of him, you know, going after them, hurting their own ambition. But as soon as you get sort of the herd mentality going, it's unstoppable.


CAMEROTA: Okay, so --

COATES: My, my, my. How he's changed.

CAMEROTA: And so, Laura, let me bring in Kevin Madden now who knows Paul Ryan well. Worked with him on the Romney-Ryan campaign.

MADDEN: In 2017, it feels like 20 years ago.

CAMEROTA: Doesn't it? It really does. But who slipped in truth serum this week?

MADDEN: Well, look, I mean, here is the thing. When you're Speaker of the House, you cannot be a pundit. You cannot be an analyst. You have to be a fierce advocate for the policies that you're trying to advance in legislation. And you're also trying to represent the collective voice of the Republican majority, of the majority that you lead. That's what his job was then. Now, he's an analyst. He's being asked what he thinks and he's giving his opinion I think as straight as he could.

CAMEROTA: That's fair. Do you agree that Donald Trump is unelectable? I mean, he was so strong in saying that. There wasn't like a question. He was talking about his un-electability.


MADDEN: Yeah. I am not as declarative on that just because of the -- you have to remember that it's always about who Donald Trump is going to be running against. And if he's running against, you know, a Biden reelection campaign, that has very high inflation, has a very tough economy teetering on recession, it's all about the alternative.

CAMEROTA: That's not what Paul Ryan was saying.

MADDEN: It's all about the alternative. But Paul Ryan represents I think a very, a hopeful wing of the party that thinks that the Republican Party can have an element inside the party rise up and confront Donald Trump because he is a lot less electable than some of these really good governors or folks who want to sort of put policy and really, you know, advance the party's interests.

CAMEROTA: Is there somebody in the Republican Party who's going to rise up (inaudible)?

MADDEN: Well, there are going to be a whole bunch. I'll bet, you know, DeSantis is looking at the race. Tom Cotton's looking at the race. Former Vice President Mike Pence is looking at the race. So, there will be potential options. There's a whole range of others that are looking at this race. And I think Paul Ryan is reflecting a very hopeful sort of wing of the party that believes somebody has to confront the Trump effect inside the party.

CAMEROTA: Kevin Madden, thank you for your expertise in this. Great to have you here. Okay. Up next, we have a mystery in Alaska. Where have one billion crabs gone? We'll explain.



CAMEROTA: So, Laura, bad news for crab lovers and for commercial fishermen because the annual harvest of snow and king crab in Alaska has been canceled. State officials say the population for both of the crab species have disappeared, and we're talking about one billion crabs. And it's a mystery. They don't exactly know why there are not enough snow and king crabs.

And I mean, I personally love king crab, it's delicious. But that's the least of the problems. I mean, the problem is, where did they go? What's causing this? And obviously, it's going to affect lots of people's families and livelihoods?

COATES: I mean, I don't -- maybe you lose 100, but a billion? I mean, how does that happen?

CAMEROTA: How do you misplace a billion?

COATES: I don't know. I mean, I know we talk about overfishing, and I know this is a very real thing because people love the product and of course, when the demand outpaces the supply, you get all sorts of problems. But the idea (inaudible) lose a thousand gone, I mean, a billion gone, is just mind-boggling.

And you're right. At first, you read the headline and you think, why is this news for people? But you're so right. There are industries built around this. These are livelihoods. These are people who are working in this field. And it's going to have a big impact. I mean, look at this now. The formula crisis, the ideas about this, you're seeing other shortages, across the country. This is real in the economy and this is yet another example.

CAMEROTA: And they're not sure if it's because of climate change and global warming because the Bering Sea has warmed so much in the past few years that it's affecting the stock or if the Fish Management Council has just allowed it to be overfished. But either way, people are going to go bankrupt for sure. Businesses are going to close. They're going to have to sell their boats. I mean, this is a real problem.

COATES: It is. I'm glad we pointed out too, because I think in the way you talked about it, I think a lot of people saw this and they went, okay, why we talk about this? It's important. And it's also time to hear from you all because you're important. We want you to sound off, because your tweets are next.



COATES: Alright, it's time to sound off. Alisyn, what is the chatter on social media tonight?

CAMEROTA: Okay, Laura, a lot of people sharing their thoughts on sharing salaries. So, here is one on twitter that says, it's from Amanda James, "Absolutely not. I shared with a co-worker that I received a pay increase about 30 years ago, and it caused a problem. I have not done it since."

COATES: See. That was probably what we're talking about, right? The idea that it caused that tension and people know about that. She's sounding off about that.

CAMEROTA: That's possible.

COATES: There's another one here. It's a different take on salary, and it says, "Should co-workers share info about their salaries?" Well, Aaron Scott says, "I don't understand why people don't want to tell people how much they make an hour. You shouldn't be judged on what you make. The more you make, don't make you a better person, it means you pay more taxes." Well, I mean, that is absolutely true. Is it not?

CAMEROTA: It is. Now, here's one from a very astute viewer. "Here's something positive about you two, you are awesome co-anchors of this new format for "CNN Tonight." You both lead great discussions and I'm glued every night because of it. You both rock." That's from someone calling themselves Alex Donovan, but I think it might be my mom.

COATES: Well, thanks, mom. We appreciate it. And really, a very intelligent statement to make. I appreciate it. I love the idea of CNN dueling panels. I loved that tonight. That was great.

CAMEROTA: There you go. I love that the person loves it. Alright, you know where to find us, @AlisynCamerota and @thelauracoates. Thanks so much for sounding off. And we'll be right back.



CAMEROTA: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there's been a surge in anti- Asian hate crimes in the U.S., increasing 164 percent in some of the largest cities. So, this week, CNN Heroes salutes Michelle Tran, a Chinese and Vietnamese American whose nonprofit, Soar Over Hate, has provided more than 30,000 personal safety devices as well as self- defense classes to Asian Americans.

COATES: This year, the organization has held a dozen events in New York with the turnout shows just how worried their community is about safety.


MICHELLE TRAN, CO-ORGANIZER, SOAR OVER HATE: The day of our distribution, the lines passed four blocks around the neighborhood where people waited almost two hours to obtain a personal safety device from us.

To make the noise you pull out the pin. And it scares people away. And it alerts people around you.

It was simultaneously heartbreaking, but also motivating to see so many people come out. I think it highlighted the need and the fears that many folks like me are experiencing right now.

UKNOWN: Thank you so much.

TRAN: Stay safe. Bye

I hope that our work helps save lives. That's our only hope moving forward.


CAMEROTA: To learn about all the ways that Michelle and her organization are working to combat Asian hate, you can go to Laura, this was really fun.

COATES: For me, too. Thanks for watching everyone and we'll see you next week. Our coverage continues. Goodnight Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Have a great weekend.