Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Tonight

Kanye West Tells Bloomberg He Sees Fringe Platform Parler As Place For "People Who Have Been Bullied By The Thought Police"; Gallup Exclusive: 70 Percent Of Ukrainians Want To Keep Fighting; Ohio Sen. Candidate J.D. Vance Attacks Rival Tim Ryan For Accepting Donations From Pharmaceutical PACs. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 17, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We wish her well, and her family well. And her thoughts, tonight, are with so many kids, and their families, facing adversity, head-on.

News continues. Let's hand it over to Jake Tapper, and CNN TONIGHT.


Our cherished ideals of free speech, are in the hands of erratic billionaires, the most recent of whom is Ye, the artist formerly known as, Kanye West, who today announced he is going to purchase Parler.

Do you know what Parler is? The word might invoke the image of a fancy room, or cute little old ladies, sit and sip their tea, from good China. But Parler is decidedly not that.

Parler is a far-right fringe social media platform. And you first might have heard of it, around the time of the Capitol insurrection, January 6 2021, because many of the violent rioters, organized on Parler.

Podcast host, Kara Swisher that very day, asked one of the founders, of Parler, if he felt any responsibility, for the death and destruction, to which he said this.


JOHN MATZE, FORMER CEO OF PARLER, ON THE NEW YORK TIMES "SWAY" PODCAST: I don't feel responsible for any of this and neither should the platform considering we're a neutral town square that just adheres to the law. So if people are organizing something, that's more of a problem of people are upset. They feel disenfranchised.


TAPPER: Yes, people were upset, and they felt disenfranchised!

Not long after that interview, Apple and Google removed the Parler app, from their stores, Amazon stopped providing it, with web hosting services, and that CEO was fired.

And today, Parler markets itself, as "The premier global free speech platform." "Premier," might be a little generous, given that Parler saw just 0.02 percent of the visitors that Twitter saw last month. Either way, the site is popular, among conspiracy theorists, election liars, and bigots.

Today, Parler celebrated the new deal, saying that Kanye West made, quote, "A groundbreaking move into the free speech media space and will never have to fear being removed from social media again."

Now, long before all of this, you probably first became aware of Ye, or Kanye West, as a musical genius.



I'm so gifted at findin' what I don't like the most So I think it's time for us to have a toast


TAPPER: A fantastic song, "Runaway."

But Kanye's antics have long threatened to overshadow his talents, the first glimmers, of which we saw, when he jumped on stage, in MTV's 2009 Video Music Awards, after Taylor Swift beat out Beyonce, for Best Female Video.


KANYE WEST, RAPPER: I'm let you finish. But Beyonce have one of the best videos of all time!


TAPPER: We all had our opinions about that interruption, including President Obama.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person. She's getting her award. What is he doing up there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would he do that?

OBAMA: He's a Jackass!


TAPPER: Jackassery is one thing. Bigotry, quite another.

And Kanye's interest, in buying Parler, comes just days, after Instagram and Twitter restricted his accounts, in response to his blatant anti-Semitism, including a tweet, where he vowed to go, quote, "Death Con 3 on Jewish People," at a time when anti-Semitic violence, in the United States, is at an all-time high, according to the Anti- Defamation League.

So, when Parler celebrates the "Free speech," let's be clear, Kanye wasn't blocked from Twitter and Instagram, because he challenged critical race theory, or vaccine mandates. It was because he threatened to kill Jews.

Kanye was also recently seen, wearing a White Lives Matter shirt, a line that some, on the right, began using in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Modeling alongside Ye, there, is conservative commentator, Candace Owens. It may or may not surprise you to learn that Candace Owens' husband, George Farmer, just so happens to be the CEO of Parler's parent company.

So, Kanye now becomes the latest billionaire, to buy his way, into the Social Media Legion of Doom.

Former President Donald Trump, who was suspended, from Facebook and Twitter after, of course, he incited that deadly Capitol insurrection, he has Truth Social.

And Elon Musk will likely soon own Twitter. Twitter, where, well before offering to buy it, Musk has been an active user, with 109 million followers.

Musk has posted quite a few controversial tweets. The one I can't get out of my head has to do with this man, Vernon Unsworth.


Vernon Unsworth helped save 12 boys, in Thailand, after they were stranded, inside a flooded cave, for weeks on end. Unsworth is such a hero, he's depicted in Ron Howard's new movie "Thirteen Lives," about that incredible rescue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 12 boys and their coach are trapped in a flooded cave.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, we're here.


TAPPER: Now, at the time, Elon Musk tried to get in, on the rescue, offering a miniature submarine, which Unsworth called a "PR stunt."

And Musk? He didn't like that. He called that cave-diver a quote, "Pedo guy," which Unsworth, and pretty much everyone else, took to mean, "Pedophile." A hideous charge that Musk doubled down on, and tripled down on.

And Unsworth took Musk to court, for defamation. It's a case that Unsworth lost.


MARK STEPHENS, ATTORNEY: Vernon went toe-to-toe with a billionaire bully. Not many people have the courage to do that.


TAPPER: So that was a court-ruled, legally protected speech, by Elon Musk. But that does not make it right, which is the area, in which we find ourselves in this debate. None of Musk's bizarre and offensive tweets have met the bar, for removal, from Twitter. After all, that's the rub. What is the bar? And who decides?

Facebook's own ad seems to acknowledge that they're not equipped to make these calls.


JACK (ph), FACEBOOK CONTENT TEAM: I don't know if that is right to have a private corporation like Facebook, dictating what those boundaries are.


TAPPER: One of the reasons, we're even having this discussion, is that social media companies have really mainly since the pandemic began, put their hand, on the lever, and sometimes messed up.

Take for example, the idea that COVID possibly came, from a lab accident, or a lab leak? Even credible scientists started saying that that was something the medical community should be investigating. But regardless, Facebook flagged those posts, as false or debunked.

Facebook attached fact-check warnings, to any posts, questioning the idea of whether or not the virus had originated in a wet market, until, until the Biden administration said that they were going to investigate it. And then, the ban was lifted.

A similar story, when just before the 2020 election, the "New York Post" started reporting that the FBI, had obtained a laptop, belonging to Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, containing all sorts of hideous material. Facebook and Twitter, took steps, to bottle up that reporting, and keep the "Post's" stories, from being shared.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, META CEO: The FBI, I think basically came to us, some folks on our team. It was like, "Hey, just so you know, like you should be on high alert."

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: But now we know that other media organizations, including the "Washington Post," have authenticated some of the emails, on the laptop, and that there is a federal investigation, going on, right now, into Hunter Biden. These kinds of decisions are part of what is fueling any push, for alternate social media, what is being billed by these other companies, as free speech.

But we should note, Parler does have standards. Parler does moderate content. That might not be a lot of moderating, and they're not particularly high standards. But Parler removed, for example, unhinged attorney, Lin Wood's post, when he called for the execution of former Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump's Truth Social company, according to Public Citizen, blocked some content that promotes abortion rights. Variety reported that a number of Truth Social users, Democrats, were blocked, from posting about the January 6 hearings.

So, all of these sites, have some standards, not high ones. But they ain't pure, free speech sites. That claim is more about marketing, than it is about the principle of pure, free speech.

The fewest rules, the lowest standards, are at the social media site, Gab, which currently gets nearly 10 times more monthly visits, on average, than Parler.

I signed up for Gab, this morning. I clicked on Explore, which took me to popular posts, across Gab. I came in with an open mind. And immediately, Gab hit me with this post. Quote, "We are in a war time but it's a quiet war perpetrated by the Jew" with a picture of Adolf Hitler. And there was plenty more, where that came from. The "N-word" is super-big on Gab. It is a cesspool of hate.


But we should note, Gab moderates content too. You can't transmit unwanted advertising, or promotional material, on Gab. You can't impersonate someone else, on Gab. You can't do anything that might cause Gab itself to be harassed, on Gab.

So again, Gab too does not just allow any speech. It takes precautions. It doesn't seem to care about hate speech, however.

The suspect, who killed 11 people, at the Tree of Life synagogue, in Pittsburgh, in 2018, he frequently attacked Jews, in his posts, on Gab. He was targeting Jews, right up until the moment he got out of his car, and went into slaughter, innocent Jews. Some of the users, on Gab, after the massacre, hailed him as a hero.

So, what can, and what should be done here? Unfortunately, lawmakers, in Congress, have not really figured it out. And by "It," I mean, how to turn on their computers and use a mouse.


ORRIN G. HATCH, FORMER PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE: How do you sustain a business model in which users don't pay for your service?

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we run ads.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Is Twitter the same as what you do?

ZUCKERBERG: It overlaps.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Will you commit to ending Finsta?



TAPPER: So, you can be forgiven, for not thinking Congress is going to ride to the rescue, and save us from this conundrum.

Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis, wrote, almost 100 years ago, that for bad speech, for lies and evil, quote, "The remedy to be applied, is more speech, not enforced silence." It's a proposition with which I generally agree. Bad speech should be met with better speech, not with censorship.

In the aftermath of the synagogue attack, executives at Gab said something similar. Quote, "The answer to bad speech will always be more speech," unquote.

But the more speech I saw on Gab, this afternoon, was more speech, extolling Nazis, and more speech, engaging in Holocaust denial, and more speech, sharing more hideously racist posts, than I've ever seen, in one place, in my life. I saw less of it, but still, too much of it, on Parler, today.

It's high time, we recognize that the hate, on many of these far-right sites, is not just an unfortunate result, of belief in free speech. The Hate is the whole point.

So, is this where the First Amendment is headed, destined to become a shiny plaything, for the super-rich? What kind of freedom is that for the rest of us? Well, we're going to talk freely about it, with business world guru, Scott Galloway, next.



TAPPER: Kanye West, or Ye, as he's now called, is speaking out, in a new interview, with Bloomberg, about why he's moving to acquire the social media platform, Parler, saying, quote, "When I got kicked off of Instagram and Twitter at the time, I knew it was time to acquire my own platform... We're using this as a net for the people who have been bullied by the thought police to come and speak their mind... Express how you feel. Express what's tied up inside of you. Express what's been haunting you. I use social media as my therapist," unquote.

Remember, he was kicked off Instagram and Twitter, for threatening to kill Jews. Ye also told Bloomberg that he expects to have dinner, with Donald Trump, this week, and that he plans to invite, the former President, to use Parler.

And joining me now, is Scott Galloway, a tech entrepreneur, and business professor at NYU.

Scott, good to see you.

So, Trump, Kanye, Elon Musk, three billionaires, who either have social media platforms, or are trying to acquire them. If you could get all three together, in a room, what would you tell them?

SCOTT GALLOWAY, PROFESSOR OF MARKETING, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: "Come on in. The water's fine. You caught the car."

Billionaires, acquiring media platforms, is nothing original. But they usually have guardrails, in the form of, with Bezos, Benioff, or Bloomberg, media companies, they have newsrooms, and they have editors, and they have some respect, for fact-checking, or some attempt to find a North Star on the truth.

This doesn't feel like free speech. It feels like "Me" speech. And they're just finding a platform that will let them say, whatever they want unfettered.

And here's the bad news. The catalyst, for them pursuing, these platforms, was such that they could continue to spew this anti-Semitic or misinfo - hate, or misinformation, on election.

Here's the good news. These platforms are failing. Consumers have voted, and they want some form of moderation, and they want edited content.

"So, come on in. The water's fine."

TAPPER: All three of these billionaires, are already individuals, with huge platforms, Elon Musk, Donald Trump, Kanye West. None of them seems particularly focused, on being responsible, about what they say, with these platforms. Does that concern you?

GALLOWAY: Yes. But I don't think it's their fault. I think it's our fault.

Specifically, citizens have to elect representatives that will hold these platforms, to the same standards, we hold, other media companies. And that is, if you incite an insurrection, or violence, on a platform? That platform should be subjected to the same liability that you and I would be subject to, if something we said resulted in violence.

Section 230 needs carve-outs. The way they carved out human trafficking? They need carve-outs for a health misinformation, or anything that rallies violence.

Fox News anchors had to go on air, and directly refute their previous statements that "Dominion voting machines have been weaponized by the Venezuelan Government." And that is absolutely the right thing.

So, it's our fault. We need to elect representatives that understand technology, and stop letting these platforms spread misinformation, and have algorithms that like incendiary content, and give it more organic - give it more sunlight than we get organically.


The dissenters' voice is important. The free speech is important. But giving this type of hate speech, and misinformation, more reach than it would on its own? That's a problem.

TAPPER: So, I read an interesting paper, in the Columbia Law Review, about how a lot of the more mainstream platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, started, really, clamping down, much more, during the pandemic, because of fears of erroneous health information. And I certainly understand that.

But, at the same time, Facebook clamped down on folks, who were theorizing, not fringe people, either like scientists or doctors, who are theorizing about the origin of the Wuhan virus, of COVID-19, about the lab leak theory, about the fresh market, the wet market theory. And they later had to take it back, they later had to un-ban those comments.

So, I hear what you're saying. But, I guess, in another way of saying, is it easier said than done? Misinformation, one day sometimes becomes a legitimate target for discussion, the next?

GALLOWAY: I think that's a fair point. And even, early on, I remember, even some of our health organizations were saying that masks were not effective, and to not worry about not getting a mask. And that ended up not being true.

Fringe theories become sometimes less fringe. I guess, the issue is the following. And that is, should you have algorithms that look at anxiety, and anger, as the key components, of what they decide to put in other people's feeds?

And that is - again, the dissenters' voice is important. Someone should be able to say that mRNA vaccine might alter your DNA. That's fine. The question is whether algorithms, and some of our brightest people, and best resource companies, should have an incentive, to spread that type of information, beyond the reach it would get organically, because it is incendiary?

TAPPER: That seems to be such a key part of this. Because, I just know, as being a social media user, the more benign a post, the more, one appeals to the charitable impulses, of a user, a reader? The less it seems to make its way, around the internet.


TAPPER: Whereas, if I, for instance, if I do a Philadelphia Eagles rooting, cheering tweet, a lot of people see that, because a lot of people don't want to - don't want to read about me, loving the Philadelphia Eagles.

GALLOWAY: Well, I mean, this is just a history of media gone - starting to exponentially advance. And that is, in the 70s, "ABC" decided, they were making so much money, with Tank commercials, and Pontiac commercials, in the midst of the Brady Bunch or the Partridge Family that they would run this public service, called "News." And it was 21 minutes of fact, and three minutes of opinion. And they found that the ratings were much greater, for opinion.

And we're all a bit guilty of this, Jake, in media. And that is we've decided that more controversial novel content, is more entertaining, engages users, and is more profitable. And all of these social media companies, have figured out a way, to turn a sullen (ph) Tyrannosaurus into Tyrannosaurus rexes, where we're drawn towards violence and movement.

And the falsehoods and conspiracy spread seven times faster. So unfortunately, our traditional media companies and, especially, our new media companies, have a profit incentive, around spreading misinformation.

I'm here in London, and I do think there's some value, to the notion, of publicly-supported media that tries to call balls and strikes, and then a layer of for-profit media. I think both are important.

But there's no doubt about it. Our incentives are creating a world, where our discourse is becoming more coarse. And if you want more profits, you should engage in misinformation.

TAPPER: Before you go, I need to ask, is the Musk deal with Twitter, do you think it's going to go through?

GALLOWAY: Yes, I think so. I think he's entered into a terrible deal.

This will go down as the second-worst acquisition, in history, on the day of closing. This is a company that's worth $10 to $15 a share. He's paying $54.20. Shareholders are going to make him - are going to force him to close. The Chance record is ready to force him to close.

And again, on the first day, the moment this closes, it becomes probably, the second-worst acquisition, in history, just behind the acquisition of Time Warner by AOL. But yes, I do think it closes, Jake.

TAPPER: Scott Galloway, thank you so much. Good to see you, as always.

GALLOWAY: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: The name struck fear, in the Pacific theater of World War II. It's striking fear, across Ukraine, now. The word, of course, is "Kamikaze." This time, it's Kamikaze, or suicide drones.


Former Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, joins me now, to look at Russia's new strategy, and the Iranian factor. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Tonight, even Ukrainians, living far, from the war's frontlines, in the country's capital city, are keeping one eye, on the sky. This is what they do not want to see, a so-called Kamikaze drone.




TAPPER: They're one and done, destroyed in an attack, they're cheaper than the missiles, Russia has been using. And they're part of a deadly new assault, on Ukraine's civilian population, and critical infrastructure.




TAPPER: The Ukrainian military says its forces have managed to shoot down most of Russia's Kamikaze drones. But it's a little consolation when the fireball, over the skyline, could be targeting your home, next.


I'm joined now by John Bolton, former Ambassador to the United Nations, under President George W. Bush, and former National Security Adviser, under President Donald Trump.

Mr. Ambassador, thanks for being here.

So, Vladimir Putin obviously doesn't care, about committing war crimes. He's sending these into, and they are successfully killing civilians. How can the rest of the world hold him accountable?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, I think, the most important thing we can do is help the Ukrainians defeat the Russians, because ultimately, the solution, for the West, as a whole, is regime change, in Russia. That's not going to be easy. It's not going to occur soon.

But one thing is certain. If Putin's aggression is seen as succeeding, in Ukraine, even in part, it will strengthen his position, in Russia, and it will send terrible signals, to other capitals, specifically Beijing. So, there's a lot on the line, here, not just in terms of security, in Europe, but really, security around the world.

TAPPER: Are you worried, if House Republicans take back the House that support, for military aid, to Ukraine, will dissipate? We've already seen sizable portions, of the House Republican Conference say that they don't support this war. BOLTON: Well, I think, the message is a little mixed. And, I think, when they see what progress is being made, on the battlefield? I think that will change. Some of it were easy votes, because they knew that there would be majorities, to support Biden's request for assistance. I think, in the Senate, by contrast, the Republican dissent has been minimal.

TAPPER: If the idea of these constant attacks, on the civilian population, is to break Ukrainian support, it does not appear to be working.

We got our hands on a new Gallup poll that is going to be released tomorrow. It finds that 70 percent of Ukrainians want Zelenskyy, to keep fighting. 91 percent, of Ukrainians, tell Gallup, it will not be a win, until they get back all their territory, including Crimea.

Does that surprise you?

BOLTON: No. I'm with the Ukrainians.

I'm not sure, the target is Ukrainian morale. I think, it's European morale, morale in Germany, morale in France, and other countries. Winter's coming. It's not at all clear, they have enough energy, to get through the winter, home-heating needs, and things like that, but especially their manufacturing and production needs.

We're all going into a recession. It looks like Europe's recession may be deeper. And if their factories aren't functioning, it'll be deeper still. And that will allow Putin, to prey on European leaders, who just want to turn the page now, anyway, so that what he cannot win on the battlefield, he may win, by breaking Europe's political resolve.

TAPPER: How about the Iranians? Because, according to the U.S., and its allies, they're the ones, providing Russia, with these drones, these Kamikaze drones, which would be, in violation of the United Nations Resolution, which would bar Iran, from buying or selling weapons.

You're a former U.N. ambassador. What can the U.N. do about it?

BOLTON: Heavens! Can you imagine Iran violating a U.N. resolution?

TAPPER: Unimaginable!

BOLTON: Like their nuclear agreement that the Biden administration is still trying to pursue?

This Iranian regime is busy, building nuclear weapons, repressing its own people, especially the women, selling drones to Russia. I think this is the - this is an indication of, really, what the new entente, between Russia, Iran and China is going to look like.

I think, it's one more reason, to support the opposition, in Iran, to see the regime overthrown. But also to make the point that it doesn't matter, who aids the Russians here, we are going to stick with Ukrainians, we are going to defeat this aggression. TAPPER: The Ukrainians have Kamikaze drones too. They have been sending theirs, to target a military base, in Crimea, an airbase, in Sevastopol, and Russian ship ships. That's what they're using theirs for, legitimate military targets.

What does it tell you that Putin is using theirs, for civilians, attacking civilians?

BOLTON: Well, at least for a time, he was trying to knock out the infrastructure, power production, that sort of thing. Now, it just looks indiscriminate.

But I will say, the U.S. and others have held the Ukrainians' back, except the Ukrainians have gotten a little bit more, on the offensive mode, here, in Crimea, in territory, Putin considers Russian. And I think they ought to do more of that.

I mean, you don't have to be polite, when somebody invades your country. You should be allowed to go after targets, in their country, too, which the Ukrainians have done. They just haven't taken credit for.

TAPPER: Before you go, I wanted to get your reaction, from this post, on Truth Social, from your former boss, Donald Trump, calling for American Jews, to be quote, more appreciative, of his administration's work, regarding Israel.

He wrote, "U.S. Jews have to get their act together and appreciate what they have in Israel - Before it is too late!" A lot of people thought that was pretty anti-Semitic. What was your take?


BOLTON: Well, I think it's anti-Semitic. It's also very typical of Trump, is "Look at all that I've done. How can you not support me?" This is the kind of attitude that brought the kind of destruction that we saw, during and at the end of his administration, in particular. It's more evidence, he's just not fit to be President.

TAPPER: Former Ambassador, John Bolton, thanks so much, for being here. It's good to see you again.

While Ukraine fights off an enemy invader, America is battling an enemy within. Opioid addiction. It could be an even harder foe to vanquish. And now, this insidious and deadly problem has become an issue, in the midterm elections, especially in Ohio. And we'll tell you about that, next.


TAPPER: Ohio is one of the states, hit hardest, by the opioid epidemic, here, in America. And tonight, the crisis was a key point, of discussion, during the final debate, between Senate candidates, Tim Ryan, the Democrat, and J.D. Vance, the Republican.

Ryan, using the opportunity, to criticize Vance, for pulling out of a fundraiser, over the weekend, after it was reported that one of the hosts, Dr. Rajbir Minhas, had been cited, in a lawsuit, against Purdue Pharma, a company accused of worsening the crisis, as well as other companies.

Take a listen.



REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): As recently as Saturday, J.D. was doing a fundraiser, with a guy, who's raising him money, who's one of the top 10 pill pushers/doctors, in the entire country. And he just canceled it. You know why? Because the press broke the story, and he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.


TAPPER: Joining us now, to discuss, is Patrick Radden Keefe. He's the Author of "Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty."

Also with us, Beth Macy, the Author of "Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America."

Beth, let me start with you.

Because, J.D. Vance gave a statement, to CNN, responding to pulling out, of that weekend fundraiser that reads, quote, "JD's own mother suffered from opioid addiction for years. This issue is deeply personal to JD, and Tim Ryan's attempts to weaponize it against him is disgusting. Tim Ryan has taken tens of thousands of dollars from the very big pharma giants who paid billions for their roles in the opioid epidemic," unquote.

So, let me remove you two, from the back-and-forth, in the Ohio Senate race. How much do you think, Beth that lawmakers, in general, are at least partly culpable, for the opioid crisis?

BETH MACY, AUTHOR, "DOPESICK," AUTHOR, "RAISING LAZARUS": Well, I think of the words, of Richard Sackler, who said, "I can get any senator, or congressman, on the phone, in an hour, if I want to."

I think the opioid crisis is brought to us by greed. I think the Sacklers and Purdue started it, and then other companies joined in. And that, our regulatory systems, were basically bought off. Everything from the FDA, and the DEA, to medical education journals that got co-opted by companies. So, I think, very much, it's the opioid crisis is here, as an indictment, of the entire system.

TAPPER: And Patrick, J.D. Vance also went after Ryan, for accepting money, from pharmaceutical companies. Take a listen.


J.D. VANCE, (R) OHIO U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Those commercials are paid for by pharmaceutical blood money, but because Tim Ryan received tens of thousands of dollars from the very companies that have profited off of this epidemic. And that's exactly how he's able to fund the lies that he's been putting on TV against me.


TAPPER: Ryan says that his record on taking on Big Pharma is quote, "Impeccable."

Again, stepping away from this Ohio Senate race, what specifically do you think, all the money that Big Pharma has given, to all the politicians, across the country, what has that resulted in?

PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE, AUTHOR, "EMPIRE OF PAIN": Well, I mean, it's resulted in a public health crisis that's killed more than half a million Americans, right?

I think that what you saw, over a period of decades, really, was huge spending, by these companies that were generating billions of dollars, selling these pills. And what they were trying to do, is change the mind of the medical establishment, to say these drugs aren't addictive, they should be more widely prescribed.

When you started getting, lawmakers, looking into tightening up regulations, to make it harder to prescribe them? They would lobby, and work on those. When the Justice Department, or state authorities, tried, to pursue criminal actions or civil actions? They've found ways, in which to stop them, from doing so.

And so, I think, it's really a story about the awesome power of private money to corrupt public institutions that should be protecting citizens and consumers.

TAPPER: Beth, the conversation about fentanyl, and the U.S.-Mexico border, has become intermingled, with the conversation, about the opioid crisis. J.D. Vance has slammed Tim Ryan, and President Biden, for not stopping the flow of fentanyl, across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Explain to us the relationship between the border, and Fentanyl crisis, and the opioid crisis. Because, some people might think that they're different.

MACY: Yes, well, fentanyl really started at the end of the Obama administration. It blew up during the Trump administration. And it continues today, during the Biden administration. It's basically what is creating most of the 108,000 deaths that we had, overdose deaths that we had, in the last year.

And what I think, we saw, tonight, with the debate, was Vance, in particular, using fentanyl, as a way, to sort of hand-wringing about immigration, and use - it's a very political tool.

What I didn't hear, either one of them talk about, was the treatment gap that we have, in this nation, which is 87 percent. That means only 13 percent of people, with opioid use disorder, or OUD, managed to get treatment, in the last year.

And so, sure, we've got to stop fentanyl at the border. But we also have to equally put our efforts, into stopping the demand for it.


Because, we know that people, who are addicted, aren't doing it, at the end of their journey, just to get high. They're doing it to avoid being dopesick. And until we start to treat them, as human beings, with treatable medical conditions, we're going to continue to have overdose deaths, going up every year.

TAPPER: And Patrick, the latest numbers, from the CDC, show the epidemic is getting worse. As Beth just mentioned, 108,022 Americans died from drug overdoses, from May 2021 to May 2022. That's an increase of 6.7 percent, since last year.

And this is now a period of time, when the country is well-aware, of the opioid crisis. How is it still continuing?

RADDEN KEEFE: Well, I think, part of the reason, actually, you can see, in this debate, where there is this tendency, it's a very American tendency, to think of these issues, exclusively, in terms of supply side, to think, "We will solve this purely by thinking about supply, and not thinking about demand, not taking a hard look at ourselves."

Years ago, I was writing an article, about the Sinaloa Cartel, the Mexican drug cartel. I remember interviewing a DEA agent. And he told me, this is years ago, he told me about them building a stretch of border wall, in Arizona. This high-tech, very expensive wall, and they built it.

And he said, the next day, the cartels were down there, with a catapult, throwing 100 pound bales of marijuana, over the wall. You have catapults, going over the wall. You've got over 100 tunnels that have been dug under the wall.

You are not going to solve the opioid crisis, at the southern border. I think that's politically convenient, but a bit of a fantasy.

TAPPER: Patrick and Beth, stick with us. I have more questions for you.

Because, the Sackler family, used to be synonymous with wealth and prestige and philanthropy. It can be challenging, to discuss the opioid crisis, without mentioning them. Patrick wrote a book about it. And a new documentary examines the push, to get museums, to just say no, to Sackler money.

We're going to continue the conversation, after the break. Stay with us.



TAPPER: The Sackler family, one of the most notorious families, in the United States, blamed by many victims, of the opioid crisis, for helping to fuel it, for pure profit. The Sacklers owned Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the makers of OxyContin, one of the drugs, responsible for the thousands of overdose deaths, in America, every year.

In March of 2021, the Sackler family reached a roughly $6 billion settlement, with a group of states that had been suing Purdue Pharma. They did (inaudible) immunity against future civil lawsuits. But a bankruptcy judge rejected the settlement, and immunity deal, a ruling currently on appeal.

The movement against the billionaire dynasty, known for their philanthropic donations, to some of the world's most prestigious universities, museums, continues to snowball.

The new documentary "All The Beauty And The Bloodshed," looks at the life of activist, Nan Goldin, who has made it her mission, to convince museums, to part ways with the Sackler family.


NAN GOLDIN, ACTIVIST: We need to demand that the Met museum (inaudible) and refuse donations, from the Sacklers, and take down their name.

The rich people are scared that we're going to dig into the evil way they made money.


TAPPER: And we're back with Patrick Radden Keefe, and Beth Macy.

Macy is the Author of a brand-new book called "Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America's Overdose Crisis."

Both of them are authors, and brilliant chroniclers, and journalists, about this opioid crisis.

And Patrick, you wrote the, the book about the Sackler family, the book, definitive book, and their connection to the opioid crisis. Explain why this settlement was significant?

RADDEN KEEFE: Well, I think, there were a lot of people, who had been pushing for accountability, for the Sackler family, for a long time.

This is a family that until recently, their name was emblazoned, on universities, and art museums, and they were really celebrated, as the cream of the crop, an Elite America. And nobody was really connecting them to this terrible overdose crisis that they said had such a hand in helping to create.

You end up with this kind of funny situation, in which, their company, ends up in bankruptcy court.

You might wonder how could a company that's generated $35 billion in revenue, for this one drug, end up in bankruptcy? The reason is because the family had been quietly pulling money, out of the company, for 10 years, leading up to this.

So eventually, we get all these lawsuits against the company, and the family's taken more than $10 billion, out of the company, and they say "Well, too bad, the company is bankrupt!" So, they got to keep the money.

You end up with this settlement, in which they've committed to paying $6 billion, which is either a lot, or a little, depending on your point of view, and they're going to get this sweeping grant of immunity.

So, this is an outcome that I think, has left a lot of victims of the opioid crisis, feeling pretty raw, feeling as though, that's not justice.

TAPPER: And Beth, you've written the definitive book, about the victims, on the frontlines, "Dopesick."

While this deal was being heralded, as a breakthrough, many, many victims, of the opioid crisis, found it so unsatisfying, because there, they have struggled, they've lost loved ones, they're still struggling, because of the epidemic.

The Sackler family has voiced quote, "Regret." But they deny any wrongdoing, Beth.

They say, in a court filing, quote, "While the families have acted lawfully in all respects, they sincerely regret that OxyContin, a prescription medicine that continues to help people suffering from chronic pain, unexpectedly became part of an opioid crisis that has brought grief and loss to far too many families and communities."

CNN, we should reach out - we should note, reached out, for additional comment, from the Sacklers, and did not get any.

What's your take on all this, Beth?

MACY: Well, "Unexpectedly" is a joke. They knew as early as 1999 that the drug was being widely diverted, and sold and massively over- prescribed.

A doctor, I profiled, in "Dopesick," calls Purdue, in the early aughts, and says, "Look, I know your label says it's virtually non- addictive. But I've got kids, I immunized, as babies, who are overdosing, in the high school library." And they laughed at him. They wrote him off as a joke. And they continued to do that.

They're recidivist criminals. The company has pleaded guilty twice. But no - none of the Sackler owners have been charged.

So, I follow, in my new book, I follow the travails of Nan Goldin, and her pain, and the parents of the dead. They come together as the Ad- Hoc Committee on Accountability.

[21:55:00] Last December, while the case was on its way to being appealed again, they held a rally, outside of the Department of Justice, where they begged the DOJ, to do its J-O-B. And I think that's what a lot of the more than 1 million families that have lost folks want the DOJ to do.

TAPPER: Beth Macy, and Patrick Radden Keefe, thank you, for being here tonight. Thank you for your journalism. It's so important. And I'm so honored that you would be here, tonight, with me.

We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Thank you so much, for joining us, tonight. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and in the TikTok, @jaketapper.

Our coverage now continues, with the magnificent Laura Coates, and the splendid Alisyn Camerota.

Laura, Alisyn, how are you?

LAURA COATES, CNN CO-HOST, CNN TONIGHT: I wait for the adjectives, every time.


COATES: They're different every time, but they're always right on the nose.


TAPPER: I have a--

CAMEROTA: So good, they're always true.

COATES: Somehow!

TAPPER: That I have a thesaurus, and I make use of it. What can I say?

COATES: I appreciate that.

CAMEROTA: Jake, we were just talking about how much we enjoyed your monologue.