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CNN Tonight

Dr. Fauci On Negative Public Impact Of COVID Conspiracies; Elon Musk Now Owns Twitter After Closing $44 Billion Deal; F. Murray Abraham On His Italian Roots And Filming "The White Lotus" In Sicily. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 28, 2022 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Perhaps, it was on the digital feed, of the individual, who was there, and struck Paul Pelosi, at least once, with a hammer. That much we know.

We also know it was Paul Pelosi, who called 911, and through that call, and a dispatcher very well saved his life.

Much more information on all this coming in. The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Jake Tapper and CNN TONIGHT.


Tonight, outrage, horror, and a scramble for answers, after, an intruder, broke into the home, of House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi and, violently attacked her husband, with a hammer. Sources say 82-year-old Paul Pelosi was taken into surgery, for a skull fracture. He is expected to make a full recovery.

This all started just before 2:30 AM Pacific Time, at the Pelosi home, in San Francisco, where sources say, the male suspect, confronted Paul Pelosi, screaming "Where is Nancy?" and then tried to tie him up, quote, "Until Nancy got home."

Shortly thereafter, Police arrived on the scene.


CHIEF WILLIAM SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: The suspect pulled the hammer, away from Mr. Pelosi, and violently assaulted him with it. Our officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency backup, and rendered medical aid.


TAPPER: San Francisco Police have identified the suspect as 42-year- old David DePape. He's a man with a history of spreading far-right conspiracy theories, on Facebook, and elsewhere, on the internet, about COVID vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6th Insurrection. Sources say he was not known to Capitol Police or in any federal threat database. It is hard to ignore how much of the suspect's rhetoric today, echoes what we heard, from rioters, who stormed the Capitol.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see Nancy Pelosi?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where the (bleep) is Nancy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I speak to Pelosi?



TAPPER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, one of the two Republicans, on the January 6th House committee, tweeted today, quote, "I want to be clear: when you convince people that politicians are rigging elections, drink babies blood, etc, you will get violence. This must be rejected. This is why the January 6th committee is so important," unquote.

And Democratic congresswoman, Karen Bass, of California, went even further.


REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): It just shows us the danger that our democracy is in. And it also just makes me angry, thinking of my Republican colleagues, who attempt to minimize, what happened, January 6th, and who ignore the hate speech, the violent speech that is going on, right now.


TAPPER: Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell, today, strongly condemned the assault, on Twitter.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's office says he reached out to the Speaker's office, to check on Paul Pelosi.

This horrifying act of violence, today, I wish I could tell you it was an outlier. It's not. It is the inevitable product of a poisonous political climate, where unchecked lies, and hate-filled dehumanizing rhetoric, combined to create a perfect storm, of political violence.

Last year, an astounding 34 percent of American adults said it's justifiable, for citizens, to take violent action, against the government, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll. No public figure seems safe. Capitol Police have tracked more than 9,000 threats, in 2021, against, the people and places that department is charged with protecting.

Just today, a Pennsylvania man, pleaded guilty, to making threats, to kill Democratic congressman, Eric Swalwell, and his staff. Earlier this month, Republican senator, Susan Collins, warned quote, "I wouldn't be surprised if a senator or House member were killed. What started with abusive phone calls is now translating into active threats of violence and real violence."

Those abusive phone calls are now a regular part of life for Congressman Kinzinger and others.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get your wife, going to get your kids. We're going to get you. We know where you live. We're coming to your house. Going to get you boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to swing for (bleep) treason you communist (bleep).


TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan has also received voicemails that would make your stomach churn. She shared this one, with CNN, last year, after former President Trump singled her out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope your family dies in front of you. I pray to God, if you've got any children, they die in your face.


TAPPER: As much as Donald Trump is part of the problem here, you need to know, these threats, and horrific acts, are not only from the right.

Back in 2017, Republican congressman, Steve Scalise, was nearly killed, after being shot, during an attack, on a congressional baseball game.


Supreme Court justices are also under threat. This summer, a man traveled to D.C., from California, armed to the teeth with the stated intention, of killing, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Also not safe? Governors, candidates for governor. This week, three men were convicted, of all charges, after supporting a plot to kidnap Michigan's Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer.

In July, a man jumped on stage, to try to stab, with a sharp object, Congressman Lee Zeldin, a Republican candidate, for New York governor.

To get some perspective, of how bad it can get, let's turn back to one of the most tumultuous and perhaps darkest chapters in American political history. On November 22nd, 1963, viewers, who turned into CBS, were met by this chilling report. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTER CRONKITE, AMERICAN BROADCASTER: From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official: President Kennedy died at 1 PM Central Standard Time.


TAPPER: Only five years later, April, 1968, Walter Cronkite again.


CRONKITE: Good evening. Dr. Martin Luther King, the apostle of non- violence in the Civil Rights Movement has been shot to death, in Memphis, Tennessee.


TAPPER: Think about that. The leader of the Civil Rights Movement, preaching the importance of non-violence, murdered in cold blood.

Only two months later, June 1968.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've heard an alarming report that Robert Kennedy was shot in that ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.


TAPPER: These are the extremes, political violence, taking the lives of the nation's leaders. We reference them as a point of caution.

We're at a moment, right now, of extreme polarization, where calls for violence are leading to actual violence. We cannot pretend that these are all isolated fringe events.

There are people in mainstream-accepted society, elected officials, TV anchors, others, who have been creating a permission structure that is helping, to open the door, to this violence, a permission structure created, when they dehumanize opponents, or smear them, or belittle or make light of acts or threats of violence, against their perceived foes, or spread conspiracy theories.

And while it might feel as though the political divides of the present are too vast to bridge, now is the moment that we all need to stop and think about our common humanity, or at the very least, the basic golden rule, and how you want to be treated.

Political violence in America is no longer a threat. It's a reality.

Two years ago, a lawyer dressed up, like a FedEx delivery man, and showed up, at the New Jersey home, of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas. Her son, Daniel, celebrating his birthday that day, ran to open the door. That lawyer opened fire. Daniel was killed. His father was shot, three times, but survived. Judge Salas is with us tonight.

Judge Salas, thank you so much, for being here. I'm sorry, it's under these conditions. And what a horrible - what a horrible task, a calling, you have.

What was the first thing that went through your mind, today, when you heard about Paul Pelosi?


The first thing that came to my mind was just sadness, where we have come to in this country.

Words matter. The way we treat each other, it matters. And we see what words can do. And we see what happened, in my case. This gentleman came to my house, as you said, and took our only child, as we say, our blessing from God, and changed our lives forever.

Words matter, Mr. Tapper. And judicial security now matters more than ever. Judicial security, sir, is a matter of national security. And we need to pass this bipartisan law, to protect judges, to protect democracy, and I'm going to say, to protect, really, humanity. We need to start working together and change the course and the direction, the dangerous direction that we are headed, in this country.

TAPPER: I want to ask you about that legislation in a second. But first, the U.S. Marshals office reports, an explosion of threats against judges, in recent years. Part of the job you do has always been about making 50 percent, of the people, who come in front of your bench, unhappy. Why do you think there has been such a drastic increase--


TAPPER: --in threats against judges, recently?

SALAS: I don't know. I think there's probably a myriad of reasons, we can point to.


But I would say that we have lost the ability to talk to one another. We have lost the ability to hear each other, to really see each other, when we're talking to one another. And I think that we have really lost the ability to communicate, civilly, to one another.

And that, when you lose that ability, to really connect, and to be open to other people's opinions, and agree to disagree, sometimes, when we become so stuck, that our way is the only way, and that our way is the only way it must be? We lose the ability to govern. We lose the ability to respect each other. We lose what really makes us all important, everything important that we do, and that is the ability to connect to one another on a real basis, on a human basis. TAPPER: Let's talk about that legislation, named after your son.

One senator, from Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul, who also suffered a violent attack, from his neighbor, he blocked the bill, named after your son, several times. The bill would keep judges' personal information, from showing up online. Senator Paul apparently refused to meet with you, over the summer. But he says he wants the same protection for lawmakers.

Given this attack, at Speaker Pelosi's house, would you object to amending the bill, to include lawmakers?

SALAS: I think that Congress needs to do what Congress needs to do to protect, themselves, Mr. Tapper.

But our bill, the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, this bill has been ready, for over two years. You know, and many people - I just want to say three numbers, 2,3,9. It's been two years, three months and nine days, since my only child was viciously gunned down.

Judges every day are facing repeated attacks, verbal attempts. The numbers are over 4,000 at this, from last year. We need to act now. And we need to do it now. And this is an urgent matter.

And these attacks, like the one, on Mr. Pelosi, are just showing where we are. We're living in a rising tide of tremendous violence. A real, clear and present danger exists. And it exists, right now, for the judiciary. And we have the ability to pass this bill.

And I would say that this is a bill that is a bipartisan, bicameral. We actually have, I last counted, we have 121 representatives, Congress, men and women, congressmen and congresswomen that have signed on, from both the Republican side and the Democratic - Democrat side. And we are ready to pass this bill.

I would also now note that the Senate has been working in a bipartisan way. And we have people, like Senator Graham, co-sponsoring this bill, Senator Cotton, who supports this bill. Senator Cruz signed on as a co-sponsor.

This bill is bipartisan. And how wonderful would it be to send a message to the American public that we are working together to ensure that judges are safe, that our democracy is sound, and that we respect the rule of law in the United States of America.

TAPPER: Judge Salas, thank you so much for being with us tonight.

SALAS: How wonderful!

TAPPER: And thank you so much. And may your son's memory, may, it be a blessing. Thank you so much for being with us.

SALAS: Thank you so much for having me on, sir.

TAPPER: Dr. Anthony Fauci sadly knows what it's like to be a target, in this dangerous political climate. President Biden's Chief Medical Adviser is here.

We're also going to talk to him about the Pandemic's long-term impact, on America's children, with The Nation's Report Card now out. It's not good. Does Fauci regret not pushing others in the administration, both Trump, and Biden, harder, for schools to stay open? That's next.



TAPPER: Tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has returned to San Francisco, to be with her husband. The attack, on her husband, highlighting the dangerous political climate, that, we're in.

One person, who's all too familiar, with these types of threats? Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's been the target of vitriol, and threats, over the government's handling of the Coronavirus Pandemic, as well as being the focus of a number of deranged conspiracy theories.

As a result, Dr. Fauci and his family have received multiple death threats. In August, a 56-year-old man was sentenced to more than three years in prison, for sending a series of emails, threatening to kill Dr. Fauci, and his family.

And Dr. Fauci joins us now. He's the long-time Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and is the Chief Medical Adviser to President Biden.

Dr. Fauci, good to see you.

You've been a Medical Adviser, to seven different presidential administrations. You also were part of a very difficult - many difficult epidemics, and crises, but especially, I'm thinking of the AIDS crisis, which obviously brought forward a lot of emotions.

Have you ever, ever seen the type of heightened rhetoric and violent attacks that we're seeing, today, on public officials, and public figures? What kind of impact does this have, on people, who want to get into public service?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Well, Jake, I've never seen anything even close, to what we're experiencing now, and what has been manifested by what you just recently reported, about Paul Pelosi, as an example, of the kind of rhetoric that turns into violence.


Yes, I mean, I've seen disagreements, of political disagreements, ideological differences, but never the degree of rhetoric turned into action, and violence and threats of violence. I think it's going to have a very negative effect, on young people, who are deciding, whether or not they want to go into a number of professions, including public health. And certainly, when you talk about people who want to go into public service, where they are going to be scrutinized, by people, who would disagree with them? But then when they disagree with them, they turn to rhetoric that's violent and actual violent actions? No, I've never seen anything that even approximates this degree, in any of my experience, over now, well over 50 years.

TAPPER: The man, who allegedly attacked Speaker Pelosi's husband, posted memes, and conspiracy theories, on the internet, about COVID vaccines, among other conspiracy theories. An acquaintance told CNN that he seems out of touch with reality.

How damaging do you think the ongoing conspiracy theories, about the Pandemic have been?

FAUCI: Well, I mean, the conspiracy theories are just wild out there. I mean, they go from things, almost as ludicrous as saying that Bill Gates and I put chips into vaccines, in order to monitor what people do, which disincentivize people, to get into getting vaccinated, when vaccinations are life-saving.

So, I mean, there are different ways of harming the public, Jake. You can directly do it, with the violence that you just mentioned. But then, when you get a conspiracy theory that dissuades someone, from getting a life-saving intervention? In many respects, that's also killing people.

So, there are so many negative aspects, of what's going on, with this, untruths that is prevalent now. We're living in an era, where lies and conspiracy theories are normalized, which is so unfortunate.

TAPPER: I know there is, still lots of questions, about the origin of COVID. And obviously, the Chinese government has not exactly been transparent. So, it's difficult to assess what happened.

There is a new interim report out, from the top Republican, on the Senate Health Committee. It's an interim report, and it's not from the Intelligence Committee. And it's just from one party, not unanimous, not the bipartisan. But this report does say that the COVID-19 Pandemic was, quote, "More likely than not, the result of a research- related incident," unquote.

Have you seen the report? What is your reaction?

FAUCI: Well, I haven't read it carefully. I've skimmed through it. But I can tell you, Jake, that it's really unfortunate.

Because, there are at least two very important peer-reviewed scientific publications, most recently that completely diverge, from the conclusions that came out in the report, to which you're referring.

And these are studies that were done, published in high-ranked journals, science journal, the medical journal, by a group of evolutionary virologists, who just completely disagree, with the conclusions that came out of the report that you just mentioned. TAPPER: We're seeing the spread of anti-science rhetoric, on the midterm campaign trail, especially among conservative candidates.

Take a listen Kari Lake, the Arizona Republican candidate for governor, talking about Ivermectin.


KARI LAKE, (R) ARIZONA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: We shouldn't have to feel like drug addicts, trying to go out there, to buy Ivermectin, and find somebody, who can prescribe it to us, and then beg a pharmacist to give it to us. It works like mad (ph). I've taken it. It's a wonder drug.


TAPPER: Now, the FDA has repeatedly said that people should not take Ivermectin, to treat COVID.

In a Washington State congressional race, Republican candidate Joe Kent called COVID, a quote, "Scam." He called vaccines, quote, "Experimental gene therapies."

Both of these candidates won their primaries, and could very well win, on Election Day. Are you concerned by this?

FAUCI: Yes, Jake. I'm very concerned about it, because what they are spewing are egregious untruths, a euphemistic way of saying they're just lying. I mean, there, the data clearly show that these interventions don't work.

And to call COVID a hoax that has killed 1 million Americans? I mean, that's totally preposterous. And yet people are, believing that. Or they don't believe it, but they don't care, when a candidate says something that's just obviously incorrect. That does worry me about the status of our democracy.


TAPPER: So, scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (ph), also known as The Nation's Report Card, show, fourth- and eighth-graders scores fell dramatically, in reading, and then saw the largest-ever decline in math.

You and I have been talking about the importance of having schools open, with steps taken, to keep students and teachers safe, in 2020, and 2021.

Do you wish that teachers had been listening, and educators, have been listening, more closely, to what you were saying? Because I know you were saying that bars should be closed, and schools should be open, during the worst of it.

FAUCI: Yes, I believe so. I would have hoped that we would have done more, to get the kids, in school, safely, to protect them, to surround them, with people, who are vaccinated, by providing a great deal of improved ventilation, in the schools.

You're right. I have said that many times. And, on your show, Jake, we've discussed exactly what I said. And you said it very correctly. We should have been closing bars and keeping the schools open.

TAPPER: Dr. Anthony Fauci, thanks so much, for your time, tonight. We appreciate it.

FAUCI: Thank you for having me, Jake. Appreciate it.

TAPPER: Think before you speak. If you're a politician, you should certainly know that by now. There's always a microphone somewhere! Oh! Here's mine!


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): That seat, we're in danger in that seat-- We'll see.


TAPPER: In the wake of Biden and Schumer's hot-mic moment, yesterday, we're going to go back in time to revisit some other intriguing private conversations that ended up not so private! That's next.



TAPPER: Check-check, this thing on? Look, when you work in a world of microphones, and cameras, you can never be too sure. I mean, after all, few things fly around the web faster than an offhand comment, caught on a hot mic.

The latest comes from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. He was on a tarmac, in Syracuse, with New York's governor, and President Biden.

Schumer offered his take, on how the midterm elections, are looking for Democrats. In Georgia, he's apparently concerned.


SCHUMER: The state where we're going downhill is Georgia. It's hard to believe that they will go for Herschel Walker.


TAPPER: In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he's more optimistic, or at least less pessimistic.


SCHUMER: It looks like the debate didn't hurt us too much in Pennsylvania... so that's good.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Now, you can find any number of political analysts, across the television networks, who will either agree or disagree, with both assessments. It's not really about what he said. It's about the fact that you and I weren't supposed to hear that.

It's something that President Biden is all too familiar with. Just couple of weeks ago, the President was touring hurricane damage, in Florida, when this happened.




BIDEN: And you can't argue with your brothers outside the house.


TAPPER: Still don't really know the context of that. But we do know it wasn't even Biden's best-known hot-mic F-bomb.


BIDEN: This is a (bleep) big deal.


TAPPER: Through this, it can sometimes be refreshing, to see and hear a glimpse, of the real person, beyond the image.

To go back to 1994, just a few years, after Andre Agassi told us, quote, "Image is everything?" That was especially true, for someone, like figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan. Her Princess image took a hit, when she was caught on tape dissing a Disney parade.



Mom, I don't want to.

It's so corny.

It's so dumb, I hate it.

This is the most corny thing I've ever done.


TAPPER: An AP headline, soon followed, in newspapers, across the country. Quote, "Kerrigan May Be Tarnishing Her Golden Image." Whatever!

For those in leadership positions, these hot-mic moments provide a glimpse into what they really think, such as when George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney, were smiling at a campaign rally, in 2000, while sharing some thoughts, on a particular "New York Times" reporter.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from The New York Times.



TAPPER: Also, we see the occasional glimpse, into how the sausage is made, between world leaders, such as when President Obama, was trying to deliver a message, to Vladimir Putin.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION: I understand you. I transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.


TAPPER: These moments also show that political loyalty only goes so far.

Jesse Jackson famously cried, when Barack Obama was elected president. But just a few months earlier, he was saying this, about then-Senator Obama.


REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based-- I want to cut his (bleep) off.


TAPPER: Jackson later apologized for that.

But if nothing else, these moments remind us that, politicians, celebrities, world leaders can be just as catty as any of us, and also just as clueless, about how anything we say might get overheard.

Speaking of social media, Elon Musk's, officially the owner of Twitter, after months of legal drama. He now refers to himself as Chief Twit. He's fired top executives. The big question is, "What's next?" That's next.



TAPPER: It is official! The world's richest man, Elon Musk, now owns one of the world's most influential social media platforms. Twitter says the $44 billion deal closed, last night, ending a months-long saga, and averting a major court battle that was set to begin today.

Less than 24 hours in, Musk has already taken his first actions. He fired several of Twitter's top leaders, including its CEO, CFO and top lawyer.

These abrupt changes may come, as little surprise, for a guy, who revels in stunts, such as carrying a porcelain sink, into Twitter's headquarters, acting out, "Let that sink in!" "Elon Musk is now your boss!" That would appear as the news is sinking employee morale and sending it right down the drain.

Sources tell CNN that this morning, Twitter staff still had not been notified, of the changes, even as media outlets were recording the news of the firings.

But the impact of Musk's takeover goes far beyond Twitter's employees. Musk tweeted last night "The bird is freed," a hint at his preferred policies, which he says would expand the boundaries of free speech.

Here to discuss what this all means, is tech entrepreneur, and business professor at NYU, Scott Galloway.

Scott, good to see you again.

The last time we spoke, you called it. You said this deal would definitely go through. Now that it has, what do you make of Elon Musk's actions so far?


One, it's a private company. He has the right to lay off people. And you could argue, at $600,000 per employee versus $1.6 million in Meta and Google, there's an argument to be made that Twitter is just overstaffed. And he has the right to do that. It's a private company. He's paid dearly for it.

I think we're going to - what we're going to talk about a lot more, moving forward, is whether or not Mr. Musk is compromised, and thereby a platform that has huge influence might be compromised.


He gets about a quarter of his cash flow, or specifically Tesla, and arguably, about half his wealth, from the success, or lack thereof, of Tesla and China. And when the PRC has already been unmasked, as trying to weaponize Twitter, to influence the midterm elections? You begin to wonder, what kind of conflicts, he might have, in terms of protecting the platform, and protecting democracy, if you will, from the PRC's influence. So, this is just about to get interesting. He wrote or tweeted that "The bird is freed." I would argue the bird is fried! I think this is going to get very ugly very fast.

TAPPER: So, what are you anticipating is going to happen? You think that there's just going to be a lot more manipulation, of Twitter, by foreign actors, exploiting the - exploiting the freedom of speech, we have, to smear people, put out false allegations, create divisions? What exactly are you talking about?

GALLOWAY: He was in Brazil with Bolsonaro, who has said that he will not accept any election result, where he is not elected, trying to convince Bolsonaro, to continue the supply of rare earth materials, for his batteries. What happens when election misinformation runs rife, out of Brazil, on Twitter's platform?

And it's not even whether or not it happens. It's the appearance of the conflict. Do we want a platform with that type of influence?

Do we want to be wondering whether or not that the people, who own the platform, are putting in place, the types of safeguards, we'd like to see, such that the platform isn't weaponized, and election misinformation, or the influence of the CCP or the PRC doesn't run amok on a platform that has enormous influence?

TAPPER: Interesting! "The Washington Post" put out a story, talking about all the people, using the N-word, after Elon Musk took over, which is, I suppose, a twisted sick celebration of free speech, in its way, by bigots, also attacking Jews, et cetera. That is something that has been a problem, for social media companies, for years and years. Twitter was trying to tackle it.

What do you think about that part of it?

GALLOWAY: It's a dangerous time. I mean, when we have the former President of the United States, and a global celebrity, using very pointed anti-Semitic terms, such as "Before it's too late," or "Death Con?"

I mean, QAnon, I think, will go down hopefully as a vile, weird stain that defines this American era. But the conspiracy theory that endures throughout time is anti-Semitism. And it's the quickest to kind of go to language around violence.

And I don't think it's any accident that we have this enablement, by people, on the right, who refuse to condemn it. And quite frankly, people on the left, who conflate empathy, for mental illness, or this weird perverted view of free speech, and don't condemn this, out of hand.

I think that what you saw with Adidas, and Gap, and Creative Artists Agency, immediately walking away from Kanye was an important move.

I just don't think it's an accident that we're seeing an increase in hate crimes. We're seeing an attack on the Speaker of the House's husband. I think all of this is related. Angela Aaron's (ph) talked about a manifest shallowness. Neutrality in the face of evil, and this is evil. It's not neutrality. And unfortunately, these platforms are being weaponized. And this notion that free speech plays any role, here, is nothing but an abdication of our responsibility to cauterize this evil.

TAPPER: So, a lot of people are watching, to see if Musk is going to reverse the bans that were imposed, by the previous runners, previous executives, at Twitter, and also whether or not he's going to do away with the moderation policies for content.


TAPPER: He's been vocal about that before. Today, he announced that the company would be forming a "Content Moderation Council" with wildly diverse viewpoints.


TAPPER: That's his characterization. And no major policy changes would happen until the Council convenes.

What do you make of that?

GALLOWAY: Well, his first major innovation is to copy Facebook's Moderation Council! I think it's a good move.

I personally - my bet, Jake, is that he's not going to let the President - former President back on the platform, because I think he's a narcissist, and doesn't want to share the spotlight with anybody else.

So, I think he's essentially dug a pit for himself, filled it with cobras and grenades, and has jumped in. I think he's going to find out that this policy or trying to moderate is really difficult.

But if you look at all the social media platforms, Jake, the level of moderation they employ, or what the far-right would call, censorship, is directly correlated to their business success.

If you want total lack of moderation, go to 4chan. And it's a disaster. It makes no money. Parler and Gettr that were supposed to liberate us from that censorship on the left are abject business failures.


Twitter's success is a function of its moderation, not despite it. Consumers and advertisers have voted with their time and their wallets. They want a certain amount of moderation. They want protection from vile hate speech. So, I don't think, just for business reasons, he's going to turn it into the Wild West, again.

TAPPER: All right, Scott Galloway, thank you so much. Good to see you again.

GALLOWAY: Thanks, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: After a long week, we could all use some levity! I know the perfect show to help us all unwind.

The new season of the hit series, "The White Lotus," kicks off this weekend, on our sister channel, HBO. This time, it is staged in Sicily. That alone is enough of a draw. But the cast is also tremendous!

And it includes Oscar winner, F. Murray Abraham, who is here, with a sneak preview of what to expect, in Season 2, and his crazy character that he plays. That's next.


TAPPER: Ready to check into a luxurious White Lotus resort again? It's back, this Sunday, Season 2, on our sister channel, HBO. This year, the actions shift from the White Lotus Hawaii resort, to the White Lotus Sicily.


As you probably know, the first season was defined, by rich people problems, class struggles, and the incomparable Jennifer Coolidge, who won an Emmy, for her performance. She's back, this season, along with a slate of new characters, including Oscar winner, F. Murray Abraham, who plays a grandfather/dirty old man, who brought his son, and grandson along, to get in touch with their Sicilian roots.

Here's a little taste.




VALENTINA: How was your boat ride?

B. DI GRASSO: It was bellissimo!

VALENTINA: I mean, I'm impressed that you're even here.

B. DI GRASSO: Why are you impressed?

VALENTINA: It's a long trip from Los Angeles. And you're quite old, no? Anyway, Isabella here, will take you up to the hotel, and bring you to your beautiful room.


TAPPER: F. Murray Abraham, joins us now. That clip, we just played, your character, Bert, looks a little dismayed, when he's called "Old." A "Vox" review described the characters--


TAPPER: --in this season, as haunted by mortality, which is a shift, from season one, which focused more on wokeness, identity and class.

What do you see as the main theme, conveyed, by this season?

ABRAHAM: Well, it's a sexy place! I mean, you got to go to Sicily, as soon as you can! It's really - it's not only absolutely beautiful, but it's sensuous. And I think that's one of the keynotes, to this season. I can't - I can't begin to tell you. It was really a drag to finish that season. I hated to leave.

TAPPER: How bad? You're--

ABRAHAM: It was - it was great. Yes.

TAPPER: Your son is played by Michael Imperioli, whom a lot of people probably know from "The Sopranos." You've said that you two are like brothers. And it must have been fun, to do this three-generation dynamic, with you, and the characters playing your son, and your grandson.


TAPPER: Your grandson, played by Adam DiMarco.

ABRAHAM: Well, the thing about it was that we did really get along so well. You hear this kind of thing, all the time, from people who do these shows together. But it's true.

Michael and I have become very, very close. And Adam was the perfect son. I can't tell you, man! All - everything about this was positive. And I'm so pleased about how it looks. It's so great that it comes across. I'm glad you liked it!

TAPPER: I loved it! I loved it! I saw - I just watched episode one. And then I'm going to watch along with it, as it drops every week.


TAPPER: Adam's character, and Michael's character, they're often bothered, by your character, Bert's, constant flirting, with younger women. It's really quite cringe.

Let's take a little look.


B. DI GRASSO: Thank you.


B. DI GRASSO: Oh, what's the problem?

D. DI GRASSO: What are you doing? I mean, what's the point?

B. DI GRASSO: Flirting is one of the pleasures of life.

D. DI GRASSO: Do you actually think you have a chance with any of these women?

B. DI GRASSO: Oh, don't be rude!

D. DI GRASSO: I'm just saying, you're 80-years-old.

B. DI GRASSO: Well, I'm still a man! And I get older and older. But the women I desire remain young. Natural, right? You can relate to that.


TAPPER: The conversation takes a little - it goes on, from there, in a way that I'm not going to talk about.

But you've described the role, as a present you got from heaven. And you really - it's just so great, how you play this character, because he's really awful, in so many ways, it must have been fun!

ABRAHAM: I loved him. He's from a time that allows him to say anything he wants to, and he gets away with it, because he's charming. I think some people are going to want to object to him. But they're going to forgive him, because he's just so much fun. And he's so innocent, finally, considering what a dirty old man he is! But he's really got a great soul!

TAPPER: He is a dirty old man!

This season takes place in Italy. Your character has brought his son, and grandson, there, to discover their Italian roots. In real life, your dad is from Syria. But your mom is from Italy. Does this character hold some special meaning, for you, given your real-life Italian heritage?

ABRAHAM: Oh, yes, yes. I've done a lot of movies in Italy. And where we were shooting, in Sicily, allowed me to see Calabria, which is where my mother is from. And I have a strong connection, with my Italian roots. It means a lot to me. I love the food for one thing. But if there was any place, in the world, I had to live, aside from the USA? It would be Italy. No question. And now, possibly Sicily. I fell in love with Sicily.

TAPPER: So, I've been a fan of yours, since I first noticed you, in "Scarface" in 1983. Then, of course, your academy-award winning turn as Salieri, in "Amadeus," in 1984.

[21:55:00] It's interesting. I've been thinking about your career, to prepare for this interview. You, and Ben Kingsley, are two actors who, I think, can and have played, pretty much any White ethnic group, and Latinos, as well. I mean, like, you really have, in terms of who you can play, the whole palette that I just mentioned. Is there a challenge to that at all?

ABRAHAM: It's part of the fun. I do a lot of Shakespeare too. And that's a lot of fun. The idea that I'm not pigeonholed is a big plus, and it allows me to play anyplace in the world, which I've done.

It's, actors' lives, when they're good, it's the best life in the world. And when it's bad, it's the worst. But this job has got to be one of the best jobs I've ever had in my life.

TAPPER: Well it's--

ABRAHAM: Sicily is like heaven!

TAPPER: It's great. And it's great to have you on. F. Murray Abraham, thank you so much. Congratulations on the new series of "White Lotus."

ABRAHAM: Hey, thanks. Thank you very much, very much. Enjoy!

TAPPER: I will!

And we'll be right back.


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

Our coverage continues now, with Alisyn Camerota.