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CNN Tonight

Police Identified Five Killed And Two Heroes In Shooting; CNN Shares A New Account From One Of The Heroes Who Police Say Stopped The Gunman; U.S. Ties Wales Amid Controversy; Iran's Security Forces Use Rape To Quell Protests; Movie "She Said" Tanks. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 23:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Authorities are praising two heroes at that club who took down the shooter, saving countless lives.

And President Biden releasing a statement on the tragedy saying in part -- quote -- "Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often. We must drive of the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate."

I want to bring in now presidential historian Jon Meacham. He is the author of "And There Was Light." He also occasionally advises President Biden.

Jon, great to see you as always. It seems like, you know, every week, we report on stories of violence, we report on stories of political violence, we have so much toxicity, obviously, in our national dialogue. It feels like the worst it has ever been. I know, well, maybe you'll tell me it isn't, but can you put this in some historical context for us?

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Sure. These tragedies unfold, and they unfold because there is evil. This is going to sound rather grand, but what we saw in this incredibly sad story that had an element of heroism is the best in the worst of it (ph). And it is tragic and terrible that we have to have horrible things unfold for us to see this kind of heroism, but that is the nature of reality.

What we -- the way the life of the nation works, I think, is the way our lives work. We are called to do the right thing. We are called to accept others. We are called the love our neighbors as ourselves as scripture and every moral tradition orders the folks to do or encourages folks to do. And it is incredibly difficult.

And the extremity of this kind of mass shooting is the worst manifestation of the darkest impulses in human nature. And so, our answer has to be, overcoming darkness with light.

I was thinking about Dr. King this weekend, his sermon after the terrible church bombing, 16th Street, church in Birmingham in 1963, the fall of 1963. And his refrain in that sermon for the funeral, for those young women, was -- by the way, the subject that day was the love forgives and it was youth Sunday and they were on their way to conduct the whole service when (INAUDIBLE) dynamited the church. He talked about how we had to find some way to bring good out of the -- I think the story of the heroes of this tragedy are examples of that.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. Absolutely. Do you think that -- is what we are seeing political violence? Is that how you would categorize this?

MEACHAM: Yes. These are hate crimes, and others debate about that. But, of course, this is driven by specific of the case. We have to wait. So, all the predictable caveats there. But there is a climate of hate, of seeing the other not simply as someone to allow them to be your neighbor and have them live out their lives and you live out yours, which is what a democracy and what a moral society is supposed to do.

Instead, there is this intensity out there, that we can't see each other as neighbors, we have to see each other as enemies. And it is up to all of us to say no, that that cannot be the way we are. But if we don't love our neighbors as ourselves, we have to attempt to do so and to fight against and stand against -- I don't want to use the fight -- we have to stand against the objectification of other people.

It is un-American. If I may, for my tradition, it is un-Christian. It is immoral, it is unjust, it is wrong, and it is not that much more complicated.

CAMEROTA: I just read President Biden's comment and his reaction to this. And, of course, every president has had to deal with some sort of awful, sickening, heartbreaking violence. And here just a few examples after mass shootings.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For evil did come to Buffalo. It has come to all too many places manifest in gunmen who massacred innocent people in the name of hateful and perverse ideology rooted in fear and racism.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate. In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy.

The vile, hate-filled poison of antisemitism must be condemned and confronted everywhere and anywhere it appears.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Americans were targeted because we are country that has learned to welcome everyone no matter who you are or who you love. And hatred towards people because of social orientation, regardless of where it comes from, it is a betrayal of what is best in us.

Michelle and I know several members of the Emmanuel AME Church. There is something particularly heartbreaking about the death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace, in a place of worship.


CAMEROTA: Obviously, Jon, that montage could've gone on much longer because it happens all too often. In history, are there presidents who have been able to successfully bring down the temperature and done it well?

MEACHAM: Sure. It ebbs and flows because this is -- as we talked about, this is the human heart and the perversion of appetites and ambitions. There are -- the way presidents speak about these things does matter because it does set a tone. And the people can be skeptical about that. I understand that. Even President Biden at one point said it is time -- we are past thoughts and prayers.

Just to put in one quick thing here. I'm a gun owner. The safest place to be (INAUDIBLE) is somewhere near me with a gun. But my view is these assault weapons, these weapons of war, they've come to our streets and our nightclubs and our schools, must be restricted to the military. It is not particularly a debate, it seems to me.

And for those who, in my native region in particular, south, say, oh, no, this is an encroachment on the Second Amendment, my test is this: What if one life is saved because these assault weapons are made more difficult to obtain? Just one. What if it is your spouse or your friend or your child? And so, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good for that.

Our president's manners, our president's tone can affect the temperature. You mentioned it before. President Biden, I'm honored that he's a friend and I help him when I can, I think he is particularly well equipped to do this.

I think President Clinton did it after Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City is actually a pretty good example here because President Clinton had just had a terrible election partly because he had banned assault weapons in 1994 in a bill that Joe Biden was critical in doing. And there is the terrible attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. President Clinton goes. He takes this moment and talks incredibly well.

That same season, George Herbert Walker Bush, who had just been defeated three years before, resigns from the NRA because the NRA had put out a fundraising letter referring to federal agents as jackbooted thugs. And so, Bush, the senior Bush, resigned from there in a very important letter.

So, yes, it can make a difference. What would make the biggest difference is if we all remember that what runs America, what should run America is the declaration of independence. The declaration of independence begins with that majestic idea that we are all created equal and we're all endowed by our creator no matter our color, our sexual orientation, no matter what.

And that is our mission statement. That is what we said we wanted to be. No one forced that on us. That's what folks who look like me decided to say they believe in the late 18th century. We are now in the 21st century.


MEACHAM: And that idea, that idea has to be made real. It has to begin and end with a mutual respect for each other.


CAMEROTA: Well, Jon Meacham, thank you for reminding us of all of that. Really great to talk to you as always.

All right, I want to bring in now CNN's John Berman and Republican strategist Joe Pinion. Also, Charlotte Alter is back. Guys, great to have you here. So, that was inspiring, everything that Jon Meacham just said, but we also need to talk about the hideous crime that has happened and that crimes against LGBTQ communities are up 41% since 2019. Something is going on and politicians are seizing on, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is disgusting. It's disgusting. And that was a wonderful conversation you just had with Jon Meacham. Parts of it are uplifting. But parts of it also you can read as quite bleak. Jon talks about how there are moments of light in these situations. There were heroes there. But the other way of looking at that is it wasn't enough.

I know you can play some sound from one of these heroes that I had a chance to speak to earlier who, in our conversation, was just broken up that he couldn't save more people, that there were five families without their loved ones tonight, and no amount of heroism stop that.

And there is something going on and it is not just guns and it is not just racism. It is something insidious in our culture. And what happens at a gay bar, at a gay club -- I'm paraphrasing something a friend once told me. If you can't be gay at a gay bar, where can you? If you're not safe there, where are you safe?

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Should we play that now, guys? Do we want to play? Okay, hold that thought. That was an incredible interview that you did. He was incredible, John. Incredible. Again, these beacons of light among us that we can draw strength from.

But Joe, in the meantime, politicians are seizing on this.


CAMEROTA: And they are considering 344 bills in state houses across the country this year that are considered anti-LGBTQ. What is it? There are so many from Republicans. Let's be honest. And so, what is it that is so threatening to Republicans?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST; I think we need to take a step back. I think I would seize on what Jon said in the aftermath of Oklahoma City, right, where those famous words by Bill Clinton, you have lost too much, but you have not lost everything and you have not lost America. And it feels as if, increasingly, we have lost America. I am reminded of that old town in Illinois, Carlock, Illinois, where we used to quite literally bury people in different cemeteries, not by race but by political affiliation. Worst crime in humanity, apparently, to be a republican force. You spent eternity next to a Democrat.

And so, I bring that up because of the fact that when you look at what has happened here, we have the divisions in our politics and in many ways are fueling the lesser angels that have led us to where we are.

CAMEROTA: For sure, but do you accept that it is Republicans that are fueling the nasty talk about transgender folks and LGBTQ?

PINION: I think we have to do this. I think that we have to stop painting it with a broad brush. I think that the reality is that there's an insidious horrific strain of anti-LGBTQ issues that are permeating in society. And yes, perhaps they're getting more action on the right side of the aisle, but I also think that there's something that we have to talk about.

Rigorous honesty as it pertains to getting to the bottom of this issue is that most of the people that I know are not anti-LGBTQ, but they do have issues with some of the issues that are being promoted in the name of that movement.

I think that we have to draw a sharp line and say that no person should ever be harmed because of who they love or how they live. No person should ever feel as if there is not a safe space. To your point, that if you cannot be gay in a gay bar, then where can you be gay?

But certainly, I think, again, the problem has become that all of this has been conflated as to one thing. If I disagree with you on this issue, then I am hostile to everything you stand for. I think that is a real problem in our politics. It is blood over into things that have made it more difficult for us to have this honest conversation.

CAMEROTA: Charlotte, hold that thought, we have to take a quick break, and we will come back and address all of this. Stay with us, everybody.

When we come back, we also want to discuss John's incredible interview with Richard Fierro, one of the heroes who took down the gunman in Colorado Springs. We have a lot more to hear from him after the break.




CAMEROTA: Authorities are praising two patrons who took down the shooter in that Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub. One of those heroes, who served in the army for nearly 15 years, told John Berman tonight that he did to protect his family. John is back with us along with Joe Pinion and Charlotte Alter. Charlotte, let's just watch this hero describe this, and then I'll get your reaction.


RICHARD FIERRO, TOOK DOWN GUNMAN IN CLUB Q SHOOTING: I got to protect my kid. I lost my kid's boyfriend. I tried. I tried with everybody in there. I still feel bad for the people that -- the five people who didn't go home. And this (bleep) guy, I told him while I was hitting him, I would kill you, man, because you tried to kill my friends. My family was in there.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, it's so awful, Charlotte. And he is the hero. He survived. And his -- this is how traumatized he will be forever, basically.

CHARLOTTE ALTER, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: Well, it's also amazing. This is a man who served his country for what? 15 years? And now, he has to come back here and use skills that he learned in the line of duty to protect his family just on a night out trying to have fun with their friends.


I mean, the thing that I keep thinking about this is that, you know, as Jon Meacham said earlier, you know, there has always been a struggle between good and evil in this country, but one of the things that's new is a social media ecosystem that amplifies the evil at the expense of the good.

And I think that's one of the reasons that we are continuing to struggle with this over and over and over again in ways that feels so new because this hate gets mainstreamed in a way where it can spread from one person to another even if they've never met each other, even if they don't live in the same community, even if they don't share any physical space. So, it makes these vial views so much more infectious.

CAMEROTA: John, it was an incredible interview that you did with him. And just listening to him and him processing out loud what he lived through. Let's just listen to just a little bit more of it.


FIERRO: This whole thing was a lot. My daughter should have never experienced combat. And everybody in that building experienced combat not to their own core, but because they were forced to. I told the mayor that I am not a hero. I am just a guy who wanted to protect his kids and his wife. And I still (INAUDIBLE).


CAMEROTA: It's so awful, John. But that's exactly what Charlotte was saying. His daughter and wife should never have had to experience combat in Colorado Springs.

BERMAN: No one in that bar. No one in that bar should have ever had to go through anything like that. And to hear Richard Fierro, again, retired army major, work through this, he's trying to process it. He doesn't want to be called a hero. He undoubtedly saved lives. He saved -- I don't know how many lives there.

But to him, the tragedy is that there were those who died still, that he couldn't save everyone because there was evil in there, because there was someone, and we still need to learn more. I know we still need to learn more. But it seems possible, at least, there are some deranged person who thought that a drag show was a threat to him somehow.

CAMEROTA: That's right. And by the way, I mean, there are politicians, one of whom is in Colorado, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who had tweeted out, you know, that basically these sorts of things groom children. I mean, she had these inflammatory tweets, and now she is saying that this event is awful, but do you connect those things?

PINION: Look, I think that the problem that we have is that we live in a world where we are more connected than ever before, and also so incredibly isolated by virtue of the events that we have made in technology.

So, how do you rectify those two things? How do you rectify somebody saying, I am uncomfortable with drag shows being exposed to children, but at the same time saying that these are consenting adults who just wanted to enjoy a beer and now have been irreparably harmed for the rest of their natural lives?

CAMEROTA: And what's the answer to that?

PINION: And I think the hard truth is that we don't really have all the answers, but we have to start by having, again, rigorous honesty with ourselves to understand completely that no person should be forced to carry this burden where they feel as if they can be safe not even within their own skin.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. All right, Charlotte, one of the problems is that on social media, people think that it is their community. In other words, something can be happening in Nevada that they're not comfortable with and, suddenly, it sends them into overdrive of panic. We've seen this time and again where they think that they have to do something about it.

ALTER: Well, this is the thing, and I appreciate you sort of highlighting how much this has been, particularly in the last year, driven by Republican politicians who have leaned into scare tactics about LGBTQ teachers or other figures who they think might be grooming children. You know, an allegation which has no basis, in fact.

And so, I do think that it is hard to argue that there is no political element to this when you have an entire party that has really capitalized on some of the parental angsts around this to try to score political points. And, of course, there are going to be some, as you said, John, deranged people who take those ideas and twist them into some kind of hateful ideology.

PINION: I think it's also important how we have the conversation, right? I think that pretending that people's anxieties in their personal bias does not exist is probably a really bad way to start the conversation. I think we have to confront them head on and say that perhaps, yes, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned.

But here is on a case by case basis, whether it is on a school district by school district basis, why those fears should either be rightfully acknowledged or why there is no basis in reality.


PINION: So, I think, again, what ends up happening is that something so unimaginable and so tragic happens where the rage overwhelms our ability and our capacity --


PINION: -- to really be able to have that conversation.

CAMEROTA: And sometimes it's both. I mean, sometimes, it's -- they don't need to have the fear but they have the fear. And so, you know, we just continue to have these conversations.

Guys, thank you very much. I really appreciate all of you being here.

So, from the controversaries to the first match for the U.S. men's national team in Qatar, we've got your World Cup news, next.


CAMEROTA: Day two of the World Cup and the U.S. ties Wales in their first game.


You've got to see this go from Timothy Weah. That's impressive. The U.S. tie happening today amid widespread controversy, of course, over this year's host, Qatar.

Joining us now is soccer journalist, Grant Wahl. Grant Wahl, founder of Also, Tommy Vietor, host of the "World Corrupt" podcast and co-founder of Crooked Media. Guys, thanks so much for being here. Grant, what happened? So, you were detained. You were wearing a rainbow shirt, and then what happened?

GRANT WAHL, SOCCER JOURNALIST, FOUNDER OF GRANTWAHL.COM: Yeah, I arrived at the stadium. I was checking in through security, but security didn't let me through. They said that I had to take off my shirt. I told them I wouldn't. They detained me for about 30 minutes. They forcibly took my phone, would not give it back. Really angrily tried to get me to take my shirt off and wouldn't.

So, finally, eventually, a commander of security came down after about 30 minutes and they let me through wearing my shirt. They apologized. FIFA apologized. FIFA has made it clear that there should be no problem with anyone wearing rainbow gear of any kind at this World Cup, but it's clear that the Qatari regime has other ideas.

CAMEROTA: And Grant, what were those 30 minutes like? Was that frightening? Was it just annoying? I mean, what was being detained like?

WAHL: Yes, I mean, it was annoying at first, and then it got a little intense. You know, they made me stand up, turn around, and face a CCTV security camera with someone at the other end looking at me and I guess rendering judgment of some sort.

And this is just another example of -- you know, FIFA really doesn't control this World Cup. It's the Qataris, and I think that they like to show that. It's illegal to be gay in this country, Qatar, by the way. So, this is something that has been a concern about, how would Qatari security officials enforce things on the ground. I didn't mean to make this or intend originally to make this public at all. I was just doing something I was told would be very easy to do and wouldn't be a problem at all.

CAMEROTA: Tommy, was it a mistake to have the World Cup in Qatar?

TOMMY VIETOR, PODCAST HOST: Oh, absolutely. I mean, even Sepp Blatter, the wildly corrupt former head of FIFA, has said that it was a mistake, and that is because women are treated like second-class citizens in Qatar, LGBTQ people can be imprisoned for same-sex relationships, and because migrant workers in Qatar have been compared to modern-day slave labor and "The Guardian" newspaper reported that something like 6,500 migrant workers have died since Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010. So, it's a stain on FIFA and it was an absurd choice from the beginning.

CAMEROTA: Tommy, is there any advantage to it being there so all of these bubbles to the surface? I mean, I think of the -- we have some video of the Iranian team and they made this silent protest today. I think that we could play some of this. So, basically, you know, it's not as though all of this has been swept under the rug, this has all just come to the floor.

VIETOR: What those Iranian players did today was extraordinarily courageous. I mean they didn't sing the national anthem in protest of the treatment of women across Iran. The woman named Mahsa Amini was murdered by the so-called morality police several months ago, and there have been protests ever since.

But, you know, if the World Cup had been in France, for example, or England or the United States, those Iranian players could've launched the same protest without thousands of migrant workers being harmed to construct all of the stadiums in Qatar.

That is the problem. Qatar has no soccer history. They have no infrastructure. They literally had to build eight stadiums, and they did it on the backs of these migrant laborers who paid money to get jobs in Qatar, go deep into debt, and then get these brutally abusive jobs where they're outside working in construction at 100-degree summers. So, there's just no good reason to have this tournament in Qatar. It was entirely based on corruption.

CAMEROTA: Grant, it's hard to enjoy it against that backdrop, but I know that that is part of the challenge, certainly for viewers. Tell us about the U.S. team and what we need to know.

WAHL: Well, the U.S. team is very young. They're the first U.S. team to get back to the World Cup in eight years after missing out four years ago. Some of these U.S. players are playing at the top European clubs. One has even won the champions league. But they're trying to earn back respect for American soccer. And they played a tremendous first half last night. They were up one nil and scored a really goal. Second half, things changed as it often does in soccer. Wales was able to get a penalty to equalize late in the game.

So, you left feeling almost like it was a loss, not a tie (INAUDIBLE) just because it felt like a win and three points was really attainable there.


I don't think people should think the sky is falling, though. This U.S. team does have a decent chance to advance still. They just need to play well the rest of the way. They've got England in the next game, Iran after that, and we will see what happens here.

CAMEROTA: Okay, Grant and Tommy, thank you very much for your perspective. Great to talk to both of you.

We are back with the panel now. John, you know --

BERMAN: We're just laughing because Grant just said several sentences there and you were nodding as if you understood everything.

CAMEROTA: John, I know you're outing me right now because you know so well that I know nothing about sports, but I yet do have to do sports. And listen, here's the honest truth, everything I know about soccer, I learned from Ted Lasso.

BERNSTEIN: Which is all you need to know.

CAMEROTA: Which is all I need to know. Thank you. And Ted Lasso, in fact, weighed in on the game. There were posters from Ted Lasso set up and Ted Lasso said, Matt, this was to the U.S. player Matt Turner, Matt, well, call me Mary because I certainly am proud of you, Turner. That is so Ted Lasso, isn't it?

BERMAN: That's very sweet. It is very sweet. Matt Turner was the starting key player who played a great game also --

CAMEROTA: I knew that.

BERMAN: -- right (INAUDIBLE). But, you know, it's impossible to say (INAUDIBLE). Listen, first of all, Grant Wahl is the best soccer journalist that America has ever had. Everyone should follow him and pay for his --

CAMEROTA: I know that also.

BERMAN: He's terrific. I don't know if you know this, but I think my full-time job right now is to watch the World Cup. CNN hasn't said, but I'm assuming that's what they want me doing. So, I'm watching every game right now, so no one else has to.

CAMEROTA: Selfless.

BERMAN: Yes, it was great. I mean, the U.S. played so well for almost all of the game, but the tie was kind of lousy.

CAMEROTA: I am just astounded that you can end with a tie.


CAMEROTA: You taught me that.

BERMAN: In the group stage, you can end with the tie. Once you advance, which hopefully the U.S. will do, that's the knockout stage, and then it goes into overtime and their penalty shootouts.

CAMEROTA: Okay, great. I'm going to rely on you for all of this, so keep on watching.


CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you. Thank you, guys.

All right, meanwhile, protesters in Iran are standing up for women and human rights, but many, of course, are facing brutal retaliation for defying the regime, and some are facing sexual violence. We have a CNN exclusive investigation to show you, next.




CAMEROTA: Tonight, a CNN exclusive investigation on the Iranian regime's brutal crackdown against the protests that have broken up since the death of a young woman in police custody for allegedly failing to cover her hair properly.

In testimony, verified by CNN, brave women and men are coming forward with testimony of sexual assault and rape at the hands of security forces. We want to warn you, the subject matter we are about to report is disturbing. Here is CNN's Nima Elbagir.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over these mountains is Iran, a regime that has succeeded in cutting many of its people off from the outside world. But disturbing stories detailing the authorities' brutal retribution, systematic sexual violence against anti-regime protesters have begun leaking out. We've come here to the Kurdish region of Iraq to try and find out more. This is Hannah, not her real name, a Kurdish-Iranian woman recently smuggled out of Iran. She fears for her life. After taking off and burning her head scarf on the streets, she was arrested and detained by Iranian intelligence officers.

UNKNOWN (through translator): They choose the women who are pretty and suited their appetite. Then the officer would take one of them from the cell to a smaller private room. They would sexually assault them there.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Hannah isn't only an eyewitness. She also was violated.

UNKNOWN (through translator): I feel shy talking about this. You can still see what the policeman did. Look here, on my neck, it's purplish. That is why I'm covering it. He forced himself on me.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Then, a fight broke out with another protester, drawing away Hannah's attacker. Hannah and others could hear screams and they believed a woman was raped in an interrogation room.

Hannah sketched out the police station as she remembers it. She estimates 70 to 80 men and women were together in a main hall that accessed full, private interrogation rooms. It was in these interrogation rooms, she says, that she was assaulted and others were raped.

CNN was able to locate the police station through Hannah's description, eyewitness corroboration, and geolocation using key landmarks. It is in the Islamabad neighborhood of (INAUDIBLE). Based on this testimony and speaking to a number of sources, a pattern of oppression comes into focus.

Police centers used as filtration points, moving protesters from one location to another. Often, families left not knowing where their loved ones are held.

One Iraq-based Kurdish militant opposition party (INAUDIBLE) identified over 240 people who they believe are missing within this maze of detention centers. Human rights organizations believe the number is higher, in the thousands. Some of the victims, as young as 14. Many are men supporting female protesters. Their punishment as severe as the women's.


UNKNOWN (through translator): They brought four men over who had been beating, screaming intensely in another cell. And one of the men who was tortured, was sent to the waiting room where I was. I asked him what all that screaming was about. He said, they are raping the men.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Based on witness testimony, CNN traced the location to an Iranian army intelligence headquarters. Voiced here by a translator, a 17-year-old boy sent CNN voice note following his imprisonment. We are withholding his name and location for his safety. UNKNOWN (through translator): When a security guard heard me

discussing the rape of the other inmates, he started torturing me all over again. They tortured, raped me from behind.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Even as authorities visited sexual violence on protesters, regime figures accused female protesters of prostitution, of -- quote -- "wanting to be naked."

Of the incidence of sexual violence against protesters inside Iranian detention facilities, most occurred in the Kurdish majority areas to the west of Iran, home to a historically-oppressed minority.

Disturbingly, in some cases, the rapes were filmed and used to blackmail protesters into silence. There has been a real escalation where female protesters are, as you can see here, being openly assaulted, often sexually.

But the violence against women like the protests are not confined to the Kurdish areas. They are often focused on locations where the protests are most intense like here in the capital of Tehran.

One of these stories is Armita Abbasi, a typical 20-year-old on social media sharing her love of animals --

In social media posts, appearing under her name, Abassi, like many young women in Iran, criticized the regime openly after the protests began. Unlike most, she did it without (INAUDIBLE). It didn't take long for security forces to find and arrest her. Abassi disappeared.

Soon after, whistleblowers began to post on various social media platforms. Medics sharing eyewitness accounts of what had been done to Abassi.

First of all, they say, there were a few plain clothes men with her and they did not let her out of their sight. Even during a private medical examination, they were there.

She was my patient. I went to her bedside. They had shaved her hair. She was scared and was trembling.

When she first came in, they said it was rectal bleeding due to repeated rape. The plain clothes men insisted that the doctor write that the rape was from prior to her arrest. And then after this issue was becoming obvious to all, they changed the entire scenario altogether.

The details of these leaks were confirmed to CNN by an insider at (INAUDIBLE) Hospital where Abassi was brought to be examined. In a statement, the government said Abassi was treated for digestive problems. The medics who treated her said that was not true.

The Iranian regime denies the rape, accusing her of leading protest and allegations which could see her face the death penalty.

At this usually busy border crossing between Iraq and Iran, it is deceptively quiet. Those who can cross tell us the news is tightening on protesters. Authorities have, for decades, used sexual torture against Iranians and it appears, once more, a familiar pattern. Sexual violence deployed to enforce an assertion of moral guardianship.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Iraqi Kurdistan.


CAMEROTA: Well, thanks, Nima, for exposing the awfulness of what's happening on the ground. And we'll be right back.




CAMEROTA: So, you've probably seen the trailer for the new movie, "She Said," about reporters who helped expose disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, but you probably not seen the movie itself, because very few people did this weekend. It only took in $2.3 million, which is much less than it was supposed to and less than the other movies from this weekend. Why? That's what Hollywood wants to know.

Back with that is Mara S. Campo, Joe Pinion, and Charlotte Alter. So, it's about the sexual assault and harassment that Harvey Weinstein subjected people to. Why is this movie not doing well?

MARA S. CAMPO, JOURNALIST: Yeah, and you would think it would do well because it's also about empowerment. You know, these two female reporters who bring him down and he gets his, you know, just do. But I think part of it is that we're still too close to. Not because we are traumatized and we can't bear to look at it, but it's still playing out. Harvey Weinstein is still in courtrooms. He is still facing trial.

CAMEROTA: It's happening in real time.

CAMPO: It's happening in real time. I think we need a little bit of distance to see a recreation and to really appreciate it. The other thing is I think that we are at a time right now where we just want escapism. And when you look at the top movies of the year, it's like Tom Cruise and dinosaurs and minions. That's what people want.

CAMEROTA: Charlotte, do you think it says something about the "Me Too" movement, that people are done with it?

ALTER: I don't know that people are done with it, but I do just think -- I do think the vibe has shifted. I mean, we're just in a very different place in 2022 than we were in 2017 when this seemed very new and --

CAMEROTA: Ever-present.

ALTER: Ever-present, yeah. And so, I don't think the movement is over. I just think it has -- it looks very different now than it did in 2017. And so, I almost think that a movie like this might have done a lot better if it came out in 10 or 15 years when it wasn't so fresh to people.


But I actually saw it and I liked it.

CAMEROTA: I was getting critical claim. That's one of the most mysterious things about it. People think it's an excellent movie, but they're not going to see it. What do you think, Joe?

PINION: I think people wanted to dress up for "Wakanda." It was empowering. That is about culture. It transcends their everyday life. I think when you look at what happened to Harvey Weinstein, I think one, he wasn't as popular unilaterally, I think, as many people thought he was within the industry.

But I think also beyond that, people just want to be happy. The elections just ended. Time is everything with this movie. I think wrong weekend with "Wakanda Forever" at the top of the ticket, so to speak, didn't really have a chance.

CAMEROTA: Got it. So, it has nothing to do with "Me Too." You think people just wanted to skip it?


CAMEROTA: Okay. Guys, thanks so much for being here. Great talking to all of you tonight. Great to have you here with me. And thanks to all of you for watching. I'll see you tomorrow night. Our coverage continues now.