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High-Profile Health Issues For Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) And Bruce Willis; Residents Demand Answers Amid Reports Of Health Issues, Dead Fish Following Train Derailment; President Biden's Doctor Says He Remains Healthy And Vigorous As Re-Election Looms; Mental Competency Test For Politicians Over 75; Social Media Activities Impacts College Admission; High-Altitude Objects Not Extraterrestrials. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 16, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT. Two big health stories we're following at this hour, Senator John Fetterman checking himself into Walter Reed Hospital for treatment for depression and Actor Bruce Willis suffering from a form of dementia. We'll get the latest information for you.
Plus, the crisis in East Palestine, Ohio, continues in the wake of that toxic train derailment. The wreckage burned for days, and tonight, children there are suffering from nausea and rashes. And one resident we'll speak to says his mouth tastes like a battery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help. We do.
People are getting sick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: And the U.S. government says aliens have not landed here. At least they're not behind those flying objects the Pentagon has been shooting out of the sky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you honestly hope to see?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, maybe nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this why we came out here, Mulder, to look for UFOs?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Tonight, we'll tell you the latest theory on what those UFOs are.
Okay, here with me is our panel. We have L.Z. Granderson, we also have Kristen Soltis Anderson, oh Granderson and Anderson, Kristen Soltis Anderson, no relation to you guys. We also have Natasha Alford and Dr. Devi Nampiaparampil of NYU School of Medicine. Guys, thanks so much for being here.
Let's begin with a very serious business of these health issues, so Senator John Fetterman and get to Actor Bruce Willis. Let's talk about Senator Fetterman, because he has checked himself in after going to the attending physician of the U.S. Congress for his depression and the attending physician suggested that he go to Walter Reed.
So, can you just tell us -- I mean, there's something like -- I think I have the stats here, something like 20 percent, 22 percent of Americans at this moment are suffering from depression. 60 percent of them do not seek help. So, what is the factor that would lead a doctor to say, actually you need inpatient help right now?
DR. DEVI NAMPIAPARAMPIL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR REHABILITATION MEDICINE, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, inpatient is so hard to get for many reasons because of insurance and other factors. So, right now, doctors will probably say if the person poses harm to themselves or harm to others, but that's not necessarily how we decide if a person needs treatment.
So, typically, in terms of treatment, you could think about non- pharmacologic treatment, pharmacologic treatment. In this case too, if a person has medical conditions, like if they have a stroke, then they also could have depression or they could have something else that looks like depression. So, for example, a person could have an infection or something else that needs to be treated as well.
CAMEROTA: So, meaning he was checking into just sort of explore it more and examine it more, you think?
NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Exactly. Well, first, so a person could have fatigue, they could have a depressed mood. What happens with depression? People can have like a feeling like they don't want to eat, they don't want to move, they feel really tired. These are usually nonspecific symptoms.
Now, there can be other things that can really point you towards depression but you really want to get checked out first. Especially anybody who has had a history of stroke, they can be more at risk for depression because of the area of the brain that might be affected. They can be more at risk of depression because, you know, probably they're having trouble sleeping because of the stroke itself. They also can have trouble just functioning. So, depending on how your stroke has affected you, you may have trouble communicating, right? That going to make you more isolated from other people.
You may have trouble with weakness, maybe on one side of your body, so that can affect how you could brush your teeth, how you could get dressed, how you get out, how you interact with the community, et cetera. So, if it's affecting you in all aspects of your life, you also may get situational depression as well. So, all of these things could affect you.
So, he may have actual depression that needs to be treated, but in terms of inpatient access, he may actually have an advantage compared to the average person who may want to get checked in and be hospitalized. The average person may have a harder time.
CAMEROTA: Oh, yes, we do know that people with depression have a hard time getting access to mental health, for sure. But, Natasha, we had read that he had been struggling to adapt to the Senate. He had been -- because of his communication issues, he had not been just -- it hadn't been an easy transition.
NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we also read that he had been struggling with depression long before in his life, right? And I think that's an important thing to keep in mind. You know, the depression doesn't go away just because you won an election that was hotly contested. It doesn't go away because you have achieved something. And I actually think it's really brave that he checked in. I think it's brave to share the story publicly because it shows that you can be high functioning with depression.
It also shows that chronic illness has a deeper impact than people realize. So, people struggle with their health and that translates to, you know, an emotional and mental struggle as well. So, I think it actually makes him relatable, which was what made him so successful when he ran.
CAMEROTA: And, L.Z., in fact, there are several lawmakers who have had physical disabilities or have worked through a stroke and have come back and been able to work. But there was a time in the not too distant past when depression had such a stigma that it was sort of seen as disqualifying for elected officials.
L.Z. GRANDERSON, OP-ED COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, if you look at the campaign trail, some people still think it's disqualifying the way it was used during the primary as well as during the general election. It's a heartbreaking story because he worked so hard obviously to get to this place in life and I wonder if part of the depression is knowing that he can't be the person that he wanted to be in this moment and that perhaps he's letting people down.
There's also could be depression linked to the fact that his families are very concerned about him but he doesn't want let his country down. Remember what the environment was like when he was running and how critical it was that when he won that seat unexpectedly that there was a sigh of relief for one side of the party recognizing that they have power. Maybe he's feeling guilt knowing that if he bows out, perhaps that power becomes in doubt.
It's heartbreaking because there's more than just his own health I'm sure he's processing during all of this.
CAMEROTA: Kristen, Senator Ted Cruz sent a kind tweet out today and, you know -- GRANDERSON: Who?
CAMEROTA: Senator Ted Cruz.
GRANDERSON: Oh, okay.
CAMEROTA: I'll read it to you, L.Z., since you seem to be doubting. He says, Heidi and I are lifting John up in prayer. Mental illness is real and serious and I hope that he gets the care he needs. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you're on, please respect his family's request for privacy.
That wasn't -- I don't that was necessary and I think that that was kind because, as we know, we live in this time when people seize on perceived weaknesses on the other side or their opponents.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There are so many Americans who are touched by mental illness and their family for their loved ones for themselves and it does not care what party you're in. And so, good for Senator Cruz for sending that note. Right now, Senator Fetterman deserves our empathy, or compassion, or care, or understanding and in the same way that voters deserve the transparency that he's providing them right now about his condition.
I'm sure that he's not the first person to serve in the United States Senate to face a really big mental health challenge. He may be one of the first to be as open about it as he is, but voters deserve this type of transparency both before and after an election.
CAMEROTA: And speaking about the voters, at what point does it become complicated? How long will they give him? I guess, how long will constituents give him for his recovery?
GRANDERSON: That's a great question, because I really think it depends on the motive behind the reason why they voted for him in the first place. Was it about Trumpism or whether about him? Where is their allegiance? If it's to the party or it's to the candidate? Because if it's to the party, then maybe the patience isn't as long because they just want to secure a Democrat in that seat. But if it's to him, maybe there is more patience he'd be met with and more grace.
ALFORD: And I think either way they have to tread carefully. We saw attacks from Dr. Oz on his physical health. In some ways, it did not work the way that he intended. It actually rallied a lot of people to support John Fetterman because of compassion, empathy and, again, seeing themselves in someone who was being relatable.
CAMEROTA: Certainly people can relate to depression, people can relate to strokes, people can relate to health issues. But at the same time people -- their constituents do want services at some point, and we'll just see what that balancing act is. And it's early days, obviously, and we'll see how that goes.
I want to move on to Actor Bruce Willis. So, he's suffers, Dr. Devi, from a form of dementia. Tell us about that?
NAMPIAPARAMPIL: So, frontotemporal dementia. So, there are different types of dementias. At the end of the day, the way this affect you, whether it's Alzheimer's or this one which we used to call or also called Pick's dementia. It basically can affect your appetite or your mobility. So, if you stop eating or if you stop moving at the end of the day, that's how all of us eventually will pass.
So, this particular one manifests in different ways. It doesn't necessarily affect your memory so much as to your personality, your language. So, that might be also why he first was diagnosed with the aphasia. But that's the type of dementia that he's now been diagnosed with.
CAMEROTA: It's, you know, brave of his family to do this publicly. He could have just vanished and we wouldn't have necessarily known that Bruce Willis was going through all this and particularly for somebody who personified, you know, this heroic kind of superstar, movie star. It's sad obviously to see him going through this but I think generous of his family, Kristen, to put this out there.
ANDERSON: Well, it's good to put it out there and that I'm sure there are many Americans who can relate. There has been some criticism about the way his career has gone over the last couple of years, him sort of being in a lot of movies and to what extent was that his own choice versus those around him kind of pushing him to keep doing it. But, of course, with him sort of personifying strength and masculinity and yet, you know, now the disclosure of this.
I'm hopeful that at least it can help others who have a loved one. They can help them relate and feel less alone.
CAMEROTA: Yes, I hope so, too. Guys thanks very much. Really appreciate the perspective.
Okay. It's almost two weeks since that toxic train derailment in Ohio. Officials say it's safe but families disagree. I'm going to talk to two fathers worried about their kids' symptoms tonight.
CAMEROTA: Tonight, a new CNN analysis into what went wrong in the minutes before that Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, nearly two weeks ago. This newly obtained video shows sparks flying from an overheated wheel. This is at least 43 minutes before the derailment occurred.
The residents at East Palestine continue to express frustration and fear about the toxic spill. Today, Ohio Senator J.D. Vance posted this video showing a local creek.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me just show this to people. I don't if you can see this on camera but watch this. Just see that chemical pop out of the creek. This is disgusting.
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CAMEROTA: As you can see, it's sort of iridescent there in the creek.
Our next guest are both residents of East Palestine, Giovanni Irizarry, returned to his home with his wife and two children after the evacuation order was lifted thinking it was safe, and Gregory Mascher has not yet returned with his three young granddaughters who, as a result, are out of school.
Guys, thanks so much for being here.
Gregory, I want to start with you. You haven't wanted to go back yet. You're staying with your friend because your granddaughters came down with rashes on their bodies. You sent us pictures that we can pull up. Do they still have these rashes? What are their -- this is one of their chests. You sent us their legs, their feet. We can see the rashes. Do they still have these?
GREGORY MASCHER, LIVES HALF A MILE FROM EAST PALESTINE TRAIN DERAILMENT: No. They -- we got out of town on Sunday, the Sunday after the wreck. And by Wednesday, it started letting up and they haven't been back to town since.
CAMEROTA: And so what about school? What are you doing for them with school?
MASCHER: Well, luckily, East Palestine has been very good about it. I call in every day and I'm going to get all their work. I'm not sure if we can go to online schooling or not, but I just -- I don't trust going back yet.
CAMEROTA: And can you stay with your friend indefinitely? I mean, how inconvenient is this to all of your lives?
MASCHER: It's very inconvenient but we have a lot of friends and we can make it work.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, it's obviously not ideal.
Giovanni, you did go back because you were staying at an Airbnb that got too expensive. Norfolk Southern wouldn't reimburse you for it, saying it was too expensive. And they also told you it was safe to go back. So, then you went back and then what happened to your kids physically?
GIOVANNI IRIZARRY, RESIDENT OF EAST PALESTINE, OHIO: We came back Saturday and we were released to come back Wednesday. And the kids went to school Monday, my son came home, had a fever, a headache. We had to wake him up at like 9:00 P.M. and kind of get him some aid. And then Tuesday, our daughter came, and she was just projectile vomiting everywhere. CAMEROTA: You sent us a picture. I just want to tell everybody. I mean, you sent us some video of her vomiting. I know that that is a trigger for people, so we have tried to cut it delicately to show just what you and your wife are going through without it causing anybody who is watching any distress. Maybe we can just put it up. But is she still dealing with this? How are they feeling now?
IRIZARRY: They're both fighting fevers right now. The doctor is ready to test the vomit. They just don't know what to test for. So, hopefully, we can try to find some answers with all those so we can get it out of the fridge.
CAMEROTA: I mean, obviously, Giovanni, you know, kids get sick. Kids get sick at school. There could be a stomach bug. Are you sure this is connected, in your mind, to the chemical spill?
IRIZARRY: Honestly, I'm not sure. I mean, I'd like to get it tested to find out, though, you know, I don't want to take it, you know, as a stomach bug.
CAMEROTA: Yes. And what are your symptoms?
IRIZARRY: Honestly, my mouth and my tongue feels like I've had a battery on it since we've been here.
CAMEROTA: So, is it just a constant metallic taste for you?
CAMEROTA: That's awful, Giovanni. What do the officials there tell you about when this is going to go away and when it's going to be cleaned up and you'll feel better?
IRIZARRY: Well, that's the thing. As we came back trusting that everything was okay because we're a little naive, and it's really not okay. And something does need to happen. And I wish that we were in the position where we could all just stay away, you know, but at the same time, you know, if we weren't there for the mayor yesterday, nothing would have panned out the way it did.
CAMEROTA: Well, tell me about that because -- so you went to that town hall meeting and did you -- did you inspire the mayor or rally the mayor, I guess, to get out in the middle with a bull horn and talk to everybody?
IRIZARRY: Yes, we basically just told him, you know, we're here for you. We need you to be here for us. And if this isn't how you want this meeting to go, you know, why have the railroad tell you how to conduct your meeting? This is our town. We're here for you and we're going to stand behind you, beside you, wherever you need us. And he changed the entire script and even admitted that the railroad company wanted him to do this like a science fair.
CAMEROTA: Gregory, what have officials told you about when you'll be able to go back? MASCHER: Well, they tell us we can go back. But I don't feel comfortable going back. I don't feel comfortable for my granddaughters going back. And I was at the meeting last too. I feel bad for our city officials in our town. Nobody was equipped to handle this. Nobody should have to go through it. I don't know when I can go back. I don't know when I'm going to feel comfortable. These girls are everything and I can't just take the word of somebody. I have to feel it.
And the taste, like Giovanni said and I coached his daughter in basketball too, we love all of our kids in East Palestine. Everybody is close. We all look after each other's kids. And the smell and the taste is just something you can't describe but it does -- you can taste it and it's terrible, and it was bad today too again.
CAMEROTA: Yes, it sounds awful. It sounds awful and obviously you're both trying to approach it in different way. Both of them sound like nothing that anybody would want to live through. We've tried to reach out to Norfolk Southern and we have not heard back. Obviously, we will continue trying to reach them.
Guy, stay in touch with us. Let us know what's happening with your kids' health, with your own health and when you can get back into your homes and your regular lives. I really appreciate it. We're thinking of you tonight.
MASCHER: Thank you very much.
CAMEROTA: Okay. President Biden getting his checkup today just one day after a presidential challenger took aim at him over his age. We'll tell you what we know about his results, next.
CAMEROTA: President Biden got his physical today at Walter Reed, probably his last checkup before he's expected to announce he's running for re-election. He's already our oldest president. He'd be 86 at the end of a second term.
So, what do the results of his physical tell us? Back with me, we have L.Z. Granderson, Kristen Soltis Anderson, and joining also, we have Derek Thompson, Staff Writer for The Atlantic, and Dr. Devi is back.
Okay. Dr. Devi, he is apparently, according to his own doctor, President Biden remains a healthy, vigorous 80-year-old male who is fit to successfully executive do the duties of the presidency. All right, well, all questions answered there, I guess. Did you see anything concerning?
NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Well, I think this has to go -- goes to the doctor/patient relationship, right? This is his personal physician. So, we were talking about Bruce Willis, we were talking about John Fetterman. You know, in those situations, both people were concerned perhaps about their symptoms. So, they're going to get treated and talking about perhaps their problems to figure out what's going on. In this case, you know, we don't know what President Biden is concerned about and what he's talking to his physician about.
So, we're not seeing necessarily a battery of tests. It doesn't sound like a bunch of cognitive tests were performed. Usually, you could have neuropsych testing performed if you're concerned about language. As people get older, there can be problems with memory, word recall, kind of remembering the correct name for things and executive functioning. A lot will have trouble with their bank accounts, balancing their budgets, kind of paying their bills on time, driving. Sometimes we'll send people for driving simulation. So, in this case none of these things are really being done.
Now, President Biden also is -- he has atrial fibrillation, which is a condition that predisposes to stroke. So, a person can develop dementia if they've had multiple strokes. So, these are things if a person was concerned, they might send, you know, the patient to neurology or psychiatry for further evaluation, but that hasn't necessarily happened.
CAMEROTA: Well, he did have a neurological exam, which came normal. L.Z. --
NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Primary care, by a primary care physician, not a neurologist.
CAMEROTA: I see. So, that's not deep enough.
President Biden does have word finding difficulties. He does. I mean, any time you hear him in a speech, he does them. And I don't know if that's his stutter or if that's the prompter but he does. And as you know his critics seize on that. So, just him getting a clean bill of health won't stop them from seizing on that.
GRANDERSON: No. But, I mean, that's been a hallmark of who he has been publicly for decades now. He is someone who has a reputation of kind of verbally or communication with his mouth having issues from time to time, whether he stumbles, says the wrong things, gets ahead of the boss, et cetera, et cetera.
I think he's also suffering from the fact that, as Americans, we don't like to see older people. Like we like to get older but we have a problem culturally with seeing age. And I think he's also suffering a little bit from that, just people see him visually reminding them of mortality, that makes them uncomfortable.
CAMEROTA: What do you think, Kristen?
ANDERSON: Look, I think that the idea of, you know, should we give a cognitive test to folks after a certain age when they're running for office, I don't necessarily know about that, because the campaign trail is kind of the ultimate cognitive test, in a way. You've got to be out there meeting people, being vigorous, being vibrant, giving speeches, answering questions. That's frankly why Republicans gave Biden so much grief after the 2020 or during the 2020 election alleging, oh, he's campaigning from his basement due to the pandemic, he didn't have to be as out there as vigorous, as public as he may have been under other circumstances. But, hopefully, we are not dealing with another pandemic in the 2024 election.
And should President Biden choose to run again, he will be expected to answer tough questions, to be out on the trail, to meet and greet people, especially if he's running against a Republican who, well, it might be a rematch of Biden versus Trump, but it could be Biden versus a number of Republicans who are in their 40s and 50s and will very much want to draw that contrast.
CAMEROTA: That's such a great point, Derek, I mean, that the campaign itself is a stress test, and it does take stamina obviously to be in a campaign and to be president.
DEREK THOMPSON, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: There's no question he has stamina. But let's take the ageism question right on. I think it's absolutely ageist to say that any 80-year-old has to take a cognitive test for any job. But this is not any job. This is the most important job in the world. In 2017 and 2018, The Atlantic, The New York times, writers and people from CNN said Donald Trump should take a cognitive test. They said he was slipping. They said he wasn't finishing his sentences.
CAMEROTA: And he did take one.
THOMPSON: He did, yes, exactly, a man, woman, television camera person. I can -- I have explicit memory of everything that he said in his cognitive.
CAMEROTA: So do we here. Let me play that just for one second to remind everybody of the results that he --
THOMPSON: Now people are going to see that I got it wrong.
CAMEROTA: -- that he passed with, he said, flying colors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: First questions are very easy. The last questions are much more difficult, like a memory question. It's like you'll go person, woman, man, camera, T.V. So, they say, could you repeat that? So, I said, yes. So, it's person, woman, man, camera, T.V. Okay, that's very good. If you get it in order you get extra points.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So good.
THOMPSON: I don't get extra points the first time, person, man, woman, camera, T.V. I think I get the extra points now.
Here's what I would say. I want to make what may seem like a weird connection at first. In the last week, when we shot all those things out of the sky, the lack of information on the part of the federal government created a vacuum into which conspiracy theories flooded and people started saying, oh my god. Are we being invaded by aliens? It's aliens, isn't it? It's UFO's. And now Biden comes out and he says, no, it's actually -- it's balloons. And we shot down some balloons.
When the government doesn't give enough information, people become conspiracy theorists. The president's 80 years old. The risk for dementia increases by a factor of six between 65 and 80. He will reduce the number of conspiracy theories about his mental acuity if he releases more information about his cognitive ability.
LZ GARNDERSON, OP-ED COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: But you're assuming they're going to believe the information. I mean, I don't think you necessarily need to just be filled with constant information in order to trust an entity or enterprise or organization or a form of government. But she certainly needs to be able to, if you tell someone that you have to have trust between the two parties, that you're going to believe what is being said.
You're suggesting that if he just simply says, hey, here's all the information, now there's no more conspiracy theories, we've already seen that's not going to happen. That's not true.
THOMPSON: I would say rather than think of releasing a cognitive test as a kind of vaccine against conspiracy theories that wipes them out, it's more like Advil or aspirin for conspiracy theories. It tempers them down. It's a marginal game. It's a 48/48 country. It's always about winning at the margins.
And if he can prove to people who might have had doubts that he doesn't have the kind of disabilities that other people are suggesting, that is powerful information for people who would vote for him except for their fears about this one piece of information. I think that the hour --
CAMEROTA: I hear what you're saying. I just think -- I just think that, you know, when you watch other networks, they edit it strategically to show his flubs, to show him stammering. They do that and then they sort of, you know, send -- wring their hands about how concerned they are. So, I don't even know if just seeing test results would help people compared to the video.
ANDERSON: At this point, I think the state of the union was so fascinating as like a (inaudible) test for this, right? Watching the state of the union, I felt like the first 20 minutes of so, I thought, if I'm a Democratic voter, I'm a little nervous right now. I mean, literally --
CAMEROTA: Why? What was that you were nervous about?
ANDERSON: He just, you know, his delivery wasn't great. A little bit, you know, stumbling over words and things. And then came the moment when he got into it with the Republicans. And suddenly it was like a different Joe Biden. I mean, setting the policy debates and beefs aside, his demeanor was changed after that moment.
And suddenly, all the post-speech reviews were look how energetic he is. Look how vibrant he is. Oh, of course, he'll run for president again. It's like we forgot that first 20 minutes a little bit. So, you can see what you want to see. Voters will see what they want to see but there is that slice of swing voters to Derek's point who are looking for reassurance and they'll look for it anywhere.
DEVI NAMPIAPARAMPIL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR REHABILITATION MEDICINE, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, test -- test results only tell you so much. You can't look at them and expect to get all this information. But it has to do with following the normal possess, right? So, if someone has word finding difficulties, a normal person would be concerned about it and then go see the doctor and maybe have some testing done.
So, it's not that you have to trust the test results because sometimes they don't give you an absolute answer but you might still see the doctor and be like, okay, let me get some kind of test done. Let me get a CT scan done or an MRI. Let me have some workup with a specialist. And then you see the results and maybe it's a little bit, you know, something suggests one thing, some things are a little bit --
CAMEROTA: So, you say we should do more than what he's done, right? (Inaudible) just a standard physical.
NAMPIAPARAMPIL: Exactly. Exactly. You should follow the normal guidelines for what a person would do. When you start doing things out of the norm that's when people become concerned.
CAMEROTA: Okay. Friends, thank you very much for all of those perspectives. So, what happens when you grow up on social media? We're going to talk about what social media algorithms are doing to brains that are still developing and the real-life consequences that teens are facing now from what they post. It turns out colleges don't like some of it.
CAMEROTA: It's that time of year when many high school seniors anxiously await college decisions. But for some students, their online histories may be bad news. A new article in "The Washington Post" highlights how some students who have grown up being wide open on social media find it now coming back to haunt them, quote, "As they hit college or the working world, they're met with the harsh reality. The standard of professionalism among older generations has not changed and it does not make room for the type of authenticity that social media companies tend to encourage." So now what?
Back with me, LZ Granderson, former NYPD lieutenant Darrin Porcher, Derek Thompson and Natasha Alford. Boy, can I relate to this. I have two senior girls, twins. We have spent the better part of many months trying every which way to get them into college, trying to curate their, you know, he perfect application, the essay, the visit, all that, and a social media post can blow it all up, as we know, and I know a lot of parents know that.
But what's so interesting, LZ, is that, you know, this younger generation does believe in living out loud and they have these confessional videos and colleges claim they want authenticity, but they don't want that much authenticity it turns out.
GRANDERSON: Well, it depends on what you're authentic about, right? I think usually we gravitate towards that word that encompass to identity with your religion, your sexual orientation, your gender expression, your race, et cetera. Not necessarily your body parts, for instance. Not necessarily drug use, you know.
CAMEROTA: Yes, that's a no go, I would say. Yes.
GANDERSON: So, I think they do want authenticity but they still want it within the parameters that we've come used to in terms of being proper behavior if you will.
CAMEROTA: Natasha, here's the cautionary tale in "The Washington Post." "The Washington Post" writes about this from an Aly Drake. "Aly Drake use TikTok like a diary. When she felt friendless, she'd make a video about it.
When she noticed the symptoms of her bipolar disorder, or wondered if an ex was still thinking about her, she'd open the app and press record. But her videos also reach the coaches of the college water ski program that she hoped to join. They sent her an e-mail saying her videos were too negative. She was denied a spot on the team."
NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, as a former teacher, not surprised, right? Our children are growing. They're changing, they're going through emotions. If you're in a classroom with students you know this. And when you try to talk to them about the publish forever rule it's hard for them to conceptualize what forever is when they are 13 or 14 or 16.
Children have a hard time realizing that something they post on the phone or on the web, their parents can find. So, if they're not filtering out for their parents or their teachers, I'm not surprised that they're having a hard time projecting into the future when they apply to college.
CAMEROTA: Derek, what's too authentic?
THOMPSON: I think the rules should be when you're applying to college, everything online under your name is your college essay, right? Everything is your college essay and the same way -- maybe you better start deleting. The same way that writing a great essay isn't just about what you include, it's also about what you leave out. That's what storytelling is, what you include and what you leave out. Everything that teenagers put online on TikTok, on Instagram and
Facebook and all of these sites, to the extent that they do live online forever and the schools are going to look at them and evaluate them by what they say. Well, then it's all your college essay. It's all part of the reflection of who you are as a person.
And so maybe that's what parents need to tell their kids. Everything you post is basically bundled up in what these colleges are considering the picture of you.
CAMEROTA: And maybe it's time to stop sharing so much online, Darrin. Maybe it's time to just start sharing in person more. Remember that?
DARRIN PORCHER, FORMER NYPD LIEUTENANT: You're absolutely right. I'm a college professor so oftentimes I experience the mechanisms of the socialization of kids or adolescents in connection with social media. It defines your personality. And then you also have to take in consideration the average person is photographed or videotaped 100 to 200 times a day.
So, on many instances, that information is captured and tagged to that person's identity. So, it now becomes a part of who you are. So, in many ways, that can either build you up or break you down. And that's the dynamic that we're experiencing in modern day society that we didn't have to experience 20 years ago.
CAMEROTA: But as a professor, are you -- do you ever see a disconnect between the student that you know and like what they're -- do you ever check their online profiles?
PORCHER: Well, I don't check their online profiles. I mean, granted its public information, I'm there to teach the lesson. But at the same token, I do see what the other students -- on many occasions, I've had students sit down in a classroom, they giggle and they're snickering and they're passing around a photo that's inappropriate of what one student may have done.
So, that can devalue that person's identity and this is a real challenging narrative that we're experiencing as we move forward with social media.
CAMEROTA: Yeah, the college thing I think adds a whole other wrinkle because the -- let's face it, the colleges claim they want to know who you really are and they claim they want authenticity but of course it's a facade. I mean, of course, it's a facade. And so, you're crafting what you want the story that you want them to see, but social media is also a story, of course, but sometimes it does have warts and all. I don't know. I don't think we figured out our relationship with it.
GRANDERSON: I think it's garbage that these colleges are taking all of this content from social media and using it to punish students when, one, this is the first generation to really have social media so what are the parameters? They're defining it themselves. And also, two, do we really want to go through and look at what you did when you were 16, 17, 14 years old? It may not have been posted but don't act as if you didn't have those
same sorts of feelings. So, I think it's hypocritical, honestly. Unless you see something that's dangerous like there are threats to harm people or racism or something like that. But if someone is just expressing themselves, come on.
THOMPSON: I like the point that not -- story telling is about what you include and what you leave out, but also evaluating candidates for entry into a school should be about what you include and what you leave out in terms of that big picture. Looking at what someone did when they were 8, 9, 10, 11 years old, that obviously is not relevant to who they are at 17 or 18 years old.
I was really heartened by a little detail in this piece, like halfway into the piece, it said if the share of colleges that say that they look at social media accounts in order to evaluate the quality of students has gone from that one in three to one in four, so it's going down a little bit.
It seems like more admissions programs are adopting exactly this approach. They're saying, there's such a thing as knowing too much. We can experience TMI even as evaluators and we need to pull back how deeply we look into these people's -- into these students' social media profiles.
ALFORD: And the tide will change as more Gen-Z, you know, get into positions of management or leadership. They are going to, I think, have that culture shift and they're going to know that we all have a little something in our past, right? So how much are we going to hold people to an impossible standard?
CAMEROTA: That's good. Okay. Great. Thank you very much, friends. Okay, so it turns out it's not aliens. Well, President Biden was speaking out about all of those strange objects that his administration has been shooting out of the sky.
We're going to tell you what they do think they are next.
CAMEROTA: All right, hold that thought. As you know, three unidentified high-altitude objects were shot down by the U.S. military in recent days. There are still a lot of questions about what they are. But the White House is making it clear what these things are not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I know there have been questions and concerns about this, but there is no, again, no indication of aliens or extra-terrestrial activity with these recent takedowns.
JOHN KIRBY, NSC COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: I don't think the American people need to worry about aliens with respect to these craft, period. I don't think there's any more that needs to be said there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Back now with our panel. Well, I for one am disappointed. I was -- I like the idea of the flying saucer from outer space. I thought that that -- I thought if there was one thing that you could unite us on earth it would be an alien invasion and then finally would solve some of our problems that we're having with other countries and with each other.
THOMPSON: It's worked every time in the movies. "Independence Day."
CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thank you. That's what -- so, I was kind of pulling for that, but it looks like it's not that right now. Here is what President Biden says what they know, all the information they have about them right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We don't yet know exactly what these three objects were. But nothing -- nothing right now suggests they were related to China's spy balloon program or that they were surveillance vehicles from other -- any other country. The intelligence community's current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Derek, hold on a second. Recreation? Somebody's recreational drone goes 40,000 feet up in the air? Isn't --
THOMPSON: Recreational balloon. What I think seems to have happened -- I just talked to someone from my podcast, "Plain English," about this today. What seems to have happened is that some people are hobbyists. They like to put little radios next to, onto their balloons. They like to fly them around, take a look at the weather, take a look at the sky, and one of them got caught at the end, at the wrong end of a $1 million missile.
I think what seems to have happened in the big picture here, is that when these Chinese spy balloon floated over to the U.S., which might have been wind or it might have been the Chinese trying to do something. We got spooked. And you know how like if you see a scary movie, and maybe it's a scary movie about like your own house or a house.
And suddenly when you're trying to go to sleep, all these creeks in your house that previously you could totally avoid and totally ignore, suddenly they started to scare you. What is that? What is that? That's what happened to the U.S. government.
We calibrated our radar in order to pick up the smaller hobbyist balloons that previously would have just been the creeks in the sky that we would've ignored. And now we're shooting $1 million missiles at them. It's a very bizarre situation and at the end of the day I don't think these things are worth much. I don't think they should've been shot out of the sky and a lot of people are freaking out about aliens this week about nothing.
PORCHER: But don't you feel that we have a national defense obligation to ensure that our skies and our airways are safe in the United States? Bear in mind, the fear of the unknown is something that can go far beyond, but at the same token, we have responsibility to ensure that we as the 360 million Americans are safe.
If we have things flying over us that are unidentified, then it begs the question as to what we're doing. I'm a former Army officer and the one thing that I can attest to is the intelligence facet is definitely important because we have a lot of the spy agencies, whether they are coming from Russia, China, or any of these other communist countries that are looking to capture information that will benefit their society. So as a result, I wholeheartedly stand behind President Biden in protecting us as a society.
CAMEROTA: So, you don't mind that the shooting down with the $1 million missile, whatever these things are?
PORCHER: Well, they were $500 000 (inaudible), but at the same token, I'm okay with it, but bear in mind it was a tactically sound operation. They waited until it got over the waters of South Carolina and that's when they shot down the balloon --
CAMEROTA: The balloon I understand.
PORCHER: -- as opposed to in Montana.
GRANDERSON: I feel that instead of spooked, perhaps they got a little bit more political and a little bit more proactive, right? So, remember the chatter about the first balloon. Why did it take so long? Why did you shoot it down over here? Is it collecting our information? What are you waiting for?
We don't know if the administration made the decision in a vacuum or being cognizant that if tit didn't act proactively, that perhaps more criticism would come. He's already being challenged in terms of his mental health. Does he also need to be challenged in terms of his decision-making when the earth -- when the country could be at risk?
So, I don't know if we can say this was a bad decision, but there are $500,000 missiles. I think it may have been a political decision, but it's a political decision I support.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. Once you realize they're there, you can't ignore them. Once you --
GRANDERSON: Right. CAMEROTA: -- once you've tuned the radar to see them, how can you suddenly ignore them? You have to figure out what they are. But I also just find it strange, research institutions aren't labeling their flying saucers and their balloons. Why don't we know what these things are and where they came from?
ALFORD: It's a very good question. I think that the average American, I can make this assumption, we probably weren't looking up for these types of things in the sky, right? We look for planes, we look for birds. I don't think we knew about these things. So, I think this is a good teaching moment, to your point, LZ, about, you know, separating fact from fiction, or a lot of Americans who believe in conspiracy theories right now are prone to disinformation.
So, this is a moment for President Biden to lead, to step out, and to say this is what we are doing, this is how we're keeping America safe. I think it's a moment to teach.
CAMEROTA: Yeah. I mean, I think we have enough issues with conspiracy theories on earth like, if this -- we're not even paying attention to these compared to all the conspiracy theories we have here.
PORCHER: But this wasn't an aberration. Remember, we had this happened three times under the Trump administration and we never heard a peep from anyone.
CAMEROTA: That's right. But now --
PORCHER: However, Biden is this person that we're now looking at as a person that's incapable, but I think that he did the right thing.
CAMEROTA: Great. Thank you all. Okay, now to this. Did witnesses lie? That's what a grand jury, a Georgia grand jury is saying about some of the witnesses in their investigation into Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the election there.
Former Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, is going to join this panel after this.
CAMEROTA: A grand jury unanimously concluded there was no widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 election.