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CNN Tonight

Silicon Valley Bank Collapse Was Driven By The First Twitter Fueled Bank Run; School Pulls Test Question Equating Politics To Race, Gender; Wellesley College To Accept Nonbinary And Transgender Applicants; Department Of Justice Suing Rite Aid On Opioids; Health Concerns With Working From Home. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 14, 2023 - 22:00   ET



HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: That is way less than your chance of winning the Mega Millions, which is 1 in 303,000,000. How about getting a Royal Flush in Poker? It's 1 in 650,000. Getting a perfect NCAA bracket, if you get that, you have done amazing stuff.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Well, Gonzaga, I'm telling you.

ENTEN: Okay, good luck.

WALLACE: All right. Harry, thank you. And if you are really smart folks, you will not take our advice anyway. Harry, thank you for playing. Thank you for watching.

Be sure to catch all of the March Madness men's tournament action on our sister networks, TBS, TNT, and TruTV, as well as on CBS. Good luck with your brackets and goodnight.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates, and welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

Now, look, it's being called the first Twitter-fueled bank ran. Customers withdrew $42 billion. Yes, I said billion with a B. It all happened in a single day just last week in Silicon Valley Bank. The viral panic spreading on Twitter, texts and also chat groups, which, of course, raises a ton of questions, like where do we get our information and who we trust with that information and what happens the next time?

Plus, what exactly is the mission of a women's college. Now, the answer may not be as obvious as you may think. One of the top women's colleges in this country, Hillary Clinton's alma mater, Wellesley College, they're now divided over whether to open admission to all non-binary and transgender students, including trans men. We'll discuss all of that tonight.

And in pre-pandemic times, they call out the olden days, I guess, now, a lot of us could not have imagine for a moment working from home in the long run, but now it's a fact of life for so many people. But what if it turns out that working from home is actually less healthy than you think? Would you change your mind about doing it? We've got a lot to talk about tonight. Here with me, The New York Times' Emma Goldberg, Congressman Ro Khanna, former Senate Candidate Joe Pinion, and Very Serious Podcast Host Josh Barro. I'm glad that you're all here with me tonight, everyone.

There's a lot to talk about here. And I want to begin with what everyone has been talking about, but from a different angle, the idea of this bank run, the idea of what happened for these bank failures. It raises the question, given how people first learned about it. I mean, we thought that social media might have its own vices, right, might be problematic in some ways. But it really seemed to be the impetus for people getting information quickly, Congressman, about a potential for a bank run. How does that set with you?

REP. RO KHANNA (R-CA): Well, I think you saw that almost every venture capitalist, every tech leader is on Twitter, and money moves very, very fast. And so it was very important for government to move fast. I'm glad that Secretary Yellen got there by Sunday night and give them credit. But we do have to think about how are we going to make sure we're moving as fast as money moves in a modern economy.

COATES: And speaking fast, my concern, if you think about it, it's important to hear about it. But to get it right. It's kind of like the media, right? You don't to be the first to publish, maybe the first get it right, get the information out there. And with a speed of social media, with the ability to get information from here to across the world in seconds, it raises concerns about the quality of information. Do you have concerns about whether it's trustworthy to have it so quick?

JOSH BARRO, HOST, VERY SERIOUS PODCAST: I mean, not in this instance, because the concerns about Silicon Valley Bank were well founded. The bank really did have a solvency problem. Actually, in some ways, this was a fairly low tech bank run because, obviously, we saw it spilling out onto Twitter over the last few days. But over a period of months, you had warnings among the very small community of customers at this bank.

In a way, it was like a small town bank. It's the small constellation of high tech companies, and the venture capital firms that fund. These people all know each other. They have each other's phone numbers. They have warnings going from these V.C. firms, from some of the firms to these companies, saying we have concerns about whether Silicon Valley Bank is solvent. We think you should move your money somewhere else.

It's actually very much like It's a Wonderful Life. It's like being in a small town. And that's part of why Silicon Valley Bank was so vulnerable. A more normal bank with a more diverse customer base, the customers would not all be talking about to each other about the banks and financial condition, they wouldn't be as vulnerable to that.

So, we saw it spill out on Twitter in the end. But I think it was really a sort of a more traditional type of community conversation. And, again, the bank really did fail to manage its interest rate risk correctly. It really did end up with a lot of assets on its books that they declined in value and there were very valid concerns about whether the bank had enough assets to backup all of those deposits. So, in the end, I don't think Twitter really misled people.

COATES: I've got to tell you, I have never heard anyone mention It's a Wonderful Life in the context of this. And I am all here for it. But in that case, remember at the end of the movie, it was the people of the town that actually had to foot the bill and try to support George in the end.


See, I know (INAUDIBLE). So, we're talking my language, and whatever Clarence (ph) has for the wings.

However, in this instance, he's right, right? Ultimately, it did fail. There was a collapse, in thinking about this. But there's still the very real notion that The Atlantic has a comment on this, and a point that they made.

And I want to read it to you all, they're talking about more to the point and the idea of shouting fire, essentially. It's says, we're at the point by tweeting such an over the top language about the inevitability, not the possibility, but the inevitability of massive bank runs across the country. They were, of course, making such bankers more likely. Shouting fire in a crowded theater is not necessarily wrong if the theater is on fire, which is to your point, but they say encouraging panic is never the best strategy. Predictions can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everyone who thinks that everyone else is going to pull their money out of the bank is going to try to get in the door first.

So, in light of the fact that it really was problematic, are you concerned that this was the idea, well, you can't say that, you can't say it's inevitable? It seems odd.

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think we only apply that logic to poor people. We only apply that logic to the masses. The reality is what we are witnessing right now is another attempt to shift the blame, shift the blame for the people who are trusted to be the experts, who did not manage that risk, who played fast and loose with other people's money.

And when you go back to 2008, were so many people like myself were coming out of college only to find out that the job market and the world had been destroyed by people who decided that they did not want to actually deal with free markets when those free markets turned against them in their bad decisions. We've seen time and time again that there is a lack of accountability and a lack of stewardship.

And so I think when we talk about freedom in the Middle East and the power of Twitter to keep people informed and to allow them to communicate, whether we are talking about what we saw happen with the eat the rich, with all the GameStop and all of those things, where people were able to get together to put what little information they had together and come up with a broader strategy, the same thing that rich people and hedge funds do all the time.

I think power to the people against financial institutions is a good thing. It keeps people honest. And the last part of that is what you talk, making sure the government can react and does that encourage this bad behavior time and time again.

COATES: So, to that point, I think you raised it, and we are both talking about this point, Emma, the idea of who had the information, the idea of who was able to circulate. You are talking about many people in the tech sector, many people who had all this money who are encouraged to centralize it in one particular bank and had this very notion. What do you say to this idea of the information being out there, the notion of the self-fulfilling prophecy, even though, I mean, it was already happening in the long run, and this power dynamic he speaks about?

EMMA GOLDBERG, BUSINESS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES, : Yes. I think this was a peculiar kind of story. Because on the one, it's sort of a tale as old as time of deregulation and kind of playing fast and loose with people's money. And on the other hand, it is sort of an interesting situation, in that it was contained within certain spheres of the economy.

I've been speaking with a lot of founders and people who work in D.C. and others who did say there was a very strange experience in the days leading up to the collapse and after it, in which they were kind of searching for any stream of information they could get, and that meant friends, colleagues, investors and being inundated with that information and not knowing exactly what you can do to be both responsible and within the law is a very scary situation.

And I also do just want to say I think some people frame this as, you know, a crisis that's really just hit the superrich. But so many the people I've spoken to are also trying to figure out how to make payroll, and they did spend a whole weekend wondering how they were going to pay people who work for them. And this was a bank that had I think up to 50 percent of the tech and health sciences startups in the country, more than 2,500 V.C. firms. So, there were a lot of people whose money was in this and who had to get their workers paid.

COATES: Right, I mean, not everybody. And you have a great book about sort of the democratizing of the idea of access. This is your backyard, Silicon Valley, and the idea of thinking about people are viewing tech as an elitist notion, but the reality, to her point, it's much more perhaps diversified. But at the end of the day, I mean, you still have the government coming in pretty quickly and trying to resolve this issue. And many people are left wondering if the autopsy post this crisis was so easy to identify, why wasn't the avoidance and deterrence?

KHANNA: Well, I think there are two things that the government was trying to prevent. One was a run on regional banks. You did not want everyone taking their deposits out and putting it in the top four banks. And the other thing is the payrolls that were rippling, had 400,000 people that they were paying. Those would've stopped.

So, this is different than the 2008 bailout. The 2008 bailout, they actually helped bondholders and shareholders. Here, they're using a fund that banks pay a premium simply to say -- to provide liquidity and actually the assets of Silicon Valley Bank are there. So, hopefully, it doesn't actually even to deplete that fund.


I think they acted pretty fast to get it done before the Monday markets opened.

COATES: It almost has like kind of a damn if you do, damn if you don't, right? How does the government work so fast and why you're working so slow? They're working too fast, right?

BARRO: No. I think they acted with appropriate speed here. I agree with the congressman. The big risk here was, I mean, the V.C. firms, and you could've had ways to advance payroll and get that done, that would have been a little bit messier.

The big problem was, and you saw this in the stocks of other regional banks. You might well have had a number of additional bank failures this week, a lot more people losing access to their deposits and also losing access to loans. If you have a crisis in the financial sector and businesses and individuals need credit, it can make it difficult for people to borrow, it can have really terrible effects on the economy. So, I think that was the right reaction here.

I think going forward, so you don't like have panics like this in the future, I mean, one thing is I think we need to revisit what the deposit insurance limits need to be. I think it was clear here that it is not reasonable, there are a lot of companies that need more than a quarter million dollars in the bank on an ongoing basements because they have to make payroll that sort of thing. They cannot be expected go through the balance sheet of their bank with a fine-tooth comb to figure out if the bank is going to belly up.

And then the other shift that you need as well is to figure out how was that the bank was allowed to get in this position where it took on all of this interest rate risk. Basically, you can't just tell people don't spread rumors, don't panic and worried about bank for that reason. You need people to be confident that banks are going to be solvent because you need regulations and supervision that ensures that the banks actually solvent. That clearly went wrong here with Silicon Valley Bank.

And I think there are some questions for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and for California regulators about exactly how they let that happen. I'm interested to learn about that. And if we can fix that, then we may have some more confidence in the future.

COATES: Something tells me there will be some hearings about all of this in trying to figure it all out. We're going to come right back on more on this point. But one thing that people should think about, just food for thought, the ease that you're now able to take money out of the bank compared to what has happened in the past. A bank run is really on your phone half the time, right? Think about the ease of that and is that part of the new scheme.

Well, listen everyone, some parents are up in arms over a test question from an A.P. course in one Virginia school district. We are going to tell you what it is and why that question is being removed and get our panel to weigh in, next.



COATES: Virginia's largest school system is removing a test question for A.P. government studies class and asking students to compare political ideologies using things like race and gender demographics. Now, this is happening because a parent in the Fairfax County school district posted this picture of the question on Twitter. And do not worry, you don't have to go close to your screens. We're going to tell you what it really says. And here is what it is, writing in part, I don't care who you are or what side of the aisle you are on, it should infuriate you.

Now here, of course, is an easier way to read this particular question it is on the multiple choice question that asks students in the class, quote, which of the following is an accurate comparison of liberals versus conservatives. And the potential answer is for liberals, included young white males, middle aged, urban lessons, college- educated black male professionals and white upper class suburban mail.

Now the potential answers for conservatives included East Coast, Ivy League educated scientists, southern male migrant labor, catholic Midwestern middle aged male and West Coast, Hispanic teacher.

Now the school district says that that question was actually designed to assess 12th graders understanding of American political ideology, but it admits that it did not meet the division's high expectations. This may have been in part of a part of an A.P. course but the College Board is confirming now in a tweet, this is not part of the A.P. program, adding that, quote, it's antithetical to the content and format of an A.P. question. And I will just say, I mean, I'm ready to be a game show host, I read options just now. Like you saw that? Did you felt that moment in time?

But let's begin here, I want to ask you, Emma, on this idea of the question itself. I mean, the idea of trying to essentially get people to compartmentalize, categorize use sort of stereotypes to describe what people must be thinking based on race and demographics, what is your reaction?

GOLDBERG: I mean, I think in this fractious political moment where one of the greatest problems we're facing is tribalism, I think the last thing we should be doing is reinforcing the idea that any person's ideology tracks with demographics in a specific way. I did a little bit of reporting during the 2020 election and I think one of the things that I learned from just going out and talking to voters is that it's really hard to know what anyone is going to say about what they believe before they open their mouths. People surprise you. So, I think that a question that reinforces that someone of a political party looks or even should look a certain way is definitely problematic and surprising to see.

COATES: I do wonder the idea of political strategist out there and the business and trying to predict things, though, right, trying to suggest, here's where you need to go, here's the talking point you need to say. I mean, you've run campaigns, of course, you are a sitting member of Congress. The idea that people are paint with such a wide brush and stroke, does it concern you or is there some statement to be made about, look, if people are thinking this way, then we have to tap into it?

KHANNA: Well, I think it was an appropriate question for the reasons Emma mentioned. But I think that the school district has apologized. They said that this was wrong. And it is being used to politicize the culture wars. I mean, it is not like the school district, they had a poorly worded question, they took it away, but this is sort of being used by the right to now say, well, we are not going to teach about African-American history, we should not teach about 250 years of slavery, we shouldn't teach about 100 years of Jim Crow. It cannot be used ideologically. Fine, it was a wrong question, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't teach about race and gender in our history.

COATES: What do you think?

PINION: This comes down to trust and truth. And when there is no trust, we cannot have the pursuit of truth. And so, yes, we can talk about the fact that maybe an overwhelming majority of black people have been voting for one party and the overwhelming majority of people from a certain community or cultural background are voting in a certain way or part of a certain political party.


But I think, at some point, this is a nonpartisan, transpartisan betrayal of what America is supposed to be. And it's bled over into our politics when you have somebody like Joe Biden says, if you don't vote for me, you ain't black, when you have individuals who say if you are member of the LGBTQ community, then you cannot possibly vote for Republican or somehow you're betraying yourself.

And so, again, there is this soft bigotry that is hurled, writ large, with a smile on their face and a candygram from the left that does not actually seem to acknowledge the hatred and the hurt that is embedded in some of these blanket toss-away sentences.

So, yes, I think, again, the reason why you have somebody like Ron DeSantis in Florida talking about this, the reason that you have people on the right using that word, talking about this, is because every single time evidence is produced to suggest, yes, these things are happening to our children, people that look like me, that think like me are being marginalized, it is tossed away, called one-off, and then used effectively as the impetus to call the people who bring this to you out of deep rooted concern crazy.

COATES: You don't agree?

BARRO: I think this is an overreaction to a single question on a high school exam. I mean, look, obviously, there is no demographic characteristic that you can read into with 100 percent certainty, what somebody's political views or affiliation would be. That's obviously true. And I'm sure the person who wrote this question realizes that that's true.

I don't know from the materials we've seen what exactly they were trying to get at in this exam in an A.P. U.S. government course. It's a valid topic to talk about demographic support in American politics and how that's change overtime. It's changed some very interesting ways in the recent years. Actually, there's been a decline in the racial polarization of voting during the Trump era, which I think most people don't realize.

And so, I mean, not knowing exactly what the material was that they were trying to teach with this ham-fisted question, then I would certainly don't see any reason as a person who does not live in Fairfax County, Virginia, to get agitated over this one exam question.

COATES: What if the question -- okay. But what if -- let's assume for the sake of conversation here that the whole point of it was to talk about the fact there is this highly fractious community that we live in, that people are assuming things based on your race, your color, your gender, that you're going to vote in a monolithic way. If that's the nature of the conversation for high school students, is that problematic to acknowledge that there are some who believe that?

BARRO: Well, I don't think it's problematic to acknowledge that. But I also think that basically every society in history has had group divisions over politics, where you've had demographic groups that tend to be more supportive of one political movement or another. So, I don't think that's an off limits topic to discuss. In fact, I think it is a central topic in an A.P. U.S. government course. It should be discussed in the right way and this question did not do that. But I don't think we can infer from this what the course is more broadly about.

COATES: Your problem is about the idea of people assuming -- you mentioned the word, betrayal, the idea that if you do not conform to this idea of the monolith and somehow you are inauthentic, as opposed to perhaps the, you being -- the facts or the data out there is wrong, that's your issue?

PINION: Look, I just think that this is broader than one question. If it was just one question, we would not be having the conversation. The issue is, time after time, issue after issue, there are things that people are concerned about, namely, they do not trust the government or schools to give their children an unbiased perspective on what it means to be American, who they are and the things that they should value.

So, yes, I think, again, it cuts both ways. But from my perspective, yes, when you've had the 2016 nominee for president for the Democratic Party say that all Republicans effectively, writ large, are deplorables. And then you turn around and have some --

BARRO: She said half.

PINION: Well, the ones who did vote for him.

BARRO: She said half. PINION: Right. And then you have --

COATES: Details, details, gentlemen.

PINION: You've got Joe Biden saying, if you don't vote for me, you're not black.

BARRO: And it's still not a great statement.

PINION: I think, again you should be able to talk about our political divisions but it was not a prerequisite of that conversation to say that the other people are not just wrong but they're evil. And I think that that is where we are today, where parents are going to say, I have to assume there is an evil intent in these questions and I have responsibility to protect my family and my community.

COATES: Do you mind if I turn to you when they say, no trust in government? Congressman, how do you feel about this issue?

KHANNA: Instead of focusing on the question, which I agree was wrong, you know what I wish we would discuss in this country, how people are graduating high school with no knowledge of American history. Why don't we talk about learning about the Constitution, learning the Declaration of Independence, learning about who Frederick Douglass is, learning about Dr. King? Like we have --

COATES: Or civics, more broadly.

KHANNA: Or civics. We want to have a conversation about how we are going to respect each other and treat each other with principles and not look to people's demographics. Let us have people understand American history. We have got a whole generation of people who, in my view, don't understand sufficiently American history and we're having a conversation about one question on a high school exam.

PINION: I mean, I would agree. I mean, I think that point, though, I mean, look, every state you go to, from New York State to Florida, to California, we've got children who can't read and can't add.


So, I think the broader conversation here, right, the conversation in the background, this culture war on wokeism and the back and forth is rooted in the fact that the core competency that is required for the schools is not being met. And instead focusing on that, we get often all these tangents where we start having conversations about what is the demographic of a political party, what kind of activities should the school be hiding from the parents, none of that goes to what you are talking about.

We have a generation of children that do not know what they're supposed to know when they walk out of those government-funded buildings. That is the broader problem. But in the absence of us actually dealing with that, parents just want to make sure that their children are not being taught a matter of nonsense that has them hating themselves or their community or their parents. COATES: Well, let me speak on behalf of a parent of public school children. I certainly think that they -- I'm certainly hoping they're not a member of the generation that is painted with such a broad stroke. I do think there's an opportunity to have both conversations, the idea of us illuminating the issues that parents are confronted with and students as well but also more broadly what we expect from our schools. But it really cannot stop there. It's really a whole village. It's also is a whole village to educate children as well.

Let's go to college right now though, because Wellesley College is holding a referendum that gets at its very identity as an all women's school. Students are voting today whether to open admission to all transgender and non-binary applicants, that includes trans man. We're going to talk about it, next.



COATES: Everyone, students at Wellesley College, here is an update. One of the country's top women's colleges voted today in passing a non-binding referendum that would change their admissions process. The referendum says, in part that, quote, "Wellesley College admissions will adopt a policy that is inclusive of all transgender and non- binary prospective students that would include trans men."

Back with me now, Emma Goldberg, Congressman Ro Khanna, Joe Pinion and Josh Barrow here as well. So, again, this is a non-binding referendum here, but they voted in favor considering to admit all non-binary and transgender students into the school according to statement from the director of media relations as well.

What's your thought on this because on the one hand, you think about what it means to be a women's college, and that's going to be the, obviously opponens discussions on this point, and the idea of an inclusive educational institution. What do you say?

EMMA GOLDBERG, BUSINESS REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think it's no wonder that it's become such a fraught and, you know, complicated question at Wellesley because from following it, it seems that on the one hand you have the principal -- sorry, the president saying that, you know, she wants to honor the legacy and the history of what it means to be a women's college.

And then you have the student activists making what I think is a very nuanced point about what I think they said was standing by the spirit not the letter of Wellesley's principles and saying, what does it mean to let in all people who have been marginalized on the basis of their gender identity? And that can be nonbinary people, transgender people, you know, it's a lot of a bigger tent.

So, I think it's raising really complicated questions and I think it's powerful to see them playing out in this open conversation and having students actually get to air their perspectives and lead these conversations. COATES: Let me tell you what the president of the university actually

said and wrote. She released a statement, it says in part this, "Wellesley is a women -- this is before the vote. She was to say, Wellesley is a women's college that admits cis, trans, and nonbinary students all who consistently identify as women. Wellesley is also an inclusive community that embraces students, alumni, faculty and staff of diverse gender identities. I believe the two ways of seeing Wellesley are not mutually exclusive. Rather, this is who we are, a women's college and a diverse community." Joe, you disagree with this referendum. Tell me why.

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, look. I think for me its youthful. I think they are a private institution. I think they have the right to do what they want to do. Wellesley gets to determine their own future. But as my grandfather told me a long time go, you cannot serve two masters.

And I think that the reality is that there is value in having a female institution, a women institution. There is value in having all man institutions like war house (ph). There is value in being able to say there is a tradition here. We are catering to a specific subtype of student because there are advantages to that, because there are people who have certain preferences for the type of educational environment, they want to be in. So --

COATES: Well, what if this wasn't gender (inaudible)? What it was a matter of race, instead, the idea of catering to, and the notion was, you know, (inaudible) -- I am a daughter of a Smith graduate and (inaudible). At the time they both were obviously all exclusive for men in Amherst and women for Smith still, but the idea of people wants to learn and the education (inaudible).

PINION: I think it's a tragedy that we have effectively made it so easy to categorically pivot to the marginalization of black people and compare it, 400 years of subjugation to, you know, some of us just simply having a having the conversation about saying, hey, look, there are some schools that are going to cater to all men. There are some schools that are going to cater to all women.

And institutions have the right to make a(inaudible) for themselves, but I think it is substantively different to have a conversation about people simply being discriminated against because of their race. We are not saying that there should not be places for trans men and trans women to attend universities. We're not saying that Wellesley does not have the ability to do so.

But I think to dismiss out of hand the value of having a college that speaks specifically to women that caters specifically to women and dismissing the value and having a school like Morehouse house that cater specifically to men, I think it does us all a disservice because we are tossing out a long, long, legacy of things that I think a lot of people across the board, across the political spectrum and say its beneficial.

COATES: I'm think (inaudible) my pivot to the idea of having asked you a question about it, the idea of if the premise, your statement and initially was, if the premise is people have a right to decide what environmental or educational environment, they feel comfortable in, how do we not expand it being on the notion of transgender, of same-sex and beyond?


And I would note, of course, if this is about gender identity, to your larger point, Emma, that this is opening the doors for people who identify as women, still women's college. What do you say?

JOSH BARRO, HOST, VERY SERIOUS PROJECT: Well, I mean, I think that a gender specific college is inherently not inclusive in certain ways. That's the key idea behind the institution. That you have only a certain kind of people. And we have a lot of institutions in society that are for men or women and there are historical reasons that we do that, and there are ideas that women -- I think women especially, but also in some cases, men can benefit from institutions that are specifically for them.

I think that's a reason there's been such a decline in men only colleges. You see more women only colleges that remain. That said, I think it's, you know, it's up to Wellesley to decide what exactly that non-inclusive metric is going to be. I think that there are visions of, you know, what the value is in having a women's institution.

The idea that the students who support this referendum articulate that it's about having an institution for people who or have faced oppression or marginalization on the basis of their gender. I think that's also a coherent concept. It is just a different concept. And I think you can have a college that have either of those missions and indeed you have seen women's colleges that have gone in both directions on that policy.

So, I don't think that from the outside there is a correct answer to this. I think Wellesley can be the author of its future. And again, you know, you've seen some institutions that were once women only go coed because they decide that -- it is note -- whatever purpose there was for which they wanted to be women only, no longer applies.

And like Vassar, for example, they decided they're going to admit everybody. So, I think all of those decisions can be correct. It's just a matter for the institution. And the last thing I would note is, is the students do not own the institution. The college --

COATES: It is non-binding.

BARRO: Right. And the college has a wide variety of stakeholders. So, it's not simply the college necessarily have to do whatever it is that the students want to do, but I think Wellesley gets to determine its own future here.

COATES: Congressman, you -- the calculus and the vacuum, right? There is a whole lot of things happening legislatively at the state level and of course the federal level regarding LGBTQ+ rights, and certainly transgender communities in particular. How do you see this issue? REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I support the students and wanting to make the

institution more inclusive. Look, a democracy depends upon renewal. It depends upon new voices. I learned so much from young people about issues of trans rights, non-binary, the rights of those who are nonbinary. The vocabulary, and a lot of times I say things that they say, well, Ro, that you may want to phrase it this way.

And I just think we have to listen. The next -- the younger generation, they are so comfortable with folks who are trans, with folks who are non-binary. This is going to be their country at some point. And that doesn't mean we don't respect tradition. That doesn't mean we don't respect institutions. We need to listen to them. And I applaud the students. My guess is, just making a prediction, 5 to 10 years out, they are probably going to be the ones who are making these decisions at institutions around the country.

COATES: Well, I applaud back to the students who are able, especially to your larger point, to even have the say. We all know the power of alumni. We have the power of the legacy of different institutions. But the notion here that there was a voice and sort of democratizing of this, is really important to our greater conversation about education. I will be curious to see how this all pans out. This vote just happened. The result just has happened. So, I'll be curious to see what the reaction is as well.

Everyone, the Justice Department is suing one of the country's largest pharmacies. They are accusing Rite Aid contributing to the opioid epidemic. So, was the company filling prescriptions with obvious red flags? We'll unpack it next.



COATES: Listen everyone, the Department of Justice is suing drugstore chain Rite Aid. You may have seen, accusing it of ignoring red flags in opioid prescriptions. The DOJ is alleging in their announcement that, quote, "Rite Aid's pharmacists repeatedly filled prescriptions for controlled substances with obvious red flags, and Rite Aid intentionally deleted internal notes about suspicious prescribers. Now, these practices open the floodgates for millions of opioid pills and other controlled substances to flow illegally out of Rite Aid's stores," unquote.

And CNN has reached out to Rite Aid for comments, but we have yet to hear back. This is pretty important to think about because we know that the approach and the reaction to the opioid crisis, it obviously has changed over time from how people viewed addiction in the 80s and 90s to where we are today.

And we've seen a lot in terms of manufacturers and big pharma. This maybe one of the first times we've really seen DOJ go after the pharmacy that is providing the material. You've had a lot to say about this, in fact, using legislation on this very issue. Tell me about it.

KHANNA: Well, it's outrageous what Rite Aid is doing. I mean, I have traveled with so many communities, factory towns decimated because their manufacturing left, went offshore. And people are just suffering because of addiction to opioids. I mean, depths of despair are about how a lot people in the working class have life expectancies less than they had 20, 30 years ago.

And then they have companies like Rite Aid profiting on the despair and grief of Americans is sickening. And I don't think that's actually a partisan issue. I think you would have Republicans and Democrats saying the same thing.

COATES: There is support, of course, to combat the opioid crisis in this country. And really the allegations as laid out, I mean, first of all, the fact that DOJ is ready to sue and having information that they -- are alleging at this point in time, very significant to think where they are right now. What do you make of this approach?

PINION: Well, look, I think that it's heartening that the government is looking in to this, that you have a multi-billion-dollar behemoth. In many ways, it has abused their ability and access to those drugs to fuel a crisis that has taken the lives of countless Americans.


So, I think that we should all be hearted by that. And my concern is that the government, as always, is many, many days late. Many, many million dollars short and millions of lives overdue. And so, I think even if you pivot now to what's happening here with the fentanyl crisis, we need to do more in the immediate to make sure that we stop the next opioid crisis which is already unfolding at a precipitously faster rate.

And I think that there are things that the DOJ can do today. I think there are things that D.C. can do today to stem that tide of fentanyl flowing from China not interrupting those supply chains. So, yes, good on the DOJ to go after Rite Aid. We went after the doctors in white coats. Now we're going after the lab techs in the, you know, in the scientific jackets and all their stuff as well.

But I think at the end of the day, the real conversation is, less retroactive trying to make ourselves feel good, what can we do today and what can the government do today to prevent this from happening one more time to the American people.

COATES: One thing that has to happen, we all know, and the lawyer in me is coming out, is that they've got to prove their case, first of all. We know that there is obviously an indictment on these institutions in terms of the court of public opinion. They got to prove their case and this is how they began.

BARRO: Yeah. I mean, the sad thing, in a way, we're decades later here. I mean, it's a lot easier to figure out what we could have done differently 25 years ago to prevent the opioid crisis than to figure out what to do about it now because when you look in Europe where you never had the orgy of opioid prescribing that we had in the '90s and early 2000s. Very misguided approach to the treatment of pain that created this

huge market. That created a lot of people with opioid problems and also created the market into which you could sell heroin and then fentanyl. And then by the time we found good ways to cut off the flow of pills, you had the massive addicts. And so that created the -- that pushed people towards drugs that were never intended for the prescription market, toward heroin. Ultimately, toward fentanyl.

And so, look, I mean, you know, when -- we have rules on prescribing for a reason. You know, people are breaking them. We need to hold them accountable for that. But this sort of thing, if we had done it back in the late 1990s, this is something that could've actually done a lot to stop the opioid crisis.

Now, if you stop the introduction of opioid pills either into the black market or through prescriptions with people who shouldn't be getting them. You're sort of just pushing -- you sort of just end up with, you know, people fall into the fentanyl problem. And fentanyl, you know, it's a lot harder to figure out exactly how to stop the flow of that because it doesn't --

COATES: You mean the problem being -- it's often found within a whole host of drugs now (inaudible).

BARRO: So, first all, yes. You have counterfeit drugs that appear to be prescription pills, but in fact contain fentanyl. But you also just have -- you have all of these totally black-market alternatives to prescription opioids. So, that by cutting off the flow -- if you cut up the flow of pills in the year 2000 you would have a lot fewer people using.

To cut off the flow of pills now, I mean, it's still a good thing to be with the margin (ph) (inaudible) a lot of people using, heroin, using fentanyl instead. It's just a much more different problem to attack.

COATES: But yet, they are attacking it, which is a good thing

GOLDBERG: I mean, like the representative was saying, communities have been ravaged by this, families have been ravaged by this. There's been so little accountability for all of the people who were putting profits over people's lives. So, I think, any level of accountability that's possible, even this late, is obviously so important.

And I was really alarmed to read the report of, for example, comments by pharmacists being deleted that said things like cash only pill mail. Or careful what you put in writing. I think any level of accountability is possible in a situation where profits have been consistently put over people's lives is crucial.

COATES: I mean, that's the allegations, right, not just the idea of -- the thing about to sue Rite Aid or sue any institution that has as many different branches, et cetera, they are going to alleged -- they are allege -- in some sort of coordination or something knowable. And the idea of turning a blind eye, this seems to be a testament of that will be leading to accountability as well potentially. Again, DOJ has got a lot to prove and we'll see what happens here.

Listen, the nature of how and where we work has completely changed over the past few years. In fact, probably the last two, especially. You know, it turns out that working from home may not be so great for your mental and physical health. And I promise you, I have not been advised and required to say that for all of you who want to still work from home. We're going to talk about why that might not be the healthiest thing anymore, next.



COATES: Everyone, so millions of Americans love the flexibility of working from home. But what about the impact on our mental and our physical health? There is a provocative op-ed in "The New York Times" under the headline, "Working from Home is Less Healthy Than You Think."

The author, Dr. Jordan Metzl, who is sports medicine doctor says that while some people use remote work to exercise more and bond with family, others became less active, gained weight, and suffered from isolation and also depression. Let's see what my panel has to say about this. You can't work from home. You're a member of Congress. You can't phone it in. But how do you feel about it?

KHANNA: Not anymore.


COATES: Oh, they got you there. Okay.

KHANNA: Members of Congress is a privileged position. Yes, it's good for mental health not to be working from home, but you want to do that. How about we agree to (inaudible) childcare in this country. I mean, not everyone has that privilege to just not be able to work from home. Canada did $10 a day for child care every family. We should do that here in the United States.

GOLDBERG: And the minimum perhaps. Yeah, I mean, I think we have to remember it's not like the old arrangements whenever I went into the office work so perfectly for everyone. Working parents spent decades trying to do the impossible balancing act of being in the office and being at school pick up at the same time.

I think what we've been given is an invitation to rethink that. And I think that's why a lot of companies and workers are moving towards hybrid arrangements. Right now, about 50 percent of people in the country who can do their jobs remotely are in hybrid arrangements.


So, I think it's a lot about the opportunity of where we can get the best of both.

BARRO: I work from home. I just have to make sure to make a point of getting out of the apartment and going and seeing somebody as part of my schedule every day. You know, I go work out at the Barry's boot camp in the morning, basically every morning so that gets me out of the apartment --

COATES: Don't show off.

BARRO: No, really.

COATES: Every morning? Really?

BARRO: I'm just -- I'm just showing my truth. And so, you know, that -- that gets me out of the apartment and I, you know, I make sure to make plans with friends and that sort of things. I mean, sometimes my husband comes home is like have you left the apartment today? And so, I really try -- try top make sure that I can avoid that question or at least answer yes to it.

COATES: What about you?

PINION: I think that not all jobs have to be an in-office job. I think COVID revealed that. I also think that, to your point, there is something about getting out of the house, finding ways to, I think, sometimes get away from your spouse. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, okay, so.

But no, look, I think, again, every work environment calls for different types of setups. I think hybrid has been good. I think you make a great point, that one of the benefits was people who were unable to afford childcare, not also having to give up their job and do that. So, I think, in general, hybrid options are good. But I think also you have to make sure you get taking care of yourself, mind, body, and spirit.

COATES: And apparently, Barry's boot camp every single morning. That's part (inaudible) everyone. I will not see you there. But I will see you in a moment because there is also an incident involving a collision over the Black Sea and it's marking the first time that Russian and U.S. military aircraft have come into direct contact since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. We'll tell you exactly what happened, next.