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CNN Tonight

U.S. Air Force: Russian Jet Strikes Propeller And Dumps Fuel On U.S. Drone, Forcing It Down Over Black Sea; FAA Investigates Another Runway Close Call On Eve Of Safety Summit; Poll: 38% Of Republican Voters Say Increasing Diversity Is Threatening American Culture; Biden Calls On Congress To Ban Assault Weapons; U.S. Faces Rise In Highway Fatalities; If ChatGPT Writes Your Cover Letter, Is It Cheating? Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 14, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Tension in the skies, a Russian fighter jet forcing a U.S. drone over the Black Sea. The U.S. Air Force calling the encounter reckless and unprofessional. It's at a potentially dangerous escalation at a crucial time in Russia's war against Ukraine.

Joining me now from the magic wall is CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. I'm so glad you're here to help us unpack. What happened in this moment? Now, colonel, officials are saying that this drone was over international waters on the Black Sea when a Russian jet dumped fuel on them and bumped into the drone? I mean, it sounds incredibly dangerous.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: Yeah, it really is, Laura. And it's good to be with you tonight. But, yeah, where this happened is probably in about this area right here. So, all of this is international waters that you see right here, just off the Crimean coast and, of course, the southern coast of Ukraine.

So, this area is one in which the United States, of course, has a lot of interest in trying to figure what's going on. And one of the reasons to fly an aircraft like the MQ-9 Reaper is to make sure that we understand what the Russians are doing, what the Ukrainians are doing, and what other people might be doing in the Black Sea right here.

COATES: So, I mean, if this collision is confirmed, as you're talking about it, this would actually then the first real collision between the U.S. forces and the Russians in this conflict. I mean, is this possibly risking escalation?

LEIGHTON: It could. You know, one of the things to keep in mind when you look at something like this, you see the different pieces that are a raid on the chessboard of the world right here.

And one of the key things is that, you know, when you use weapon systems like the Reaper, you've got something that is really known for not only its weapons capability, but also as an intelligence collection platform, which is what it was most likely doing, because what it does is it takes signals intelligence and imagery intelligence, depending on the package that it has on board, and it correlates that data and sends it backward to be processed by a command center.

So, when you look at the area that we've got around here, there's a lot going on and the tensions, of course, given the fact that you've got systems going up in this area, you've got fighting all along here, and in the bigger map, you have all of these different areas right in here. So, anything that could happen here could clearly spill over into other areas.

COATES: But why are these U.S. drones, as you are explaining, one was called the Reaper, why are they in the Black Sea region?

LEIGHTON: So, they are in the Black Sea region because we're keeping an eye on everything that is going on in Ukraine. So, we use this area because it's international waters.

If we take a look at everything that is going on in the southern part of Ukraine, and one of the key things is right here at the port of Odessa, we've got the grain shipments that are going through this area. We want to make sure that the Russians are not interfering with grain shipments that are keeping Ukraine alive, basically. So, that's one big thing.

The other thing we want to make sure is that nobody is sending arms into the Russian-controlled areas right here, and that becomes an important part as well. Plus, we also want to see what the Russians are doing in this part, Crimea, which they annexed back in 2014.

COATES: Now, we don't actually know, officials are saying they have not yet recovered this downed drone. So, what is this due potentially to any possible intelligence that it might have been able to collect in a case like this?

LEIGHTON: Well, the intelligence that are collected is sent in real time back to a processing center, either in Europe or in some cases back to the United States.

So, all of the things that are going on here with this, if it -- you know, once it goes down, the intelligence collection stops, and then it becomes a situation where you're trying to get the pieces and parts that made up the Reaper and make sure that it does not fall into enemy hands.

What you are looking at here is trying to pull it off, probably off of the floor of the Black Sea, which is pretty deep in some of these areas, so right off the Crimean coast.


COATES: Colonel, thank you so much for explaining it all to us. I appreciate it so much. I want to turn now to trouble in the skies here at home because on the eve of a crucial safety summit, the FAA is investigating -- get this, everyone -- another close call on the runway.

On March 7th, the United Airlines flight at Reagan National Airport was cleared for takeoff when an aircraft controller noticed an unauthorized plane was crossing the runway. The tense moment was caught on tape.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): United 2003, Runway 1, cleared for takeoff, traffic two out.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Cleared for takeoff, rolling, United 2003.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): United 2003, cancel takeoff clearance!

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Aborting takeoff, aborting takeoff, United 2003.


COATES: I want to bring in CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien. I mean, I have to tell you, Miles, this is apparently the, what, the seventh incident that is like this, just this year alone. We're only in march, by the way. I mean, how is this possible and what is going on?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yeah, Laura, it's almost like an exclamation point on the need for this safety summit that Administrator Nolen has called for. It's hard to figure out how to connect the dots, except to say this appears to be a system that is blinking red, flashing red lights, indicating there is a system that is on the edge of something much worse.

You know, there is an expression in aviation, the rules are written in blood. It's kind of a morbid expression. But the idea is that accidents lead to rules, which make things safer.

Let's hope in this case, we're talking about a series of near misses that ultimately lead to making things safer.

COATES: I mean --

O'BRIEN: Bottom line is that on the runway is a difficult place to be. It's a very challenging place to be. It has always been very dangerous. The FAA has focused on it for years. But it appears that people have gotten a little bit lackadaisical.

COATES: I mean, speaking of runways, we know that a republic airways pilot cross into this runway without authorization. I mean, how does that happen? We're not talking about something the size of mosquito. We're talking the size of an aircraft crossing over runway. How is that even possible?

O'BRIEN: There's really no excuse for a pilot to do this, period. It is a pilot inattention. It's not really understanding where you are in the runway environment. It's perhaps just not paying close enough attention.

Being on the ground, among other airplanes on taxiways, some airports are very complicated with the way the taxiways and the runways intersect. But there's plenty of technology and warning signs built into the system to try to keep pilots from straying onto the wrong piece of concrete.

But this point out an important thing, Laura. We talk about improving the technology of the system. What we don't have the capability of doing in this country is adding concrete, making new runways, making more space for planes to land at these very busy airports.

That's kind of a nonstarter in most locations. And that is where the choke point is right now. Let's hope that pilots, air traffic controllers, and for that matter, the ground crews, redouble their efforts to make this safer.

COATES: Now, there will be for the first time since, I think, 2009, there will be an FAA summit. It's happening actually tomorrow. Do you think that is going to be the substance or the crux of the conversations, not only addressing what has happened now seven times this year, but also trying to figure out ways to, when the rules are there, how to ensure they're followed and to prevent any of these near misses?

O'BRIEN: Well, we can only hope there is a constructive tone in all of this and not a lot of finger pointing about who is to blame here, because if you look at it, we've had cases like you just saw where a pilot is to blame or a flight crew is to blame. We've had cases where air traffic control gave clearances which were not a good idea and pilots have saved the day. We've had situations where ground crews (INAUDIBLE) planes and other planes.

It appears to be a system that has become a little bit complacent. And let's face, post-COVID, the airline industry is still running absolutely at the max, trying to recover a lack of personnel and full planes and capacity everywhere you look. So, when you are at capacity, you really need to be on your toes. You need to be on your toes anytime you're flying an aircraft, but particularly now.

COATES: I hope the passengers are going to be on their toes as well. Miles, it sounds like a lot happening in a short amount of time. Thank you so much. Nice talking to you.

O'BRIEN: You're welcome, Laura.

COATES: You know, when we come back, what voters think about diversity in America? Nearly 40% of Republicans apparently see it as a threat, according to some polling, which may tell you a lot about the laws that are being passed as we speak across this country.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COATES: Well, there is new data out cementing why 2024 Republican hopefuls are focusing on culture wars, as they say. A new CNN poll shows 61% of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters feel the country's increasing racial, ethnic, and national diversity is enriching American culture.

But then there's the other side. Thirty-eight percent consider those changes to be a threat. That's about twice as high as four years ago.

Jessica Washington from "The Root" and CNN's own John Avlon join the conversation along with Joe Pinion and Josh Barrow. Let me begin with you, Jessica. The number is there, the troubling nature of them. You find it to be problematic. Tell us why.

JESSICA WASHINGTON, SENIOR REPORTER, THE ROOT: I think it's incredibly troubling. What we're seeing is, and this has always existed in American politics and American society, this growing idea that it's a threat to have a multicultural society. That is terrifying.


And I think we're seeing this fear that if we acknowledge that the world has not always been perfect for everyone who is not white or (INAUDIBLE) or straight that that is somehow a threat, that you would lose things as a culture.

I think that's what people are afraid of and that's what we're really being seen pushed by the Republican Party right now to some of the rhetoric, including from folks like Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, who tend to kind of toe that line.

I think they're still saying, I mean, words like the drug of victimhood. I mean, those are -- that's intentional language. I think we are really seeing that being pushed at all levels.

COATES: To give some numbers here, you mentioned the idea of legislation, since January 2021, 42 states have introduced bills or taken other steps aiming to place restrictions on issues of how race and sexism are even taught, and 18 states have imposed such limits, according to an education week analysis. How do you see this?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, you know, the positive sign is that 61% of Republicans don't think a more diverse America is a threat. The problem, of course, is that nearly 40% do. And our polarized politics means people play to the base, especially if they're trying to win primaries.

I actually respectfully disagree that Tim Scott and Nikki Haley are focusing on the most divisive edge of the culture wars. I think they walked a line, they're both from South Carolina, but obviously, they're fundamentally diverse. They made a case.

Tim Scott and -- we are talking about the country doesn't -- you know, we don't need to whitewash the past, bur that doesn't mean you can have a more optimistic view of America. But what I think is troubling, obviously, is that 40% in a primary, that is real weight and that accounts for the disconnect we've got in our politics between the primaries and the general election. It accounts for a lot of these more divisive policies.

The good news, if you go to the cross tabs, the younger the Republicans are, the less likely they are to support this stuff. But this is still a big number for America in 2023.

COATES: It's a big number. And the idea of culture wars more broadly being talked about, the idea of, you know, Governor Nikki Haley, former ambassador, began her campaign talking about that she was not white, she was not Black, know full well the impact of race. To your larger point, Senator Tim Scott oftentimes spoken about and referencing even in Iowa, right, the idea of what he called a more optimistic view of America.

But also, there is the element of the impact of race, the impact of how it's talked about, the so-called wokeism. We've talked about it in the past. What's your take on where things are now in this poll?

JOSH BARRO, PODCAST HOST: Well, I think there's a lot of enthusiasm to talk about things through this frame, especially in republican primaries. We saw this even with the Silicon Valley Bank failure where, you know, you saw so many Republican politicians, including Ron DeSantis, coming out eager to blame that on diversity, equity and inclusion and wokeness.

I don't think there is a woke way or a non-woke way to scrub your interest rate management to cause your bank to become consolidated. But that's the first thing that a lot of those Republican politicians will reach for partly because it's easy to talk about. Math is hard, it's easier to complain about DI --

COATES: Is it a red meat?

BARRO: And partly because it's red meat. But at the same time, you see the way that Republicans ran the congressional elections in 2022 where they managed to take back control of the House. And Mitch and the Senate, they obviously had candidate issues.

But the way Mitch McConnell would talk about the way that they ran that campaign is they were trying to talk about inflation, energy, the border, crime, really substantive issues that voters care a lot about.

Now, obviously, these issues can have cultural elements. They can have elements that relate to racial divides. But they are not made-up issues. They are really core issues that people care about.

And I think when republican candidates ran on those things, they tend to do pretty well. When you instead had weirdo candidates who ran on weirdo ideas, you saw them lose, especially in Senate races.

I think this really is Republicans being out of touch with the general electorate and some ways being out of touch with what their own strongest issues are that are available.

COATES: For some reason, the comment weirdo really made to champ at the bit.


Wait a second (INAUDIBLE) what about it?

AVLON: Well, one way to talk about the election denialism is the litmus test. But I think, look, the backdrop to all of this is resistance to multiracial democracy has been one of the defining features of American politics since at least reconstruction.

So, it's not a surprise that that note is being hit. The problem is the word threat, right? I mean, threat is all about fear. Fear leads to hate. That's the danger in that number.

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Look, I think that we just have to be honest about the fact that race has been weaponized in American politics, period.

AVLON: Uh-hmm.

PINION: It has been weaponized in this poll because, quite honestly, to your point, the poll is missing context, whereas the other side politically on this, and it has been weaponized specifically because we don't even know what people mean when they hear that word, specificity of language being the issue.

COATES: Even the word threat?

PINION: The word diversity.


PINION: I think, even to your point, you bring out the word threat, threat is important because we have basically a majority of Americans across the political spectrum that said that there was a threat to our democracy as the top issue on their mind in 2022. And yet, if you ask Republicans, you ask Democrats, the nature of that threat was very different.

AVLON: That's a very good point.


PINION: So, I think, again, if we are just talking about broadly here, is there and has there always been pushback to telling the whole story about America, people who don't want to acknowledge that deepest, darkest stain on the soul of this nation, slavery and racism and the like? Yes, we have to acknowledge that.

I have often said racism goes where you can find the most oxygen. Sometimes, it finds oxygen on the left. Sometimes, it finds oxygen on the right. But overall, I think, again, we have to be honest about the fact that both political parties in this two-party system in a four- party nation have been able to use the pain and suffering of communities.

And even as something as basic as education. Right? I mean, people talk about the issue of education. The vast majority of the richest districts in New York State are places where liberals live. And yet somehow, when we have those conversations, it's never a conversation about saying how has the left weaponized the pain and suffering of Black people.

So, I just think in general, we have to be able to have that broader conversation about the fact that it is not one party that weaponizing race, it's all parties weaponizing race.

COATES: Jessica?

WASHINGTON: Yeah. I think it's really -- one thing I've said to talk about is this idea that like liberals in New York City are part of the left. I think that that is a bit of a misnomer.

I think there are plenty of people who are liberal and also can partake in racism in the same way that you can say that people on the right partake in racism. But I think generally, left-leaning ideas are anti, a lot of kind of that racist rhetoric that we're seeing.

And I also think there is something to be said about ignoring the modern-day racism. I think it's so easy to say racism existed in the past. I think when I say that Nikki Haley and Tim Scott are kind of playing into that, that's what I mean. They want to pretend like racism existed. And now, we are here.

And I think that that is a part of that kind of fear, that if we acknowledge that racism is still an ever-present part of our democracy, a part of this growing multiracial democracy, then we are going to be moving in a dangerous direction, as opposed to saying, hey, what if we acknowledge what's happening isn't great, what has happened isn't great, and let's move forward together.

And I think that that is kind of what I'm getting at when I said that Nikki Haley and Tim Scott are playing into that.

AVLON: I think that's a very fair point. What they are doing in simply acknowledging America's original sin of racism and slavery. Tim Scott is telling the story of his grandfather and how it affected him. Itself stands out from a lot of the rhetoric you hear from Republican politicians, particularly in the south.

I think it is important also to make a distinction, you can argue they're waiving it incorrectly, about the progress that has been made while there are gains that we still need to make as a country to reach that ideals.

COATES: A really sharp point. I want to come back to this point, Jessica, I think it is a really sharp point, the idea of so many people think about this clear delineation between then and now as opposed to the civil rights era, as if it's finite, as opposed to an ongoing movement. It's important to think about in the contest. More on all this in a moment, everyone. Another area and topic that's going nowhere in this country. Well, President Biden visiting Monterey Park, California two months after the deadly mass shooting there. He is laying out details of his newest executive order to combat gun violence. We will tell you what he says, next.




COATES: President Biden calling on Congress to pass legislation to curb gun violence, speaking in Monterey Park, California where 11 people were killed in a mass shooting in January.

The president detailing his new executive order, directing the attorney general to enforce existing laws on background checks, but pushing Congress to pass even stronger universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Ban assault weapons. Ban them again. Do it now. Enough. Do something. Do something big.



COATES: Back with us now, Jessica Washington, John Avlon, Joe Pinion, and Josh Barro. Let me ask you, Josh, about this because he is announcing an executive action which are now can be very dirty words to people in politics. They do have executive order. Not the dirtiest of words --


COATES: -- but they are dirty words to some people. He is asking to increase background checks. Given that, well, there is the legislative branch that might not have the appetite in this moment in time, is this symbolic or more?

BARRO: It seems pretty symbolic. I mean, you know, there are executive orders where the executive branch tries to use power that doesn't have and there are executive orders that basically say, hey, go try and do this thing you're already doing, try to do it a little bit better.

This one seems to be in that category where basically there are a number of existing policies and they are saying, can we tighten up on this, can we do these checks a little bit better? But fundamentally, it doesn't really change our policy towards guns.

And more broadly, I mean, look, we are in a country with an enormous gun ownership rate, with a constitutional right to gun ownership, and with a political culture that strongly supports policies that allow for a lot of gun ownership.

Even if you had an assault weapons ban and you had very -- increased background checks and that sort of thing, it would still be generally permissible to own a handgun in the United States.

There is a lot of other countries where that is not the rule, where it's much harder to get a gun, you have much lower rates of gun death. But not only is that not a case here. It cannot be the case here. People do not want set of policies that is similar to Japan or the United Kingdom or some of these places where that is the case.

And so, there are things we can do at the margin if there is a willingness to do certain legislation. We see some of this in the states. I mean, I think that there have been some moves in red flag laws in recent years that I think improve things at the margin. But ultimately, it's all stuff at the margin. These are not likely to have large effects.

COATES: The Supreme Court obviously has been weighing it as well. They have a big role in how we think about the Second Amendment in particular. I want to -- I want to show for you, guys, a statement that was made by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on the issue and particular on what it takes to really be able to prove and evaluate this sort of gun cases that are coming before the court.


We hold that when the Second Amendment's plain text covers an individual's conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct, to your larger point, Josh. To justify its regulation, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this nation's historical tradition of firearm regulations.

This is a case back in June of 2022. First of all, the language in and of itself kind of reminds you of something else about the historical traditions and echoes back to a conversation around Dobbs.

But the idea here now, if you realize, the vast courtroom experts nowadays are not law enforcement, not cops, etcetera, and not even manufacturers. It's not historians, John --

AVLON: Yeah.

COATES: -- whose job it is to try to figure out what this historical context really looks like. What do you think about this?

AVLON: First of all, I love it when historians get involved with debates.


COATES: I see the smile on your face.

AVLON: I think it is clarifying, it gives us the necessary perspective. But this decision by Clarence Thomas is fundamentally flawed in, like, five different ways.

First of all, the original historic context, let's don't forget, the other half of the sentence that we always forget is, you know, a well- regulated volition. That is part of the historic context that is written into the law, the text of the Second Amendment that is not apparently applicable in current day.

Second of all, the historic balance between gun rights and public interest, which was the historic contest, we see over and over again in American history. You could not take your guns into town in the Old West. Right? I mean, there are a number of reasonable restrictions that have been a part of American history since the very beginning, let alone the historic nature of comparing muskets to what we have today.

So, this is the law of the land. We have the Second Amendment. I mean, that is -- that is scientific fact. But this law, the redefinition of it leads us to get historians to come in to say, here is what the real context is in terms of those weapons. And a lot of justices don't want to hear it because it's actually ideological, it is not historical.

COATES: And by the way, I mean, a lot of things can be completely absurd when you try to test it because some things that our founding fathers never contemplated, for example. I mean, these two real world examples, everyone, here. West Virginia, striking down a prohibition aimed at ghost guns because in 1791, firearms didn't have serial numbers.

And also, in Texas, a judge ruled that it was unconstitutional to take guns from domestic abusers because apparently, that wasn't a part of our history in this country.

When you think about where things stand right now and the idea of trying to look exclusively to history to figure out where we are now, with the technological advances and where we think about gun culture today, is it still appropriate to be so backward-looking?

WASHINGTON: I think it is a little bit absurd to try and go all the way back in time and figure out exactly what they would have meant, especially because, obviously, we moved forward in our society, we decided that domestic violence is a crime which, you know, it wasn't. There are all of these things.

But I do have to say, I mean, if someone does want to be an originalist, you do have to look at the fact that guns were completely different. I mean, if you had a musket, that is not the same thing as an AR-15. And so, if they want to be originalist, if that is really what they want, then they have to kind of think about the context which did not account for mass murders that we are seeing today, thanks to gun violence.

COATES: You've made this point in a similar fashion. The idea of almost selective contextualizing throughout today. I wonder how you see that point.

PINION: Look, I think, first and foremost, God bless Justice Thomas. He doesn't speak for the entirety of the court, even to all of what is considered the conservative block. I do think, again, this is an important conversation, and we should go back to why we are having the conversation.

On the one hand, we are dealing with the fact that statistically speaking, the leading cause of death for children now is gun violence, so people want to do something about that issue.

But I think to your point, and even if we go back to what the individual said about the FAA, right, that you should be passing laws that save lives. The problem that we have in guns in this country overwhelmingly are illegal guns that effectively become illegal through the black market and hand up in the hands of criminals who have no respect for God-given laws.

So, until we are going to get serious about passing laws that actually prevent the crimes that we are trying to stop, I think there are going to be people who believe in that Second Amendment constitutional right that are not going to engage in good faith because if we are being honest, the people on the other side of the aisle are not engaging in good faith.

AVLON: Joe, I've got to ask you. What laws do you think that you would support that could reduce gun violence? I'm with you on the enforcing of the existing laws. I'm with you on the fact that criminals do not respect laws in the first place. I get that as a New Yorker. But what laws would you support that would reduce gun violence? Because it sounds like you think we should pass them, we just don't have the political will.

PINION: It is not a matter of -- first and foremost, I will say this. I think that there are just certain criteria that I think can be applied. I think most people who support Second Amendment would agree to. I don't think people in the midst of a mental health crisis should have access to guns. I don't think that we should be sitting here trying to at the same time say that people who are purchasing guns legally should have overwhelming obstacles placed in their way.


So, I think, for me, my focus is trying to figure out, from experts because I'm not one, where is that critical inflection point where legal guns, guns purchased legally, are ending up on the black market. Rigjt? Where are these guns coming up the iron corridor that are ending up in places like Illinois? What is that mechanism, because I think that's what we should be focusing on.

I think, too often, we talk about everything that surrounds that inflection point and not the actual fact that there's a real problem there.


BARRO: I mean, I think the idea that people who are experiencing a mental health crisis should not be able to get a gun is a commonsense idea. The problem is when you have a legal regime that starts with the presumption that you have the right to own a gun and then you have a burden on the government to show that somebody has a particular reason why they cannot be trusted with a gun, especially something as subjective as having mental health crisis, it is different from just showing that somebody is a convicted felon, for example.

It is difficult to have a truly effective enforcement around that. You can make changes at the margin. You will stop some people who are having mental health crisis from obtaining a gun. It just not works all the time.

It can't work all the time because you start from the presumption that the person is not having a mental health crisis and is entitled to a gun. You know, it is inherent in our system where there is a presumption that people are allowed to own guns if they want them.

PINION: I think that is the point. Right? I think that point is that, again, if we are going to have an honest conversation, then we have to have a conversation about the fact that we are now shifting into a place where there is insignificant amount of people on one political side of the aisle that do not believe in absolute right to gun ownership. And I think that if we are going to -- if we are going to have --

AVLON: The NRA used to not believe in absolute right --

PINION: This is not about the NRA.

AVLON: It can be it.

PINION: But it is not.

AVLON: Would you support the assault weapons ban?


AVLON: Okay.

PINION: I think the --

AVLON: That would --

PINION: But to be clear, I mean --

COATES: Hold on. I want to -- I want to hear this this point. I want you to respond. What is the point you're trying to raise?

AVLON: Would you support assault weapons ban? Because when it was in place, as President Biden was saying, there was a decrease in mass shootings. Now, you can argue it's incomplete and things would slip through, but there is a concrete thing that Congress has done, could do, originally passed bipartisan support. Would you support that?

PINION: I wouldn't support because the same actual data that you're citing, all the facts across the board say it is mixed bag. It does not clear cut one way or the other.

So, again, my point is this, right, that we should have an honest conversation about the fact that the machine gun is not for the (INAUDIBLE). Right? We are not actually here talking about the constitutional right to hunt.

We are talking about people who put in place the Second Amendment right after the first one, we saw our constitutional right to free speech, to ensure that people could live free in this nation and be free of (INAUDIBLE) government. That is the reality of why the Second Amendment was put in place. We should be honest about that. We are talking about a well-regulated militia.

COATES: Oh, man. I wonder if this can all be resolved this evening.



COATES: I guess we have to end it there, everyone. Look, there is new data showing fatalities on our highways and they are going up. Could the reason be in your pocket or maybe in your hand or on this desk? That is next.




COATES: Highway fatalities are up 22% compare to just 2019. Is this all because of distracted driving? Well, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2020, less than 10% of auto accidents were from distracted driving. But, the National Distracted Driving Coalition now says the numbers are really closer to maybe 25% to 30%. So, what can be done about this?

Back with me now, my panel. Listen, I know that some of you are New Yorkers, but I hope that you all drive. I'm thinking about this. But the real issues here, thinking about this, a survey finding that 56% of drivers read a text or an email while driving. Twenty-seven percent of drivers checked social media. And this figure, 19% were shopping online.

I mean, my kids are too young to drive at this moment in time, but I'm always skeptical of the idea of thinking, how is it possible that people are doing this behavior on the road? Do you feel more or less safe hearing these numbers?

WASHINGTON: This is terrifying.

COATES: Thank you.

WASHINGTON: And I don't -- I'm going to be honest, I don't really drive much, and I'm terrified to drive on the highway. So, this is just kind of helping --

COATES: This reinforces it.

WASHINGTON: Yes, no, I've been trying to say I don't really want to learn how to drive. So, this is great. But it is also terrifying and awful. It is awful. I mean, I think part of what is happening here, we are just so addicted to our phones.

And it is not our fault. I mean, they are making money off of getting us to constantly be swiping on Instagram, to constantly be texting, to be shopping online which is crazy.

But, I mean, this is definitely a product of tech companies and social media companies that are just kind of running wild and getting us as addicted as possible.

COATES: They might say the dopamine effect is really about you. You have to have some self-restraint and discipline. I mean, I'm not saying you. I'm talking about you, the society, right? But the idea of thinking about it, is that -- is the onus on the companies to stop us from enticing or us to stop doing it?

BARRO: It's on us to stop doing it. It's also on the government to enforce the law. You are not allowed to play with your cellphone while you drive. I had an Uber driver about a year ago who had an iPad set up showing a soccer game as he was driving. I had to ask him, could you please turn off the soccer game?

COATES: Who was playing?


BARRO: And he literally said to me, like, why? I said, like, because you are driving. But I actually -- I don't buy this as the reason that auto accidents and auto fatalities are up. I think what has happened is the police have stopped enforcing the laws.


In New Jersey, the police are giving out about half as many moving violation tickets now as they used to before COVID. It's similar in New York City. NYPD is handing out about half as many tickets as they used to. People are just not getting in trouble for speeding anymore, and so they are driving more recklessly.

There also has been a proliferation of cars that either have obscured license plates or that have expired temporary license plates. The government can't track people down when they drive through speed cameras.

You know, I had a call, I drive a lot between here and Long Island, and people drive like maniacs out there. I think part of it is just because the government is not enforcing laws like it used to and like it supposed to. I think a key part of the solution here is people need to be afraid that they're going to get a speeding ticket if they drive like a maniac.

AVLON: I don't think speeding tickets have anything to do with this in particular. First of all, I love driving. Right? You can be a New Yorker and drive. Don't be -- embrace the great American road trip. But this is about distracted driving in particular, right? You know, fatalities are up sometimes you don't know the exact context.

Here is what is crazy about this. Yes, we have a problem with the devices distracting us. Yes, we need to have more self-discipline. You can't expect the cops to enforce what we do in our own car. I got a lot of something for people --

BARRO: I mean, that is the law.

AVLON: No, because cops are going to have their eyes in your dashboard all day long nor should they. But, look, I got a lot of something for people who are using their phone as a GPS in effect.

COATES: Right.

AVLON: But shopping? That's just a Darwin Award thing. I mean, we are not at a self-driving car, yet you're shopping? Of course, it is not just hurting yourself, it's hurting other people, and it's inexcusable. This is selflessness that leads from not being so in your head that you get distracted every second and you feel your impulse is the most important thing in the world.

OPINION: No one has said that we should get rid of the iPhone.


AVLON: I see what you mean there. I see what you mean there.

COATES: All right. Well --

AVLON: (INAUDIBLE) increase.

PINION: Innocent people are losing their lives. Take it to Tim Cook (ph).

COATES: Is he an android user? Is that what's happening right now? I don't know. We will see. I mean, no judgment either way. I'm just saying. But --

PINION: Personal responsibility, accountability, people have to follow the laws. I think you have to start there. It is no one to blame but us. Also, poor people still have cars with cassette players in them, so God bless them. Again, you just have to realize the fact that people can't afford the new Tesla, people are dealing with antiquated technology paired with new age technology that in many ways --


PINION: Yeah, Teslas are driving themselves. The people that can't afford the Tesla still have to have their phone in their hand trying to figure out where (INAUDIBLE) to go. COATES: But there are some Amazon devices you could use, on the idea of being that. Point well taken. And again, I wonder, I mean, we can have self-driving cars and everything else, is there a way to maybe make the technology keep up with what we want about our drivers? Food for thought, everyone.

Everyone, stay with me today. When we come, if artificial intelligence writes your cover letter or bolsters your resume, is it cheating? We'll talk about it, next.




COATES: So, here is a question: Can ChatGPT find you a job? Bosses are catching job applicants using artificial intelligence to bolster their resumes. But is it cheating or just a simple boost?

Let's put the bot to the test. I asked ChatGPT to write a cover letter for yours truly, a primetime TV host role for CNN, and name is Laura Coates who is also an attorney. Here is the automated response and it reads in part, dear hiring manager, I'm excited to apply for the primetime TV host role at CNN.


I haven't read this before, people, by the way. As a highly experienced attorney with the passion for engaging with audiences, I believe that I am the ideal candidate for this position.

With a law degree from University of Minnesota and extensive experience in legal commentary, I have developed a strong understanding of complex legal issues and a track record of delivering informative and engaging content to viewers.

As a regular contributor to CNN's news programs, I have long admired my commitment to impartial and comprehensive news coverage. I believe that my experience and skills aligned perfectly with your mission. Sincerely, Laura Coates.

Now, I did not write that, although I put her as the primetime host.


Our panel is back. Is it cheating, by the way? The idea of using it for a cover letter?

WASHINGTON: I think for a cover letter, it's a little different. I think if you're doing it for a resume, maybe not. But a cover letter, I mean, that is supposed to be you showing your employer you're a good writer.

But I do have to say is it's interesting that, you know, people who are wealthier send their cover letters out or their resumes to get checked. They get them created for them. We all know that wealthy parents have college applications written by professionals for their kids.

And so, it is a little bit weird if we're going to focus on the kind of A.I. level cheating and not all this other stuff where if you have a professional network or rich parents or you're independently wealthy, you can get all this extra help.

BARRO: I mean, a cover letter is in many ways a summary of what's in a resume. I think the fact that a computer can write an accurate cover letter reflects that it is not really a creative exercise, that it's basically a descriptive, you know, here's who I am and here is a bunch of points about I love your company so much. And so, yes, you can have somebody else write the letter for you.

I also think that cover letters are just kind of a dumb antiquated practice. I think that they don't actually contain a lot of information. I don't think employers should be asking for them. As for resume, a resume is a purely factual document. So long as the resume accurately describes what it is that you do, what it is that you've done, it doesn't matter whether you wrote it or a computer wrote it or some other person wrote it for you.

PINION: I would disagree. I think, look, the world is changing. Schools now have to catch up. I think employers are going to have to catch up. Again, the ChatGPT is only as good as the prompt (ph). Right?


They could've said, please write my cover letter in the style of Robert Ludlum or Norman Miller (ph) or Ralph Whitman (ph). Right? So, to your point, yes, it is a creative exercise, but increasingly, A.I. is doing all of those creative exercises on our half better and better by the day.

This is why it's going to be the crisis of our time. And yes, I think the cover letter in some ways the least of our worries as it retains the long-term impact on the workforce and our ability to discern who is actually capable and who is not.

COATES: I wish Robert Ludlum have been included, I would've been Jason Bourne in this --


AVLON: -- Robert Ludlum reference.

COATES: I know. You know what? I'm going to add that to the resume. For now, if anyone is asking, I'll take the 11:00. Everyone, thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.