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CNN Tonight

Panel Discusses Topic Of Abortion And The Battle Over The Abortion Medication; Elon Musk Escalates Antics At Twitter, Complicating Turnaround; Senate GOP Confronts 2024 Primary Challenges And Trump's Influence; Are We Headed For A Recession?; CNN TONIGHT Presents "Tomorrow's News Tonight." Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 10, 2023 - 23:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to CNN TONIGHT. We are trying something different for this hour. We have some of our very favorite reporters here to share with us the inside scoop on what stories they're working on this week.

Our first segment deals with the topic of abortion and the battle over the abortion medication. Let's bring in our reporter, Eva McKend. We also have Sara Fischer here, Alayna Treene, and Rahel Solomon.

So, Eva, I'll start with you because this is your story this week. I know that you've been out on the campaign trail, um, talking to voters, listening to various politicians. Where are we with this?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: So, I think that the challenge for Republicans, they've suffered many losses in this space, is that from a messaging standpoint, they are in the same place that they were a year ago without a cogent argument. You have certain Republicans calling for more extreme laws and others saying this has gone too far, we are losing races across the country.

I think that there was a lack of acknowledgement. And slowly, we're seeing Republicans sound the alarm of how galvanizing this issue is for Democrats.

I was out on the campaign trail in the battleground state of Pennsylvania last year and it's not only young women that were concerned about the future of reproductive health care in this country. It was young men as well, standing on line to get into the John Fetterman rally, now Senator Fetterman's rally.

And I approached a young man, college student, asked him what was his number one issue, and he told me, you know, I'm really concerned about my mom, my friends, my sister.

And so, uh, I think that Republicans underestimated the strength of that argument that Democrats have been able to wage and are going to continue to wage, Alisyn. CAMEROTA: And yet it is not like certain judges and in certain pockets that they're backing off this. I mean, there was the Roe versus Wade bombshell. And then there has been more things since then, including what we saw even Friday night. So, it's not like they've decided that they've gone too far. Some of these Republicans, I'm thinking of the judges now, are keeping their foot on the gas of this issue.

MCKEND: Well, absolutely. It's inconsistent. And from a republican perspective, it is the official position. According to a resolution that they adopted, it is the official position of the RNC to -- for Republican lawmakers to push for the most, I think, restrictive laws possible.

But when you speak to different Republicans, Congresswoman Nancy Mace on our air today, um, she is concerned about how far they are taking this because no matter what they do, they can't escape the fact that their position is not in line with most Americans.

CAMEROTA: That was very interesting --


CAMEROTA: -- to hear Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Republican, sharing the same position with AOC, basically --

TREENE: Uh-hmm.

CAMEROTA: -- particularly about this abortion medication. So, let's listen to them on our air.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Even if we might disagree, it's not up to us to decide as legislators or even, you know, as the court system that whether or not this is the right drug to use or not.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, you think the FDA should ignore this?

MACE: I would. Yes, I would.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): The Biden administration should ignore this ruling.


CAMEROTA: Isn't that interesting?

TREENE: Oh, it's so interesting and it's also very frustrating for Republicans, I think. This has been very tricky territory for them to navigate. I mean, abortion ever since the Dobbs ruling last year has not been a winning issue for them. And we clearly saw that, as Eva said, during the 2022 midterm elections.

And I think one of the things they were hoping to do was jump on what Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was saying, what Senator Ron Wyden was saying, both progressive saying just ignore the ruling altogether. They are like maybe we can go to that and say that this is a dangerous precedent, to ignore ruling.

But then they have someone in their own party coming on this morning and telling Kaitlan, uh, we should ignore it. And so, there's definitely a divide in the party. They don't know how to address it. I know that Senator Lindsey Graham was on the Sunday shows this weekend. He was one of very few Republicans to actually speak out on the issue.


And he said, we need to portray our messaging as more reasonable and more practical and not go, you know, to the far right on this, and show that we're not trying to blow up abortion across the country and make it totally legal.

CAMEROTA: I feel Senator Graham has been all over on this.

TREENE: He has, and he has also been pressured, though, a lot by different outside groups like SBA List and others. Um, but I think he also recognizes, as Eva said, this is a very difficult path for Republicans to navigate and they can't come on too strong to voters because then it will be really damaging for them in elections.

MCKEND: It it's a foil, right, because Democrats want to argue for a long time that Republicans are too extreme on a whole host of issues. And, you know, now they have this one sort of out front and they can lead on this and saying, look, you know, they -- South Carolina Republicans flirting with, and this is intellectually inconsistent, but flirting with the death penalty in certain cases.

Just a proposal there, right? As -- as an illustration of how pro-life they are. And so, um, you know, democrats really want to have this conversation.

CAMEROTA: In fact, Sara, "The Wall Street Journal" called this a political gift for Democrats.

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: I mean it kind of is in the sense that if you look back to the last midterm election cycle after the Dobbs decision, Democrats were throwing their hands up in the air saying this is a layup for us, this is the easiest way to galvanize our party. And it's just a repeat of that.

I'm surprised to Alayna's point that Republicans are letting it get to this point because it seems like we're far away from 2024. But Alisyn, we are not. Already you have Donald Trump buying ads. You have a lot of candidates who are starting to talk about throwing their hat in the ring. Competition with DeSantis is heating up.

The fact that Republicans have let Democrats take this issue very quickly it's going to go to the voters in 2024 is astonishing to me.

CAMEROTA: Rahel, what's happening on the business side of this? What's happening with the drug makers? How are they tackling this topic?

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's what they're saying and also what we think they're actually feeling. So, what we are hearing from different statements today is some say that look, I mean, this creates an air of uncertainty. Others saying that this creates a dangerous precedent.

I think the reality is that drug makers are very concerned that if something like this was allowed to stand, what implications that could have for all sorts of drugs, right?

And so, I spoke to one investor, less fun lighter. He's a healthcare portfolio manager and also a professor of public health at Columbia. He said, look, all of the scenarios are not good for investors of pharmaceutical companies. He said also there are geopolitical implications because you have to consider that America does the best in drug development, right?

If you start tinkering with that, that could have all sorts of economic implications, including for job creation. So, it is the here and now what this means currently for women and men around the world and around the country rather, but also what it means for other pharmaceutical companies, what it means for potentially vaccines, what it means for cancer research. I mean, it really could have broad implications.

And so, we're not seeing it really reflected in the stocks just yet. And, you know, as I was told earlier, it's because I don't think investors have fully come to terms with the implications of what it could mean, but it's certainly not something that the pharmaceutical companies want to see, which is part of the reason why we saw that reaction with the letters that we've seen today.

CAMEROTA: I don't think we've even thought about that, just that the repercussions in terms of the development of other drugs that manufacturers wouldn't be interested if they think that they're just going to be shut down politically. That's interesting.

SOLOMON: And that's something that was -- that was something that was reported in one of the letters. Pfizer's CEO was included in this letter, but just that it could discourage investment opportunities in the future, right?

I mean -- and you also have to consider just the amount of money that would have to go into defending some of these drugs, right? You think about how expensive it is for pharmaceutical companies already to sort of develop these drugs in terms of the research and the trials, but then there is also the added expense potentially now of perhaps having to defend the drugs.

So, all sorts of economic implications here that haven't fully been appreciated yet, but I think there's a real concern about whether we will actually get there.

CAMEROTA: Guys, thank you very much for all those angles. Great to hear all of your reporting. Okay, so, everyone, stay with me. What is going on with Elon Musk? His antics over the weekend are potentially threatening to erode Twitter's brand value, whatever that is, at the moment. So, we're going to look at what he's up to now.




CAMEROTA: Elon Musk is continuing his antics at Twitter this weekend, labeling the BBC's Twitter account as government-funded media. The same treatment now applies to NPR, which Musk labeled state-affiliated media just days before.

It's the latest move as Musk pits Twitter against some of the biggest media businesses on his platform, and it's far from the only eye- raising moves he has made this weekend. So, how much turmoil can Twitter take or more turmoil, I guess, I should say?

We're back with our reporting panel. So, Sara --


-- help me to understand this. Elon Musk is waging war against major news organizations. Aren't journalists like the bread and butter of Twitter?

FISCHER: Yes, as are the media companies that they work for, which is why this is such a high-profile scandal. And the question becomes, are media and news organizations going to take it?

Up until this point, it became abundantly clear that news needed Twitter more than Twitter needed news. But these latest actions that you just laid out, labeling the BBC and NPR as government-funded but not throwing that label on other actual government-funded media outlets like the VOA, these things are starting to really agitate the news media.

You saw NPR saying that they were no longer going to tweet until they got to the bottom of this. Some news organizations have said that they would pause ads, although a lot haven't. I think, Alisyn, we are starting to reach a little bit of a breaking point, but this isn't the end of this fight.

CAMEROTA: Also, isn't he also easing restrictions on Russian government accounts? Whose side is he on?

FISCHER: I think part of that, too, is just that he has laid off so many people.


You know, before Elon Musk got in, there were 7,500 people that work at Twitter, hundreds that work on trust and safety who also work on things like verifying accounts and whether or not they're attributed to government or state-funded media. A lot of those teams have been gutted.

And so, I think a lot of the lack of consistency across the board, labeling Chinese and Russian state media the same way you would with BBC and NPR, has just as much to do with the fact that Twitter is just not as well equipped to keep the platform running as it used to be.

And by the way, that's an inherent risk because we might think, oh, Twitter is just another social media platform. It's not. When there's a major hurricane in your town, when there's a shooting at your kid's school, most people go to Twitter to look for emergency responders and authoritative information. Twitter is more than just a social media app. It's a digital town square. And so, these changes matter.

TREENE: Do you think, Sara, that journalists or media companies would ever quit Twitter over this?

FISCHER: It's a good question. I've been taking screenshots on my phone of every ad that I see media company is running. I have well over a dozen media companies that includes "The Athletic," which is owned by "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal," "The Economist," "Forbes," "Fortune," "Axios," my employer, were all running these ads, and the reason being is that they're really effective.

Now, if journalists say they want to quit Twitter, we've seen that in the past. Most of them end up coming back because it's too effective of a platform to share their reporting. I think it would have to be something extraordinarily drastic, something that Elon Musk did. That would be no question considered awful from both sides of the aisle. We haven't quite seen that yet, although he has come pretty close.

CAMEROTA: I broke up with Twitter publicly.


I like wrote it a Dear John letter, and then I came back. And then I came back. I mean, it took me about 18 months, but I came back. But for all of you, how much do you rely on Twitter for your reporting?

SOLOMON: I rely on it more to actually get information that I use it to disseminate information. But I will argue, look, when something big is happening. I mean, when SVB collapsed, I was able to reach founders because of Twitter because they were tweeting on Twitter. So, you can't argue that it is enough effective tool for sure.

CAMEROTA: And are you able to see into -- how much visibility at this point as a business you had into Twitter?

SOLOMON: So that's the tricky part. So as a business correspondent, I mean, the interactions that I had with Twitter tended to be around when it would report, right? Public companies are required to report every quarter and that just gives you a sense of what how they did the previous quarter but also what they expect.

And then they also take questions from the investment community, from the analyst community. Those have gone away, right? So, we no longer have that access.

But to Sara's point, I mean, their media relations team has been up demolished. I mean, you tell me, are there people still working at media relations?

FISCHER: General email, that Twitter press inbox, you'll get an automatic reply of a poop emoji. That is Elon Musk's official response to the press. So, that tells you everything you need to know.


FISCHER: But in terms of finding out what's happening at Twitter, I mean, the best places at this point to look are third party analysts. And if fidelity continues to mark Twitter down, that gives you a little bit of a sense of how they see this business going.

And then also other independent investors. I mean, I broke a story a few weeks ago that Ari Emanuel's endeavor was the only private investor that we know of that has invested in Twitter this year. Those are the folks that know what's going on, at least to an extent at Twitter, other than employees, of course, because Elon Musk is out there pitching them to be a part of the company.

MCKEND: We haven't seen this before, though, someone with such a powerful platform be in a position to publicly weaponize that platform against people he doesn't like. Where else has this happened?

FISCHER: We don't see it happen because in most mediums, we have regulators that can enforce rules and laws. You know, the FCC dictates what happens in broadcast, newspapers, et cetera. We don't have an internet regulator.

You know, the FTC can tell you if you have what's called false commercialization like a diet pill that doesn't work, but they're not going to be able to go in and tell Twitter to stop doing this or that.

So, don't expect rules to come anytime soon. It is the wild west and it will continue to be the wild west while Congress, we were just talking about, cannot agree on anything.

TREENE: As you say, a group of people who still love Twitter and love it even more under the helm of Elon Musk are Republicans. They are salivating over his new leadership.

CAMEROTA: What do they like so much about it?

TREENE: Well, they think that he embraces the freedom of speech and the First Amendment. And we've seen that --

UNKNOWN: Ironically.

TREENE: Yeah. I mean, they've seen that through a series of their hearings. They think that he's going to be key to helping turn over a lot of documents that they want related to the Hunter Biden investigation. That's a totally different subject, but they think that he's more willing to work with them. I mean, one of the biggest complaints of Republicans for the past several years now has been that big tech and these big media or social media companies have been politicized against them, and they see someone like Elon Musk, who is just kind of throwing out the rulebook on a lot of these things as one of them, and they're embracing it.

SOLOMON: Can we take a moment to just appreciate the fact that it has been a year? April 2022, I believe, it was -- Sara, correct me if I'm wrong -- when Elon Musk first set, you know, I think I might buy Twitter.


And then he said, actually, never mind, there were too many bots. And then he said, actually, maybe I'm going to buy it. And then a judge said, actually, you are going to buy it, right? So, we have been on a really wild ride, even if you're not a reporter, if you are just a user of Twitter. It has been a strange year.

FISCHER: But just to prove his chokehold over this industry, we're talking about a year later. It still continues to be one of the hottest headlines. It's a big story. It impacts 220 million daily active users. At least that was at the time when Elon bought it. It's still something that's newsy. And that's --

CAMEROTA: And also, isn't that also part because he's an irrational actor?

FISCHER: Totally.

CAMEROTA: He does things that are irrational. And we report on it as though it's a regular business because we don't see things like this.

FISCHER: It reminds me of the Trump presidency so much from that regard. It is so spontaneous and so unpredictable that everything he says and does becomes news because it's new.

SOLOMON: Wouldn't you agree that that's why a lot of people love him, right? I mean, Elon Musk is a polarizing figure. You either really don't like him or you love him. I think the people who love him, they love that about him that you just really never know what you're going to get.

MCKEND: Most Americans are still not on there. You know, when I travel across the country, people are not talking about Twitter. So, I would say that a lot of the currency still, especially if folks are concerned about their following or in places like D.C. and New York and maybe not -- not in a lot of other places.

CAMEROTA: That's a good reality check. Thank you very much. All right, ladies, stand by if you would because the 2022 races didn't quite turn out how Republicans had hoped. So, what are they doing to have a better showing in 2024? Alayna is going to tell us, this is her story, next.



CAMEROTA: Senate Republicans looking ahead to the 2024 primaries and CNN political reporter Alayna Treene, along with CNN's Manu Raju, have new reporting on how the GOP hopes to come back from its 2022 political losses.

Our entire reporting panel is back to help tackle this. Okay, so, Alayna, uh, Kari Lake wants a redo. Is that what we're hearing?

TREENE: We think so. So, our reporting shows she met with the national or the NRSC, I should just say, that's what everyone knows, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, back in February to map out what a potential Senate race could look like. And they had one key message for her, which was shift away from some of the divisive rhetoric you used on the trail to become governor, move away from --

CAMEROTA: Meaning the lies about election?

TREENE: Yes, move away from the rhetoric around a stolen election. Um, and that's kind of their message for a lot of these candidates. I think the key priority for Republicans in 2024 is to avoid the debacle that they saw last cycle, which was having weak candidates emerged from contested primaries only to peter out and collapse in the general election. And that's something that Steve Daines, the new chairman of the NRSC, along with Mitch McConnell, are hyper focused on.

CAMEROTA: Kari Lake, is that just so baked into her DNA? Can't she pivot away from that?

TREENE: Well, that's the other thing, too, that's funny about this. Someone like Kari Lake, I feel like, could run or potentially will run against the establishment, against Mitch McConnell, and that will only strengthen her. I mean, that's her brand. And she's very Trumpian. You know, some people said she was more Trump than Trump himself.

And so, it's going to be very hard, I think, to detach that image from her, but it is something that I think across the board and not just in Arizona.

I mean, that's just one of several landmines that Republicans are trying to navigate in the Senate races. You have Ohio, you have Montana, you have West Virginia, Pennsylvania, all of these places where they know that they need to have candidates that can win in a primary and also win in a general.

SOLOMON: Can we -- can we stick with Pennsylvania because Pennsylvania is something that always sends to make national implications, has national implications and -- I'm a little biased. I am from the great state of Pennsylvania, from Philly. I'm curious to know how does that apply to a candidate like Doug Mastriano, who has said that he is praying on whether he might also throw his hat into the next Senate race. I mean, he's coming off of the governor's race where he lost pretty badly, where he really struggled in terms of fundraising. You have to wonder, especially for a Senate race in Pennsylvania, it's always the most expensive in history, always among the top expensive -- top most expensive in history. And so, I mean, you got to need to know how to fundraise.

TREENE: He is the exact kind of candidate that these Republican groups, the establishment groups, Republican leadership are saying that they're worried about. Someone like Doug Mastriano, I think, really scares them.

And that's why we are told that the NRSC is actually rallying behind Dave McCormick, another failed Senate candidate. He obviously lost two Mehmet Oz when Trump endorsed him. But, um, he's the kind of candidate that they want, that they think maybe could appeal to a broader base of voters, a broader group of Republicans, and actually went into general.

And, of course, Mastriano. I mean, we just talked about Kari Lake being Trumpier than Trump. Mastriano is another one of those candidates who ran on very divisive rhetoric to the very far right, considered by many people a fringe candidate.

And he's the kind of candidate that I think a lot of Republicans -- and I know a lot of Republicans. I talked to many Republicans in the Senate for the story. They said that he's the kind of candidate they want to avoid next cycle.

MCKEND: To me -- to me, this really marks a very clear shift in strategy because Senator Daines has sort of been telegraphing this for a while, that candidate quality is going to be top of mind and that they are going to do what they can to thwart who they view as extreme candidates. But it doesn't come without risk. You know, this type of intervention can really sort of deflate the beasts.


It can make certain folks disengaged. And then you also run the risk that some of these folks might go on to be successful and be your colleagues in the Senate or, um, you know in, uh, the House or elsewhere or, you know, see them around in other places.

So, I think all of that goes into this calculation of how much to weigh into these races, but I guess they are making this gamble because of the losses that they suffered in 2022.

FISCHER: But going back to the losses, this is what I don't understand. If you're Kari Lake, your Trump ties led you to a lost election last year during the midterm. So, why would you want to replicate that again heading into 2024? What's her logic there?

TREENE: Well, she does still argue that her governor's race was a stolen election and that the outcome is, you know, disputable. But she has massive name recognition. I will say also, I did speak with some people who are advising Kari Lake and they told me that during that conversation with the NRSC in February, she said she recognized that running for Senate would be very different or a different set of issues is how they described it to me than when you run a governor's race. And so, stolen elections and that type of talk isn't necessary something that a senator could fix.

So, I do think she's actually picking up on some of that. We'll see if that actually goes into practice if she does run. Um, but --


TREENE: -- they saw success running on the Trump base, and I think they are hoping that maybe this time, it will work out.

MCKEND: But even if we get Kari Lake 2.0, no one is going to forget, you know, all of the election lies stuff.

CAMEROTA: I mean, who knows? I don't know the answer to that, how quickly voters forget. But tell me this, so as the Senate is preaching to be, you know, less extreme to Kari Lake or Doug Mastriano in the House, it seems like what Republicans are focused on are investigations.

TREENE: Uh-hmm.

CAMEROTA: So, they're talking about investigating Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan D.A. They are talking about investigating -- well, today, they called the FBI director, Christopher Wray. And is that what voters are wanting, endless investigations?

TREENE: I think it's such a clear example how different the House is to the Senate. I mean, the inside joke on the Hill is that the House is the wild, wild west compared to the Senate, and it's because you have so many more members and members who are willing to just, you know, go to the far left, the far right, more to the extremes, while senators tend to be a little bit more -- I want to say focused and sometimes a little less fiery with their rhetoric, but it's true.

Um, and I do think that a lot of House members as well when -- I mean, they spent so many months during the minority planning out these investigations, plotting their targets. It is interesting to see a lot of these investigations so far have been kind of throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks, but we are starting to see some of these first subpoenas.

And you're right with that. Today, we saw the judiciary chairman, Jim Jordan, subpoena FBI Director Wray. There have been other subpoenas now starting to come out through these committees. And so, they're really kind of digging now into the meat of what they're hoping to investigate.

But it's something that I know they've talked to Donald Trump's team about, they talked to Donald Trump about themselves, and they're still hoping that they will keep him as a key ally as they head into 2024. CAMEROTA: I mean, I just will point out the obvious that that's what they're focused on today when we have yet another mass shooting in the country and where now the people of Kentucky are grieving. And even the governor said that he lost his closest -- one of his closest friends today, and yet, you know, that's not what Congress is working on.

FISCHER: Well, I think in the House in particular, you're running a new race every two years compared to the Senate, every six. And so, you're constantly thinking about your reelection campaign above everything else.

I mean, this is a 10,000-foot conversation we should be having about. Is the system broken to get things done in the modern day? Because clearly, we're not seeing any reform, even though to the point about the governor. There is bipartisan energy right now around gun reform, but nobody is optimistic anything will get done.

MCKEND: And I've asked Kentucky Republicans because I used to cover the Kentucky congressional delegation about this issue all of their -- all the time, and their response would be well, we are not interested in any of this gun safety legislation because we are matching the will of our voters. Back in our districts, you know, that is not a popular position. But, you know, we are seeing --

CAMEROTA: And was that right? Because, you know, when you talk about two Americans in mass, there's a big support for background checks. As we know, red flag laws are gaining popularity. But in Kentucky, was that not true? Were they -- were they in sync with their voters?

MCKEND: They were. They were. These are really most of the districts. Very, very conservative. But Alisyn, I think that sentiment will slowly change because we are seeing these incidents happen with such frequency that everyone is impacted. You know, we saw the governor today. The previous governor --


MCKEND: -- in Tennessee, also impacted.


And it's -- everyone is so close to this that after a while, just sort of looking away and saying this isn't in the interests of my voters, it is not going to be a sufficient response.

CAMEROTA: The mayor of Louisville said today he could appreciate and empathize because he had been the victim of a workplace shooting. It is touching. It's very hard to find people where, uh, they're not affected by gun violence right now.

All right, we are going to move on to the latest economic data giving all sorts of conflicting signals. Are we headed towards the recession? Are we not? Rahel has been working her sources and some have surprising things to say about the impacts of the pandemic on the recession. We'll find out what they're saying, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



CAMEROTA: You hear a lot of different things about the economy and if it's doing well or poorly.


UNKNOWN: Labor costs are going to rise to a point where inflation remains a problem and the fed is going to have to continue to raise interest rates.

UNKNOWN: One of the biggest parts of inflation right now is energy prices.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Inflation has been falling but not to the pace many economists had hoped for.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): President Biden called it a good jobs report for hardworking Americans with the unemployment rate falling to 3.5%.

UNKNOWN: The economy seems maybe we're through -- through the worst for now.

UNKNOWN: Let us also celebrate the really good news, which is people that want work can find work.


CAMEROTA: All right, CNN business correspondent Rahel Solomon is talking her sources to make sense of all of this, and she says the pandemic might actually have helped create strength in the economy. Rahel, please explain.

SOLOMON: Okay. So, let's start with just the really strong labor market, right? So, we just got that jobs report on Friday. Unemployment is at about 3.5%. That's practically 50-year low unemployment for Black people, unemployment for women of color, Black women, also the lowest it has ever been. So, on that side, we're definitely strong, right? We have 9.9 open jobs right now. On that side, we are also strong.

Consumer spending still kind of hanging in, right? Part of the reason why consumers are in a much healthier position is because of the pandemic. On the one hand, of course, we had stimulus checks. That certainly helped.

But on the other, we had what? I mean, a year where we were not going out, we were not shopping, we were not going to restaurants. And so, what that actually meant is that folks stayed home, they paid off their credit cards, they added to their savings accounts.

Now, we are starting to see that sort of whittled down in terms of savings and that's certainly falls along sort of income spectrum, right? We're seeing the lower income spectrum. They're blowing through their savings because of inflation. So, we have certain things that are sort of working to our favor, right? Companies are still by and large in decent shape.

On the other hand, we still have inflation that is at about 6%. We'll get some new inflation data on Wednesday, Wednesday morning it is. We'll get some new inflation data. But we also have the concerns with the banks, which was probably the last thing that we needed because even though we are still coming from a decent place of strength, we're so vulnerable, right?

We're still sort of dealing with this period of really historic inflation. We're dealing with the fed who raised rates almost 5% in about a year's time, right? So, there are certainly a lot of things happening that are not necessarily great news, but we are still coming from a place of strength, and here's hoping that we can sort of get to the other side of this without a recession.

FISCHER: But that's sort of back and forth that you're talking about where on one hand, we are doing great, and on the other hand, we are not. It is creating a ton of uncertainty and that is having a negative impact. I cover industries where there's a lot of deal making. You think about the media and technology sectors.

Big business is holding back on deals right now. They can't even get financing. It's because the uncertainty has made bankers scared. It has made advertisers scared. It has slowed so many of these different sectors that we cover.

And when people talk about when this is going to be alleviated, when things are going to go back to normal, some economists that we talked to say, expect Q3, Q4 for things to bounce back in part because we don't have as bad of comps compared to last year because it was so bad at the back end of the year.

But then you talk to others who say this might be our new normal, and that is freaking a lot of people out that I work with on the business side.

SOLOMON: I think it's a fair point. I mean, I think this period of uncertainty is certainly something that we're all coming to terms with. One economist, one prominent economist said on Twitter, you know, if you're not a little confused about this economy, you're not paying attention, right? So, that made me feel a little bit better.

But no, essentially what you have is -- and look, I've talked to CFOs, I've talked to analysts who say, you know, in this environment, you cannot afford to not prepare for recession, right, because if in fact we do see a recession, it would perhaps be the most anticipated recession of all time.

So, we're all talking about it. Many people are concerned about what this will look like. And so, for companies who are managing their budgets, they're starting to proactively respond, right, to your point about pulling back on advertising because why wouldn't you? We are all sort of forecasting it, right?

And I should say that there is this element of a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? If we start to really feel like a recession is imminent, well, then maybe we start to act like and we still pull back on our consumer -- pull back on our spending, and that could create a vicious cycle.

So, you know, look, I think, you know, when I talked to economists, when I talked to Mark Zandi, who we just heard in that clip there, and I asked him, what is your advice for people at home who hear 3.5% unemployment but, you know, recession fears? He said, look, things are fine still. The labor market certainly is fine. You don't necessarily need to run for the bunker, but like cautious, be prudent.

CAMEROTA: Alayna, what do lawmakers say about this?

TREENE: Well, inflation and spending and the economy are still the number one issue for Republicans and a lot of voters nationwide. And I do think -- I mean, we all probably feel it personally. Things are very expensive right now. We do feel the impact of inflation.


Yes, gas prices are down from where they were at their peak last summer, but things are still very expensive right now, and that is the key message that Republicans are driving. I will say a huge concern of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle is the impending debt limit and how there has been no negotiations at all between the White House and Republicans on the Hill to try and deal with this. That's something that I think is scaring a lot of people.

A lot of economists, too, that I speak with say we do not -- no one wants a repeat of what happened in 2011 and 2012 when they came very, very close to not having a debt limit deal and they want to avoid that again. I think they will. We still have some time before they really need to start freaking out to the level that I think people are worried about. But it's coming up very quickly. A lot of the estimates right now put that at around some point in June.

CAMEROTA: I feel like every year that I report on this, they play chicken up to the 11th hour (ph).

UNKNOWN: They do.

CAMEROTA: So, I'm trying not to fall for it this time, but --

UNKNOWN: Closer we get -- closer we get to the states (ph).

CAMEROTA: Agreed. So, are you hearing the same stuff on the campaign trail?

MCKEND: Yeah. I think that voters, sometimes, they can't hear anything else when they have all of this anxiety about their finances, about the economy. And sometimes, we spend so much time talking about Republicans, Democrats, who is making the best argument. You know, what argument is resonating with voters, but we forget about those who are not engaged at all.

They are so withdrawn from this entire process and conversation because they're broke, right? I met a young woman in Georgia last year, and she said she had never voted. She didn't trust politicians. She was just trying to make ends meet. She was leaving Georgia to connect with friends in North Carolina because her job at a fast food restaurant, you know, she couldn't afford the rent anymore.

And so, yes, economic anxieties are like the whole thing. And, um, yeah, and you can't -- it's really hard to talk about anything else to voters if you aren't connecting on their bottom line.

FISCHER: Can I just follow up with you on that? Let's say we're in the same place in 2024 that we are now, which is it's still uncertain. You know, jobs are good, inflation is high. Does that ding whichever Democratic candidate, Biden, whoever, in 2024 or do you think that it's not going to be as big of an issue for them as it was potentially the last election?

MCKEND: It's hard to say. I think it will be based on how people feel. It really -- it's a very sort of, I think, circumstantial argument. It's all based on how people feel.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, ladies, very much. All right, what are the big scoops for tomorrow? We've got tomorrow's news tonight for you. That's next.




CAMEROTA: All right, we are back with our stellar panel of reporters. So, while we have them, let's get the scoop on tomorrow's news. We call it "Tomorrow's News Tonight." So, you get a little sneak peek.

Sara, okay, tell us what you're working on for tomorrow.

FISCHER: So, I got one -- serious one and one fun one.

CAMEROTA: Perfect.

FISCHER: Serious one. Donald Trump is again in an early start in terms of digital advertising for his 2024 campaign. I saw this in 2019 when he was out spending all of his competitors. I have new data that shows that on digital platforms like Google and Facebook, he's outspending Haley and DeSantis 10 to 1 right now. Huge forecast for the election next year.

And the fun thing, "Super Mario Bros" movie absolutely destroyed it this weekend, set records not only for a five-day open, but also for the best opening weekend ever for an animated film or a film based off a video game. I can't wait for the sequel because we know what's going to happen.

CAMEROTA: Have you seen the movie?

FISCHER: No, I haven't seen it yet. I'm waiting till this weekend. I didn't want to go this past one because the weather was too nice.

CAMEROTA: You're a fan.

FISCHER: Huge fan.

CAMEROTA: Of course. Why -- why did I ask? Fantastic. Excellent. Okay, Eva, what are you working on?

MCKEND: So, I am curious to see how much progressives lean on the administration, lean on President Biden, to do more on abortion as we see the continuation of the erosion of reproductive access, reproductive rights in this country. We heard Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say that the FDA should just ignore ruling --

CAMEROTA: And Republican --

MCKEND: And Republican, and a moderate Republican as well. But I'm curious to see if that drumbeat rises. I think there was the assumption that House Democrats, you know, since they narrowly lost the majority, they didn't have all that much power anymore. But progressives could still prove to be a thorn in the side of the president. And so, I'm curious to see what they do moving forward.

CAMEROTA: Okay. We'll be watching for that. Alayna, what are you working on?

TREENE: Looking at this massive leak of the Pentagon documents. These highly classified, highly centered -- excuse me, highly sensitive documents that, you know, guarded -- you know, that a lot of the nation's biggest secrets are in these documents, and they ended up on social media.

And it's crazy to me. The Biden administration is scrambling on this. They're still trying to find out how these ended up on Twitter, how these got into the hands of whoever would have leaked to them. And there's not a lot of answers.

I know this from talking to a lot of people on the Hill. I spoke with many chairmen, Democratic chairmen, Republican chairmen of the Foreign Affairs committees, the Armed Services committees. And they want answers. They want to have classified briefings. And right now, they're not getting any of them.

I know that, uh, the Department of Defense is looking into this and investigating this, but I think this is going to be a massive story that is not going away. We're going to be learning more in the next coming days.



SOLOMON: Few big things on my calendar this week. So, we get none as fun as "Super Mario Brothers," I should say, but we get CPI on Wednesday. That's the Consumer Price Index. That will give us a sense of what's happening with inflation, right?

I mean, this was supposed to be the year of significant declines, according to the Federal Reserve chairman. And so, what's the latest picture on inflation?

And on Friday is when banking earnings season really begins in earnest. We're going to start to hear from some of the big banks, which, you know, after SVB, after Signature, a lot of attention on what's happening with deposits, are they stabilized, are they flowing into some of the too big to fail banks, what's happening there. But also, in terms of tightening lending standards, perhaps. So, a lot to watch on my beat as well.

CAMEROTA: We look forward to having you all bring all of that to us this week. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Great to have you, guy.

UNKNOWN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Also, make sure you tune in to "CNN THIS MORNING" tomorrow as the show dives into the complex issue of reparations in places like San Francisco and how it could be implemented.

Thanks so much for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues now.