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Plans In The Works For Biden To Announce 2024 Run Next Week; What Does Data Show About Work From Home?; Inmate Richard Glossip Is Denied Another Bid To Vacate Murder Conviction, Execution Set For May 18. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 20, 2023 - 23:00   ET



ALAYNA TREENE, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: We're hearing Tuesday that he'll be rolling out a campaign video. It's also I mean in classic Biden fashion. He's going to be -- you know, he very fond of anniversaries, fond of being sentimental, and it's going to be potentially on Tuesday, like I said, on the four-year anniversary of when he launched his 2020 campaign.

So that's what we're all paying attention to. And I think it's really interesting. There's been a lot of debate behind the scenes about the timing for this. And I think one of the big questions was, does he wait to get into the race, because there is, I think, a benefit to focusing on his agenda and also staying above the fray when it comes to a lot of the Republican politics that are playing out.

But at the same time, and I think the reason they're trying to announce as early as next week, is because they want to get this fundraising operation underway, and they really want to start energizing voters around him, especially those who are skeptical about his age and, and also whether he's progressive enough to continue in the White House.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: That was going to be one of my questions, which is what changes on Tuesday, like what will change for all of us? How will we see -- will we see something different?

TREENE: You know, it's a great question. I think that his -- his team is trying to figure out how to change President Biden and the man in the White House and to campaign Biden. I know that the DNC is very involved in trying to make sure that his image is as great as it can be, and also to try and project to voters that Biden is still fit to serve an office, that he isn't too old, that he still is with it, which is some of the questions that I think have been plaguing his administration, so far over the last year and a half.

And I do think that he's going to be leaning much harder into what we see as the traditional campaign stops, touting what he's been able to do while in office so far, and also trying to reach voters. And the same that we saw him do it on the 2020 -- 2020 campaign trail, which was the retail politicking that we know Biden is actually pretty good at the charm that he can use, I think we're going to see that be rolled out much earlier than people had anticipated.

BASH: OK, because you'll remember his critics said that he wasn't doing enough of campaigning out in the real world than in his basement. So, we'll see a different style, obviously, because it's not COVID anymore.

TREENE: Yes. And I do think that this will be interesting, because I mean, that was such a benefit for Biden in 2020s. But because of COVID, you know, Donald Trump was able to draw a lot of viewers and voters to his rallies, they were like rock concerts, you know, Donald Trump with the music and the crowd and the and the signs.

Biden, on the other hand, doesn't always have that same appeal. So, I think it's going to be very interesting, this time around when everything's back in person, when crowds are going to be coming out in full force again, to see if he can keep up with some of the rock star Republicans that we're going to see on the trail.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I'll just note, you know, what won't change next Tuesday, he will -- he will still be Joe Biden, right? He's not going to magically become Barack Obama and start giving these wonderful oratory addresses. That is not going to -- not going to happen.

Look, at the end of the day, Joe Biden is a heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination, if he does, in fact announce on Tuesday, right? What I think he's looking forward to is perhaps trying to rev up more enthusiasm among the Democrats, right? It's not about the number of votes he necessarily will get in the primary. It's about the general election, and making sure that, hey, I have an 80 percent approval rating with Democrats, but they're not necessarily enthusiastic about my candidacy.

When I face off against whoever the Republican nominee will be, is it just going to be enough that let's say the Republican nominee is Donald Trump, that they're going to come out because they hate Donald Trump so much? Or let's just say it's not Donald Trump, then maybe we do have to rip up Democrats for somebody besides Donald Trump, and maybe it's because they're behind Joe Biden?

I think that's the real question going forward.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Another question is, of course, there's been some questions about Kamala Harris, people in the Democratic Party are raising concerns, partly because of Joe Biden's age. Did you get a sense of that they've kind of overcome that or aren't worried about that anymore? And is there any indication of kind of how much they're going to be using her and relying on her to boost the enthusiasm in certain sections -- of segments of voters?

TREENE: You know, that is a really good question. And I think it is actually something that the Biden campaign privately, they won't say this publicly but privately acknowledges that is a difficulty that they need to overcome. I think a lot of people thought that Kamala Harris would be a rockstar VP, she did really well on the trail and not so well as his Vice President, which is common. I mean, oftentimes, and when you're in the White House, the VPS are the one who gets the bad policies and the ones that have to take the fall for some of the more negative coverage.

BASH: I mean wouldn't her office also says that they haven't given her opportunities to be a rock star.

TREENE: A 100 percent. They would. They think that that the Biden -- that Joe Biden in the administration has been sidelining the VP on many of the key issues, and she did have a recent big win with Tennessee when she went right down amid all of the politics and the craziness and chaos in Tennessee recently. That was a great moment for her.

But I do think that -- I think one thing that we're watching for and I haven't been able to get an answer from the Biden Administration on this is how involved will she be on the campaign, she will of course be employed, she will be a top surrogate for the president, she will be making a series of campaign starts alongside him and on her own, but how much will they lean into her and really see her as an asset rather than just part of his campaign as is.


BASH: Do you have approval numbers?

ENTEN: I mean, look, Joe Biden, look, Joe Biden's approval rating among Democrats has consistently been in the low.

BASH: Not among Democrats. I mean--

ENTEN: If you look overall, look, his approval rating is stuck in the low to mid 40s. That is not the place you want to be if you know next year, most presidents who have approval ratings that low lose reelection. And so, I think the question again, I just sort of pose that is, is him going out to campaign, is that going to perhaps raise his approval ratings, right?

We've seen inflation come back a little bit, we have certainly we've come out of the COVID Pandemic, our gas prices are lower than they were say, you know, last year at their peaks, so the economy is starting to get a little bit better. Yet Joe Biden's approval rating is as steady as it goes in the low to mid 40s. Right where Donald Trump's approval rating was.

And the difference between this campaign and that one is Joe Biden's favorable rating for much of that campaign was net positive. Now it's net negative. And we're basically perhaps faced with sort of this reboot of Bizarro version of the 2016 campaign where we had two very disliked candidates, we may get that again.

And I proffered to the panel just asking, what are we going to do? I mean, it's just going to be bizarre.

TREENE: I know. It will be and I do think though, one very key point that we have to notice, there aren't really serious opposition candidates or people who are challenging Joe Biden. I mean, we're not seeing -- he is definitely the favorite. And there aren't many people who are realistically going to beat him.

BASH: We just had Marianne Williamson on.

TREENE: Not to detract from her.

BASH: Harry, I think that you dismiss her because you're a numbers guy. And so, you dismiss it too easily because I know that she doesn't have high numbers. However, she in debates and when you talk to her one on one, she has a lot of ideas and policies that she articulates really well, often better than President Biden.

JONES: And also keep in mind that him announcing he'll be obviously trying to do more to tout his record, obviously the White House is always trying to tout the record of the President, but this is going to give him a chance to do so on a more regular basis. And maybe they think that that will help with the enthusiasm, bringing out you know, beginning to remind people why they should choose him, several months down the line.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I do think for people who aren't exactly political people like me, the age thing is a major issue. I mean, I have friends that don't, you know, the economy's a major issue for them. But they look at Biden, they say he was old four years ago, what is he going to look like four years from now? And it's a major issue.

So, if there is a candidate that even has just a little bit more spirit and spunk, I think that could go a long way.

BASH: That person will certainly get a look.


BASH: Because he's the oldest president ever.

ENTEN: He is and you know, if he and Trump become the nominees, what is their combined age on Election Day going to be near 160? I mean, it's nuts, it's nuts. And I do wonder if there's a genuine sort of challenger, who has been, you know, elected before whether they could really make a run at Joe Biden, but at this particular point, the two challengers that have gotten the most press from Marianne Williamson, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, who obviously has his own issues that he has to contend with and the early numbers, you know, suggest that Joe Biden is running at what about 70 percent against the two of them.

Not exactly at this point, looking at the numbers, do they suggest that either one of those would be a strong challenger.

BASH: Alayna, I know you're also keeping an eye on Governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin. And today, he gave a talk in which he talked about doing away with grievance politics. What would that world look like?

TREENE: Right. I mean, it's funny because it is a message that we're seeing increasingly more Republicans and Republican candidates who are running in 2024. People like Tim Scott tried to embrace. They're saying, we need to go back to Reagan, Reaganism where he was optimistic. It's a sunny day in America.

And, you know, obviously contrasting starkly with the former President Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, who have been all about grievance politics, their rhetoric is very negative and dark. And it's funny, I think, if you look at Glenn Youngkin, he's someone who I know just months ago, talking to a lot of Republicans, both on Capitol Hill, throughout Washington strategist, they all thought that Dunkin could be almost a dark horse in the Republican race for the nomination.

And now it looks like he's pulling away from running again. But his speech today did sound very heavily like he's thinking about his future political ambitions. And we have some sound I think if we want to play that.


GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA): I think first of all, we've allowed ourselves to fall into I think the trap of, of grievance politics. And grievance politics is, is I think underpinned by a myopic focus on oneself. I think that grievance politics has run its course and we've got to put it down.


BASH: And that's a wonderful aspiration. I mean, and I don't mean to make light of it. No, I'm not kidding. I don't mean to make light of it.

TREENE: I don't think that sounds right.


BASH: I think that's a wonderful aspiration. And -- and I think that he should be applauded for saying that. I just -- not everybody's going along with it, I guess is my point.

GINGRAS: No. And as we get closer, of course, election and that I'll just get thrown out the window. I mean, it doesn't last very long. But good aspiration.

BASH: You know, I was thinking about I was thinking when he said that, obviously, you didn't just do something that was kind of grievance.

JONES: You would argue could argue this, what he calls a parental rights movement when it comes to giving parents who are concerned about what their kids are being taught in schools. That's what helped him get elected a couple of -- a few years ago, and some might call that grievance politics.

BASH: That's what I was referring to. I was referring to how he had said something that snuck -- that struck people as snide about Nancy Pelosi, right after her husband had been hurt. But then I found out -- our producers told me that he wrote her a handwritten note apology note after that, so that's fantastic, you know, that maybe he is putting his money where his mouth is. Harry?

ENTEN: Maybe so. I think that Democrats in that state would very much disagree with the idea that Glenn Youngkin is, you know, going to bring this kumbaya moment to politics. Look, we talk about this all the time, you know, that we need to come together as a country that we need, you know, people who reach across the aisle, but the fact is, that the further we get along, you know, when I was in high school, we were saying that, and now you know, and then in college, we were saying that, and then when I got my first job, we were saying that, every moment along the way, we've just become more and more polarized, and more and more nasty.

So, you'll excuse me, if my cynicism gets in the way of me believing that we're about to reach this moment where we're all going to join hands together and the sunshine is going to rain down on us all with a rainbow then forming.

BASH: I feel like you're in American't right now. I feel like that's not a can-do attitude there.

ENTEN: Well, you know, maybe I need a little bit more sunshine and maybe, maybe come the sunrise, I will join the American.

BASH: I look forward to that. Stick around everybody. Next, we're going to hear from one CEO who wants his workers back in the office so much that he praised one for selling the family dog so he could work more. Harry's got the numbers on how many of you are still working from home. We'll all have a word about that. Next.





JAMES CLARKE, CLEARLINK CEO: I learned from one of our leaders that in the midst of hearing this -- this message, went out and sold their family dog which breaks my heart. But truly, that those are the sacrifices that are being made. And I honor you for those sacrifices.


BASH: That was James Clark, CEO of the digital marketing and technology company called Clearlink. He was in a town hall calling for employees to return to the office and sell your pet to prove your commitment. Harry Enten has been following this story. Harry, I know you could never have a pet. You work so much and you're in the -- you are in the office. You haven't left the office actually for years.

ENTEN: No, I haven't.

BASH: You have not left. And you could never have a pet, right? You don't have one? ENTEN: Well, I do not have one though. I love dogs, especially small dogs, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos. The girlfriend loves Cavalier King Charles or King Charles Cavalier, however, it's however, it's the order.

BASH: That's out of the question.

ENTEN: But yes, well, given the work patterns, it may be a little bit out of the question.

BASH: Yes. So, what's happening with Americans? Have they gone back to work? How many people are working back in the office nowadays?

ENTEN: Sure. So, let's take a little walk, we're going to go on a fun little exercise. Look at this. We have a magic wall here where I'm going to answer your question. So why don't we take a look at how Americans are currently working, right?

So, the clear majority of Americans are fully on site at this point, 58 percent. Second hybrid at 29 percent. Fully work from home, it's just 13 percent. So, if you're fully working from home, perhaps you're one of the lucky ones. Most Americans are in the office at least some of the time. Now, why do people like to work from home? So here are two top reasons people like to work from home?

Number 1, 71 percent say it's easier to maintain a work life balance. All right. Second, meet work deadlines. 56 percent, which is interesting, right? Because you might think working from home might make it more difficult to meet deadlines. But in fact, those who work from home say it makes it easier, the clear majority of them do.

Of course, there is some disagreement between workers and their employer. So how many days a week should employees work at home? Well, the average among workers they say 2.2. But employers say 1.5 on average. So, employers are much more likely to want to get those employees back to the office while the employees especially those working from home are, let's say, a little hesitant to go back.

BASH: Well done, Harry, great walk, great magic wall.

ENTEN: Now I'm going to sit better than I did last break because the girlfriend got in touch with me and said she didn't like the way I was sitting.

BASH: OK, this is excellent. Fantastic. Brynn, you -- all of you reporters work as far as I can tell seven days a week you work seven days a week, you're constantly doing something.

GINGRAS: My son thinks so.

BASH: Yes. And you're a mom?


BASH: And so, can you imagine working only three days a week in the office? GINGRAS: I mean, I still laugh because I have friends who get like stipends for lunch for like $20 to come in one day a week just to come in to get free lunch. I'm like, what? Like, can I please get that?

BASH: But they're being lured back in.

GINGRAS: But still two -- what, two years now after the Pandemic, they are still being lured back in with a with a one-day week. Yes, no, it would be incredible. And I as I said in the break, I'd be in favor of just the four-day week, 10 hours a day. I'm cool with that. Like, we don't need to work from home. I'll come in four days a week. That'd be great. And that seems to work, as we've seen.

But I am actually surprised at Harry's numbers the number of people who are in full time that was higher than I thought, not going to lie.

JONES: Much higher. I thought it was lower based on who I know.


JONES: People are -- people are -- my sister was telling me at one point you know we can't change the rules, we can't demand everyone come in because people are just going to change jobs, people got so used to working from home that they -- they don't want to change. They're like, this is the way it's got to be. Three days maybe well, three days at home is probably what a lot of people that I know are dealing with.

BASH: When you say fully at work, you mean five days a week?

ENTEN: Yes. You have a full-time job, right? And if your full-time job is five days, then you're five days at work. I would note though, that there's a big economic divide, right? A big income divide, people of lower income are far more likely to go in five days a week. There's also a divide between different parts of the country, right?

In major cities, you're less likely to go in five days a week than let's say if you work in a small town or a rural -- rural area.

BASH: Is that right? I would have thought it was the opposite. Because if you live in a major city, you can walk to work, you can walk to your office place. And if you're living sort of in the, you know, further out, it's harder.

ENTEN: But -- But think about, think about, we're talking metropolitan areas, right? So, think about someone who lives, let's say a suburb of New York might be in Westchester County, right? Well, that might be a big, pretty big commute for them, especially given the traffic times, you know, if you're trying to cross into the city, and you're like, oh, I don't want to travel across, you know, one of the east river crossings or the Henry Hudson Parkway.

That can take a long time, you're much more likely to stay home versus you know, if you're in a rural area, you might face less traffic, it might be easier to go in. So that's something that I think we've seen in this office, right is why do people not want to come in, it's because they don't want to face that long commute.

TREENE: Or the types of jobs and thinking in a rural area, you have people who work on farms or have the type of jobs where it's required to be at work, it might not be the office as we know it but have to go in every day. The thing that I find interesting too, though, is that I was looking at some surveys today that were just showing how so many Americans feel like they and your numbers showed it to, Harry that they feel like they're getting more done because they are not commuting.

That they're able to -- to have that work life balance, but also actually improving their -- the time that they're spending working or even working longer, because they're working at home, which I found really interesting, because I always thought that you go into the office, and that's where the real work happens. But it doesn't seem that that's the case.

BASH: Yes, me too. I thought I found that interesting, also, but they also sometimes say that working at home, they're working more.


BASH: Plus, there's no boundary. So, they don't leave the office, you always have your phone on you at all times, people can get in touch with you at 10pm. And so, there's, you know, you're not putting it to bed at a certain time.

TREENE: And you're never turning your brain off.

BASH: Yes. But I think that you know, our jobs in you know, journalism are some of the jobs that have not been able to change at all. In other words, you can't work from home, you are on scene at the breaking news. You're traveling to wherever the news is, you're covering politics, even if it's a late night, you know, event with whichever politician that you're following.

And Harry, for some reason, you're just always here. I don't think I have to be but you are.

ENTEN: I like the free snacks that we now get. I like the people I work with. I mean, you know, but I've had an interesting experience, right? Because I really came from more of a digital background, writing instead of being on TV, and what I find is I actually write my articles better at home. But I will not appear on TV from home, you know, the moment I was able to come back into the office and didn't have to appear on Cisco with the scrambled image and then I couldn't see what slides were coming up. I remember.

I was back in the office, you know, wearing a mask, you know, had like 10 masks on at one time, but at least I was back in the office. But I understand the appeal from working from home you know, especially when I'm writing, it's just easier for me.

BASH: Yes.

GINGRAS: You can form your day the way you want. You could throw a load of laundry and -- and get it done while you're just like writing up your data and you just form your day better. That's what -- that's what I am jealous of.

BASH: I know, me too.

GINGRAS: Just laundry, just want to get it done.

JONES: You get it done because you don't have interruptions. Like I love the interruptions, I love the social aspect of being at work, the collaboration. I look forward to seeing Brynn every day. I'm like Brynn's not here. Oh, no. But I mean I do think that you could get a lot more done sometimes if you are at home.

You have no interruptions no at least no physical interruptions because it's kind of rude to -- someone walks in your office; you're not just going to be like uh-huh. I mean sometimes. But you know, if you have no one interrupting you, then you can just buckle down and get it done. And then of course, like you said that you don't realize the day should be ending. And so, you're like, oh, wait a second. You -- you look down and you've worked an extra hour and a half that you wouldn't have done if you were actually leaving the office at a certain time.

BASH: Well don't worry that's not neither of your future. All right, next Brynn's here to fill us in on a story she's been following, an Oklahoma death row inmate has avoided death many times. He said three last meals. And now despite maintaining his innocence, he faces execution again. That's next.



BASH: One Oklahoma death row inmate has been trying to overturn his murder conviction. In 1997, he was convicted of killing his boss, but he maintained his innocence throughout his trial and beyond. He's avoided execution three times so narrowly, that he has been given three last meals. But now he faces execution again on May 18th.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has been covering this story since last summer. Brynn, three last meals? And then what then at the last minute they say no, you don't have to be executed.

GINGRAS: There has been stays or there has been reprieves and one case there was a botched execution. So, Oklahoma had a review how it was conducting lethal injections. And so, his stay got delayed and delayed. So, he's had actually nine execution dates, but made it up to that last meal three times. So, we're getting closer to that last meal too. It's a case I've been covering since last summer.


GINGRAS: I mean honestly, quite frankly, it breaks my heart, it's very emotional because this man, he's fighting for his life and I want to give you a little back-story about the case but he'd never even actually killed the person he's accused of killing.

So, what happened was, the prosecutors at the time say he actually was the mastermind behind it and ordered a co-worker of his to kill their boss even though there was no circumstantial evidence tying him to this killing, basically all the prosecution at the time had was this other employee named Justin Snead to go on stand and basically say Richard Glossip did it. And he told me to do it. And that's it.

And that man did not go to death row for that. He's serving life in prison. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, Richard Glossip is going to face death for not even 'pulling the trigger.'

BASH: So, from your research, you believe he is not guilty?

GINGRAS: I mean, I'm supposed to be an unbiased, but yes. I mean, and I'm not the only one. Listen, this case has been picked up by Susan Sarandon, Richard Branson, it's made international headlines, and the most interesting part about this case is that Republicans in a red state who firmly believe in capital punishment who, you know, think that there are certain criminals that deserve the death penalty. They don't believe he should be put to death, and they are fighting for him to be taken off of death row.

And this was a big blow to them, because they really thought that this last chance was going to finally turn the criminal court of appeals, the five justices' minds and it didn't.

BASH: So that's -- but the governor can grant a reprieve.

GINGRAS: The governor can. We're not quite there yet. There's a clemency hearing next week, and the parole board has to ask the Governor to consider clemency. So, he's not there yet. But backing up just a little bit, what the justices decided today was that they would not overturn his conviction, they've not vacated, which was what they were hoping was going to happen.

But the big thing is, is that they're considering new evidence. And that's why they thought he was actually going to get out of jail this time, his defense team. And part of this new evidence was a prosecution's box of evidence that was never in all these years, turned over to the defense, a whole box of evidence. And in that evidence, there is paperwork showing that this person who lied on the stand or allegedly lied on the stand, that he wanted to recant his testimony, he wanted to take it back. There was other evidence saying that he was bipolar. And that was never even told to the defense.

So that was never even put in front of a jury. So, there's just tons and tons of evidence that not has only been collected by his defense team, but legislature -- legislators rather in the in the Oklahoma State.

TREENE: The three last meals thing, I just can't get past them.


TREENE: It's so harrowing to know, the trauma that he has to -- he has to be going through every time he has one of those. Or the nine different dates for his sentencing. How common is that? I haven't been following these cases as closely as you. How common is it for someone to have multiple different dates or having it keep get pushed back?

GINGRAS: Multiple different dates, it could be common, right? Because there are always appeals that are always in play, right. But as far as getting to that last date before you actually could be executed and going through that mental trauma. That's obviously not very common. And especially in Oklahoma, this isn't just like, today is my last day and tomorrow is my execution date.

There's a full week that happens before they reach that last meal date where they are in a cell by themselves, lights on. All they have is a piece of paper and a notepad. They don't even get a blanket because they are worried about, you know, possibly a hanging or some sort of suicide. It's torture. And actually, the legislature has worked to reverse even those methods of what was happening in Oklahoma.

So, there's a lot that's happening behind the scenes between the state legislature, and particularly with this case, but it does seem like many people in this state don't want to see this man die. But I do really want to point out really quickly, if we can go to the sound because this broke my heart today because Jake Tapper talked to his attorney in response to what the criminal court of appeals decided today. And I want you to hear what his attorney said.


DON KNIGHT, ATTORNEY FOR RICHARD GLOSSIP: He said today to me, Don, you know, should I be prepared to be killed on May 18. And that was about as low a point as I've seen him and this is his ninth execution date. This is This is tough. He's -- he's been down this road. Far too many times. No one should have to endure that.


GINGRAS: And that personally hurt me because I actually talked to Richard too, just a few months ago on the phone. We didn't get to go to Oklahoma and actually meet him in person. But he was so happy. He had -- he's met a woman that he's married and he's -- he's ready to--

BASH: In jail? So, he had a jailhouse wedding?

GINGRAS: Yes, yes. And actually, I'm, yes, no, they did get married. So yes, he was really looking forward to, to this, this what was in front of the Criminal Court of Appeals, and he was really hopeful that they were going to finally see his side of things, and he was going to get out and be able to actually spend time with her.

And so, to hear him say that, you know, he's asking about this date, am I going to have to prepare to die? That broke me.

ENTEN: So, I have to ask without knowing much about the case besides what I read before, you know, knowing--

GINGRAS: Yes. ENTEN: --that we're going to do this segment. Why? Why haven't they granted you know, any of these appeals? What -- what what's exactly going on?


GINGRAS: Yes, I mean, if you ask them Don Knight, his attorney, he thinks there's a vendetta. I mean, that's the only explanation that that he can come up with because there has been just so much evidence and again, they're not even asking for the case to just go away.

They just want a new hearing, like, just hear the evidence, let a jury listen. And so, yes, there's really no clear answer to that. But I will say the -- they're -- the Republican lawmaker who's really ahead of this. And who's really fought for this longest, he has said, if they don't do something there, he's going to go after impeachment of these justices. He told Jake Tapper that today, which that could be pretty explosive in Oklahoma.

JONES: What do we know about Glossip that makes all of these people believe that he's innocent. But he couldn't really have been a mastermind of this.

GINGRAS: Yes, I think it's just the totality of all the evidence that's been uncovered. It's not just that box that I just described to you guys. There was also an entire report that was commissioned last summer by a number of bipartisan lawmakers, a lot of Republicans. And it was like 350 pages by Reed Smith, investigative group and law firm and they found just so much evidence that just raised questions.

You know, you don't necessarily have to think he's, he's innocent, but at least raise questions. And that's the point here is how can you put a man to death if you're not certain he did it.

BASH: Yes. Also, the botched execution is very disturbing. Brynn, thanks for alerting us all to this and please keep us posted what happens before May 18th.


BASH: OK. Meanwhile, any parent can tell you that school children are facing a lot of challenges after the Pandemic, particularly when it comes to reading. So, we're going to tell you why third grade is crucial for reading. Athena has been doing a lot of reporting on this and she will bring us up to speed on what we need to know.



BASH: Millions of children missed out on vital classroom time during the Pandemic. And now we know that their reading skills have taken a big hit. A report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that just 33 percent of fourth grade students performed at or above the proficient level on the reading assessment in 2022. That's two percentage points lower than it was in 2019. More significantly, 37 percent of fourth grade students performed below the basic level in 2022. Athena's been reporting on education in this post-Pandemic era. Athena, it's so interesting, because you know, there's all these culture wars going on in the schools, while kids can't read.

JONES: Right. They're talking about banning books, but let's make sure that kids can read the books that they are allowed to read. And there's a lot of focus on the learning loss during the Pandemic, there was an AP article today out of Georgia, talking -- focusing on that state or one school outside Atlanta that's trying to help third graders catch up. These are exactly kind of the age that lost out so much on some of the beginning fundamentals.

These are children who may have missed class over zoom. I mean, try teaching a six or seven- year-old over Zoom, these -- these fundamentals, that's part of the problem. But it's bigger than that. It's something that goes way beyond that Pandemic, or stretches back, you know, a couple of decades. I'll tell you though, this is not something I was aware of until I began digging into this.

There was this whole new way of teaching kids to read that I wasn't aware of. I don't know about you, but I learned to read on phonics, hooked on phonics. You know, you're -- you're learning letters you're learning with letters; combination makes -- what makes what sound. There's a whole new way that began to emerge in the 80s -- 90s, and really took hold in certain parts of the country all over the country. But not every single school, it was popular a lot of places.

It's called balanced literacy. And it was this idea that kids should not be sounding out words, or they should sound out words, as a last resort. It's stunning. It's an idea that you should -- see that, see that on the left balance literacy, there's those concentric circles. Those are the cues that the children are supposed to use to try to guess the word.

So, they're reading by guessing. And so, you'll have a sentence, there's some examples where they'll cover up the entire word. So, it's almost like fill in the blank, a six-year-old, a six- or seven-year- old, you're asking to fill in the blank, without even seeing the first letter of the word. They're meant to sort of deduce based on the context of the sentence what the word could be, but so many times that word could be so many things.

Then maybe you see the first letter, and you began to say, OK, well, what letter, what words start with that letter. It's an odd way of teaching children how to read because so much of it relies on memorization. Of course, you memorize sight words, the kind of words that are hard to decode.

Decoding is when you're spelling it out and sounding it out. But the thing is, you know, these, -- these teachers will tell you that children would read the same books over and over again. But if you gave them a new book they hadn't seen before, they would really struggle because you're not learning the actual tools to start out the word and also, you know, we were on the way to this, this shoot, we did today.

We passed by a Wawa, there was a snickerdoodle. No one's going to ever guessed that. No one's ever going to guess it. You have to be able to spell out the words that any word you come across; you have the confidence to -- to spell it.

BASH: This is so funny, because now you're reminding me of teaching my daughters to read when they were, you know, reading to them, basically, we would read to them. OK, so they're two years old. And at one point, my daughter could do this sight gag where she could read the whole book, but she wasn't really reading, she had memorized it. But it was a fantastic sight gag.

Because this little toddler could read the entire good.

GINGRAS: I'm going through right now. I'm like you're so smart.

BASH: Prodigy. But basically, why are they doing this? Put that graphic up again? Because I'm fascinated by what they're doing. So put the graphic up about the -- you were saying balanced literacy. Right? And so why -- why have they changed it from phonics?

JONES: Well, that's unclear. I'm still not really getting to the bottom of this. There -- there -- there are several influential sorts of academic counselors, consultants, maybe they -- they actually are academics but they're -- their theories are disproven.


And yet there's a lot of people who, over time, end up having a stake in these, this way of teaching. But while examining this, I found that people say that those cues, those sort of like trying to guess the word by the context of the sentence, that's what you fall back on if you're struggling to read, it's not the way you should be.

It's not the first thing that you should be doing and so now we're seeing a lot of focus on what's called the science of reading, which sounds all fancy, but it's really just focusing more on phonics, a lot more on phonics. And so that's what we're seeing in this Atlanta school that the AP wrote about, and in some States that are really emphasizing this way of sounding out letters and words and phrases, they're seeing better scores, and even the school we visit in Pennsylvania, you know, they were trying balanced literacy for about 18 months.

It was not even a full two school years. This principal said it was my idea, I had to swallow, you know, swallow my pride, and admit that it wasn't working. They were finding under their previous assessment, maybe like a quarter of the students were at grade level. Now bringing back a lot more phonics, they actually spend extra 40 minutes doing, you know, helping children understand their individual syllables that they need to work on all of that.

They found that they went from about 20 percent grade level to 60 percent, only since the beginning of this year. So, it's been really remarkable. And we actually talked to a student who's whose reading has just skyrocketed. Her progress has been dramatic just over the course of however many months it's been in the school year.

BASH: I feel like all schools should be listening to this right now. Because that's old school, what you're saying is they're going back to the old school way of sounding things out.

JONES: They may not -- they say well, it's not just that because you know, it is important to understand, to understand the meaning of words and other things, not just phonics, right? But you it should be a both and approach or both and -- and -- and -- there are lots of things that you need to do.

But one of the examples that I heard was that you know, you have a kid who thinks that invite -- mistakes invited for invaded, that's going to be very different if you're talking about, you know, Poland in 1939.

BASH: Oh my God.

JONES: You have to understand, and of course, third grade, fourth grade, these are very important times, that's when a lot of these students get assessed and you know, after these grades is when they're going to start having to really, you know, use reading to learn. And even the principal is telling me this, this math assessment is coming up.

You know, a statewide test in Pennsylvania. Those are -- those are reading questions. They are word problems. So, reading we all know what's fundamental, but it's, it's really doing -- a lot of these teachers feel that they did a lot of children a disservice over years, because people just didn't -- they didn't develop the love of reading. They found it wasn't enough just to surround the children with books.

No, you have to actually teach them how to read.

BASH: Yes.

GINGRAS: I just feel like if it ain't broke what -- like I don't even understand how this even developed like why do we get away from it in the first place?

BASH: Yes, why fix something that ain't broken. Athena, thanks for alerting us to that great story. OK, up next on the lookout, our reporters are going to tell us what stories they are looking out for on the horizon.




BASH: Our fabulous panel of reporters are going to tell us what stories they are keeping an eye on. We call it On the Lookout. OK, Harry, what do you -- you got some exciting news? Yes.

ENTEN: OK. So, I have a podcast, 'Margins of Error.' It is up for a Webby in the Arts and Culture individual episode category.

BASH: Exciting.

ENTEN: Thank you. Thank you. I was ahead as of this morning or early -- early this morning. But then, for the final 24 hours, you can actually look at the standings. So, I have no idea what's actually going to happen. But the polls close at 3am, Eastern time. So about three hours from now.

BASH: So, you basically want all of our viewers to immediately go online and vote for you.

ENTEN: So, if you go to @forecasterEnten on Twitter, that's E-N-T-E-N, or you go to Forecaster Enten on Instagram, I believe either one of those sites, I have a picture on Twitter with a dog and me, (inaudible) dog.

BASH: OK. A hard rap.

ENTEN: Yes, in any event, you can click on there and you're able to vote for me. I -- I need your votes. People, I'm looking right in the camera right now. I need your votes.

BASH: Got it.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BASH: OK, very well. Excellent.

TREENE: I'll be doing it.

BASH: Yes. OK. Alayna, what are you keeping an eye on?

TREENE: I am looking out for the debt limit. So, this has been the issue that is just consuming DC right now, Capitol Hill, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, really. And the latest news is that Republicans are planning to put a bill on the floor to raise the debt limit for a year, or $1.5 trillion, whichever comes first next week.

It's not a bill that will ever pass the Senate. But the whole point is to try to force the President to the negotiating table and try to figure out how they can come to an agreement before we reach that X date, when markets will freak out and the economy. You know, everyone, the uncertainty around the economy will send markets into a tizzy.

And so, it's really fascinating to me that we're so close now, we're two months away, and that the bill that they're even putting on the on the floor next week isn't something that would ever pass into law.

BASH: That's good to know that--

TREENE: I mean, it's classic politics. I mean, this is the thing that reporters like me are always banging their heads against the wall, because you know that so much the time and effort that you're putting in every day into these things is just things that are never going to pass. So that's what I'm watching. BASH: OK. Athena?

JONES: Yes. Well, we all know about this terrible accidental shooting on the Rust movie set. Well, we now know that Alec Baldwin, the charges against him have been dropped. And so now the lawyers for the armorer, that's the young woman who was -- whose job was to make sure the gun was clear didn't have any bullets in it they believe that that she, her name is Hannah Gutierrez Reid will also be exonerated.


Of course, she had a slightly different role in this -- on this set than Alec Baldwin did. So, we'll wait and see if and when that happens, but they're certainly very hopeful that that it will.

BASH: OK, So Brynn, I know that you're following the 20-year-old who turned into the wrong driveway.

GINGRAS: Yes. Yes, waiting to see if there's more charges that are going to come against this shooter, Kevin Monahan. I was in court yesterday; it was so emotional. I mean, this 20-year-old's boyfriend was there who she of course, died next to that night. And, you know, the prosecutors say that they're looking into more charges because let's remember, there wasn't just her and her boyfriend. There were two others in the car and other cars as well that he's shot at.

So, I'm honestly looking forward to a week where we don't hear about these shootings because this week has been tough.

BASH: Yes, no, I pray, we all pray, we pray for that week. Thank you all very much. Great to have you all here. And tomorrow on CNN this morning. It's straight out of a Hollywood script. $15 million worth of gold stolen from an airport. Inside the rare gold heist. That starts at 6am Eastern. Thanks so much for watching us tonight. Our coverage continues now.