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CNN Tonight

Hundreds of Officers are in a Manhunt for the Texas Suspect Accused of Killing His Five Neighbors; Prestigious Boarding School Admits it Fell Tragically Short of Protecting Student One Year After His Suicide; A.I. Pioneer Quits Google to Warn About the Technology's Dangers. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 01, 2023 - 22:00   ET


DEBRA TICE, MOTHER OF AUSTIN TICE, JOURNALIST HELD IN SYRIA SINCE 2012: That everyone could know at least as much as President Biden talked about on Saturday night.


I thought -- we met with him last year, and I thought the way he described Austin was truly beautiful. I just want everyone to know that.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Debra Tice, thanks for joining us. And we are all hope for Austin's safe return home to you.

TICE: Thank you, thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And thank you for joining us. CNN Tonight with Alisyn Camerota starting now. Hey, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Abby, great to see you. Thanks so much. Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN Tonight.

A manhunt is underway for the suspect in that mass shooting in Texas, including nine-year-old boy. The victims had allegedly asked the suspect to stop shooting his rifle next to their house. The noise was keeping their baby awake. But instead of simply arguing with them, he shot and killed five of his neighbors.

There's also the 79-year-old Illinois man who fatally shot his neighbor for using a leaf blower in his own driveway and the 29-year- old in Texas who shot and killed a guy for posing as a valet parking attendant. What used to be screaming matches are fistfights have become fatal shootings. Tonight, our panel offers their explanations for why.

Plus, the suicide of a 17-year-old student at an elite boarding school is forcing the school to admit the horrible mistakes they made when it came to bullying and how they felt, quote, tragically short in protecting this promising young man. What this case tells us about today's version of bullying.

And how many of you out there are members of the Kiss army, like me, and know that Paul Stanley was made for loving you?

Yes, he was. Well, now, Kiss' Paul Stanley, someone who knows a lot about wearing makeup, he dazzled us in high boots. He is sharing his thoughts about gender identities, and he seems upset. We have a lot to discuss.

Okay. But we start with the serious topic of the manhunt of the suspect in the Texas massacre of five people, including a nine-year- old child. He is considered armed and dangerous. More than 250 law enforcement officers are on the hunt for him tonight.


REPORTER: Can you tell us what led up to that shooting, why they called about a harassment?

SHERIFF GREG CAPERS, SAN JACINTO COUNTY, TEXAS: My understanding is that the victims, they came over to the fence, said, hey, could you mind not shooting out in the yard? We have a young baby that's trying to go to sleep. And he had been drinking and he said, I'll do what I want to in my front yard.


CAMEROTA: A source from Immigration and Customs Enforcement says Francisco Oropeza entered the U.S. illegally. Here's this wanted photo right now. Please take a close look at it. He was apparently deported at least four times prior to this shooting.

Let's bring in our panel. We have Republican Pollster Lee Carter, former Congressman Mondaire Jones, CNN's own John Avlon, Insider Columnist Linette Lopez, and joining us is Scott Jennings, who worked in the George W. Bush White House.

Every aspect of this story, Lee, is awful. It's awful. I mean, everything he -- you know, he kills five members of his neighbors, a family, including a nine-year-old boy, and he was deported four times. He was convicted in Texas in 2012 of drunk driving. He's escaped probably back to Mexico. But it's just awful on every level. Your thoughts?

LEE CARTER, GOP POLLSTER: It's awful on every level. And I think this becomes sort of a case study on all the different issues that Americans are concerned about right now, from gun control to immigration across the board.

Gun control is one of the things that Joe Biden is performing the least well on. Only 35 percent of Americans right now are satisfied with gun control laws. It's something we all agree on. In fact, 63 percent favor stronger gun laws.

CAMEROTA: But how is it his problem? That's Congress' issue.

CARTER: It is Congress' issue, but they are blaming it on him. They're saying that he had control of the executive branch and he had Congress for two years, and something could have happened. MONDAIRE JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, something did happen. I was there when it did. It was the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was the most robust set of gun reforms that we've seen in at least a generation of this country, and still, to the point that Lee just made, it didn't go far enough, right? You've got Republicans who won't provide a filibuster-proof majority in the United States Senate, for example, to pass and assault weapons ban which over 60 percent of Americans support, or pass universal background checks, which, depending on the poling anywhere, from 70 to 80 percent of Americans support.

So, these and other things are common sense gun reforms that we have yet to see progress on, but let's be clear, that's because of Republican obstruction. I think most Americans, including many Republicans know that.

CAMEROTA: Mondaire, what about the border aspect of this?


What about the fact that this guy has supposedly been deported four other times? He was convicted of drunk driving. What about that? The fact -- I mean, does anything else scream and force border more than that?

JONES: I mean, look, it's a terrible issue, I think, in this moment, not just for the country, obviously, there is a human aspect to the story that people who died, our hearts should all go out -- should be going out to them. It speaks to the need for comprehensive immigration reform, and, yes, to get tougher on people who have been committing crimes, who have crossed the border. I don't know who's responsible for this guy crossing the board on four different occasions, apparently, but anyone who is responsible for that should be fired, I think.

CAMEROTA: Scott, go ahead.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hold on, hold on. I'm sorry, you are a former United States congressman and you're not familiar with who is responsible for enforcing the borders of the United States of America? This is a story about illegal immigration. This man broke our laws repeatedly over a long period of time. He broke the immigration laws, then he broke laws while he was here and nobody seemed -- I don't know who's responsible for this.

Let me tell you --

CAMEROTA: But, Scott, what do you think is the answer?

JENNINGS: -- the federal government is a complete -- enforce the laws. This is an illegal immigration story, and no one wants to say it.

CAMEROTA: Scott, they did. They convicted him and sent him out of the country. That is enforcing the laws. JENNINGS: Great. And where did he shoot these people? Back in the United States. Are you telling me this is working? This is a total failure, a failure.

CAMEROTA: I agree, Scott. Everybody agrees. We all have agreed. This is a total failure. But I'm not sure how the -- our border is supposed to be patrolled at every square inch to keep somebody who desperately wants to keep coming in, who's obviously a criminal from coming in. John?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This example is evidence of the accusations of folks who say there's a revolving door. We clearly have to do a better job, particularly when it comes to people who have committed any kind of a crime.

And Mondaire is right about the fact that, ultimately, you need a comprehensive immigration policy in this country. That is an essential part of this. But this is not just an immigration story. This is a gun violence story. This is a part of a larger series of mass shootings that we've seen where people are asked in a reasonable way by neighbors to be neighborly and they respond with mass shootings.

CAMEROTA: And I do want to get to that. And I do want to get to that, we will in a moment. But, first, I want to hear --

LINETTE LOPEZ, COLUMNIST, INSIDER: Where did this criminal get a gun? Do we just let just criminals by guns in this country whenever they want to after they've crossed the border multiple times breaking the law, after they've been arrested for drunk driving in this country, we just let them buy guns? Is that -- that seems like a problem. That seems even worse of a problem than letting someone over the border because at least at that point you can arrest them and multiple people aren't dead. It seems more of a problem that a criminal can get a gun, no questions asked, and then turn to his neighbors and shoot, shoot, shoot as if that is what he believes is entitled to do in this country, wild, wild.

CAMEROTA: But, Congressman, I fail to see how a comprehensive immigration reform could have solved this from happening?

JONES: Look, it's a great question. First of all, I think you have the proper deployment of resources at this point that would allow people to more effectively police those who are crossing illegally instead of trying to account for, yes, many, many thousands of people who are doing so and trying to figure out where to prioritize your resources.

When you have fewer people crossing the border illegally because you have a comprehensive immigration strategy in place, then you can focus on individuals like this and actually deporting permanently who cross the border.

CAMEROTA: Lee, let's talk about the gun aspect of this. Because it's not just this, in the past two weeks, there have been all of these examples of what used to what would've been resolved, or maybe not resolved, but at least fought out with a shouting match or a fistfight. Now, somebody is shot for. You pull into the wrong driveway. You open the wrong car door in a mall parking lot and you're shot. We have for examples, a 79-year-old man in Illinois shoots a neighbor over a leaf blower.

How do you explain this and do you think it is people with a hair trigger temper having easy access to guns?

CARTER: Well, I think more than half of Republicans right now think there needs to be stronger gun laws. So, let's just be -- this is an issue that we should be able to get something done on any -- I can see you're getting -- like you're ready to say something. But it needs to be addressed.

The other problem right now is there's a very different view of the world between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans right now are much more likely to think that crime is on the rise. In fact, over the last three years, Republicans now say it's 73 percent worse than it was before. Well, Democrats say it's only 5 percent worse.

We're living in two different worlds. I think Republicans in many ways are more afraid than they've ever been, and so they want their guns, they want to be able to protect themselves. And that's how they feel.

Now, we have to figure out a way to address it, because, obviously, it's on the rise, and all of this is unacceptable.


Nobody is going to say it's okay what's going on here.

AVLON: But, Lee, what you're saying here is that 63 percent of Republicans want there to be tougher gun laws. And yet we know, I mean, there was bipartisan legislation and people can agree on things, like mental illness and red flag laws are great, but, obviously, guns are an issue, that had supermajority support for reasonable reforms have gotten blocked every step of the way since Sandy Hook.

So, if you say it's great, 63 percent of Republicans say they want tougher gun laws, but you know there's zero percent chance that Republicans are going to support that in the Senate and Congress. And, look, I understand concerns about crime. I think that's legitimate, that shouldn't be a politicized issue, but let's be real about it. If you say 63 percent of Republicans support that, then we should say, great, we will have bipartisan support for reasonable gun reforms starting tomorrow, and yet we all know there's a snow ball chance of hell of that happening.

JONES: So, I want to just make a point on the crime thing. I mean, just because two people, two different groups of folks are living in a different world, doesn't mean that it's incumbent upon people to tell the truth to them so that we can reach consensus on what is reality. It is absolutely the case that in several cities in this country that crime has risen over the last several years.

Now, in New York City, for example, it happens to be less this year than it was the year before. But when you look at the past 30 years, for example, crime is significantly lower overall than it was in the 90s, in the early 90s, for example, late 80s. And I think that's important too. When I hear things that Republicans are more afraid than ever before, that worries me because it mean someone is lying to them.

LOPEZ: It's intentional. It's definitely intentional. And the gun problem that we have is intentional because fear sells guns and people wanted to sell guns. We're not in this problem by accident.

CAMEROTA: Scott, go ahead.

JENNINGS: Yes. Look, I mean, you know, who commits violent crimes, people who commit violent crimes. I think one of the biggest problems we have in this country is not keeping violent people in jail for a very, very, very long time.

And just the other day in Washington, D.C., the chief of police was talking about when they arrest murder suspects, those people on average have been arrested eight, nine, ten times. Violent people commit other violent actions. And until, as a society, we're willing to put them in jail and keep them there, I think we're going to continue to have violent crimes like this in this country.

CAMEROTA: Some of these are one-offs. Some of these, for instance, the case with Ralph Yarl, who was shot by the older gentlemen through the door of his front door because Ralph Yarl ran the doorbell, that guy had not committed gun violence before. He was scared and shot someone because he rang the doorbell.

AVLON: So, I think we've got a bifurcate the conversation a little bit. There's a rising incident of people who normally would've settled a disagreement because they were angry or unhinged at that moment, that would've been a screaming match that is turning into gun violence. That's about massive access, unprecedented access to firearms in an environment of fear.

Scott is right, though. The vast majority of violent crime is created by a relatively small number of people. We could have a different conversation about bail reform and all those associated issues. Mondaire is right that crime is lower than it was in the early 90s, but it's higher than it was a decade ago and where it was for a sustained period of time. And so that's what's leading to those perceptions.

JONES: And also should we be making it easy for violent criminals, people we've already described as violent, to get access to weapons of war and firearms generally? I mean, that seems dumb and I don't why that's not part of the analysis that I just heard.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Friends, thank you very much. Obviously, we're not going to solve this tonight, but I appreciate all your informed perspectives.

Next, what does it mean to be bullied these days? If you think it's about what we imagine, as getting slandered to the locker, shoved on the playground, it's not anymore, of course. A 17-year-old died by suicide after his school says he was the victim of bullying. This was cruel behavior on a much larger scale, huge public humiliation. What can we do now to protect our kids?



CAMEROTA: One year after the suicide of a 17-year-old student in New Jersey, his school is admitting the many mistakes they made. They say that they, quote, fell tragically short of protecting your safety. Jack Reid died on April 30th, 2022 at Lawrenceville, the prestigious boarding school. The school admits that for a year before suicide, Reid had been a target of bullying and other forms of harassment based on false rumors.

The school took the time to investigate the rumors. They found them to be false but never announced their findings publicly.

I am back now with our panel. We are also joined by Dr. Ken Druck, an expert on resilience and the author of The Real Rules of Life.

Linette, this is incredible on many levels because this school, Lawrenceville, has come forward to admit their mistakes. Often, schools don't do that. And so this one, it sounds like it was part of a settlement reached with their parents, I do not know if they would've done this on their own, but, nevertheless, they were now saying the many ways in which they failed the student.

Here's just part of their statement. Lawrenceville's top priority is the physical, social and emotional health, safety and well-being of our students. We recognize that in Jack's case, we felt tragically short of these expectations. They did not release the findings that it was a false rumor that was circulating to the student body. I mean, that is just -- it's unthinkable.

LOPEZ: It is disgusting in part because we know that the internet is a real place and that it is a place full of passwords and secret places that kids know about that adults don't know about. And so kids can go that place and be bullied without any adult knowing what is going on. The fact that they even investigated it is, I guess, good, but the fact that this kid was at boarding school. There is no parent to protect you there. Your parents are not there to look through your backpack and check your homework and all that stuff.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you rely on the school.

LOPEZ: You rely on the school. The kid was alone. And on the internet, he was alone and cornered by his classmates. It is really, really upsetting.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Druck, we were talking in our show meeting about how, back in the day, when we were in school, you could be bullied at school but then you went home and that was your safe haven. And now, because of the internet, there is no safe haven. You are not safe in your room, your dorm room or at home. So, how do you define bullying now? DR. KEN DRUCK, DOCTORATE IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY: You know, the first order of business is to tell Bill and Elizabeth Reid that my heart goes out to them and that I love what they are doing to honor their son by stepping forward and calling attention with CNN's help here and our panels help to what we can do and what we need to understand about what kids are going through and what bullying is today, because it has changed, as you're saying, Alisyn.

With the internet, a minute ago we were talking about guns, how guns amplify emotions, you know, an emotion that normally would have been somebody getting very angry, cussing at somebody else, and trying to assassinate their character. With a gun in your hand, that is amplified 1,000 times. With the internet as a resource for spreading misinformation, for conspiracy, false accusations, a child can be devastated and children are being devastated. And we need to know and think about what we do about that besides opening those lines of communication to our kids when they are in a state of despair and giving them at least one safe place to say, I'm in pain.

CAMEROTA: Yes. John, I was reading that one of the kind of enhancers of suicidal ideation is public humiliation. Public humiliation can tip is somebody who is depressed, somebody who is a struggling. Well, the internet is one big public humiliation cesspool if you're on the receiving end of bullying like this.

AVLON: Yes, and especially if you haven't developed a thick skin more than experience. Everything about this story is heartbreaking. And I think the school does, whatever the circumstances were, coming forward, admitting failings, and saying you're going to implement lessons called comfort of the parents but a step forward for the community.

I think what's so heartbreaking here is that you've got a kid, who, on the surface, may have seemed like he had it all going for him.

CAMEROTA: He did, athlete, great student, a leader among other students.

AVLON: Elected president of his dormitory but was falsely accused of sexual assault. That rumor percolated online and that undercut his confidence, apparently consistently. That kind of cruelty, a form of bullying that might not look like does traditionally, but the failure of the school to call out the investigation, to clear his name, that is where part of this tragedy occurs.

And it just reminds people, do not judge people by what they seem to be. That line about treat everyone with kindness, because everyone is carrying an enormous burden, and then that final reminder, which is the ultimate tragedy of permanent solutions to temporary problems.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Druck, so many schools say that they have anti-bullying programs. What is that? What is an anti-bullying program? What does that look like? Or what are the best ones or effective ones look like?

DRUCK: It is teaching kids about this thing called status insecurity. How important is status in a child's life, in a teen? It is everything. How they appear, whether they fit in, they are in that bridge time of life between childhood and experimenting, taking that test drive into adult life, and status is everything. But when they look around, what do they see? How long do they have to turn on the television to see somebody assassinating somebody else's character, somebody creating stories about them?

So, what's sanctioned in the adult world now filters down, and what does a school do? A school will try to teach kids kindness. But we are teaching kids in preschool. Here's the difference between kindness and mean-spiritedness, and yet those things are so pervasive and are so sanctioned that we are fighting a huge battle.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Lee, thoughts?

CARTER: I mean, this is just something that is so tragic that when you look at the numbers, more than half of high school-aged students have said that they experienced cyberbullying themselves. A third of them say they've experienced at least five incidents or more. This is a crisis. There is a mental health crisis on top of all of this and it is amplified by social media.

The fact that people are putting information out there that we do not understand about our kids is absolutely unacceptable. The idea, when you read the story about this child, he went home at Christmas time and he said to his father, is it ever going to stop? Is it ever going to stop, dad? Are they ever going to believe that he didn't do it? And they knew that he didn't and they did not clear his name.

But this is happening all over the place. This is one story that is getting a lot of attention. Thankfully, because of this child's parents, who are really doing a lot of work to make sure that we are all aware, but more needs to be done. There is no excuse for us to allow this to happen to our kids.

CAMEROTA: We only have a few seconds left, Mondaire. Your thoughts?

JONES: Yes. Look, it looks like the school was more interested in protecting itself from the possibility that it may have a rapist as a student than it was about protecting the student once it became clear per its own investigation that those allegations were false.


And it is just horrifying. I mean, my heart broke reading the story. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be the parents in this situation.

And I'm also so glad that when I was in high school, we didn't have so many of these social media applications to help further disseminate these lies. I mean, kids are going through a lot right now in the high school and elementary school context and I just think stuff like that just makes it easier for people to get bullied.

CAMEROTA: So true, being a teenager is hard enough. Thank you all, thank you, Dr. Druck, I really appreciate your expertise.

And if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or feelings of hopelessness, please call the number on your screen, 988. That is all you have to call. The lifeline provides 24-hour free and confidential support. You can also text Chat at 988lifeline dot org.

Okay. Everybody, stick around, because the man known as the godfather of A.I. is now warning about the dangers of his creation. That is next.


CAMEROTA: The godfather of artificial intelligence is trying to sound the alarm about his invention.


In fact, he is leaving his job at Google after more than a decade so that he can speak out about the dangers of this technology. His name is Geoffrey Hinton and he was instrumental in inventing neural networks, that's the technology that serves as the foundation for A.I. platforms that we know today like a ChatGPT or Google's Bard.

His concerns about artificial intelligence break down into three big categories. First, misinformation. Second, upending the job market. And third, a legitimate threat to humanity. That sounds important. Let's get my panel. John, basically he is saying that he created a Frankenstein monster. We don't know that -- we don't know what it's capable of doing. And he, along with many other tech leaders are begging us to pump the brakes. And we're not doing it. We're not following it.

AVLON: Well, as usual, government is a slow reactor because technology moves so fast and legislation move so slow. But when an industry is begging, let alone the guy who started a lot of this stuff, his research. This is the scene in a movie where the guy who creates the monster says we got a problem people.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

AVLON: And to some extent, look, A.I. is all we should be talking about. When you look back in the rearview mirror of history that's going to be the thing that happened in the first and second quarter of this year. A.I. started taking off in a massive way. And when the people are saying please regulate us, don't trust about your senators or congressman necessarily.

But what they're saying is, create a new FDA. Create an issue panel of experts that's empowered by the federal government to pump the brakes because this thing has destabilizing impacts and revolutionary impacts both good and bad that we can barely imagine now.


LINETTE LOPEZ, COLUMNIST, INSIDER: Well, destabilizing impacts sure, but it's not like Silicon Valley is doing anything about it.


LOPEZ: They are rushing forward because they have --

AVLON: Quarterly earnings.

LOPEZ: -- the quarterly earnings.

AVLON: Please.

LOPEZ: And, you know, they just had a really tough year last year. A lot of companies got their butts kicked. So, now it's time for Silicon Valley to say, okay, we've got this new trick, so everybody go ride this --

AVLON: But if you had -- if you had reasonable regulations that would level the playing field. Instead, they're going to say as long as the wild west, we are going to grab all we can no matter what the repercussions.

LOPEZ: But who is we? They are we.

AVLON: Yeah.

LOPEZ: They are not we.


AVLON: This is very confusing.

CAMEROTA: Well, weren't they -- who's in first? Weren't they these 1,000 tech leaders who begged, you know, the --


CAMEROTA: -- creators of A.I., to pump the brakes?

LOPEZ: These are the same people -- these are the same people who have fired their entire ethical A.I. teams. These are the same people who don't want to put up the money so that they can see what the A.I. is doing in the background. All of these stuff cost money. Silicon Valley would rather spend that money marketing this tool getting to the -- to point fun or wherever they can unleash them to us as fast as possible, to make as much money as possible. So, do they want to do it safely? No.

CARTER: What he said was everything was going fine until being released their chat. And that ended up accelerating everything and everything got more careless, and that's frightening. And when you look at the polling on this, not to go back to the numbers all the time, that's what I have to do. The more people know about A.I., the more likely they are to say it should be regulated.

Seventy percent of Americans who don't know a lot about it say it should be regulated. Eighty percent who are very familiar about it say it should be regulated, it's a big difference. The problem is 60 percent of Americans don't have faith that the government knows enough to do something about it. CAMEROTA: Right. I understand that because, Lex, we've talked about

this before. Some people in government are older than people who understand --

AVLON: Is that problem in government? I heard that.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Some people are old enough, Congressman.

JONES: Famously, yes.

CAMEROTA: And they don't know how to regulate this, let's be honest.

JONES: You know, as I watch the Supreme Court take on a case today that could get the administrative state, I'm not clear that even creating something equivalent to the FDA for A.I. is going to solve the problem. Congress needs to do it itself and we need better people in Congress, people who are more up to speed on these issues, who are more intelligent, who are staffed by really intelligent people to resolve this, but.

CAMEROTA: We don't have time. TikTok -- A.I. is taking over.

JONES: Well, we've got to start somewhere. And as someone whose favorite movie is "T2: Judgment Day," I am concerned about these machines becoming self-aware and taking over. And I, you know, I laugh, but I'm also quite serious about it because I don't think that we yet know the implications of these issues.

CAMEROTA: We don't. I think we don't.

LOPEZ: The people who are making them don't know the implications.

CAMEROTA: The godfather says he doesn't know.

JONES: They warned us.

CAMEROTA: He is trying to warn us. He's trying to sound the alarm. But I hear what you're saying. We need better people in congress. That's, okay, best two years away. What can happen today to pump the brakes here?

JONES: In prevailing upon private industry to self-regulate. I mean, you asked the question. I don't like the answer, but it's the most realistic one to me.

LOPEZ: Silicon Valley known for its care about social impacts.

AVLON: They're telling us they can't, right? Partly because everyone is afraid, they're going to lose first and second --

JONES: Well, that's the thing. They can, but they don't want to. I mean, it's a collective action problem, right.

AVLON: That's right. That's exactly right.

CARTER: It's also a global problem, because it's not just -- if we can't take care of it here, we can't just say we're going to stop here and do nothing because what's going to happen in China? What's going to happen in Russia when other people have advances in technology too? Who do we trust more?

LOPEZ: I mean, do we trust the Chinese and the Russians with technology? No. And also there are implications with the power of their computer systems and what we are already cutting off to our enemies that we don't like anyway.


But the point is Silicon Valley is driving this bus. They are the ones who should pump the brakes and they shouldn't look at us and be like and break everything like they did with social media, and then turn around and be like, oh no, it's broken. Again?

AVLON: Yeah. There's an example of where there can be bipartisan support for this if there's collective will. But look, you know, going back to (inaudible) talking about a series of tubes, it would be better to actually put together an FDA style panel, but you raise a profound point about some of the implications stuff.

JONES: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you all. I'm not sure I feel better. Thank you (inaudible).


CAMEROTA: All right. Thank you very much. Be sure to tune in. At the top of the hour, some of our favorite reporters will join me to talk about the scoops that they are covering, including how a Hollywood writers' strike could affect all of our T.V. viewing.

Okay, next, legendary Kiss rocker and makeup wearer, Paul Stanley, is offering up his thoughts on trans kids. We'll be right back.




CAMEROTA: Yes, that's Kiss performing "Strutter," part of the soundtrack of my adolescence. But now guitarist and singer Paul Stanley is jumping into the culture wars about kids and gender identity. He posted a message on social media titled "My Thoughts on What I'm Seeing."

He says, quote, "There is a big difference between teaching acceptance and normalizing and even encouraging participation in the lifestyle that confuses young children into questioning their sexual identification as though some sort of game -- as a sort of game, and then parents allow -- parents in some cases allow it. There are individuals who, as adults, may decide reassignment is there needed choice. But turning this into a game or parents normalizing it as some sort of natural alternative or believing that because a little boy likes to play dress up in his sister's clothes or a girl in her brother's, we should lead them steps further down a path that's far from the innocence of what they're doing."

All right. There's a lot to talk about there. My panel is back. Finally, John, my area of expertise comes into play on the show. And I don't mean transgender. I mean, Kiss.

AVLON: Yeah, clearly. And I'm glad you're feeling this kind of vindication, bringing you back to those years on the shore. I was like to think you was more of a punk rock girl.

CAMEROTA: I am, but Kiss started it. Kiss was the gateway drug.

AVLON: That was the gateway drug?

CAMEROTA: That was the gateway drug. They start ir off. And here's what I would like to say about this.

AVLON: Funny you mentioned gateway drug.

CAMEROTA: It is a gateway drug. And my point is that Paul Stanley knows a thing or two about trying on different identities for size, for sure.

CARTER: That heels.

CAMEROTA: He does. I mean, platform heels and, you know, bedazzled shirts. He played --

JONES: Coming out.

CAMEROTA: I mean, no. Look, they were aggressively heterosexual, okay. Kiss was aggressively heterosexual. However, they were trying on different personas for size. So, in some ways I take his point of what he's saying. That if somebody is trying on things for size, let's not jump to the most extreme. Fair point.

But I also don't think -- I think he is worried about something that isn't happening. I don't know any parents who are rushing their kids to gender reassignment surgery. I think he can exhale. I don't -- I don't think parents are rushing their kids to do something (inaudible).

JONES: What is he going to do now to (inaudible) and doesn't have a show.

CAMEROTA: (Inaudible).

CARTER: And there is evidence in certain states and certain places that more kids are going in different directions than in other places. It's becoming sort of socially acceptable in groups. And so --

CAMEROTA: Like where?

CARTER: In California, there is a larger number. And I'm not suggesting in any way shape or form that we shouldn't embrace, love, and accept people. I think it's important that the bottom line that is the most important thing. They want people to feel loved and accepted for who they are.

On the other hand, when you're thinking about children who are under the age of 18, you're not allowed to get a tattoo. You're not allowed to vote. You can't get a beer. But you can get a gender reassignment and that's concerning. I can see why it should be a last resort.

JONES: But the difference is like those things are cosmetic, right, and what we're talking about, gender reassignment surgery, hormone treatment, this is all pursuant medical advice and consultation and deep thinking by the parent. You know, there is a ton of research behind those. This isn't something that people do lightly. People are not waking up one day and saying I want to let my kid get gender reassignment.

This is deliberative and it is scientifically informed and medically informed, and it is already a tremendously emotional decision. And so, to have someone like this guy say, based on what I have been seeing, where have you've been seeing? Have you been participating in the conversation that I just described? No. Like you are reading some blog that is not fact checked and then you are coming to conclusions and you're using your platform to make, frankly, the environment more dangerous for these kids.

LOPEZ: He's in engaging in -- he's engaging in the large-scale national bullying campaign against transgender people that a lot of people in this country are engaging in.

CAMEROTA: But is he trying to bully them? But hold on, hold on (inaudible). Is he trying to bully them or does he just truly as you say, he's not interacting with them. He doesn't know, so he's scared of what he is seeing, and I think a lot of this is fear based.

AVLON: Yeah.

CAMEROTA: He's scared of what he's seeing on say Tucker's old show. And he is worried that this is happening. When in fact if you look at the numbers, it is such a fraction --

LOPEZ: Tiny. Tiny (inaudible).

CAMEROTA: A tiny, tiny fraction of adolescents or teenagers, tiny. And by the way, again, if they get to the point of reassignment they have gone through so much with their parents by that point. I know from having friends who have gone through this. This is not a snap decision. (Inaudible).

LOPEZ: Which is why it feels like famous people and people yelling at them in the internet just feels like bullying. It's this -- they are just vulnerable, small number of people. And again, conflating sexuality with gender norms.

Like, Kiss was aggressively heterosexual, but they were playing with their sexuality. They would not -- AVLON: If anyone should understand that distinction props, its --

LOPEZ: Yeah. They should -- he should understand that, a little boy dressing up as a girl. He might be a straight a little boy or a gay little boy, I'm unclear.


But masculinity isn't about how you dress or any of this. I mean, it's confusing that I have to explain this to Kiss.


AVLON: This is clearly been a magnet for panic. It's been politicized to demonize a group of people who are very small and without much political power in a lot of places. That said, I think we can also have a conversation about, you know, the fact that this is still medically a new frontier, so to speak.

"The Economist" had a great cover story I recommend called "America's Misguided Gender Medicine" that just question some of the trends and so maybe we should pump the brakes when it comes to irreversible treatments. That conversation can be had without accusing somebody of being a transphobe.

What I think is even more inexcusable is the way this issue has clearly been politicized and used to demonize a community that doesn't have a lot of political power and we all need to support the principles of self-determination by adults and compassion for (inaudible).

CAMEROTA: Now, I don't think that Paul Stanley is demonizing the trans kids. I really don't. I don't think he's demonizing them. I think he is -- I think he is scared by whatever he has seen, as you say, and he is saying I hope that parents aren't rushing to do this, and again they are not.

JONES: But he I s -- I will say that he is diminishing their experience. There's something called gender dysphoria, among other things, that people are actually experiencing. And I will just ask people who feel the need to weigh in on the subject that does not concern them, that they, in the same way that they wouldn't substitute their own judgment for an oncologist treating cancer or a psychiatrist treating any other, you know, human experience that we not -- whether it's writers at "The Economist" or in "The Wall Street Journal" or Fox or anywhere else, substitute their own scientifically uninformed and medically uninformed judgment for the actual experts who advise him (inaudible).

AVLON: I wouldn't let "The Economist" in with, you know, partisan outlets like this. Read the piece. It is very much just about these diagnoses are increasing dramatically. We don't have all the facts. Europe is coming to a different conclusion in some cases than America, and so you want to take that all into account when it comes to irreversible procedures on minors. That's all. And we should be able to have that conversation. CAMEROTA: And we just did. Thank you very much, friends. Really

appreciate that. All right. We've got some news on some extreme weather tonight. Dozens of cars have crashed on a major highway, multiple people dead because of this dust storm. So, we are going to go to the CNN Weather Center for an explanation about how this happened, right after this.



CAMEROTA: A tragic scene in central Illinois. A dust storm led to a series of pileups on Interstate 55 as you can see, involving dozens of passengers and commercial vehicles. Two semi-trucks caught fire. Police report at least six people were killed and more than 30 injured. They say the dust storm was caused by excessive winds, blowing dirt from newly-plowed fields near the highway which led to zero visibility for drivers. So, let's bring in CNN's meteorologist Chad Myers. So, Chad, what -- just describe how exactly this happened.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This is what happens in the spring. When a farmer takes his disk and he runs over the field, turning over the land that was fallow all winter. Now, all of a sudden, we have the dry dirt from below, now up on top all crumbled up. And so, the wind that we had around this low pressure, right over the Great Lakes was up to 45 miles per hour today.

And there is rain here, but there is not rain where the crashes were occurring, where the dust storm was occurring. Now the winds are down to about 20. This green area, about 20 miles per hour. But tomorrow afternoon the same thing could occur again, winds are going to be 45 miles per hour one more time.

So, let's get to this. This is very much the heart of Corn Country. Here is Chicago, here is -- all the way through Illinois. Here is Springfield. I-55 coming down south of Springfield. And this is where it occurred. What do we see here? Concrete, no. We see dirt. We see farmland. We see fields. We see farmers doing farming things especially now at the beginning of May. Tilling that soil, tilling that dirt over, making it crumbly.

All of a sudden you have so much exposed dirt and so much exposed dust, the wind came across those farm fields and right here on to I-55 where all of that occurred earlier today. The winds are coming across the field, picking up the dirt, picking up the sand, the dust, the soil from what the farmers need to do every spring. It's just two things went together at the wrong time, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, it's horrible. Chad, thank you very much for the update there.

More sad news tonight. Canadian singer songwriter Gordon Lightfoot has died at 84 years old. A spokesperson says Lightfoot died of natural causes at a hospital in Toronto. Just last month he canceled his 2023 U.S. and Canada concerts due to health-related issues. And you can hear what's probably his best loved song, "If You Could Read My Mind." (MUSIC PLAYING)

CAMEROTA: And coming up, some of our favorite reporters are here to talk about the stories they are working on for tomorrow. They are going to share their scoops with us, next.



CAMEROTA: Hi everyone. Thanks for tuning into this hour where we bring you tomorrow's news tonight. We have our great lineup of reporters to share their scoops. With me, Lauren Fox, Danny Freeman, Omar Jimenez, and fresh from red carpet duty at the White House Correspondents Dinner, he is still drunk with power, Harry Enten.

All right. Harry, I can't wait to see some videos of that, but we'll save that for a moment. Okay, Lauren, let's start with you. So, the country could be out of money one month from now. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent this letter to Congress today saying that the U.S. will default on its debt on June 1st, that's the estimate, I guess. June 1st, exactly one month from now. So, you're here to fill us in on all the details. Now what?


LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the big question right now. And this was a big surprise coming from Yellen today saying that this was going to happen as soon as June 1st.