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CNN Tonight

Glitches, Echoes And Melting The Servers Crash Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R-FL) Campaign Launch On Twitter; Tina Turner, Queen Of Rock And Roll, Dies At 83; GOP Sources Say, Prospects Grim For Passing Debt Limit Hike By June 1st; Debt Ceiling Negotiations Are Still No Deal Yet As Default Deadline Approaches; Target Pulls Out Merchandise- Related Items Ahead Of Pride Month; Pasta Prices Now Higher In The U.S. As Italy Is In A Pasta Shortage. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 24, 2023 - 22:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for joining us tonight. CNN TONIGHT with Alisyn Camerota is starting right now. Alisyn, hello.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hi, Abby. Thank you very much. And good evening, everyone, I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN Tonight.

Well, if unconventional was what Ron DeSantis was going for tonight, he got it. He decided to launch his presidential campaign on Twitter. And let's just say that some of Elon Musk's rocket launches have gone better. The live stream crashed. The sound cut in and out. But eventually, DeSantis made his case.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you nominate me, you can set your clock to January 20th, 2025 at high noon, because on the west side of the US. Capitol, I will be taking the oath of office as the 47th president of the United States. No excuses, I will get the job done.


CAMEROTA: Tonight, our panel shares their take on what this means for the race for the White House.

Plus, the culture wars strike again. This time, Target is pulling some rainbow themed products from store shelves days before Pride Month because angry customers reportedly made workers feel unsafe. Is there any other option?

And the queen rock and roll, Tina Turner, dies at the age of 83. So many classic songs, so many electric performances, and her challenging life story was an inspiration to millions. So, tonight, we'll play you our favorite Tina performances.

Yes, we're going to have some music tonight in the program. All right, but let's begin with Ron DeSantis' glitchy Twitter launch of his presidential campaign. Here with me tonight, we have reality checker extraordinaire John Avlon, former Trump White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin, former Senate Candidate Joe Pinion and Scott Jennings, who worked for President George W. Bush. Great to have all of you.

Okay, Joe, let me start with you. What did you take away from Ron DeSantis' announcement launch?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think obviously it was unconventional, but I think in some ways there could be a method to the madness, given a little grace to the governor. I think if you realize that he has an uphill battle, that perhaps he waited a little bit too long, going all the way back to you when he was the first Republican governor, going all the way back to Jeb Bush to win Miami- Dade, and people were saying that he, in many ways, was the frontrunner above Donald Trump, and now time filling that void. And as they say in politics, if you're explaining, you're losing, and everything from Disney to all the things that have befallen him.

So, yes, I think he had to go out there and continue with this kind of quest to do the behind the scenes work with those state legislature members. So, I think that's kind of maybe his approach. Maybe he's going to get --

CAMEROTA: But did he do it well or badly?

PINION: Look, I think the video was quite effective, but I think more people are talking about the failure to launch on the Twitter spaces than they are about the actual video itself.

CAMEROTA: Alyssa, why didn't he just go to a beach bar in Florida surrounded by an army of supporters?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I give him points for doing something creative. And I said this morning, it's either going to be brilliant or disastrous. It was a little closer to the latter.

Listen, there were so many unknowns with this, and the rules of a campaign launch is first, do no harm, second, look presidential. They did harm on the tech front, but then looking presidential. It was a very strange platform, having him with two other people. You can't even see him.

I mean, comm staffers, advanced staffers spend months to the T planning these things to make you see the candidate and say, that is the next leader of the free world. And in him hind of hobnobbing with billionaire Elon Musk about a variety of, by the way, important issues, but off camera, and then this other gentleman jumping in, it did not feel presidential.

That said, he's got a massive war chest. I think he still has a chance to go only up in the polls, but it was not a good launch.

CAMEROTA: Scott, you wrote a piece today for in which you talked about how he is quite a formidable contender against Donald Trump. Do you still feel that way? SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I do. I mean, the launch today is another tactic in his quest to completely and totally bypass the traditional political media. He hates them, they hate him, and he wants nothing to do with them. And so he goes all the way to Twitter spaces to have his campaign announcement because he just doesn't want to do it with the mainstream media. I don't know if this is going to work or not. No one's ever tried this before.


Traditionally, when you run for president, you're desperate for media attention. But he's dedicated to the proposition that Republicans hate the media. They don't trust the media. And so we're going to communicate with you in a way that totally bypasses them. You heard him having that conversation with Elon Musk today.

They say they've raised a million dollars in the first hour since he had his thing tonight. So, I don't think they would categorize that as a failure. I don't think this is going to be determinative about how this race turns out, but I do think it's a window into their thinking about how they're going to engage with voters and not with the traditional media.

CAMEROTA: John, I'll play a little bit more of what he said, making the case for his accomplishments in Florida. So, listen to this.


DESANTIS: Florida stands for the protection of children. We believe jamming gender ideology in elementary school is wrong. Disney obviously supported injecting gender ideology in elementary school. They did oppose our parents' rights legislation. And the fact is, when they opposed it, that was a big deal. Because for 50 years, anytime Disney wanted something in Florida politics, they pretty much got it.


CAMEROTA: Okay, your thoughts?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Ron DeSantis' fist fight with Mickey Mouse has not worked out well for him.

CAMEROTA: He's sticking with it.

AVLON: Sure, because he's trying to win a primary. But, I mean, let's be clear, I mean, Joe just said these are fights that have diminished him from seeming like the next generation of a certain kind of conservatism. One of the reasons it failed isn't only because picking a fight with Disney doesn't look really good from a family optic standpoint, but because there's nothing less conservative than punishing private corporations for disagreeing with you politically. Let's square that within the basic realm of what used to be chapter and verse within conservatism.

Look, he's got nowhere to go but up. Obviously, he's got a strong lane and an argument to make. But let's not also kid ourselves that this launch with Twitter spaces was anything other than disastrous. It was a disastrous launch. From a tech standpoint, it was a mess. There were no visuals. There was no evidence of you could say it was disruptive, but it was dysfunctional. And so let's not kid ourselves about that.

CAMEROTA: So, they started at 500,000. That's how many they had when at 6:00 P.M., when it was supposed to happen. It took 25 minutes for them to get the glitches worked out. By that time, it had dipped to 100,000 viewers of this. And then when it started, it went back up to 300,000. I mean this is according to The New York Times. I don't know what that tells us, Alyssa, but where would you go from here as the communications director? What does he do next?

GRIFFIN: He needs to go interact with real, living, breathing people. He started doing this in Iowa last week, and he was relatively successful. You saw imagery of him engaging. He has to offset this attack from Donald Trump that has frankly stuck, that he doesn't have a personality, needs a personality transplant. And you only do that with interfacing with human beings.


PINION: Well, I think also part of the problem with the Twitter spaces is that it sounded like the type of thing you do on the road to the announcement, that if this had been something where we showed up and said, I've got the papers in hand, I sat with my family, we prayed about it, and tomorrow I'm going to make this announcement, I think that would have made more sense. It was almost this -- they couldn't make a decision.

And so, on one hand, they launched this video, which I think the sad part about what happened today, it's one of the most effective launch videos I think I've seen for any campaign.

CAMEROTA: Why? What makes it so effective?

PINION: I think it was clear. I think it was concise. I think that he was able to lay out his record, but also juxtaposing that without actually saying it, what President Trump had failed to do over those four years. So, I thought it was an effective video.

The problem is no one has seen it, no one is talking about it, because we're all here talking about what happened in the Twitter space.

DESANTIS: Look, but they will. Look, I think the key is, if you want to run for president, you got to win a primary, you also got to win a general. Being a happy warrior is generally the best way to go about it. And that's something that's going to be an adjustment for him.

But what I think folks can't lose sight of, as you said, he's the first Republican to win Miami-Dade, he was re-elected by 20 points. His policies may be polarizing to some people, but people keep moving into Florida. So, those are other benchmarks that people shouldn't lose sight of.

CAMEROTA: Scott, do you think that his accomplishments in Florida will translate nationally? I mean, this Disney fight that he does seem to be staking a lot of his credentials on, do you think that that translates?

JENNINGS: I think his record translates, certainly. If you look at all the bills that have passed in Florida, this is right out of the conservative playbook of everything, dealing from Second Amendment rights, to life to cracking down on ESG policies. I mean, this is all stuff that Republicans are talking about.

I do quibble a bit with John's characterization of DeSantis' brand of conservatism, and it not being traditional. I think Teddy Roosevelt would beg to differ. I mean, the Republican Party does have something of a history of muscular conservatism when they think it's warranted. And what DeSantis is talking about is cracking down on corporations, which Republicans believe are doing great harm to American culture. And so the fight with Disney, while I know it's offensive, everybody

that hates the Republican Party and hates people like Ron DeSantis, is actually working with grassroots Republicans, I promise you.


AVLON: Hey, buddy, don't go throwing Teddy Roosevelt around on me on this one. Listen, this is not about a muscular conservatism. I know that's a nice way to frame it. This isn't about trust busting and reshaping the economy in a post-industrial age when folks felt squeezed, the middle class felt squeezed, and there was massive income inequality. This is punishing a private corporation for taking a political position that he disagreed with his governor. It's got nothing to do with Teddy Roosevelt busting the trust, and you know it.

PINION: I don't know if it's that far. I mean, I think you can make the argument that he did it in a manner that was sloppy. And I think the knock on DeSantis moving forward is that even if you're talking about the educational reforms that were put in place, people will say that the reforms are such that you can actually enforce them because they were done in a sloppy manner.

So, I think the issue is not that they picked the fight with Mickey Mouse. I think the issue is that Disney was given protections that no other corporation in the country had been given. And at the same time, he decided to go about it in a manner that allowed them to say they were singled out because of their political views.

AVLON: So, badly executed.

CAMEROTA: Last word.

AVLON: Yes, sir.

GRIFFIN: I think that DeSantis' team is too online. I think that they're following 20 percent of people are on Twitter, only 20 percent of this country, the number of Republican primary voters is even smaller. What is people fight about on Twitter is not real life. Talk about pocketbook issues. Talk about the economy. Talk about bringing down inflation. Did not hear enough of that today.

CAMEROTA: Find real humans, that was Alyssa's suggestion.

GRIFFIN: Great advice.

CAMEROTA: Scott, thank you, great to have you here.

Okay, meanwhile, coming up, she was the queen of rock and roll, and nobody, not even Mick Jagger had moves like Tina Turner.



CAMEROTA: Tina Turner bringing the house down with her version of Proud Mary. Her 1971 cover of that CCR song hit number four on the charts and won her a Grammy. Tina Turner died today at her home in Switzerland after a long illness. She was 83 years old.

I'm back with my panel. Also joining us is Kierna Mayo, former editor- in-chief of Ebony Magazine. Kierna, great to have you here. Do you have a favorite Tina Turner moment that you remember today?

KIERNA MAYO, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ONE WORLD/ROC LIT 101: All the Tina Turner moments? I was telling your producer I had a Mad Max moment, because let's not forget that Tina, the iconography, right, looking at Tina, but I brought my 83 year old mother here today, who is a peer of Tina, who also did her rendition of Tina and won all kinds of beauty pageants as a result, but she reminded me of something on the ride here. It's not a moment for me, it wasn't a particular moment, but it was a moment in culture when a middle-aged woman makes a return to pop culture and owns stadiums.

CAMEROTA: You're right. She was 44 in 1984 when her big album hit came out. I think, like three huge hits on it.

MAYO: Huge, huge.

CAMEROTA: And she was 44.

MAYO: 44, 45, 46, she's working this album. She's touring Europe. I'm thinking about Beyonce right now, who's tearing down stadiums in Europe. And you don't get that moment without Tina Turner.

CAMEROTA: That's awesome. Alyssa, your favorite Tina moment?

GRIFFIN: I'm going to make myself sound young with this, but bear with me. She came on Ally McBeal in '90s and did like a cameo of it.

CAMEROTA: I don't remember that.

GRIFFIN: I didn't really know anything about Tina Turner, and I was obsessed with her after that. So, then I started looking up all the hits and dancing along with her. I mean, she was such an icon. And I learned today, actually, she was the first woman to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone and the first person of color. And it was actually the second issue of Rolling Stone in 1967. So, just trailblazer amazing, the dancing, just the whole thing. I love her.

CAMEROTA: That's awesome. Look at that and (INAUDIBLE). MAYO: That's a deep, deep cut.

CAMEROTA: All right. Joe, your thoughts?

PINION: Well, look. I think for me, the thing that strikes out the most is the return, but also where she died, right? I think if you look at it through the lens of a woman that said, all I want is my name and my voice, right, that said, Ike, you can keep the money, escaping that abusive relationship to redefine herself on her own terms.

CAMEROTA: And it wasn't easy to keep her name.

PINION: Of course, no.

CAMEROTA: There's a legal battle, just the name.

PINION: And then also the fact that she dies in Switzerland, because, again, she is one of that last generation of people forced to suffer the indignity of having to perform for white people without actually being able to sit in those arenas, without actually being able to stay in those hotels.

So, I think the legacy of that life that she has lived and all the things that have happened in between immortalized in that timeless classic by Angela Bassett, What's Love Got to Do With It. I think that is why she holds such a special place in the hearts of so many people, from the young millennials to people who are my mother's age.

CAMEROTA: You're right. And Angela Bassett in that movie, I mean, talked about how powerful it was for her to play that role and how special it was for her to play that role.

Okay, John, you and I love talking music.

AVLON: We can talk about music.

CAMEROTA: Tell me your favorite Tina moment.

AVLON: I got to go with the Proud Mary, River Deep, Mountain High. I mean, those performances, I mean, she just tore up the stage. So much energy, so much vitality that we are still remembering at top of mind, all of us tonight, 40 years later, and you look at that heat. You look at that fire. I mean, just knocking them dead. And she did it over and over again.

You read about the tours. She did shows in the '60s that all the other rock stars would just stand in and watch her with their jaws dropping because she was just bringing the heat like nobody else.

CAMEROTA: Look at that. Look at her as a performer. Look at her physically, how staggeringly beautiful she was.

MAYO: Stunning.

CAMEROTA: Stunning, and then just her energy there. Okay, here's my favorite. This was her and Mick. Let me start by saying this. It's very hard to outsexy Mick Jagger. She runs rings around him, literally. This is the 1985 Live Aid. It's her and Mick Jagger. She comes out in a leather mini skirt. Okay. He's in some sort of ill fitting sweatsuit, all right?

AVLON: It's the Miami Vice era, to be fair.

CAMEROTA: This is a crime fashion right here. But in any way, look at how much sexier and how much presence she has.


She's in stilettos that are this big. She's -- yes, look at this. Look at them together at that time. And by the way, she's four years older than he is, okay? And she is just exuding so much more sex appeal, frankly, and all of her charisma and everything against Mick Jagger, that icon.

GRIFFIN: How would she never run out of breath? She would dance her you know what off and then sing and not miss a beat. It was incredible.

MAYO: Yes. She's the prototype.

AVLON: She's the prototype. That's right.

MAYO: Well, I was thinking about Megan the Stallion. I'm thinking about how you just don't get anything in modern pop culture with black women on stage. This woman did it.

AVLON: It's the ripples that she carries forth.

MAYO: It's the ripples.

CAMEROTA: But what do we chalk it up to? I mean, it's just innate. Or it was her struggle --

MAYO: In part, I think. Yes. I'll say it's a bit of a bit of both. I have to believe that there's something innate there. Whenever you see this kind of magic unfold, there's something that's just God given, right?

But Tina comes from -- she's a wild girl from the south, where the trope about southern girls is that they're good girls, but she could not be contained. This is someone who was a force of nature and was determined to make sure we all knew it. There's just no one better, really.

AVLON: I think it's the triumph over the adversity. I mean, people didn't talk about domestic abuse that much and have a powerful celebrity couple, and she stood up and then she came back on her own terms and took over the world. That's the spirit of trying to see.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that did make this story really profound. Thank you all. I really appreciate going down Memory Road and watching all those amazing clips. And we'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CAMEROTA: In just a matter of days, the U.S. may not be able to pay its bills. Senior Republican sources tell CNN that, as of tonight, the two sides have yet to reach an agreement on the key sticking points of this debt ceiling argument. If and when they do, they will still need at least a day to write the bill, then another 72 hours for members to read it before they vote in the House. Then it still needs to go through the Senate, where any single senator can bring it to a screeching halt.

So, is it time to panic? John Avlon gives us a reality check. John?

AVLON: Yes, Ali. We are dancing towards the fiscal cliff again with these debt ceiling negotiations. Now, some folks say it's no big deal. We've been here before, and it's true that no one wants to default on our debt, but it is insane to play this dangerous game.

We're just days from the June 1st deadline. It's a little like juggling with nuclear weapons, because if there's a mistake or a miscalculation, everybody suffers, Main Street as much as Wall Street.

And, look, I get concerns about out of control deficits and debt, but the time to rein in spending is during budget negotiations, not when the bills are coming due. This is the opposite of fiscal responsibility. It's trying to achieve fiscal policy through extortion.

And I'd have a lot more patience if Republicans actually reduce the depths of the debt when they controlled the White House. Instead, the debt increased by $7 trillion under President Trump while he raised the debt ceiling with Democrats three times. And, yes, Kevin McCarthy voted for it each time.

Now, you remember when Trump was cheering on the debt ceiling extortion at the CNN town hall?


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We have to start paying off debt. But when we have a debt limit, and they use that very seriously to me, they came in, Schumer came in with Nancy Pelosi, and they were using, we'll violate it, we'll do whatever, they talked a whole lot different than they do right now. I say to the Republicans out there, congressmen, senators, if they don't give you massive cuts, you're going to have to do a default.


AVLON: Have to do a default. Well, folks, you're going to be shocked, shocked to learn that Trump said the exact opposite when he was president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I can't imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wage. I said, I remember to Senator Schumer and to Nancy Pelosi, would anybody ever use that to negotiate with? They said, absolutely not. That's a sacred element of our country.


AVLON: Sacred element of our country. Yes, that's a pathetic example of putting party over country.

And, look, there's a compromise that clearly can be reached, a side deal with maybe items like workfare adjustments, easing energy permitting, and clawing back unspent COVID relief but we've got to stop playing partisan politics with the full faith and credit of the United States. Not only does it arguably violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, but it's a huge gift to countries like China that want to dislodge the U.S. dollar as the world's reserve currency.

So, Washington, stop screwing around. Do your job. Now is the time to show the world that American democracy can be strong and united, not dysfunctional and self-defeating. And that's your reality check.

CAMEROTA: John, thank you very much for all of that. Come on back for our conversation.

Also joining us is our friend Jay Michaelson, rabbi, reporter, you name it, he does it. Jay, I don't think John answered my question. Is it time to panic?

JAY MICHAELSON, CLERKED FOR MERRICK GARLAND: Well, I also sometimes teach meditation, so I'd say it's never a good time to panic. But this is a fake crisis, right? The New York Times just did a really nice kind of statistical analysis of what's actually still on the table, and it's a sliver of federal spending, right? This is just using the debt ceiling to accomplish policy goals. The Republicans don't control the White House, and so they're using this as a tool to push through policy goals.

CAMEROTA: Wait a minute. But they do want to tighten the belt, right?

MICHAELSON: Tighten the belt on about the 20 percent of non-defense discretionary spending. That is a sliver.


Not touching entitlements, because that is now a third rail. Not touching defense, because that's also a third rail and something Republicans believe in. So we're talking about a part of a part of a part of the -- of the budget that just so happens to align with policy goals. So policy debate, that's what should be happening. That's what -- that's what politicians do. Right. But to use, as John just said, to use this massive nuclear weapon as a bargaining chip is the height of irresponsibility.

CAMEROTA: Joe, why do Republicans only seem to find religion on the deficit and debt when it's a Democratic president? And when, as John said, when it was President Trump, the deficit went what up? Seven trillion?

AVLON: Three times. Seven trillion.


JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that American voters are united on the reality that people down in D.C. have been playing fast and loose with their money. And I think that Republican voters will tell you that Republicans are the guiltiest. In fact, part of the reason why we had so many rounds of voting for the Speaker of the House was because Republican voters were tired of that type of behavior and I think that McCarthy would not have been Speaker of the House without making commitments to curb that type of behavior. So yes, I think that we should all agree that brinksmanship with the full faith and credit of the American dollar is not a wise thing to do.

But what we're not going to do is just decide unilaterally that there's only one side responsible for the brinksmanship. I think it's an irresponsible position for a man who quoted Lincoln and said that his whole heart was in uniting this country to then take the better part of 90 days and not actually even meet with the Speaker of the House. So yes, I think that is unreasonable. I think allowing this to get this close is unreasonable.

So I think to your point, yes, let's put the politics aside, but let's not pretend that there's only one person involved in the gamesmanship with the American economy.

CAMEROTA: I think Joe makes an interesting point because somehow, in Washington, D.C. they act like negotiating is a dirty word, but America, the public doesn't think negotiating and compromise is a dirty word.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Compromise and negotiation are swear words in D.C. I agree with Joe on this. It does take two to tango. I was on Capitol Hill for a number of debt ceiling fights and we have known this roughly June deadline since back in, or like the first quarter, back in March I believe is when Janet yelled in and said we should expect that.

AVLON: January.

FARAH GRIFFIN: January. In the past we've done super committees, we've done select committees where we've gotten the negotiators together, members of the budget committee, appropriators to hash out a deal and spend months ahead of the deadline to try to do it.

This feels like waiting till the 11th hour and trying to extract something. I will note CNN has good polling today that says 60 percent of Americans support raising the debt ceiling but with spending cuts. The problem is -- is you just cannot find a uniting front within Congress of where both Democrats and Republicans want to cut from.

AVLON: Well, look, is this time to panic to Jay's point. Panics, worries are a waste of time, panic's not useful. But to treat this as like, oh, they'll figure out the 11th hour is dangerously naive. Do you expect that American politicians, Janet Yellen, Treasury

Secretary is gonna say, I think this will all be worked out because what are they gonna say? Might not and markets panic?

This is a dangerous game to play and part of the reason that Democrats have kind of slow rolled this, they're saying, look, let's have these conversations and these fights in budget, not with the full faith and credit on the line because we got to delink these two. We got to stop doing this as a country, particularly when we only seem to do it when a Democrat is president.

MICHAELSON: So here's, you know, Joe and I love to agree on the show. It's our favorite thing. Here's where we can agree. I want to squarely place the blame on the Biden administration and just say the debt ceiling is unconstitutional. John mentioned a possibility, possible legal argument. This violates the 14th Amendment.

President Biden should have declared this fact, or the Justice Department should have declared it.

CAMEROTA: Unilaterally

MICHAELSON: They should have absolutely said, we do not respect the debt ceiling. That's the backup plan. It takes time to have that backup plan in place. Let the, whoever it's gonna be, whether it's journalists or politicians, let them scream, but have that backup plan in place. They can still do the negotiations, still maybe get to some agreement, but the debt ceiling is an unconstitutional creation. It is not part of the bedrock of our society. It's a relatively recent creation, and it should not exist.

PINION: Well, I also just think that people forget that in the past we have agreed to cuts that later Congresses have decided to ignore. So we can have a real conversation about simply saying, yeah, I get it. Maybe we have to find $3 trillion in appropriations later.

But I think the fact that they waited so long makes even that conversation almost impossible. So yes, I think that this is a disaster for the American people. We should all be outraged by it. But let's just really be truthful about how we got here.

CAMEROTA: But in terms of communications, do you think that President Biden should be saying more about this coming out and being like, hey, these guys want to cut this or this or this or this. And this is why I'm fighting for it. I feel like some of this is happening behind the scenes.

FARAH GRIFFIN: I feel like you waited too long to be public about it. And I do, I don't think that it's helpful to just go out and smack the Republicans and then the Republicans to do that to the Democrats.

What I would say is this is the moment to solve this was six months ago. And this is just a classic way that Congress works is that we wait until the 11th hour. It's a forcing mechanism.

AVLON: That's right. FARAH GRIFFIN: You actually, jet fumes get people working in Congress

and a deadline like the financial stability of the nation gets people working in Congress. It's a shame. It's not how it should operate, but it is. And by the way, I think Kevin McCarthy loves Wall Street too much to ever let us default. I think we're going to get something through, but it's going to go till very late.


AVLON: But this, you know, the prospect of hanging focusing the mind is not the right way to run a government. This is incredibly dangerous to wait for the 11th hour. And I agree with Jay about the 14th Amendment. But we've got to delink these two. We've got to stop playing this game. It is reckless to do this to our country. It makes democracy look self-defeating.

CAMEROTA: Well, don't worry, guys. We have three days left. Thank you very much for that conversation.

Meanwhile, another company getting dragged into the culture wars now, Target, is having to pull some products that celebrate Pride Month after an anti-LGBTQ campaign has spread online. We'll tell you both sides.


CAMEROTA: Okay, okay, sorry. In the latest round of the culture wars, Target says it's removing some products that celebrate Pride Month after a backlash against the company and reportedly threats against some employees.


Target says its workers have been confronted, Pride merchandise displays have been knocked to the floor, and threats have been posted to social media.

My panel is back. Okay, so let me just put up some of the items that Target offers for Pride Month, Joe. You know, it's pretty innocuous looking stuff. But yet, we're not sure which ones they're pulling off the shelves. They haven't specified. But your thoughts on why this has to happen?

PINION: Well, look, I think the sad reality that we're confronting is that there's an entire community that has been caught in a political crossfire. I think that the other part of this is that there is a lack of trust. And that lack of trust comes from bit by bit, I think, families' feelings if they no longer have control over what their children are seeing and what's being marketed to their children. When you have Target marketing a bathing suit to children that is featuring things such as tucking. I think that that becomes something that --

CAMEROTA: I feel like that that's been debunked. I think that was for adults.

PINION: I think we've seen things that are -- CAMEROTA: You've got to check that one.

PINION: -- I think it's in the children's section. I mean, we've seen -- well, there's the advertisement that was there with the adult. I think there's also people who have gone through the children's section and seen things. So I just think --

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure about that.

PINION: Look, I think broad-based speaking, if you're going to have a conversation about why are people upset, it's because you have states like the state of Washington trying to say that you can transition children without the parents' permission. You have states like New York saying that you're going to be able to pass some type of vaccine for sexually transmitted diseases without informing the parents. So all of these contribute to an environment where, as I said at the onset --

CAMEROTA: Parents feel they're losing control.

PINION: Correct.

CAMEROTA: Joe, I mean Jay.

MICHAELSON: I feel like I heard this from Anita Bryant in the 1970s, Joe. I mean, this is like we've heard the same exact thing whenever it comes to LGBTQ people. We're told that this is about the children, save the children. This is only parents caring about their children.

We play this kind of game of whack-a-mole where what are queer people doing? Sometimes we're sexual deviants. Sometimes we're just choosing to be gay. Sometimes we're mentally ill. Sometimes we're recruiting children. At the end of the day, I don't think this is really about some sort of legitimate fear of parents losing control. This is about a very primal fear around sexuality. This is about prejudice, this has been going on for a very long time. It may be expressed in the ways that you've just described, but even half of what you've just said is not really that accurate. It is impossible to do transition for trans kids without parental consent.

There are occasionally you find someone who said something, that is not what's happening. This is thuggish behavior in Target, where people are attacking employees because they don't like something that's on display. And I can't believe we would ever defend that kind of behavior. Where are the cops? Who is keeping these employees safe? That is the solution, not caving into bullies or defending bullies.

PINION: There is zero defense for people engaging in thuggery (ph) defense for people trying to make people feel uncomfortable, feeling as if they can't define their life on their own terms. I think what we should be talking about though is the fact that this is not a fringe element. We're talking about the Washington State Legislature. We're talking about the New York State Legislature.

MICHAELSON: We're talking about one person in the Washington State Legislature. This is a fringe element. We're talking about Target. PINION: Well, no, no, no. But I think if we understand that Target is

a symptom, not the actual cause, then what was the conversation we should be having?

AVLON: I understand. But that is also that is an effort to sort of broaden the conversation to something that's more defensible rational than what we're seeing here which is apparently people making threats being violent, this is not a of boycott this is not a per peaceful protest this is seems to be going bigger than that and -- and look what i would just like to see is consistent application principles, right? One of the debates sometimes we have is you know private companies can do whatever they want this is a free speech issue if they want to pull merchandise, advance merchandise, it's kind of their call.

And then it's the consumers' responsibility to say I choose to shop there or not and I will let my views be known in a peaceful way. This seems to be crossing that peaceful line pretty conclusively and I think that's the problem and that is a reflection itself of a larger environment where -- where gasoline has been pouring on the floor on the flames.

PINION: I think that no one is this I mean I want to throw out a hop here but I think I don't think anyone is disputing the fact certainly I am not that we have an environment here that has led to people in the trans community people in the LGBTQ community feeling as if they are not safe. It's a very real thing. It's happening in the state of Florida right now. We know this. So I don't think anyone is debating that point, but I think if we're going to have...

MICHAELSON: Some people are. A lot of people. Florida is debating it. Like the actual Florida government.

FARAH GRIFFIN: : I think there needs to be a reminder of what personal freedom entails. And this is where I get frustrated with my friends on the right, is that you can have whatever view you personally want to in your home about the LGBTQ agenda, about gender, about sexuality, and you have a right to raise your children that way. And you have a right to not buy things at Target. You do not have a right to tell other kids to read this book about this. They can't talk about their gay parents. They can't buy that shirt at Target. That's not a conservative position. It's frankly like a very totalitarian position. We are going way too far, and I think it springs from this.


Listen, the sentiment around marriage equality changed rapidly and quickly, and most of the country is there. The young people, we are there.

AVLON: 70 percent.

FARAH GRIFFIN: The trans community is something that, for a lot of Americans, feels new. It feels unfamiliar, and it is leading to fear- mongering and to weaponizing that community, and frankly, they're facing threats, and I think we need to have a real conversation about loving our neighbors, understanding our neighbors, and living in communities safely.

CAMEROTA: Jay, what about that? Because you both touched on it. He's saying that it stems from fear, and you're saying it's not a rational fear, it's a primal fear. It's still fear. I mean, things are changing quickly, isn't it?

MICHAELSON: Right, I mean, look, you know, so 15 years ago, I wrote a book called "God vs. Gay, The Religious Case for Equality," where I talked about exactly what Alyssa just mentioned. This is actually an opportunity for moral growth. We should welcome this opportunity to look at our core values, loving our neighbor, caring for respect for all human beings, making sure that nobody should live in fear.

These are sort of core religious values that many secular people hold as well, hold dear as well, and they're at issue here. We should be answering this call to conscience, not demonizing a group and feeding the fear. I agree, Joe, look, yes, we talked about this in the context of guns. There's mistrust, there's fear, but there are people who are stoking that mistrust and fear for their own gains, and one of them just announced on Twitter that he's running for president. There's the fear that is already there, and there's the fear that's stoked by opportunists, and the lowest hanging fruit would be to stop that: to stop lying about trans people in their lives, to stop encouraging people to take this kind of action, because this doesn't come out of nowhere. There's this term, stochastic terrorism. When you tell people their group is terrible, over and over again, someone, somewhere, is gonna act out, and that's what's happening here.

CAMEROTA: And so the fact that Target is pulling some of this merchandise, you say, is feeds into that

MICHAELSON: I mean, I think they're also caught in. What should Target be doing? They're also caught in. Target should absolutely not be, target should be hiring more security. There should be law enforcement. There should not be caving in to vigilantism and demagoguery. And this is not an isolated incident, right? We're seeing throughout Florida in particular where vigilantes were empowered by a series of laws. We're seeing one parent objected to Amanda Gorman's inaugural poem and now it gets pulled from the curriculum. One parent objects to this, one parent objects to that. We're sort of giving in to some of our worst instincts as human beings when now is an opportunity to be called to our best one.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much. Really appreciate that.

MICHAELSON: You can't get a word in against the rabbi. Once I'm on the sermon, you know. It was a great ending point.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.

All right, now we need to talk about pasta. Pasta prices are going through the roof. Even Italy's government is having crisis talks about this, as you can imagine. We're going to talk about, it wants me to say, is the pasta crisis boiling over. And I did just say that. We're going to discuss that. We'll eat it up.





CAMEROTA: Ah, the classic spaghetti scene from Disney's "Lady and the Tramp." Well, tonight we have important pasta news.

Pasta prices are going up in the U.S. But that's nothing compared to Italy, where they've spiked so much the government has called a crisis meeting. My pasta experts are back with me, Alyssa and Jay.

Pasta makes the world go round. Can we all agree on that?

FARAH GRIFFIN: That much we can agree on.

CAMEROTA: Okay, cool. This is a crisis in Italy because they eat pasta at lunch and dinner.

MICHAELSON: 51 pounds per person per year according to what I just read.

CAMEROTA: That's so good. I think it's so good because I think that in the U.S. we eat 17 pounds.

MICHAELSON: Also a fair amount but nothing on a week.

CAMEROTA: And How is their obesity level so much lower than ours? That's remarkable.

FARAH GRIFFIN: This is the paradox. This is the --

MICHAELSON: This is Mediterranean thing.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Yeah they walk too a lot more.

CAMEROTA: They walk and they eat. Like here, we eat a bowl of pasta in the size of our head, you know? But there they eat a little --

MICHAELSON: But it really is processed food, right? A little pasta course. Well, that -- there's not as much processed food and there's not as much weird stuff.

CAMEROTA: Is that what it is?

MICHAELSON: So I'm told.

CAMEROTA: But do you guys, are you guys big pasta eaters?

FARAH GRIFFIN: If I could eat it every meal of the day, I would. If it was appropriate to have it for breakfast, I would. So this is gonna hit me.

MICHAELSON: And you know, my husband is gluten-free, so pasta's like the big treat when I get to have real pasta. Like I'm the one person who eats it out in restaurants because I can't get it at home.

But there's a real story here, right? This is actually a mystery. We don't actually know why the pasta prices have gone, because wheat prices have gone down. And I'm going to take a guess here that this is more price gouging. This is like the big noodle coming after us. And this is a lot of the inflation that's been happening over the last year has been corporate price gouging. No one can understand. They had that high-level meeting in Italy. It's not the wheat. It's not the supply chain disruptions.

CAMEROTA: So who is it?

MICHAELSON: I think it's the big bad corporations, like in South Park.

CAMEROTA: It also may be a demand issue that I think that when prices of everything, eggs, chicken, were going up, pasta is generally an affordable alternative. So that may be driving demand and therefore driving up price.

MICHAELSON: That sounded very science-y, but I still like the corporations.

CAMEROTA: You're just going after a butini (ph)?

MICHAELSON: Big noodle. Yeah, I don't want to get sued.

CAMEROTA: You don't want to single out anybody, right?

MICHAELSON: My tweets are going to blow up. I don't want that.

CAMEROTA: Gotcha. But something is going horribly wrong.

Italy won't stand for this. Now you can make your own pasta.

FARAH GRIFFIN: You can, it's very time consuming.

CAMEROTA: It's delicious.

MICHAELSON: It does turn out better. But this, you know, so I don't want to be too serious on this segment, but I will just say this is the future, right, with global climate disruption becoming part of everyday life, things just are gonna continue to be weird and they're gonna get weirder. And this, you know, we don't know what the causes are of this thing, if it's related to wheat or to any other staple, but we have seen this in other commodities recently, and this is the future, weird.


CAMEROTA: Okay, thanks for yucking our yes.

MICHAELSON: I know, I'm sorry about that. Well, that was a good culinary metaphor.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Maybe a pasta shortage is what will wake people up. MICHAELSON: This is what's funny. I was actually thinking that. I was

like, what's going to shake Italy out of any kind of complacency come after the pasta?

CAMEROTA: Alyssa, Jay, great to have you guys. Thank you so much for being here.

All right, coming up, some of our favorite reporters are here to talk about the stories that they're working on for tomorrow, including what's going on behind the scenes at Twitter after that glitchy rollout of Ron DeSantis' announcement. We'll join them momentarily.