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Rupert Murdoch Steps Down; McCarthy Speakership At Risk As Clock Ticks Toward Potential Shutdown; Bestselling Authors Suing Over Artificial Intelligence; Champions For Change: CNN's Anderson Cooper Shows How A Couple Is Helping Survivors Find Paths Forward. Aired 11p- 12a ET

Aired September 21, 2023 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Before we go tonight, we are hours away from yet another deadline before the automakers' strike gets even more intense. The union chief says that he will order more critical plants to shut down if the big three automakers don't improve their offers. CNN, of course, will be all over it, but that's it for me in "CNN PRIMETIME." CNN TONIGHT with Laura Coates starts right now. Hey, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Hey, Abby. Nice to see you. Good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates and welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

Look, it's the real-life succession tonight, everyone. The inside story of Rupert Murdoch's exit from the network he created. You heard of it? It's called Fox News. And it comes in the wake of Fox pushing election lies that led to two massive defamation lawsuits, not to mention the loss of their primetime star, Tucker Carlson. So, what will Murdoch's departure mean for the future of Fox News? Former Fox News host Geraldo Rivera is here to talk all about it.

Plus, will Kevin McCarthy have a job for very long? One big fail, they think, after another and no deal in sight with a government shutdown looming next week. Is there anything the speaker can do to stop this runaway train?

And the bestselling authors who say open AI is illegally using their copyrighted work, and look, they're suing. Today, I'll talk to one of them.

I want to begin with Rupert Murdoch's retirement from Fox News just as the race for the White House is heating on up with his company tangled up in litigation over peddling the former president's election lies the last time around. The whole story, something out of succession.


LOGAN ROY, ACTOR: This is not the end. I'm going to build something better. Something faster, lighter, leaner, wilder. And I'm going to do it from in here with you lot! You're (bleep) pirates!


COATES: Let's talk to someone who knows Fox News from the inside, a man who spent more than 20 years there, journalist Geraldo Rivera. Geraldo, thank you for joining us.


COATES: I had to tell you, I was really interested in talking to you in particular about the news that came out today because, of course, Murdoch is stepping down. There are comparisons that have long been drawn between him and the character you just saw, Logan Roy. But I want to contextualize for people from somebody like you who knows this the most. What is the significance of his departure for Fox News?

RIVERA: Well, he's the founding father, not just of Fox News but of a media empire that has made him one of the richest people on earth. He's a genius, I think. His great discovery is that half the people in the English-speaking world feel that they are ignored by the mainstream media on issues like abortion and immigration and gun reform and climate change. He discovered that. He created this empire to serve that population. It has served him well.

He got jammed up in all that Dominion stuff. But he has always been nice to me, kind to me, generous. When they cut my salary in half, when they had a big cutback before the pandemic, I went up to see -- I said, hey, boss, this is not right. I went to combat for you and this and that. And, you know, he called downstairs and he said, okay, restore part of that cut.

So, I see him as a good boss, a vibrant and charismatic guy, still full of verve and energy at 92 years old. But as I've seen reported all day, his mother lived to be almost 104. So, why he quit at the early age of 92, I don't know, Laura.

COATES: I do wonder the why now, but I'm really leaning in intrigued by something you've said, and that's the idea of the discovery. You know, it has a Christopher Columbus quality to it, the idea of discovering that people feel disenfranchised. Clearly, people have felt disenfranchised from the beginning of time. That's part of why there have been so many strides towards having a more inclusive democracy.

RIVERA: Good point.

COATES: But I have often wondered about Rupert Murdoch, what he was really like. Was he somebody who was a true believer in the actual substance of the causes of those who were disenfranchised, or was he a businessman who acknowledge, wait a second, I've got to make demand and supply meet up somehow and have a profit as a result? Which was it?

RIVERA: You know, I don't have a sincerity meter. I can only tell you that there's nothing that I have seen between the private or semi- private Rupert Murdoch and the public person. I think that when you see the testimony that he gave during the Dominion lawsuit, for example, he was very matter of fact.


He, you know, divested himself or put distance between himself and some of his own talent.

COATES: Well, he was forced to admit, though, Geraldo.

RIVERA: He accepted responsibility.

COATES: He was -- excuse me, he was forced to admit that Fox News hosts actually promoted lies about the election, lies that were so egregious, of course, that they had to pay $787 billion for defamation. And so, there is this idea of what he's admitting to.

But I'm really curious, Geraldo, on a day-to-day basis. Look, I go by my own professional experience in a lot of different worlds and sectors, and I've always wondered, so what was it like working for him? Was he actually involved in the day-to-day?

His deposition testimony talks about being able to or maybe he could have told people to stop what they were doing and did not. But I never got a sense clearly. What his role was day to day? Did you have conversations with him? Was he kind of a puppeteer of sorts? Did he have his thumb on the pulse and really able to direct the newsroom and agenda?

RIVERA: Well, he surrounded himself with brilliant people. On the entertainment side, back in the day, it was Barry Diller. On the news side, of course, it was Roger Ailes. How much he was involved, I can't tell you on a day-to-day basis.

But every time I saw him, every time I saw him in action, whether it was watching the results of the 2004 presidential election with him in a small room, whenever I saw him in an intimate setting, there was no space between the private and public Rupert Murdoch, in my view. I don't know about succession. I didn't watch it. When I did, it was to see Lake Como and some of those beautiful sets and scenery.


I don't know if it was that kind of intrigue in the family between Lachlan and James and Elizabeth and so forth. All I know is that he was a pretty straightforward guy, at least, in dealing with me. He seemed to have his finger on the pulse.

As I said, he was extremely skeptical of liberal politics, of the mainstream media. He saw the tremendous opportunity that the fact that half the people felt frustrated and underserved or unserved by media. He saw that opportunity, drove a truck through it, and he ended up having a fortune of over $17 billion and owning properties like the "Times" in London and "The Wall Street Journal" here in the States and all these other wonderful, wonderful properties, you know.

So, he had something going that I think it does a disservice to think that it was all, you know, sleazy kind of opportunism because I don't believe that he believed that. I believe that he was sincerely motivated. He could have, for example, when Fox News was being created, gone the way of other frocks syndicated programs like "A Current Affair" and gone tabloid and celebrities and all that TMZ kind of stuff. Instead, he went to serve a conservative audience.

And while I disagree with almost everything in all of their positions, the majority of talent at Fox News, I appreciate the fact that half the people believe, for example, that abortion is a moral wrong, or that gun rights are absolute, or that immigration is bad, or that the climate is not changing. They're very skeptical about that. So, you know, those are people who deserve to have their media.

COATES: I want to say I misspoke when I said $787 billion. I mean, $787 million with a defamation suit for a Dominion. But I don't want to discount the ability to be a savvy business person. You said you don't have a sincerity meter. That's perfectly true. And, of course, both things can be true, that there is a recognized need and also a way to exploit or capitalize on that very idea.

But I also wonder him stepping down and the why now at this age and what it really means logistically. Is he really going to be hands-off now?

Is his role going to be completely sorts of laissez-faire given, of course, as you talked about the discovery you speak of, of trying to seize upon a demographic that wanted to be heard or recognized in a different way, certainly, it was a very lucrative proposition and one that is credited of getting Donald Trump elected, perhaps single- handedly, and now we're a little more than a year from another election?

So, will he play a role, do you think, going forward within Fox News or is he truly, do you think, going to be hands-off?

RIVERA: Let me paint a picture for you. This is a guy who would drive up on 48th Street and walk with a single bodyguard, a guy who was his driver, walk, get in the elevator, chat up whoever was there, go up to the 20th floor or whatever it was and, you know, he'd work all day.


He just had a jacket on, a tie on. He came to work, and he seemed -- I mean, this was not a person who put out the vibe of billionaire, mogul, titan. That wasn't -- that wasn't the person that I had any experience with. The guy that I knew was, yes, he had the aura of power and achievement, but he didn't flaunt it.

And I don't know why now exactly except that demographically, you know, 92, you're already weight -- he's over 27 years past retirement age. You know, he maybe thinks that he has done it all, wants to slow down a little. You know, maybe he wants to, you know, become an art -- I don't know. I don't know his -- I haven't had a conversation with him in several years. I don't know his current thinking.

But I do know that history will mark him as someone who broadened the philosophical ideological product we call news. COATES: So --

RIVERA: You know, it is -- I understand that I saw earlier reports on CNN of, you know, how bad, you know, the issue of climate and abortion. I just feel that there are half the people in the English- speaking world who feel under or unserved by mainstream media, and he saw it as an opportunity. Whether he was motivated by profit or by his own personal ideology or philosophy, I can't tell you, Laura.

COATES: You know, it'll be interesting to see what happens going forward. Geraldo Rivera, thank you so much.

RIVERA: Thank you, Laura. My pleasure.

COATES: Well, next, the never-ending GOP chaos on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress are going home for the week, almost as if they didn't know that there was a deadline to avert a shutdown. And it's September 30th at midnight, everyone, in case you're listening. And that just kind of shows you how far away they are from making a deal. The big question, what happens now? We're going to talk about it, next.




COATES: Well, the clock is ticking, everyone, and with the government shut down getting that much closer, Republican leadership is doing the perfect thing, sending members of Congress home for the week without a deal because -- I mean, that's how you work, right?

That, for some hardliners, dramatically bopped Speaker Kevin McCarthy today in what was supposed to be a procedural vote. McCarthy was -- well, he's clearly not happy about it.


KEVIN MCCARTHY, SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: It's frustrating in the sense that I don't understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate. This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.


COATES: Now, the House is not set to meet again until next week with a functioning government and McCarthy's speakership, of course, hanging in the balance.

I want to bring in Republican strategist Jason Osborne and former Obama White House senior director Nayyera Haq. Well, both of you know the power of hard work. And clearly, when you don't have the job done, you just go home for the weekend and come back next week. That's what Congress is doing here. I have to wonder, though, what this is going to mean. They're going home. They have to explain to voters in some respects what is happening and the why. And I don't think voters are going to say, well, hold on, it's only Republicans or it's only Democrats doing XYZ, it's far more nuanced. So how do you tell them as a strategist, how do you help to illuminate the issue and make your case?

NAYYERA HAQ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: Well, Congress -- the opinion that the American public has on Congress is at an all-time low. And meanwhile, the age of Congress is at an all-time high. So, there is a massive disconnect between what is going on in the republican-controlled Congress and how people are feeling out in the country.

With that said, typically, when there is a president from the other party, the majority in Congress is able to unify against the president. This is what McCarthy's challenge is right now, that he can't even get his own caucus on board with how to combat the Democrats right now. So, it truly looks like Republicans in disarray.

COATES: You know, in a way, though, right, it almost seems as though the point is just to undermine him for some members of the Republican Party.


COATES: He is a kind of marked man in some respects that -- we know it took 15 rounds to get him that speakership. We don't really know still what price he paid, theoretically, for that. And whatever the time to pay the piper that's now, he seems to be under the thumb of those who don't want to see him do well.

OSBORNE: Absolutely. I don't know if it's necessarily that they don't want to see him do well.

COATES: I think it absolutely is they don't want to see him do well.

OSBORNE: Well, hear me out. I think it's more to do with some of these folks just wanting to increase their national profile.


OSBORNE: And because this idea that they have constituents that are emailing them or calling them and saying that you need to take a hardline stance on this, the NDAA or the appropriations bill, is ridiculous. It is not happening. I worked in the Senate. I know what kind of mail those folks get. And this is not one of those things. This is about increasing their national profile and trying to supposedly check Kevin McCarthy on this.

And I agree that Kevin -- when Kevin said, bring it on, I think he really means it. But I also think at a certain point, what -- you know, I look back on the institutionalists in Congress, the folks that no matter what was going on. They didn't let politics get in the way. And you had people on both sides of the aisle, you know, folks like, you know, Alan Mollohan or David Obey, you know, institutional guys that would look at a rule vote and say, you know what, we're going to let this at least come to the floor.

So, I think some Democrats should step up and say, you know what, we're going to let this rule come to the floor.


We may disagree with it, but we know we got the Senate covered.

HAQ: This is the challenge, right, that McCarthy is facing, is that he has to rely on Democrats to get his own work done. He can't rely on his own party.

COATES: Which shouldn't be the worst thing, except --

HAQ: Except that people in his own party don't believe in a functioning government, right? They're not there to actually execute work on behalf of the citizens. It's not about --


HAQ: -- disagreement on policy or tax policy. It is about, for example, Senator Tuberville, finding ways to look at a defense bill and the abortion issues in it to impede generals and ambassadors from protecting our national security, right? It is all about pet projects, personal pet peeves, and an underlying sense that they're taking advantage of a broken government.

COATES: What do you say?

OSBORNE: My view of it -- I mean, I look at this, and I'm bewildered by some of it, right? Because I think that we should all want both sides to come together and do something together. Why does every single vote have to be, you know, partisan one way or the other? And when they say bipartisan and there's two or three Republicans or two or three Democrats coming on, that's not bipartisanship.

I know the game. You know, I know how they spin it. But it's truly that they all come together and they say, okay, let's have a true debate on the floor on this bill. And I think Kevin McCarthy has been -- you know, he was a staffer on the Hill. He worked for a chairman of a, you know, Ways and Means Committee. He knows the process in this. And I think he's going to be able to kind of cobble this all together.

And look, we're eight days or however many days, eight days away from the end of the month. I can't remember what today is. But --

COATES: I don't do math unless I'm billing you.


COATES: So, go ahead.

OSBORNE: But there's going to be a CR. There just is. I don't think -- maybe it's a week late and maybe we have a short-term government shutdown, but I don't know if that really affects the American people as much as everybody would like to say it does. But it's unnecessary. HAQ: Exactly. It's unnecessary. It creates that sense that people in Washington are not connected to the people. And if you wanted to be speaker, running Congress is what being speaker is about. A process king does not a leader make.

COATES: Ooh. That's not like that. It's kind of (INAUDIBLE).

OSBORNE: But he's speaking for both sides, too.

COATES: Well, I don't know who else wants the job yet.

HAQ: He came to the job because he really wanted power. And he's willing to go through 13 embarrassing votes to get it.

COATES: Fifteen rounds.

HAQ: It was not a sense of, this is what my party stands for and I'm going to help unify it and bring it forward.

COATES: Guess what? Let's ask a member of Congress right now about that. How about that? Jason and Nayyera, thank you so much. We're going to bring in the youngest congressman in the House, Maxwell Frost, a Democrat from Florida. Congressman, I'm glad that you're here. We're talking about really chaos as a ladder in this studio today, what's going on right now. Who's going to climb up? I don't know. Who's at the bottom? Seems quite clear, it's the American people.

But look, you are one of the youngest members of Congress. Traditionally, I have watched members like yourself get sort of patted on the head, condescended to and told, look, you don't know how this whole thing works, you got to stay around a lot longer to really understand it. Yet here we are with yet another government shutdown on the horizon and it's still like a lot of people right now that maybe those who have been in power for a long time have no idea what they're doing.

REP. MAXWELL FROST (D-FL): Yeah, 110%. And, you know, after we went through all those votes, where I said Hakeem Jeffries 13, 14 times got sworn into the United States Congress at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night, I told folks, what we experienced over those past several days is a microcosm of what Congress will be for the next two years under Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the weakest speaker perhaps in U.S. history, because he ceded his ground and power to this fringe, far right-wing, fascist wing, of the Republican Party that wants to take the whole ship down with them.

The way I like to explain is they manufacture a bomb. They say, unless you do what we want, we're going to detonate it. And some of them actually kind of want to detonate it, right? They kind of want to see what would happen. Maybe they're a little curious. We saw that happen with the threat of a default that just happened. And now, we're back in the same place with the threat of a government shutdown, which I think is almost certain to happen.

COATES: Okay. So, let's say you're the speaker of the House. How do you get the job done?

FROST: That's a good question. Well, I think what the speaker should have done is ensure that he was in a better place at the beginning of this, right? At the beginning of his speakership. Because he gave away all that power, because he apparently made all these commitments to Matt Gaetz and the Freedom Caucus, he's in a bind because he has made commitments that he knows he can't hold on to.

And that's the problem when you have people who have so much ambition and no power in forward thinking. The ambition overtakes rational thought. They'll say anything to get elected. They'll say anything to become speaker, and then they'll live day by day.

And here's the problem: The United States Congress and the United States of America has a speaker of the House who isn't interested in helping the American people as the first priority.


The first priority for him is staying speaker of the House day by day, and that's not how you govern.

COATES: Well, one of the reasons I understand you got into government, of course, and we talked about it, I think, pretty early on after your election, it was following the Parkland shooting. You had been so motivated, as so many people have been, to curb gun violence in this country, to stop these mass shootings and the horrific tragedies that result.

And gun violence and prevention has been at the top of your agenda. And you actually introduced legislation to establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Yet another thing, by the way, that the government maybe ought to be prioritizing over perhaps just the brinksmanship of things.

But tomorrow, President Biden is going to be making a formal announcement. What can you tell us about this new initiative and what it hopes to accomplish?

FROST: So, the first bill I introduced as a member of Congress is the Office of Gun Violence Prevention Act of 2023. I introduced it in the House, and Senator Chris Murphy introduced it in the Senate. As many folks know, I come from the gun violence movement. This is something we've been asking of the administration. And so, I wanted to make sure that we could introduce it in the House for two reasons.

Obviously, we want to pass the bill, but I also understand that in a republican Congress right now, that can be difficult. And so, sometimes, when you're in the minority, you have to be creative. And we thought, let's put in this bill, let's amp up the pressure with our allies, and let's see if the administration can do it.

And we just heard tomorrow the president will be making the announcement that he will create a federal office of gun violence prevention. And for folks who don't know, we don't have a federal office that coordinates all this at the federal level. We believe that a daily problem, when we're losing 100 lives a day due to gun violence, requires a daily solution. And so, we are ecstatic about this office being created.

This is an issue that the leading cause of death for children now is a bullet, and I think it's the failure of government. President Biden and the administration are really stepping up and showing us that this is an issue they care about.

And it's also about a full generation, all right? I'm the first Gen Z member of Congress. Something that defines my generation, unfortunately, is mass shootings and gun violence and that trauma. And the president understands that and that's why he's starting this office. So, we're really excited about the future of ending gun violence. This is a great step in a struggle that we have here.

COATES: I'll be really curious to see about what impact it can make, how it's going to work, how it will be led. And I think it will surprise a lot of people in a land that we call sort of Alphabet City of all the different bureaucratic agencies that there are still some significant gaps, including this area. Congressman, thank you for joining us.

FROST: Thanks for having me on.

COATES: Well, more than a dozen famous authors are joining a class action lawsuit against the creator of ChatGPT. They say the company is illegally using their work. Now, one of the bestselling authors, Michael Connelly, is my guest, next.




COATES: It's AI versus authors. A group of famous fiction writers joining now a class action lawsuit by the Authors Guild against OpenAI. Now, they're alleging that the company's technology is illegally using their copyrighted work to train ChatGPT.

The CEO of the Authors Guild warning in a statement Wednesday -- quote -- "It is imperative that we stop this theft in its tracks or we will destroy our incredible literary culture, which feeds many other creative industries in the U.S. To preserve our literature, authors must have the ability to control if and how their works are used by generative AI."

Joining me now is Michael Connelly. You know him, he's one of the bestselling authors involved in this suit. And I should mention, his brand-new book, "Resurrection Walk," is out November 7th. I know many of you cannot wait for that to happen as well.

Michael, thank you for joining us today. You know, you're one of several very prominent authors like George R.R. Martin, Jodi Picoult, who are joining this lawsuit. Tell me, why was it so important for you specifically to be a part of this? MICHAEL CONNELLY, AUTHOR: I think it was because, like these other authors you just mentioned, we were kind of blindsided by this. You know, we're all members of the Authors Guild and, you know, they reached out to me and said, did you know that, uh, that their system, the AI system has basically digested all your work?

And, you know, our legal team did some research and through prompting of like about the chat and so forth. This system was offering to write sequels to books that I haven't written yet. You know, I haven't written sequels and this artificial intelligence was willing to do that for, you know, any taker.

And that, of course, is pretty shocking because I've worked more than three decades on my career as an author. I'm very careful about what I write, what I choose to write sequels about. And it's, in a matter of minutes, it can be taken away from me. So, of course, I raised my hand and said, yeah, I want to be involved in any kind of effort to try to control this.

COATES: You know, I actually -- fun fact -- began my career as a copyright and intellectual property litigator on these very issues, and thinking about what it means to so many creative artists to have the opportunity to decide who, when, and if their works are ever reproduced and how it's being used, to your point, it's no small feat to have done what you've accomplished and to then have it be able to be used in this way.

But some people might look at this, Michael, and say, hold on, these companies are not necessarily writing a sequel to actually publish and make money. They're training. They're using it to train their AI on yours and others' work. Does that make a difference and should it to you or the public that it's a training mechanism?

CONNELLY: Well, I think it's still an existential threat to the idea of creativity.


If what -- you know, I just bragged about my 30 years of doing this, but what if I only did it for two years and then it was -- the creativity part was taken away from me? You know, why would I do it? So, I think this is a threat to what I call the spark of creativity, that something can be taken away from someone who really kind of produces, you can call it art, you can call it craft, whatever you want to call it, entertainment. You know, they pull it out of their own mind and their own creativity, and then it's kind of hijacked and taken away.

COATES: I wonder, um, if compensation were a response for these generative AI, if you could be compensated for your work being fed into AI, could such an arrangement be made to be fair for writers or is the idea of ownership and not having to be reactive to what's already being done more important?

CONNELLY: Well, I think it depends on where you are in your career. I mean, I think compensation is one of the big three C's that this lawsuit is about. It's about control, it's about compensation, and it's mostly about consent. You don't do this without consent. And so, I'm sure they could create some kind of licensing agreement and there will be many writers who want to do that.

I particularly am not one of those writers. I just want to control my work and put it out there and have people either take it, like it or not. So -- but I think the writers involved in this lawsuit are standing up for themselves.

Obviously, I'm standing up for myself on that self-list, but at the same time, we are standing up for all classes of writer, whether their names are known, whether they've even written yet, because this is something -- this is a battle that goes into the future.

COATES: It's a really important point. I mean, so often, people say things like it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Tell that to someone who's a creative, who's trying to create and wants to have that work respected.

I also want to read, everyone, a part of a statement that OpenAI gave to CNN. I'll quote here. "We respect the rights of writers and authors, and believe they should benefit from AI technology. We're having productive conversations with many creators around the world, including the Authors Guild."

Again, Michael Connelly, thank you so much.

CONNELLY: Thank you.

COATES: Well, Rupert Murdoch's exit from Fox. The big question is, what will leadership look like under his son, Lachlan? Well, guess who's here? Kara Swisher, and she's making a bold prediction. She joins us, next.




COATES: We're back with more tonight on the big shakeup in the media world. Rupert Murdoch stepping down at the age of 92 as chairman of Fox and News Corp. His son, Lachlan, taking the helm. But for how long?

Joining me now to discuss is Kara Swisher, host of the "On with Kara Swisher" podcast. So good to see you tonight as always.

KARA SWISHER, PODCAST HOST: Good to see you, Laura.

COATES: You know, Kara, you're predicting on "X," formerly known as Twitter --


COATES: -- that it will be a short reign for one Lachlan Murdoch. And you even suggest that Fox could be sold off to Elon Musk, of all people. Do you have some kind of insider info here?

SWISHER: No, no. I'm just thinking about it. I mean, like, right now, a lot of these linear networks are in trouble. ABC is for sale and many others. And so, this is one of the more valuable ones. And so, you know, Rupert Murdoch is 92 years old, although his mom lived to 103. You have to be anticipating what'll happen.

When the kids get control, it's not the biggest chip leap to make, especially when he's stepping down, when he said he would go out of the job feet first. So, you have to wonder, you know, what's happening and where it could go from there.

And I was just speculating of where I imagine it going eventually. When the other -- the three other kids who have control of that family trust get control of it, they're going to want to sell it, would be my assumption.

COATES: There's a whole lot of power attached to it as well. I mean, there's the idea of --


COATES: -- what the dollar amount would be, but then there might be the incalculable amount of the influence that it actually has. We saw this for elections, as you well know. Do you think it will change fundamentally now that Murdoch is stepping down? I put that in air quotes only because he has said that he will somehow be involved still.

SWISHER: Yeah. You know, I never turned my back on Rupert Murdoch and nobody should. I think he'll still be -- you know, he still controls the trust. So, let's just keep that in mind. He hasn't given control to the kids, his children, his adult children.

And I do think he will always be around. I think he's very -- it's very hard for him, especially going into a new cycle. That said, a lot of people feel he was disengaged, especially around the issues around the Dominion trial and things like that.

And several times when he was in the deposition, one of the most striking things is when asked if he could have done anything about it, he said, I could have, but I didn't.

And so, maybe they feel like he wants -- a lot of people feel like maybe he wants to show that Lachlan is in charge. And so, he recedes in the background and pulls the strings. He could be interested in having a nice retirement. I don't -- he doesn't strike me as someone who has a nice retirement person, neither am I.


So, I don't know. I feel like he's not going to be able to not be part of it because he still maintains control. You don't want to make the, you know, comparison to succession, but it is kind of like that, Logan Roy-like character, which is he doesn't -- you know, the kids are going to be at cross purposes. You know, they have very different points of view.


I think James is considered more liberal, I guess. There are two other sisters. And so, they all have to agree. Just two of them together could cause problems for the other two and three of them against one. You just don't know how that's going to go.

COATES: I mean, it's not as if it has a tremendous amount of influence. I mean, of course, I'm being sarcastic here thinking about all the different iterations of it.

SWISHER: Well, does it? That's the thing. There are other people building other media companies. And, of course, Elon Musk, the only reason I brought him up, could be a P.E. company. There are all kinds of right-wing media companies, lots of investors. There are all kinds of possible buyers. This thing will be looked at by a lot of people if it ever goes for sale and it will. Everything goes for sale ultimately.

But, you know, you can see he's constantly talking about -- he put Tucker Carlson on Twitter and not clear how that's doing as a business. But, you know, you could see them trying to combine a streaming and a network. You know, linear networks have to transform more digitally and digital networks have to have more of the qualities of a linear network. So, you're going to see stuff like that. Certainly, Elon has the money to do it, but other people do, too.

COATES: I mean, either the world is their oyster or it's Pandora's box. Which one, we'll have to wait and see. Kara Swisher, thank you as always.

SWISHER: Thank you. No problem.

COATES: Up next, Anderson Cooper reveals his "Champion for Change."




COATES: It's time now for "Champions for Change." Now, all this week, we're going to bring you stories about everyday people who are lifting humanity up and changing the way that things get done.

Anderson Cooper's "champions" lost their daughter in the Aurora Theater shooting back in 2012. Now, today, they're using their experience to help other survivors cope in the aftermath of mass shootings.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Sandy and Lonnie Phillips have been on a journey for more than a decade. It started the night they lost their daughter, Jessi, in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting. SANDY PHILLIPS, CO-FOUNDER, SURVIVORS EMPOWERED: We received a phone call from the young man that was with her. And when I picked up the phone, I could hear the screaming going on in the background and the chaos. And he said, there has been a shooting. And I said, oh, please, God, Brent, tell me that she is not dead. And the line went silent. I let out a scream.

LONNIE PHILLIPS, CO-FOUNDER, SURVIVORS EMPOWERED: And at that moment, I knew that my wife would never be the same, and I would no longer have a daughter.

COOPER: Sandy and Lonnie asked their son, Jordan, to fly to Colorado to bring his sister home.

Joining me now is Jordan.

I met him the day after the shooting.

JORDAN PHILLIPS, SON OF LONNIE AND SANDY PHILLIPS: We want to bring her home and celebrate her life with family, friends, and anybody that she's somehow touched.


Just five months later, another mass shooting that shocked the nation, Newtown. Sandy and Lonnie flew in to support other grieving parents.

S. PHILLIPS: We saw the parents of those children walking into the community center, and they were like zombies. And I said to my husband, we can help them. We can do what wasn't done for us.

How are you guys doing?

COOPER: So, what they've done is create a nonprofit called Survivors Empowered. I first spoke to them about it for "60 Minutes" back in 2019.

L. PHILLIPS: It's Lonnie. Just checking in on you.

COOPER: The goal, to help with everything from mental health resources to preparing survivors for media attention.

It's so interesting, though, what you're doing. You're not trained therapists, you're not counselors, and yet you have upended your lives and reaching out in a very individual way to people.

S. PHILLIPS: Yeah, that's compassion.

COOPER: Their efforts have taken them across the country, to some of the worst mass shootings in American history. With all they've learned, they created the "Survivors Toolkit," along with Gabby Gifford's organization.

S. PHILLIPS: What we're trying to do with the toolkit right now is to get it to every mayor in America so they've got it on hand when, not if, but when this happens in their community. COOPER: Tragedy struck the community of Uvalde 10 years into the Phillips's journey. Even for them, it was too much to bear.

S. PHILLIPS: Our first response was to Sandy Hook. And for me, emotionally, Uvalde was our last. Uvalde took everything out of me. I don't know that I'll ever be able to physically respond to another mass shooting because of Uvalde.

L. PHILLIPS: That was like bookends for us.

COOPER: They now focus on building up the next generation of survivors.

DION GREEN, FOUNDER, FUDGE FOUNDATION: My dad got shot five times. We were shoulder to shoulder. And not one bullet touched me. I still don't understand.

COOPER: Dion Green's father was killed in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

GREEN: Sandy gave me her heart, she gave me her ear, and she gave me her shoulder to lean on.

COOPER: Now, he travels the country offering support.

GREEN: I followed her lead and took the choice to help others as well.

S. PHILLIPS: We really try to make our legacy, which is really Jessi's legacy, all about the future because we have found joy again, and I want other survivors to find that joy again.


COATES: Here with me now, Anderson Cooper. Anderson, good to see you. I mean, the Phillips, they have really been on quite a journey. They've been traveling to mass shootings all over the country for a decade now. Now, they feel they can't respond in person.


I'm wondering, what does the organization look like for them in the future?

COOPER: Yeah, I mean, they want to -- they say they want to kind of pass the torch to the next generation. You heard from one of the survivors in the piece, Dion Green. He's part of what the Phillips is like to call a rapid response team.

Their idea is to basically have someone like him in every region of America so when, not if, but when another mass shooting happens, they can coordinate getting someone on the ground as quickly as possible to help survivors, to help family members.

And they would also really like to see, and they're working on a kind of coordinated government response to mass shootings to try to deal with the trauma that's left in the wake of these tragedies, a lot like FEMA comes in to respond to a natural disaster, they would like to see, you know, trained team of therapists, grief counselors on the scene as quickly as possible to help.

COATES: I mean, the fact that we have to have something like that just tells you the weight and the extent of the problem. But I also understand that they've been very active in trying to get gun control laws actually passed.

COOPER: They have. I mean, they like to say they're in favor of gun reform, not gun control. They make it a point to say they're actually gun owners and believe in responsible gun ownership. They work on trying to pass legislation. There's no doubt about it. They've definitely been disappointed, from their point of view, the lack of what they would see as progress on that front since the death of their daughter.

I think a lot of people, you know, like them, thought that Sandy Hook would be a turning point in America. Earlier this year, they help passed Jessi's Law, named after their daughter, in Colorado. It allows victim of gun violence to sue gun and ammo manufacturers.

COATES: Really so stunning to think about all this. Anderson Cooper, thank you so much. Everyone, be sure to tune in on Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern for the "Champions for Change" one-hour special.

Thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.