Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Mark Zuckerberg Defiant, Claims Trove of Leaked Facebook Documents "Selectively" Chosen to "Paint a False Picture"; Biden Wants a Deal on Spending Bill Before Foreign Trip Thursday; Manchin: Deal Could Happen this Week, But I'm Still at "$1.5 Trillion"; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) Discusses About His Conversation with Sen. Manchin on Infrastructure Bill; "Rust" Assistant Director was Fired From Previous Movie After Gun Unexpectedly Discharged, Injuring Crew Member; Biden, Obama, Top Dems Try to Boost Democratic in Virginia Governor's Race. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 25, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Significant development. Brian Todd reporting. Thank you very, very much.
And to our viewers, thanks for watching.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg offering a full-throated defense as his company faces its biggest crisis in its history, accused of failing to stop the spread of extremism on its platform to make more money.
Plus, Biden's sprint to strike a deal. The President pulling out all the stops tonight to save his domestic agenda, but can he get the mean moderate holdouts to go along with his massive spending bill?
And disturbing new details emerging tonight about the Assistant Director who handed a loaded gun to Alec Baldwin, why he was fired from a prior movie? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the defense. Moments ago, Zuckerberg on an earnings conference call speaking to investors, address the thousands of pages of leaked internal documents, which paints a damning picture of the company's problems, from promoting extremism to human trafficking.
And here's what he just said on the call, I'm quoting Mark Zuckerberg, "Good faith criticism helps us get better, but my view is that we are seeing a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company.
Well, the leaked documents that Zuckerberg is talking about are known as the Facebook papers and they were originally leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen. They offer a disturbing look inside the social media giant, because Among the allegations of Haugen is that Facebook struggled to regulate hate speech and misinformation, which eventually helped spur the deadly insurrection on January 6th were done in part because they profited from all that stuff being there.
The platform also, of course, now allegedly they're seeing more use by human traffickers. According to reports, Zuckerberg now claims he's retooling the company away from older users, saying his company will make 'serving young adults our North Star, rather than optimizing for the larger number of older people'.
Now, let me just point the obvious here that when you're in a company making billions and billions of dollars and you say all of a sudden (inaudible) age cut off and not do anything with those people, that is like a business model implosion. It's not that just that easy, talk about losing money.
All right. Facebook is now trying to put the genie back into the bottle, but the damage is done. The lies about the election have taken on a life of their own. And today, Haugen warning of another January 6-like event unless Facebook takes much more drastic steps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: I have no doubt that like the events we're seeing around the world, things like Myanmar and Ethiopia, those are the opening chapters. And so Facebook comes back and says only a tiny sliver of content on our platform is hate, only tiny sliver is violence, one, they can't detect it very well so I don't know if I trust those numbers. But, two, it gets hyper concentrated in 5 percent of the population. And you only need 3 percent of the population on streets to have a revolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: She warns of a revolution. And when you hear Zuckerberg's full-throated defense of the company, it doesn't appear he's willing to make that many changes. Because according to Haugen, there's only one thing that matters to Zuckerberg and that's the bottom line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAUGEN: The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So when you look at that history, I mean, just think about this, let's just put some numbers out there, if they're going to focus on young people. Right now 3 percent of their users are between the ages of 13 and 17, 18 percent are between 35 and 44, which you're getting up there into the old range. I mean, you're throwing away huge parts of your business if all of a sudden you know, you say you're just going to focus on young people. It's not going to be that easy. Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.
So Alex, what else do these Facebook papers show about the company's role in January 6th?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, these thousands and thousands of pages that were leaked by this Facebook whistleblower show that the employees of Facebook are well aware that the platform that they worked for was helping fuel hate and the potential for political violence as well as misinformation and not just around the election last November and the violent insurrection in January that followed, but well before that.
Erin, after January 6, we did hear from Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and she said at the time that she was aware that some of this violence had been organized online, but that it was largely on platforms that were less regulated that had fewer standards and less of an ability to stop hate than Facebook.
But now what we're seeing from these Facebook employees is that they believe that Facebook was largely unprepared for what was to come and that they really didn't take any sort of action against the stop the steal movement that came about after the election until it turned violent.
One of the Facebook employees said that the response from the company had been piecemeal.
Essentially that the approach they had taken was whack a mole. They're taking down individuals and groups and failing to see this as a much larger movement. And so when these executives started speaking out internally and externally defensively about Facebook after January 6, a number of Facebook employees also responded.
I want to read you a quote from one of them pushing back saying, "All due respect, but haven't we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence? We've been fueling this fire for a long time and we shouldn't be surprised it's now out of control." Another, Erin, wrote, "History will not judge us kindly."
This is arguably, Erin, the biggest, one of the biggest, if not the biggest crisis that Facebook has ever faced in its existence.
BURNETT: All right. Alex, thank you very much. And I want to go now to Senior Political Analyst John Avlon. He's a former federal prosecutor, I mean, sorry, and former Federal Prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers. John, no, former speechwriter and author and many things, but not a former prosecutor. Okay. Thanks to both of you.
John, I want to, first, Mark Zuckerberg being defiant tonight and I just read some of what he said. But he just said it on an earnings conference call. We were able to obtain the audio, so I think hearing the tone matters. Here's Mark Zuckerberg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Good faith criticism helps us get better, but my view is that what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company. The reality is that we have an open culture where we encourages discussion and research about our work so we can make progress on many complex issues that are not specific to just us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So John, I mean, he was, obviously, very defensive there and taking the offense too, right? We're seeing a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of the company. What do you make of that?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You got to make a huge discount for his own self interest and the good faith criticism is coming from within his company. And these files are not simply comments from former employees, its internal research, internal data, all leading to a very clear conclusion that its own algorithms. And the economic incentives created by those algorithms is rewarding extremism, elevating conspiracy theories and elevating the most negative content and comments in people's feeds.
That's a huge problem not just for Facebook and its earnings, but for society and that algorithm is something well within his control.
BURNETT: So Jennifer, here we are, I mean, they're facing obviously the possibility of massive legal action as well. So Frances Haugen, the whistleblower, she says that what Facebook did day in and day out was what was good for them and their profits over what was good for the public. They could have pulled some of this back and they did not. How do you prove that? The documents that we have, are those enough? I mean, how do you prove that in a court?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So the problem, Erin, is that companies like Facebook have a lot of protection from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. You can't just sue them and win by saying they have a platform that allows extremism, they didn't do enough to fight against the content that their users were posting.
You have to have some sort of affirmative action, intentional action on their part where they knew something and they lied about it. So the whistleblower has filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission. If she can prove and if these documents prove in testimony that the SEC can collect proves that Facebook lied in its public filings or to its investors about information that it knew that their platform and their product was dangerous and that they lie about that. Then you can potentially hold them responsible. Otherwise, it's very, very difficult just on the basis that they did that it was dangerous.
BURNETT: And John, today, you have Haugen who's in possession of all of these documents, adamant that if they don't make changes that she believes more events like January 6 will take place. How seriously should we take her warning?
AVLON: Incredibly seriously. Because look, I think if you look at the way our collective politics have gone insane over the last several years, there are a lot of macro factors. But one of the clear drivers that has made your sort of random aunts and uncles all of a sudden come to the Thanksgiving table armed with conspiracy theories and alternative facts is their Facebook feed.
And I think every case can be made that Facebook has hit sort of a big tobacco moment where their own internal research and data shows they knew this algorithm was a problem. And while Section 230 should protect platforms from anything of random person might post on their site to a large extent.
The algorithms are the decisions of the own companies and by optimizing for engagement, they ended up rewarding the most negative and extreme content and that has helped mainstream conspiracy theories and political extremism which has disfigured our democracy and changed the calculus for political parties in countries around the world, sometimes with deadly results.
BURNETT: And Jennifer, here's the thing, even before this recent situation with the election in its aftermath, there were murders committed on Facebook live.
There were horrible things happening, horrific things happening for years that they were struggling to deal with. And I spoke earlier this month to Andy Parker, you'll know him because his daughter, Alison, was shot and killed on live television while she was doing her job.
And for years, he has been fighting with Facebook to take down videos of her murder and here's what he told me Facebook said it was committed to removing those videos. Mark Zuckerberg then denied pushing extremely hateful content for profit. Here's what her dad said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY PARKER, FATHER OF REPORTER ALISON PARKER, FATALLY SHOT ON LIVE TV IN 2015: He's a liar. It's the same nonsense and the same BS that I've been hearing for five years. Oh, yes, this is not allowed on our platforms and we're going to do everything we can and yada, yada, yada, yada. And that's all you get is lip service.
And until these companies, Facebook, YouTube, until they are forced in a court through the removal of their protection from liability, they're going to just keep doing the same thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Jennifer, does he have a point?
RODGERS: Well, he's exactly right in what he said, which is until their protection is removed. It's not going to be in court, though, it's going to be in Congress. I mean, Congress can amend or eliminate the protection that they have under Section 230, but with that protection, it's very, very hard to sue them for failing to remove something like happened to his daughter. So he is right, but it takes the political will and it takes some work to happen.
BURNETT: John, quick final word. We found out about Carol Smith, the 41-year-old mother from North Carolina. She joined Facebook in 2019. President Trump, Melania Trump, she followed those things. Two days later, she starts to get recommendations by Facebook to join QAnon, even though all she did was follow President Trump. Her feed then becomes full of misinformation, even though she didn't accept the QAnon invitation, all of a sudden it becomes a blast of all the vileness. But she was fake, she didn't exist.
She was created by Facebook for research purposes. So Facebook knew when you sign up and say you like Trump, you were getting fed this stuff. They knew it because she was their creation.
AVLON: That's exactly right and it's such an important example, because here they created this dummy account and she does not opt into these groups that are being recommended to her, these QAnon groups. And yet, despite that fact, she becomes inundated with more and more of their content and requests in extremism. And so Facebook did know and that's just one small example, but it's a particularly damning one. It really is because it shows the algorithm was incentivizing extremism and feeding it to people which overtime (inaudible) ...
BURNETT: All right. Well, I guess, she's 41, so maybe she's going to be too old for Facebook to care about, although that would mean getting rid of 18 percent of their business, so that doesn't seem the way it will go. All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it.
And next, President Biden says he wants a deal on his domestic agenda in days, but there's still a lot in the air and I'm going to talk to Senator Chris Coons about why he is so optimistic tonight.
Plus, troubling details emerging about the assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin the prop gun used in that shooting on set.
And a Florida election supervisor pushing back on baseless claims of election fraud, so will he call out the man behind the big lie?
BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden's race to rescue his agenda. The President clear today that he wants a deal on his spending bill before he heads overseas in just a few days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want a deal by the time you leave for COP?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this something you've expressed to Democrat?
BIDEN: That's my hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It's his hope, but is it a false one? And plus, framework is really different than an actual deal. I mean, moderate Senator Joe Manchin whose support can make or break the President's agenda says there could be a deal in just days. But what does that mean? Nothing has changed when it comes to Manchin's demands on the spending bill's final price tag. A bill the President initially wanted at $3.5 trillion. That was a compromise off of $6.5 trillion. Now, according to a source, it's down to $1.75 trillion. But Manchin hasn't moved a millimeter. He's at the same place he's always been.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is 1.75 too much for top lines, 1.75 too much?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I'm still 1.5, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I'm at 1.5, guys. I haven't moved, did you forget, I haven't moved one millimeter. Everyone else come down from 6.5 to, well, we'll see. Axios reporting Manchin and Sanders got into a heated discussion behind closed doors over the spending bill's framework last week and Manchin said he was fine with it being nothing.
Senator Chris Coons whom I'll speak to in just a moment was in the room at the time. This very public back and forth within the Democratic Party coming at a particularly tough time for the President. The only president to have a lower approval rating than Biden at this point in a presidency is actually Donald J. Trump. And by the way, this includes every single president since Gallup started keeping records which takes you all the way back to Dwight Eisenhower. Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT live outside the White House.
And Phil, it's not just the top nine number that's still being debated tonight, it's what's in the bill and what's out and a heck of a lot has come out. And now they're going to pay for what is even still going to be in if they agree on what's in all up in the air. So you could get a framework, but it might be pretty meaningless. What is the White House thinking about whether they get anything done before the President goes on his trip?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin, other than those things you listed, everything is going wonderfully. The reality right now when you talk to White House officials is, one, they're very clear eyed about the stakes of this moment and I think that's been a driving force behind the President's decision to very clearly shift into an effort to close the deal. It's undeniable over the course of the last seven or eight days how the President and his team have changed how they've been operating behind closed doors.
And when you talk to White House officials at this moment in time, given the negotiations that are basically moving at a 24/7 pace, they're more in a kind of head down grinded out place. They feel like there's clear momentum. They certainly feel like they're closer to a deal than they have ever been.
However, they also acknowledge that it would be a heavy lift to pull something together in just a matter of days, given the scale of the outstanding issues and whether it's Medicare expansion, Medicaid expansion, paid leave, all of these critical issues that they're trying to iron out with Sen. Joe Manchin or in particular on the revenue side with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
There's such a great window into the complexity of this moment, given where Democrats have moved on the revenue side considering right now attacks on unrealized assets for billionaires that would be applied annually. This kind of a mark-to-market proposal is something that there really isn't a lot of precedent for. It only applies to about seven 100 or 800 taxpayers and it's something that doesn't exist in legislative text.
Now, the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden has been working on this proposal with his staff for two years, but the idea of pulling something out of a white paper, turning it into legislative texts, socializing it with your members, making sure that it's legal, making sure that it can be implemented, making sure it can be enforced, making sure you can actually tax illiquid assets like, say, artwork.
All of those are open questions that they need to resolve in basically 24 to 48 hours. So it's a very complicated moment, Erin, but one the White House officials think there's an outcome to be had. We're just not totally sure when yet.
BURNETT: But aside for all that, it's all fine. All right. Thanks, Phil.
OUTFRONT now Democratic Senator Chris Coons, he's a longtime ally of President Biden and now fills the Senate seat from Delaware that Biden once held. So, Senator, I know you had a chance today, you had a conversation with Sen. Manchin. He's still publicly saying he's at $1.5 trillion. Is that what you take away from your conversation?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): What I heard from Sen. Manchin was that he and President Biden had a very positive, very purposeful conversation over the weekend as I think we all know. And I reminded him of the urgency of this week and the timing. President Biden goes to the G20 and to the Glasgow a global climate conference and it will make a significant difference if we can get to an arrangement here, where the infrastructure bill moves forward on the House and where there's a framework for the Build Back Better bill.
Both of them would make historic investments in programs like pre-K and childcare and in combating climate.
BURNETT: So I know though you were also in a meeting last week between Manchin and Sanders and you were talking to Axios about that. You talked about the vigorous discussion where Manchin is basically like, I'm fine with zero, with a goose egg, and Bernie says $6 trillion. So, I mean, do you really believe that everyone is just going to come down to where Manchin is, he doesn't move at all, everybody else moves and that's going to be the way this goes? COONS: Erin, I'm still optimistic that because there is consensus in
our caucus, about the need for middle class families to get more support, to get more help so they can get back to work, whether that's in paid family leave or in support for the cost of daycare or in support for pre-K, that that is something we can come together around.
I do think the top line is going to be closer to 2 trillion than to the $3.5 trillion that we crafted a bill imagining back in August. But frankly, even at $2 trillion, this would be a historic investment in these critical social needs that have gone unmet for too long.
BURNETT: But you believe that Manchin is going to move from today saying I'm still at 1.5 to 2, you got that feeling?
COONS: I am hopeful that both Sen. Manchin and Sen. Sinema will move on a variety of things on prescription drug price negotiation, on raising the revenue through changes in our tax policy to pay for this whole program and in supporting the things we all agree on, which is the need to help families and to help support them as they try to get back to work following the pandemic by supporting things like pre-K and child care.
BURNETT: Well, I'm glad you bring up, of course, Sen. Sinema because we're talking about Sen. Manchin. He's had his very specific issues. Sen. Sinema's issues have been somewhat less defined, obviously, but also different. And you talk about paying for this.
Sen. Sinema has said that taxing the working wealthy and corporations are off the table. Now, I know there's talk of resurrecting something Sen. Wyden has been working on for a long time as sort of a wealth tax for billionaires. But Wyden has been working on this idea for two years, they don't yet have legislative language yet and so it's unclear how much it would raise, how it would be doable. So is there really going to be a pay for in this bill?
COONS: I do think there will be a pay for. I think all of us agree that we should be raising the revenue to pay for this so that we're not adding to the deficit. That's been a core principle that Senator Manchin has asserted over and over. And I do think that Sen. Sinema has had constructive conversations with Chairman Neal in the House and Chairman Wyden here in the Senate.
There are things we can do to close the tax gap. There are hundreds of billions of dollars in unpaid taxes that the IRS with some additional tools could help collect on behalf of the American people. I hope that she will come around on raising the corporate rate back to 25, because I think that's got broad support, not just in our caucus, but among average Americans.
It is less untested and less unpredictable than doing a new wealth tax. But both Sen. Manchin and Sen. Sinema have said publicly and privately they want to find a way to raise the revenue to pay for this important package that will move us forward in terms of America's working families.
BURNETT: We'll see what happens with Sen. Manchin. Thank you so much, Sen. Coons. I appreciate your time.
COONS: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: Sen. Coons is adamant that Sen. Manchin will come above 1.5 trillion. We'll see.
OUTFRONT next, Biden's stall agenda has now become a major factor in Virginia's crucial race for governor and we're in the final hours here that is forcing Democrats to bring in the biggest names they can.
And new eyewitness accounts of the moments leading up to the accidental deadly shooting by Alec Baldwin, so what exactly happened?
BURNETT: Tonight, CNN learning the assistant director who handed a gun to Alec Baldwin was fired from a prior movie in 2019 after a crew member was hurt in a gun incident. And it comes as new details emerge about the chaotic moments before and after Baldwin discharged his prop firearm, killing one crew member and injuring the director. Lucy Kafanov is OUTFRONT.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Tonight, the first eyewitness descriptions of the fatal moment when Alec Baldwin pulled a gun from his holster on that New Mexico movie set, killing the film's director of photography, 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two people accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun. We need help immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAFANOV (voice over): Court documents released Sunday revealing chilling new details of what happened inside the building on that fateful Thursday. The film's director, Joel Souza, telling investigators that Baldwin was sitting on a wooden pew during rehearsal cross drawing his weapon and pointing the revolver towards the camera lens.
Souza who was wounded said he was looking over the shoulder of Halyna when he heard what sounded like a whip and loud pop.
CALLER: We were rehearsing and it went off, and I ran out, we all ran out.
KAFANOV: Hutchins was shot in the chest. Souza telling investigators that the cinematographer began to stumble backwards and a cameraman on the set remembered Halyna saying she couldn't feel her legs. The affidavit reveals it was the film assistant director Dave Halls and not the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, who handed Baldwin the prop weapon, yelling "cold gun", indicating it was safe.
DUTCH MERRICK, PROP MASTER: There's something that strikes me as odd was where was the armorer during this time? Was she unaware? Did she step off to the restroom for a moment? That first AD should never reach for a gun on set. It's unheard of.
KAFANOV: Twenty-four-year-old Gutierrez was the armorer on "Rust" but recently said she worked as head armor on a another film for the first time.
HANNAH GUTIERREZ REED, ARMORER: Like, by all means, I am still learning. I think loading blanks is, like, the scariest thing to me because I was like, oh, I don't know anything about it.
KAFANOV: Discussing her previous experience on a podcast.
GUTIERREZ REED: I was really nervous about it, at first. And I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready.
KAFANOV: Two people who worked closely with the assistant director, Dave Halls, tell CNN he was the subject of complaints over safety and his behavior on set during two productions in 2019, including a disregard for weapons safety protocols, a failure to hold safety meetings, or to announce the presence of a firearm on set.
CNN has learned Halls was, previously, fired from another film after a crew member was injured in a gun incident according to Rocket Soul Studios.
Neither Halls, nor Gutierrez, responded to a CNN request for comment.
No charges have been filed as the investigation continues. Hutchins' son and husband were seen alongside Baldwin in Santa Fe on Saturday. Her husband, posting these family photos on Instagram writing, "We miss you, Halyna".
JOSEPH COSTA, PARTNER, COSTA AW: Producer, which Alec Baldwin is, ultimately, will share some liability. Alec Baldwin is facing a situation in which he is the person who has the weapon in his hand at the time it discharges, and he is also a producer on the set who is responsible for everyone on the set.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This evening is going to be about Halyna.
KAFANOV: In downtown Albuquerque, a candlelight vigil. Many of the mourners, part of the film and television industry.
There was grief tonight as people mourn the passing of 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins. But there is also outrage and unanswered questions about how this tragedy, how this senseless shooting could have taken place. REBECCA STAIR, LOCATION MANAGER: I just hope all this talking does
something and we -- we get the changes that we need for a safe set. I'm sure you know we were about to strike this past Monday for safer conditions, and if the world didn't believe us about what's going on, maybe they believe us now.
KAFANOV: People should be able to go home after performing their job.
STAIR: Yeah. A child should have a mother.
KAFANOV (on camera): Well, Erin, the sheriff's office told us they expect to update the public on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the production team behind the movie "Rust" says they are conducting an internal review of safety protocols in a letter sent to cast and crew, they also announced that they will pause filming on this production at least until this investigation is complete -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, Lucy, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Joseph Fisher. He works as a prop master on movie sets.
So, Joseph, you really understand all the details here. And, you know, you heard Lucy go through the moment that led up to the shooting where Alec Baldwin was practicing a cross-draw. The gun then discharged.
Now, investigators are still waiting on the forensic report to understand and identify exactly what type of projectile was fired. But when you look at all of the details that we know, how do you think this happened?
JOSEPH FISHER, PROP MASTER ON MOVIE SETS: Good evening, Erin.
It's hard to say until we actually get all the forensic evidence back in. What I'm going to use here, for demonstration purposes, is a prop. It is not a real firearm. But it functions and works exactly like one.
With the revolver like what Alec Baldwin was using, there are chambers. There is the possibility that there was a piece of debris stuck in the chamber or in the barrel. And if the weapon wasn't checked properly before it was brought to set, there's a very good chance that that projectile is what exited the barrel if it was not a live round. And that's something that we'll find out soon, I hope.
BURNETT: Well, I think is really crucial because you are pointing out, it doesn't need to be a live round because the gun would be able to -- just the speed, right, that the projectile itself would function as -- as a -- a bullet, in essence.
Now, we have learned, to your point about whether it was checked, that the assistant director on this film, Dave Halls, had been fired for a gun incident in 2019 that injured a crew member. And that same year, someone who worked with him on another project complained that he consistently failed to announce the presence of a firearm on set. So, what do you make of the fact that -- that this is the person who handed the gun over to Alec Baldwin, given this history such that we have it?
FISHER: The fact that the assistant director was the one handing the firearm to the actor is a huge breach in protocol. Anytime you are on set, if there's any firearms, it should be the responsibility of either the armorer if they are there or the prop master who is the second in line. Props, when it comes to weapons on a film set are treated almost the same way we would in law enforcement, where there is a chain of custody, and it has to be followed and that is to ensure the safety of everybody on set.
BURNETT: So let me just ask you, Joseph, because I know one TV series is now banning the use of live weapons on set. That's "The Rookie" on ABC and they sent a letter to crew and cast mandating the use of air soft guns, saying any risk is too much.
I'm thinking to Brandon Lee, right, 1993. You know, I can't believe that this could still happen just as a layperson with all the technology that exists today, whether it be in -- in -- in -- in putting in the sound in post, right, as opposed to actually having to have it there. I mean, you got so much technology. Why is there still any reason for a live gun on set?
FISHER: There really -- it comes down to the director. What the director's looking for. What I am also going to demonstrate now is also a prop. It is not a real firearm.
This is a 9 millimeter. This is pretty much what they would be using on the rookie. This works and functions just like the real weapons do, which insert a magazine, slide it, and fire it. In postproduction, they would be able to do the muzzle flash. They would be able to do the smoke. They would be able to do the ejecting shell from the firearm.
So, theoretically, no, you do not need to use blanks. It adds an aesthetic to it, and it assists the actor in performing. But if you work with the actor for a little bit ahead of time, you can get the wrist motion in to synchronize with the bang that these gas guns do make.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Joseph, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for showing us those. Makes a huge difference understanding it. Thank you.
FISHER: Thank you. Have a good evening.
BURNETT: As I said, Joseph Fisher is a prop master on movie sets.
And next, a Florida election supervisor pushing back against the big lie, saying America's democracy is being challenged by misinformation and disinformation. So, will he call out the person responsible for all of this starting in the first place? Plus, two crucial governor races in New Jersey and Virginia narrowing
drastically and that has the Democrats now bringing out what they believe are their biggest political stars.
BURNETT: Tonight, Florida elections supervisors writing an open letter to voters pushing back on baseless claims of election fraud in the 2020 election, and warning, quote, the integrity of our democracy has been challenged by misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation that shows discord and undermines trust in American's electoral process.
It comes as these elections officials including my next guest -- a Republican -- are urging politicians from both parties to denounce these lies and, quote, stand up for democracy.
Wesley Wilcox is OUTFRONT now. He's Marion County elections supervisor and president of Florida's supervisors of elections.
So, I appreciate your time, and, you know, we all appreciate you standing up and speaking out like this.
So, the vast majority of baseless-fraud claims are being made, of course, by Republicans, spurred on by the former president. I did notice, though, that your statements do not mention him by name even though he is the reason that they are, you know, saying these things and empowered to say these things, in the first place.
How come? Why did you make that decision?
WESLEY WILCOX (R), PRESIDENT, FLORIDA SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS: First off, thank you very much, Erin, for having me here this evening.
I -- I feel there is no single person or group that's responsible for the -- this misinformation. I think it's originating from -- from a multitude of sources. And as supervisors, you know, we stay out of the politics and just focus on doing our job. Our message is that this misinformation or disinformation, malinformation, whichever the -- the three you wish to classify it -- just makes it harder for us to do that job, which is basically just enabling citizens to choose their leader through secure and transparent election which, as we all know, is the foundation of our democracy.
BURNETT: Absolutely and look, let me just say, first, where -- where you have a point, right? It has metastasized much far -- beyond President Trump, right, from multiple sources. I hear you there.
However, the original cancer was President Trump, right? And -- and let me just -- let me just play for you, some things he has said. We spoke to Florida voters, right? And it is clear that they believe some of the very specific theories about a rigged election put out by the former president. Here's Trump and here's the voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We were winning everything and all of a sudden, it was just called off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just need to still have somebody explain to me why everything was shut down at around 11, 11:30 on the election night.
TRUMP: They went to the table with the black robe, the black shield. And they pulled out the votes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would they have all those ballots hidden under tables?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: They are repeating Trump. Like, if he came out today and he said, you know what? I'm so sorry, I'm a patriot and I am completely doing horrible things to this country. I lost fair and square.
He matters a whole lot more than the guys you are calling out because he's the one who started it. Do you not agree with me? Or you just don't think it's productive to put it in your letter?
WILCOX: First off, let me -- let me state that I believe there is a clip from about four or five weeks ago where former President Trump said the way Florida collect -- conducted the election, we conducted it clean. And I have seen that clip.
So, you know, for me to -- to actually characterize, you know, some of the other areas across there I think is unfair. You know, and in the state of Florida, the vast majority of us were all home by 11:00, and pretty much done with our election.
So, some of the other comments out of other states, you know, it's just unfair for me to comment upon them.
BURNETT: I mean, of course, Trump did win Florida by more than 370,000 votes. So, I think, certainly, he thinks that's -- you know, that one was probably fine, right? I mean, you had a very wide margin there.
I mean, let me just ask you this. Since last Thursday, Supervisor, Trump has sent out four statements every single one of them has a lie about the 2020 election and how it was stolen from him. Even in statements that he has put out about supply chain issues or Meghan McCain, he said the insurrection took place on Election Day, right? On November 6th. And that -- that -- that -- these are the statements he's put out. This is just in the past few days.
So, I mean, does that not have any play in what you are worried about that he is continuing to say those things?
WILCOX: I'm sure it has some effect on it. But I will tell you honestly, over the last four or five days, I personally have not heard of any of his statements because I've been focused on the statement that we made. And the statement that we made is that we need to focus on conducting elections and ensuring that our democracy carries forth. And basically, stop the misinformation because if I, the supervisor of elections here in Marion County, Florida, you know, if I don't do my job and do it very well, there's -- you know, there -- none of the elected officials that are here can -- can legitimately say that they've been elected.
So, elections rely upon us, the elections professionals, doing our jobs, and doing them very well. We want to ensure that our public is -- is -- is comfortable. It's secure with everything that we do. You know?
So that's -- that's our message and we're going to stay on point that we conduct secure and transparent elections.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Supervisor Wilcox, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
WILCOX: I appreciate it. Thank you, ma'am.
BURNETT: All right.
And next, the governor's race in Virginia has become a tight contest. Much closer than Democrats would like. And that has the party's biggest stars warning of dire consequences tonight.
BURNETT: President Biden set to hit the campaign trail tomorrow with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. It comes in the week until election day as top Democrats are trying to flood the state where there's always been early voting with dire warnings.
Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: But here is the thing. We can't afford to be tired.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Barack Obama trying to wake up Democrats eight days before voters in Virginia and New Jersey send an early signal about the direction of the country.
OBAMA: There is a mood out there. We see it. There's a politics, a meanness, and division and conflict, of tribalism and cynicism and, you know, we could go down that path, but I tell you, that is the path to ruin.
ZELENY: At weekend campaign rallies, Obama sounding the alarm hopes of stopping a potential Republican resurgence, that could be a sign of backlash to President Biden and the Democratic agenda in Congress.
The Virginia governor's race appears remarkably close with longtime Democrat Terry McAuliffe locked in a dead heat with Republican newcomer, Glenn Youngkin.
GLENN YOUNGKIN (R), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Our nation's future rests in Virginia's present. All eyes are on Virginia.
ZELENY: Tonight, more than 675,000 Virginians have already voted with a full week left in a race that is suddenly a marquee test for the Biden administration.
The president is set to campaign for McAuliffe on Tuesday, the latest in a string of high-profile Democrats rushing to the rescue.
STACEY ABRAMS, FOUNDER, FAIR FIGHT: If we don't vote, if you don't turn out on November the 2nd, then remember what you felt like in November of 2016.
ZELENY: Democratic star Stacey Abrams of Georgia warning against complacency, urging Democrats to recall their feelings when Donald Trump won the White House. McAuliffe has been making the argument even more explicitly.
TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We don't need a lap dog for Donald Trump as our governor.
ZELENY: Yet, in a state where Trump lost to Biden by ten percentage points, Youngkin is more than holding his own. The race will help answer the question for the degree to which Trump still motivates voters both for and against him.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, New Jersey.
ZELENY: Today, Biden visiting New Jersey to keep pushing his economic agenda, that's been caught up in a deep Democratic divide in Congress. While not an official campaign trip, Biden's seeking to elevate Democratic Governor Phil Murphy who is also on the ballot next Tuesday.
BIDEN: Well, Governor Murphy, so many of the national challenges we're confronting are areas where you're already leading.
ZELENY: The New Jersey race between Murphy and Republican Jack Ciattarelli is seen as less competitive than the Virginia contest. Still, Democrats concede they must close the enthusiasm gap.
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: Our team shows up. We win. Our team doesn't show up. This thing is a coin toss. We can't let that happen.
ZELENY (on camera): Now, these off-year elections in both Virginia and New Jersey, the only two states electing governors next month are a sign of things to come for next year's midterms. Of course, when President Biden comes here to northern Virginia tomorrow night to campaign for Terry McAuliffe, Terry McAuliffe had hoped he would be bringing legislation with him on that economic agenda. Erin, that is still not done. So that is also hanging over this governor's race -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Jeff, thank you very much.
And next, we remember a former Republican attorney general who stood up for the truth and was not afraid to stand up to his own party and Trump.
BURNETT: Tonight, a former Republican who very publicly broke with his own party because of Trump and stood up to the big lie has passed away from a reported sudden heart attack. Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods died over the weekend according to his wife. Now, Woods served as the late Senator John McCain's first congressional chief of staff and eventually became Arizona's attorney general. In 2018, he broke with the Republican Party over Trump's treatment of McCain and most recently, he took on Trump's big lie in a big way, calling Arizona's sham audit a, quote, joke, and a, quote, clown show.
We talked to Woods many times and about three weeks ago, he joined me to discuss why he was calling for an investigation into one of the architects of Trump's attempted coup., a lawyer named John Eastman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT WOODS, FORMER ARIZONA ATTORNEY: He looked like some sort of ranting maniac there, and he was saying things that he knew were false or should have known were false, and those were reflected, also, in days earlier in the memos that he was writing to the vice president of the United States, trying to get him, basically, to have a bloodless coup in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Grant Woods was the father of five kids. Our thoughts are with the Woods' family, at this time with their sudden and terrible loss. Grant was only 67 years old.
Thanks so much for joining us.
Anderson starts now.