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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Pushes Vaccine Mandates And White House Report Says They Work; Journalists Maria Ressa And Dmitry Muratov Win Nobel Peace Prize; Andrew Lloyd Webber: "Cats" Movie Made Me Get A Therapy Dog. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 08, 2021 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good Friday morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Laura Jarrett. It's 31 minutes past the hour here in New York.

So, we know that COVID vaccine mandates are working. The evidence is there. Get this -- the number of unvaccinated people in this country has dropped from 95 million people to now just 67 million people. It's still a lot to go but it's progress.

President Biden is making his case for why mandates are needed and pushing more companies to make their workers get the shot.

CNN's Jasmine Wright joins us live now. Jasmine, good morning.

You know, the president has been clear he didn't want to use these mandates as the first line of defense but at --

ROMANS: He called it tough medicine, right?

JARRETT: -- but at this point, he seems out of options.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. And look, the president, yesterday -- he turned his focus back to the pandemic after what had seemed like weeks of focus on Congress and his economic agenda.

And yesterday in the Chicagoland area, he really said that he was trying to do everything in his power to get more Americans vaccinated and that trying to do are these mandates. And he said that -- as you said Laura -- he was kind of hesitant to do it as for -- at first, but here we are.

Now, this -- his remarks really came after the White House released a report really touting the success of the mandates, as they have led to more Americans getting vaccinated. And it comes after weeks of the same messaging from the White House, really pushing back on any Republican criticism that these things weren't needed or they weren't working.

And now, remember, President Biden really announced that September rule that federal workers, healthcare staff, and large employers would have to get vaccinated or test negative weekly to continue working. And he said yesterday that the Labor Department would actually issue that rule shortly.

But, bottom line, Laura, is that this administration recognizes that not only are they going to be judged by the American people on basically -- really, if they're getting these economic agenda items passed, but also on their managing of the pandemic. So, yesterday's remarks and this continued messaging that vaccine mandates work are really just multitasking from the White House, trying to make sure that everything is good as they continue to work on their economic agenda, Laura.

ROMANS: And I've talked to business leaders this week who've said that the president's mandates have spurred them to move faster with their own mandates. It sort of gives them cover. They're given a day off, maybe some financial incentives. But they're saying you've got to do this or you're going to lose your job.

The president also says he's taking action against another kind of epidemic that we're dealing with now, unruly passengers on planes. What's the plan there, Jasmine?

WRIGHT: Well, the president said yesterday that he had asked his Justice Department to address that rise in violence that we see on planes. I think we've all, as you can see on the screen right now, have seen kind of viral videos of people acting violent after really rebuking that mask mandate online.

President Biden said that his DOJ will now take a look at it. And he said it yesterday in the direction of United Airlines CEO really saying that they will get it done, as the White House has kind of worked closely with the airline industry trying to get them to really impose more mandates on their personnel.

We have seen the rise in vaccines going up in the airline industry. So, as you said, this is another part of the president trying to provide cover to businesses to make it more favorable to them to impose, really, these mandates trying to get more --



WRIGHT: -- Americans vaccinated.

JARRETT: I'm just -- I was shaking my head looking at that video of these crazy people. Thank you.

ROMANS: I've got to -- I've got a hands -- a hat's off to all of those flight attendants --

JARRETT: Yes. ROMANS: -- and the people who work for the airlines who do such --

WRIGHT: It couldn't be me.

ROMANS: The crisis management that they're dealing with and the way they can deescalate situations. I know that the United CEO has said they've done a good job.

JARRETT: And you hear people clapping when they came off the planes.

ROMANS: I know. All right, Jasmine, nice to see you.

JARRETT: Thank you, Jasmine.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right.

The debt ceiling drama on hold for now, but Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen said we can't keep playing with the nation's full faith in credit this way.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: But we do need to settle it longer- term. You know, what we're really talking about here is can you count on the government to pay its bills. It's not about future spending or taxes. We've incurred bills. Can the government be counted on to pay those bills?

And Americans, whether it's people waiting for a Social Security check or military pay or bondholders who regard U.S. treasuries as the safest thing asset in the world, they need to never question that the United States will pay its bills.


ROMANS: There is no question a default would be catastrophic.


YELLEN: It would be enormously damaging to the economy, to financial markets. I've said and continue to think it would be utterly catastrophic. It should be unthinkable.


ROMANS: You know, Yellen also said it's becoming, quote, "increasingly damaging to even set a debt ceiling."


YELLEN: It's led to a series of politically dangerous conflicts that have caused Americans and global markets to question whether or not America is serious about paying its bills. It's flirting with a self- inflicted crisis. And it really involves the government giving to their Treasury secretary and their president conflicting sets of instructions.


ROMANS: Yes. In the past 50 years, Congress has acted 78 times to raise the debt limit -- 49 times under Republican presidents, 29 times under Democrats.

Let's bring in CNN political analyst and managing editor of Axios, Margaret Talev. Margaret, disaster averted on the debt ceiling -- only temporarily, though. Why can't we just get rid of this thing?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS: You know, Democrats, for a second there, looked close, Christine. That whole debt ceiling filibuster conversation that almost happened actually seemed like a decent solution to this, but then they blinked. And I know we said Mitch McConnell blinked but guess what, everybody blinked.

And this is -- it makes sense maybe, theoretically, to have to have votes on a debt ceiling if that were a way to restrain spending if people in both parties were like oh, well -- we're going to have to take a vote on it to raise it so we better not spend more than we have. But that should -- like, has totally sailed.


TALEV: And the need to raise the debt limit now is the doing of both parties. President Trump and the Republicans' tax cut back from 2017 cost about the same amount of money as we're looking at now in a modified reconciliation bill -- the kind of Build Back Better light that we're talking about now.

So this is how we got here and the only way to change it is either by bipartisan action -- I think we can all agree that's not going to happen -- or Democrats, at this point because they're technically in charge, finding some maneuver.

But instead, this compromise that was reached is not really -- it's really not a great deal for the Democrats. Like, all it does is force them to all go on the record, without any Republican votes, with a dollar amount attached to it, which is guess what -- exactly where Republicans wanted Democrats to be. Now they're going to have to do it twice because they're going to have to do it again.

JARRETT: But it's for spending that already happened.


JARRETT: I mean, it -- there's a dollar amount attached to it because we have to pay our bills.

ROMANS: And the Democrats have argued, too, that the $2 trillion hole that the Trump tax cuts caused is different than their investment in the American workforce. I mean, they would make that argument.

JARRETT: But Margaret, I think this deal, once again, also exposed -- I mean, that's on the Democratic side. I think this also exposed something of a rift among Republicans. You saw some of them clearly angry at Mitch McConnell -- people like Ted Cruz, people like Lindsey Graham. They're mad at McConnell for making a deal with the Democrats. They wanted him to sort of stay intransient on that.

The former president and his allies are, of course, attacking this decision. They're happy to come after McConnell anytime. But he did get it done.

So I wonder, in your view, does this show that McConnell still has some juice with his caucus, or does it suggest he's actually losing his grip on power?

TALEV: I think Mitch McConnell is still the chief strategist -- the actual chief strategist of the Republican Party.


And you're right -- Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham came out really criticizing that decision. There are a lot of other Republicans who are saying they're angry about it.

All I'm saying is I don't really understand why, other than as a messaging proposition. Because I think when you actually look at the impact of it, it gives Republicans pretty much everything they wanted.

Those Republicans who you saw cast the procedural vote to allow that vote to happen -- look at who they are. They're all leadership, moderates, or people who are retiring. They have less of an incentive message to the base.

And by the way, in the actual vote, 50 to 48, guess how many Republicans were on the record supporting raising the debt limit?


TALEV: Zero.

ROMANS: Margaret, infighting -- the word of the year on Capitol Hill. I think we can put it in the books here and it's only October.

On the Democratic side, you've got Sens. Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders. Biden, the president, said if those two were in the same room together to work out the differences on that $3.5 trillion bill -- he said it would be like a homicide.

How do they put their differences aside to get something passed?

TALEV: That's fairly epic. I mean, the truth at this moment is they don't, which is why we're in a position where Congress is treading water and the Democrats have to come back in December.

Look, they represent really different states. What their states have in common is that their states have a lot of poor residents and their state has -- their states have pretty clear political ideologies. The problem is that those ideologies are in really different -- really, really different places.

And I think when you see the video, as you've been showing this morning, of Joe Manchin with his face in his hands when Chuck Schumer is talking, it gives you a glimpse -- a sense of his posture.

We also say Bernie Sanders -- we had the story earlier this week -- do this really, I don't know -- like, controversial, I guess inside the party maneuver, where there was an effort among Democratic leaders to support Kyrsten Sinema on this one particular issue, which is the idea that it's really uncool for people to turn on video cameras and follow people in the bathrooms, right?

And Sanders' team saying we'll sign on as long as you add in there that we really wish that she would do XYZ on prescription drug reform and spend more on the reconciliation.

These are entrenched positions and they're real, and they're going to be something Democrats have to work through in the weeks to come.

ROMANS: Margaret Talev, nice to see you this Friday morning. Have a great weekend if we don't talk to you at the end of today. Thank you.

JARRETT: Thanks, Margaret.

ROMANS: A programming note. The new CNN Original Series "DIANA" introduces viewers to the person behind the princess. It reveals a life more complicated and fascinating than the world knew. And it's Sunday -- this Sunday. It premieres at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.



JARRETT: Breaking news out of Norway. Moments ago, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to journalists standing up for press freedom.

Let's bring in Nina dos Santos. Nina, good morning. Tell us about these winners.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Good morning to you, Laura.

Well, it is an exciting day for journalism because the two recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the most prestigious accolades anywhere in the world, has gone to two champion journalists operating in some of the most onerous conditions and most difficult places to be a journalist anywhere in the world.

The first recipient is 58-hear-old Filipino U.S. journalist Maria Ressa, who founded a site called Rappler to shed light on some of the most sinister aspects of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines regime. Those include allegations of largescale murder, torture, and also harassment.

Ressa was named "Time Person of the Year" back in 2018. But since, her life has been blighted by various allegedly politically motivated cases against her, including libel cases and tax cases as well. And then the second recipient is Dmitry Muratov. He, since the 1990s,

has been the editor-in-chief of a newspaper called "The Novaya Gazeta" in Russia. This is one of the last great independent newspapers in Russia. They've lost six journalists, at least, to what are deemed to be politically targeted killings, and they've faced largescale harassment throughout the course of their work, not just during Vladimir Putin's time but also before.

He has been awarded the accolade alongside Maria Ressa, the board said as a mark to champion freedom of information and its crucial role to safeguarding democracy and to protect the world against wars and conflict.

This was one of the largest pools ever they chose from -- 329 candidates -- Laura.

JARRETT: Wow, a huge honor, I'm sure.

Nina, thank you so much -- appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right.

The Tampa Bay Rays open up the division series with a win over the Red Sox thanks to a historic night from one of their stars.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.


Two years into his postseason career and Randy Arozarena is already making the case to be one of the best postseason players of all time. He hit 10 home runs in the playoffs last year and picked up right where he left off last night.

In the fifth inning against Boston, Arozarena comes to the plate and just tees off on this one. He knew it was gone as soon as it left his bat. That gave Tampa a 4-0 lead.

Then in the seventh, Arozarena was on third base, and as soon as pitcher Josh Taylor turns around from him here, Arozarena breaks for home and slides in ahead of the tag. Arozarena, the first player to ever steal home and hit a homer in the same postseason game.

Tampa takes game one of that series 5-0.

Astros and White Sox, game one, also had a great slide into home. Jose Altuve trying to beat the throw on the grounder to third. He goes around catcher Yasmani Grandal and just gets a hand on the plate. That made it 2-0 Astros.

And that was all Houston A's Lance McCullers would need. He went six and two-thirds innings, giving up no runs. Houston takes game one 6-1. Game two of that series begins a huge quadruple-header of playoff action today.

[05:50:01] Our sister network TBS has both National League Series openers. The Brewers hosting the Braves, and the Giants and Dodgers meeting for the first time ever in the postseason.

All right, to the NFL. Seahawks hosting the Rams last night. Third quarter, Russell Wilson gets hit in the hand by Aaron Donald. He came back in for one series but sat the rest of the game with what Coach Pete Carroll said was a badly sprained finger.

Matthew Stafford, meanwhile, throwing for 365 yards and this touchdown here to Tyler Higbee.

The Rams would win this one 26-17. They're now 4-1 on the season, and the Seahawks falling to 2-3.

Before every home game, Seattle's live mascot, Taima the hawk, leads the team out. But it took a detour on the way back last night, landing on this fan's head. That fan handled that remarkably well.

Laura, how would you handle it if a hawk landed on your head?

JARRETT: I'd try not to freak out. Those talons are like digging into his head.


JARRETT: He stayed pretty calm. Yikes.

SCHOLES: Man, I would've freaked out, probably.

JARRETT: Oh, my goodness. Glad he's OK.


JARRETT: Andy, have a good weekend.

SCHOLES: You, too.

JARRETT: Thank you for bringing us that horrifying scene.

All right, and now to this horrifying scene in Hong Kong. Take a look at this. Tons of twisted metal after the scaffolding of an apartment building collapsed onto a busy road -- my goodness.

At least one construction worker died, according to media reports there. Six others were rescued. Officials say the wreckage also pinned two cars on the street.


Scaffolding collapse in Hong Kong.


JARRETT: You can see and you can hear the rescue crews getting pelted by rain on top of everything else. Hong Kong has been under a cyclone warning with heavy rain and strong wind. The weather, it seems, could have been a factor in this collapse.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning -- a look at markets around the world here. You can see a positive performance for the Asian markets that are open. And Europe has opened narrowly mixed here. On Wall Street, stock index futures barely moving lower here.

You know, the debt ceiling crisis was averted. The Dow finished up 337 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also ended the day higher.

And there's critical data out today, in just a couple of hours -- that September jobs report. The hope is vaccinations and rising wages helped job growth in September. Economists predict about half a million jobs were added back to the economy and the jobless rate is expected to slip to 5.1 percent.

But that Delta variant is still a concern here. That and a super-tight jobs market are actually shaking American CEO confidence. An index of CEO confidence slid nearly 20 percent in the third quarter, slipping from a record in the second quarter. Hopes in the second quarter had been really high that the country had turned a corner on this pandemic.

The struggle to find workers is real. Seventy-four percent of CEOs said they had trouble finding quality workers during the quarter. And business leaders also recognize they have to pay more to attract and retain talent. Sixty-six percent of CEOs said they expect to increase wages by at least three percent over the next year.

Tesla's HQ is moving to the Lone Star State. CEO Elon Musk announced headquarters in Austin, Texas. Tesla is currently based in Palo Alto, California.

Musk told shareholders, quote, "There's a limit to how big you can scale in the Bay Area." Musk also said despite the move to Texas for the headquarters, Tesla still plans to significantly expand in California.

Last year, Musk said he would move Tesla's headquarters to either Texas or Nevada -- remember -- after that dispute with California officials over the safety of Tesla's factory during the pandemic.

Get vaccinated or lose your job. American Airlines, the latest airline to roll out a vaccine mandate for all of its employees. Employees have until November 24th to get the shot. American said it considered a government -- it is considered a government contractor under President Biden's vaccine mandate.

The airline will give an extra day of vacation pay to employees who prove they are vaccinated by the deadline.


Clip from Universal Pictures "Cats."

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: So, "Cats" the movie -- I think it's fair to say was objectively weird, not to mention a box office flop. But the film's worst critic may be the man behind the legendary Broadway musical. Andrew Lloyd Webber says he hated the movie so much he needed to get a therapy dog because of it. Webber says the two have become close, especially during the pandemic, so maybe something good did come from "Cats" after all.

We're dog people.

ROMANS: Why -- yes. But why was it so bad?

JARRETT: I don't know. It was just weird.

ROMANS: Why was it so bad? CGI -- OK, our producer Joanna is saying the CGI made it really bad.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. I am a dog person.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. I am also a dog person. "NEW DAY" is next.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman on this new day.

Economic disaster averted, for now at least. Bipartisan senators striking a deal and raising the debt ceiling. So, what has Sen. Joe Manchin shaking his head?

The Republican Party rewriting history as former President Trump tries to run out the clock on the insurrection investigation. Will the Trump administration ever be held accountable?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New developments in the manhunt for Brian Laundrie. It turns out he was being surveilled by police before.