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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Zuckerberg Claims Damning Leaks Are effort "to Paint A False Picture"; "Rust" Crew Members Reportedly Used Live Ammo With Prop Guns; Democrats Say Talks Underway to Win Over Manchin on Spending Bill. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It's Tuesday, October 26. It's 5:00 a.m. here in New York.

Thanks so much for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.

No regrets. The head of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg defiant after thousands of pages of leaked documents show his company putting growth and profits over safety and decency.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Good faith criticism helps us get better, but my view is what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively used leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company. The reality is that we have an open culture where we encourage discussion and research about our work so we can make progress on many complex issues that are not specific to just us.


JARRETT: In reality, the Facebook papers show researchers found the company essentially created a Frankenstein, a monster, pushing falsehoods from the darkest corners in ways that won't easily be undone.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan starts us off this morning.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We need to steel ourselves from more bad headlines in the coming days, Facebook exec Nick Clegg wrote in an internal memo to colleagues over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Facebook didn't invent hate, but you think it's making hate worse?

FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: Unquestionably, it's making hate worse.

O'SULLIVAN: On Monday, as Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appeared before the parliament, a consortium of 17 U.S. news agencies including CNN began publishing a series of stories based on tens of thousands of pages documents Haugen leaked from the company.

HAUGEN: I think there is a view inside the company that safety is a cost -- a cost center. It's not a growth center, which I think is very short term in thinking.

O'SULLIVAN: Facebook's response to the Stop the Steal movement that fueled the insurrection was piecemeal, according to an internal analysis.

How did you hear about this event today?


O'SULLIVAN: Internally, comments from Facebook staff after the insurrection suggested the company was at least partially culpable. All due respect, but haven't we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence? We've been fuelling this fire for a long time and we shouldn't be surprised it's now out of control.

But Facebook's issues extend far beyond the United States. The leaked documents show the platform used by militias in Ethiopia, fanning the flames of sectarianism in India and weaponized in Myanmar.

FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: I have no doubt that the chat like the events we're seeing around the world, things like Myanmar and Ethiopia, those are opening chapters. Facebook comes back and says only a tiny sliver of content on our platform is hate, only a 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, you know, 5 percent of the population. And you only need 3 percent of the population on the streets to have a revolution. And that's dangerous.

O'DONNELL: And the documents show how for years the company has struggled to crack down on how its platforms are used to promote human trafficking.

CNN last week identifying multiple Instagram accounts purporting to offer domestic workers for sale, including photos in descriptions of women like age, height and weight. Facebook taking their accounts down only asked about them by CNN confirming the accounts broke its rules.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What Frances has given us is an extraordinary archive of helpful material to see exactly what is going on and it is the biggest and most important contribution to understanding this incredibly important problem that we've ever had.


O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Clearly, Frances Haugen, this whistle-blower, is hitting a nerve. She has the attention of lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic. Of course, the question now is what will politicians do? Will they vote to regulate Facebook? Christine and Laura?

ROMANS: All right, Donie, thank you for that.

Even with all those bad headlines, Facebook reminded investors it is still a money-making machine. It posted a profit of $9.2 billion in the third quarter, and $29 billion in revenue. Despite scrutiny over its data and privacy, the number of people using Facebook's family of apps, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, that grew 12 percent year over year, and nearly 3.6 billion people.

This isn't Facebook's first PR crisis and the business has chugged alone despite outcry from regulators and the public. Its stock close up just over 1 percent Monday. It's 20 percent higher so far this year, but important perspective here, you can see the shares are down 15 percent from the high earlier this year, a sign perhaps it is not impervious to the self-made PR crisis. Sales growth by the way slowed in the quarter, Facebook warned changes to the Apple operating system and privacy rules could create continued head winds in the fourth quarter.


That update requires users to give permissions for apps to track behavior and sell their personal data.

JARRETT: Have you ever seen a company make this much money having such bad headlines?

ROMANS: The PR crisis is self-inflicted and it is very big. And you can see it is off of its high, but it is still churning out a lot of money.


ROMANS: It is a free platform. I'm sure you have people in your life who you say, by the way, you know you're being targets on your Facebook page.

JARRETT: I don't want to get into the discussion about Facebook details and things that people see --

ROMANS: They don't care. They just don't care.

All right. Well, new details breaking overnight about the trouble on the set of "Rust" even before last week's accidental shooting by Alec Baldwin. The founder and chief executive of "The Wrap" tells CNN that crew members were fooling around with live ammo during their downtime on that set.


SHARON WAXMAN, FOUNDER & CEO, THE WRAP: The gun that Alec Baldwin used to tragically accidentally shoot Halyna Hutchins had been used earlier in the day for target practice with a number of crew members, a lot of downtime on the set, as you probably know this, and there's this past time that crew members sometimes do, it's called plinking and they go out into the rural areas and they shoot at beer can, this is live ammunition.


ROMANS: Meantime, CNN was first to report the film's assistant director was previously fired after a crew member was injured in another gun incident on a different movie set. Three crew members say an 1800s style rifle unexpectedly fired during the scene.

CNN's Josh Campbell has more on that.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, we're learning new details about the person who reportedly handed the prop gun to Alec Baldwin on the day of that fatal shooting here in Santa Fe. Dave Halls, the assistant director, was reportedly involved in another incident two years ago, involving a weapon discharged on the set of a production in 2019, a weapon that had unexpectedly discharged. That leading an employee to recoil, and they were taken away from the set by a medic, and eventually brought back, however Halls himself was dismissed, and ultimately fired.

Now, CNN has reached out to Halls for comment. We have not yet received a response.

This is all coming as we're learning new details about the circumstances surrounding that fatal shooting here in Santa Fe.

According to the search warrant data from the sheriff's department, Alec Baldwin was practicing what's called a cross draw, where you pull a weapon across your body, when that shot rang out, we're told that that struck Halyna Hutchins, ultimately leading to her death.

Now, of course, there is a question about liability, who will be ultimately held responsible here. There's a question about whether it is the role of the armorer, the person responsible for ensuring safety on the set, whether it's the person who actually handed Alec Baldwin. That prop gun telling him that it was safe or the responsibility of their actor himself to ensure a clear and safe weapon.

I spoke with an official at the district attorney's office here in Santa Fe who say no new updates from them, their investigation continues and we're waiting to see whether there will be any charges filed in this case -- Christine, Laura.


JARRETT: Josh, thank you very much.

It's just so frustrating. Imagine being her husband, and hearing that news, and realizing this is all, it could have been so easily preventable. All right. Optimism among Democrats, not a term you often hear in

Washington but they're hoping for a deal on the president's economic agenda, and soon. The final sticking points for the senator who holds all of the cards in Washington, next.



JARRETT: This morning, Senate Democrats are going all in on a deal, hopefully, to expand America's social safety net. Sources say they're pushing to win over Senator Joe Manchin who is still holding out on several key sticking points.

CNN's Jasmine Wright is live in Washington with all of the details.

Jasmine, good morning.

Democrats sound optimistic, they sound optimistic, but this could actually get done pretty soon?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, and look, it's an all-out lobbying effort to kind of get that done soon and that means getting Senator Manchin who has been a key Democrat in the middle of these negotiations to a yes on some of these hot button ticket issues, these last items, including from paid leave, to climate change, to expanding Medicare -- excuse me, expanding Medicare, to closing the gap on Medicaid coverage, because remember, Manchin is really integral in these negotiations, they have to get him to a yes to get anything passed because of that 50/50 Democratic split.

And like it or not, Manchin has been really successful in not only getting these negotiations to extend beyond what kind of Democrats wanted initially, but also to bring that price tag down. Now, we don't know officially what that final price tag will be, but we know it is going to be lower than the $3.5 trillion that President Biden first outlined.

Remember, Manchin is around $1.5 trillion. So yes, he is, along with other Democrats, sounding more optimistic about the fact that they may reach kind of a framework conceptual deal on the social stake and the expansion package, by the end of this week, but he still has some major issues out.

Take a listen to the exchange with him and our colleague Manu Raju about kind of the things that he is concerned over.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you open to expanding Medicare at this point?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): You know, I -- my big concern right now is 2026 deadline that we have insolvency, and if no one is concerned about that, and I've got people, that's a lifeline, Medicare and Social Security is a lifeline of people back in West Virginia and most people around the country.


And you got to stabilize that first before you look at expansions.

RAJU: Adding dental, hearing, vision, could make Medicare insolvent. That's what your concern about?

MANCHIN: Right now, it's not fiscally responsible, I don't think.


WRIGHT: Now, that stance from Manchin we just heard, not fiscally responsible, that could throw a wrench in Democrats' plans to kind of button this up by the end of this week, sending President Biden off with a parting gift as he heads to the U.K. at the end of this week. Right now, the plan is for Democrats to agree to a framework deal, kinds of -- using that to pressure progressives into voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Wednesday or Thursday. A source tells CNN, really trying to give Biden some momentum as he heads to that climate provision, excuse me, gives the momentum on climate provisions as he heads to the U.K. this weekend.

Now, Biden himself has been optimistic saying he hopes things get done. It would be positive to have a deal and a vote by the time that he heads there. But still, as of this early Tuesday morning, Laura, there is no deal reached.

JARRETT: Yeah, you know, the deadline is also elusive word in Washington but it seems like the president's trip has added a new level of momentum this time.

Jasmine, thank you for all of your reporting as usual. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. What is the cost of all of those new laws making it harder to vote? Dana Bash explores how the big lies become a bigger threat, a CNN special report, "STOP THE VOTE" premieres tomorrow night at 9:00, only on CNN.



ROMANS: Among the many failures outlined in the Facebook paper, the company knew it was being used to incite violence abroad in countries like Ethiopia and did little to stop the spread of misinformation, dangerous misinformation.

Let's bring in CNN's Larry Madowo live in Nairobi, Kenya.

Some of these revelations just incredibly frustrating for the kinds of damage they can bring across the globe.

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They can, absolutely, Christine, when you think about the conflict in the north of Ethiopia in Tigray going on since November of last year and Facebook is a widely used platform in the country, some of documents show that Facebook has it at the top of the ranked list with ethnic violence, and moderation efforts that are far short of the inflammatory content on the platform.

So, for instance, these documents show that Facebook fails to build tools that could detect hate speech and misinformation, and two of the most widely spoken languages in Ethiopia, Afar Oromo and Amharic. And what that means is that posts that were inciting people to violence did not get flagged or taken down because Facebook didn't have the capacity for that.

Now, I need to point out, Facebook is telling CNN that they have invested in Ethiopia, in language capacity and extra people and managing content in not just Afar Oromo and Amharic here and Somalia and Tigrigna, which is a language spoken in the north. But it will not tell us how many people actually are they and how much it invested.

So the danger is, with the way Facebook works, the posts with the most comments and likes and shares and gets shown to more people so those posts incite people to violence or to any kind of ethnic conflict that really get around before action is taken, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Larry, thank you so much for that. Larry Madowo, of course, in Nairobi.

JARRETT: All right. Dangerous weather coast to coast, flooding overnight in the northeast, after a bomb cyclone with record breaking downpours in the west. That's next for you.



JARRETT: Welcome back. Some wild weather ahead today, coast to coast, New York, New Jersey, had issued states of emergency ahead of the coming nor'easter, after a bomb cyclone walloped the West Coast with record-setting rainfall, and triggering dangerous mud slides.

Here's our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Christine and Laura, good morning, guys.

This is a classic nor'easter in the work, the first of the season, parked just offshore, beginning to really take shape into later on today, and eventually into the overnight hours, where winds could be as high as 50, maybe up to 70 miles an hour in these coastal communities. So beach erosion, absolutely going to be the case. Could see some coastal flooding and plenty of power outages possibly with so much foliage still left on these tree, and we could see the pour lines come down.

But rainfall, already coming down, in earnest across parts of Philly, parts of New York, and get used to it, at least 40 million of you underneath the flood alerts scattered about the region of the U.S. and we're watching an area here for an additional round, maybe four to six inches of rainfall, widespread into southern New York, northern New Jersey, and isolated maximums could exceed six inches. So again, enough rain here to cause plenty of flooding over the next couple of days.

Now, back towards the west, we've seen that as well, parts of California, of course. The energy shifting a little farther to the north, guys. So if you're tune around the Pacific Northwest, that's the area of concern moving forward for the next round of flooding.

ROMANS: All right, Pedram. Wow. What an event there on the West Coast.

In California, also 10,000 trees including giant sequoias are a hazard and must be removed. The KNP Complex Fire has already destroyed many sequoias since September when it was sparked by lightning, the fire is only 63 percent contained and national park officials say the trees weakened by drought, disease and fire have a high probability to fail and fall on people, cars and structures.

All right. EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: Good morning, everybody. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's about 29 minutes past the hour here in New York.

And it's time for our top stories to keep an eye today.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg defiant after leaked documents reveal his company's failure to police hate speech and misinformation. Zuckerberg claims the company -- rather than the media is cherry- picking documents to paint a false picture of Facebook.

ROMANS: New damning revelations from the "Rust" movie set, the assistant director had previously been over gun safety issues and according to "The Wrap", the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins had been loaded.