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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Matthew McConaughey Shares Uvalde Victims' Moving Stories At White House; Trevor Reed, NBA Stars Pressure White House To Free Brittney Griner; Target Marking Down Prices On Big Ticket Items. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 08, 2022 - 05:30   ET




MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them. These are reasonable, practical, tactical regulations to our nation, states, communities, schools, and homes.

Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals. These regulations are not a step back; they're a step forward for a civil society and the Second Amendment.

This should be a nonpartisan issue. This should not be a partisan issue. There is not a Democratic or Republican value in one single act of these shooters -- it's not -- but people in power have failed to act.

So we're asking you, and I'm asking you will you please ask yourselves, can both sides rise above? Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?

Enough with the counterpunching. Enough with the invalidation of the other side. Let's come to the common table that represents the American people. Find a middle ground -- the place where most of us Americans live anyway, especially on this issue. Because I promise you America -- you and me -- we are not as divided as we are being told we are. And let's admit it, we can't truly be leaders if we're only living for re-election.

We start by making the loss of these lives matter.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I think he really captures the feeling of the American public. The American public is done with this, and the American public I think believes we can do both. We can protect the constitutional right to bear arms and the Declaration of Independence promise to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for children. We can make children safe and allow responsible gun owners to have their rights at the same time.

It is -- it is politicians for years who have never been able to cross the aisle or figure out compromise on this. They're so afraid of -- I don't know what. But I think he really captures the anger of the public.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And to frame it as responsible gun owners don't want this I thought was such an interesting move. Instead of just sort of push gun owners away and make it -- make it their problem, he was really trying to embrace --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- responsible gun ownership, which is just --

ROMANS: I also --

JARRETT: it was fascinating to watch.

ROMANS: I also wonder if we are raising a generation of children who will be potentially one-issue voters someday on this subject. They go to school and they are drilled.

JARRETT: Yes, and kids of your age -- yes.

ROMANS: Yes. They are drilled. They are afraid. You know, my kids know exactly which window -- which chair they're going to grab to break which window to get out of that classroom.

JARRETT: That's horrifying.

ROMANS: That's just not a way to raise a kid in the United States of America. That's just ridiculous. So, I think that you could be raising a whole generation of kids who are going to say --


ROMANS: -- all of you adults have completely failed us.

JARRETT: Coming up, trouble at Target with too many lamps and not enough baby formula.

ROMANS: And a former prisoner's plea to bring home those left behind.


TREVOR REED, FORMER MARINE RELEASED FROM RUSSIA: And you want them brought home at any cost. You don't care what that cost is.




JARRETT: WNBA star Brittney Griner has now spent more than 100 days in a Russian prison wrongfully detained, according to friends, family, and advocates. Now, some high-profile names are ramping up pressure on the White House to do whatever it takes to bring her home.

CNN's Brian Todd has this story.


REED: You have to tell them that you want them brought home at any cost. You don't care what that cost is.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trevor Reed, the former Marine held in Russia until a recent swap, dialing up the pressure on the Biden administration to work for the release of two other detained Americans, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

Joining Reed in ramping up the pressure, high-profile figures in the NBA and WNBA showing solidarity with Griner by wearing "We are BG" shirts for warm-ups --


TODD (voice-over): -- and talking about her case at press conferences.

JAYSON TATUM, BOSTON CELTICS FORWARD-GUARD: We are all together in support trying to bring her back to her family and things like that.

TODD (voice-over): Stars like LeBron James joining the push for Griner's release with James tweeting, "Our voice as athletes is stronger together."

Fans holding signs at games with phrases like "Free Brittney."

The pressure campaign now includes Griner's wife, Cherelle. She had stayed relatively quiet but recently told ABC she wants to speak to President Biden.

CHERELLE GRINER, BRITTNEY GRINER'S WIFE: I just keep hearing that he has the power. She's a political pawn, so if they're holding her because they want you to do something then I want you to do it.

TODD (voice-over): Griner has been jailed in Russia since mid- February. Russian authorities said they found cannabis oil in her luggage when she arrived at a Moscow airport. Analysts say her advocates have more of a green light to speak out now ever since the U.S. government classified her as wrongfully detained.


TODD (voice-over): Meanwhile, a new window from Trevor Reed into the conditions Griner and Whelan could be facing inside Russian prisons.

REED: It's really medieval. The food there is medieval as well. You're given fish and sometimes the fish is rotten. The cabbage is always rotten. I lost about 45 pounds in captivity there from malnutrition.


TODD (voice-over): Griner's agent tells CNN Griner has been able to receive letters from family and friends while in detention.

TODD (on camera): Are the Russians reading them?

MENDELSON: Absolutely. There's nothing private. There's nothing private in a Russian prison. Anything that's coming to her will have been read presumably by numerous people.

TODD (voice-over): Reed and others also worry that widespread homophobia in Russia could be working against Griner.

MENDELSON: She's openly gay in a country that is -- tortures and kills members of the LGBTQ community. It's a terrible situation. Conditions are not good and there's abuse both for women and men. This is the last place on Earth you want to be.

TODD (on camera): Analysts say one development that could give Brittney Griner and her family more hope is that her case is now being handled by the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. That office could have more flexibility in negotiating Griner's release because it doesn't necessarily have to wait for Russian legal proceedings to play out.

The State Department says the Griner and Paul Whelan cases remain top priorities for the U.S. government.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ROMANS: All right, Brian. Thank you for that.

President Biden getting ready for late-night T.V. tonight.

JARRETT: And how Target's loss could end up being the bargain shoppers' gain.



ROMANS: All right, welcome back.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world, Asia closed higher. Europe has opened lower. And on Wall Street, stock index futures down just a little bit.

Stocks closed higher Tuesday for the second day in a row. Energy stocks surging as oil futures neared $120 a barrel. Investors also shrugging off a warning from Target about, quote, "tough times ahead."

Speaking of Target, off the mark on what it stocked for consumers. It miscalculated on what consumers would want to buy two years into the pandemic and now they've got to mark down prices on a lot of stuff. The retail giant is stuck with too much home decor, too many TVs.

It's a reversal from the past two years when discounts were hard to come by and supply constraints meant customers often couldn't find what they wanted.

Let's bring in CNN retailer report Nathaniel Meyersohn. Nice to see you this morning. Your piece on this was excellent.

So, lamps, and couches, and big TVs. That's what people wanted when they were stuck in the pandemic. And now, today, two years later, still in pandemic, they are looking ahead to spending on services -- air travel, dining, going out to movies. The consumer has shifted and Target didn't quite foresee it.

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS RETAIL REPORTER: Right. So, this isn't just a Target problem, too. We're seeing this across the board at major retailers like Walmart and Gap, Urban Outfitters.

Companies -- you know, they planned their purchases about a year-year and a half ago, so they expected people wanted more furniture and televisions, home decor. But here we are a year later. Inflation has taken a toll on shoppers. They're spending less. They're switching into services, as you say. So, Target and other retailers are stuck with too much stuff -- too much of the wrong stuff.

ROMANS: They already bought two lamps and a couch and now they have to pay more for their gas, so they're done with that category.

JARRETT: Well, for the people who might be in home redesign mode, is there -- are there any deals to be had? Is there a silver lining in this terrible inflation story?

MEYERSOHN: Yes. So, prices -- higher prices have really hit consumers, especially on the lower-income side. But we're going to start to see some discounts here because Target and the rest of the retailers need to unload --


MEYERSOHN: -- their stuff. And so, when they have too much stuff they -- you know, they mark it down. You'll see discounts, promotions.

Now, this is good for shoppers but it's bad for the companies. It hits their profits.

ROMANS: Yes. And the things that you're going to see discounts on are like apparel, right? Probably, I was seeing like sweatpants and fleece -- you know, fleece --


ROMANS: -- twin sets and things like that.

MEYERSOHN: So a lot of stuff we've already bought. ROMANS: Right, right. You never can have enough pajamas.

Across the board, you're noticing these noticeable tradeoffs between companies and shoppers dealing with inflation. Do we know how long this is going to last?

MEYERSOHN: I think it's going to last as long as -- as long as we have inflation at 8% to 10%. Shoppers are squeezed right now. They're making tradeoffs. We're seeing more shoppers go to dollar stores and discount --

ROMANS: Right.

MEYERSOHN: -- stores.

Walmart said, for example, that people are switching from buying a gallon of milk to a half-gallon of milk. We're seeing more shoppers buy private labels and passing up some of the more expensive purchases.

So this is -- this is really playing out right now and retailers expect it to continue for some time.

ROMANS: I saw -- we -- there was somebody -- a consumer at a Target store that we interviewed yesterday who was saying essentially, I need baby formula --

JARRETT: I need baby formula, yes.

ROMANS: -- and I need food to be cheaper and gas to be cheaper. Those aren't the sales you're going to be seeing.

MEYERSOHN: Right, no. Those prices are going to stay elevated for a while and shoppers are really being forced to make some tradeoffs.

ROMANS: Yes. We know there's six -- Jamie Dimon from JPMorgan Chase said there's six to nine months of spending money in people's pockets still because of stimulus money.

JARRETT: And that's it.

ROMANS: And then we'll see -- then we'll see how they really start changing their behavior further on down the line.

Nathaniel Meyersohn, nice to see you this morning. Thanks for getting up early for us. CNN retail reporter.

JARRETT: Thanks for coming on.

ROMANS: All right. Even amid the Great Resignation, the pay gap between top executives and their employees is widening. The progressive think tank IPS surveyed 300 publicly traded companies with the lowest median pay for workers and found CEO pay there soared 31% last year. For every dollar a worker earned, the CEO was paid $670. That compares with $604 in 2020.

The average CEO made $10.6 million a year. The average low-wage worker took home just under $24,000.


The IPS report called out big-box retailers specifically for spending enormous sums on buybacks while cutting median worker pay.

And the point there was that even in many of those low-wage industries they saw the biggest pay increases during the pandemic, right, but the CEOs saw even bigger pay increases.

JARRETT: The gulf there is just stark when you see it laid out.

ROMANS: When times are good CEO pay rises faster than everybody else. When times are bad CEO pay rises faster than everybody else. I sense a pattern.

JARRETT: Funny how that works out.

Coming up, the NFL team just sold.

ROMANS: And CNN literally in the trenches on Ukraine's southern front.







JARRETT: Fifty-five minutes, back now.

Phil Mickelson speaking out about this decision to join a Saudi-backed golf tour. Coy Wire has it all covered in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy. What's he saying?


Phil Mickelson -- he's breaking his silence in this first news conference since making those controversial comments in February about Saudi Arabia's human rights record and the new golf tour it's backing. The 6-time Major champ lost several sponsors and went into self- imposed exile, sitting out the Masters and PGA Championship.

And he told reporters that he does not condone human rights violations, and he explained why he's choosing to play in the new Saudi-backed tour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PHIL MICKELSON, 6-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: I understand that many people have very strong opinions and may disagree with my decision, and I can empathize with that. But at this time, this is an opportunity that gives me a chance to have the most balance in my life going forward, and I think this is going to do a lot of good for the game.


WIRE: Now, Mickelson says he does not plan to quit the PGA Tour. He says he's earned the right to compete on that tour. But tomorrow, he's making his return to golf in the 3-round LIV golf event just outside of London.

Two-time Major champion Dustin Johnson will play as well just two days after announcing that he resigns from the PGA Tour. The former world number one saying it was what's best for his family, shrugging off the tour's threats to punish players who compete in this new breakaway league.

The USGA announcing yesterday that LIV Tour players will be allowed to play in next week's U.S. Open just outside of Boston. That's because the major championships are all organized separately; not by the PGA Tour.

Tiger Woods announcing yesterday as well that he won't play in the U.S. Open, saying in a statement that his body needs more time. The 15-time Major champ withdrew from last month's PGA Championship after struggling with the leg injuries he suffered in his car crash.

Let's go to the ice. The 2-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning keeping their hopes alive for a three-peat. The Bolts taking control of last night's game against the New York Rangers in the opening that is courtesy of a Pat Maroon goal, never trailing the big rig. Tampa Bay shuts down the Rangers 4-1 for their sixth-straight home playoff win.

The best of seven series now tied at two games apiece heading to Madison Square Garden for a pivotal game five tomorrow night.

And the Denver Broncos going, going, gone -- sold. According to multiple reports, Robert Walton, one of the heirs to the Walmart fortune, will pay $4.65 billion for the team. That's the most ever spent for a U.S. team and the second-most for any professional sports team period. The previous record was held by the New York Mets who sold for almost $2.5 billion in 2020. The figure would be more than double the $2.3 billion that the Carolina Panthers sold for in 2018.

So, big news in the NFL world -- Christine, Laura.

ROMANS: Yes. Walmart turned out to be a really big successful little enterprise, didn't it?

WIRE: They're doing all right, yes.

ROMANS: Doing all right.

WIRE: Welcome to Wally's World is what they'll be saying in Denver.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly. The family's definitely got some money to spend.

All right, Coy Wire. Nice to see you. Thanks so much.

WIRE: You, too.

JARRETT: Thank you, Coy -- appreciate it.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.