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Laura Coates Live

Haley Questioned On Racism In America Again; Senate Grills Tech CEOs Over Child Safety; "The Washington Post" Investigates NLF Concussion Settlement; Trial For Mother Of Michigan School Shooter Continues; U.S. Figure Skaters Get Gold Two Years After Beijing Olympics. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 31, 2024 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: What no one else is talking about but, look, everyone should be, tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

Nikki Haley sitting down with Charlamagne tha God at "The Breakfast Club" and taking her sharpest shots yet at one Donald Trump, calling him toxic, saying that he lacks moral clarity. And you may have heard about that, right? But did you hear about what she said when the topic turned to racism in America again? Well, hear it for yourself.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, RADIO HOST: Can you admit that America is systemically and structurally a racist country?

NIKKI HALEY, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think culture has a lot to do with it, right? But it's more of -- if you look at that, how do you fix it, right?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Even when you say all men are created equal, no, they weren't, because we were labeled three-fifths of a human. Black people were.

HALEY: Right, and we made that wrong right.

UNKNOWN: Uh-hmm.

HALEY: And we've got some more rights we have to do. But this is --

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: So systemically and structurally, do you think America is racist? Not the people. Not everybody in America.

HALEY: I don't think America is racist. I think we have racism in America.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: And institutions.

HALEY: And I think -- and I think we have cultural issues.


COATES: Now, it's not a trick question, right? I mean, especially after the fiasco when Nikki Haley failed to correctly answer the question, if there is a correct question, what was the cause of the Civil War? Well, that's the question, and hint, there is an actual answer. It's slavery. So, did she get it right this time or did she not get it right?

I want to bring in Van Lathan, the co-host of the "Higher Learning" Podcast. Van, so good to see you. Usually, it's in person, but I'll take this instead in Philadelphia. Um, you heard this. She's had more than a few bites at the apple to try to get the answer to the audience and get the message that she wants to convey. It still is not landing. Why?

VAN LATHAN, CO-HOST, "HIGHER LEARNING" PODCAST: Courage. Courage. I mean, you know, Nikki Haley fails when she is asked to talk about questions of race in America but, you know, most politicians do.

The fact is that there's no way to really contextualize Black people's current existence in America without coming to terms with the fact that structural and systemic racism has been a large part of our existence here, and if we can't ever really talk about that, our inability to meet that conversational moment is going to be reflected in our inability to meet the moment in terms of doing something about it.

So, she failed talking to Charlamagne, and I expected that she would.

COATES: You know, interesting, I was thinking something that you said earlier today because when I talk about racism and she was asked about racism, you talked about black.

And I've often wondered, if one of the reasons why she has not broadened her perspective on what racism is broadly in this country to include black and brown, to include a whole host of issues, is it somehow to admit it or suggest it, failing a dog whistle test? Is it wrong -- is it wrong for her to address it because people want to view it only as relates to Black people in this country?

LATHAN: Well, I mean, perhaps. I think the oldest question of racism that America has to answer is the question of Black people. But, you know, there are several questions America has to answer.

I think, to me, the more important question is, why does she have to do what she did? And not just her, but why does Kamala Harris or Jim Clyburn or any other people that Charlemagne named, when they asked whether or not America is a racist country or has been a racist country, why do we have to lie about it? It doesn't seem to make any sense. It seems to look at things through an unserious lens.

She talks about taking the Confederate flag down from, you know, top of the state house --


LATHAN: -- when she was the governor there. You know, the interesting thing that I think about that is like, you know, she took that down after the nine people were killed at Mother Emanuel. Had she done it in 2010, maybe they don't get killed. Maybe if all of those symbols are gone and those conversations are had, maybe we can curtail some of this stuff. But as long as we're cowards about it, it'll never get done.

COATES: Well, some would argue, why even take it down if you don't believe its presence is a problem? If you don't believe it connects to certain symbols and it connects something different as well.

And on that point, I mean, she was pressed by Charlamagne on the issue of race.


I want you to listen to what she responded later on.


HALEY: There is racism in our country.


HALEY: I don't think that our country was founded to be racist. I don't. I think that it was meant to be this amazing experiment to see if we could have freedom and democracy in a way that all men are created equal.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: But if you didn't look at all men --

HALEY: We are not there yet.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: But if you didn't look at all men as equal from the beginning, then the ideology is flawed.

HALEY: But why do you want kids to hear that they live in a racist country? Why can't you tell kids, look, we're not perfect, and we have some more things to fix? I just -- I don't want any child to think like that.


COATES: So, here's my issue, and I want you to respond to what you think about this, Van. Um, I don't know how telling children the truth about history makes them somehow less informed, less educated, and less able to contextualize their own experience.

I mean, I've already talked to my daughter who is only nine years old about sexism and misogyny and how that phrase, all men created equal, did not apply to her, let alone as a Black woman and a Black girl, of course, at her age, and yet no one fights the battle when it comes to discussing sexism in the same way in our history.

What should her answer have been?

LATHAN: Well, I mean, her answer should have been -- I mean, the notion that a miracle has never been a racist country is just patently absurd and it's debasing a little bit like, you know, she's talking about words written by Thomas Jefferson. Well, you know, he allowed his children to live as slaves. I mean, I want everyone to wrap their mind around that. He allowed his kids to be slaves, right? He was a huge slave owner. So, obviously, he didn't mean it.

So, I think, you know, we have to get over the feelings of people feeling bad about things and let them know that there's an opportunity to do better. It's not about living in the past. It's about understanding the past and letting everyone know that if we want a better future, we have to be intentional about how we look at our country.

And we can't do that by lying to anyone. We don't lie about nothing else. We tell everybody else about who the villains are. We tell them about who the villains are worldwide, geopolitically. Why do we have to lie about this? So, I just wonder what she hopes to accomplish by giving people a false sense of where America is now and where it has been.

COATES: Or, of course, that somehow there's a requirement that you have to lie in order to progress. I think both can be true, Van. You could acknowledge what America has been and the experiment not quite over in the same way we talk about a legal system striving to be one day a justice system in this country and a whole host of things.

But, you know what, that's maybe why I'm not running for president. Van Lathan, maybe you should consider it instead. Thank you so much.


LATHAN: Peace.

COATES: Let's talk about it now with Shermichael Singleton, who worked on the republican presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Dr. Ben Carson, and Nayyera Haq, a former Obama White House senior director. I'm so glad that you're both here.

I can't get this out of my head because -- I mean, in the grand scheme of things, how many times do you think a presidential candidate is prepped on the things that might be in Achilles heel? The fact that there's not an answer that simply could be as reductive as, that's no longer who we want to be and here's how I can get us there, why is this such the elusive response, Nayyera?

NAYYERA HAQ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: This idea that calling anything racist, that that word is so much worse than any of the acts that we use to define what racism would be, right?

And to be fair, this also trips up Democratic candidates, too, right? In the White House right now, they have not explicitly said America is racist. And it gets that idea of the mythology, as you mentioned, of who we are, how we were founded, and how our experiment is still incomplete.

And so, Charlemagne did a really smart thing there. He has pointed to institutions --

COATES: Right.

HAQ: -- and systems, right? Not the theory of the country. And even then, you know, latch on to that.

I would have loved to hear Governor Haley talk about how the civil rights movement allowed her family, like mine, as South Asian immigrants, to come here because our people were considered undesirable up until the civil rights movement made immigration reform happen, right? There is a solidarity she could have found in that with Black and other brown people, and she chose not to.

COATES: You know, that's really fascinating. In particular, you mentioned Governor Haley. I think Ambassador Haley -- because, obviously, we know the entire world --


COATES: -- often looks to the United States sometimes with extraordinary reverence and other times with -- I can't believe what you say because I see what you do, particularly in the civil rights era, as we were propelled on this pedestal and then did not guarantee the same things for our own society as we did for other nations, World War II, an example, World War I.


When you look at this, Shermichael, and hear as a strategist -- I mean, it's not just lip service anyone wants, but why not just acknowledge a past and then pivot towards what you intend to do?

SINGLETON: Yeah. I mean, there's an interesting orthodoxy within the Republican Party and the conservative movement, generally speaking, as it pertains to race, and it's the idea that if we're constantly talking about this, then you're perpetuating the divide. And so, the idea is that if we just move forward, then people will sort of unify, they'll codify, the differences will come together in society, and then we'll get to the point where this isn't much of a big deal.

And to sort of buck that idea is in many ways to be a betrayal. And so, this is interesting, right? Because as a conservative of color, this is what a lot of conservatives of color really experience.

You go on one or two routes. You go on the route that I would probably go on to, which is acknowledge the past, talk about what we're still experiencing, and this is how we should address it. But then you also have many other conservatives of color who aren't willing to do that. And for this particular reason, they say, well, the group that I natively belong to, if you're Black, if you're South Asian, they're already skeptical because of my party identification as is.

So, if I give them what they want, yeah, they'll applaud me, but the moment I take a disparate position on another issue, then I'm ostracized again. However, the group that I've decided to associate with will applaud me. They will accept me as long as I am emboldening these ideas, generally speaking.

And so, for Haley, I don't know if this is conscious or subconscious, but I've had these conversations with other conservatives of color who do struggle with, well, should I say something on this particular issue and then be ostracized? Because the group will say, well, we're already somewhat skeptical. Are you really as pure on some of these ideals as you say you are?

COATES: Well, Shermichael --

SINGLETON: So, this is really complicated, and I'm not trying to excuse it. But I think, oftentimes, when we discuss these issues, we just say, well, she should have known better, and I don't necessarily disagree. But society is complicated, people are complicated, and I think we need to unpack this to understand why is she so unwilling to acknowledge what we think should be easy.

COATES: You know what's easier than anything you described? Being authentic.


COATES: That's number one. But I will tell you, and I'm not criticizing you, I'm just talking about the mental Olympics it has to go.


COATES: How do I say? Who do I please? I'm always confounded by those who ask for an opportunity to lead and then don't have results.

SINGLETON: Did you notice, Laura, you see that pattern with people of color who happen to be Republicans, generally speaking, as a small camp, who will say, no, we need to say something about this, and then there are many others who will say, you know what, I'm just not willing to take that risk.

HAQ: There's a whole other camp we welcome you in to in the Democratic Party.

COATES: Oh, my goodness.


Okay, hold on.

SINGLETON: I don't know about that.

COATES: Wait, hold on. This is a longer conversation. I want to get something else, though, because we are -- many might say, God, you're belaboring this discussion about race with Nikki Haley, and then others might say, wait a second, why are we only just now getting to her criticism of Trump? Well, because she's just now getting to the criticism of Trump.

And I want to tell you, she was pressed by Charlemagne as well on her critique and her directly taking on Trump by Charlemagne. Again, listen to this.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: How can you be looked at as a leader if you look like you're just constantly kissing up to Trump? Like you constantly look like you're just a lackey wanting to be his running mate?

HALEY: I've never kissed up to Trump. I've always told him the hard truth. When I was in the administration, the reason we work together is when he did something good. I worked hard to make America strong. When he did something wrong, I showed up in his office or I called him, and I would say, you cannot do this.


HALEY: But instead, you could do X, Y or Z. There were 14 people in this race. I was disciplined and focused. I needed to get the others out.


HALEY: I knew it was going to be him at the end. He was not my focus in the beginning. He is my focus now.


COATES: Hmm. What's your reaction to that, Nayyera?

HAQ: I mean, she was his ambassador to the United Nations. She stood up for every single one of his policies then, including the ones that involved bringing Russia into the Oval Office. And then after January 6th, she still defended him. So, it's now, when it's politically convenient, she's attacking him.

And again, I see the politics and the gymnastics that she's involved in here, but the record is the record, and she was an ardent supporter of Donald Trump --

COATES: Look at this poll.

HAQ: -- until a couple months ago.

COATES: It's true. Look at this poll. I mean, in part, the new polls from Quinnipiac, and they show Biden beating Trump in a hypothetical matchup because, you know, a poll loves a hypothesis, a hypothetical matchup. And Haley beating hypotheticals, right? Not hypothesis.


Sorry. Hypothetical. See, I was trying to throw shade and then it got back to me. That's what happens sometimes. And then Haley, in this hypothetical, beating Biden for Republicans. Is that, when you see this, her focus, Shermichael? She says, essentially, and then there was one.

SINGLETON: I mean, how can it be the focus when you can't get out of the primary?


I mean, Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee, whether any of us like it or not. That is just the reality. The republican base wants to give him a second opportunity.

But this goes back to the original question you asked at the top of this segment about Nikki Haley and the level of authenticity or inauthenticity.

And I think there's this yearningness for acceptance in the party because I don't personally believe, this is my empirical observation here, that Nikki Haley has really found her stride, if you will, as a person of color who happens to be a conservative, who happens to also be a member of the Republican Party.

And though the base may even have some disagreements with some of her positioning, if you will, on certain issues, I think there would certainly be far greater respect if there was a perception that the authenticity was there. That's why she's not going anywhere.

COATES: Hmm. Well, she said she's not going anywhere because she is the person to beat.

SINGLETON: I give it a couple weeks, Laura. She'll be out of it.

COATES: All right. Well, you know what? I can't do any more bets right now. The Super Bowl is my only focus.


Thank you very much. And it's apparently, the Vegas odds (ph) are talking about engagement stories instead of the actual game. Nayyera, we'll talk offline about Taylor and Travis. Shermichael and Nayyera, thank you both so much.

Now, here's one thing that Congress does agree on. Wait for it. Regulating social media. Because the tech CEOs, there they are, taking that oath. They were in the hot seat. It was a very hot seat today. They were grilled about the risks of their products for children. So, okay, we heard that. When's the action coming?


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): You have blood on your hands. You have a product.


You have a product that's killing people.




COATES: Well, fiery hearings on Capitol Hill. Frankly, there are a dime a dozen these days. What is rare, though, is when lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are directing their anger at the same target. You know what? That is precisely what happened today.

And who was the target? The tech CEOs directly in the line of fire relentlessly questioned and criticized and lectured by senators about the safety of children who are using their platforms.


GRAHAM: You have blood on your hands. You have a product.


You have a product that's killing people.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Will you set up a victim's compensation fund with your money, the money you made on these families sitting behind you? Yes or no?

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Your platforms really suck at policing themselves.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): They are not only the tech companies that have contributed to this crisis. They are responsible for many of the dangers our children face online.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Children are not your priority. Children are your product. Children, you see as a way to make money.


COATES: The leaders of Meta, TikTok, X, Snap, and Discord were, of course, pushing back against the accusations. Now, they say they have spent billions of dollars to protect kids and are committed to keeping doing so. But the heat didn't relent.

And it was Mark Zuckerberg who faced the majority of it. By the way, it was his eighth appearance before a congressional hearing. The Meta chief and Facebook founder apologizing to families who say they were harmed by online content after a grilling by Senator Josh Hawley.


HAWLEY: Would you like now to apologize to the victims who have been harmed by your product? Show them the pictures.


Would you like to apologize for what you've done to these good people?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO OF META, FOUNDER OF FACEBOOK: I'm sorry for everything you have all been through. No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered and this is why we've invested so much and are going to continue doing industry-leading efforts to make sure that no one has to go through the types of things that your families have had to suffer.


COATES: Joining me now is CNN media analyst Sara Fischer. Sara, it's so good to see you. I have to immediately get your reaction to that turning around to face families, many of whom are holding up school pictures of their kids in frames to show who the actual people they're talking about are. How did that moment play?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: I think this is the start of a new trend on Capitol Hill because in the past, Laura, we've seen these CEOs get grilled by lawmakers and it's them versus the members of Congress.

And what bringing the families and the victims in did is it created a new dynamic. Suddenly, they were not just getting heat from the lawmakers but from the people in the audience who are clapping and cheering for them when they were bashing the tech CEOs.

And so, I think in the future, that moment is going to prompt members of Congress to bring more victims or more witnesses in to spice up these hearings, because at the end of the day, this actually wasn't that sexy of a hearing. It was the same old stuff we've been hearing for many, many years.

The only thing that was different is we very rarely see a CEO stand up and apologize to families like that. It was a very emotional moment in that hearing.

COATES: Well, that's the concern for so many families. I mentioned it's the eighth time that Zuckerberg has done it. So, he's probably getting increasingly seasoned at, okay, I've got to be stoic and listen for a period of time, and then the lip service can commence possibly, and there's no real tangible I have to provide.

And yet, while you're talking about this new dynamic, I mean, Congress is in an agreement about regulating social media. Maybe not how, but about the concept of it. They haven't gotten it done.



FISCHER: Because even though it's a bipartisan agreement and they say it's a priority, it's not, Laura. I mean, at the end of the day, we don't have a budget that's -- a budget needs to get passed, right? There are so many other issues.

And look at the timeline. We have a new Congress that's going to come in next year. It's an election year. They probably have till July to get this done. This is not a true priority.


Now, the reason they're doing this hearing is to call attention to the issues so that they can possibly get more support to pass a collection of bills through.

But Laura, we have seen this song and dance for time and time again. In the past 10 years, we've only had one child online safety bill that passed, and that was around sex trafficking, which is such an extreme issue. There's no reason that shouldn't get passed. But I'm skeptical that anything is going to get done because we've been talking about this for months. Nothing.

COATES: As a mom, I'm skeptical, because I -- you know, different parts of your life, you become increasingly aware of and concerned about things that are going to directly implicate and impact your families. And for my kids, you know, they're on the YouTubes, they're on the different -- not so much social media because I'm very cautious, I listen to you a great deal about this, but they're exposed to more than I even know, even with being very vigilant.

I mean, listen to Senator Amy Klobuchar today on her take on this issue.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): When a Boeing plane lost a door in mid- flight several weeks ago, nobody questioned the decision to ground a fleet of over 700 planes. So, why aren't we taking the same type of decisive action on the danger of these platforms when we know these kids are dying?


COATES: Does she have a point?

FISCHER: I mean, the challenge here, Laura, is that if you want to change internet laws, you have to figure out what you're going to replace them with because so much of our economy, so many businesses, are built around the web.

For example, there's one law that gives these social media companies protection from liability against lawsuits for things that are posted on their sites. So many members of Congress say we need to repeal that law. That's something you heard a lot today. What are we going to replace it with? There's no consensus from either party around what we would replace it with. And as a result, the internet, we know it would completely collapse. And so that's the issue here.

You can ground planes and you're not going to throw off an entire industry if you ground one fleet. If you change one internet law and you don't have a replacement, think about everything you do online gets shut down. That's why she has a point, but it's harder to do it in real life and in real practice. COATES: That must be in part why they have kept the onus on the social media companies and the tech companies which, of course, that's the line to (ph) decide how they'll be punished for the kill.

FISCHER: Yes. But here's the thing that's important to note. The one area where these bills and these hearings are actually productive, even if the bills don't get passed, is that a lot of times, the tech companies will implement the changes that the bills suggest because of the threat of them and because it prepares them for these hearings.

So ahead of this hearing today, Snapchat and Meta started to introduce changes that are included in the proposed bill. So, the bill itself was actually not passed, but it's effective. And so, from that perspective, we've seen some movement. Same thing with political ads, same thing with data privacy. So, it can be effective but, yeah, no law.

COATES: You know, I always invite the audience to weigh in during the show and to tweet and Instagram about what their comments are. And there was one that came in during the show and during our conversation just now, Sara. And I think it's a rhetorical one. And it was, how can there be bipartisan support for child safety online, but not bipartisan support for children who are dying from gun violence? Very poignant question, and one I wish we had an answer for.

Sara Fischer, thank you so much.

Ahead, it was a settlement that was supposed to see the NFL make payouts to players suffering from brain diseases linked to concussions. But there's a new investigation from "The Washington Post" that says the deal is full or broken promises.




COATES: So, it was considered a landmark settlement aiming to end the concussion crisis, now one of the most significant public relations and legal threats to America's favorite sport, football. Even though the NFL admitted no wrongdoing, the league did promise to compensate any retired player who developed dementia or brain diseases linked to concussions.

But a new expose by "The Washington Post" found in the seven years since the settlement opened, 900 dementia claims have been approved while nearly 1,100 dementia claims have been denied, costing the NFL $1.2 billion to date. That is just scratching the surface of this very extensive report. So, did the settlement live up to expectations or fall way short?

Let's discuss this with sports investigative reporter for "The Washington Post," Will Hobson. He is the reporter behind the months- long investigation, "The broken promises of the NFL concussion settlement." We also have with us former NFL player, Marcus Smith II, as well. I'm glad to have you both here. I think you bring so much to the table, both of you.

Let me begin with you, Will, on this piece because you open the piece talking about the story of 78-year-old Irv Cross.


COATES: He's a former NFL player. He was denied help despite dementia and being diagnosed with it by his own doctor, by the way. Tell me about why this story is so impactful.

HOBSON: Well, I mean, this settlement was supposed to make whole, you know, the situation of former players who were dealing with, you know, the later life effects of playing in the NFL.

And situations like Irv Cross, unfortunately, have played out where Mr. Cross had dementia, had been diagnosed with dementia by his own doctor, but he didn't have dementia as this settlement defined it, so he didn't qualify for money or medical care that he and his family thought he should have gotten.


COATES: How do they define it, the criteria? I know we can put on the screen for people, but this investigation really talks about what needs to happen and what the criteria was. And when it comes down to -- I think, in part, there's a special set of doctors who had to determine it, not your own. Is that right?

HOBSON: Well, in the settlement, they basically -- the NFL's lawyers and poolers or players came up with their own way to define dementia, which is just a little bit more difficult than how doctors normally diagnose it in America.

And so, there are situations playing out where players are getting diagnosed with dementia by their own physicians, but then they go through the settlement and they don't meet the settlement's criteria so they don't get money or medical care.

COATES: Put that back up on the screen, if we can, that comparison. I think that's really important for people to see this distinction of what it takes. So, in everyday practice, one or two impaired results in one cognitive category. But for the NFL settlement, the criteria was at least four impaired tests across two cognitive categories. So, there is a distinction about what that looks like.

Marcus, let me turn to you because you experienced multiple concussions during your time playing. In fact, experiencing, you know, symptoms of what was the effects of it even while you were playing. You've been an advocate for trying to make sure that the sport is safer, that people are recognized for what has been going on. What's your reaction to this imbalance?

MARCUS SMITH II, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Man, I think my reaction is we have to be more proactive instead of reactionary about the football players. Even with me dealing with suicide ideation and also an attempt in 2017 and '18, I think that going through that -- that was a tough time for me. And I think a lot of us who deal with these impairments, we want some sense of peace, we want some sense of hope.

And I think going through that and the settlement, I really truly believe that we should be getting, you know, the compensation. All of us should be getting some type of compensation for that. So, that's kind of how I feel about it. And I think that all football players really feel the same way about that.

COATES: Yeah, I think it's such an important point you raised about being proactive versus reactive. I know we are a very litigious society. And so, oftentimes, we get corrective action through lawsuits and class action. But getting ahead of it and having ways to make people whole again -- I do want to read for everyone because the NFL has responded to your report, Will.

And in a statement, they say this: "The medical evaluations are performed by independent doctors, their diagnoses are assessed by the independent settlement administrators, and medical claim reviews are performed by independent medical experts."

"The NFL plays no role in deciding who receives an award or the amount of any award as all claims decisions are made by independent administrators, appointed by and responsible to the Court." They wanted that to be known.

What's your response?

HOBSON: I mean, I think that's fair and accurate. You know, I think that from the NFL's perspective, they've actually probably paid out more in the settlement than they expected to. So, they look at the 1.2 billion they've spent to more than 1,600 former players and their families. They think, that's more than we thought we were going to spend.

But from the perspective of former players, there are another 1,100 families out there who feel like they should have been compensated. They feel like their loved ones had the exact same conditions as the ones who have been compensated.

And so, I think both things can be true. This can be costing the NFL a good amount of money but there can still be lots of families out there who deserve the same money, who are not getting it because of the way the settlement was set up.

COATES: I mean, something tells me that NFL is not hurting for cash. I can't speak to it. I'm just guessing here, although it does take a toll financially on that amount of money.

But I wonder, I mean, Marcus, you love this sport. You've been so vocal about it. But when I think about even my own son, and he wants to play football, he's 11, my immediate thought goes to our conversations. It goes to concussions, it goes to injuries. Is there a way to make the sport safer or is this ship sailed?

SMITH: I wouldn't say the ship is sailed. I'd say that there is a way to make the sport safer. There are things out there, remedies out there that can actually help football players. There's a place called All Points North Lodge. It's a place that I went to to actually help my mental health and actually help the cognitive impairs that I was dealing with. Even with TMS, with transcranial magnetic stimulation, that is something that really helps football players.

So, I don't think that is totally out of the equation, but I also do think that as a kid, I think you should wait a certain time limit to play the sport, right? Because your brain is not really fully developed until you're 26, 27 as a man, right? And so, when we think about the head trauma and hits to the head, you want to kind of wait on that so, you know, their brains could be fully developed before they do that.


So, I wouldn't say it's totally out of the question, but I see why you have a concern about that, but it's just really just about having the education and knowing that there's stuff out there that you can do to actually help you with your cognitive impairments and your brain health.

COATES: I so appreciate your honesty in that and recognizing what probably could be done to help, especially with the mental health component, because that is correlated in so many ways. I appreciate you being so forthright about it.

And I really appreciate, Will, this in-depth reporting because we all have been wondering, really, whatever happened to this, and I'm glad you're following that thread. Really important, especially as we're going into Super Bowl and Pro Bowl. Let's talk about the other side of the sport as well. We'll be right back.




COATES: Day five of a historic court case. A Michigan mother on trial for the killings carried out by her son. Jennifer Crumbley is charged with involuntary manslaughter for her alleged role in her son Ethan's rampage that left four students dead and several others wounded.

In court today, prosecutors show the jury police body cam video of the moment Crumbley and her husband were captured in a Detroit warehouse four days after the shooting. Now, Crumbley and her husband hit out here with more than $6,000 in cash.

Jurors also heard from a firefighter and a friend of Jennifer Crumbley who said the two had an affair. Days after the rampage, he testified that she texted him -- quote -- "I failed as a parent. I failed miserably." And in another exchange, Crumbley texted him -- quote -- "We're on the run again. Helicopters. Not sure where to. I'll message you." Now, prosecutors allege that Crumbley ignored her spiraling son and instead of giving him help, she and her husband allegedly bought him a gun. But the defense says Crumbley had no idea how much her son was actually struggling. And they blame the school.

A big disqualification and a delayed award. The U.S. figure skating team getting the gold and two years after the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Two members of that team, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, are going to join me next.




COATES: Tonight, a monumental victory after a lengthy two-year wait. The U.S. Olympic figure skating team is being awarded the gold medal for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games. That after Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was disqualified over a long-running doping controversy. Now, she will be suspended now from international competition through December of 2025.

Joining me now, figure skating captains and Olympic gold medalists, Madison Chock and Evan Bates. I'm so happy for both of you. Congratulations. Finally, it happened. Madison, let me begin with you because Team USA finally recognized and are making history now as the first U.S. skating team to grab that gold. How does it feel after all this time?

MADISON CHOCK, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: It feels truly incredible, and it has been just such a blessing to be able to reunite with our team via text and even some in person to just start celebrating this victory. I'm so proud of all skaters, and I can't wait to celebrate with them when the real medal ceremony takes place.

COATES: Well, I'm so proud of the poise. We remember watching. I was watching this when this happened and thought, oh, my God, who could be any better than this?

And now, Evan, the fact that you guys have been hanging in limbo for nearly two years -- I mean, patient is one thing, but to have the grace and poise after all that time, truly an Olympian. What was that wait like for you?

EVAN BATES, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Well, thanks a lot. I mean, like Maddie said, we're so proud of the way that the team has handled the two- year wait. It's a completely unprecedented event, the first time in Olympic history that clean athletes have won medals and have left the Olympic games empty handed.

So, I think the cast ruling has really brought a lot of relief for many of us. And, of course, we're overjoyed. I mean, becoming Olympic champions, that's what we've always dreamt of since we were kids.

COATES: Have you talked to the other seven members of the American team, Madison?

CHOCK: Not all of them yet, but a few of them already. And the general feeling through everyone is just elation and excitement. And we just can't wait to be reunited to celebrate together.

COATES: Oh, I can't wait to see that. And you mentioned, Evan, this concept, of course, of a clean athlete which, frankly, should be a phrase that no one ever has to utter because it always ought to be the case. And yet we've seen what has been happening in this sport and others. And Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva is now banned for four years for testing positive for a banned drug, and Russia has a history of doping allegations.

Is enough being done, do you think, now to hold it accountable, Evan?

BATES: You know, I think this particular case, I think there is an underlying sense of sadness because we're talking about a 15-year-old child here who had an illegal substance in her system. We certainly have empathy for her but, you know, we're taught as U.S. athletes about strict liability when it comes to doping tests. From a young age, we know that we're 100% responsible for everything that goes into our body.

And, you know, we're talking about the Olympic Games here so, you know, maintaining that level playing field for everybody is so important because it takes a lifetime of work to reach that level, and every clean athlete deserves the right, the equal chance for a gold medal.

COATES: Madison, how do you see it?

CHOCK: I completely agree with Evan.


It's unprecedented, but we are proud to be in this situation because I think it gives the opportunity for a great platform to promote clean athletes and to show that this is the integrity of the Olympic Games and it must be upheld. There's nothing more important than having a level playing field and making sure every athlete has the right to achieve their dreams on that level playing field.

COATES: I mean, only on that level playing field do you really realize who ought to be on that podium and stand tall and strong as both of you and the entire team will.

So, let's talk about the good part, Madison and Evan. What will come next? When will you finally get to hold and see those gold medals? Do you know?

CHOCK: We aren't sure exactly when that will be. But we have a dream, an Olympic dream --


-- that we would hold the Olympic ceremonies. Well, not we personally, but the Olympic ceremony would be held for us at the Paris Games this coming summer, so we could have that Olympic moment and be surrounded by our friends and family and the Olympic spirit and other athletes, and we're just really hoping that that's how it will pan out.

COATES: Well, we certainly hope that for both of you. Again, so proud. America is so proud of the two of you and of the team. Thank you so much for delivering gold two years later, but always had it initially at the same time as well. Madison Chock, Evan Bates, congratulations to you both.

CHOCK: Thank you.

BATES: Thank you so much.

COATES: Well, everyone makes us all very proud. Thank you all for watching. Remember, I'll be live on Instagram at "The Laura Coates" in just a few minutes. Be sure to tune in to the after show there. Our coverage continues.