Return to Transcripts main page

Laura Coates Live

NTSB Says, Numerous Alarms Heard On Ship Before Bridge Crash; RNC Asking Prospective Employees If Election Was Stolen; Obama Jumps In To Help Biden In All-Hands-On-Deck Urgency; Chris Wallace Talks About His Interview With Larry David; Former Senator And Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Lieberman Passes Away At 82; White Supremacist Threats On The Rise; FBI Investigates Racial Threats Made Against The University Of Utah's Women's Basketball Team. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 27, 2024 - 22:00   ET



JONATHAN HAIDT, AUTHOR: They just don't want to be the only one. So, we can escape this if we act collectively.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: But do you hear from parents who are actually doing that?

HAIDT: Yes, I do, every day. But my hope is, so far, it's lone parents who were doing it and then their kids feel isolated. And then they often have feel like they're grateful later, but I want make it easy for parents to do it today, tomorrow.

COLLINS: Jonathan Haidt, the book is The Anxious Generation, it's fascinating, everyone should read it, Thank you for joining us tonight.

HAIDT: Thanks so much, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And thank you all so much for joining us for this very, very busy hour. Laura Coates Live starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: An American tragedy deepens, more people have been confirmed dead in Baltimore, leaving more families with so many questions and so much pain. That's tonight on a special two-hour Laura Coates Live.

Good evening, I'm Laura Coates in Washington, D.C.

And tonight, a dramatic play by play of the Dali's final faded minutes, from the investigators examining just went wrong and what happened at that Key Bridge. The National Transportation Safety Board gave a second-by-second depiction, going through the initial alarms, the commands to steer away, the desperate radio call for help, the order to drop the anchor, the radio call that confirmed that the Dali had lost all power, all of this before hitting the bridge and causing the catastrophic collapse.

And I really cannot even begin to imagine how frantic this crew must have been. Now, we have some insight into those terrifying moments inside the ship, the NTSB revealing they've got the data recorders, they got cargo manifest.

And you will not believe what was on board that vessel, some 764 tons of hazardous material, corrosives, flammables, and some are breached on that ship. And there's some kind of apparent sheen on the water, which suggests that some of this hazardous material might now be in the port of Baltimore, a body of water with a current that leads to the ocean.

You know, as much information as we're getting tonight, there is still so much we still do not know. It's the infancy of the investigation and we don't have any pictures from inside that engine room. We don't have any cameras. We don't have any CCTV.

Also tonight, divers are uncovering an underwater grave, a red pickup truck with two victims who were trapped inside. And they are all saying site that sonar scans show the vehicles encased in the wreckage from the bridge. Did anyone else possibly survive?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I encourage you all to think about these people and those that they love and they lost. They're going to need your love in support.


COATES: And the disaster has produced a traffic jam with nationwide, maybe even global consequences. Ten ships, in addition to the wreckage of the Dali, are stuck inside the port of Baltimore. You've got three bulk carriers, one vehicle carrier, two cargo ships, an oil tanker, three naval logistics vessels. Those are all trapped now by the Key Bridge now sitting across and underneath the water.

That iconic bridge may be gone from the skyline from the horizon but the wreckage that remains means a clogged artery to one of the country's major ports.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg says that rebuilding, quote, will not be quick or easy or cheap but a bridge can be built. Lives, you simply can't. Six families tonight are clinging to hope that somehow, some way, against the odds, against the weather, again the tides, that their loved ones might still be alive.

Rescue divers are pausing their search tonight, though, because of dangerous conditions like heaps of mangled metal. The grim task of finding the bodies of the men who fell with the bridge into the Patapsco River that's going to pick back up tomorrow.

All the missing workers worked for Brawner (ph), which is a Baltimore- based contractor, and they migrated to this country from different parts of the world, men like Miguel Luna from El Salvador. He lived here for 19 years, getting married, raising three children.

Maynor Sandoval immigrated 17 years ago from Honduras. He leaves behind two children and his wife. He would have actually celebrated a birthday just next month.

Dorlian Castillo Cabrera was from Guatemala. And his sister-in-law says that he loved his job, had been working for Brawner for the past three years as well.


CNN spoke to Sandoval's brother, Carlos, and he says he's banking on a miracle.


CARLOS SUAZO SANDOVAL, BROTHER OF MISSING CONSTRUCTION WORKER MAYNOR SUAZO SANDOVAL: Yes, we still have hope. Until this moment, God grant the miracle. It would be beautiful.

For us and the family in Honduras, we still have hope. I know time is our worst enemy.


COATES: Joining me now, Jim Hall, he is the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Jim, thank you so much for being here.

You heard from at least one family member still holding out hope. It is heartbreaking to even hear. And in a way, we're all holding our breath still. It just seems so surreal even now. But can you just tell me, from your perspective, what was the biggest thing that we learned tonight from the investigators?

JIM HALL, FORMER NTSB CHAIRMAN: Well, I think they're doing a very thorough job, that we are in the factual part of the investigation. And there was a lot of information released, but it highlighted also what we don't know, and that is who knew -- who had the information when and when did the captain and the pilot know the ship's problems?

Hopefully, we can look at that in these recorders, but as was pointed out earlier, these recorders do not provide the same type of information that you have in an aviation accident. That is something the NTSB has tried unsuccessfully to correct over the years. And marine safety and marine security, in many cases, is still the weakest link in our transportation system.

COATES: You know, you make an interesting point because most people who hear about the so-called black box, they think they know what kind of data is going to be on that black box, the communications, giving some color and insight into what's happening.

For this data tracker, is it so different? Is it a snapshot? What would it reveal?

HALL: Well, it provides much more information and a lot of it could be useful to this type of investigation. I think, Laura, that this event will possibly be as significant to maritime safety and security as 9/11 was to aviation safety and security. If you notice, there are a lot of parties to this investigation. You've had the secretary of transportation there, you've had Federal Highway there, you have other organizations. Sometimes in our ports, in which 25 percent of our economy is based, there's so many people in charge that, as they say, no one is in charge.

And the accountability here, for me, runs to why -- this hasn't been our first bridge collapse. There were two during my tenure at the NTSB, in which we made recommendations that risk assessments be done.

We know how large these ships are, how much the port traffic has changed because of just in time impact on our economy, and yet here we are with the same bridge that was built and very little change to it.

So, in many ways, we have got to relook at port security because it's too disjointed and it needs to be addressed for the protection of the American society and the American people, because, at the end of the day, we're going to be the ones paying for the bridge to be replaced.

COATES: You know, as a fine point, I'm really curious about the recommendations that were made during your tenure, because if you look at various bridges, there are distinctions in the way they are reinforced.

If you look, for example, side-by-side comparison between the Francis Scott Key Bridge and others like the Casco Bay Bridge in Portland, Maine, you do notice that there is something different. The Key Bridge should not have this sort of robust fender system of sorts.

Is that something that you think is critical going forward, or could have even prevented something like this from happening?

HALL: Well, I think, going forward, the critical thing is we restructure how we provide effective oversight at the federal and state level to the ports that are so important to the economy of the United States.

COATES: But what would that mean? I don't want to (INAUDIBLE), but what would that mean in terms of that oversight? Because if you're talking about obviously the bureaucracy, looking at things in a detailed fashion in the long run, then you've got the individual pilots who have to navigate the waters. What would be the action taken in those moments for oversight purposes?


HALL: Well, in this case, situation you have, the port authority that has the pilot association that brings these ships in and out of the port. I don't know that there's any system even though it's been recommended changing best practices among these very pilot organizations.

We don't have that many major ports. I don t know that there's been a real risk assessment to look at. I think the chairman, Homendy, mentioned the number of bridges at risk and the numbers of ports that we have, the economic impact. This is an accident that needs to wake up America to the importance of addressing a system of accountability in terms of these operations in the ports.

As you pointed out, and we saw in East Moriches incident, we've got a lot of hazardous materials being transported. Most of the stuff that goes on the train comes off these ships, but then goes onto trains and through all the local communities in our country.

COATES: You make an interesting connection. I was thinking about the East Palestine train derailment and how there were so many environmental concerns about the transportation more broadly of hazardous materials and then what you do to navigate because they do have to go from point A to point B.

Are they on areas where you've got the average civilian passenger thoroughfares or otherwise? The fact that they did say tonight that there were Some hazardous materials that may have made its way breaching the cargo, but then maybe even creating a sheen over the water does highlight this very important point.

Jim Hall, thank you so much.

HALL: My pleasure.

COATES: We've gotten a lot more on this tragedy ahead as we're learning more details.

Also tonight, former President Obama said to be perhaps fearful that Joe Biden may not have this re-election in hand, the election being very close with Donald Trump. Chris Wallace joins me on what Obama is about to do on the trail.

Plus, the question that potential RNC employees are being asked during their interviews and what's being called a kind of litmus test.

And in minutes, a new interview with Larry David tonight, and he hasn't hold back on Donald Trump or the election.


LARRY DAVID, COMEDIAN: It's so crazy. He's such a sociopath. He's so insane.




COATES: So, it turns out, if you want a job at the RNC, or you want to keep your job, well, you may need to lie out loud. In politics now, it's forget who you know, it might now come down to what you pretend not to know.

The Washington Post reporting that the new RNC management is asking current and potential employees if they think the 2020 election was rigged, the apparent litmus test for hiring, and the Biden campaign pouncing on this, saying that it's Trump, quote, demanding fealty. Joining me now is Chris Wallace, host of CNN's The Chris Wallace Show, and Who's Talking to Chris Wallace on Max? And who's talking to him right now? Me, that's who. Hey, Chris, how are you?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Great to be with you, Laura.

COATES: So, this all started after Donald Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, was named co-chair of the RNC. Now, is this just, in some ways, Chris, just formalizing that the Republican Party is now Trump's party, and that a platform policy of this party is that the 2020 election was stolen?

WALLACE: If not officially, certainly in practice, yes, I mean, it is Trump's party. Look, he sailed to victory very easily in the primaries. As you say, he's completely -- and this isn't so unusual that the winning nominee takes over the party structure, the DNC for Democrats, the RNC for Republicans. What's unusual are these kinds of litmus tests, but you've got a candidate who is saying, and the nominee of the party, who is saying that the election was stolen. So, it's almost a logical extension of this falsehood that you would be asking employees, are you willing to sign on for this?

I mean, it's a loyalty test to Donald Trump and what Donald Trump is going to be saying throughout the 2024 campaign.

COATES: I mean, normally, you think about one's policy positions, but the idea that this is a policy or a stance is really stunning even after all these years.

But, you know, the RNC, for their part, Chris, they're saying they're only asking candidates who worked in states where fraud allegations were prevalent, they get asked about their work experience. Do you buy that sort of caveat here?

WALLACE: Not especially. I mean, you got to remember, they came in and they let go. 60 operatives of the RNC said, you know, you can apply for a job, you know, to come back, but, basically, you got to go through a whole vetting process.

Look, it is a kind of Alice in Wonderland situation, but when you've got the candidate himself who's saying, the election was rigged and you say, well, you know, that's not policy, it's one of the major planks of Donald Trump's presidential run.


So, given that logic, why wouldn't you ask people at the party? Are you willing to sign on for this?

COATES: It's a really good point. If you remember back to the RNC debates than some that never were, it was about whether they would then essentially pledge to be loyal to whoever the eventual candidate was. This caused some consternation in the first instance.

Speaking of somebody who had been towing the huge plank of the party and the party line as a list, the RNC was one Ronna McDaniel, right? She was somebody who was the former now chairperson of the RNC. She was ousted. Obviously we know all the reasons, circumstances around that. She was now ousted though from NBC News.

And one of the things that contributed to her firing was that she discussed, well, this answer from your July interview with her and then had an about-face. Listen to this.


WALLACE: You're saying, as the chair of the Republican Party, that you still have questions as to whether or not Joe Biden was the duly elected president in 2020.

RONNA MCDANIEL, FORMER CHAIR, RNC: Joe Biden is the president.

WALLACE: No, I didn't ask you whether he's the president.

MCDANIEL: No, I don't think that -- I think --

WALLACE: Do you think he won the election?

MCDANIEL: I think there were lots of problems with 2020.

WALLACE: Do you think he won the --

MCDANIEL: Ultimately, he won the election.

WALLACE: Pardon?

MCDANIEL: But, ultimately, he won the election, but there were lots of problems with the 2020 election, a hundred percent.

WALLACE: And that's fair.

MCDANIEL: But I don't think he won it fair. I don't. I'm not going to say that.


COATES: Now, she is saying that that answer that she gave you is not different from what she is saying now. What do you make of what happened here?

WALLACE: In terms of NBC, I think it was just a terrible mistake. I understand the idea that you want to find somebody to reflect Trump's policies, Trumpism, if you will, because he's one of the two candidates, it certainly seems, it's going to be running for the presidency, one of the two main candidates. There are going to be some third party candidates. And you want to be able to reflect where he stands on foreign policy, where he stands about Ukraine, all of these other things, that's fair.

But to hire somebody for supposedly $300,000 a year, who's going to be not only an election denier, which she was after the 2020 election, but somebody who worked and was calling people in Michigan, trying to get them not to certify the vote. So, she was an election denying enabler. To me, that's a bridge too far.

If you believe in something as fundamental as the peaceful transfer of power and that we believe in elections and the winner wins and the loser concedes and goes home, to hire somebody to talk about Trumpism and supposedly give an insight into that, but someone who actually was an enabler of Trump's effort to overturn the election, I can certainly understand why our colleagues at NBC found that unacceptable. And, frankly, I thought it was pretty dumb of the executives at NBC to think they were going to get away with it.

COATES: You know, interestingly enough, you've called her an enabler, but she might be called a witness in some of these trials, as well, for the conduct you're talking about that's being alleged.

You know, CNN is also reporting today that former President Obama has told associates that this election, he's not calling it kind of an all-hands-on-deck sort of moment, because he thinks that Biden's rematch with Donald Trump is going to be very close, and the polls seem to support that as well. They seem to be jockeying for position.

But part of that all-hands-on-deck moment, you've got tomorrow night Biden having a huge fundraiser with Obama and former President Clinton as well. How do you think having Obama on the trail will impact Biden's campaign?

WALLACE: Yes. I mean, just to make it clear, this is one of the biggest fundraisers ever. It's at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Tickets are going for up to $50,000, and you're going to have the current president and two of his predecessors all on the trail.

Look, Obama is certainly very popular himself, and I would think particularly with some of the voting groups, like younger voters, especially younger voters of color, black and Latino, who seem to be slipping away, according to the polls, from Biden. So, obviously, the theory is pretty obvious. You hope that he can get them excited or at least get them to the polls to vote for Biden.

But an interesting thing about Barack Obama's career, he was an enormously popular politician and won two very convincing election victories. He was not particularly good at transferring his personal popularity to other people.

So, you know, I think there are real limits to how much he's going to be able to do to energize some of those voting blocs that Biden needs to shore up.


You know, I just think that's not transferable, that kind of personal popularity.

COATES: All right. Well, Chris, stand by for a second, because you just spoke with Larry Davis -- David -- oh my God -- Larry David, who went off about Trump and this election. Don't miss this interview.

Plus, I'll speak live with a lifelong Texas Republican who says he's leaving the party. Why he says he's had enough, next.


COATES: I'm back now with Chris Wallace. Chris, I have to tell you, I am very jealous because I'm a huge, huge fan of this next person because you just talked to Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David about the election.


Let's listen.


WALLACE: So, how much has the whole 2020 election and everything that has flowed from it pissed you off.

LARRY DAVID, COMEDIAN, WRITER, AUTHOR, PRODUCER: I mean, you can't go a day without thinking about what he's done to this country because he's such a little baby, that he's thrown 250 years of democracy out the window by not accepting the results of -- I mean, it's so crazy. He's such a sociopath. He's so insane. He just couldn't admit to losing.

And we know he lost. He knows he lost. And look how he's fooled everybody. He's convinced all these people that he didn't lose. It's -- he's such a sick man. He's so sick. Anyway, no, it hasn't impacted me at all.


COATES: That's exactly how I envision these conversations going. What else did you discuss when it came to politics?

WALLACE: Well, you know, the reason we did is because this is his last season, not the series finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm", not the season finale, but the series finale. And in one of the early episodes, and it's been on for a while, and incidentally, my interview with him is also going to be on Max, drops on Friday. And frankly, I think that may be the best interview I've done in these two and a half years. Not because of me, but because Larry was so great in this.

In one of the early episodes of this final season, he's down in Atlanta and there's a woman who's a friend of his and she's on line to vote. And, you know, he's talking to her and he gets -- he gets -- just goes out. She says, I'm so exhausted and so thirsty. And he goes and he gets a bottle of water and he gives it to her and he's arrested. And you know, realize this is going on because it seems so organic and natural.

You realize, oh, so this was his way of responding to that Georgia election law that you're not allowed to provide food or water to somebody who's waiting on line to vote, which, when you think of it and when you see it in the context of the series, you realize how just insanely nonsensical it is. In any case, so, that got us talking about politics. And let me say, it did not take a lot of prompting to get Larry David to go off on Donald Trump. He really doesn't like him.

COATES: I mean, I want to know if you asked him about the fact that you've got RFK, Jr. who is in the race. And of course, his wife in real life was Larry David's ex-wife in the "Curb Your Enthusiasm". Did it come up at all? I don't want to spoil anything, did it?

WALLACE: No, I thought about it, frankly.


WALLACE: But, you know, I don't know.

COATES: Awkward. It's awkward.

WALLACE: We talked for half an hour. We talked about politics. We talked about Larry David. At one point I say to him, Larry, how can you live with yourself? And he basically says that he doesn't understand and how desperately he wishes that he was someone else.

COATES: I cannot wait to see this interview with Larry David. It's on "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace?" It is going to drop on Max on Friday. I'm very jealous. Next time, I'm just going to have to follow you everywhere you go. Chris Wallace, thank you so much.

WALLACE: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Notice he didn't say I couldn't follow him around. Just saying. Now, listen, as we talk about this election and how the GOP is no doubt, well, Trump's party, there are many Republicans who aren't willing to accept that particular notion. And my next guest, he's one of those people.

A businessman who goes by Texas Trey, a lifelong Republican who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 while he is leaving the party to become an independent in a red state. And he's getting attention for his decision and speaking out for candidates that he believes in. Trey joins me now. Trey, nice to talk to you. How are you doing?

TEXAS TREY, FORMER REPUBLICAN VOTER: Hey, I'm great, Laura. Thank you very much for having me. It's great to be here.

COATES: Well, you know, you voted the Republican ticket most of your life, usually a straight party ticket. Now, you've said that you had it with both parties. What changed so much for you?

TREY: Well, politics was something that, for the majority of my life just didn't permeate every aspect of it like it does now. I mean, it's just injected into everything that we do. So, you know, I remember when Republicans and Democrats, the biggest thing they used to argue about was the budget.

And now it's, you know, from the beer you drink to the stores that you shop at and so forth. And it all has political implications. So coming up through that, through life and voting straight ticket Republican was something I did more or less out of, you know, I thought it was my patriotic duty, if anything else. And coming into 2016, when Donald Trump was running, my vote for Trump wasn't so much a vote in support of him as it was a vote against Hillary, if you will.


She didn't have anything to offer that necessarily appealed to me. I felt the election was hers to lose. And the whole thing seemed to be at least pretty much sewn up as far as everybody thought, including her. And I was very shocked to learn the next day that he had actually won when I really didn't think that he would.

COATES: In retrospect, what do you -- what do you --

TREY: The issues, suffice to say, were things I just never really paid attention to.

COATES: I want to hear what you had to say about that. But now I'm curious about the -- have you had an evolution of thought as it relates to Hillary Clinton now in the wake of all of this?

TREY: Yes, yes, absolutely. And -- she was absolutely right. She was absolutely right about everything that she said, although I didn't necessarily pay too much attention to the things that she said. Going back, hindsight's very clear, very clear.

COATES: Well, you were getting ready to talk about some of the concerns you have, and I want to get right into those because you've expressed your frustrations, your annoyances, shall we say, around what's been going on in the presidential run and administration for Donald Trump, as well, at one point. Does that translate and extend to, I wonder, Congress, as well? Because frankly, we're seeing a lot of dysfunction on Capitol Hill.

TREY: Oh, it's extreme. You know, it's absolutely beyond frustrating. The activities and the things that they engage in, the partisan politics, it's all for show. And nothing of substance actually, nothing to benefit the American people actually takes place there. It was interesting to note for me how both sides seem to come together fairly quickly on what is often referred to as the TikTok ban bill. They didn't seem to have a problem getting any legislation through about that. But as far as the real issues that Americans are faced with, immigration reform, health care reform, gun violence, all of these things, that just goes totally ignored.

COATES: You know, you hear about the concept of choosing one's battles, but that seems to be quite the disconnect for you and many voters in terms of the battles that are prioritized in a lot of spaces. You're actually now ringing the alarm, though, and you're talking about this election.

It's about, what, 220-something days away at this point. You're talking about it as being a kind of watershed moment for this country. Why do you think this election, compared to, say, 2020 or 2016, will be so different?

TREY: Well, I think quite plainly they have told us what they're going to do. They have laid it out very clearly for us. Really, this election is a referendum on freedom and democracy at this point. A lot of people say, you know, a republic. Well, yes, but we have democratic processes and principles that underpin that republic.

And to me, it really boils down to this. We can vote for a man who, by voting for him, those principles and processes will survive, and we will live to fight another day in terms of being able to work through our issues. And a vote for Trump is to run the risk of losing all of that, to run the risk of, well, the man said it himself, he wanted to be a dictator on day one. I don't know of many dictators that are willing to give up authority once it's granted to them.

COATES: You know, I wonder, you're now going to be an independent in a red state. And I often wonder, at one time, independence as a collective body, and I'm generalizing, was that you didn't relate to everything that a particular party spoke about. And it was sort of the, not necessarily a middle ground, but you wanted to make sure you could be convinced by both sides.

Now, independent voters are increasingly more rejecting both parties and also having and maintaining their own lane. Are you identifying as independent out of rejection or because it's more of a moderate position?

TREY: I identify as independent voter because I don't fit neatly into a particular ideological box. I have different thoughts and opinions on different issues. Some of them would be right of center, some of them would be left of center.

For example, I believe in support, you know, the Second Amendment of the United States. Although I do believe that there are certain classifications of weapons that we should not be allowed to have. I believe in the right of people to love and marry whomever they choose to love. I believe in bodily autonomy for women.

So, there's just a number of things, I think, you know, when I look at the issues and I consider them one by one in my thoughts and my beliefs, I just don't fit with necessarily one side of the other. And I think there are a lot of Americans out there like that.

COATES: It's interesting to think about. I think increasingly so, many people are identifying the way you're describing. I have to ask you about this, though, because Trump revealed just this week that he is selling God Bless the USA Bibles for about 60 bucks. I wonder what you make of this money-making venture. I think it's licensing his name.

TREY: No, it's just another grift. I can only imagine what's in this Patriot Bible of his. I mean, the Constitution, I'm sure, is probably in there. I mean, Jesus wrote it after the Sermon on the Mount, right? I mean, give me a break. It's just ridiculous.


COATES: That made me laugh. Thank you so much, Texas Trey. Thanks for joining me tonight.

TREY: You bet. Thank you.

COATES: Well, up next, the FBI is now investigating some very serious threats. Racial threats made against the University of Utah's women's basketball team. This, at a time when white supremacist threats are on the rise. I'll talk about it. Plus, sad and shocking news tonight. You know, the former senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman has died. What we know and what he meant for civility in politics. Perhaps a lost art.



COATES: I will never forget the sound that I heard. That's how one university official described what she and other college players endured during a disturbing racist attack that is now under investigation by the FBI. Members of Utah's women's basketball team were headed to dinner in Idaho when a truck carrying a Confederate flag drove past them, shouting racial slurs.

But that's not all. As the team left that restaurant, the same driver returned, this time with others in tow. They were revving their engines. They were spewing racist threats at the players, including the N-word. The team was so fearful for their safety, they actually had to change their hotels. The team was staying in northern Idaho because of limited hotel space in Spokane, Washington, where they were set to play in the NCAA Women's Tournament.

With me now to discuss this is Michael Eric Dyson. He is a renowned professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. He's also the author of "Entertaining Race, Performing Blackness in America", and frankly, many others. Michael, I want to start here with the big picture because this can't be looked at in a vacuum, frankly.


COATES: I mean, there's a study that was published this week by the ADL that says that white supremacist propaganda incidents have hit a record high in the United States, actually up by double digits. So, what they experience in that moment, many might say, oh, that's a distant past. It is now.

DYSON: It's going on right now. And it's the manifestation of broader themes that have been adapted in the country. You know, one of the coaches said, this is a college campus. There's so much diversity. We are living through the assault upon DEI and other forms of diversity, right? The rejection of affirmative action, the rejection of DEI. This is a country that is allergic to the diversity, the complexity, the nuance that makes America at its best a nation to be idolized, or at least to be looked at with some respect.

And so when you see the white supremacist, the resurgent white nationalism, the white Christian nationalism, these are all part of a theme connected to a particular ideological strand that is really hurting the nation at its best in terms of democracy. So, what these young women endured, unfortunately and tragically, is not an exception, not a passing fad. It's deeply entrenched in the American culture.

COATES: You know, these are, you forget sometimes, we're talking about children. They were children yesterday, and they still are today.

DYSON: That's right.

COATES: They're going to school. They're having to thrive. They're expected to thrive, expected to win.

DYSON: Right.

COATES: And you go to these games, and many might think, well, the pressure is on. And they might say, okay, we'll show them. But now there's also a fear. What if you win?

DYSON: That's right.

COATES: What if you are harmed and someone retaliates against you? What if this is all on your mind? And you mentioned DEI. This is why I think it's so fascinating, because there were a number of people in that locality who condemned what happened, including Idaho's governor.

Now, I want to read to you a part of an op-ed published by the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board, because they pointed this out, "The actions of some of Idaho's Republican leaders send a different message, because on Monday, Governor Little posted a photo of himself holding up a proclamation ending diversity statements in Idaho. Is Idaho sending the message loud and clear enough that these white supremacists and Christian nationalists have no place in Idaho? Or are we sending the message that Idaho is exactly where they belong?"

DYSON: Yeah, that's a real question, and good for the statesman to say that, because people try to say, well, this is disparate. This is discreet. This is over there. This is a different sphere. But they're all interconnected.

So, they have the ability to deny on the one hand that they participate in such nefarious beliefs. But on the other hand, they're reinforcing the very value that some of these white supremacists hold. This is our country.

We don't want to hear anything about black history, indigenous history, native history, trans history, gay, lesbians, bisexual. This is a nation that at its best thrives when it brings together the diverse elements that constitute this great democracy.

Those people have a bunker mentality. This is our nation. You are impure. You are out of place. And you don't belong here. So, the governor can't wash the hands of democracy or that local administration from the very things that are going on. I'm not blaming them directly, but there is a kind of interconnection that has to be acknowledged.

COATES: By the way, the school was calling out the NCAA for assigning this team to be in that location, because of the timing of when they were alerted of where they were going to be. The space was sparse. And by the way, you need to add that they not only felt emboldened to say it, they thought that it was was consequence-free in doing so about who belongs and who does not, which really for me is a bit of a segue into, you know, who is entitled to be in what spaces and occupy. Because I'm sure you saw that today as everyone's buzzing about Cowboy Carter --

DYSON: Cowboy Carter.

COATES: -- is coming up, talking about Beyonce, Knowles.

DYSON: Cowboy Carter.

COATES: Here it came out, March 29th.

DYSON: Jolene.

COATES: Jolene. I know Jolene.


I saw Willie Nelson.

DYSON: Dolly --

COATES: I saw it all. I'm so excited. I'm going to have to do a little karaoke, probably with you in Nashville at some point.

DYSON: Let's do it. Let's do it.

COATES: But you know, she has been vocal about how she did not feel welcomed at one point.

DYSON: Right.

COATES: I think it was the CMAs and one of her performances. And the idea that people think that somehow artists can only occupy but one space.

DYSON: Right. Right.

COATES: And the genre is becoming more fluid across the board.

DYON: Right.

COATES: What do you think the message she's trying to send in this particular album might be other than, look, it's music.

DYSON: It is music. And she said, this is not a country music. This is not a country album. This is a Beyonce album, which means, you know, she's like Walt Whitman. You know, she is a great artist who's able to absorb many genres. She can do techno. She can do R and B. She can do pop. She can do soul. And here she is now doing country.

She grew up in Houston, Texas. I don't know if you all know this, but they got a lot of country going on in Houston with the cowboy boots and the cowboy hats. And she's not just, as they say, all hat, no cattle. She's got a lot of cattle behind her.

And look, most of the CMA, I think, supports her. I talked to Mia McNeil, who runs DEI, a black woman, for the Country Music Association. And she talks about the tremendous support that she has. A few knuckleheads out here trying to say, oh, no, she doesn't belong. Beyonce is proving she belongs wherever her talent can carry her.

And I think that twang and that Southern accent that people in the past tried to demonize her for is really one of the greatest certifications and validations of her organic relationship to a music that had black interest. I mean, the banjo invented in the Caribbean and in North America with an ear toward Africa.

So, the antecedents that existed there, we invented the very banjo that is central. It ain't Roy Clark, it ain't Buck Owens, and I love them both. That's African-inspired music. So, Beyonce is reuniting an audience that has been divorced from, alienated from, its own roots. And it would be interesting to see how others who are already doing it, Warren Schreedy, who are out here, doing Rihanna Giddens.

I mean, all of the people who are doing tremendous, Recy Palmer, all of these great black artists who are already doing what Beyonce is doing. She's both paving a path, pioneering a path, but opening the door to see many other artists who are doing incredible music.

COATES: And you know, it strikes me that she is hoping to do that which I think everyone strives to be, and that is not reduced to a category.

DYSON: That's it. I mean, she's beyond that. I mean, Beyonce is category-less in that sense, because if it's good music, I like it. If it's great, I like it. I'm attracted to it. She can do rock, she can do pop, she can do jazz, she can do R and B.

She's a great artist. She has a great ear. She understands what the culture wants, but she also understands what her artistic vision is. So, in that sense, she is the perfect person at this particular moment. Having felt in the past a kind of snub, she's reintroducing people to the fact that this is music that has animated us.

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. My dad is from Georgia, mama from Alabama. We heard Hank Williams. Hey, good-looking, what you got cooking? How's about cooking something up with me? I mean, we listened to that. That was real stuff that was not foreign to me, along with Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. So, have at it, Beyonce. Thank you for doing what you're doing.

COATES: Man, this ain't Texas, ain't no Hold 'Em, but this is Michael Eric Dyson. Thank you so much. Author of "Entertaining Race, Performing Blackness in America". I'm going to take your course, because I want to understand what "16 Carriages" is really about.

DYSON: Let's do it. We can deconstruct that, because we do that. I do Beyonce course. I know.

COATES: I know. That's what I'm saying. I want the whole thing. I think I have my own mind on it, but you tell me.

DYSON: All right.

COATES: Thank you so much.

DYSON: Thank you for having me.

COATES: You know, there is some very sad news tonight. The former senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman has died. This, after complications from a fall. He was 82 years old. In a town like Washington, D.C., known more for division than certainly compromise, Lieberman spent a career pushing for civility across those party lines.

In 1989, he joined the Senate as a conservative Democrat. A decade later, he ran alongside Al Gore, becoming the first and only Jewish candidate on a major presidential ticket. Six years later, he lost the Democratic primary for his Senate seat in Connecticut, but he ran as an independent and he won.

He championed liberal issues like abortion rights, the environment, gay rights, and gun control. Lieberman, however, was known to stray from the party line. He supported the Iraq War. He opposed key parts of the Affordable Care Act.


JOE LIEBERMAN, FORMER SENATOR AND VP CANDIDATE: I have never shied from a good fight, and I never will.


COATES: He famously backed Obama's opponent back in 2008, the late Senator John McCain, almost landing himself another VP nod, but this time on the Republican side. You know, McCain would later say it was a mistake choosing Sarah Palin over Lieberman.


Along with Senator Lindsey Graham, Lieberman and McCain were known as the three amigos. Well, today, Senator Graham joked, quote, "The good news, he's in the hands of the loving God. The bad news, John McCain is giving him an earful about how screwed up things are. Rest in peace, my dear friend, from the Last Amigo."

And just in, Al Gore remembering his running mate as someone who put his country and the values of equality and fairness first, while revealing Lieberman's favorite song.