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Whistleblower: Facebook Encourages Hate, Anger for Profit; Brady Leads Bucs to Victory Over Patriots; Power Players in Congress Control Fate of Biden's Agenda; The Swift Rise of the Trump Lawyer Who Penned the Coup Memo. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 04, 2021 - 06:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.


On this NEW DAY, a market of malice. A Facebook whistleblower says the company knowingly pumped its users full of hate and anger to make a profit and is lying about it.

Plus, election integrity on the line as a Trump-backed candidate running for governor in a state where Joe Biden won said she would not have certified the election results.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Is the U.S. turning a corner in the pandemic? The hopeful new signs that could mean the beginning of the end.

And the crazy finish to the most hyped October football game in history. How Tom Brady's face saved everything.

KEILAR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Monday, October 4.

In a nation infected by misinformation, a whistleblower comes forward to say that Facebook is largely to blame. And the social media company is lying to Americans about its efforts, or lack thereof, to stop the spread of incorrect and even violent information.

BERMAN: In an explosive interview on "60 Minutes," Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, released tens of thousands of pages of documents she says proves the company allowed the spread of content designed to push hate, anger, and misinformation, and did it to make a profit.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: One of the consequences of how Facebook is picking out that content today is it is optimizing for content that gets engagement or reaction. But its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it's easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions.

Facebook has realized that, if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site. They'll click on less ads. They'll make less money.


BERMAN: Haugen also accuses Facebook and decisions that helped fuel the Capitol insurrection.


HAUGEN: They told us we're dissolving Civic Integrity. Like, they basically said, Oh, good, we made it through the election. There wasn't riots. We can get rid of Civic Integrity now.

Fast forward a couple months, we got insurrection. And when they got rid of Civic Integrity, it was the moment where I was, like, I don't trust that they're willing to actually invest what needs to be invested to keep Facebook from being dangerous.

As soon as the election was over, they turned them back off. Or they changed the settings back to what they were before, to prioritize growth over safety. And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.


KEILAR: Joining us now to talk more about this is CNN correspondent Donie O'Sullivan.

She is taking there about changing the settings. That is the algorithm, right? She's saying that Facebook dissolved the unit, Civic Integrity, that was designed to try to combat this assault on democracy, even though the threat wasn't gone. And that the algorithm, this boogeyman, really is a boogeyman.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And Brianna, I think it's important, while it's so relatable, unfortunately, I think about this whistleblower, is her reason that she said for coming forward, which is that she lost somebody who was close to her to a rabbit hole of online misinformation. That's a story we hear play out again and again and again in households across the United States: families who have loved ones who are going down these rabbit holes, leading them to not have faith in American democracy, leading them to not get the vaccine.

But essentially, what she is saying there is sort of what folks, what experts have been saying for a long time about, fundamentally, the Facebook algorithm is designed to keep people on the platform longer so Facebook can make more money. And the best way to do that is to feed them the sort of junk, the extreme content that will keep them there.

KEILAR: Because that is what's good for Facebook's bottom line, even if it's bad for America or the world, as she puts it. She's painting this picture where a safety mechanism put in place ahead of the election was really just a performative thing. Right? Maybe to placate critics that said Facebook wasn't doing enough.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. And I think this is -- She's appearing before the Senate tomorrow to testify here in Washington. And I think this really might be something that senators really might dig into.

What happened at Facebook in those fateful weeks between -- fateful weeks between the election and the insurrection? For as bad as Facebook is for all the misinformation that was on the platform leading up to the election, we heard a lot about these safety mechanisms that were in place to try to downplay some of this more extreme content.

But then we saw in the weeks between the insurrection -- between the election and the insurrection, the Stop the Steal movement exploded entirely on Facebook. I mean, I remember in the days immediately after the election, there was a Stop the Steal Facebook group that I was refreshing it, and I was getting hundreds of thousands of new members every few minutes.

Facebook eventually did shut that down but not until, I think, it had more than 100,000 followers. So what did Facebook -- what were Facebook that led up to the election that they stopped doing in the lead-up to the insurrection is a key question that we don't have the answer for yet.

KEILAR: I do want to bring in Mara Schiavocampo to the conversation. She is a journalist and host of the podcast "Run Tell This."

Mara, Facebook has put out a statement. I do want to read this, to be clear. It says, "Every day our teams have to balance protecting the ability of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place. We continue to make significant improvements to tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true."


Now, this whistleblower pointed out some internal research, still, just to contrast with that statement from Facebook. This said, "In a 2021 study, Facebook actioned as little as 3 percent to 5 percent of hate language and 0.6 of one percentage point of violence and incitement language."

What do you think about how Facebook is responding here?

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO, JOURNALIST/PODCAST HOST: Yes, so they have by and large, responded with the same kind of "aw shucks" earnestness, right? Publicly apologizing and vowing to do better.

But what we heard last night really flies in the face of that. Because what Hague [SIC] said is Facebook is not only keenly aware of the scope of the problem because of their internal research, some of which you just cited, but they also are actively and knowingly contributing to the problem.

And one of the most striking points of what they mentioned yesterday in terms of how the algorithm is changing things, is the "60 Minutes" report, pointing out that political parties in Europe have actually had to change their policy positions to be more extreme so that the messaging can cut through and make some traction on Facebook.

So the idea that they are doing everything that they can is contradicted by what we heard last night.

Another telling thing that she mentioned is that they actually didn't use tools that they have to identify misinformation, because they didn't have the resources to actually follow up on it.

So we're talking about a trillion-dollar company, who according to Hague [SIC], is not staffing up appropriately to meet this challenge.

And just to talk about the scope of this challenge, according to Facebook, they put warnings on 190 million pieces of COVID information. According to their own research, that would account for just 4 percent of the total COVID misinformation. This is a massive problem.

KEILAR: Yes. They don't have their hands around it. That's what's very clear from some of this internal research.

She is going to testify before Congress tomorrow, Mara. And I wonder, in -- these revelations are pretty stunning. But in a nation, in a world that is addicted to its social media, what impact do you think this is going to have?

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Yes. This is an issue, really, of enforcement. Are legislators going to do something to enforce the -- the restrictions that are already in place? Because there are already restrictions in place against misinformation. They're just not being enforced.

But the problem with these algorithms, this is one of the most dangerous things across all social media platforms that we're facing. Because people, by and large, believe when they're looking through their feed, they're looking out of a window, and they're seeing an accurate representation of the world, when in reality, they're looking in a mirror, and they're seeing their own thoughts reflected back at them, and validated, and confirmed. And that is the core of the polarization that we're seeing right now.

So something needs to be done.

KEILAR: Yes. We're going to see if they can figure it out. So far it seems that Congress has not been able to do so.

Mara, Donie, thank you so much.


BERMAN: So it was probably the most anticipated regular season game in football history. Let's just call it world history.

Tom Brady returns to New England for the time since leaving for Tampa Bay. The game ended, essentially, 90 minutes ago. And it all came down to this.

A missed field goal by the New England Patriots. The Bucs won 19-17. Joining me now is Dale Arnold. He's a former Boston spokes radio talk

show host and a Boston Bruins analyst with New England Sports Network and a voice that has brought me joy for decades.

Dale, you were at the game last night. Which means you couldn't have possibly slept. Because I didn't. I just watched it on TV. So what was it like to be there?

DALE ARNOLD, FORMER BOSTON SPORTS RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, I'm a big fan of Brianna Keilar. But the only reason I got up at 5 a.m. after a wet night and late night at Gillette was to talk Brady and Belichick with Berman. That was it.

BERMAN: That's great. What's better than that? So what was it like being in the stadium?

ARNOLD: I thought the fans handled themselves perfectly. Brady was a very late arrival onto the field from his normal procedure. He got a very nice round of applause when he came out for a warmup.

Just prior to the Buccaneers coming onto the field, the Patriots put together a beautiful little tribute video. It was actually both for Brady and Gronk. They didn't know when they put it together Gronk wouldn't be there.

And it coincided with Tampa Bay's coming onto the field as a team. Got a rousing standing ovation from the fans.

And then when the Buccaneers came onto the field for offense for the very first time, they booed the crap out of them. They weren't booing Brady. They were booing the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. I thought the fans handled themselves perfectly all night long.

BERMAN: You know, it's funny, because as the fan who was watching the game on TV, people have been saying, Oh, you're going to be so conflicted watching this game. I wasn't conflicted. It was really nice to see Tom Brady back. But once they started playing, I wanted the Patriots to win. And that's what it felt like watching the game from Foxborough.

ARNOLD: And it was funny, because I think the fans also sort of embraced Mac Jones to their collective bosoms. Because they were trying to tell the new kid, you're our guy now. He's the old guy. You know, he's the prom date who we just saw at the high school reunion. But we don't care about her anymore, because I'm married to you now. And it was -- it was obvious that they were also trying to let Mac know what they thought about him.

BERMAN: Yes. You know, if you're going to use the prom date analogy, thought, you've been to 14 proms with the other person already, and they were all the best proms ever. So you know, you don't hold any resentment, I think, at the end of the day.

It was a good game. Right? I mean, Brady played well. He didn't play -- he wasn't transcendent. And the Patriots played well, better than they had been. ARNOLD: Yes. It wasn't football art in that regard. It was a crummy

night at the stadium. You could probably pick that up on television.

Belichick and his defensive staff, I thought, did a very good with their defensive game plan, keeping Tom a bit off-stride all night long. Didn't have a touchdown pass. His quarterback rating was 70. They did a really good job for him.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, they couldn't run the football a lick. They ran for minus one yard, lowest in franchise history. So it was all on the shoulders of Mac Jones. He did everything he could do.

If I'm a Patriots fan, I come out of last night's game feeling somewhat positive about the future, even though I'm disappointed as I sit here now at 1-3.

BERMAN: Part of the reason you're disappointed is because you only slept about 60 minutes over the course of the night. You know, so much of the hype --

ARNOLD: Maybe.

BERMAN: So much of the hype was about Brady and Belichick back together again for the first time. You know, how would they handle it? Well, I was reading when I woke up this morning this tweet from Jeff Darlington at ESPN that said "Belichick has been in the Bucs' locker room for 20 minutes talking in a private area with Tom Brady. Belichick entered on his own without anyone else around him."

That's very un-Belichickian. I mean, that's not what Darth Vader does.

ARNOLD: It's un-Belichickian from the outside. From the inside, it's not. Players within the organization will tell you that he has always cared about them, that he has always acted differently behind closed doors and behind those four walls than he does in public.

I wasn't a big surprised that Belichick sought out Brady after the game. I wasn't a bit surprised that they had apparently a 20- to 25- minute conversation, which both sides will keep private.

I think that the -- the animosity between the two sides has been overstated over the years. Over the course of a 20-year relationship, there will be times where maybe the two sides don't get along. There are ups and downs.

But for the most part, they certainly respect each other. They certainly understand what each has meant to the other's careers. And, yes, I actually think they like each other.

BERMAN: Dale Arnold, next order of business, beating the Yankees on Tuesday. Thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate you waking up, my friend.

ARNOLD: Thanks, John. Good to talk to you again.

BERMAN: All right. California officials warning about a potential environmental catastrophe as they race to contain a huge oil spill. The latest details coming up.

KEILAR: Plus, Democrats running out of time to save President Biden's agenda. Can progressives and centrists come together?

New violence between the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan. We have Clarissa Ward, live from Kabul.



KEILAR: This morning negotiations continue over the fate of two massive bills that address infrastructure, as well as social safety, the climate crisis, that could cement or sink President Biden's legacy. It will also have a huge impact on who controls Congress after next year's midterm election.

Let's talk now about the key players who will make or break the Biden agenda with CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.

OK. Who are you watching?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the obvious person, above everyone else, is Kyrsten Sinema, the senator from Arizona, because she is idiosyncratic. Nobody knows exactly what she wants in the legislation, hence the "Saturday Night Live" sketch over the weekend.

Joe Manchin, of course, also, is somebody who has been holding out for a smaller package. He's a more conventional politician that you can figure, you dial something back, you dial something up, and you can make a deal with him.

Bernie Sanders, the senator -- Democratic socialist senator from Vermont, is somebody who can sell the eventual deal that they cut with those senators to the rest of the caucus and keep people on board.

And of course, Nancy Pelosi running the House as the speaker, has got a terrific track record of counting votes. She has not been able to get there yet. And I think few people want to bet against her ability, ultimately, to make a deal with the bridging the gap between moderates and progressives.

But it's going to take a while, a few weeks. It looks like we're on a track for the end of October, which is when the temporary extension of the highway program runs out.

KEILAR: Pelosi is also figuring out how to cut a deal that will make senators happy, right? So that's part of the issue here, as well.

HARWOOD: Which is where Sanders, again, will come in to try to sell that as she makes a deal with the moderates.

KEILAR: Yes. So many moving parts.

I do want to talk to you about something that we're seeing. It's a little bit of a trend when it comes to sporting events. The latest was at a NASCAR race. Let's watch.


BRANDON BROWN, WINNER, NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: This is such an unbelievable moment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brandon, you also told me --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- you can hear the chants from the -- the crowd.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Let's go, Brandon."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You told me you were going to hang back those --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- first stages and just watch and learn. What --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- did you learn that helped you there in those closing laps?


KEILAR: They're not saying, "Go Brandon."

HARWOOD: It was not "Let's go, Brandon."

KEILAR: "Let's go, Brandon." There was a bleeped-out thing, and it was about Joe Biden. And we've seen this at a college football game. We've seen this at the Ryder Cup. We've seen this at a boxing match. What does this signify to you?


HARWOOD: Well, look, we've got a very polarized country. Tremendous differences of political opinion. COVID has exacerbated that.

You look at the vaccination rates in red states versus blue states, the rates of hospitalizations and deaths. If people feel so strongly that that they're willing to defy public health experts because of their political views, it's not surprising that a sporting event, especially a racecar track, which is where you've got a pretty conservative clientele. It's not surprising that they would razz Joe Biden.

You know, this has happened for a long time. Politicians of both parties getting booed by certain people in the crowd. But there's -- there's an intensity to our divisions now, which is

something we haven't seen in a while. The question is how long is that intensity going to last? Is anything that's going to tamp it down?

Joe Biden thought he was going to be able to tamp it down by his -- his personal moderation, by his outreach. He's not trying to inflame divisions. But there are some things you can't do too much about.

KEILAR: Yes. That is for sure. John Harwood, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

Coming up, some brand-new details about who was behind President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

BERMAN: Plus, Trump is already trash -talking a potential 2024 opponent. His new comments about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, next.



BERMAN: From an obscure legal academic to Trump's enabler in chief, John Eastman experienced a swift and sudden rise to become one of the most influential voices in Trump's orbit just prior to the insurrection.

Joining us now is Maggie Haberman, CNN political analyst and Washington correspondent for "The New York Times" who had a terrific article out over the weekend with Michel Schmidt on John Eastman, a lawyer that Trump found on FOX News.


BERMAN: Once he found him, though, and brought him into the orbit, talk to me about the timeline around the memo he wrote, the literal blueprint for overthrowing an election.

HABERMAN: So, it's fascinating when Eastman says that he was asked by Trump to write this memo. Because it was around Christmas last year.

Now, that is after the election has already been -- the electors are going for Joe Biden, and we know this. That's the December 14 date. On December 18, there's this wild meeting in the Oval Office that I broke at the time about Sidney Powell and Mike Flynn are there with the CEO of Overstock, arguing that, you know, Trump can actually seize the voting machines and rerun the election. He doesn't go with that. A number of his advisers were arguing against it. It was a very emotional meeting.

But so several days later, Trump, according to Eastman, reaches out to Eastman and says, Please give me this, you know, plan for how you do this.

Now, Trump doesn't typically ask for memos that way. So I'm a little skeptical that the conversation went quite that way. But he does produce this piece of paper, and that became the basis for what Trump was using to push Pence to not certify the election for Joe Biden and to certify it for Trump.

The thing about the memo is the original plan was this required alternate slates of electors from these states. No state put such an alternate slate forward. So then, suddenly the conversation a couple of days beforehand and in a meeting on January 4 with Eastman and Trump, and Pence, and Pence's counsel and chief of staff, suddenly becomes, Well, can you delay it? So that was clearly the backup plan.

BERMAN: The other interesting thing from your article that jumped out at me was the man who wrote a blueprint for how to overthrow an election is still very much involved with the political future of Donald J. Trump.

HABERMAN: He is still talking to him. I mean, I think that he's one of these people who are still in his orbit. I think he would like to be more involved, candidly, than he actually is. Because right now, you have Trump with a wide array of legal matters before him. Eastman is not in the inner, inner circle. Trump's inner, inner circle is diffuse right now. But he certainly has not been banished like somebody, say, Sidney Powell is.

BERMAN: I want to to ask you about something the former president said about Ron DeSantis. Because he's been -- I don't know -- a little circumspect when asked directly about possible 2024 opponents.

But listen to what he told Yahoo! News in an interview over the weekend, Yahoo! Finance. "If I faced him" -- Ron DeSantis -- "I'd beat him like I would beat everybody else. I don't think I would face him. I think most people would drop out. I think he would drop out."

HABERMAN: It's fascinating to me that he addressed it this way for a variety of reasons. But one, as you say, is he's been pretty careful about what he said, not just about the other candidates but about DeSantis. He has generally been sort of -- not gingerly, but he's barely gone there.

This is sounding like somebody who is heeding what some of his own advisers are saying, what Trump's advisors are saying, which is DeSantis may run against you, even if you decide to run. And there is this open question of does Trump run, No. 1? And then, if he does, does anyone else challenge him?

And so he is clearly laying down a marker with DeSantis here.

BERMAN: I wonder how long DeSantis would respond?

HABERMAN: I -- my guess is the reality is DeSantis would not challenge Trump, but I doubt that he likes being boxed in this way.

BERMAN: So the former president's not on Twitter. A, because Twitter has banned him.

HABERMAN: He's not.

BERMAN: Twitter has banned him. And in interviews and in discussions, the former president likes to say, oh, he doesn't miss Twitter at all. He likes the free time.

Nevertheless, he's asking a federal judge to allow -- force Twitter to get him back on.

HABERMAN: Right. Typically, people who are actually enjoying their respite from social media don't sue to get back on social media. So that's one corner of it, which is it's hard to believe what he's saying about how happy he is with his new statement, you know, plan, where he blasts these statements out several times a day.

It raises an interesting question, because Twitter banned him, we know, after January 6. If he isn't a candidate next time, I'm sure they're going to stick with that. If he is a candidate next time, they're going to come under enormous pressure to put him back on, and how they respond to that is going to be pretty interesting.

BERMAN: That's a Twitter thing more than a Trump thing.

HABERMAN: One hundred percent. But the impact is going to be the same.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about --