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Gruden Resigns after Homophobic, Racist, Misogynistic Emails; Texas Governor Bans Vaccine Mandates, Including Private Businesses; Florida Teachers Quitting Jobs in Record Numbers; Musk Trolls Bezos as He Widens Gap as World's Richest Person. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 06:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Tuesday, October 12. I am Brianna Keilar with John Berman.


And breaking overnight, Jon Gruden stepping down as head coach of the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders hours after "The New York Times" reported on homophobic, misogynistic, and racist remarks that he made in emails over a seven-year period. T

he emails were discovered as part of a workplace misconduct investigation. And in them, Gruden denounces the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting the national anthem.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So Gruden, who won a Super Bowl nearly 20 years ago with the Bucs, was in year four of a ten-year $100 million contract.

Overnight, he put out a statement that didn't explain what he said or apologize explicitly for the homophobic or misogynistic things he wrote. What he did say was, "I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt anybody."

Coy Wire joins us now -- Coy.


This is a bombshell report, coming just days after emails from Gruden dating back to 2011 surfaced that included racist comments about NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith.

One source within the union told me at that time that they were aware of more emails to come. Now this.


WIRE (voice-over): Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigning overnight after "The New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal" reviewed emails from Gruden that used homophobic, misogynistic, and racist language.

Gruden announcing his departure in a statement, writing, "I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone."

EMMANUEL ACHO, SPORTS ANALYST, FORMER NFL LINEBACKER: Jon Gruden was homophobic. He was misogynistic. He was racially insensitive. Jon Gruden needed to resign. It's imperative that he did resign, and I'm glad that he resigned.

WIRE: "The New York Times" reviewed emails from Gruden from 2011 to 2018 while he was an ESPN analyst, where he used a homophobic slur while referring to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"The Times" further reports Gruden, quote, "denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player, and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem."

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (via phone): All of it obviously reaches critical mass very quickly, to the point where either Gruden decided himself that there's no way out of this and has to resign, or he was pressured to resign. This is a pattern of behavior, apparently. There's a lot here. And it can't be rationalized.

WIRE: Last week, a "Wall Street Journal" report revealed an email sent by Gruden in 2011, where he used racist language while referring to the head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, during a contentious lockout over the collective bargaining negotiations. Gruden apologized for the email after the Raiders game on Sunday.

JON GRUDEN, FORMER HEAD COAST, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: All I can say is I'm not a racist. I don't -- I can't tell you how sick I am. I apologize again to -- to D. Smith. But I feel good about who I am and what I've done my entire life. And I apologize for the insensitive remarks. I had no, you know -- I had no racial intentions with those remarks at all. But yes, they can. I'm -- I'm not like that at all. But I apologize.

WIRE: Smith tweeted in response to the news of Gruden's email, "The email from Jon Gruden and some of the reaction to it confirms that the fight against racism, racist tropes, and intolerance is not over. This is not about an email as much as it is about a pervasive belief by some that people who look like me can be treated as less."

RANDY MOSS, HALL OF FAME WIDE RECEIVER: We give guys these big contracts, because they want to be able to lead 70 men, coaches, equipment staff, and managers. So the No. 1 goal is to win a championship. And for us to be moving back and not forward in the 21st Century, like I said, man, National Football League, this hurts me. The clock is ticking, man. I'm sorry.


WIRE: Raiders special teams coordinator Rick Bisaccia will take over as the team's interim head coach. NFL teams usually have Tuesdays off. Brianna, the team's scheduled to play in Denver this Sunday.

The reported details of Gruden's racist, misogynistic, and anti-gay emails are hurtful to many. One of the players he coached, currently on the Raiders roster, is Carl Nassib, the NFL's first active, openly- gay player.

KEILAR: Yes, I'm glad you mentioned that. Coy Wire, thank you.

BERMAN: So Ken Belson joins me now. He is one of the "New York Times" reporters who broke the story about Gruden's emails.

Ken, thanks so much for being with us.

It is notable, or it was notable to me, that the statement that Gruden put out last night, he didn't say, "I'm sorry that I wrote misogynistic, racist, homophobic things." He said, "I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt anybody." What did you take from the words that he put out last night?

KEN BELSON, REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think in the first case, where there was one single email that came out last week, he was able to explain it away and try to rationalize it.


The number of emails that we saw were just too many, to be honest, for him to put out a statement trying to rationalize or rebut everything in them.

And there's a very good chance he knew most of those emails, because the NFL had forwarded them to the Raiders. And I'm sure the Raiders shared them with him.

And it's just the sheer number of them and the variety of them and the topics that he took on. There's no way, in a statement, to go through them all.

I'm not his speechwriter. I don't write his statements. I can't justify his statement, but there were just too many of them to answer.

BERMAN: And as you said, in a way, what he wrote, the pattern of things that he wrote, it goes against everything the NFL is trying to portray and change about itself.

Now, look, 70 percent of the players are black. Gruden coached the first openly-gay player in the NFL, Carl Nassib. You know, he works with women executives in the Raiders office. This has just got to be such a problem for the NFL.

BELSON: Well, take a step back. Thirty to 40 percent of NFL fans are women. Women, and particularly mothers, are influential in the homes, in allowing sons and daughters to play football.

They're trying to attract women to the NFL to broaden the fan base and to improve the, ultimately, the finances of the league and the future of the league.

So this goes against a lot of what the NFL is trying to do from a business perspective, as well. Obviously, this is only one coach, but he's symbolic. He's a powerful coach. He's at a very popular team. This isn't the kind of image the NFL is at all interested in.

BERMAN: You said it's just one coach. This came out, interestingly and oddly, as part of a patterns and practices investigation into the Washington football team, of which Gruden was never associated with. His brother coached there, and his friend was the general manager there.

Are there more emails out there that might implicate other people now in the league in an adverse way?

BELSON: Well, the NFL said that they reviewed 650,000 emails. The Jon Gruden emails were only a small slice of it.

And the only reason he was included in any of them was that he was in communication with Bruce Allen, who was the president of the club. And Bruce Allen used his team email account for all of these exchanges.

So, in some ways, Jon Gruden would not have been implicated in any of this if Bruce Allen had been using, say, a Gmail account or something else.

But sure, I mean, 650,000 emails. There's a good chance there's more out there. Because with that volume of correspondence, there may be other things that will be unearthed.

BERMAN: I don't know if you had a chance to see Randy Moss there in our piece or hear Randy Moss overnight, his reaction to all of this. You know, that's a Hall of Fame wide receiver football player. He was getting really emotional about what this, I think, signifies for the players in this league. What's your sense of how this will impact them?

BELSON: Well, you know, the NFL has tried over and over to step forward, and this is obviously a step back. It is an unvarnished look at how people speak behind doors, how they feel comfortable using -- what language they feel comfortable using.

So, sure, the league has tried hard to address issues like domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying, obviously race relations, on a whole variety of fronts. And -- and this is one of those unvarnished -- I hate to say it -- honest looks at how people in power speak.

BERMAN: You know what's going to happen over the next few days, is this is going to -- this is going to turn into a whole "cancel culture" argument in some places. Jon Gruden canceled for something he said.

But I think as you know here, this isn't just a something he said. There's a lot in here, right, as someone who's gone through all of them.

BELSON: Yes. I can't speak to cancel culture. I mean, the emails are what they are. They're not a single email. They're not a single topic.

And let's face it, you know, he's criticizing the NFL, the commissioner of the NFL, the policies allowing women on the sidelines, for instance; the treatment of players who protest during the national anthem. This goes to the heart of the NFL's policies.

If you or I at a workplace publicly, or not publicly, criticized or undermined the goals of your organization, there'd be questions asked.

And yes, this happened several years ago, but he's now in power again as a coach and a very influential coach. So his credibility of the -- with his players and the credibility of the Raiders organization are going to be called into question repeatedly if he had stayed at his job.

BERMAN: Yes. I mean, imagine being Carl Nassib, showing up for work today or tomorrow with a coach who used blatantly homophobic terms in emails, and having that be exposed. But now he's gone. Still more questions and, I think, revelations, maybe, to come out over the next few days.


Ken Belson, thank you for your reporting. Really appreciate you being with us this morning.

BELSON: Sure. Thanks very much.

BERMAN: So the governor of Texas has banned private companies from enforcing vaccine mandates. Is that even legal? And what about the state's other vaccine requirements, you know, for kids who go to school?

KEILAR: Plus, Florida teachers are quitting their jobs in record numbers. We're going to ask one teacher about what is driving them out of the classroom.

And a Wisconsin mother is suing her school district after her 7-year- old son contracted COVID. Does she have a case?


BERMAN: Developing overnight, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who likes to brag about Texas being a pro-business state, he signed an executive order severely limiting the freedom of businesses to make their own choices. Abbott banned any entity, including private businesses, from enforcing vaccine requirements on workers.


CNN "EARLY START" co-anchor and attorney Laura Jarrett joins us now. Is this even legal? Can he do this?

LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, "EARLY START": So legally, I think this is really suspect and likely to get thrown out. And here's why.

Remember, Abbott already tried this with schools, right? He tried to say that schools cannot mandate the vaccine for at least COVID-19. Other vaccines are fine. But somehow, COVID is different. This is different, because it's going after private businesses, and it

directly conflicts with President Biden's mandate for both federal workers and, remember, businesses that have 100 or more employers -- employees. And I think that's what was animating this, is that American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, they're both headquartered in Texas. And they both instituted vaccine mandates because of the president's order. And now Abbott is saying you can't do that.

Of course, there's the supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution which poses a little problem for the governor. And when federal law and state law conflict, federal law trumps. He's in big trouble.

BERMAN: And of course, as you told me before, there are supreme -- is a major Supreme Court case on the record on allowing vaccine requirements.


BERMAN: So that's out there, too. So what's driving this, then?

JARRETT: I think it's politics. He's playing politics with public health. We've seen him do it with schools.

And -- and also, remember, he has a primary challenge that's going to be really tight here. And we've seen his opponents already trolling him about this. We've seen Allen West, who had COVID himself, saying he doesn't believe in vaccine mandates.

His other primary challenger congratulated him for this order. So that appears to be what's driving it.

But he's playing a really dangerous game. Kids are going to become sick and die because of this. And now he's -- he's extending it to private business owners.

BERMAN: But also, it puts businesses in a bind.

JARRETT: Yes. But -- but it's also pretty rich coming from, as you pointed out in your intro, a conservative who labels himself as pro- business, right? I mean, this is a private business owner. You're telling them that they can't protect their workers.

Another interesting thing is think about a church that wants to mandate the vaccine. How is that going to work? That would be an interesting challenge. If a church tries to mandate the vaccine, and now any entity is prohibited. How is that going to work? How is the U.S. Supreme Court going to look at that?

BERMAN: That's a topsy-turvy thing.


BERMAN: You're going in the reverse religious entryway in that.

JARRETT: Yes. BERMAN All right. Laura Jarrett here. And as we said, there are going

to be major businesses that have an issue with this.

JARRETT: Yes, major challenges this is going to become.

BERMAN: Other businesses that have a lot of workers in Texas.


BERMAN: We'll be watching this very closely.


KEILAR: This morning, Florida is confronting a massive teacher shortage, and the situation is only getting worse.

According to a recent survey, teacher vacancies in the state have surged to more than 5,000. And that is a 67 percent increase compared to last year.

Seventy-five percent of districts across the state are also facing an alarming shortage of support staff. So people like bus drivers, custodians, and food service workers.

Joining me now to talk about this is Gretchen Robinson. She is a reading teacher at University High School in Orlando.

Gretchen, thank you so much for being with you -- with us. I know that you are dealing with a lot right now as kids have been coming out of this pandemic. It's such a difficult time for teachers. So tell us what you're dealing with.

GRETCHEN ROBINSON, READING TEACHER, UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL, ORLANDO: Well, very large class sizes. Sort of insecurity about how the health of students, teachers, and staff is going to be protected going forward, since we are -- we are enforcing mask wearing right now, but apparently, the governor is wanting to not allow that.

Kids out on quarantine constantly for weeks at a time, and it's very difficult to maintain that continuity of instruction that's so important for them, are some of the things we're dealing with.

KEILAR: Yes. I know that instructing them online isn't an option when they go out. So they're also playing catch-up when they come back.

ROBINSON: Correct.

KEILAR: Tell us where the kids are at educationally. Tell us how they're doing socially, mental health-wise.

ROBINSON: Well, they've had a year and a half of very disrupted education. The ones that have been, you know -- that were in the classroom last year, they -- you know, they were able to keep up a little better.

But many of the kids last year were out on remote teaching, and some of them, honestly, just would, you know, they would check in online and then just go do whatever. You know, go back to sleep or something. So wasn't a whole lot of accountability for the students, and it was very difficult to reach some of them, you know.

And also, we were dealing with kids that had, you know, poor Internet connections at home or, you know, just lots of stuff going on in the background.

And so now they're back. And, you know, they've lost a lot over the year and a half. And we're double timing it to try to catch them up. And unfortunately, we're dealing with very large class sizes. So that makes it even more difficult.


KEILAR: And you are also dealing with in Florida something that I think a lot of people don't know about, which is Florida is 49th in the union when it comes to teacher pay.


KEILAR: So it's really -- it's really lagging. I mean, teachers are not making much, compared to other states. Is -- is that a huge issue, and what else needs to be done besides addressing teacher pay to turn this trend around?

ROBINSON: Oh, absolutely, that's a huge issue. I mean, I'm real happy for new teachers, you know, that they -- they got a pay increase. But what about the veteran teachers?

I would love to be making what my colleagues in states with an actual teaching budget, who are veteran teachers like me, are making. That would be great, considering the insane hours I put in during this, you know, situation.

Even at the best of times, teaching is challenging. It's a challenge I love. But, you know, right now, it's brutal. I would love to be compensated for that, you know?

We have these teacher appreciation things, where they give us these coupons for, you know -- I'm just, you know, making it up, McDonald's or whatever, Chick-Fil-A, places I don't go. So they can keep that and just, you know, up our salary to, you know, make us competitive with other states.

KEILAR: Gretchen --

ROBINSON: And as far --

KEILAR: Gretchen, thank you so much for joining us. Look, we know you have your work cut out for you, and we thank you for shedding light on these problems.

ROBINSON: You bet.

KEILAR: Elon Musk is trolling Jeff Bezos as he widens the gap as the world's richest person.

BERMAN: Plus, Superman is faster than a speeding bullet. He can melt steel with his eyes, and now make his own choices about who he sleeps with. Superman is bisexual. Why there is new outrage beyond just the Legion of Doom. The author of the upcoming comic joins us ahead.



BERMAN: Elon Musk is currently the world's richest person, and he has no problem bragging about it.

According to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, Musk is now worth more than $30 billion more than the second name on the list, Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

Musk responded to the news in a really classy way, tweeting this to Bezos yesterday, a second-place medal.

Joining us now is Ann Berry, chief investment officer at Wheelhouse, and Christine Romans, CNN chief business correspondent.

Really great look for -- for rich people to be involved in a pissing match like this. I mean, what's going on here?

ANN BERRY, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, WHEELHOUSE: Yes. Bickering billionaires, and we've got some of the worst inequality the United States has ever seen. It's not a great look.

But I think these guys have got to be careful. I think there could be a real backlash if they don't start reorienting their -- their wealth and their intelligence and their capabilities towards something more worthwhile.

BERMAN: What is Musk doing here? This isn't sort of the first time he's gone after Bezos.

BERRY: It's not, and I doubt it will be the last. But I think one of the things that Musk has proven himself to be extremely adept at is getting public attention, stoking some of these fires, and ultimately, you know, turning it towards his business at the end of the day. I think he's a master P.R. guy.

BERMAN: It feels like he's punching up, not down, though. I will say, you know, thou dost protest too much. I think he's envious. It looks like he has Bezos envy.

BERRY: I think most people have Bezos envy. I mean, they've got $440 billion of wealth between the two of them.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: It is vintage Musk, though. He doesn't care what we think about it either. I mean, this is -- He's sort of like, you know, billionaire frat boy stuff. This is the way he behaves.

BERMAN: There's wealth inequality. It's just -- I'm sorry. It's just so petty.

ROMANS: Well, the typical American family makes $67,000 a year. And he's talking about gaining $52 billion just this year in his own wealth.

Fifty-two billion at a time when progressives are saying, Hey, we shouldn't be taxing income of middle-class people. We should be taxing big wealth and nest eggs of the very richest. You could fund all kinds of programs by just taking a little bit of what Elon Musk has. So his timing is pretty interesting.

BERMAN: You know who doesn't need to engage in this kind of thing? Someone who's worth $200 billion. I mean, you know, you have better things to do.

There is other news about Amazon, Romans, which is that they are putting out some new guidelines about return to work?

ROMANS: Yes, so a little bit more flexibility here. They had talked about going back to the office, the corporate teams going back to the office in January and having at least three days a week in the office.

And now Andy Jassy, the CEO, is saying they're going to let the individual corporate teams decide what's best. However, they want you to live close to the office, because you still have to come in for meetings. They don't want you relocating to Hawaii or anything. But they are going to be more -- more flexible.

And I think that's an interesting kind of precedent. They have 950,000 employees. It's a big company. Obviously, the warehouse workers are not going to have this kind of flexibility. But for the corporate teams, they're saying that it's going to be individual directors, team leaders who will decide, at a time when, in media and in banking and in finance, a lot of people are saying, We want you to be back in the office in January at least three days a week. So this is kind of a different tack.

BERMAN: Are companies having a hard time finding the sweet spot in terms of flexibility in a hopeful, post-pandemic world?

BERRY: I think it's really difficult. I think you're seeing it pushed to two extremes at the moment. Hybrid hasn't really been figured out. You've got people like Mike Christoff (ph), who's letting people work from home, you know, no end date in sight.

I think there's going to be this big pushback to the office. I think, you know, employers will try and see what the rumblings are, and I suspect that hybrid will settle. It's just tough.

ROMANS: There are some big concerns about what this means for diversity, inclusion, and equity at work if you are hybrid. And that is something the diversity managers are very concerned about.

And also for the career trajectory of women, women are more likely to be taking on the schooling in the home and the work. And they want to work from home. That could --