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Gruden Resigns After Homophobic, Racist, Misogynistic Emails; Growing List of GOP Candidates Running on The Big Lie; Rural Missouri Hospital Struggles to Vaccinate Staff. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, October 12th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

On this New Day, glory.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes Santana, the Red Sox are on the championship series.


BERMAN: Kike Hernandez driving in Dana Santana with a ninth inning walk-off sacrifice fly to send the Boston Red Sox to the American League Championship Series. They beat the heavily favored Tampa Bay Rays, three games to one, a series. It is worth noting that the Yankees watched from home, if at all.

So, congratulations to the entire world, which clearly benefits from this. I can see Brianna agrees.

There is other major news this morning. One of pro-football's most high profile coaches resigns after an avalanche of new homophobic, misogynistic emails come to light. Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden resigned after The New York Times revealed a pattern of these homophobic, misogynistic emails over a seven-year span. This followed a blatantly racist email that came to light a few days ago.

In the newly quoted emails, Gruden denounces the drafting of a gay player and calls for the firing of players who protested the national anthem.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: This is a stunning downfall for one of the game's highest paid and highest profile coaches. Gruden was in the fourth year of a ten-year, $100 million contract. And in a written apology, he says he never meant hurt anyone.

BERMAN: Joining me now is NFL Insider Ian Rapoport. Ian, thanks so much for being with us. I want to read this statement that Jon Gruden put out last night. He said, I've resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders. I 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 anybody.

I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt anybody, is different than, I'm sorry, I wrote misogynistic, you know, homophobic, racist things what is your main takeaway from this?

IAN RAPOPORT, NFL INSIDER, NFL NETWORK AND NFL.COM: It sounds like, I'm sorry everybody found out. I mean, that's just the sort of loose translation for Jon Gruden. I talked to a source in the room when Jon Gruden resigned from his coaching staff. They described him as heartfelt and sincere and apologetic.

But it was too late by that point. The stance that Jon Gruden had taken over the course of the past three days, ever since first The Wall Street Journal and then late yesterday The New York Times came out with these racist, homophobic, misogynistic emails, it had a little been defensive.

Jon Gruden was asked, for instance, what he learned when his emails became public and during the course of him being criticized over the past couple days. He said he learned things but was not willing to share it. He said he doesn't have a racist bone in his body, told reporters just a couple of days ago. And then he didn't want to discuss it any further. It was defensive.

And, essentially, the way that this broke down, the NFL actually sent the contents of these emails to the Las Vegas Raiders on Friday and then waited for them to act, waited for Gruden to act. Nothing really happened until this latest article, this latest bombshell from The New York Times essentially forced everyone's hand.

But, yes, I read his apology, like you read his apology, which is, I'm sorry for those I offended, which is obviously not the right tone or sentiment at all.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, the racist email, which came to light a few days ago, uses racist tropes, just blatantly, to describe the players union head. The misogynistic emails mention -- and, first of all, he sends pictures of naked women, but also talks about that there shouldn't be female refs in the NFL. And the homophobic stuff, we're not putting it on the screen because I don't want to repeat it, but he used the slur, the F homophobic slur to describe the NFL commissioner here. So that's the kind of thing that it is.

And this is a problem for the NFL writ large, Ian, because all of this, all of this is the type of stuff that the NFL has been trying to battle as it tries to change its image.

RAPOPORT: Yes, I would say that's right. I mean, the NFL over the past several years has been much more diverse, much more inclusive, and made a point of that, and been very outwardly open arms publicly. That's the way the NFL has been the last couple years. It has been intentional. It has been noteworthy. And this is against that. I mean, everything Jon Gruden stood for in those emails that private emails he sent while he was at ESPN but clearly represents who he is, Gruden was, you know, completely opposite of everything the NFL has tried to stand for.

And how about this? The Las Vegas Raiders have the first openly gay player, Carl Nassib, to play in a regular season game.


How would Jon Gruden, after sending that homophobic email, with players knowing that that's what he really thinks, how would he stand up in the middle of the room and lead this group of men with several people in that locker room knowing that, privately, he makes fun of them or is against them. It could not work. And that partially explains why Jon Gruden resigned to owner Mark Davis and then to his staff last night.

BERMAN: That's a great point. Carl Nassib, the first openly gay player on an NFL roster during the regular season, how would that work out after the emails came to light? 70 percent of the players in the NFL are black. How would they feel after seeing the racist email that came to light earlier?

Randy Moss on the NFL network last night, he was talking about this. You could see the emotion. I was struck by how emotional the players are. What do you think the reaction to this will be among the players in the league?

RAPOPORT: I mean, from the people I've spoken with, and it's tough to gauge what several thousand people think, but I've sensed a lot of relief, honestly. This is a man who, you know, I know publicly was one thing, and he sort of seemed to be kind of a jovial, kooky leader.

These emails obviously uncovered the real thoughts of Jon Gruden. And I think there were a lot of people wondering, players, executives of color, many of whom I spoke to last night, coaches of color, or just humans, we're just wondering, like, is this person going to get what he deserves? Is there going to be accountability? Are you just allowed to do this?

I mean, even if he didn't work in the NFL at the time, even if he worked at ESPN, how is this very, very high-profile face of one of the multi-billion dollar franchises in the NFL, how is this allowed? I think when Jon Gruden resigned, several of the people I spoke with simply said, okay, good, this is what it should be.

BERMAN: The question is, is it just Jon Gruden though? In 650,000 emails, it's part of an investigation into the Washington football team, patterns and practices. That's how it came to light, because of emails he was sending to an official there.

But what do you think the possibility is that there will be other people who engaged in this kind of discussion that the NFL might have to look into? RAPOPORT: That's a great question, and that's sort of the next thing, is what happens now with so many of these emails? There were thousands upon thousands upon thousands of emails, but so few were made public.

The contents of the NFL's investigation into the workplace conduct and other issues involving the Washington football team have not been made public. The report has not been made public. Most of these emails have not been made public.

Are they going to be? Are we going to find out these secret contents of other leaders' emails that followed this pattern? At this point, I don't know. I would say five days ago I didn't expect to find out the contents of Jon Gruden's emails either. We will see which direction this takes us, but I think it is safe to say everyone in the NFL has both eyes open after this Jon Gruden situation.

BERMAN: Ian Rapoport, I appreciate you being with us. I'm a big fan of your work. I wish we had a chance to meet under different circumstances, but always appreciate reading you and your insight. Thank you.

RAPOPORT: Thanks. You can always text me for Fantasy advice and stuff.

BERMAN: Sure. Tom Brady, pick him first.

Now, to the U.S. democracy under attack, what happens once more candidates who support coups and overturning votes or elected to government, it's happening now? In Arizona, where 2020 was decided by 10,000 votes, a candidate running for secretary of state, who would oversee elections there, actually attended the rally outside the Capitol on January 6th. Since then, he had pushed for the bogus audit of Maricopa County's votes.

In Michigan where Biden won by more than 150,000 votes, Trump endorsed Kristina Karamo for the secretary of state race. She famously claimed to see voting irregularities but working as a poll watcher in Detroit. And later, she signed onto the lawsuit that pushed to get Republican- controlled legislatures the power to certify elections.

In Georgia's secretary of state race, Trump endorsed the Congressman Jody Hice, who supported his fraud lies. The current secretary of state in Georgia, of course, got that call from Trump to find 11,000 more votes.

KEILAR: And then in Nevada, the candidate for Republican secretary of state had his own election fraud claims after losing his congressional race last year, even going as far as to sue to have the election overturned. The judge rejected that.

And Wisconsin's secretary of state doesn't even run the state's elections but will if Republican candidate Jay Schroeder gets his way. Part of his platform is to strip the bipartisan election commission of their oversight power. According to Reuters, quote, he said in an interview that there is lots of reasonable doubt as to whether Biden won the election. In many states, you will see the same trend happening at the top of the ticket to use. Take Arizona and Virginia, both candidates for governor have embraced Trump's fraud lies.


Kari Lake, who is running to be the next governor of Arizona, even saying that she would not have certified the 2020 election, as Republican Governor Doug Ducey did at the time.

In Congress, worth noting, nearly 150 members of the House Republican Conference voted to decertify the election in six states won by President Biden. They are, of course, still in Congress. And now the party's second in command, Steve Scalise, won't even admit that the election was not stolen.

And then in the Senate, Republicans in power are doing their part to wipe away Trump's role in the insurrection and embracing his B.S. So why? They're doing it to hang on to power. They're doing it to survive politically.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): If I didn't accept the endorsement of a person who has 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn't be too smart. And I'm smart enough to accept that endorsement.


KEILAR: Telling it like it is there, I guess.

Joining us now to discuss, Tom Nichols, Contributing Writer for The Atlantic, also author of Our Own Worst Enemy, The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy. Tom, thank you for being with us this morning.

Just tell us straight up how serious the threat to American democracy is right now overall.

TOM NICHOLS, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: It is very serious. It is ongoing. It began last year when the loser of the election, Donald Trump, for the first time in American history, refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, and still refuses to commit to it.

We are in a constitutional crisis. It's not looming. It's not ahead of us. We're smack in the middle of it with an entire political party, an entire political movement that rejects the basic constitutional norms and laws that govern our elections.

This is really serious. And what you're seeing is the creation, the setting up of an infrastructure in 2022, to set up for 2024, basically, to take the election, whether Donald Trump wins or loses. And to falsify the outcome and to undermine faith in our elections, which is really the larger project here.

KEILAR: You tweeted something that really stood out. You said the threat to American democracy increased exponentially over the past five years or so when mediocre people of meager talents realized they would never have to work a straight job again as long as they could terrify a nation of right-wing nitwits about the end of real America.

I mean, is that what you think, that this came down just the sort of craven self-interest on the part of a mediocre cadre of political operatives and bloviators?

NICHOLS: For some people on the right, that's absolutely what's happened. I mean, when Stephanie Grisham wrote her book, she said point-blank, somebody like me -- she was talking about herself -- she said somebody like me was never going to have a chance to go to D.C. and go to the show without hooking up with somebody like the Trump campaign. And there have been people who said, if we just keep people scared, we can stay on television, or on radio, and, you know, become celebrities in our own right, and not have to really care about what happens to the rest of the country.

At the elected level, what you have is a staggering amount of cowardice and self-interest. I mean, Chuck Grassley is 88 years old. At some point, you know, when is it enough? When does he simply say, I'm just too old for this? And I don't mean too old to be a senator. I mean too old to have to bend the knee to somebody like Donald Trump.

So there is this whole complex of people who have finally found a place in the sun by scaring the hell out of the rest of America. And when that's combined with a bunch of people whose primary goal in life is just to stay in Washington, D.C., you know, that puts the Constitution in a lot of danger. Because then people aren't doing what's in the interest of the country or for our system of government.

KEILAR: You mentioned Stephanie Grisham. Who else?

NICHOLS: I think if you look at the entire right-wing publishing enterprise now, everybody from National Review to American Greatness, it has become basically just an enterprise of keeping their heads above water and staying published and staying in the public eye. I think there are cable networks, not the one we're on, but there are cable networks whose hosts spend the entire evening scaring people half to death simply to keep their eyeballs glued to the television set.


KEILAR: I think I know who you're talking about, but I just want to be clear. Who are you talking about?

NICHOLS: I think the entire Fox primetime lineup is basically organized around keeping people terrified and keeping themselves on television, from Tucker Carlson to Laura Ingraham in the evening.

KEILAR: There doesn't seem to be a consequence for that though, do you think?

NICHOLS: They are selling something that the market wants to buy. But much like a drug, when you start people on fear as a way to hook them into watching television, you have to keep delivering bigger and bigger hits of that fear. And so instead of stories about immigration, you get stories about caravans. Instead of stories about crime, you get stories about rampaging in the streets and on and on.

So that by the end of the evening, people are convinced that they want to live in panic rooms and that they are willing to go, and this is key, they are willing to choose authoritarian, anti-constitutional solutions that empower a Republican Party that has given up on democracy and would gladly provide those authoritarian solutions, particularly in the person of Donald Trump.

KEILAR: Tom, it's great to get your perspective today, really interesting. Tom Nichols, thank you.

A health care worker would rather lose her job than get the COVID shot.


SHEILA BALCH, ADMISSIONS STAFF, SCOTLAND COUNTY HOSPITAL: I think that I will then seek further employment, and I hate to do that because I love my patients. I love the people I work with. But at the same time, I'm not going to personally go against something that I feel very deeply in my soul that would hurt me.


KEILAR: CNN's Elle Reeve takes us inside a Missouri hospital where the hospital administration is more concerned about walkouts if a mandate is implemented.

BERMAN: Texas Governor Greg Abbott cracking down on COVID vaccine mandates in his state. He won't let businesses make their own decisions.

Plus, superman is bisexual and also not real. But this new turn for the epic hero has some people up in arms.



BERMAN: Overnight, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that ties the hands of businesses in his state. Remember, he likes to brag about being a pro-business governor.

Abbott's new order bans any and all state businesses in Texas from enforcing vaccine mandates. There are a lot of major companies in that state that have put forth vaccine requirements for employees. Abbott does say the COVID vaccine is safe and effective and the best defense against the virus, but he says it should remain voluntary and not compulsory.

KEILAR: Vaccine mandates may be controversial, but they work. More people are getting vaccinated because of them. Still, vaccine hesitancy abounds, case in point, a rural Missouri hospital where some employees are willing to lose their jobs rather than get the shot.

CNN's Elle Reeve went there, and she is joining us now. Elle?

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We wanted to talk to people who not only know how vaccines work but saw up close so many people getting sick and still don't want the vaccine. Most people didn't want to go on camera to talk about that, but one did.


BALCH: I do believe COVID is terrible. I believe it is dangerous. I watch people every day, and I watch the fear in people's eyes every day. That's the saddest, most terrifying part, is to see our society become so fearful. But I do not think the government has the right to step in and mandate and tell us what we have to do.

REEVE: how do you think that's going to affect you if there is a vaccine mandate at this hospital?

BALCH: I think that I will then seek further employment, and I hate to do that because I love my patients. I love the people I work with. But at the same time, I'm not going to personally go against something that I feel very, very deeply in my soul that would hurt me.

REEVE (voice over): only about 60 percent of staff are vaccinated at Scotland County Hospital in rural Northeast Missouri. The hospital's CEO doesn't think a mandate will make unvaccinated staff get the shot. He thinks it'll make them quit.

DR. RANDY TOBLER, CEO, SCOTLAND COUNTY HOSPITAL: Our reality is we need staff to work. And in return for you working, we're not asking you to get a vaccine mandate. There are people in the hospital who freely shared that if a vaccine mandate happened on our account or anyone else's, they would not work here. That's just something they weren't going to put in their body.

And we thought, well, why not take advantage of people's perceptions and people's fears, because everyone wears an N-95 mask when giving patient care anyway? People were pleased that we honored their right to choose what they want to do with their body. And I think that may have helped retain some staff that may have been tempted to jump to other places because of salary or what they perceive as different working conditions.

REEVE: Tobler's strategy reflects the reality of where he lives. Only 22 percent of people in the area are vaccinated.

TOBLER: For someone who is on the fence or has previously been rejecting vaccines, for whatever reason, the closer that they see someone, you know, that they either know or love that suffers a grave illness or tragically dies, that often is the switch that flips their mind.

REEVE: And how do you square that with health care workers though who saw so many people sick and then still don't want the vaccine?

TOBLER: I can't, other than it doesn't make common sense to me. I just can't explain it. It is inexplicable.

REEVE: The Supreme Court upheld a vaccine mandate for smallpox in 1905. Still, a small portion of hospital workers around the country have protested vaccine mandates.


But the opposition matters a lot more here because Scotland County Hospital struggles to have enough staff. And 10 of its 57 nurses left during the pandemic. It even mailed pamphlets advertising it had not mandate to nurses across Missouri, hoping to entice them to come.

But two days later, President Biden announced a federal that would affect workers at all hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: You're seeking at a health facility. You should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated.

TOBLER: I criticize President Biden's mandate. I thought it was a mistake because I think it is going to backfire.

BALCH: I think it is going to hurt our people and our health care. If you lose your health care workers, who is going to take care of the people who do have disease? It is a ridiculous mandate, and I just -- personally, it is my own choice.

REEVE: Shane Wilson saw his own dad hospitalized of COVID here late last year. He is also Sheila's doctor.

Do you talk about it with staff members who don't want the vaccine, or do you just like try to avoid talking about it?

DR. SHANE WILSON, INTERNIST, SCOTLAND COUNTY HOSPITAL: Sure, I talk with them. A lot of the people that I've talked with around here that aren't vaccinated are concerned about mostly the unknown of what if this vaccine causes an issue with whatever in the future, and they're just skeptical.

It is incredibly frustrating to try to get the education and understanding across that you're not just protecting yourself. We're doing this to try to keep our neighbors healthy. We're doing this to try to keep others from losing people. And that's what I try to do, is try to sit down with staff members and patients alike and explain why it is that I would prefer they get vaccinated, what our goal is, what the end goal is here, and it's not an individual thing.

REEVE: Dr. Wilson also tried to convince his high school best friend, Curt Triplett, who co-owns Triplett farms with his brothers.

CURT TRIPLETT, FARMER, TRIPLETT BROTHERS FARMS: For me personally, I have no problem with the vaccine, but what has turned rural America or conservatives against it is basically turned it into a political football.

REEVE: Are you vaccinated?


REEVE: You're not. How come?

J. TRIPLETT: We live very secluded where we're at. I don't feel like the risk either to me or to someone else is high enough to justify taking it.

REEVE: I'm sorry, this is a dumb question. But you can yell at me if you think it is.


REEVE: But don't you vaccinate your animals?

J. TRIPLETT: To some extent, herd immunity does happen. And maybe the vaccine would speed that up. Other times, it isn't that big a deal.

REEVE: Like what about a farm dog?

J. TRIPLETT: We do take our dogs in for rabies and --

REEVE: Exactly, rabies.

J. TRIPLETT: -- parvo, things like that.

REEVE: Yes, parvo.

J. TRIPLETT: Yes. We don't want them to be sickly. So, yes, we do.

REEVE: Well, just explain it to me like I'm an idiot. Why do you see those things as different?

J. TRIPLETT: Really, I'm not going to say that I'm not getting the vaccine because I don't believe it wouldn't do the job, that it wouldn't work. I just -- I don't know what the risks are out there for the vaccine. I mean, they're well-documented. We don't have to go over all the risks. And I just feel like my risk of being exposed to COVID and what it'd do to me is not greater than the risk that the vaccine is, is what it comes down to.

If you wanted to get opinions, there's no telling what -- you'll get opinions both ways. You'd just step into Lacy's Diner out there at a certain time, and you would get exposed to lots of opinions and ideas about everything you've asked me. And some might agree with me, and some would definitely disagree with me. And that just would be the way it is.

REEVE: Are you all vaccinated?


REEVE: No? How come?

ALAN: I don't believe in that.

REEVE: Did you get the COVID vaccine? RICKY FOWLER, MISSOURI RESIDENT: Oh, yes, right off the bat, as soon as I could. Everybody should get it.

REEVE: Well, he doesn't think so.

STAN BARKER, MISSOURI RESIDENT: I feel like -- I feel more secure after getting the shot.

ALAN: I won't get it.

REEVE: You don't find the argument convincing?


REEVE: No. Can you explain? Why don't you find that convincing?

ALAN: My daughter, she doesn't believe in it either. She worked all through last year with COVID patients up there. She's a nurse.

REEVE: Okay. But she didn't get the vaccine?


REEVE: And what did she tell you was the reason?

ALAN: To not get it?


ALAN: She don't believe in it either.

REEVE: Can you just say why?

ALAN: I don't think it's been proven yet.

REEVE: Okay.

ALAN: It's never been fully approved.

REEVE: It is FDA approved.

ALAN: For emergency use.

REEVE: No, there was an emergency use authorization, but now it is FDA approved.


ALAN: Is it?

REEVE: Yes, the Pfizer shot. How would you feel if there had to be a mandate, that you had to get it?

ALAN: I think that would violate my constitutional right.