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Gov. Dan Patrick Promised To Pay $1 Million If Anyone Came Forward With Examples Of Voter Fraud; The Assistant Director On Alec Baldwin's Film Had A History Of Safety Complaints Against Him Involving Weapons And Pyrotechnics; The Latest Internal Leaks From Facebook Show How Its Algorithms Help Promote The Political Extremism And Conspiracy Theories That Are Disfiguring Our Democracy. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 25, 2021 - 08:30   ET



ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And then asked Turner why was Dghoughi a threat to Turner when Dghoughi was inside his car. Turner's attorney said that the he was not going to discuss the facts of the case.

Now Dghoughi's family has been outraged, Brianna, because it took 11 days for authorities to make this arrest.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yes and he was in and out in under two hours after that arrest.

Rosa, thank you so much for that report.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a Trump ally, had promised to pay up to $1 million if anyone came forward with examples of voter fraud. Fraud he said that existed with no evidence. And he's now made the first payout.

But in an ironic and expensive twist it was fraud being committed on behalf of Republicans.

So here's the first check for $25,000. It went to a poll worker in Pennsylvania who reported a Republican who voted twice.

Joining me now is Eric Frank, the poll worker from Chester County in Pennsylvania and the recipient of that $25,000 check. Eric, so nice to see you. Thank you for being here. Congratulations on your windfall. What exactly did you see in the voting? You saw a 72-year-old man who basically tried to vote twice.

ERIC FRANK, PENNSYLVANIA POLL WORKER: Yes, good morning John. Thanks for having me. Yes, that morning he was one of the first voters that came in and at -- he presented his I.D. and we said that he didn't need to show his I.D. due to the fact that he had been at this polling place many years. He then asked me, "Well couldn't I come back and vote for my son?"

And I said, "No, that would be illegal." And then he asked, "Well, how would you know?" And I kind of left it at that. And he went to vote. And then about an hour later I hear the last name Thurman and I look up and low and behold it's the same man with a disguise, with a baseball hat and sunglasses.

BERMAN: Yes, and --

FRANK: And reported to the authorities.

BERMAN: Yes, you can't do that. That turns -- turns -- turns -- turns out you can't do that. And as we said, this was a Republican, which despite all the claims of fraud from -- from -- from Trump allies, no evidence of widespread fraud at all, certainly among Democratic voters.

So then what for you? What made you submit this claim to the Texas lieutenant governor?

FRANK: Well he had put out a press release about a week after the election. Minimum of $25,000 up to $1 million for anybody that caught somebody and was convicted of a felony.

So after the case was heard and the defendant pled guilty to the felony that's when I tried to contact the lieutenant governor's office and spoke to his campaign manager. And disguised the reward. And couple days after that phone call I received a certified envelop in the mail with a $25,000 check.

BERMAN: Why only $25,000? This seems like this was an egregious case and you got him cold. Why just the minimum do you think?

FRANK: That's the same question I asked Mr. Blakemore (ph), "Why just the minimum?" And he -- his response to me was that he was looking for bigger fish in this case. And it's my opinion that they were looking for Democrats that were committing voter fraud. So, didn't get -- again, didn't get a straight answer about why it was -- it was so little, but nevertheless $25,000 is a -- is a good check and it will go to good use.

BERMAN: Maybe not bigger fish, maybe different fish, as it were. There is a little bit of irony here, right?


BERMAN: In that he clearly went looking for one kind of votes and you came back with another.

FRANK: Yes, a lot of irony. That's -- again, that's also my opinion that they were looking for a widespread voter fraud in the election, which just isn't the case. It's a serious crime, however, that's -- this gentleman lost the right to carry weapons, he's on probation, significant fine. So, it's a serious crime and I'm glad we could bring this to light to prevent this for the future.

BERMAN: Well use the money well. Eric Frank.

FRANK: I (ph) will.

BERMAN: I appreciate you being with us this morning. Thank you very much.

FRANK: Thank you.

BERMAN: So a new whistleblower coming forward against Facebook alleging that the company allows hate and illegal activity to go unchecked.

KEILAR: And new reports surfacing that the assistant director on Alec Baldwin's film had a history of safety complaints against him involving weapons and pyrotechnics. The possible legal fallout after the fatal shooting ahead.




KEILAR: New information is coming to light about the deadly shooting by Alec Baldwin. CNN has learned the film's assistant director David Halls who handed the prop gun or the weapon to Baldwin before the shooting had been the subject of complaints over safety and behavior in the past, including a disregard for weapon safety protocols.

Let's talk about this now with CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Paul Callan.

OK, let's talk about the liability, Paul, of that gentleman. There's also the armor, who is the person in charge of the weapons and then there is Alec Baldwin, the person who fired the weapon is an actor but also a producer on the film. How do you see it?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well when we talk about liability there are two kinds of liability. One is criminal liability where you might go to jail for what you did. The other is civil liability where you can be sued for money damages for causing somebody's death.

Let's start out with the criminal first. This set was a mess in terms of the way these guns were being handled. The big thing you look at on a movie set is whether the weapons that are going to be used are what we called cold guns or hot guns.

Now cold guns are the only thing that should be on the set and that means a gun that is unloaded, not even with blanks, unloaded with bullets or blanks. What do we see in this situation?

When Baldwin picked up the gun in the rehearsal and there's a dispute in the facts now, was he doing a cross-draw with the gun or was he, you know, posing in some way as if he was in scene, was that a cold or a hot gun? Well we know it was a hot gun that was passed to him.


Because obviously someone was killed with a bullet. Now how did that happen? What is live ammunition doing on this set? I think the presence of live ammunition means that prosecutors will be looking at whether there's criminal liability for whoever loaded that gun with a live round.

KEILAR: And so what would that criminal liability potentially be?

CALLAN: Well it could go so far as a murder charge if it was intentional. I mean, let's say somebody was angry at somebody else on set and said I'm going to put a -- I'm going to put a bullet in one of these three guns that are going to be used in the scene. Well that's a recklessly intentional act really, because you know the guns may be aimed and if the trigger is pulled somebody's going to be killed. You could be charged with for that.

Manslaughter would be a lesser charge if you can prove somebody deliberately loaded the gun knowing that it would be used to practice in a scene.

KEILAR: And if you are a person responsible for the caretaking of the weapon and you do not check right before it is handed to the actor, that it is clear of any projectile, bullet or what have you, then what is the liability there?

CALLAN: Well, you get close to criminal liability if you're not doing your job on such an important issue. After all, a firearm is the most dangerous thing really you can have on a movie set. And that's why you have an armorer on the set to make sure everybody is kept safe.

But then on the civil side I think you would have clear-cut civil liability. The estate of the young woman who died could sue for money damages. And, of course, the armorer could be named in that lawsuit and possibly Baldwin and other people involved in making the film.

KEILAR: All right, look there's so many questions here too, that are also going to determine the answer to these questions that we have. So we'll be waiting for new developments.

Paul thank you.

CALLAN: Thank you Brianna.

KEILAR: A fake profile, a couple of likes and a priceless discovery about how Facebook is designed to divide. What an imaginary mom named Carol has to teach us in a stunning reality check next.




BERMAN: This morning revealing new information about Facebook coming out of the so-called Facebook papers. John Avlon with a Reality Check. JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting more information about how our democracy became so unhinged. The latest internal leaks from Facebook show how its algorithms help promote the political extremism and conspiracy theories that are disfiguring our democracy.

Now big tech bears much of the burden, but it's not solely to blame. Instead that we can see that a confluence of events created this perfect storm. The proliferation of right wing media, Republican Party dominated by its most extreme members, structurally vulnerable to capture by a celebrity demagogue who's constant lies were amplified by social media algorithms that profit off polarization, pushing politicians no matter what they said, capped by a pandemic that put people indoors rabbit holing into online conspiracy theories. All of it culminating, at least for now, on the January 6, attack on our Capital.

Now I know that's a lot to take in but it's the story of our times. It helps explain how misinformation has become so main street and why we must do much more to combat it.

Now take Carol Smith, a 41-year-old conservative mom from North Carolina with interests in politics, parenting and Christianity and face page like for then President Donald Trump and Fox News.

Now Carol didn't actually exist. She was a Facebook test case. But within two days of her account appearing in the summer of 2019 the Facebook algorithm recommended she join groups dedicated to QAnon, that bonkers conspiracy theory that Trump was secretly saving the world from Satanists and pedophiles.

Carol didn't join these groups but the recommendations kept coming until according to Facebook researchers here feed was a, quote, "Barrage of extreme, conspiratorial and graphic content."

Carol was fake but her experience was real, for millions of Facebook users. Normal Americans sucked into unhinged beliefs.

In the run-up to the 2020 election Facebook was trying to tamp down the flow of disinformation through a specially created civic integrity team and despite that effort study showed that misinformation still got six times more clicks than actual factual news.

None the less, after the election passed the team was disbanded. And that's where we can see a real life A, B test take place with disastrous consequences.

Days of the election, of course, Trump accelerates his desperate lies about the election and by November 9, a Facebook data scientist warned that 10 percent of all U.S. views of political material, a startling high figure, were of posts that alleged the vote was fraudulent. Playing whack-a-mole against Stop the Steal accounts wasn't working.

The disinformation was dominating people's feeds. That's because as NYU Cybersecurity Researcher Laura Adelson explained to me, an algorithm that promotes virility will always give an advantage to misinformation. In a newly released internal Facebook presentation stated clearly that

post the genesratenetic (ph) of content of clicks get more engagement. And the current set of financial incentives which our algorithms create do not appear to be in line with our mission.

This all mirrors the problems of hyper-partisan polarization where a small number of obsessed activists drown out the modern majority and then conspiracy entrepreneurs and other associated political grifters (ph) put winds in the sails of the coup planners. The January 6 Stop the Steal rally promoted by the ex-president and a cadre of cult-like followers all leading to an assault on our democracy.

The people who planned and committed the attack are responsible. They must be held accountable. But even some of Facebook's own internal postmortem cop (ph) too (ph) quote substantial negative impacts including contributing materially to the capitol riot and potentially reducing collective civic engagement and social cohesion in the years to come.


And that's the larger lesson we need to learn. I still believe the underlying character of our country has not changed. But the most angry, anxious and unhinged among us have been given the loudest megaphone and that has cowed crowds into believing the unbelievable.

Causing the big lie to mastitis inside the Republican Party. To this day the danger is still with us and that's why we can't treat it as something that's passed. It's clearer than ever that we need reforms to disincentives the viral spread of disinformation, because nothing less than our democracy hangs in the balance.

And that's your Reality Check.

BERMAN: Yes, Carol may have been fake but the danger is very real there John.

AVLON: Understood (ph).

BERMAN: Thank you. So one of the most epic, epic wedding proposals you will ever see. I mean, it involved a chopper. Let's just lay that out there. This is between two E.R. nurses. They will join us.




KEILAR: To Georgia emergency room nurses finding love in the midst of the pandemic. Kesley Dunlap and Jake Young work in the same hospital and that is where Jake staged this elaborate proposal surprising his now fiance, popping the question on the roof. And this video because, hello, it's so awesome has gone viral.

Joining us now Kelsey and Jake. Kelsey and Jake congratulations to both of you.


KEILAR: And hey, we loved --

JAKE YOUNG, GEORGIA E.R. NURSE: Thank you so much.

KEILAR: -- we loved the video because we kind of get to partake in this very fun proposal, but Kelsey, I mean this was some elaborate scheme and you did not see it coming.

DUNLAP: Absolutely not. I was in complete and total shock and I'm not an easy girl to surprise. So bless his heart, he somehow pulled it off.

BERMAN: Jake, walk us through this, because I haven't seen many proposals where there was a chopper involved in the whole thing. So how did you get her out there? What was the scheme?

YOUNG: It took a lot of people. It took a village. So I wasn't -- she thought I was work the whole time. I had to sneak away from work and get to the airport while she thought I was still there. So it took about three other nurses, two or three people from my management team to come up with this whole scheme, lie to get her up on the chopper at the exact right moment for what I thought was the perfect idea for us.

KEILAR: And Kelsey, you were so focused on getting to the chopper, which is obviously very important if you think a patient is coming in.


KEILAR: You missed that there is a professional photographer just to your right.

DUNLAP: So yes. Actually I knew he was there because he told -- he told me that he was taking pictures for E.R. Nurses Week --

KEILAR: Oh (inaudible).

DUNLAP: -- so I honestly didn't think twice about it and had me totally fooled all morning taking pictures of us doing just random nursing tasks. So, I didn't think twice about him wanting to come out there with me. But then I -- it obviously all clicked and I figured out that he was not taking pictures for E.R. Nurses Week e-mails.

KEILAR: The E.R. Nurses Week ploy.

BERMAN: Well I actually hope you're on the cover of E.R. Nurses Week.


BERMAN: I mean, I can't imagine a bigger story for E.R. Nurses Week. This would be the best.

YOUNG: Right.


KEILAR: So I have to say, I think it's a beautiful story. I mean the proposals beautiful, but also you guys found love in the middle of a pandemic, which was a very dark time I think for everyone and I can't even image for E.R. nurses. What was that like Kelsey?

DUNLAP: Yes. This has been a very rough last probably for about two years at this point for everyone in healthcare, but we are just so blessed to get to have my best friend and biggest rock at work with me every day. We get to go home together. It's just -- it's truly incredible that we got to kind of meet and grow our relationship in even such a hard time, it kind of makes us feel like we're invincible at this point.

BERMAN: So walk us through. And when did it -- when did it begin? And when did you know, Jake that this was -- this was it?

YOUNG: It started back in 2019, she actually shadowed me whenever she was coming out of college to find out where she wanted to work. So since then I've always been a little bug in her ear since then. But through COVID we started working together, we got on the same shifts so we worked the same exact hours every day. And we got to where we just mimicked our lives together.

And then, like she said, being able to come home and decompress and kind of root each other on going into work made the world of a difference. And as far as when I knew a long time before I asked. But I just had to find a way to sneak around and get rings without her knowing. That's kind of hard whenever you work the same exact schedules.

KEILAR: Indeed.

YOUNG: But I found a way.

KEILAR: And Kelsey, I mean, for you. You obviously said yes, the good news. That would be awkward --


KEILAR: -- if you hadn't and we were having this segment. But Kelsey, you said yes.

DUNLAP: For sure.

KEILAR: You knew.


KEILAR: You know, you knew that Jake was the one. What was it?

DUNLAP: I think I also knew a long time ago. He's just the sweetest, most down to earth man I think I've ever met. He could make me laugh in the hardest of times and I mean it's -- everyone says you should marry your best friend, but it really is true.

KEILAR: They're pretty cute together.

BERMAN: Yes, I have to say --

KEILAR: Aren't they? Very adorable.

DUNLAP: Thanks.

BERMAN: -- look after a proposal like that how are you going to top it for the wedding itself?

YOUNG: We're open to suggestions.


YOUNG: It took long enough for me to plan this out. My brain is dead as of right now, so we're just kind of soaking it in. But --


YOUNG: -- we're open to suggestions if you have any.

KEILAR: I would suggest another chopper presence in the vows. Maybe Kelsey can come in --


KEILAR: -- holding onto that cool part of the chopper.

BERMAN: Yes, or I would say maybe a fire squadron or something --

DUNLAP: There we go. Or come down from it. Who knows.

BERMAN: Well maybe right here on CNN. Maybe we'll do it like a New Day wedding or something.

DUNLAP: There we go. It's perfect. It's planned. Thank you.

BERMAN: That's fantastic. And again, I just want thank you both for first of all sharing your joy with us, but also everything you've done throughout the pandemic. It's because of people like you I think that we've all been able to get through this.

DUNLAP: Well thank you.

YOUNG: Thank you so much.

DUNLAP: And we just -- we really want to thank everybody for the love and support we've received. It's incredible. We had no idea it was going to turn into what it has and we just feel really, really grateful and blessed. So thank you all, too.


KEILAR: You are so welcome. Kelsey and Jake, thank you for coming on. It is great to see you, and congratulations.

BERMAN: Mozel tov.

DUNLAP: Thank you!

YOUNG: Thanks, guys!

KEILAR: CNN's coverage continues right now. Aw man, that was good!


BERMAN: It's so cute!