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New Day

Potential Watershed Moment Looms with Congress on Facebook; Rust Crew Members Reportedly Used Live Ammo with Prop Guns; War For Talent, U.S. Companies Offer Perks to Lure Employees. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 07:00   ET


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Tonight in Houston, Braves in the fall classic for the first time since 1999.


The Astros, it's their third trip in five years.

And you know what, John? I was thinking, the Astros are kind of like the New England Patriots of major League Baseball, right? good comparison?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Yes. They've won one World Series ever?

SCHOLES: Well, yes, they haven't won as much but it's --

BERMAN: As opposed to six?

SCHOLES: -- cheating, winning team.

BERMAN: Tom Brady plays for the Patriots.

SCHOLES: I like the comparison. Jose Altuve is on the Astros. I like the comparison, you might not like it, I'm going to go with it.

BERMAN: Right, single source approval. Andy Scholes, thank you very much for that.

New Day continues right now.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman alongside Brianna Keilar. It is Tuesday, October 26th.

2.9 billion people use Facebook worldwide. 2.9 billion, that's more than a third of the world population. So, when we're talking about Facebook users, we're talking about the world. Think of the influence. Think of the reach. Think of the potential for goodness, but think of the potential for danger, or the actual manifestation of danger.

The following are accusations, revelations, or admissions of what Facebook and its branches are doing to the world, told not in the words of Facebook's outside critics but critics from the inside. BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: It is a platform for spreading of hate speech, that it is ripe for abuse by those who wish to do harm, that it is a Petri dish for poisonous misinformation, that it has opened the floodgates to conspiracy theories that costs lives. It's a safe haven for politicians to lie, a marketplace for trafficking and for selling human beings. And it is especially damaging to the self-esteem of young girls.

BERMAN: And it provided some of the fuel for the Capitol insurrection, an empowerment vehicle for extremists at home and abroad. It has a different standard for safety based on the country in which you live. And much of this hasn't been or can't be stopped. Facebook has not or cannot sufficiently police itself, critics say, misleading investors along the way.

KEILAR: And perhaps most damning of all is that the company is accused of knowing so much of this but doing so little to stop it. Instead, whistleblowers show Facebook has and continues to prioritize growth over safety and profit over people.

BERMAN: So, this is one of the justifications from the company, quote, research shows certain partisan divisions in our society have been growing for many decades, long before platforms like Facebook existed. True. Except now, those divisions have this extra vehicle to boil and fester, appealing to the extremes, often with lies, lies that sell.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: I've seen lots of research that says that kind of ranking, engagement-based ranking prioritizes polarizing, extreme, divisive content. It doesn't matter if you're on the right or on the left, it pushes you to the extremes and it fans hate, right? Anger and hate is the easiest way to grow on Facebook.


BERMAN: It is easier to grow anger and hate.


HAUGEN: Good actors, good publishers are already publishing all the content that they can do, but bad actors have an incentive to play the algorithm. And they figure out all the ways to optimize Facebook. And so the current system is biased towards bad actors and biased towards people who push people to the extremes.


KEILAR: But despite all of these revelations and accusations, the one that perhaps concerned Mark Zuckerberg the most is that younger people increasingly are not using the platform because, essentially, they think it is lame. Researchers finding that young people perceive it as a site that is boring, negative, and for people in their 40s and 50s, and that made Zuck mad. During his earnings call, he accused the media of selectively rounding up bits from the documents to make the company look bad, his internal documents, mind you, generated by Facebook employees.

But then he turned to his real problem, the possibility that Facebook is becoming irrelevant to the next generation. He announced that they're now focusing on 18 to 29-year-olds, not the older generations. Of course, one way to attract the youth might be to clean up their act.

The damning, new revelations about Facebook have Democrats and Republicans united in their call for a crackdown on Silicon Valley. And that is setting the stage for a showdown that is going to be a test, a big text clout.

We have new reporting from CNN's Melanie Zanona live on Capitol Hill. This is the big question. Will Congress, can Congress do anything, Mel?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, big tech has been one of the most powerful and untouchable industries on Capitol Hill. That is going to be put to the test.


These damning, new revelations about Facebook's corrosive impact on society are fueling bipartisan calls to crack down on Silicon Valley. And there are a couple different ideas on how to do that. One idea would be to reform the legal protections that prevent internet companies from being held liable for user-generated content. There is a bill from Chairman Frank Pollone that would remove the legal shield if internet companies knowingly or recklessly used personalized algorithms to recommend content that winds up causing physical or emotional harm.

The idea there, Brianna, is to focus on the algorithms versus the user-generated content, which can be a more politically fraught debate. But there are no Republican co-sponsors yet for that bill.

The other general idea being kicked around is to create more competition in the marketplace. The House Judiciary Committee passed a package of anti-trust bills earlier this summer with the support of several Republicans, I should note. But it has yet to receive a vote on the House floor.

So, look, while there is bipartisan anger, it is still very unclear whether that's actually going to translate into action. Part of the reason is because Republicans and Democrats, while they agree on the need to rein in Silicon Valley, they disagree on why and how to do it.

And the other big issue, Brianna, is money. As I mentioned, big tech is one of the biggest political spenders in Washington. And this is what David Cicilline, a chairman of a judiciary subcommittee, told me about this. He said, quote, with enormous economic power very often comes enormous political power. And they are spending millions and millions of dollars, flooding this town with lobbyists and campaign contributions, doing everything they can to stop these reforms. This is the reason that battles against monopolies are hard. So, Brianna, we'll see what happens here. But I will note that proponents of cracking down on big tech feel like momentum is finally on their side. Bri?

KEILAR: We'll see if it is enough. Mel, thank you.

ZANONA: Thanks.

BERMAN: Joining us now, former Democratic senator from Minnesota and host of the Al Franken podcast, Al Franken, who is now on the only former U.S. senator currently on tour tour. We appreciate you joining us.

Long before the tour tour, you've been warning about Facebook for years.


BERMAN: What do you see as the danger?

FRANKEN: Well, you've pretty well articulated it coming up to me. It just has a pernicious effect and it knows it does. And every time internally that they discover that, they, they find that, they'd make a choice, and they make the wrong choice. And their choice is profits versus being acting responsibly. And they do that over and over and over again. They are just irresponsible.

And there was talk about the protection from Section 230, which needs to be changed, which basically says they're a platform and not a publisher, and that protects them. That was written in 1995 in the Internet Decency Act. We didn't really understand what the internet was at that time. That needs to be revisited.

Look, they write their own algorithm. They can control their own algorithm. They -- on the Judiciary Committee, I had the head legal counsel, and they had been -- this is in 2017 -- they had taken ads from Russia, bought by Russia, political ads, which is illegal. They were paid for in rubles.

Now, I said to --

KEILAR: Tip-off.

FRANKEN: You'd think so. You would think so. Now, they brag about having all the data in the world in Silicon Valley and they couldn't put those two pieces of data together, political ads paid in rubles in Russia.

And so I asked the lead counsel, I said, will you pledge not to take political ads paid for in rubles? And he wouldn't. And I kept asking him, I said, why not? He said, well, you can convert any currency to any other currency. And I said, why would anyone convert it to rubles? And he wouldn't answer me, and he wouldn't pledge not to take ads from rubles.

These guys have no compunction about anything. They've caused genocides in Myanmar. You'd think that one genocide, they'd might go, hmm, maybe we should stop that? Go ahead.

KEILAR: You think that -- okay. So, you say they caused genocides. We have seen some of the effects, very bad, on the self-esteem of girls. They're uncontrolled really in other -- in many other countries, inciting violence in Ethiopia or helping to do so.


Is it that they're causing these things, or are they accelerating them? And is there any difference to you?

FRANKEN: Well, those are precise words, and accelerating is accelerating. And that's -- and they know they're doing that. And they aren't -- they pick profit over acting responsibly every time, every time. And they need to be reined in. And there's different ways to do that, and we should pursue all.

BERMAN: Okay. Tell me, what are the ways to do it? Right now on Capitol Hill, if you watch, you have Democrats and Republicans in broad agreement, that Facebook, they say, is a risk or a threat. So, tell me exactly then how to crack down on that.

FRANKEN: Well, first of all, there is the anti-trust aspect. Why should they have got -- been able to buy Instagram? Why should they have been able to buy WhatsApp? They should break them up. That's one thing. They should also enforce -- change 230 so that they're responsible. That was written way before we understood their power and the power of the internet. And we should change that and stop giving them the protection that 230 provides.

KEILAR: What about a culture shift? Do you think that Zuckerberg and Sandberg have to go for Facebook to figure this out?

FRANKEN: Probably, yes. I mean, Zuckerberg just doesn't -- all these internal documents point to him being the guy who makes that decision, profit, good actor. We'll go for profit. He runs the company. It's his company. Something has to be done with him. I don't -- I don't know how we make that happen.

And there are anti-trust -- as I said, anti-trust actions you can take. They had to pay a fee to the SEC years ago. Cambridge Analytica, they broke a consent agreement. They were only made to pay $5 billion. They should have been made to pay $100 billion. And next time they do anything like that, and we should hold them in contempt of those agreements and fine them whatever we can.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about the Biden agenda and what may happen this week, finally. They may, Congress, pass the infrastructure bill and --

FRANKEN: It sounds like you're emphasizing, may.

BERMAN: For dramatic effect. It is something you may want to try on the tour tour. Listen, it may get through. They may pass the infrastructure bill and the social spending plan. They may reach a compromise. Joel Benenson and others are starting to wonder if some of the focus of the White House and the Biden administration may not be on the areas that, as of this morning, voters are most concerned about, things like, you know, gas prices or how much Thanksgiving dinner will cost, or the economic recovery, writ large here. So, you may be in support of any or all of the things that are part of this plan, but is it addressing the major concerns of the American people?

FRANKEN: I think last time I was here, we talked a little bit about supply chain and inflation, and some of that is hangover from the pandemic. But you're right. Thanksgiving dinner is going to be more expensive and gas prices, Americans really care about that. But they also are going to care about, you know, in Europe on child care. The average European country puts $14,000 into each child, supplementing their parents to do child care. In the United States, it's $500. That is going to -- that's going to save a tremendous amount of money for parents. And it is going to free up parents to go to work.

Right now, it's so expensive to have child care for your kid that many people can't go to work. They can't afford to have child care. There are going to be pieces. Universal pre-K will be able to do the same thing. Bringing down the cost of prescription drugs, if we allow Medicare, which is one of the things we're wanting to do, they're wanting to do, is allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceuticals. We pay two to three times as much for the same pharmaceuticals, many of which we manufacture and produce. We pay two to three times as much as they do in Europe. There is lots of stuff in this that's going to bring down the cost to Americans of very basic things that Europeans take for granted.


KEILAR: May bring down the cost.

BERMAN: Yes, may.

KEILAR: If it passes.

FRANKEN: It will bring down the cost for child care, if what they're talking about, they're going to do. And if you have your kid in pre-K, then you don't have to provide -- pay for child care. It will bring down the cost, Brianna.

KEILAR: I happily have a child in pre-K, so I hear you.

FRANKEN: So, she is in or he is in pre-K?


FRANKEN: And Does that bring down your cost of child care?

KEILAR: It should. Theoretically, yes. But it does, yes.

FRANKEN: It does?

KEILAR: Well, I will just -- for me, personally, in the age of COVID, no. I have to have backup child care because I have to go to work. But, hopefully, in the absence of any sort of heading home from school because of potential COVID quarantine, it will bring down the cost of child care.

FRANKEN: It will, see?

KEILAR: And I look forward to the days post COVID, yes.

FRANKEN: It will. I rest my case.

BERMAN: Al Franken, you will or may and will be back with us again.

FRANKEN: Well, may works so that it will.

BERMAN: I appreciate you being here. Thank you very much.

All right, coming up, beer cans, live ammunition, plinking, the shocking, new details of what crew members were alleged to be doing on the set of Rust just hours before the deadly shooting.

Plus, a jury will decide whether Charlottesville organizers prepared for a violent showdown from the start, CNN's Elle Reeve on the legal battle ahead.

KEILAR: And a heartwarming moment between Tom Brady and a young brain cancer survivor, what left him weeping tears of joy. We're going to speak with Noah and his dad.



KEILAR: This morning, there are new details about the events on the set of the movie Rust just hours before Actor Alec Baldwin ended up with a gun that fatally shot the film's cinematographer and wounded the director. We're also learning the film's assistant director was fired in 2019 after a gun safety incident on another movie set.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov is live from Santa Fe, Nex Mexico. Lucy, tell us what we know.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brianna. A lot of developments coming in here. We know authorities are combing through the evidence. There are no charges that have been filed. This is still very much an active investigation. But new details now emerging both about disturbing lapses or concerns with gun safety measures and the assistant director on previous productions, this as the producers of Rust say they're conducting an internal investigation of their security measures.


KAFANOV (voice over): Production of the movie Rust on hold indefinitely, as detectives investigate how Halyna Hutchins was killed during a rehearsal, this morning, new reports of possible safety violations on set. The Wrap reporting some Rust crew members used prop firearms from the film for live ammunition target practice, according to an individual with knowledge of the set. SHARON WAXMAN, FOUNDER AND CEO, THE WRAP: There's this pastime that crew members sometimes do what's called plinking. And they go out into the rural areas, and they shoot at beer cans. This is with live ammunition. We learned that this happened the morning of the day that Haylna Hutchins was killed in the early afternoon.

KAFANOV: CNN has not confirmed this reporting.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: And this is an enormously important piece of information, if confirmed. This could explain how a live gun with live ammo on it got onto that tray before it was handed to Alec Baldwin.

KAFANOV: This comes as more safety concerns emerge about the assistant director, who reportedly handed Alec Baldwin the prop gun that killed Hutchins. David Halls was fired from a previous movie in 2019 after a gun fired unexpectedly during a scene. Halls faced safety and behavior complaints in two other 2018 productions, including a disregard of safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics use, failure to hold safety meetings or announce the presence of a firearm on set. Halls did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

DUTCH MERRICK, PROP MASTER FOR FILM AND TELEVISION: The ultimate arbiter of safety on a film set is the first A.D., the first assistant director. But they know that they can inspect the gun, but they can't go take the gun.

KAFANOV: According to an affidavit, the set's armorer prepared the prop gun, which Halls picked up from a cart and gave to Baldwin, telling the actor it was a cold gun, indicating it was safe.

BILL DAVIS, ARMORER, FIREARM TRAINER FOR FIELD AND TELEVISION: There is just no way the first A.D. should have had any access to the gun at all. He should not be touching the gun. It goes from the armorer to the actor and back to the armorer. That's it.

Live ammo has no place on a motion picture or television studio set. It has no place on a set anywhere at any time.

KAFANOV: The fatal shooting just days after there were two additional accidental prop gun discharges on set, despite actors being told the firearm was cold, the Los Angeles Times reported.

At a vigil honoring Hutchins over the weekend, one veteran hair stylist told me she declined working for the film after saying it didn't seem safe.

JOLYNNE NIETO, HAIRSTYLIST, IATSE LOCAL 480 MEMBER: The negotiations, they told me that terms were non-negotiable.

There were just a few other glitches that just felt very funny to me that just -- I'm a 22-year member, so I know how contracts and terms and back and forth with negotiations and where I'm comfortable working.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KAFANOV (on camera): Now, when asked about The Wrap's reporting about crews going out to shoot beer cans that morning, the practice known as plinking, producers of the movie Rust referred us back to their previous statement, which said, and I quote, though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning the weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.


A lot of unanswered questions still, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. And they certainly aren't answering that one, a very important one that you ask. Lucy, thank you for the report.

A civil trial under way in Charlottesville for organizers of the violent and deadly Unite the Right rally in 2017.

BERMAN: And is former president trump only seeking a second term, potentially, because he is trying to avoid jail time?


BERMAN: So, if you're a worker, it's a good time to be looking for a job in America. Companies are having a hard time filling their staffs and are metaphorically rolling out the red carpet and offering the sun, moon and stars to sign people up. That's the metaphor. What's happening in the literal corporate world for job seekers is really almost just as good.

CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans joins us now.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. It even has its own nickname, the great resignation. This is issue number one for companies. COVID has reshaped the jobs market.