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Rodgers Blames Woke Mob for Vaccine Rhetoric; Reality Check on Biden Administration; Opposing Views at Arbery Trial. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 08, 2021 - 08:30   ET




First of all, folks are hearing Aaron Rodgers say, I followed the protocols everywhere, in the weight room and in the locker room, in the cafeteria, on the team plane. He didn't leave the team hotel on road games. All of those things. We'll see. The NFL is certainly going to investigate. And NFL clubs are required to maintain video from within their team facilities for 30 days. And so the league is certainly, if they haven't already, will certainly be looking at that video to see of -- for any potential violations. But where, no question, he was violating the COVID protocol was in these press conferences, his weekly press conferences. And even after the game, press conferences that are held in the team facility where he's not wearing a mask. And it's really cut and dry, it's in black and white, that you can't do that. And he was doing it and getting away with it. And it seemed that the Packers, who were aware of Aaron Rodgers' unvaccinated status, were helping him kind of keep up this ruse.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And there doesn't seem to be a lot of sympathy for Rodgers -- I've also been struck by that -- around the league.

JONES: No. No, there's not. And, listen, there -- 94.1 percent of all NFL players are vaccinated. There was a large group of them that going into training camp didn't want to get vaccinated, but did because of the sort of -- the positives, not just from the vaccine, but that they could live their day-to-day work life much better with the vaccine than being unvaccinated. And so they felt, and many around the league do feel, that Aaron Rodgers was able to skirt the rules. He's the reigning NFL MVP that the league office should have been aware of Aaron Rodgers unvaccinated status. They certainly were. And that no one ever called him on it until, of course, he (INAUDIBLE) positive and then this all came out this past week.

BERMAN: Jonathan Jones, great to have you on this morning. Appreciate your work. Thank you.

The defense attorneys for the man who shot Ahmaud Arbery portraying the shooting as self-defense, saying the client acted lawfully. Arbery's mother had an emotional reaction.

Plus, missing teenage -- a missing teenager is rescued thanks to something she learned on TikTok.



BERMAN: Political victories and setbacks and reversals and drama and D.C. has people thinking, what's going on in the Biden White House?

John Avlon with a "Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, for the administration sometimes seen as boring, it has been a roller coaster ten days for President Biden. It begin with Biden at the G-20, committing America to the fight against climate change. While world leaders backed Biden's call for a global corporate minimum tax, a very big deal.

Then in Tuesday's elections, Democrats got a major brush-back pitch, losing Virginia for the first time since 2009 and only narrowly holding on to the New Jersey governorship, a state Biden on by double digits a year ago.

But that same day, before the polls closed, the Dow Jones Industrial average closed above 36,000 for the first time ever. On Wednesday, America passed the (INAUDIBLE) milestone of 750,000 citizens dead from COVID. The same week that children over the age of five began receiving the vaccine.

On Friday morning, a jobs report showing the economy roaring back with 531,000 new jobs in October, bringing the unemployment rate to its lowest level since the pandemic began. And then late Friday night, after umpteenth failed infrastructure weeks, Congress finally passed Biden's signature $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, the most ambitious investments since the Eisenhower administration.

No, that's enough highs and lows over one week to make your head spin. But it's on the back of polling that shows that 71 percent of Americans believe that our country is on the wrong track. So it begs the question, are things actually better under President Biden?

Well, let's take a step back. In January, when Biden took office, the unemployment rate was 6.2 percent. Now it's at 4.6 percent. On Inauguration Day, only 16.5 million vaccinations have been administered. Now it's more than 400 million. In fact, since January, America's gained a record 5 million jobs with wages jumping by the largest amount in 20 years, particularly for lower income workers. The median family's checkbook balance is now 50 percent higher than it was in 2019 according to the JP Morgan Institute. While child poverty is on track to be cut in half according to the Urban Institute.

And for what it's worth, the deficit actually decreased this fiscal year.

But here's the thing, all those gains aren't translating to optimism about the economy. Get this, an October 2021 poll from Gallup found that as job markets set records, 68 percent of Americans thought the economy was actually getting worse, or, as "The New York Times" put it, Americans are flush with cash and jobs. They also think the economy is awful.

So, what accounts for this disconnect? Well, two things primarily, inflation and gas prices. As the economies come roaring back, inflation has spiked to 5.4 percent. Now, that's almost double the recent annual rate, but far below the bad old days between 1968 and '82 when the average annualized inflation rate was 7.5 percent.

Stimulus payments may have contributed to this rise, as well as frustrated supply chain delays as the world reopens from COVID. The bottom line is that inflation on everyday items can wipe out wage gains for many families. And they feel this pain at the pump as well with gas prices spiking to levels last seen in 2014. So while we're nowhere near stagflation, this combination erodes confidence, compounded on the street level by the rise in violent crime and murders that began before Biden took office.

According to Gallup, Biden's average approval rating is 51 percent over the course of his term. His most recent poll, 42 percent, is the lowest of any modern president at this point except Donald Trump, who clocked in at 37 percent in October of his first year.

Look, in politics, perception often becomes reality. And President Biden doesn't take personal credit for stock market highs the way Donald Trump did. The Biden administration is less chaotic on any given day under -- under the -- any given day under Trump. It's accomplishments are no less dramatic. But messaging matters. So does the need to put out clear wins on the board and have them connect with people's everyday lives.


Beyond the relentless partisan den (ph).

After losing Virginia, and then finally passing the infrastructure bill, maybe, just maybe, Democrats have gotten the message.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: Maybe.

AVLON: Maybe.

BERMAN: John Avlon, thank you very much for that.

Moments from now, former President Obama said to speak at the climate summit in Scotland, and we're hearing he weighs in on the state of democracy.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And newly released body cam footage from the moments following the killing of Ahmaud Arbery are shocking the court. The latest on the trial ahead.


KEILAR: The murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery is set to reconvene this morning. So far jurors have heard opening statements and the first witness testimony. Graphic footage of the shooting was also shown to the panel as Arbery's heartbroken mother cried in the courtroom.

CNN's Ryan Young, live for us in Brunswick, Georgia, with more.


This was an incredibly emotional moment.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. You're thinking about -- about 15 minutes away from the start of the trial, starting this week. But it's that video that really took center stage last week. And you could have imagined how painful that was for this family and this community seeing some of this footage for the first time.


JUDGE TIMOTHY WALMSLEY, SUPERIOR COURT, STATE OF GEORGIA: The state of Georgia versus Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William R. Bryan.

YOUNG (voice over): Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William Bryan, three white men charged with murdering a 25-year-old black man, Ahmaud Arbery.

In their opening statement, prosecutors played a cell phone video containing the final moments of Arbery's life. Among those watching and listening in the courtroom was Arbery's mother, weeping and overwhelmed, she said later it was the first time she'd watched the video in its entirety.

WANDA COOPER-JONES, AHMAUD ARBERY'S MOTHER: I decided to remain in so I could get familiar with what happened to Ahmaud the last minutes of his life

YOUNG: Inside the court on Friday, the nearly all white jury heard two very different accounts of how Ahmaud Arbery was chased and killed near Brunswick, a coastal town in Georgia.

LINDA DUNIKOSKI, PROSECUTOR: We just know that he was running from all three defendants for five minutes.

YOUNG: Prosecutors argue the defendants cornered and fatally shot Arbery without evidence he had done anything wrong.

DUNIKOSKI: In this case, all three of these defendants did everything they did based on assumptions. Not on facts. Not on evidence. On assumptions. And they made decisions in their driveways based on those assumptions that took a young man's life.

YOUNG: At no time during the five-minute chase the prosecution says do the defendants tell Arbery they were performing a citizen's arrest and said prosecutors say Gregory McMichael shouted threats.

DUNIKOSKI: So how do you know Mr. Ahmaud Arbery was under attack by strangers with intent to kill him? Because Greg McMichael told the police this, stop or I'll blow your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) head off.

YOUNG: Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory McMichael, and their neighbor, William Roddie Bryan Jr., are facing up to life in prison without parole if convicted on murder. Each with their own defense attorney.

Travis McMichael's attorney, in his opening statement, frames what happened that day differently than prosecutors.

ROBERT RUBIN, TRAVIS MCMICHAEL'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This case is about duty and responsibility.

YOUNG: While not contending Arbery committed a crime in the defendant's presence, Travis McMichael's attorney said the 10-year veteran of the Coast Guard felt a duty and responsibility to protect his neighborhood.

RUBIN: The evidence shows overwhelmingly that Travis McMichael, honestly and lawfully, attempted to detain Ahmaud Arbery according to the law and shot and killed him in self-defense.

YOUNG: He also maintains Arbery was seen on surveillance video on multiple occasions inside a neighborhood home under construction without permission, including the day that Arbery was killed.

The state's first witness, Glenn County Police Officer William Duggan, was a second police officer on the scene the day Arbery was killed.

DUNIKOSKI: And what did that man, covered in blood, seated over there, say to you when you asked him, are you OK?

OFFICER WILLIAM DUGGAN, GLYNN COUNTY POLICE: He -- it was a quick reply of basically, no, I'm not OK, I just f'ing killed somebody.

YOUNG: Duggan testified he could not help Arbery.

DUGGAN: The amount of blood loss I saw on the scene, the lack of rise and fall of the chest, basically the gaping wound that I saw in his chest, there was -- there was nothing I could do for him.


YOUNG: Brianna, it's important to note, on the day of the shooting, the three men who were chasing Ahmaud Arbery did not see him commit a crime and they chased him. And, of course, if you hear in that video that we just played, they said they never heard them say this was a citizen's arrest. There was just those threats and then that shooting. So, it will be interesting to see how that plays out today in court.


KEILAR: All right, Ryan, we'll be watching with you.

Ryan Young, thank you so much.

Bomb threats forcing evacuations at three different ivy league schools. So what is behind this and are these connected?

BERMAN: And a trick learned on TikTok credited for saving a missing teenager.



BERMAN: Time for "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."

Police in Houston launching a criminal investigation into the stampede at a music festival that left eight people dead and scores injured. The first lawsuits have been filed against concert headliner Travis Scott, Live Nation and the promoter of the event.

KEILAR: And the U.S. is rolling out the welcome mat to travelers from 33 countries who have proof of vaccination and if traveling by air a negative recent COVID test. The new policy lifting a travel restriction that has been in place the past 20 months. Airlines warn all travelers to anticipate delays if they're juggling the likely surge of passengers.

BERMAN: A series of bomb threats triggering evacuations Sunday on ivy league university campuses, Columbia, Cornell and Brown. The threats to all three schools were later deemed not credible by police. Similar unsubstantiated threats were made to Yale and two other universities in Ohio last week.

KEILAR: Federal investigators are looking into an apparent cyberattack after foreign hackers stole sensitive data from multiple U.S. defense contractors among other key sectors.


It is believed that passwords were stolen with the intended goal of maintaining long-term access to those networks.

BERMAN: A missing 16-year-old from North Carolina was rescued after using a hand gesture she learned on TikTok to get the attention of a nearby driver. According to the Canadian Women's Foundation, the signal for distress is an open hand with tucked thumb and close all the fingers over your thumb.

KEILAR: That is "5 Things to Know for Your New Day." You can have more on all of these stories at CNN, Don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning. Just go to

And we do have some new details coming in about the mass casualty event in Houston over the weekend. What police personally told Travis Scott ahead of his deadly concert.

BERMAN: And back off the sidelines, President Obama, the former president, about to address the global climate summit in Glasgow. We'll go there live.