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CNN Reality Check: Defending Democracy Around The World Demands We Defend It Here; Biden Asks CEOs To Speed Up Deliveries And Lower Prices In Bottleneck; NFL Slaps Rodgers And Packers On Wrist Over COVID Violations. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 10, 2021 - 07:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: If you thought the January 6th insurrection was watched closely by the democracies of the world, perhaps its dictators, strongmen, and autocrats studied it even harder.

John Avlon tells us more in today's Reality Check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: If you want to see a real rigged election look at what just happened in Nicaragua. Longtime leftist autocrat Daniel Ortega and his running mate wife allegedly won 76 percent of the vote for his fourth consecutive term, which got it labeled a parody by international observers. Ortega arrested some 40 opposition leaders, including seven potential presidential rivals in the run-up to the election.

Two decades ago, Nicaragua seemed to be on the path toward democracy but this dissent into despotism prompted President Biden to slam the nation's sham elections, calling them neither free nor fair and most certainly not democratic, promising the U.S. would use all its economic and diplomatic power to support the people of Nicaragua.

But this story with all its concurrent corruption, subversion of the rule of law, and human rights crises is not isolated. It's a sad fact that almost 32 years to the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, freedom and democracy are under assault around the world.

According to Freedom House, less than 20 percent of the world's population now lives in truly free countries, while 2020 represented the 15th consecutive year of declining global freedom. But even in autocratic nations like Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, along with broad swaths in the Middle East and Africa, brave dissidents are still speaking out in favor of freedom and democracy.

And that's why CNN has partnered with the Renewed Democracy Initiative's Frontlines of Freedom project to present voices of freedom -- a digital opinion series that tells the stories of 13 dissidents from oppressive nations around the world. People like Leopoldo Lopez of Venezuela, Masih Alinejad from Iran, Andrie Sannikov from Belarus, RDI chairman Garry Kasparov of Russia, and Nury Turkel who was born in a Chinese reeducation camp and now sees history repeating with the Uyghurs.

Their stories are about something bigger than themselves and so their struggles should concern all of us because whether we like it or not defending liberal democracy against autocracy is the defining fight of our times.


Listen to Nathan Law, an exiled former legislature and political prisoner from Hong Kong.


If terrorism is to expand and continue to grow, it is not only Hong Kong. This is not only Hong Kong people's fights. This is the fights of the people living in democratic countries.


AVLON: It's a reminder of the precious legacy we have to defend here in the United States. As Gambian dissident Fatou Jaw Manneh writes, "It wasn't just American influence that made me demand better from the Gambian government. It was knowing that America was there that made me believe that I could succeed. Imperfect and as unequal as it may be," she says, "the United States is still the most potent global force for freedom, and without it, the world faces a dark future."

And that's why it's sobering and important to confront the crisis of faith in our democracy stoked by Donald Trump's lies about the election that resulted in the attack on our Capitol. Dissidents say that Trump's attempt to overturn the election has emboldened autocrats around the world.

Listen to Pastor Evan Mawarirer of Zimbabwe.


PASTOR EVAN MAWARIRE, ZIMBABWE: The unfortunate flipside of democracy breaking down in America is that those that are oppressors elsewhere then feel that they have been handed the ticket to continue.


AVLON: And that's also why attempts to recast the rioters who attacked our Capitol as political prisoners who are now being persecuted -- as Congressman Paul Gossar has claimed, echoed by the likes of Trump and Tucker Carlson -- is such an insult. It's an insult to real political prisoners who have suffered for their commitment to democracy and autocracies -- people like Venezuela's Leopoldo Lopez, Belarus' Andrie Sannikov, and Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan.

As Pastor Evan Mawarire told me, "January sixth was an attack not only on American democracy but also on America's moral authority around the world. For anyone to pretend that these attackers are political prisoners is an insult to those of us who've spent years fighting for basic freedom and looking to the U.S. for inspiration." That's why our commitment to defending democracy at home and abroad must be intertwined. And that's why democracies must stand together to insist on the rule of law and human rights against the rising tide of autocracies. And that's why we honor the courage of those dissidents who stand up to dictators, inspire their fellow citizens, and remind the rest of us to never take freedom and democracy for granted.

And that's your reality check.

KEILAR: And you really put it into perspective there, John. Thank you.

And for more on the Voices of Freedom project, you can go to to check that out.

You know, it's not just groceries. The price of electronics skyrocketing. We're going to ask the White House about it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Total strangers end up giving birth to each other's babies in a fertility fiasco. Wait until you hear what they did about it.



BERMAN: Household debt in the United States has climbed to a record $15.2 trillion. People are spending on credit cards again after paying down balances during the pandemic. They're also taking out things -- on loans for things like houses and cars, which are more expensive these days.

KEILAR: And then, T.V.s, laptops, and other electronics are also more expensive right now with prices skyrocketing due to inflation and supply chain problems.

CNN's Matt Egan has been taking a firsthand look at this from a store in New Jersey. Tell us what you found, Matt.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, Brianna, there is a worldwide shortage of computer chips and it's hovering like a black cloud above this holiday shopping season, especially when it comes to electronics.

Now, computer chips -- they go into everything from smartphones and coffeemakers to exercise machines. And Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo recently told me that this computer chip shortage probably isn't going away until late next year or even 2023. And so, yes, that's why we've seen higher prices on electronics -- on TVs.

And another factor, of course, is the supply chain situation. We've got a worker shortage, a shortage of truck drivers, the port congestion. And don't forget, demand has been really strong as the U.S. economy reopens.

Now, shoppers I've been talking to -- they say they've been responding to these issues by shopping earlier, and some of them have been forced to trade up to more expensive items.

Now, I'm standing outside of a Best Buy and this company says that their inventory situation has actually gotten a little bit better -- this, partially, because Best Buy has been chartering its own transportation for overseas shipments. Best Buy does concede, though, some shoppers are going to have some problems getting holiday favorites, including Bluetooth speakers and gaming consoles, and smartphones.

Now, online shoppers -- they're also facing their fair share of obstacles as well. There were more than three -- I'm sorry, two billion instances of a product being out of stock online in October. That's according to Adobe Analytics. That is 33 percent higher than a year ago and it's up 325 percent from two years ago.

Some of the products that are also having some out-of-stock issues -- electronics, jewelry, clothing, home and garden items.

Brianna and John, we have new inflation numbers coming out in less than an hour and it shaping up to potentially be a historic inflation report with economists expecting prices to be up by the most in nearly 31 years.


KEILAR: Yes, and compounding problems, as you described there. Multiple things going on.

Matt, thank you for the report.

BERMAN: So, the White House has just announced further actions today to try to relieve supply chain slowdowns. And later today, President Biden will highlight actions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill to target problems now -- and they say, hopefully, prevent future ones.

Joining me now is Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo. Madam Secretary, thank you so much for being with us.

President Biden recently speaking with corporate CEOs -- Walmart, Target, FedEx, and other places. What's the specific ask from the president when it comes to these supply chain issues?

GINA RAIMONDO, SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: Yes, good morning and thank you for having me.

So, the president has reached out to the private sector to ask them to partner with us. The specific ask is to do everything they can to help break the logjam. That could be adding more shifts, hiring more people, coordinating better with the ports. It's really just a coordination effort so that we can move cargo more quickly and meet the demands of the American consumer.

BERMAN: I know it's complicated because so much of the supply chain is privately run. And one of the issues is the bottleneck among truckers -- the shortage of truckers. So, what do you do about that? RAIMONDO: So, what we are doing is training more folks to become truckers -- particularly, helping people get their commercial driver's license more quickly and more easily, I should say. Providing that sort of job training. There's also a provision in the bipartisan infrastructure package to allow folks who are 18 and above instead of 21 and above to get the commercial driver's license.

So, we are taking action in every way that we know how, whether it is labor, opening ports 24/7 allowing flexibility for ports to use their federal money more quickly and more creatively. The president has told us, his team, do what it takes. Get this cargo moving because people deserve that.

BERMAN: The president is going to Baltimore today -- the Port of Baltimore to announce a series of actions there. We can put them up on the screen so people can see them. It has to do with Georgia funding the Port Authority for a pop-up container yard project within 45 days. Some grants to modernize ports. Some stuff the Army Corps of Engineers -- very important stuff -- is doing.

I guess my question is when can Americans expect to feel the relief to the supply chain backup?

RAIMONDO: I think we will feel it a little bit each day, which is to say there is no quick fix. I wish -- if there were a light switch that we could flip we would do that. You're already starting to see some relief.

You were talking earlier about chips, for example. I've been talking to automakers. They are saying it is a little bit better. The ports are moving a bit more quickly.

So, we all have to be just a little bit patient because we are seeing that the action we are taking is working; we just have to stick with it long enough to solve the problem.

BERMAN: On a CNN town hall, President Biden suggested that using the National Guard was on the table. That's something the White House backtracked on. Is it on the table, using the National Guard?

RAIMONDO: You know, I think everything's on the table. We are literally going through our entire toolbox to decide what steps would be helpful. You know, I don't think it's something that we are seriously evaluating right now. But listen, we are in touch with governors every day asking them how can we help you, and the National Guard is a tool that we would consider if we think -- if we thought it would be helpful.

BERMAN: So, gas prices not exactly in your purview but you're the former governor of Rhode Island, so home heating prices certainly are. And you know in the Northeast they're expecting very high prices this winter.

Again, what can be done? What power does the government have to step in and try to help here? RAIMONDO: Yes. So, as you say, this is not in my area. I know that Sec. Granholm, Secretary of Energy, is working this issue and monitoring it constantly.

And again, as you say, this is in the private sector. But I will say we will take similar actions as necessary in terms of partnering with the private sector. At this point, we aren't -- we are watching it on a daily basis and we will take action as necessary.

BERMAN: If you were still the governor of Rhode Island, and I understand you're not, would you be hoping or asking for the president to open up the strategic petroleum reserve?

RAIMONDO: Again, I think it's premature to say.


What I would be saying to the president is I would -- I would just ask him to keep doing what he's doing, which is to say waking up every single day worrying about these issues and directing his team to do everything they can within the power of the federal government in partnership with governors, in partnership with the private sector to fix these problems.

I think -- we've never lived through anything like COVID before. We shut down our entire global supply chain overnight, literally, in 2020. And so -- and now we have to turn it back on -- global supply chains. It is going to take a little bit of time but we are making progress every single day. You see it.

Lumber prices are down 60 percent since May. We just got rid of tariffs on steel and aluminum. You will start to see those prices go down. The ports are moving a little bit more quickly.

So, we are on it, acting urgently and we know it's a tough time for American consumers.

BERMAN: Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo, thanks so much for being with us.

RAIMONDO: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. We're going to have more on our breaking news. A judge rejecting Donald Trump's attempt to keep January sixth documents a secret. So, what happens now?

Plus, the NFL slapping Aaron Rodgers and the Packers kind of on the wrist -- not a huge punishment -- after he's accused of lying about being vaccinated coming up.



BERMAN: Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will have to pay a price, but only financially. The NFL has handed down $14,000 fines for Rodgers and Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard, and a $300,000 fine to the Packers for violations of the league's COVID rules. Those violations include a Halloween party that Rodgers and Lazard went to while unvaccinated. Protocols prohibit unvaccinated players from gathering outside of club facilities in a group of more than three players.

Joining me now, Cari Champion, former ESPN anchor and host of the "Naked With Cari Champion" podcast. Cari, thanks so much for being with us.

Fourteen thousand dollars for Aaron Rodgers. How much do you think he feels that?

CARI CHAMPION, HOST, NAKED WITH CARI CHAMPION, FORMER ESPN ANCHOR (via Webex by Cisco): Yes, it's -- that's really going to teach him. That's really going to show him not to do that again.

I think, unfortunately, what we're seeing here -- and I want to make sure that I'm very, very clear about my stance on Aaron Rodgers -- this is not new. What he did was blatantly lie and he's saying if people felt misled then he's apologizing. He takes full responsibility.

But Aaron had this approach and he has always had this approach where he felt as if he has been smarter than everyone in a room. Very much a contrarian opinion.

And this is what I believe most people are angry with -- the arrogance of it all. To appear to -- in front of many people without his mask at these press conferences -- yes, uh-huh, I'm immunized. Yes, uh-huh, that -- it's all good.

And that $14,000 really doesn't affect him and his $134 million contract, as we all know.

BERMAN: I also want to point out he's being fined for going to the Halloween party. He's not being fined or punished in any way for misleading the world when he was asked if he was vaccinated and answering yes, I'm immunized.

CHAMPION: You know, I've been seeing this online and I -- and I want to just say this briefly, especially now that I've heard other people about it -- people whom I respect greatly. But they're comparing this to Colin Kaepernick and the two are just not the same. Aaron Rodgers has a privilege in a league and in this world, as a matter of fact, that Colin Kaepernick has never had and will never have.

He is a superstar quarterback. He's up there with Tom Brady. They treat him as such. And Aaron knew that when he decided not to get vaccinated. And so, it's unfortunate that we are sitting here today talking about what is so blatant in a league that has so many problems. This $14,000 fine is a joke.

I think it's also disappointing to see how he's taking little responsibility. I'm old enough to remember when Ryan Braun was suspended for using

PEDs and Aaron Rodgers said that's my friend and my business partner and I'm so disappointed that he lied. That's exactly what Aaron Rodgers has done. He has lied. He said it upsets the fans. Aaron Rodgers, you've upset the fans.

And he actually has this selective amnesia. He does not remember this. I remember him standing in a press conference, sitting on his box of righteousness, being upset with Ryan Braun. And I'm like, OK -- well, I can -- I can compare those two to lying to the public and fans.

BERMAN: He, I guess, took a second bite of the apple of trying to explain himself or justify it in this new interview. Let's listen to what he said there.


AARON RODGERS, GREEN BAY PACKERS QUARTERBACK: I'm an athlete. I'm not an activist. So, I'm going to get back to doing what I do best and that's -- and that's playing ball.

Look, I shared an opinion that is polarizing. I get it. And I misled some people about my status, which I take full responsibility of those comments. But in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I'm about, and I stand behind the things that I said.


BERMAN: We've got about 30 seconds left, Cari. Does that settle it?

CHAMPION: No, it does not settle it. And I know he's not an activist but don't use the Dr. Martin Luther King quote to decide that this is your point that you want to make.

Listen, it's going to be very little fallout if any at all, in my opinion. There will be the public backlash. But this is just another example of the privilege that the NFL gives to those they choose to give to.

BERMAN: Cari Champion, great to talk to you. Thanks so much for coming in.

CHAMPION: You, too. Thank you.

BERMAN: An opening night in college basketball -- the Wichita State Shockers living up to their name.


ANNOUNCER: So, it looks like Wichita State is just going to attack here and --