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New Day

Mayor Eric Adams is Interviewed about his Dispute with the Teachers' Union; tony Keller is Interviewed about the Biggest Threat in 2022. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 04, 2022 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We appreciate your time. Happy New Year.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Same to you. Same to you. Thank you.

BERMAN: So, a standoff brewing between New York City's mayor and the city's largest teacher's union. Mayor Eric Adams does join us next.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And she was called the next Steve Jobs, but now former tech icon Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos is found guilty. Who she defrauded.


KEILAR: New York City's new mayor has only been on the job for a few days now but already he is facing off with the city's largest teachers' union in the nation's biggest school system over a return to the classroom as the omicron variant keeps spreading. The teachers' union is pushing to move to remote learning.

Mayor Eric Adams is joining us now to address those concerns.

Sir, thank you for being with us this morning as you are getting settled on the job. And I know you are keeping schools open. This, of course, is against the wishes of the teachers through their union. At what point would you consider it unsafe to keep schools open?

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: Thank you. It's great to be here.


But I think it's imperative to just go back for one moment.

We're not in a battle with the teachers' union. I've stated over and over again, interview after interview, Michal Mulgrew and I have been coordinating to allow a safe space for our children. Because we have a difference of opinion on one issue, we cannot feed into hysteria.

This is traumatizing our children. The way adults are responding to Covid is having a negative impact on our children.

We are lockstep. We mobilized together to get over a million test kits to every school. I speak to Michael Mulgrew three times a day. If you speak with him, he'll tell you and anyone that Eric Adams and I are moving together to create a safe environment for our children.

The numbers right now state, and it's very clear, the safest place for children, right now, is in a school building. That's the safest place for them. If they're not in school, it does not mean they're not going outdoors. It does not mean they're not going to deal with the trauma of not having the socialization. Not getting a meal. Not being able to get remote learning. It's a luxury to say stay at home when you have all the tools that you needed. But for poor black, brown children that you don't have access to some of the basic things, school is the best place for you. And I'm going to continue to have my children be in a safe environment that all science is saying is the best place for them.

KEILAR: OK. So, a couple things there. But, first, you said you disagree on one thing. I mean, in fairness, it is the thing right now. It is the thing. It is not just one thing. This is a big area of disagreement that you have, and it can't really be, I think, dismissed.

ADAMS: Yes, it can. I have to totally respectfully disagree with you. This is not the thing. Michael shared his opinion, and he respects my opinion and I respect his.

The thing in the country, in the city right now, that adults must stop traumatizing children. We must stop giving the appearance that there's hysteria among those who are making a decision.

Michael Mulgrew and I are on the same page, that we need to create a safe environment. He understands that poor black and brown children that are homeless, over 100,000 in the city, did not have access to high speed broadband. He understands that hundreds of thousands of children don't have food at home to eat, the stabilizing diet from them comes from school. He understands the increase in attempted suicides when we closed down our schools before. So this is not the thing.

The thing is that this continuation of creating hysteria, that doesn't exist. There's no battle between Michael Mulgrew and Eric Adams. We are fighting together to create a safe environment for our children. And I'm not going to submit to people believing that there's a conflict between the two of us when we speak three times a day. We've done an amazing job of (INAUDIBLE).

KEILAR: Oh, no, no, I -- look, you -- you can speak three times a day and still have a disagreement, and this is a key one, certainly.

But just to go back to my initial question, which is, is there -- so it sounds like what you're saying, but correct me if I'm wrong, I'm just trying to get to the bottom of this --


KEILAR: There's no circumstance where you would consider it unsafe to keep schools open?

ADAMS: No, that's not true at all. KEILAR: OK. So then -- so then what is --

ADAMS: The science --

KEILAR: So then what is -- so what's your threshold or even just if you can kind of qualitatively describe where you would consider, hey, this might be a different direction we need to go here?

ADAMS: No, not at all. Listen, coronavirus -- Covid is a formidable opponent that pivots and shifts. I'm going to do that. Every day I sit down with my medical professionals. They give me smart advice based on facts, not fear, and I make the smart decisions based on that.

And, right now, my medical professionals state that children that are at home are exposed to a 15 percent likeliness to be exposed. When they are in school, we are less than 1 percent a year ago. So, as long as I have smart, talented, compassionate medical professionals that's giving me good advice, I'm going to follow that advice. And then when it is necessary to shift, they will tell me when to do so. That is how we're going to fight Covid.

KEILAR: OK. So, I know -- I know, as you say, you're basing this on facts, not fear. A fact is that pediatric hospitalizations are at a record high. They've never been higher during the pandemic, even as overall, you know, generally speaking, hospitalizations are not at a record. So, we're seeing a lot of -- a lot of kids hospitalized.


What do you say to parents who are concerned?

ADAMS: I say to them, parents, and I'm going to be clear to you, parents, because I am a parent. I have a son, and I know the anxiety that's associated with this. I'm saying to them, your children are safer in school than any other place based on the facts.

Now, if you take a child out of school, they're not staying home. They're not staying indoors. They're in the streets probably with no mask on. No social distancing. Not receiving the food, the nurture it, the care. And that's what we must look at.

And so, yes, we see an increase, we see the exposure and how quickly this strand is exposing us.

But let's share something. Let's be clear. Strand after strand, we can't continue to stop our children from developing socially and academically, and the support that they need. So, we have to learn how to live with Covid, and live with Covid with a safe way.

And that's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to allow the hysteria to prevent the future of my children receiving the quality education and the development that all sociologists are stating that they need. And I'm going to be focused on that, because I know that our children must be in school.

KEILAR: Yes, I mean, look, there is no question that children have borne such a, you know, the brunt, really, of the pandemic and this interruption to their schooling and to the network that they get through that has just been considerable and debilitating.

I do want to ask you about businesses in your city that are taking precautions. Some are telling employees, delay your return to the office. This includes some of the big banks.

What's your response to that?

ADAMS: We have to open up. You know, I know what we're going through. And I know how hard it is. I was on the ground when Covid hit this city and I watched the morgues outside of hospitals, I watched family members dropping their loved ones off, never to see them again. I know what we're going through.

But what we must understand is that the resiliency of returning back to a normal life, if we don't open our cities, we have almost a million people who are behind in their rents right here in this city. We have low skill employees who can't do remote employment from home, or telecommuting. That's not a reality in a city like New York and across America. I need my cities to open. And we have to be safe. We have to double down on vaccinations and booster shots. We have to double down on testing. But we have to reshape our thinking of how do we live with Covid.

We spent $11 trillion on Covid. We don't have another $11 trillion. Every variant can't be another $11 trillion. It's time to open up and feed our ecosystem, our financial ecosystem, and that's what I'm saying to my employees.

KEILAR: Yes, look, we have major protections here, vaccines. Not available to everyone who wants them, right, including some children, which is why this discussion in particular about schools is so important. And I appreciate you coming on, Mayor, to talk about it.

ADAMS: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: Not Russia, not China, what a Canadian newspaper says is the most dangerous global threat. The answer may surprise you.

BERMAN: And, no need to social distance after coming in contact with his music. The singer, Omarion, is finally setting the record straight.



BERMAN: A Canadian newspaper is sounding the alarm that the 2022 midterm elections could be the catalyst for widespread instability, not just in the United States, but also globally, writing, the most dangerous force in the world going into 2022 might not be in Beijing or Moscow, but in the United States. Its name is Trumpism. The U.S. is sleepwalking toward calamity, one that could take the rest of the world with it.

Joining us now is Tony Keller, he is the editorial page editor of "The Globe and Mail."

Tony, thanks so much for being with us.

So, why is it that you think that Trumpism, as it were, isn't just dangerous to the United States, but the biggest threat to the world?

TONY KELLER, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, "THE GLOBE AND MAIL": Yes, well, look, the United States is -- you know, you're the indispensable superpower. We and the rest of the world will always have things we disagree with you on. We'll criticize you, just as there's disagreements within U.S. politics.

But, at the end of the day, you're the indispensable superpower. You're the leader of the free and democratic world. And we need -- we need your politics to go well for the rest of the world to prosper. It basically comes down to that. If you -- if you go off the rails, things are not going to go well for the rest of the free democratic rule of law world.

KEILAR: You zero in, the ed board does, in this op-ed on the big lie, which, you know, of course, we look at, or many people do, not all, here in America and say, yes, that is a problem, but maybe we think it's our problem. You make the point, it's not just an American problem. This is a problem for other countries. A problem for Canada as well.

What do you worry is the domino effect outside the U.S. of the big lie?

KELLER: Well, yes, I think it just provides inspiration. First of all, it provides inspiration for forces that question democracy, that question the rule of law. And, second of all, it provides space, an opportunity for countries like China and Russia, which they might not otherwise have if the United States is strong and stable and lined up with its allies and we're kind of all on the same page. You know, there's sort of a sense that the democratic world is kind of backsliding in many different countries, in many different places.


I know you did a segment a while ago on sort of the -- the various strongmen that are inspired by Trump and that Trump cheers on. And that's -- that's a problem. When it's -- when it's a small country that's backsliding, it's not really a big deal to the rest of the world if things aren't going well in Hungary. But as soon as it's the United States, it's a completely different story. As I said, you're the indispensable superpower. If there are -- you know, if we got superheroes in the world, there's only -- we don't have a whole Justice League of superheroes. We have the United States of America and no superpowers that are on the democratic side beyond that.

So, it's a problem if the U.S. is going off the rails.

BERMAN: I appreciate the superhero reference because now I understand it.

But off the -- when you say off the rails, what do you mean by off the rails?

KELLER: Well, look, right now I think, you know, we're -- I would be concerned about Trump returning as president of the United States. Looking at things right now, it looks like Biden has -- President Biden has a lot of problems, a lot of challenges getting his agenda through Congress because it is completely deadlocked. It just feels like U.S. democracy, which has long been an inspiration to rest of the world, even when we criticize things about U.S. foreign policy, U.S. domestic policy, whatever it may be, the U.S. has been kind of the liberal inspiration to the rest of the world for a couple of centuries. And right now it seems like the disagreements are so deep that people on the left and people on the right are willing to treat a U.S. election like a life or death matter. Like, if their side loses, it's game over. And that is -- I don't have an answer for you for what to do about that. But that is a big, big problem when an election becomes a life or death matter for one or both sides in the election.

BERMAN: Well, let us know when you get the answer. We could use it.

Tony Keller, as I said, I appreciate the Justice League reference. What I should have said is, it would be more appropriate if you referenced Alpha Force being Canadian and all. Inside baseball there.

Tony Keller --

KELLER: There you go. Very inside baseball. Yes.

BERMAN: Thank you very much for being with us.

KELLER: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: Here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:00 a.m. ET, Senate reconvenes.

2:00 p.m. ET, Biden and Harris Covid-19 briefing.

2:30 p.m. ET, White House briefing.


BERMAN: All right, we have the very latest on this nightmare unfolding in Virginia on the highway. Drivers stranded all night on Interstate 95 due to the winter weather. We spoke to a woman who's been stuck since 8:00 last night, for ten hours. And now we learn that a U.S. senator says he's been stuck even longer.



BERMAN: So happening now, the severe winter storms creating this travel nightmare on Interstate 95. This is in Virginia, near Fredericksburg. You can see there, vehicles have just been stuck there for hours and hours and hours, since like 8:00 last night. Trees down on the road. Traffic at a complete standstill. A lot of drivers stranded throughout the night, including one woman we spoke to who's been stuck in the same spot since 8:00. Virginia transportation officials say they're finally getting some traffic moving again, but parts of I-95 are still closed. The governor tweeted that all stranded drivers on I-95 will be getting an emergency message to put them in contact with support.

We're going to have continuing coverage next on CNN.