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Pennsylvania Senate Candidate Changes Story about Health Scare; White House Aides Frustrated Over Biden's Lack of Traction; Shortage of Contrast Dye Forcing Hospitals to Ration CT Scans; Why the Marshall Plan Still Matters 75 Years Later. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 07, 2022 - 07:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman focusing on his recovery and staying off the campaign trail until at least next month according to his wife after suffering a stroke revealing a heart condition and admitting he almost died. Questions are growing about why the campaign was not more transparent about his health.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is live for us in Pittsburgh with more - Jeff.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Brianna. The Pennsylvania Senate race is one of the biggest contests of this midterm election year where Democrats see their best opportunity to pick up a seat. That seat is from retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey. But the Democratic candidate, just five months from tomorrow is election day, John Fetterman is still sidelined and as you said those health questions loom large over the race.


JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Thanks for coming out, everybody. Really.

ZELENY (voice-over): It's been 25 days since John Fetterman has stepped on to the campaign trail in Pennsylvania. His wife Gisele now tells CNN he may not reappear until next month.

GISELE FETTERMAN, JOHN FETTERMAN'S WIFE: I think he deserves a month of break to get back and come back as strong as ever because this is going to be a tough race and a really important race, and I want him to be fully ready for it.

ZELENY (on-camera): So maybe in July?

G. FETTERMAN: Maybe. I think so. Yes. That's my hope.

ZELENY (voice-over): That hope is shared by Democrats who are watching her husband's recovery from a stroke and previously undisclosed heart condition with increasing alarm in one of the nation's top Senate races. With questions and concerns mounting, Fetterman finally revealed the severity of his illness last Friday, bluntly acknowledging in a statement, "I almost died." We sat down with his wife in their hometown of Braddock just outside

of Pittsburgh. She defended their commitment to being transparent, pushing back on suggestions they downplayed his condition.

G. FETTERMAN: It's still a hiccup. I mean, families go through health crises. This is -- our family is not unique in what we've gone through. Only we've had to go through it very publicly.

ZELENY: That spotlight is likely to only intensify, considering the heart patient is now running against a celebrity heart surgeon. With Dr. Mehmet Oz finally declaring victory after this Republican primary stretched to do a recount.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The primary is over. Now left-wing radicals are rolling into Pennsylvania.

ZELENY: Republicans are wasting no time trying to brand Fetterman as extreme, and he's pushing back by reminding Pennsylvanians that Oz moved here from New Jersey to run for Senate. Yet questions about Fetterman's health hang heavy over the race. In whispers among party officials and among some voters who privately raise their concerns.

Alyssa Catalano, a friend of Fetterman's who owns a business just down the street from his home, said the family has tried to balance medical and political obligations.

ALYSSA CATALANO, FETTERMAN FAMILY FRIEND: Being personally close to the family, my priority at that time was like, don't just focus on getting better, don't worry about everyone, but I understand that he has a responsibility right now, but I think that what I would say to those people is put yourself in their shoes.

ZELENY: Pennsylvania voters offered a mixed view.

ELEANOR GROSSMAN, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I think that his wife will keep him on track, so I think that if his doctors feel confident that he can be released and can campaign then I'm not concerned.

JIM DUDASH, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I think that it's kind of creates a dangerous situation, as much for him as anything.

ZELENY: It wasn't until Friday that Fetterman revealed he left a series of heart issues untreated for years. In a statement he confessed, "I should have taken my health more seriously. The stroke I suffered on May 13th didn't come out of nowhere."

G. FETTERMAN: I hate that he had to learn it the hard way, but I'm grateful that he's alive and will make a full recovery and now he is the one who listens the most, not only to me, but to the doctors. And I hope that other folks can learn from him and not have to experience it like he had to.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZELENY: And this morning, Fetterman is up with new campaign ads introducing himself to the general election electorate here in Pennsylvania, but again he is not planning to campaign potentially until July. There have been so many concerns from Democrats here in the Commonwealth as well as in Washington if they would have to device strategies perhaps to replace him on the ballot.

The deadline for that is August, but in my conversation yesterday with Gisele Fetterman, she said that will not be necessary. She said he will be campaigning and more importantly, she said, his doctors believe he can, too -- Brianna.

KEILAR: So interesting to hear from her. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So new reporting on messaging struggles within the White House. CNN's Isaac Dovere reports, quote, "Being familiar never makes the feeling less dreadful. White House aides e- mailing each other during one of President Joe Biden's stops on the road tracking who's covering what he's saying and which TV channels are taking the speech live, and realizing a number of times that the answer was none. Your thinking, said one person said familiar, why are we doing this?"

Joining us now is Dan Pfeiffer, former senior adviser to President Obama and White House communications director, and he's the author of the brand-new book out today "Battling the Big Lie: How FOX, Facebook and the MAGA Media are Destroying America."

Dan, it's great to have you. There's so much in this book that's exactly relevant for stuff that's happening in the news today. That report from Isaac was really revealing that there are people within the White House who feel like they're not getting their message out. How true?

DAN PFEIFFER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Definitely true. And I put myself in the top percentile of Americans sympathetic to the challenges they have. When I worked in the White House, it was hard to get our message out because the media environment was so chaotic and hyperbolic, and there was this emerging right-wing media machine that was starting to drown out our message.

That problem is exponentially worse now. The White House, even if you put aside all of the crises happening outside of their control, they're dominating the news, the presidential bully pulpit is incredibly small and this is a huge challenge to Democrats is that we are losing the messaging wars, as I wrote in the book, Republicans have spent decades building up this massive apparatus, if it's cable news, the digital sites, YouTube personalities, you know, Facebook messaging, that is pushing right-wing disinformation and propaganda at the expense of normal political conversation in this country.

BERMAN: Is it just that, though? Or are there choices that this White House is making that's making it harder for them to get their message out?

PFEIFFER: Look, I think we can sit here and everyone can always do a better job. I think there are two parts of political communication. What are you going to say and how do you get people to pay attention to it. Biden has nailed the first part for much of his presidency. His agenda is popular, his messaging is good. But not enough people are hearing it. And you have seen I think in the last few weeks a shift in what the White House is doing. Some of it is in the CNN report you mentioned.

The president is getting out more, he's been doing more interviews, he's going to be on Jimmy Kimmel tomorrow night. He did give a primetime speech. And I think they're recognizing that you have to -- Democrats have to work extra hard to be omnipresent in the political conversation because we don't have an apparatus who's going to do that for us like President Trump did.

BERMAN: The op-eds, one of the things, you sort of mentioned this in your book, it presage something that President Biden has tried to do. He's written two op-eds in the last month, one on inflation and the other I believe on gun safety. Is that sort of the new approach? That feels awfully old school.


PFEIFFER: Well, I think if you think of the op-eds as something that is designed only for the readers of the dead tree editions of the newspaper they fall in then yes, that is very old and an inefficient way to communicate. If you think of it as a way to kick-start a political conversation in the digital space where everyone is reacting to that op-ed, it doesn't really matter where it is, but you are putting content out there, you are pushing your message in every available means, right. You're doing late-night shows with Jimmy Kimmel, you're doing op-eds, you're traveling, you're doing local television, you're doing progressive media, all of those things have to be part of the mix. And I think we're seeing a lot more of that from this White House now.

BERMAN: I want to come back to this White House in a second, but I want to focus on another thing that we're just learning which gets to what your book is about, which is that the first night of the January 6th Select Committee hearings will be in primetime, Thursday night. All the major networks are covering them, the cables are covering them, except for FOX News will not broadcast these hearings. What does that tell you?

PFEIFFER: Well, it certainly tells me that idea that FOX is some sort of quasi right-leaning journalistic organization during the day and then right-wing opinion at night, is completely not true. Right. This is the entire operation at FOX, and it has now been amplified by a bunch of sort of FOX like online versions of FOX, is the goal is to create a hermetically sealed information bubble to dictate, to give people a specific alternative version of reality, alternative facts as Kellyanne Conway would say, to -- for the purposes of motivating Republican voters and winning elections. That is what it is. Full stop.

BERMAN: That's one thing that's interesting to look at, which is there is a segment of the country for which those hearings, I suppose you're saying, will not exist.

PFEIFFER: They will not exist. And it's the same thing on the economy, right. When -- within the right-wing media ecosystem, when Donald Trump was president, the economy was great. Jobs numbers were the single most important thing. Right. It was this -- the greatest economy in history according to FOX. Once, you know -- obviously the economy is very complicated right now, but the idea that we are having historic job growth, one of the greatest jobs growth in history, is not a piece of information that's being communicated to a large swath of the population because right-wing media outlets and the billionaires that fund it do not want people to know that.

BERMAN: All right. I'm going to ask you to summarize in 30 seconds what the last third of your entire book is about.


BERMAN: So I know it's a challenge here but what do you do about it? It's not the Democrats and this White House don't understand.

PFEIFFER: They absolutely understand.

BERMAN: What's happened, and what environment they are now in. So how do you beat that?

PFEIFFER: So there are no simple solutions. We are decades behind the right-wing here. But there are three things I think we have to do. One, as a party and a progressive movement we have to invest in progressive media not at the expense of mainstream media, we're not trying to -- we're not running away from it. It's an and-both strategy. But we have to build up and invest in ways in which we can communicate with people and tell our story on our terms.

Second, I think we have to radically rethink communications in this period. Political communications is not public relations. It's information warfare in the digital age. So we have to be on a war footing and build up a completely different operation. Last thing is, and I think this is the only way that progressives are going to beat Republicans at this is, we have millions and millions of Democrats around this country who are taking time out of their day to text and phone calls and call strangers on the phone.

We have a great volunteer base. We need to turn them into a messaging army. We need to give them content and tools to spread our message. We should think of each one of them as an adjunct to the White House press secretary, they're carrying our message. And that requires a lot of work. But we all have agencies here and there are things we can do. But we have to recognize it, understand the problem, which is why I wrote the book, to explain where this came from and how it works and then what we can do about it.

BERMAN: Dan Pfeiffer, the book is "Battling the Big Lie." It is out today and it deals with things that are in the news today.

Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it. Great to see you.

PFEIFFER: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: The state of Texas ordering active shooter training for all school districts in response to the Uvalde massacre. We're going to speak with a trainer in charge.

KEILAR: And it's not just baby formula. Supply chain issues and COVID- fueled shutdowns have impacted other critical parts of healthcare. We have Dr. Sanjay Gupta here to explain.



KEILAR: In addition to the crisis surrounding infant formula, supply chain shortages are ensnaring other aspects of healthcare, including diagnostics. The closure of GE's healthcare -- GE Healthcare Shanghai plant because of COVID lockdowns in early April has led to a shortage of contrast dye, the medium that doctors and hospitals use in diagnostic scans like CT scans, and that has led to a delay in diagnoses and treatments.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been investigating this issue and joins us now to tell us more.

Sanjay, what does this dye do and how can this lead to missed or delayed diagnoses?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Just like you said, this is called IV contrast. It's intravenous, it's a contrast that contains iodine, which is going to show up well if you image this on scans, you inject this into the bloodstream and it's basically to try and find abnormalities that you might otherwise miss. Someone is having a stroke, for example, try and find exactly where the blood clot is that's causing that stroke. This is something that can come in, you know, really be useful for that.

Let me show you in my world of brain imaging why it's so useful. If you take a look at a brain image such as this one, you may not be able to tell just exactly what's going on there. This doesn't have any contrast that's been injected. Now if you inject the contrast take a look especially in the upper right corner of the scan and you see that big bright white spot there, Brianna.


That's a tumor. That's a brain tumor. I called them an angioma. It's not very clear at all on the non-contrast scan. You inject the contrast it becomes clear.

Let me show you one more example. Someone who is getting their liver imaged, for example, concerned about cancer. On the left, that's the upper left corner there, the liver I can tell you looks pretty normal. You inject the dye again, and those two spots there that are with the yellow arrows, those are indications of areas where now you have evidence of cancer in the liver. You may have missed that if you didn't have the dye. That's why this is so important. And as you point out, Brianna, this

is as a result of that zero COVID policy in Shanghai. Early April to just this past week, two weeks this GE Healthcare plant was essentially not able to manufacture this dye. That plant, you know, this company serves probably half the hospitals in this country in terms of providing that dye. So that's been the issue.

You haven't been able to get enough of that dye over these two months and we're still going to be paying the price for that for some time to come. They're ramping up production again, but it takes a while to catch up.

KEILAR: Sanjay, thank you so much. Incredibly alarming. These are tests obviously that need to be done here.

So the U.S. has sent tens of billions of dollar of aid to Ukraine. But as Putin's war rages on, the question remains, what's it going to cost to rebuild. We have a reality check, next.

BERMAN: And a big escalation by the Justice Department, leaders of the Proud Boys have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the January 6th insurrection. The significance ahead.



BERMAN: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a devastating impact on Ukraine's economy. One that could last generations. So what will it cost to rebuild?

John Avlon with a "Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Seventy-five years ago this week, Secretary of State George Marshall gave a graduation address that changed the world. America and its allies had won the Second World War, veterans were attending college on the GI Bill and many citizens felt entitled to a peace dividend. But on June 5th, 1947, the former general came to tell college graduates in Cambridge that the war wasn't really over.

Threatened by Soviet aggression, Europe must have substantial additional help or face economic, social and political deterioration, Marshall warned. The United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic help in the world without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace.

Marshall was proposing something unprecedented, that America help rebuild its enemies as well as its allies. This was the opposite of reparations. It was an investment in peace. But words are cheap, right? U.S. President Harry Truman understood that the American people would be need to be sold the idea of spending more money to secure the peace after years of war. And Republicans had control of Congress and so the effort was bipartisan from the start.

Truman and Marshall cultivated the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Arthur Vandenberg. At first, he balked at the idea of spending more than 10 cents out of every dollar of the federal budget back in Europe. But Vandenberg, who'd been an isolationist until the attack on Pearl Harbor, understood that partisan politics ought to end at the water's edge, and so he set about winning over his fellow Republicans.

He insisted that the Marshall plan be run like a business with a strict accounting of expenses and partnership with other allied nations. A surge in Soviet aggression created a renewed sense of urgency. The Marshall plan you see was the olive branch that complemented the errors of the Truman document to support free people who were resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.

It was ultimately passed with 69 votes in the Senate. Within months there were ships delivering food and medicine, funding to rebuild buildings, dams and bridges. Europe was stabilized by economic interdependence, spurred growth while taming inflation, political moderates rose in parliaments rather than extreme parties. And in the end, security was strengthened by the creation of NATO, while trade agreements created the foundation of the European Union.

Now you might be asking why the Marshall plan should matter to you today. Because it turned enemies into allies and dictatorships into liberal democracies. Because it reminds us that America's greatness is directly connected to our goodness. And because it helped establish 75 years of relative peace and prosperity in Western Europe.

In recent years we've learned the dangers of taking our democracy for granted, and in recent months we relearned the wisdom of those organizations, established by America and its allies to win the peace after the Second World War.

Putin's invasion of Ukraine should have shattered any fashionable illusions about isolationism or the end of history. It should also remind us that geopolitical bullies only respect strength. That's why collective security agreements work, just ask previously neutral nations like Finland and Sweden why they want to join NATO now.

There are already calls for a new Marshall plan. To rebuild what's been destroyed in Ukraine. And signs of renewed solidarity among allies with the determination that Russia remain isolated at least while Putin is in power. But perhaps the best way to honor the Marshall plan is to recognize that peace must be waged unceasingly. We cannot wisely retreat from the world, because what Marshall and Truman and Vandenberg understood is still true, if you don't win the peace, you don't really win the war.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: And everyone should go check out John Avlon's book, which deals with Abraham Lincoln, but also connects it to the Marshall plan, and thereby connects us to where we are today.

John, a great "Reality Check." Thank you.

NEW DAY continues right now.