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Alex Jones to Take the Stand; Reena Ninan is Interviewed about the Protests in Iran; Judge Still Stuck on 60 Home Runs; History of Home Runs. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 06:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: They received after Jones spread the lie that the massacre was a hoax. Today, Jones is set to make his first courtroom appearance and take the stand.

CNN's Jean Casarez is joining us lie on what we've seen and what we should expect here.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brianna, many had no idea what the family members of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre went through in the aftermath of everything. But now, in this Connecticut courtroom, they're taking the stand and they're, through their testimony, having to relive almost each and every moment.


CASAREZ (voice over): An emotional day of testimony after three family members, whose loved ones were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, took the stand describing the harassment they endured as a result of Alex Jones' false statement that the massacre was a hoax.


And to have someone publicly tell you -- telling the world that it didn't happen is incredibly disorienting.

CASAREZ: The trial is to determine how much money Jones and his company, Free Speech Solutions, will pay after they were found liable for defaming the families back in November 2021.

David Wheeler and Jennifer Hensel recounted the online harassment they faced after their children were murdered.

WHEELER: People were, you know, accusing me of lying, telling me they never lived, telling me that I was going to burn in hell and that I would pay for what I had done.

JENNIFER HENSEL, PLAINTIFF, DAUGHTER MURDERED AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Of all of the people saying that we faked this and that it never happened and that she's still alive somewhere, God if she were, wouldn't that be amazing, but she wasn't.

CASAREZ: Hensel testified that after her husband Jeremy committed suicide in 2019, people went to their daughter's Avielle's grave site looking for evidence the family was faking his death.

HENSEL: People were in the cemetery around Avielle's grave marker looking for evidence that Jeremy had died. And I don't have a grave marker for Jeremy right now. I haven't quite figured out how I want to do that yet and to honor him in his way. And so they wouldn't have found something there. But that, for them, was enough proof to say that he never died or that I was making this up.

I couldn't wrap my head around just one more family member being part of this narrative.

CASAREZ: Erica Lafferty's mother, Dawn, was the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary and was also murdered that day. She tearfully recounted the online harassment and threatening letters sent to her home claiming her mother never existed. Lafferty testified she has moved several times and even travels under a different name to avoid harassment.

ERICA LAFFERTY, PLAINTIFF, MOTHER MURDERED AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: This case was brought because there have been lies about me and my family, and they would not stop.


CASAREZ: And Alex Jones is set to take the stand today. What he will testify to, I think nobody knows at this point. There are parameters, however.

And we also have learned his company is generating a lot of profit because of all this publicity.


KEILAR: Yes. And what these families have been through, Jean, and now we're getting this glimpse into it, it's so important. Thank you for your report.

Protests are now spreading in Iran after the death of a young woman in custody by the morality police there.

Courting history. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is one round trip away from tying Roger Meris. How soon might other records fall?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And Olivia Wilde weighs in on spit gate. Her take on the, was it a run-in between Harry Styles and Chris Pine?




BERMAN: New video obtained by CNN via the proreform activist outlet IranWire shows protesters on the streets of Iran burning head scarves, clashing with police as protests continue in the wake of a death of a 22-year-old woman who was in police custody last week. Masha Amini died after being arrested by Iran's morality police. Iranian authorities say that Amini died of heart failure, but her family says she was in good health before she was arrested and had no preexisting heart condition. At least eight people, including a teenager, have been killed and hundreds more injured in Iran. Now there's also a widespread internet blackout, including sites for the president of Iran, the central bank and other places. The hacker group Anonymous has claimed responsibility.

Now, this all comes as Iran's president, Ebrahim Raisi, addressed the United Nations General Assembly here in New York. Raisi accused the west of hypocrisy for criticizing Iran's treatment of women.

KEILAR: Joining us now is veteran foreign affairs correspondent Reena Ninan.

You know, Reena, I just wonder, seeing these protests that we're seeing in Iran, are these different from what we've seen before?

REENA NINAN, FORMER ANCHOR, ABC NEWS AND CBS NEWS: I think the bravery in this level is on a whole new level. You're seeing women removing their head scarves, having them burned in the streets. Young. Old. What was remarkable there is even this image of a woman who took her head scarf off and started cutting her hair in these large - in front of these large crowds.

The protests started in the west, now moving to Tehran. I think the big question now, Brianna, is, can the Iranian Revolutionary Guard control and contain what we're seeing right now on the streets. Internet out in many parts of the country right now.


They can't access even through a VPN. And so we're not even able to see the images that are coming out at this very moment.

KEILAR: Yes, I mean, that's the question, is the regime losing control here? What do you think?

NINAN: I covered the green movement back in 2009, when Ahmadinejad came to power. And there was this incredible moment of this woman named Nada (ph), whose murder was captured on the streets and really mobilized people.

We're hearing now the protests that we're seeing are far larger than they were in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution. It's hard to tell exactly how much further this grows at this point. But even back in 2009, when I covered that green movement, there was such hope that as people took to the streets and demanded change that something would come of it. And then every single time they're able, with brute force, to sort of tamp down these protests. One Iranian British actor called this Iran's George Floyd movement, that they are demanding such change, that it cannot be ignored.

But it is really hard to tell, Brianna, the bravery of these people, the amount of loss of life we're going to see in the coming days. And when President Raisi returns back to Iran, I believe it's only going to get worse as he returns back from the U.N. General Assembly.

KEILAR: Yes, I mean, what does it mean that this is happening at home while he is at the UNGA?

NINAN: At the UNGA, meeting with people, after he spoke. A couple of speakers later, it was President Biden's turn. And he acknowledged the bravery of the people in Iran for just basic human rights.

He's meeting with people, even including Macron, who spoke out about this as well. But the problem is, every single time these protests happened, the Iranian authorities are able to use brute force and really take over these people. But the bravery we are seeing today, the people taking to the streets, demanding change who are fed up, at the U.N. General Assembly, I think the president, President Raisi, let it slip that inflation in Iran is hovering around somewhere near 60 percent. People are demanding change, and we've just got to watch and wait and see what happens. But overcoming this regime is not an easy task.


Reena Ninan, thank you so much for your expertise on this.

NINAN: Yes. You bet.

KEILAR: New this morning, the suspected mastermind of the largest bribery scheme in U.S. Navy history has been caught. What led police to the man known as "Fat Leonard" in Venezuela?



PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE: I think we have big crisis of democracies, of what I would call liberal democracies. Let's - let's be clear about that.


KEILAR: French President Emmanuel Macron on the global threat to democracy in a new CNN interview.



BERMAN: President Biden is not the only world leader raising concerns about the state of democracy. French President Emmanuel Macron is sounding a similar alarm, telling Jake Tapper that the world has what he calls a crisis of democracies.



PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE: I think we have big crisis of democracies, of what I would call liberal democracies. Let's - let's be clear about that. Why? First, being open societies and open and very cooperative democracies put pressure on your people. It could destabilize them. And this is why we always have to articulate the respect of people's willingness, middle classes references, and all the progress made by our democracies welcoming a different cultures being open and cooperative. This is, of course, a matter of balance. And it's clear that during the past few years we had an increasing pressure in our societies. And we are at a point where, in our different countries, there is a - I -- what I would call a crisis of middle classes. They consider them a little big fragilized (ph), weakened by, I mean, all this destabilization.

Second, I think social network, social platform, are playing a very important role in what is at stake in our democracies.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: In a negative - you -- they're negative?

MACRON: I mean, for the -- for the best and for the worst.


MACRON: It's -- at the very beginning, it's the best way to cooperate. During the pandemic, thanks to social networks and cooperation, we were in full transparency. We exchange a lot of information and data. We -- I think we accelerated the ways (ph) (INAUDIBLE) --

TAPPER: It's also (INAUDIBLE) - it's accelerate lies, accelerate racism.

MACRON: That. On the other side -

TAPPER: Right.

MACRON: It's clear that this is a part of our (INAUDIBLE) for fake news, for clearly this new - I mean and this new relativism, which is (INAUDIBLE), which is a killer for our democracies.


BERMAN: New relativism which is a killer for democracies. What an interesting discussion. The same issues we're seeing here over in France right now.

You can catch more of Jake's exclusive interview with the French President Emmanuel Macron today on "THE LEAD." That's at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Legal woes deepening for former President Trump. Two substantial setbacks in the past 24 hours.

KEILAR: And we're learning more about some of the detainees across Russia. Here's one software engineer filmed playing the piano moments ago inside a police station.



KEILAR: All eyes are on Yankees slugger Aaron Judge. But he didn't come through with a record tying home run last night.

Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report."



So, Yankee Stadium just electric again last night as fans were hoping to see Aaron Judge tie Roger Maris' American League record of 21 home runs. All those fans in the bleachers, you know, hoping to snag a flying lottery ticket. Remember, dealer Rick Propstein (ph) told Action Network he's offered $100,000 for home run 61, $200,000 for the ball for home run 62. Everyone's on their feet in the first inning when Judge came to the plate. He doubled down the line in that first at bat, would score on a grand slam by Waldo Cabrera. Judge then struck out in the second inning. And then, in the fifth, he hit this ball really hard down the line but the crowd letting out a big grown as it bounced over the wall for a ground rule double. The fans then booing like crazy when Judge was walked in the eighth inning. Yankees won this game big, 14 to 2. So, no home runs for Judge.

The watch continues tonight at Yankees Stadium as they open a four game series against the Red Sox, Brianna. And I'm sure Berman would just love to see Judge tie that record and break it against Boston.

KEILAR: That's why I got assigned this story to talk to you, because he knew you would say that.

Andy Scholes, thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: Oh, well, wait, there's more, because all this fanfare is as Aaron Judge pursues seventh place on the all-time home run list.


We're talking about records. He's going for seventh place right now. If Aaron Judge played for the Royals, we wouldn't be talking about this at all, or some American League record, because there's interleague play now. We don't do this anymore. But Yankees gets special treatment. So, here we go. We'll give him the Yankees special treatment here.

CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten.

So, where is Aaron Judge in his pursuit of seventh place?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Let me just be perfectly clear, I hate the New York Yankees. I'm doing this because it's an interesting story and I stick to the stats because I'm non-biased here.

Look, Aaron Judge and the home run record, he's at 66 (ph) homers currently. If you look at the pace with the games remaining, he's on pace for 66 homers. The American League record, 61 homers. He is almost certainly not going to get to the MLB record, that's 73 homers. That's Bonds back in '01.

But let's all be real here. Part of what's going on here is that a lot of people don't believe that Bonds' record is, quote/unquote, legitimate because of alleged steroid use, which Bonds, of course, denies. So, we're kind of talking around it by talking about the American League record.

BERMAN: Right. That's a whole other thing. People should just own up to that than talk about some American League record here, which would put him at seventh place on the all-time list.

What is interesting about Aaron Judge is the separation between what he's doing and who's behind him.

ENTEN: Yes, I think this really gets at what's going on here. It would be one thing if it was Judge and somebody else going after the record, like when Maris and Mantle were going after it back in 1961. Look how many home runs ahead of second place Aaron Judge's right now. He is 20 homers ahead. Kyle Schwarber is in second place with 40 home runs in Major League Baseball.

And compare this to Bonds and Maris. Bonds ended up being nine homers ahead of his nearest competitor back in 2001, who was Sammy Sosa with 64. Maris was - ended up seven homers ahead of Mickey Mantle back in 1961. And the average for the 50 home run seasons, the leader ends up being, on average, about five homers ahead of the second place person. So, Judge being 20 home runs ahead of Kyle Schwarber, my goodness gracious, he is so far ahead of the competition, I think that's what makes this so impressive.

BERMAN: Look, he's a very good baseball player, as he pursues seventh place on the all-time home run list. He's also doing some other impressive things.

ENTEN: He's also doing some other impressive things. So it would be just -- it would be one thing, you know, if basically he was hitting home runs and doing nothing else, not hitting for average, not driving in runs. Such a thing called the triple crown, and that is leading the American or National League in homers, batting average and RBI. Just one person who's hit 50 plus homers in history, Mickey Mantle back in 1956 won the triple crown. At this particular point, if the season ended right now, Aaron Judge would win the triple crown. He holds clear leaders in homers an RBI, and on batting average, he is just the tiniest bit ahead of Xander Bogarts.

BERMAN: Who plays for the?

ENTEN: Boston Red Sox.

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

Now, you and I, who are big baseball fans, and also stat fans, often look underneath these numbers at these advanced metrics.

ENTEN: Yes. So, if we just look at sort of the advanced metrics, right? Look here, Aaron Judge ahead on wins above replacement, on base percentage, slugging percentage, on base plus slugging. It's just incredible. He's leading on the traditional stats. He's leading on the advanced stats. This is truly a historic season.

BERMAN: He's having one of the best seasons ever as he pursues seventh place on the all-time home run record list.

ENTEN: Look, my father, who used to take trollies to the polar (ph) grounds (ph), cared about the difference between the American and National Leagues. Maybe we should too.

BERMAN: That was a long time ago.


BERMAN: Harry Enten, thank you very much.

KEILAR: I just -- I just don't feel like I'm enough to provide a counter balance to the Yankees hate on this show.

BERMAN: It's just -- it's not hate. It's just the facts. It's just putting it in perspective.

ENTEN: Realism.

KEILAR: OK. All right.

So, a new chapter in the did he or didn't he saga. You're going to remember this video from the Venice Film Festival premier of Olivia Wilde's "Don't Worry Darling" a few weeks ago. Yes, right there.

So, some say that you can see Wilde's boyfriend, Harry Styles, spitting on actress Chris Pine. Well, it seems that Wilde is trying to put spit-gate to rest. Here's what she told Stephen Colbert.


OLIVIA WILDE, ACTRESS/DIRECTOR: Another one of our weird rumor, spit- gate, which you might have heard about, is, I think -

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Harry Styles. Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine?


COLBERT: Why or why not?

WILDE: No. COLBERT: Support your answer.

WILDE: He did not. But I think it's a perfect example of, like, people will look for drama anywhere they can. Harry did not spit on Chris, in fact. But that - he did not.

COLBERT: Only time will tell.

WILDE: No, he - he really didn't.


WILDE: He didn't.

COLBERT: We shall see.

WILDE: No, we've seen it. We've seen it.

COLBERT: Science isn't in.



KEILAR: Oh, yes, Berman, like I'm taking her word for it. She's dating the guy.

BERMAN: Well, I don't - I don't understand what the debate is. You can look at Chris Pine. Chris Pine appeared to react as if there was some - what do we call it, expectorant, you know, there was some kind of -- some kind of --

KEILAR: Chris - Chris Pine actually says that he didn't spit on him. That's probably the most important thing. But I just --

BERMAN: Oh. Well, then, why are we talking about it? There was no spit.

KEILAR: What is he reacting to?

BERMAN: I don't know.


That's a very good question. We'll get to the bottom of it.

KEILAR: Or we won't. We'll see.

Either way, NEW DAY continues right now.