Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Texas Ranger Under Investigation For Inaction During Uvalde Shooting; Oxford, Michigan Shooting Gunman Pleads Guilty In Landmark Case; Experts React To Historic Decline In Math And Reading Scores. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 25, 2022 - 07:30   ET



SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's going to be -- it's shaping up to be a pretty significant day because it's going to really be the first time that we hear from the director in quite some time about Uvalde and about the investigation.

But, you know, one of the things, John, that I'm finding and our team is finding in all this reporting that we're doing is that it's very clear and it's very evident that investigators with the Texas Rangers and with other law enforcement officials knew there were questions about this law enforcement response in the days, the next day, the day after. And yet, they kept this narrative going that this was a very confusing situation and that the police did the best they could.

But when you start peeling things back and looking at everything that investigators had gathered the day after, the day after that, you really start to see that they weren't so forthcoming and honest about the actions of the police in the coming days.

And that's why the families are going to be calling for Steve McCraw to resign. Others are calling for the director of the Department of Public Safety to resign because they just feel there's been no transparency and people have not been honest about what happened here.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Shimon, you've been pushing since the minute you landed in Texas that night. I remember you telling me --

PROCUPECZ: We were together.

BERMAN: -- that night that there's something wrong here. There's something with the way this went down. It was wrong. So they knew you knew from the very beginning that this was an issue.

Shimon Prokupecz, you've been doing amazing work.

PROKUPECZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: A chilling development in the case against mass shooter Ethan Crumbley as he publicly admits to murdering four students and wounding seven others in a Michigan high school last year.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it your own choice to plead guilty?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it true that your actions on November the 30th, 2021 caused the deaths of Madisyn Baldwin, Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, and Justin Shilling?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You understand that the maximum possible penalty you face here on the underlying defenses is up to life in prison?

CRUMBLEY: Yes, sir.


KEILAR: The 16-year-old changed his plea to guilty on all 24 counts against him. In an earlier court filing, he was expected to pursue an insanity defense.

Joining us now is Oakland County prosecutor, Karen McDonald. Counselor, thank you so much for being with us.

He's pleading guilty to terrorism, which is obviously historic. Is it a deterrent?

KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: You know, I -- it's a conviction and a charge because it's what's happened. There were hundreds and hundreds of kids in that school that, although not physically injured, will never be the same.

And in terms of being a deterrent, I think there are a lot of things we can be doing -- this prosecution just one of them -- to prevent gun violence, particularly mass shootings.

KEILAR: His parents are also facing charges. I know there is a gag order on their case but we had heard before that they had said this gun was in a locked drawer. Ethan Crumbley -- I want to talk about what Ethan Crumbley said yesterday. He testified yesterday that actually, the gun was not locked, right?

MCDONALD: That is what he stated on the record -- yes.

KEILAR: So he is saying that it was not secure and it was just something that he could grab freely?

MCDONALD: As part of his plea, which was plead as guilty to all charges. There were no plea agreements, reductions, or sentence agreements. He was vordered (PH) by my co-counsel, Marc Keast, about what happened. And as part of that, terrorism and all of the charges that he was convicted of involve premeditation. It was a targeted attack. And part of it is, yes, how did you get your weapon? KEILAR: So, he also said he asked his father to purchase the gun and that he had given his father money for the gun. Before, we had heard something from -- on social media from his mother that this was like an early Christmas present. It sounds like the shooter described this more like an outright, sort of, straw purchase. Is that -- is that how you would say?

MCDONALD: The testimony yesterday from him, in his own words, were that was a -- it was his money and he gave that money to his father to purchase the gun.

KEILAR: He is obviously a minor. He's pleaded guilty to all these charges. Is this going to impact the sentence?

MCDONALD: Look, I think for the victims in that courtroom that were sitting behind me, there -- there's a -- I can't say it's good news. There's never good news because there was a school shooting. But at least it's one step forward and they don't have to sit through a trial that could have lasted several weeks.

KEILAR: What are they saying to you -- the victims' families -- coming out of all this?

MCDONALD: You know, I immediately sat down with the victims after the plea and I speak to members of that community -- mothers whose kids were murdered or injured, or just kids who still can't go back to school -- on a weekly basis, and they want answers. They want answers and they want people to be held accountable and I think this prosecution and this conviction is our first step in doing that, but it's not the only thing.


There are a lot of things. And it's not just access to guns, though that is important. And it's not just this prosecution, though that is important.

We have to inform the public about what it looks like for people to be in crisis and then give them tools to do something about that.

In addition to our law enforcement -- you know, you just reported on the most recent shooting in St. Louis. Even if we have law enforcement doing everything that they're trained to do perfectly, we still have kids dying. So it's a lot more than just one thing.

KEILAR: Yes. I mean, there was just that school shooting yesterday and it does just keep happening.

We're seeing, obviously, this picture in the case of this particular shooter in Michigan. Clearly, there was some parental neglect, right? Clearly, there was easy access to weapons. Clearly, there were some mental health needs on the part of this defendant. And he took this action -- certainly not to absolve him of what he did there.

These are things that -- I mean, unfortunately, that's a pattern that we see sometimes across the country. So -- I mean, as you see it having gone through this, what do you see as the answer to trying to stop this?

MCDONALD: Well, the answer is not to just accept that this is what we're going to see on the news on a weekly basis. And the -- it -- the fact is when it -- when you're dealing with these type of mass shootings, it's not just sometimes.

So almost all of it -- they -- there are absolute signs and we have people who are studying this and have studied this for decades. The FBI has studied it. Homeland Security has studied it. We have psychologists and psychiatrists, and threat assessment experts.

And as a result of this, I convened a commission on preventing gun violence, though we're really not talking about guns because -- though that is critical, it's not something that I have any power to do anything about. However, we do know there are signs. We just need to inform the public.

And what really strikes me is so -- is one of the most upsetting things is not only do we continue to see this far too often, but so often it is the same sort of events.

And what we've learned from the data is that sometimes even the smallest act can prevent these shootings. Just the smallest act. Somebody caring, somebody having a place to intervene, and somebody who cares about that individual.

KEILAR: Yes, it's such a good point.

Karen McDonald, we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

KEILAR: Paramount's CEO made a big bet during the pandemic and it paid off. We'll hear from him on how "Top Gun: Maverick's" success changed the game.

BERMAN: Early voting underway in some states, but is the country overlooking some of the most consequential races coming up in the midterms? A reality check.



BERMAN: Americans are returning to the movies, finally leaving their couches for theaters. There's no bigger box office success after COVID than "Top Gun: Maverick." It is the only film in history to take the top spot on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

It was greenlit by Paramount's CEO before the pandemic, who made a huge bet. He would not release it for streaming, holding on to it until audiences came back.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans spoke to Paramount's CEO Bob Bakish about that success.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: Was "Top Gun: Maverick" capturing lightning in a bottle, or did it prove to you that audiences want to go to a movie theater?

BOB BAKISH, CEO, PARAMOUNT GLOBAL: I mean, we always believed the latter. We believe people -- I mean, we believe in the theatrical experience. We've said it from day one in the depths of COVID. We said studios that are not doing that are making a mistake. The theater -- theatrical experience is part of it and it's value added for the film industry.

Humans are a social species, you know --


BAKISH: -- and there is something about getting together in person.

I think we always knew it was a great movie. We probably underappreciated how great it was because no one would predict you would do this well. But it was a good movie. From the first time we screened it we said this is a good movie.

I don't think anyone -- and certainly, we wouldn't -- bank on this being a recurring phenomenon. And that, by the way, is why we're such a believer in 45-day fast follow.

ROMANS: Right.

BAKISH: Because if you look at the theatrical degradation curves, by the time you get close to 45 days there is no theatrical money. Yet, for a consumer, they think that's a real movie. That was in the theaters and all the marketing still has fresh impact, and so you really get a great secondary effect in the streaming.


BERMAN: And Christine Romans is here now. This is part of your risktaker series --


BERMAN: -- risktaker, dream maker, heartbreaker, don't you mess around with me.

ROMANS: No, no, no.

BERMAN: What did the Paramount CEO tell you about his plans to get Americans back in the theater?

ROMANS: Well, what's so striking to me is what kind of nerves of steel they must have had when they had this huge movie and everyone was saying put it on streaming and get money for it right now. And he and Tom Cruise, and the producers said no, no, no -- we are -- we are going to wait here. And it's so fascinating to me that you look in the hallways of his office and there's "Top Gun: Maverick" coming June 2020. "Top Gun: Maverick" coming Christmas 2020. I mean, they had to move it forward five or six times.

BERMAN: What did he tell you about how he views the balance between streaming and the theatrical release?

ROMANS: Yes. They're learning more about the sweet spot between streaming service and theatrical release and how they work together. This is what he said.


ROMANS: Were you ever worried during COVID that audiences wouldn't come back?


BAKISH: We were never worried that audiences wouldn't come back to theaters. The question was when would they be comfortable enough to come back to theaters? And when that happened, what scale would that happen at?

ROMANS: What is that relationship between theatrical box office and streaming?

BAKISH: So, take "Smile" as an example. We made that title for streaming. But when we made it and we tested it, we said wow, this is like -- this is capturing people's imagination. They love the story. You know what? We're going to release it theatrically because overwhelmingly, our strategy is theatrical, 45-day fast follow.

As I said --


BAKISH: -- that's a sweet spot of return on investment in film. And so, we very much design our slate with that in mind.

And go to "Smile" -- $17 million movie that's done about, to date, $120 million in the box office, so way more than paid for itself. And then it's going to go to Paramount+ and streaming. It'll just crush it.

But that's how we think about it. We think about multiplatform as a fundamental advantage in the media business. And that was very much questioned two years ago. I don't think anyone is questioning it now.


ROMANS: "Smile," a really creepy movie, by the way.

And there was guerilla marketing, too. Like, they had kind of some cool ways that they were marketing that movie but making a lot of money there, too. BERMAN: I don't think he believes it to be creepy. I think he believes it to be really sweet and awesome right now to the tune of like $100 million profit.

ROMANS: But "Maverick" is still printing money. That is what's so -- and "Maverick," as he said in that first sound bite, it's sort of a unicorn. I mean, "Maverick" is a very different --

And I asked him, though, if they'd make another one and he said maybe, but they have two "Mission Impossibles" in the can that have to be released first.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, this looks wonderful. That interview was really interesting. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

KEILAR: "Maverick" is printing my money, as it were, actually.

A handful of dramatic and high-stakes races have dominated national headlines leading up to the midterms, but there are dozens of down- ballot races across the country that could have even bigger impacts on voters' lives.

John Avlon has more in today's reality check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Here we are, two weeks until Election Day. But while the governors' races and control of Congress will capture most of your attention, don't stop there because this year, the down-ballot races could have a major downstream effect on our democracy.

For example, it's fair to say that a few folks paid attention to the secretary of states race a couple of years ago. But by now, you, hopefully, know that they oversee election administration, which means that an election denier in that office is a constitutional crisis waiting to happen.

But that's what we've got on the ballot in nearly a dozen -- half- dozen key battleground states, like Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, and Nevada. I'm talking about Trump-aligned candidates whose whole reason for running seems to be overturning elections if their team doesn't win. And that's a basic problem for a functioning democracy.

Now, we can all appreciate honest election administrators with integrity -- people like Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who had the courage to stand up to direct pressure from ex-President Trump to overturn the election and suffered threats and a primary challenge as a result. But, unfortunately, we can't assume all people will put country over party in this hyperpartisan environment.

Now there is, by the way, a common-sense solution to this problem. America should have all nonpartisan election administrators, right, because you've got no business overseeing elections if you have a rooting interest in the outcome. Now, speaking of conflict of interest, you want a really relevant deep cut? Look no further than Ohio. Now, you probably know all about the high-stakes Senate race there between populist Democrat Tim Ryan and Trump-backed Republican J.D. Vance.

But you might now know about the race for Supreme Court and how huge it is for the future of fair elections in the Buckeye State. Yes, that's right -- there's a partisan election for three Supreme Court seats in Ohio this cycle, and here's why it's a big deal.

OK, back in 2018, nearly 75 percent of Ohio voters backed an amendment to the state constitution creating rules meant to avoid the rigged system redistricting that favors any one political party. But Republicans in the State Legislature decided to basically ignore the law and pass a partisan gerrymander designed to give them control of 13 congressional seats while giving Democrats just two.

Now, for those of you scoring at home, that's 87 percent of the congressional delegation in the state where Trump won 53 percent of the vote in 2020.

Now, the maps were ruled unconstitutional by a coalition of Democrats and a centrist Republican chief justice. But State House Republicans decided to just kind of run out the clock on this election, meaning that it will be up to the Supreme Court next session to decide whether to let these unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders stand. And one of the seats -- get this -- is currently held by the Republican governor's son.

Now, of course, the state Supreme Court will decide a lot more than the fate of representative elections in Ohio. For example, it could also determine the future of abortion rights in a state where the current law has no exceptions even for rape or incest.

But as the Cleveland Plain Dealer explains while Ohio's Supreme Court justices are among the most powerful figures in state government, many voters skip the judicial part of their ballots because they're unfamiliar with the candidates.


And that's the story down-ballot. Massive implications for races that might not have seemed like they mattered much in the past. But that was before this party-over-country era we live in now. And we desperately need to return to some bipartisan or even nonpartisan common sense.

So, whether the key sleeper race in your state is attorney general or ballot initiatives that include election reforms, marijuana, firearms, or minimum wage, remember that decisions are made by people who show up.

And if we've learned anything these past few years it's that we cannot take democracy for granted. So, school up and vote.

And that's your reality check. KEILAR: School up and vote. John Avlon, thank you.

AVLON: Thanks, Bri.

BERMAN: Health officials warning parents about the rising number of children being stricken by respiratory viruses just as the flu and COVID cases begin to surge. We'll speak to a top doctor at the White House, ahead.


BERMAN: Experts studying the effects of the pandemic on our nation's children are reacting to a new report by the Department of Education that is being called a wake-up call. It shows test results for America's fourth- and eighth-graders plummeted in reading, with the largest decline ever in math. The findings are based on the National Assessment of Educational exam, often called the nation's report card.


With me now is CNN contributor and professor of economics at Brown University, Emily Oster. Professor, thanks so much for being with us.

I want to get the bad news out of the way first. A gap like this -- a learning loss -- can it ever truly be made up?

EMILY OSTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, BROWN UNIVERSITY: So I think we will see this made up, and maybe that's a glass half full way to put it, but I think it will not be fast. These declines are very large. They're, in a sense, unprecedented.

And if we think well, they'll be recovered in a year or two years, that's probably overly optimistic. If we look 5-6 years out, I think we will start coming back.

What is true is that there are kids who have, say, dropped out of school who will not ever make this up.

So, we will be seeing long-term impacts of this I think more or less forever, but some of this will come back.

BERMAN: A lot of parents watching this, no doubt, asking what can I do? What's the answer?

OSTER: So, first, I think that this should not fall on parents. These are declines which are a result of a variety of factors, but declines which need to be addressed at the level of the school with policies that are going to address learning gaps that are going to help all kids. So asking parents to do this and saying get your kid high-dose tutoring -- well, that's only going to be accessible to some parents.

So we really need to focus on what we can do at the school level. What kinds of interventions, like extra tutoring -- potentially, like summer school -- like extended school days. The kinds of things that we know from evidence can work to improve test scores but are going to affect, again, everybody -- not just kids who have the resources to have their parents invest in those options.

BERMAN: You know, it is interesting. The things that you listed there -- tutoring, extended school day, summer school -- all, to a certain extent, mean more. It's more learning. More hours of learning. Is that what you're suggesting?

OSTER: Yes. I mean, we had less hours of learning and kids didn't learn as much and there's no secret sauce to how you make that up except more hours of learning. And I think, in particular, things like tutoring, which can focus on the needs of individual kids, can address some of what's very hard about teaching kids, which is every kid is different and you need to focus on -- focus on what they need.

But, yes, more time is -- more time in the classroom. More time with instruction. There's no secret --


OSTER: -- way to get around those needs.

BERMAN: You use the term high-dosage tutoring. What is that?

OSTER: So, high-dosage tutoring is just a general term for tutoring programs that are -- where there's a lot of tutoring contact with kids. And so we've seen programs like this be effective in places like Chicago. They are expensive -- so they are expensive per student but they do work. And that's a place where I think we can turn resources -- resources that schools have or resources that they should have in the direction of something that we know is effective at bringing kids back up to where they should be.

BERMAN: What do you say to kids? I mean, if you're in eighth grade you know -- you know what's going on. You could read a newspaper and see that the -- that the test scores are low. What do you tell kids who may feel like hey, wait a second -- this wasn't our fault?

OSTER: Yes. I think one thing we should say is I'm sorry. I mean, I think that this was a tremendous failure by adults that is going to affect kids probably forever in some sense. And so, I think one thing is boy, we are sorry.

And I think another thing we can say is we're doing everything we can. And we should be doing everything we can to try to get back and to try to serve the needs that you -- that you have.

BERMAN: Professor Emily Oster, we appreciate you being with us and being part of this crucial discussion that needs to go on. Thank you.

OSTER: Thank you.

BERMAN: And NEW DAY continues right now.

Fourteen days -- 14 days left to vote in some parts of the country. Millions and millions of people have already cast their ballots. The midterms, we should say, some to a close two weeks from today.

I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

There is a critical debate tonight in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- the Democrat, John Fetterman, and Mehmet Oz, the Republican. They are tangling in a close and what could be pivotal race. In the latest CNN poll, you can John Fetterman there with a very slight lead.

The top issue for Pennsylvania voters, the economy and inflation. And really, you look across the country and that holds true just about everywhere.

KEILAR: Also, this morning, a warning from health officials. There is a potential triple threat this winter as the flu, COVID, and RSV spread across the nation. A recent surge in RSV cases already overwhelming hospitals, affecting children as young as six months old. Doctors nationwide say they are operating over capacity. One emergency services doctor at Seattle Children's telling CNN he has seen up to 30 RSV cases a day.

Joining us now is Dr. Ashish Jha. He is the White House COVID-19 coronavirus response coordinator. Sir, thank you so much for being with us this morning.