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New Day Sunday

Jobless Benefits Lapse For Millions As Trump Holds Out On Relief Bill; Investigators: Nashville Blast Likely Suicide Bombing; December Now Deadliest Month Of The Pandemic; Millions On The Brink Of Poverty As Pandemic Worsens; Several E.U. Countries Begin COVID Vaccinations; A Look Back At More Memorable Media Stories Of 2020. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 27, 2020 - 07:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Millions of Americans have just lost unemployment benefits and may soon lose eviction protection. President Trump refusing to sign the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk about leadership from both the left, right, Democrats, Republicans, I don't care. This is a failure to the people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The projections are just nightmarish. It's -- we're looking at 400,000 Americans who will lose their lives around a week after the inauguration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The element of being numb to the numbers, almost too big to comprehend at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news out of Nashville this hour where authorities now believe yesterday's explosion was the likely result of a suicide bombing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motivation, that is where investigators are now.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and thank you so much for joining us. I'm Boris Sanchez. Victor and Christi have a well-earned weekend off.

We start with tough news for the millions of Americans who have relied on an economic lifeline from the government to get through the coronavirus pandemic. The darkest days may still lie ahead.

The president not signing a relief bill by midnight last night causing vital assistance like enhanced unemployment benefits to expire. To make matters worse, a government shutdown is looming early this week. Eviction protection for struggling tenants end on Thursday. Meantime, another grim milestone. December now the deadliest month of

the pandemic, 63,000 Americans have died this month alone.

Let's get to CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood who's traveling with the president in Palm Beach, Florida.

Sarah, millions are facing financial hardship brought about by the pandemic, and the immediate relief that was not only approved by Congress but by this White House is sitting on the president's desk at Mar-a-Lago, and he has declined to sign it so far.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, Boris. Americans were told they could expect individual relief checks as soon as next week, and that is, of course, at this moment looking unlikely because millions of gig workers, independent contractors and longtime unemployed Americans are not going to see relief until the president puts his signature on a bill that his own White House helped negotiate but now the president says he opposes.

And in a series of tweets last night, the president made clear that his withholding of his signature was intentional. He re-upped a video that he made in which he blindsided lawmakers with his opposition to the legislation, saying, I'm speaking for America, then he said increased payments to the people get rid of the pork.

And we should note that this so-called pork that the president has been complained about is not in the relief bill. It's in the omnibus bill, the spending bill that would keep the government open if he were to sign it. That was the legislative vehicle for the relief bill. It's one package. It's also sitting on his desk.

But as was the case for weeks of talks in which the president sat on the sidelines and did not make his support for larger individual checks known, the president last night was focused primarily on his election loss, tweeting just after the midnight deadline about the Michigan attorney general and saying the lawyers questioning the election in Michigan are, quote, true patriots who are fighting for the truth, and he urged them to fight on. Again, that was just 28 minutes after benefits lapsed for millions of Americans.

There are a lot of consequences for the president continuing to stand in the way of this bill that lawmakers fought so hard to get over the finish line. Obviously, the deadline yesterday caused jobless benefits for millions of Americans to lapse, meaning that all laid-off workers are likely to lose at least one week of the $300 federal boost to their jobless benefits. On Monday, as if this wasn't complicated enough, the government will run out of money and begin a partial shutdown on Tuesday if the president doesn't sign this bill.

And then on Thursday, the federal pause on evictions expires leaving millions more Americans staring down the prospect of losing their homes if this bill isn't signed. Trump's intentions here remain unclear. The White House is not indicating whether he plans to take his opposition all the way up to the level of a veto threat, whether he is simply holding out to try to put pressure that changes the amount of checks from $600 hundred to $2,000. [07:05:07]

But the problem here Boris is that there's no widespread Republican support for upping the amount in these checks. Six hundred dollars was the amount the White House requested. And they did so because there was not GOP backing for $2,000.

So the president has put Republicans in a tough position here, and there's no end game in sight at the moment.

SANCHEZ: All right. Sarah Westwood reporting from West Palm Beach, thanks so much for that.

Let's discuss further with Toluse Olorunnipa, he's a CNN political analyst and a White House reporter for "The Washington Post."

Toluse, thank you so much for joining us early this Sunday morning. Speaker Pelosi has said that the full House is going to have a vote tomorrow on a coronavirus relief bill that has funding for $2,000 stimulus checks.

Do you think that's going to increase pressure on Senate Republicans to come to where the president is on this and agree to that number?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It will clearly show the American people who wants the $2,000 to go to the public and who is blocking it. We already saw House Democrats try to get unanimous consent for a $2,000 check going to the American people last week. Republicans blocked that saying it was a gimmick.

President Trump has said that he wants $2,000, not $600 to go to the American people, but he did not negotiate that. He did not get his Republican allies in Congress to support that. And it's pretty clear that as the Democrats continue to put forward opportunities for Republicans to sign on to what the president says he wants, that they are not doing so. They're not rallying around this idea of $2,000 checks.

It's really President Trump that's putting the pressure on members of his own party by essentially siding with what the Democrats are wanting and allowing the Democrats to say, yes, we want Americans to get more money. Republicans are stopping that.

It's clear this is going to be another opportunity where the public will see who's signing on to this idea of giving $2,000 checks, who's blocking it and why it's not happening, and why right now only are Americans not getting $2,000 checks, they're not getting any money. The $600 checks are being held up because the president has not signed them, and Republicans are not on board with $2,000. So, right now, the American people are getting nothing.

SANCHEZ: And, Toluse, you brought up a point that leads to the question of motivation, right. Assuming the president is a rational actor in this, why did he wait until after his own negotiators put forth this agreement with lawmakers in Congress to then turn around and say that he wants something else, that he wants more money for the public which he -- you have to assume he knows that congressional Republicans are not going to get behind.

OLORUNNIPA: Yeah. Two -- one of two different options. One, he was just so obsessed with the election results and trying to overturn them, that he just wasn't aware of what was happening with his own administration negotiating this bill. It wasn't until the last minute when it came to his desk that he decided to engage with the bill and understand that it had less money than he asked for.

That is one potential interpretation of what's happening. It would be absurd for the president not to know what's happening with the administration. The other explanation is that the president likes to be the center of attention. He likes the drama, he likes the fact that people are focusing on will he or won't he sign this. Everyone is waiting to see what he's going to do.

He likes that. He knows that kind of attention is not going to be his -- his way of life after January 20th, and he's trying to soak it inasmuch as possible, trying to make sure that he gets as much media coverage and as much attention as possible, as well as just sort of trying to burn everything down on his way out of the door. So, those are the two explanations that I see.

It's hard to know where the president is going to land from one day to the next. His advisers say he's in a dark place in terms of not accepting the election results, trying to see if he can finds some way to get out of having his term end on January 20th, even though his, you know, opportunities to do that seem incredibly limited if not impossible.

So the president is really the center of attention right now, and not for the right reasons.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. The two options you're presenting that either he didn't know or he's doing it for attention, with so many Americans struggling now, neither of those out of the realm of possibility, and both of those patently absurd, right?

I'm curious to get your thoughts on this -- if the government shuts down and no COVID relief ultimately gets passed, who do you think is ultimately going to take the blame? Is this going to break down along partisan lines?

OLORUNNIPA: Well, it's hard to know how closely the American people are following this, but they do know that people within the Trump administration including the treasury secretary promised that checks would be going out, and they'd be getting $600 as soon as this week. When that money doesn't come in, they have one person to look at, the president.

He is the person that is leading the country, the buck stops with him. And I think that it's pretty clear that -- to the American people that he is pouting and he's not happy with his loss, and he seems to be trying to take it out on the public.

So, I do think that he and his party will receive a good chunk of the blame. [07:10:05]

It could also be sort of a pox on all of their houses with Democrats and Republicans taking blame and not coming up with any kind of relief page that could get to the president's bill and get -- the president's desk and get his signature. Remember, they've been fighting over this for several months.

So, there's a chance that the public is just weary of Washington dysfunction, and it could be Democrats and Republicans that take some of the blame, though it's clear from these votes that it's Republicans stopping the $2,000 checks that the president has said that he wants and that Democratic lawmakers say they want. So if the public is looking for someone to blame, it's pretty clear who's stopping the checks from going forward.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, Toluse, there's still so much to talk about including the Georgia Senate runoffs. Unfortunately, we are all out of time. We have to leave it there.

Toluse Olorunnipa reporting from West Palm Beach, thank you so much.

OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: We are following breaking news overnight. Police in Illinois have arrested a suspect in a deadly shooting at a bowling alley. Three people were killed, and three others injured in Rockford after what investigators are calling a random attack.

At least two of the victims are teens. But it's not clear if they were among those killed or just injured. Police have identified the suspect as a 37-year-old male. They've not disclosed at this point a motive for the attack.

We're also getting new details this morning in the investigation of that Christmas Day explosion in Nashville. According to investigators, the explosion was likely a suicide bombing. Right now, there is no active manhunt under way.

Federal agents are at a home southeast of Nashville to conduct what they call court-authorized activity. Meantime, CNN has obtained new video from the explosion. Watch this. This is from inside a restaurant. Security video inside the restaurant, you see it goes from a normal evening to devastation in a second.

CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen is following these developments.

Natasha, no manhunt at this point. Law enforcement going in and out of that home all day. They say they're at a point in this investigation where they're draw something conclusions. It does not -- they do not believe this is a continued threat, it appears.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And the law enforcement did say at a press conference yesterday afternoon in this spot on 2nd Avenue just blocks away from where the explosion happened, you know, they said they're following more than 500 tips that have come in after all that law enforcement did ask the public for tips, anything that they know to be called into the FBI. So, they're combing through all of that right now.

They also explained how they are working this scene behind us from the outside in, going from the outer edges of the perimeter in. And so this is going to take some time even though the curfew that is around this downtown area supposedly lifts this afternoon at 4:30 local time.

You know, you mentioned the scene at Antioch, Tennessee, yesterday. That is about ten miles southeast of where we're standing. We did spend hours over there watching federal authorities go in and out of that property. Neighbors did say that they have seen an RV parked at that property. You know, we have seen an RV at the property via Google Street View. That seems to be the case for photos from Google street view going back several years.

Neighbors say they saw that RV as late as this summer, in the last few weeks. But they don't really know the person who lived there. There are a lot of still other questions left to be answered.

The important thing is that local and federal authorities believe that there is no further threat to the community.

Here's what the Nashville police chief said about that yesterday --


CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, NASHVILLE METRO POLICE: Let me reiterate that Nashville is safe. We feel and know that we have no known threats at this time against our city.


CHEN: And they did also say that there was a secondary sweep, and there are no explosive threats to the city right now either, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, one of the questions that's out there to answer. And hopefully we'll hear more today whether this was an isolated incident or perhaps this person who blew that RV had help from the outside, whether material or financial.

Natasha Chen, we'll keep watching closely. Thanks so much.

Millions of Americans have traveled over the holidays despite repeated warnings. Now experts say next month could see a nightmarish rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths. We'll have details, ahead.



SANCHEZ: The authorization of two coronavirus vaccines has offered hope the end of the pandemic may be getting closer. But with a near number -- near record number of hospitalizations, experts fear the New Year could usher in the deadliest phase yet. CNN's Alison Kosik has more.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A heartbreaking milestone Saturday in the United States. The coronavirus pandemic has now killed one out of every 1,000 people. The number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. Saturday hit 331,000.

Also Saturday, data from Johns Hopkins University showing that December is now the deadliest month in the United States since the pandemic began. More than 63,500 people in the U.S. alone have died this month from COVID.

A faster spreading COVID-19 variant that originated in the U.K. is now appearing in other countries, and experts are trying to figure out how that will impact the current vaccines.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Those studies are under way, but so far, the predictions are that the vaccine will work against these new strains, perhaps not quite as effectively as the old strains, but those data are not here yet.

KOSIK: In California, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions both have zero percent ICU capacity, a press release from the California Department of Public Health said Saturday.

Some good news -- Michigan's COVID-19 hospitalizations and daily coronavirus-associated deaths have continued to decline since mid- December, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard and hospital bed-tracking weapon page. The U.S. Disease Control and Prevention posted new guidance for people with certain underlying medical conditions who are at increased risk for more severe COVID-19. The guidance addresses people with weakened immune systems and autoimmune conditions, among other underlying conditions. They may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine according to the recommendations provided they have not had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.

However, people with HIV should be aware of limited safety data on the use of COVID-19 vaccinations and could experience a weakened immune response if they choose to take the vaccine.


Nearly two million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the United States according to the CDC. Health experts say both Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines require two doses to achieve about 95 percent efficacy. Even then they say it's important to stay vigilant.

DR. ESTHER CHOO, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We have to act like even with vaccine in our system, we have to act like we still can carry it, and -- and pass it on to other people. So face masks, hand washing, social distancing will be a very important part of pandemic control until we know better. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Alison, thanks for that.

Let's get to California now where health care workers are being pushed to the brink as cases soar and hospitals run out of beds.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is at Dodger Stadium, now a mass testing site where doctors say they're not just fighting COVID, but they're grieving, as well.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, the intense war against COVID-19 in California being waged on two fronts. In the hospitals, of course, 19,000 Californians hospitalized with COVID-19, 4,000 in intensive care units. They're increasing staffing. They're bringing people in on their days off. They're expanding the ICUs and the ER to accommodate this flood of patients.

But the testing is also critical. Many people saying don't think that just because we have a vaccine we have to stop testing, look behind me at Dodger Stadium on. Some days, 11,000 people have been tested here. See these cars, six rows wide.

The workers here, these testers are putting in long hours, legs are heavy, getting weary. They're comforting drivers sometimes who haven't left the house in months. Of course, these testers are comforting each other.

DANIEL LEW, CORE VOLUNTEER: Not just about that one person. It's families that are struggling and mourning. And the pain it brings. We've definitely known people that have passed from this pandemic, and it's heartbreaking.

We had a co-worker who just lost her grandmother last week. A day to mourn and then right back to work. You know, it's -- we have a big task in front of us, and we know we've just got to keep on going strong right now.

VERCAMMEN: And Daniel and these other tireless community outreach members, they are also going into underserved parts of Los Angeles, neighborhoods where poor people don't have the transportation to perhaps even drive to a test site. They're trying to make sure that everybody in this city gets tested.

Paul Vercammen, reporting live from Dodger Stadium. Back to you now, Boris.


SANCHEZ: Paul, thank you for that.

Joining us to discuss the latest COVID headlines, the former health commissioner of Detroit, epidemiologist and CNN contributor, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. Doctor, thank you so much for joining us bright and early this Sunday


December has been the deadliest month of the pandemic so far. And doctors are now concerned that with the holidays just now taking place, we're likely going to see a COVID surge on top of this surge.

How concerned are you about the next few weeks?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right, Boris. Unfortunately, we are all -- you know, celebrating the holidays as much as we can right now. But the last time that happened, over the Thanksgiving holiday, we saw two to three weeks later a major surge, which led to the numbers that you cited for December. And so we really are quite worried.

And the important thing that folks have to understand now is -- is our choices are going to dictate this future. It's worrisome that January could be worse than December was. We've got a choice about what we do.

The vaccine is on its way. We know that it is extremely effective, and we know that it is safe. But we've got to be making decisions right now.

And the worry now is that folks traveling for the holiday season, spending time indoors, in larger groups than they have been, may be spreading the virus. That may lead to a surge again two weeks or three weeks from now. So, it really is concerning.

SANCHEZ: It has to be very frustrating for you. As an epidemiologist you've been putting out this warning for months. We still see millions of people traveling, gathering in tight quarters, no social distancing, certain areas, very few masks.

How do you feel about the approach that's been taken to try to get the word out? Has it been enough?

EL-SAYED: Well, I will say this -- you know, as an epidemiologist, I spend much of my time communicating about this pandemic. I think at time we have been less merciful and less understanding and compassionate about what it means to be missing the holidays and missing your family and your loved ones. And oftentimes the changes, and the way that we communicate this, the specific details about how long the quarantine, when the virus is -- is the most likely to be spread, sometimes that can get confusing for people.


I think we need to be a lot more clear and we need to be a lot more compassionate. At the same time, it's really important to communicate exactly what it is that we're after. It's not that we want people not to have a good holiday. It's not that we don't understand that after a really, really hard year, you want to spend time with people you love, it's that we also understand that those are the moments that the virus exploits, to potentially spread. And I know we want to be together, we also want to be together next

year. We don't want to lose loved ones along the way because they got sick. I think it is really frustrating. At the same time, we're constantly learning about how better to communicate with folks in ways that folks can understand. It's not just all about technical details, it's got to be about the feelings, and the feelings that are people are frustrated, they're exasperated, they want to be together.

But we also want to make sure that people recognize that we're playing for the long term here, we don't want to lose loved ones over a choice that might not have been the best, that might have transmitted this virus. It's a challenging situation for everybody, and we're all frustrated. But we all got to recognize the only way through this is together. The only way is to make some sacrifices right now. So, hopefully, you don't have to make big sacrifices in the future.

SANCHEZ: I really appreciate the way that you framed that. That those moments of gathering and tenderness especially during a very difficult time, those are the very moments that the virus is -- is exploiting.

I do want to pivot to this potentially more contagious COVID variant that was counted in the United Kingdom. How big of a concern is this for you, and are you confident that the vaccines that are currently out there are going to work against it?

EL-SAYED: I am quite concerned. Importantly about this strain is that it does spread, what we understand, about 70 percent faster, although the data are still relatively new. So we need more science to better understand it.

We also understand that it's not more deadly. What we understand is that it's not likely to render our vaccines any less useful than they are. But again, we're still learning about this virus. Obviously we're still learning with b about there strain. There's better research needed to understand it.

From what we understand, here's the good news -- here's the critical thing -- it doesn't matter what strain you're dealing with, the things that we can do to prevent the spread of coronavirus are the same. Washing our hands, staying away there crowded places, wearing our masks and choosing to physically distance even when we are together in spirit.

Those are all the same things that would prevent the spread of this strain or any strain. But the -- the evidence suggests that it is starting to spread to other countries, meaning that we may very well be seeing it here.

The last thing I'll say is this -- when you're taking on a pandemic, it's like taking on a fire. It is critical that as many people get vaccinated as soon as they possibly can as these vaccines allow. It's kind of like putting a blanket on a fire. If you put a blanket over a small piece of the fire, it will jump over it.

But if you can blanket the entire fire, get as many people vaccinated, we can stop the spread. So, it's the basic things that we've been talking about, and it's getting that vaccine rolled out as soon as we can.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. And, Doctor, a quick question. You noted that different variant of coronavirus may already be in the United States, but the CDC still taking steps to try to prevent further spread. It's announced that it would require all flight passengers traveling from the United Kingdom where it originated to have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of their flight.

But I've heard from other experts who don't think that this is that effective of a measure, what do you think?

EL-SAYED: Well, the more coronavirus there is around us which we know there is a lot because it's -- it's the peak season, the higher the probability that somebody is going to get infected even after they've already gotten a test. So, if you get tested and it comes back negative but you've got a couple of days between when you get tested and get on an airplane, you could be infected in those three days. So, it's not a foolproof measure.

Yes, it is important to do, and people should do it. Obviously, those CDC recommendations are requirements now. But the best thing to do if you can do is to choose not to travel at all. I understand that that's frustrating. It is the holiday season. People have things to do and people to see.

But at the same time, we've got to play for the long term. We want to make sure that our behaviors, our choices don't mean that we are suffering with -- without somebody we love for the future. We've got to make the best decisions even while following the recommendation that's are at best meant to slow it down.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. And, critically important to think about at this vital time.

Dr. El-Sayed, thank you again. We appreciate your expertise.

EL-SAYED: Thank you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

A quick programming note -- later this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION," Jake Tapper sits down with Dr. Anthony Fauci, critical conversation. Be sure to tune in for that. "STATE OF THE UNION" starts at 9:00 Eastern.

Up next, we'll speak with Bishop William Barber about his message of hope for the poor as the pandemic continues to drive millions further into poverty.

Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: As the end of 2020 approaches, millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck or out of work altogether. Poverty, hunger, and unemployment continue to rise as Congress and now the president stall on federal assistance.

I'm joined now by someone who's dedicated his life to ending poverty in America, Bishop William Barber. He's the co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign and president of Repairers of the Breach.

Bishop, we appreciate you joining us. Hope you're having a healthy and happy Christmas weekend.

This has been a rough year for so many people because of the pandemic. What's your message to those in despair and who may be thinking about giving up?

BISHOP WILLIAM BARBER, CO-CHAIR, POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN: Thank you so much for having us this morning.

My co-chair and I, we talk to so many people across this country who tell us that they feel like they're not essential but expendable. And we have to tell them that part of Christmas is mourning. We don't think about that often, but there's a Scripture that says there was a sound of mourning in Ramah, Rachel refusing to be comforted. We're telling people that they don't have to expect this.

There's a sense in which we ought to be mourning in this season. Last night, unemployment ended, less than a week the moratorium on eviction expires, and millions of people could be forced out of their homes. Some studies say as much as 11 million people can lose their aid for programs.


And this is the politics of meanness. And it's going to cost people their lives. And the only hope is for us to stay vigilant, for us to push the Biden administration and the Nancy Pelosi and hopefully a new administration to, in fact, do the kind of things in public policy that will end this -- this nightmare really that mean people are experiencing in this country that it did not have to happen. Eight million people have fallen into poverty, eight million more people since May.

The pandemic is hitting us, but it's especially hitting poor and low- wealth people and killing poor and low-wealth people. And this didn't have to happen. This part was created by bad public policy, and it can be undone by better public policy.

What we see right now is morally indefensible and it's literally economically insane.

SANCHEZ: And, Bishop, I wanted to expand on that because there is a bill that was negotiated by the White House and lawmakers on both sides in Congress that the president ostensibly had control over that now is sitting on his desk at Mar-a-Lago, and he is declining to sign it. He's stalling.

What is your message to the president about this stimulus relief package?

BARBER: Well, he's stalling and now as you said at Mar-a-Lago -- while he's fine, other people are suffering. He swore on the Constitution to defend the rights of the people, to make sure that -- that it's -- we establish justice in this country. And surely his actions -- but all along his actions have not been this way.

The bill was too small to begin with. The bill should have been larger. Tomorrow I believe they will have an opportunity to expand it, $2,000 for people to get $2,000.

But what we really need -- and we put it in an article in "The New York Times" this week, is we said that as we move toward a new administration, there's not much we can do about Trump. He is who he is.

But when the Biden administration takes over, 55 percent of poor, low- wealth people voted for the Biden/Harris administration, six million more poor, low-wealth people than last time. They voted for change. We must have immediate, targeted relief to poor and low-wealth people, black, navy, white, Latino, that have suffered the most.

We need to have guaranteed every American access to quality health care. We need $15 in a minimum wage and the right to form a union. We need access to affordable housing. We must expand the voting rights in -- next year.

We must modernize the way the government measures poverty. And we must have a federal jobs program and forgive student loans and honor the sovereignty of our indigenous brothers and sisters across this land. And we must take care of immigration reform because all of these fissures in our society have allowed this pandemic to spread even more.

I would say to the president, stop acting like Herod in the bible. Herod was the mean figure in the bible. Herod was the one that allowed public policy to destroy children. Stop acting like Herod, and act like a human being and treat people right in these last few days of your administration.

SANCHEZ: Now, you did mention a piece in "The New York Times." your latest piece -- I want to read from it now. You write, quote, from the Trump administration's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to the government's relief spending to shore up American corporations this year, we've seen what huge federal investment can do to lift the stock market. It's past time to see what the same level of investment can do to lift the American people.

And, Bishop, I'm curious what you would say to people who disagree, who believe that the -- in the trickle-down model of the economy, that there should be an investment in business owners because then they can hire people as opposed to giving out paychecks directly to the American people of a larger size. What would your argument to them be?

BARBER: Well, we know the trickle-down economics doesn't work. You know, just recently the pope in his encyclical talked about trickle- down economics, neo-liberalism being what some of the magic formulas. And it does not work -- it doesn't serve the people.

It's amazing to me that in the first CARES Act we put 84 percent of all that money toward businesses, corporations, and banks, 84 percent. Only 16 percent went to the people we call essential workers, the people who uphold. We left them without health care, without guaranteed sick leave, without long-term protections.

The truth of the matter is if we invest from the bottom up, if we invest in the people who are actually keeping the society working, then -- then that will actually build a society.


If we put resources in the hands of the people, they spend that money, and that actually grows our -- our society. It is strange to me that folks can say in the middle of a pandemic, billionaires have made nearly a trillion dollars since May, a trillion dollars, and we've added eight million people to the ranks of the poor.

That is backward. It is economically insane. It doesn't make any sense. We need to invest from the bottom up.

That's what brought us out of the great depression, and that is what will bring us out of this. We know from the beginning that the two fissures to reach a pandemic gets its hold in a society is the fissure of racial disparities and the fissure of poverty. And we must close both of them.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. And aside from the loss of wealth and health this coronavirus pandemic has just exposed the inequality and inequities, and we're glad to have you on here sharing that message.

Bishop William Barber, thank you so much for the time, sir.

BARBER: Thank you so much. God bless you.

SANCHEZ: Thank you.

Still ahead, you're looking at the hopes of an entire continent contained in a few cardboard boxes. We are live as they begin to get opened up and put to use. The complete picture as the E.U. begins its vaccine program.

Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: This morning, the first people in some of Europe's hardest hit countries like Italy, Spain, and France, received their first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Cyril Vanier joins us now live from Paris.

Cyril, walk us through how France is coordinating this program.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, we saw the first person here in France to get vaccinated a short while ago. She was 78 year old patient at a geriatric ward in a hospital outside Paris, in the Seine-Saint-Denis area, which is an area that was particularly hard hit during the first wave of the pandemic.


Her name -- she goes by the French name of Mauricette. She said she was moved to be the first person in France. And, look, that scene was being repeated repeatedly across the European Union which is a massive logistical endeavor. The E.U. is 27 member states, population size 450 million people. So, that gives you a sense of the rollout campaign that needs to happen.

And today, frankly, it's just a handful of people in each country that are being vaccinated. And the mass deployment will begin in the weeks to come. And now it's really a race between the virus and the vaccine, Boris. Unfortunately, the virus has a pretty big head start.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. That's true.

Cyril Vanier, thank you for the update. We appreciate it.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: From racial justice protests to the election, the media covered all the biggest events of 2020.

CNN's Brian Stelter takes a look back at the major stories.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: In 2020, every member of the media lived the stories they covered. Some of the biggest stories in generations were also intensely personal.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I tested positive.

STELTER (voice-over): From the pandemic to the Black Lives Matter protests, to the Election Day that stretched into election week --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We'll show our viewers the celebrations that are going on around the country, celebrations that Joe Biden is now the president-elect of the United States.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's vindication for a lot of people who have really suffered.

STELTER: CNN and other networks registered record ratings in 2020. People around the world flocked to trusted sources.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So now you're getting into the battleground states. We put it up again. STELTER: Showing the value of traditional news brands in a digital age dominated by Google and Facebook.

You know, President Trump's unreality might have been the biggest media story of the year were it not for the coronavirus.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the things we wanted to see firsthand here in Wuhan was the epicenter of this.

STELTER: CNN's David Culver and his team delivered early warnings were delivered from Wuhan.

CULVER: They said, why did you go to the epicenter? The reality is we need to be on the ground.

STELTER: Then his team quarantined for two weeks. It was a preview of what so many others were about to do.

It all happened so fast.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Tom Hanks announcing that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, have both tested positive for coronavirus.

STELTER: There, on March 12th, the on-screen graphic still promoted a CNN primary debate with social distancing suddenly added.


STELTER: Studio audiences were scrapped. Broadway shut down. Movie released postponed. Theme parks closed. Almost everything closed.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Someone on my team believes they may be positive for the coronavirus. And so out of an abundance of caution, we'll be broadcasting tonight from my house.

STELTER: Newspapers and TV networks were suddenly produced remotely, from living rooms and basements.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're back to go on the air in a few minutes around the world on CNN International.

STELTER: Small numbers of essential staffers donned PPE to keep programming on the air.

Some of the journalists covering COVID then contracted it and shared their stories.

CUOMO: This virus came at me. I've never seen anything like it. OK? So, yes, I had a fever, but 102, 103, 103-plus, that wouldn't quit. And it was like somebody was beating me like a pinata.

STELTER: The pandemic was accompanied by an infodemic of misinformation.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO SHOW HOST: The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.

STELTER: Some right-wing hosts claimed that Democrats were hyping a hoax just to hurt Trump.

Trish Regan and FOX Business parted ways after she said this.

TRISH REGAN, FORMER FOX BUSINESS HOST: This is yet another attempt to impeach the president.

STELTER: But FOX's biggest stars faced no consequences for mocking public health measures.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE INGRAHAM ANGLE": Any of these blue-state control freaks -- well, all of them -- they need to keep away from our children and away from our businesses.

STELTER: The president took his cues from these shows and downplayed the dangers, even mocking the reporters who wore masks.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're going to have to take that off.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I'll speak a lot louder.

STELTER: And if 2020 proved anything, it's that America is split into two parallel universes of information, one much more tethered to reality than the other.

Trump's war on truth weakened America's response to the pandemic. But testimonials and videos from inside hospitals were undeniable.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: My god, Miguel. What an incredible look inside that hospital. Overwhelmed. They kept on saying, we are overwhelmed.

STELTER: Now, at times, reporters were unfairly targeted for uncovering this truth.

Some were assaulted while covering racial justice protests. And one CNN crew was even arrested live on the air.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, do you mind telling me why I'm under arrest, sir? Why am I under arrest, sir?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching our correspondent, Omar Jimenez, being arrested by state police in Minnesota. We're not sure why.

STELTER: National newsrooms recommitted to covering race and justice stories.

And activists told their own stories. For example, showing locals cleaning up after nights of looting and vandalism, showing good outweigh the bad.

So many of us used technology to feel connected during an isolating year.

Some, however, went down dark, virtual rabbit holes, embracing conspiracy theories, like QAnon as virtual cult that cast Democrats as evil child abusers and satanic pedophiles.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON": The president refusing to denounce the fringe conspiracy group known as QAnon.

STELTER: Trump's rejection of reality, his denial of the pandemic almost merged at the end of the year, causing anchors and columnists to speak out more forcefully than ever before.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: History is not going to be kind to the people around the president who are enabling any of this. It is, frankly, immoral.

STELTER: Trump's challenger, Joe Biden, was content with letting Trump be the big story, even when they were facing off.



BIDEN: Will you shut up, man?

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR & DEBATE MODERATOR: Mr. President, can you let him finish, sir?

BIDEN: But he doesn't know how to do that.

TRUMP: Forty-seven years, you've done nothing.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Just say it like it is. That was a shit show.

STELTER: Voters also watched dueling town halls, and Biden surprised everyone by drawing more viewers than Trump.

As the one-term's president's lies escalated, Twitter, for the first time ever, slapped some of his tweets with fact-checks.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Twitter now prompting users to get the facts about mail-in ballots because what the president tweeted wasn't true.

STELTER: But some experts said those labels were mild, not going nearly far enough.

Meantime, the scoops kept coming.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Updating our breaking news tonight, a bombshell report in the "New York Times" is giving us a look at the tax returns of President Trump.

STELTER: Reporters revealed COVID infections in the White House.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's not clear if even the White House would have even told us if reporters had not first reported it, as has been the case with every other person in the West Wing who has tested positive.

STELTER: The mainstream press held Trump accountable while a separate world of sycophants propped him up and lied about the election results.

LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Many are trying to steal this election from President Trump.

STELTER: Now with the inauguration on the horizon and Trump possibly returning to some TV role, one question looms large -- can American really function as one country while living in two totally different universes of news?

Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.


SANCHEZ: Speaking truth to power and bearing witness to history with an unflinching eye. That's what this is all about.

Thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

"INSIDE POLITICS" is next. My good friend, Nia-Malika Henderson, is in the chair for John King. Have a great day.