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New Day Sunday

Hurricane Aims For Northeast U.S., 40-Million-Plus Under Threat; Miami To Begin School With Mask Mandate In Place; New York Governor To Declare State Of Emergency For Henri-Impacted Areas; U.S. Embassy Tells Americans, Stay Away From Airport; "We Love New York" Concert Canceled Due To Weather. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired August 22, 2021 - 05:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Good morning and welcome to this special early edition of "NEW DAY." I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christi Paul. We're tracking hurricane Henri. It's closing in on the Northeast right now. States of emergency are up in several states. Officials are urging people to stay indoors and get prepared for this.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): The outer rain bands already lashing parts of the East Coast. In just a few moments, we will take you live to areas already feeling impacts of the storm. We will lay out the timing and what you will see throughout the day.

PAUL: Henri is bringing in major flood threats specifically with some areas expecting up to a foot of rain. Tonight's full moon could increase the flood threat as well. We'll explain that. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


SANCHEZ: Good morning and welcome to your "NEW DAY." It's Sunday, August 22nd. Thank you for waking up with us.

Good morning, Christi.

PAUL: Good morning, Boris. We're all watching Henri. This category 1 hurricane is closing in on the Northeast. It would be the first hurricane to directly hit New England in 30 years, which is part of what is so significant here.

SANCHEZ: This is an area that typically gets these kinds of storms. And several states have issued states of emergency ahead of the storm, which is expected to make landfall soon in southern New England.

About 50 million people are under hurricane or tropical storm warnings and mandatory evacuations are already underway in some coastal areas. And officials say the time to leave before conditions get worse is right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, a lot of people don't like to leave, especially when the sun is still shining and that's certainly the time we want people to make the transition from their house to somewhere else out of the storm's path.


PAUL: Now heavy rains and strong winds could bring some widespread power outages. There's also dangerous storm surges and flash flooding that's expected, as this storm moves in.

Our team of correspondents is really fanned out across the Northeast and New England, tracking the impacts of hurricane Henri. We'll check in with them throughout the morning and you can see where they are there. First, the latest on the forecast itself.



PAUL: Two towns along Connecticut's coast are under mandatory evacuation orders this morning and an electric company says more than half of the state's residents could lose power. For some it could last, they say, could last three weeks. Here's Connecticut governor Ned Lamont.


GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): We're going to have an astronomical tide. I mean, astronomical in the sense that we have a very full moon, the highest tides you can have.

That, combined with the wind, gives real risk of flooding along the coastline and interior flooding, given the saturation of the soil. We could have 70-80-mile-an-hour winds. That makes the trees a lot less secure. They go over. Power goes out.


SCHULTZ: Let's get straight to CNN's Brian Todd in Connecticut in Groton.

Brian, how are things looking where you are?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, a growing sense of anxiety here. You heard the governor talk about a storm surge and tide. That is a big concern here. And, you know, one of the concerns also is these are heavily populated areas all along the coast of Connecticut here, Rhode Island, Massachusetts.

Another concern is we start to get hit with the early bands of rain from hurricane Henri, is that these are areas that are surrounded by water, many of these towns. You have the Thames River in Groton and the tide has not come up yet here. And you have Long Island Sound over my left shoulder. So these

convergences of two bodies of water and they go right into the sound. And you talk about high tides and a storm surge. Three to five feet of storm surge and high tides, that will push the water up into these neighborhoods here.

And you can see how close some of these houses are here. The mayor of Groton, Keith Hedrick, we talked to him, he's ordered a mandatory evacuation in this neighborhood and another neighborhood in a low lying area of town.

The water can easily be pushed up and he is worried about some of the areas getting flooded because it forms a bowl here. We talked to him last night about his concerns.


TODD: What are you most worried about here?

MAYOR KEITH HEDRICK (D-CT), GROTON: Well, I'm worried that, once we get flooding, I can't get access to them. So if they have a medical emergency, I can't get my first responders here.

And that's my concern. If somebody has a medical emergency or they have a fire or anything else, then if the water is flooded, we're not going to put a boat on there to go to somebody's house.


TODD: So the mayor concerned about that. He did tell us, when this storm passes -- but that's not going to be until probably after midnight on Sunday -- then he's going to send his first responders out, his police and fire corps and see if anybody here is in need of assistance.

A lot of people have elected to ride this out. We talked to some residents here and in another neighborhood. Part of the reason here, guys, they just don't get hurricanes here very much.

The last hurricane to make landfall in this area, 1991; they did experience superstorm Sandy here nine years ago and that was technically not a hurricane. It did do a lot of damage here and in places near here.

Again, the storm surge coming with the high tide at 9:50 am here. That's the first one. That is going to be very dangerous and we'll be here watching that -- Boris and Christi.

PAUL: All right, you all take good care there. Brian Todd, we appreciate it.

Yes, a lot of the damage from the storm is expected to happen in Rhode Island.



SANCHEZ: So the severe weather we're seeing isn't limited to the Northeast. Catastrophic flooding also hitting Tennessee, leaving at least 10 people dead and dozens missing. The National Guard right now deploying teams to help with rescues. We're going to have the latest on those efforts -- next.

PAUL: And they're overworked, understaffed and the ICU beds are in short supply across the country. Hospitals are being pushed to the limit yet again. The FDA is getting ready for full approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

Will it help convince more people to get vaccinated?





PAUL: About 15 minutes past the hour right now, there's a live look of Martha's Vineyard this morning as we're watching hurricane Henri slowly approaching the New England coastline.

Some areas have already declared states of emergency. There are local officials urging people in Henri's path to stay off the roads and prepare for the worst. We'll continue to watch this. Allison Chinchar back with the forecast in a few minutes.

SANCHEZ: We want to get you up to speed on some of the other top stories we're following for you this morning.

At least 10 people, including two small kids, have died in flash floods in Tennessee; 31 people are still missing from the Humphreys County area about 60 miles west of Nashville. About 10,000 residents there still without power and Tennessee National Guard troops have been deployed to help with search and rescue efforts.

Out west, the fast-moving Dixie Fire in California has consumed more territory. The fire now burning through 717,000 acres in a span of just 38 days. Windy conditions are causing this fire to spread. Firefighters are hoping to make some headway as weather conditions begin to improve.

PAUL: From the political arena, Vice President Kamala Harris is in Singapore. She's spending the day meeting with the prime minister and other top officials and looking to deliver a foreign policy win for the White House on this trip to Southeast Asia.

The Biden administration under intense scrutiny for the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The vice president has received national security updates throughout her travels.

And Australia's reporting hundreds of new COVID cases just a day after violent protests erupted in the country. New South Wales recorded more than 800 new infections yesterday. That's a record for the third day in a row.


PAUL (voice-over): This was after hundreds of angry protesters -- you see there -- clashed with police in various Australian cities. They're angry over tighter restrictions in some of the country's hardest hit COVID areas. So far seven police officers were injured in those protests.


PAUL: Let's talk about the pandemic now. New cases and hospitalizations across the country are continuing to surge. There is some hope, however; for the third day in a row the CDC says more than 1 million Americans got their COVID vaccine.

SANCHEZ: That is great news. And there is more good news. We could possibly be just one day away from the FDA fully approving the Pfizer vaccine. A source telling CNN that full approval could happen as soon as tomorrow. CNN's Nadia Romero has more.


NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A federal official telling CNN, full FDA approval of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine could happen as soon as Monday.

DR. TAISON BELL, UVA HEALTH: This has really opened up the ability for colleges and universities to really require the vaccine.

ROMERO (voice-over): But the virus continues to take a toll on first responders. At least five south Florida law enforcement officers died from COVID-19 in a week's time, according to the their respective departments.

And with COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths increasing, some Mobile, Alabama, funeral homes and morgues reporting a spike in their grim business.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is no joke that we have seen the most deaths reported to us in one day. It is happening. It is as bad as it has been.

ROMERO (voice-over): A strong warning for Mississippi health officials after the state reports an increasing number of calls to poison control from people trying to treat themselves from COVID-19 with a livestock dewormer.

In Kentucky, a local health department asking schools to help with contact tracing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we have seen cases grow, it's just become overwhelming for the health department to manage the number of cases, especially in our schools. ROMERO (voice-over): After a fiery debate, Florida's largest school

district set to begin class on Monday with a mask mandate in place for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, despite the governor's threats.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The parent really needs to be the one that is making the decision. And I think that's the better way to do it.

ROMERO (voice-over): But Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards supporting the science.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (R-LA): You cannot keep schools open and children safe today without masks.

ROMERO (voice-over): Nadia Romero, CNN, Miami.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to Nadia for that report.

The rate of COVID cases among kids is surging. The CDC says the rates of hospitalizations for children are at their highest level since the beginning of the pandemic.

PAUL: And kids are heading back to school. There is this debate, as you just heard, that is raging regarding the mask mandates. In Florida, governor Ron DeSantis is even threatening to withhold funding from schools that require masks. Here's CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Tampa 11- year-old had a strange first week of middle school.

ANA GOMEZ, STUDENT: In two classes I had like five kids quarantined.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That seems like a lot.

GOMEZ: It is.


GOMEZ: No, but one of my friends said that everyone around her was quarantined. So I'm pretty sure she was scared.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Are you worried you might be quarantined?

GOMEZ: Maybe.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): At least 15 states have now mandated universal masking inside school buildings, following CDC guidelines for safer reopening amidst the Delta surge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The masks are uncomfortable but it's for safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I wear my mask, that means I get to see my friends, I'll just wear a mask.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): CDC data showing last week that the hospitalization rate for children is 33 percent higher than it was in January, the previous peak.

As cases have stacked up, school systems have faced widespread quarantines and rushed to make policy changes.

Between the 1st and 13th of August, Mississippi reported around 6,000 cases among students, 1,500 among staff. And that's just from the counties reporting data. Mississippi leaders reinstituted hybrid learning options.

Despite the urgency of these numbers, pandemic politics remain. In Florida, the state board of education vowed to punish two school boards that passed mask mandates. Other boards voted in mandates, too, defying governor Ron DeSantis, who opposes universal masking rules.


NORMA MAIZ, PARENT, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: It just -- try to (INAUDIBLE) the location (ph) as much as possible. if you look at your guidelines, it just said if you -- if everybody wore the mask, from what I understand from it, there will be less quarantine, even if you had the same positive cases.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): More than 8,000 cases among students and staff have been reported in Florida's largest school districts. More than 29,000 people have quarantined so far in just those districts.

And the largest district, Miami-Dade, hasn't started school yet. President Biden has said he'll step in, vowing legal action to protect school leaders battling DeSantis over masks.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): But DeSantis is refusing to budge on school policy, seeming to relish a fight with the White House over schools.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Think seriously about, if the Federal government can come in and overrule the rights of the parents with COVID and force masking of kindergarteners and first graders, given how COVID is such a small risk relative to past flus and other respiratory viruses, then will they be able to do that every single school year?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.


SANCHEZ: Thanks for that report, Evan. We do want to tell you, in Georgia, a group of mayors is sounding off

on Brian Kemp over his new executive order that allows businesses to disregard local COVID safety measures.

PAUL: Later this morning, we'll talk to the mayor of Savannah. He has something to say to the governor and he'll say it here.


Right now, we do want to update you on the status of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. He and his wife were hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. The Rainbow PUSH coalition, his group, says doctors are monitoring their conditions. They've not released much more information than that.

The 79-year-old, we know, is at least partially vaccinated. Jackson received a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine back in January.


PAUL: Back to our top story today, strong storm surge and winds, heavy rain. New England is getting ready for hurricane Henri, which is already starting to show a little bit of the punch it's got. We'll be right back.





SANCHEZ: So more than 50 million people are under tropical alerts as hurricane Henri approaches the Northeast. It is expected to move through the region in the next few hours bringing heavy rains and damaging winds to an area that normally does not get hit by these kinds of storms.

Some places have already seen record rainfall in the last 24 hours.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Look at this in Hoboken, New Jersey. Floodwaters making it difficult for drivers. As many as eight inches of rain have also fallen in parts of New York.


PAUL: People in a lot of areas there have been advised to evacuate as this storm is closing in. Amtrak, in fact, has canceled train service through the Northeast corridor.

FEMA is ready, we know, to provide federal resources to the affected areas and more than 12,000 crews from at least 29 states have been mobilized to help people who lose power in this storm. Ryan Murphy is with us from Southampton, New York, right now. He's the emergency management administrator there.

Thank you so much, sir, for being with us. We certainly appreciate it. Talk to us about what you're hearing from residents right now.

RYAN MURPHY, FEMA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ADMINISTRATOR: Certainly, good morning. Yes, we're definitely bracing for this storm to come up our way. Residents have been preparing; hopefully, you know they've heeded our warnings.

And we were out last night going door-to-door and making sure that hopefully people were making the right choice to leave but identifying those that were choosing to stay behind and getting contact information and quantities of people that were going to be out there.

But I will say a lot of them did make the wise choice to remove themselves from an area where they are very susceptible to high wave action and flooding.

We did see a lot of other people moving out of the township last night, a lot of traffic on the roadways with people getting out of the area, which was a good thing to see. It's unfortunate, in the middle of the summer.


MURPHY: But it was probably the safer choice for everybody to get out there and make.

SANCHEZ: No question. Better to be safe than sorry, Ryan. I'm curious about what your biggest concern is right now. You have winds stronger than 75 miles an hour. But some fear the storm surge.

What's on your mind this morning?

MURPHY: I would agree with you, 100 percent. That is what we have as probably our highest targeted concern right now and that's the storm surge, possible inundation to our coastal areas, our inlands and our canals and any of our bays.

We're looking at, you know, two to five feet of possible inundation of water above ground level. And so that's definitely concerning for us.

And try to convey to people that two to five feet of water is not necessarily like you're getting splashed with water. This is water that can stick around for a little while. You're standing there in two to five feet of water.

And that's one of the reasons we really encourage people that, if they are in, you know, a surge zone, Surge Zone 1, which we identified for possible voluntary evacuation of individuals yesterday and late the day before, that they took that advice and listened to it. Because that water, you know, could definitely have some serious impacts to people.

PAUL: You said something that made me think about something that we have been hearing from Connecticut, which is a pretty jolting number there. Their power company saying that there could be a loss of power that could last up to three weeks.

What is your expectation of getting back to some semblance of normal after this in terms of the timeline?

MURPHY: Yes, it's going to have a large, you know, impact on us if we lose the power the way that, you know, we could. We have not been hit with, you know, a direct hit from a storm in quite a number of years.

You know, Bob was probably the closest thing to it and it didn't necessarily even make landfall on Long Island and had some pretty serious impacts. We've been in conversation with the power company. They are staging crews and they have crews in our area ready to respond.

I know they brought in a lot of assets from out of the area. We're hopeful that we don't see a lot of outages. But people have already been noticed that they should expect that power could be out for, you know, seven to 10 days, maybe even two weeks, if we start to see some significant devastation in the way of trees coming down on power lines and a large amount of debris.

We dealt with a lot of debris in Irene and Sandy and we know what those impacts can be. But you're talking about a situation that is a little more similar to Gloria many years ago, if it were to, you know, hit our area as a cat 1. We're hoping it stays off to the east and we dodge the bullet on that one.

SANCHEZ: Yes, we're hoping so, too. We're hoping that folks are prepared and that crews are not facing any real challenges when they get out there after the storm passes. Ryan Murphy, thank you so much for the time. Keep us updated if there is any information you need to get out there.

PAUL: Thank you, sir.

MURPHY: Thanks so much.

So heavy flooding threatening the Northeast as he was just talking about right now. I mean, the amount of rain that could be dumped over this region is pretty severe. New York Central Park already broke a daily rainfall record back from 1888.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and some say that that rainfall could be even more of a problem than the hurricane's strong winds. You just heard from Ryan there, saying as much.



SANCHEZ: As the United States races to evacuate Americans out of Afghanistan, the U.S. military is now being forced to establish alternate routes to get to the airport. We'll explain why.

PAUL: Also the Pentagon confirms some Americans have been harassed and even beaten by the Taliban if they tried to get out of that country. The latest on that dire situation, next.




SANCHEZ: We're just about 40 minutes past the hour as we are tracking hurricane Henri while it nears the northeast coast. We're taking a look at live pictures out of Montauk on Long Island, an area that is already seeing some rain from Henri.

It's now under a hurricane warning at this hour. Of course, we're going to keep watching the hurricane and bring you any updates that we get throughout the morning.

We do want to pivot right now to the situation in Afghanistan, where a terror threat is forcing U.S. officials to alter their evacuation plan.


SANCHEZ: A defense official says there is a strong possibility that ISIS-K, an Islamic State group based in South Asia, is trying to carry out an attack and the group could target crowds outside the airport in Kabul.

PAUL: The U.S. military looking for alternative routes to get Americans and Afghans to that airport now. More than 26,000 people have been evacuated so far.

But in a sign of how desperate the situation is around the airport, authorities say seven Afghan civilians died after they were crushed by the crowds that were swarming the gates. President Biden monitoring the situation, we're told. We do expect to hear from him later this afternoon.

U.S. officials say they're trying to evacuate Americans and Afghans from this country and as quickly, obviously, and as safely as possible, which is really part of the problem and the real immediate wording there, Boris: safely.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Let's get the latest on the evacuation effort. It has been a difficult one. CNN international security editor Nick Paton Walsh joins us now live from Doha in Qatar, where many evacuation flights have been landing.

Nick, the number of people evacuating has gone up in the last few hours.

It's now more than 18,000, right?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: (INAUDIBLE) beyond the logistics even that the United States military may be able to deploy, 18,500 people trying to get off the base as of this morning, according to a source familiar with the situation on the airport.

They believe also, too, 2,000 people at each of the two, maybe three gates around that airport. So you do the maths, there are probably either trying to get on or on the base as many people at this point as the United States and their allies have taken off the base already.

Our calculations just about 26,000 have been taken off. So this is a task of staggering enormity. The terror threats, which have been sort of talked about by U.S. officials of late, well, to be honest, ISIS-K would always look to kill Americans, that's what they're about.

The fact that they might be trying to focus more on the air base may also feed into a narrative here about the deteriorating situation there and how that may limit operations going forward.

It was interesting to hear the Pentagon yesterday, spokesperson John Kirby, talking being in a battle between time and space. That's obvious for anyone who has seen the airport or the conditions itself.

But I think we may be going from a place where the United States talking about having potentially an indefinitely presence until the job was done to having to essentially realize there is a time limit on this. They can't do this forever. They simply can't do this forever.

It's probably a week's worth of evacuation flights of people already on that base, judging by the sort of 4,000 today, highest level that was announced yesterday. They got 3,800 off yesterday.

Let me tell you one other thing that startled me. Speaking with a source familiar with that airport, the reason why there are so many people, many of them who are not part of the official process is this. I hope we can show this to you.

Essentially in very good faith, because the special immigration program wasn't really moving fast enough, this particular document -- and hopefully we're showing you here what is a U.S. visa piece of paper that would normally go into a passport -- but has been adapted without names or numbers to permit it to essentially give people a pass onto the base.

Now I received an electronic copy of this myself. Essentially it went out to some people and they seem to have screenshotted it or made an electronic version and then it was proliferated massively around the population of Kabul.

As I say, I got one. I have seen it in multiple different places and people use that to get onto the base. So the reason that we're likely dealing with this complicated humanitarian situation on the base, this complicated issue, where filtration appears to not to have been what it should have been, is frankly due to this benevolent measure literally brought in to expedite those who should be on.

And now it seems to have been used to get people who shouldn't be on. There've been many other means that people use to get on to that particular base. But it is, it is startling that this particular good faith measure seems to have resulted in such chaos. I have to tell you, at this stage, looking at the numbers, looking at

the volume of planes that seem able to land and looking at the heat, the deteriorating situation around the airport, looking at the fact this is an indefinite task to some degree, tens of thousands of Afghans who would happily get on to their base and go to a life in the United States, I do not see how this challenge is easily surmountable.

We're talking about a week probably of aircraft, if they can't speed things up. That's if they stop letting people onto the airport. So valiant as this task has been.


WALSH: And it's so distressing to see people crushed to death in the crowds and the heat and pressure was immense. I was in it earlier myself earlier this week. Valiance is the task of the State Department and the Marines are there. At some point they'll have to accept that it is finite.

And when we hear that, that will certainly change the mood outside the airport. Back to you.

SANCHEZ: You have to wonder how the Taliban might respond if that mission winds up going beyond the August 31st deadline for U.S. officials to get out. Nick Paton Walsh, excellent reporting, as always, from Qatar. Thank you.

PAUL: Nick, thank you.

So there's a shift in Haiti this morning. You know, it's been a week since that massive earthquake struck there. Well, the rescue effort is beginning to transition to a recovery effort now.

SANCHEZ: Survivors of the 7.2 magnitude quake say their biggest need is the basics, water, food and shelter. CNN correspondent Matt Rivers has an update on the situation in Haiti.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We managed to have a conversation in Port-au-Prince on Saturday with the man leading the response for USAID here in Haiti. They're here in support of the Haitian government as they continue their search and rescue operations.

And unfortunately now, more than one week after this earthquake hit, this representative from USAID telling us that the shift is beginning to happen, going from a search and rescue operation, unfortunately to more recovery operations, moving into the next phase of what will surely be a long recovery process from this earthquake.

They haven't officially made that yet but he said that shift is beginning to happen. He talked about how USAID spent the day in concert with Haiti's Civil Protection Agency, visiting several different hardhit villages, basically going and trying to figure out exactly what each one of these towns, these villages, very hardhit by these earthquakes, exactly what they need.

What they were told, the top needs are water, food and shelter, crucially shelter, in many different places, according to USAID, the number one concern at this point.

In good news, they say do have a lot of air assets and even barges that they believe they can use to get aid to where it needs to go. But basically saying they want to strike while the iron's hot, take advantage of the fact that they have these air assets that they didn't have earlier in the week to get aid to these places.

We're told the Haitian government, the Civil Protection Agency, is trying to prioritize which places are the worst, which are next, which are next, in order to get the aid where it is needed the most.

That is the status of the -- what is still a search and rescue operation, moving into the recovery phase more than one week after this earthquake hit here in Haiti -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.


SANCHEZ: Matt, thank you so much.

There was an unexpected end to a star-studded event. We'll show you some of the highlights from last night's "New York City Homecoming Concert" when we come back after a quick break. Stay with us.





SANCHEZ: The "We Love New York City: The Homecoming Concert" was a blast -- while it lasted. Thousands of people came out to celebrate the return of New York amid its pandemic progress in Central Park yesterday.

But Christi, it got interrupted right in the middle of "Copacabana."

PAUL: I know.


PAUL: Do you believe it?

I feel like I was so excited to see Barry Manilow and because I said it I feel like I jinxed him.

SANCHEZ: You manifested it.

PAUL: I hope not. I hope not. But there were some incredible performances. In case you missed them, here's a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the greatest concert in the history of New York City. You all there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Due to incoming severe weather, all persons should move quickly and calmly to the nearest exit.


PAUL: I'm sorry, Barry Manilow.


SANCHEZ: I don't think he blames you, I don't think he blames you, Christi.

PAUL: Oh, it was Henri, I promise. No, I know, but It was a great show nonetheless. And he called back in later and actually sang, which I thought was so gracious.

We do need to talk about the search to replace Alex Trebek because it is back for us.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Mike Richards stepping down as the new host of "Jeopardy!" before even hosting a show that airs. Why he's giving up the job, next.





SANCHEZ: "Jeopardy!" is searching for a new host just days after naming the replacement for Alex Trebek. Here's CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter.



BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Mike Richards, out from the host's podium just one day after he started taping the new season.

And now "Jeopardy!," a show synonymous with smarts, is mired in scandal over Richards' offensive comments about women and minorities and Sony's failure to vet him.

STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS HOST: Everyone is talking about this. STELTER (voice-over): Richards is a long-time TV producer and host,

who became the "Jeopardy!" executive producer last year. He briefly overlapped with Alex Trebek, who kept hosting during pancreatic cancer treatments.

When Trebek died, this lucrative TV franchise needed a new star. "Jeopardy!" genius Ken Jennings filled in first and then Richards.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): And now here is the executive producer of "Jeopardy!," Mike Richards.

STELTER (voice-over): He implied that he was filling in because A- listers like Savannah Guthrie and Aaron Rodgers could not get to L.A. as COVID cases were on the rise there.

RICHARDS: It was very literally at the last minute that the decision was to step in and just keep the show going.

STELTER (voice-over): Some viewers liked him a lot. But questions persisted about his "Daily Double" role.

Was he in the running while auditioning others?

For some, it was a bucket list experience.


STELTER (voice-over): While others were notably snubbed, like CNN's Laura Coates, who Trebek suggested as a possible successor. Some fan favorites felt slighted or shelved until the end of the season.


LeVar Burton.

STELTER (voice-over): The bosses at Sony who run the show went with Richards, despite the appearance that he picked himself or manipulated the race.

COLBERT: Wow, what are the odds?

Exactly the same as me getting named "Stephen Colbert Magazine's" "Sexiest Man Alive."

STELTER (voice-over): Richards defended himself when news outlets resurfaced old lawsuits, alleging he mistreated colleagues at "The Price Is Right."

Then he apologized when "The Ringer" website found his old podcasts, with a litany of offensive remarks about women, Jews, Asians and others.

Richards said, "My attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable."

And he pledged to be a role model.