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CNN TONIGHT: FDA: At-Home Rapid Tests May Be Less Sensitive To Omicron; Legendary NFL Coach & Broadcaster John Madden Passes Away At 85; A Closer Look At How Remote Work Is Affecting Young Male Americans. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 28, 2021 - 21:00   ET




SUE DONOVAN, CONSERVATOR FOR SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, UNIVERSITY OF VA LIBRARY: --was perhaps taken from a photograph. But it is an engraving in a newspaper.

So, the newspaper was from 1865, from what we can tell, unless it was a reprint, which has happened. So, there's really - there was no photograph, per se.



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: And who says, history isn't cool!

The news continues now. So, let's hand it over to Michael Smerconish, and CNN TONIGHT.


I am Michael Smerconish. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

We just broke our all-time record for new cases, this Pandemic, the highest seven-day average of new COVID cases, since January of 2021, 254,496. That's a quarter of a million infections. And those are just the people who got tested, which brings me to another big headline.

This kind of says it all, from the "Associated Press." "U.S. move to shorten COVID-19 isolation stirs confusion, doubt."

I think it really encapsulates what many Americans are feeling right now. Confused, and even a little doubtful, and weary, after the CDC dramatically shortened its recommended isolation period, for the COVID-positive, just as Omicron is exploding.

A move that's also drawing some criticism from many renowned experts, on infectious diseases. Could it lead to even more COVID cases? That's a fear. We have the guest tonight, to try to help clear up any confusion, and address the concerns. That guest is Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House COVID Task Force member extraordinaire. He's about to join us, in just a moment.

So, why are there concerns, and confusion? Before now, those infected with COVID-19, had long been advised, by the CDC, to isolate, for 10 days.

But now, it's recommending only five days of isolation, if they don't have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status. Once out of isolation, they're advised to mask-up, around others, for another five days.

But what's glaringly missing, from this new guidance, according to some medical experts, is a strong encouragement, to retest at day five, to ensure the infected aren't still COVID-positive. But there's no such sentence in the guidance.

Why not recommend a rapid test, at five days, before re-entering life, as normal? We just broke our all-time record, of COVID cases, since the peak of the Pandemic, last winter. Is it because the government is worried about the shortage of tests right now?

This decision has some of the medical community bewildered.

The Director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, Dr. Saad Omer, tweeting, "Ending isolation of COVID cases in five days without testing negative is the nose-out-of-the-mask of COVID-19 policies."

Erin Bromage, Associate Professor of Biology, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, who teaches about infectious diseases, says he's baffled by the CDC's decision.

And he shared images of someone's positive COVID tests, one taken three days, after their first exposure, to the virus. Another was eight days, after their first positive test. And Bromage pointed out that this infected person still had a huge amount of virus, in their nose, eight days later.

And then, there's Dr. Michael Mina, who we spoke to, last week, on the program, Chief Science Officer, of eMed, former Harvard epidemiologist. He calls the new guidance, quote, "Reckless," and adds, "Some people stay infectious for three days, some for 12."

He also tweeted, "I am 100 percent, for getting people to drop isolation early. Heck, I formally recommended it to the CDC in May of 2020. But it was always with a negative test."

Quote, "We put all this effort into discovering infectious people. Why not at least ensure those we do discover don't spread on?"

So, let's put the question to the President's Chief Medical Adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Fauci, so nice to see you, again. Respond to those critics, if you will, please?


So, let me try and maybe just frame it, from 40,000 foot, of why the CDC made the recommendation, in the first place, of instead of having a full 10-day of isolation, if you are infected, and asymptomatic, to actually cut that down, to five days of isolation, followed by five days of masking.

The fundamental reason for that - and this could indirectly or maybe directly explain, some of the concerns, or answer some of the concerns that people have, about the CDC's decision.


The purpose of it was, is that given the wave, the extraordinary unprecedented wave, of infections that we are experiencing now, and we'll certainly experience more of, in the next few weeks, that there is the danger that there will be so many people, who are being isolated, who are asymptomatic, for the full 10 days that you could have a major negative impact, on our ability, to keep society running.

So, the decision was made, although it's not completely risk-free, of saying, "Let's get that cut in half, so that we could have 50 percent," namely, half of the 10 days, and 50 percent of that time, people can actually be out, with a mask, in society.

The question you raised, Michael, is a reasonable question. People are asking, "OK, that's fine. But why not require a test?"

The reason the CDC gives is not because there's a shortage of tests. So, that was one of the injection - objections, excuse me, that one of the people, who wrote in, or made the comment to you. That's not the issue, according to the CDC.

According to the CDC, what they're saying is that, for the first five days, an antigen test would be rather predictive of whether or not a person is transmissible. It's much more likely predictive.

As you get further, into the course, namely, out to the seven, eight, nine, 10 days, the predictive value, of an antigen test, to say, whether you are transmissible, to someone else, is really not only not known, there's no evidence to indicate that that has any predictive value.

And, in fact, what they're telling us, and it's true, is that the FDA approved that antigen test, and never approved it, for the purpose, of saying it has any predictive value, when you're eight, nine, 10 days, into the course.

Whereas, early on, it gives you much more predictive, of whether or not A, you're infected, and B, whether you are transmissible, likely, given the level of virus. That was the rationale--

SMERCONISH: Here's what I'm--

FAUCI: --that the CDC made that decision.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Fauci, here's what I'm not hearing you say. What I'm not hearing you say is, it has nothing to do with test scarcity.

FAUCI: Right. Oh, I said that. I said it three times, Michael. I'm sorry. It has nothing to do with a lack of tests. That is not the reason why. I'm sorry. I said that multiple times. That is not the reason.


FAUCI: So, if anyone says, "We're not doing testing, because there's a shortage of tests," that is absolutely, unequivocally--

SMERCONISH: That's not true.

FAUCI: --not the case. Right.

SMERCONISH: OK. Something I did hear you say, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that there was a consideration of economic cost. And I'm not saying that in a pejorative sense.

But what I hear you say is, "We can't run the risk of shutting down the economy, shutting down our lifestyle, shutting down a functioning society, for the 10 days of isolation."

FAUCI: Yes--

SMERCONISH: Did I get that right?

FAUCI: Well, I wouldn't use the word, "Economic," Michael.

When you shut down society, when you shut down the country, there's a lot of deleterious effects that go along with that, that go well beyond the economy, is the availability of people to get things done, for their own health.

When you shut down the country, you have people who have other diseases, who don't have the opportunity, to get their HIV tests, to get their HIV meds, to get their mammograms, to get the colonoscopies.

All the things you do, when you shut down, there's a lot of deleterious effects that go well beyond economy. So I wouldn't just say it's an economic consideration.

SMERCONISH: Today, the FDA said that, with regard to the Omicron infection, the tests are not as reliable. Is that any factor in - the rapid tests. Is that any factor, in the decision made, as to how long isolation should be?

FAUCI: No, that wasn't. That obviously would impact it, and make it actually even more of an argument, about not doing it. But that's not the reason why. These were independent decisions that were made. The decision, by the CDC, when they were considering that, was well before the FDA came out today, and said that - the tests are still worthwhile. Don't let anybody think that the FDA was saying the tests are no longer good.

They say they're less sensitive now. They never were 100 percent sensitive, the antigen tests. Everybody knew that. When you do more than one, you add to the degree of sensitivity, to it, if you do more than one. So, as a single test, it was never 100 percent sensitive.

What the FDA is saying today, is that when you look at Omicron, and its ability to detect Omicron, some of the tests, have a diminution further of the sensitivity. But they still say the tests are useful, and should be used.


SMERCONISH: Dr. Fauci, in that "Associated Press" story, that I touted the headline, when we first began the conversation, there was a pastor.

And he was quoted, in the story, saying something that I hear from folks. He said, "Either we're in a surge that we need to take very seriously, or we're winding down the Pandemic, and we can start shortening the isolation."

I think that's a very common concern, and question. What would you say to that pastor?

FAUCI: I think it's true, true, and unrelated. I think it may be that, in fact, we are in a situation, where, when we peak, in the next few weeks, I think it will be, if you look at what's happened, in South Africa, and in Denmark, and other countries, where they have a very rapid vertical increase, and they turn around, and sharply go down. I think that's quite feasible that that will happen.

I don't think that has anything to do with cutting down the isolation period, from 10 days to five days, as long as after five days, you wear a mask. I think they're, as they always say, true, true, but not related.

SMERCONISH: Why, amidst the data that we've shared about, how we've peaked, are you still not full-on supportive, of a vaccine mandate, for those who are traveling?

FAUCI: Again, that keeps coming up. When I was asked that question, Michael?


FAUCI: I said, that is something that is on the table. So, let me explain it, because it keeps coming back. And I think that people, they fixate on a word or two that someone says.

What I said, it's on the table. Michael, when we discuss interventions, everything is always on the table. On a daily-basis, we say, "What about this? What about that? What about that?" It's discussable. That doesn't mean it's likely that you're going to do it.

And when I said, "We should take it seriously, and we should keep it on the table. But for now, there is not going to be a requirement, a.k.a. mandate, to have vaccines, before you can enter, on a domestic flight," you're not going to wake up tomorrow morning, and read in the newspapers, that that decision was made. It won't.

If, if, things change dramatically, and we keep evaluating them, on a day-and-day basis, and it changes that that possibility becomes more of a reality, we will act accordingly.

But, right now, as you and I are speaking, we're not going to be mandating or requiring that there's going to be vaccination necessary, before you can get on a domestic flight.

SMERCONISH: But - and just a brief follow-up. We've just reached another record status. If not now, when, like what would it take, to impose that kind of a mandate?

FAUCI: Well, you know, what we'd really would like to do? Talk to the people, the tens of millions of people, who are eligible to be vaccinated, when we have a tsunami of cases, and 840,000 deaths in this country, who still feel, for a variety of reasons, many of them politically-motivated, or ideologically-motivated, that they're not getting vaccinated. That's what we should be discussing.

SMERCONISH: OK. And we do, as you know. Believe me, I want everybody vaxxed, and boosted.

Dr. Fauci, thanks so much, for being here, and answering those questions.

FAUCI: Thank you, Michael. Thank you for having me.

SMERCONISH: Tonight's survey question, if you go to my website, at, asks exactly what I just raised, with Dr. Fauci.

Should COVID vaccines be required for airline flights within the United States?

Go to the website. Cast a ballot, yes or no. I'll give you the result, at the end of the hour.

We will take this debate to Dr. Zeke Emanuel. He advised President Biden, on COVID, just before he took office.

The Administration isn't shy, about fighting, for vaccine mandates, on the ground. Would it make the sky safer, for passengers, and crews, now pushed to their limits? We'll talk about that next.



SMERCONISH: The debate over, whether vaccine mandates, should apply to air travel, is only intensifying, as cases continue to soar. My next guest saw this coming, months ago, and wrote about it, in "The Washington Post." Here was his take. Quote, "Biden's vaccine mandates are not enough. He must also mandate vaccines for travel."

Dr. Zeke Emanuel, former member of then-President-elect Biden's COVID Advisory Board, joins me again now.

Dr. Emanuel, before we get to the airline situation, I give credit, to Dr. Fauci, for coming on, and talking about, the confusing nature, of this recent CDC guidance.

I don't know that we shed any new light, on the situation. But react, if you will, to those issues before we talk about airline travel.


The fact that people don't - shouldn't test, after five days, before they take themselves, out of isolation, seems very perplexing. Now, it may be they shouldn't get a rapid test, but should get a PCR. But we don't have availability of PCR. That certainly has to be a component of it.

And then, this issue of wearing a mask, where the CDC did not specify high-quality masks, like N95s, or KN95s, I think, was also problematic.

And if you're really asking people, who are, "Are you symptomatic? Are you asymptomatic?" This isn't exactly very clearly-specified, for people. There's a lot of judgment, by people, as to what qualifies. And so, I think, on the whole, it actually isn't helping.

And there is, I think, for many of us, a great deal of suspicion that, as you put it, I think, it was economic reasons. It's not the health of people. It's the other considerations. Can we keep the hospitals functioning? Can we keep the airlines functioning? And things like that, that really weighed heavily in this determination.

SMERCONISH: Back in September, in "The Washington Post," as I pointed out, you advocated, for there to be a travel mandate. Are you surprised that step has still not been taken? And did Dr. Fauci, in responding to that issue, say anything that caught your ear?

EMANUEL: I am surprised. I think it's a mistake. We obviously thought a lot - many months ago that we should put it in place.


And we argued for it in September, because we anticipated that people would need two vaccines. And if you wanted to prevent transmission, during Thanksgiving, that was going to be an important element, especially because it's not just on the airplanes. It's in the airports. It's in the transportation, to and from the airports that you have potential for transmission.

It suggests to me that Tony Fauci is interested in having the mandate. I think that's what his original comment suggested. But that there are other people, in the White House, above him, I guess, who are not interested, and not supportive of that.

I don't know what the calculation is. And I don't know why, we want it, on international travel, but not domestic travel. That doesn't really make sense to me.


EMANUEL: There is a logistical issue, of how people prove that they're vaccinated, the fact that we have not put in a good vaccine certification system. So, that is part of it, I'm sure.

SMERCONISH: I should point out that you extend that, to interstate travel, including buses and railways as well, not just airline travel.

EMANUEL: Yes, if you go on to trains, and you take an Amtrak train, you can see that, there's chances for plenty of - I mean, those are big cars. People are in them.

Even if the air is trans-circulated, multiple times in an hour, people aren't, I would say, assiduous, in their mask-wearing. They're eating on these trains. That is another place, where we could have transmission, especially with something that's highly contagious.

SMERCONISH: Do you think that it's out of concern for private industry? I mean, in view of Dr. Fauci's comment? And "Economic," was not a word that he used. I used that. And perhaps, that was not a good paraphrasing.

But in view of what he did say, do you think that there's concern that the airline industry has already been rattled, and that probably they would suffer, if in fact, a mandate were now to be put in place?

EMANUEL: I don't actually think they would suffer. Again, I think that it's possible that a lot of people would feel safer.

I think what people are suffering from, is the fact that there's a very highly transmissible variant out there. And you see people pulling back, canceling airplane trips, canceling hotel reservations, not going to the theater, et cetera.

If people were more confident that transmission was low, you would probably see a lot more of that. And the way to get that kind of community-level transmission, to be low, is to have more people vaccinated.

The reason to do the vaccines, for travel, is to get more people vaccinated. That is the fundamental point.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Emanuel?

From social media, put it up on the screen, and I'll read it aloud, so that both Zeke Emanuel, and I, can respond. What do we have?

"We don't have a choice who we are stuffed into a cabin with," says, Julie.

You obviously agree with that point?

EMANUEL: Yes. I agree with that point. And I think the same thing is true, when you go to a restaurant, when you go to the theater, when you go outdoor, when you go into some facility.

You don't choose who they are. You don't know how good the ventilation is. Although, on airplanes, it is good. And a lot of people are not, as I said, not, good about wearing high-quality masks, and keeping them, over their nose, and well-sealed.

SMERCONISH: Look, it can be done. I've noted before.

The first time, this will sound odd, the first time I was ever asked, to show proof of vaccination, was at a Dead & Company concert that I went to, several months ago. Now, was it the most arduous of inspections? Not really. But I appreciated it. And 40,000 people were there that night.

One more, if I can read it aloud, for Dr. Emanuel. Put it back on the screen, if you can.

Here we go. "Ideally yes, but perceived loss of liberties."

Yes, that's a good argument. What do you say, Dr. Emanuel, to those who say, "Don't tread on me. This is an intrusion on my personal liberties."

EMANUEL: Look, I think this argument, I think I said it before, this argument is not an argument that any American Founding Father would understand. They would be confused.

You mean, you're going to go around with something contagious, something that could kill other people, and you say that you have the liberty to do that? They wouldn't recognize that. It's not a matter of liberty.

Liberty is when you don't impinge, and you don't threaten, the wellbeing of your neighbor. When you threaten the wellbeing of your neighbor, because you're not vaccinated, you aren't taking precautions? That's not liberty. That's not taking individual responsibility. And I think that is the fundamental issue.


When you have an infectious disease circulating, and you could be spreading it, you are not at liberty, to infect other people, and potentially, end their lives. That's not what we stand for, in this country.

SMERCONISH: Dr. Emanuel, thank you so much, as always. We appreciate it. EMANUEL: Thank you, Michael.

SMERCONISH: We're going to turn to tonight's breaking news, the death of an American sports legend. John Madden wasn't just a Super Bowl- winning coach. He was a welcome face, and voice, in living rooms, for so many NFL seasons.

Bob Costas will join me, to remember the man, who left his mark, on everything, from the Raiders to video games. That's next.



SMERCONISH: I could spend the entire hour, listing his accomplishments. Pro Football Hall of Famer, Super Bowl champion, Emmy-winning broadcaster, video game icon, the legendary John Madden died, suddenly, this morning, at the age of 85.

NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, said in a statement, this evening, "Nobody loved football more than Coach. He was football. He was an incredible sounding board to me and so many others. There will never be another John Madden. And we will forever be indebted to him for all he did to make football and the NFL what it is today."

Joining me now, a man who knew Madden well, Bob Costas.

Bob, you were there, correct me if I'm wrong, at the inception of his broadcast career. Explain.

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, he had just left the Raiders, after coaching for 10 years, and at the then tender age of 42. And he never looked back. He knew he didn't want to coach again.

But he certainly wasn't sure that he wanted to be a broadcaster. And CBS put him in a booth, adjacent to Vin Scully, and perhaps Hank Stram. Vin and somebody else were doing the actual game that people saw. It was the 49ers against the Rams.


And they had me, at age 27, just kind of give him the framework, of doing some play-by-play, while he tried out, as an analyst. And he was very, very nervous. And he wasn't at all sure that he wanted this to be his post-coaching career.

But, after four quarters, I couldn't have predicted everything that would happen. But it was pretty clear that he could be a broadcaster, if he wanted to be. And he went on to be an iconic broadcaster, obviously.

SMERCONISH: For me, as a fan, his gift was the everyman quality that others tried to imitate. And I have to say that I watched some of the contemporary broadcasters, trying to have that sort of locker-room feel, among one another. But he didn't have to put on those airs, like he was a guy I would love to have had, on a Barcalounger, next to me, with a beer, watching the game. You can't teach that, right?

COSTAS: You've got it 100 percent. And what was interesting was, he absolutely was a quintessential everyman. But at the same time, he was utterly unique. Never anybody else like him before. And I guarantee you, since.

Bill Belichick put it well, recently, when he said, "From a mile away, he'd never be confused with anyone else."

Sometimes, when people are on the air, I'm sure it's happened to you, people say, "Are you who I think you are?" Or they confuse you, with someone else, who does the same thing? Nobody ever confused John Madden with anybody else. He was John Madden, the one and only.

And you're right. Some people try. They think that personality is measured in decibel levels. And they try to have a shtick.

Whereas, a guy like John Madden, and maybe the rough equivalent, on the baseball side, would be someone like Harry Caray, their on-air persona, was only a slight amplification, of who they authentically were. And that's why it rang true, to the audience.

SMERCONISH: Hey, Bob? The bus, the Madden bus, like all of a sudden I'm thinking of things that we associate with John Madden.


SMERCONISH: At the top of that list is the bus.

COSTAS: Yes, he didn't like to fly, not because he was afraid of heights, but because he became claustrophobic. And first, he tried to go by train. And even that wasn't good enough.

But having his own bus, with an early satellite dish, on the top, so he could pick up games, as he went from coast to coast, in some situations, and being able to stop, anytime he wanted, if he felt like he had to stretch his legs, or get out, as he put it, "Eat. Never dine. I eat. I don't dine."

And most of the time, it was at a diner, some roadside place, where the people were shocked and amazed that he walked in the door, and that he greeted everybody, was just a regular meat-and-potatoes guy.

But if we can rewind, to his coaching, and we see a shot of him there, on the sidelines, just in his 30s, or early 40s? The Raiders were a really colorful team.

You can start with their owner, Al Davis, controversial but unforgettable. George Blanda, who played till he was almost 50, quarterback and placekicker. Ben Davidson and Ted Hendricks, defensively, George Atkinson and Jack Tatum. The "Snake," Kenny Stabler, their quarterback. Fred Biletnikoff, the noted wide receiver. They were such a colorful team. And Madden himself was unmistakable on the sideline. And his regular season record is still by percentage, either the best, or the second best in NFL (ph) history, I forget which. But he basically won 75 percent or 76 percent of the games he coached.

They finally won the Super Bowl, in January of 1977, when they blew the Vikings out. But prior to that, he had come so close, so many times.

He lost several AFC Championship games, because there were other great teams that were contemporaries. Hank Stram's Chiefs, Don Shula's Dolphins, Chuck Noll's Steelers. And a few times, he came up just short against them, before finally breaking through, and winning the Super Bowl.

SMERCONISH: Every one of those name references returns me to my youth, and playing football, in the backyard.

Hey, one other observation, if I may? I think of--


SMERCONISH: --I think of Schwarzenegger. I think of Arnold Schwarzenegger, having conquered three distinctly different fields, as an actor, as a Mr. Universe, as a politician.

With regard to John Madden, yes, there was a sort of an inner connectivity. But he really excelled, in three different ways, football-related, right, as a coach, as a broadcaster, and of course, in the gaming industry. That's how my kids know John Madden.

COSTAS: Yes, plus the commercials. The Ace Hardware commercials, and the unforgettable Miller Lite commercials.


COSTAS: We have to remind ourselves, you and I being of a certain age, anyone under the age of 50 has no real firsthand recollection, of John Madden, the coach. But if you said to a 12-year-old kid, today, "John Madden passed away?" That would have an impact on that kid. He or she knows who John Madden is.

The word "Legendary," or "Iconic," those words are thrown around too loosely, especially in sports. But they both certainly applied to him.

And one nice note. You may have seen this, Michael. Much of the country did.


On Christmas Day, there was a 90-minute biographical tribute, to John Madden that aired on Fox. And I imagine, now with his passing, it'll air again, sometime soon. And he watched it, with his entire family. And he was very moved by all the nice things that were said about him.

And if there's something, to be taken, away from this, very often, the tributes come after somebody's gone. Just three days before he passed, he got to see what the football world, and what a good portion of the country, felt about him. It meant a lot to him. And it meant a lot to his family.

SMERCONISH: What a great point! Bob Costas, thank you so much. I'm picturing the two of you, you at age 27, in that booth. I would love to have been a fly on the wall. Thanks for being here.

COSTAS: Let me tell you something. I should have been sitting on his knee. He took up about 80 percent of the screen.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Bob.

COSTAS: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: Hey, we have more breaking news. The death of another giant, this one in the Senate.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid died this afternoon. He was born in Searchlight, Nevada. Was once a middleweight amateur boxer. Nevada elected him to the U.S. Senate, for three decades. Reid led the Democratic-controlled chamber, for eight years, until 2015.

The man, who endorsed him, succeeded him, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said this, tonight.

"He was tough-as-nails strong, but caring and compassionate, and always went out of his way quietly to help people who needed help. He was my leader, my mentor, one of my dearest friends."

And, on the Republican side of the aisle, former House Speaker, John Boehner, said that he is, quote, "Sad tonight, but grateful for the friendship I had with Harry. We disagreed on many things, sometimes famously. But we were always honest with each other."

Reid battled pancreatic cancer, for the last four years. His widow, tonight, remembering him, as a devout family man, and deeply loyal. Harry Reid was 82-years-old.

We're going to continue important conversation, one that began here last night.

Best-selling author, Scott Galloway, has been called every business nerd's must-follow on social media. He created nine companies, earned Business Podcast of the Year honors. And the World Economic Forum calls him a "Global Leader of Tomorrow."

I want to know why he fears COVID's fallout could create, and I'm quoting now, "The most dangerous person in the world." He'll explain, next.



SMERCONISH: My next guest has been great, at laying out how workers and employers, are being affected, by transitions, to remote work, during the Pandemic.

He made a comment on this show, last night that sparked considerable interest. Watch.


SCOTT GALLOWAY, CNN+ HOST, PROFESSOR OF MARKETING, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, AUTHOR, "POST CORONA": Over the next five years, you're only going to see half as many men graduate from college. And that has real societal implications, because the most dangerous person in the world, is a broke young and alone young man. And we are producing way too many of them.


SMERCONISH: Scott Galloway is a business-world rock star. He's also a Professor of Marketing, at the NYU Stern School of Business. He's the Author of "Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity." Soon, he will host a program, on our new streaming network, CNN+, which premieres, next year.

He's back to expand on his thoughts about young idle men, and the Pandemic.

Thanks so much for coming back, Scott. What exactly, were, you talking about? I should have asked a follow-up or two. And I didn't.

GALLOWAY: Well, if you think about the state of play, right now, men are twice as likely to overdose, three times as likely to be arrested, and four times as likely to kill themselves.

In addition, when you walk down the avenue, that is America, over the next five years, there's going to be twice as many female graduates of college, than male graduates.

And a scary stat is that, if you look at the number of young men, 18 to 24, that haven't had sex, in the last year? And you hear the term, "Sex," and your mind goes all these different places!

Think of it as a key step, to establishing the elemental foundation of any society, and that is a relationship and a family. In 2008, it was 10 percent had not had sex in the last year. Now, it's 30 percent.

So, you're talking about a group of men that are not attaching to work, not attaching to school, and not attaching to relationships. And the most violent, unstable societies, in the world, have one thing in common. They have too many young, broken alone males.

SMERCONISH: Is this because of the Pandemic, or accelerated by the Pandemic?

GALLOWAY: Yes, it's absolutely an accelerant. And that will be COVID- 19's key feature. There really isn't anything here that hasn't already happened.

I think most of it can be reverse-engineered, to not only income inequality, but inequality among age groups. And 40 years ago, people under the age of 30, controlled 19 percent of the economy, or had wealth equivalent to 19 percent of GDP. That's been cut in half to 9 percent.

If you think about all of our tax policies, they're really just a sleight of hand, to transfer wealth, from young people, to poor people, whether it's mortgage interest, deduction, or capital gains, or the greatest transfer in history, and that is from young people, to older people, in the form of Social Security.

And the net of this, combined with not as many men graduating from college, is that men quite frankly, are just less attractive, to women, who tend to mate socioeconomically, horizontally and up, whereas men mate horizontally and down.

You might think, "Well, it's no one's obligation to service men, or to mate with them." But the issue is, when you have a group of men, the lower half of attractiveness of men? And online dating, which has doubled, now it's about half of relationships. And the top 20 percent of men, in terms of attractiveness, get about 60 percent of the interest?

You end up with a group of men that are more prone to conspiracy theory, more prone to misogynistic content, more prone to believe, not believe, in climate change.

So, this is - the American story, if it's written with a pen, whose ink is failing young men, does not end well. This is an existential crisis, failing young men.

SMERCONISH: So Scott, I know firsthand that you reach the very individuals that you're addressing, because I've got three sons, under my roof. And to them, you're a rock god!


So, what do you say to the men that you're talking about?

GALLOWAY: I mean this sincerely. That means a lot coming from you, Michael.

So, let's talk about solutions. We need a tax policy that restores the compact in America, in any society. And that is, if you play by the rules, by the time you're 30, you'll be doing better than your parents at 30. And for the first time in our history, that is no longer the case.

My industry needs to fall back in love, with unremarkable kids, substantially expand their freshman seats, and stop this rejectionist luxury positioning. We are public servants, not a Birkin bag.

And then, I think, more than anything, there's a man in the mirror test, Michael. I think men, like you and me, and our generation, need to show up.

I was raised by a single mother. All of my teachers were women. But I always had wonderful men in my life. The neighbor, who took me horseback riding. The math teacher, who stayed after school to teach me how to drive. The boyfriend that after - even after my mom, and her broke up, taught me about stocks in the market.

If you are fortunate enough, to be blessed, as you and I are, with secure, loving good citizens, young men, we have an obligation, to reach into the homes, where that's not the case.

In some, we need better policies, we need better opportunities, including vocational training. But more than anything, if we want more, better young men, in our society, we need better men.

SMERCONISH: I'm also worried about the lack of social interaction. Too much time spent online, creating some image of a life, instead of living one.

And the longer we're not together, in the workplace? This is another reason, why I find what you said alarming. The less social interaction there will be. And as you were speaking, I was thinking about how many marriages, I'm aware of, that began as co-workers!

GALLOWAY: One in three relationships begin at work. And technology has sort of a winner-take-all effect.

So, when technology comes into mating? And now - it used to be one in five relationships, began online. Now, it's one in two. You have this Gini coefficient, or this variance, where essentially, the top 10 percent of men, in terms of attractiveness, are going to have 60 percent to 80 percent of the opportunities, which delays, quite frankly, household formation.

And the bottom half have absolutely no hope, for relationship formation. This all leads to an underclass of men. And you think "Well, OK." It's not. Is it time? Is it OK?

It's not that we need to punish any one cohort. We need to dramatically invest in younger people, such that they can level up, and have the same opportunities we had, specifically, specifically, that'll raise the tide of young men.

Seven to 10 High School valedictorians are women. We are seeing wage inequality. Even women are blowing past men, under the age of 30. It declines, when they have children. So, there's still some work to be done there.

But this is a real crisis for us. Men, young men, in our society, relative to every other cohort, have probably lost more ground, than any other group. And it is dangerous for us. It is dangerous for America.

SMERCONISH: Quick final comment, if you wouldn't mind? To someone, who has been half-listening, and hears sexism, in anything that you've been saying?

By the way, I don't. But I just want to raise it, so you can respond to them, right now, before you leave. GALLOWAY: It is appropriate, to check comments that feel as if we're prioritizing the wellbeing of any one cohort over another. And that's not what this is about.

This is about recognizing that families, young families need investment. We don't need more men in college. We need more people of color, more women, and a lot more men in college.

And we need more economic opportunity, for younger people, which slowly but surely, my generation, has usurped almost all economic opportunity. Whether it's bailing out baby boomers, in the form of loans, whether it's transfer payments, or tax policy, we need to start reinvesting in young people, and reinvesting in our young men.

SMERCONISH: Can I read aloud, one social media, to Scott Galloway? If so, put it up on the screen, and I'll read aloud, so that he hears what it says.

OK, here we go. "Skip the office, learn a trade. At the end of the day, there is a physical representation, of what you accomplished. I did the college/office thing. When I had a chance to get into the Carpenters' Union, I jumped. Best decision I ever made. No SOP's, HR dept, or spreadsheets."

I assume you agree with that, Scott?

GALLOWAY: It's a great comment. In Germany, 50 percent of the population has some form of certification. In the U.S., it's less than 10 percent.

We need to acknowledge that college isn't for everybody. And for the 60 percent, of our young men and women, who don't get a college degree? We need to offer them more on-ramps, into the middle-class.

SMERCONISH: Scott Galloway, thanks. That was excellent. So glad you came back!

GALLOWAY: Thank you, Michael. Good to see you.


SMERCONISH: Right back, with a personal message, about "The message" that is being missed this holiday season. You might be noticing the same thing in your own lives. I'll explain.


SMERCONISH: "It's in the cards." Not a phrase to describe 2021, of course, where a turbocharged pandemic was unforeseeable, given the miraculous vaccines, readily-available.

When I say, "In the cards," it's something really personal for me. Holiday cards, they're my favorite part of the season, both sending and receiving. I like seeing pictures of my friends' kids, and charting their growth. I like seeing who ordered online, or who went old-school, and actually used a local printer. Heck, I even like those goofy letter greetings, where people give me a long rundown, of everything, from the summer trip, to the Jersey shore, to the kid report cards. Sometimes, I have no idea who sent them to me. But I still read them, to the end.

There are things, we do, annually, in life that trigger a gut-check. And holiday cards are it, for me. I think they make me stop, and take stock, of where we are, what we've gained, what we've lost, or who we've added, to our lives, or who've sadly, we've lost.

For as long as I can remember, we've sent picture cards, from my house. When our four kids were young, we took a photo of them, on vacation, in West Virginia, and used it as our card that year. And then, 20 or so years later, we returned to the exact same spot, this time, with a son-in-law in tow, and recreated the picture for a new card.

The older our kids get, they're in their 20s and 30s now, the more interested they've become, in the negotiation, over which family photo we'll use. Add in the annual debate over the greeting, and we're usually right up against the mailing deadline for arrival, by Christmas.

The addressing of envelopes that, can be a sobering experience, choosing the recipients. Divorce is especially tough. Do you send to the ex-wife, the ex-husband, both, neither? Or maybe you never liked her, but now she has the kids, and you want them to know that you're thinking of them? What then? It's a Larry David episode waiting to happen!

I usually spearhead the effort, in our house. I get all the addresses together. I'm the keeper of the Excel spreadsheet, which raises another consideration. Is it too impersonal, if they're auto- addressed? Do I have to sign everyone?

I'm beating myself up, this year, because after 30 straight years, we've sent no family card, in 2021. Why not? I don't know.


Not enough time? Not in the spirit? A combination of hectic schedules, lack of motivation, and some doubt, on my part, as to what exactly, to say, in the midst of a pandemic that we thought we'd have ended, long ago?

And despite a great reason to celebrate, the birth of our first grandson, Finn, there he is! My wife and I crazy about him! No better Christmas present for us! Of course, he would have been the star of our Christmas card. But that ship has sailed.

I am however, leaving the door open, to sending out a New Year's card. I can't mail one to all of you. But I can offer you warm wishes, for a happy New Year and, more importantly, a healthy one, as this is our last live show of the year.

But we are not done yet. CNN Films has a new must-see "CAROLE KING & JAMES TAYLOR: JUST CALL OUT MY NAME." The film premieres Sunday, at 9 P.M. Eastern, only on CNN.

We'll be right back, with reaction, to tonight's program.


SMERCONISH: Here are the results, of tonight's survey question, from

Should COVID vaccines be required for airline flights within the United States?

I talked about this, with Zeke Emanuel. More than 11,000 voted. 89 percent, said yes. Pretty decisive. Only 11 percent, said no.

Wish we had time for more social media. But I'm up against the clock. And I want to hand things over, instead, for "DON LEMON TONIGHT," my friend, Laura Coates, sitting in.

Hi, Laura?

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hey, Michael? Another fascinating show!