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CNN TONIGHT: Opponents Try To Block Cawthorn From Ballot Over January 6 Role; Bob Saget's Family Says He Died Of Head Trauma; Goodell Addresses Racism & Discrimination Allegations Facing NFL Ahead Of Super Bowl. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 09, 2022 - 21:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The news continues. Time for Laura Coates and CNN TONIGHT.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hey, John. I woke up this next morning, listening to you. And now, I see you, 12 hours later. Have a good night, my friend. Thank you.

BERMAN: See you in a few hours.

COATES: See you in a few hours! That's right.

Listen, I am Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

We have breaking news tonight, on the unexpected death of comedian and actor, Bob Saget. His family has just shared the final conclusions, from authorities, on what caused Saget's sudden passing. And we'll share that with you, ahead.

We also have big breaking news from the "New York Times." The paper is reporting that the National Archives has discovered what it believed was classified information, in documents, Donald Trump had taken with him, from the White House, as he left office, and has consulted now with the Justice Department about their very discovery.

Now, according to The Times, the DOJ told the National Archives, to have its Inspector General examine the matter. And frankly, it's not clear what might have transpired, since then.

As you know, mishandling classified materials is a big deal. And Donald Trump should know, because he made it the centerpiece of his campaign, against Hillary Clinton, and her handling of emails, and prompting all the "Lock Her Up!" chants that we all remember so well!

Now, they apparently discovered the information, at Mar-a-Lago, after the former President returned 15 boxes of documents, to the government, just last month.

Now, "The Washington Post," is also reporting that the Archives asked the DOJ to investigate Trump's handling of White House records. So, of course, the question is does this put the ex-president in any criminal legal jeopardy?

Here was the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff, his take, on CNN, just moments ago.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It looks very willful. And if there's evidence of potential willfulness, in the destruction of documents, that is the kind of case that if any case is going to be prosecuted, might be prosecuted.


COATES: To be continued, it seems!

And meanwhile, President Biden has been in office, for over a year now. And yet, we're still learning new details about just how far some were actually willing to go, to try to interfere with, let alone overturn, a free and fair election.

And tonight, yet another revelation. And this one has to do with one of the central figures of the coup attempt, Rudy Giuliani.

Now, "The Washington Post" reports that Trump's former lawyer, along with some others, actually called a prosecutor, in Michigan, in the days, after the election, and asked him to seize voting machines, and give those voting machines to the Trump team.

Now, I want you to think about that, for a second. He wanted the actual voting machines. Not the tally. He wanted the machines.

Now, remember, this is Antrim County, Michigan. And why is this county important, you ask? Well, frankly, remember, this is the county that made a mistake. The Republican county initially had Biden with a 3,000 vote lead, on Election Night.

When they later saw there was an error in their count, and then, it wasn't Trump - wasn't Biden, who would won by more than 3,000 votes, it was actually Donald Trump, who won by more than 3,000 votes? And they corrected the error, and quickly, to reflect that Trump, in fact, did win there. And they realized it, on their own, apparently.

Translation, the system worked to reflect the truth, and correct the error.

But despite that, this county became the poster child, for Trump and Company, to try to suggest that widespread fraud was all across the country. And examples like this mistake were so rampant, as to justify their endeavors.

Now, the Antrim County prosecutor, his name is James Rossiter, told The Post that he declined the request, to hand over the voting machines, saying, he, quote, "Never expected in my life, I'd get a call like that." Well, similar calls have happened, in other places, like Georgia, I believe.

And, as for Giuliani, well, he also declined to comment to "The Washington Post."

But will he do the same with the January 6 committee? Because they certainly have a lot more now to ask him about. Now, that panel was apparently supposed to meet with Giuliani, just yesterday. But we're not sure what happened. And apparently, it's being rescheduled.


So, why does this matter? Well, frankly, it's not just the rehashing of things you may have known, or trying to figure out ways, to find the connective tissue. It's the anatomy of the Big Lie, and the apparent catalyst, for what you are seeing, on your screens, right now.


COATES: What you saw, on January 6, that violent insurrection.

And, make no mistake, it was a violent insurrection. Not - what was the phrase that was used? "Legitimate political discourse." That's the RNC so wrongly described it as, in a resolution, just last week, when they were censoring GOP congresspersons Cheney and Kinzinger. Not for their roles on January 6, but for their roles on the January 6 select committee.

But you know who else says this was a violent insurrection? Well, the Senate's top Republican, who happened to once press his colleagues, to oppose a bill, to create an Insurrection Commission.

You guessed it. Mitch McConnell!


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It was a violent insurrection, for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, after a legitimately-certified election.


COATES: Now, you can kind of tell, maybe from the body language, or otherwise, that Mitch McConnell, he wants this whole mess, within his party, over how to define and talk about January 6, to go away.

Frankly, I'm sure Republicans want nothing more than to be able to capitalize on what they perceive is the shortcomings of the Biden administration. And there is room for fair criticism of the Biden administration.

And I'm sure they want to talk about those issues. But instead, they're facing a kind of circular firing squad that the former President Obama thought was happening, when Biden was vying for the DNC nomination. Remember that?

And McConnell realizes that the midterm elections, they're coming. I mean, nine months ago, just yesterday, they'll be here. And the more the Capitol attack is, well, downplayed, and they're wrestling with how to define it, well, it could very well undermine the Republican effort, to reclaim Congress, and the majority.

And meanwhile, that divide shows you what's happening in the House. You see, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, let's just assume and give the benefit of the doubt that he is racing, not to get away from a reporter, but he has someplace very important to be.

Although, he appears to be initially running away from questions, about the RNC's use of the words, what was it again? "Legitimate political discourse." And then, well, defending it.

Now he's saying that he actually agrees with Mitch McConnell, that the attack was a violent insurrection. But also today, he's saying the committee had a right to do their resolution, just how they want it.

So, while McConnell and McCarthy are worried, about the prospective political consequences, of a divided GOP, in the upcoming midterms, well, they should keep an eye on the movement growing, in a place like North Carolina, to have a political consequence felt, well, right now.

There's an attempt, right now, to block the Republican congressman, Madison Cawthorn, from being able to even run for reelection, over his role, in January 6.

In a court filing, the State's Elections Board says it has the power to disqualify the congressman, from even running. Because, days before the attack, the congressman said, it was, quote, "Time to fight."

And he spoke, if you could recall, at the "Stop the Steal" rally, that deadly day!


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): Wow! This crowd has some fight in it.

And at 12 o'clock today, we will be contesting the election.

Our Constitution was violated.

My friends, I want you to chat with me so loud that the cowards on Washington D.C. that I serve with can hear you.


COATES: Well, someone's been listening. And it's, well, in North Carolina.

Now, Cawthorn, he has denied any wrongdoing. He's even filed a federal lawsuit, just last week, to try to shut down this Challenge.

We have a key player of that effort. Our first guest is a former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, who's representing the voters, who are now challenging Cawthorn's legitimacy. Bob Orr joins me now.

Bob, good to see you. Thank you for being here.


COATES: Well, I got to tell you, first, my mom is from North Carolina. So, I see that you're from God's Country, as she would say. But we'll bypass that, for a moment, and get right into the meat of the matter here.

ORR: Yes.

COATES: Because I think many people look at this, and say, "Well, how is this possible? How would you be able to prevent him from running for reelection?" It all comes around the 14th Amendment. Explain why.

ORR: Well, that's exactly right. It's actually the Constitution of the United States that disqualifies Madison Cawthorn, from being a candidate, for office, in 2022.


North Carolina has a Challenge Statute, in which voters, in the district, in which the individual files, in this case, the 13th congressional district, filed this Challenge, saying that they have reasonable suspicion that Cawthorn is disqualified, based upon the 14th Amendment Section 3.

And so, there is a process in place, in the statutes, in which we can both undergo discovery, and depose Mr. Cawthorn, but also present our case to an Election Board's panel, with the burden, on him, to actually show that he is qualified.

COATES: Now, that's fascinating. And first, I remember, if people are recalling the last impeachment, recall, of course, that this same section was being used, perhaps, as the undercurrent, as to why to impeach an outgoing president, to prevent reelection, under the same premise, in theory.

But the idea of who has the burden here might surprise people. So, you're saying that he himself would have to prove that he actually is entitled to still be on the ballot. What's behind that notion? And what would he have to essentially show, contrastingly, to what you would have to prove, when you bring this case?

ORR: Well, the State Board of Elections serves as a clearinghouse, for anybody, who reportedly wants to run for public office. And so, there are a number of disqualifying procedures, or aspects, both in the United States Constitution, and in the North Carolina constitution.

And so, it's incumbent upon the State Board, when that Challenge, or question, is raised, to have a process, to wean out people, who are simply disqualified, from public office, and therefore not clutter the ballot, with anybody, and everybody, who thinks they ought to be elected to some office.

COATES: Now, he does think that he ought to remain in office, not just because he wants to be a part of it.

Of course, he, and his attorney, has come out pretty forcefully on this issue. And he said, "The undemocratic scheme contained in the North Carolina Challenge provisions supplants voters for state bureaucrats who will determine who can represent the People. This is fundamentally anti-democratic and contrary to the public interest."

Of course, I know you must and necessarily disagree on this notion. But what do you say to the criticism that suggests this is just a tactic the Democrats are using? "You don't like him. You don't want him to be in office. You're pointing to January 6, as a pretextual reason."

What do you say to that notion to have a retort?

ORR: Well, first of all, it's the Constitution that we're seeking to enforce.

And it's important to note that after the voters filed this Challenge, under the North Carolina statute, Cawthorn's attorneys went into federal court, in the Eastern District of North Carolina, and filed a lawsuit, seeking to stop the Challenge procedure, from going forward.

And, just this past week, the legal team, representing the voters, sought to intervene, in the federal court proceeding.

And the State Board of Elections, represented by the Attorney General's office, in North Carolina, filed their response, in opposition to Cawthorn's efforts, to try and stop what is a very fundamental process, under the laws of North Carolina.

COATES: The operative words here, of course, this is rooted in the Constitution. I do wonder, Bob, to what extent this might create a blueprint, for others, who are challenging, under similar - on similar premises. Because, of course, this is all about the Constitution.

But I - as you know, I'm sure he's not going to go down without a fight. Absolutely.

We'll stick with this story. Bob Orr, thank you so much.

ORR: My pleasure.

COATES: Well, there is breaking news on Bob Saget's cause of death. The beloved comedian, suffering head trauma, apparently, before going to sleep. And the question so many people are asking, is how, how could this happen?

America's doctor, Sanjay Gupta, has the answers, next.




COATES: Breaking tonight, exactly one month, since "Full House" star Bob Saget was found dead, in his Florida hotel room, we're now learning the cause of his death, from his family. Their statement reads, in part, "The authorities have determined that Bob passed from head trauma. They have concluded that he accidentally hit the back of his head on something, thought nothing of it and went to sleep. No drugs or alcohol were involved."

I want to bring in our chief doctor, and neurosurgeon, Sanjay Gupta.

I'm so glad that you're here to help break this down, because I got to tell you, first of all, he's a beloved comedian, as you know.


COATES: But people also are very fearful, and afraid, of what this could possibly mean. How likely is, is that it could occur to other people? And how could this happen?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, it's so sad, Laura.


GUPTA: And, certainly, what has happened here.

I think what might have happened is that he may have had a significant blow to the head. Sometimes, in the hotel room, and on the headboard, of the bed, or in the bathtub, or something, gave a significant blow, you may develop some, at the time, what is sort of slow-bleeding, not significant bleeding, right away, but the blood starts to accumulate over time.

If he was in bed, went to sleep? He may have lost consciousness. And that blood continued to accumulate, ultimately leading to his death. It's not - this is called a subdural hematoma. And I can show you an image of what it's like.


GUPTA: I don't want people to immediately get frightened that every time they hit their head, this sort of thing is going to happen.


GUPTA: But you're looking at that image there. What happens is that slow-bleeding may sort of accumulate, on top of the brain.

The brain, because it's encased in bone, unlike any other organ in the body, it has nowhere to go. And, as a result, that can lead to pressure, on the brainstem, and ultimately take someone's life. That's typically what happens, in these situations. That's what's called an acute subdural hematoma. Something that happens, suddenly.


We don't know, for sure, exactly what occurred here. We know that he had bruising, it sounds like, on the back of his head. You read the report just now. That's what the examiners have sort of concluded. That's sometimes the sort of process that takes place there. But again, Laura, just so sad, in a situation like this. He was alone.


GUPTA: So, there wasn't someone, who could check in on him, as well. "Are you doing OK? Are you feeling confused? Are you nauseated? Do you have worsening headache?" All those sorts of things.

COATES: And, of course, he went to sleep afterwards, or presumably, he was already in bed, in this notion, and maybe thought he was OK.

And it does break your heart, to think about it. And all of us travel, or thinking about, your husband traveling--


COATES: --and that last phone call. And maybe they mentioned it on the phone. And you thought kind of nothing of it.

GUPTA: Right.

COATES: Perhaps, you just don't know.

But I think about the way, and maybe it's the lawyer in me, thinking about it this way, Sanjay. How do you sort of work backwards, then, from that? If you're looking at the way in which you conclude, how the death may have occurred, would there have been something visible, say, on the head?

Would there have been sort of an outward bump of some kind? Or are you saying, because of the way of a hemorrhage could work, it would really be almost inward-projecting?

GUPTA: Yes, well, so first of all, in terms of the actual, the conclusions of the medical examiner's, there may have been bruising, on the back of the head.

They may have done an autopsy that actually, concluded this, actually finding this blood collection. They may have combined that with evidence, like you said, of a phone call, "Yes, I hit my head earlier. It was pretty bad. But I think I'm going to be OK," and putting all that together.

But, in terms of the image there, if that's what you're asking about, Laura, yes, you wouldn't - you wouldn't see - that bleeding is all on the inside.


GUPTA: Again, you may see some bruising, on the outside, on the skin. But all that bleeding, I'm showing there, is under the skull, on top of the brain. And so, that wouldn't be visible, immediately.

Again, somebody may just think, "Hey, look, I hit my head pretty hard there. But I feel OK." That's a message to people. If you've had a significant blow to the head? If you're - have a headache, and the headache's worsening? If you're developing confusion? If you have nausea and vomiting? If you're slurring your speech? If you're on blood thinners? That's another indication that you are more likely to develop a bleed, like this.

Older people, Laura, because their brains are shrunk a little bit more, they have more room, to have this blood sort of accumulate, on top of their brain. So, older people are more at risk. He was 65. He's not old. But as you get older, your brain does start to shrink a bit.

So, all these things are things that, as trauma neurosurgeons, we have, in the back of our minds, in terms of likelihood, of someone developing this sort of problem. But again, it's just, it's unusual, in that he was by himself. He was in a hotel. There was nobody to witness exactly what happened. So, they had to sort of piece this together.

COATES: I'm asking. I know, we are speculating, on some parts of this. And we know the statement. And we're thinking about it.

But you are the perfect person to ask these sort of questions, with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Because, I think, for so many, we're all sort of in that world of WebMD, and trying to diagnose.


COATES: And I know that must drive you crazy. And people come in, and say, "Well, I've actually Googled this. So here's what it must be." And you probably think, "Actually, let me tell you what this is."

But for those people, who are out there, right now? And it feels very scary, for me, and for everyone, hearing about this. What do you look for? I mean, you mentioned the idea of a slurred speech. You mentioned the idea of feeling confusion.

Is there a certain window of time? I know, if you have a stroke, there's sort of read the signs, and there's a window of opportunity. Blood thinners are supposed to be provided, in some way, to give you a chance for survival. Is there a window, in which you need to get to the hospital, if you're feeling this way?

GUPTA: Yes, I mean, the thing about this is these types of - these bleeds, which are on top of the brain, typically, if that's what he suffered from, which it sounds like, if you get to the hospital quickly, within - you know, with stroke, it's really within three hours. With this sort of thing, you have to think about getting there as quickly, as you can, as well.

If you can take the pressure off of the brain, simply by removing some bone, removing this blood collection, take that pressure off the brain, as quickly as possible, you greatly increase the chances of survival. I mean, that's - it's just as simple as that.

It's just basically it's a pressure issue, at that point. Again, the brain has nowhere to go, because it's encased by bone. So, I think, the message is, again, I don't want to frighten people. And people do bump their heads all the time. And it turns out to be nothing.

But if it's a severe blow to the head, if you have some of these symptoms? Again, I'll just say, worsening headache, confusion, nausea, vomiting, slurring of speech, anything else that's just unusual like that, if you're on blood thinners, and especially if you're an older person? Those really do increase your chance of developing something like this.

Again, it's not common. I don't want to unnecessarily frighten people. But those are some indicators, some clues that you should get this checked out. Sometimes, it'll just be a neurological exam, in the emergency room. Sometimes, you'll need a CAT scan. But there are ways to quickly diagnose this, and quickly do something about it, if this is the problem.


COATES: Thank you, Sanjay. And again, as you mentioned, this is not common. But should be taken very seriously, if it does happen. And, of course, it's just overwhelmingly sad, to think that this was the end of his life, in that way.


COATES: Thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You got it, Laura. Thank you.

COATES: Oh, man!

Well, up next, more Blue States announcing plans, to drop mask mandates, in schools, and also businesses. But the CDC, well, they're still recommending masks be worn indoors.

So, who are we supposed to listen to? We take that up, next.


COATES: So look, now, more Blue states are joining the bandwagon, of easing COVID restrictions, as all cases are seeming to drop, across the country.


You got Massachusetts, and New York, and Rhode Island, and Illinois, all joined other states today, in lifting mask mandates, either in schools or indoor public spaces, entirely.

It now puts them, frankly, in conflict with the Biden administration's guidance, which still calls for masking, indoors. And that's regardless of vaccination status.

CDC Director defended the Agency's stance, today.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We are working on that guidance. We are working on, you know, following the trends, for the moment.

What I will say though is, you know, our hospitalizations are still high. Our death rates are still high. So, as we work towards that, and as we are encouraged, by the current trends, we are not there yet.


COATES: All right, so look, who are we supposed to listen to? Is it the CDC? Is it our governors? What's the deal?

I want to bring in a practicing internist, Dr. Lucy McBride, to help me understand, a little bit more, about who we should be listening to.

Dr. Lucy McBride, thank you for being here. I appreciate it.


COATES: Obviously, there's confusion. We've heard, for months now, there's been tension, about the messaging. Now, we have messaging issues, for a very different reason.

But, I just have to ask, who should people be following? Obviously, politics has a way of seeping into all these discussions. But when the average person is figuring out, to mask, or not to mask, that is the question, who are they listening to, for the answers?

MCBRIDE: It's a great question. And, I think, for two years, people have been starved, for clear transparently communicated facts, and data, and a framework, within which they can make complex decisions, to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.

I'm a primary care doctor. I don't know everything. But I do know a few things, about helping people manage risk, managing their risk, for severe outcomes, from COVID-19, managing their risk, for depression, anxiety, diabetes, dementia, heart disease.

At this moment, in the pandemic, Laura, where we have been blessed with incredibly effective and safe vaccines that take the fangs and claws away, from the virus, and turn it into a more manageable disease, where we have more widely available oral antiviral medications, to help our highest-risk population patients, be at lower risk, for severe consequences, and where we have abundant data, showing exactly, who is at highest risk, for severe outcomes?

It's really time to, number one, think about who you trust. And, for a lot of people, it's their primary care doctor, if they're fortunate enough to have one. And number two, to think about shifting the responsibility of protecting you, in your classroom, for example, from the government, to your own personal risk tolerance.

At this moment, it's appropriate to think about unmasking kids, in schools, when they face the lowest risk, for poor outcomes, from COVID, and are right now subjected to these strictest measures. COATES: Well, I, of course, have two children, who are in elementary school. And so, this is a issue that's top of mind, in our households, in our neighborhoods, across the country.

And, of course, we know, and we heard, well - I think a lot of us are comparing what we knew then, what we were told then, versus now, and sort of making educated guesses, based on what we're hearing, and filtering.

But there's still that notion of under-five populations still has not been vaccinated. And you do see the rates of people, being infected, even when they're vaccinated. I agree, of course, you do have the embarrassment of three riches, in the form of vaccines.

So, how do people go about assessing what their risk tolerance ought to be? Because even that can be a cause for concern of, "Well, am I being an irresponsible parent, if I don't have a mask on my kid, even if they're vaccinated? Is there peer pressure of society or the schools?"

How do I go about assessing my own views of risk?

MCBRIDE: Right. It's really, really complicated. And this is what I spend time, doing with my patients, every day, is sort of marrying the broad public health advice, with evidence, and then the patient's unique medical vulnerabilities.

Let me say this. So, I hear people, who have kids, under five, who are unvaccinated. Those kids have not yet had the benefit of the vaccine. At the same time, the under-5-year-olds are generally at very low risk, for poor outcomes.

The under-6-month kids are at a little bit higher risk. But those kids can be protected, if they're lucky enough to be breastfed, by antibodies, transferred, from the mother, through breast milk.

For people, who are worried about whether their child is going to spread, to teachers, for example? Because we all want to care for our communities. I would remind people that the data are clear that kids tend to spread the virus less than adults.

Kids have been assumed to be these vectors of disease, when actually, they transmit the virus, less. And then, when they've been vaccinated, while the vaccine doesn't eliminate the risk of transmission, it reduces it somewhat.


Moreover, we don't have good clear real-world evidence that masking kids, in schools, has a meaningful effect, on transmission of the virus. And so, when you have an intervention, like a mask, it's not appropriate, to mandate it, when the benefits are clear, and the harms are non-zero.

I'm not anti-mask. I recommend masks to my patients. Before we had vaccines, I recommended masks, in 2020. It's just the conditions have changed. And now, it's time to really think hard, about the data, and take fear out of the driver's seat, and put the facts in the driver's seat, with the help of your primary care doctor, if you're lucky enough to have one.

COATES: Well, that's a big contingency, right? The idea of it's like, you have to have one.

MCBRIDE: That's right, yes.

COATES: And also, if you ask also our vaccines (ph).


COATES: Really quick though, I have no time left, but really quick here. So, if you believe that about masks, and not being necessary, essential, in the same way, does that mean that you necessarily must require vaccines then? They're corollary, of the other--


COATES: --to, say, two feelings of one, means the other has already been accomplished or administered.

MCBRIDE: Well, not necessarily. I think there's a lot more nuance than what would appear in the public square. I think vaccines are extraordinarily safe and effective. I recommend vaccines, to my patients, particularly my high-risk patients.

But remember, masks were supposed to be temporary measures, until we got vaccines. And now, we have them. And now, we have declining case and hospitalization rates. And we have widespread availability of vaccines and oral therapeutics.

So, it's a different - it's a different time. It's 2022. And it's time to really, really think about lifting restrictions, and put the responsibility--


MCBRIDE: --into the individual's hands.

COATES: Well, many individual governors are saying that same thing. We'll see what happens.

Dr. Lucy McBride, thank you so much.

MCBRIDE: Thanks.

COATES: We got Commissioner Roger Goodell, now admitting today that the NFL is falling short, on hiring minority coaches. Says Captain Obvious! He's not vowing though, to take a hard look at whether policies need to change.

But is it enough? We'll discuss, next.



COATES: Listen, we're days away, from the Super Bowl. But they're not talking about the big game.

The NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, today addressed accusations, of racial hiring discrimination. Listen.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: Well, they are getting into the room, and they're getting the interviews. In fact, they're exceeding anything in the Rooney Rule, as far as the interviews. It's the - what we want to try to see is the outcomes, right? We want to see Black head coaches, in the NFL, and coaches of people of color.


COATES: Now, his comments come in the wake of a class action lawsuit, by former coach, Brian Flores, who was alleging discrimination, against Black head coaches and executives.

Here's the facts, by the way, about the League's hiring, so we're all on the same page. So currently, about 70 percent of NFL players are Black. Yet, the League has only two Black head coaches.

And between 2012 and 2021, NFL teams hired 82 White head coaches, and general managers, as opposed to only 17 head coaches and managers of color. That's nearly, for those doing the math, five times more.

And look at the offensive and defensive coordinators. Well, the pattern is still there, as well. 168 White hires versus only 51 people of color, over a 10-year period.

Let's discuss now with Bomani Jones. He's the Host of "The Right Time with Bomani Jones" podcast.

Bomani, good to see you. How are you doing?


COATES: I'm good, although that was - those figures are quite disturbing, when you think about the overall League, in and of itself. And you heard Goodell, say they're investigating into the matter, and that the Rooney Rule is getting interviews, but they want it to actually translate to something.

I mean, Bomani, isn't part of the problem here that the Rooney Rule more and more about having to have at least diverse coaches, be interviewed, that it really is phoning it in, when it's already a preconceived term, in conclusion?

JONES: Well, the thing, I always say about the Rooney Rule is that, when it was initially implemented, I think you can look at the numbers, in the hires that took place, at the time, and see that it was actually pretty effective. At this point, it feels like teams are more concerned with circumventing it than honoring the spirit of the Rule itself.

But I'm always very cautious about blaming the Rule, because the problem is, in fact with the people, right, like the thought behind the Rooney Rule, in part, is honestly this thing, where we're just so insistent upon making sure that we don't treat any White person, like they're doing something wrong, right?

So the idea is, "Oh, no, this hiring before, you just didn't know who the people were. But if we put those people, in front of you, then you will see what it is." And you're putting, the people, in front of them then, now we see what it is.

COATES: And we look at this and, of course, spoken like a true - almost a true lawyer, in that sense, of it's not the Rule. It's the people, who are doing the wrong thing, in following the Rule.

I got to ask, how does an investigation change this? I mean, how do you look at the issue, if you're Goodell, I mean, people, who're looking at Goodell, wanting to actually believe that there could be the spirit of the Rule, actually enforced?

Where do you go? I mean, is it satisfactory, to say that there's not the answers yet, but they're looking for them?

JONES: No, no, you got to go to court, like that's the thing about Flores is it is worth noting that after Brian Flores--

COATES: I knew you are a - are you a lawyer? Hold on. Are you a lawyer, after all? I heard the "Go to court now."

JONES: No. I just--

COATES: I see it!

JONES: No, I just have a basic understanding that all progress, on race, in this country, typically involves having to take somebody to court.

You'll note that the hires that we saw that took place after Brian Flores decided to put this paperwork in, it seemed like somebody happened to be listening. At the very least, in Houston, it looked like somebody happened to be listening, at this point.

But the expectation that people are just going to be good, and then come around, and be like, "Wow, we've been tripping," that's probably not going to happen. This particular organization, and honestly, this country at large, has bothered, if somebody threatens to take them to court.

COATES: It is one of our favorite pastimes, not baseball, really litigation. I got to ask, though, on the idea of how this goes down, in terms of those court filings, in particular.


There has been pushback, on these issues, and not just in the NFL, really across Corporate America, and the like that people are averse, or are calling this, things like "Playing the race card."

Or that, people, if you're firing someone, for a legitimate reason, they will say, "Well, if that person is a person of color, they're afraid that they're going to be labeled a racist" in that sense.

Do you buy into that? Or is there a way to navigate around that, and actually recognize that there are often pretextual reasons?

JONES: No, that's just a damn lie. We call it - the question is, they're fielding right now about whether or not this institution is racist. And that's from not hiring people, like, just think about this for a second.

If your thought process, going in, is, "I would hire that dude. But if we fire him? Then they are going to call us racist," why are you going into this, thinking about firing the person that you just hired? That should be the most optimistic day in the world!

So, when people are saying that, they're walking in with a level of skepticism that you don't think that they would ever express, when dealing with the other candidates. That's just, I mean, I couldn't believe that that was actually printed, as though something - something that you should consider, because that's such an obvious and transparent lie.

COATES: Well, it is. Let's see what actually comes with this civil, I mean, this actual class action lawsuit as well.

Bomani Jones, thank you for your time. Nice talking to you.

JONES: All right, you too.

COATES: Up next, a new battle erupting between the Biden White House, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, over his state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill.

You heard me. I'll make my case, next.



COATES: OK. Shh! I don't want you to say gay in school, because apparently, it'll hurt the kids!

What is this nonsense, in 2022, I mean, heck, in any year, for that matter? I'm talking about this backwards bill, advancing now in Florida's Republican-controlled State House that would limit discussions, about sexual orientation, and gender identity, in the classroom.

Now, it's officially called the "Parental Rights in Education" Bill. But critics have dubbed it the "Don't Say Gay" bill, arguing that it will strip protections, from LGBTQ children, and will lead to more bullying, and suicide, within an already marginalized community.

Now, President Biden's even weighing in here, calling legislation, quote, "Hateful."

Now, of course, parents should have the right to have a say in what their kids are being taught. I know, when it comes to my own children, I'd like for someone to try to stop me, from at least weighing in, on their education.

But making it illegal, for educators, to discuss sexual orientation, gender identity, and actually encouraging parents, to sue, if they do? How is that OK? I mean, why is one's sexual orientation, or gender identity, or the discussion of it, the new Voldemort? I thought we saw that figurative movie of discrimination. We didn't like it. And we progressed. Maybe I'm wrong!

But proponents of the law say that discussing the reality of sexual orientation, and gender identity hurts children.

You know, what's hurting children most? Being constantly thrust into the middle of America's culture wars battlefield.

The White House puts it this way. "Make no mistake. This is not an isolated action. Across the country, we're seeing Republican leaders take actions to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be, cynically treating our students as pawns in a game."

"Pawns!" Do you agree? Well, if they are indeed, pawns, as they suggest? Then frankly, I'm afraid, to even guess what is really the end game.

And yet, all over the country, the gamesmanship of culture wars are enveloping our schools, whether it's the hysteria, over critical race theory, teaching about race, or racism, in American history.

Alabama approved resolution that actually bans the teaching of so- called divisive concepts associated with critical race theory, as if children need to be shielded from learning about inequality, or as if critical race theory was ever actually a part of any elementary school's curriculum. I believe the course you might be referring to, only has one word. History!

Now, Virginia's new governor actually set up a tip line for parents, to tattle on teachers, who engage in any, quote, "Inherently divisive teaching practices," like CRT. There is an anti-Critical Race Theory bill in the West Virginia House now too.

And according to an Education Week tally, since January of 2021, do you realize that 37 states have introduced bills, or taken other steps that restrict teaching critical race theory, or even limit how a teacher can talk about racism, and sexism? And 14 states have imposed these bans and restrictions. That's a lot of states! And then, there's the growing book-banning craze. The Pulitzer Prize winning Holocaust novel, "Maus," just banned, from an eighth grade curriculum, by a school board, in Tennessee, over concerns about, quote, "Rough, objectionable language," and a drawing of a nude woman.

Well, let me tell you, if you find the book offensive, what do you make of the rough and objectionable history that it is relaying?


And then, there's all the vitriol, at school board meetings, about mask mandates, or vaccine requirements, or remote learning, all this chaos and clashing over everything.

But if you think about what impact it's having on America's children? Now, I'm not comfortable with them getting caught in the wake, as collateral damage. Are you comfortable?

In 2022, according to Florida's governor, it's entirely inappropriate, for teachers and school administrators, to have conversations, with students, about their gender identity.

Well, according to the data, from the Human Rights Campaign, more than 100 anti-transgender bills, were introduced, last year, all across the country, and many more this year. What kind of message does that send our youth?

Look, I'm old enough, and I'm young enough, to remember that we wanted our classrooms, to be a marketplace of ideas, where curriculum was not a synonym, for indoctrination, where ideas were tested, and philosophies challenged. Opinions were to be formed, not assigned.

Look, read fiction. But teach the truth. Or it won't just be our kids you hurt. It will be all of our future. I rest my case.


COATES: Well, that's it, for us, tonight. I'll be back, tomorrow.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

I almost ended there, just to make sure his name, I said, "Don Lemon." Oh, the show starts tonight.

You are the show, my friend.