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CNN TONIGHT: Biden Demands Congress Act On Gun Reform After Series Of Back-To-Back Massacres: "Enough"; Brooklyn Subway Mass Shooting Victim Sues Gunmaker Glock; Elon Musk Tells Tesla Employees: Return To The Office, Or Else. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 02, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Let's hand it over to Laura Coates, and CNN TONIGHT.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you so much.
I'm Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.
A short while ago, we heard from an emotional, and an increasingly frustrated, President Biden. I mean, after all, it was Vice President Biden, nearly a decade ago, who had the distinct responsibility, of trying to formulate, the government's response, to the tragedy, at Sandy Hook.
Now tonight, he delivered his first primetime address, to the nation, on gun violence, and the epidemic that it's become, in America.
Now, you may have noticed the 56 candles, burning, behind them. They are meant to represent shooting victims, from all U.S. states and territories. And it came amid cries of "Enough!"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done. This time, that can't be true. This time, we must actually do something.
This isn't about taking away anyone's rights. It's about protecting children. It's about protecting families.
For God's sake. How much more carnage are we willing to accept? How many more innocent American lives, must be taken, before we say "Enough?"
Enough! Enough! Enough!
(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: "Enough!"
And he didn't hold back, chastising Republicans, for their opposition, to new gun control measures.
Yet the President did still find a way to call for compromise. After presenting a, really, a laundry list of demands, he anticipated, it seemed, the need for some contingencies. He called on them to at least agree to raise the age minimum that you can use to buy an assault weapon to 21.
He's channeling what feels like a collective frustration, because gun violence doesn't seem to care at all about who you vote for. In fact, think of the children, who have been hurt. They can't vote. And there is no bottom to the grief.
And with solutions that still seem to be pending, in Congress, every day, it holds the potential for even more violence. I mean, yesterday alone, a mass shooting, at a medical building? Last week, 19 children, and two teachers, slaughtered, at their school. Supermarkets, churches, subways, movie theaters, concerts, nowhere seems to be safe.
And just think about these numbers. At least 233 mass shootings, just this year alone. Everyone, it's just June! And we now have more shootings than days that we've actually had, in the year of 2022. More than 18,000 people, have been killed, by guns, since January. That's according to the Gun Violence Archive.
And here's another stunning figure that might really rock you to your core, even more so. At least 20 mass shootings have occurred, since the school terror, in Uvalde. That was last Tuesday!
This doesn't have to be inevitable. And this doesn't have to be our ongoing normal. And the question really is should this status quo be preserved, while we wait for a political stalemate to end?
I mean, Exhibit A, of the problem, is illustrated at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, on mass shootings that happened today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GREG STEUBE (R-FL): Here's a 12-round magazine. This magazine would be banned, under this current bill.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): I hope the gun-- the gun is not loaded.
STEUBE: I'm at my house. So, I can do whatever I want with my gun.
REP. DAN BISHOP (R-NC): Accusations are made, Republicans are complicit.
You are not going to bully your way into stripping Americans of fundamental rights.
REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): This is on our watch. Where is the outrage?
JACKSON LEE: Look at their faces. These are not class graduation pictures.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): This bill is just another Democrat attack, on the Second Amendment.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Who are you here for? The kids? Or the killers?
If you're not here for the children, why don't you go to the funeral, of the killer?
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): It is irresponsible, to consider bills, while we're still trying to figure out what happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: You know, it's that last question that really gives me pause. And I'm going to ask of the Congressman Matt Gaetz, of Florida, this question. What is more irresponsible? That was the word that was used.
So, what is more irresponsible? To wait for the next chance, for Congress, to be reactive, to yet another mass shooting? Or to be proactive to try to prevent them, in the first place?
We may not have all the answers from Uvalde. But I just told you, the number of mass shootings that have occurred, this year, alone, let alone in the past decade, since then-Vice President spoke to the families, from Sandy Hook.
And frankly, that statement, from me, is really reminiscent, of what we heard from Chief Arredondo, last night, saying the answers would come when the families quit grieving. So, should we all wait for legislation to come until people quit dying?
Of course, we need to explore the failures that happened in Uvalde. But that doesn't preclude us from exploring failures of Congress, to reach common ground, on very important issues. Families, all across this country, deserve answers, as to why it feels like our leaders are failing, time and time again, to find common ground, to help stop these massacres.
After a heated argument, and hearing, today, the Democratic-led Judiciary committee did - now, they ultimately did approve the Protecting Our Kids Act, this evening, which, among other things, would raise the purchase age, of an assault weapon, from 18 to 21. Now, it'll move on to the full House, for a full vote, as you know. But the measure is not expected to pass the Senate.
Now remember, the Uvalde killer, was able to buy two assault rifles, on his 18th birthday. And today, there were funerals, or other services, for five more, of the 19 children, who will never even reach the age of 18 or, for that matter, 13. Let's discuss now with our Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash. And Doug Heye, former Deputy Chief of Staff, to former Republican House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor.
When you hear about this hearing, and you're seeing, all of this, come into fruition, today, when you juxtapose that next to what President Biden had to say, today? Dana, does this feel different? I mean, the laundry list, were their demands. What's possible?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Well, the first of the specifics that the President talked about, at renewing the assault weapons ban that he did help pass, but it expired. That is not possible. That's just not feasible. This is talking to Democrats, and Republicans, right now.
So, the other things that he talked about seem to be in the realm of discussion, among the bipartisan lawmakers, raising the age, to buy these high-capacity weapons, from 18 to 21.
The red flag laws, which would mean that if you see a potential problem, if you're in a position of authority, you can tell a judge, and that can be in a record, so that a red flag will be raised, if that person tries to buy a gun. And a few other things, of that ilk.
The question that I have is whether or not the President, understandably, so upset, about this, and using the bully pulpit, as presidents have done, so many times, before him, to try to push Congress, to do something, whether that could backfire, among the small group, very small group of Republicans, who are trying to work something out that they feel that they can sell back home, in their red districts, or in their red or purple states.
COATES: So Doug, is the bully pulpit something that's counterproductive, to what he's trying to achieve?
On the one hand, there is the obvious need, to demonstrate the outrage, to use the power. I mean, the notion of it being good to be the king, what's the point, if you're the person who can answer the question, you would win (ph) army, and you don't actually use that particular philosophy?
But is it counterproductive in being able to get people to have a compromise? Particularly, when you know, this is such a politically- charged issue?
DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, FORMER DEP COMMS CHIEF OF STAFF TO FORMER MAJORITY LEADER CANTOR, FELLOW, HARVARD INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: I think it can be.
And obviously, when Joe Biden speaks about loss, he does so, from a very personal place, and does so, with great power and great empathy. And I think that registered with most of the people, who watched his remarks, tonight.
But when he started talking about the policies? It's where he moved from politics being the art of the possible, potentially, to actually getting in the way, of what the framework. And it's not even a framework yet with the Senate. It's more of a sketch of what a framework might be, on some of these issues, including red flag laws. And potentially to gum up the policy and the politics of this.
Now, if that happens, that also means that a lot of what we heard, today, will be rhetoric that we hear, from a lot of Democrats, not just Biden, over the coming months. They would much rather talk about this, and other issues, or any other issue, than inflation.
And certainly, on things, like automatic weapons ban, when you look at the polling? That's very popular, nationally, to do so. This is the - these are things that they'll be talking about, in the coming months.
COATES: What it seems like though, Dana, is the idea of the convenience of almost a pretextual reason, to have an exit ramp. If you're saying, "Look, the reason I can't go forward now is because the way that Biden actually articulated the problem?"--
COATES: "That's my exit ramp here. And so, I'm going to be obstinate in some way."
On the other hand, you know that Mitch McConnell has spoken about this being an issue of mental health, and about school safety. So, the framing of the discussion, seems to be a little bit distinct.
But to underscore the point that you just raised, the House Judiciary Committee did vote down party line, to approve a package of gun control. So, even before President Biden spoke today, there was a reason, to vote along party lines. Does this bode well for any potential, even in the Senate, let alone the entire House?
BASH: Yes, I mean, I think as much as possible, it's important to separate out what the House is doing, because it is Democratic - Democrats lead the House. And they can pass, even though it's with the narrowest or majorities, they can pass pretty much anything, regarding this issue, there. It just is.
It's the Senate, which is much more murky. As we've said on so many issues, before, they will need a 60-vote threshold. So that means 10. Republicans, never mind Democrats, like Joe Manchin, to come along with them.
The one thing that I will say, and it's really, it was more of a question raised, and certainly talking to Republican sources, they are - who are involved, in negotiations, they are arguing, "Well, thanks, Mr. President," privately, "That certainly didn't help, because we are trying to get something done. And the more you push on the very, very divided and very intransigent GOP base, the worse it's going to get."
The other very important part of the discussion that we're having here is, this is a President, who's really upset. He is - he's the guy, he's the Commander-in-Chief. He's in charge. He's in the White House. And this is happening on his watch. And he is angry.
And so, it's understandable that he would go out, and make this speech. It was actually more surprising, to me, to watch him, over the past week, try to be quiet, and try to temper the expectations, because it's obviously counter to what he really believes, and wants. He was trying to play kind of the political game. But clearly, the word, "Enough," he really meant it.
COATES: But yet, this seems like a, honestly, Doug, an easy lift, for Republicans, to say, "Hey, I'm doing something about this." It's not as if it's only Democrats, who are being gunned down, in violence. It's every one, it seems.
And so, is there a moment that Republicans, and Democrats, might find the common ground, at least of saying, it just makes sense, politically, to do what seems to be overwhelmingly popular, to at least come to the table, and look for compromise?
HEYE: Well, in a limited sense, depending on what comes out of the Senate, or if anything comes out of the Senate, I think that may be true.
But the reality is, United States Senators all represent different states, and members of Congress all represent different districts. And so, if you're talking Vermont, versus North Carolina, versus California, versus Georgia? All very different political realities in there.
And then you take the congressional districts, within there? Members of Congress and senators, really accurately reflect, believe it or not, their voters, and who they hear from, and who shows up on Election Day.
And it's part of why we see, in on any issue, not just one this, emotionally, that when you start with the negotiations, you're also looking for the exit ramps, pretty quickly. And when that happens, you always blame the other side, regardless of who the other side is.
COATES: Thank you, Dana Bash, and Doug Heye. I wish the answers were different. But I know you're both right. Thank you so much.
HEYE: Thank you.
COATES: Grieving families, we are seeing, in Uvalde, they still have yet to get answers. Answers as to why police failed to follow their training, to confront an active shooter. Questions like why the Chief, at the center of this failure, won't give them answers.
Could there be legal repercussions, for law enforcement? Should there be repercussions? Next.
COATES: Look, the bottom line is we still don't know what information, got from Uvalde 911, to the School District Police Chief, in the critical moments, officers were told, not to enter the classroom.
But answers like this about when we'll know? Well, they make a bad situation worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF PEDRO "PETE" ARREDONDO, UVALDE CISD POLICE DEPARTMENT: Whenever this is done, we'll let - the families quit grieving, then we'll do that obviously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: So, that's the School District Police Chief, and now Uvalde City Council member, Pete Arredondo.
Now, my next guest, has a unique perspective, about the situation, the Chief now finds himself in. His name, Mark Eiglarsh, representing Scot Peterson. Remember, he is the former School Resource Officer, who is still awaiting trial, over what happened, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.
Welcome to the show. Nice to talk to you, today. And I've been eager to speak with you, in particular--
MARK EIGLARSH, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS H.S. RESOURCE OFFICER: Thank you, Laura. I appreciate it.
COATES: I'm glad you're here, Mark.
I'm eager to talk to you, because there's a lot of questions that we need answers to. And yet, of all the people, who've been involved, in this incident, and the response to this tragedy, there's only one name we keep hearing.
And when I talk about the need, to have the answers, I'm not being reductive about the need, just to point fingers, and blame a person, and then tie it up with a neat bow. I actually want the scope of the answers.
And you represent somebody, who has found himself, under a microscope, where people have asked for those answers, have wanted to prosecute.
Tell me a little bit about what you think is going on right now, with this Chief, in the sense of what it would look like, to find yourself, under the microscope, with so many answers still lingering.
EIGLARSH: All right, first, let me just say to the families, I just - my heart goes out to all of them. And I'm so sorry, for your loss. I have three children. And I can't imagine what they must be going through. If I'm them, and I'm in this predicament? I would demand answers. And I want those answers, quick.
But what I've learned, through my own involvement, with the Peterson case, is those quick answers are also the least accurate. The only answers that you can rely upon, are ones that come, after an extensive and thorough investigation. That has not been done.
So we're all yelling, "We want answers! We demand answers!" And anytime, a Police Chief, or anybody says, "We will get you those answers. Let us do a thorough investigation," that's not good enough.
There seems to be this war, on cops, where there's the good guys and the bad guys. And regardless of what the investigation may show, we need a villain, right away. We want to pick up our pitchforks, and we have a war on first responders.
And I'm here to say that that's truly unfair, to the dedicated men and women, who get up, every morning, and leave their families, not knowing, if they're going to return, to their households, and they go out there, and fight for us, to put their lives, on the line.
They deserve a thorough investigation, first. And if they've done anything wrong, that's fine. They could be condemned for it, at some point, and maybe even jailed for it. But let's just wait.
COATES: Well, here's the obvious retort, to that notion. And I do echo the sentiment that there are so many brave men, and women, in law enforcement, who are fighting to make sure, just as they would like to return home, this evening, that others, who are relying on them, will be able to return home, in the evening.
And what we see here, is on this balancing test, and you talk about the need for the delay, and a thorough investigation, against the notion, this is really a close universe of facts, in terms of what the families are even asking for. Even the bite-sized pieces of what was behind the decision, in real-time, not to enter the classroom.
There is a thorough investigation, about the overall maybe systemic issues, or other factors. But why not have the answers to the questions of "Why did you decide not to go in?" That's a pretty limited set of facts. It doesn't disrupt the notion of respecting law enforcement?
EIGLARSH: Yes, I disagree with you. That takes a lot of time. In other words, I know - I've learned from my case, with Scot Peterson.
Listen, before I took his case, I was one of the many people, who condemned him. I said, "Oh, they tell me in the media, he's a coward? The Coward of Broward? He must be! I'm not even going to meet with the guy."
Reluctantly, I met with him. And then, I did a thorough investigation. And I saw transcripts. I saw what he was saying, in real-time, asking fellow officers, "Where's the shooter?" I'm hearing him order a Code Red. I'm hearing him, order officers, to watch their back, evidencing that he thought maybe there was a sniper. It was completely different than what we were led to believe.
So, sometimes, it looks black and white. And it looks like we can condemn an officer. And that's so unfair, to the officer, like Scot Peterson, who for 32 years, was a decorated officer, and did everything he could, before, during, and after, the shooting, to help protect and save lives.
COATES: It's interesting, because what you are describing, as condemnation, for many would ask, and say, it's a question. I mean, there is the idea - and I agree with you.
Believe me, as a former prosecutor, I know the value and the beauty of the presumption of innocence, and the burden that must be met. At the same token, the condemnation does not equate to asking questions, like, "Can we have the information?" I know it will take some time to get the full scope of it.
COATES: But you must see that there has been some stonewalling, and tight-lipped responses that is not really deserving of the families. And I'm just wondering, how long do you think "Quick" ought to be? There's piecemeal. And then, there's stonewalling. Where should we be, right now, eight days in?
EIGLARSH: Let me just say that anyone, who's stonewalling, should not be. They need to be sensitive, to these families, and the public at large, who demand answers. We do want answers. But there's a difference between stonewalling, and saying to people, "We must do a detailed and thorough investigation."
How about speaking to each of the officers, to know that - in my case, Scot Peterson? They didn't go through and ask him step by step, "What were you thinking? Why didn't you go into the building?" To this day, they've never done that.
They did some quick examination, about him, being a witness, on the Cruz case, but not to ask him, "Why didn't you go in?" If they did, they would realize that he's innocent and being sacrificed.
So, let's just wait. Let's wait and speak to the officers, let's look at everything. And then, if there are things that need to be done, that need to be corrected, if there are officers, who need to face even criminal charges? We'll get to that.
EIGLARSH: But not a risk of judgment.
COATES: Mark, I understand your position, in respect to your client, in particular. But we can both agree that our level of patience, and timeline, will be different than the families that are grieving, today.
Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.
EIGLARSH: I'm sure.
COATES: Mark Eiglarsh.
EIGLARSH: Thank you, Laura. I too appreciate it.
COATES: Thank you.
EIGLARSH: Thank you.
COATES: And you know? We are mourning, with these families, as funerals continued, today, in Uvalde, including a funeral, of a little girl, named Eliahana Torres. She was only 10-years-old. And she was murdered, in her school, just nine days ago.
And her family, like those of the 20 other victims, are grieving her immeasurable loss. But there was one member of her family that could not be there, to say goodbye, to his little girl. Her own father. And it wasn't because he didn't want to be there.
That father, Eli (ph) Torres, is incarcerated, in Kentucky, serving time, in a prison, for a non-violent drug offense. Now, when he learned, of her murder, he requested a temporary release, to be able to attend his own daughter's funeral. Not her birthday party. Not a recital. Her funeral! And his request was denied.
A State Rep. weighed in, pushing the likes of Governor Beshear, and even President Biden, to intervene. Still, it was denied. But they did offer him, a chance, to watch it, streaming online.
Kim Kardashian, increasingly known for using her platform, to raise awareness, of criminal justice reform, even asked the Federal Bureau of Prisons, directly, saying that every parent deserves the right to say their last goodbye.
But none of the appeals, for his release, and a temporary one at that, made a difference, at least not in time for his daughter's funeral, a girl, whose family says, she was loving, and compassionate, with a smile that could light up your soul, they say. But her own father's requests for compassion was denied.
And what is undeniable is that, at the intersection of grief, and politics? Compassion, it seems, is, at times, nowhere to be found. But we still must look for the answers, the ones that the families deserve.
Perpetual mass shootings is where we find ourselves, today, burying little girls and little boys. Mothers and fathers, who begin their day, in the places, where they ought to feel and be safe, and ending their days, terrorized, whose legacy and impact, we, frankly, will never be able to capture, in a sound bite, if we had 100 hours, to describe what they meant to their loved ones.
But we do have 100 Senators and 435 Representatives! So, what will they do? And will whatever they decide, be enough and in time?
COATES: The President, tonight, called for repeal of the law that protects gun manufacturers, from prosecution. That comes as a new lawsuit illustrates just how high the bar is, for holding gun makers accountable.
And that case is actually being litigated, in New York, where in April, 10 people were shot, on a Brooklyn subway. Ilene Steur was one of those 10 people. She was on her way to work, when a bullet fractured part of her spine. She's now suing Glock, the company that made the alleged shooter's weapon.
Ilene Steur's attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, joins me now.
Sanford, welcome to the show. I'm glad you're here.
And first, how is your client doing? Now, for many people, who have been reeling, from the perpetual state of mass shootings, at times, it's hard to even have all of the coverage, on what has happened to those, who have been the victim. She has fractures, it was a spinal issue?
SANFORD RUBENSTEIN, ATTORNEY FOR BROOKLYN SUBWAY SHOOTING VICTIM: She had a bullet that went through her buttocks that tore through her abdomen causing her to need a colostomy bag. She had a fractured spine. She's in the process of waiting, for a second surgery, to see if the colostomy can be reversed.
This woman will suffer for the rest of her life, not only the physical injuries she suffered, but also the psychological damage. This should not be happening in the city, in the state, in this country.
COATES: And you're pointing to Glock, as the gun manufacturer, as a way to get some semblance, of justice, for your client. Tell me why you're pursuing this lawsuit.
RUBENSTEIN: We allege that through their marketing practices, Glock has contributed to creating and maintaining public nuisance, and endangering the public health and safety, in New York, which violates Section 898 of the General Business Law, which was enacted, for the very purpose, of creating a pathway, where there is a danger, to public health and safety, for victims, to recover, from gun manufacturers.
The initial statute, which was passed by the legislature, one of the last bill, signed by Governor Cuomo, was recently declared constitutional, by a state court - by a federal court judge, in Albany. And that's being appealed.
And that appeal will be very important, because if his decision is sustained, then we believe this lawsuit can go forward, in federal court, because there's an avenue, for victims, to get compensation, for their pain and suffering.
COATES: Now, this is almost a, I don't want to call it a test case, in the sense that it's something that should be dismissive of.
But the idea that this is something that one of the first instances to really test this law? I wonder, Sanford, I mean, for people who are listening, it seems to many that it might be a tangential relationship, between the marketing, and what takes place - and what took place, in the Brooklyn subway.
I mean, you have the shooter, obviously, who was engaged, in this horrific behavior. Then, you've got the idea of marketing practices. Bridge the gap for me, in terms of what claims you're making, to show that--
COATES: --there is a correlation that led to your client's injury.
RUBENSTEIN: If you go directly to the lawsuit, you see that we allege, the marketing that they engaged in which emphasized firearm characteristics such as their high capacity and ease of concealment. Purposely supplying more firearms than the legitimate market could bear, to induce sales in the secondary market. Not training dealers, to avoid straw sales, other than illegal transactions. And refusing to terminate contracts with distributors who sold to dealers with disproportionately high volumes of guns traced to crime scenes.
There have been - there's a book written, about Glock, the "Glock: The Rise of America's Gun," by Paul Barrett, which outlines some of these marketing practices.
And we look forward to deposing, those who are high executives, at Glock, to find out exactly what was going on, in this company. How did the movies get the Glock to put it in it? How did the Raptors get the Glock, to wrap it out the Glock? We are looking forward to those depositions.
COATES: So Sanford, it sounds like you are extending beyond the immediate injury of your client, and talking more about the gun manufacturer, as a whole, over many years. I mean, the book you cited, was back in, I think, 2008. This was actually an accident law (ph) in 2021.
So, there're going to be a whole lot of discovery that you're anticipating, or hoping for, to try to bridge that gap. We're going to stick with it, and see what happened.
Thank you so much.
RUBENSTEIN: Thank you.
COATES: And CNN has reached out to GLOCK, Incorporated for comment. And frankly, we have not heard back. But we'll follow this story, anyway.
A different, but also important legal question, tonight. What happens to the MeToo movement, after Johnny Depp's $15 million award, in the defamation suit, against his ex-wife, Amber Heard?
Now, justice is supposed to be blind, we're told. But are the bright lights of fame seeping through, thanks to public opinion, and social media's power? We'll talk about it next.
COATES: So Johnny Depp, and Amber Heard, both won damages, and were ordered to pay damages, in their respective lawsuits, against one another.
But in the court of public opinion, it seems that Depp is the clear victim. The actor says the jury, quote, "Gave me my life back," unquote, while Amber Heard says the decision is a, quote, "Setback for women."
Multiple newspaper Op-Ed columns say the case marks the death of the MeToo movement, as well. But will it really have lasting cultural impact for non-celebrities? Or is it just the hot topic of the moment?
CNN's Audie Cornish, joins me now.
And I'm thrilled to have you on. Audie, good to see you.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hey.
COATES: I wonder about that last aspect of it. The notion that they're saying, opining that the MeToo movement, based on this, may actually be dead, what's your take in the court of public opinion?
CORNISH: Well, first, I want to say there have been so many obits, for the MeToo movement, over the last couple of years. With each and every celebrity case, celebrity outing, there's a round of hand wringing, about whether or not this is effective or not.
I can say, as someone, who has followed this, for a long time, one of the things, MeToo activists, and MeToo activism did, was sort of re- center, the media ecosystem, and the media narrative, in a story like this.
So, in the past, as an accuser, you really didn't have much recourse, if you weren't going through legal channels, which we know, have a lot of biases, when it comes to dealing with people, who are victims of abuse.
But all of a sudden, for a few years there, people could raise allegations, through the news, with journalists, who are far more interested, in corroborating and investigating, sometimes cases, in the case, say, of Harvey Weinstein, things that were considered common knowledge, were all of a sudden fair game to talk about in a way they weren't before.
But secondly, the use of first-person narrative. Fundamentally, the case everyone just watched, between Depp and Heard, was not their divorce proceeding. It was not any kind of criminal proceeding. We were watching a defamation case, right? So this was about speech, one of the most potent tools of modern-day activism, and potent tools for the MeToo movement. COATES: And yet, very little, frankly, was discussed, in terms of the legal flowchart, of looking at a defamation case, really, their entire lives, appeared to have been on trial. And frankly, social media was here for all of it. I mean, there was so many commentary about it. There were so many memes.
COATES: It was featured on SNL. There were conversations. Even Monica Lewinsky wrote that piece, in the "Vanity Fair," talking about it, calling it courtroom porn, and that we are all guilty of indulging in it.
CORNISH: I mean, it's incredible how much--
COATES: But I do wonder. Yes.
CORNISH: --the ecosystem, the media ecosystem has changed just since 2016, right? People are talking about this being one of the first TikTok celebrity trials, which is significant.
I'm sure there'll be questions raised about how that jury was able to say, truly isolated, from any information, about this case, for six weeks, given, how much of the media zone, was flooded, with independent social media campaigns.
And fundamentally, something has not changed, which is that, for a while, it seemed as though the MeToo movement had undermined the idea of the perfect victim. That somebody had to be unassailable, in so many ways, in order for them to be credible, against the accused, right?
It sort of spread that burden out a little bit. That's what I think fundamentally the sort of "Believe Women" mantra or slogan was about. It was saying that the person, who is on trial, is the accused, not the accuser.
And it's interesting that at the end of Heard's Op-Ed, the one that's in question here, she talks about the idea of taking on all of the sort of abuse, in the social media space, and in the public. And, in the end, that remained, right? In the end, she still took on a great deal of reputational damage, in making these claims.
And, I think, that goes against something we've been told by a lot of people, which is that accusers are seeking fame, and this is like such a great position to be in. It's not. There's no winning. No one's covered in glory.
And I think that it was a very sort of ugly stretched-out process that fundamentally damaged them both. But certainly didn't give her what she was looking for.
COATES: Well, the notion of "Believe Women" as the reflexive action, in the MeToo movement, seems to be challenged, in this notion. The question will be, will that truly be the case, for women, who don't have name recognition, like an Amber Heard, or who you don't have - of a Johnny Depp? And will this be about backlash, resisting the MeToo movement, or really about trying to find the truth?
Audie Cornish, so nice, talking to you. What an asset, to have you, at CNN!
CORNISH: Thank you for having me.
COATES: The king of electric cars, is now pulling the plug, on office workers, who try to work remotely, all the time. Elon Musk, warning Tesla employees that if they don't put in 40 hours a week, at the office, they don't work for him anymore. So, the question now is will Corporate America follow his lead?
We've got Silicon Valley insider, Kara Swisher, telling us how that could clash with his Twitter takeover bid, next.
COATES: So, Elon Musk has said that what's happening to him feels like a "Looney Tunes" episode. He was tweeting about political backlash.
But he's also at the center of so much controversy, it's enough to make, well, the Tasmanian devil dizzy! Did I just date myself with that? You know what I'm talking about. We're still waiting to see, if he can seal the deal, with Twitter. But he's also recently denied sexual misconduct allegations.
And now, he's making waves at Tesla, telling his remote office workers, to come back to the physical office, for at least 40 hours a week, or resign. He's complaining the pandemic tricked people, in thinking they don't need to work hard.
And today, even Musk complained about his own work, tweeting, "I never wanted to be CEO - just wanted to work on product/technology. Running companies hurts my heart."
Joining us now is "New York Times" Contributing Writer, Kara Swisher. She's also the Host of the "Sway" podcast.
Kara, I'm glad you're here. Look, some people are thinking that maybe Elon Musk has said maybe the quiet part out loud that other employers are thinking?
KARA SWISHER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES, HOST, "SWAY" PODCAST: Yes.
COATES: The idea of look, this whole remote work, is not working for maybe the culture of the employers?
COATES: What do you make of it?
SWISHER: Well, I don't think he's - look, other people have done this. David Solomon, at Goldman, Jamie Dimon, at City Corp.
A lot of companies are talking about this, wanting people back in the workplace. What they are doing is facing a backlash, from some employees, who don't want to do it. Apple had tried to move people back into the workplace. They have a fantastic headquarters, in Silicon Valley. And they've been facing some struggle, getting a lot of people, back there.
And Elon just decided, like a lot - like several people, again, like David Solomon, from Goldman, that "You're coming to work, or you're not coming," essentially.
And so, I'm a little tired, of Elon's pontificating, on every subject, known to man. I have a feeling we're going to get his chocolate chip cookie recipe, next, or something. But, in this case - and he'll be mad at whoever else's chocolate chip cookie, some leftist, AOC's chocolate chip cookie recipe. I don't care about that.
But, in this case, I think if it's his company, and this is the way, he wants to run it, that's perfectly fine. And people can decide, if they want to work, for a company, now that they've gotten used to other things.
So, in this case, I think, he's being entirely reasonable, to say, the factory workers have to come in, and work longer hours. And it is the people, to create great products, you need to be in the same place. A lot of people think that. And so, that's his company.
And again, people can walk with their feet, and they want companies that allow you to stay home, all the time, like a lot of tech companies? People can work there. And so, it's a legitimate thing to say, about how he wants to conduct his workplace. And so, people are going to object. But don't work for Elon Musk, then, I have to be like--
COATES: How you have missed the chance to say, "How do you like them cookies," is just beyond me, right now, Kara. I got to say, this is one of those moments, you got to say it!
SWISHER: Yes, yes.
COATES: And now, I'm salivating about this very notion. But it is the idea of whoever take it or leave it philosophy. Well, that's when you own the company.
COATES: But guess what? He's got a new company he may be taking over. And I'm wondering what those company members--
COATES: --are thinking about this very issue, given, look, he's - talk about factory workers, those who are in a union in Germany are already giving pushback, on this idea of "Yes, you might be the man," so to speak--
COATES: --"But we're the workers."
SWISHER: Yes. That's true. There's a lot of - there's a lot of worker unrest, in a lot of tech companies. Look, Starbucks or Apple, and they're trying to unionize in the stores. There's definitely - and Amazon is facing that.
But again, I feel like, this is the CEO, this is the rules he wants to make. And he will face backlash. And he'll deal with it or he won't. And he will get workers or he won't.
And so, I think, he's just making - he's not saying something that's totally off, on a different field than other people. Because a lot of employers do feel that you need to be together, to do creative work. And probably, the totally-remote workforce is not going to work for a lot of people.
I think, I hate to - some of the stuff he's been tweeting, is somewhat nonsensical, at this point. But some of it is it makes sense. And in this way, I kind of agree with him that creating - doing something, like Tesla, requires presence, probably, and cannot be done remotely. You can't build culture. You can't be creative. I think that's a decent argument.
And again, people don't have to agree with it. But it certainly isn't out of the mainstream, in that regard.
COATES: Well, what about the - I mean, the lawyer in me, asks about the notion of lawsuits, and the exposure to this, because there are legitimate reasons that many people have, to not be in a physical workspace.
COATES: And so - and he's no stranger, by the way--
COATES: --as a company owner, that he's no stranger, to the idea of lawsuits and litigation, about work culture, about the demands--
COATES: --about the take it or leave it approach.
COATES: Does that open up to more of this?
SWISHER: I think he got in more trouble, during - when we didn't have the vaccines, when he was demanding people be at work. Remember, that was pretty controversial. But, in this case, I don't think you can sue for not being at work, right?
I think he did say, and he did note, in one of the memos, "If you have exceptions, it's impossible for you not to work remotely, I will review them, and decide on this." And so, he didn't say "Everybody," right?
But I don't know if there's going to be a hold of like your right not to go to work, as a worker. And I think that's going to be - it's going to be debated. But this idea that workers have all the power is not - it's just not going to true, especially as we're moving into a recessionary period, a possibly contraction in jobs.
COATES: Good point.
SWISHER: The power dynamic between workers and employers are going to - is changing, all the time. And it certainly changed during the pandemic.
SWISHER: People do save a lot of time, not commuting, and things like that, and they like it. But a lot of workplaces, are going to say, "We need you back in here." I think there'll be more of a hybrid, for most people. But, in his case--
SWISHER: --this is what he wants. And if that's what he wants? Don't work for him, if that's what you don't want. I think that's really was his message.
COATES: Well, at the end of the day, either way, no cookies, for you, if you don't come in! Thank you, Kara Swisher, so much.
Everyone, we'll be right back after a quick moment.
SWISHER: Thank you so much.
COATES: Thank you.
COATES: Thanks for watching. I'll be back, tomorrow night.
Don Lemon starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: I have to say, Laura - good evening, by the way.
LEMON: I have to be hopeful about that there finally may be some action on - and I think - I think, you have to be careful about what you call it.