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CDC Unveils Anticipated Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated People; 17 Million-Plus Watch Bombshell Interview of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle; Markle Says She Contemplated Suicide, Didn't Get Help from Royals. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 8, 2021 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Omar Jimenez, grateful, you're back in Minneapolis to take us through what must be a tense week in the city. Omar, thanks so much. We'll check in again tomorrow.

Thank you for spending some time with us today in Inside Politics. See you back here this tomorrow. Don't go anywhere, a busy news day. Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar, and I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

After weeks of waiting, the CDC has finally released guidelines for Americans who are fully vaccinated for coronavirus. Dr. Rochelle Walensky outlining key rules to follow once two weeks have passed since the final dose.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or physical distancing, wisits with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk of severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing a mask or physical distancing, and refrain from quarantine and testing following a known COVID-19 exposure if the vaccinated person remains asymptomatic.


KEILAR: So far, more than 30 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, which is more than the total number of confirmed infections nationwide. Today, the U.S. surpassed 29 million cases and this sparked new concerns about the spread of more infectious variants just as more states reopen and lift their mask mandates.

Joining me is Dr. Richina Bicette, Emergency Medicine Physician and Medical Director at the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Bicette, always great to see you. I wonder what you think about these new guidelines that so many people have been waiting for. Are they expected -- are they what you expected?

DR. RICHINA BICETTE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: There definitely are some parts of the guidelines that are what I expected. We have been vaccinating people in this country for the last three months. We have over 30 million people that are fully vaccinated. And so a lot of us have been wondering when we can start gathering again, when we can start having in-person meetings at work again, and I do think that the -- delineating those situations.

There are a lot of nuances -- though, that I think are very important to highlight and discuss because what we don't want is people to just think that the CDC has released guidelines and now we can start having parties again. That's not what they are saying.

KEILAR: A lot of this has to do with people wanting to kind of get back to normal. And these recommendations mention gyms and restaurants. And they say the risk of infection for vaccinated people is lower than unvaccinated people. That seems like common sense, of course.

Should the CDC give more examples so that people fully understand what they should and shouldn't do?

BICETTE: So, that's one example of the nuances that I was talking about, Brianna. Yes, the risk is lower if you are fully vaccinated if you go to a gym or are indoor dining. However, the overall transmission risk in those settings are higher. So even people who are fully vaccinated should still consider wearing their masks and physically distancing in those spaces, especially if coming into contact with unvaccinated people.

KEILAR: Then -- Walensky said --


WALENSKY: Every time that there is a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country. We know that many of our variants have emerged from international places and we that the travel corridor is a place where people are mixing a lot. We are really trying to restrain travel at this current period of time.


KEILAR: When do you think that we will be able to travel safely?

BICETTE: I haven't yet heard of any specific country releasing travel guidelines for those who have been fully vaccinated. But along the same vein that the CDC has released guidelines for small gatherings, if you have been vaccinated, I do think as more people in this country start to get their vaccine and as we vaccinate more people globally, we are going to start seeing both individual travel restrictions from certain countries, and the CDC release further guidelines on traveling for those who are fully vaccinated. KEILAR: This guidance is specific to people who have had their vaccine. It's specific to vaccinated people within their homes, not in public. Do you think that public precautions should change now that cases are dropping or have we leveled out at too high of a level to do that?

BICETTE: I don't public precautions should change just yet. Although we do have 30 million vaccinated and that sounds like an amazingly high number, it is still only -- population. So, very, very far from where we need to be in order to achieve herd immunity.

And, again, the cases are dropping but it doesn't seem as if they are dropping as quickly of a rate as they were maybe a couple of weeks ago. We are leveling off right now at about 60,000 cases, which is still way too high of disease transmission within the community.


I would like to see those numbers come down significantly before we start to lift any more restrictions.

KEILAR: Yes, we are just waiting. Dr. Bicette, for those numbers to come down, certainly, we do wish they were. We certainly appreciate you being with us. Great to see you.

BICETTE: Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Brianna.

KEILAR: Oprah's interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is turning out to be a blockbuster in more ways than one. Early ratings are now in and the couple drew an even bigger audience than recent award shows as they described why they left the royal -- they blame failure by the palace to support them. Markle says she was barraged -- coverage.

The duchess of Sussex also revealed how racism came from within the palace and how it had to do with the color of their baby's skin.


MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of he won't be given security, he's not going to be given -- and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.

OPRAH WINFREY, AMERICAN HOST: There is a -- hold up.

MARKEL: There are several conversations --

WINFREY: There is a conversation with you --

MARKLE: With Harry.

WINFREY: -- about how dark your baby is going to be?

MARKLE: Potentially, and what that would mean or look like. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: I want to turn now to CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter, who also anchors our Reliable Sources.

There is so much to talk about here. Meghan describes having suicidal thoughts. If anything, all of the hype underestimated just how revealing this interview would be. I know that is what I was thinking as I watched it and I was picking my jaw up off the floor. And the ratings are showing that people wanted to know their story and they attracted a lot of folks with it.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this was bigger than almost everything on American television. More than 17 million viewers watched live last night on CBS. And that doesn't include all the people who are watching on demand today or streaming on We know this special also is airing around the world and it has not officially aired in the U.K. yet, not now for a couple more hours.

So, more and more people are consuming this and finding out what has happened. And, frankly, the more people who watch, the better it is for Harry and Meghan, the worse it is for the royal family.

But this was bigger than almost everything on T.V., the Golden Globes, the Emmys, even the inauguration. A lot of people are interested in this family. And now that Harry and Meghan are setting off in their own lives with their own careers, there was their reintroduction, I think, to the world, Brianna.

KEILAR: And it was bigger almost than just palace intrigue. I mean, the themes of this interview really hit a chord, I think, with a lot of issues that are on people's minds.

The response in the U.K., Brian, has been harsh and some columnists are calling for Harry and Meghan to be stripped of their titles.

STELTER: Yes, the divide in the media coverage is astonishing. You can see it U.S. website coverage versus U.K. coverage, we will put out some examples of this, the American framing is largely about what Harry and Meghan are revealing, what they are saying about being snubbed by Queen Elizabeth.

But look on the right side, showing the faces of some other royal families. They are not amused. A lot of the coverage in the U.K. is framed around reactions from the royals. Of course, we are not hearing from them officially publicly but there is speculation about the reactions.

Here is another example of some of the front page, some of the tabloid headlines, making this all about the queen, and saying the queen is suffering as a result.

So, the divide is remarkable. You almost think about revolutionary war rivalries here, right, U.S. versus U.K. going back centuries, and it's playing out now in this story of a princess who has been seriously harmed by the palace. I mean, that is the takeaway. I think she has done a lot of good, Meghan, by talking about her suffering, her depression, those suicidal thoughts. It is been important to see some help hotlines out there in the U.S. and the U.K. and elsewhere so that people know what it was like for her and that they can seek help if they are having those kinds of feelings as well.

KEILAR: Yes. It was a stunning revelation, just how honest she was about the challenges they confronted. But it seemed to be certainly necessary as they were explaining why they decided the leave.

Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

During the interview, Meghan Markle also talked about the news coverage and how it differed significantly between her and Kate, and the duchess of Cambridge.


MARKLE: Kate was called Waity Katie, waiting to marry William, while I imagine that was really hard, and I do, I can't picture what that felt like. This is not the same. And if a member of this family will comfortably say, we have all had to deal with things that are rude, rude and racist are not the same.

And, equally, you have also had a press team that goes on the record to defend you, especially when they know something is not true, and that didn't happen for us.



KEILAR: I want to discuss this now with my colleague, CNN Tonight Anchor Don Lemon, who is also the author of the book, This is the Fire, What I Say to My Friends About Racism.

I mean, this interview, Don, whoa, right? This was just one jaw- dropping moment after another. Oprah was practically speechless.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I am glad you mentioned Oprah because I thought Oprah did a fantastic job. There are -- as an interviewer, you know -- back. And I don't think this was an interview where you needed -- who was involved in some sort of conspiracy or some sort of crime. This was an interview where you wanted to -- where you wanted to get intimate knowledge of someone's personal life, the reasons for doing what they did. It was more of a conversation.

Oprah did push her but only pushed her enough that where she talked about the things that she wanted to talk about and also enough to get some answers as to what people were thinking about. It wasn't like an interrogation, which is what made it great.

Oprah was speechless. Most people are speechless. But I have to tell you, I don't think Oprah, I don't think anyone who watched it, especially any one person of color, is surprised that the British family -- that there was racism there. That is what the monarchy is based on, heredity, hierarchy, a caste system, bloodlines.

And so the whole institution is built on a racist structure. So there should not be, oh, my God, the British family racist, of course, they are racist, built on. The racism -- be in it only by birth. And so far, by birth, it's only been white royals on the British throne. That's it.

Oh, my God, the British family is racist. Yes, the system is racist.

KEILAR: You say people weren't surprised but Harry explained that he was surprised, right, that he didn't really see it until he had to see it through the eyes of Meghan Markle, through the eyes of a black woman who he loved. And then he said it was immediate being confronted with this, Don.

LEMON: That part was not surprising, because as we always say, that is what privilege is all about. If it doesn't -- if you don't have to deal with it, then it doesn't exist for you.

Look at all the criticism -- before the interview aired, there were so many people who were on social media who were saying, I can't believe, why are they doing it, whoa is me, they are rich, they're wealthy, they're royal, what have you, not even knowing what the interview was going to be about, not even knowing someone else's existence.

I wonder why these people always try to explain what someone else's experiences are and why all of these privileged people, most of them on social media, white women, who are criticizing Meghan and Harry and Oprah for what they were about to do and then the interview as well.

Why is that -- why do you have to get on social media and weigh in on everything that has to do with black people and racism, especially if you are a white person in this country, unless you are going to be helpful and open about it instead of saying it doesn't exist. Oh, my gosh, how dare you, they see everything through the eyes of this.

Why don't you try to look at it with some understanding with an open mind instead of always criticizing especially people who have built their reputations on criticizing people? And you know who you are because you do it every time.

Every time there is a story about criminal justice or something black or Colin Kaepernick or Meghan Markle, they always have to rush to Twitter and criticize someone or get in on it because they want relevance. No, you are not relevant anymore and stop trying to be relevant on the backs of black people. That's what I will say to that.

So, of course, I am not surprised that Harry was introduced to racism through his wife and he felt it in a personal way. That's how it happened. I am a black man from the south who is engaged to a white man from the east end of Long Island. There were revelations for him, and still are in our relationship, because it wasn't something he had to confront on a daily basis. Now he does. Now Harry does. So, it means the world to him. Harry has a black child and a black wife now. So it is personal. KEILAR: And that -- him having a child who is biracial. I mean, you know, kids are -- they mean -- you know, they mean so much. And I imagine that was quite an awakening for him thinking about, you know, this person, even before he was born, who was clearly going to be so important to him, if not the most important person to him.

LEMON: And he started seeing it?

KEILAR: And now he might be treated differently than other children in the royal family.

LEMON: Well, imagine your kids, Brianna. I mean, people love their kids and they want to protect them. And, you know, for someone to treat the kid differently or to be concerned about how dark the child's skin tone is going to be -- which is something that I do write about in the book, and I talk to you about it all the time.


Now, listen, we shouldn't be surprised that you have a black woman from America who is, in their eye, a commoner, and then you have this white, red head British royal, people wanted to know what the baby was going to look like. That was out of curiosity. But this baby is going to be a beautiful brown baby with red hair, I can't wait to see it, that's -- what color is his skin? Is it going to be too dark? Two different things. So I think the difference is reaction here.

So I thought it was a fantastic interview. I thought it was eye- opening. I think that there was -- initially people thought that maybe Meghan and Harry didn't -- that they should have waited it out longer, they should have -- instead of just 18 months, that they could have made a difference inside the royal family.

But once you got a sense, and you heard what they said to Oprah about why they did it, then realize that maybe you it wasn't going to work out for them and the best thing to do was come to America, do what they did and speak out and speak out with someone like Oprah. I thought it was perfect. I think that they handled it perfectly.

KEILAR: It sounded more acute. It sounded more like a crisis certainly that they were in the middle of and we really got a sense of that.

LEMON: And, Brianna, also many people say, well, we haven't heard from the other side. What's the other side going to say? They're going to say, of course, we're -- what did they do? Think about their actions. They did not stand up for their own because he was married to a black woman, had a black biracial child. They didn't listen to him inside of the royal family. They let him go. They let him leave the country. They wouldn't come to terms with what they wanted to do.

So, listen, we have only heard from one side but that one side at this point rings very true.

KEILAR: Don, thank you so much. I was looking forward to this conversation. You do not disappointment. And you can watch Don tonight at CNN Tonight at 10:00 Eastern. And, of course, check out his wonderful book as well. Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Bye, Brianna, thank you. Good seeing you, as always.

KEILAR: Great to see you.

Next, I will be speak with two royal insiders about the other big headlines, there are many, including the eerie moment when Prince Harry reveals what happened after the royals cut him off financially and how he thinks his mother, Diana, saw it coming.

And hear why the judge dismissed the jury on day one of the trial of the former officer accused in the death of George Floyd.



KEILAR: Prince Harry and Meghan, it is the interview that people are talking about today. So let's discuss this now with Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand. They wrote the book, Finding Freedom, Harry and Meghan, and the Making of a Modern Royal Family.

Carolyn, I want to have you listen to something that Meghan -- some more context for a non-royal obsessed audience.


MARKLE: But the idea of our son not being safe and also the idea of the first member of color in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be --


KEILAR: She was saying, Carolyn, that he would not, they learned be titled as a prince, that he would not have security. So there wouldn't be assurances of his personal protection. Can you explain to us what the protocol is for these kinds of title designations and how this may have changed, according to what Meghan was saying, with Archie?

CAROLYN DURAND, CO-AUTHOR, FINDING FREEDOM, HARRY AND MEGHAN AND THE MAKING OF A MODERN ROYAL FAMILY: Yes. I mean, it's called royal style in the U.K. and that's what determines whether you are a lady or whether you are a master or whether you are her royal highness or his royal highness or a prince. It is very technical.

And the grandchild of the reigning monarch is traditionally a prince or a princess. But as we know, Lady Louise Windsor and her brother, the children of Price Edward and Sophie Wessex, do not use the prince or princess title, nor do Zara Tindall and her brother, Peter Phillips, who were Princess Anne's children.

Archie is a great grandchild of the queen. But when his grandfather, Prince Charles, ascends the throne, he could become a prince. And that is specifically what Meghan was referring to. It's quite complicated and it obviously has -- is being discussed. What Prince Charles will do when he ascends the throne under a slimmed down monarchy is really what -- is what she's talking about.

KEILAR: And it seemed to her to feel personal, but also concerning just logistically, when it came to his personal security. Omid, the issues of race in this interview have been the biggest part of this, I think, that have captured attention.

This morning, Oprah revealed that Prince Harry wanted to clarify the comments on the discussion that he had had about Archie's skin color.


WINFREY: He did not share the identity with me, but he wanted to make sure that I knew, and if I had an opportunity the share it, that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather that were a part of those conversations.


KEILAR: So the accusations, Omid, of racism did not extend to the queen and to Prince Philip, but that conspicuously leave his father, Charles, and his brother, William, they're sort of uncovered by that. That really stands out.


OMID SCOBIE, CO-AUTHOR, FINDING FREEDOM, HARRY AND MEGHAN AND THE MAKING OF A MODERN ROYAL FAMILY: Yes. And it is possible that that will turn into a guessing game over here in the U.K. Of course, it is all that the papers and the media organizations in the country are talking about.

But it is worth mentioning that Meghan didn't refer to it being a senior member of the family or not. That is a large family we're talking about. And there have already been experiences of racism or racial ignorance or in the family. Let's not forget when Meghan attended her first Christmas gathering with the family, Princess Michael of Kent, who is much further down the ladder, arrived wearing a Blackamoor Brooch, which is considered, of course, particularly insensitive for her first encounter with the house of Windsor's first biracial duchess.

So it really gives an idea of what we are dealing with her. I think the palace will want to avoid it turning into a guessing game. And from what I understand, they are working on some kind of statement at the moment, but I was told that they are really taking their time.

KEILAR: They are really taking their time. There were bread crumbs, Carolyn, in this interview about who this might have been, who said this. I mean, certainly, we know it was someone who was speaking with Harry and clearly comfortable enough with him to broach this subject. And Meghan said in the interview she wasn't going the reveal who it was because it would be, quote, very damaging.

So, I mean, when I think of that, I don't think of like Princess Michael of Kent. DURAND: No, but you do -- as Omid said, it is a very large and a very extended royal family. There are many people that could have spoken to Harry. He's -- the family is very close. They spend Christmas together. They have a large gathering that the queen holds at Buckingham Palace beforehand. He has many relatives, godparents.

So I don't think that we want to make a guess or accuse people since it's such a loaded statement and obviously very, very damaging and unsettling.

Certainly, I think that what we are seeing right now, there have been many, many royal interviews that have been done previously. We all remember the famous interview back when Prince Charles made his statement and Princess Diana said there were three of us in the marriage.

I think what we saw last night was something that could potentially be much more damaging to the monarchy with what Meghan and Harry revealed about racism targeted towards them and, of course, not getting the support that she really needed and he really needed when they were undergoing mental health struggles. That is much more damaging than what took place 25 years ago.

KEILAR: Because, let's listen to this, Omid. This is one of the bombshells where Meghan said that she was actually suicidal.


MARKLE: I just didn't want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.


KEILAR: She said she couldn't be left alone because she was having specific thoughts about this. She was also pregnant at the time. And she said, Omid, that she asked H.R. for help and they denied her. Why would that be?

SCOBIE: Well, technically, as a family member rather than an employee of the firm, she is not protected by H.R. But I think we have to sort of take one step back and really take notice to what Meghan said about even speaking with palace aides about needing help. And she in that very moment of need was basically ignored and told that this would be not a good look for the institution.

And I think that that reflects so poorly on a royal family that focuses so much on mental health issues. Of course, we saw Prince William, Kate and Harry put together the Heads Together Movement, talking about it is okay to say, and this goes completely against that.

And, in fact, I would say, out of all of the accusations made, this is the biggest shame on the family because this is something that can't be argued against. No one can say that it didn't happen because, of course, Meghan is sharing her own experience. And for a pregnant newcomer to the royal family, the first biracial member of the royal family, to feel like that, at her lowest point, and to be left alone is disgusting and a repeat of exactly what we've seen happened with Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson in the past and it shows that the royal family has yet to learn in those lessons.

KEILAR: Yes. It was a very sad part of the interview, quite frankly. Omid, thank you so much for being with us, Carolyn Durand as well, thank you.