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Buckingham Palace Silent on Allegations; Grants on Health Literacy; China's Responsibility for Uyghur Genocide. Aired 9:30-10a ET.

Aired March 9, 2021 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this morning, Prince Charles did have an opportunity to respond to accusations Prince Harry and his wife Meghan made in that interview with Oprah Winfrey. He did not take that chance. You can watch it here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, can I ask, what did you think of the interview?

PRINCE CHARLES: Thank you, everyone (ph).


SCIUTTO: That was at a London vaccination center.

Prince Charles leaving without answering that question.

No word yet from the palace either, Poppy, on the interview.


With us now from Windsor, CNN anchor and royal correspondent, Max Foster, and CNN's Salma Abdelaziz.

Good morning to you both. Thank you for being on this story that the world is talking about.

And, Max, let me just begin with you because the interview aired a night later in the U.K. than it did here in the U.S., so that was last night. So everyone there has seen it now. Still, no word from the palace? I mean I wonder how long it can remain silent.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they communicate in mystical ways, Poppy, as you know. I think actually today was a bit of a statement in its own right. So, Prince Charles being out and about. This was a -- this was a diary arrangement. It had been there for some time and he carried on with it. He didn't respond to the question.

But what they're saying there is that they're keeping calm, they're carrying on. They'll not going to be disrupted. They're not going to be rushed into a response, a formal response.

So I think that's what they were doing there. I think, ultimately, they will have to respond. There are severe allegations which effectively undermine the brand. And they're going to have to deal with that at some point. And there's lots of detail there as well in the interview that they might want to pick up the Sussexes on as well.

But I think what they're -- there is a message here and that is that they're not going to be pushed into a response and that they are going to carry on with business as normal.

SCIUTTO: Salma, if you look at the public polling, and I don't want to invest total confidence in this, but it does seem that the British public had a different reaction to this interview than many in the American public. What was that difference, and just how much of a storm is it generating there?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: You have a very divided reaction here in Britain. And it really depends on who you are and what your background is, what your socioeconomic background is.

I brought you some of the tabloid headlines just to give you an idea here. "The Daily Mirror," "worst royal crisis in 85 years." This from "The Times," "palace in turmoil over racism claims." And "so sad it has come to this" with a picture of the queen. And, of course, "The Daily Mail," "what have they done?"

Now, you can sense that undertone here of protectionism, of defensiveness and anybody whose spoken out about racism will tell you, racism's evil twin sister is often defensiveness.

But here's the bottom line. Meghan Markle is the first modern royal of color. Only she can speak to the lived experience of being inside that all-white institution, the monarchy, and how that was for her. And for this country it means either listening to Meghan Markle, understanding that experiences, or simply shutting her out and keeping her out.

And if you're a person of color here in Britain, that lived experience sounds very familiar. It probably sounds a lot like what you see on the streets of the U.K. And we're at a time of global change. I've covered the anti-racism movements here. And over again -- over and over again you hear that gripe about these tabloid headlines that people again say have tones of racism and sexism and you hear that gripe about the institutions and the entrenched racism here in the U.K. and how do you address that?


How do you make them fit a modern Britain?

Poppy and Jim. POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm so glad you said that, Salma, because, you're so right, only she can convey her lived experience given her unique position within that family. It's a very important point.

Max, the tabloid press, Salma just showed us the headlines, can you explain to people what Prince Harry called out in the interview in terms of the relationship between the U.K. tabloids and the palace? I didn't realize how sort of intertwined and co-dependent they were, at least the way they described it.

FOSTER: Well, it's interesting, isn't it, because I think a lot of their narrative is that the establishment didn't accept Meghan, and then part of that is sometimes rolling together the media with the palace working together. So Meghan actually spoke about how there were holiday parties in the palace for the tabloid reporters.

I have to say, that's caused a lot of -- I don't know quite how to describe the phrase, but tabloid reporters are saying, I have never been invited to a holiday party in the palace. I'm often involved in these media moments where you go along and you meet the royals and you discuss things off the record with them as happens, you know, in Downing Street and the White House and other places as well, but they're not holiday parties.

So there's some concern, I would say, amongst the tabloid press. I'm not here to defend them, you know. I'm well aware of the issues there and so is Salma. But they -- in their defense, they are saying they do not work with the palace. They do not have a cozy relationship. And from my point of view, somewhere caught in between them all really, you know, some of the tabloids are the nemesis of the palace as much as they are to the Sussexes.

So, cross narratives, let's just say.

HARLOW: Fair enough.

Max, Salma, I'm sure we'll be seeing much more of you tomorrow with updates. Thank you very much.

A White House adviser says the administration is ramping up efforts towards vaccine equity. There is still critical ground to make up. Up next, we'll speak with two people on the front lines of this effort.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

So the Biden administration is looking to partner with community groups to increase health literacy, to get more people vaccinated. The White House is offering $250 million over the next years to fund programs in both rural and urban communities.

Listen to this.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our goal is to provide underserved communities with the information they need to stay safe and to get vaccinated. And, remember, information and education, of course, saves lives. When folks have the information and the education, they have the tools that equip them to take care of themselves and their family.


HARLOW: Let's talk about this. With me now, Dr. Michelle Nichols, associate dean at Morehouse Medical School, and Tania Perez Fuentes, a founding member of the Vaccine Hunters, a very resourceful group of educators in Maryland who help people in at-risk, underserved communities get vaccinated.

Good morning, ladies. Thank you so much for being with me.

And, Dr. Nichols, let me begin with you because you live in Georgia, a state where African-Americans make up nearly 33 percent of the population, but only 11 percent have received a vaccine so far. And "The New York Times" analysis shows African-Americans make up a smaller percentage of the senior population than the general population in Georgia. So it's head-scratching as to why this is continuing to go on.

You and the dean at the medical school at Morehouse have been out in the community working to set up vaccinations. From your perspective, what is the biggest cause of these lopsided numbers?

DR. MICHELLE NICHOLS, ASSOCIATE DEAN, MOREHOUSE MEDICAL SCHOOL: So, first of all, thank you for inviting me.

The biggest cause is multifactorial. But there is a mistrust that has been going on for -- since slavery time of what people are doing for people of color. And this goes back to the Tuskegee study, different other types of -- the Henrietta Lacks. And so one of the things that we have done that -- to make up for that is to -- we are part of the community.

We are people of color. Morehouse School of Medicine is the institution that has been around for 45 years. And our mission is to lead the creation and advancement of health equity. And so part of that is what we have done is we've gone out into the community and we have done events. We started off by doing the civil rights vaccination of our civil rights legends. And from there we started doing community events because we are part of the community and they trust us.

And so I think that that has been one of the biggest reasons for hesitancy is just the trust. And to bring people where they are and to inform them that the vaccines are actually safe. And we wanted to do that through action.

HARLOW: Such a good point, take action and meet people where they are.

Tania, your group totally fascinates me. You guys are a bunch of teachers in Maryland who got together and said, this isn't going as well as it needs to. We're going to fix it. You fix vaccine websites, you notify the government when things aren't working.

What is the biggest challenge you have run up against in terms of getting underserved communities vaccinated?

TANIA PEREZ-FUENTES, FOUNDING MEMBER, MARYLAND VACCINE HUNTERS: The inconsistency in the rules at this point. The communication. You know, we -- we have seen that people show up to their appointments and they are being turned away because the employees at the locations may not know exactly what the rules are to allow these people to get vaccinated. We've seen the elderly having trouble scheduling their appointments.


And then once they do have an appointment, the long lines that they have to wait in. So the accessibility and the access to these vaccine appointments are a challenge for our elderly, are challenging for our non-English speakers, our people with disabilities and there needs to be clear verbiage on what needs to happen.

HARLOW: Tania, you brought up non-English speakers. And there has been a lot of fear in the undocumented immigrant community about DHS, ICE being turned -- you know, being turned over because of their legal status if they go to get a vaccine. Dr. Fauci made clear last week, DHS will not take action against anyone looking to get vaccinated.

I wonder if you're seeing that in real time happening, if you're seeing hesitancy in that group because of fear.

PEREZ-FUENTES: Absolutely. We do have people that constantly call us and say, I don't have a Social Security Number. I'm undocumented. I don't have insurance. And then they show up and we have had a couple instances this week where people have been turned away and they have reached out to us and the vaccine hunters have had to intervene and call on their behalf because there's a language divide.

And so if they're not being provided the support and the information in the moment, then these people just hear the no and they walk away. And we are, unfortunately, seeing a bit of an increase in that. And we're just at the tip of the iceberg. There's still so many people to be vaccinated.

HARLOW: Yes. Wow. That's an important point.

Dr. Nichols, there was a whole dust up in Detroit a few days ago when the mayor of Detroit, he has walked it back, but at first said basically, I'm going to wait for the best vaccines. I'm not going to take the shipment of the J&J vaccine. Now, again, he walked it back. The White House clarified.

But have you had to combat and how do you combat misinformation about the efficacy of the J&J vaccine, which, again, anyone who has received it, 100 percent have survived, no one has died from COVID after getting that vaccine. NICHOLS: We deal with the science and the data. So we tell people who

are concerned about the safety of vaccines is that, look at the science that J&J, just like Moderna and Pfizer, has gone through the same rigorous process. That the goal of our vaccines, though, is to save lives. It reduces the morbidity and the mortality. So that is the goal. We want our most vulnerable populations and our whole community to be able to protect them and to be able to protect their loved ones. So it doesn't matter which vaccine you get, the goal is to get vaccinated.


Thank you both, ladies. Dr. Nichols, Tania Perez-Fuentes, thank you so much.


SCIUTTO: Well, a stunning, new, independent report is now blaming China, unquestionably, for an ongoing genocide in the 21st century. The details of this are alarming. We all have to bear witness. That's coming up.



HARLOW: Intent to destroy. Those are words coming directly from an explosive report that says China is responsible for an ongoing genocide.

SCIUTTO: Yes, this has been going on for years. The genocide against the Muslim majority Uyghur people in the northwest of China, Xinjiang province, and CNN has exclusively obtained access to this new report documenting these crimes.

CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Hong Kong with more.

Ivan, what does this report tell us in terms of the scope, the scale, the brutality of this and does China have a response?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is an independent legal analysis of all of the available evidence out there, including a lot of Chinese government documents and statements by senior Chinese officials.

And this D.C.-based think tank, the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, they've come to the conclusion that the Chinese government has, with its policies in Xinjiang, met all five of the definitions of genocide that are stipulated in a United Nations Convention that was drawn up in 1948 and that China and more than 150 other countries have signed on to.

So they've argued that these state policies, government mandated home stays, that's where the Chinese Community Party sent more than a million communist party members to live in the homes of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, not giving them a choice of whether or not to accept them.

Mass internment, the U.S. State Department alleging up to 2 million people have been rounded up and put into internment camps in Xinjiang. Then you have the mass birth prevention policy, forcible transfer of Uyghur children to state run facilities, eradication of Uyghur identity, selective targeting of intellectual and community leaders.

Now, CNN, and I have done a lot of investigative work into these policies, the Chinese government has routinely denied any allegation of human rights abuses at all in Xinjiang. And the Chinese government is very angrily denouncing any suggestion that it is committing genocide.

Take a listen to the foreign minister here.


WANG YI, CHINESE STATE FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The claim that there is genocide in Xinjiang could not be more preposterous. It is just a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives and a through lie. Over the past four decades and more, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang has more than doubled from 5.5 million to over 12 million.



WATSON: And yet that population grew over 40 plus years. But, Poppy and Jim, look at Chinese government statistics for the birthrate in Xinjiang over the last decade. There is a sharp drop from 2017 to 2019, dropping almost in half. Happens to take place at the time when the internment camp policies at its peak and when China is promoting a family planning policy where women are getting sterilization procedures and contraceptive IUD devices implanted in them. And witnesses told us that was forced upon them.

Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Listen, this is World War II level stuff and it's happening before our eyes in the 21st century.


SCIUTTO: Ivan, thanks for staying on top of this story. We will certainly do the same.

And we'll be right back.



HARLOW: Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto.