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Public Viewing For Andrew Brown Jr. Begins; Interview With Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA); GOP And Right-Wing Media Spread Lies For Political Warfare. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 2, 2021 - 15:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thanks for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Right now, people are coming together in Elizabeth City, North Carolina mourning the loss of Andrew Brown, Jr. They are calling for justice in his death at the hands of police a week and a half ago.

At this hour, Brown's family is holding a public viewing ahead of his funeral tomorrow. Sheriff Deputies fatally shot Brown while serving warrants. His death has sparked nationwide outrage and today, protesters are gathering for the 12th straight day in Elizabeth City, North Carolina and yet, the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office has still not released body cam footage of the deadly shooting.

A Judge denied a request to release that video to the public. CNN's Natasha Chen is in Elizabeth City. Natasha, what is happening as I see you walk with many of the demonstrators?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We are walking with the family of Andrew Brown, Jr. at the front of the line behind us, and a lot of people have gathered today for this rally and this March and we are currently approaching the home of Andrew Brown, Jr. where he was shot and killed by Pasquotank Sheriff Deputies on Wednesday morning, April 20th.

And of course, like you said, only 20 seconds of body camera footage has actually been shown to the family. A Judge has determined the family can see more video, but that has yet to happen and the Judge has also denied a request for that video to be publicly released.

So right now, this crowd is really asking for transparency here, asking for justice and they have made it very clear that out of respect for the family that's with us today that there is absolutely to be no aggressive, violent behavior. No weapons here. No damage to other property.

So really, a very controlled situation where they are perhaps loud with their voices, but very orderly here and very peaceful -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Natasha Chen, thank you so much. Of course, we've got a great volume right there, but someone right there in the crowd alongside near Natasha is the family attorney, one of the family attorneys for Andrew Brown. Harry Daniels is the attorney. Harry, are you hooked up and able to hear me?

CHEN: Yes, Harry, here.

WHITFIELD: Okay, all right, so Harry, give me an idea. What is the family feeling? Here we are a day before his funeral. Many have come out for the demonstration, but the families only have seen 20 seconds of body cam video. How is everyone feeling?

All right, we're going to have to try and reconnect there because we're not able to hear him on his phone as we also try to patch in audio. And it looks like we've lost Natasha's audio as well. So we can't even use the microphone there.

So we're going to try that again at some point and bring it back to you.

Okay, now we do have a connection here. All right, so Mr. Daniel --

CHEN: I'm going to -- I'm going to hold my mic by Mr. Daniels. Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right. Very good.

CHEN: So how is the family feeling like right now?

HARRY DANIELS, ATTORNEY FOR ANDREW BROWN'S FAMILY: We feel like justice has not been served. No transparency. Twenty seconds is not enough. They show a snippet of what happened that day and they are seeking for transparency and accountability.

You can see there's more of these people peacefully protesting out here in the streets of Elizabeth City. The family is doing as best as they could be doing, but they are still seeking justice. No transparency. We will fight for change, and we want justice now.

WHITFIELD: And then Natasha, if you could ask him, how hopeful is he and the family that there will be transparency.

DANIELS: We are very hopeful. Either we get transparency through the courts or we seek a higher court. That's my job as attorney. That's our job as lawyers to seek justice and getting that transparency.

So we are very hopeful that complete transparency will be had in his case. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it will happen and it is going to happen real soon.

CHEN: Fred, if I can follow up with that because the Judge had said that the family can see more footage, I think within 10 days. Have you gotten any indication since that Judge's ruling on Wednesday of when that might happen?


DANIELS: Well, no, we have not. But it is Wednesday -- two days from Wednesday, so we would imagine, it would be sometime this week. We, here in North Carolina, my team is here. We're not going anywhere until we see that footage. WHITFIELD: Andrew Brown was killed on April 21, a day after a jury

found Derek Chauvin guilty. That case, and that outcome was about accountability. Do you believe there will be accountability in the case of Andrew Brown's death?

DANIELS: Well, what I believe is irrelevant. Accountability need to take place.

I can tell you that my team -- me and Bakari Sellers, we are fighting for accountability and transparency. What the District Attorney does in a case, what you do with the prosecution, let's talk to him as the District Attorney, but it is unjustified shooting, killing, murder, execution, whatever you want to call it -- justice needs to take place.

This is the dawn of a new day. This is the George Floyd era, and we are asking for the people who took an oath to uphold their oath, to prosecute all individuals, no matter they wear a badge, shield or star, so we are very hopeful that accountability would take place in this case.

WHITFIELD: And Harry Daniels, how -- okay, well, it looks like we've lost that signal. Oh, there we go. All right, Mr. Daniels, how is the family of Andrew Brown holding up?

DANIELS: They are sticking together. They're sticking together as best they could do be. You know, this is an occasion where you have a loved one that is gone, but you have all of this media and all these things that is happening surrounding the death of Andrew, but they're holding together.

They're a tight knit family and they are doing the best they can and could be doing right now.

WHITFIELD: Our hearts go out to the family again. Andrew Brown, Jr. to be buried tomorrow. Natasha Chen, Harry Daniels, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

DANIELS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, and now this breaking news out of California where there's an unfolding situation off the coast of San Diego. Multiple agencies are responding to a vessel that overturned sending nearly two dozen people to the hospital.

Now, we don't know exactly where this happened, but a spokesperson for the San Diego Fire and Rescue says it was near the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, and of course, we'll bring you more information as we get it.

All right, straight ahead this hour. President Biden and his surrogates are on the road this week selling his massive economic plan. Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey joins me live.

Plus, as the U.S. reaches a vaccination milestone, new concerns over a slowing demand for the shots. I'll talk to a pair of Michigan doctors. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


WHITFIELD: This week, President Biden is hitting the road again to sell his massive American recovery plan. And with his first 100 days in the rearview mirror, he and other key White House voices will be making more stops on their America is Back on Track Tour.

Biden's pitch is for more government money to pay for child care, community college, healthcare and infrastructure like roads, bridges and the power grid. But his real fight is likely to be in Congress where he has a slim majority in the House and no room to maneuver in the U.S. Senate.

For more, let's bring in CNN's Arlette Saenz. Arlette, tell us more about the President's agenda for this week.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, President Biden is taking his sales pitch out on the road as he is trying to garner support for these massive economic proposals, which total around $4 trillion.

This is a similar approach that the President took when he was promoting that COVID relief deal, which ultimately did not get one Republican vote up on Capitol Hill. But what the White House is hoping is that this roadshow will help build support out in the country and then voters will pressure and influence their lawmakers up on Capitol Hill to get on board with this plan.

Now, there have been Republicans and some moderate Democrats expressing skepticism with this proposal, but the President has insisted that he wants to try to work towards bipartisan support. And the White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain said that they've seen some progress when it comes to negotiations with Republicans, and that the President's red line is simply inaction. Take a listen.


RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The proposals the President has put forward have broad support. They have broad support in the country. They have support from Republican governors and Republican mayors. I think what we have to see is whether or not Republicans in Washington join the rest of America in broadly supporting these commonsense ideas to grow our economy and to make our families better.


SAENZ: Now this past week, the President took his pitch to Georgia and Pennsylvania. And starting tomorrow, they will have that road show once again this coming week. The President and the First Lady will be traveling to Virginia tomorrow where they will visit a school potentially touting that American Families Plan that shows about $1.8 trillion in investments in child care and Community College, as well as family leave. You'll see the Vice President in Wisconsin and Rhode Island later in

the week and then the President traveling down south to Louisiana. All of this as they are trying to get voters on board with his plan.

Now, while he is making that sales pitch out on the road, the President also is trying to court those lawmakers here in Washington. He has said that he has invited Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican Senator from West Virginia here to the White House along with other Republican senators. It is unclear whether that meeting will happen this week since the Senate is out on recess.

But the President has insisted that he wants to negotiate and see where there are rooms and areas of agreement. But that proposal that some Senate Republicans have put forward is simply a fraction of what the President has introduced with that $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, so we will see in the coming weeks and months whether there is any give and take from both sides as they are trying to get this measure passed.


WHITFIELD: All right, Arlette Saenz, thank you so much.

All right, joining me right now, Democratic Senator of Pennsylvania, Bob Casey.

Senator Casey, good to see you. So the President has signaled that he is open to negotiating on his infrastructure plan. Where do you see room for compromise?

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): Well, Fredricka, I think there's a lot of room when it comes to the physical infrastructure proposal. But I think that's, frankly, the limited part. What I think I would like to see invested -- I think -- I said before the Rescue Plan, we should go big or go home, and I think the same applies here, because these are investments as some of your earlier guests said before the hour, our investment for the future, over the course of eight years or more.

And I think we have to make these investments in our families, in the human infrastructure, whether it is home and community-based services or investments in early learning, early peer learning, investments in education and childcare.

So, I think there's a lot more room for negotiation or movement by Republicans on some of the more traditional barriers to roads and bridges.

WHITFIELD: So the senator who has unveiled the G.O.P. counter infrastructure plan spoke to the President last week about his proposal. Here's what Senator Shelley Moore Capito had to say about avoiding a tax hike to pay for a plan.


SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): The Republican plan that I put forward with a lot of other Ranking Members of committees does not have a tax increase in there. We think we can pay for this with expanded user fees that would be people who are now not even paying into the use of the highways, like electric vehicles and others.

We think that repurposing some of the COVID, particularly the city state dollars, where they can now not use that for hard infrastructure, except for water infrastructure. We should be able to open up that window for them, which will make our dollars go farther.

I think that there's a lot of creative solutions out there that don't involve raising taxes. I personally don't want to see the taxes go up. I think it is wrong time to be doing that.


WHITFIELD: Do you see her plan as a possible compromise area?

CASEY: Look, I think it's good that Shelley and others are trying to engage here and that's positive. But I totally disagree with what she said about taxes.

There's plenty of revenue available if you're going to have corporations and rich people pay their fair share. But Fredricka, the Tax Code has been rigged for 40 years for corporations and rich people. They just got a bonanza in the 2017 tax bill, and we should make sure that corporations and rich people not only pay their fair share, but play by the rules.

A lot of them aren't paying any taxes for corporations, and rich people have got -- I mean, it's almost the lot needed it in terms of the tax break. They've got not just recently over four years.

So the good news is, a lot of people in both parties outside of Washington know that. They know that there's hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars, even trillions of dollars, if you have the right values, in terms of making those American most corporations, there's plenty of revenue, but Republicans are so indebted to big corporations they don't -- they want them to pay less than work.

WHITFIELD: So, taxes is one bone of contention. Another area that is receiving a lot of criticism is that this infrastructure plan, the way it is split up in in quadrants that the actual infrastructure portion seems disproportionate something like $621 billion, a little over the quarter of the money in this bill. So how do you navigate that criticism?

CASEY: Well, look, I think Republicans so far, at least Republican politicians in Washington, have a Washington definition of infrastructure. They want to keep it really narrow.

When you go out to the real world, in the world of family, in fact, in the world of women trying to get to work. I think they believe that we should be investing in their families and their communities when it comes to child care and early education, home and community-based services for people with disabilities and seniors.

And frankly, the workers who are doing most of that work, especially women of color, making $12.00 an hour in America to take care and provide service to people with disability. So in the real world out there, even the real world of Republicans, these proposals are not only popular, but they're necessary.

This is about tomorrow, whether we're going to create a stronger country or not, create a lot more jobs and have a better caregiving economy, in addition to investing in physical infrastructure. I think Republicans are thinking in Washington, they are more stuck in the 1950s.


WHITFIELD: Well, let me ask you about a recent assessment about the Democratic Party. James Carville, you know, making quite the stir when he wrote a new op-ed about Democrats and his comments on woke politics. This is what he also had to say.


JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that people that are woke and they are tired of being woke. People warned after this pandemic and stuff, people want to go about their lives. When you're in Georgia, you want to enjoy it with friends. They don't want to be nervous about how you address them or talk to them or anything.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Is your level of concern about the wokeness issue and the way that it plays such that you think it could cost the Democrats control of the House in the midterm elections?

CARVILLE: It almost did in 2020. We did not do well.


WHITFIELD: So is he on an island by himself within the Democratic Party? Or are there expressed concerns just like his?

CASEY: I've known James Carville since 1986. That's a long time. And look, we're going to have lots of debates about terminology and things like that, but there is no question of this being -- I think every Democrat I know agrees on one thing. We've got to make sure that Democrats continue to be in the business of helping these families that I just talked about.

The rescue plan was a great start, but it is because it is meeting an emergency in terms of cutting child poverty and making sure that we're investing in communities. But we've got to make sure we have a plan for the long term. That's the best way to win elections.

Telling people we're not only going to just provide a $1,400.00 check for a tax credit for one year, for a short period of time. We're going to invest in you and your family. And we're going to say to the Republicans who don't want to have rich people or corporations pay more, we're going to say to them, get used to it because when Democrats win elections, we've tried to do things for families, and lift up workers, and invest in those families. I wish the Republicans to join us in helping families with children

get the poverty rate way down, helping them solve this -- so, I think Democrats are headed in the right direction, when we think boldly about the future.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Senator Bob Casey, always good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

CASEY: Thanks, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up. There's something ugly about almost every story in the news these days and they all involve lying. Our Brian Stelter explains.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Senator Susan Collins had strong words this morning for the treatment of her colleague, Senator Mitt Romney, who was booed at the Utah Republican Convention.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I was appalled. Mitt Romney is an outstanding senator who serves his state and our country well.

We are not a party that is led by just one person.


WHITFIELD: So that booing came just hours before Romney narrowly avoided censure by his state party for voting for Trump's impeachment. The Utah resolution to censure Romney was rife with inaccuracy. It is about the Ukraine investigation and the Capitol siege on January 6th and it falls into a pattern where the G.O.P. seems to be embracing conspiracy theories, including election fraud, which is now the basis for dozens of new state election laws, restricting access to the ballot.

Here is CNN, Brian Stelter.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is stunning. It's depressing.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It is a simple question, a matter of fact, not opinion. Did Biden legitimately win enough votes for the presidency?

KING: Three in 10 Americans say no.

STELTER (voice over): CNN is new polling by SSRS showing the blistering damage of the big lie, damage led by the former President.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via phone): I ran two elections. I won them both.

STELTER (voice over): These lies are now being turned into policy with Republicans pushing bills in state legislatures that will make it harder for some to vote.

And with pro Trump officials in Arizona holding a baffling recount.

KATIE HOBBS, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: This is just an exercise to perpetuate the big lie.

STELTER (voice over): It is lying as the new normal. Lying as the basis for political warfare. When you start to look around, you can see that lying is the scar tissue connecting almost every story in the news.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: The Virginia Department of Education is taking steps to abolish advanced degrees for gifted students. Now, why? Because they are worried that students who excel aren't diverse enough.

STELTER (voice over): No, "The Washington Post" said, that's not true. Neither is this.

EMILY COMPAGNO, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CONTRIBUTOR: They're being given a book. Everyone is being given a copy, apparently of Vice President Kamala Harris's book.

STELTER (voice over): That nonsense about the VP's books at migrant shelters started in "The New York Post" newspaper and a reporter resigned over it.

You can't help but notice how many of these non-stories start and right-wing media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say goodbye to your burgers if you want to sign up for the Biden climate agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cut our red meat, he wants to cut out 90 percent of the red meat.


STELTER (voice over): Cut it, cut it. It's all a lie. Yet, even after it was debunked, the House G.O.P. leader tried it again.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He wants control of your life. He is going to control how much meat you can eat. Can you imagine that?


STELTER (voice over): Can you imagine lying with abandon? That is the big question all of this raises.

When did this form of cheating -- cheating the truth becomes so common? Did Donald Trump unlock something that's now everywhere? There's COVID misinformation, vaccine misinformation, and so much BS about Biden it is hard to keep track.

LIN WOOD, ATTORNEY: And the fake Biden speech --

STELTER (voice over): Lin Wood, an attorney who fought for Trump in court is now running for office in South Carolina and he keeps implying that Trump is still the real President.

WOOD: Don't be fooled. Joe Biden never got more than two percent of the vote in his life.

STELTER (voice over): "Don't be fooled," he says while trying to fool all of these people.

Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: All right, for well over a year now, healthcare workers have faced the impossible and now hope is on the horizon. A friend of the show, Dr. Rob Davidson and his wife, Dr. Diana Davidson joining me live from Michigan, next.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. More than 103 million Americans are now fully vaccinated here in the U.S., and while that number is a promising sign, health officials say more vaccinations are crucial as variants continue to spread and hesitancy remains a significant hurdle.

My next guests are dealing with two sides of the issue. Joining me right now is Dr. Diana Davidson, a family physician in Western Michigan working to get people vaccinated and her husband, Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician who sees the cost of people skipping vaccinations on a daily basis.

Good to see both of you. I'm going to call you Dr. Diana and Dr. Rob, how about that?

All right, so you, Dr. Diana, you first. You know, what are the questions that families are asking you about vaccines? Are you still feeling like you're having to convince people that it would be beneficial to get vaccinated?

DR. DIANA DAVIDSON, FAMILY PHYSICIAN IN WESTERN MICHIGAN: Oh, for sure. In the beginning, it was easy because I have people calling who really wanted the vaccine. They've all been vaccinated now. So now, it is really trying to get people understanding the importance of the vaccine, as well as trying to get rid of the misinformation that they've gotten on social media or from certain channels or from friends because there's a lot of things that are not based in science that they're bringing to me.

WHITFIELD: And then Dr. Rob, the governor has offered kind of an ultimatum. Right? You know, she has announced that she will lift more of the COVID restrictions as more people in that state do get their vaccines. For example, the state will lift all indoor capacity limits once 65 percent of eligible Michiganders receive one dose? Do you think that is incentive enough? Will that work, potentially?

DR. ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN IN WEST VIRGINIA: Listen, I think everything we're trying to do in the exam room and everything we've tried to do over the last year for some people hasn't worked, unfortunately. You know, proving to them that yes, in fact, we see very sick people who are dying.

And so I think this plan by the Governor is fantastic. I think, if people aren't going to be convinced that they need to protect themselves or their neighbors or their families, if they don't want to believe that this is something that is critical and important, I think if the last straw is to say, well, listen, we're going to get things back to normal if you just join the effort get vaccinated.

I'm hopeful and maybe other states will take it up as we see success.

WHITFIELD: So, Dr. Diana, I mean, the Detroit mayor, while he is encouraging vaccinations, the Associated Press is reporting that he said earlier in the week that about 20 percent of people in his city won't ever get vaccinated and don't even waste your breath, you know, trying to change minds.

Do you agree with that approach? I'm sure you get a lot of resistance from some of the patients. I mean, do you just kind of throw up your hands and say, forget it? Or is it worth trying to convince people who are hesitant?

D. DAVIDSON: It's absolutely worth trying to convince people who are hesitant, and I think I've been practicing for 20 years, so there is that relationship that people have with their doctor that sometimes we can convince people who are hesitant.

There are some I'm never going to convince, but there are still a huge group of people that I think bringing the vaccines into the doctor's offices that we can, you know, give them the information and then hopefully vaccinate them right then, because those people may not go to the big center to get vaccinated, but they might want to talk to their family physician who they trust for their healthcare.

WHITFIELD: So Dr. Rob, what has it been like for the two of you? I mean, here you are both, you know, medical care workers, frontline workers dealing, you know, with COVID patients head on. The circumstances may be different. But what are your conversations like? What are your shared frustrations? How do you help each other remain hopeful?

R. DAVIDSON: You know, over the last year, it's really been a metamorphosis of hope. Early on, you know, we didn't know a lot like everyone else. And, you know, there was a bit of trepidation and there was, you know, taking your clothes off in the garage, so you didn't bring things home. We have three kids who are living in the house. We didn't want to get

them sick. You know, they didn't sign up for this. We did, but they didn't.

You know, it's different now. We've both been vaccinated since mid- January, fully vaccinated. And so now you have this sense that okay, there's still a little bit of risk there, but we are protecting ourselves. By virtue of that, we're protecting our family. Two of our children are old enough to get vaccinated. One just got their second dose today, the other one on Wednesday, and the other one is 14 and we're hoping that they get it on board.

And so, yes, it's been a bit of a challenge, but again, with the vaccine, it's just opened things up and made it a lot easier.

WHITFIELD: And Dr. Diana, how are you all keeping it together, so to speak?

D. DAVIDSON: I mean, I think since we were able to get vaccinated, it's been much easier. You don't feel as worried about Rob in the Emergency Department than I did, you know, in November and December when things were really blowing up in Michigan and we weren't protected as much as we could be with the vaccine. And it's sad that so many people -- this is an amazing thing that we have the vaccine and so many people are not protecting themselves and more people are going to die because of it that could have been prevented.


WHITFIELD: Doctors Diana and Rob Davidson, thanks to both of you. Glad that your family, you're doing well. You all are staying safe. And thanks so much for all that you are doing collectively for Michiganders and everyone else as well.

Good to see.

D. DAVIDSON: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, an update now on this breaking news off the coast of San Diego where an incident involving an overturned vessel has turned deadly. We're now learning that at least two people were killed and they were among 25 people who were pulled out of the water. The other victims were rushed to local hospitals.

San Diego Fire and Rescue made the announcement a short time ago. We don't know exactly where the vessel overturned or all of the circumstances. But a spokeswoman says it happened near the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma.

We'll have more information as we get it and share it with you. We'll be right back.


[15:45:32] WHITFIELD: All right, for the past six decades, late night television

has grown from a shot in the dark experiment to a thriving cultural phenomenon. And now the new CNN original series, "The Story of Late Night" examines how late night TV not only keeps us laughing, but shapes how we see the world. Here's a preview.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, TV SHOW HOST: Late night, you can have as much fun as you want because aren't watching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There really was a sense that, wow, you'd never see that from eight to 11.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Versus what we call the push technique. It's very gentle. There's no whack right in the face. It's just a nice, easy push.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the Steve Allen's whole career. It was a certain subversive sensibility. It was the idea of doing things that in some sense didn't really belong on television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's one more technique.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's the sneaky Johnny Wilson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wouldn't -- oh, I see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to go like this and you go --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve Allen, despite being on this major television network was almost considered underground. He was almost considered like a secret handshake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Johnny Wilson, you're going to get it tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you went to Steve Allen, then you knew what was up. You were cool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was really hip and funny. But he was so straight that you didn't see it coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to pass out bars of soap. We will all take a community shower right now.


WHITFIELD: All right, joining us right now, Bill Carter. He's a CNN media analyst and the executive producer of "The Story of Late Night." Congratulations on that, Bill. Good to see you.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Thanks. Great to see you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Oh, wow. So late night TV has come a long way, baby. I mean, it really is now thoroughly embedded in our culture today. But when it was first created in the early 50s, hosts and producers and network executives had a different idea about its purpose. Tell us about that.

CARTER: Well, it's interesting in this first episode that's on tonight, Conan O'Brien puts it well, he says it's like, there was a basement and it was unfinished. They put up some paneling, and they tell the kids go down there, do anything you want because there was nothing on television at late at night. It was a test pattern.

And then it would go off the air, so they had this open area. And they decided, well, let them do whatever they want. And Steve Allen was so inventive, and could do so many crazy things. He only did it for a year though. He was so great at it, they moved him to primetime.

And then Jack Paar comes along, and he makes you know, much more of a formal talk show out of it, and he invents the monologue. He brings the monologue in and that leads us to Carson and all of the others.

WHITFIELD: So was it really about advertisement dollars? I mean, you know, more so, and less so about, oh, this is something that's here to stay, you know, it is about making people laugh, or, you know, being influential. I mean, really, what was the objective?

CARTER: Well, you're right. The idea was they had this wide open time. They've done "The Today Show" in the morning, NBC, and they thought, well, we could do a show like that with just like elements, and maybe some sports and weather news, and maybe a host who is kind of funny, because they wanted the advertising time, that's 90 minutes -- it was 90 minutes long at the time. So five nights a week with all of that advertisers, and they thought, maybe we could make a little money.

Well, they made more than a little money, they made a fortune on the thing. And of course, that made for it -- it is everywhere.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Late night, I mean, no longer really has to be consumed late at night. I mean, how is the internet, social media, all of that impacting how late night is produced and consumed?

CARTER: It's drastically different, obviously, because people don't have to see it when it's on or record it and watch it later. The bits are going to be online the next day, and they use YouTube and other sites to make, you know, basically available whenever you want it.

And that has created interesting things because people come up with new ideas that work in little segments that can play beautifully, you know, as separate units online and it has expanded the audience in some way. Some of these bits get enormous, millions of hits online and that's -- and the audiences are shrunk at night but they've grown elsewhere.

WHITFIELD: Oh, wow. And so Bill, you know, the COVID pandemic has left no aspect of society really untouched and maybe in a strange kind of way, I mean, it's no laughing matter, but late night television has found a way, you know, to dive in, to talk about the pandemic, whether it be serious or to make light of. I mean, how has that been, you know, kind of transformative for late night TV?

[15:50:06] CARTER: Well, what it has done is, it showed that the technology like

the one we're using right now, is extremely really possible for them to have whatever guests they want from wherever they are. And they don't have to fly into New York, necessarily for some of the New York hosts. So that means they can basically get anybody at any time.

And I think you're going to see that continue. I mean, they'll still want people on the sets when they come back to normal. But if they can't get there, it's very easy for them to do interviews this way and it is a lot less expensive.

WHITFIELD: How is it also become a much more diverse forum?

CARTER: Well, especially in the most recent years, we've seen finally breakthroughs for women and people of color because that has been a very bad mark against late night for a long time. Aside from people like Arsenio Hall and Joan Rivers who had short runs, it's been a white man's enclave.

And now you see a lot of new hosts, you see Amber Ruffin, who looks like a breakout star coming on NBC, you see Desus and Mero on Showtime, two guys from the Bronx doing a show basically by the seat of their pants, but creative, really funny.

You see Larry Wilmore. You see a new woman named Ziwe, who is going to be on Showtime, also very talented. You know, the people of color are getting a chance and thank goodness, women are getting a chance.

WHITFIELD: Do you have any favorites? Who's the greatest of all time? Who is the G.O.A.T. in your view, Ben?

CARTER: Well, you have to call Carson the G.O.A.T. because it is safe. All the rest of the guys will acknowledge that. But I like enormous, enormous number of these guys. There's so much talent, and they've always made me laugh and that's really what it is about.

WHITFIELD: Very good. Very good. It's so important to laugh.

CARTER: Exactly. Right now, it is more important than ever. We had a pretty bad year. So let's all laugh at "The Story of Late Night."

WHITFIELD: That's right. All right, Bill Carter, thank you so much. Good to see you. Of course, we will all be tuning in. We'll get a laugh or two.

The all new CNN original series, "The Story of Late Night" premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.

All right, coming up. He's being called sleepy-eyed Ted Cruz. The Texas Senator apparently dozed off during President Biden's Joint Address to Congress and now, he is being roasted on social media.

We'll have all the reaction and his creative excuse, next.



WHITFIELD: All right in Texas, a pair of Republicans have advanced to a run off in the special election for the state's sixth congressional district. Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez conceded the race today after coming up just short of a second place finish.

Susan Wright and Jake Ellzey will now vie for the spot left open by Wright's husband, Ron, who died in February following a COVID diagnosis.

All right, during President Biden's joint address to Congress this week, Senators Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney were caught napping.

CNN's Jeanne Moos, the speech was a doozy for dozing.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Senator Ted Cruz looked plenty awake before President Biden's speech, but when the topic turned to immigration, Ted's eyelids emigrated south --

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... the root problem of why people are fleeing --

MOOS (voice over): Cue the nicknames: Ted Snooze and Bed Cruz. Remember how President Trump used to love this nickname?


MOOS (voice over): Look who is sleepy now? Ted was joined in dreamland by Senator Mitt Romney.

BIDEN: ... working 40 hours a week should live below the poverty line.

MOOS (voice over): But it was Cruz who was mercilessly mocked online. Most of the jokes revolved around his trip to Cancun when the Texas power crisis was at its peak. "What is Ted Cruz dreaming of, ya think?"

"The Daily Show" tweeted, "Looks like Ted's eyes are hooked up to his state's power grid." But Ted himself retweeted his sleepy moment waking up enough afterwards to describe President Biden's speech this way.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): You could sum up in three words, "Boring, but radical."

MOOS (voice over): He even tweeted: "Kamala and Nancy agree ..." but showed a photo of the two caught mid-blink rather than mid-snooze.

We hereby induct Ted and Mitt into the sleepyhead Hall of Fame joining the ranks of Bill Clinton whose arms slipped off an arm rest and Ronald Reagan dozing as he sat beside the Pope.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg blamed California wine for her nap during President Obama's State of the Union.


MOOS (voice over): And Tucker Carlson ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is really asleep.

MOOS (voice over): ... Fell asleep on TV during a commercial.

But none of these rivals the 911 dispatcher fell asleep after answering a call from a woman whose husband was unconscious.

CALLER: Yes? (Snore). Uh-huh.

MOOS (voice over): At least when Joe Biden was Vice President, he didn't snore when his boss was speaking.


MOOS (voice over): As for President Biden's turn at the podium.

CRUZ: This was a frightening speech.

MOOS (voice over): Frightened him to sleep.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

NEWSROOM continues right now with Jim Acosta.