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Gaetz, Greene Hold "America First" Rally Amid Scandals; Interview With Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL); "Out-Of-Control" Chinese Rocket Weighing 22 Tons Hurtling Toward Earth; Controversy Follows Musk Into "SNL" Hosting Gig; Billionaires Battle: Musk, Bezos Trade Barbs Over NASA; Facebook Oversight Board Upholds Ban On Donald Trump; Trump Launches New Blog Amid Facebook & Twitter Suspension. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 8, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Her real first name was Julie but the world knew her as Tawny Kitaen probably best known for dancing in a Whitesnake video "Here I Go Again" with the lead singer David Coverdale whom she would later marry. Kitaen was in several hair metal videos and starred alongside Tom Hanks in one of his early movies, a classic, "A Bachelor Party".

She died Friday at her home in California. No cause of death has been given. Tawny Kitaen was just 59 years old.


ACOSTA: And you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

If you need any more proof that today's Republican Party is caught in the grip of a disgraced, twice impeached, one term president, look no further than the side show act that took place in Florida last night. Trump acolytes Congressman Matt Gaetz and Congresswoman Margie Taylor Greene talked off a tour to promote a big lie about the election and what better messengers. Gaetz is under investigation for sex trafficking, while Greene has received blowback for stealing garbage conspiracy theories in the past.

Last night, though, it was all smiles talking about their dear leader.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): This is our first stop and there will be many more, and America's greatest president, and the undisputed leader of the Republican Party, Donald J. Trump.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I just want to make sure I'm in the right place.

Tell me who is your president?

CROWD: Trump! GREENE: That's my president, too. OK, I just wanted to make sure I was with friends and family, not with Antifa or BLM or --


Or Democrat socialists.


Did anybody in here vote for Joe Biden?


GREENE: Do you guys really think he won?



ACOSTA: Charming.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan was there and joins us now from Orlando.

Donie, it's clear Trump remains at the forefront of the Republican Party. All we had to do is look at the video we just showed there. Was that the overall message last night? What's the reaction been like so far?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jim, yeah, The Village last night was anything but a sleepy retirement community. It was very, very politically active, a lot of activity there last night. We even saw some tensions when a small group of Biden supporters came across the street and protested the event. There were hundreds of people who showed up to see Gaetz and Greene last night. They weren't even able to all fit into the venue.

And there were people who shouted at each other, neighbors shouting at each other, at this event. Plus, people who attended the event, the supporters of Gaetz and Greene, they wanted to hear about the big lie.

And previously, an event like this, you know, by two very, very controversial members of the house, with conspiracy theories might have been considered a fringe event but we know from a CNN poll last week that 70 percent of Republicans buy into the big lie that Biden wasn't fairly elected. And I spoke to a couple who were on their way into the event last night, and here's what they had to say. Have a listen.


O'SULLIVAN: You guys both genuinely believe the election was stolen?



O'SULLIVAN: I mean, that's, you know, if you believe that that's true, that is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that horrible?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know it is. Is it horrible that we would even be in this situation, to even think that?

O'SULLIVAN: But it's false.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it is not. Why would they have all of those ballots hidden under tables? Why did that man drive that truck all the way across state lines with ballots?

O'SULLIVAN: The ballots under the table thing with Giuliani and Georgia, that's all been proven to be false.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is not. I watched it on TV.


O'SULLIVAN: She watched it on TV. And we know how big the MAGA media network is. There are multiple cable channels devoted to this and a whole online ecosystem and, look, what they mentioned there, these are conspiracy theories about this stuff with ballots under tables in Georgia, this is tough that has been debunked for months. People know that it's been told to be B.S. so for many months, but yet it's still resonating.

ACOSTA: She didn't watch it on TV on CNN, but, Donnie, the big lie has given birth to a law in Florida where access to mail-in voting has been curbed. What more can you tell us about this?

O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, that's what we're starting to see, both here in Florida, Governor DeSantis, signed it into law and new restrictions on voting this week, and we're seeing it across the country, in Texas, and other places as well. And, of course, this chipping back of voting rights is all being propelled by the conspiracy theories that we can see how many people are buying into about the election.


So you can see the real impact here of the big lie, the lies about the election, and how it is leading to further restrictions on voting.

ACOSTA: All right. Donie O'Sullivan, I guess it takes a village to nurse Donald Trump's grudges. We appreciate it, Donie. Thanks so much.

Joining me now, is Democratic Florida Congressman Charlie Crist. He launched a bid to unseat Ron DeSantis as governor of the state. We did invite Governor DeSantis on the program. We should note, he declined.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. Great to see you again.

Trump carried Florida twice. Ron DeSantis is considered a contender for 2024, at the top or bottom of the ticket. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz are going there to rally the MAGA base. Gaetz is even getting cheers from making light of the investigation that he's in the middle of.

Let's listen to that and get your comment on it.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I'm a marked man in Congress. I'm a canceled man in some corners of the Internet. I might be a wanted man by the deep state, but I am a Florida man, and it is good to be home.


ACOSTA: What is going on in Florida, Congressman Crist?

REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Well, I'm running for governor of Florida and that's the other thing that's going on in our state, and I think it's important that we understand that Governor DeSantis signed the other day, you referenced it earlier, a bill to really suppress the vote in the Sunshine State, to really make it difficult to use mail-in ballots.

That really attacks our seniors in the Sunshine State. My dad's 88. My mother's 86. They love to vote by mail. This bill is going to only make it more difficult to do that in Florida. I think it's unconstitutional.

When he signed that bill, as a matter of fact, as you know, additionally, he only let in one network. It was Fox. CNN wasn't allowed in. Other local networks in the Palm Beach county area were not let in.

That's against our First Amendment rights, as Americans. That's against the United States Constitution. This is how Governor DeSantis has been running the sunshine state.

And it's wrong. And it needs to stop. And it needs to change.

ACOSTA: And last week, former President Trump was speculating about a possible 2024 ticket with DeSantis on it. Let's listen to that.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's done a great job as governor. A lot of people like that, you know, I'm just saying what I read, and what you read, they love that ticket. But certainly, Ron would be considered. He's a great guy.


ACOSTA: DeSantis certainly has a lot of buzz right now, whether you agree with him or not. Congressman Crist, do you think if you beat him in 2022, in that gubernatorial race that that will blunt his momentum that he's having right now or are you even thinking about that?

CRIST: I'm not really thinking about that. I really don't think he has that coming.

When you look at the legislation that he's signing and the actions he's taking on different policy, they're not in line with Florida today. For example, Medicaid expansion. He won't take it.

As a result of that single decision, Jim, about 800,000 of my fellow Floridians -- children, men, women, adults, seniors -- are not getting health care if they're poor, because he is saying no to Medicaid expansion in the Sunshine State.

He doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose. He won't give women the opportunity to make their own decision about their own health. That's wrong. That's not in line with where Florida is today.

And he's distributing vaccines in the Sunshine State in an immoral way, started out by giving it to white wealthy Republican communities, largely, and that have a lot of donors that went to him.

And when he does that, that's really the worst kind of immoral political discrimination I can imagine. It's hard for me to comprehend how a governor of Florida, one of the most diverse states in America, the third largest state in America, is going to pick and choose the winners and losers of who gets a vaccine at the initial outset of it, and who does not. I mean, that is just cruel and unusual, beyond the pale.

And that's why I think we need a change. I believe in a Florida for all. I'm an optimist. I'm a hopeful person. And I think most Floridians frankly are.

And if people want to help us, they can go to We need their help. We can't do this alone. And Florida does deserve better.

ACOSTA: And we know Governor DeSantis defends their handling of the rollout of the COVID vaccine in the state. But let me just go back to something you mentioned a few moments ago. You mentioned that Governor DeSantis invited just one network, Fox News, to exclusively cover the signing of this new voting bill.

Let's take a look at that and talk about that one more time.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I'm going to sign it right here. It's going to take effect.


DESANTIS: The bill is signed.

And me signing this bill here, it says, Florida, your vote counts. Your vote is going to be cast with integrity and transparency. And this is a great place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Real quick question, Governor.


ACOSTA: We know in the state of Florida, they have laws that govern how official acts must be conducted out in front of the public, out in front of the press, and so on. These camera crews that were shut out the other day, Congressman Crist, do you believe Governor DeSantis broke the law?


What do you -- bent the law? What do you think happened there?

CRIST: I think he violated the Constitution. The very First Amendment to the Constitution talks about free speech.

The governor also happens to be a lawyer. I think he went to Harvard or Yale for law school. You would think we have the intellectual capacity to understand what is constitutional and what is not.

That's unconstitutional, in my view. People have already sued about that. The League of Women Voters among them.

I think that's important that they've done that. I think it means that it's a significant issue, as it relates to the voter turnout in 2022.

The irony of all that, Jim, is that the governor and the Republican legislature praised the last election we had in Florida, that it was flawless, didn't have any problems, so they're trying to find a solution to a problem that doesn't exist? No, they're trying to suppress the vote, so that they can try to win the election in 2022.

It's going to be hard for them, because people are upset about that and Floridians are smart. They understand what's right and what is wrong.

ACOSTA: Yeah, let me ask you, just poke at that a little bit. This new voting law limits drop boxes, institutes new voter ID requirements, requires Florida voters to do a little more leg work to get mail-in ballots.

What impact do you think this has on you getting elected? Does this make it harder for Democratic voters to come out? And I kind of wonder about the flip side of all of this, whether or not Governor DeSantis may be penalizing some of his own voters because a lot of elderly voters we know, a lot of senior citizens down in Florida, utilize absentee ballot voting.

CRIST: Well, the irony may be exactly that, Jim. I mean, that's a very good point, to point out, frankly.

But the drop box, let's talk about that for a minute. Being able to have those in communities of color, it has been a real advantage for a Florida for all, which I'm talking about during the course of this campaign, and we have leadership that wants to embrace all of Florida -- Republican, Democrat, or independent. Black, white, straight, gay, whether you're from Haiti or from Greece, like my grandparents.

You know, what's important is that we represent all people. All of us are children of God, after all. And so what Governor DeSantis is doing is trying to suppress the vote in certain parts of our state, inner cities, for example, where black and brown people largely live, in America, for that matter.

And that's just wrong. It's cruel. It is not open. It defies the Sunshine laws of Florida you referenced earlier in your question, that we have transparency and openness in our government, when you exclude everyone and just have one network broadcasting a bill that you say you're proud about.

If you're so proud about it, why don't you have CNN there? Why don't you have NBC there? Why don't you have ABC there? Instead of just Fox news only?

You know, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what's going on here. That was more of a cheerleading rally than it was open government in the Sunshine. And that's not what Floridians want and it certainly isn't what they deserve.

ACOSTA: OK. Congressman Charlie Crist, thanks so much for coming on.

We did invite Governor DeSantis to come on as well. We'll see if he accepts that invitation in the future.

Charlie Crist, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Now to the reason NASA and space agencies all over the world are anxiously watching the skies right now. An enormous piece of Chinese space debris is falling to earth as we speak and for now, nobody knows exactly where or when it will hit.

This was the rocket booster blasting into space from China, just a few days ago, it's massive, more than 100 feet long, and weighing 22 tons. It's now on the way back to earth. Just falling, unguided and out of control.

Who is in the risk zone? Well, potentially a whole lot of us if you look at the map. Anywhere in the red part of the map, according to the European Space Agency.

And CNN's pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann is here with me now.

Oren, that map does take your breath away a little bit. That is a lot of people in the zone. You and I are both part of that red part of the map, along with a few billion other people, I suppose. What's the danger here?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESONDENT: Well, the danger, of course, is this 22-ton piece of Chinese space junk lands somewhere in the red zone and somewhere on land. We can start narrowing down where in the red zone it might land based on the latest updates from the European Space Agency that tracks not only the window of when, but, of course, the window of where.

So, most of the U.S. actually is not in danger here. The West is safe. The Midwest is safe. But there are some orbits and therefore reentry points that cross over southern U.S., as well as parts of the East Coast. So we theoretically at least could still be in danger, as is Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Western Australia, which, of course, is where parts of Sky Lab crashed all those years ago.

So there is still a risk here. The when, the question of when does this enter the atmosphere and begin its sort of fiery crash towards the end, that's becoming clearer.


It's looking to be between 10:00 and 11:00 tonight according to the latest data from the Europeans. We are expecting data from the U.S., final update perhaps, sometime in the next couple of hours. And that again will give us a better idea of when this might come crashing down.

The where is still difficult. The official estimate right now is somewhere over the Indian Ocean. But even that is very cautionary, because even a couple of minute difference of when reentry happens is hundreds if not thousands of miles. All that will only be clear in the last few hours as it re-enters the atmosphere, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Let's hope it all lands safely in the ocean. That would be the best possible scenario.

Oren Liebermann, thanks for keeping track of it. We appreciate it.

Coming up, a judge ruling the family of Andrew Brown Jr. can see more of the body cam footage from the scene where police shot him. But still not all of it. So why not? We'll get a live report next.



ACOSTA: The family of Andrew Brown Jr., the 42-year-old black man fatally shot by police last month is set to see more of the body cam footage from the scene on Tuesday. This is as protesters take to the streets for the third straight weekend in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, calling for full transparency in this case.

CNN's Natasha Chen is in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, right now.

Natasha, this is just sort of a weird thing, I guess for the layman to understand, but why are only portions of the body cam video, versus all of it, being shown to the family, being released to the family? It just seems like an odd thing to have happen.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jim, at this point, only a couple of family members have seen a 20-second portion of one body camera, and right now, what's going to happen on Tuesday, is that they will be shown footage from a total of four body cameras, and a dash cam, all of which were taken from the incident on April 21st. But as you said, it's still going to be portions of it.

In reading the court order, the judge actually cited part of North Carolina's statute, saying that only relevant portions of the video should be shown. And at the very end of the court order, it talks about which snippets should be shown to the family. And the judge has basically selected a few minutes here and there of each video, totaling about 20 minutes out of an entire two hours worth of footage.

And the court order does say that what's in the rest of that two hours, it says the deceased, Andrew Brown, is not shown in the rest of that video, and therefore, is not relevant to show to the family. So that's perhaps why the family is only going to see about 20 minutes worth of footage. And still, when I say family, that does mean Andrew Brown's son, and his immediate family members, but not the whole extended family is going to get to be in the room.

We did hear from one of Brown's aunts today, after a march and rally, talking about the need for the law to change, to make it more easily viewable, to make body camera footage more easily releasable to the public. Here's what she said.


GLENDA BROWN THOMAS, ANDREW BROWN JR.'S AUNT: This is 17 days because of this (INAUDIBLE) law. We've got to change this law. This law will be become Andrew Brown Jr. Law with the body cams. We need to see the body cams.

Twenty seconds. Not enough. Twenty minutes. Not enough. We want to see the whole tape.


CHEN: The attorneys for the Brown family have sent a letter to the district attorney Andrew Womble asking him to recuse himself from the case, saying that his previous interactions with these deputies on other cases create a conflict of interest.

Now, CNN has reached out to Womble's office for comment -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Okay, Natasha Chen, thanks so much for that.

And coming up, he's made electric cars mainstream, successfully sent rockets to space. But his biggest feat yet may be successfully hosting "Saturday Night Live" funny, entertaining, relatable. It is tough.

The critics coming for Elon Musk, next.


ELON MUSK, TESLA FOUNDER: Hi, I'm Elon Musk, and I'm hosting "SNL" with musical guest Miley Cyrus tonight.



ACOSTA: Tonight, Elon Musk will find out if comedy is harder than rocket science. The billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is hosting "Saturday Night Live."


MUSK: Hi, I'm Elon Musk and I'm hosting "SNL" this week with musical guest Miley Cyrus and I'm a wildcard so there is no telling what I'm going to do.

MILEY CYRUS, SINGER: Same here. Rules? No, thanks.

CECILY STRONG, SNL MEMBER: But it's also the Mother's Day show, so your moms are going to be here.

CYRUS: Forget what I said.

MUSK: Fine, we'll be good-ish.


ACOSTA: Musk there promising to be good-ish. That's what we always strive for. But the choice to have him host the long-running variety show hasn't been without controversy due to previous statements musk has made. He was sued for defamation, but won the case after calling a British diver who helped rescue a soccer team trapped in a cave a, quote, pedo guy.

He also raised eyebrows last year by saying he wouldn't take the COVID-19 vaccine when one would come available, a comment later tried to clarify. Musk is first "SNL" host in six years who is not an athlete or an entertainer, the last one being Donald Trump in 2015, talk about a category to be a part of.

And joining me is NYU professor and podcast host, Scott Galloway.

Scott, you've written about Elon Musk. Is tonight a disaster, a SpaceX level success? Will he be a failure to launch, somewhere in between, what do you think?


I would say the answer is yes. "SNL" is doing what they're supposed to do. A lot of people are talking about it. A lot of people are going to tune in.

But I think you kind of summed it up. The last person of this category was, the host was Donald Trump. I think it represents sort of what I call peak fetish-ization of innovators typically. I mean, even Steve jobs didn't host "SNL" so I think it says more about the zeitgeist of our society than "SNL." ACOSTA: And this is one of the wealthiest people ever. "Forbes" last

had his net worth at $166 billion.


I think he could start his own late-night comedy show if he wanted to.

Why bother hosting "SNL," do you think?

GALLOWAY: Oh, this would be fun. Wouldn't you do this, Jim? I think it's just --


GALLOWAY: -- a guy like this, you know, doesn't -- isn't worried about health insurance or getting a car, so this is a lot of fun.

But you referenced something important. Most of that wealth, that $160 billion, has been accreted during the pandemic.

So we have an individual who has added the GDP of Hungary to his net worth during what has been the most severe crisis in American history.

So I think this raises a host of interesting issues that we'll be talking about beyond whether or not he's good or not.

I will admit, I think there's a genius of incredible talent on "Saturday Night Live" tonight. And they also have Elon Musk. I think Miley Cyrus is fantastic.

ACOSTA: She is. They're both legends.

I want to ask you about the battle of the billionaires in space, Musk and Jeff Bezos.


ACOSTA: They were duking it out over a contract to build the next lunar lander.

When NASA picked Musk and SpaceX, Bezos' company, Blue Origin, filed a protest.

That led Musk to mock them by tweeting, and we're quoting here -- "Can't get it up to orbit, LOL."

Musk re-tweeting a picture of the Blue Origin lunar design known as Blue Moon with "moon" whited out and the word "balls" instead.

What is going on with Elon Musk? He's an eccentric millionaire, I suppose, so an eccentric sense of humor as well.

GALLOWAY: I think we're seeing the mother of midlife crises -- and I saw that plural -- kind of play out in space. And the bad news we have to endure this.

The good news is I think Mr. Bezos or Mr. Bezos and Musk are going to grow out of this midlife crisis in around 30 or 40 years.

The good news is, though, I think, as citizens, we benefit for this, because NASA is able to play these privately-funded companies off of one another and likely begin hauling cargo in space for less capital or less taxpayer money than they might otherwise.

So I think wars, the ego wars in space are actually probably good for U.S. citizens.

ACOSTA: Well, there have been some amazing innovations so far, and let's see if they can make it the distance here.

This week, Facebook's oversight board ruled that the social network was justified in banning former President Donald Trump -- I just wanted to switch gears -- from the platform, after the insurrection.

But then they kicked the case back to Facebook, saying they had six months to reach a final decision on his account status.

What did you make of that ruling? I just wanted to get your take on it.

GALLOWAY: I think this is brilliant delay and obfuscation and distraction, which has become the core competence of Facebook.

The Facebook oversight board has sort of the same relevance and effectiveness between the League of Nations and the United Nations.

And we're talking about this instead of talking about the fact that 60 percent of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did it because they were suggested or these groups were suggested to them directly by Facebook.

So this back and forth, they've created this incredible illusionist trick where we're focused on what this board -- which has absolutely no power, absolutely no authority, is equivalent to the Kremlin, in that is they get to make decisions and suggestions until Putin decides that he doesn't agree with them.

So this is nothing but continued delay and obfuscation from an organization that is brilliant at diverting us from how much damage this organization continues to levy on the commonwealth.

I think this board is just an incredible example of fake relevance that is genius distraction.

ACOSTA: And what do you think the fallout would be if they allowed Donald Trump back on the platform?

GALLOWAY: Well, again, we keep having these arguments over free speech. This is a private organization that has no obligation of free speech. And they want to get applause for banning his account.

And 1,439 days into his 1,460-day tenure, and within 72 hours of his account being banned, a third of all misinformation on the election disappeared. So if this organization, which has no legal obligation to the First

Amendment, actually did care about its stakeholders, and did care about the commonwealth, they would uphold this ban.

But instead, it plays to their advantage to enter into these existential arguments that really have -- really unapplicable.

Freedom of speech does not equal freedom of reach. And worse yet, this organization trades or traffic sin algorithms that amplify content that enrages us.

This isn't about the First Amendment. This is about an organization continuing to levy tremendous damage and create whatever distraction will get us looking elsewhere.

ACOSTA: And speaking of billionaires, and failure to launch, what did you make of Donald Trump's Web site that he put up? They were calling it a platform. It's not really a platform. It's more of a blog. What did you think?


GALLOWAY: Yes, you know, I would argue, look, Donald Trump unlike Musk, is a terrible operator. And for those of us who developed their business career in New York, Trump had a very solid reputation as an inept operator.

So the idea that he is going to be able to create a technology platform, I think it is somewhat laughable.

So this is a group of operators, this is an individual who has been able to surround himself with people who make a room more competent by leaving it. So I don't think a tech platform is in his future.

ACOSTA: It certainly is not in his present.

Scott Galloway, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it. We'll be watching "SNL" tonight and we'll get your take on it in the future.

Thanks so much.

And the anthem of its time has become the anthem for this time. Join Don Lemon for a look at Marvin Gaye's ground-breaking album, "What's Going On, 50 years after its release.

Here's a review.



ANNOUNCER: Marvin Gaye's ground-breaking, "What's Going On".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the first time I understood poetry.

(SINGING) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the greatest albums ever made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His melodies were like a voice of cry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He created something that lasts.


ANNOUNCER: Fifty years later --


ANNOUNCER: -- why is it an anthem for a new generation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's prophecy, man.

DON LEMMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": What do you think Marvin would think about "What's Going On?"

ANNOUNCER: CNN's special report, "WHAT'S GOING ON, MARVIN GAYE'S ANTHEM FOR THE AGES," tomorrow at 8:00.




ACOSTA: Time to hit the pause button once again and tell you a tale about a party and pundits and that poison apple of disinformation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I woke up and I saw Snow White is now in trouble, Molly, and was like, well, it must be Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a princess who I believe would die if she didn't receive this kiss.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: Cancel culture going after poor little Snow White.

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: The kiss saves her life. She was poisoned by the witch.





ACOSTA: Hold on. Not to be grumpy, but this is just dopey. And I don't want to spend too much time on this. It started with a story in the "San Francisco Gate," about the Snow

White ride at Disneyland and whether the prince's true love's kiss was appropriate to display.

Of course, the network that's obsessed with cancel culture couldn't resist the urge to spread a new fairy tale about the evil of wokeness in American society.

They even found a Senator to take a bite.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): You know, sometimes I think we are so screwed. I don't know where these jack-o-lanterns come up with this stuff.


ACOSTA: If all of this sounds familiar, it is because you heard it before. Just swap out Snow White for Dr. Seuss or the Muppets or Mr. Potato Head.


STEWART VARNEY, FOX HOST, "VARNEY & COMPANY" As you know, Dr. Seuss has been canceled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not like to cancel books. I do not like how that looks.

SEN. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): First, it was Kermit the frog and the Muppets and Mr. Potato Head and now Dr. Seuss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not like it here, nor there. I do not like it anywhere.

DONALD TRUMP JR, SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP; This week alone, they canceled Mr. Potato Head. This week alone, they canceled the Muppets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not like it in the store. I do not want it anymore.


ACOSTA: Sometimes the complaints about cancel culture involve playing the victim. Like that time Senator Josh Hawley claimed he was being silenced during a live interview.



SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Don't try to censor, cancel and silence me here. You raised the issue.

(CROSSTALK) HAWLEY: You raised the issue.


ACOSTA: Senator, this is a Wendy's. Either way, this is full outrage. It feels like it's coming off an assembly line, you might say, at a factory.

But here's the thing. The same far right voices railing against cancel culture, they love to cancel, silence, harass, and banish anyone who won't pucker up and show some love to Donald Trump's big lie about the 2020 election.

Take for example the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam, I am. I do not like green eggs and ham.


ACOSTA: McCarthy came to the rescue of Dr. Seuss, but not his fellow House Republican leader, Liz Cheney, when she spoke her conscience and denounced the big lie.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The president and many around him pushed this idea that the election had been stolen. And that is a dangerous claim. It wasn't true.

The election wasn't stolen.

The notion that the election had been stolen or that the election was rigged was a lie. And people need to understand that.


ACOSTA: Instead, it was the big kiss-off.


MCCARTHY (voice-over): I think she's got real problems. I've had it with her. I've had it with her. You know, I've lost confidence.

Well, someone just has to bring a motion but I assume that will probably take place.


ACOSTA: Which is pretty rich, considering McCarthy once called out Trump's actions during the insurrection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.



ACOSTA: It's not just Liz Cheney. Other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump have been punished by their own party, at the state or local level.

Even those who escape censure are being booed.



SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): And you know me as a person who says what he thinks.



ROMNEY: And I know it's fact that I'm not a fan of the last president's character issues.


ROMNEY: And I'm also --



ROMNEY: Aren't you embarrassed?


ACOSTA: People like Mitt Romney and Cheney, they told the truth about what happened with the election, about what happened at the capitol, about what Donald Trump did.

It's like a fairy tale gone wrong. And the rest of the party can't wake up. It's almost like they're under a spell.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake, this election was stolen from you, from me, from the country.

I've been in two elections, I won them both. And the second one, I won much bigger than the first. OK?


ACOSTA: That's because the problem here is not cancel culture. The problem is the cancel cult of Donald Trump.

It's a cult. And in that cult, Trump loves to cancel everything, from pro-football players to fellow Republicans to American democracy.

And the GOP leadership is biting down hard because nothing says cancel culture like trying to cancel the votes of 81 million people.

Or passing state laws that could cancel your votes in the future by making it harder and harder to vote. That effort is spreading from Georgia, to Florida, to Texas.

Or they'll keep counting the votes like they are doing in Arizona. To what? Cancel the election there?

Forget Snow White. It's the cancel cult of Trump that really bites. Wake up.



ACOSTA: This just in, we're told President Biden has been briefed on the cyberattack that temporarily shut down one of the country's largest pipelines.

Arlette Saenz is live for us at the White House.

Arlette, what do we know about this attack?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, this is one of the country's largest pipelines that was impacted due to a cyberattack. And it comes as there are concerns over the vulnerabilities to America's critical infrastructure.

Now, President Biden was briefed this morning.

And I want to read you a statement from a White House spokesperson who said, "The federal government is working actively to assess the implications of this incident, avoid disruptions to supply, and help the company restore pipeline operations as quickly as possible."

Colonial Pipeline, which is the operator of this pipeline, said today that they believe that this was due to ransomware. But there's little else known about the cyberattack.

The federal government is working closely with the company to determine the impact on U.S. supply, as well as working with state and local authorities to try to talk about potential measures that can be put in place to mitigate any disruption in supply.

And the federal government has also been reaching out across the energy sector to ensure that companies and different outlets have precautions in place to try to avoid these types of attacks from occurring.

And just to give you a little bit of a scope of what this pipeline is like, it provides about 45 percent of gas and fuel along the east coast.

It stretches from Houston to New York Harbor, and has about 100 million of gallons of gasoline each day.

And this all is coming, as you have seen this emphasis put, on cyber security, when it comes to the nation's critical infrastructure.

You'll remember that SolarWinds campaign earlier in the year, with something that caused quite a bit of disruption and something that this White House has been focused on in the opening months of their administration.

Just last month, there was an effort launched to help beef up cyber security through the nation's power grid.

So this is something that the administration will continue to watch closely as they're trying to learn more on why exactly this happened -- Jim?

ACOSTA: Absolutely. It is a challenge for the Biden administration. It's a reminder of how critical cyber security is.

Arlette Saenz, thanks for the update. We appreciate it.


And coming up, debris from a 22-ton Chinese rocket plummeting to earth. Reentry could be just hours from now. But where?


ACOSTA: Out of all of television's comedy icons, there's one household name that created the standard for America's late-night comedy shows, "The Tonight Show's" former star and television's longest-running talk show host, Johnny Carson.

The newest episode of the CNN original series, "THE STORY OF LATE NIGHT," takes a look at Carson's decades-long career and his legacy as one of America's kings of comedy.

Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm back behind the curtain, my hands literally are like seized up.

What is this? I can't move my hands. They're so paralyzed with fear.

RAY ROMANO, COMEDIAN: It's almost like sky diving. You don't want to go, but once you're out of that plane, you can-not-go. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I've been incarcerated. I don't think

anything has been as frightening as walking through that curtain of "The Tonight Show."


JOHNNY CARSON, FORMER HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": This his first time. Would you welcome, Ray Romano -- Ray?




ROMANO: And then you're walking, and it looks like it's as casual as hell. And then you have your -- you're screaming like you're jumping out of a plane.