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Biden Ramps Up Infrastructure Push With Big Meetings This Week; Interview With Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); Cyberattacks Forces Shutdown Of Major U.S. Fuel Pipeline; House Minority Leader Supports Stefanik Replacing Cheney; CDC: 114-Plus Million People Now Fully Vaccinated In The U.S.; Capitol Police Under The Microscope At House Hearing; Billions Of Cicadas Set To Emerge From 17-Year Hibernation. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 9, 2021 - 16:00   ET



ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: McConnell has said that his focus is 100 percent on stopping this administration. Now the president has dismissed those comments saying that McConnell was able to work with him during the Obama administration and he thinks that that is still a possibility going forward in his own administration.

And one area that the president is hoping Republicans can work with him on is infrastructure. And that is why you will see the president on Thursday, hosting a group of Republican senators here at the White House, to see if they could hammer out some type of compromise. Both sides are incredibly far apart when it comes to how to pay for it, and also that price tag on the proposal.

And one issue for Republicans, as the president's proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent. He earlier in the week has suggested it might a 25 percent to 28 percent range, but earlier today the Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo talked about how companies are actually welcoming that corporate tax rate and a little bit about that upcoming meeting. Take a listen.


GINA RAIMONDO, U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: The reality is they knew increased corporate taxes were coming, and I have been very pleased by how many CEOs have come out to support the president's plan. So, listen, there will be room for compromise for sure, and the president will be meeting with members of Congress this week hoping to find compromise but businesses need these investments to be competitive and that's why there's no time to waste.


SAENZ: So the president has been engaging directly with lawmakers. There have also been conversations on the staff level as well as members of that so-called Jobs Cabinet. And one big question going forward is whether the Biden administration would be willing to break up their initial proposal into smaller components to try to get some Republican support on things like roads, rail and bridges, and they are eyeing these next two weeks as being incredibly critical to the president's push for infrastructure -- Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right, Arlette Saenz at the White House, thank you so much.

So the president's meetings this week with top Republican lawmakers highlight his campaign promises to reach across the aisle in a bipartisan way.

Here now to talk about it, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Congresswoman, so good to see you. Happy Mother's Day.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): You too, Fredricka. Thank you. You as well.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you. So Biden has big plans. The administration saying you've got to go big, around -- more than $2 trillion for infrastructure, another nearly $2 trillion to expand the child tax credit. Republicans have put out their own infrastructure plan that they say is much more targeted, but it comes in just under $600 billion. So how do you bring these two sides together when the plan's cost is so different?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, we need to continue the dialogue. We need to come together. We need Republicans like Mitch McConnell to not say that his number one priority is blocking everything that President Biden is trying to do. It's just mind boggling. He said the same thing when President Obama was in office, and now he's saying, again, that that's his number one priority. That doesn't --


WHITFIELD: And what would that meeting be like then in the White House this week, having -- you know, having the fact that McConnell did say that?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think that the minority leader needs to realize that the margin is very tight. He doesn't necessarily control how his members ultimately decide to vote and working with the president, I think there are members on both sides of the aisle that want to find common ground. I mean, mothers need more than flowers on Mother's Day.

We need making sure that our children are well cared for with the child care benefits that are part of the American Family Plan, making sure that our kids can start off good -- on a good pathway in life after graduating from high school with three years of free community college.

Making sure that the underpinning and undergirding of families are able to build their infrastructure, for strength through the year. The last year showed us -- not if anything, it's showed us that we need strength in the infrastructure of families and of our traditional infrastructure across the country. And Mitch McConnell and Republicans need to realize that, or we'll go it alone because we can do that. WHITFIELD: Well, I mean, underscoring that, you know, Biden is pushing

these policies as the nation is suffering. We just saw very disappointing jobs report last week that showed the U.S. only added 266,000 jobs in April, you know, far below expectations. So, given all that you just said, why will it be the fact that the president is facing a very tough sell on the need for these plans, particularly with infrastructure and included in that assistance for families?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, the reason it'll be a tough sell with Republicans is because they are still worshipping at the altar of Donald Trump and not at the altar of strengthening families.


We need to make sure that Republicans and Democrats -- like Democrats understand that families have suffered for the last 14 months. We are coming out of the worst pandemic that has impacted our economy like never before and we need to focus on making sure that we can create jobs, that we can strengthen this economy, that we can make sure that children who graduate from high school are prepared for the path they choose in life, that parents can have a safe place to send those children so those schools so they can go back to work. That schools can reopen.

I don't know how Republicans expect all of this to happen. It just doesn't happen, you know, automatically out of thin air. We have to work closely together to help ensure that that happens. And if they just stand in the way, then we're going to have to find a way -- and we have ways procedurally, to make sure that we can do this on our own. Because we are going to strengthen the American family and we are going to rebuild our nation's infrastructure, one way or other. With or without them.

WHITFIELD: Let me switch gears here. You represent Florida. Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping and controversial new voting bill into law. It puts new restrictions on ballot drop boxes, adds vote by mail ID requirement. The governor says it will strengthen voter confidence in Florida's elections. But what do you see happening?


WHITFIELD: You see it laughable. What do you see, you know, is the consequence here?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'm laughing because imagine a successful business who just had a record increase in their customer base. And imagine that their response would be to make it harder for their customers to do business with them.

That's what Ron DeSantis and Republican governors across the country are doing by putting obstacles in the path of record turnouts, targeted specifically at voters who are more likely to have trouble voting with those obstacles in place.

That's the bill that Governor DeSantis just signed. He is dramatically restricting the ability to douse drop boxes. He is requiring after this election voters every single year to request a mail-in ballot instead of it being for two election cycles. He is shrinking the number of people that can actually drop ballots off. And the list goes on.

We had record voter turnout here in Florida. And uncoincidentally, Democrats beat Republicans for the first time by almost 700,000 mail- in ballots. Gee, why do you think that they are trying to make mail-in ballot and voting harder? Because they can't win on their agenda, Fredricka, so they have to try to shape the electorate to look like the voters that most likely will show up and vote for them.

If our voters show up, they know they'll lose. And he's up for reelection next time. But businesses are opposing proposals like this because they understand that making voting harder and making our democracy weaker is really a bad idea.

WHITFIELD: So this Florida law, you know, follows Georgia's controversial voting law. And for the bill signing, Governor DeSantis took another page from Georgia's playbook. I mean, holding it behind closed doors and giving it exclusive live coverage to FOX News. And of course, you remember the Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, you know, signed his state's bill very soon after passage also behind closed doors.

So, you know, what -- how hopeful are you that this measure can be reversed? And of course, you know, on the national level, there is great hope in this HR-1 For the People Act, but in the meantime, what can you do to insist on transparency or potentially reverse this measure, this law?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Right. Well, certainly, we're going to continue to press, and we have to pass the For the People Act. We have to make sure that we re-establish the ability of everyone to be able to have the right to vote, freely and fairly.

We're setting a terrible example for the rest of the world. But what we can do is make sure that -- I think the governor of Texas, the governor of Florida, need to realize that the lawsuits that were filed immediately in Florida, I believe, will win voters and the NAACP have merit.

And that ultimately much of what they passed, because it was a solution in search of a problem, is going to get overturned by the courts. So they're either going to have these really draconian laws and make it like harder for certain kinds of voters, poor people and minority voters, to cast their ballot.

They're going to have them opt out, or we're going to pass portions of the For the People Act to make sure that nationally we have a standardization of how people are able to vote, so that it doesn't depend on your zip code, your ability to vote freely and fairly doesn't depend on your zip code and where you live.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there for now.

Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, always good to see you. Thank you so much. Again, Happy Mother's Day.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You too, Fredricka. Thank you so much. Happy Mother's Day to everyone. Thanks so much.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you.

All right, coming up, one of the nation's biggest fuel pipelines shut down because of a ransomware attack. Now there are concerns consumers could pay the price.


Plus, new fallout from the insurrection on Capitol Hill. The inspector general for Capitol Police describing deficiencies before tomorrow's scheduled hearing.

And then later, a cicada invasion in more than a dozen states. A look at why these pesky critters are emerging after 17 years underground.


WHITFIELD: A cyberattack has forced a major gas pipeline in the U.S. to shut down. The colonial pipeline transports 100 million gallons of gasoline from Texas to New York every day. The pipeline says ransomware is to blame for the attack. And this isn't the first incident to expose vulnerabilities in America's critical infrastructure.

CNN homeland security producer Geneva Sands joining me again now.

So, Geneva, you know, how did this happen? What is being done?


GENEVA SANDS, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY PRODUCER: Fredricka, that's right. After the company learned of the cyberattack it proactively took steps to pause operations and they also enlisted the help of an outside cyber security firm, FireEye, to help with the incident response. Meanwhile, the federal government has surged resources, both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security cyber wing are helping the company at this time.

And the White House issuing a statement over the weekend saying, "The federal government is working actively to assess the implications of this incident, avoid disruptions to supply and help the company restore pipeline operation as quickly as possible."

And President Biden was also briefed on the shutdown this weekend. And earlier today Senator Bill Cassidy on "Meet the Press" talking about the need for bipartisan response to help with these ransomware incidents.


SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): It's going to take an ongoing relationship. By the way, a bipartisan relationship in which we better equip small businesses and large businesses to withstand cyberattacks. I promise you this is something that Republicans and Democrats can work together on.


SANDS: And Fredricka, the White House is also saying that they are looking into whether or not this incident could interrupt supply and what they would need to do about that.

WHITFIELD: And so could we, the consumers, feel it?

SANDS: There is a concern that prolonged shutdown could cause gas prices to rise ahead of this busy summer travel season, and for historical context, in 2016, the same company had their pipeline shut down for 10 days. And at that time, prices rose by 30 cents a gallon -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Oh, boy, we don't want a repeat of that.

All right, Geneva Sands, thank you so much.

All right, straight ahead, a family feud within the Republican Party. Why one lawmaker is comparing the situation to the Titanic.



WHITFIELD: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is throwing his support behind Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney for the number three Republican leadership post. House Republicans are poised to vote on whether Cheney should keep her leadership role in the party this Wednesday.

Stefanik has a more moderate voting record than Cheney. But Cheney's criticism of former President Trump and attacks on Republicans who push false claims about election fraud have created friction with many of her GOP colleagues.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Everyone in leadership serves at the pleasure of the conference. And as you know, there is a lot at stake. Democrats are destroying this nation. To defeat Nancy Pelosi and the socialist agenda we need to be united. And that starts with leadership. That's why we will have a vote next week. And we want to be united in looking, moving forward.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do you support Elise Stefanik for that job?

MCCARTHY: Yes, I do.


WHITFIELD: Daniella Diaz has more on how this vote will play out and why one Republican lawmaker is comparing the GOP to the Titanic.


DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The House GOP Conference is set to meet this Wednesday to vote on whether Congresswoman Liz Cheney will stay in her leadership position as the number three House Republican. This comes of course as Congresswoman Cheney has been incredibly critical of the former president and she refuses to spread the so-called big lie that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, and she's blasted her colleagues for objecting to the election results on January 6th.

She is fully comfortable with her position, sources tell us, because she is aware she's going to lose her leadership position as a result of her comment but is comfortable with what's happening because she believes that this is a fight for the soul of the party and it's bigger than her.

The leading contender to replace Cheney in this role is Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York. A moderate Republican. She actually has broken with Trump on many issues in the past Congress including tax cuts, the environment, Afghanistan. But Stefanik is a strong ally of Trump's including pushing his message that the election was stolen and becoming a huge ally of Trump in his first impeachment trial.

But, look, some Republicans aren't happy with what's happening in the party right now, including Congressman Adam Kinzinger who said on a Sunday show this morning that he believes that this is a battle for the soul of the party and even compared the Republican Party to the Titanic. Take a listen.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think what the reality is, is as a party we have to have an internal look, and a full accounting as to what led to January 6th. I MEAN, right now, it's basically the Titanic. We're like, you know, in the middle of this slow sink. We have a band playing on the deck and telling everybody it's fine and meanwhile as I have said, you know, Donald Trump is running around trying to find women's clothing to get on the first life boat. And

I think there's a few of us that are just saying guys, this is not good, not just for the future of the party but this is not good for the future of this country.


DIAZ: Now we've learned that Congresswoman Stefanik has been signaling to her colleagues that she only plans to hold this position if she is voted in as the GOP conference chair until 2022 and she plans to actually try to get the top job on the House Education and Labor Committee by 2022. So we might be having this conversation again about who will have this position in the party in next two years.

Daniella Diaz, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner is breaking with some in the Republican Party.


In an exclusive interview with CNN's Dana Bash, Jenner says she favors granting a path to citizenship to the nearly two million undocumented immigrants in California's labor force.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: California's labor force includes 1.75 million undocumented immigrants. Should they have a path to citizenship?

CAITLYN JENNER, RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: I would hope so. I am for legal immigration, OK? What's been happening on the border was honestly one of the reasons I decided to run for governor. I was watching people dying from across the river, kids in cages, whatever you want to call them.

BASH: They should have a chance at citizenship?

JENNER: Absolutely, yes. Yes, they should. To me, personally, I mean there is a lot of people, but personally I have met some of the most wonderful people who are immigrants, who have come to this country, and they are just model citizens. They are just great people and I would fight for them to be, you know, U.S. citizens. And I think it would be the greatest day of their life.

BASH: What about deportation?

JENNER: The bad ones have to leave.

BASH: What do you consider bad ones?

JENNER: Criminal records, MS-13, the list goes on. There's a lot of bad people that are trying cross our border illegally. I don't want those people in our country.


WHITFIELD: Dana's full interview with Caitlyn Jenner will air on the "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night.

And tonight, on CNN, join Don Lemon for a look at Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking album "What's Going On." 50 years after its release why has it become an anthem for a new generation?



NARRATOR: Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking "What's Going On."

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the greatest albums ever made.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He created something that will last.

NARRATOR: Fifty years later.

Why is it an anthem for a new generation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's prophecy, man.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think Marvin would think about what's going on?





WHITFIELD: All right, this just into CNN, more than 114 million Americans are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the latest data from the CDC. That makes up just over 34 percent of the total population here in the United States.

Experts say America needs at least 70 percent vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity. Dr. Anthony Fauci says although vaccinations are dropping, we're trending in the right direction.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: As you get less and less people in the cohort of unvaccinated, it becomes more difficult to get them. When you have a large cohort of unvaccinated people, then you get your three to four million people per day. Right now, we're averaging about 2 million a day. So if we do that, which I think we will, I think I believe strongly that we will reach the President's goal of 70 percent of adults getting at least one shot by 4th of July.


WHITFIELD: All right, so how do you change minds and get more shots into arms? According to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, incentives could go a long way. CNN has a team of reporters covering all of the vaccine perks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York. As more universities and colleges announced COVID-19 vaccine requirements for the fall, one New Jersey school is offering an added bonus.

Rowan University announced that any full-time students who show proof that they are fully vaccinated by August 7th, will receive a $500 credit towards their course registration and an additional $500 towards housing costs. The university is mandating vaccines for all students living on campus or attending classes in person.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jean Casarez in Manhattan. Mayor Bill de Blasio is announcing that New York City has administered almost 7 million COVID-19 vaccinations. And now in an effort to build tourism, they want to offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to any visitor that comes here.

The plan is to install mobile COVID vaccination sites at major tourist attractions around the city, like Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, the High Line, and even Central Park, but it's all dependent on a green light from the state.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Martin Savidge in Atlanta. If you live in Memphis or Shelby County, Tennessee and you get a COVID-19 vaccine, you could get something else, a brand new car. This week, local officials unveiled a sweepstakes which could lead one lucky person to win the choice of a sports car pickup truck Sedan or SUV.

You have until the end of May to get at least one shot to have a shot at winning. It's all part of an effort to get more people vaccinated in Shelby County where health officials say so far, about a third of people have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine. Sorry, proof of residency will be required.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Alexandra Field. There's part of a major push to get more younger adults to get their shots. More and more companies are throwing in a free beer.


Budweiser offering a free beer to anyone age 21 and up who shows proof of vaccination, a number of participating breweries across the state of New Jersey doing the same thing. And in Connecticut, the Governor announcing that participating restaurants will offer free drinks to people with proof of vaccination for the last two weeks of May.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Tom Foreman in Washington, D.C. where vaccination sites will be spreading the love this Mother's Day weekend. At a half dozen sites, they will be giving free flowers and plants to the first 51 people who show up.

It mixes well with a plan by the mayor to promote the idea that people ought to get vaccinated for their colleagues, their friends, and especially their families. In fact, all month long, the city will be giving free temporary tattoos to people who get vaccinated saying I love dad, and especially, I love mom. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Quite the variety of incentives. Thank you so much to all of our reporters.

All right, U.S. Capitol Police will be under the microscope at a house hearing tomorrow on Capitol Hill. The agency's Inspector General is expected to detail the forces intelligence and operational lapses both before during and after the January 6th attack. CNN's Marshall Cohen is in Washington with a look at what we can expect. Marshall, what are some of the main points the Inspector General is likely to detail?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Fred, there's a lot on this guy's played the Inspector General. He's got a few investigations underway. He's giving updates to Congress every few weeks as those investigations progress.

Tomorrow, he is expected to make a few key points, tons of recommendations, but I'll highlight three of them for you here. He said first, there was poor record keeping among the Capitol Police, they didn't do a good job keeping track of their encounters with members of the public that might pose a threat.

Obviously, you want those types of records so that you can identify patterns. Also not enough resources, not enough people working on threat assessment. The police force wants to hire a ton of new cops, but they need more money to do it.

And finally, the Inspector General says there should be a designated force within the U.S. Capitol Police that works on intelligence gathering, looking through chatter online and posts and also working covertly to keep an eye on people that might cause trouble. So the Inspector General will present these findings tomorrow. It's an ongoing process. And, you know, lawmakers, they have a ton of questions, Fred.

WHITFIELD: I bet they do. And then Marshall, you know, we're also learning that at least three dozen current and former service members have now been charged in connection with the Capitol attacks. What can you tell us about that?

COHEN: That's right. We just hit the three dozen mark this week after the feds arrested a member of this Wisconsin National Guard. So that's 36 current or former service members that have been charged with crimes.

Most of them are veterans, so very few of them were current, but it's very alarming. You know, it speaks to the extremism within the ranks of our military and our veterans. It's an issue that the Pentagon has spent a long time trying to tackle. Clearly, they still have a lot of work to do.

And also Fred, many of these people are part of the extremist groups that we've kept -- keeping focus on that are some of the most hardened members of this mob. The Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers. A lot of their members were veterans. It's a very alarming trend. Thirty-six people so far of the 400, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Wow, alarming indeed. Marshall Cohen, thank you so much.

All right, up next, the eastern United States is bugging out of the big cicada invasion is underway. Guess what? Some people are even snacking on them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I eat the eyes too? Little crunchy. Got a leg stuck between my teeth.




WHITFIELD: All right, in the coming days, we'll witness a kind of creepy, crawly kind of tradition. Billions of cicadas are emerging from their 17-year underground slumber in 15 states from Indiana to Georgia and New York and expected to get noisy and crunchy. CNN's Tom Foreman explains.


FOREMAN (voice-over): With a roar to rival a passing jet, the cicadas are on the move, a remarkable bunch called Brood X. And when the male's let loose with their mating call --

MARK SHEPERDIGIAN, ENTOMOLOGIST: That's the airplane noise. We were in the center of Brood X, you wouldn't hear that airplane.

FOREMAN (voice-over): This particular strain emerges in the Mid- Atlantic and a few Midwestern states living underground on tree roots counting the seasonal cycles of those trees and coming into the light only once every 17 years to fascinate entomologist in the right place at the right time, like the Smithsonian's Floyd Shockley.

FLOYD SHOCKLEY, NATL. MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: Periodical cicada mass emergencies are one of those once or twice in a lifetime kind of things. I hope people, you know, aren't scared but enjoy the show.

FOREMAN (voice-over): In busy areas, 1.5 million could appear per acre, 1 trillion in all rising when the soil temperature reaches 64 degrees. Are they dangerous? No, although they can damage some small trees where they lay their eggs. Are they edible? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That's the sound you want to hear.

FOREMAN (voice-over): There are videos online offering recipes like this one from the Tennessee Farm Bureau, if you can stomach it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I eat the eyes too? Little crunchy. Got a leg stuck behind my teeth.

SHOCKLEY: If you spice them right, they taste a lot like shrimp.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Why are there so many? Because everything needs them.


Cicadas survive only because there are too many to be devoured entirely. Will it be around long? No. Just a few weeks.

SHOCKLEY: Periodical cicadas are only out as adults for that one thing, it's to mate, lay eggs and die.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But will they bug some people? Absolutely. There's even a new film this spring and you guessed it, the creepy guys are cold cicada.


FOREMAN (on-camera): So scientists say, remember, if you're caught up in this periodic overwhelming cicadas storm, it's not so much as scary nuisance as a natural wonder like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. That's what they say.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: All right. Well, now let's talk about a tradition that has nothing to do with swarms of loud bugs, just decades of laughs, the tradition of late-night television. This week's episode of the CNN original series, The Story Of Late Night, attracts how Johnny Carson became the undisputed king. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm back behind the curtain. My hands literally like seized up. What is this? I can't move my hands. They're so paralyzed with fear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost like skydiving, you don't want to go. But once you're out of that plane, you cannot go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know I've been incarcerated. I don't think anything's been as frightening as walking through that curtain of the tonight show.

JOHNNY CARSON, THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON: This is his first time, would you welcome Ray Romano. Ray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But then you're walking, and it looks like it's as casual as hell. And in your head, you're screaming like a jumping out of a plane.


WHITFIELD: I love that description. Joining me right now is the Executive Producer of The Story Of Late Night, Bill Carter. Good to see you, Bill.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Great to be with you again, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Bill has a nice lengthy title. He's also CNN's Media Analyst. All right.

CARTER: Right.

WHITFIELD: So Bill, I mean, the culture, you know, was shifting a lot in the 60s. So how did Carson navigate the tonight show to accommodate that? How did he make it his own?

CARTER: Well, you know, he wanted to be down the middle. He didn't want to take stands. And at -- in the 60s and 70s, that was awfully hard because you had Civil Rights, you had Vietnam, you had Watergate, you had all of this, you know, external issue to deal -- to talk about and Johnny did not want to do that. He wanted to sort of make fun of it in a way that didn't draw blood. So he was not a big political commentator.

But interestingly, he did have a period of time where he turned the show over to Harry Belafonte, and Harry Belafonte brought (ph) all the civil rights guys on, this was 1968. He brought Martin Luther King on in 1968, about a month before he was killed.

It was really an extraordinary week for the tonight show. But mainly Johnny was about entertainment. And you can tell he became the center of entertainment for -- basically for America, not just for television. And that segment with the comics is extraordinary, because it shows you how vitally important it was.

If you were in show business, you had to get on The Tonight Show. And if you were a comic, you had to get on tonight show and you had to succeed and it terrified them.

WHITFIELD: Wow. I mean, he ended up wielding a lot of influence by the virtue of all those things that you just, you know, said. Did he know that he was going to be this hugely influential, and make this kind of mark?

CARTER: Not at all. In fact, when he started, he was extremely nervous about replacing Jack Paar because Jack Paar had become a national phenomenon. And a lot of people thought he was irreplaceable. But Johnny replaced him so well, people forgot that Jack Paar.

And he had such an incredibly long run. I mean, 30 years, imagine all the things that happened in America over those 30 years from the early 60s, until the 90s, it was extraordinary. And his ratings were spectacular. And he made the most money intelligently. He was a dominant, dominant figure.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And then Carson in his own right, really kind of laid the groundwork, didn't he? I mean, there were other big name comedians who watched him and who tried to follow his footsteps.

CARTER: Well the best example, of course, is David Letterman, who was a guy who came out, get a killer set on Johnny Carson show, a guy called over to the desk, which was a signal that Johnny thought the guy was great. And Johnny immediately said, you know, that's a guy -- if you want to put a show after me, that's the guy.

And he remained a very big fan of Letterman after that, and that whole business that we'll get into in the third episode between Letterman, Leno, Johnny was clearly a Letterman guy.

WHITFIELD: All right, well wait until we get to that and we'll talk to you about that when the time comes --

CARTER: I hope so.

WHITFIELD: -- oh, yes, we will. Better believe it. Bill Carter, thank you so much. Good to see you. Of course don't miss --

CARTER: Always great to be with you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Fantastic. Don't miss tonight's installation of The Story Of Late Night at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

All right, coming up, a wild crash leads to a life-saving rescue. Meet the man who saved a toddler who fell out of a car and into the water below.


But first, when 22-year-old Amanda Gorman recited her inaugural poem at the Biden-Harris inauguration, the world took notice. Also watching was a proud CNN Hero who first met Amanda when she was just 14. Keren Taylor's organization, WriteGirl, offers thousands of teens support, guidance and tools to make their voices heard.


KEREN TAYLOR, EXECURIVE DIRECTOR, WRITEGIRL: Many of our girls come from environments where they're really struggling with unstable family situations, violence in their communities. Our goal is to really try and reach the most teens we can that are in the greatest need.


TAYLOR: Since receiving the Hero Award, we've expanded to include programs for boys and co-ed groups to clarify our definition of girls by including non-binary girls, trans youth, developed more programming for youth who are incarcerated or systems impacted on probation. We are always encouraging our girls to share their own story what is going on in their world because they're the only one that can write that poem, tell that story, write that song.

AMANDA GORMAN, AMERICAN POET: And the time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother.

TAYLOR: Amanda Gorman joined WriteGirl when she was 14.

GORMAN: That implies hum and vibrancy to bleed. TAYLOR: When we saw her perform at the inauguration, we could see the same things that we really embody at WriteGirl, represented in her, confidence, being willing to really be present. What was really exciting to know was that she represents not only every girl that's ever been in WriteGirl, but she also represents every young woman in this country.


WHITFIELD: For more information visit,



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. At first glance, a multi-vehicle crash in Maryland looks like it couldn't possibly have a happy ending. But stick with me. As this car dangled over the edge of a bridge, a 23-month-old girl actually fell out and then plunged into the water.

A man who was also involved in the accident got out of his car, he saw the girl in the water and then he jumped in after her. Jonathan Bauer remained anonymous at first but now he is speaking out describing what happened.


JONATHAN BAUER, RESCUED CHILD FROM WATER: When I hit, I hit like feet first, knees and then arms and was fine. I popped up, swam over to the girl, lift around the water and looked at her. Her mouth was open, her eyes were semi-open and then I put her against my shoulder very high and aggressively pat her on the back. And within seconds, she spit up a bunch of water, a lot of water and then started coughing and then took a deep breath.


WHITFIELD: All right, boaters in the bay picked him and the child up. She is expected to make a full recovery. The eight other people involved in the accident are also OK.

And then a woman from Mali gave birth to nine babies this week in Morocco. But that's not the only shocking part. The new mother and her doctors thought she was pregnant with only seven babies but she actually gave birth to nine, five girls and four boys.

The ultrasound sessions failed to spot two of her babies. Mali's health minister said in a statement all the babies were delivered by C-section and also share the mother and newborns are doing well. Congratulations.

And on this day, we recognize and regale the backbones of our families, mothers. You've heard me talk about this on the show before how important, how essential it is to celebrate, say thanks to our elders here and gone, yours and mine. They've paved the path for us, set the bar and the standards. So I hope you have, at the very least, have just verbally expressed how you valued your mom, your grandmother, sisters, aunts, godmothers. Gifts are great, but really what those moms want is time, precious time together.

And so, I and my family are so grateful to have had beautiful precious time with Pernetta Rice Raul (ph), my children's great aunt on my husband's side of the family. There's Pernetta (ph), you're about to see her in the front row two wearing red and high heels, of course, when we all attended her 90th birthday celebration.

In the driver's seat, so to speak since the age of 12, driving and working on her family's farm and still driving right there at the age of 92. This vivacious Spitfire mother of three, grandmother of four and surrogate mom and grandmom to countless college kids, for whom she kept her home kitchen open, was a retired school teacher, an avid gardener and member of her church for more than 50 years.

Pernetta (ph) passed away at the age of 94 just before this weekend, she was strong and healthy, wicked humorous as you see right there, outspoken with clarity of thought all the way to her last breath. And all of that exceptionalism is how we remember on Pernetta (ph) and celebrate this magnificent matriarch.

Thank you so much for joining me this weekend. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Jim Acosta right now.