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Gunman Kills Six People At Colorado Springs Birthday Party; Manhunt For Suspects In Times Square Shooting; Kentucky Derby Winner Fails Post-Race Drug Test; Two Rockets Fired From Gaza Add To Jerusalem Tensions; Pro-Trump Voices Dominate GOP, Help Spread The Big Lie; Airlines See Spike In Confrontations Involving Unruly Passengers; Former Minneapolis Police Officers Facing Federal Charges In Death Of George Floyd; Elon Musk Reveals He Has Asperger's On SNL. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 9, 2021 - 19:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: In Massachusetts a man was shot and killed by police after officers say he rammed his car right into the front doors of their department before exiting his vehicle and aiming what appeared to be a rifle at responding officers.

And in Arizona one person was killed and at least seven others were wounded when a shooting broke out at a Phoenix Hotel this morning. Investigators say there were multiple shooters all involved in what they called an isolated fight.

In the meantime, it is Mother's Day on this Sunday. Here's how the National Rifle Association is marking the occasion. This a tweet right here that was posted just six hours ago with an image of a woman and a little girl both smiling and brandishing high-powered guns emblazoned with the phrase "Mama didn't raise a victim." And wishing a Happy Mother's Day to all NRA moms. That message from the NRA.

This is a Mother's Day we should point out that began with a deadly shooting shortly after midnight in Colorado where police say a gunman shot and killed six people at a birthday party before taking his own life.

I want to get right to CNN's Paul Vercammen who is following this for us.

Paul, what more are you learning? This is just awful.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is horrifying. As you said, Jim, a birthday party, Colorado Springs, the call comes out around 12:18 this morning. Police respond. They find six victims inside and they also find a male still alive at that point. He is presumed to be the shooter. What police described just horrendous, the bodies inside, and they also said, though, that there were children at this birthday party, but none of them were hit by the shooter's gunfire.

They believe that he just drove to the mobile home park and then walked inside and opened fire. The children have been reunited with family members. The gunman was transported, the alleged gunman, to a local hospital where he died of his injuries. And police do not have any motive right now in this case.

The community in mourning. The police chief saying that, "Words fall short to describe the tragedy that took place this morning. As chief of police, a husband, a father, grandfather, member of the community, my heart breaks for the families and the children who have lost their parents." And the governor, Polis added, "The shooting is devastating as many of us are celebrating the women in our lives who have made us all the people who we are."

So a double gut punch here, Mother's Day and a birthday party. And we now have six people dead and a seventh, that's the shooter. Back to you now, Jim.

ACOSTA: Just, just so terrible. All right, Paul Vercammen, stay on top of it for us and bring us in any developments as they come in. We appreciate it.

Right now New York City Police are on the hunt for suspects after a terrifying shooting in Times Square. New video shows an officer carrying, look at this, a 4-year-old girl who was shot. Two women were also injured as well. Officials describe all three as innocent bystanders. That is just harrowing stuff right there.

I want to bring in CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro in New York.

Evan, what else are you learning right now.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, you set that up perfectly. I mean, what's important about this is the context of what had happened and where it happened. This is Times Square, one of the most tourist friendly parts of New York City in broad daylight, on Saturday afternoon, right around 5:00. And you see an altercation breaks out, shots are fired, and three innocent bystanders, according to police, are shot.

You see that, that remarkable video of an officer running down the street with a 4-year-old girl who was shot in the leg. She was taken to the hospital for surgery. Police say that she's fine and that the -- other people who were shot are also in stable condition, that includes a tourist who was in town to go to the Statue of Liberty which was still closed because of the pandemic, so came to Times Square instead, and another woman who lives in the area and who was down in Times Square doing what people do, shopping, and looking at the lights, and things like that.

This comes at a very, very tough moment for New York. The city is trying to reopen, trying to get Broadway back open down there in Times Square, and hoping that they can get tourists back in to prop the economy back up and bring some normalcy back in the city. Moments like this make that a tough sell. Authorities and officials worry. Now as you mentioned, the investigation into this shooting is actively ongoing.

The police say that they are searching high and low for folks. And they have released a photo of someone they say they want to talk to in conjunction with this shooting. But right now this weekend, just a moment that is just really, really scary to think about in a place at a time that you really hope not to see this kind of gun violence, Jim, and to see it there really has people rattled.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And just as people are going back to Times Square, tourists feeling comfortable with this pandemic easing, and people getting vaccinated or going to Times Square, with their family, and then police carrying out a 4-year-old girl who had been shot on the scene.


Just a stunning situation there in the Big Apple. All right, Evan McMorris-Santoro, thanks so much for that.

And some stunning news from the world of horse racing. The horse that won the Kentucky Derby. We've been talking about this one all day today. Just eight days ago Medina Spirit has failed a post-race drug test. And now his derby title could be in jeopardy. That would just send shock waves across the sports world.

And CNN Sports correspondent Carolyn Manno joins me now.

Carolyn, you can't really overstate how critically important the developments in this story will be if it's found that they were cheating in this case.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Sure, yes. You're exactly right, Jim, when you consider who's involved. I mean, the next steps here are going to be the results from additional testing that are ultimately going to determine whether or not the horse is disqualified from the Kentucky Derby.

And the organizers of the Preakness Stakes also announced this evening that they are going to conduct their own investigation before deciding whether or not the horse is going to be able to run next weekend at the Preakness Stakes.

But Bob Baffert, seven-time Kentucky Derby winner, Hall of Fame trainer, he denies all wrongdoing in this. I spoke with him earlier this afternoon. He was really upset. He said, I'm going to continue to turn over every stone that I can here because I feel for the horse. I know that, you know, it wouldn't be justice if he wasn't a derby winner. He was also visibly shaken when speaking with reporters this afternoon.


BOB BAFFERT, MEDINA SPIRIT'S TRAINER: We did not give it -- my veterinarian, nobody here, we -- Medina Spirit has never been treated with betamethasone. So, I cannot believe that I'm here before you guys. I never thought I'd be here. Yesterday I got the biggest gut punch in racing for something that I didn't do.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) MANNO: And, Jim, just for some context, the drug here is a regulated drug. It's an anti-inflammatory, and it's usually injected into a horse at the joint or maybe underneath the skin to deal with inflammation. It's available as a topical product as well. So there are multiple pathways here to transmission. But it's not a traditional performance-enhancing drug. It could be considered something like a performance modifying drug.

Because essentially what it does would be to mask a problem before a race, take down some inflammation, maybe let the horse have a better trip but then could ultimately be very, very damaging perhaps even fatal if something went wrong on the track.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And we know the trainer denies any wrongdoing, you were just talking about that, but I understand he has had a number of horses fail these drug tests in the past. What can you tell us about that?

MANNO: Yes, there is a history here. And that is part of it. If this violation comes through and the alternate tests and the appeal doesn't work out, this would be the sixth positive result for Bob Baffert in just over a year. And over the course of his 40-year career plus in the sport, he's had more than 30 violations, but there's an important thing to point out here as well, when everybody is throwing around all these accusations of dozens and dozens of positive results.

And that is that often time when you have a positive result, Jim, that's an indication of an error rather than some kind of malicious intent. Many of the violations that Bob Baffert and other trainers have incurred over the course of their careers have been reduced. And so this really speaks to a larger issue at the National Level of Regulation from state to state. There are different rules in different states, and we're seeing that now.

ACOSTA: OK, Carolyn Manno, I know you'll stay on top of that. Thanks so much. We appreciate that update on that story.

And violence continuing this hour in Jerusalem. Israeli Defense Forces say two rockets were fired from Gaza. There are no reports of injuries. This is all following two days of protests and unrest in Jerusalem that have left dozens of Palestinians injured.

CNN's Hadas Gold reports on the tensions.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, tensions in Jerusalem have been boiling and without question the last two days we have seen some of the biggest clashes Jerusalem has experienced in several years. More than 300 Palestinians have been injured and Israeli Police say more than 17 of their officers have been injured in clashes across East Jerusalem, the biggest of which was on Friday night at the Al-Aqsa compound.

There's also been clashes outside of Damascus gate entrance to the Old City. But without question, the biggest flashpoint has been what's happening in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. That's where several Palestinian families, some of whom have been

living there for several generations, are facing possible evictions as part of a long running legal battle. This all stems back to an Israeli law that says Israeli Jews can try to reclaim property that they lost when Jordan took control of East Jerusalem after 1948.

But Palestinians say that these restitution laws are simply unfair because they don't have the same sort of legal recourse for homes that they lost in what has now become the state of Israel.


Now an appeals hearing that was set to take place on Monday has now been postponed. But officials are still incredibly concerned for what Monday could bring. That's because it's also what's known as Jerusalem Day.

It's the day that Israel marks when it took control of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, and it is a day that traditionally have brought its own tensions, but really, Jim, it feels as though Jerusalem is just teetering on the edge of an eruption -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Thank you, Hadas.

And coming up, the purge. Former President Trump continues his war on the Republican Party's most famous families with Liz Cheney now about to lose her leadership post.


ACOSTA: President Biden about to find out firsthand if the country's Republican leaders are ready to work and compromise and choose reality or stay obedient and faithful to the one-term ex-president still holding them in his grip.


It's a meeting three days from now right there at the White House. The president will host the top Republicans in the House and the Senate for the first time. It's a session to start negotiating Biden's multitrillion dollar infrastructure plan. But it's also to feel out if the two sides really can meet in the middle, especially since the top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell admitted his full focus is on, quote, "stopping this new administration."

Then of course there is the Donald Trump factor, the rare and endangered Republican willing to speak out against the ex-president says those who don't bow in the direction of Mar-a-Lago are skating on thin ice right now.


GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: I think they're concerned about retaliation from the president. They're concerned about, you know, being attacked within the party. And, you know, it just bothers me that you have to swear fealty to the dear leader or you get kicked out of the party. It just doesn't make any sense.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): And so I think what the reality 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've said, you know, Donald Trump's running around trying to find women's clothing and get on the first lifeboat.

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.


ACOSTA: Some mental images there I didn't want to contemplate. But here to discuss all the political headlines, CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon and CNN political commentator and host of PBS "Firing Line," Margaret Hoover.

John, let me start with you first. Republicans claim to be serious about bipartisanship. I guess we'll find out this week, you know, whether or not they can work with Biden on infrastructure. But this is their idea of bipartisanship. Let's listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): One hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): The best thing we can do is put this administration into a straightjacket. And the way we make Joe Biden into a half-term president is to stop them by taking the House and taking the Senate and putting them into lockdown.


ACOSTA: That does not sound very bipartisan.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it doesn't. But it does sound like typical politics at a time when the party is captured by the base and afraid of Donald Trump. I will say, though, you know, the question is where the rubber meets the road. Where can there be actual bipartisanship?

You know, you mentioned the infrastructure meeting coming up. Here's a reality check. You know, Donald Trump backed a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan less than a year ago. Two years ago he wanted to work with Democrats for a $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

So should there be some give-and-take? Sure. And, you know, might they meet somewhere in the middle? Yes, maybe. But Republicans need to get over this constant Lucy and the football when it comes to bipartisanship. It's specifically something that has brought bipartisan support, infrastructure reform.

ACOSTA: Margaret, what do you think?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: To be fair, though. For all of Donald Trump's attempts at an infrastructure week, it never happened, as you'll recall.

AVLON: Yes. Because --

HOOVER: And part of the reason it never happened was because of him. But a lot of the reason it never happened also was because you didn't have Republicans on board for a trillion-dollar infrastructure week. I mean, Republicans may have completely abdicated their responsibility towards fiscal stewardship while Donald Trump was president, but they haven't completely erased it from the DNA of the party, and I think the reflexive stance and posture of the party.

So you have Republicans who are sincere about coming to the table with infrastructure, I think. And you see them in some of the more centrist moderate Republicans. You see Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, perhaps Rob Portman, and several others. But they're talking $600 billion. And, by the way, that's a lot of money. OK? So I think it's possible just the size and scope has got to come in a bit.

ACOSTA: Yes. And I think Biden is acknowledging that. John, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is one of the few anti-Trump Republicans still in power. Here's what he had to say today.


HOGAN: It's sort of a circular firing squad where we're just attacking members of our own party instead of focusing on solving problems or standing up and having an argument that we can debate the Democrats on some of the things that the Biden administration is pushing through.


ACOSTA: So there you have Larry Hogan right there, John and Margaret, you know, wanting to talk about policy. And he feels sort of powerless to do that at this point.

AVLON: Yes. And in a rational political universe he'd have far more power. You know, there's a reason that Larry Hogan is one of the most popular governors in the country along with Charlie Baker, right, both Republican governors of traditionally Democratic states. They're doing something right. Republicans should be looking to them for answers about their future, not a failed president who's underwater, you know, by almost 20 points in the latest polling with the American people.


But Larry Hogan is someone that the party should be listening to a lot more if they can sort of stop being in the thrall and really just frankly afraid of this failed ex-president living in Mar-a-Lago.

ACOSTA: And I want to get to this because, Margaret, this is just extraordinary. And I double checked to make sure it did not come out of "The Onion." Today we got this latest statement from the former president on his new message board blog.

It says this, "So now even our Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is a junky." That's the word he uses. "This is emblematic of what is happening to our country, the whole world is laughing at us as we go to hell on our borders, our fake presidential election, and everywhere else."

Margaret, I mean, I guess this is sort of the latest horse out of the glue factory for Donald Trump. But, I mean, what do you make of this? I mean --

HOOVER: Here's what I make of it. What I make of it is a fabulous development. Jim, that was not the first question you asked us. That was the third.


HOOVER: The influence of Donald Trump is waning. We have polls out of -- national polls that have come out this weekend that have self- identified Republicans saying they're Republicans first and supporters of Donald Trump second. For the first time, by the way, since the Trump presidency.

So I am delighted that I for one am very glad that he's not on Facebook, that Facebook has punted for six months because what he was doing there, even though we absolutely have to deal with questions about censorship and free speech, and these are complicated questions, he was spreading misinformation and lying.


HOOVER: And he was doing it in a way that was undermining our democracy consistently and I am so pleased that he is not ruling the news cycle the way he used to. And so I quite frankly don't care.

ACOSTA: Yes. But let say, you know, these statements put out on this stationery, the surreal not wellness of the man comes through more clearly. I mean, what the hell is he talking about? And you know what --

ACOSTA: Yes, I don't know. He questions, and his supporters question Joe Biden's mental acuity and so on. But I mean, when you read that statement, I don't know what I'm reading. I really don't.

AVLON: No, because it's nonsense.

ACOSTA: The ramblings of a mad man.

AVLON: Yes, from -- you know, it's a guy that you would create a little bit of distance with if he started talking too loudly at the bar.

ACOSTA: Yes. I just -- you know, and I think he misspells junkie there. I mean, the whole thing is just, it's very bizarre. All right, John Avlon, Margaret Hoover, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it. Always great to talk to you. We'll see you again soon. AVLON: Absolutely.

HOOVER: Thanks, Jim.

AVLON: And Happy Mother's Day to Margaret and every mother.

ACOSTA: And Happy Mother's Day to Margaret and everyone else out there.

HOOVER: Thank you to all mothers.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. Thanks to all the mothers. All right. Thank you.

Happy Mother's Day.

All right, coming up, airline passengers behaving badly from throwing punches to jumping ticket counters. The rap sheet just out from the FAA.



ACOSTA: It just got really expensive to be a jerk on a commercial flight. Federal rules targeting bad behavior in the air will now make people pay when they can't act with common decency.

CNN's Pete Muntean reports.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): The FAA just announced four new fines against unruly passengers. The punishment includes fines up to $35,000 even possible jail time. And yet the number of problem passengers just keeps going up.

(Voice over): It is the newest issue facing pandemic-era air travel, flyers flying off the handle. The Federal Aviation Administration has received 1300 reports of unruly passengers in the last three months alone. CNN obtained federal reports of four new cases where passengers are accused of berating, grabbing, and hitting flight attendants.

One report alleges a passenger on a February JetBlue flight, threw everything from insults, to food, to bottles of illegal booze, causing the flight to turn around. He is now facing a $32,000 fine.

BRITTNEY MOHAMMADI, AIRLINE PASSENGER: I know we all do some messed up things and, you know, we know little alcohol gets in us.

MUNTEAN: A California woman apologized after video surfaced of her jumping the ticket counter in Miami. The FAA says reports of unruly passengers used to come in every few days. Now it says flight crews are calling in issues multiple times a day. FAA administrator Steve Dickson instituted a zero-tolerance policy in part because of problem passengers travelling to the Capitol riots.

STEVE DICKSON, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: We will not address these cases through warnings or counseling.

MUNTEAN: The FAA says it's even investigating an Alaska state senator who was banned from Alaska Airlines for refusing to wear a mask, though she claimed to have an unspecified exemption.

In another new case, the FAA fined a combative passenger on a January flight $16,000 for allegedly hitting one of the flight attendants with his bags. The head of the largest association of flight attendants says help from the federal government is essential.

SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS-CWA: It means everything to have that backing and to send a very clear message to travelers that these are the rules and these are these consequences if you don't comply.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): This uptick is disproportionate to the number of people flying right now which is still way down compared to before the pandemic. Of those 1300 reports, the FAA has now assessed fines in 13 cases and the agency acknowledges there is still work to do.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Reagan National Airport.


ACOSTA: And NASA has a message for China after debris from an out-of- control Chinese rocket crashed landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives overnight, and fortunately not on land.


All eyes turned to the skies as the 20-ton rocket fell back toward Earth and reentered the atmosphere.

These videos were taken from Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan and in a sharp rebuke, NASA says Beijing is failing to meet responsible standards regarding space debris and that China and other nations must minimize the risk to people and property when launching objects into space.

It's the least they could do.

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


ANNOUNCER: 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 melodies were like a voice of Christ.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He created something that lasts. ANNOUNCER: Fifty years later. Why is it an anthem for a new


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was prophecy, man.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think Marvin was thinking about "What's Going On"?

ANNOUNCER: CNN Special Report: "What's Going On: Marvin Gaye's Anthem for the Ages" tonight at eight.


ACOSTA: The family of George Floyd says they are feeling hopeful after the D.O.J. announced a Federal indictment of the four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd's death.

Derek Chauvin has already been convicted of state murder charges and the other officers are waiting to be tried in Minnesota, but now they are also facing Federal charges for violating Floyd's constitutional rights.

And CNN's senior legal analyst and former Federal and State prosecutor Elie Honig joins me now to answer your legal questions.

Elie, great to see you again.

An important question here, a viewer is asking: what is the basis for Federal charges against Derek Chauvin and the other officers? And can Federal charges be brought where they were already -- I guess, you know, being held up on state charges.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jim, really interesting document from the Justice Department this week. Now, all four defendants of course, were already charged with state crimes in Minnesota: murder, manslaughter, aiding and abetting.

Now, the Federal charges are technically and legally different. They charge all four defendants with depriving George Floyd of his constitutional rights in different ways.

Derek Chauvin by using excessive force; two the other officers, Thao and Keung, by failing to intervene, by failing to stop Derek Chauvin, and then all four officers with failing to render medical aid.

So the legal theory here is different, the key facts are the same most importantly, did Derek Chauvin use excessive force?

Now I want to be clear, there is no double jeopardy problem here. First of all, they are different charges. Second of all, the Supreme Court held as recently as 2019, that it's not a problem for Federal prosecutors to charge the same person for the same conduct as State prosecutors have already charged.

So this is an aggressive move by D.O.J. and really the outlook for all four former officers just got darker this week. ACOSTA: And earlier this week, Elie, a Judge ordered that a secret

D.O.J. memo saying not to charge Donald Trump at the end of the Mueller investigation must be released. This is something that's on a lot of people's minds.

A viewer asked, will the decision by a Federal Judge about William Barr's handling of the Mueller report lead to new public disclosures about whether the D.O.J. tried to cover up for Trump? I think that's on a lot of people's minds still.

HONIG: And it should be, this scandal continues and the answer is yes. This shouldn't lead to new disclosures. Two big headlines off of this decision. First of all, the Judge found that Bill Barr was -- and I quote: "disingenuous" in how he described the Mueller report to the Congress and the public.

We already knew that. We knew that from the report itself, from Robert Mueller and from another Federal Judge.

Second, this part is new. It turns out there was an internal legal memo in D.O.J. Now, D.O.J. tried to tell this Judge that the memo was what we call pre-decisional, meaning it was something Bill Barr studied and relied on when he decided there was no obstruction.

Incredibly, this Judge found that that was disingenuous, that that was intended to obfuscate. That's how she put it.

She said this memo was not pre-decisional. It was not finalized until after the fact in an effort to make it look like Bill Barr really considered the issue when according to the judge, he was in the bag for Donald Trump from the start.

Now D.O.J. can appeal this ruling. I do not think the new A.G. Merrick Garland will do so and in that case, we will see this memo within a couple of weeks.

ACOSTA: Okay, and finally, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz is currently entangled in a scandal involving allegations of prostitution, sex trafficking, and alleged relationship with a minor -- and a viewer -- a lot of viewers want to know more about this, but one viewer wants to know could Trump have issued pardons secretly to Rudy Giuliani, Matt Gaetz or anybody else? Is that possible?

HONIG: So Jim, you're right. This is a viewer favorite. I'm hearing this one a lot.

The answer is, it is possible. It's very unlikely, but possible. It's never happened in U.S. history, or at least not that we know of. I guess it's possible someone got a secret pardon and took it to the grave with them.

There is a legal argument about this. The pro argument is, well, the pardon power is broad and the Constitution doesn't specifically prohibit it. The con argument is, this can't be what pardons are about. There has to be some transparency, some accountability here. On the question of timing, we are not likely to learn about this until

after anyone has been charged. Rudy Giuliani and Matt Gaetz have not been charged with anything yet. If they are and it turns out by some unlikely chance they do have secret pardons, count on it, the D.O.J. will challenge those in courts and we will see a fascinating legal battle if this comes to play.

ACOSTA: Yes, something tells me if Trump was contemplating a secret pardon, it would have been for himself, but all right, we'll leave it there. Elie Honig, thanks so much.

HONIG: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: Good talking to you.

Coming up, a Musk see TV. Did you catch that?

The billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX makes a very personal admission while hosting "Saturday Night Live."



ACOSTA: After fanfare anticipation and even some controversy, tech billionaire, Elon Musk can add host of "Saturday Night Live" to his resume right next to Tesla and SpaceX CEO. His big debut last night started with some personal news.



ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA: I am actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger's to host "SNL."


MUSK: Or at least, the first to admit it. So I won't make a lot of eye contact with the cast tonight.


MUSK: But don't worry, I'm pretty good at running human in emulation mode.



ACOSTA: And in the spirit of Mother's Day, there was this --


MAYE MUSK, ELON MUSK'S MOTHER: Well, break a leg tonight. I love you very much. E. MUSK: I love you, too, mom.


M. MUSK: And I'm excited for my Mother's Day gift. I just hope it's not Dogecoin.

E. MUSK: It is.



ACOSTA: They nailed that one, too. All right, joining us now, CNN media analyst and executive producer of "The Story of Late Night," Bill Carter.

Bill, how did Elon Musk do last night? A lot of people, I guess, set the bar pretty low, but I think he pulled it off in a couple of moments there.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: He did. I think some of the writing for him was pretty good. Obviously, he kind of muted early criticism by coming out with the Asperger's thing, which I didn't have any idea about. I went scurrying to see if he had never said that before.

And, obviously bringing on your mother never hurts either. But there were a couple moments.

I think the Dogecoin discussion on "Weekend Update" was very funny. But he was kind of wooden at other times as you would expect from a non-show business guy.

ACOSTA: Sure. And I want to turn now to tonight's brand new episode of the CNN Original Series, "The Story of Late Night" which explores how Johnny Carson navigated the turbulent 1960s to make television history. We all remember Johnny so well. Here's a preview.


CONAN O'BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST: My experience with late night television was all about my relationship with my dad.

BILLY CRYSTAL, ACTOR: My dad was a comedy maven. He would say all right, so you can stay up late to watch Johnny, because he knew how much it meant to me.

O'BRIEN: He'd always say, we'll just watch the monologue.

JOHNNY CARSON, TALK SHOW HOST: I understand we have a special group tonight of Little League mothers here.


CARSON: Who brought a couple of old bats along also.

O'BRIEN: They go to a commercial. And he'd say, let's just see if they do Karnik.

CARSON: A 100-yard dash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 100-yard dash.

CRYSTAL: He was funny and he was sharp. He had this aura about him.

CARSON: What happens after you eat a hundred-yard prune?


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS: Johnny Carson was not black or white or Asian or no -- he was funny, and funny, I think trumps everything.

JIMMY FALLON, TALK SHOW HOST: He was just part of culture. I thought that Johnny Carson came with the TV set.


ACOSTA: Bill, Johnny Carson was doing comedy in a decade where the culture was changing in a rapid and volatile ways. How did he keep the show relevant without losing his traditional audience?

And I just have to say, those pictures of Conan O'Brien and Billy Crystal when they were young, absolutely amazing. But anyway, let's talk about how Johnny Carson stayed relevant. He was just a genius at this.

CARTER: He was. You know, he managed to walk the middle. He concentrated on the middle of the country. He was smart about that. He is from the middle of the country, obviously, Nebraska. But he never betrayed his point of view, even though he was in the middle of really controversial issues from the civil rights era to Vietnam to Watergate, and it was all kinds of things going on and he commented on the news every night.

But he did not betray a point of view. That was not what he was in the business of doing and he was very skillful at it. And boy, he commanded a massive audience. He completely dominated the airwaves for that period of time.

ACOSTA: And by the early 70s, Carson had a huge influence on Late Night and comedy on other networks around the country. He even played a role in the creation of "Saturday Night Live." I mean, that's something I didn't realize. Tell me about the ways others tried to emulate him and the impact he had because there were so many who tried.

CARTER: Well, you know, there were many -- obviously, it was so successful other networks are going to try to do it, but he was so big at the time. If you even brought on people like Joey Bishop and obviously, Dick Cavett came out and had a pretty good career for a few years being more of a talk show host than an entertainer.

But nobody could take him on because he brought everybody in show business and sports and politics. They all had to go on "The Tonight Show."

We have a fantastic segment in the show tonight about comics and how they died to get on this show because it would make their career if they did well, and the frightening aspect of going on there with Carson and not succeeding overwhelmed some of them and their stories are just fantastic.

ACOSTA: Right and who are some of the big names who took off after doing "The Tonight Show"? Because I mean, I think even for younger viewers who might not remember Johnny Carson, they will know some of the names who got their start on "The Tonight Show."


CARTER: Well, of course, Freddie Prinze became a massive star overnight on the show, and Ray Romano and Paul Reiser and of course, David Letterman and Jay Leno, both were stand ups who had had big shots with Carson and then went on to have their own shows.

ACOSTA: Yes, I was such a huge fan of David Letterman back in the day, you know, to have to switch from Johnny Carson over to David Letterman, he was just -- he was so great.

CARTER: We have a great section on that tonight on how he gets the show and his morning show and how that failed and that opened the door for David Letterman to get a late night show.

ACOSTA: All right, well, Bill Carter, thanks so much. Great to hear from you, great talking with you. Can't wait to see what happens when the show airs later on tonight, and be sure to tune in, an all-new episode of the CNN Original Series: "The Story of Late Night" is coming up tonight at 9:00 Eastern only on CNN.

And when a 22-year-old Amanda Gorman recited her inaugural poem at the Biden-Harris Inauguration, the world took note. Also watching was a proud CNN Hero who first met Amanda as a young girl of 14.

Keren Taylor's organization, WriteGirl, offers thousands of teen support, guidance and the tools to have their voices be heard.

This week's CNN Heroes catches up with Taylor to see how far her group and the girls they serve have come.


KEREN TAYLOR, 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 a 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 are the only one that can write that poem, tell that story, write that song.

AMANDA GORMAN, YOUTH POET LAUREATE: 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: Dragonflies hum and ...

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.


ACOSTA: To learn more about the story and nominate someone you think should be a CNN hero, go to right now.



ACOSTA: Former Olympian and reality TV star, Caitlyn Jenner is sitting down with CNN's Dana Bash as Jenner campaigns to be the next governor of California.

In an interview that will air tomorrow night on "Anderson Cooper 360," Jenner says she decided to challenge Governor Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall election after watching the crisis that has unfolded at the southern border.

She also says she favors a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the state'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 (R), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE FOR CALIFORNIA: I would hope so. I am for legal immigration, okay. What's been happening on the border was honestly one of the reasons I decided to run for Governor.

I was watching people dying come 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's 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, I think, it would be the greatest day of their life.

BASH: What about deportation?

JENNER: The bad ones have to leave.

BASH: Who do you consider a bad one?

JENNER: Criminal records, MS-13. The list goes on.

There's a lot of bad people who are trying to cross our border illegally. I don't want those people in our country.


ACOSTA: And you can catch Dana's full interview with Caitlyn Jenner tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

That's the news, reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back here next Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

The CNN special "What's Going On: Marvin Gaye's Anthem for the Ages" is next.

Have a good night.