Return to Transcripts main page


Richard Branson And Virgin Galactic's Successful Travel To The Edge Of Space; CPAC Audience Cheers To Failed Vaccine Goals Of Biden Administration; HBO Documentary "Catch And Kill: The Podcast Tapes" By Ronan Farrow; Donald Trump Criticizes Biden At CPAC In Texas; Anti- Government Protest Breaks Out In Cuba; Novak Djokovic Wins Wimbledon; Historic Surge Of Earnings Of American Companies; CNN Original Series "History Of The Sitcom." Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 11, 2021 - 17:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: He sent back this transmission to Earth just as they entered zero gravity.


RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GALACTIC: To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars. Now I'm an adult in a spaceship with lots of other wonderful adults looking down to our beautiful, beautiful Earth. To the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this, just imagine what you can do.


ACOSTA: What an amazing shot. That moment an inside look at what could be part of a space tourism experience that promises a few minutes of weightlessness and supersonic speeds as you blast into suborbital space. And roughly an hour later, you can be back in the embrace of Earth's gravity and your family's arms.

It may sound far fetch, but Branson says he's on a quest to make the final frontier a little less out of reach. So he's approached today's journey as part joy ride, part market research.


BRANSON: The last week I've had my notebook with me and I've written down, you know, 30 or 40 little things that will make the next experience for the next person who goes to space with us that much better. And the only way sometimes you can find these little things is to get in a spaceship and go to space and experience it. But having said that, 99.99 percent was beyond my wildest dreams.


ACOSTA: And our CNN's space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher is at the launch site. KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim,

Richard Branson certainly celebrating tonight after achieving this life-long dream of seeing planet Earth from space and finally becoming an astronaut. He got his wings after a successful test flight. The ship returned in pristine condition. The crew returned safe.

And what this is, is really the fulfillment of 17 years of tough work and a few setbacks by the entire Virgin Galactic team. Listen to how Richard Branson summed it up, at times a little bit at a loss for words after returning from the edge of space.


BANSON: I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you to every single person who has believed in Virgin Galactic. The team who have worked so hard to make this dream come true. Love you all. It's 17 years of painstaking work and the occasional horrible down but, by and large, ups with it and today was definitely the biggest up.


FISHER: And they went all the way up, 53.5 miles above Earth. That is above the demarcation line for which the U.S. Government recognizes as the edge of space. And the way it works, Spaceship 2 took off attached to a mother ship called Eve at the right altitude. It detached. The pilots fired the rocket engine. It flew nearly vertical up to the edge of space.

The astronauts got a few minutes of weightlessness before the plane glided back down, landing back on the same runway that it took off from at Space Port America. And so now the idea is, after two more test flights, Virgin Galactic will finally begin making good on its promise to send paying customers up on these suborbital space flights.

And, Jim, if that's not enough, in just a few days, nine days to be exact, another billionaire, Jeff Bezos is going to attempt to fly into space on his own spaceship, Blue Origin's new shepherd spacecraft. And so there's been so much talk about this rivalry between these billionaire space barons but today, Jeff Bezos wishing Richard Branson a safe and successful flight and then afterwards congratulating him and say, I look forward to joining the club in just a few days. So Jim, truly an incredibly exciting time for the entire commercial space industry, Jim.

ACOSTA: Exciting stuff. All right, thanks, Kristin. And joining us now is retired NASA restaurant Scott Kelly. Scott, great to see you. What an exciting and historic day. You know what it's like to get to space and get back. What's going through your mind right now and what does this mean for the future of space travel? Are we seeing the dawn of this space tourism age in this country and around the world?

SCOTT KELLY, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Yeah, Jim, thanks for having me. Yes, of course, like you mentioned, the getting back part is the most important part, and it was great. Yes, it was great to see Richard Branson and the entire crew get back safely. Certainly an exciting day for space tourism and commercial space

flight. And I do think, you know, this kind of puts us on the cusp of a new dawn for human travel and readily accessible or more easily accessible human travel to space than we've had previously.


And today's test launch comes just nine days before Jeff Bezos as Kristin was just talking about there, is set to launch into space on his own company's spacecraft. It appears there is a kind of billionaire space race going on here as we've been discussing. Is it too soon to think about commercial space travel? Is that within the grasp of mere mortals like you and me? You and I?

KELLY: Well, you know, I think it's going to take a while before this is an experience that's accessible to most Americans or most, you know, humans on the planet. It's kind of going to be like the early days of commercial aviation or the early days of aviation where in the beginning it's very expensive and it's very risky.

And I think that will be the case here, but you know, the more people we fly, the more flights and experience we get, the cost will come down and the safety will go up.

ACOSTA: Yes, and we are still a long way to go before we see these regular commercial space flights. What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge in getting there? Is it just the cost? I have to think that there is just going to be no shortage of people who are going to want to go up and get sort of this ultimate Instagram moment. I mean, can you imagine, you know, being able to brag with your friends? I went up to space and floated around.

KELLY: Yes, it does give you some pretty unique bragging rights and I think --


KELLY: -- you know, that will certainly be the case here. You know, certainly, there will be -- you know, it's risky and there will be a balance that people will have to weigh with regards to the risk and the reward. You know, I think the challenge will be doing it on a regular basis and where you do it also safely, but then lowering the cost to make it more accessible.

Because, you know, at $200,000 a flight, I know there's a lot of people waiting in line, but how many people are there, you know, that have that kind of means to fund a vacation, so to speak into space and sustain that as a business for a long period of time. So I think, you know, one of the challenges besides doing this safely, will be lowering the cost over time.

ACOSTA: Right. And the other question I have to ask Scott is, I mean, don't these space tours, if this is going to become an industry, don't they have to be in good shape? I remember watching "The Right Stuff" as a kid and how those astronauts, I mean, you have to be in tip-top shape to do this thing sort of thing like yourself. I mean, you can't just send anybody up there. So I suppose people are going to have to be prepared and train for this sort of thing in addition to coughing up the 200 grand or whatever it is.

KELLY: Well, you know, this experience is much different than let's say launching on, you know, a space shuttle to the space station and being able to perform your job as a professional astronaut. You know, certainly you have to be, you know, medically qualified to be able to sit in a, you know, in essentially a small vehicle for, you know, several hours and experience g-forces.

I think, you know, probably up to three and a half G's for a number of seconds during the boost phase and then the G forces they experience on the way down. But I think, you know, it's safe and I don't really know how safe it is. We're going to have to see over time. But I think the experience is benign enough and the requirements on the crew are low enough that you could have a pretty broad range of people to be able to, you know, have this experience, assuming they could afford it.

ACOSTA: Interesting. All right. Well, we'll see what happens. And would you go up in one of those space planes, Scott? You'd do it?

KELLY: You know, I would have to understand a little bit more about it, but, you know, so far, so good. It looks like they had a successful flight today. But I wouldn't, you know, jump on another space shuttle or Russian Soyuz or a Dragon for that matter without knowing more about the vehicle.

You know, certainly I know a lot about, you know, the space shuttle and the Soyuz so I'm pretty comfortable with those. But I would have to learn a lot more about, you know, the technology of the, you know, Virgin Galactic's space ship, too, but you know, so far, it seems like they're doing a good job.

ACOSTA: And you got the vintage space suit behind you there. Not like those fancy ones that Richard Branson was wearing today.

KELLY: Yes. That space suit serves a little bit different function than what they were wearing, which was not a pressure suit like that is.

ACOSTA: Exactly. All right. Very good. It still looks really good on you. I don't mean any offense. All right, Scott Kelly, thanks so much. Good seeing you as always. We appreciate it.

KELLY: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Coming up, the nation's failure to meet its vaccination goal and save lives. Apparently, that is an applause line if you can believe at CPAC. That sick reality is next.


[17:10:00] ACOSTA: Americans have cheered for a lot of things. The end of two world wars, the moon landing, World Series winners. Yesterday however at a conservative conference in Texas, CPAC, Republicans cheered the fact that the U.S., which has lost more than 607,000 lives to COVID, failed to meet a recent vaccination goal.


UNKNOWN: They were hoping, the government was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated. And it isn't happening, right? There's younger people --



ACOSTA: Joining us, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Dr. Reiner, I know you're not a loyal CPAC viewer but what is this reaction to this crowd of Americans cheering the U.S. failing to meet this vaccination goal. I mean, I just don't understand why would you cheer that?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes, so, Jim, these so-called patriots at CPAC are cheering for our enemy. And it's an enemy that's killed, as you said, 600,000 Americans. More Americans that died during World War II, all right. So I'm wondering whether, you know, these CPAC patriots, you know, also cheer for the Taliban or for Al Qaeda or for category 5 hurricanes.


You know, we are the United States, right? And you can't own the libs by hoping that a killer pandemic prevails in this country but yet that's what seems to happen.

ACOSTA: Yes, it's just shameful. I don't get it. Let's talk about the delta variant. We don't want to talk about those crazy people talking about that stuff for too long, but the delta variant is spreading rapidly in states with low vaccination rates.

One hospital in Missouri, for instance, was forced to borrow ventilators this week. That hospital's chief administrator told CNN the current crisis is nothing compared to last year. That's alarming. Let's listen to this.


ERIK FREDERICK, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, MERCY HOSPITAL: Ninety- one percent of our ICU patients today are on ventilators and that's shocking to us to have that kind of number. Last year during the peak it was around 40 to 50 percent of ICU patients would be on ventilators. And these are young patients. We have them in their 20s, 30s, 40s. Again, it's alarming.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Dr. Reiner, the death numbers that we're seeing on a daily

basis are so much lower than what we saw during the height of this pandemic when it was at its worst, but are we sort of missing a slow- moving snowball with this delta variant and how it's crushing some communities? It's starting to really impact some communities around this country. What do you think?

REINER: Yes, well, you have to remember that mortality lags behind cases by sometimes three to four weeks. It takes folks about a week to get sick enough to be hospitalized and then it takes a couple of weeks often for someone to die, but we will start to see an increase in mortality in this country. It's just mathematics, in parts of this country.

So about a third of the cases in the United States are coming out of five hot spots. Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Nevada. And those five states are generating a third of the cases in the United States right now. And in places like Missouri where ICUs are packed, you're going to see a surprising amount of death.

And what's so frustrating to me and to, you know, I think everyone else who has been so deeply involved in this for the last 16 months is that this is completely avoidable. The vaccines we have work really well against this variant. It doesn't need to be this way.

ACOSTA: All right. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thanks so much. We appreciate that alarm bell being rung there and we'll of course have you on again to talk about and keep tabs on these moving numbers. I hope they don't move in the direction you were just warning about a few moments ago, but thanks again as always. We appreciate it.

REINER: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: Coming up, the dramatic investigation into Harvey Weinstein and the ugly open secret that took years to expose from payoffs and a police sting, to the brave women who came forward. Ronan Farrow joins us live with a preview of his new series "Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes." You're not going to want to miss this.



ACOSTA: Nearly four years after the Harvey Weinstein scandal rocked Hollywood, we're getting a gripping new look at the uphill battle to make the truth of his sexual abuse public. The six-part HBO documentary "Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes" traces Ronan Farrow's investigation for "The New Yorker" and the brave women willing to come forward after years of intimidation and secret payoffs.

The series begins with the story of a Filipino-Italian model, Ambra Gutierrez, who got Weinstein to confess on tape during a police sting that he had groped her. Audio that later became a critical part of Farrow's story.


HARVEY WEINSTEIN, FILM PRODUCER: I'm not going to do anything. You'll never see me again after this. Okay? That's it. If you embarrass me in this hotel where I'm staying at. Just walk.

GUTIERREZ: I'm not embarrassing you. Just I don't feel comfortable.

WEINSTEIN: Honey, don't have a fight with me in the hallway.

GUTIERREZ: It's not nothing.

WEINTSTEIN: Please. I am not going to do anything. I swear on my children. Please come in. On everything, I'm a famous guy.

GUTIERREZ: I'm feeling very uncomfortable right now.

WEINSTEIN: Please come in now. And one minute. And if you want to leave when the guy comes with my jacket --

GUTIERREZ: Why yesterday you touch my breast?

WEINSTEIN: Please, I'm sorry, just come on in. I'm used to that. Come on. Please.

GUTIERREZ: You're used to that?

WEISNTEIN: Yes, come in.


ACOSTA: Just stunning. And now, as part of the series, we get to hear from Ambra Gutierrez directly.


UNKNOWN: Your reputation was spiraling.

GUTIERREZ: Getting destroyed completely, yes. Like I was losing everything and then I got an e-mail from my lawyer where Harvey wanted to stipulate a contract to help me out in the situation let's say. It was to put this all behind and in exchange of money. And I told him, no, I don't want anything from you, like I don't want money.

And he started with, I think $300,000. And then he went up to $500,000. At the last time that he tried to offer me the million dollar, I remember that day because it was the most scary that I could remember because my brother called me and started saying that someone went to where he worked asking about me.


ACOSTA: Unbelievable. Ronan Farrow joins me now. Ronan, thanks so much for coming on. It's great to have you on. This is fascinating. And I didn't realize that your work produced so much audio material that you could use in this fashion. What were you surprised to learn from this series? And what do you think viewers are going to be surprised to learn that they didn't already know about this?

RONAN FARROW, CATCH AND KILL: THE PODCAST TAPES: It's great to be here, Jim. Thanks for having me in. You know, I closed this exact question. When you have a story where you really put everything on the line to tell it in book form and in underlying print investigative articles and where there's a podcast that delved a little deeper into sources' stories.

You know, my question when a pair of very talented filmmakers, Randy and Fenton directed this, wanted to take it on was, okay, is there genuine purpose to this? Is there something new? And the answer is really yes. I've been stunned watching someone else go into this huge reservoir of underlying tapes and find these new nuggets of information and these new contours of these emotional journeys.

And, you know, part of it is actual new information that we are returning to this story several years later I think at a very timely moment. You know, we're seeing Bill Cosby's conviction get overturned. We're watching as Harvey Weinstein may soon be extradited to California to face another trial.

These are still very much live and important issues. And we see updated pieces of information, you know, in the chapter of this where an NBC producer talks about the cycle of that story at that network. We have more details of an inside the room account of a senior NBC executive talking about killing this story in a very casual way.

In some of the cases, we go farther in the future in people's stories like we see one of the hired spies that Weinstein sent after people who ultimately became a source, talk about now helping journalism groups to equip the reporters to evade those kinds of tactics.

But overall, the most important thing, Jim, in my mind and the reason why I felt it was important to have this in the world is you're seeing these incredibly brave source go through hell to get the truth out. And I draw strength from that. I hope other people do, too.

ACOSTA: Yes, and in the series you also introduce us to some of the reporters you tried for years to cover. This open secret that Harvey Weinstein was assaulting women. Let's watch another clip.


UNKNOWN: I met Harvey at The Peninsula at least 20 years ago and I remember sitting there on the terrace out there at The Peninsula waiting for Harvey. And all of a sudden, Harvey comes running onto this thing screaming like a mad man. Why do you write this shit about me? Why do you write this? Shit! Why do you say I'm a bully, which was funny in the moment.

And then he said, what have you heard about me? And I thought, all right, like this is the moment. Like, this is it. I got to do this now or do it never. I said I heard you rape women.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Amazing. Ronan, you're kind of walking us through what reporters go through in trying to uncover something like this. It's remarkable to see this sort of reveal to the viewer right before their eyes.

FARROW: I was fortunate to have all of these sources talk, to have fellow reporters talk, and I do think you're right. I think it gives us something really valuable which is, look, this is not just a story about Harvey Weinstein, about one person's crimes.

This is a story about the structures that keep the truth buried for years and years and the bravery on the part of these sources, on the part of some of those dogged reporters like Kim Masters and a number of others we talked to in the course of the series, that's required to break through all of those structures.

So, I think in some ways it's a blueprint of what I hope happens in a lot of stories and, you know, it's not all darkness. Yes, we're dealing with people who went through incredible stakes, incredible risk. But also we see how they brought forward something important and in this series we're able to check in with them and see how a lot of them are flourishing after that.

ACOSTA: And there's even a part in the series where you interview the private investigator who is surveilling you while you were doing research on this story. Again, I mean, just to demonstrate the intimidation, the risk that you were taking and what you were dealing with as you were trying to uncover all of this. What was that like?

FARROW: You know, it's something I'm honestly, Jim, still sort of working out my relationship with as a part of my life. I was followed around for a while and some pretty intrusive and underhanded tactics were thrown at me and things in my family history were thrown at me.

And for a moment, it was actually effective in suppressing the story and I had to fight to get it out in the public somewhere other than where I originally worked. And, you know what, I'm cautious to draw a sharp distinction between that and the hell that so many reporters go through around the world in countries where if you're reporting on powerful interests you might be dead the next day.


I was very fortunate. I was very privileged in a whole lot of ways but also that's hard. You know, I'm in a lot of therapy for that stuff. So, I did want to be honest and vulnerable about that part of the story because I think that reporters of a lot of different types go through a lot of versions of that and you've got to shine a light on it.

ACOSTA: Well, in telling your story I think goes a long way in getting you through that process, Ronan. And our hat is off to you -- our hats are off to you for the work you've done here. It's an important work. It's profound work. And we hope our viewers will tune in.

The six-part HBO documentary series "Catch and Kill: The Podcast Tapes" debuts tomorrow on HBO and HBO Max. Ronan Farrow, thank you so much for joining us. We should note, HBO is owned by the same parent company as CNN, Warner Media, but looks like must-watch TV. Thanks so much to Ronan Farrow for that.

And up next, Donald Trump incited a violent insurrection but at CPAC, his name is emblazoned on purses and jackets and hats. We'll take you live to Dallas where the 45th president of the United States is the big headliner. That's next.



ACOSTA: Former president Donald Trump is speaking now at CPAC and one thing is clear, his grip over the Republican Party remains as firm as ever. CNN's Sara Murray is in Dallas. Sara, what's the former president's overarching message so far?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he's riddling through a number of them, but he started we are in Texas with slamming the Biden administration's handling of the southern border so let me just give you a little taste of what he had to say about that today.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Joe Biden has brought our country to the brink of ruin. Right here in Texas, we are the epicenter of a border and migration crisis unlike anything anyone has seen before in the history of our country.


MURRAY: So he's talking about the border. He's railing about big tech but of course, he's also already said the election was rigged, which is not true. People in the crowd have also yelled out Trump won in 2020. Also not true. But it gives you an indication of the grip that he still has over the party.

You know, they released a straw poll results before he came onto the stage and it showed with Trump in the PAC, 70 percent of the CPAC attendees would vote for Trump again, Jim.

ACOSTA: Yes, what do you make of those results, Sara? I know we shouldn't put too much stock into the straw polls. Who knows if there are any bamboo ballots involved, but what do you make of that? What does it say about where things stand in the GOP right now?

MURRAY: (Inaudible), I mean, I think we shouldn't put a ton of stock in a straw poll especially this (inaudible) but I think it tells you what a lock Trump has over the Republican Party right now. You know, he won't say whether he is or is not going to run again.

You know, when you walk around CPAC, everything they have for sale here is Trump. Its Trump hats, its Trump t-shirts. There is one t- shirt I think I saw for sale that mentioned Ron DeSantis and it's only in the context of DeSantis from Florida being Trump's VP.


MURRAY: And this is obviously, you know, a very conservative gathering. But the folks here, you know, they are firm believers that Trump was robbed of victory and he's the guy that they want to see. It's telling that he is far and away the biggest star at CPAC. You know, Jim, you've been to a lot of these events.

You normally see all the rising stars of the Republican Party. And there really hasn't been that same kind of spotlight over this weekend. It's basically just been all about Trump.

ACOSTA: Yes, certainly a Trump love fest. And you're right, you know, I feel like I'm having deja vu with you and I doing live coverage of Trump. Feels very 2016. All right, Sara Murray, thanks so much. Great seeing you as always.

With me now, CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover and CNN senior political analyst John Avlon. John and Margaret, you know, I have to wonder, you know, Trump obviously, you know, talk about the low- hanging fruit and bright shining objects. This is what he does. But hitting the border issue is one that resonates with that base and continues to, even though it is sort of the tired old shtick for him.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And all of Trump's speeches post presidency we see hear him hitting that theme. It's going to resonate especially at a CPAC event in Texas. It's disconnected from the reality of what's gone on, despite Biden's problems at the border early on that have been somewhat reined back in.

But look, what we're seeing here is not the party of Lincoln. This is the cult of Trump. And he's going to stand up there and do all the swollen arena rock tour greatest hits and appeal to the crowd. And it's not going to actually do anything to help that conservative movement meet the next election with anything resembling greater success. So it's tired and those kind of immigration rifts are old but you can lip-sync to them so the crowd likes them.

ACOSTA: Right. And Margaret, I have to ask you, I mean, just jumping off what John just said there and Sara Murray was just talking a few moments ago about how all of the t-shirts at CPAC are about Trump. And I just have to wonder because I know you sometimes like to talk about what would be best for the Republican Party.

I just have to wonder what other Republicans, other aspiring presidential candidates think of all of this and whether or not they see any daylight for themselves as long as he is dominating the scene at events like CPAC.


MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's fair, Jim. As long as Donald Trump is in the center of the arena, there is no room for a healthy competition of a next generation of leadership for the Republican Party. Not from Ron DeSantis or nay of the other aspiring, frankly, Republican men who have and they are mostly men with the exception of Nikki Haley and, you know, there are some people who look at Kristi Noem.

But for the most part, you know, the Tom Cottons, the Mike Pompeos, the Rick Scotts, you know, and actually there is Tim Scott who is looking seriously at a run for president as I understand. As long as Trump is in the ring, none of them have any chance. And I have to beg to differ with my husband just a little bit.

AVLON: Fine.

HOOVER: Because he said there is no way that the results will yield anything different than it did last time and let's just not dissuade ourselves or persuade ourselves that that's correct. Donald Trump is in the ring. He is putting himself there. He's crowding out all the other oxygen in the room and he very well may run again.

And if he does, he very well could win again. And by the way, the next election is in two years, not four. And the House of Representatives poised for a take back from Republicans. So let's not pretend like these tired Elvis hits, as my husband put it, are not going to work.

AVLON: Jim, may I point of personal privilege to push back on my bride.

ACOSTA: Please. Why would I jump in here?

AVLON: Well, look, I'd say two things. First of all, what Republicans will say is that Donald Trump doesn't actually help at winning over swing voters and suburban voters. If you look at any national poll, he is deeply unpopular in a national electorate. He is very popular in the Republican electorate.

And what the Stockholm syndrome we're seeing is though, is that all these Republicans who would like to run for president are all cowering in the wings as oppose to standing up offering an alternative vision. So it's this line to kiss the ring and hope that Donald Trump doesn't ultimately run. That is not a sign of strength or confidence. It is a sign of weakness.

HOOVER: But that's in four years and we're looking at a very energized Republican base and Republican Party, frankly, even a Republican establishment that believes the House of Representatives is just within their grasp. And so Donald Trump doing what he's doing doesn't hurt that.

ACOSTA: Well, let me ask -- let me jump to something that Trump just said a few moments ago. He was talking about crime in the U.S. Let's listen.


TRUMP: In New York City, crime is out of control. Set record levels with nobody being prosecuted, except, of course, innocent Republicans are being prosecuted. The Democrats know their policies on crime are so unpopular, so radical, so crazy, they are now trying to pretend they never led the defund the police movement in the first place. Disinformation. We never said defund the police. You know who did it? The Republicans did it.


ACOSTA: Yes, he can hit a GOP talking point on crime without playing the victim there as you probably heard that in the middle of the comment there. But John, I mean, this crime issue for Democrats, people are talking about Eric Adams winning the Democratic primary in New York, also sort of highlighting that issue. Is this a potential vulnerability for Democrats and Trump and his clumsy sort of way talking about it, I think does it highlight that?

AVLON: Look, rising crime in cities or anywhere is always an issue that Democrats need to focus on because Republicans can run on that successfully saying, look, it's time for law and order. The defund the police crowd does not help, but that's why it's so significant, but not only Eric Adams won the Democratic nomination by specifically campaigning against that, as I should note did Joe Biden.

But the person who came in second in the race, Catherine Garcia, also did not support defunding the police. This is about creating a left wing bogeyman. But they've got something to work with rising crime, which is why Democrats need to take seriously. But the Democratic base has shown that they do not support what a handful of folks on the far left do. That doesn't mean that those folks won't be demonized and tried to be made the face of the Democratic Party.

I'll say one other thing, too. Donald Trump loves to talk about law and order. Unless it actually applies to anyone on his side. And then it's all play the victim and they don't want to see law and order. And that's just more situational ethics which is the essence of what this cat believes in.

ACOSTA: And Margaret, I'll give you the last word only to irritate John. I'll give you the last word.

HOOVER: No, actually, I will actually give my husband credit for that. I mean, Donald Trump is all for the court of law and justice and the judicial branch insofar as it's his Supreme Court justices, his judicial appointees, so long as they are affirming his right be in the presidency or his right to lie or frankly should not be prosecuted.

And so, you know, the double standard is obvious to us. It doesn't really, you know, it hits him in the suburban districts and places where, you know, it made the difference in the general election but, you know, we all see that contrast, but that's not the playing field that politics and primary politics is being played on right now.


ACOSTA: All right. Very good. All right, we'll let you guys sort this out after the break. Margaret and John, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

HOOVER: Thanks, Jim. AVLON: Thanks, Jim. Be well.

ACOSTA: In the meantime, in Cuba, thousands of people took to the streets today in rare demonstrations. Check this out. They are protesting the lack of freedom and the worsening economic situation there. In one city, hundreds of people defied a heavy police presence to protest. A resident told CNN that Cubans have been experiencing power outages for a week, fueling anger.

And this comes as the coronavirus is decimating the island nation. Cuban health officials today reported more than 6,900 new COVID cases and 47 related -- COVID related deaths, both single day records for Cuba. We'll be staying on top of that as these protests are just so very rare to see in the communist island. We'll stay on top of that.

In the meantime, in the world of sports, Novak Djokovic now joins the ranks of the most decorated men's tennis stars. The world's number one tennis player took the men's Wimbledon crown today making it the 20th grand slam men's single title for him. And joining Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 career grand slams.

He's already won the Australian Open and French Open this year. He needs the Olympic gold medal and U.S. Open title to become the first man to ever win a golden slam. Djokovic also made news after today's match. He expressed hesitancy in the past about taking a COVID vaccine and talked about whether he will head to the Tokyo Olympics later this month.


NOVAK DJOKOVIC, 20-TIME GRAN SLAM WINNER: I also hear that there's going to be a lot of restrictions within the village. I'll have to think about it. Right now, as I said, my plan was always to go to Olympic Games, but right now, I'm a little bit divided. It's kind of 50/50 because of what I heard in the last couple of days.


ACOSTA: Very interesting. And coming up, our countdown to the new CNN Original series "History of the Sitcom" continues as we take you live to a memorable location from "Seinfeld." You won't want to miss that. But first, here is Christine Romans with your "Before the Bell Report."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. A roaring economy means soaring profits for American companies. This week kicks off second quarter earnings season. S&P 500 companies are expected to report profit growth of more than 63 percent from last year. That's the biggest jump since the fourth quarter of 2009, also recovering from the recession, bouncing back from last summer's COVID crash.

One big question here, are higher costs eating into corporate profit margins or are businesses raising prices instead? Economic data this week could help answer that question. Reports on consumer and producer prices for June are due. Both jumped in May. Interestingly, inflation fears have eased, though, on Wall Street.

Instead, investors are worried about the spread of the delta variant which could threaten the global economic recovery. In New York, I'm Christine Romans.




ACOSTA: In honor of tonight's premiere of CNN's Original Series "History of the Sitcom" we continue with our behind the scenes tour of some iconic sets. Let's go live again to the Warner Brothers Studio back lot in Burbank, California.

Do you recognize this place? It was one of the sets for a very popular show about nothing, which just gave it away. CNN's Stephanie Elam is there live. Stephanie, I think we just gave everybody a really big hint, but go ahead and spoil it for us.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, maybe so, but maybe someone is trying to think, what is that man's name? It's Seinfeld. You're right, Jim.


ELAM: This is where they filmed the finale of "Seinfeld." In fact, I just want to give you an idea though before we go to like the macro of "Seinfeld." Just take a look. I wanted you to take a look at a wide shot of where we are. This is Midwest Street and so many different shows and movies have been filmed here.

That gazebo has been used in multiple shows, "Gilmore Girls," so many different shows, and it was also in the "Seinfeld" finale. You can see it because right about where I'm standing is where the four friends, Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George, were standing while they watched a man getting carjacked and mugged.

Well that happened right over here. We're going to cross the street a little bit. All of that happening right here in this Midwestern town. They're supposed to be in Latham, Massachusetts, but you know, Midwestern, Massachusetts. This is where it was filmed. And you can see people are out right now enjoying the tour for this Warner Brothers Studio tour.

They are out here. They can come out and actually see what it's like out here because there is so much. You've got the church, you've got this courthouse that's also used. And all of it blending together with other shows. No matter which angle you shoot from you can see something here. I want to introduce you to Sarab (ph). Sarab (ph) is here on the tour. Are you having a great time?

UNKNOWN: Yes, it is fantastic.

ELAM: Fantastic. Can you tell me what is your favorite sitcom? UNKNOWN: "Friends."

ELAM: There's plenty of "Friends" here. Have you gotten your fill?

UNKNOWN: Yes, yes. I've seen -- just ran by the Ross' home. It was great, yes.

ELAM: So, you saw that. That was very cool. Well, thank you. Hope you enjoy your tour. So as you can see, Jim, you're out here, people are enjoying the tour. And this is the courthouse that they -- we saw them all in court for "Seinfeld in that finale.

And just because you may have been paying attention the last hour, Jim, we talked about the "Growing Pains" house. That's actually it from a different angle. That's how they're able to use the lot in so many different ways. It's really cool. All of this just teeing us up for "The History of the Sitcom" which airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern.


ACOSTA: Very cool and great assignment. Stephanie, I'm having some FOMO right now. Appreciate that so much. Thank you. And be sure to tune in "The History of the Sitcom" tonight with back-to-back episodes at 9:00 and 10:00 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. Our friend Pamela Brown takes over the CNN NEWSROOM live after a quick break. Good night.