Skip to main content

tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  March 3, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PST

12:00 am
the harry's razor is not the same our razors have 5 german-engineered blades designed to stay sharp so you can enjoy lasting comfort and we never upcharge you for high quality harry's. available in store and at
12:01 am
12:02 am
so we have some breaking news, and it's the first on cnn.
12:03 am
a scathing report tonight from the pentagon inspector general on inappropriate behavior by congressman ronny jackson when he was the top white house doctor, including sexual comments, drinking alcohol and taking ambien while on the job. more on that in just a moment. also president biden announcing tonight there will be enough doses of the covid-19 vaccine for every adult american by the end of may. the fbi director, christopher wray, batting down conspiracy theories that left-wing groups and fake trump supporters or fake trump protesters, i should say, were behind the capitol riot, calling the deadly attack domestic terrorism. i want to bring in knew manu raju. he has been going through this shocking report on congressman ronny jackson, and he joins us now. manu, this report about jackson's behavior while working at the white house, explosive. what stands out to you? >> reporter: yeah, it really paints a devastating portrait about his time as the top doctor in the obama white house as well
12:04 am
as the top doctor at the trump white house, and it makes some serious conclusions after interviewing 78 witnesses, a lot of them who witnessed this firsthand and they have corroborated a lot of the allegations that had come out after he had been nominated by president trump to be the secretary of veterans affairs. remember they pulled back that nomination when a lot of these allegations came out leading to this investigation into his conduct, and it is not a pretty portrait. among the things that they conclude here is they said he made sexual and denigrating comments about one of his female medical subordinates. he drank alcohol with his colleagues on an overseas trip. that is a violation of official white house policy. his behavior was considered threatening, toxic, explosive anger and tantrums, that he would do during the course of his tenure that people witnessed and led to a toxic work environment.
12:05 am
and taking prescription pain -- sleeping medication ambien even while taking care of the president of the united states, then-president barack obama during an official overseas trip, also in violation of policy at the white house. and one striking thing too, here, don, is about how he treated female subordinate during a trip to manila back in 2014, talking about how he was drunk at the time apparently, banged on the female subordinate's door and said, quote, i need you to this subordinate and later commented also on that subordinate's body parts, anatomy and the breasts and buttocks to another subordinate. so all rather shocking behavior detailed here in this extensive investigation by the pentagon watchdog. >> manu, jackson serves on the house armed services committee on military personnel. doesn't that committee oversee this exact type of misconduct?
12:06 am
>> reporter: yeah, in fact it does. and he was just elected in november. he serves on the house armed services committee. but he also rejects some of these conclusions reached by the investigators here. now, he did not actually comment to the investigators as part of this investigation, but he did comment to cnn before we published this story. now, he says that he calls this a political hit job because he says he stood with donald trump, which is why he says they're coming after him. he says they're recycling past accusations that were made against him when he was nominated for the secretary of veterans affairs. he denies consuming alcohol while on duty. he says he respected the prescription drug practices very seriously. and the report also does debunk an allegation that did come out while he was nominated about him crashing a government vehicle at the time while intoxicated. but it does corroborate a lot of the other allegations that came forward here, including, as i mentioned, pain medication -- or sleeping medication that he was taking while taking care of the
12:07 am
president of the united states, causing concerns among a lot of his colleagues and just a toxic workplace environment from what is described as his explosive anger and rage by his colleagues. >> we should remind our viewers, too, that this was the white house doctor responsible for taking care of the president. he made all kinds of bizarre claims about trump. this is 2018. i want you to listen. >> can you explain to me how a guy who eats mcdonald's and kentucky fried chicken and all those diet cokes and who never exercises is in as good of shape as you say he's in? >> it's called genetics. i don't know. some people just have great genes. i told the president if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old. i don't know. he has incredible -- he has incredible genes, i just assume. >> okay. manu, as if it wasn't alarming enough, now there is this report. how concerned were people about his ability to do his job given
12:08 am
his behavior? >> reporter: quite a bit according to the witnesses. very few of these 78 witnesses stuck up for him. many of them raised concerns. it breaks down the level of concerns by number of witnesses as part of this report. it also, don, actually the trump white house actually tried to sit in on these -- the investigation as it was going on by the pentagon watchdog. this report actually said that the trump counsel, white house counsel actually tried to sit in on these investigations. it actually impacted their ability to move forward, in fact delaying this probe for about ten months according to the investigators and their findings here. and, don, this all comes ahead of tomorrow's public release of this watchdog report. we have obtained it. the members of congress who are overseeing all of this have been briefed on this today, and we'll see how members react tomorrow when they hear some of these stunning conclusions reached by the watchdog about one of their
12:09 am
colleagues. >> thank you for that, manu. i appreciate it. listen, i didn't get to this with manu but let me just tell you 0 in a statement to cnn on tuesday, jackson said that democrats are using the report to repeat and rehash untrue attacks on my integrity. that's a quote. manu, thank you very much. appreciate that. i want to bring in cnn white house correspondent john harwood and political commentator amanda carpenter. good evening to both of you. we've got a lot to talk about here. i want to start, though, with what the current president is saying about the vaccine, that we're going to have enough vaccine for every adult by the end of may. what can you tell us about this plan, mr. harwood? >> well, the president did have some big news today. and, look, some of this would have happened anyway as the vaccines began to be in production. of course they were approved late in the trump administration, and we began getting vaccines produced then. but the biden administration's
12:10 am
put a tremendous amount of attention to detail on this. they've invoked the defense production act to expand the production of the pfizer vaccine. now they've brokered this deal between merck and johnson & johnson to use the manufacturing clout of merck to make johnson & johnson vaccine, which had been underproduced in terms of what we had expected to get. you put all that together, and they have gotten vaccinations up to around 1.7 million a day, the weekly supply from 8 million doses per week up to 15 million doses. so all of that is movement in the right direction. the challenge now of course is for the biden administration to make sure that all of that vaccination that gets produced is going to get into people's arms to accelerate the process of getting herd immunity and getting the country back to normal. >> i assure you john harwood is not a eventventriloquist for hi. his video is frozen but we can
12:11 am
hear him loud and clear. amanda, i want to get to the fbi director christopher wray testifying about the insurrection today. he was crystal clear, saying there is no evidence that fake trump supporters or antifa were behind the riot. he said it right to their faces over and over again, but still they persisted in their lies. amanda? >> sorry. i thought you were going to play some tape. excuse me. >> i want to hear from you, amanda. >> it's embarrassing we had to take the time to clarify what was an obvious fact. and this is what makes me angry from watching the hearing is that there is information we need to have, okay? january 6th was a huge security failure. yes, we can talk about how trump stoked it, but that's all the more reason maybe why we should have seen that coming, okay? how much money and resources have we spent as a country to protect the homeland from terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11? and yet there was a breach of
12:12 am
the u.s. capitol. and the most interesting things that he had to talk about, he sat there and told these senators to their faces that domestic terrorism is metastasizing in the country. they have tripled the number of arrests of white supremacists since he took the job in 2017. he has more than 2,000 active cases. like where's the follow-up on that? where's the follow-up about how they're not communicating this information with capitol police? like i want to know about that because i want the country to be protected, and there's just no curiosity on that fact because people want to play, what about antifa? and josh hawley wants to try to figure out how they're tracking cell phone data. well, listen, senator hawley, if you want to know how they collect that data, go review the laws that you have voted for. that's how you find out that information. if you want to protect america, you figure out how the security failed so spectacularly on
12:13 am
january 6th. >> i hope they're watching. amanda, thank you. john, thank you very much. i want to bring in now former defense secretary william cohen. defense secretary cohen, good to see you. thank you so much. as i said to them, the two folks before, we have a lot to talk about. let's start with christopher wray, the director of the fbi. he said it over and over and over again. white supremacists, far-right extremists attacked our capitol on january 6th, but the republicans, they keep trying to distract and shift the blame. how dangerous is this? >> you know, as i watched some of the hearing -- i'm getting a little bit of feed -- but as i watched, i came to the conclusion or i was listening to the song aretha franklin, who's zooming who? for the republicans to then try to divert attention to black lives matter, antifa, it just seems to me it's like white guys trying to shift the blame to black guys again, which is the history of this country. and i was a little bit disappointed.
12:14 am
christopher wray seems to me to be a very decent man full of integrity, a joe friday type of individual, just the facts. i was hoping for more than just facts here but a little more passion. i spent 24 years in that building. i revere that building. that building was nearly toppled in terms of taking out the speaker, the vice president of the united states and other congressional leaders, and they were just simply talking about it as some past event that wasn't of the magnitude that it was. and when the fbi director said, well, there's a lot of raw chatter, i said, yeah. there's the chatter in chief about 500, 1,000 yards from the fbi building, the president of the united states was the biggest chatterer of all. and what did he do? he said, come to washington. we're going to be wild. we're going to try to overturn this election. fight like hell. i'm walking with you down to the capitol. now, if former secretaries of defense, ten secretaries of defense made a public statement about, look out, trump is trying
12:15 am
to use the military or may try to use the military to overturn the election, the chairman of the joint chiefs sends a letter out saying, we're not going to get involved in overturning the election, where was the fbi in terms of putting these pieces of chatter together to place a phone call to capitol hill saying, folks, we've got a problem here. we'd better get ready. so while i praise him for putting down all of the antifa nonsense and black lives matter, i wish he had -- the senators had pressed the fbi director a little more and harder on the issue of why is it so hard to put the chatter, the pieces together when it was pretty obvious to most people watching what was unfolding that there was going to be a real large crowd in washington. and just because they're white doesn't mean they're not violent. if that had been a black lives matter rally, you can bet the fbi would have been on that. so i had hoped the fbi would be a little more forceful on this.
12:16 am
i was impressed that he was very decent, very forthright, but we need to do much better because white racism -- let's not keep talking about white supremacy. it's white racism. don't look at these guys as being supreme in any way other than their own minds. so talk about white racism being the real challenge for the future. it has been in the past too. but going forward, it's getting even more violent. >> well, you are saying exactly -- i had a conversation with a lawmaker earlier who said exactly what you said. i appreciate the director trying to keep the temperature down, right, and trying to keep our heart rates lower. but this person expected more passion, especially surrounding the idea of why weren't more flags raised loudly or a phone call or something rather than just sending memos? and why wasn't there more passion from the director around what happened, the activity or the riot that happened on january 6th?
12:17 am
and they have gotten no real answer with that. >> the president gave them every indication what was going to take place. remember he called for his supporters to liberate the state of virginia, to liberate the state of wisconsin, to liberate the state of michigan. what happened in michigan? his supporters stormed the capitol there, shut down a legislative session. some of them planned to kidnap the governor and put her on trial and execute her. so we know what these folks were capable of doing, and the president is calling for them to come to washington to save the country from what? from you. from brown people who are voting. so very clear what was going on, and it's just disappointing to me to say, well, the fbi is looking at all the chatter, can't put it all together and say what's reality, what's phony, and yet the person in chief, the chatterer in chief was giving everybody the key to what was going to take place
12:18 am
that day and before, not just that day but long before that from two months of him claiming the election was stolen, revving up his supporters, saying that government was not legitimate or legal, and to come to washington. let's take it back. >> yeah. >> i don't know how much chatter you need in order to put that piece together. >> what did they think was going to happen? thank you, director. i appreciate your time and your expertise and your candor of course. thanks so much. >> all right. texas rolling back all covid restrictions, even mask mandates just one day after the head of the cdc told us this is not the time to let our guard down. >> effective next wednesday, all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%. also i'm ending the statewide mask mandate. is now a good time for a flare-up?
12:19 am
enough, crohn's! for adults with moderate to severe crohn's or ulcerative colitis... stelara® can provide relief and is the only approved medication to reduce inflammation on and below the surface of the intestine in uc. you, getting on that flight? back off, uc! stelara® may increase your risk of infections, some serious, and cancer. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you have an infection... flu-like symptoms, sores, new skin growths, have had cancer, or if you need a vaccine. pres, a rare, potentially fatal brain condition, may be possible. some serious allergic reactions and lung inflammation can occur. lasting remission can start with stelara®. if you've been financially impacted by covid-19, jan- grammarly businesshelp. helps my company build higher performing sales teams. since simon's team started using grammarly business to sharpen their writing, we've closed more deals. learn more at
12:20 am
12:21 am
12:22 am
texas governor greg abbott says he is lifting the mask mandate and allowing businesses to fully reopen in a week. this just one day after cdc director rochelle walensky warned states against rolling
12:23 am
back covid protections, saying we could lose all the ground we have gained fighting the pandemic. spurs basketball coach gregg popovich just one of the people in texas questioning the decision tonight. >> honestly i'm worried about the people in our state. that is a mystifying decision. i think it puts a lot of businesses in a tough spot, i think. you know, they're trying to do a good job of keeping everybody safe. of course they want to open up, but getting rid of masks just seems ignorant to me. >> well, there you go. he said it. joining me now, the mayor of san antonio, texas, ron nirenberg. ron, thank you so much for joining. appreciate it. the number of people who died of covid in texas yesterday almost three times higher than when abbott first began the mask mandate, and cases are back on the rise now too. are you worried about what this decision to open things up is going to cost?
12:24 am
>> i am. i'm with pop. that's a bad call. it is a tragic and reckless decision to not only bring everything back to full capacity next week, but in doing so, also lift the masks, which is one of the primary ways we've been able to slow the spread amidst all the mixed messaging we've been getting from the federal and the state government. so it is a bad call that unfortunately will cost lives in our communities. >> how do you think your constituents are going to react, and are you hearing from them already? >> i am, and no one can understand it, particularly because we have been just now gaining control of this virus again after a very deadly winter and fall. and we've been through this dance before where we have gotten control of the virus. the governor prematurely lifts all restrictions, and then we go right back into a surge. the other challenge in this, don, is you know as every other
12:25 am
community in the country is, we need more vaccines. and the people who are suffering most through the lack of vaccines are disadvantaged communities, communities of color, and this is going to fall right back to them. they're going to see the worst of the effects of this decision. >> why do you think he's doing this? the governor -- let me preface it by saying you know he took a lot of criticism for his handling of this brutal winter snowstorm in texas. do you think this decision is politically motivated? is it to try to cya as they say? >> you know, i can't begin to speculate on that. all i can tell you is that this state is also reeling from the aftereffects of the most outrageous collapse of our energy system and the mismanagement of our energy grid. and now to top it off, we're going right back into the teeth of this pandemic with nothing
12:26 am
but our hopes for more vaccines and our community exercising good common sense, which thankfully most people have done, and i believe most people will continue to do. but, again, they're taking away our first layer of defense. >> thank you, mayor. i appreciate it. >> thank you, don. so he is a basketball player who is being called coronavirus on the court. jeremy lin speaks out about the skyrocketing rise in hate against asian-americans. that's next. and ahead, six dr. seuss books taken out of production for racist imagery. introducing the new sleep number 360 smart bed. it's the most comfortable, body-sensing, automatically-responding, energy-building, dually-adjusable, dad-powering, wellness-boosting, foot-warming, snore-relieving, temperature-balancing, recovery-assisting, effortlessly life-changing,
12:27 am
proven quality night's sleep we've ever made. the new sleep number 360 smart bed, from $999. plus, 0% interest for 48 months on all smart beds. only for a limited time
12:28 am
12:29 am
12:30 am
hate crimes against asian-americans spiking since the pandemic began a year ago. nearly 3,000 incidents reported.
12:31 am
during his testimony on capitol hill today, the fbi director christopher wray telling lawmakers the bureau is concerned about the rise in crimes against asian-americans. cnn's amara walker has that story, and a warning for you. some of the video you're about to see is graphic. >> he slashed me from cheek to cheek about a box cutter. >> reporter: noel quintana was attacked on a packed subway in new york last month at the height of the morning rush hour. >> there's really a lot of blood oozing. so i was so afraid. >> reporter: afraid he would die on his way to work after encountering this man, identified here by new york police. quintana, a filipino-american, says the stranger repeatedly kicked his tote bag, and when he confronted him about it, the 61-year-old says he was viciously assaulted. >> so i asked for help, but nobody came for help. >> reporter: quintana believes he may have been targeted because of his race. >> because of the covid-19, i
12:32 am
think there are more asians being attacked. >> reporter: according to stop aapi hate, which tracks these kinds of attacks, there have been nearly 3,000 incidents against asians reported across all 50 states since march last year. the asian advocacy group says nearly all of this emwere unprovoked. though rights groups don't know the exact cause of the surge, they say a clear pattern of targeted hate has emerged since the pandemic began. >> they told me to go back to china. >> reporter: in los angeles, 27-year-old denny kim says he was punched in the face by two strangers. the lapd investigating the case as a hate crime. on thursday, police say a 36-year-old asian man who was stabbed from behind in new york's chinatown is now in critical condition. although the nypd said the suspect would be charged with a hate crime, no such charges have been filed. >> this is driven by hate. >> reporter: in san francisco, authorities say an 84-year-old immigrant from thailand died after being violently shoved to the ground in january. a 19-year-old man facing murder
12:33 am
and elder abuse charges. >> it's been heartbreaking and devastating for me and so many asian-americans. >> reporter: andrew yang, new york city democratic mayoral hopeful, tells cnn that while former president donald trump's rhetoric may have fanned the flames of anti-asian sentiment -- >> kung flu. >> reporter: racism against asians is nothing new. >> certainly having the president of the united states saying things like kung flu and china virus did normalize an association between the pandemic and people of asian descent. >> our employees are heavily impajtded by this. >> reporter: jason wang says violence against two of his asian employees on public transit in separate incidents gave him no choice but to cut his business hours at all eight chinese restaurants. >> one was punched so hard that his glasses broke. >> reporter: despite the pandemic forcing him to already close six locations, wang says safety is more important than the bottom line. >> one of the biggest reasons for that is to make sure that our employees feel at least a
12:34 am
little bit safer about traveling back home. >> reporter: even with many asian-american celebrities like former nba star jeremy lin and actress olivia munn speaking out about the hate and lawmakers raising concerns about this disturbing trend -- >> these are totally unprovoked attacks. >> reporter: -- some feel crimes against asians need to be taken more seriously. >> the government is still figuring out how to properly serve asian-americans, and so like even prosecutors have to understand the nature of discrimination against asian-americans. >> i think that the asians should speak up and work on solidarity so that the authorities would listen. >> reporter: and, don, noel quintana is still recovering from that face slashing. he tells me he's just too afraid to ride the subway again or take any public transportation for that matter. as a result, he's now working from home. i've got to tell you i've spoken with a lot of asian-americans in
12:35 am
recent days and they toell me they don't remember a time when they have to think twice about their safety before going about their daily routines. >> amara walker, thank you so much. with attacks against asian-americans on the rise, nba g league player jeremy lin is opening up about an experience he has on the court. he writes being an asian-american doesn't mean we don't experience poverty and racism. being a fine-year nba veteran doesn't protect me from being called coronavirus on the court. being a man of faith doesn't mean i don't fight for justice for myself and others. here we are again sharing how we feel. is anyone listening? joining me now is jeremy lin. i'm so grateful that you're here, jeremy. thank you so much. let's talk about what made you write this. you were playing a game for the golden state warriors' g league team and someone actually called you coronavirus as a slur. tell me about that. what was your reaction in the moment? >> you know, i think for me just
12:36 am
this has been something that's been really boiling up and boiling up for me just because i've seen since, you know, last year around january, when everything started to happen and i just have seen the rise in what we have -- in a lot of these attacks and hate crimes and stuff like that. so something i was trying to bring awareness towards, and it was just something that, you know, i had for some of this time finished my season in the cba, in the china basketball association last year. so i was actually removed for about five, six months. then when i came back, it seemed like, you know, things in the u.s. had gotten even more hostile. >> so, jeremy, the league says they are investigating the incident, but you say that you're not interested in publicly naming or shaming the person who said it. why not call them out?
12:37 am
>> you know, from day one, i had no intention to actually -- you know, i've talked about people have heard this story many times, even when i was in college, and i was playing an ivy league game, and i was called chink multiple times. i've never revealed who that player or players were. to me, it's not about trying to, you know, take somebody down or anything like that. it's about building awareness. >> mm-hmm. >> it's about promoting solidarity. >> you know what? i totally understand that, about getting revenge, because it's not about getting revenge. sometimes that can suck you into a negativity that you don't want to be a part of because it's about the other person, right? and they know what they did wrong. so i completely understand what you're saying. but there are irnstances, i'm sure, in many people's eyes that they feel they have to call other people out for, and that's their own individual assessment and what they decide to do.
12:38 am
their decision is their decision, but i totally understand what you mean. this is what steve kerr, the head coach, said about your post. here it is right here. >> really powerful. i applaud jeremy for his words and echo his sentiments regarding racism against the asian-american community. it's just so ridiculous and obviously, you know, spawned by many people including our former president as it relates to, you know, the coronavirus originating in china. >> do you agree, jeremy, that the rise in hate towards asian-americans is partly because of terms like wuhan flu, china virus, when it came to talking about the pandemic? >> i think that this has been something that is a long-term, long-term issue, and i didn't
12:39 am
even realize or know all of this stuff growing up. you know, i kind of grew up -- i grew up in california where there's a lot of diversity. i started to learn a lot more. if you look all the way back, you see the chinese exclusion act. you see japanese internment camps. you see a lot of these different things, things that have happened, things that i was never taught in history class. i had to go out of my way to go learn this stuff. and a lot of these things have started from a long time ago, and even the model minority, the way asian-americans are projected in hollywood, so many things have added on to it. i'm going to stand by and double down on what i said a year ago in terms of, yeah, that type of language we have from the then-president in terms of how he was portraying it, it definitely empowered or exacerbated an issue that was already there. so i'm not going to say he
12:40 am
created it. i'm not going to say he's the only person and he has sole responsibility for it. no, but, you know, he didn't help the situation for sure. so that in my mind was something that i needed to speak out on and something that i believe is not so much that it's created a new problem. it exposed an underlying problem that was there for a long, long, long time. >> it certainly did but there was no coronavirus before this president, so the president's words also carry a lot of weight. christopher wray spoke about what has been happening. the head of the fbi spoke about what has been happening with asian-americans as well and said the fbi is taking it very seriously. my question, then, is as we move forward, jeremy, what would you like to see done? >> i think at the end of the day, what i would love to see is that people spend more time listening and hearing than judging and condemning. and i would love to see different -- i would love to see cross-cultural solidarity. i would love to see people
12:41 am
supporting, you know, anti-racism not just in one people group but across the board. and so one thing i've been doing is, you know, i've been donating money for every single three-pointer that i hit and one of the organizations that i'm donating to and i'm planning to highlight more organizations are these organizations that are doing cross-cultural work, anti-racism work, youth empowerment around different issues that have to do with race and social justice. that's something that i think, you know, if people want to join me, i would love to see that. >> jeremy, thank you so much. i really appreciate it, and i hope what you said and what you want changed, i hope that comes to fruition. thank you so much, sir. >> i appreciate it. thanks for having me. >> very, very important topic. they're no longer being published. dr. seuss books you might have forgotten about and the racism within them, next. is now a good time for a flare-up? enough, crohn's!
12:42 am
for adults with moderate to severe crohn's or ulcerative colitis... stelara® can provide relief and is the only approved medication to reduce inflammation on and below the surface of the intestine in uc. you, getting on that flight? back off, uc! stelara® may increase your risk of infections, some serious, and cancer. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you have an infection... flu-like symptoms, sores, new skin growths, have had cancer, or if you need a vaccine. pres, a rare, potentially fatal brain condition, may be possible. some serious allergic reactions and lung inflammation can occur. lasting remission can start with stelara®. if you've been financially impacted by covid-19, janssen may be able to help.
12:43 am
12:44 am
12:45 am
four, five, turn, kick. if you've been financially impacted by covid-19, we got chased by these wild coyotes! they were following her because she had beef jerky in her pocket. (laughing) (trumpet playing) someone behind me, come on. pick that up, pick that up, right there, right there. as long as you keep making the internet
12:46 am
an amazing place to be, we'll keep bringing you a faster, more secure, and more amazing internet. xfinity. the future of awesome. an interesting conversation sparked in the last couple days about dr. seuss. six of dr. seuss' books will no longer be published because they portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong. that is according to dr. seuss enterprises, the company that looks after the author's legacy. the company saying its catalog should represent and support all communities and families. among the books no longer published, and to think that i saw it on mulberry street, that's one of them. also, if i ran the zoo. i'm about to show you some of the illustrations from "if i ran the zoo." for those of you who read it as a child, you may be familiar
12:47 am
with the images. before i put them on-screen, i just want to remind you they are offensive. i want to show you some of the illustrations because it's important that you understand the reason why the company is no longer going to publish these books. okay. here they are. there are images like this one, okay, showing what the book says are helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant. there's also this portrayal of africans. it's truly a caricature of the worst stereotypes of black people. so here to talk about it now, phillip nell, the director of the program in children's literature. he's also the author of "was the cat in the hat black,". i'm so glad to have you on. thank you so much for joining us this evening. >> thanks for having me. >> you are a scholar of children's literature, and this topic is your specialty. what do you think of this decision by dr. seuss enterprises to stop printing these six books? >> i'm glad to see them taking
12:48 am
responsibility for the culture they're putting into the world and profiting from. yeah, i'm really glad to see this. it's a positive step. >> so you would rather see them -- you think it's good that they took them out of publication, out of circulation? >> oh, absolutely. yeah, absolutely. i mean these books, as you showed in your introduction there, perpetuate racist stereotypes. and as you've been talking about on the previous segments, those are damaging. those are dangerous, and those infect our minds at an early age. you know, the previous president was able to mobilize the kind of hatred that he was able to mobilize because those ideas were already in our heads. >> mm-hmm. >> you know, the anti-asian violence that we're seeing didn't come out of nowhere. those ideas were already out there in the culture, including in dr. seuss. >> so how should old books with backwards views on race be
12:49 am
handled because there is a thinking that it should be taught to students, but with a caveat that says, during the time this book was published originally, the depictions of asian people or people of african descent were offensive and perhaps students should learn that way instead of having them taken out of circulation. that many educators see it as a teaching and a learning experience. >> well, yeah. i mean i think there's a few possible responses here. one is not to teach them, right? i mean one way to minimize the harm that racist works do is to not teach them. and that's a great choice, and i would not argue with that choice. but another choice is, yes, to teach them but to teach them in the context of works that tell the truth, that don't perpetuate those stereotypes and, you know, in so doing, you would give children the capacity to respond, to know that it's okay
12:50 am
to argue with a book, to know that it's okay to be angry with a book. and you'd be giving them that capacity within the safer confines of a classroom. >> mm-hmm. >> and then a third thing that i would say is the man of his time argument really only goes so far. there are people in the 1950s who are not reproducing racist stereotypes. there are always people in any given historical age who are opposed. the number of those people may change, but they're there. so he is a man of his time, but there are also people of this time who thought differently. so i'm not quite willing to write him a pass on that either. >> having said that, a living member of dr. seuss' family told "the new york times" in 2017 that in later life, dr. seuss was not proud of some of his characterizations that he adopted in his illustrations. >> yeah. >> should that be part of the conversation too, phil? >> oh, absolutely, yeah.
12:51 am
i mean his grand nephew, ted owens, said, you know, there wasn't a racist bone in dr. seuss' body, he said. and i don't think that dr. seuss was intentionally trying to be racist. in fact, i think he was intentionally trying to not be racist. his book horton hears a who when it was published was called by one viewer, a rhymed lesson in protection of minorities and their rights. his book the sneechs was inspired by his opposition to anti-semitism. he is definitely someone who was trying to do anti-racist work and i think we can look at some of his books at the positive in that regard. but that's what makes these books so interesting and important. you have someone who is both trying to do anti-racist work and in the same period of his life is reproducing these racist caricatures. and that's so important because i think a lot of people think of racism as an either/or. either you're on team racism, or you're off it. >> you're not, yeah.
12:52 am
>> but it's not. it's that simple. you can see seuss as the woke white guy who's not as woke as he thinks he is. >> yeah. >> that's why this is important. >> i think we should base a decision on whether or not to publish or take them out of circulation -- we shouldn't base it on nostalgia from white americans about, oh, this is the way it always was. but we should take it on the merits of what it is. people get to decide whether they want to take the books out of circulation. well, the dr. seuss company, the publishers. but i do think there is a learning lesson in it, and i would hate for -- >> oh, sure. >> -- for children to miss out on that opportunity because of the current standards. thank you so much. i appreciate it. >> absolutely. absolutely. you can learn from these. but, you know, as you say, nostalgia is not an excuse. we might ask, what would it mean if a book i loved as a child were causing harm today? >> yeah. >> and then the way we answer that question should dictate how we go forward. but absolutely you can learn from these. >> i remember and i write about
12:53 am
it in my book. fun with dick and jane. that was what i learned and there weren't a lot of black representations in that as well. that's what i learned to read on. thank you, sir. we'll have you back. >> oh, thanks. >> we'll be right back. thank you.
12:54 am
12:55 am
12:56 am
12:57 am
so if you want to know about something i have been working on for a while, i'm going to tell you right now. it is my new book.
12:58 am
it's called "this is the fire: what i say to my friends about racism." it's coming out in just a few weeks, and i hope you check it out. it's like the conversation i just had just before the break. so thank you for watching, everyone. go pre-order the book, and i hope you read it. but thanks for watching. our coverage continues.
12:59 am
1:00 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on