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President Donald Trump Is Threatening A Government Shutdown; Hundreds Of Separated Children Are Still Apart From Their Parents Despite The Court Order Deadline For Reunions; Vice President Mike Pence Weighing In On The White House Banning A Reporter From An Open Event; Heartbreak In California As A Fast-Moving Wildfire Claims The Lives Of Three More People. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired July 29, 2018 - 04:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:13] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thanks so much for being with me on this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
A first, the final sprint to the Midterms in just 100 days, voters will send a strong message on President Trump's first two years in office. Trump seeking to what fires up his base, teeing the issue of immigration. He is now threatening a government shutdown if Congress does not fund his long-promised border wall. And he is already putting the blame on the Democrats.
Trump's hardline immigration stance is what helped him to win the White House and has promised to build the wall was a key rallying cry of his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to build a great border wall.
We will build a great, great wall.
We are going to build a wall. Don't worry about it. We are building it.
I promise that we will build the wall.
And who is going to pay for the wall?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: This new shutdown threat happening as the government's deadline to reunite separate children with their families has come and gone. More than 700 children has still not been reunited.
CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is joining us live from New Jersey near where the President is spending the weekend on his golf resort there in Bedminster.
So tell us more about Trump's point of view and strategy here.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Fred.
Some say that the time is a flat circle, and we are right back to where we were a few months ago and really starting a year ago around September when Congress had to begin passing these continuing resolutions, because they could not agree on a budget.
The government was actually shutdown for a brief period earlier in the year, almost took a second shutdown before. They finally agree to something that President Trump would sign. Even as wound up signing that funding agreement from the government, he was complaining about funding for his border wall. And it appears that he is ready to do the whole thing again.
On twitter earlier today writing quote "I would be willing to shutdown the government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for the border security which includes the wall."
The President then going a step further calling on Congress writing quote "Congress must act on fixing the dumbest and the worst immigration laws anywhere in the world."
This is a separate tweet. He writes, vote R, R, of course, for Republican. The President is trying to make immigration an issue in the midterm elections, but not all of the Republicans are on board with this threat to shutdown the government. I listened to senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a prominent Republican who is not on board with the President's plan. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: Let's hope not. I think that hopefully most of the appropriations bills will be passed and a little bit prioritization of spending. So I certainly don't like playing shutdown politics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how damaging would that be for Republicans ahead of the November races?
JOHNSON: I don't think it would be helpful, so let's try and avoid it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now Fred, last week, members of the Republican leadership, house speaker Paul Ryan and senate majority leader Mitch McConnell met with the President and they made clear that appropriation bills were moving forward at a steady clip in a bipartisan fashion.
Sources close to the leadership have told some of my colleagues at CNN on Capitol Hill that they encourage the President to avoid a government shutdown to avoid any distractions from the confirmation process from Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's pick to replace justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. The President, according to sources, was receptive to their messages at least until this morning when he sent out these threats, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.
So hundreds of separated children are still apart from their parents despite the court order deadline for reunions. And there is no clear indication of when those children will be reunited with their families.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung join us now near the U.S. Mexican border in McAllen, Texas.
What are you hearing?
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, over the past couple of days, the government has been patting itself on the back saying that they have reunited all families eligible for reunification by the court-ordered deadline. But as you mentioned, 711 children by the government's last tally remain separated from their families, because they are deemed ineligible for reunification.
Now, no two family stories are same, but in the bigger picture of reporting on this story, we have seen the common threads of confusion, frustration and intense challenges in communication. So where we are today is best encapsulated by the story of the woman we will call Alejandra.
Alejandra came to the U.S., crossed the border about a month-and-a- half ago with her 6-year-old daughter. They were fleeing gang violence in their native country of Honduras. They were detained, separated.
Ten days ago, Alejandra was told that she would be reunited with her daughter that day, given the paperwork for her release, but that did not happen. Today, she is still in the detention facility here in Texas. Her daughter, Balese (ph) is still be in a facility in New York. And when she is goes looking for answers, here is what she is told.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:05:25] ALEJANDRA, IMMIGRANT (through translator): The first thing they ask is always, do you know when it will be? When my girl will be brought here so she can be reunified with me? And they tell me, no, I don't know anything. They say to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: Through this 10-day period of limbo that Alejandra has been in, she has been told by her daughter's attorney that HSS has raised a red flag in her daughter's case holding up the process. HSS is telling CNN that they will not comment on the specific cases, but a spokesperson telling us this.
Quote "parents in I.C.E. custody that have not yet been reunited with their child or result of concerns over safety or parentage, ORR, that is the office of Refugee Resettlement is working with DHS to evaluate if a parent is eligible for reunification on a case by case basis and will continue to put the safety of children first during this process.
As I said, no two stories are the same for the families. And we are reminded that timing is everything. Just yesterday, I met another mother and daughter here in McAllen. They had crossed the border. They had spent a month fleeing El Salvador in the process of getting here, but when they crossed the border, they were detained only briefly and they were never separated. They were getting on a bus to go to Indianapolis to meet up with family members there, and there they are going to await together their first court date.
Fred, the confusion continues through this story as it has for months now, and many still looking for the answers and finding and it is very difficult to get.
WHITFIELD: Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much in McAllen, Texas.
All right. Let's talk about the politics of what is happening on the border. I am joined now by CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer.
Julian, good to see you. So, you know, for a while, you know, I guess at the start when people learn of this publicly, there were so much outrage and then there has been sort of a lull. One has to be wonder how this can be overlooked and how this circumstance really could benefit President Trump or anyone who has been OK with this.
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, initially, there was with a really big backlash, There was a mobilization to do something and then the energy fade. And the problem is the still there. Really, a tragic moment for the country. And this is not good politically obviously for Republicans. And that is why many Republicans are uneasy hearing this story come back with this tweet which will remind us of the situation and many children still.
WHITFIELD: I also want to bring in CNN political commentator Peter Beinart.
So let's talk about this. You know, border wall now, issue the President bringing it back and threatening a government shutdown if he does not get that wall, the funding for the wall. House speaker Paul Ryan said that the President needs to be patient. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We walked the President through our strategy of appropriations before the fiscal can year. He agreed with our strategy. So we think we have a unified strategy to make sure that we get as many appropriations bills done as possible.
As far as the wall is concern, we have some wall funding already under way that is being funded, but I think it is not a question of if, it is a question of when, and in the President is going to be patient to make sure that we get what we need so that we can get that done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So a couple of things. Is this patience? And then why is it OK that there might be funding for this when the President on the campaign trail was saying that the U.S. taxpayers will never pay for this? Is Congress saying it is OK now?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, it is almost hard to keep up with these things. First of all, I don't think that anyone believed the President's threats any more.
I mean, one of the things about threats is it is not a good idea to make them unless you are willing to the back them up. And what we have seen with President Trump is both domestically and internationally, he makes all kind of threats and then basically forgets the next day that he ever made them, right. So these threats don't have a lot credibility.
Second of all, how politically effective is it going to be to shutdown the government when Republicans control every branch of the federal government, right. It doesn't seem to me like a great strategy going into the midterm election.
And just on the policies, also, what remember is that almost nobody who actually studies immigration thinks that a wall would actually solve anything anyway, right. There is virtually no immigration coming from Mexico anyway. And most of the people coming from Central America are seeking asylum which they have the right to do whether we have a wall or not.
WHITFIELD: So, Julian, how do you see this the? Is it the President, you know, who is looking or thinking about making these moves while thinking about the midterms or is he making these moves because he is thinking about what he promised on the campaign trail and delivering on that and that perhaps the message of delivering on that might benefit everyone who is running.
[16:10:09] ZELIZER: I think that part of it is a miscalculation on his part that he going to be able to excite the base through these kinds of issues, and therefore match the enthusiasm that a lot of Democrats have going into November. I do think that is miscalculation with these issues.
And the second is that the President is not that committed to the Republican party. He is thinking of 2020 and he is thinking of what will benefit him and this very well might, but that could be different than what is going to be happening in November, and that is why the Republicans, you know, defending over 40 seats might find themselves in a bind.
WHITFIELD: And so, Peter, But the party seems committed to him, the President.
BEINART: Yes. Donald Trump is exceptionally popular among the Republicans, and that is, you know, one of the big political strengths. The problem Republicans have is a lot of the key seats there defending in places like California, New York, New Jersey are not solidly Republican Trump seats. They are seats where people have a lot of ambivalence, even hostilities to Donald Trump. So for those embattled members of Congress, this kind of the focus by Donald Trump on, you know, kind of the rearing up his base may not be that valuable for them.
WHITFIELD: Peter Beinart and Julian Zelizer, thanks to you both. Appreciate it.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, vice president Mike Pence weighing in on the White House banning a reporter from an open event. Why he says this issue comes down to decorum, next.
[16:15:49] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
President Trump revealed in a tweet today what was supposed to have been an off of the record meeting with "The New York Times" publisher A.G. Sulzberger earlier in the month saying quote "had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of "the New York Times." Spent much time talking about the vast amount of fake being put out by the media and how that fake news has morphed into phrase, enemy of the people. Sad."
That tweet prompted Sulzberger to release a statement that said in part, my main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the President's deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric. I told the President directly that I thought his language was not just divisive, but increasingly dangerous. I told him although the phrase "fake news" is untrue and harmful, I am far more concern about his labeling journalists the enemy of the people. I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence," end quote.
I want to bring in Hadas Gold, media and business report for CNN Politics.
Hadas, good to see you. So what do we think, you know, President Trump's intention was in revealing this information the way in which he did it via tweet?
HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Right. Well listen, Fred. I mean, the President often takes out this fake news enemy of the American people line whenever he is frustrated with the media or often just to rally his base.
Now, you could look at some of "The New York Times's" recent coverage and wonder whether there is something there that has caused him to become frustrated at them in some way to, as you said, decide to reveal this more than a week after the meeting already happened in a sort of the random Sunday morning tweet, but clearly Sulzberger's warnings did not stick to President Trump. Because just in the past hour, we have seen the President tweeting once again about the media and a how he is upset about what he calls negative coverage from the failing "New York Times" and "The Washington Post," and even calling reports on the internal government deliberation unpatriotic.
Now, that is stunning to hear from the American President. What is probably more stunning is that we have become seemingly so desensitized to the American President calling the normal course of reporting somehow unpatriotic, because as we know that without the reporters we would not know everything from the Watergate scandal to Hillary Clinton's private email server. But that is clearly a tactic the President continues to use whenever he is frustrated or whenever he needs a little boost from his base.
WHITFIELD: Right. Well, reminder to people the press is an extension of the American people, and that kind of access to the President, reporting on is really all about transparency.
But it is interesting in the tweet of the President, it is almost as if he was taking the approach of, you know, getting the upper hand like letting people know, you know, like I gave "The New York Times" the what for, you know. But maybe he did not expect that Sulzberger would come back to s say, here is a more specific tick-tock, you know, of the conversation and I helped convey how dangerous this kind of the anti-press rhetoric is.
So this week, you know, just an extension of what the President has kind of threatened for a long time and not really liking the press, the White House banned CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins who was representing all networks as a pool reporter when she asked questions, and then later the White House telling her you are not going to be a part of the Rose Garden, you know, event.
The White House, you know, has said it was in retaliation, you know. But the same time this has been very problematic, because the press as a whole has corralled around by saying this is not good. So take a listen to this exchange involving Maria Valderrama earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I don't know this as a fact, but it probably came from the President. He likes to be respected. He was probably frustrated at that moment. But what I would do in a situation like that is I pull the tape of questions that Sam Donaldson screamed at Ronald Reagan and go right through the last 30 years of pool reporters asking can questions that presidents probably think are obnoxious or untoward or disrespectful questions and just point out that she was doing her job.
[16:20:07] MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This administration believes in the freedom of the press. And President Trump and our entire administration have provided extraordinary access to the media. The President answers so many questions in so many different settings. And I can assure you that we will continue to do that.
But maintaining the decorum that is due at the White House I think is an issue that will continue to work for. But I am very confident that whether it be with that network or any network or any members of the media that we will work in a way that the ensures the access of the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because on this day, she was the pool reporter. So she was actually representing all of us. I mean, did you feel like kicking her out kicked out everybody?
PENCE: I would leave that decision to the White House staff and I just remain very confident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So Hadas, is there a way to kind of gauge the consensus here about whether, you know, people are accepting how the White House handled this involving the reporter?
GOLD: No, I mean, the broad consensus was that this was just a retaliatory move against CNN and against Kaitlan, just because CNN is doing its job in reporting the news. And sometimes that might be negative for the President, sometimes it might be too positive. But ultimately, we just report the news as we see it. And any reporter you talk to in Washington will tell you that Kaitlan's questions which were caught on video were totally normal for the type of the pool spray situation that they were in. She was not shouting obscenities. She wasn't shouting necessarily over anybody else, and she was asking questions about news of the day. Any pool reporter would have done that in the situation.
WHITFIELD: And follow-up to what the President had already tweeted out.
WHITFIELD: So it was an opportunity for the follow-up.
GOLD: And here is the other issue, is that the President answers these questions often in these pool spray situations.
GOLD: If he wanted to somehow wean the press off of these questions, shouting at him when he is in the oval office with other leaders, he should stop answering these questions. But when he answers them, they are just going to keep asking him, because that is our job. Our job is to ask questions and get the news and report the news and that is it.
WHITFIELD: Hadas Gold, thanks so much.
GOLD: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, heartbreak in California as a fast-moving wildfire claims the lives of three more people. The fire doubling inside this weekend, scorching hundreds of homes and buildings. We will take you there live.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:56:58] WHITFIELD: Explosive dangerous fire behavior, that is how the officials are describing what the crews could face today as they battle a massive wildfires in Northern, California. At least 12 people are now missing as a result of that fire, five others are dead. They include a woman and her two great grandchildren who perished when the flames engulfed the woman's home. The blaze has burned nearly 90,000 acres and just five percent contained.
CNN's Dan Simon is joins me now Redding.
So when do the firefighters think that they just might get the kind of the upper hand here?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the conditions remain challenging, Fred. But if you want the look for the silver lining, we can tell you that the fire did not grow significantly last night. We are not seeing the kind of explosive growth that we saw a couple of days ago and grew by just 6,000 acres last night. That said, this fire remains very dangerous, and still very hot outside, and then tonight, we are expecting more windy conditions.
Now, Fred, every now and again, I just want to point something out to you. Every now and again, we see something that just kind of defies logic or defies the imagination. In this case, take a look at this very long piece of metal that came from this pickup truck. We actually believe it was a wheel that just melted down. So that gives you an indication of just how hot this fire was.
In the meantime, again, it is very, very hot outside, 110 degrees today, it is expected to the reach. And you can see what the neighborhood looks like this. This is lake Redding estates. Thi is one of the neighborhoods that was leveled.
In addition to all this, Fred, you talk about the number of people who are missing right now. That number stands at 12. Now, that does not mean, of course, that these folks are presumed dead. It could mean that there might be a communications problem where people had to the leave in a hurry and they may have left their cell phone at the house, and they simply have not been able to get in touch with relatives. So officials are optimistic that they will be able to track some of those people down. And that number will be reduced. Right, now the death toll is at five, two firefighters and three civilians lost their lives -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: So sad. Dan Simon, thank you so much.
All right, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. He said, he said, Rudy Giuliani now accusing Michael Cohen of doctoring the audio tape of the President which captured their conversation about a payment to a former playboy model.
[16:30:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, takes another swipe at the credibility of former Trump attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen. Cohen dropped a bombshell with his claim that candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. There was also the release of that secretly recorded tape of Cohen and Trump and a conversation.
Giuliani says he wants the public to hear all of the tapes even as he railed against Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You called him an honorable lawyer just a few weeks ago.
RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER, PRESIDENT TRUMP: How would I know? I thought he was. I mean I have not had a bad deal with Michael. I was being straight and honest. I did not know that he had taped conversations (Inaudible). I didn't know he would grossly violate the attorney- client privilege. I didn't know he would mislead dozens of reporters and tape them all over the place, pretend to them directly I am not recording it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much of the evidence that the FBI seized from Michael Cohen's you know place of work and residence relates to the President beyond the tapes?
[16:34:46] GIULIANI: Well, let me see about if I can make it as clear as possible. We know of something like 183 unique conversations on tape. One of those were the President of the United States after three (Inaudible) one involving the McDougal payment, AMI McDougal payment. There are 12 others, maybe 11 or 12 others out of the 183 in which the President is discussed at any length by Cohen, mostly with the reporters.
All clearly corroborating what the President has said in detail on many of those tweets. In other words, he didn't know about the payments to either one when it happened, that he only found out later, that Cohen made them not for the campaign. He did not like the campaign. He says very derogatory things about the campaign.
So I only made it because I personally love the President and Melania. And that is why I made the payments, which takes it right out of the campaign contribution arsenal. So these are tapes that I want you to read. I want you to hear them. I didn't think that I could get them out publicly, and somehow he and his lawyer has this crazy idea just throw them all out there.
I think they also don't realize this is going to hurt them with the prosecutors. When I was a prosecutor, I don't want some guy giving out all the evidence to the press. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. CNN Legal Analyst Shan Wu joins us now from Washington. So you are a former federal prosecutor. What do you make of Giuliani's claim that the Cohen tapes ultimately vindicate the President?
SHAN WU, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, it is hard to know without actually hearing the rest of them, Fred. With regard to the prosecutors being upset with Cohen, I mean they might not like the tapes coming out. But apparently, there is no kind of protective order that he is violating. And it is really the Trump team that waived the privilege.
So that does not seem like it would get them into hot water right now. It seems like its Trump that's not (Inaudible).
WHITFIELD: Would it peek their interest that wait a minute, if he has copies of any of the things that were you know picked up during the raid, might he have other tapes elsewhere?
WU: That certainly could peek their interest. I think they are probably fairly confident that they got everything in his office, but that is one danger of him releasing these is they may cause the prosecutors and the FBI agents to want to look a little bit more deeply, and you know get more curious about things.
WHITFIELD: So Giuliani said a number of things. But he also suggested that this tape may have been doctored. CNN hired an audio forensics expert, Ed Primo, to review the recording. And this is what he told Chris Cuomo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the clip is incomplete. We've got the beginning I believe, because I can see a start signature at the beginning of this recording. In other words, when the recorder was engaged, and where the dialogue just abruptly ends, and some new conversation comes in, there is a butt splicer, an edit there.
Those two pieces are cut together, and I can clearly see that. And I am certain any other forensic expert with the same qualifications would agree with me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I saw in the -- that means that this is not an original, and it's not a master, and it is not a complete recording.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means that their conversation may well have continued beyond that abrupt ending and that other call that comes in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is a high degree of probability that that is the case, Chris. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I might think that matches common sense is all as
well. It seems like they're having a conversation and then something happened to the recording. What it is? We don't know, and we can't tell from this. It seems to end on the word check.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So Shan, what is interesting or curious about any of that to you?
WU: Well, the word check is very interesting of course, as to who said it. But with regard to Giuliani's accusation that there was tampering of evidence by Cohen, that is not really the usual way that we would think of tampering with evidence. Typically, the accusation of tampering means that the evidence already exists.
So there would be a complete tape which maybe had been doctored or altered. And that doesn't seem to be what happened here. Rather, it is more of a question of when he ended the tape. And he could only know when to end the tape if he was able to predict what the President was going to say next, which would certainly make him uniquely gifted in that way.
WHITFIELD: So Rudy Giuliani says Michael Cohen has violated attorney- client privilege. You know, Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, responded with this statement. I am quoting now, saying Mr. Giuliani seems to be confused. He expressly waived attorney-client privilege last week, and repeatedly and inaccurately, as proven by the tape, talked and talked about the recording, forfeiting all confidentially. Who is right on that one?
WU: I think that Lanny has the better argument on that. It's the client's privilege to waive. The lawyer can never just unilaterally waive it. And given what they were talking about, (Inaudible) they certainly did waive that.
[16:39:56] WHITFIELD: Shan Wu, always good to see, thanks so much.
WU: Good to see you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right. Top stories that we are following for you right now, a manhunt is under way in New Orleans after two suspects opened fire, killing three people and wounding several others three miles from the French quarter. Police say the suspects approached the victims from behind and started shooting with a rifle and a handgun before fleeing the scene. One of the seven wounded victims is in critical condition.
[16:44:52] Growing outrage after a polar bear was shot and killed by a cruise ship guard. This image just might disturb some. A German cruise company says the polar attacked a guard during an arctic sightseeing tour. Another guard then shot and killed the bear in self-defense. Animal activists called this an easily avoidable tragedy, saying cruises shouldn't encroach on the habitat of endangered animals.
Earlier, I spoke with a wildlife expert who addressed what taking the life of even one polar bear is something of serious concern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are critically endangered (Inaudible) extinction. So when there are only 25,000 polar bears left on the planet, every one matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The injured guard was airlifted with head injuries. He is in stable condition. And we're getting more views of the blood moon, lunar eclipse that happened this week while millions of stargazers around the world were treated to a lunar showcase. Americans missed out this time since it happened during daylight hours in the United States. The Moon was in total eclipse for 130 minutes. It is the longest lunar eclipse of the century.
And tonight, the CNN original series, History of Comedy, is back with an all-new episode. And we look at comedy in animation and how some of the greatest comedic performances have been given by drawings, not people. Here is a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walt Disney was the only one who was genuinely interested in pushing the entire medium forward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a reason Disney became famous. The quality of their animation was unparalleled. It was unbelievable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the late 1930s, Disney was now doing Snow White, these elaborate fairytales beautifully done and spectacular. The rest of the industry was trying to keep up with Disney, but some studios looked at that and they said, we are going to make people laugh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Loony Tunes was all about gags, making you laugh. And when they showed those cartoons in movie theaters before the Warner Brothers movie, they would kill the same way a standup comedian would go up and bring down the house for an audience of adults in a theater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot him now. Shoot him now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You keep out of this. He does not have to shoot you now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He does so have to shoot me now. I command that you shoot me now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The duck season-rabbit season exchange to this day, if I watch it, I laugh hysterically because you know it is coming, but watching Daffy Duck step into it every single time is absolutely brilliant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The timing in those cartoons is so great. And it was universal comedy. You don't need to know much to understand why Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd are funny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the rabbit. Kill the rabbit. Kill the rabbit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kill the rabbit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bugs Bunny is one of the most influential comedians of all time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining us right now is Kliph Nesteroff, who we all saw in that clip. And I tell you, you know, I have been watching Loony Tunes again kind of with new eyes you know through my kids, and it is really funny. It keeps getting funnier every time you look at it. So what is it about animation, and why so many believe that it was Bugs Bunny who just might be one of the most influential comedians of all?
KLIPH NESTEROFF, CONSULTING PRODUCER, HISTORY OF COMEDY: Well, one thing to remember is that when Warner Brothers was making Merry Melodies and Loony Tunes cartoons, the audience was -- the intended audience was adults. It wasn't meant for children. They were shown in movie theaters. This was before the invention of television.
So if you went and saw Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck or Yosemite Sam or Bosco or all these sort of seminal and legendary cartoon characters, they preceded motion pictures that were meant for adults, Humphrey Bogart movies, Bette Davis soapers basically. So the comedy was directed at an adult audience. And a lot of the people that were doing the voices for these cartoons, people like June Ferae, who was the voice of Granny and Sylvester and Tweety cartoons.
Or Mel Blanc who did most of the voices of Bugs Bunny and (Inaudible) who did the voice of Elmer Fudd originally, a lot of them were in actors in radio comedy, radio sit-coms, which also were adult audience. Mel Blanc who did so many of the voices from Loony Tunes was regular on the Abbott and Costello radio show, (Inaudible) George Burns and Gracie Allen radio show.
[16:49:52] He was a regular on the Jack Benny program. So these were experienced and first comedians and comic actors from movies, from radio, who were voicing these cartoons. So they had that ability to entertain adults. They were trained that way. And so this is true of the all of the studios, Universal who did the Woody Woodpecker cartoons.
Again, these cartoons were made by specific film studios, and they would precede those films (Inaudible) with specific movies in movie theaters for adult audiences. Later, when they were return on TV, mostly children watching it, but that is why they were made so funny. They were not intended for the kids.
WHITFIELD: Yes, they are still funny, but then yeah, you kind of cringe sometimes because you're like wait a minute, that doesn't -- that does seem like adult humor and your explanation explain it all. So while you had human voices, you know, there is something about the animation that allowed comedy to be told in a different way versus, you know, if you had comedic actors. Why is that?
NESTEROFF: Well, of course, you could do anything you wanted to in a cartoon. So it seems inexplicable that a coyote would survive such abuse as falling off of a cliff 100 stories and splattering on the ground or being blown up with dynamite, you know. So you could do anything in a cartoon, whereas in a live action film you obviously couldn't.
And that was actually true of radio as well. And when television came in, in the 1950s, there were a lot of cranks who complained about TV, because you didn't -- you could not use your imagination. The same with radio writers, the comedy writers with radio you could do anything, because it was all in the imagination.
With animation, you could do anything, because it was not real, whereas movies and the TV, you were much more confined. You have constraints in play. So you can be goofier, a lot sillier, a lot weirder, and some of the seminal moments in cartoons kind of entered our culture, the idea of seeing something that shocks you in the eyeballs shooting out of your eyes, or you see this beautiful woman and the wolf's tongue falls to the ground.
NESTEROFF: That kind of thing has been done on the TV show or the live night club which makes cartoons so fun.
WHITFIELD: That kind of the stream of consciousness, you know, but then people get a chance to kind of laugh at themselves by way of laughing at that kind of animation. Cliff Nesteroff, good to see you. Thank you so much. And be sure to catch the History of Comedy tonight at 10, right here on CNN.
[16:55:00] WHITFIELD: Every week, we honor an everyday person doing extraordinary work to help others. We find these amazing people through your nominations. Earlier this year, we've recognized Dr. Rob Gore, an emergency room physician doing anti-violence work in Brooklyn. Well, now meet the woman who helped to turn him into a CNN Hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I nominated Dr. Gore to be a CNN Hero because we grew up together. And then I saw him doing all of this wonderful community work. I am very familiar with CNN Heroes. I am a fan of the show. And as I was volunteering here, I said to myself, wait a second, CNN Heroes, Dr. Gore perfect match, and here we are.
I am so proud of my friend to see him excel in this way and show the world what he does, so surreal, so exciting, so rewarding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And you might recognize Dr. Gore's nominator from her recent blockbuster superhero movie. Well, you can find out which one, and nominate someone that you think should be a CNN Hero at cnnheroes.com. All right, we have heard the Trump administration talk about alternate facts, and that version of reality is front and center in this week's State of the Cartoonian. That's right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is 2018, but this week to a lot of the President's critics, it started to sound a bit like 1984.
PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Just remember. What you are seeing and what you're reading is not what is happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That might be a bit extreme, but what is actually taking place in President Trump's version of reality? I mean we do know for one that there are televisions hooked up that only show one channel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your approval rating is soaring.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this dystopian or utopian future, the White House press corps would only have friendly faces.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were very strong at the end of that press conference.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And no poll would drop below 100 percent approval.
TRUMP: He is the most powerful, most popular Republican in the history of the party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this alternate reality, there would be a McDonald's on every corner, and everyday would be November 8th, 2016.
TRUMP: We won the Electoral College by a lot, 306-223 I believe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this alternate reality, the Special Counsel would have a whole new spelling, and even Special Counsel Robert Mueller would agree with the President's conclusion.
TRUMP: You're watching a hoax. It is a witch hunt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's not the world in which we live, even the biggest reality TV star cannot totally escape reality.
TRUMP: I care deeply about the rule of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Jake. And thank you for joining me. I am
Fredricka Whitfield. We have so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom with Ana Cabrera in New York.
ANA CABRERA, NEWSROOM ANCHOR, CNN: Top of the hour. You are live in the CNN Newsroom. I am Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being with us on this Sunday. There is no time to stop and absorb the shock of losing five lives to an out of control wildfire in California.