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Lineup For CNN's Democratic Debates; Anniversary of Apollo 11 Landing; Disneyland Workers Speaks out about Low Wages. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 19, 2019 - 08:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The mayor of New York. He ran --


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What you're watching here is what took place on live TV, as seen on unveiled, the line-up for the upcoming CNN presidential debates.


BERMAN: Very impressive.

CAMEROTA: Brianna Keilar was so impressive doing that. I would massively have screwed that up.

BERMAN: She -- she won clearly.

Progressive senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they will be on stage together for the first time and we will see a rematch between former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris.

Joining us now to discuss, the man who really conceived of all of this, CNN's political director David Chalian.

David, thank you so much.

I want to start on the second night, if I can.


BERMAN: If we can put up the graphic here of who will be there, the two biggest names, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris. And this is rematch, David, from what happened in the first round. And it's so important, I think, for Vice President Joe Biden.

And what kind of challenge does this pose?

CHALIAN: Yes, it is really important because he did have a poor debate performance in Miami, and not just when Kamala Harris hit him, but he wasn't sort of providing a confident kind of debate performance throughout. And so this is a real opportunity for him to come back much stronger because his calling card in this election, as you know, is, he's got this huge advantage with Democrats that he is the best equipped to beat Donald Trump. But if he has a second debate performance like the first one, that could begin to chip away, and that would be a real wound to his whole rationale for his candidacy.

So this big opportunity for him, and he has it standing between Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, two people more so than any other, maybe with the exception of Bernie Sanders, who have been willing to go after the frontrunner.

CAMEROTA: I mean, of course, there are seven other people on that stage. Who else should people look out for some break out moment?

CHALIAN: Yes, it's a good question. You've got -- remember, this is the second night we're talking about now, Alisyn. It lives on longer in our fast paced news cycle. Julian Castro learned that last time. He was on the first night. He had a very good night. But then the Harris- Biden thing took over. So he had a limited window to actually make that work for him.

But, here, you have Jay Inslee, who is a governor from Washington, who's trying to make climate change the issue. You have Andrew Yang, who I thought had a pretty reserved performance last time, but his standing in the polls has him just next to Kamala Harris. So he may be more of a force here. And then you have some folks who just are in a do or die position here, right? Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bill de Blasio, Tulsi Gabbard, these folks have to make something happen because, as you know, the third debate in September, the DNC has doubled the threshold to get in and a lot of these folks right now have not met the requirements to make it beyond the Detroit debate stage.

BERMAN: Night one --


BERMAN: Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will be standing next to each other there.

What happens, David?

CHALIAN: And it's not just the two of them, which is a real battle for the ideological left. We know they're -- they're courting similar voters. They occupy that progressive lane in the race. So this is a real battle of -- for that progressive left.

But everyone else on either side of them far more moderate in the spectrum. So there is the opportunity for some of those lower polling candidates who are out on the ends, especially Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, who is brand new to the debate stage this time around, there's a real opportunity to take on the middle. And that's how you get attention and create a moment, of course, taking on the top tier folks on the stage. Ideologically, I think this line-up provides that opportunity for a

Klobuchar, for a Bullock if they want to take it. I doubt Warren and Sanders, who agree on so much, are going to go at it in some hard fashion, but they do need to distinguish themselves because they're fighting on the same turf.

CAMEROTA: Dave, you are in your element, man. This is your -- this is your Super Bowl.

CHALIAN: I love it.

CAMEROTA: You do love it. You're so -- and you've helped us get enthusiastic and excited for all of it. And it will be really interesting. I mean, obviously, we can assume that those lower tier candidates are preparing right now and planning for a breakout moment. So it will be very interesting to see what they pull off on those nights.

BERMAN: I think Joe Biden -- I don't think this was the draw -- if he could have chosen the perfect setup for both nights, I don't think it was this, David.

CHALIAN: I think he wanted Bernie Sanders. I think he's been telegraphing that for a week. He really wants to take Sanders on and draw the contrast on health care specifically. But just on ideology more generally, John, that is not the debate draw he got. But that doesn't diminish what a big opportunity this is for him to have a comeback.

CAMEROTA: David Chalian, thank you very much. We're really looking forward to it.

[08:35:02] OK, meanwhile, Dutch airline, KLM, has flown into a firestorm after posting a tweet that left many asking why. We'll show you that post next.


BERMAN: A new escalation in the tensions between the U.S. and Iran. President Trump is claiming the Navy ship, the USS Boxer, quote, destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. He says it came too close and ignored warnings to back off. Iran is refuting that claim calling it delusional and insisting all of its drones are accounted for.

CAMEROTA: Police in Japan have identified a suspect in the worst mass killing in the country in nearly two decades. And we're getting new details about the arson fire that he allegedly set at the Kyoto animation studio that has killed 33 people. Twenty bodies were found in one stairwell. The suspect is not believed to be linked to the renowned anime company. He is currently hospitalized with severe burns. Police there say he has a, quote, psychological illness.

BERMAN: That's horrifying.

The Dutch airline KLM is apologizing over a tweet about the likelihood of passenger deaths based on where they're seated on the plane. This is what it said. According to data studies by Time, the fatality rate for the seats in the middle of the plane is the highest. However, the fatality rate for the rest of the seats in the front is marginally lesser and is least for seats at the rear third of the plane.

[08:40:20] CAMEROTA: Well, I feel better.

BERMAN: That tweet has since been deleted. The airline says, quote, the post was based on publically available aviation fact and is not a KLM opinion.

The bigger question is, why are they even sharing the opinion?

CAMEROTA: What were they thinking?

BERMAN: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: What were they thinking? No one wants to read about that before getting on their flight.

Well, now to this.

The Internet is pouncing on the first trailer for the film version of "Cats." Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): It's so easy to leave me, all alone with the memory, of my days in the sun.


CAMEROTA: Where's the controversy, John? I like it already.

The adaptation of the Broadway musical stars Oscar winners Jennifer Hudson and Dame Judi Dench, as well as Rebel Wilson, James Corden and Taylor Swift, all wearing CGI fur. Safe to say first impressions were a meow mix.


CAMEROTA: Many people -- thank you, Lou.

Many people did not know what to make of it, but Taylor Swift, who is a cat lover, thought it was perfect. She tweeted, I'm a cat now and somehow that was everything.

The film comes out around Christmas.

BERMAN: I'm deeply concerned, for both you and all of us. And I say this as a musical theater fan.

CAMEROTA: What's the problem?

BERMAN: Cats is the problem. I mean I think the original problem is just cats, period. CAMEROTA: Yes?

BERMAN: The musical.

CAMEROTA: Is this another thing that you think no one asked for?

BERMAN: Yes, definitely no one asked for it. It's like the opposite. I mean "Cats" is this phenomenon that people acknowledge happened but, you know, sort of don't want to admit happened anymore. It ran for all those years on Broadway. I'm going to -- like -- I like Andrew Lloyd Weber, don't get me wrong, but "Cats" is tough. It's tough. This is tough.

CAMEROTA: I don't know. I think the music sounds great and seeing all of your favorite stars in fur --

BERMAN: Just --

CAMEROTA: Feline so fine, you know what I'm saying?

BERMAN: All right. Like I said, I'm concerned.

Here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 11:45 a.m. ET, Trump commemorates Apollo 11.

3:00 a.m. ET Dem candidates at AARP forum.

6:30 pm ET, Biden in Los Angeles.


CAMEROTA: OK, so tomorrow marks 50 years since Apollo 11 became the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon. And CNN's Rachel Crane is live at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. She is in front of the same type of rocket as the one that propelled the Apollo 11 crew.

That's so cool.

Rachel, tell us what you're seeing.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE REPORTER: That's right, Alisyn. And let's just take a moment and, you know, revel in the beauty of this incredible rocket behind me. Now, this is a Saturn 5, the type of rocket, as you said, that put Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon nearly 50 years ago.

Now, right now it's on its side, but when standing up, it's the height of a 35 story building. And when it was fully fueled up, it weighed over 6 million pounds, had over 7 million pounds of thrust. So really an incredible engineering feat right here in just the rocket itself.

And, of course, most of the rocket was fuel. The part that was really important when the astronauts were in space, just this end bit right here, of course that round part being the command module that housed the astronauts.

Now, this week being the 50th anniversary of the Apollo landing, there are celebrations happening all over the world. Of course space enthusiasts like myself taking stock of what humanity was able to achieve nearly 50 years ago. And the area surrounding Johnson Space Center here is a bevy of activity. There are celebrations, gala's happening. You know, the hotels are at near capacity. I had the good fortune of meeting the spouse of a man who was in mission control at the landing. She had her late husband's badges on her, his actually Apollo badges. So it was really just so much activity, so much excitement surrounding the Apollo anniversary, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Rachel, we can feel that enthusiasm and what a great backdrop and what a great moment to think about what happened 50 years ago for the world. Thank you very much for that of that reporting.

And the CNN film "Apollo 11" takes you inside humanity's greatest feat with newly discovered, incredible footage. So you can check it out tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m., only on CNN.

[08:45:01] BERMAN: So Walt Disney's grandniece is speaking out and criticizing her family's company for allegedly undercompensating its workers. We're going to speak to one Disney employee who says she and her colleagues are not being paid a living wage. That's next.



ABIGAIL DISNEY, GRANDDAUGHTER OF DISNEY CO-FOUNDER: I was so livid when I came out of there because, you know, my grandfather taught me to revere these people that take your tickets, that pour your soda, that scrape the freaking bubblegum off the sidewalks. Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, I don't know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and -- and forage for food in other people's garbage.


[08:50:06] CAMEROTA: OK, that was Disney heiress Abigail Disney. She has been critical of the Disney Company's pay practices. And she recently spoke out saying that she was, as you heard, livid after meeting workers at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The Disney Company responded calling Abigail's claims a, quote, gross and unfair exaggeration of the facts.

So joining us now is one of those workers. She's Rebekah Pedersen. She's a hair stylist at Disneyland and she earns $12 an hour. She is currently in wage negotiations with Disney on behalf of her union.

Rebekah, thanks so much for being here to help us understand what's going on behind the scenes at Disneyland.

So what did you think about what Abigail Disney said after meeting with all of you and she just said that she was livid at hearing some of your stories. REBEKAH PEDERSEN, DISNEYLAND RESORT EMPLOYEE: She's completely right.

She -- she's been amazing advocating for us. She has no reason, really, or benefit to be doing it. She's doing it out of the goodness of her heart, and she's 100 percent correct.

We -- we work for the Ritz-Carlton of theme parks. It's Disneyland. And, you know, it's sad to see this company make more and more money yet not pay their employees accordingly.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that. Let's talk about your life and your pay.

So we've already said, you've shared with us your pay stub. You make $12 an hour. And that -- though you've been there and though you are -- you have a license for what you do, you are experienced, you say that that's not a living wage.

And so what does that mean for your life? You've had to take a second job?

PEDERSEN: Yes, I had to take a second job, as well as three. Sometimes I do some, you know, studio work and I work in a salon. But it takes time building a clientele, so it's been slow. But I needed that extra cash. And finally was able to afford a place of living.

CAMEROTA: And let's talk about that because for a time, correct me if I'm wrong, while you've been working at Disneyland, you were homeless?

PEDERSEN: Yes, a couple of times. I was homeless for three and a half months consecutively living out of my car. And I finally, from taking enough side jobs, I made enough money to get my -- rent a room again. And then I couldn't keep up with it, so I lost that. And so I started -- I moved back down to Lake Elsinore, where I was staying with my step dad and my mom. And -- but I still worked at Beverly Hills at a salon, so I was still sleeping out of my car, you know, three nights out of the week.

CAMEROTA: You point out that not everyone at Disneyland makes $12 an hour. In fact, I think that you see some sort of discrimination in terms of gender that men who you say have less training than you make more. Explain.

PEDERSEN: Yes. Qualifications, technical services has definitely earned their pay that they get, but there's no reason why our department, who does have a license, which is equivalent to an associate's degree, to not be -- to not be paid accordingly. And we are paid as -- as if we are entry level. And, you know, Disney has said that everybody's getting paid $15, but we are not, and that goes along with two other departments.

CAMEROTA: That's a very important point because Disney has said they pay their workers $15 at least, but that is true.


CAMEROTA: You make $12. PEDERSEN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So we asked Disneyland to respond to your claims and your story. They have not given us any sort of statement or response, but they did respond to Abigail Disney's quotes and her interviews.


CAMEROTA: So here's -- I'll read what they said about Abigail Disney. This widely reported stunt is a gross and unfair exaggeration of the facts that is not only a misrepresentation but also an insult to the thousands of employees who are part of the Disney community. We continually strive to enhance the employment experience of our more than 200,000 employees through a variety of benefits and programs that provide them opportunity, mobility and well-being.

Very quickly, what do you want out of Disney right now?

PEDERSEN: I want to be paid accordingly, along with my entire department, to what we've earned as license, skilled professionals.

CAMEROTA: Rebekah Pedersen, we will follow your story. We would like to know what happens. We do know that there are negotiations going on and so we will follow your story.


CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for sharing your personal story with us.

PEDERSEN: Thank you. I appreciate it.


BERMAN: So CNN Heroes do extraordinary work to help others, but those people are rarely in the public eye. Well, last fall U.S. Army combat veteran Jason Kander was a rising star in the Democratic Party, running for mayor of Kansas City, when he dropped out of the race to seek help for post-traumatic stress. Just earlier this week he spoke to CNN's Kate Baldwin about his journey and the help he received from a non-profit run by CNN Hero Chris Stout.

[08:55:17] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASON KANDER: My first message to people is, if you think something might be wrong, something is wrong and you should get help.

I went to the VA and they gave me a lot of paperwork and I looked at it and said, I'm not really sure I know how to navigate this process.


KANDER: Yes, and I'm, you know, in a decent spot to be able to figure that sort of thing out.

BOLDUAN: Yes. KANDER: So I went to an organization in my town in Kansas City called Veterans Community Project. They helped me navigate the process. They serve all vets, anybody who falls through the cracks. They have a village of tiny houses. They've effectively eradicated veteran homelessness in Kansas City and I'm excited to lead the national expansion of the organization. It's our new mission.


BERMAN: To find out more about the Veterans Community Project, go to And I just want to say thank you to Jason Kander for speaking so frankly about this, and that's what's needed.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. What a great conversation. And he is helping so many people.

CNN "NEWSROOM" is going to pick up after this very quick break.