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Family Looking for Detained Father; Evangelical Support for Trump; Outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease in Atlanta; Sanders and Biden Take Aim at Media. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:11] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: You have likely by now seen perhaps more than once the heartbreaking viral video of an 11-year-old girl sobbing after learning hear father had been detained in an immigration crackdown in Mississippi.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need my dad with me. My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal. Governments, please put your heart, let my parent be free.


HILL: Well, a spokesman for ICE tells CNN now the girl's father has no prior criminal convictions.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is live in Jackson, Mississippi, with more on their story this morning.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and, Erica, I can tell you that I spoke with Magdalena (ph) and I spoke with her mother, Juana (ph). And we're only going to use their first name because in addition to being frightened and unsure about what has happened to Magdalena's father, because that video went viral, they've received a lot of -- well, to be very honest, just kind of creepy contact from individual. People even reaching out trying to adopt that 11-year-old girl.

Meanwhile, they're trying to figure out where her father has been taken. Juana tells me that they don't know where he is, that she doesn't even know at this point if he's dead or alive. And that for her children, it feels like a death because they have no news at all.

Now, look, he is a father of four. Magdalena is the oldest at 11 years old. They have a son who is just under two years old. And their mother does not work. She takes care of the children. So in addition to wanting to find her husband, she also doesn't know what she's going to do for money, for rent, for utilities. All four of the children are U.S. citizens. When I talked to Magdalena, she was doing her math homework. She told

me she wants to be a math teacher when she grows up and was just trying to focus on that at the time.

But really right now, John, they want to find him and they are some of many. Magdalena says so many of her classmates have still yet to hear from their parents who were detained in that raid.

[08:35:08] BERMAN: All right, important for you to be there telling their stories. Hopefully they get those answers and contacts they want.

Dianne Gallagher, thank you very much.

So the powerful evangelical voting base is overwhelmingly behind President Trump despite what some say is behavior that contradicts their personal faith.

So, how does the president maintain their support? Our next guest has some ideas.

Ben Howe is the author of "The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power over Christian Values." He is a conservative evangelical Christian and he joins me now.

Ben, great to have you on the show.


BERMAN: Again, I read the entire book. Really deeply interesting.

HOWE: I appreciate that.

BERMAN: You point back to one moment, and that moment was June 21, 2016, in one specific picture.

HOWE: Yes.

BERMAN: And you say this was a bellwether moment in a picture that spoke a thousand tales. What do you see in this picture? Why is it important?

HOWE: Well, when I first saw it, you know, I just -- I was a little surprised that Jerry Falwell Junior, who's in the photo was endorsing Trump. He had -- he had already said words about him, about Liberty University prior. But I went to Jerry Falwell Senior's church as a kid and my parents, my father was a southern Baptist minister and then a seminary professor. They were evangelicals. And it immediately made me remember going to a march in Dallas when -- in like 1985. The protest was against "Playboy" magazine. Right behind them in that photo, "Playboy" magazine with Donald Trump on it giving a thumbs up.

So, to be clear, it wasn't my objection. You know, he can hang whatever magazine he wants. My -- my -- it was a surprise that this is the inheritor of his father's Christian legacy and we've gone from protesting "Playboy" to giving a thumbs up and saying character doesn't matter. It was just fascinating.

BERMAN: And, again, one of the big points to your book is it's a book not so much about Donald Trump as trying to explain the evangelicals who choose to support him. So, in this case, it's Jerry Falwell Junior --

HOWE: Yes.

BERMAN: Endorsing him in front of a "Playboy" magazine, given the legacy of his father, which gets to a quote which I think the book is really all about here. You write, Donald Trump is the single greatest source of hypocrisy I've seen in the evangelical movement.

HOWE: Yes. The cognitive dissidence that I think it has taken for a long time, for evangelicals to claim in a way that voting Republican is voting for God, it was a little easier when you were dealing with perhaps a George W. Bush, who seemed like a pretty nice guy, who -- and a born again Christian and so on.

With Trump, that -- that was a little more difficult to pull off. He represented everything they had stood against in the '90s in a lot of ways with Bill Clinton. So they had to start finding ways to support him in spite of that and in a way they were saying that they're going to support their values by voting against them, which is an unbelievable hypocrisy considering how often they scold the public for things that they do.

BERMAN: And you point out in your book, this was a movement that thought Bill Clinton was immoral and of too low a character to govern despite the economy, despite whatever successes he had and they don't apply to (ph) evangelicals. You say that same fact pattern when they judge Donald Trump.

You also seek to explain the various reasons. And this is where the book gets really interesting. You list four. I don't think we have time for all four here --

HOWE: Sure.

BERMAN: But one lesser of two evils versus Hillary Clinton, a second, you know, compartmentalizing. But one of the interesting ones is the idea that Donald Trump is a vessel.

HOWE: Yes.

BERMAN: Explain that.

HOWE: This is something that I've encountered a lot and I've seen Christians use -- Christians use to explain other things in their lives. You know, when something doesn't go right often people will say it's God's will. Well, when you want something to go right and you want to support something, for instance, that you normally shouldn't or wouldn't have, like Donald Trump, one of the quickest ways to rationalize that is to say that God's all-powerful and all-knowing and He's using this man for a specific purpose in the same way that God used King Cyrus, for instance, that he's a vessel. But the issue with that is that they're not simply saying that he's a

vessel for God's will, they're saying he's a vessel essentially for their will. They have assigned what his will is to it. They're not really thinking about whether or not they're doing the right things in the means to an end. They're just thinking about the end and then assuming God's on their side. And I think the reason that they assume God is on their side is because the evangelical movement, in conjunction with the Republican Party has spent 40 years convincing people that when you pull the lever for a Republican, you're doing God's will. And I think that's super dangerous and it's especially dangerous for Christianity because it repels people from wanting to hear anything about what we're about.

BERMAN: I want to make clear, and you make clear in this book, you support a lot of the things that Donald Trump has done as president. Given that, though, in summation, why isn't it in your mind worth it as someone who is a strong conservative evangelical Christian? Why isn't it worth it?

[08:40:13] HOWE: I would say -- well, the first thing I would say is, what I find most interesting about the backlash that I get from other evangelicals on that point you just made is that I am taking the precise position that James Dobson, Ralph Reed, Pat Robinson, Jerry Falwell took about Bill Clinton in the '90s. They -- they said that it didn't matter about the good economy, it didn't matter about the peace dividend, none of that mattered as much as having a person's character that's going to be an inspiration to Americans and not solely the name of American values. So I first find it interesting that they would have an issue with that.

But I think that overall these policy issues that we can win in the short-term, that a conservative would be interested in, they're not going to last beyond the time he's there. I mean if you take religious liberty, for instance, there's -- that's one of the big hot issues that conservatives talk about. I think every American cares about religious liberty and they want it to be protected.

If you assume Hillary wouldn't have and Trump would, which I think is false, but let's just take their comparison, great, it will be protected while he's there. But if you've ensured that the thinking of conservatism won't be supported in the future, you've sacrificed the future for the present. That can't get less Biblical than sacrificing the eternal for the president.

BERMAN: So the book is the immoral majority by Ben Howe. There's a lot in here that will fascinate I think people from both sides of the spectrum. A lot of it will piss people off on both sides of the spectrum right there.

HOWE: Yes.

BERMAN: Liberals and conservatives will both be coming after you for some of the things you write, which makes it all the better.

HOWE: Yes.

BERMAN: Ben Howe, thanks for coming on with us. I really appreciate it.

HOWE: I appreciate it. Thank you.

BERMAN: Erica.

HILL: An outbreak of Legionnaires ' disease in a hotel is the largest in -- largest outbreak in Georgia's history. What you need to know to protect yourself and your family. That's next.


[08:45:28] HILL: The deadly outbreak of Legionnaires ' disease linked to an Atlanta Sheraton Hotel is now the largest in Georgia's history. Attorneys for more than 40 people who stayed at or visited that hotel during the bacterial outbreak are now suing.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joining us now.

So, Sanjay, what exactly is this bacterial disease?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Legionnaires' disease, people have heard about this probably in the past. It's a -- it's a bacterial infection. It's a bacterial pneumonia that is typically associated with areas of warm water. People will be by faucets or shower heads or hot tubs or even cooling towers and what happens is they'll typically breathe in the mist from this. It's not so much that they're drinking this water, they're breathing in the aerosolized mist and that's how they often get the bacterial infection. It's pretty frightening, Erica, because you don't always know exactly where it's coming from, but it's serious in terms of the symptoms.

I mean a serious pneumonia. It can start off as a cough, then develop into chest tightness and people will develop even delirium from this. It can be treated with antibiotics but it can be a very serious pneumonia.

The lawsuit that is now underway here is because there's been 12 confirmed cases of Legionnaires disease, one person has died from this, and there's an additional 63 probable cases. It's kind of a medical investigation. You know, you've got a month time period where this bacteria was probably in the air and now they've got to figure out who exactly got sick and make sure they get treated.

There was one man who we spoke to, Erica, just a photographer at an event. He wasn't even staying at the hotel. Went there for a short amount of time and got sick. We talked to him about exactly what he -- what he experienced. Listen to this.


GERMANY GREER, BECAME ILL AFTER VISITING HOTEL: I started slowing down, losing certain functions, delirium, which I still have a little of. I couldn't remember my name. My son filled it in. He said, this is not my dad.


GUPTA: People who are over the age of 50, people who have some pre- existing medical problem, they're going to be the most at risk. But it's worth pointing out, Erica, any hotel probably has this bacteria in its water supply, but most hotels are able to control that, able to prevent that bacteria from growing, prevent it from actually getting aerosolized and prevent people from getting sick. That didn't happen here. And that's really at the heart of this lawsuit. We're going to sort of see how this -- this goes forward.

HILL: Yes, we'll be watching.

Sanjay, appreciate it. Thank you.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, so now here is what else to watch today.


BERMAN: Boy, what else to watch, nature cam. You can watch the nature cam all day long.

HILL: You can watch endangered species. Very important.


HILL: Watch them. See what's happening.

BERMAN: Just one of the things you could watch.

HILL: Some Democratic hopefuls seem to be adopting a strategy that we have seen from President Trump. So who's the scapegoat they're taking shots at? Here's the thing --

BERMAN: Not them.

HILL: Also not these guys.

BERMAN: No them.

HILL: Not the animals.

BERMAN: Not them.

HILL: Yes. I love animals, how about you?



[08:51:46] HILL: Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign and Senator Bernie Sanders himself, they're both taking a page from the president's playbook. Take a listen to these two moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SYMONE SANDERS, SENIOR ADVISER, BIDEN 2020 CAMPAIGN: I want to be really clear, this is a press narrative, not a voter narrative. If you were to look at the coverage in Iowa this weekend and juxtapose the local newspapers and the local television coverage to national media coverage, you would have thought these reporters were at two different events.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?

CROWD: Nothing.

SANDERS: See, and I talk about that all of the time and then I wonder why "The Washington Post," which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn't write particularly good articles about me. I don't know why.


HILL: Let's get "The Bottom Line" now with CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

This is something that we are starting to see more. And we should point out too "The Washington Post" Marty Baron pushing back saying Jeff Bezos has never had any --


HILL: Any hand, not even a foot, in our coverage and certainly does not dictate it.

BASH: And I think what we just saw, what you just played from the Biden campaign, and from Bernie Sanders himself, are both part of a larger attack on the media, but they're very different in that what Symone Sanders was complaining about was the coverage and picking the gaffes and that that's not what voters are talking about. That's a more run of the mill attack on the media that we've heard -- we've all heard for our whole career from both sides when they don't like the coverage.

What Bernie Sanders is doing is different and I actually -- I think it's dangerous because it is very similar to what Donald Trump is doing in that what he is doing is he is continuing to undermine the institution of the press by suggesting to people that we can't make editorial decisions for ourselves because the corporate, you know, leaders, owners dictate for us. And it is incredibly dangerous because Marty Baron says in the case in "The Washington Post," it is just flat out not true. Our colleagues who worked at "The Washington Post" say, flat out not true. We work for a big corporation, not true. Not true.

And if I may, during the debate, Bernie Sanders said that explicitly to Jake about the pharmaceutical industry advertising here. He didn't know -- I have no idea what the ads are on this network.

HILL: Right. BASH: Nor does anybody ever tell us. And that is why it is -- it's all -- it's just on its face wrong but also dangerous because it is getting something into the zeitgeist that is just not true.

BERMAN: So you just -- did I, I find, I think two attacks on the press, one from Joe Biden, more common here, although I would suggest merely playing what he said isn't necessarily -- I don't see the problem with that, frankly.

BASH: Precisely.

BERMAN: Then the Bernie Sanders version.

And then Beto O'Rourke did something even different last week during the shooting that I thought was maybe even more interesting, which is when people were asking the questions, when reporters were asking the questions in the wake of the mass shooting, have -- you know, is the president -- have the president's past statements been racist or, what can the president do now to fix it. He just said enough and he -- that's when he said what the f and he started swearing about that.

[08:55:00] And that, to me, is questioning sort of the entire frame of how the president is being covered. And he's asking people to look at everything in a different way. And I even think that's subtly different than what Bernie Sanders is doing.

BASH: It is. No, that's a really good point. And it does make you stop and think, can it be, can we cover it differently? And, you know, maybe it's a discussion to have, but Donald Trump is president of the United States, and he was elected president of the United States and he has a lot of supporters. So when he says things and you have somebody who is running to go against him, of course you want to ask --

HILL: Legitimate questions.

BASH: A Democratic candidate for president who wants to be his opponent about what he says.

HILL: I do want to point out quickly, too. One of the other things that Mary Baron said in his statement is he specifically called this a conspiracy theory on the part of Bernie Sanders, and that's important too, just in terms of language.

BERMAN: Oh, that's interesting. I haven't seen that.

BASH: Good point.

BERMAN: All right, Dana, great to have you here.

HILL: Dana, thanks.

BASH: You too.

HILL: New details about the jail where Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide. Our coverage continues on the other side of this break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)