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Slowing Sanders' Momentum; Fans Pay Tribute to Bryant; NTSB Recreates Final Moments of Bryant Crash; Two Friends Remember Kobe Bryant. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 24, 2020 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00]

TIM MILLER, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE BULWARK": Have a clear, inevitable frontrunner and it will probably be too late to do anything about it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What do you mean by lanes don't exist the way people think they do?

MILLER: Look, there's a lot of discussion, right, it's like, oh, we're not that concerned about Bernie, right, because if you look at New Hampshire, he got in the high 20s. And if you add up the moderate lane of Pete and Biden and Klobuchar, you know, they get 50 percent. But that's not how this thing works out. And we thought that in 2016, right, that Trump had has ceiling or that he was capped at 35 percent. And once you added up the Rubio, Jeb, Christie and Kasich numbers and all those folks united, you know, they would have a higher vote share.

That's not how it works. A lot of Christie voters ended up going to Trump. Same with a lot of Rubio voters. You know, casual voters don't think about this the way that political obsessives do. And, you know, as you saw with Elizabeth Warren's fall, a lot of her vote in New Hampshire went to Amy Klobuchar, in Nevada went to Bernie Sanders. That -- you know, so there aren't clear lanes. And when you're thinking about how to beat Bernie Sanders, you can't assume that he's going to lose just because the moderates will all add up to a greater share than his.

BERMAN: You say you can't wait for it to happen, which means that when they take the debate stage tomorrow night, you say they have to attack the frontrunner. How hard?

MILLER: They have to. Look at -- I mean look at 2016, everybody that paid attention remembers the Christie, Rubio murder-suicide ahead of the New Hampshire primary, where Christie just absolutely attacked Marco. This same thing just happened these last two debates on the Democratic side. Ahead of New Hampshire, Pete Buttigieg had the momentum, was -- even the Bernie Sanders campaign has admitted possibly ready to win the New Hampshire primary, but then Klobuchar shanked him. You know, Elizabeth Warren goes after Mike Bloomberg in the Nevada debate last week. Everybody is leaving Bernie Sanders unscathed. And their theory of the case is, well, if I can beat the of these other guys, then I'll take Bernie one-on-one and I'll be able to beat him. It doesn't -- it's not going to work like that. It's going to be too

late. Bernie will already have the nomination locked up by that time. So if somebody wants to actually beat him in the debate tomorrow night, they're going to have to go at him. And this goes triple, quadruple, 100 times for Michael Bloomberg, who's spending $400 million, you know, running ads attacking Trump and talking about his record. He's got to go after Bernie or else he's just paving the way for Bernie's victory.

BERMAN: So you had -- because I know you have plenty of moral and ideological reasons to dispute Donald Trump in 2016 --

MILLER: Yes.

BERMAN: But a lot of Republicans who were against him, the reason they were against him in the primary is they felt he couldn't win in the general election. If we nominate Trump, he can't win in the general election.

MILLER: For sure.

BERMAN: What if Democrats who are afraid of Bernie Sanders are ultimately as wrong now as some Republicans were then? What if Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump?

MILLER: Yes, they could be wrong. And I think that this -- this very question, John, is what is driving a lot of the indecision about how to go after Bernie. I think a lot of voters have lost confidence in their ability to know who the strongest contender is now that Donald Trump, you know, the racist game show host has become the president. And so, you know, they look at Bernie and say, maybe Bernie's better. And maybe he is, right? I think that Bernie will have a unique ability to go after voters that left Obama and went over to Donald Trump and 2016.

But he also has some huge vulnerabilities. You saw his comments on Cuba and Castro last night. I mean Florida is basically off the board with Bernie Sanders, gives him a much more narrow map. So, you know, I think that for Democrats, part of what's paralyzing them is they're not actually sure if there's a better bet out there than Bernie. But, tick-tock, the time is running out if they think that they -- if they think that they do have a better bet.

BERMAN: And one of your pieces of advice is that establishment figures need to speak out. Well, the establishment is running against Bernie Sanders right now. Who needs to speak out that hasn't, in your mind?

MILLER: Are they? Well, again, needs, you know, I -- look, I'm an outsider, right, so these are just lessons from 2016, right? I'm just saying, if you want to beat him, you need to act. But look who's on the sidelines.

BERMAN: But who would it be? Who would it be?

MILLER: Obama, Clinton -- both the Obamas, the Clintons, Reid, Pelosi, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, anybody that your viewers can actually -- are familiar with, anyone that has high name ID among casual, political observers, they're all on the sidelines. Nobody has picked a horse. And if you look at '08, when Obama was a young upstart and he won, you know, the Iowa caucus and then came in second in New Hampshire, Ted Kennedy came out for him around this time, around Super Tuesday, and that was a huge validator for voters.

Mayor Pete basically wins Iowa, ends up in a tie, second in New Hampshire, and that didn't happen for him, right? I think that, you know, for a number of reasons, because Bloomberg and Biden are out there, maybe he's -- his youth, the fact that they're not sure, can we run a gay guy in a general election.

[08:35:01]

That's risky. For whatever reason it is, that didn't happen for him.

So the establishment wants to get some momentum behind anybody. Again, they've got eight days left to do it. And, literally, every single major establishment figure that could do anything about it is sitting on their hands.

BERMAN: Tim Miller, thank you for coming on and sharing this morning the therapy session, you know, at 8:35 Eastern Time.

MILLER: It should be deja vu for Alisyn, because I was on here in 2016 railing against Trump all the time and just falling and falling on my face. So hopefully Alisyn got a good flashback.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, I -- oh, I am having flashback, Tim, absolutely. I just was thinking about that.

BERMAN: For a variety of reasons. But that's a whole other issue.

CAMEROTA: That's just from the weekend.

But -- but, yes, Tim, it does -- it's all feeling very reminiscent of our old conversations. But we really appreciate you being on and come in next time you're in town.

MILLER: Will do.

CAMEROTA: OK, meanwhile, there will be crowds of mourners gathered today in Los Angeles to remember Kobe Bryant. How Bryant and his daughter will be honored, next

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:40:04]

CAMEROTA: In a few hours, fans will gather to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna at L.A.'s Staples Center.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live at the Staples Center in L.A. with a preview for us.

What do we expect, Omar? OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn, officials have been

pretty tight-lipped about what exactly we are going to see as part of Gigi Bryant and Kobe Bryant's celebration of life today. But we know thousands are expected to attend, not just from the L.A. area but well beyond as well. We won't see any sort of procession and we won't see any sort of burial either as that happened in a private ceremony weeks ago at this point. Instead, this will serve, in some ways, as a sense of closure for what has been such a painful time for so many, almost a month to the day since this crash.

Now, a limited number of tickets did go out to the public in this ranging in price from $24.02, all the way up to $224. Obviously combining Gigi Bryant's number of two and Kobe Bryant's number of 24 in that sense there. All of the proceeds going to their Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

And that's part of the direction the family has been asking people to send their support, instead of the flowers and memorabilia and signs that we saw literally everywhere here outside the Staples Center in the immediate aftermath of this crash.

Now, as for today, everything gets going at 1:00 Eastern Time. I'll be inside for it. All in all, it's only going to last a few hours, but the significance is unmistakable even down to the date, February 24th, 2020, 2/24/20. Two for Gigi Bryant, 24 for Kobe Bryant and 20, the amount of time Vanessa and Kobe had been together, not to mention the amount of time he was in the NBA, John.

BERMAN: All right, Omar, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, the NTSB has pieced together the final moments of the helicopter crash where Kobe Bryant, Gianna and seven others died. But as CNN's Nick Watt explains, the human factor of the fatal flight is still an unknown.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others, including her teammates and their family members, were on their way to a basketball game. The NTSB has now recreated the final minute of that fatal flight in foggy weather.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: The pilot advised they were climbing to avoid a cloud layer.

WATT: He climbed a little but then turned left, then down, before smashing into that hillside. Why did he do that?

HOMENDY: That's a difficult part of the investigation and we look at the facts. We can't make any assumptions about what somebody is thinking.

WATT: No one is suggesting the pilot was pressured to fly in bad weather, but Professor Najmedin Meshkati, who studies human factors in accidents, believes the NTSB will investigate the pilot's perceived importance of the mission. Did he put pressure on himself to fly? NAJMEDIN MESHKATI, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA:

Flying VIPs and others, sometimes this becomes a very important factor in the pilot's decision making.

WATT: Early NTSB findings are that viewable sections of the engine showed no evidence of an uncontained or catastrophic internal failure.

WATT (on camera): So, is that something that we can --

MESHKATI: Rule out.

WATT (voice over): FAA enforcement records first reported by "The L.A. Times" show that in 2015 this pilot flew into LAX airspace in low visibility after permission was denied by air traffic control. Investigators said he hadn't properly reviewed the weather.

Earlier in this final, fatal flight, the pilot was granted permission to fly through Burbank airspace in similar conditions.

Investigators of this crash have focused on the weather. This taken just before the crash shows the helicopter disappearing into the clouds.

MESHKATI: We need to really let NTSB go through its investigation and come out with all the facts.

WATT: The how and the why. And that could still be a year or more away.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: Kobe Bryant had branched out beyond basketball, into movies and books, as you may know. And so two men who worked very closely with him on these other projects join us next with their memories.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:48:29]

CAMEROTA: A celebration of life for basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna will take place today at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. With us now are two men who knew Kobe and his family very well. We have Academy Award winning filmmaker and animator Glen Keane. He directed and animated Kobe's Oscar winning short film "Dear Basketball," and we have NBA photographer Andrew Bernstein. He's the Laker's team photographer. He also worked with Kobe on the book "The Mamba Mentality: How I Play."

So, gentlemen, we're so happy to have both of you to give us just a different insight into what Kobe was like. I mean he's one of these people that the more you learn about him, the more you feel the loss of, you know, his sudden death.

And, Glen, I just want to start with you because this film has been getting so much attention. You know, you've won the Oscar for "Dear Basketball." Let me play a few seconds of it for everybody and then you can tell us how it came to pass.

So watch this for a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOBE BRYANT (voice over): You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream. And we both know, no matter what I do next, I'll always be that kid with the rolled up socks, garbage can in the corner, five seconds on the clock, ball in my hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: So, Glen, how did this come to pass that he wanted to make this animated short film?

GLEN KEANE, DIRECTOR, "DEAR BASKETBALL": Well, out of the blue, Kobe called and had a desire to express his "Dear Basketball" letter in animation.

[08:50:05]

He had always been a fan of animation, which I was really surprised. And so he came over, along with Vanessa, and Gianna, and Natalia and I met him for the first time, which was just surreal, walking into our little studio. And we started to work together on this great, expressive, really more like a poem of -- that capsuled his life in basketball. And he wanted to put it in animation.

BERMAN: I have to tell you, I mean the film has been -- I thought it was beautiful before Kobe Bryant passed away. But now it's overwhelming to see it and to hear his words there. It's deep at a level that I don't even think we understood before.

And, Andrew, you know, you, who knew Kobe Bryant for a long time, talk about sort of his depth and the idea that there was so much there. And there is this one picture you took as a Lakers photographer of Kobe Bryant in the locker room after a game where you just see him, you know, nearly broken, icing himself, meditating. You know, this was hard for him. He had to work really, really hard at this.

ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN, CO-AUTHOR/PHOTOGRAPHER, "THE MAMBA MENTALITY": Well, I was so fortunate to have -- have the behind the scenes access to him for 20 years literally from the first day that he became a Laker. And he was an amazing person as a subject. You couldn't ask for anyone better to work with as a photographer for 20 years in front of my lens.

And that particular picture you're talking about really sums up the mamba mentality in one photo. I mean here was a guy who had just played the night before, had two really bad ankles, he had a broken finger in three places, and he was willing himself to win an hour before -- to go out and play an hour before the game in a very chaotic locker room. So, you know, I saw that night after night, day after day, year after year through the championships. And he was an amazing person.

CAMEROTA: And, Glen, the film talks about all of that. The film is this love letter from him, obviously, to basketball and this career that -- where he basically felt that he had found his destiny, something that he had wanted from the time that he was a child, that gave his life sense. But it also broke him. And he talks about that in the film, that he -- his body was -- was giving out because of it.

KEANE: Yes, it was actually a very personal revelation of how he felt about basketball and his love for it, how difficult it was for him to leave it. But he believed it was -- it was the right time.

I told Kobe when he first came in and met with me, I said, look, you've got the worst basketball player on earth animating you. He said, well, that's OK, because now everything you learn about basketball is going to come through studying him. And it was. I had been taught by my mentors at Disney that -- they told me, Glen, don't animate what the character is doing, animate what the character is thinking.

So, in my office, we downloaded on my laptop Kobe Bryant's top 20 plays from YouTube. And I said, so, Kobe, I can't animate you just by animating what you're doing. I have to know what were you thinking in each of these shots, in each of these moments. And I was shocked at his mental ability to remember every detail of every one of those moments. And all the way through I realized what made the man great was not his athletic ability, but his hunger to learn, his curiosity. That just drove him.

BERMAN: Yes, one of the most lovely lines of the poem is he's talking about basketball. He says, I can't love you obsessively for much longer. There's a self-knowledge there that I think that displays and perhaps was displayed throughout his career.

And, Andrew, you note that it's hard, it's been hard for you these last few weeks to talk about him and talk about this. So why are you doing it?

BERNSTEIN: Well, quite frankly, if I'm not talking about it, I'm going to fall apart. I miss him terribly. I've not slept a decent night's sleep in a month. And, you know, I have daughters myself. He and I bonded over many things. But one of the major things we bonded about was raising daughters. And, you know, it's just been a horrible time for all of us.

I feel like if I'm working and if I'm talking about him and my relationship with him and I'm putting my photos out there and people have a connection to him, then I'm being of some service to Vanessa and the family and to all of us who are under this incredible cloud of grief.

[08:55:06]

And today is going to be difficult for all of us, but we're a big family here. And not only the lacer family, the basketball family, the L.A. family, but the entire world gets to celebrate the life of this amazing person, his daughter, all the other people that perished on the flight. And I hope that we can all take a big breath after that and understand that this happened and we have to try to somehow move on from -- you know, Vanessa is going to show a lot of strength today and I think we're going to get a lot from her.

CAMEROTA: Well, we hear your loss, Andrew, and we really appreciate you talking about all of this with us and sharing those beautiful photos that you took.

And, Glen, thank you for that -- for telling us the story behind the film. I mean it was poignant watching it before, and now it's just profound to watch it.

So thank you both very, very much for sharing your thoughts this morning.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: We want to leave you now with a picture of those who were lost in that crash. And, again, today is the memorial. CNN will be covering it all day long. Much more coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:00]