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Carlson Attacks Duckworth; Trump to Meet with Mexico's President; Patient Contracts Coronavirus Twice. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 8, 2020 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Fox TV's Tucker Carlson is attacking Senator Tammy Duckworth, who is an Iraq War vet and Purple Heart recipient.

John Avlon has our "Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know what's unpatriotic? Calling your opponents unpatriotic.

This week the slur came for U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, who is often mentioned at the top tier of Biden's VP picks. But Fox News' Tucker Carlson might have picked on the wrong combat veteran.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: You're not supposed to criticize Tammy Duckworth in any way because she once served in the military. Most people just ignore her. But when Duckworth does speak in public, you're reminded what a deeply silly and unimpressive person she is.


AVLON: Now, before we get into what so offended Carlson, here's a little bit more about the person he called deeply silly and unimpressive.

Duckworth was born in Thailand to an American father, a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and a Chinese Thai mother. By the way, the Duckworth family has served in every American war since the Revolution.

As for Tammy Duckworth, she joined ROTC as a graduate student, became a commissioned officer. In 2004, she went to Iraq as one of the first American female combat pilots. Her Black Hawk helicopter was hit by an RPG. She lost both her legs, along with half the blood in her body. She earned the Purple Heart among many other medals and spent more than a year recuperating.

But she never let her disability hold her back. This didn't change who I am, she said. I'm not about to let some guy who got lucky with an RPG decide how to live my life.

But she became director of the Illinois V.A. the same year that Tucker Carlson was on "Dancing With the Stars." After a career as a conservative writer and co-host of "Crossfire."

In 2009, Duckworth became assistant secretary of the V.A. 2012 she was elected to the House, 2016, the Senate and went on to become the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office.

Got all that?

Now, here's what she said that really teed off Tucker.


DANA BASH, CNN: Should statues, for example, of George Washington come down?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, let me just say that we should start off by having a national dialogue on it.

What really struck me about this speech that the president gave at Mt. Rushmore was that he spent more time worried about honoring dead confederates than he did talking about the lives of our American -- the 130,000 Americans who lost their lives to Covid-19 or by warning Russia off of the bounty they're putting on American's heads.


AVLON: To which Tucker replied.


CARLSON: What's long been considered out of bounds to question a person's patriotism.

The conclusion can't be avoided. The people actually hate America. There's no longer a question about that.


AVLON: In response, the senator tweeted, does Tucker Carlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?

This isn't just about whether Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump served and sacrificed for their country the way that Tammy Duckworth did. They didn't. It's about the ugly rush to demonize your political opponents, which Carlson did again last night, desperately calling Senator Duckworth a moron, a coward, a fraud. Someone who was once injured while serving in the Illinois National Guard and, because irony is dead, a callous hack.

He did all this allegedly to defend George Washington, whose statues Duckworth never said should be taken down. And, for what it's worth, I don't think they should be. But he might want to refer back to Washington's warning that we should guard against the impostors of pretended patriotism.

And some folks fear monger when they don't have facts on their side. And speaking of facts, here's something to ponder if you're wondering just who you can trust in this hailstorm of hate. Fox News' own lawyer argued in federal court three weeks ago that Tucker Carlson's audience doesn't expect him to report the facts.

And that's your "Reality Check."

CAMEROTA: Our thanks very much to John Avlon.

President Trump meets at the White House today with Mexico's president. So we take a look at the complicated relationship between the two world leaders. That's next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Mexico's president will meet with President Trump at the White House this afternoon to celebrate this new North American trade agreement. While their relationship got off to a bit of a rocky start, the leaders have recently found some common ground.

CNN's Matt Rivers live in Mexico City with the latest on this.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, we know the pandemic right now in the United States is really bad, but here in Mexico, since June 1st, cases and deaths have roughly tripled. And so you have to wonder why this meeting and why now?


RIVERS (voice over): You might think that President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wouldn't get along. Demonizing Mexicans has been a key part of the Trump playbook. Build that wall, Mexican immigrants are criminals and invaders and so on. And for his part, Lopez Obrador was asked in 2017, is Trump a racist?



RIVERS: Yes, yes, he says. He incites racism.

But since he become president in 2018, Lopez Obrador, known here as AMLO, has, for the most part, refused to publicly criticize Trump. And when the two men meet this week, expect it to go well. Trump has said he likes the Mexican president and AMLO said this last month, I am going to the U.S. to thank President Trump for his support and solidarity.

The two presidents will mark the start of a new, free trade deal that replaces NAFTA and AMLO says he'll thank Trump for sending ventilators during the pandemic. But critics in Mexico have urged him not to go, saying an Oval Office visit gives Trump and his supporters a pass for their rhetoric on immigration.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How do you stop these people? You can't. There's no -- that's only in the panhandle you can get away with that stuff.

RIVERS: Some have argued Lopez Obrador could be used as a political prop, saying the Oval Office photo-op could be used to demonstrate international support for an embattled president in a re-election fight.


Asked about that criticism, Lopez Obrador dismissed it and said the U.S. and Mexico have an essential economic relationship. He says, I'm not going to the U.S. for politics or elections issues. Politics is like walking a tight rope. You need to take risks and make decisions.

So, as Mexico's economy has been crushed during this epidemic, shoring up the country's most important economic relationship could be at the top of his mind.

LARRY RUBIN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MEXICO: Almost 85 percent of -- of all exports go to the states, which is obviously a huge number. So Mexico is highly dependent on trade.

RIVERS: Plus, there's a lot the two men have agreed on recently. They both have routinely ignored scientific advice during the coronavirus pandemic, they don't wear masks in public, have pushed for an economic reopening and aren't pushing for more testing. A new free trade agreement is the reason for the meeting, but it seems like there could be a lot of common ground.


RIVERS: Now the Mexican president flew commercial to Washington, D.C., yesterday. And because of Delta's mandatory mask policy, the Mexican president wore a mask in public for the first time.

Alisyn, we will see if he wears one today when he goes to the White House. But given the proclivity of his host, I would imagine he probably won't.

CAMEROTA: That's a safe bet.

Matt Rivers, thank you very much.

We have some breaking news right now. Another casualty of the pandemic. Clothing retailer Brooks Brothers has just filed for bankruptcy. The company was founded two centuries ago in New York. It is known to have tailored suits for dozens of U.S. presidents. Brooks Brothers is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy following Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and JC Penney.

Up next, a guest who had a horrible bout of coronavirus. He recovered. Then, against all odds, he got it again. He and his doctor are here next to explain.



CAMEROTA: Our next guest has an incredible story to tell. He first got sick with Covid-19 on March 29th. He had terrible coughing, fever and shortness of breath. A month later he was so sick he had to be hospitalized. After ten days in the hospital, he was recovering. He tested negative twice. Then, less than two months later, he got coronavirus again.

Joining us now is Adam Stadler. He's the one who tested positive in April. He recovered and has since had a second infection. Also was us is his doctor, Joseph Varon, chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston.

Gentlemen, we are happy to have you here.

Adam, when we heard about your story, we knew we had to talk to you. It is incredible.

So if everybody will just bear with me, I'll take them through the chronology.

On March 29th you had bad symptoms, as we said, coughing, shortness of breath. For a month you were sick. You were getting worse. You were in respiratory distress. Your doctor, thank God, Dr. Varon here, told you to get to the hospital on April 29th.


CAMEROTA: You did that. Things were bad in the hospital. You had developed a pulmonary embolism. But they saved your life.


CAMEROTA: And you were released on March 9th. You then tested negative, not once but twice.

Then what happened?

STADLER: And then I tested negative twice and then the symptoms -- I -- I started to come down with the shingles. I was diagnosed with the shingles afterwards. We assumed because of the steroid -- the high dose of steroids I was on.

So I went through a bout of shingles for a while that are very painful. And then those symptoms started to subside. Everything started to get better. And then, bam, my wife got it. You know, she started having symptoms. Three days later, on June 21st, the -- it just flat kicked -- kicked my butt. This -- this -- this go-around, this section of it has been a hundred times worse than the first time.

CAMEROTA: How is that? How is that, Adam? How has it been worse than everything you experienced? STADLER: It's like the muscle aches, the fatigue, the joint pains, the

fever, the diarrhea, the loss of breath -- or shortness of breath, the loss of sense in smell, I really never had that the first go-around as -- as severe as I've had it this time.

And the best way I can describe it, it's like a -- it's running through your bones. It was like in my back so bad that I would cry. I mean and I'm a tough old country boy, you know? I don't -- I don't cry like that. And my wife, she had double pneumonia. She was diagnosed -- she's diagnosed with double pneumonia in both lungs.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, this is just incredible.

STADLER: And viral infection --

CAMEROTA: I mean, your story is so frightening, frankly. And I believe that you're tough, but what -- the trials that you've had to endure during these months, it just seems really inconceivable.

And, Dr. Varon, you know, I thought this wasn't supposed to happen, Dr. Varon. I thought that we were told that you couldn't get it twice, or if you could, that the antibodies lasted for longer than what Adam just experienced of just one month.

DR. JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: Well, actually, if you knew -- if you look at the data and, you know, you look at the Spanish study, you can actually see that the antibodies don't last as much as we think they're going to last. And as we said yesterday, you know, a good number of patients have the potential of getting corona again. That's why, you know, thinking that you're going to be invincible because you already have corona once by no means is protective. People need to keep from being, you know, equally respectful of this illness. They need to keep their social distance, they need to keep their masks, you know, that kind of stuff, even if they had the illness already.


CAMEROTA: Adam, in terms of your second exposure, you tested negative -- after you were released from the hospital, you tested negative once. You tested negative twice.

STADLER: Correct.

CAMEROTA: Then is it that you -- you got together with your son, as I understand, for maybe 15 minutes. Is that how you think you were exposed?

STADLER: We're not 100 percent sure. My wife was with my son. They travelled together. They rode in the same car. They were together for longer than 15 minutes, you know, with close proximity to one another. But we don't know. He tested negative. He doesn't have any symptoms. His family doesn't have any symptoms. But we've been quarantined for almost three months now almost. I mean we might go to the store and do curbside pickup where they bring the groceries to us and put in the trunk, but we really don't know where we got it. CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, this is just --

STADLER: But she came down with symptoms first and then -- I mean it was like three or four days later it really hit me hard -- hard again.

CAMEROTA: And is it true that -- I read that your son doesn't think that coronavirus is serious enough to have to wear a mask. He considers it a hoax.

STADLER: Absolutely. I wish he would try to wear his mask, try to social distance. He's a grown man, you know, and we live in Texas. I mean it's political somewhat, you know? It's a hoax. It -- I don't know what to say, you know?

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, even after he watched his parents suffer with it, the way you have, he thinks it's a hoax?

STADLER: That -- I can't explain it. Yes, ma'am.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Varon, when can people be sure that they are truly negative? In other words, is it possible that Adam just got two bad negative tests and that he still had coronavirus and that this isn't actually him catching it a second time?

VARON: Yes, there is always that possibility because, you know, up to 10 percent of people, or 15 percent of people where we do the nasal swab, they -- the swab will be negative and yet you are positive. But the fact that this happened twice -- I mean we tested him twice. And twice he was negative. It would be very unusual.

I do have a couple of patients that have consistently tested positive for up to six weeks. So I guess there is a very slight possibility that that would be the case. But, you know, he was doing better. He was feeling better. So more likely than not this was a second infection that he had.

CAMEROTA: Adam, how are you coping with this, physically and emotionally?

STADLER: This has been the worst three or four months that I have ever experienced in my life. As far -- luckily, we -- we had a little nest egg put away that we could deal with it. I've been out of leave with my employer for two months now. I'm on short-term disability. It's a constant battle to -- with the insurance company, short-term disability. The doctors here, you know, I tried -- because Dr. Varon, he's very busy. You know, he's saving lives in Houston. He's got his stuff. I try to establish with the primary care doctor here in San Antonio close to us, about an hour away from us here, and it was just so much that she was overwhelmed. I mean -- because I've continued to -- to have blurry vision. I've had cognitive issues. I have a hard time focusing since the first -- first bout of it.

When I went to the doctor here, my primary care doctor, they gave me a test. I -- I scored a 14 on it which says I have dementia. I don't know what to say. You know, I'm a certified health care facility manager. I manage buildings. I manage a hospital in Galveston. I manage a crew of guys. I've never ever not been able to tell you what day of the week it is. I mean I can sit right here and tell you today it's Thursday. But when they gave me that test, I didn't know what day of the week it is.

CAMEROTA: It's actually Wednesday.

STADLER: You know, I -- it's -- it's messed up my brain. My mind -- my brain is definitely -- something's going on. I -- it's like I can't focus as well as I used to.

CAMEROTA: Yes, Adam, I mean, you're not alone. I'm so sorry to hear that you're enduring all of this. I mean it truly -- it sounds like such a crucible that you have lived through -- with. And we've heard this from other people, the cognitive -- all the cognitive damage is to be expected. But we hope that it will come back. I mean you sound great with us. We pray that you're on the mend now.

Adam Stadler, thank you for sharing your personal tribulation with us.


And Dr. Joseph Varon, thank you for all that you're doing in saving the lives of people like Adam.

We'll check back with you both of you. We really, really hope that you're on the mend.

STADLER: Thank you.


BERMAN: That was fascinating.

All right, time now for "The Good Stuff."

An immigrant from El Salvador doing what he can to help families in need during the coronavirus pandemic. Rufino Fuentes uses the down time from his full-time job to distribute food boxes out of his garage. He's feeding 400 families three days a week.


RUFINO FUENTES, IMMIGRANT FROM EL SALVADOR: They lost their job. They've got no income. And they've got a large family. So that broke my heart.

Other people that don't have that opportunity that I had. So why not use my free time to help others?


BERMAN: Fuentes organizes the donations from USDA through his church. Some boxes contain fresh produce. Others have loaves of bread. Fuentes says he invites more people to do the same. A wonderful example for all of us.

A lot of news. CNN's coverage continues after this.