Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

President Trump Denied Truth to Americans about the Pandemic; Europe's Largest Migrant Camp Devastated by Fire. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 10, 2020 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Downplaying the coronavirus, President Trump in his own words admitting he deliberately misled the American people.

But what was the cost?

Also burned to the ground: Europe's largest refugee camp is now in ashes, as you can see here. My guest is one of the heads of the aid organizations on the ground and he's demanding the permanent evacuation of the camp.

Plus blindfolded in Syria, dodging bombs in Iraq and spending time with the Taliban. We will investigate this and more with my guest, whose new book was just published.

Hello and welcome to CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: We begin with the bombshell revelations in a new book by veteran journalist Bob Woodward. Audio recordings shows that Donald Trump knew in early February just how contagious and deadly the coronavirus was but for months the U.S. president intentionally downplayed the danger.

Now these revelations come as global deaths from coronavirus pass the 900,000 mark and here at the U.S. more than 190,000 people have died. Here is Jim Acosta with more on all of that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump's lengthy record of false statements on the coronavirus may well be catching up with him.

In writing his new book about the Trump presidency, "Rage," journalist Bob Woodward recorded the president admitting on tape that he intentionally downplayed the severity of the virus.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down --

(CROSSTALK)

BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, sir.

TRUMP: -- because I don't want to create a panic.

ACOSTA: Responding to the book, the president insisted he only wanted to keep people from panicking.

TRUMP: I'm a cheerleader for this country. I love our country. And I don't want people to be frightened. I don't want to create panic. We want to show confidence. We want to show strength.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump then argued he is not responsible for the approximately 190,000 Americans who died from the virus.

TRUMP: I think, if we didn't do what we did, we would have had millions of people die.

ACOSTA: In a sign the White House was initially caught by surprise by the recordings, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tried to deny what is clearly caught on tape and lied to reporters.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president never downplayed the virus. Once again, the president expressed calm.

ACOSTA: In perhaps the most stunning revelation from Woodward's conversations with the president, Mr. Trump acknowledges in early February that COVID-19 is more deadly than the seasonal flu.

TRUMP: It goes -- it goes through air, Bob. That's always tougher than the touch.

The touch, you don't have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one.

It's also more deadly than your -- -- even your strenuous flus.

ACOSTA: And yet, on March 9, the president tweeted: "COVID-19 is not as dangerous as the flu."

As he held packed rallies during the early months of the pandemic, the president told the public that the coronavirus would disappear.

TRUMP: It's going to disappear one day. It's like a miracle. It will disappear. It will go away. You know it is going away.

ACOSTA: But listen to what the president told Woodward on March 19, that the virus poses a danger to Americans young and old.

TRUMP: Now it's turning out it's not just old people, Bob, but just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It's not just old -- older.

WOODWARD: Yes, exactly.

TRUMP: Young people too, plenty of young people.

ACOSTA: In the months that followed the president argued it was safe for children to go back to school.

TRUMP: If you look at children, children are almost and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few.

They have got stronger -- hard to believe. I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this. And they do it. They don't have a problem.

ACOSTA: Woodward reports, top officials around Mr. President Trump raised questions about his leadership. Dr. Anthony Fauci is said to have described the president's "attention span is like a minus number. His sole purpose is to get reelected."

Fauci responded to that on FOX.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: I don't really want to get involved in the kind of stuff that is very distracting to the kind of things I'm trying to do and that we're all trying to do with this outbreak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you would question that account, then?

FAUCI: Yes. Yes.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Woodward writes, former Defense Secretary James Mattis believed that Mr. Trump was dangerous and unfit.

An aide to Mattis, Woodward says, overheard Mr. Trump say, "My F-ing generals are a bunch of p*ssies."

On the Black Lives Matter movement, the president blows off Woodward's question about whether Mr. Trump is blinded by white privilege.

WOODWARD: Do you have any sense that that privilege has isolated and put you in a cave, to a certain extent, as it put me and I think lots of white privileged people in a cave and that we have to work our way out of it to understand the anger and the pain particularly black people feel in this country?

Do you --

[02:05:00]

TRUMP: No. You -- you really drank the Kool-Aid, didn't you?

Listen to you. Wow.

No, I don't feel that at all. ACOSTA: White House officials are now pointing fingers over who is to blame for allowing the president to talk to Bob Woodward. Multiple sources tell us the president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, signed off on the interviews.

But the president appears to have only himself to blame, as we are told he went around his own press office to speak with the legendary journalist -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Democratic hopeful Joe Biden wasted no time in response to the revelations. In a exclusive interview with CNN 's Jake Tapper, he called the president's actions "disgusting."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D-DE), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This caused people to die.

And what he doing the whole time?

He acknowledges you breathe it, it's in the air and he won't put on a mask. He's talking about, it's ridiculous to put on mask.

What do you need social distancing for?

Why have any of these rules?

It was all about making sure the stock market didn't come down, that his wealthy friends didn't lose any money. And that he could say that, in fact, anything that happened had nothing to do with him. He waved the white flag. He walked away. He didn't do a damn thing.

Think about it. Think about what he did not do and it's almost criminal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio joins me now from Long Island, New York.

Michael, good to see, you are also the author of "The Truth about Trump."

The president privately acknowledged how dangerous coronavirus was, that he intentionally hid that from the public. You've written a book with him, about him. You've spoken to him.

Does that surprise you?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Not at all. In no, this is almost like the question you might ask of a televangelist after the big scandal when they've been caught in a sexual affair or stealing the money.

Everyone says, well, did he really believe what he was preaching?

And the answer was no, in that case, and it's no in the case of Donald Trump. He's never spoken the truth about his own feelings, about any issue. So for example, on the issue of abortion, he's very pro-choice. But he ran a platform of being anti-abortion.

In this case, with the COVID-19 pandemic, I understood all along that he knew the science, that he was being well informed and that he found it politically advantageous to say otherwise, to promote this idea that we needn't to take precautions, that this was all going away very quickly and that he had it under control.

The shocking thing, I, think is that he did this interview with Bob Woodward, knew these many interviews, actually, were being recorded and he had the hubris to say, out loud, the part that he should've kept secret and that was the truth that he knew February 7th that this was a profound looming tragedy.

And we can now see, for certain, that he did nothing and he did nothing knowing what the consequences might be.

CURNOW: And why?

I mean, a national security adviser, we understand, had told him that this would be the biggest threat to his presidency and I think that was in January. It was barely mentioned in the State of the Nation speech, the State of the Union speech.

Why would a leader play it down?

Why would he lie about it more than 100 times according to "The Washington Post."

Is it about political expediency?

D'ANTONIO: Well, the key thing that you mentioned there was the world "leader."

So why would a leader do this?

Well, the leader of a democracy who is concerned for the people he was elected to serve and protect would never do this.

But a person who's got authoritarian instincts but also lacks the ability to lead would do this. This is the thing that I think a lot of people missed about Donald Trump when he ran for president.

He announced that he was a great business man who had run all of these successful enterprises, employed thousands and thousands of people. And so, of course, he was a great leader.

But in fact, he was awful at running organizations that involved more than a handful of people. He ran them into the ground and wound up in bankruptcy time and again because he's not a good leader of people. He's simply a man who promotes himself, promotes his own interests and thrives through that kind of advertising mindset, the salesmanship mindset.

And that's not to denigrate honest sales people but, you know, he's a con man and this idea that he was a leader was false to begin with.

[02:10:00]

D'ANTONIO: So the fact that he was derelict in his duty in this case is no surprise at all.

CURNOW: Michael, thank you for joining us. The author of "The Truth about Trump," your perspective, very much valued. Thank you very much for joining us live from New York.

D'ANTONIO: Thank you.

CURNOW: Well, earlier I spoke with CNN political commentator Charles Blow, an op-ed columnist for "The New York Times." This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: So your thoughts on this, that the president knew coronavirus was dangerous, was deadly and then downplayed it because he said he didn't want folks to panic.

CHARLES BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. Biden is his opponent in the race, said it was almost criminal. I think that is soft pedaling it. It is criminal. This is -- you are responsible for people dying.

And the reason that you did it was because you wanted to put yourself in a better position to be reelected. There is no other way to describe what is happened here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: And you can see much more of my interview with Charles Blow on the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

Now remember back in 2018, when Donald Trump said that he and Kim Jong-un fell in love?

Well, excerpts of those letters from the North Korean leader in Bob Woodward's book paint quite a relationship and it really is. Let me read some of it.

"Even now, I cannot forget that moment of history, when I firmly held Your Excellency's hand at the beautiful and sacred location as the whole world watched with great interest and hope to relive the honor of that day."

Paula Hancocks joins me now in Seoul with more on that.

So that's an excerpt of a letter Kim Jong-un wrote to the U.S. president, wistfully remembering that day when they held hands, a historic photo opportunity, just one of these fascinating windows that we get in this insight to this relationship between these two men in this book.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. We can really sort of see the chronology of how the relationship started well in 2018 with that Singapore summit and then deteriorated up until today, as the U.S. and North Korean relationship deteriorated.

Some of the language to some would seem over the top, overly flowery. But this is the way that, quite often, is written in North Korean state-run media. It is a very descriptive, kind of, writing. So that's not beyond the norm for North Korea, although it may strike some people as being a little over the top.

We certainly saw -- and Bob Woodward said he had access to 25 different letters between the 2 leaders -- we did see what Donald Trump was calling love letters and what Bob Woodward has described as a diplomatic courtship.

So you have that quote there; that was just before Singapore or just after Singapore, I should say, in 2018. The summit, the historic summit, where things seemed to be going extremely well between the U.S. and North Korea.

Then you had Hanoi the next year in February, when they broke away without an agreement. And we did hear that the U.S. president told Bob Woodward about how he tried to coax the North Korean leader once he realized he wasn't going to get the deal that he wanted, saying, quote, "Do you ever do anything other than send rockets up to the air?

"Let's go for a movie together. Let's go play a round of golf."

Later on, they did have that third meeting at the DMZ in June of 2019. But a month later, after U.S. and South Korean military drills were canceled, which the North Korean leader expected them to be, we can see that the change in tone in the letters, the North Korean leader saying, quote, "I am clearly offended and I do not want to hide this feeling from you. I am really very offended."

So it's really a very good way of seeing the chronology, as I say, of how the relationship was going with the last one, according to this book, Bob Woodward said he sounded like a disappointed friend or a lover when it came to Kim Jong-un.

It shows that these two men did have an unusual and close relationship and that it did turn sour at the end. But of course, this is something that the U.S. president has said publicly, saying that he believes that they do have a very unique relationship.

CURNOW: Yes, the details of those letters also printed on cnn.com as well as in Bob Woodward's book. So interesting reading, indeed. Paula Hancocks, live in Seoul, thank you so much.

So a top member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force is offering his own take on President Trump's response to the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci says he doesn't think that the president distorted facts about the virus.

[02:15:00]

CURNOW: At least the fact that we discussed during task force meetings. Here's what he told FOX News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: He really didn't say anything different than we discussed when we were with him. So I may not be tuned into the right thing that they are talking about.

But I didn't really see any discrepancies between what he told us and what we told him and what he ultimately came out publicly and said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: So the White House is pushing for a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year if not sooner but most experts say that timeline is really not realistic at all. In fact, a major drugmaker has already paused trials twice as Nick Watt has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NIH: This ought to be reassuring to everybody listening. When we say we are going to focus first on safety and make no compromises, here is exhibit A.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A serious spinal cord problem in one volunteer in Britain has halted crucial phase 3 worldwide trials of one of the most promising potential COVID-19 vaccines.

FAUCI: Which means you put the rest of the enrollments of individual volunteers on hold until you can work out precisely what went on. It's unfortunate that it happened; hopefully, they will work it out and be able to proceed along with the remainder of the trial. But you don't know.

WATT (voice-over): The White House says AstraZeneca's pause is proof this process is epic (ph).

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: There is still two American vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials showing great promise. But you know, AstraZeneca, what is happening there, showing that science is guiding the way on a vaccine.

WATT (voice-over): Meanwhile there still isn't even enough testing available, according to a new study led by a former FDA commissioner, which concludes, "A basic screening strategy will require approximately 200 million tests each month."

And that's just for schools and nursing homes. Right now, we are averaging just a little over 20 million tests a month, total. And hospitals in 12 states have reported shortages of the therapeutic drug, remdesivir, since July, according to the advocacy group Public Citizen. They want the president to allow generic producers to make the drug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could quickly expand the supply if Trump would belatedly exert some leadership.

WATT (voice-over): Nationwide, most key metrics heading in the right direction right now but there can be a long lag in reporting after a long weekend. And we still don't know if those Labor Day crowds spawned any outbreaks.

And these 15 states are seeing more than 10 percent of tests coming back positive; 5 percent or lower is where you want to be.

We are also now nearing 40,000 confirmed cases on college campuses. In Illinois, Bradley University now quarantining the entire student body for two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are still seeing some large and small gatherings and that is putting a strain on the institution.

WATT (voice-over): And more than 600 confirmed cases at the University of Tennessee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we have disturbing information stemming, frankly, from the fraternities; in particular, fraternity leaders, communicating to houses, how to have parties and avoid being caught, avoid the police.

WATT (voice-over): Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: So next on CNN, Europe's largest migrant camp now ravaged by flames, leaving many refugees without shelter and there are signs the fire was started on purpose. We have that next.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:20:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW (voice-over): What you see here is what's actually left of the largest migrant camp in Europe. On Wednesday, a fire broke out at the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. There are about 13,000 migrants staying there and now many are without shelter.

Greece's minister for migration says it was apparently down on purpose and it likely happened because of an argument over coronavirus quarantine rules.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: Joining me now, live from near that camp is Niklas Fischer, head of the mission of the NGO Mission Lifeline.

Niklas, good to see you.

What started this?

What do you know happened and played out?

NIKLAS FISCHER, MISSION LIFELINE: Good morning. So what we know, there were huge fires the last two nights. It started, like, a few nights ago. The whole camp, there were a lot of emotions because of the whole lockdown situation, which lasts now for 6 months.

And it got very aggressive, very frustrated and, unfortunately, it turned into a big, big fire, which destroyed nearly, I would say, 80 percent of the whole camp in the first night and last night. I was in the middle of the camp when the second fire broke out and this one destroyed all the rest.

CURNOW: Who started the fire?

You say emotions were boiling over because they had been asked to quarantine, to lock down.

But how did the fires actually start?

The Greek minister for migration says it was done on purpose.

Why?

FISCHER: I think the people, they wanted to free themselves, somehow. They want to send, maybe, a last big message out before whatever happens next. But they were just frustrated.

I think we cannot really see it, rationally, their motives because they have been locked down for 6 months and nothing is happening. Still, they don't know when they will get asylum, if they will get asylum. So there is -- they are a lot of traumatized people and they don't know, sometimes, what they are doing.

CURNOW: But now their futures are very much in the air.

What happens to 13,000 people who don't have a home?

As you can see, many of them are children and families.

What next?

FISCHER: I have no idea, actually. And unfortunately, the people also don't know what is going to happen. As I heard, there is some news that they are coming some ships or ferryboats that will take a few people. But it's just a small, small amount of the people. I mean, it's a small city, you can't just burn down a small city and don't help the people.

CURNOW: And what about coronavirus? If there was concern that there were infection rates or high infection rates in the first, place what does that then say also about the safety of people now who are on the island?

And these people, particularly, as well?

FISCHER: Yes, but when we take a look at the numbers, the numbers inside the camp were not as high as the numbers outside of the camp. So just because they are, migrants doesn't mean that the virus is more on their side.

But of course, there were like 34-35 cases of the coronavirus inside the camp and a few of these people could be put in quarantine again. But there are still some out there.

CURNOW: Yes, and what I mean is, that, clearly there is not going to be any social distancing taking place on Lesbos when you try to manage that the trauma of 13,000 people now homeless. And that doesn't help the situation on the island at all.

Has there been any offers of help?

I know there's been some pressure on Germany to do more here.

What do you think the European reaction should be and will be?

FISCHER: I'm not really full of hope anymore, unfortunately. I mean, this is a political level we are talking about. And I'm not a politician. I'm a humanitarian and a journalist and I want to help these people and I am not even allowed to help these people here on the ground.

Police and authorities are blocking NGOs and other organizations to help. They are giving them food, giving them clothes.

[02:25:00]

FISCHER: So my understanding, it's difficult to have big hope when we are not even allowed to help on the small level. How can we be able, in Europe, to help on a much higher level?

CURNOW: OK, I really appreciate you sharing what you know and what you saw as well. Niklas Fischer, live from Lesbos in Greece, thank you very much and for all the work you are doing. Thank you.

FISCHER: Thank you very much.

CURNOW: So the latest wildfires tormenting the western U.S. aren't just dangerous and destructive; they are now turning deadly as well. At least seven people have been found dead just in the last few hours. In Marion County, Oregon, two bodies were discovered during a search and rescue mission there. The area is under a state of emergency.

And then just minutes ago, we learned another body was found nearby. Three people have also been killed by the fast-moving North Complex fire in Northern California, it's less than 40 percent contained. And in Washington State, a wildfire claimed a life of a child; two

relatives of the child, a man and a woman, are also in critical condition.

I want to show you this video from south of Portland, Oregon. It was shot in the afternoon with fires and smoke tinting the sky a deep, deep red. Look at those images. One family camping in the area had to escape the flames as the fire quickly closed in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we going to be OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: The flames can be seen on both sides of the road as the couple fled the area with their young daughter, as you could hear there, they were trying to keep her calm by saying everything was going to be OK. But terrifying, no doubt.

Take a look at this also, spooky orange and red skies are also startling millions of people in California's Bay Area, even though there, there's no direct threat.

So these hot, dry, windy conditions are fueling fires as some 28 million people are now under so-called red flag warnings across five states here in the U.S. More than 140,000 households and businesses are without electricity. Lucy Kafanov shows us the scary conditions in one county and this, of course, is all because of global warming.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The situation here in Oregon is incredibly dangerous. All across the state, including Clackamas County where I'm located right now, this is Oregon's third most populous county. It is under a level three mandatory evacuation order.

I'm going to step out of the shot so you could see the scene behind me. The fires out there in the distance moving forward because of these high wind conditions and incredibly dry air.

Those weather conditions preventing rescue and fire teams from being able to even begin to try and contain these fires. The focus, right, now is on preventing the loss of life, on evacuating people.

Oregon governor Kate Brown describing these fires as, quote, "unprecedented." She says this could be the greatest loss of human lives on property due to wildfire in our state's history. No parts of Oregon are affected at the moment.

The problem with these weather conditions is that some of the fires are merging, so things could get a lot more worse before they get better. We are expecting a potential change in the weather conditions in about a day, or two, with cooler western winds coming in that have more moisture in the air.

But, again, the question, really, is how much of these properties, how much of these areas will burn before those conditions change?

Again, 0 percent containment right now, Oregon also struggling because neighboring California and Washington State struggling with their own fires. We know that some firefighters will be deploying from Utah to help the state, the National Guard has been activated as well.

But this is, again, a historic, unprecedented fire event across the state of Oregon. Folks are on high alert, authorities telling people not to gamble with their lives, to get out before it's too late -- Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Clackamas County, Oregon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Thanks for that.

Next on CNN, how plummeting oil prices are now causing hundreds of shale companies to go bust in the U.S. We have a live report on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:30:00]

CURNOW: What a difference a day makes.

The U.S. financial markets bounced back in a very big way on Wednesday with tech stocks including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft leading the charge.

The DOW gained 1.6 percent as you can see here, all in positive territory. The NASDAQ saw its quickest correction ever with a 2.7 percent surge. Tesla gained almost 11 percent after a huge loss on Tuesday.

And then let's take a look at the oil markets. Prices of Brent and West Texas crude are back up after slipping due in part to rising stockpiles, caused by the coronavirus.

And that's been fueling worries about demands. Slumping energy prices are really hurting a lot of livelihoods, of course.

Well, John Defterios is live in Abu Dhabi joining us with all of this.

So break down the numbers for us -- hi, John. Good to see you.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Thanks.

Well, I tell you, Robyn, it's been a volatile 2020.

Basically, at this, price it doesn't work for the U.S. shale producers, I'd say. And the ones I've spoken to in the last few days say it stabilized a lot in the last month.

But if you take a look at 2020 overall -- and we have the graph here. We started above $63 a barrel, went negative in April and then made a recovery based on OPEC plus cuts, substantial -- about 10 million a day one point -- and the U.S. stimulus package which boosted demand again.

But 40 is the break even price. We're hovering around $38 a barrel right now with all this volatility. And it doesn't add up.

Let's take a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEFTERIOS: Midland Texas, the beating heart of U.S. shale production. In this part of America, they know all too well what boom and bust feels like.

Oil service company CEO Bobby Bounds was all smiles during the boom. He and a dozen employees did industrial painting on storage tanks, pipes, valves. Anything related to oil and gas in the giant Permian Basin.

Then COVID-19 hit striking first on Wall Street, and in no time, Main Street Midland felt the pain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOBBY BOUNDS, OWNER, HEAVY-DUTY INDUSTRIAL: So I woke up, I think it was on a Monday, and the Dow Jones had dropped 2,300 or something.

And it wasn't 12 hours later, I'm getting phone calls from my big customers telling me to stop all work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEFTERIOS: An oil price for them broke out between Saudi Arabia and Russia and prices went below zero for the first time in history.

And so too did Bobby's business. All told he lost a half million dollars of work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOUNDY: I'm the entrepreneur risk taker, I put resources at risk in hopes of a gain. And if I get some gain but then it goes bad, well, that's bad for me. But I see it's almost a gamble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEFTERIOS: And in this high stakes game of oil, he was forced to fold his hand, pack his bags for New Mexico, where he started a new business.

The economic fate of the Permian is closely linked to what's called the active oil rig count.

Last autumn, when I was on the ground in Midland, it was listed on a sign downtown; 860 nationally, 414 locally. Today, as of early September, it's 256 nationwide and only 125 in the Permian.

Even the big boys feel the pain. As an independent player, Pioneer National Resources sits on the region's largest shale assets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICH DEALY, CFO, PIONEER NATURAL RESOURCES: The world doesn't need a million barrels a day of growth coming from the U.S.

[02:35:00]

We'll have to adjust our staffing levels down to right size it to our activity levels.

And so we're still in the middle of that process right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

That's reflected in the local unemployment rate, rising nearly fivefold in a year from just over two percent to 9.4 percent.

Next door in Odessa, it's the highest in Texas.

Other oil producers and service companies did not survive. With three downturns in five years, 492 of them have gone bankrupt, with debt up nearly 300 billion dollars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEFTERIOS: How do you batten down the hatches as for what length of time?

DEALY: It's really unknown at this point. It's really dependent on when we get a vaccine and see what happens to demand.

So I would say kind of the earliest is second half '21 but it could roll into '22, '23 time period where we really see demand for oil get back over 100 million barrels a day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEFTERIOS: Meaning the shale shake out for players big and small is far from over.

And we're looking at job losses in the oil patches of America, Robyn, of 100,000 during COVID alone. And in that timeframe, the U.S. has lost three million barrels a day.

For perspective, that's like taking a UAE, where I'm sitting, off the market and it's a major Middle East producer.

It has been a major shake out.

CURNOW: Wow, that's fascinating. John Defterios there in Abu Dhabi. Good to see. Thank you.

So coming up. She has covered conflicts and crises all over the world including in Syria.

So now CNN's Clarisse Ward shares her experiences in a new memoir. We'll speak to her next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: ISIS has control of the next village along which is just over a mile in that direction.

But the man at this base tell us that ISIS fighters often go at night to that building just over there so that they can launch attacks on these positions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: So CNN's chief international correspondent Clarisse Ward there reporting from the front lines in Syria where she documented the destruction and tragedy.

And now we're learning that Syria is among several countries that have seen at least 37 million people displaced by wars America fought since 2001.

Well, "The New York Times" magazine is citing that new number from Brown University's cost of war project. The report accounts for people, mostly civilians, displaced in and from countries where fighting has been the fiercest.

Well, Clarissa has reported, as you well know, if you watch CNN, from some of the world's most dangerous places.

And she writes about her experiences in a new memoir. It's called "On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist."

And she joins me now from London. Clarissa, hi. Lovely to see you, congrats.

When we play that clip and we look back at your career, is it Syria that has left the biggest mark on you?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN SNR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you for having me on, Robyn.

CURNOW: Lovely to see you.

WARD: I think definitely when you look through the book, you see I've lived in many places, Beirut, Beijing, Baghdad, Moscow. But Syria is absolutely the first conflict that really grabbed my heart and wouldn't let go. And that I became so consumed in.

[02:40:00]

And I think a big part of that was not just the story and the unbelievable sacrifice and horrendous suffering of the Syrian people, but I think it's also a product that unlike other conflicts in war zones I've covered, you didn't have any distance covering this as a journalist.

In order to go and tell the Syrian story, you had to sneak into rebel held areas, you had to live in their homes. There was no questions of sort of retreating and going back to your hotel and having a coffee with other journalists.

And that meant that you really were immersed in this conflict in the full scope and scale of their suffering was felt by you as well, Robyn.

CURNOW: Clarissa, I actually remember you writing this book a few years ago. I was in London reporting there.

And I was actually sitting at Hallah's (ph) desk and I remember you saying you were pregnant I think with your first child. And you were saying you started off as writing as a letter to your unborn child, if I remember correctly.

How has being a mother -- you've since had another baby, how has being a mother not changed you, but changed people's perception of the way you work?

And I know this is something that all of us who have worked in dangerous places sometimes feel that male journalists get a different reaction to female journalists who are parents.

WARD: Well, first of all, you have a really good memory. That's exactly right.

And secondly, yes, I think there's always this moment where people are like oh, were are you going to be doing more work -- in London now or are you going to be doing more work in the studio? It's sort of a not terribly subtle way of probing as to whether I'll keep going to dangerous places.

And there is a moment where you're like gosh, are you really asking my male colleague that who has three kids.

And the answer more often than not is no, they're not and there is a double standard.

At the same time, I don't need to tell you, Robyn, that when you're a parent whether you're a mother or father, of course there's a huge sense of responsibility.

You're midwifing this soul into the world and security becomes vitally important but I -- and it always has been important. But even more so.

But I would just say, more broadly speaking, that I think my reporting feels even more urgent to me now.

Particularly when it comes to the suffering of civilians -- CURNOW: Yes.

WARD: -- to the suffering of children. I feel absolutely connected and compelled to keep telling these stories and to try to inject them with all the compassion that I can muster.

CURNOW: Being a mother gives a whole different level of empathy, and you do see the world in a different way.

One last question before we go -- and I know we're going to talk again in two hours as well.

But there's so much misinformation at the moment, there's so much blurriness between fact and fiction, even though it's not here on CNN. How do you manage that and how does that play into how you've written about this?

WARD: It's so hard. When you look at the era in which I became a journalist in the sort of post 9/11 years, this wasn't an issue.

No one was talking about fake news and you didn't have social media in the same way.

And it's created tremendous opportunities for journalists but it's also become something of a minefield.

And of course, it's incredibly disparaging and depressing to be on the front lines in Aleppo and have someone railing on you on Twitter saying that you're some lacky or fake news or whatever disparaging comments they might be.

But I just think we really need to kind of try to tune out the noise, focus on the jobs, stick to the facts, and keep doing this work.

Because fundamentally, I do believe we're providing a vitally important service. We're not perfect, we do make mistakes sometimes.

And I do worry for the next generation of journalists, how they're going to navigate this increasingly complex and challenging atmosphere.

CURNOW: Yes, OK. Wise words, indeed. Clarissa Ward there. The author of a new memoir called, "On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist."

Looking forward to reading it. Thanks, Clarisse. Speak to you in a few hours as well.

WARD: Thanks, Robyn.

CURNOW: So thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Robyn Curnow.

WORLD SPORTS starts right after the break. Patrick Snell's next. Enjoy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:45:00]

(WORLD SPORT)

[03:00:00]