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Crowd Gathers For Trump Rally With Few Masks, No Social Distancing; Key Model Predicts 415,000 COVID Deaths By January 1st; At Least 28 People Known Dead In West Coast Wildfires; Trump Lists Off Seven Hours Of Fox Programming He Watched; Cast Of "The Princess Bride" Reunites For Swing State Fundraiser. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 12, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: A federal health official tells CNN today his political appointees tried to change the wording in C.D.C. reports to better line up with President Trump's messaging on the pandemic.

And these changes were made in the Venerable Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. This is the C.D.C. primary publication for public health information and recommendations that has more than 190,000 subscribers primarily those on the front lines of fighting this crisis, doctors, medical staff, and researchers.

But check out the response from the Trump appointee accused of pushing for changes in these reports. There's no denial just conspiratorial accusations from Michael Caputo, a former member of the Trump campaign.

Caputo says, quote: "Our intention is to make sure that evidence science-based data drives policy through this pandemic, not ulterior Deep State motives in the bowels of CDC."

All of this happening after we learned that the President has known since early February just how deadly and contagious the virus is, and yet has deliberately been downplaying it as revealed and recorded conversations he had with journalist Bob Woodward.

I'm going to turn now to CNN's Boris Sanchez, who is in Minden, Nevada ahead of this upcoming rally and Boris, is the Trump campaign doing anything to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, they responded to our requests for comment about this event today with a statement that they've given us several times before effectively saying that they're taking attendees temperature at the door and providing them with masks, but also by the way, so you can see behind me, there are not very many people wearing masks at all.

They are encouraged to wear them, but it's clearly not being enforced, and as far as social distancing goes, I think the pictures speak for themselves.

Notably, this event was originally planned for the airport in Reno, and it actually had to be moved because officials at the Reno Airport felt that it was in contradiction with the mandate by the State of Nevada, a ban on events of 50 people or more.

The organizers here in Douglas County did not feel that there was a risk to spread coronavirus. A County Commissioner actually telling us that they've only had eight cases in recent weeks, but they are not afraid of coronavirus and that none of the Commissioners on the County Board objected to holding this event, so they are hosting it here and there's clearly no enforcement from the state, either.

From what we've seen inside the actual venue, there are seats that are separated, not really six feet apart, but they are scattered. The campaign taking some measure of prevention, but clearly, this is not abiding by the C.D.C. guidelines -- Ana.

CABRERA: Yes, clearly, people don't seem to be worried behind you there. Switching gears here, Boris, to the altered C.D.C. reports that we reported at the top here. We heard from Michael Caputo, I read his statement, but what does his boss in the Health Department saying about these claims?

SANCHEZ: Yes, Alex Azar is effectively depressed defending this practice. He didn't really negate that it was happening, but he effectively said that President Trump has been pushing forward an agenda that is based on science. Here's his exact statement. He says, quote: "The President has always been receptive to the data and science presented by me and other members of the Taskforce. President Trump's science-based decision making has saved lives."

Of course, we should point out there was reporting earlier this year the President was frustrated that some of the messaging coming from Azar and other officials at the C.D.C. and H.H.S. was contradictory and painted a much grimmer picture than the one that he wanted painted on coronavirus.

You can go back to that visit that the President had to the C.D.C. in Atlanta at the beginning of March in which he said that every American that wanted a test could get one. That is still not the case today in September -- Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez in Minden, Nevada. Thank you, sir.

Joining us now, CNN political commentator and political columnist for "The Bulwark," Amanda Carpenter. She is also the author of the book "Gaslighting: Why We Love it When Trump Lies to us." And also with us, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist and former Clinton White House adviser, Paul Begala, who is the author of the book, "You're Fired: The Perfect Guide to Beating Donald Trump."

You guys both make me look like I am so lazy with all of the work that you've been doing in all of these different areas. But I'm grateful to have your voices here on this show to offer some perspective.

Let's just take another look at those long lines of supporters for a moment waiting to hear from the President. We learned this week, you know, President Trump has been downplaying the virus that now H.H.S. officials have been trying to alter C.D.C. reports to align with the President's messaging.

We learned of this new model that says 415,000 Americans could die from coronavirus by January. And yet, Paul, none of that seems to be impacting their support for the President.

[18:05:10]

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, this is really the tragedy of the consequences of Mr. Trump's lies. A lot of Americans, a lot of good Americans rely on him and they believe him. Okay, I don't, I'm a Democrat. I don't like him, blah, blah, blah. But there's a lot of really good people who are going to get sick or are going to die, who have already gotten sick and who have already died because the President is lying to them.

It has enormous consequences. It's heartbreaking. It's really the worst thing a President can do is to endanger the lives of his fellow Americans knowingly and we know from Mr. Woodward's book, from the tapes that have been released that the President is purposefully lying to us and to the supporters who believe him.

It's just outrageous, and I feel -- I really wish I'm glad Boris is covering that rally. I wish I could go there and say, look, you go -- I want you alive for Election Day to go vote for Trump. Please put a mask on, socially distance.

CABRERA: Do you really think that they would be receptive to you saying that to them?

BEGALA: No, that's the problem. That's why it's the President who has to say this. You know, in a crisis, the word of the President is the most important thing on Earth, and for this President to have so debased reality, in the eyes of his supporters, it's just heartbreaking.

I mean, we're smaller than the European Union in terms of population, and we have many multiples more deaths, and it's not because Europeans are smarter. It's because they have leaders who don't lie to them. And that's the heartbreak of the crisis of this coronavirus.

CABRERA: Amanda, I want to drill down on this new reporting today that Trump appointed communications officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have pushed to change the language in the C.D.C.'s weekly coronavirus reports, so that it lines up with the President's message.

You combine that with these recordings of the President telling Bob Woodward in February that the virus was airborne and that it was more deadly than a severe flu and yet, he was saying the opposite in public and now we have nearly 200,000 Americans dead and still counting.

Why hasn't all of this prompted bipartisan outrage?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think there's just so much information coming out of this administration. A lot of Republicans have just thrown their hands up and said, we'll let the voters decide. They don't want to deal with it.

But I do think it'd be easier to deal with and harder for them to escape if we could distill this into a clear story because all of these scandals, you know, Donald Trump leaning on Don McGahn and Sessions to get rid of Mueller, leaning on D.H.S. officials to suppress reports about rightwing violence. You know, having his guys at H.H.S. try to suppress this information. It's all the same story.

This is what Donald Trump expects of his people, the people he installs in our government to suppress information that could hurt him politically and act as his guys in the government. This is the story of his whole life.

And if you look at all of these tell-alls that are coming out, they're all telling the same story and saying you can't give this guy a second term because it's going to be so much worse. The guardrails are gone, and there's no more dire consequence than the deaths we've seen.

Really, I can't even get over how far we've gone on this. Watching the Press Secretary stand at that lectern this week and say the President has never downplayed the virus, while we hear him on tape saying that's my game plan.

And I just want to sit down with his media people like Tucker Carlson, his champion and say, how does it feel to know that Donald Trump told the truth to Bob Woodward, but he expects you to carry this deathly lie for his audience so he can get out and have a big rally and have a show?

I mean, he uses people so badly, that it is just -- you know, it makes me angry, but it makes me sad in a way that I pray that we recover.

CABRERA: Paul, the President gave a new interview to FOX's Jeanine Pirro where he throws out another baseless claim this time that Joe Biden is taking performance enhancing drugs. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there's probably, possibly drugs involved. That's what I hear. I mean, there's possibly drugs. I don't know how you can go from being so bad when you can't even get out a sentence.

I mean, you saw some of those debates with the large number of people on the stage. He was -- I mean, I used to say, how is it possible that he can even go forward?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The President has historically lodged baseless accusations about Biden regarding his mental acuity, his stamina, and his age. Now, he is claiming he's on drugs. Why does his mind go there, Paul?

BEGALA: That's a great question. I didn't even take Freshman Psychology, so I wouldn't even hazard a guess. There is this practice that he has, so as a political strategy or maybe just a reflex of projection. He accuses others of that which he is guilty.

It doesn't mean that he participated in the Kennedy assassination as he accused Amanda's -- the father of Amanda's old boss, Ted Cruz, but it is something -- remember he was running for President against Dr. Ben Carson, who people may agree or disagree with Dr. Carson's issues, but he is a profoundly faithful Christian.

[18:10:08]

BEGALA: And Mr. Trump said he is not really a Christian. He attacked Ben Carson's religious faith. I suspect that was projection. I don't think it was legitimate criticism of Dr. Carson.

And I think this might be this similar thing with Joe Biden. I do think it's noteworthy that Biden has not risen to the bait, which is very smart. This is about the health of the American people not about the health of Joe Biden. It's about whether we have a drug that fights coronavirus, not whether Mr. Trump is fantasizing about performance enhancing drugs.

CABRERA: Amanda, Bill Maher --

CARPENTER: There's --

CABRERA: Go ahead. Real quick.

CARPENTER: All right. There's a real simple explanation to this one. Donald Trump is worried that Joe Biden is going to outperform in the debates. That's very clear. His campaign set the stage as saying, well, he is a doddering old guy in the basement who can't string a sentence together. And then they had to recalibrate after the convention because they said, whoa, this guy -- this guy can actually bring it.

And so now, he pedals this and who does he peddle it to? To Jeanine Pirro who will gobble up anything. Again, he uses these conservative media allies, and it's really -- you know, I don't want to hear that FOX News is a news network when they let Jeanine Pirro sit down with the President and swallow this uncontested because any journalist would have stopped in his tracks and says, who says that? This is how he always does it. I'm hearing this -- who is telling you this?

Because we saw what happens when Jonathan Swan stops in his tracks in the Oval Office interview and says, who is telling you that we shouldn't test? And he can't answer the question because he is making it up.

CABRERA: And well, and Bill and we have Brian Stelter's new book out, "Hoax" and he talks all about that relationship between FOX News and this administration.

Brian is coming up on our show in a little bit, but I do want to play the sound from Bill Maher who is of course notoriously not a Trump supporter, and he mocked his guests for being so confident about Biden's chances in this upcoming election. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA YELLIN, FOUNDER OF NEWS, NOT NOISE: Biden's numbers have been unbelievably steady since March. He is up consistently six point.

BILL MAHER, HBO HOST: He better be.

PETER HAMBY, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "VANITY FAIR": The whole -- what about 2016 thing? It's just not 2016. People have had four years of Donald Trump. A verdict has more or less been rendered since he took office given his approval ratings and Joe Biden is just not Hillary Clinton.

MAHER: Races tighten at the end. You sound like the panels I used to have on right before the last election, when I was like, you guys are whistling past the graveyard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Paul, what do you think? Is he right?

BEGALA: Races do tighten toward the end. Bill is right. Bill is a hell of a comedian, he would be a good political strategist. They always tighten at the end, though.

I mean, for decades, I have called it just natural tightening. People revert to the mean. And the problem for Mr. Trump is his mean is about 43. Now it's -- you know, it's steep climb for 43 to 48, 49, and 50. But it's not at all impossible.

My friends on the Democratic side say, oh, Biden has got in the bag. I say it's not even in the grocery cart, and then you add to that the fact that they're not -- Biden is not just running against Trump. He's running against Russia. He is running against voter suppression. He is running against disinformation.

This is going to be a very difficult campaign for Joe Biden to win. We've only fired four Presidents in the last century.

CABRERA: Paul Begala and Amanda Carpenter. We've got to leave it there, guys. Thanks so much.

BEGALA: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: CNN brings you the stories of Donald Trump and Joe Biden and their fight for the White House. See their triumphs, their tragedies, their dramatic journeys to this upcoming showdown. Don't miss the back-to-back documentary events starting tonight at 10 on CNN.

It has been six months since COVID-19 changed all of our lives, from how we live to how we work. For example, right now this show is produced by people working from home and in the office because of this virus.

And now Dr. Anthony Fauci says these changes and the normal life we all once knew might not return until the end of 2021. He also says misinformation is making the virus harder to fight. We will discuss your life in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:17:53]

CABRERA: It has been six months since coronavirus completely changed our lives, and now Dr. Anthony Fauci says that normal life may not return until the end of next year, and he also says widely circulated claims that aren't evidence based are just making it that much harder to fight the virus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you're in the middle of a pandemic, and you're trying hard to address all the appropriate issues, it is truly a waste of time to have the debunk nonsense.

But, you know, unfortunately, we've had to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: This comes as a key coronavirus model is now predicting a most likely scenario of 415,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. by January. Now keep in mind that this is a model that has undershot what has actually happened in all of their past models.

Now in the worst case scenario, these modelers say we could see more than 10,000 deaths per day in December. Dr. Peter Hotez is joining us now. He is a Professor and Dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Wow, Doctor. Those numbers are so scary, and if we're not careful based on what we just heard from Dr. Fauci, could misinformation play a role in pushing us toward that worst case scenario and further away from a return to normal life?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, absolutely, Ana. We're still in the middle of this terrible epidemic even though the numbers are starting to go down now, down below 40,000 new cases a day.

If you look globally, that's still one of the highest rates in the world in terms of new cases and deaths. So we remain the epicenter of COVID-19 on the planet, even though our numbers are starting to go down.

And now we're doing some things that we know we're going to bring it back up. We're forcing school reopenings, college reopening in areas where there's lots of transmission.

There's a huge football game going on at Florida State University in Tallahassee, which is one of the most highly endemic areas in the country right now. So this is -- this is going to be a problem and Dr. Fauci is absolutely right. Even with vaccines, we are still going to have a lot of transmission especially if those vaccines are not completely protective and partially protective.

[18:20:11]

CABRERA: I mean, we talk about higher risk activity. Just take a look at what we're seeing today in Nevada, with people packed very close together. They're in line, getting ready for a President Trump rally that's going to happen there in just a few hours, and as you can see, perhaps what should be the most popular item is completely missing or very seldom used in this crowd, and those are those masks.

How do you explain that? And what would you say to them? What would you say to them?

HOTEZ: Yes, I mean, people are still refusing to wear masks as some sort of political badge, and it's so self-destructive. One you put other people at risk in the venue, because you could likely have asymptomatic COVID, you're transmitting it. You'll increase the risk of contracting COVID-19.

And this is all the product of a disinformation campaign that's been waged by the White House since the beginning of the epidemic when the White House has repeatedly said that these cases are harmless or the hospital admissions are due to catch up in elective admissions, or that it's the flu or ridiculing people for wearing masks. This is the product of that.

That coupled with the fact that the White House never launched a national program to contain this virus, and so now we are going to accelerate towards something awful as we head into the fall and the numbers, there is some disagreement around the numbers, but among them are 400,000 or 500,000 deaths by the end of the year and that's still a real possibility.

This is the single greatest public health catastrophe that's affected our country in the last hundred years, and we're not even close to being out of it and even when vaccines are available, we're still going to need a lot of those containment methods and we're not looking at widespread vaccination until the middle of next year, probably, and that's why Dr. Fauci says, forget about returning to normalcy until later in 2021.

CABRERA: And there's been all this talk about, you know, will there be a second wave? And I heard Dr. Fauci earlier this week, say, I can't even go there yet, because we're not out of the first wave. We're still, you know, dealing with the first round of infection here.

Now, everything you said makes perfect sense. And yet, we add even more to that equation, because we're learning today, and this is, according to a Federal health official that Trump appointed communications officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have been pushing to change the language of some of these weekly science reports released by the C.D.C. to avoid undermining President Trump's message when he is talking about the virus.

So these doctors, right, doctors regularly rely on studies and guidance from the C.D.C., even more so, now, I would assume when we're talking about this unexpected virus that nobody has dealt with before. Do you trust information given this new reporting being put out by the C.D.C. right now?

HOTEZ: Yes, this is terrible. And what you're referring to is called the MMWR or the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It is the most nonpartisan, apolitical journal that you could imagine. In the old days, it used to be printed on pieces of white paper. My kids when they were little used to tease me about it getting it and they say., "Daddy, your Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports" is here, because it is the most, you know, nerdy, straightforward accounting of illness that faces the United States, and it's been very important.

The first report of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia as an opportunistic pathogen of HIV-AIDS was reported in the MMWR. Ana, we talked a few weeks ago about this terrible finding that 35 percent of the deaths among Hispanics and Latinx community in the United States are individuals under 65, three times higher than other populations. That was in the MMWR, so it's life-saving critically important information to know.

And I just can't imagine anybody ever tampering with this. These are documents written by career C.D.C. scientists who only have the best interest of the American people at heart.

So the fact that they're even willing to mess with that and tamper with that speaks volumes about what this administration is willing to do to promote an anti-science agenda disinformation.

Basically, it's all hands on deck, do whatever it takes to win the 2020 election. That is the message that they're sending.

CABRERA: Dr. Peter Hotez, as always, thank you very much.

HOTEZ: Thank you so much.

CABRERA: Thank you. Be well.

A heat wave massive wildfires, and now nearly the entire West Coast of the United States is covered in smoke. The devastation, plus, hear from one woman who needed to jump into a lake to save her life as a fire crept to close to their homes. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:29:37]

CABRERA: At least 28 people now reported dead by officials in California, Oregon and Washington State where nearly 100 separate wildfires are raging at the same time right now, stretching Fire Departments to their absolute limits and making officials fear that number of dead will go much higher.

CNN's Sara Sidner is outside Los Angeles.

[18:30:00]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): Massive wildfires from Southern California to Washington State. Nearly the entire West Coast of the United States is now covered in smoke.

In California, infamous forest infernos, five of the largest fires ever recorded in the state are burning now. Firefighters are battling California's biggest blaze in history in the northern part of the state. None of these big fires are close to containment just a week after record temperatures reached 121 degrees in Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D) CALIFORNIA: This is a climate damn emergency. This is real.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): Gov. Gavin Newsom is declaring he is done debating deniers of climate science.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWSOM: When you have temperatures, record-breaking temperatures, record droughts and you've got something else at play, what we're experiencing right here is coming to community all across the United States and unless we disabuse ourselves of all the BS that's being spewed by a very small group of people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): Newsom says firefighters from as far away as Canada and Israel are on the way to help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. JEFF BRITTON, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY FIRE DEPT.: This canyon has not burned in recorded history, so it's a powder cave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER (voice over): One Northern California fire has already claimed at least 10 lives this week. More than a dozen are unaccounted for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENISE HENDRICKSON, EVACUATED FROM FIRE: We watched these trees right there beside us go up and then embers flying across the lake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER (voice over): At this Butte County shelter, Denise Hendrickson says she jumped into a lake to survive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENDRICKSON: Eight of us had to go down to the end of our road, go into the sand and get down in the water to avoid the fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER (voice over): Statewide, the fires are burning a thousand acres every 30 seconds, turning day into night this week in San Francisco.

In Oregon, destroyed neighborhoods are stained pink with fire retardant while some 10 percent of the population is evacuating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came here a year ago after leaving the Paradise fire. We lost everything then, so there's not much to lose now, I guess, for us. But, god, this is terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER (voice over): Contrasting satellite images show entire communities in the city of Phoenix, Oregon, now reduced to little more than ash. In Washington State, more acres have been burned in the last three days than in all of last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR CHRIS FERRELL, MALDEN, WASHINGTON: I've never seen anything like this in my life, in your lifetime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER(voice over): The entire town of Malden is now gone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FERRELL: This is very devastating to our town. We have no chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: In California, in many places, it's been raining ash for more than a week. And to give you some idea just how much acreage is actually burning, it's double the size of the State of Delaware. That is what is on fire here in the state of California. Sara Sidner, CNN, Monrovia, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: And just millions of people impacted right now. Sara, thank you.

When Bob Woodward's new bombshell book about President Trump came out this week, Fox News appeared to redirect. We'll discuss with Brian Stelter just ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:37:29]

CABRERA: President Trump listing off a remarkable amount of Fox News shows he had time to watch this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I watched Fox Business. I watched Lou Dobbs last night, Sean Hannity last night, Tucker last night, Laura. I watched 'Fox & Friends' in the morning. You watch these shows, you don't have to go too far into the details. They cover things that are - it's really an amazing thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: As some analysts noted, that was around seven hours of TV. He said he watched just on Wednesday, the same day that we started to hear audio recordings that Bob Woodward made during his sit down interviews with President Trump. But when it came to how Fox covered this story, it seemed to be an alternate reality.

Joining us now, CNN Senior Media Correspondent and Host of RELIABLE SOURCES, Brian Stelter. He's also the author of the new book Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth. Brian, tell us more about how Fox has been covering the Woodward recordings of Trump.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Sometimes Fox doesn't cover the news, it tries to cover up the news. And this matters when it comes to a book like Woodward's book Rage, because what Fox viewers are hearing, what Trump's supporters are hearing about the book does make a big difference. In this case, it's about what they're not hearing. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STELTER (voice over): If you tune into Fox News ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: We'll talk about that non stop never ending hysteria.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): You might have noticed a different reality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS HOST: President Trump today had a great day, a day that any president could only dream of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): A complete dismissal of Bob Woodward's bombshell in rage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS HOST: It's a booger dress as a bombshell. It's nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): In this reality, these comments by President Trump ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.

BOB WOODWARD, VETERAN REPORTER: Yes, sir.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): A confession about downplaying the coronavirus. No Fox's star said it was not a big deal at all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUTFELD: It's so obviously nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): Mostly the network just changed the subject.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: What was Joe Biden doing for the last 47 years?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER(voice over): They distract it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: President Trump started off the day with a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER(voice over): They downplayed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS HOST: The timing of this is interesting. We're less than two months out from an election and we're seeing his niece write a negative book about him. We're seeing Michael Cohen's book. We're seeing this book come out. It's a time for them to sell their books.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): And they defended the comments. [18:40:04]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Let's make one thing perfectly clear, President Trump has never misled or distorted the truth about this deadly disease. No, he acted faster than anyone else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): Tucker Carlson even offered a scapegoat for the President's predicament.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT": It was Lindsey Graham who helped convinced Donald Trump to talk to Bob Woodward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): While Sean Hannity pivoted right back to Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: This show has exclusively now uncovered video of Joe Biden downplaying the coronavirus one month after the President's travel ban.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): Fox's other stable media criticism, questioning why Woodward withheld these tapes from the public for six plus months.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Now, Woodward is coming under scrutiny with many asking why he waited so long to come forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER (voice over): Trump picking up that argument one hour later on Twitter saying, "If Woodward thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn't he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?"

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STELTER: So there you go, yet another example of the Trump-Fox feedback loop, Trump taking his cues and his talking points from his favorite network, Ana.

CABRERA: And Brian, I have to ask you about this fascinating new Time Magazine article which explore disinformation and conspiracy theories in our culture right now. And I just have to read this quote, "This matters," the reporter writers, "Not just because of what these voters believe but also because of what they don't. The facts that should anchor a sense of shared reality are meaningless

to them; the news developments that might ordinarily inform their vote fall on deaf ears. They will not be swayed by data on coronavirus deaths, they won't be persuaded by job losses or stock market gains, and they won't care if Trump called America's fallen soldiers "losers" or "suckers," as The Atlantic reported, because they won't believe it. They are impervious to messaging, advertising or data. They aren't just infected with conspiracy; they appear to be inoculated against reality.

Quickly, if will, Brian, how do you see it?

STELTER: A great piece by Charlotte Alter, well worth reading on time.com. It shows how this election is happening in two alternative realities. But only one of those realities is tethered to the truth. This is why I wrote my book Hoax, Ana, because the President has used the word hoax to try to destroy our shared foundation of truth. He's led a hate movement against the media.

And I'm not going to try to claim there should be a love movement in response, but we do have to reach out to each other, show our common humanity. That's the way to break through these crazy conspiracy theories. Look around and tell you is the sun actually shining yesterday, is the sky actually red, no, it's blue. We can get through to our friends and family with basic facts that can't be denied.

CABRERA: Brian, I have to tell you, your book is really good. I've been reading it slowly because it's like my nighttime reading and I'm falling sleep after putting my kids into bed, but it's really easy digestible read and so eye opening.

STELTER: Thank you.

CABRERA: Brian, as always, thanks for being on with me. I haven't had chance to tell you that in person yet, but I didn't want to let that go.

STELTER (voice over): I appreciate it, thanks. Thank you.

CABRERA: Again, his book there is Hoax. And don't forget you can catch Brian tomorrow morning on RELIABLE SOURCES at 11 am Eastern here on CNN. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:47:50]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTTERCUP: We'll never succeed. We may as well die here.

WESTLEY: No, no. We have already succeeded. I mean, what are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp? One, the flame spurt, no problem. There's a popping sound preceding each; we can avoid that. Two, the lightning sand, which you were clever enough to discover what that looks like, so in the future we can avoid that too. BUTTERCUP: Westley, what about the R.O.U.S.s?

WESTLEY: Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist.

CABRERA: Oh, I know you're just talking along with me there, fire spurts, lightning sand, rodents of unusual size somehow navigating the fire swamp in The Princess Bride seems only slightly more terrifying than navigating politics these days. And so the cast of that beloved 1987 film is reuniting tomorrow for a virtual table read of the script and their goal is to raise money for Wisconsin's Democratic Party in an effort to help Joe Biden carry that swing state on election day.

And joining us now is legendary director Rob Reiner and "Princess Bride" star, Cary Elwes, who of course played that swashbuckling hero Westley in the movie. It is so great to have both of you with us. Thank you so much.

I just have to say as inconceivable as it may sound, this is one of my favorite movies. Watch it over and over and over again growing up to the point where I used to tease my younger brother and call him farm boy and at the at my wedding, he made some joke passing off that title to my husband, which was 15 years ago, so thank you. Again, it's an honor to have you with us.

ROB REINER, DIRECTOR, "THE PRINCESS BRIDE": Thank you.

CARY ELWES, ACTOR, "THE PRINCESS BRIDE": It's great to be here.

REINER: Thank you, Ana. It's great to be here. Happy anniversary.

CABRERA: Oh, thank you so much. I just celebrated it this week. I have to ask Cary, why now and why Wisconsin to bring this movie back to life?

ELWES: Well, Wisconsin, as you know, is an important battleground state.

[18:50:00]

And we need to win Wisconsin in order to remove this president from office. So we decided to put all of our focus and effort on trying to help Wisconsin turn blue in November.

CABRERA: And why do you feel like this is going to help that cause?

ELWES: Well, we're certainly going to raise a lot of money, but we also want to raise awareness to what Wisconsin is going through, even before the pandemic, the state led the nation in farm bankruptcies. One in seven people in Wisconsin now have lost their jobs and along with it, their health insurance, suicide rates are up by 40 percent.

There's nothing this administration has done to help the majority of people of that state and so we want to make that clear to people so that when they go out and vote, they understand that a vote for Biden will get rid of all this chaos and confusion and corruption and bring jobs back to the state. CABRERA: You talked about chaos and, Rob, the Chairman of the

Democratic Party of Wisconsin said this, the 2020 election is just like The Princess Bride. He says, giants - you have giants, monsters, chases, escapes and miracles. Does it feel that way to you sometimes?

REINER: It feels worse. I mean, you said at the beginning that the political landscape is not as scary or as difficult to navigate as the fire swamp. I would suggest that it is. We're in a fight as Joe Biden says for the soul of the nation and also for the life or death of democracy. The stakes are enormous and when people talk about this is the election of your life, this is election in the history of the country. There has never been as big an election except maybe during the Civil War.

So we've got a lot at stake here. We have to mobilize in droves. We have to get out the vote in droves because he's not growing his base, he's not making any outreach to anybody else. We have to get our people out because if we don't very simply put, we will see the end of 244 year experiment and self rule.

So there's an enormous amount at stake and Wisconsin is right smack dab in the center of this.

CABRERA: I want to bring up this line in the movie because it seems especially relevant now amid the pandemic, so let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're quick.

WESTLEY: A good thing too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you wearing a mask? Were you burned lby acid or something like that?

WESTLEY: Oh, it's just that they're terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: I think everyone will be wearing them in the future. How precious was that line?

REINER: Boy, oh, boy.

ELWES: I know. Bill Goldman, way ahead of his time.

REINER: Yes, yes.

CABRERA: Cary, you invoke the movie trying to inspire people to wear masks and you tweeted, "Hello. My name is Coronavirus. You don't want to wear a mask? Prepare to die." What kind of reaction did you get?

ELWES: Well, every time I tweeted any lines from Princess Bride, it gets a lot of awareness. So because Rob gave me the blessing of this role that happened to be a character that wears a mask, I took it upon myself to try and use that celebrity of that character to try and encourage people to wear masks. Knowing how important it was, I was starting to wear a mask in February. February, when the President already knew how dangerous this pandemic was.

REINER: What I'm trying to do is energize our base because ultimately, we are in a civil war. We're in 21st century version of a civil war and the country is more divided than it's ever been and we have to decide whether or not we want to live in a country where we respect the rule of law, where we respect the constitution and we respect each other in terms of race and all that.

So this is a battle for the soul of the nation and we need to get our base out and we need to drive them out and make sure that we overwhelm the other side at the polls.

CABRERA: My thanks to Cary Elwes and Rob Reiner. And that does it for me this evening. Thank you for being there with me. I'm Ana Cabrera.

My colleague, Wolf Blitzer, picks up our coverage with a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM after a quick break. Have a great night.