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Don Lemon Tonight

Texas Supreme Court Refuses Governor Abbott's Request; GOP Lawmakers Politicized Afghanistan Issue; Trump Supporter Arrested; Coronavirus Knows No Politics; Taliban Not Making It Easy For U.S. Forces; State Department Ignored Early Warnings?; People Desperate To Get Monoclonal Antibodies. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 19, 2021 - 22:00   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (on camera): All right. Thank you for watching. "DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now with the big star, D. Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And there may be some developing news that we're working on coming out of Texas as it relates to mask mandates, but we will see.

But, boy, what a week. What a week that we have going on in this country and beyond as it comes to, you know, what's happening in Afghanistan and what's happening with the coronavirus here. I'm really nervous. I'm actually really nervous, especially about what's happening with this Delta variant and all of the madness that's going on across the country with people trying to ban, really, things that can keep people safe and alive and healthy.

CUOMO: I had two eureka moments today.


CUOMO: I'll give you both quick.


CUOMO: On Afghanistan my eureka moment was, you know, the media is set up and our political polar opposition is set up to blame. That's what it does. And that's where a lot of the processing is stuck on Afghanistan. It's not over.


CUOMO: It just hasn't gone well, and they have to do better. That should be our collective focus. It isn't because we're about blame. The other eureka moment is this. Do you know why there's so much confusion? Because scientists make lousy messengers.

People are used to politicians messaging and what politicians do is only tell you things that fit the conclusion they want you to make, whereas scientists don't have any problem being wrong and developing their understanding. So, they create openings for people to attack them.


CUOMO: You don't need a mask. Now you do.

LEMON: But I don't know if we should be --

CUOMO: In politics --

LEMON: I don't think we're doing this. I think we're just saying this very nuanced but people may hear it as you are blaming scientists for what is happening. I don't think that you can -- I think that we need to be careful about that because scientists are actually telling people the truth --

CUOMO: That's right.

LEMON: -- and as they see it. There is no -- there is no right or left in science. There's no right or left in the virus.

CUOMO: Right. It's not the truth as they see it. It's the truth when they see it.

LEMON: When they see it.

CUOMO: That's right.

LEMON: With the best information available at the time.

CUOMO: That's right.

LEMON: The facts available at the time. They're not trying to deceive you.

CUOMO: That's right.

LEMON: Viruses mutate. Right? Diseases mutate. And as that happens you update the measures and you update whatever prevention or preventative action it takes to try to stem it.

CUOMO: And conditions change.

LEMON: Amen.

CUOMO: See, they're used to politicians who never admit the change.


CUOMO: They'll never admit they were wrong.

LEMON: I think it's up to the politicians to change because they're not working on fact. They're working on emotions.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: I'm saying that's how it happens here. Someone says to you, hey, you do need the booster now. Now we see new data. Now you do need it.

LEMON: See, they're wrong.

CUOMO: In politics --


LEMON: Yes, they're trying to take your money.

CUOMO: -- that would be a got you. You said, you said.

LEMON: Like big pharma.

CUOMO: Now that's what the problem is. Scientists are too honest --


CUOMO: -- and they're telling you things when they learn them. You're used to people spinning you.


CUOMO: And so, you're processing them that way and it makes you susceptible to people who are lying for their own agenda. And the scientists and these messengers are not part of that guile ridden game.

LEMON: But I think most of the people in this country I think want the facts and want the scientists to tell us --


LEMON: -- to be too honest. You can't be too honest.

CUOMO: And that's why the majority of this country -- the new demo -- forget the soccer mom, forget the college, the non-college, the this, the suburban, the urban, the ex-urban, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The vaccinated will be the majority of every known demographic in this country.


CUOMO: Those are the people to speak to.

LEMON: I'm giving --


CUOMO: They are the people who have shown they can put science, reason and others first.

LEMON: -- you the last word tonight because I agree with you.

CUOMO: Wow, I quit. I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: And you more, sir.

This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Thank you so much for joining us.

So, there is a lot going on. Right? And there appears to be some breaking news out of Texas. I just mentioned to Chris. That's where new public health guidance has just been issued. It says that the state will not be enforcing the piece of legislation that prohibits masks or vaccine mandates due to ongoing litigation. OK? Back that up.

I want to make sure that I get it right for our viewers. Back to the top, please, because that is just coming in. OK. So, here is the breaking news out of Texas where this new public health guidance has just been issued. And it is saying that the state will not be enforcing the piece of legislation that prohibits masks or vaccine mandates due to ongoing litigation, OK?

We're going to have more on this. Our experts reviewing this new guidance now and we're going to bring it to you just as soon as we have it and we get it clarified. There is breaking news. Stay tuned. We have that for you.

So again, there's a lot going on and we'll catch you up on everything that is happening from the chaos in Afghanistan to the latest danger we face here at home from domestic extremists to the mask wars as the Delta variant spreads.


It's a little after sunrise in Kabul. That's where tensions have been heating up in the city streets. But you want to know where the center of everything really is? The center of the chaos is at the airport. That's because that is the only way out for thousands and thousands of Americans and our Afghan allies desperate to escape.

But it's so hard to get there. It's so hard to get through those crowds. Some people are just giving up at this point. Sources telling CNN some who made it into the airport were bloody. They were distraught and they lost most of their belongings along the way.

One Afghan who worked at the U.S. embassy for years telling CNN, quote, "I decided I would rather the Taliban shoot me in the head to being stuck in that situation."

The videos from the airport show just how desperate the situation is. Crowds of people hoping against hope to get on a plane. Gunfire heard repeatedly. You just saw it there, although the Taliban didn't appear to be shooting at people.

A woman today pulled over a wall by -- pulled over a wall by U.S. troops -- there she is right there. Crowds outside the airport pushes back by troops. And to make it inside the airport, you've got to get past the Taliban fighters, then the Afghan special forces commandos, then the U.S. itself. The State Department is saying that they expect 20 flights to leave

Afghanistan by tonight, but flights are still not being filled to capacity because it's so hard to get into that airport even though the president, Joe Biden has told top aides that he doesn't want to see empty seats on flights leaving Kabul.

And we're learning tonight that more than a dozen U.S. diplomats wrote an internal memo to the Secretary of State Antony Blinken, this is back in mid-July, calling for action to get Afghan allies out of the country before the government collapsed. They felt their warnings were being ignored.

But this is the face of the evacuation now. This is the face of desperation, an exhausted Afghan child sleeping on the floor of a U.S. Air Force cargo plane draped in a coat from an air force member. That as the President Joe Biden denies advisers argued for keeping our military presence in the country.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Your top military advisers warn against withdrawing in this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No, they didn't. It was split. That wasn't true. That wasn't true.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn't tell you they wanted troops to stay?

BIDEN: No, not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a time frame all troops. They didn't argue against that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, no one told your military advisers did not tell you, no, we should just keep 2,500 troops, it's been a stable situation for the last several years, we can do that, we can continue to do that.

BIDEN: No, no one said that to me that I can recall.


LEMON (on camera): And he's also pushing back on the idea that 20 years after 9/11 Afghanistan is back to square one.


STEPHANOPOULOS: In a couple weeks we're all going to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The Taliban are going to be ruling Afghanistan like they were when our country was attacked. How do you explain that to the American people?

BIDEN: Not true. It's not true. It's not going to look just like they were when we were attacked. There was a guy named Osama bin Laden that was still alive and well. They were organized in a big way that they had significant help from other parts of the world.


LEMON (on camera): And while this may be the biggest crisis of Joe Biden's presidency, a black eye for an administration that prided itself on being grownups in the room with the expertise to fill things -- fix things, it's an open question how Americans will remember this long term.

At home where COVID and domestic -- his domestic agenda have been front and center for months. That as GOP hypocrisy knows no bounds tonight. Some of the same Republicans who less than a month ago voted against speeding up visas for Afghans fleeing the Taliban are now slamming the president.

Here they are. Congressman Andy Biggs calling the Afghanistan withdrawal a national shame not seen since Vietnam. Congressman Lauren Boebert apparently joking about the Taliban building back better. And Congressman Paul Gosar who defended the January 6th riots as peaceful patriots now calls fleeing Afghanistan -- Afghans, excuse me, illegal aliens.

It is disgusting. Thousands of Afghans are in mortal danger now because of what they have done for our country. And those Republicans are blatantly using them to score political points that as we're seeing a real-life example today of the dangers of domestic extremism.

Just a minute away from the site of the worst attack on the seat of our democracy in modern history, a Trump supporter who called himself a patriot and said, quote, "Democrats need to step down," drove a black pickup truck onto the sidewalk in front of the Library of Congress this morning.


He was live streaming from the scene at the time. A Facebook video showing him inside the truck holding a canister that he said was a bomb and talking about revolution.


FLOYD RAY ROSEBERRY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I love this land. We've got a few options here today. You shoot me, it's two and a half blocks going with me. And then you're talking about a revolution. The revolution is on. It's here. It's today.


LEMON (on camera): The revolution is on. It's here. It's today. That suspect is a 49-year-old man. His name is Floyd Ray Roseberry of North Carolina. He was arrested. Capitol police say they didn't find a bomb, but he did have a suspected bomb-making material.

And we have got news tonight on the Delta variant sweeping all across this country. With the first booster shots on the horizon beginning next month, hospitals are facing a tsunami of patients with not enough beds or staff. Hospitalizations of children and adults under 50 are really the highest that they have ever been. That as Senators Angus King, Roger Whitaker, John Hickenlooper all

announcing today that they have tested positive for COVID. All three say they have mild symptoms, and all three are vaccinated.

And there's a lesson in this for anybody still putting politics ahead of public health, OK? The senators are an independent, a Republican and a Democrat. As I was just saying to my colleague, Chris, COVID doesn't care about your politics. It doesn't -- left, right, red, blue, doesn't really care.

But that is not stopping the mask wars that's raging in our schools. Florida's biggest school district voting to defy Governor Ron DeSantis on masks, as he threatens to remove local officials.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You have this obsession that a little 5- year-old, you know, should not be able to go to school without wearing that mask for eight hours a day. And just as a parent, you know, I'm offended that the federal government thinks they know better than we do as parents.


LEMON (on camera): But this is an incredible story out of Jacksonville, Florida, people waiting at the public library for COVID- 19 monoclonal antibody treatments, people so sick that they couldn't even stand up. The man who took that picture will be here tonight to talk about what he saw as he waited for the treatment.

But there's a lesson there too. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. Try to avoid ending on the floor -- ending up on the floor in a public library waiting for monoclonal antibody treatments.

And like I said, COVID doesn't care about your politics. They don't care about those who are trying to divide us. And we will only defeat it by pulling together and following the science and the scientists. Not the politicians, OK?

Back to Afghanistan now where the news is coming fast and furious. The chaos on the ground in Afghanistan, we have seen it almost impossible for Afghans who stood by America to get to that airport, the only means to escape the Taliban. But there are fears there may be worse to come.


UNKNOWN: Why are the American soldiers forgetting about us after everything we did, the sacrifices we made? Why are you leaving us behind?



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON (on camera): So, the Pentagon says its goal is to evacuate between 5,000 and 9,000 people a day out of Kabul's airport. It's nowhere near getting that many people out, partly because Afghans who risked their lives to help Americans and are now desperate to flee can't get in the airport.

Thousands crowded outside the gates every single day, a scene that is dangerous and it's violent. The area is controlled by Taliban fighter who is periodically fire weapons into the air to push Afghans back.

More on the chaotic situation tonight from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Don, at the end of America's longest war, the real final act that they have to pull off here involve getting so many thousands of people onto the last part of Afghanistan America controls. And to do that, they have to ask many Americans, many Afghans loyal to America to run a horrifying gauntlet through Kabul out to the airport.


WALSH (voice over): What should be the easiest drive in Kabul is the reason the city is on edge, the main airport road since Monday when I drove it, a new run in to the Taliban. Then they were beating people back, perhaps to clear the civilian runway crowded with desperate people then.

By Wednesday, it had gotten worse when they were clearly stopping people from using their escape to America and accosting CNN. Taliban controlled that road, the entrance at the end of it and the road to the left. Now many are trying to get in from the north road but that's led to devastating scenes of the north gate.

When I was there, the crush was dangerous but the numbers have grown further still. At night, stun grenades were being thrown when huge crowds still braving roaming Taliban in the dark in the hope the numbers at the gate have dropped. And in the day, it got nastier still.

There were moments of hope, but they carry risk. When people see one success, they might want to try the same thing on mass. Later in the day, U.S. troops had to repel the crowd. Another gate, what seemed to be British soldiers struggled to push back crowds and huge queues are formed, blocking the streets. America has a numbers problem, getting enough people on but also claiming huge progress while not really knowing how many priority cases they're really seeking.


UNKNOWN: How many Americans, American citizens remain in Afghanistan?


NED PRICE, SPOKESMAN, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: What we do know is that 6,000 people are now at the airport 6,000 people have been able to make it, have made it through the processing. And as of a couple of hours ago we've received only a small handful of reports otherwise from Americans inside.

WALSH: Inside it is messy, but there are flights, often many of them where lives are walked onto C-17s and changed forever when the doors close. The story of the airport, the last place America controls in Afghanistan, where the chaos outside the wire means the promises inside fall perilously short.


WALSH (on camera): Now, Don, the U.S. today talked very lofty goals, about 5,000 to 9,000 people being flown out every day if they can and claim that they've got 6,000 processed inside that airport for flights in the hours and days ahead. Startling turn around if that is the case.

But they also, too, seem to be not particularly conscious or cognizant of those messy scenes outside the airport, leading to fears that maybe once again the reality of what's happening in Afghanistan isn't matching statements from U.S. officials, Don.

LEMON: Nick, thank you very much. I appreciate the reporting.

Now I want to bring in CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd. Phil, thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us this evening.

Listen, I've got to get your take on Nick's reporting. But first let me ask you about some breaking news. CNN is learning that more than a dozen U.S. diplomats apparently signed a classified cable last month to the Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a cable warning of potential catastrophe on the ground in Afghanistan when the U.S. withdraws.

The exact situation we're seeing right now. According to CNN's reporting that these diplomats decided to send that dissent memo because previous warnings were made were being ignored. So, given this memo, why weren't they prepared for the worst-case scenario?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I don't have an answer for that. Look, if you get a memo like that, you can look at it and say these people are alarmists. These people are warning about things that are not going to happen. We look at intelligence reports. We look at what the Pentagon is saying and they're saying things different than what experts said to the State Department in the memo.

The problem with the memo, Don, is that even if you discount it, even if you say those people are alarmists, you need to step back and say like you might have said on January 6th when you saw warnings that people were showing up in Washington, you need to step back and say what if the predictions are wrong?

Any leader in that position, Don, any leader has to say if our predictions are wrong and the worst case happens, what do we do? And I think in congressional hearings coming up that's going to be the question, not whether we did it perfect but why we didn't anticipate that it would go ugly early. I don't get it, Don. LEMON: We're hearing from the president is largely from this interview

on ABC. I want -- I want to play some of it and get your response. Here it is.

MUDD: Yes.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Was the intelligence wrong, or did you downplay it?

BIDEN: There was no consensus. You can go back and look at the intelligence reports. They said that it was more likely to be sometime by the end of the year.


LEMON (on camera): His top generals are saying the same thing, that this was an intelligence failure. What do you think about that after hearing about these warnings?

MUDD: I've had it -- I have had it with the critiques of intelligence. Let me tell you what we all know the intelligence said. It said that the Afghan military was weak. Anybody who looked at the CNN web site knew that the Taliban was taking territory and had taken territory for months and before.

Anybody who studied the Taliban knew that when they emerged in '94 and '95 when I was an intelligence analyst looking at them at the CIA that they moved more quickly through Afghanistan than we ever anticipated. So, they went through quicker than the president thought, quicker than maybe November, December, and we're saying that's the intelligence people's problem? We knew they were going to win.

The only question was a matter of months about whether they would win now or whether they would win in November or December. How much intelligence do you want? They were going to win. We should have prepared for it. How hard is that?

LEMON: Phil, we just -- we just saw Nick Paton Walsh's reporting. He just showed us how dangerous it is just to get to the airport.

MUDD: Yes.

LEMON: One Afghan who worked at the U.S. embassy for years who attempted to get there put it this way, and I quote, "I decided I would rather the Taliban shoot me in the head to being stuck in that situation." I mean, listen, those are really some shocking -- those are words of desperation. Does the U.S. need a better plan --

MUDD: Yes.

LEMON: -- because it seems like what we're hearing in Washington doesn't match the volatile situation on the ground?

[22:25:02] MUDD: Boy, the commentary out of Washington today was painful. Look, we might emerge from this looking good. We might emerge as people have said getting out 5,000, 7,000, 9,000 people a day. That is pretty impressive if we can get them out without a lot of casualties. But there is no dispute that the initial days of this went ugly. We should say it.

And then the next question is how do we get to that 5,000, 7,000, 9,000, and why didn't we get to it today. I'll tell you, Don. The thing I'll be watching when you're talking about the reports you just mentioned about the situation outside Kabul isn't whether we reach 5,000, 7,000 or 9,000 a day, it's how confident we are that the Taliban's acceptance that people are going to the airport that that acceptance holds.

Boy, is that going to last another day, another two days? Because remember, those people at the airport are regarded by the Taliban as the enemy. Those are the people who supported the Americans. We've got to move fast because the Taliban eventually is going to come after these people.

LEMON: What we're learning is that the military commanders are in constant communication with Taliban leaders over security at the airport just to ensure the safety of Americans and Afghans who want to escape. What does it say to you that the U.S. has to rely on the Taliban for security at this point?

MUDD: Well, I don't think there's any option. There's been this debate about whether the Americans, including the military, goes out and picks people up across -- across Kabul. I think that if they did that that would be a tremendous mistake. I know that's troubling to hear, but imagine this, hundreds of convoys of U.S. military going through Taliban-controlled streets where the commanders in the Taliban don't control every 17-year-old who's got an AK-47.

One of those -- one of those goes wrong when the military is going out picking up, for example, U.S. citizen in Kabul and there's a fire fight. I wouldn't want that because that risks the entire operation. There is no easy solution here. We've got to depend on the Taliban because we can't send out the army, Don.

LEMON: It says a lot about the situation that we're in, though, Phil.

MUDD: Yes.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Talk soon.

MUDD: Thanks. Take care.

LEMON: People say with COVID flooding a monoclonal antibody treatment center in Jacksonville, Florida, and inside -- look at that -- people lying on the floor moaning in pain. The couple who took this picture join me next.



LEMON (on camera): As the Delta variant surges across Florida, the COVID hospital -- hospitalization rate is soaring. Now the governor there, Ron DeSantis, is urging high risk COVID-19 patients to be treated with monoclonal antibodies as a way to try and stay out of the hospital.

So, joining me now is Louie Lopez, who is suffering from COVID and received monoclonal antibodies at a state sponsor treatment center set up in a library in Jacksonville. His wife is there, you see her on the screen as well, Suzanne.

Good evening to both of you. Thank you, Louie and Suzanne for joining us.



LEMON: So, Louie, you took this -- first of all, let me -- you took picture inside the library-turned-treatment-center, this woman lying on the ground. She's very sick. OK?

L. LOPEZ: Correct.

LEMON: I want you -- I want to know how you're doing, but I also want to know what you saw and what it was like inside when you took this picture.

L. LOPEZ: Well, I'm doing much better. I've been vaccinated. I got vaccinated back in April and May. And I'll be honest, I kind of had this false sense of security that, you know, I was OK against the virus even though I know the Delta virus was out there.

And so, I wasn't really around a lot of people, and then a week ago Wednesday, I suffer from allergies and I had runny nose and watery eyes, itchy eyes and I just chocked it up to that. Thursday morning, I woke up, and I had swollen glands, really swollen glands, out of the ordinary. And that got my attention. And I had a migraine.

And so, that day I just kind of, you know, worked and went through the day. And we end of the day my wife asked me, how are you feeling? And I told her about the swollen glands and what have you. And her girlfriend who happened to be over said let's go get some kits and get tested. So, of course we did. And they came up negative. And I came out positive. The next day, the migraine just came on with a vengeance.

LEMON: Well, I'm glad you're doing better now because you told me during the break you had a migraine and you're feeling better now. You had it for a couple of days. But the woman of the photograph that you saw on the ground, take us inside. Because we have that photograph and then you also said that you actually saw another woman crawling on the ground. What was happening here, Louie? L. LOPEZ: So, what happened was I had -- let me think. I -- the

following day I reached out to my primary care doctor about doing this treatment. And he suggested I should, based on -- because I'm high risk due to my age and some health systems -- symptoms that I have.

And so, I looked into it online and really didn't get anywhere. So, I kind of dropped it and then the following Tuesday, I was just -- the migraine was killing me and I was talking to my daughter who said, hey, have you looked into the monoclonal.


And so, I thought, Yes, let me look into it because I had just seen a story that there was a center in Jacksonville.

LEMON: So, long story short because I want to --


L. LOPEZ: So, everything went --

LEMON: We don't have much time. I don't want -- I don't want to be rude.

L. LOPEZ: Not a problem.

LEMON: But I want to get to people. I just want to know what's happening in that, where you went. You finally go there, I understand, and you get the treatment.

L. LOPEZ: I go there for my appointment, I walk in --

LEMON: But then it must be startling to see some people laying on the ground. So, take us inside. Tell us what was happening. What are we seeing in those pictures?

L. LOPEZ: So, when I walked in, there was no people on the ground. There was a line of people. My appointment was at noon, but there was a line already -- there was, like, 15, 20 people already in line. So, I knew my appointment wasn't going to happen then.

But as time went on more people started showing up. And it became evident that they were taking walk-ins and appointments. Some of the people that were coming in were really sick. You could just see it. And because there were no chairs in the lobby at that time, these people had nowhere to sit. So, they're sitting down. But they were so sick.

The picture really doesn't do it justice because they were moaning. They were in a lot of pain. It really drove the point home as to how serious these people are. I mean, for all I know, these people could have been dying right there and then, you know what I mean? It's just because they were -- they were -- I mean, they were really, really sick.

And I felt bad for them. And they were there for a while. Then they covered them up with some gowns and maybe a half hour later they brought some wheelchairs out and they put them on wheelchairs and sat them there. By then, I got into the back and went through my treatment and what have you.


L. LOPEZ: And so, from what I understand it's gotten -- you know, the traffic has gotten bigger because word is getting out and just registering has become more difficult. So, you know.

LEMON: It's unbelievable that, you know, you also have -- don't you have friends as well who were vaccinated and also had breakthrough COVID?

L. LOPEZ: Absolutely. Just tonight I heard of a really good friend of mine who was vaccinated, and he was intubated. So, you know, from what I understand for the Delta cases it's like 56 percent chance that, you know, the worst thing that could happen could happen.


L. LOPEZ: And obviously, it's my friend and it's horrible.


L. LOPEZ: You know, this thing is everything right now.

LEMON: Thank you. Listen, people have -- just trying to move you along because I want to make sure that people -- that you get out of this what you wanted to share with people. And I know you wanted to share your experience and the horrible experience of those people that you saw there in those pictures. While you're getting better, there are lots of people out there who are becoming sicker.

And the reason you're here and Suzanne as well is to speak out about this. You say it's important to get the word out because this has been very stressful for you. You don't want to see people, especially your husband, but anyone going through this, Suzanne.

S. LOPEZ: Right. That's why I posted it in the first place on Reddit, was simply to make people aware that you have to be careful. We're a conservative cautious family when we're out in public and still my husband has COVID and he's very sick. And when he gets somewhere for help, there are people who are worse off than him. We don't want to see anyone like that. They -- we don't want to see anyone suffer.

LEMON: You posted that -- I mean it must have broken your heart to see this picture of this woman here and to hear your husband talking about what he experienced, Suzanne.

S. LOPEZ: Of course. Of course. I mean, you know, you just -- my heart does break for her. And then I worry for him. He's feeling a little bit better and now he's in the middle of all of this. I don't want him to get even more sick. So, there's a lot to think about, more than what you would imagine.

LEMON: What's your message to folks, Suzanne?

S. LOPEZ: Be careful when you're out in public, more careful than you think you need to be and get vaccinated. Vaccinated and masks.

LEMON: Suzanne, thank you.

L. LOPEZ: And if you're showing symptoms -- if you're showing symptoms and you've been vaccinated, absolutely immediately go get the monoclonal treatment at first signs. Don't wait because there's like a 10-day window period. So, immediately get the sign out -- I mean get -- go get the treatment.

Let me just say too, Don, and credit to the staff at the library. Of course, they're not library staff but they were nurses, and they were doing their very best with what they had at the moment. You could tell everything was new. It was a new situation. Everything's chaotic. So. But they were absolutely fabulous, and I tip my hat off to them.


LEMON: Yes. There are many, many health care workers and people who are on the front lines who are trying to help folks like you. The lady you saw in that picture and many around this country.

So, thank you for sharing your story, Louie. Suzanne, thank you as well. Best of luck to you. Feel better.

S. LOPEZ: You're welcome.

LEMON: Take care of yourselves.

S. LOPEZ: Take care.

L. LOPEZ: Thank you, Don.

S. LOPEZ: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Breaking news out of Texas tonight to tell you about. OK? This is -- the state's Supreme Court refusing the governor -- Governor Greg Abbott's request to intervene in the case of mask mandates by several local jurisdictions. We will explain our breaking news right after this break.


LEMON (on camera): So, here's the breaking news we reported a bit at the top of the show and we want to update it. We needed to get clarification before the full report on it. So here it is.


The Supreme Court of Texas refusing Governor Greg Abbott's request to intervene in the case of mask mandates by several local jurisdictions. As a result, the lower court ruling allowing school districts to require masks in their schools. That will still stand. So, I want to bring in now CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner to

help us out with this, as well other news on the COVID front. Doctor, thank you very much.

So, talk to me about this breaking news about the Supreme Court refusing to intervene one these mask mandates issued by several local jurisdictions. So, tonight, the Texas education agency put out public health guidance to schools letting them know that the ban on mask mandates in the governor's executive order not being enforced now, right?

So, while it's not going to be enforced while it's tied up in the courts. And once it's resolved then they're going to provide further guidance. So, for now it seems like schools can -- students can wear masks or they can do mask mandates, if they will, unless there is a further development -- if they want to, I should say.

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, that's what the order says, that they will not enforce the governor's ban on local school districts on mandating masks. But there was never any public interest that any court would hold for upholding the governor's ban.

Look, I'm just cynical enough to think that the governor himself has told the education agency not to uphold his own order because pediatric hospitals in Texas are filled with kids.

And I think, you know, like the governor of Florida, the governor of Texas has painted himself into a corner. You know, no vaccine mandates, no vaccine passports, and banning masks has really tied his hands. So, again, it's not impossible that this actually fulfills what the governor needs, which is to protect the kids, help put down the pandemic but save a little bit of face.


REINER: And if that's the case, I'm fine with that.

LEMON: Yes, I think we're being overly complicated. Basically, what the reporting says is at this point, Texas schools can require students to wear masks or mandate masks if they want to --

REINER: Right.

LEMON: -- unless there's a further change when this works its way through the courts.

So, President Biden has asked governors to get out of the way if they aren't going to help in the fight against COVID. Do the ban against mask mandates need to end?

REINER: They never should have started. And again, governors only have a limited number of tools. Now, if you're a local official, you can either be effective or you can -- or you can get in the way.

So, for instance, the mayor of Washington, D.C. has announced that every health care worker in the city, not just hospital workers, not just nursing home workers, every health care worker in the city, if you work in a doctor's office, you work in a dentist's office, you work in a hospital, everyone has to be vaccinated by the end of September.

That's a proactive legislator. That's a proactive official trying to do best for their constituents as opposed to, you know, the governors of Florida and Texas that are trying to tie the hands of local officials who are endeavoring to protect their constituents.

So, there's a gigantic difference, and this difference in COVID rates in these places -- look at the COVID rate in a place like D.C. or Maryland or New York and compare it to Florida, Texas, Louisiana where the rates are the highest in the world right now.

LEMON: Yes. Dr. Reiner, thank you very much.

REINER: Sure, my pleasure.

LEMON: So, the goal of everyone who is involved in the business of journalism or informing the public should be to inform the public, arm them with the best knowledge and also try to keep as many people safe as possible.

So, why are hosts on right wing propaganda networks not doing that? We'll discuss right after this.



LEMON (on camera): You wonder why we're reporting on this next story? It's because we're in a crisis right now when it comes to health, especially with COVID in this country, a crisis right now, and people need to be held accountable when they give misinformation.

So, take this, OK? And pay attention, 85 mil -- 85 million eligible Americans still haven't gotten the COVID vaccine. Convincing the vaccine hesitant is more critical than ever now. But some people can't seem to quit bad habits. And you may remember that just a month ago Fox propaganda host Sean Hannity took a surprising turn, urging his viewers to take the coronavirus seriously.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: Please take COVID seriously. I can't say it enough. Enough people have died. We don't need any more deaths. Research like crazy. Talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current medical condition, and you and your doctor make a very important decision for your own safety. Take it seriously.


LEMON (on camera): All right, so he wasn't alone. Other Fox hosts, many Republican politicians began praising the benefits of vaccines just last month. So, it was clear that vaccination rates were slowing and the White House was ramping up pressure against misinformation as Delta began its deadly surge.

Well Hannity even got credit here and other outlets for acknowledging the science behind vaccines which for some reason he didn't seem to like, not one bit, saying this just days later.


HANNITY: I never told anyone to get a vaccine. I've been very clear. I am simply not qualified. I am not a medical doctor.



LEMON (on camera): When last night Hannity was joined by Florida science reverse Republican Governor Ron DeSantis defending his disastrous opposition to masks in schools. Not acknowledging that his state is the current national epicenter for COVID. Or that right now more than 19,000 Florida students are in quarantine after just days of schools being opened. Hannity taking it even further and casting down on whether vaccines work at all.


HANNITY: The CDC have said in no uncertain terms, even fully vaccinated people, the vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID. The science shows the vaccine will not necessarily protect you. It's not protecting many people.


LEMON (on camera): OK. Look, he's not -- -- hospitals are overflowing in states around the country. Yes, there are breakthrough cases. But there is zero doubt that vaccines are the single best way to prevent people from going to the hospital or dying from coronavirus.

This country is in the midst of a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The good news is that we have the tools to stop it if people will use them and if people will tell the truth and encourage people to get the vaccine. If only we had a vaccine against B.S.

CNN now learning that U.S. diplomats sent a cable to the secretary of state in mid-July warning about a possible catastrophe in Afghanistan. Now the Biden administration is facing more questions.