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Deputy Narrowly Escapes "Fiery Hell" While Trying To Help Others; Jimmy Fallon Apologizes Over Allegations Of Toxic Workplace; Democrats Sound Alarm Bells Over Voters' Negative Views Of Biden. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 08, 2023 - 07:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: This is body camera video from a Spokane County deputy as he narrowly escaped a quote "fiery hell" while going beyond the call to help others. And this happened during last month's deadly wildfire in eastern Washington State that destroyed more than 120 homes.

Our Natasha Chen reports.



NATASHA CHEN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surrounded by flames, embers, and searing heat, there's only one way to describe this moment --

MORGAN: It's as close to hell as I think you can get here on Earth.

CHEN (voice-over): -- for those trapped by that hell.

Spokane County Deputy Brittan Morgan was heaven-sent. His courage and compassion --


CHEN (voice-over): -- began minutes before as Morgan worked to evacuate residents. This one, however, refused to leave.

MORGAN: Do you have a ride, at least?


MORGAN: That black car? All right.

CHEN (voice-over): As the air fills with heavy smoke it's clear the flames are closing in.

MORGAN: My whole mind was just get out of here and then try and get everybody else out of here, too.

CHEN (voice-over): Morgan waits for the final evacuees along one of the only paths to safety --

MORGAN: Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!

CHEN (voice-over): -- then follows another deputy out. In just seconds, the sky darkens, lit only by burning trees.

MORGAN: This one had fell in the middle of the road in front of us and blocked the way. There was no way for us to get around it.

CHEN (voice-over): Hellbent on living, Morgan talks himself through the ordeal, apparently unaware his bodycam is rolling.

MORGAN: So you're not getting me today, (BLEEP). For (BLEEP). I don't want to (BLEEP) die in this (BLEEP).

CHEN (voice-over): With his fellow deputy in sight, embers rain down on Morgan's car.

MORGAN: Hurry up, Dave (PH).

CHEN (voice-over): But then, daylight. With Morgan's life spared, he returns to the work of saving others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I please go over there?

MORGAN: I don't want you to die.

I feel for these people. They're losing everything. Actively, in front of them, they're losing everything and there's nothing they can do to stop it.

It's headed right for us, man. I was just there.

CHEN (voice-over): Morgan is both tough --

MORGAN: Unless you want to die --

CHEN (voice-over): -- and compassionate.

MORGAN: Oh, thank you, bro. I was so worried about you. Are you OK?

CHEN (voice-over): That's when he spots the man who had initially refused to leave.

MORGAN: I know you're probably sad for your horses right now, bro. I'm glad you're alive.

I don't think there's anything I could have said in that moment to make that man feel better.

I'm so glad you're OK, man. What's your name? I'm Britt.

But that doesn't mean I can't try. SHERIFF JOHN NOWELS, SPOKANE COUNTY, WASHINGTON: We can't train that.

We can't teach it. It's part of who they are.

CHEN (voice-over): Bodycam video revealing Deputy Morgan as both a survivor --

MORGAN: I thought we were (BLEEP) and almost dead there for a second.

CHEN (voice-over): -- and a savior.

MORGAN: Letting them know that we're here for them.

CHEN (voice-over): Natasha Chen, CNN.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, "TONIGHT SHOW" host Jimmy Fallon is now apologizing to his staff following a Rolling Stone report that detailed allegations of a toxic work environment. In a Zoom call with his staffers on last night, Fallon said he didn't mean to promote that kind of culture, saying in part, quote, "It's embarrassing and I feel so bad. Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends. I feel so bad I can't even tell you."

Rolling Stone says it spoke to two current and 14 former employees who named Fallon as the root of the mistreatment.


KRYSTIE LEE YANDOLI, REPORTER, ROLLING STONE: They said that a lot of their mistreatment comes from the top. So the alleged behavior from Fallon trickles down to their managers and so on and so forth.


They spoke to me a lot about these -- what they called Jimmy's good days and what they called Jimmy's bad days and his mood kind of dictating the vibe of the whole day, of the whole show. You know, snapping a crew members and not having a lot of patience with people.


MATTINGLY: In a statement, NBC told Rolling Stone they are investigating the matter, adding "As is always the case, we encourage employees who feel they have experienced or observed behavior inconsistent with our policies to report their concerns so that we may address them accordingly."

HARLOW: Senate Democrats responding to President Biden's sinking poll numbers. How they are downplaying concerns, next.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Voting for President Biden is going to be about preserving our democracy.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I think the people basically have spoken loud and clear they're not happy with the two choices.



MATTINGLY: Senate Democrats are reacting to President Biden's plummeting poll numbers and worries about his age. A new CNN poll shows Biden's approval rating sinking to 39 percent. But the poll also shows there is no clear leader in a hypothetical Trump-Biden matchup.


CNN's Manu Raju is live for us on Capitol Hill -- with Manu. And Manu, it's always interesting in these moments to talk to Democrats on Capitol Hill. You talk to all of them all the time. What were you hearing yesterday?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, a variety of things. There was a lot of frustration that they believe that President Biden is not getting the credit that they believe he deserves from the first two years when they passed a slew of legislation -- economic legislation that simply a lot of Americans simply are not giving him credit for or not feeling the effects of just yet given the time it takes to implement these measures.

Also, calls for President Biden to intensify his messaging. To talk about those accomplishments and try to draw a firmer contrast with Donald Trump.

But there was also a belief that once the general election takes shape, assuming Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, that will be enough to juice Democratic turnout and juice Democratic enthusiasm. That's how some senators put to me yesterday.


WARREN: Voting for President Biden is going to be about preserving our democracy, and I think a lot of Americans are going to show up to do that.

MANCHIN: ): I think the people basically have spoken loud and clear they're not happy with the two choices.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): The more the better in terms of pushing that message and making the American people aware of President Biden's achievements. Yes, more aggressive earlier and more widely I think is the right way to go.

SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): We have about 14 months until an election. Improve our infrastructure, climate. Bring down the price of prescription drugs. I think he's got a strong record to run on.

RAJU: Is he a benefit for you being on the ticket this year?

SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): I don't know, you know?


RAJU: And that last comment from Sen. Jon Tester, one of the most vulnerable Democrats here and who needs President Biden to do a little bit better in the polls in order to help in that very -- in the very red state of Montana, but indicating that he plans to run his campaign separately from President Biden.

And you also heard in that clip, of course, Joe Manchin. I asked him about whether he is still toying with that idea of a third-party bid -- an Independent bid. And again, continued to play coy about that and his intentions about whether he'd run for reelection in the red state of West Virginia next year -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Two big questions, Manu Raju. Thanks, buddy -- appreciate it.

RAJU: Thanks.

HARLOW: So, President Biden's team has its own response to those recent polling numbers from CNN that show a lot of concern -- increased concern, in fact, over the president's age even among Democrats. Their new ad pushes back on the idea that he's too old -- too old to handle the world's big crises -- watch.


BIDEN POLITICAL AD: Joe Biden walks shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies in the war-torn streets, standing up for democracy in place where a tyrant is waging war to take it away.

Air raid sirens blared as the two men walked together.

In the middle of a war zone, Joe Biden showed the world what America is made of. That's the quiet strength of a true leader who doesn't back down to a dictator.


HARLOW: Quiet strength.

Let's discuss. CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean is with us. Co-author of Politico's New York Playbook, Emily Ngo. And CNN senior political analyst and anchor, John Avlon.

Jess, let me just start with you. There is that ad. In contrast, it was someone like Jon Tester -- yes, given the red state of Montana -- but, you know, are you going to run alongside Biden for his help in your reelection efforts? A) I don't know.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. I don't know, right? I mean, look, Manu made the valid point, which Jon Tester is one of the most vulnerable Democrats --


DEAN: -- who are going to run this cycle. What strikes me in that polling that came out yesterday and watching all of this together is that if you take it accomplishment by accomplishment, Biden had a very productive two years. If you look at what Senate Democrats and the House Democrats were able to get done with some bipartisan support, in some cases, there's a lot of accomplishments.

And when you look at somebody like Jon Tester who helped push through the PACT Act, which was these toxic burn pits --


DEAN: -- that helped veterans, these are things that people -- that real Americans are going to see benefits from. The infrastructure bill. The gun bill. All of these things. And then, the Inflation Reduction Act, which was Democrats only.

The problem is people -- how many people in Montana know about those? And how many people in Montana or other states are feeling the impacts of those yet? It's probably not -- they are not getting that yet. And people like Jon Tester need that messaging to be stronger and they need people to feel the impact of some of this.

HARLOW: I drove by a big billboard at home last week --

DEAN: Yeah.

HARLOW: -- on the highway touting the Inflation Reduction Act and all the accomplishments. This is interesting to see.

DEAN: It is, yeah.


DEAN: And you were in Minnesota, right -- like, yeah.

HARLOW: Yeah -- yeah, yeah, yeah.

MATTINGLY: That stuff matters.

John, what I found most interesting about this ad -- it's a well-done ad.


MATTINGLY: There's no question about it. But one where it's targeted -- this is part of the $25 million kind of buy that they've started to push out. It's earlier than any big Democratic campaign has ever done. That's a sizable amount of money.

But it's also where it's targeted. They know that there is a very specific population that gave them the win in 2020. That's what they're going after right now. They're laying this groundwork.


They didn't talk about age in that ad. It is very implicit what they're saying --

AVLON: Sure.

MATTINGLY: -- though throughout, and it's also kind of -- they're setting up the contrast that they want if Trump is --

AVLON: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: -- who he's up against.

AVLON: Steady, quiet strength. Stood up to Vladimir Putin. Walking the streets of Kyiv with Zelenskyy. It is a good ad and it's the kind of thing they need to do because Biden, frankly, isn't campaigning as much as a typical reelect, so you need to invest more.

Normally, I reject it when administrations say that the message isn't getting out. You know, poor communication. But there's not been the message discipline, the sound bites, and the stats that are necessary to make these things sticky -- these accomplishments. And a lot of them are transformative.

Now, I was talking to someone who is in the Biden administration -- not the White House -- and I mentioned there were over 300 bipartisan pieces of legislation that passed in the first two years, and that was a surprise to them.

DEAN: Yeah. That's crazy.

AVLON: And so, that's a problem. That's a problem.

And the fact that in CNN's poll yesterday a lot of bad news for Biden -- a lot of it rooted in stuff he can't do anything about -- age, perceptions of vigor.

The economy -- that is at odds with the reality in terms of the economy being much stronger objectively than it was one, two, three years ago.

EMILY NGO, CO-AUTHOR, POLITICO'S NEW YORK PLAYBOOK: Right. And I think about how Jake Tapper, yesterday, had Cedric Richmond on. That's the co-chair of the Biden campaign. And the first thing he said was it's not about Biden so much as it is about the issues. It's about the Republicans' push for a national abortion ban. It's about him capping -- the president capping --

AVLON: Yeah.

NGO: -- insulin prices.

But the messaging is really tricky. You have to focus on the issues less so than the personality of Biden. You can't take away the fact that he is on the older side and that's what people remember. They can't remember this list of things that he's accomplished.

AVLON: Well, it should be about results, not a personality. That's the contrast. But people need to feel it and they need to know it. DEAN: They need to feel it and they need to feel it in their everyday life. And some of these things that have passed that will be transformative, likely, in a lot of communities just -- it hasn't gotten to that point yet. And Democrats need them to see these real results.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you -- it's probably a dumb question. Like, how, right -- like --

DEAN: Yes.

MATTINGLY: -- everything that's a problem in these moments is oh, it's a communications issue.

DEAN: Right.

MATTINGLY: It's a message issue. It's this, that --

DEAN: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: -- and the other. People just aren't feeling it. It's not connecting.

And I think one of the things that I constantly try to figure out with this team and this administration is, like, OK, then what?

DEAN: Um-hum.

MATTINGLY: Like, how do you make this connect if everything, as they say, polls very high in isolation or individual?

DEAN: Right. It's a great question -- it's a great question.

MATTINGLY: If I had the answer I'd, like --

DEAN: Well, they would hire you -- yeah.

MATTINGLY: The answer would be no to that.

HARLOW: But he's not allowed to -- he's now allowed to leave.

MATTINGLY: Absolutely not.

AVLON: But look, this is about saying that Main Street is doing as well as Wall Street for the first time in a long time focusing on the middle class, which is the thing that Biden's been doing for a long time.


AVLON: The core problem is that the things that are dragging down Biden's reelection prospects are his age and perceptions of vigor, and that's baked in the cake. That's part of who he is. And so, it's going to be difficult to pull out the slight of hand unless -- and Biden's favorite argument is don't compare me to the Almighty; compare me to the alternative. And the other -- the silver lining in the poll yesterday was he still

is doing better among -- than Donald Trump, particularly among Independent voters, and that's what they're betting on. But that's a risky gamble for the nation at this point.

HARLOW: But the numbers weren't high for him on Independents --

AVLON: That's right.

HARLOW: -- as we pointed out.

AVLON: That's right.

DEAN: But, yeah, it is going to come down to what -- four states probably and the swing voters in those four states. And you hate to kind of distill it down to that, but --

AVLON: A dangerous game for democracy and the Democrats should be listening.

HARLOW: Can we talk about the big picture? Phil and I are obsessed with what might happen -- what will happen either way next week with the UAW potential strike of all three big -- all three, at the same time, big automakers. And they're very displeased with the Biden administration right now. They don't love Trump either in terms of the prospects.

But I just -- can you speak to how big of an issue that is for this White House if they all strike on Friday?

NGO: Oh, it's such a humungous issue and the spotlight is especially bright on Biden as someone who is a champion of the working class. Who was supported by blue-collar and has those Scranton roots. How he deals with a union conflict like this could have repercussions. Could have a rippling effect among voters as he campaigns.

HARLOW: And they got mad this week when he said I don't think they're going to strike.

AVLON: Yeah. Probably a little bit of freelancing and wishful thinking on Biden's part. But this does become a test of presidential leadership.

I'll get history nerd on you. You know, great presidents --

MATTINGLY: You're going to go right in.

AVLON: -- bring in both parties and lock -- Teddy Roosevelt, Anthracites Coal Strike in Pennsylvania.

Biden should bring them in, lock them in a room, and say we're going to get this done, and then get it done. Because it would be a huge self-inflicted wound politically and economically for this (INAUDIBLE).

NGO: Such a contrast, though. The prospect of these strikes versus this ad that shows him as someone who's an expert in foreign relations who can push back against such conflicts. So a little juggling of international and domestic conflict there.


MATTINGLY: Yeah. He's at the G20 right now. I would note ports, rail, UPS --

HARLOW: So true.

MATTINGLY: -- they've always gotten to the outcome they wanted in the end, so we'll see. There's still some time left. Harsh words -- a big, big consequential issue.

Jess Dean, Emily, John -- thanks, guys -- appreciate it.

Well, the Detroit Lions upsetting the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL season opener just as Poppy predicted. How they pulled it off, next.

HARLOW: And ahead, Coy Wire just sat down with NFL coaches for his upcoming documentary, asking the question: can football be safe? Guess who's here in the studio with us with, of course --


MATTINGLY: He brought a helmet.

HARLOW: -- his helmet and his football. And Phil is very excited for this in-person appearance.


MATTINGLY: Well, the NFL is back. It should be a national holiday, frankly. Last night's season opener did not disappoint. The Detroit Lions -- yes, those Detroit Lions pulling off the upset against Patrick Mahomes -- Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now, it was a rough night for Chiefs receivers in the third quarter. Mahomes looking for Kadarius Toney and that looks like Coy Wire. The ball going right through Toney's hands. The rookie Brian Branch picks it off and takes it back 50 yards the other way for a touchdown to tie the game.

And in the fourth, David Montgomery with an 8-yard touchdown. It would end up being the game-winner. The extra point putting the Lions on top for a final score of 21-20.

HARLOW: Can we just talk about how maybe you were also born to be a sportscaster? That was so good.


HARLOW: Very nicely done.

MATTINGLY: Thank you. HARLOW: Good thing it was --

MATTINGLY: I like my weekends --

HARLOW: Good thing it was --

MATTINGLY: -- which is weird that I got into news reporting because I didn't get them there either.

HARLOW: This is right.

Brian Branch, the player you just saw return that interception for a touchdown -- he later had to leave the game with an injury along with another Lions player. Fortunately, both those injuries turned out to be minor ones.

But after decades of seeing players go down with head injuries and what happened, of course, to Damar Hamlin last season, this is the question. Can football be safe?


Our Coy Wire sat down with NFL coaches, including Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, for his investigation. It airs this Sunday on "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" -- watch.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: What do you think it is about the game that fans just love this sport?

ANDY REID, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS HEAD COACH, 3-TIME SUPER BOWL WINNER: It encompasses all we all go through. There are challenges in life. There's challenges on the football field. There's a camaraderie and excitement. You get to see all the different races and religions brought together, and that's celebrated.

WIRE (voice-over): And make no mistake about it, football is way of life for many Americans, from Peewee leagues and flag football to high school football's Friday night lights, and colleges and universities. All across this country, people are obsessed with football.


HARLOW: Joining us now, CNN sports anchor and former NFL player, Coy Wire. Such a treat to have you at the table, my friend. And so powerful that you are doing this because I think for people to hear it and see it from you says a lot.

WIRE: Yeah. I think that's pertinent because 82 of the top 100 most- watched television programs last year were NFL games. Five more were college football games. One was Ohio State Buckeyes. Phil Mattingly is very --

MATTINGLY: Was it a Michigan game? I don't want to talk about it.

WIRE: Yeah, we don't want to talk about who the -- what the outcome was.

But people love their football and people love seeing their sons and daughters play the game as well. But how safe is the game?

You know, there were a lot of cries after some very scary injuries last year decrying the game and saying should it even be played. Should we let kids play? And that always bothered me because I love this sport. It's my first sport. It taught me everything I know about life and leadership.

And so, I wanted answers. I wanted to know how safe is it. So I -- we did a lot of really great things and talked to some incredible people -- head coaches. Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills as well. The rock of the XFL. They have an intriguing league with some very specific things they're doing to make the game safer that the NFL is actually looking at.

But we went to an NFL-funded research lab down in Charlottesville, Virginia. They are crunching data on when an injury happens, how did it happen. They're tracking every single one, concussions and lower- body extremities -- all of them.

Helmets. This is the one I wore when I played.


WIRE: It looks fancy, right? It looks high-tech. It is now banned. You're not allowed to use it. It's not safe enough. Helmets are evolving at nine times the rate they did in the past.

These are all positive things. And what we learned in the documentary and all of our reporting shows is that while football can probably never be safe it is safer than it has ever been. And with the way things are going, if the trends continue -- 50 new rule changes over the last two decades in the NFL alone. If those things continue the game will only continue to get safer.

And it's important that it's happening at the NFL level because the college coaches, the universities --


WIRE: -- the high school youth parents, they're watching what they're doing and they'll follow the lead.

MATTINGLY: I mean, what those guys wear -- the high school kids will wear.

WIRE: That's right.

MATTINGLY: The junior high kids will wear. And so if they were specific helmets that's what they're going to want.

I see that game ball right there as well.

WIRE: Yes. MATTINGLY: Did you get that for something after the game? We've got to go. I know we've got to go.

WIRE: This is the real legit NFL football. I just wanted to see if you tell.


HARLOW: I was very scared -- I was very scared it was going to hit Phil's coffee.

WIRE: We've got a defender at heart there, yeah.

MATTINGLY: OK. Now, come on. Why are you talking to me like that?

Coy Wire, thanks so much for coming out.

WIRE: It's my privilege.

MATTINGLY: Especially watching this and going to watch this as a dad, which I think is very different than as a high school player and professional player --


MATTINGLY: -- as well, which I know you are.

WIRE: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: Can't wait to see it. You can see --

WIRE: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: -- Coy's full report on "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" this Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on CNN.

I'm going to steal this football.

But also, just how much legal trouble and debt is Rudy Giuliani facing after former President Trump tried to keep him close by throwing a fundraiser? We're going to have the details. That's next.