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Preparing for Coronavirus Crisis; Fact-Checking the Democratic Debate; Iger Steps Down at Disney; Bloomberg Ads Featuring Obama. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 08:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't understand this virus.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I really pushed him on this point. And, again, it will -- it could be with us, not just beyond this season, but beyond this year. It's going to gain a foothold and start to spread. That's what the head of the CDC is saying. Obviously, that's at odds with what we've heard from the president, that it will fizzle away and go away. So I think that that's part of what's prompting this news conference.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Sanjay, this has Americans very worried. I mean I hear people talking about it all the time. They want answers.

One of the things that I know you have been wrestling with what the answer is, how is it spread? How do people catch the coronavirus?

GUPTA: Well, I think the primary way that this is spread is from somebody who is sick and coughs and sneeze and creates these respiratory droplets that are full of virus. Someone else breathes those droplets in. And that's primarily how they get ill.

But we also know that it can -- it can stay on surfaces for up to days and people can touch those surfaces and possibly infect themselves. And we also know -- and, again, I talked to Dr. Redfield about this in detail, that even someone who's not sick, who has either minimal symptoms or no symptoms can also shed the virus, shed the virus from their body and potentially be contagious as a result of that.

The primary driver is still going to be sick people. But there are these other ways that it can spread as well.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: How do you protect yourself? How does Alisyn protect herself from me?

CAMEROTA: Thank you. You should see what goes on here during commercial breaks.

BERMAN: As I know what she's thinking as I -- as I hack, you know, up my lungs during commercial break here. No, how do you protect yourself especially if you can get it from people who aren't symptomatic? GUPTA: Yes, I hope you're not truly hacking up your lungs in commercial break because if you're sick, you should stay home. I mean -- and that's a basic rule and people who are healthy should avoid sick people.

The basics apply here. You know, you heard Dr. Redfield say this is behaving very much like a flu virus. How do you protect yourself against the flu? Well, you have a flu vaccine, which, by the way, not even half the country gets. It's a separate point.

But with regard to this, what would you do to protect yourself from the flu? Avoid sick people. Wash your hands often. Try not to touch surfaces. Disinfect areas that may have been contaminated.

And then, you know, if we start to see social -- we start to see communities spreading, then there's this term that public health officials use called social distancing. Distancing yourself from people at that point. Staying home maybe from work. Keeping the kids from school. Looking around your house and saying, look, if we do get to this point for a couple of week where we're worried about community spread, do I have enough supplies in the house to be OK? Do I have my prescription meds? Do I have kid supplies? Hospitals are going to need to think about this in terms of surge capacity within hospitals. So all these different things going into place.

I do want to give context, because all that sounds really scary, and I get it, but keep in mind that for the vast majority of people, even if they do get this infection, they will have minimal or no symptoms. Eighty percent, according to some of the largest studies, have minimal or no symptoms. People who are more likely to be really affected by this are people who have pre-existing illnesses, people who are elderly, similar to what we see with flu.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, is there any way to capture how worried people should be today? On a scale of one to 10, from what you've seen in your experience with SARS, H1N1, just, you know, your life as a doctor, on a scale of one to 10, how worried should the average American be?

GUPTA: Right now I think the worry is still low. You know, I think there's 57 people in this country who have been conclusively diagnosed with this infection. There could be more, again, who don't have any symptoms or have minimal symptoms. But I think we've got to take what we're hearing from the CDC, you know, and really make sure that people are acting on that.

You hear Dr. Redfield say that, look, this could become something that starts to spread within communities. One person spreads it to three people. Those three people then spread it to three more each and so on. And when you start to get generational spreading like that, it's got to be something that's commonplace.

Let me show you H1N1 numbers for a second. You -- some of you may remember. This was back in 2009. I covered this story in great detail at the time. And it was obviously a concern. This strange virus coming out of Mexico at that time. If you look at the numbers now, you find that overall since H1N1,

which was declared a pandemic, you had more than 200 countries, regions -- there's 195 countries and then several regions also affected. Tens of millions of people contracted this virus ultimately in the United States alone and you had tens of thousands of deaths. So, you know, it's of concern.

Does this become another pathogen that is circulating around the world like H1N1? That's what we're hearing. Luckily, again, it seems that the vast majority of people will have minimal or no symptoms. But this could be something that we deal with as a world now in the weeks and months going forward.


CAMEROTA: Sanjay, thank you very much every day for updating us on this. And, again, at 6:00 p.m. Eastern this evening we will hear from the president, see where he is on this, and what the plan is in the U.S. for containing this.

OK, meanwhile, how did the candidates do in terms of telling the truth last night? We'll fact-check their claims in our "Reality Check."



BERMAN: Plenty of claims, plenty of charges in last night's Democratic debate. How much of it actually true?

John Avlon here with a "Reality Check."



So, look, with all the yelling and cross-talking last night in South Carolina, it sometimes felt like this Democratic debate was brought to you by Brit Campbell (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what we're yelling about!


AVLON: But there certainly was a lot that demanded a reality check as Bernie Sanders got the frontrunner treatment on issues like guns.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A hundred and fifty million people have been killed since 2007 when Bernie voted to exempt the gun manufacturers from liability.

(END VIDEO CLIP) AVLON: OK, Biden was off by three zeros there. There have been roughly 150,000 gun homicides since 2007. But Biden is right that Bernie Sanders voted to give gun companies immunity from lawsuits. A striking departure from his general demonization of big corporations, a move he now calls a bad vote.

So, what gives? Well, when Sanders was first elected in Congress in 1990, he was endorsed by the NRA over a moderate Republican who supported an assault weapons ban. And for a long time Bernie opposed gun control legislation like the Brady Bill, which was even backed by Ronald Reagan. But now he's keen to highlight his D-minus rating from the NRA. Fair enough.

Then there was the accusation that Sanders supported a primary challenge against Obama in 2012. Now, he denies wanting to challenge Obama himself, but in 2011 he said this.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I think one of the reasons the president has been able to move so far to the right is that there is no primary opposition to him.


AVLON: In another interview he said that a progressive primary challenge to Obama would enliven the debate.

Elizabeth Warren focused most of her fire on Mike Bloomberg, accusing him of donating to Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Pat Toomey and Scott Brown in his failed race against Warren. This is true. Bloomberg has donated to Republicans and Democrats in the past. But since leaving city hall, he spent billions on mostly liberal causes, combating climate change, tobacco and opioids, as well as gun reform. And in 2018, he pledged $80 million to help Democrats take back the House.

Now, speaking of spending, Tom Steyer's bocu (ph) bucks have helped propelled him to third place in South Carolina. That's potentially a problem for Joe Biden. They mixed it up.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He, in fact, bought a system that was a private prison system, after -- after he knew that, in fact, what happened was they hogtied young men in prison here in this state.


AVLON: Confused? Well, Biden is referring to the major investment Steyer's hedge fund made in a private prison company in the 2000s, which was found to be abusing prisoners. Steyer says he sold the stock after he found out and he punched back saying that the Biden-backed 1994 crime bill created an era of mass incarceration. Now, in fact, mass incarceration started to climb in the 1970s with state mandatory drug minimums. So it predated the '94 crime bill, which did help cut crime rates.

Amy Klobuchar made the case for comment (ph).


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last Congress, I was the most effective Democrat in the U.S. Senate on 15 metrics. Bernie and Elizabeth were in the bottom half.


AVLON: OK, this is true according to the Center for Effective Lawmaking at Vanderbilt. In fact, in the 14 years since Bernie Sanders joined the Senate, he's co-sponsored 48 bills that became law, but only been the chief sponsor of three, and that includes renaming a post office for Thaddeus Stevens.

And that's your "Reality Check."

CAMEROTA: John, that is so helpful. I know you were up last night fact-checking all this, but it is so helpful to know who was, you know, possibly embellishing and who was just sticking to the facts.

AVLON: And just cutting through the spin and the screaming, as it turns out.

BERMAN: I have to say, there was more off base last night from the Democrats than we've seen before --


BERMAN: Which actually, I think, tells you the urgency for them. They feel like they just have to swing big, even if they're missing in some cases.

AVLON: There was a lot of fighting last night in South Carolina.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, John.

AVLON: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: All right, the comics also had some fun last night with the candidates and the debate. Here are your "Late Night Laughs."





JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not out of time. He spoke over time and I'm going to talk. TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": Damn. Whoo! Yes,

it was wild tonight. I haven't seen white people go at each other that hard since khakis were on sale at Banana Republic.

When it comes to Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren is relentless. She destroyed him in the first debate. She came after him again tonight. I bet when he got in his car later, she just popped up in the back seat, like, oh, and another thing.

SANDERS: Misconception, and you're hearing it here tonight, is that the ideas I'm talking about are radical. They're not. In one form or another, they exist in countries all over the world.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": In countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Mordor (ph), Dr. Doom's Latveria (ph), they all make it work.


Seven candidates, five moderators, two hours and one powerful message for America.



SANDERS: Another --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie, let -- let me respond to this.



SANDERS: Hold it -- look, first of all -- first -- I think --

STEYER: Wait a minute, Bernie, let me talk. Let me talk.

COLBERT: It's going to be tough to fit on a bumper sticker.


CAMEROTA: There were muddled moments.

BERMAN: There were. There were. But, look, you know, I hope people did listen to what was said because it was an important moment. South Carolina is Saturday. Super Tuesday -- a lot of people are going to vote in the next week.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, obviously, despite the crosstalk, there were certainly moments of great substance and people got their points across. It was really, you know, a mixed bag for everybody.

CAMEROTA: So Disney became a juggernaut under CEO Bob Iger. So what happens now that he's no longer in charge? Is he really no longer in charge? Christine Romans, next.


BERMAN: A changing of the guard, kind of. One of the best known CEOs in America is leaving his post, kind of, from the top of Disney.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us with what Bob Iger is doing and not doing.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's leaving the CEO role. And what a run, seen as one of the best CEOs of his generation. Bob Iger giving up that job at Disney.

Iger took over from Michael Eisner in 2005 and he remade Disney with bold buys that paid off.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To infinity and beyond!


ROMANS: His purchases of Pixar, Marvel, Lucas Film, they brought "Toy Story," "The Avengers" and "Star Wars" altogether to the magic kingdom. His biggest buy, 20th Century Fox Film and TV Studios, $71 billion. His vision, feed Disney's merchandise machine and inspire his theme parks with box office hits. "The Rise of Skywalker" was the $7 billion Disney film last year.


Forty percent of last year's total box office, Disney films. All this content, the backbone of Disney's new streaming service, alongside new continent in the Disney catalogue. Hello baby Yoda. Iger says the successful launch of Disney Plus makes this the perfect time for a change for him.

It was a surprise, you guys, to just about everyone. He had signed a contract extension a year ago. Iger, instead, will become executive chairman and will lead Disney's create endeavors until the end of that contract in 2021. Over the past 15 years, he has quadrupled the company's market cap and enriched shareholders something like 400 percent.

Now the new CEO is Bob Chapek. He's the chairman of Disney's Parks and Resorts. A big revenue driver for Disney. And he's got a near-term challenge here. Parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai have been temporarily shut down because of the coronavirus. Disney stock, you guys, down almost 9 percent since Friday.

Alisyn, he'll become only I think the seventh CEO in Disney history.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting. And it does look like a good job. You're right.

Christine, thank you. CAMEROTA: OK, so Mike Bloomberg fared better in last night's debate compared to his debut. And he's hoping a major ad buy featuring former President Barack Obama will help him gain traction. But the ads are not sit well with the former VP Joe Biden.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny explains all of this. He's live in South Carolina for us.

Hi, Jeff.


Now these are very powerful images played again and again tens of thousands of times featuring former President Barack Obama praising Michael Bloomberg. Now, it's not an endorsement, but what is their relationship? Aides to the former president tell me it's complicated.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (December 2018): It's good to see you.

ZELENY (voice over): Barack Obama is staying on the sidelines of the Democratic primary fight, though you might not know it from all those campaign ads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A great president and an effective mayor, leadership that makes a difference.

ZELENY: In Michael Bloomberg's unprecedented barrage of advertising, the former president is playing a starring role.

OBAMA (October 25, 2013): He's been a leader throughout the country for the past 12 years. Mr. Michael Bloomberg is here.

ZELENY: On that day in October 2013, the president was actually giving a nod to Bloomberg's tenure as mayor. A point the Bloomberg presidential campaign left out.

OBAMA: I want to give a special shout out to a man who's been an extraordinary mayor for this city. He's been a leader throughout the country for the past 12 years, Mr. Michael Bloomberg is here.

ZELENY: A week before Super Tuesday, when Bloomberg faces voters for the first time in this presidential race, the Obama ads are playing all day, every day and on many channels at once. They've certainly drawn attention, including from Obama's actual partner in the White House.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ain't it amazing we found out how everybody is Barack's best friend now? Man, I look at all these ads. I said, right, it's amazing. I wonder where the hell they were -- heck they were when I was vice president with him?

ZELENY: But for Joe Biden, it's anything but a laughing matter. Bloomberg has spent more than $38 million and counting on two Obama ads alone. That's about three times as much money Biden has spent on his advertising overall.

So just how close were Bloomberg and Obama? The mayor and the president found common ground on guns and climate change. But they had many policy differences. Like on the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration's signature achievement.

In a 2010 speech, just months after the passage of Obamacare, Bloomberg, then an independent, call the law a disgrace. He described it as just another program that's going to cost a lot of money.

A decade later, as he's running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bloomberg has fully embraced it and now supports a Medicare like public option that builds on the law. The ads have drawn the ire of several former Obama staffers, who have not forgotten Bloomberg's tepid endorsement of the president just five days before his 2012 re-election. In an op-ed in his company's news service, Bloomberg praised Mitt Romney but said he would grudgingly vote for Obama. He wrote, rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice, he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it.

In a 2016 speech discovered by CNN's Kfile, Bloomberg acknowledged the slight.

BLOOMBERG (June 15, 2016): The second Obama election, I wrote a very backhanded endorsement of Obama.

ZELENY: It's an open question whether the ads actually work.

Tracy Hughes, a military veteran from South Carolina, said she did a double take when she first saw them. Now she knows Obama didn't endorse Bloomberg or anyone yet.

TRACY HUGHES, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: I believe it's just a ploy to me to use President Barack Obama, his legacy and his history to try and win votes. And I think it's not -- it's not a good thing at all to do because we can see right through it.


ZELENY: Now Bloomberg is hardly the only Democratic candidate trying to step into the former president's glow.


But, John and Alisyn, he's the only one with deep pockets to do it like this.

BERMAN: It's really interesting to hear his voice saying, yes, it was a backhanded endorsement. Don't take the reporting word for it, take his word for it when he says it was a backhanded endorsement.

CAMEROTA: Hat tip to the Kfile there. Thank you very much, Jeff.

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

It took more than 70 years but Navy Veteran Thomas Simpson finally has the medals he earned during World War II. The 92-year-old says he was determined to get them after a question from one of his grandsons.


THOMAS SIMPSON, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: So he said, papa, what did you do in the war? I said, I'll get my medals and I'll show you.


BERMAN: His New Jersey congressman secured the medals and presented them to Simpson at his assisted living facility. Simpson said the medals mean everything. We're glad he got them. We're not sure why he didn't get them to begin with.

CAMEROTA: We're not sure where they were.

BERMAN: Or, you know, it was a long time coming. Should have got them a long time ago. Happy for him.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, much more on the coronavirus and the U.S. readiness for it when President Trump holds a news conference. Our coverage continues next.