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New Day Saturday

Key Model Predicts U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Doubling By January; CDC Report Shows Children With No Symptoms Can Spread Virus; North Carolina Voters Weigh In On Upcoming Election; President Donald Trump Invokes Churchill, FDR To Defend Downplaying COVID-19; New Hulu Series Inspired By Creator's Encounter With Police; Aware Wildlife Center Works To Rescue Injured Animal. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired September 12, 2020 - 08:00   ET





DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I feel cautious optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this calendar year. It's not going to turning a switch off and turning a switch on. It's going to be gradual at least 40,000 COVID infections have been reported on college campuses in every state.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: College students who knew they had Coronavirus throwing a part anyway and hey got busted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I was a college student once, I get it but, really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 100 large fires have burned more than 4.5 million acres in 12 states.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In California infamous for its infernos, five of the largest fires ever recorded in the state are burning now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you are notified by emergency officials to evacuate, please do so immediately. You may not get a second chance.

ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day Weekend" with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Beautiful blue skies there in New York. Good morning to all of you there and where ever you might be this morning, we're always grateful to have your company on this Saturday morning and we do have some new really sobering predictions to give. This is by an influential model; it is often cited by the White House.

It says the number of Americans killed by the Coronavirus will, "Likely double", over the next four months. The IHME model says at worse, the U.S. could reach 600,000 deaths by January.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: The doctors and workers are still battling the virus and fire fighters and first responders. Let's take you out to west they're battling fires there millions of acres across 12 states have burned. And at least 26 people have died and more are missing. We'll take you to one of the hardest hit areas in just a few minute.

PAUL: First, though, we want to go to CNN's Polo Sandoval who is following the latest on the Coronavirus. We know Polo that Dr. Fauci has this projection that is frightening but he's optimistic why?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, especially once the vaccine would be potentially approved that then we could begin to obviously see more Americans are protected. But they've also been very clear that that's going to take some time.

Also, what we hear from experts is that, the next few months are certainly going to be challenging to stay the least. I mean, we're still seeing about 36,000 new COVID cases in the country a day that number is better than last month but it is still way who too high says Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Especially going into the fall, where Americans face the threat of not just Coronavirus, but the flu as well. A cautiously optimistic tone coming from the nation's top infectious disease expert on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN we may see approval of a safe Coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, though, he says, it may take several months to get the country vaccinated and protected against the virus.


DR. FAUCI: It's going to take months to get enough people vaccinated to have an umbrella of immunity over the community so that you don't have to worry about easy transmission. That's what I mean. It's not going to be an overnight event where you have a vaccine and then all of a sudden everything is OK.


SANDOVAL: Fauci also expressed confidence that the vaccine approval process is being done correctly and without political pressure. Though recent polling indicates 62 percent of Americans worry the Food and Drug Administration will rush it, ahead of the upcoming elections. Chief adviser to the government's COVID-19 vaccine program says he would take it once it is proven safe and effective.


MONCEF SLAOUI, SCIENTIFIC HEAD, OPERATION WARP SPEED: I would frankly turn the question the other way around and say what would be my ethical reason to withhold a vaccine that I could have developed faster from being developed faster?

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANDOVAL: And a vaccine can't come soon enough as reopening schools for in person learning has become a point of contention. Despite opposition by some students school district officials in Des Moines, Iowa, are defying the Governor's order to resume in person classes for at least 50 percent of their instruction.


SANDOVAL: Meanwhile, at least 40,000 COVID infections have been reported on college campuses in every state. Health officials believe young adults holding social gatherings could be among several factors. Going into the upcoming flu season, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen recommending people limit risk.


DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN, GOERGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Just because things are open doesn't mean we now need to do it all. If we can go to restaurants maybe we should not go to bars and restaurants and movies and go back to work and go back to school. We really should look at what are the most essential activities and do that and still follow every prediction, when it comes to wash our hands, wearing our mask and following the social distancing guidelines, too.


SANDOVAL: Asked for looking back, the Coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force says now is the time to get tested if you think you let your guard down over the Labor Day weekend. Here in New York State, Governor Cuomo announced that New Yorkers, at least here in the city will be able to return to indoor dining by the end of this month.

Of course, this will come with a lengthy list of restrictions. There are 25 percent for restaurants capacity for the restaurants. There will be temperature checks at the entrance. At least one member of each dining party will have to leave their contact information behind for potential contact tracing.

And of course this is coming as the CDC releases its study that adults that are being infected with the Coronavirus were twice as likely to report that they had dined in a restaurant, about two weeks before they became infected. So, again, as you heard experts it's about weighing all options here and perhaps going with only the essential activities at this point.

BLACKWELL: Taking it slowly and carefully. Polo Sandoval thanks so much.

PAUL: Polo, thank you. So, we know that President Trump there's still this disconnect between the president and his own administration's experts on where we stand against Coronavirus. CNN's Rebecca Buck is live near the White House right now.

The president we know is downplaying this pandemic. He said someone south in the Woodward interviews, Dr. Fauci say the data doesn't lie. How is the White House trying to reconcile those two different opinions?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Christi. Well, the White House not exactly trying to reconcile those two very different pictures of the pandemic that we are getting from President Trump and from Dr. Fauci. Just this week, we heard President Trump tell his supports at a rally that we are turning the corner as a country on the COVID pandemic here in the United States.

While at the same time a very sober assessment from Dr. Fauci who said this week that he believes it could be a year or more before things are able to return to normal in the United States even if a vaccine is approved and starting distribution by the end of the year so a very, very different picture.

Our own Wolf Blitzer asked Dr. Fauci about this yesterday on his show. And I want you to take a listen to how Fauci explains the discrepancy between what we're hearing from him and the White House.


DR. FAUCI: You know I don't want to answer me or the president. I say look at the data. The data speak for themselves. You don't have to listen to any individual. The data tells us that we're still getting up to 40,000 new infections a day and 1,000 deaths. That's what you look at. Look at the science, the evidence and the data. And you can make a pretty easy conclusion.


BUCK: So Dr. Fauci says it's an easy conclusion to draw. But as we said, it is not an easy conclusion for the White House to reach. That's why we're getting this very different picture, still from President Trump giving a very rosy picture versus Dr. Fauci, a much more sober assessment.

BLACKWELL: We're also hearing from the president on Twitter about the wildfires out west. He's headed out to Nevada this weekend. But he's not going for anything related to the fires.

BUCK: That's right, Victor. This is the first time we've heard from the president in weeks about these fires that are devastating the Western United States. Displacing hundreds of thousands of people and, of course, taking lives and property along the way.

These fires, by the way, are unprecedented. And only yesterday did President Trump tweet his support for the firefighters who are fighting these blazes. But before that, we hadn't heard from the president since August about these fires and that was to criticize California for their forest management.

So very different than what you would expect, for example, what the president said about the Grotto (ph) in Iowa recently. About some of the hurricanes that have hit the Gulf Coast in recent months and years so, again, the president downplaying his support for California and Oregon. We'll see if he mentions it as he travels to Nevada today, where, of course, they're seeing diminished air quality as a result of these fires the smoke filling the air there, Christi and Victor.

BLACKWELL: Rebecca Buck for us there in Washington. Thanks so much. New report from the CDC shows how children with mild or in some cases no symptoms can easily spread COVID-19.


PAUL: According to contact tracing data from three Utah Child Care Centers, 12 children who became infected at the facilities ended up spreading that virus to several other people.

BLACKWELL: Now the data also shows that children can carry the virus back to their homes and right now, at least 500,000 children across the U.S. have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus. And according to researchers there have been a 16 percent increase from August 20th to September 3rd.

PAUL: Let's bring in Dr. Sara Goza. She's the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Goza, thank you for taking the time to be with us here. I want to address first of all the new statistic at 16 percent increase in children who have become ill with COVID, just in the last couple of weeks. The assumption would be it's because they're returning to school and to day cares. Is there any evidence to confirm that?

DR. SARA GOZA, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: You know we've been seeing an increase in children getting COVID since the summer. And so this is just a continual increase. So, it started before school started back. And we think it's because the community spread is increasing. And as you know, with the community spread increases, the numbers of children getting this disease are also going to increase because children can get COVID.

PAUL: And we know that it's less severe in children. Is the transmission the primary concern for you? What is the risk to kids?

DR. GOZA: You know children can get this disease. And it is less severe than an adult. But some children will get very quick with it. And some children will not survive it. So, it's very important to decrease that spread. And it's up to us as adults to make sure that we're having everyone wear a mask, physical distance, and try not to gather in large gatherings.

PAUL: Beyond that, there were - you know, with this report, that kids with mild or no symptoms can spread it. What options do parents have? Because some of them don't have any other options but day care?

DR. GOZA: Yes, you know, even in day cares, in my area, the day cares are having children wear a mask. Schools in my area are having children wear a mask. I think it's very important that we make sure children are wearing a mask that they are trying to physical distance and trying to cohort children so that they are not around large groups of different children.

We know that we can slow the spread with this but we also need have to slow that community spread so that parents can send their children to day care and to school and feel safe to do that.

PAUL: We know there's an intersect of COVID and the flu that is the expectation as we head into the winter. I think there are a lot of parents out there; I've heard people ask can the flu vaccine help with COVID? Can you answer that?

DR. GOZA: You know the flu vaccine is not going to prevent COVID. But what we do know is that we don't want to have a bad flu season - having COVID-19. So we're encouraging everyone to get their children vaccinated for the flu. Every child over 6 months of age can have that flu vaccine in cycle.

We're encouraging pediatricians to get in there and get those flu vaccines as well as get in their well visits and getting other vaccines up to date.

PAUL: OK. I want to ask you about the message that is being sent to teachers and to day care facilities and schools. There were - there's an article in "POLITICO" regarding a Trump official allegedly preventing Dr. Fauci from discussing COVID children risks and here what it is.

They wrote can you ensure Dr. Fauci indicated masks are for teachers in school, not for children. There's no data, none, zero across the entire world, that shows children especially young children spread this virus to other children or to adults to their teachers none. And if it did occur, the risk is essentially zero.

Without evidence that children take influence at home but not the Coronavirus. Again that's an email from HHS. What do you make of the claims there that that masks should be for teachers in schools not just for children?

DR. GOZA: The American Academy of Pediatrics has put out guidance that every child over the age of 2 and above should be wearing a mask when they are around other people. We know that this works the decrease the spread and we know that children can spread this disease everybody can.

So it is really critical that the message gets out that children 2 and above can wear masks. They're actually really good at it. In my office, sometimes the 3 and 4 year olds rock the mask much better than their parents do. They keep them on, they don't touch them. They don't mind wearing them. If all of the children in the class are wearing them, everyone's going to want to wear them.

PAUL: They absolutely will and you're right.


PAUL: I've seen a lot of children who do a much better job than some adults do. Dr. Sara Goza, we appreciate your insight. Thank you for being with us.

DR. GOZA: Thank you for having me.

PAUL: Absolutely. And be sure to watch a very special Town Hall it is happening this morning at 10:00 am, the ABCs of back to school. We've got Big Bird, LMO (ph) all their friends talking about keeping healthy and the challenges of virtual learning. We know this is a thing for you; we don't want you to miss it.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, crews in Oregon they are working to stop two major wildfires from merging. We're going to take you there live.


BLACKWELL: As many as 28,000 firefighters and support crew members are fighting the wildfires out West this morning.

PAUL: More than 100 large wildfires are burning across 12 different states and we now know this morning at least 26 people have died in those fires just since last month. In fact in California alone, the flames have burned more than 3.1 million acres. That's an area, just to give you some perspective here, twice the size of the State of Delaware.


BLACKWELL: Nearly, the entire West Coast is under some sort of air quality alert. And there's this warning from medical professionals that the smoke can make you more susceptible to COVID-19.

PAUL: CNN's Camilla Bernal is with us from Estacada, Oregon. Camilla, thank you so much for being with us. We know more than 500,000 people in Oregon have been told to evacuate. So what are you seeing?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, the people in the home behind me, they're one of these 0.5 million people who have evacuated. We've been following the fire fighters around all morning trying to get as close as possible to those flames trying to figure out exactly what these firefighters are doing, but of course it is so difficult with the smoke.

Because the smoke is so thick, that not even the firefighters sometimes can see the fire line. So I want to show you where we are. This is a place that we got to because we're following some of these firefighters. We're not exactly sure what happened to this home and we don't know if it is related to these wildfires?

But it does give you an example of the work that these firefighters are doing and what they have to deal with. One the firefighters here telling us that they won't really know what's going on until the sun come up?

And so it's difficult to see the destruction here the destruction all around because these fires are just massive. And the manager in Talent, Oregon, which is about five hours from where we are talked about that destruction that is not only seen here, but also in that city. Take a listen to what she said.


SANDRA SPELLISCY, CITY MANAGER, TALENT, OREGON: It's going to be a very difficult search process. The areas that were impacted - we're not talking about half-burned buildings or smoldering ruins. We're talking about utter devastation with simply twisted metal and piles of ash.


BERNAL: And so, the concern is that the smoke is not going away. Firefighters are saying that we may have some pockets of clean air, but that for the most part that smoke is going to stay in the air. It makes it very difficult for them. They can't fly over the fires.

And, of course, their work is going to continue throughout the next couple of days. And they say that work is going to continue to be with the smoke. The fires are still at 0 percent containment. So the work here is just beginning.

It's difficult not only for the firefighters but for the many people who have evacuated and who don't know if and when they come back if they're going to find their home or if it is going to be ashes unfortunately that's already the case for many of the families here, Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: So many families across several states. Camilla Bernal for us there in Estacada, thank you.

Still to come President Trump is going to be in campaigning in Nevada this weekend after a really, really rough week. We'll talk about the strategy moving forward.



BLACKWELL: All right, 52 days now until the November election and in North Carolina, so far, more than 618,000 voters have requested an absentee ballot.

PAUL: Yes and North Carolina is an important battleground state, remember. President Trump carried the state by nearly 4 percent in 2016. He wants to keep it that way of course. CNN's Jeff Zeleny talked to some voters about what they're planning to do.


JAMIE OSWALD, UNDECIDED VOTER: I want to vote for somebody other than Donald Trump but I don't want to vote for Biden.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Meet Jamie Oswald, a hairdresser, an undecided voter. She grew up in a Republican family and likes President Trump's economic record but not much else.


OSWALD: If he could just not talk. You know, the stuff that he says, it's just like embarrassing.

ZELENY: If he could just not talk, that's - they've got the President of the United States.

OSWALD: It is. It's saying a lot.


ZELENY: Yet, so far, she's not sold on Joe Biden.


OSWALD: I think he's been in office for so long and he really hasn't done a whole lot.


ZELENY: Oswald said she's never voted but will this year, inspired by the pandemic that left her unemployed for more than two months. She's one of 1.2 million new voters in North Carolina since 2016, when Trump nearly won the state by 173,000 votes. Now, it's a battleground, he's visited three times in the last three weeks. Voting here is already under way a sign that Coronavirus is influencing the election, including how people cast their ballots.


BAKARR KANU, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: It is very important for everybody to go out this time, because there's a lot at stake.


ZELENY: Bakarr Kanu a professor received his absentee ballot in the mail this week. He dismisses any talk of fraud saying Trump is trying to intimidate voters. Yet the president's supporters here are already echoing his questions about the election's legitimacy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A mail-in ballot, I wouldn't trust it. I would definitely go in person.


ZELENY: At the end of the challenging week for the president were his own words to Bob Woodward became a new flash point Trump supporters are unwavering. Sarah Reidy-Jones who leads a Women's Republican Group believes in Trump now more than four years ago, in part because of judicial appointments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH REIDY-JONES, PRESIDENT, CHAROLETTE REPUBLICAN WOMEN: Four years ago, President Trump wasn't my first, second, third or fourth choice. We're saying get beyond that rhetoric and go with what that record of accomplishment.


ZELENY: That record does not sit well with this bar owner Blake Stewart who believes the president's leadership on Coronavirus has been appalling.


BLAKE STEWART, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: He had the opportunity to grab this bull by the horns and said you let it run us all over.


ZELENY: His business is still closed for that he blames Trump, not the state's Democratic Governor. He planted this voter registration sign outside hoping to find new voters to help block the president's path to re-election.

There's little question Trump supporters here are fired up but there are also signs he's awaken the other side. His presidency motivated Angela Levine to become politically active for the first time and work against him.



ANGELA LEVINE, DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST: I became a much more informed voter. That's why I got this blue wave tattoo. This is to remind me never to assume someone else is going to all the hard work.


ZELENY: So absentee balloting is under way and then early voting starts next month. There are 17 days of in-person early voting across North Carolina. So not only is Coronavirus affecting how you vote, it's also affecting in some cases who you're voting for?

There is no question, North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes are squarely in the sights of the Trump Campaign. Not only did President Trump visit three times, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, also all made separate visits to the state this week. Joe Biden is coming soon. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.

BLACKWELL: With me now, Former Special Assistance to President George W. Bush and CNN Political Commentator Scott Jennings. Scott, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: So let's start here with these visits, and I want to talk about the visits earlier this week to Michigan. The president will be heading out to Nevada today and tomorrow. We've got the video of these crowds, hundreds in some cases, thousands of people, with no social distancing. They're not wearing masks. How does the president credibly say that he's leading based on science, based on his own administration's guidance. And then he has these events?

JENNINGS: Yes, my recommendation to people going to large events would be to wear a mask. And I think the president should encourage people to wear a mask. I mean, it is a little hypocritical I think for Democrats to criticize the president though when we've got massive demonstrations going on all around the country where there's no social distancing either.

So I do think Trump supporters look at that and say why do the rules apply to us and not to other? But, bottom line is, wearing a mask is the best thing we can do to protect each other as Americans and as Republicans I would like to see the president encourage people to do that.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about the Woodward book this week. I want to first listen to what we're just hearing from Vice President Mike Pence. He did an interview air on Fox. I believe it was recorded yesterday but here is what the vice president saying.


MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: As president in a moment like this, he needed to project strength. And that's what I saw every step of the way. He shared with the American people all the facts as we had them.


BLACKWELL: He shared with the American people all the facts as we had them. In early February, he was telling Bob Woodward that this was deadly. And that it was worse than the most strenuous flu, that's not what will he was telling the American people. How can that be true?

JENNINGS: Well, I think if you look at the record the February to March period, the top levels of our government, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi other members of congress, even Dr. Fauci were saying things then that certainly, as we know the facts today, we wish they hadn't had said.

At one point, the government was recommending people not wearing masks. And so everyone here has some culpability I think. Everyone here probably wishes they could go back and do it differently. But I think all of them would probably say we were doing the best would with the information we had at the time.

BLACKWELL: Well, Scott - hold on for a second, Scott.


BLACKWELL: --because there's a difference between doing the best you have with the information you have at the time. And having information and then telling people something that is contrary to that information there are two different things.

JENNINGS: Sure. And I think the White House - look, I'm not going to defend what's on the tapes because, obviously, we have 200,000 people almost that are dead. No one's happy about the Coronavirus response. No one's happy about the result of this.

Everyone wishes we could go back and make it better so I'm not going to sit here and defend it. I am going to tell you, though, if you look at the record, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi other members of congress, Dr. Fauci, a lot of people said things in February and March - even Joe Biden was holding campaign rallies in March.

Now he says he was warning about it in January. So, I think there's a bit of unevenness in the response but also unevenness in the criticism and some selective memory by people who were attacking the president.

BLACKWELL: So in defense, the president defended himself at this rally in Michigan in which he invoked Churchill. He quoted FDR, suggesting that he was - in his effort to not scare people. To alarm people, create panic. Let's listen to Churchill. This is Winston Churchill to the House of Commons in June 1940. Let's see if we hear any comparisons here.


WINSTON CHURCHILL, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF UK: We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the feeds and in the streets and we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.


BLACKWELL: Do you think that's what Donald Trump has been doing?


JENNINGS: Well, first of all, I should admit, I am a bit of a Churchill buff. I have a son named Winston and Rufus. And so I'm a big Churchill fan. Well, look I think history ought to make these comparisons. I don't think people should compare themselves to historical figures.

I think Donald Trump did some things wrong and I think he did some things right. I think the China travel ban; the Defense Production Act and Operation Warp Speed have all been successes. And obviously, his uneven messaging on the masks really from day one, although he's come around to it more than he started with is not good.

So that's my view. I think in the totality of the response, some things happened that I think were good. Some things happened that were bad but I think it's a little too early to be comparing yourself to Winston Churchill who is in my opinion western civilization's great leaders.

BLACKWELL: You think it hurts the president, what we're learning and - the book comes out on the 15th, but that this will hurt the president? JENNINGS: Look, I think there are a long time between now and the election. Who knows what else is going to happen. I think people, frankly, in this era of Trump Presidency have short attention spans. I think most people who are voting for the president are going to vote for him no matter what happens.

And I think, frankly, that's true of Biden as well. I don't think there's a huge number of persuadable out there. But for the small group that there are persuadable, you know it is part of the information they will take in.

If I might add though, there's one cohort of voters that if I were the Trump campaign I'd be most concerned about and its senior citizens. He appears to be a little softer this time around, Victor than he was last time.

And I've talked to some pollsters you think perhaps it's because they don't think he's taking their health seriously enough on the Coronavirus. So anything about Coronavirus that puts a damper on their views on what the president's doing on that could be hurtful. So seniors are the cohort I would be watching if you're looking for impacts of the Woodward book.

BLACKWELL: Very important demographic, especially for the president and coalition he vote. Scott Jennings, always good to talk, sir.

JENNINGS: Thank you, sir. Good morning to you.

BLACKWELL: So, there's a cartoonist who is taking his comment - his comics, I should say, about race and social justice to the television screen. We're going to talk to him, next.



BLACKWELL: Keith Knight is an award-winning cartoonist. He is bringing his perspective on social issues and police brutality specifically, from the pages of magazines now to television. His new series on Hulu is called "Woke." loosed based on his experiences after an encounter with police. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is it that people of color are always having to stand for something?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because the world is racist place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why I keep it light.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This police man did a number.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no, no. I'm seeing things. Houston, we have a problem. They need woke.


PAUL: Keith Knight, Cartoonist and Co-Creator of "Woke" for us now. Keith, good morning to you.

KEITH KNIGHT, CO-CREATER, "WOKE": Good morning. CNN, I am happy to be on air this early in the morning.

PAUL: On a Saturday, no less, yes. Thank you so much. We are happy to have you here, I will say. What are your thoughts now about taking this to TV?

KNIGHT: It's amazing. It's sort of - it's a dream come true. And it's been so funny, because, you know, I've been doing cartoons for like almost three decades. And it's just - it's hilarious how people are just seeing my work for the first time. They're like, wow, I've never seen this before. And it's nice to be a 30-year overnight success.

BLACKWELL: So, tell me about the plot because I've only seen the trailer which I think it's almost people have seen is that we know that it's about social issues, racial issues. But I saw you talking soda. Explain what's happening here?

KNIGHT: Well, it's sort of - we deal a lot with magical realism in the show. And, you know, when we were making the show, one of the big things to me was like there's nothing more boring than just a cartoonist sitting there drawing at the table.

So, we were wondering how we could manifest sort of a cartoonist mind in the show that's more interesting than sitting at a desk. And so, Marshall Todd, the Co-Writer of the Pilot, he suggested like when the traumatizing event happened - which was based on both of our experiences.

He had an experience being profiled in Los Angeles. I had an experience being profiled in San Francisco by police. That it would trigger visions in his head. And it would bring inanimate objects to life. And I think that's what really made the show fun, so we could mix in humor with a lot of the serious issues we were dealing with.

BLACKWELL: And apparently, that wasn't a soda. That was a 40-ounce. So I correct myself.

KNIGHT: That was a 40-ounce, yes two 40-ounces.

PAUL: I mean, it's delicate to - it's delicate and it can be dicey, I'm sure because these are serious issues that people take very seriously, they're very emotional issues and you're trying to add this humor. Have you found a way to delicately mesh those things together? And have you found that specifically this works and this does not?


KNIGHT: Well, here's the thing, again, this is a manifestation of the work that I've done with comics and doing slide shows on police brutality and America's racial illiteracy. I've been doing it for so long and I'm mixing humor to address the issues.

I always considered of being a Cartoonist like a Modern-day Court Jester (ph), where we could use speak truth to parallel we could use humor to address all these issues. So, I was working with an amazing group of people to bring that sensibility to the small screen. And I think - I think we had more success with it than we had failures.

BLACKWELL: You called - your character in this interview with NPR that I read, you call them the Charlie Brown of activism. Why?

KNIGHT: Well, because he's trying - he's just trying to find his voice. So, he's attempting to do things, and they're just not working out. And he's trying to do the right thing. Really, I remember when I was - when I was trying to do that, there was a time on a bus, in San Francisco, where there were these kids young kids, swearing up a storm on the bus.

And there were all these old ladies on the bus. This guy on the bus sat there, you could tell he was a like a poet or something because his voice was so booming and he screams - didn't scream, said in a commanding way. You know, you, I don't like hearing all this effective on this bus and the kids got really quiet.

And all the old ladies were turning to the guy who is speaking --. So I tried to do it the next time I was on the bus and before I was even finish saying it to the kids, the kids were like, shut up, old man. That's what I wanted to try to create with this character. He's trying to do the right thing but it's just not working out.

BLACKWELL: Well, Keith Knight, it is "Woke" on Hulu. We are looking forward to it. I thank you for your time this morning.

PAUL: Thanks, Keith.

BLACKWELL: Good luck with it.

KNIGHT: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: And we'll be right back.



PAUL: --with here. We know there has been a lot of anxiety during this back-to-school season. "Sesame Street" and a gang here to help though as they team up with CNN for a New Town Hall, the "ABCs of Back to School". BLACKWELL: And one of the friendly faces you're going to see later this morning Erica Hill. She's up early with us. Erica, good morning to you. You guys have done this a couple times now, a special one looking ahead to the school year, though?

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Yes, so many parents and I put myself in that camp have questions about back to school and how we can really make it a positive experience for our kids?

So we are tackling a lot of those questions today. So many great questions that have been sent in by kids, by parents, by educators and by staff as we navigate the normal things like "I'm in the kindergarten room, what if I need a hug or what if I forget my mask or what if I sneeze in my mask?

Do I need to change to a new mask? How can I still maintain friendships when I'm not allowed to go to school or be close to kids? How do we maximize that learning? All of these questions we're going to tackle?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of course, my favorite co-host, don't tell anybody else, by the way that's between us, but Sanjay knows, Big Bird is helping us host again and so many of our friends from "Sesame Street," along with experts who were here to help us all take the anxiety down a little bit because we really are all in this together and we're all going come out on the other side.

BLACKWELL: I'm 38, and what if I need a hug?

PAUL: I'll give you a hug Victor.

HILL: I'll give you a socially distant hug.

BLACKWOOD: Thank you very much. You don't need to be in kindergarten to just in the middle of the day they'll need a hug.

PAUL: It's the truth.

HILL: And you don't need to be in kindergarten to really get something from the Muppets because they just know how to help us?

PAUL: They're soothing.

BLACKWELL: They are indeed. Erica thanks so much we're looking forward to it. The ABCs is a "Back to School" coming up at 10:00. We'll be watching because we can all learn something.

HILL: Absolutely and you know there are millions of wild animals injured or killed every year in the U.S.

BLACKWELL: In today's "Impact of World" we'll tell you about the work that where wildlife center does every day to save injured animals?


SCOTT LANGE, AWARE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Where is a nonprofit Wildlife Rehabilitation Center like a hospital for injured and orphan native wildlife? We are responsible for feeding them, medicating them. They might need swim time or other physical therapy to get MARJAN their strength back. We just try to get them ready for release back into the wild.

We had about 1300 patients in the last year. Most animals that have to come into care are coming in from human impact. The number one reason is being hit by a car. People throw food waste out of the window. It brings small animals to the side of the road and then larger animals come and they get hit.

MARJAN GHADRDAN, AWARE, DIRECTOR OF ANIMAL CARE: Cats as much as we love them they are kind of hurting the wildlife. They are responsible for 5 billion deaths every year.

LANGE: We put out rat poison to deal with mice and rats that gets into the food chain and hurts fox, owls and - we do occasionally go out and do rescues ourselves. We usually give the public instructions on how to safely bring animals into us?

NEAL MATTHEWS, CITIZEN RESCUER: The goose showed up in the backyard. And its foot was ensnarled in fishing line. It was having trouble walking. They loaned us an air propelled net to cover the goose. We picked it up.


MATTHEWS: They operated on it and we brought it home the same day and released that back. It was special because we knew because of us; this goose was going to live. We can't save them all but I think it's important that we help those that we can.


PAUL: Yep, save what we can. Go to to learn more. Thank you for doing so.

BLACKWELL: And thank you for watching, "SMERCONISH" is up next. We'll see you tomorrow.