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Teleprompter Trump vs. Campaign Rally Trump; Prankster Poses as Bannon; Bleacher Report Sports Update; Trump's Speech at Phoenix Rally. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 23, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Get back in.


CAMEROTA: Do you think that -- you said he wanted to not hurt anybody. Do you think that he's hurting reporters and the press with his language?

FERGUSON: I think if you're going to go after the press, you have to be very, very clear who you're going after. I don't think -- I don't --

CAMEROTA: Specifically?

FERGUSON: Specifically.

CAMEROTA: You think the press as a whole, do you think he's ginning up animosity and hatred toward the press?

FERGUSON: I don't -- that's a tough one because I do think -- let me give you an example.

Last night, if you just looked at the reaction, there are so many people in the press that are trying to imply that he's unhinged or he's not mentally fit or he's totally out of control.

CAMEROTA: We were taking it wall to wall. We were just taking his speech. We weren't injecting anything.

FERGUSON: Right. Right. No, but this -- but this is what I'm saying. When I watched last night's speech and then came over to talk about it, I didn't think last night was anything outside the ordinary except it was an ordinary speech from the president to his supporters and rally. And people say he's unhinged and crazy. So if you do that, you're playing (ph) into it.

CAMEROTA: Fair enough. And we let -- and we let you have your say. We let you have your say.

FERGUSON: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: But should the president --

FERGUSON: I think -- CAMEROTA: He's using this inflammatory language about the press. Our freedom of press.

FERGUSON: I -- look, I think -- I think when the press starts implying that somehow you shouldn't be president or somehow you're in this disaster zone or that you're acting as a six-year-old as I've heard people in the press literally say, you have a right to defend yourself.

CAMEROTA: Do you think he's inciting hostility towards the press?

FERGUSON: I don't think it's hostility. I think he's playing fair game. And I think it's a fair fight. The press can take care of themselves. I think the president can play -- take care of themselves.

I do think we need to have a bigger discussion about it and both sides probably need to tone it down.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Ana.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think what we saw yesterday is the really Donald Trump. We have seen in the last few days a Donald Trump that sometimes sticks to script, that sometimes reads off the teleprompter and that I think gives a lot of us, you know, sooths our nerves, if you want.

But when he is the real Donald Trump, when he is speaking from his heart, or lack thereof, when he is speaking off-the-cuff in his genuine thought, it is a scary reality. It is a scary reality. He was not trying to do anything for the country. This was nothing but an entire diatribe. A self-defense of himself. He couldn't get over it.

The bottom line is, he can't get over the backlash and criticism he caused. He wants to be hold that he was great, that his words were great. And since nobody is going out there and saying it, nobody with real credibility, he's out there to make the case for himself.

This was not the art of the deal, this was the art of narcissism. The art of being self-centered. The art of being all about him. He turned this tragedy of Charlottesville where a woman died, where people have been hurt, where the entire country has been in a state of distress by seeing how broken we are, and he turned it all about him. It was all about him.

We cannot normalize that. We cannot get numb to the idea that this is the president of the United States and that this is normal, acceptable behavior. It is not. It was a grotesque display of narcissism, self- defense and being self-centered.

FERGUSON: It was a campaign rally. It's a rally. I -- this is the overreaction and why Donald Trump -- let me put it in --

NAVARRO: It's a rally by the president of the United States, Ben.

FERGUSON: So what -- what -- what -- here's what I'm saying. What you just described last night is the classic reason why I think Donald Trump fights back so hard. You go personal as you possibly can.

CAMEROTA: So does he.

FERGUSON: Demean the president as much as you possibly can.

CAMEROTA: He goes quite persona, Ben.

FERGUSON: Right, and he fights back. But then you say, he can't do it, but the other side can attack him, say he's unfit, say he might have dementia.

CAMEROTA: He's the president. He's the president. Don't we hold our president to a higher --

FERGUSON: I mean -- well, if someone says I might -- if someone says I might have dementia, I'm fighting back.

CAMEROTA: Ben, don't we hold our president to a higher standard than the rest of us?

FERGUSON: Of course we do, but I don't think there's anything wrong with him being honest and blunt about what he thinks in a campaign rally with people that obviously love and support him and stood in line for hours. And every president that I know that has done exactly that when they're talk to the people that support them at a rally.

CAMEROTA: You've heard Jimmy Carter, you've heard George W. Bush have a rally, a campaign rally, like that one last night?

FERGUSON: No. Donald Trump's rallies are completely different.

CAMEROTA: That's right. So every president doesn't do it as the president.

FERGUSON: There's no -- and -- no, I'm saying his style is completely different. But when you go and talk to your base, you rally them up. That's what a rally is. Key word "rally." You rally them up. You get them excited. And the crowd loved it last night.

CAMEROTA: You choose your words.

FERGUSON: They loved it.

CAMEROTA: Well -- well, on that note, that is a fact, the crowd did love it.

Ana, Ben, thank you very much for the debate.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, this is a really interesting story. A prankster fooled the editors at Breitbart. He was pretending that he was Steve Bannon. There are these e-mail exchanges that reveal what is going on at the place that Bannon proudly boasted is a platform for the alt-right.


[08:38:22] CUOMO: All right. So, Steve Bannon was White House chief strategist, right? He gets thrown out. He goes back to Breitbart, the place that he had said should be a platform for the alt-right. Then, there's an e-mail prank that fools the website's top editor and reveals just what these people want to do to the president of the United States. The prankster was posing as Bannon and he then shared the e-mails that went back and forth with CNN. Jake Tapper has the story. Here it is.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): War was how one of Breitbart's senior editors responded to Chief Strategist Steve Bannon's ouster from the White House last week. Now a self-described e-mail prankster posing as Bannon has fooled top staff at the right- wing website into spilling how that war might play out.

The real Steve Bannon returned to Breitbart as executive chairman Friday, just as the fake Bannon was sending e-mails to editor in chief Alex Marlow. The topic? Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

So do you think you'll have them packed and shipping out before Christmas, the prankster asked. The very real Marlow replied, let me see what I can do. Hard to know given your description of them as evil. I don't know what motivates them. If they are semi-normal, then, yes, they out by end of year.

The prankster who tweets under the name Sinon Reborn shared numerous e-mails with CNN. In the exchanges, Marlow pledged that he and several other top editors would do Bannon's dirty work against certain Trump White House aides.

I spooked them today, Marlow said in one response to the man he thought was Steve Bannon. Did five stories on globalist takeover, positioning you as only hope to stop it. You need to own that. Just have surrogates do the dirty work. Boyle, Raheem, me, Tony, have been waiting for this, Marlow added, referring to Breitbart Washington editor Matthew Boyle, Breitbart London editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam, and Breitbart reporter Tony Lee.

[08:40:19] Breitbart's editor-in-chief also shared with the fake Bannon an unfounded and unsubstantiated personal smear of first daughter Ivanka Trump, perhaps showing the lengths to which he is willing to go to push Ivanka and Jared out of the White House. It is a smear CNN will not repeat.

A senior official at the White House today, asked about the e-mails, declined to comment.

But Marlow is not the only Breitbart editor targeted and fooled by the Bannon bluff. Senior editor at large Joel Pollak, the man behind that war tweet, was e-mailed too. Wrote the bogus Bannon, reading online about how I'll be bringing forth my wrath on Ivanka and Jared, I'd be doing this great nation a service if I did. Responded the very real Joel Pollak, indeed. No one can figure out what they do. Respond at the bogus Bannon, had a good chat with Alex Marlow. Seems he's already aligning the crosshairs and making me the masked puppeteer. Responded the very real Joe Pollak, excellent.

The prankster tells CNN his latest stunt was inspired by Bannon's firing, saying that Breitbart was, quote, literally falling over itself to attack those Bannon sat drinking coffee with days before.

This is not his first e-mail hoax. In July, the self-describe lazy anarchist fooled top White House officials into thinking he was Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Reince Priebus, among others, causing quite a stir in the West Wing.

The candid, previously private exchanges with Breitbart's top editor sheds light on the inner workings of the site that Bannon once referred to as the platform for the alt-right. Now that a post-White House Bannon is back on staff. Bannon told "The Weekly Standard" Friday he was, quote, back on his weapons, at the Breitbart machine. Quote, I'm about to go back knowing what I know and we're about to rev that machine up, he promised.

TAPPER (on camera): Steve Bannon had no comment, but Breitbart did offer an statement a short time ago. Quote, the obsession with Breitbart News is simply a result of our effectiveness. This time an imposter deceitfully obtained and shared with CNN tongue and cheek e- mails that revealed that we feel globalists present an existential threat to the agenda that got President Trump elected. If people want to know our thinking, they don't need to judge us on illicitly obtained comments that were intended to be private, they can simply read our front page.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.


CAMEROTA: So I don't understand the Breitbart strategy. Do they really think that they can go after Ivanka? I mean these are not just top aides, Jared and Ivanka. These are flesh and blood. Is this really plan?

CUOMO: By all accounts that's what Bannon was doing inside the White House, that he saw them as inimical to his cause.

CAMEROTA: And he lost.

CUOMO: He fought against them.

CAMEROTA: And lost.

CUOMO: And this is what this outlet does. This is what it did before. It's what it did while he was in there and everybody said he had nothing to do with it.


CUOMO: They will do it now.

CAMEROTA: No, I know their tactics. I'm just surprised by the target. I'm surprised that they're going to go after Ivanka.

CUOMO: Don't be. Be surprised no more.

CAMEROTA: I just feel like the president's daughter is going to win. But who knows?

OK, let's move on.

ESPN taking the sharp reaction to Charlottesville to a new level. The "Bleacher Report" explains why they pulled an anchor from covering a college football game in Virginia.


[08:47:18] CUOMO: This was a big and shocking trade in the NBA last night. All-star point guards Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas swapping teams. Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report."

Who wins?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I take the Cavs in this one, Chris. October 17th, picture this, opening night in the NBA season, the Cavs versus the Celtics in Cleveland. A rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals has even more meaning now. Players around the league were shocked and in this trade Cleveland gets Isaiah Thomas, a couple other players and a first round pick in next year's draft. Boston just gets Kyrie Irving. But mostly this is a win/win for both teams. Kyrie wants to be out of Cleveland and reportedly away from LeBron James' shadow. And LeBron James, he gets 5'9" of a mighty fine player in Isaiah Thomas. He's just as dynamic on the court as Kyrie Irving. LeBron shared this video that someone posted on Twitter in honor of Kyrie saying, quote, nothing but respect and what a ride it was, our three years together, unquote.

ESPN has removed an announcer named Robert Lee from call a University of Virginia football game in Charlottesville, quote, simply because of the coincidence of his name, unquote. Robert Lee is Asian. Robert E. Lee was the confident general from the 1800s who statute removal, of course, sparked the tragic events in Charlottesville. The network said it made the decision with Lee to switch him to another game citing safety reasons and concerns over his name. ESPN released a statement saying in part, quote, in that moment, it felt right to all parties. It's a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game had become such an issue, unquote. ESPN's receiving a lot of backlash on social media for what many feel, Alisyn, is an overreaction to the situation.

CAMEROTA: These are the times we live in, Coy. Thank you very much for all of that.

WIRE: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: So, which President Trump is the real President Trump, the scripted leader who called for unity on Monday, or the fiery campaigner from last night? We have "The Bottom Line" on all of it for you next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:53:16] CAMEROTA: President Trump giving two very different speeches in just the past two days. So which is the real Donald Trump? Why did I even ask that?

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political director David Chalian.

We know the real Donald Trump is the unscripted campaigner Donald Trump. That's obvious. I think that the bigger question is the whiplash from one to the other, from scripted policy maker international war talker to campaigner. And what that causes for Washington.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: But also the content and the message so discorded, right? On Monday night, the beginning of his remarks, all about love and unity and peace and reaching out and bringing the country together, trying to wrap himself in the military there to try to clean up some of the Charlottesville hangover that he's still clearly dealing with.

He started down that road for a second last night at his speech and then just took a turn into this all-out rant that is so completely the opposite of what he was calling on -- calling on the country to join him in.

CUOMO: And why do you think he did that?

CHALIAN: Well, listen, it's clear what the political strategy is, Chris, right? I mean this is -- he has lost independents. He has -- we see erosion --

CAMEROTA: Wait, is that right -- wait a minute, he has lost independents? What are the numbers?

CHALIAN: I mean they're down in the 30s of approval. I mean he won independents against Hillary Clinton last November. It was one of his -- it was one of his groups that he barely edged her out on. But he won independents. They're gone right now. They're gone.

Some mainstream Republicans we're seeing (INAUDIBLE). So what is the political calculus here? His only survival day-to-day right now is to keep the most core support fired up. So that was clearly what the intent was last night.

CUOMO: I would wonder --

CHALIAN: And I also think it was to correct from where he was on Monday on an issue in Afghanistan that maybe not everyone in sort of the Breitbart wing of the party was going to embrace.

[08:55:00] CUOMO: I would wonder how much of the motivation is tactical versus reactionary. I think that if he gets attacked, he attacks back. He is not about being presidential. He is not about decorum. He is never the bigger man. And he is not about apologizing. So last night I feel that it was just about him. He was forced to be

about being commander in chief on Monday. He had to, because unless he wants to go over there and fight in Afghanistan himself, he's got to be a leader of men and women. And last night is what he does most, which is take care of himself.

CHALIAN: So this is the part that actually makes me a little sad, right, just because I think what we're witnessing in moments like that is a presidency squandered. He's just squandering the presidency before our eyes because he is choosing day in and day out to make it about himself, his grievances more than about the country overall.

CAMEROTA: I'm interested, David, in the battle royal (ph) that appears to be going on between Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, because there's all of this report the two haven't spoken for two weeks. The last time they did speak, there was some sort of like profanity laced rant between them. You know, Donald Trump, charismatic. Mitch McConnell, not so charismatic. What -- who wins? But Mitch McConnell, obviously, you know, deliberative tactician. Who's going to win this battle?

CHALIAN: Yes, that "New York Times" story, when that came out, I thought, oh, right, Mitch McConnell does have a long memory. He doesn't just let things go, right? I mean it's -- having it out there that he is concerned about whether or not this presidency can actually complete itself, and that there is danger in its very existence.

Here's the thing. They both actually need each other, OK, because, obviously, Donald Trump needs Mitch McConnell to get a legislative victory on the board that he hasn't had and he needs that. He knows that. Mitch McConnell at his Republican conference also know that Republicans are blaming them more than the president for the lack of action in Washington. And they need to get something on the board as well. It's not just the president.

And so they are going to need each other here. I don't think it's like one wins and one loses. They're both going to have to find a way to actually get something done.

CUOMO: McConnell is going to have to stay quiet because the president is going to keep attacking and doing what he thinks is right for himself. And the question is, who's going to step up to do what's right for the American people. We'll have to see. Ryan came out and said at the town hall that the president had been wrong. It is a time for leadership again. Let's see if it happens.

CAMEROTA: Chalian, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line." Great to have you here in studio.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman is going to pick up after this break. We'll see you tomorrow.