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Millions In Puerto Rico Without Power, Water And Fuel; President's Feud With The NFL; What is Leadership; Price Resign As HHS Secretary After Private Plane Scandal; Trump's Pledge To Drain the Swamp; When Athletes Visit The White House; This Is Life Premieres Sunday At 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired September 29, 2017 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:00] LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, if you will, when I talk to people there, they say, yes, we've seen FEMA. The FEMA has only been here for damage assessments. In other words, they've let the federal government know what their needs are, but no help has arrived. Even as I have gone into part, some of the most remote parts of this island, at times, Don, I have been the only person that has landed in some of those areas.

We took a chopper and went into Jokell, Eduardo. They haven't seen any help arrive in those parts of the island. As far as my hometown goes, there's not a hospital. The hospital is out. It is done. So that means we have more than 120 people in a shelter in Corozal. And those people have serious medical needs. When I say serious medical needs, I'm talking about cancer patients with no chemotherapy, people with HIV, people that are diabetic, children with asthma who can't get the treatment they need.

Parents walking for miles to try to find what they need for their children that are now in the shelter. And the shelter is the school in that community. These families are living in classrooms and with no medical attention. So as far as what are they saying about the aid? When I asked a woman today, you know, where's the help, she said, what help? There is no help. They're going to the mountainside to try to get fresh spring water to cook, to clean, to do basic everyday things.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: It's unbelievable to see and you and our colleagues are doing such a great job. We'll stay on top of this story. Thank you very much Leyla Santiago reporting for us from San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. It's just a little past 11:00 here on the east coast. We're live on the very latest on a pretty terrible week for President Trump. The President spent this week attacking hard working men who were peacefully and legally standing up for what they believed in by calling them sons of bitches.

And trying to turn their fellow Americans against them by purposely changing the narrative. Pitting patriots on the football field against patriots on the battlefield all the while using the issues of race and the flag as cudgels. A stunning lack of leadership. Leadership something that has been lacking from the town. Real leaders seek to bring people together. Real leaders don't drive divisions for their own self-aggrandizement. Real leaders seek to lower the temperature and elevate thinking and awareness.

I really hope the President is watching tonight as well as his supporters because one leader, one real leader is a superintendent of the U.S. Air force academy, Lieutenant General J.B. Silveria. Silveria gathered more than 5,000 student, staff and air force officers of the tenth air base wing in Colorado Springs after some cowards wrote racist slurs on the message board at the academy's prep school. This is the kind of message that President Trump should be sending to America. Listen.


JAY SILVERIA, SUPERINTENDENT, U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY: You may have heard that some people down in the prep school wrote some racial slurs on some message boards. If you haven't heard that, I wanted you to hear it from me. If you're outraged by those words, then you're in the right place. That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA and it has no place in the United States air force. You should be outraged not only as an airman but as a human being. And I'll tell you that the appropriate response for horrible language and horrible ideas, the appropriate response is a better idea. So that is why I'm here. Some of you may think that that happened down in the prep school and doesn't apply to us.

I would be naive and we would all be naive to think that everything is perfect here. We would be naive to think that we shouldn't discuss this topic. We would also be tone deaf not to think about the backdrop of what's going on in our country. Things like Charlottesville and Ferguson, the protests in the NFL. That is why we have a better idea. One of those ideas, the Dean brought people together to discuss Charlottesville, because what we should have is a civil discourse and talk about these issues. That is a better idea. We received outstanding feedback from that session at Charlottesville.

[23:05:00] But I also have a better idea, and it's about our diversity. And it's the power of the diversity. The power of the 4,000 of you and all of the people that are on the staff tower and lining the glass, the power of us as a diverse group. The power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this country, that we come from all races, we come from all backgrounds, gender, all makeup, all upbringing, the power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful. That is a much better idea than small thinking and horrible ideas. We have an opportunity here 5500 people in this room, to think about what we are as an institution.

This is our institution, and no one can take away our values. No one can write on a board and question our values. No one can take that away from us. So just in case you're unclear on where I stand on this topic, I am going to leave you with my most important thought today. If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you can't teach someone from another gender whether that is a man or a woman with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can't treat someone from another race or a different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. Reach for your phones. I'm serious. Reach for your phones. Ok. You

don't have to reach for your phones. I'm going to give you an opportunity to reach for your phones. Grab your phones. I want you to videotape this so you can have it, so you can use it. So that we all have the moral courage together. All of us on the staff tower lining the glass, all of us in this room. This is our institution. And if you need it and you need my words, then you keep these words and you use them and you remember them and you share them and you talk about them. If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.


LEMON: That is how you do it. I couldn't turn away from the general's words, no one should. They are a stark reminder of everything our President is not saying. The general knows there aren't many sides to racism. He knows people who protest inequality or not sons of bitches. The President should be ashamed of himself for dividing America, were he could be bringing the country together. Dragging us down instead of lifting us up. We she need a leader. And that general, that speech, that is what a leader sounds like. I'll bring in CNN political commentator David Swerdlick, Van Jones and Scott Jennings. I must have watched that ten times today, gentlemen. I want all of you to give your reaction to this. I'll start with you, David.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure, Don. So I took away two things from the general's remarks. One was that the message can be very simple. If you can't treat someone with respect, you're in the wrong place. That is boiling down a lot of complex issues to a very, very basic concept. The second thing is ownership. The general didn't wait for this attack, this verbal attack or this racist graffiti to boil over into a national controversy before he took action. Something happened on his campus. He is responsible. He came out made a statement, didn't issue a press release, didn't go through a spokesperson. Wanted to people to see him addressing it himself and nip it in the bud. It demonstrates leadership on his part.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's very important to recognize that they have been proactive. They didn't wait for the incident. They had already been working on it. They had built up some muscle and resilience in a conversation so then when something happened, possibly some backlash or nobody really knows, there was already a pre-existing conversation there that was robust enough to be able to now you're underscoring a point. You aren't raising this for the very first time. That is also so important. I hope that other adults are taking advantage of this moment in history to have these conversations with young people so that we can continue to have real progress. You don't have to have leadership at the White House level. You can have leadership throughout society and make up for it. But I think it's just a crying shame we don't have this kind of leadership from the President.

[23:10:11] LEMON: Scott?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I like that he was making it clear that the power of the U.S. Military, at least in part, is that it reflects America. You know, we're a diverse country. We have people from all walks of life, all different colors, all different creeds and geography and we share some things, but we have a lot of diversity. And it's all reflected in the U.S. Military. He counts that as a real piece of the military power. I was glad to see him making that point that our national defense reflects all of us and I think that is a great message for him to instill in those cadets at the academy.

LEMON: I just want you guys to listen. And you heard the general there. Now listen to how this got started.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out? He is fired. He is fired!


LEMON: I mean, that is -- it's a stark difference, isn't it? Van, does it matter -- I wonder if the President if he doesn't have people at the White House who are advising him how to deal with these particular situations, deal against handling these -- saying these controversial things or you think it doesn't even matter?

JONES: You shouldn't have to have a team of advisers to tell you not to call somebody a son of a bitch. You know. I would love for the mothers of NFL to go to the White House and stand outside and ask which one of us you are calling a bitch, Mr. President. Come out here and explain to our faces. Because he wouldn't do it. That is beneath the office of the President. It's beneath the conduct we expect from grade school children. And it's great for his crowd, great for his base. But Obama had to face Kaepernick, too. Don't forget. And Obama was questioned, hey, do you support this? Are you for this? And Obama was very clear. He didn't favor that style of protest. But the way that he talked about it, he also said, hey, listen, I want Kaepernick to listen to the veterans and others who are insulted and offended and I also want the people who are offended to listen to Kaepernick, because he is pointing to things that are important. He tried to create some dialogue, Obama did. Even though it was clear he didn't actually like what Kaepernick was doing. So you can say and Trump is within his right to say I don't like that kind of talk, I don't like that demonstration. But you can do it in a way that creates more dialogue and not more division.

LEMON: I don't like that demonstration but perhaps he has a point that all Americans should be listening to. But we won't know it until we have a dialogue. It's very simple.

Scott, I think most people would like to see the President talk about these issues in a way that is uniting. It seems that the President can't see past the 30 to 40 percent of Americans in his base. But if he tried uniting the country he could gain so many more. Why doesn't he see that or why doesn't he want to do that?

JENNINGS: I think the President sees the NFL protest issue much differently. And frankly, the polling sort of backs up with his sentiments are. People are uncomfortable with how far he went in calling for the firing of the players, but the sentiment of not approving of people kneeling during the national anthem, the public is on the President's side. CNN poll out today bares that out, Fox News has poll, Reuters, IPSIS, Remington, six or seven national surveys that indicate that more Americans agree with the President's sentiment. It says that Americans don't like that he went so far as to call for the players' firing. He finds these cultural issues and he tries to insert himself, because this is what he thinks he needs to do to remind people that, hey, I understand you, I have empathy for your emotions and I'm one of you. This is the latest example it won't be the last. He does this every few weeks.

LEMON: I will continue this discussion, I have to take a break. I promise you, we'll be right back.


[23:17:57] LEMON: So we're back now with my panel. I want to bring them back in. Scott Jennings, Van Jones and David Swerdlick. Scott, I read those numbers differently than you read them. Because it shows that -- I think that most people think that the players have the right to do it. They have the right, that they're doing the right thing or that they had the right to do it, not that they're doing the right thing. But I think that I read that differently, that poll differently than you did. Van, I'm not sure if that is what you wanted to comment on.

JONES: Well, what I want to say is what's surprising -- it's not surprising that the majority of Americans look down on this protest. If you look at the 1960s, 1963, 67, 70 percent of white Americans said, hey, stop this black protesting. This freedom rights, you're hurting your cause, the sit-in movement, you're hurting your cause. Cut it out, it's bad. Huge numbers of people in the '60s with Dr. King said stop these black protests. When you look at these numbers, these are some of the most popular black protests in American history. If you look at contextually, what they're doing are some of the most popular protests in American history with white folks, because in general the white public has not liked to see black folks protesting. So I see it differently.

LEMON: I see it differently because everyone, listen, when taking a knee, that is in reverence. But even the player I had on Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins said to me the other night, he said, everybody would like to stand. I think most people would like to stand. What the issue is that -- in that poll, 60 percent of Americans think that President Trump did the wrong thing by criticizing the athletes. This doesn't necessarily that they agree with what they did, but they think he should not have inserted himself. If you ask someone should you stand up for the flag? Of course they say you should stand up for the flag. But did he do the right thing in calling them sons of bitches and saying they should be fired, the majority of people saying, no, he shouldn't have done that. Van, I was talking to you, because I interrupted you.

[23:20:17] JONES: I mean Donald Trump never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Here's an issue where his concern is this line with public opinion, but the way he deals with it is actually, you know, puts him in a super minority in terms of people who are able to somehow bring himself to support his language and demeanor. I want to say this as clearly as I can say it. In this country, African- Americans, no matter what we do -- when we sit in, when we freedom ride, when we kneel in, whatever it is, the initial response from the public tends to be overwhelmingly negative, because basically we're kind of raining on folks' parades, I don't want to hear this stuff. As time goes on, the Muhammad Ali's and all the people that raised those issues, they then become heroes later. They're never heroes in the moment. They're heroes later on when people reflect on the courage they showed and the issues that they raised. And that is really where we are. Colin Kaepernick, as the years go on, will be a more and more revered figure and frankly, Donald Trump is in danger of being a more and more reviled figure as the years go on.

LEMON: Another message, David, from the President seems to be that he gets to define what patriotism is and who is patriotic.

SWERDLICK: That is right, Don. And I think he is made the mistake here kind of along the lines of what Van is saying by casting his view in the way that he did. There was a point just a week ago where the owners and management in the NFL were a lot closer to the position of the President by castigating the players in this way, he has driven the owners closer to the players because they -- I think been able to see that, ok, now when you have the players versus the President of the United States, you can see more clearly what the players are trying to do. The players have said Colin Kaepernick has said, his former teammate Eric Reed said in "The New York Times" this week that they chose kneeling specifically, because they wanted to do a protest in the most respectful way possible. They didn't stay in the locker room. They didn't turn their backs on the flag. They came out for the anthem, but knelt to underscore what is the underlying issue here, which is police violence and the tension between communities of color and police. But, no, no, go ahead.

LEMON: Not to rush you guys along but I want to get to two things. Why do we play the national anthem at a ball game anyway? Why is that such a big deal?

JENNINGS: We play it at a lot of events. I view it as one of the rituals that we all go through together that reminds us that we're all in this together. We're all Americans and we're all in this experience together. But there's an important set of rituals we go through that sort of give us that every now and then reminder that, hey, we're all Americans and what does it mean to be an American? It means we're all in this country together and we're all fighting for the same thing, the same freedom, and the same liberty. I think when people see what they perceive as disrespect of those rituals, they have a visceral reaction. Trump has a visceral reaction, a lot of his supporters do. According to a CNN poll 90 percent of his supporters had the same reaction that he did. There's a population that don't like to see people disrespecting the rituals that reminds us, hey, we're all in this together.

LEMON: That is been my whole point. Is that this President has had the chance to elevate and educate people to realize that just by draping yourself in the flag is not necessarily patriotism. That is just a ritual and rituals can be hollow. Van, when you step back and think about all the President has said about the NFL players, and I know that -- is this a white lash against the players and the supporters that is what's resulted here?

JONES: If you take a big step back, there's something happening throughout the west that this politics of resentment, this politics of kind of finding these dog whistle issues is becoming a playbook for a certain set of politicians. You saw that happening in Germany, very far right people who made it to parliament in Germany. Playing us against each other. And I think the President of the United States is all too often guilty of those same kinds of tactics. I think that we have forgotten -- we've got of lost the plot here. Those NFL players, the African-American ones, they say well, they're rich. They should just be grateful. They shouldn't complain. Rich celebrities shouldn't complain. Donald Trump is a rich celebrity --

[23:2505] LEMON: All the time.

JONES: -- and he is been complaining all the time. Apparently it's ok to be a rich celebrity and complain. Ask the President. That is how he got where he is. They say they shouldn't raise these issues, a lot of these guys are two or three years out of the hood. Their families still live there. They're getting text messages from cousins. They go home to thanksgiving to neighborhoods where if it was mine or yours or Donald Trump's neighborhood, they would be screaming and yelling something is going terribly wrong. The street violence and the police violence. Too much violence, too many funerals. They're doing a good thing for American racist issues.

LEMON: I've got to go. If you can do it in five seconds. I'm going to get creamed here.

SWERDLICK: It should go without saying, but African-Americans love this country. We love this country but it's not unpatriotic to say country do better when it comes to these issues.

LEMON: People who say that you shouldn't protest on the job, there have been a lot of people who protested on the job. You think about the woman who wouldn't give the marriage license in Kentucky. And you think about Judge Roy Moore protesting on the job and he is just now been in a runoff and could be the next Senator for Alabama. A lot of people protest on the job and don't get the backlash that these guys has done. Thank you everyone have a great weekend. We will be right back.


LEMON: Tom Price out of a job tonight joining a growing number of members of the administration to get the boot on a Friday, as a matter of fact. And capping a pretty terrible week for President Trump. Here to discuss CNN political commenters Bakari Sellers, Angela Rye, Alice Stewart and Andre Bauer. What did I say?



[23:30:00] LEMON: I did say Rice. My fault, I am sorry Price, Rice, I got it wrong. Forgive me. But you guys chuckle when I said a Friday. But it has been somewhat of a pattern in this administration. What is your reaction to Tom Price, Bakari?

SELLERS: My reaction to Tom Price is quite simple, he should have never been hired. I said this yesterday. I think it bears repeating. That Tom Price had dubious ethical values at best when he was hired. We always heard about the insider trading allegations between 2012 and 2016 he sold more than $300,000 worth of stock that had to do with 40 companies that he had legislation that he either sponsored or co- sponsored and he took over a million dollars' worth of flights that we as the taxpayers had to pay for. I think, it's more hypocrisy or hypocritical than anything else, but if you are going to drain the swamp, you can't just swap out the gators in which Donald Trump is doing.

LEMON: Remember the fighting here with Ferguson last night, when he say it's not a million dollar, when the guy admitted to it and all the numbers pointed to that. I've got to ask you, though, the President has said a number of times that the problem with Price's exorbitant trouble is that he didn't like the way it looked. But isn't it wrong to use the taxpayers' money for luxury travel?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know the particulars, but from the little bit of news I have, I have to be fair. I criticize when I see people wasting government dollars. To me it seems like a waste of taxpayer dollars. That is why he chose to step down today, because he was the wrong.


RYE: Wow.


LEMON: We're all stunned. I mean there is some honesty from someone who is a Trump supporter. There hasn't been a lot --

BAUER: Wait a minute. There's always honesty from me.

RYE: Who are you jumping on it Andre? I want to be fair with Andre, I think more often than not as a Trump supporter, every now and then he is a little fair. Andre, you know it's true. I think the reality of this is and Bakari touched on this, Tom Price does have a very challenging history on dealing with the ethics on the house side.

LEMON: I'm going to let you finish --

RYE: No, you're not. But go ahead.

LEMON: There's a treasury secretary.

RYE: Yeah.

LEMON: Right. Steve Mnuchin, EPA administration Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They haven't been apologetic about it, one of them saying, it's kind of BS. Zinke said this story is a little bit BS. Do you think the other cabinet secretaries should resign as well?

RYE: I think that they definitely have to begin figuring out whether they're going to be an administration of the people -- and we talked about this last night --

LEMON: You called it a culture.

RYE: Or, I think that was Van that said that, but I did amen that. Or one that is elitist. And they continue to demonstrate their elitist. Donald Trump is also the king of wasting taxpayer dollars. I talked about the golf course issue yesterday. He continues to go to his golf courses. The amount of money that has been spent on secret service protection is astronomical and ridiculous. They have to start at the top. It's not just the cabinet secretaries. They're following their leaders.

LEMON: Alice, go ahead Alice.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One thing you mentioned that the President may concern about the optics of this. I don't think it's the optics as it is ongoing cavalier attitudes by cabinet members about privilege use of tax payer's dollars. They're public servants, not members of the royal family. I think as you mentioned. You know right there four or five high ranking members of the administration --

LEMON: But Alice, where does that come from? Does it look like it's coming from the top?

STEWART: It looks like it's stopping at the top this time. There has been a culture that has accepted this, but fortunately the President says the buck stops here. I was pleased to see tonight that Nick Mulvaney says, look we're not going to do this anymore. We'll have General Kelly oversee the use of private planes by cabinet members. So General Kelly is now going to be the keeper of the federal fleet with regards to travel. And it's unfortunate we've gotten to this point, but look, I think this is a frivolous and outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars. But you have to commend the President for saying this is not going to continue anymore. He campaigned on draining the swamp, and this is adding to it. As bad as this has been, you have to commend the President for saying enough is enough.

LEMON: Is this billionaire cabinet backfiring, you think? Let's give Andre another chance to speak because he was short and sweet this time.


BAUER: Absolutely I think it's a good example they're setting they won't tolerate this. But they ought to look at the legislative branch, too. In over a year speaker Pelosi spent $2 million --


SELLERS: But I think we need to go through this and fact check because a lot of viewers are not aware of the truth. Andre just let out a red herring, so let's fact check it.

[23:35:03] After 9/11 in 2001 Dennis Hastert did a security purposes had to fly on military aircraft. Nancy Pelosi as the next speaker had to fly on military aircraft. That fluctuated and shifted around, the type of aircraft she used because she had to fly cross country. A lot of these red herrings are talking about Derek holder using private airplanes or Loretta Lynch or even Director Comey. But the problem is they're supposed to due to security purposes. We need to be honest about this discussion.

LEMON: There are times when it is warranted. I'll give you the last word.

RYE: I was going to say this one point that we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the fact that Donald Trump may be a little in his feelings about the fact that Obamacare has not yet passed. Tom Price is also an easy target. That is why it was so easy to let him go.

LEMON: Because he is the guy that was going to --

RYE: Absolutely.

LEMON: Is that part of the reason why Price lost his job, Andre?

BAUER: I don't have any knowledge of it. I hope that is not true. For not setting a good example and being a good Stewart.

LEMON: It seems you double speak.


No, your skype is repeating everything you say. We're having a little problem with you, Andre.

RYE: You got hacked by the Russians.

LEMON: Thank you. Unfortunately, I have to go. Have a great weekend. Will be right back.


[23:40:31] LEMON: President Trump ramping up his criticism again today of NFL players who kneel during the national anthem insisting that they have to stand, because it shows respect for the country and the flag. I want to talk about this now with David Litt. He is a former speech writer for President Obama and the author of "Thanks, Obama, a speechwriter's memoir." Thank you for joining us. A fascinating conversation tonight. I want to read the book. I can't wait to read it. In addition to your book, you did write a few sports speeches for the President during his time in office. How do you describe President Obama's view on sports and athletes?

DAVID LITT, FORMER SPEECHWRITER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: President Obama as we all know was a legitimate sports fan. Until all the speechwriters in one time or another welcomed a team to the White House. President Obama was always trying to do two things. As speechwriters we'd be, number one, look at how the team overcame adversity together. And number two what was a way that a player or a couple of players was giving back to the community. Everything was about using sports as a tool for unity, using sports as a tool for demonstrating values that we want our kids to follow.

LEMON: That is not happening under this, the speeches that this President has made.

LITT: To put it mildly, that is not happening. For Trump, this is just another element of the culture war. Every bit of the culture is fodder for the culture war for this guy.

LEMON: the former President Obama understood the role professional athletes played especially with young people and in the culture, how it can change society and social issues as well.

LITT: Right. I think President Obama, one of the reasons I wanted to go back and write this book is because it's a reminder of the time that the President understood that his words really mattered. He wanted to send a message to kids using the stories of the athletes he was with and in a way that transcends politics. Because when we're watching an NFL game or NASCAR race, regardless of what President Trump claims, we're not Democrats or Republicans, we're just fans. It gives the President a real opportunity.

LEMON: I cannot see why -- I guess I could, but as a speechwriter and someone who has sort of been there, why do you think this President and the people around him writing for him would allow the President to take on professional athletes publicly and in such a harsh way. You would never have considered that when you were writing for the former President.

LITT: No, first of all, it's silly politics. NFL players are popular. People root for these guys every Sunday. But the other more important thing is the NFL -- I mean, when somebody's giving you a hard time, you don't have to pick every battle. In my book I talk about the 2011 correspondent's dinner where President Obama went after Donald Trump. But that was one day a year where we would use some jokes maybe to go after some people we felt deserve it. The rest of the time, you're the President. You have to be bigger than all that.

LEMON: You have to understand the environment and the circumstances. The White House correspondent's dinner. People look at it as a badge of honor in that room when the President goes after them, when a comedian goes after them. I know you can't speak for the former President, but it was your job to channel him. What do you think he thinks of all this?

LITT: I think more than anything, if I had to guess, knowing President Obama and the way he focused on the important issues and managed to exclude other stuff because he was lasered in on the stuff that really mattered, he is probably thinking, why aren't we talking more about Puerto Rico where Americans are in real trouble. They could use the federal government and a leader of the federal government who is focused on their problems every sing minute. Instead we're talking about the NFL. This is a matter of priorities in addition to the right and wrong of what the President is saying, and I think President Trump is wrong. Also his priorities are out of whack and if you are president you have the right priorities.

LEMON: It's right behind you. It's called "Thanks Obama." I can't wait to see this by David Litt. I appreciate it.

LITT: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Have a great weekend. Thanks for coming.

LITT: All right you too.

LEMON: We will be right back.


[23:49:08] LEMON: The CNN original series this is life with Lisa Ling returns this Sunday. In the premiere Lisa tackles taboos about sex and intimacy and introduces us to people on a quest for sexual healing. Take a look.


LISA LING, CNN THIS IS LIFE HOST: Ricky and Jennifer have a great marriage. They love their child and they're still in love with each other. There's just one thing, like an estimated 15 to 20 percent of all married couples, the fire has gone out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every three months or so I just have like this freak out of like can we talk about this? Can we deal with this? All the love is there except for below the waist.


LEMON: Lisa Ling the host of "This is Life" joins us me now. Ok. So I have so much to ask you, one, people come up to me all the time, why is Lisa undressing in the promo, what is going on?

LING: There's a reason. It is so nowhere near as salacious as you might think. We profile two women with very different approaches to sexual healing. And the scene in which I disrobe happened -- there's a surrogate partner and she is a therapist who becomes physical with her clients.

[23:50:21] LEMON: Sex therapist, is that what you were called?

LING: I mean, they're called surrogate partners.

LEMON: Surrogate partners.

LING: And they go through extensive therapy and it culminates in having sex. So we did this exercise with a young man who has cerebral palsy and they stand in front of a mirror, both of them naked and they talk about the things they like from their head to toe and dislike. And when this young man took off his clothes, I became very emotional, because I just thought he is so brave for doing this, and he was kind of joking around, talking about things that he liked. And as I watched that, I just -- I felt like why do I have so many hang-ups? If this guy can so confidently stand here in front of the mirror, I want to feel that brave.

LEMON: Don't we all - I mean everybody has hang-ups, even the people who work out all the time may have more hang-ups which could be the reason why they do it. I want to ask you because every -- almost every couple suffers or goes through that. The fire goes out, they lose the spark and it's difficult for people to talk about. This couple was very open to you.

LING: Well, that is the point of this whole episode. We are a culture that is constantly promoting and publicizing sex, but we don't talk about it substantively. And I know personally, because of how I was raised, I was raid in a very conservative Chinese household and essentially told not to ever have sex. I sometimes get giggling and uncomfortable. And there's so much guilt and shame around sex. And in the case of the couple in the clip that you just saw, because they weren't having sex, it started to affect her, her self-esteem. And one of our experts said if you have any blockage to your sexual energy, if you have any deficiencies in your sex life, you've been abused. You have body image issues. You're not intimate with your partner. It can affect every aspect of your life. So this topic is actually -- it's so relatable to everyone. And being able to normalize the conversation about sex is something that I'm trying hard to do.

LEMON: I don't know if you want to answer this because maybe people should watch. Can it be fixed? Do these therapies work?

LING: They have had a tremendous amount of success, and that couple that was having a hard time, they have told me that they have a pretty active sex life and so much of it is just stopping and really, really communicating about it. You know, I think couples can go years and years being married and never really have a substantive conversation about sex, because there's so much guilt and shame around it.

LEMON: Is social media or the internet, has that ruined our sex lives or affected it majorly?

LING: I think it's had a big impact. I mean, I think that hook up culture is so pervasive. People are, you know, having sex without really knowing people very well. And right now we spend an estimated $16 billion treating STD's every year and our teen pregnancy rates are the highest in the developed world. So I think it is having an impact, because people are hooking up much faster than they -- there's no courting any more.

LEMON: Wow. I'm so glad you said that. Not that I'm judging, but because it's acceptable now --

LING: Yeah. It's what everyone is doing.

LEMON: Everyone is doing that, but the -- there's something to be said about the old-fashioned way and getting a bit tipsy and hitting on someone in a bar. You know what I mean?

LING: They are just taking a little time.

LEMON: Taking a little time. So anyway, let's talk a little bit more. Because that is just this episode, but you tackle so many great issues.

LING: We have a very diverse season. I embedded with a heavily armed militia in Arizona. We spent time exploring the first Muslim culture in this country, which is in the African-American community. Really beautiful episode. We explore the -- how the profile of Chinese immigrants have changed in the last decade, because of China's booming economy. And we also visit this world that exists beneath the Las Vegas strip. There are 500 miles of storm drains underneath Las Vegas that are inhabit by hundreds of people. And when I went down there, it's just this surreal world where people have queen-size beds down there and book cases and pots and pans and -- I mean, it is truly a world.

LEMON: Is it kind of like the tunnels under New York or is it a whole different thing.

LING: I don't know that the tunnels of New York are inhabited. There are hundreds of people who live underneath Las Vegas.

[23:55:00] LEMON: Interesting. Thank you. I can't wait to see this episode. It makes you not to miss this is life with Lisa Ling, Sunday night at 10 only here on CNN. We'll be right back.


LEMON: In the wake of the devastation of this hurricane season we've also heard inspiring stories about everyday people pitching in to help. This week's CNN hero found a unique way to do just that. He is a champion pit master and for the last six years he and has barbecue buddies have responded to disasters the best way they know how.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After a disaster there's two basic needs that a person has. The first one is shelter and the other one is nourishment.