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Trump Insists He is Not a Racist; Hawaii to Change Emergency Protocols After False Missile Alert; Interview with Janet Napolitano; Trump Takes Victory Lap Over "Shithole" Remarks?; Conservation and Big Game Hunting; Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 14, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: -- see his survival as a miracle.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
CABRERA: It is 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 in the evening out west. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here.
Yes, this is real life. The president of the United States, moments ago, stood in the lobby of his golf club and declared, "I am not a racist." His first comments after using derogatory language to describe the place of some immigrants come from. Questioning why people from countries that happen to have large black and brown populations should be coming into the U.S., asking why the U.S. can't bring in more people from countries like Norway. Majority white.
He said this out loud in a meeting to craft an immigration deal, a bipartisan immigration deal. Now in the 72 hours that followed, reaction has run the gamut. The president, 15 hours later said he never used that language. Five of the six Republicans in the meeting have either denied he said it or offered complete silence.
The sole Democrat confirms his derogatory words and said the president used that vulgar language repeatedly. Global reaction stinging. The group representing every African nation demanding an apology. In Haiti, outrage on the same day they pause to honor those killed in a devastating earthquake eight years ago.
And immigrant communities across the U.S. anger, and the irony here is the reporting about what Trump said came out as the president was taping a Martin Luther King Jr. message.
But this is what's most important here. The issue is not whether the president used a specific curse word, the sentiment is still the same and that sentiment is racist.
CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez joins us live in West Palm Beach where Trump is spending his holiday weekend.
Boris, what all did the president say?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ana, yes, reporters got a chance to ask questions of the president less than an hour ago. He was actually having dinner at his Mar-a-Lago estate with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. The two of them discussing a broad agenda.
The president, we should not, did not mention the looming potential shutdown of the government coming this Friday if lawmakers can't agree on a budget deal, but he did make news on several fronts, including on DACA, on North Korea, and that uncomfortable question for this White House to answer, is the president a racist?
Here is the entire segment that reporters got with the president this evening.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are a lot of things. There are a lot of things to talk about. We'll be talking about DACA also.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do they have any deal (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: Well, I don't think the -- honestly, I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal. I think they talk about DACA, but they don't want to help the DACA people. Now we use to save -- we used to save the DACA children, but the children aren't children anymore. I think you have a lot of sticking points, but they're all Democrat sticking points. Because we are ready, willing, and able to make a deal, but they don't want to.
They don't want security at the border. There are people pouring in. They don't want security at the border. They don't to want stop drugs and they want to take money away from our military which we cannot do. So those are some of the sticking points.
Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments? The one I make.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you a racist?
TRUMP: No. No. I'm not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.
TRUMP: I don't know if there'll be a shutdown. There shouldn't be because if there is our military gets hurt very badly. We cannot let our military be hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) Hawaii alert?
TRUMP: Well, that was a state thing, but we're going to now get involved with them. I love that they took responsibility. They took total responsibility, but we're going to get involved, their attitude and what they want to do, I think it's terrific. They took responsibility. They made a mistake.
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Say it?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: Well, we hope it won't happen again, but part of it is that people are on edge, but maybe eventually we'll solve the problem so they won't have to be so on edge.
TRUMP: Well, we'll see what happens. They -- couple of meetings scheduled, couple of additional meetings scheduled. We're going to see what happens. Hopefully it's all going to work out. We will see.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: The "Wall Street Journal," as you know, quoted totally wrong, but we're going to see what happens with North Korea. We have great talks going on. The Olympics you know about. A lot of things going to happen.
TRUMP: We're ready, willing, and able to make a deal on DACA, but I don't think the Democrats want to make a deal. And the folks from DACA should know, the Democrats are the ones that aren't going to make the a deal.
Thank you, everybody. Enjoy yourselves. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:05:05] SANCHEZ: So, Ana, just a quickly reiterate, the president saying that the "Wall Street Journal" misquoted him when he was talking about potential relationship that he could have with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He said that he was ready and willing to make a deal on DACA, but that Democrats weren't serious about border security. He touched on the government shutdown saying that he didn't know if one was going to happen. He also said that he is not a racist, that he is the least racist person -- Ana.
CABRERA: And he also said, and I quote, "Did you see what various senators in the room said about my comments?"
So, Boris, walk us through what they're saying.
SANCHEZ: Right. So there are varying degrees of condemnation over the president's remarks. Some like Dick Durbin, the Democrat, said that the president did say that expletive about African nations and that he questioned why so many Haitians were getting visas. Others like Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina didn't publicly explicitly repeat what he heard the president say, he did note in a statement that he confronted the president about his remarks.
He actually apparently told his fellow South Carolina Senator Tim Scott that the reporting on the president's remarks was accurate, then you have Senators Cotton and Perdue who initially said that they could not recall what the president had said, but then kind of went back today on the Sunday morning talk shows and denied that the president had made those remarks.
It's just one more line of division between lawmakers and a process that has exposed serious gaps in where these two parties are when it comes to not only the issue of DACA, but also on funding the government. Let's not forget that the shutdown is looming at the end of the week, Friday at midnight.
It's unclear if lawmakers will be able to come to a consensus on the issue of immigration, if we may see potentially the passing of another continuing resolution, a stopgap bill that would keep the government funded and then kind of punt this debate further down the line, or if as some Democrats have threatened, we may see a government shutdown.
Keep in mind that some like Congressman John Lewis has said that they will simply not vote for any kind of budget unless there is a solution to the legal status of Dreamers, those young adults that were brought into the United States illegally as children, and now are facing a potential March deadline for a program that allows them to remain in the country without fear of deportation -- Ana.
CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the West Palm Beach, thank you.
Let's talk it over now with CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.
Doug, this is kind of a surreal scene to see that clip of the president. You're a historian, here we are seeing the president standing in the lobby of his golf club declaring he is not a racist.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes, reminded me of, you know, Richard Nixon, I am not a crook. And also reminded me of when Don Lemon interviewed Donald Trump during the campaign and he said, almost verbatim what he just said there is that I'm the least racist person you know.
The problem is, Donald Trump behaves as an overt racist, most historians are looking back, you have to go all the way back to Woodrow Wilson to find a president that put racially inflammatory things on the table the way that Donald Trump has. It's an attempt to constantly to dehumanize people that aren't white and a way to appeal to a nativist vote and the old George Wallace segregationist south folk.
CABRERA: You have these different senators now with that dueling stories. You saw Kevin McCarthy standing there beside the president, he was in this meeting. He still hasn't spoken out by the way about what was said. What do you make of all of this?
BRINKLEY: Well, the -- that Donald Trump doesn't tell the truth. And that, you know, how easy this would be for him to make an apology and say, I made an off comment, you know, about shithole and I said it, and my god I didn't mean it that way and I had just met the head of Norway. And you know, he could have found a way to apologize and said people are wounded all over the world.
He's not even welcomed in London, Great Britain doesn't want to see his face. All of our friends in countries like El Salvador and Haiti and, you know, 30 African countries are just aghast that this is coming out of the United States' president. So it's a sad moment in our country's history, it's not fun to talk about Donald Trump's racism, but alas, he's a deeply bigoted person and it seems to be part of the tracks of his entire life.
CABRERA: You touched on it just now, you also have been quoted in other places saying after these remarks that President Trump is the most racist president since Woodrow Wilson, and I have to wonder about the impact of just technology in terms of now we're hearing what the president is saying, compared to what we heard or seen in the past and if that is playing a role here.
BRINKLEY: Might be playing a role, but the bigger -- we have these, you know, look, the whole history of America is filled with one of, you know, a Native American extermination and, you know, slavery and then Jim Crow, but since the new deal of FDR, we kind of judge precedents on their civil rights records since the 1930s.
And you know the good news is whether it's John F. Kennedy wrote a book about immigrants that's praising the American tradition or Ronald Reagan on the city on the hill of the love of the immigrants that come to America is bipartisan, but now you're getting Trump playing an old kind of anti-immigration card that's popped up in American history, and the 19th century we had a no nothing party.
Millard Fillmore, used to be a president, was a member of it, which is anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-Mormon. This particular president doesn't like people that are of dark skin, African-Americans, Mexican Americans, with the exception, perhaps, of people from Asia. And, you know, so it's just -- we're having to deal, if you like Donald Trump, you have to be able to feel that you're OK with this brand of racism and the public discourse. I find it repellant.
CABRERA: I want to take a look at a couple of responses we're now seeing from two very different Christian pastors, the first is Dallas pastor Robert Jeffries. A Trump supporter. This is what he had to say. "Apart from the vocabulary attributed to him, President Trump is right on target in his sentiment. As individual Christians we have a biblical responsibility to place the needs of others above our own, but as commander-in-chief, President Trump has the constitutional responsibility to place the interests of our nation above the needs of other countries."
And then there's this from North Carolina pastor John Pavlovitz. "And yet today like so many other seemingly rock bottom days in the past 12 months, there will be out there white people claiming to be good people and Christian people who will make excuses for him or debate his motives or diminish the damage. They will dig their heels in to explain away or to defend what at the end of the day is simply a bad human being saying the things that bad human beings say because they're hearts harbor very bad things. No, good people don't call countries filled with beautiful, creative, loving men and women shitholes, and good people don't defend people who do. You're going to have to make a choice here."
So, Douglas, which reaction do you think most conservative Christians in Trump's base will be closer to?
BRINKLEY: I don't know. I would hope that the Christian community would come out and criticize Donald Trump. I mean, we have Martin Luther King Day tomorrow, and remember when Dr. King wrote his letter from the Birmingham city jail imploring evangelicals and Christians to speak out against Jim Crow, to speak out against the water hoses and Bull Connor and, you know, illegal voting acts in the south for suppression of votes.
That's what Dr. King Day is supposed to be about. Donald Trump built a coalition in which the old George Wallace or what we used to call Strom Thurmond Dixiecrats is a part of his coalition. And when Trump started talking about the Dreamers and love and culture and the hard right started, the alt-right came after him and so he thought he'd just throw one of these racist type of lines to placate his base, if he didn't, he would apologize.
Just say, my goodness, I didn't mean to offend all these people, but instead he kind of doubled down on it and it makes up, he didn't really say it, maybe I said it, but the word's different and it becomes a web of lies.
CABRERA: Douglas Brinkley, as always, thank you very much for your time. Good to see you.
Strom Thurmond Thank you.
CABRERA: Yesterday there was panic, today now anger. A false warning told people in Hawaii a missile was about to hit.
Coming up, what investigators are finding out about what happened. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:18:01] CABRERA: An update now to a breaking story we've been following out of Florida. A fire on a casino shuttle boat leaving at least 15 people injured. This happened off the coast of Port Richey near Tampa. And look at this, the entire boat engulfed in flames. People on board were being ferried to a nearby casino when this fire broke out. Rescue crews pulled people out of the water, took it to the shore. Authorities there say more than a dozen people now have non-life threatening injuries fortunately.
The Coast Guard tweeting, and I quote, "All people aboard the island breeze during the boat fire are accounted for and ashore." Still no word yet, though, on what caused this fire.
Panic and sheer terror is now anger and a demand for answers in Hawaii. Residents and thousands of tourists were thrown into complete chaos yesterday when one person's mistake sent an emergency incoming missile message all over the state. The all-clear didn't come out until 38 minutes later. Hawaii's lawmakers not happy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: What makes me angry is yes, that this false alarm went out and we have to fix that in Hawaii, but really, we've got to get to the underlying issue here of why are the people of Hawaii in this country facing a nuclear threat coming from North Korea today? And what is this president doing, urgently, to eliminate that threat?
I've been calling on President Trump to directly negotiate with North Korea. To sit across the table from Kim Jong-un, work out the differences so that we can build a pathway towards denuclearization to remove this threat.
There's a few things that have to happen in order for those negotiations to be successful, first of all, they have to happen without preconditions. And this has been a learned lesson from the decades of failed leadership that the people of Hawaii are paying the price for now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: When the missile alert went out, people ran for shelter, they huddled in basements and concrete buildings, some parents even hustled their kids into storm drains trying to protect them.
[20:20:03] CNN's Sara Sidner joins us from Honolulu right now.
Sara, I know you just spoke with Hawaii's top emergency officials. How do they explain exactly what happened?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Couple of things now, one of the new bits of information is that the person who was responsible for pressing the button if you will and sending out this erroneous alert has been reassigned as this investigation goes under way. But not fired.
We also know that the mistake was made during a shift change, during that shift change, there is a lot of testing of these systems right now. The emergency management agency test usually within their own agency, it is not sent out to the public. This time a wrong template was pulled up and then the button that says should you send the button or not, yes was pressed by this officer.
That officer again, reassigned. And the head of the agency has come out very strongly, taking full responsibility for the mistake himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VERN MIYAGI, HAWAII EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR: For my side, I just want to say I apologize to the folks because it's my team, my responsibility. It was my fault. But we need to continue understanding and we need to continue preparation for this hazard because it's still there.
MAJOR GENERAL ARTHUR LOGAN, HAWAII NATIONAL GUARD: We've reevaluated some of the procedures, we've taken positive steps to ensure that this will never happen again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: So you heard that from the administrator of the Emergency Management Agency. He has also said they are going to continue to look into this and that there will be a contingency, in other words, a second person who will be approving whether or not someone actually does hit yes to send that message out.
I do want to give you just an idea of the fear that was felt here. We talked to State Representative Mark LoPresti. He got the message. He went into -- OK, I've got to get my kids safe. So he took his children and his wife, they went into the bathroom, he put his two daughters into the bathtub. His daughter looked up at him and said, dad, are we at war? And he turned to her and said yes.
Tears filled in his eyes as he talked about this exchange between him and his daughters, and just thinking that this may be their last bit of time on earth. And one thing that everybody here in Hawaii has been told from these emergency managers is that from launch time from North Korea to impact time here in Hawaii, if that were to happen, people here would only have about 15 minutes warning. And that is reality.
That is still there. And emergency managers say look, we know that this was a terrible mistake, but this is the time to remember, please have a plan in place. And that's the only silver lining in all of this that people now know they need to think about a plan where they can go and make sure they have enough supplies for two weeks -- Ana.
CABRERA: Gosh, it was a false alarm, but as you point out, that fear was so real.
CABRERA: Such a wake-up call for all of us.
Sara Sidner, thank you very much from Honolulu. I hope you can enjoy the beauty of that great city after this show.
Well, former secretary of Homeland Security says failure to get DACA legislation passed is symptomatic of a big and even dangerous problem facing the United States. You'll hear what she says that problem is ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:27:48] CABRERA: A false emergency alert in Hawaii reminded us all that America is facing very real threats on many fronts. Nuclear weapons, climate change, terrorism. So what is the biggest threat facing the United States?
I asked former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that question earlier this week and her answer might surprise you. But first, I asked her about Russia's election hacking and whether she believes the congressional investigations have gotten to the bottom of how Russia meddled in the last U.S. election.
JANET NAPOLITANO, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The politics surrounding the investigations have really detracted from what we should be concerned about, which is a foreign country meddling in our election system, and asking the question, have they really stopped? We've got midterm elections coming up this fall.
CABRERA: The answer to your question, which is, has it stopped yet, is no, according to the CIA director Mike Pompeo who just said last week that in fact they believe that Russians are trying to meddle in the upcoming election currently and maybe other actors as well. And then there was this report that came out this week, made public by Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, detailing two decades of Russian attacks on our democracy. Two decades. So that spans multiple administrations.
Why is it so hard to thwart their efforts to undermine American institutions.
NAPOLITANO: One of the issues is, you know, elections are controlled by the states. And they're not controlled by the federal government per se. And so in protecting our electoral system, you've got to work with the 50 secretaries of state across the country. And so just institutionally it's difficult, but it's more difficult if the extent of the meddling is not made public, if it's not known, if our election officials don't know what they should be looking for, and if systems aren't put in place as I said before to stop it.
CABRERA: If you were back in your old seat, what would you be doing right now?
NAPOLITANO: I would be convening the secretaries of state of the country. I would be briefing them on what we know, what we are exploring. I would be working with their IT heads to look at how they secure their systems and what are best practices in that regard and making sure that all of the states are deploying those.
[20:30:17] CABRERA: And finally, what do you see as the single most -- I guess the biggest threat to America right now in 2018?
NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, I could point out issues involving climate change, I could point out terrorism, but I think in reality one of the greatest issues affecting our country is this sense of disunity that we are not all working together, that people are kind of retreating to their corners and that sense of active consensus building has been lost.
CABRERA: Why is that dangerous?
NAPOLITANO: Well, because it means that we are stuck as a country and we see it in the Congress where we really can't take on the major issues of the day, indeed we can't even get a budget through. And so the government is perpetually on the brink of a shutdown. And if you can't get a budget through, think about, well how do we deal with the energy policy of the United States? How do we deal with climate change?
How do we deal with overall comprehensive immigration reform which is what DACA is really symptomatic of, which is the lack of progress on immigration reform?
CABRERA: Our thanks to former secretary of DHS, Janet Napolitano.
Coming up, David Axelrod is going to be joining us on whether he thinks his former boss, Barack Obama, will speak out against President Trump's racist remarks. Plus why President Obama thinks the very innovations that helped elect him are now dividing the country. Stay right there.
[20:36:11] CABRERA: You'd think it would be the last thing a president would want, global backlash, accusations of racism and headlines about hate mongering. You'd think that. Then this case, you'd be wrong. Sources tell CNN President Trump loved the controversy over reports he referred to some immigrants as being from shithole countries. And even called up his friends to ask them about how it was playing in the press.
Now one White House official described it as a, quote, "victory lap." Here was some of the reaction in conservative media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Today as you doubtless heard during immigration talks, President Trump said something that almost every single person in America actually agrees with. An awful lot of immigrants come to this country from other places that aren't very nice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it graceful? No. Is it polite or delicate? Absolutely not. Is it a little offensive? Of course it is. But you know what, this doesn't move the needle at all. This is who Trump is. He doesn't care. He shoots from the hip and if he offends some people, fine. There's so many more offensive things that are happening in this world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: In addition, commentator Ann Coulter tweeting of Trump's comment, "He's trying to win me back."
Joining us now is CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod.
David, first your reaction to CNN's report that the president is actually loving this moment and that staffers in the White House also believe it's going to play well with his base.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: : Yes, well, it speaks to the fact that the president lives in a really tight silo in which his views are affirmed and he gets reinforcement for his views. So I'm not surprised that he thinks that. And I believe that there are elements of his base who are very happy with what he said, there are people who agreed with what he said, and didn't read it as racist as much of the rest of the world did.
But that's part of the problem, isn't it? That he lives in this silo and that he measures all of his statements as it plays with that base and that base doesn't reflect the whole country. In this case, I think the country's values are very clear and have been for generations and that is that we don't characterize whole countries that way, we don't dismiss people based on race. You know, there are fundamental values that he trampled with that statement, but that doesn't mean he's hearing it from his friends.
CABRERA: So I want to tap into your experience as a former senior advisor to President Obama, what do you think would surprise us the most regarding how President Obama might speak in public versus how he would speak in private when he was in the middle of tense negotiations?
AXELROD: Well, look, there's nothing comparable to this. Obviously Donald Trump is sui generis when it comes to making inappropriate comments in public and in private. So, you know, I never heard a real disparity between what the president said in public and in private. I suspect that's true with most presidents. But this president is different.
And, you know, the one thing, Ana, that I have to say is I feel like we are in a bit of a Groundhog Day mode here where every time he does something like this, and he does them frequently, we all get welled up with outrage as we should, but also shock and surprise which we shouldn't. We know who Donald Trump is, we know how he operates, and the real question that we have to ask ourselves are who are we as a country and are we going to stand up as one, Republican and Democrat, and say, this doesn't reflect who we are?
CABRERA: Let me ask you about President Obama's reaction. He has been very selective in what he chooses to speak up, but we can't forget, from the beginning he was the target of Trump's birther comments.
How do you think he's feeling right now amidst this latest controversy?
[20:40:05] AXELROD: Well, my guess is that he would probably say that this speaks for itself and there's been such strong condemnation of what the president said that, you know, I think he's probably very much in agreement with that, but Ana, he's made a decision that every other president has made after leaving office, to be very judicious about how he interposes himself into the public debate.
And so I'm not sure that he'll say something publicly here, but I don't think you have to be a mind reader to divine what he thinks about what just happened.
CABRERA: He did just tape an interview with David Letterman for Netflix, and he talks about how the same social media that perhaps helped him get elected has now led to a very sharp political divide. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were some of the earliest adapters of social media, and we were reliant on a bunch of 22 and 23-year-olds and volunteers who we were sending out and they've just gulped. And they were communicating entirely through social media and we essentially built what ended up being the most effective political campaign probably in modern political history.
So I had a very optimistic feeling about it. And I think that what we missed was the degree to which people who were in power, people that special interests, foreign governments, et cetera, you know, can in fact manipulate that --
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: Yes. Propagandize it.
OBAMA: And propagandize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: David, what's your take?
AXELROD: Well, he's absolutely right about that. I think the other point about social media is that it allows you to target very precisely with your messages and to identify those people who are most susceptible to those messages.
You know, ours was a rather blunt instrument, even in 2012. You know, we did -- we were able to reach voters and customize our messages to them, but they were primarily positive messages, all positive messages, and you know, now you see them being used in really insidious ways, these tools in really insidious ways, and any time you can have sort of private conversations on a mass scale with individuals and target their particular grievance, it becomes a powerful tool in the hands of people who want to misuse it.
CABRERA: David Axelrod, as always, thank you so much.
All right. Get ready for the greatest ending to a sporting event you may ever see, unless you are a New Orleans Saints fan. We'll show you live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go away.
[20:47:34] CABRERA: Total euphoria in Minnesota right now after one of the most incredible endings to a football game you will ever see. Take a look at this. Trailing 24-23 in the final seconds, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum connects on a desperation pass to receiver Stefon Diggs. And watch him dart up the sideline for a miraculous 61- yard game-winning touchdown as the clock winds down.
Minnesota advances now to the NFC championship against the Philadelphia Eagles, and if the Vikings win, they will play in Super Bowl LII in their home stadium.
To say the crowd goes wild is an understatement.
All right. Let's talk about trophy hunting. It's controversial. It draws a lot of criticism. But what if the billion-dollar business of big game hunting might actually be saving endangered species.
It's the subject of a new CNN film, "TROPHY." Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you ever get attached to a lion that it's hard to release it for a hunt? Is there some animal like that in your life?
CHRISTO GOMES, ORGANIZES BIG GAME HUNTS IN SOUTH AFRICA: All animals, doesn't matter what animals it is. If you love animals, you will get attached to them. You'll go out there every day, you see this animal, you're feeding him, the buffalo, of course, but there will be a time when you have to let go. Cut.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Joining us now are the directors of the film, Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau.
Thank you guys for being here.
CHRISTINA CLUSIAU, CO-DIRECTOR, "TROPHY": Thank you.
CABRERA: Why did you decide to make this film?
CLUSIAU: You know, initially this started in our kitchen, and Shaul came across a number of photos online of a hunter standing over a trophy he had just hunted, he was quite outraged. And I grew up in northern Minnesota, a place where hunting is a practice.
CLUSIAU: I'm not a hunter myself. And so I think that really started the conversation, and we first went to Safari Club International where we saw this huge industry just open up to us. And I think we were quite shocked at first. We didn't realize the economics behind it, but it made me to explore the idea, what does it mean when you put economic value on animals? And can that be a tool for conservation?
CABRERA: And when you talk about killing animals and that helping conservation, it's been so counterintuitive, Shaul.
SHAUL SCHWARZ, CO-DIRECTOR, "TROPHY: Sounds crazy, doesn't it?
CABRERA: Does it work?
SCHWARZ: It works sometimes. You know, coming into this I thought it'd never work. How could that even be a possibility? [20:50:02] But I think when you get to Africa, you're starting to look
at these animals and you understand that they're not looking at it the way we're looking at it. I mean, we sit here and say, save a lion, save an elephant, and to them lions and elephants are dangerous game to live with. So we have to give them reasons to do so. And one of the big reasons is economic reason. And so, you know, tourism is a great one, but it works for certain areas.
A lot of people won't travel to places we went like Zimbabwe and Namibia. And so we have to try and think of uncomfortable. It's uncomfortable for me. It's not my cup of tea. But if it helps, I want people to try and think about it because this issue is so emotional. We tend to scream before we listen. And unlike other things we don't agree on, we all agree e that we want to save these species and we're running out of time.
So I think in "TROPHY" we tried to look at creative solutions and make people from both sides kind of think it over.
CABRERA: What is the one thing that maybe surprised you the most, that you learned?
CLUSIAU: You know, I think it was my own reaction to a lot of things. I think there was an incident where we were witnessing a number of hunts. And one of them was an elephant hunt and it was quite challenging. It pulls at your heartstrings. And after the hunt, all of the villagers come and they harvest the meat, and they take away the elephant.
And I think it was really shocking to me to understand that my relationship to these animals is very different than their relationship to these animals. And if we continue to look at conservation from only the Western set of eyes, it's going to be very hard if we can't empathize with what's happening on the ground in the local areas.
CABRERA: And people have a lot of preconceived notions when they think about hunting. Especially when it comes to big game hunts. And I personally have covered stories about the illegal ivory trade and how there's been a movement to obviously squash poaching and how that -- that's a big deal especially when you come to what we talk about groups like Al-Shabaab and some of these terrorist organizations that benefit from the illegal trade of some of these parts of animals unfortunately. But that's obviously very different than legal hunting. Do people conflate the two often?
SCHWARZ: They do. They see it as, well, what's the difference? You're killing. And if you hunt, maybe you're just paying to kill. I think what they're not seeing is a quota system. You know, if hunting works, and at times there's overhunts, you're hunting a very small percentage. Under 1 percent hopefully of the animals there. Poachers will kill everything for greed. And we -- you know, again, even poaching when you're in Africa, you kind of in a way understand why it happens because there's this great demand and poverty and just this unfortunate --
SCHWARZ: Desperation, and again that's why when you'll see "TROPHY" you'll see a man who breeds rhino horns who's looking to legalize, believe it or not, as a solution because rhino horn can get trimmed and will grow back.
SCHWARZ: So it's a surprising topic. Stay open minded.
CABRERA: I am intrigued. I have my own, you know, thoughts about this issue. But I really want to see and I'm staying open minded.
In exploring this issue, is there anything you think that does need to change in terms of the approach to hunting and conservation?
CLUSIAU: I think, you know, it's such a -- and we talk about such a divisive issue that I think what really needs to change is people need to be open minded. They need to look at this from their own preconceived notions but then realize that maybe their idea of what will work isn't the only solution. To me, that's the biggest thing.
SCHWARZ: Yes, we've been failing because there's such a divisiveness.
SCHWARZ: So it's no or yes. But the reality is more gray. What if it's against what I feel, but maybe it can help here. And the vice versa for hunters, they seem to think that's always the solution, and it's not. And I think we're trying to make these sides talk to each other. And it's very hard.
CABRERA: It will be an interesting film, no doubt. Thank you both for coming on for sharing with us. And it is moments away. Make sure to tune in.
CNN film "TROPHY" premieres tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
A car and a dentist's office. Both are in the news because of how they met. Ouch. The rest of the story coming up here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:58:35] CABRERA: A moment of incredible bravery caught on camera on a firefighter's helmet. Look at this. A fire broke out on an apartment building in Georgia. It raced through the building trapping families on the upper floors and as the flames lit closer to those trapped, parents had to make a tough decision. Eventually tossing their children from a balcony to firefighters below.
And I want you to look close here. You can see the firefighters catching those children. Taking them to safety. Several people were injured in this fire, but none of those injuries are considered to be life threatening. Thank goodness. And before we go, I have to show you this next video because what the
-- look at this. That car wedged into the second story of a dentist's office. It happened after the car apparently slammed into a media. The impact sent it flying into the air. Two people were in the car at the time. One of them managed to get out. The other was trapped inside for more than an hour. But police say they're learning the driver admitted to using narcotics. Both the driver and the passenger were taken to the hospital with amazingly just minor injuries.
I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you very much for being with us tonight. Up next on CNN, a new film on the big business of big game hunting. The controversy and the debate. Do not miss this. "TROPHY" starts right now. Good night.