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Roseanne Cancelled After Stars Unleashes Racist Twitter Rant; Trump Blasted Sessions, Demanded He Reverse His Recusal Now, Mueller Is Investigating Confrontation. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired May 29, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon. 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast live with all the new developments tonight. Including the latest on ABC canceling the hit reboot of Roseanne after the star of the show Roseann Barr unleashed a racist tweet comparing former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. Roseanne is paying the price for what she did.
But has America become more openly racist under President Trump? Plus we're learning tonight that the President didn't just blast Attorney General, Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation, he demanded he reverse his decision. Sessions stood his ground, but now Robert Mueller is very interested in that confrontation and what it means for the obstruction of justice or obstruction investigation.
That is according to "The New York Times" and in a moment I'm going to talk to one of the reporters who broke that story. So, thank you so much for joining us, everyone. I want to bring in now CNN contributor, Frank Bruni, of "The New York Times," and also CNN contributor, Michael D'Antonio the author of "Truth about Trump," and CNN political analyst, April Ryan, White House correspondent for American urban radio networks.
So, Frank you said, there is a true line between President Trump and Roseanne. Are they both traffic in conspiracy theory and they both traffic in bigotry, that Roseanne is Trump's avatar?
FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: Well, that is what I thought honestly this morning. If you're talking about using Twitter in a sort of, you know, incredibly divisive, in his case borderline racist or racist in her case overtly racist way, this idea though, what I think really connects them and what I think is disturbing about this moment, is this idea, which I think Donald Trump has promoted although she gets full credit, so to speak for what she did.
This idea that divisive, nasty, hateful language is just blunt talk that rebels against political correctness. No, sometimes it is just racist as it was with these Roseanne tweet. And I think people are really confusing plain-spokenness with outright racism and it's disturbing. Because this is outright racism, and the happy part of this story is ABC did the right thing. It did not violate her freedom of speech. No one is sending her to prison. She is free to get back on Twitter tomorrow, she is free to go out in the public square and say anything what she wants to. ABC does not have to endorse or support that.
LEMON: I knew that was going to happen. As soon as the alert came over, I said in three, two, one, needs stifling conservative voices. Barr, you know what is coming.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's really hard to be plainspoken and direct and honest and thoughtful. This is the problem. So Roseanne Barr has done this before. She is almost exactly the same term to talk about Susan Rice. So are we surprised that this person lacks the intelligence and creativity to get beyond her racism and actually say something?
LEMON: Do you believe this is part of the bigger climate of racism or racist behavior that has happened since this President has taken office or at least since he is come onto the scene?
D'ANTONIO: He is done this his whole life, so we know that this is his M.O. And I think that he has open the door to the worst in us. This is a President who is chosen not to elevate us, but to diminish us and to teach us that, well, it's OK to talk this way, because the most important person in our body of politics and really the most powerful man on earth does this too. So, why not me?
LEMON: So, April, a lot of folks are wondering why the network even hired Roseanne, given her history of bigotry and spreading of conspiracy theory, she spread so many conspiracy theories, but our own President shares -- our won president shares conspiracy theories. I mean, just today President Trump continued his false Twitter tirade against Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. April?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALIST: Well, Don, you know, yes, this whole situation of this President and conspiracy theories and Roseanne, these are people who really, and it's unfortunate to say, who really have no understanding of how government works. I mean, you know, we have had conspiracy theories since the grassy knoll theories or conspiracies and beyond. But at issue is a President of the United States who is friends with or supports this comedian slash actress or whatever you want to call her, and they sit down and just make these things up or hear from somewhere and say, oh, this sounds good, let me go with it.
This kind of thing causes problem and can cause people to get hurt. I mean, we saw what happened with the pizza situation at Comic Pizza in Washington, D.C. things have to stop. There needs to be responsibility, there needs to be responsibility with the President and with people who have these great megaphones and have this wonderful perches, Roseanne Barr, she had a great perch that she abused.
[23:05:15] People understood she was controversial. Sometimes that makes people say, I like her, because she is against the grain. But you know what, she is gone too far. And she is not the only one. If you look on Twitter and we've talked about this. If you look on Twitter, you see people saying guerilla, you see people saying planet of the apes. I mean, I just got it this weekend, but you know what, goodness prevailed today. And maybe this president maybe -- just maybe, he got a glimpse of it and that is why he left it alone tonight.
LEMON: Yes, I wouldn't hold my breath on that, April.
RYAN: I'm taking goodness in.
LEMON: I'm still getting people sharing the fake Whoopi Goldberg t- shirt that says -- that Whoopi Goldberg had a picture of the president being shot. It's fake, it is not real, it is a conspiracy theory. People are still spreading all those things and many even still believe in and some of them don't believe it, they just love doing it. So, look, I don't give a rat's you know what someone says about me on Twitter unless, you know, they threaten my life or unless it puts me in danger. Listen, I want -- this is another conspiracy theory that I just talked about. Just a short while ago Republican, Trey Gowdy supported the FBI's -- the FBI's use of an informant. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens did what they wanted them to do when they got the information they got and it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Go, Frank, what did you think?
BRUNI: I didn't hear the end of what he said.
LEMON: He said it had nothing to do with Donald Trump. It is supported that he thinks that the FBI did the right thing and that is what most citizens of the United States would want them to do, it had nothing to do with Trump.
BRUNI: Well, I mean, I would agree with him. And I am very glad that he said, you are talking about Spygate and all of those stuff. I mean, yes, the things is, we need more Republicans like Trey Gowdy to come out and say that. I mean, when I listen to that.
I'm glad that he is not buying into what Donald Trump is selling. But the thing that remains so disturbing is how many Republicans either buy into or pretend they buy into it or just look away. And it remains the norm, most Republicans in D.C. are still turning their gazes away were they are biting their tongues. And every time they do that Trump is getting to normalize this sort of conspiracy theorizing. We worried at the beginning what would he normalized?
Now, Roseanne gets full credit and blame for what she did. And she might have done it without him, but one of the things Donald Trump is normalizing is the notion that if you believe something might be true, it's OK to put it out there.
LEMON: Yes. BRUNI: You know, if you have a bad feeling about someone --
RYAN: It is not normal. It is not normal.
BRUNI: Yes. That should never become normal. And as Michael said so eloquently when it is done by a person at the apex of our government, it is impossible for some people not to see that as a green light and as permission. And that is something Donald Trump has never had to answer for.
D'ANTONIO: And it's abject cowardice by the members of congress to not confront this. We now have a conspiracy caucus among Republican that are on the friend -- one of them happens to be my members of congress and they promote these conspiracy theories as if there's something to it. It's destructive to our society, it is destructive to our democracy. And we're not going to recover that quickly.
LEMON: Do you remember?
D'ANTONIO: He's Alvin. And he is a guy who thinks that there's now a conspiracy in every FBI office.
LEMON: He also represents me on the Long Island as well. So, listen, Roseanne has paid the price now. But, I mean, when you look at, you know, in President Trump's calls --
RYAN: Has she really, though?
LEMON: Go on. I am going to ask you the next question. What do you mean by that?
RYAN: You know, OK, ABC did this major move and some people were saying I'm shocked. But they made this major move, but it's not over yet. The question is will another network pick her up, and if they do it just negates everything that happened. And a television executive, a good friend of mine sent me a text and said, look, let's see who picks her up, if she is picked up. So, it is not over, we have to wait and see. Because trust me, Roseanne Barr is also a businesswoman and it's about the economics as well. A lot of people are out of work, and I guarantee you she is working the phones trying to revamp her image and trying to see if this can fly.
LEMON: OK. I mean she took an action. She paid the consequences for the action. ABC did act on this. Whether someone picks her up, listen that is their right. I mean, maybe, someone -- people who traffics in conspiracy theories and pick her up, this is America.
D'ANTONIO: She'll have a standup tour.
BRUNI: She will be having an economic sec on his.
LEMON: Bill Cosby doesn't really --
RYAN: How long though?
LEMON: he tried. BRUNI: I mean, he tried.
D'ANTONIO: But she will go out will play the red states and now she'll be the hero. Yes, I can imagine her --
LEMON: Yes, but I think I wouldn't --
BRUNI: That is too -- there will be a pocket of people --
BRUNI: Of American world rallies to her and make her a hero. America who will rally to her and make her a hero.
LEMON: There will be a pocket of people --
I wouldn't say all red states.
[23:10:00] D'ANTONIO: That is too -- there will be a pocket of America who will rally to her and make her a hero.
LEMON: OK then so let's talk about -- because you know, Roseanne paid the price, so to speak. April said it's not over yet. Billy Bush, Bill Cosby you mentioned, Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein and the list goes on. But there's no consequence for this President.
D'ANTONIO: Well, there is no consequence because he was elected as he reminds everyone with help, and we're not allowed to ask about that, and he is now gained the system. The way that he claims that it gains again him. We have no alternative, but the Democratic process.
BRUNI: It is simpler than that. All of these other people had bosses, Donald Trump's boss is the American people. And he gets his judgment when we get to vote again. And it is my, if not quite my belief it's my fervent hope that once -- Americans on mosque get to weigh in on this again they will say, no, no, this is not who we are.
LEMON: All right. Thank you all. I appreciate it.
RYAN: But Don, I want to --
LEMON: Go on, if you can do it in five seconds, April.
RYAN: Real fast. I believe black America, black leaders weighed on this President's mind today. And that is one of the reasons, but he did not say anything about Roseanne in Nashville, because he is working with black leaders behind closed doors on an urban agenda as well as prison reform, and black leaders are not happy about what happened today, so he kept quiet.
LEMON: I don't know. I don't know if I'm buying that.
BRUNI: Well, he is a politician.
LEMON: We shall see.
BRUNI: 5:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. is his Twitter spot.
LEMON: Too late. When we come back, why has calling out racist behavior become a political issue? We're going talk about how tribal minded political thinking seems to prevent people from calling outright and wrong.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: the wake of Roseann Barr racist tweet, the cancellation of her show is America is so divided now that we can't even all agree that racism is evil and unacceptable. Republican strategist, Rick Wilson, the author of the upcoming book, "Everything Trump touches dies." Conservative commentator, Carrie Sheffield.
So good to have you on. So Roseanne Barr is tweeting now, guys. I understand she tweeted something about me, retweeted and deleted it. It's not Roseanne, it's just Don Lemon. It is not Don Lemon CNN. It is not a parody account, just that Don Lemon. OK? But she deleted it. Here's what she said. She said -- she said don't feel sorry for me, guys. I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people and wonderful writers all liberal and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet. I will be on Joe Rogan's podcast on Friday. Rick, what do you say? Own your own stuff, right?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, everybody needs to own their own stuff. But you know, Roseanne also needs to understand that old rule about holes and digging universally applies. And she probably at this point ought just to take a deep breath and step back from the Twitter for a little while. This is not going to help her. It's not going to help those folks. It really needs, I think frankly, it needs a sort of national breather on this particular story, because it is just a remarkable moment where we're actually arguing whether something was racist and anti-Semitic. That you know, this is in that post fact era we seem to find ourselves in. You know, when it is, it is let's call it out. You know, it doesn't behoove anybody liberal or conservatives to pretend it's not real. When it is real.
LEMON: I agree with that. By the way, just so you are not confused, she deleted the tweet about me, not the one that I just read. Is she still there? Is there a retweet there?
CARRIE SHEFFIELD, OPPORTUNITY LIVES: She is watching?
LEMON: OK. Apparently it's still up. Anyway, it doesn't matter. Thanks for watching, Roseanne. What do you say?
SHEFFIELD: And so I agree, that yes, it was a racist statement and it's important and I'm glad that she is apologized. I will say that nobody is irredeemable no matter what Hillary Clinton says. Roseanne is redeemable. Jay z when he said --
LEMON: What does this have to do with Hillary Clinton?
SHEFFIELD: Because what Hillary Clinton said -- LEMON: What does she have to do with Hillary Clinton? We're talking
LEMON: What does this have to do with Hillary Clinton?
SHIVELY: It has to do with the fact there is in this situation with ABC selective moral outrage, cherry picked (inaudible) singling -- I will point out that ABC news, you know, --
LEMON: Did you just hear what Rick said? I'm sorry, Carrie. I am sorry, I don't want what about it -- can we stick to what is happening now and Hillary Clinton is not President. OK. Donald Trump is President.
LEMON: Hillary Clinton is not President. I don't know in an alternative universe that Hillary Clinton is President.
SHEFFIELD: You would like that?
LEMON: I said no, I would not like that. See, you are assuming something about that is not necessarily so. You're proving Rick's point and this has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton, nothing to do with who I hoped would be President, there is nothing about that. So can we stop with the, what about-ism and talk about what's happening now? This is about Roseanne Barr.
SHEFFIELD: This is about ABC news and the fact Joy Behar still has a job and Roseanne Barr does not.
LEMON: Not about Joy Behar, You have to stop, please.
SHEFFIELD: Don, do you think Christianity is an illness?
LEMON: Please, stop. I don't want to give disinformation to my viewers. You're giving disinformation to the viewers. That this is not about Joy Behar.
SHEFFIELD: It is about ABC News.
LEMON: If you can stick with Joy Behar -- excuse me. If you can stick with what we're talking about Roseanne Barr, fine. If not, I'm not continuing this. I am not going down the side in what about-ism. It's ridiculous.
SHEFFIELD: You've had people on, Cornell West was just on.
LEMON: Cornell West was just on another program, but go on.
SHEFFIELD: He was on CNN and what he said was this. With Roseanne, I agree what Cornell West, what he said about her in this case where he said, we need to love the sinner and hate the sin. And so when I say that Roseanne is redeemable I am contradicting something that was said earlier. And I am saying --
LEMON: You can say that about -- you don't have to bring Hillary Clinton in to do that.
LEMON: Even the bible says that.
SHEFFIELD: I can say that about--
LEMON: God says that, I'm sure your mom told you that. You don't know, why do you have to bring Hillary Clinton up?
SHEFFIELD: I can bring up Jay-Z. Jay-Z has said foul vulgar disgusting things about women, but Jay-Z is redeemable.
LEMON: What does Jay-Z have to do with it?
SHEFFIELD: President Trump mentioned Jay-Z --
LEMON: What does Jay-Z have to do with it?
SHEFFIELD: He mentioned this evening and we are talking about news. President Trump mentioned Jay-Z this evening and we know that Jay-Z has said foul and misogynistic things about women.
LEMON: Why are you brining up Jay-Z when this is about --
SHEFFIELD: Because this is a double standard.
LEMON: OK. Fine. All right listen hold on, hold on.
SHEFFIELD: Don, this is the fact that conservatives have been shut out of Hollywood.
[23:20:00] LEMON: You think everyone -- hold on -- you think everyone should be treated equally when it comes to who should have a job and who shouldn't when they say things that are untoward, does that mean that for the President Trump United States as well? Do you think the President of the United States should lose his job for saying racist things, you think the president of United States should lose his job for saying for being a womanizer for saying misogynistic things?
SHEFFIELD: I think everyone is redeemable, including the President, including you, including Madonna when she said she wanted to blow up the White House, including everything on HBO --
LEMON: All right. Please --
WILSON: You guys, you know, Carrie and I in many ways are on the same side of the ideological fence, but honestly, as a conservative, Carrie, I beseech you, look at this problem for what it is. Let's have a conversation about the actual issue, not the ancillary issues. Not the, what about-ism issues. This is something we have to face directly. If you want to have ABC to be accountable for other people that is a separate discussion and that is a separate matter. What we have right now is a person who behave in a way --
SHEFFIELD: Why are you trying to separate it?
WILSON: This is a person with way pass the boundary walls.
SHEFFIELD: -- decades of Hollywood, by using Bill Mar for using the n-word.
LEMON: OK, now we are talking about Roseanne.
WILSON: We have a situation right now where you have a person is in the very center of this political debate and the questions we're answering right now are about Roseanne and about these tweets and about what happened. And I think it's a very legitimate question to ask for accountability broadly in these institutions.
SHEFFIELD: Sure. Absolutely.
WILSON: However in this case. We're talking about Roseanne, we are talking about what happened here and the character and nature of it here. And if you find yourself lured into this argument what about Hillary, about Barack, Jay-Z -- you are not answering the real question and that diminishes the impact of the moral answer, you have to have when people display anti-Semitism and outright racism in this country. You have to do that.
And as a conservative that is how I approach it, not because I'm some liberal social justice warrior, but because I think racism it's an abhorrent, disgusting horrifying practice and when we see it, we have to call it, when we see it, we need to hammer it down, spray it like a cockroach, we need to scalpel out. And I am sorry, just trying to, you know, throw up the chat and the flock on these -- there is still -- it is just not where we need to go as conservatives, Carrie.
SHEFFIELD: You sweep that other stuff under the rug, Rick. I agree with everything you said, racism is disgusting. But you know what else is disgusting, it's disgusting when Bill Mar says that women -- should be objectified and mock.
WILSON: Carrie, I just said, let us hold the constitution accountable, but what you are trying to do here is to throw up this cap and say oh, we can't talk about -- let us talk about Jay-Z.
SHEFFIELD: It's the fact that 90 percent liberal and conservatives who have been shut out of that town and mock and demonized --
WILSON: Produce better content and bring the marketplace --
LEMON: Talking point number 87, number 89, whatever. Whatever, we should have talk about it.
SHEFFIELD: Eminem can insult the president and yet he also is a misogynistic and applauded by Hollywood.
LEMON: All right. Bye.
SHEFFIELD: Bye, Don.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump out with a new conspiracy theory today without offering even the tiniest bit of evidence. Claiming in a tweet that Robert Mueller's team will meddle in the upcoming mid-term elections. I want to bring in new Tim Wu, is a professor at Columbia University Law School and the author of the Intention Merchants and CNN political analyst, Julie Hirschfield Davis, who is White House reporter for the New York Times. Thank you so much both of you for joining us this evening.
Julie, I am going to get to you first with a couple of questions. You have new reporting tonight about the President asking Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. What happened?
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, we've all heard the President say publicly that he was very upset when Sessions made the decision to recuse himself from the investigation. Which was because he had misstated to congress several times about his meetings with Russian officials. And so he stepped aside from the investigation. The President found out about this and was surprise by it and very angry and almost immediately asked his aides whether this could be reversed or if they could do something about it. So that Session could continue to be involved and essentially oversee this investigation from which he stepped aside.
And coinciding with this he was also having a back and forth, the President was, with Jeff Sessions about his travel ban which had to be revised and withdrawn essentially, because it was facing legal challenges in court. And Jeff Sessions was trying to reach the President. The President was not returning his calls. He was furious about this recusal issue. And so ultimately what happened was Jeff Sessions had to fly down to Mar-a-Lago where the President was spending the weekend and have dinner with him to talk about this travel ban issue. But the issue the President brought up with him and really wanted to talk about was the recusal.
And he actually asked him to essentially un-recuse himself, to take back control of the investigation. Sessions said he couldn't do that, he wouldn't do that. But the President didn't let it go. And we also know that Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel investigating Russia's interference in the election is now looking at this episode. And what it really tells you is it's a much broader look into the possibility that the President was obstructing justice.
LEMON: Yes. And Tim you're nodding your head, you want to jump in here. What do you want to say?
TIM WU, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Well, I am just saying that, you know, that sounds so much like obstruction of justice, I don't know what to say about I, you know, trying to pressure him to do -- to walk away from one of the really dignified things Sessions did, which was, you know, admit that he was conflicted here along the congress.
LEMON: My question though is, Julie, if this happened over a year ago why are we just finding about this now?
HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Well, I mean, we find out, you know, bits and pieces of what the Special Counsel is looking at, and you know, there's been no leaks of this investigation. He is been very careful to make it, you know, difficult to discern what's going on. But when we found out several weeks ago about the list of questions he wanted to ask the President in his interview which is of course under active negotiations now, between the President and the Special Counsel team, there was some questions in there about Jeff Sessions and it had become clear that he has a focus of this investigation. He could be a key witness in this investigation and so we wanted to know more about what it was that he might know.
And as I've said, the president has said things publicly about being angry about Sessions' recusal. But the fact that he actually went and acted on that and requested that he undo stepping aside is, you know, is quite something and it could be a significant development in the investigation.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: In a separate report, Julie, you and your colleague, Maggie Haberman, also detailed a handful of conspiracy theories that Trump perpetuated -- perpetrated I should say, during his campaign claiming the U.S. government knew about the 9/11 attacks in advance, saying the Supreme Court Justice Scalia was murdered, perpetuating the lie that President Obama was born in Kenya and now tonight, even at a rally, he's pushing even more conspiracy theories about people infiltrating his campaign.
DAVIS: Right. Well, I mean he's been discussing this, branding it spygate for the past several days now, basically seizing on this idea that the FBI had an informant that was contacting members of his campaign team and saying that essentially that amounts to a scheme by Barack Obama and Democratic operatives to spend a spy into his campaign to try to block him from being elected.
Well of course, what we know what our reporting has told us about this informant is that the informant was sent in because a counter intelligence investigation had uncovered that the Russians were potentially trying to interfere in the election and that Trump campaign associates had been communicating with people from Moscow and that's why the informant was sent in not to investigate Trump the candidate, but to investigate whether and how the Russians were trying to interfere in our electoral politics.
LEMON: OK. So Tim, you said the president is so successful at pushing these kinds of conspiracy theories. He offers simple slogans. He streamlines concepts. He repeats his arguments. He speaks with authority. But you say its media access that's so critical to his success. What role does that play?
TIM WU, PROFESSOR, COLUMBUS UNIOVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: I just want to -- I want to start with this conspiracy theories and make them clear what they are. A really crucial part of a successful propaganda campaign. Because you need to have this kind of constructive reality for your followers where it all comes consistently together and it keeps people in and doing what he does the best, which is absolutely master the battle for attention.
You know, it's always about his story, what's going on here. And the conspiracy theories help keep this narrative alive, you know, that he's a great victim even though he's the president, but he's still this victim fighting this incredible battle against him from these evil foes.
LEMON: So then what -- so then how do you stop it? How do you combat it?
WU: It's one of the greatest challenges that I think all of us are facing. You know, propaganda works. I mean, if you study the history of British or German or Soviet propaganda, it works. So you have two choices. One is you try and counter program and tell you what the truth is or you try and come up with your narratives.
And I think that's what all the opposition that Trump is struggling with right now is like what is our story, other than saying that Trump is a liar and a racist and all that's true, but it is still part of his story. And getting your own story is really the challenging part I think for any opposition.
LEMON: So but -- it's interesting you say that media access plays a big part in it. Do you just stop reporting on it even though, I mean, the American people has to know -- have to know.
WU: I think it's difficult -- I think reporters are in a tough spot. I mean Trump runs his presidency like a rating program, like a television program. And how do television programs go down? They lose ratings? They start to disappear, you know. So, the easiest way for him to lose power is to lose his ratings. But on the other hand, do you not cover him? I mean, that seems irresponsible. I think that's a real challenge that we're facing right now.
LEMON: Julie, I understand at a rally that you were at tonight, you had an interesting encounter with a young child. You tweeted about it.
DAVIS: Yeah, there was a young boy probably about 8 or 9 who kept on sort of coming in front of the press pen and he had his iPhone and he was yelling fake news, read all about it and taking -- snapping pictures of us and videoing us and, you know, there was such vitriol and such disdain and hatred clearly for what the press was there to do and it just struck me how, you know, this is a child who would grow up, you know, an he's growing up believing that the free press is a force for evil, is to be mocked, is to be ridiculed, isn't to be believed.
It was just a striking tableau. There was also a gentleman who basically spent most of the rally instead of turning around and listening to what the president was saying -- I assume a strong supporter of President Trump -- just yelling at and berating the journalists who were there to report on it.
[23:35:03] This is something we've all become used to particularly my colleagues who covered the campaign and Trump's rallies during the campaign. It's just -- it's built into sort of what he does and he, at the various points in the rally, and he did tonight a couple of times, sort of exhorts people to turn around and make fun of or ridicule or insult the press, and they do that very enthusiastically.
And I think it is all tied into this idea of conspiracy. You know, you want to undercut the objective reporting of the truth so that you can sort of have your narrative and tell whatever story you want to tell.
LEMON: Yeah, well, he must be sad to be that angry. I can't imagine. Thank you, appreciate it.
When we come back, on the same day Roseanne Barr lost her job for a racist tweet, Starbucks shutdown 8,000 stores for anti-bias training. What's the state of race in America? Kamau Bell weighs in, that's next.
LEMON: Roseanne Barr is out of a job tonight after her disgusting racist twitter attack on Valerie Jarrett. Joining me now is Kamau Bell. Kamauw Bell, the host of "United Shades of America" here on CNN.
[23:40:00] It's been such a crazy night. I'm sorry if I mispronounced your name. You know I love you. I know your mom is watching. Mom, I'm sorry.
KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA: Yeah.
LEMON: How are you doing? What do you think?
BEL: You know, it's -- if things escalated quickly to quote Will Farrell as "Anchorman," I was surprised that ABC made the decision so quickly to cancel the show, which leaves me to believe if we think it was sort of hectic from the outside, it was probably even more hectic on the inside of that show.
LEMON: Yeah. You know, we keep saying ABC did the right thing. They did. And, you know, they got her off the show.
BELL: I know I'm not. I'm surprised that they did that so quickly. The right thing would be to have followed her on twitter from the beginning because everybody who knows who was on twitter knows how Roseanne tweets. She is actually tweeting right now. Her twitter break is about four to five hours.
So, I mean, everybody who knows twitter knows how she tweets and how she tweets conspiracy theories and racism and fat shaming and Islamophobia. That's just what she does. So nobody who follows her on twitter is surprised that is, is that ABC thought they could enter into this game with her.
LEMON: Yes, but you know its Hillary Clinton's fault or Bill Maher or Joy Behar or somebody else's fault.
BELL: I got to admit that it's been pretty fun to see right wing twitter try to portray Bill Maher as a liberal hero and say that we should fire him because liberals know he's not exactly a liberal hero. So, good luck out there, everybody.
LEMON: Or that people don't lose their jobs. I mean, tell that to Kathy Griffin.
BELL: Tell that to Reza Aslan from this network. I mean, Reza had a show in this network and he sent out one wrong tweet or one tweet that people disagreed with and he lost his job. So, it happens on all sides. It just happens -- you can't predict when it's going to happen is the thing.
LEMON: Yeah. And everything it is context behind everything. It's all -- it's not equal, right? Everything is not equal, right. And if that were the case, then should this president even have a job?
BELL: Well, that's the thing. And so that's the most frustrating thing for me, is that our standard for a sitcom star is higher than our standard for president, you know. Everything that Roseanne has done, Donald Trump has done a version of or worse and has also done it live in front of people and he gets to be president. My hope is that right now as a country, we're all doing our sit ups to eventually figure out what to do with Donald Trump as a president.
But that's the hardest part because, I mean, Roseanne has entered into corporate America, in agreement with corporate America as I've done with CNN. You have to know that there are certain things you can and can't do when you do that. She did the wrong thing. She's out, but what about our president? How do we deal with the fact that our president is on stage right now talking about conspiracy theories.
LEMON: It's Hillary Clinton's fault. I just want to play, you know, this is Starbucks, you know, they shutdown 8,000 stores today. This is part of their training video today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in the cafe of my store and there was a line of about six people and I saw a man come in who was kind of scruffy, kind of looks messily dressed and he walked up to a woman who was about halfway in line and I wasn't close enough to hear what they were saying, but I saw him pulled his hand out to her and she reached into her purse. And I walked right up to them and I said, sir, you cannot panhandle and ask my customers for money in my store. And the woman looked at me and said he is my husband.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Was she talking about you because didn't that happen to you?
BELL: I was trying to remember. I was like, now, that sounds pretty familiar. I don't think I had that exact thing happen but something pretty close to that, yeah. So yeah, Starbucks closes for a few hours to talk about racism. You know, how we used say we're peak TV, Don, we're also at peak coffee. You don't have to go to Starbucks. That's not the only option. I think that yes, let's end racism but I don't know that we can do it in a few hours in Starbucks. I think it takes a bigger discussion than that.
LEMON: Look, we can go on and talk about studies and all that, but you know it's so animated tonight? It's when people come on and try to -- they do the what aboutism, right, and they try to say, OK. Basically they're saying it's OK because somebody else did it. You know, when I -- I don't know even want to say this because I don't even want to go there, but it's just really infuriating when people think this is a game when we're talking about racism. It's not. People's lives and livelihoods are at stake.
BELL: And the level of things we will put up with -- we are beginning to put up with less and less because of the consequences are more dire especially in the Trump administration. Because while we're also talking about this subject of Roseanne, we also -- a study came out about Puerto Rico today that more people died in Puerto Rico due to the hurricane than the government of Puerto Rico reported. So it's like these are life and death consequences for the decisions that are made by this administration and the people who support them.
LEMON: I've got to go. Thank you, sir. Always appreciate it.
BELL: Thank you.
LEMON: Make sure you catch "United Shades of America" Sunday nights at 10:00 right here on CNN.
[23:45:01] And when we come back, Starbucks shutting down more than 8,000 stores as we reported it, training its employees against racial bias, but will it prevent another incident like the now famous one, infamous one in Philadelphia last month. Starbucks CEO joins me next.
LEMON: We have told you that Starbucks closed 8,000 of its stores today for four hours. And 175,000 employees took part in a mandatory training to combat racial bias. The training materials made use of some star power. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMON, RAPPER: It can be easy to see the bias of someone else when it comes at you in the form of not seeing you or excluding you or someone not treating you with dignity or respect or the small but annoying thing that puts you down.
But you know what? It's not always easy to see our own bias as a human being. What causes us not to treat others with respect, dignity or to not include them?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: As you can see, that was Common, but joining us now is Kevin Johnson the president and CEO of Starbucks. Thank you for coming on. Good evening to you.
[23:50:05] KEVIN JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, STARBUCKS: Good evening.
LEMON: How did it go today? It was a big day.
JOHNSON: Well it was a big day. You know, we closed over 8,000 stores and we had all of our partners attend this anti-bias training that we've been working on for the last month or so. And so it was a foundational event for the company and in many ways it was an investment in our future.
LEMON: There is a lot of material, I mean, this is some of the things that -- some of the literature that you gave your employees and they had to go through as a work book. There is a team guide book. I mean, this extensive -- how much -- how did you guys go about creating all this material?
JOHNSON: Well first we had, you know, some independent advisers that really helped us out quite a bit, Sherrilyn Ifill, Heather McGhee, and Bryan Stevenson. They in turn helped put us in touch with over 30 experts in a variety of areas, whether it was in social behavior, bias training, neuroscience, and from that we basically crafted what we think is an experiential learning exercise for all of our partners.
LEMON: You mentioned a couple of things. I'll just got through them because you brought in some big names, not only (inaudible) but you mentioned Sherrilyn Ifill and others, but really on board to help in this training. Eric Holder who was a former attorney-general, the president and director-counsel for the NWACP Fund, which is legal defense fund Sherrilyn Ifill and Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, and on and on and on. What do you think the best advice was that they gave to you?
JOHNSON: Well, I think collectively they looked at this through, you know, years of experience really living and understanding these issues. And so, you know for us, they gave us advice on how to think about the most impactful ways to create experiences for people to understand this. And I think they gave us advice on who to tap into -- who were the experts in the industry that could add some value to what we we're trying to create.
LEMON: The training into them has stemmed from two black men who were arrested while they were waiting for a friend at the Philadelphia Starbucks and since then we have seen, you know, the cops calling -- why people calling police on black people for barbecuing or you know, an Airbnb, you know, shopping for the prom. And so, what do you think -- do you understand now why -- better why this keeps happening?
JOHNSON: Well certainly this is a societal issue, you know, and race and racial bias has been present in the United States for centuries. So the fact this happened in one of our stores, you know, really put us front and center at really understanding how that could have happened in our store, understanding every aspect of what happened and what we could do that was a positive and constructive step forward. And we view this just as one step in a journey. This is not the only step. It is a step and we feel like it's a very positive first step.
LEMON: I'm glad you mentioned that because what do you say to people who say, it's one afternoon, well, it's going to take way more than that to see the right.
JOHNSON: I agree. Absolutely, I agree. In fact, that's why we've architected what we put together as this day where we close the stores and train 175,000 partners. But we now have 12 follow-on modules that will go on each month. We'll drop another module out to our stores for our store partners to continue on that journey.
LEMON: So this -- as you say, this is just the beginning.
JOHNSON: This is just the beginning.
LEMON: But can you believe on all days, that you're doing your training, you're closing down 8,000 stores across the country and then Roseanne is fired for racist tweets, racist comments. What do you think of that?
JOHNSON: Well, I think it's just evidence that this exists in society. And in many ways I think what we need is for people to get involved and take a positive constructive step forward. In fact, Don, I've had numerous CEO of companies larger and small reach out to me with interest in what we are doing because they too are searching for positive constructive things they can do. And so, you know, our intent is that we're going to focus on doing this and doing this the right way for Starbucks. We're very willing to share all of the materials and all the learnings that we've gone through with others.
LEMON: Last time I spoke to you, you got very emotional about this. What has this experience been like for you?
JOHNSON: Well, you know, I'd say it's a very personal experience. I was on the ground here in Philadelphia and personally met with as many people as I could including Dante and Rashon and understand, you know, what their experience was like and how this affected the community in Philadelphia and how this affected my Starbucks partners.
And then a deep sense of accountability to get involved and be accountable for making the decisions to take on a very difficult topic, the discussion of race and bias and do it in a way that can make us a better company. So it's been a very personal and rewarding journey.
LEMON: Thank you Kevin.
JOHNSON: Thank you Don.
LEMON: It's a pleasure.
We'll be right back.
[23:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: When disaster strikes, (inaudible) CNN Heroes Stan Hays and his pitmaster buddies bring comfort in the form of BBQ to those in need. Well this week, Stan is expanding his service to honor those who served our country all yearlong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAN HAYES, CNN HERO (voice-over): We are here with the Gary Sinise Foundation at the Invincible Spirit Festival.
How are you guys doing? Do you want a pulled park sandwich?
We are cooking for 6,500 to 7,000 people. Being here where these men and women have given so much while protecting and serving our country, it's pretty special.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an awesome event.
[24:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The barbecue is stellar.
HAYES (voice-over): Barbecue is really about bringing people together and for us, this is the biggest thank you we can give those men and women that have served.
(END VIDEO CLIP)