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Six Killed in California Wildfires; 90 Days Till Midterm Elections; LeBron James Opens School; CBS CEO Accused of Misconduct. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 30, 2018 - 06:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[06:30:00] DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Five-year-old James, who they call Junior, and four-year-old Emily. About 7:00 on Thursday night, Ed went into town really to run an errand. About 15 minutes later, he got a frantic phone call that the flames were encroaching his house. And then he couldn't get back there. He was on the phone with his family the whole time. Have a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED BLEDSOE, WIFE AND GREAT GRANDCHILDREN DIED IN FIRE: I talked to Junior on the phone until he died. He just kept saying, grandpa -- he said, come get me. (INAUDIBLE), come and get me. The fire's coming in the back door. Come on, grandpa. I said, I'm right down the road. He said, come and get us. Emily said, I love you grandpa. And grandma says, I love you grandpa. And then Junior says, I love you, come and get us, come and get us. I said, I'm on my way. My wife was the greatest woman in the world and my grandkids was excellent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Well, Ed says he did everything he could to try to get to the house, but by the time he got close to there, the police had already blocked the streets. He says his wife covered the two grandkids with wet blankets to try to protect them. But his story just goes to show you ow fast that fire enveloped the community. Some likened it to a tornado, but a tornado that had flames.

In the meantime, as for the fire itself, crews did make some progress over the weekend. Containment now up to 17 percent. But there is so much destruction. This is one of the neighborhoods that was leveled. This is the Lake Redding Estates. A neighborhood in total 874 structures have been destroyed.

Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh my gosh, Dan, it's so tragic hearing the words of that grandfather as he relates his grandchildren's words. We're praying for him.

Thanks so much for bringing us his story.

With only 99 days until the midterms, all eyes are on who will control Congress. So we have the key races for you to watch, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:35:57] CAMEROTA: All right, we are 99 days away from the midterm election. Will Democrats flip the House or the Senate? Joining us now we have A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at RealClearPolitics, and CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon.

A.B., I know you've been crunching the numbers. So the conventional wisdom is that Democrats have a lot of passion and motivation on their side, but there are so many other factors. So what are you looking at?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right. Well, there are just in -- the incumbent retention rate for House members is very high. So you always look at that. You look at Republican advantages on gerrymandering and they have a pretty good red wall. So for Democrats to flip 23 seats, they're going to have to, according to the real map experts, bring in a popular vote win of 7 percent or more. And that's sort of a high bar to reach.

That said, it just depends on which voters they turn out. Traditionally, Democratic voters, young voters, African-American voters, they don't turnout in midterms. And President Obama found that, even though he was re-elected in 2010 and 2014, he got slammed. His coalition stayed home. So they're really hoping, despite all the polling that shows that a majority of the country is putting them in wave territory and they can take the House back, they have to get those people in the car. So that is really the key factor.

That said, Republicans are very vulnerable. President Trump's approval ratings in the places that count, the swing districts, is toxic. They're looking at 42 open or vacant seats. They have a lot of exposure. Suddenly Democrats are competitive in places like districts in Kentucky, West Virginia and Montana. This is not -- this is all adding up to making Republicans very nervous.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: They should be nervous, John. We know about how conventional wisdom can get us in trouble and we can look at -- we can look at (INAUDIBLE), we can look at where the president's polling, but my experience is that midterms are still about big issues. They're a referendum on the president. They can be about war. They can be about the economy. The president's got a really strong economy and he's lowered taxes. And for Republican voters, they're looking up and saying, yes, this guy's getting things done. Those are big issues that are in his favor.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Those are big issues that are in his favor. The challenge those first midterms after a presidential tends to be when the opposition has energy. Certainly it's what we saw in 1994 with Republicans against Bill Clinton, 2010 against Barack Obama, the Tea Party wave. And we've seen extraordinary Democrat enthusiasm in terms of turning out at the open seats today.

The other problem, and A.B. is exactly right to point out, the rigged system of redistricting that makes taking the House tougher for Democrats. But, Hillary Clinton won 25 seats that Republicans carried in the '16 election. That means those folks have castles made of sand. Not all of them, but those are -- those are folks who have a big target on their back.

The speaker of the House is declining to run for re-election. Spin it however you want. Not a sign of confidence. So, actually, the Democrats have a -- they can get their turnout. They've got a better shot than they should have given the rigged system of redistricting.

GREGORY: Well, why don't we look at that in the five things to look at for the midterms.

AVLON: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Let's do that. I hope we have that ready. We might only have four.

OK, so the Democrats performance in special elections, the year of the woman. Let's talk -- well, let me go through this and then we'll talk about that, A.B. The effect of Trump's tariffs, which, of course, are already we're seeing take -- have an impact in Iowa, et cetera. People who are looking at a referendum on the president. And the unsettled Senate map, which we also need to talk about.

But first, the year of the woman. So is that what you're looking at, A.B., in terms of -- I mean you've -- you've noted a couple of interesting races, but how big of an impact will that have?

STODDARD: I'm trying to stifle (ph) off -- women -- white, college educated women are the key to Democrats' chances this year. And they're hoping that they can get them out. They are something like -- in the last NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll they're like 30 to -- 60 to 30 percent in favor of a Democratic Congress. Again, they have to be motivated to vote. But if they can, that will be the key voter in this fall's elections.

[06:40:13] And some of them have been Republican. Some of them are independents. But if you add the fact that independents are pulling in this, again, last NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll at 24 points in favor of Democrats, almost double, 48 percent coming in, in favor of Democrats, you combine that with the white, college educated female vote, those -- that's -- that is -- those numbers are devastating for Republicans if those voters turn out for Democrats.

GREGORY: And these are all the headwinds. But what's interesting is that, what is the president saying. He's saying he'll stump six, seven days a week if necessary for Republicans. He is going to keep hitting issues like immigration and border wall funding. So you know that the play he's doing, which is rev up the base, drive out as much turnout as you can, because one of the issues Republicans face is, they may not be able to turn out the Trump voter the way Trump can in a presidential cycle, which is obviously what Obama dealt with too.

AVLON: Right. I mean it's amazing, first of all, for a president to say, you know, I'm going to put governing on hold in favor of campaigning entirely. Now, this is Trump hyperbole, but it's still extraordinary. And then the president's constant focus on playing to the base. This is not a president who politically believes that you reach out and win over the reasonable edge of the opposition. There is a gender chasm, as A.B. just pointed out. That's a real problem for this president. So he's going to have to hope that he, you know, gets credit for following through on tariffs and not punished by people who are suffering for him. But this is -- this is, you know, the demographic map doesn't work for Trump, so he's got to turn out his base.

CAMEROTA: At some point we need to talk about election security as well.

AVLON: (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: We'll getting into that in the rest of the program, if voters can trust what's happening in this midterm election.

GREGORY: So, yes.

CAMEROTA: No, I was going to wrap, but you sound like (INAUDIBLE).

GREGORY: Yes. No, if you're done. No, I wanted to point -- well, because this is, obviously, very important. But I don't know if you saw -- if you spend time looking at basketball highlights on Instagram, as I do.

CAMEROTA: Constantly. Constantly.

GREGORY: You would have noted that LeBron -- LeBron's son, who's 13, one of his sons, dunked in warmups the other day. It was a big deal. He's only 13-years-old. He's already done (INAUDIBLE). But LeBron's also feeling the jitters, not over his son, it has nothing to do with basketball. We're going to have details on that in the "Bleacher Report" coming up next.

CAMEROTA: I now see what you're doing, David.

GREGORY: You see what I was doing there?

CAMEROTA: Yes, I see it now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:46:13] GREGORY: To hoop news now.

LeBron James saying the opening of his I Promise School today in Akron is going to be one of the great moments of his life.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report" this morning.

Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, David.

Yes, LeBron and his foundation have been working on opening this school for at-risk kids for a long time. And today it finally becomes a reality. The I Promise School in LeBron's hometown of Akron will have two grades to start. The third and the fourth grade. And it's going to expand in the coming years. And LeBron has said opening this school is one of the most important things he's ever done because he was once one of these kids.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: Everything that they're going through as kids, I know. And for me to be in a position where I have the resources, I have the finance, I have the people, I have the structure, and I have the city around me, I mean, why not? You know, why not continue to do great things where you can help the youth?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And Baseball Hall of Fame inducting six new members over the weekend. Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Alan Trammell, Jack Morris and Chipper Jones. Chipper was a little more nervous than others and that was because his wife Taylor was due to give birth to their son at any moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIPPER JONES: Taylor is due any minute with our second boy. We decided to name him Cooper in honor of this occasion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Yes, baby Cooper did not come during Chipper's induction speech there. He was able to hold on. But props to the couple for being willing to have the baby in Cooperstown and name him Cooper all to be there for the festivities.

CAMEROTA: That is some good branding. And --

GREGORY: Exactly. And I -- congratulations to all those inductees. I just want to say, though, the fact that Steve Garvey (ph), I know you share this view --

CAMEROTA: I do.

GREGORY: Of the Dodgers is not in the Hall of Fame, I still think --

CAMEROTA: It's an outrage.

GREGORY: It's a travesty --

CAMEROTA: Travesty.

GREGORY: And he is one of the great player and I love him.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I'm glad that you --

GREGORY: I just wanted to put that out there.

CAMEROTA: Wow, I'm glad that you're just getting that out there.

GREGORY: OK.

CAMEROTA: And your son, some day, will be in the Hall of Fame. If I -- I've seen his moves.

GREGORY: Oh, well, that's -- I've shown you the videos.

CAMEROTA: Thirteen? Sixteen?

GREGORY: Sixteen. Sixteen today.

CAMEROTA: All right, listen to this, there are new sexual misconduct allegations against CBS' long time CEO, Les Moonves. So after Charlie Rose, what's happening at CBS?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:52:43] GREGORY: So you probably heard about this over the weekend. The board of directors at CBS meeting today amid allegations of sexual harassment against the company's long-time CEO Les Moonves. They plan to form a special committee to investigate the charges made by at least six women first reported by Ronan Farrow in "The New Yorker" magazine.

Moonves responded in a statement, quote, throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago, he says, when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes that I regret them immensely, but I always understood and respected and abided by their principle that no means no and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone's career. This is a time when we are all appropriately focused on how we help improve our society and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.

Joining us now, CNN's senior media reporter Oliver Darcy, and CNN media analyst Bill Carter.

Bill --

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yes.

GREGORY: How do you assess what's going on at CBS?

CARTER: I've known Lester Moonves for more than 25 years. He's always been a tough guy. That's his reputation. And I knew there was rumors about him in the past. I have to say, it's true that a lot of these are somewhat old. But they're very serious. Obvious -- what was brought up is very serious.

We're in an era where that is not tolerated much, even though it may have been in the past. I think he has appointed women. He has given women very prominent positions. The question really is -- to me the question is, is this behavior really something he corrected? Did he stop 20 years ago, 15 years ago? Are other women going to come forward? Are there -- are there going to be other charges in this? If there are, I don't think he has much chance to survive.

GREGORY: Well, but he --

CAMEROTA: The most recent allegations, I think, are 2006.

CARTER: Yes.

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So it didn't stop in the '80s.

CARTER: Yes. It stopped in the '80s but --

CAMEROTA: It went into the 2000s.

CARTER: Yes. Yes, well that one was more -- a little bit --

CAMEROTA: This is the allegation.

CARTER: I -- let's face it, parsing these things gets to be a little bit hard to do. If something's offensive, if something -- if a woman feels abused, you can't just say, well, it's not as bad as it used to be with so and so.

GREGORY: Right.

CARTER: But I think what's also interesting is, this guy is super- duper important to CBS. I mean he -- CBS' success is really all down to this guy. And so they are in a very difficult position to make a decision on this I think.

[06:55:01] GREGORY: Yes, I mean, and it's slightly different. You could have make that case about Matt Lauer as well. I mean Matt was certainly -- at least it was thought -- was directly tied to, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue at NBC.

CARTER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: You know, one of the things -- Ronan Farrow had investigated this for a long time, OK. This wasn't just an overnight allegation.

GREGORY: Right.

CAMEROTA: This was vetted and investigated for a long time. And at least one of the allegations is that he didn't respect no means no. He shouldn't -- I think he crossed the line in that statement to have people be even more outraged because the allegations are that he pinning somebody down, forcibly kissed them. She was having a hard time leaving. She was saying no. And so that's not her recollection of that. And I'm not sure why he put that in that statement. If he was going to say -- I mean he went -- it was interesting what he said. He said, I may have done things in many decades ago, in the '80s, that made people uncomfortable. If he'd left it at that, I think that people would say, all right, is there a new lens that we should look at him through? But he didn't always respect no means no. OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Well, I think that you put out a statement knowing that that statement's gong to be read on air multiple times throughout the whole coverage of this, while no one's going to maybe read the entire 8,000 word piece that Ronan Farrow worked eight months to report. So I think that might be the PR strategy there.

I think it's going to be interesting, too, as we go forward into Monday, whether Moonves is going to be asked to step aside as investigation into his conduct moves forward. We know that the board members discussed this over the weekend, having him step aside possibly. And they're going to be meeting via teleconference later today to talk about this. So it's going to be interesting to see whether he's allowed to remain at the top of CBS as these investigators -- there's going to be an outside law firm that comes in as they investigate his conduct.

GREGORY: So that's -- the other aspect of this, Bill, is what's going on inside the network. So here you have the CEO of the networks.

CARTER: Yes.

GREGORY: So this is, as you point out, so important to the bottom line of the company. You also have, after the firing of Charlie Rose at "60 Minutes" and the morning program --

CARTER: Right. Yes.

GREGORY: Allegations in this piece by Ronan Farrow against Jeff Fager which he -- which have been denied. Jeff Fager and others about a culture at "60 Minutes."

CARTER: A culture, yes.

GREGORY: So what -- again, how do you read what's happening within CBS? We've seen this in terms of what happened at Fox.

CARTER: Yes.

GREGORY: We've looked at what's happened at NBC. Is there anything different in terms of how quickly this is moving?

CARTER: I think people are at least taking a longer look, maybe, at this than they did in these other examples because there were more -- there were more vid examples. I mean there are exacts here that are pretty strong. But I do think there's a little bit of a question about, like, was someone's career really affected and things like that? They're a little bit shadier or there are a little bit of shadings to this than there -- than there weren't there.

But I also think it certainly speaks to a culture of a company if it crosses over from the CEO down to the news division, et cetera. There's something going on there that obviously a lot of women are not -- are not happy about.

CAMEROTA: One more thing on this note. Julie Chen is his wife. CARTER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Julie Chen is one of the hosts of "The Talk."

CARTER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And she's going to be on TV today.

GREGORY: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And this, I'm sure, will come up. How awkward. I mean this is going to be -- she has said that she defends her husband. She stands by him 100 percent. But she's going to be at a roundtable with other co-hosts talking about this.

DARCY: Probably going to have to address it. She did immediately release a statement on Friday saying that she supports her husband and that he's a good man and so I imagine you'll see her reiterate that possibly in this roundtable. But it's going to be interesting --

CARTER: And, again, let's see if some women come forward. I mean she's been married to him for 15 years.

GREGORY: Yes.

CARTER: And most of the -- I think everything predates that. But we'll see if somebody comes forward.

If they don't, I do think the situation becomes a little bit more possible for him to survive if there's no one else coming forward.

GREGORY: Yes. Yes. You want to turn -- should we talk about some of the issues at the White House as well?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes, very quickly.

So today is the first -- going to be the first press availability of the president in a week. He's having a joint press conference with the Italian prime minister. You'll remember last week there was all of this attention because CNN's Kaitlan Collins was barred, she said, from attending an open press event. So we can assume that some members of the press, the free press, will be asking about that today and if that edict came from the president where if -- if you ever don't like some of these questions, if you don't like how they ask it, if you're going to start banning members of the free press.

CARTER: Well, it's -- it's really outrageous. And I thought it was interesting the press did sort of ban together on this, which we haven't always seen. But I --

CAMEROTA: But we have seen also sometimes in the past.

CARTER: We have seen -- when Fox was excluded, CNN stepped up.

CAMEROTA: When push comes to shove, we have -- when Fox was excluded, CNN stepped up and ABC stepped up. CARTER: No question. Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: And it's nice to see that brotherhood.

CARTER: It is nice to see that. But we've not seen an administration that's literally -- calling the press the enemy of the people either. This is a -- this is a different ballgame we're in here. And so when he reacted or they reacted this way to Kaitlan for being a professional, doing her job, it was really over the line and outrageous and I think the press has to make a stand about it.

GREGORY: Right.

CAMEROTA: All right, Bill, Oliver, thank you both very much. We'll see what happens today.

Thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: He's destroyed himself as a witness. He talks to the press. He may be taping me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he's such a personal who's not credible, why did you keep him around for 15 years?

[07:00:09] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump launching his most direct attacks on the special counsel.