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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Team From World Central Kitchen Continue To Deliver Meals Across The Bahamas; Trump Relentlessly Defends Claim Dorian Threatened Alabama; US Death Toll From Dorian Now Up To Five; Death Toll In Bahamas Now Up To 30; New Forecast: Forward Speed of Dorian Increasing; Death Toll in Bahamas Now Up to 30; Interview with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis of Bahamas. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired September 5, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We begin with breaking news on Hurricane Dorian, which is hitting that Carolina coast right now, and has done what the prime minister of the Bahamas is calling generational devastation to his country.
I spoke with the prime minister just before the program and he says the death toll is now 30 and that he expects it to rise further. You'll hear that conversation with the prime minister shortly, as well as chef Jose Andres about the state of his food relief effort.
On top of that, there is the president who again and again kept turning to the falsehood he tweeted on Sunday about Alabama being in the storm track. One political reporter last night called the behavior, quote, pathological. And that was before developments all day today.
We begin, though, with the real story about the real storm and what it's doing to people, real people who don't live in the White House. For that, I want to start off with CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray.
Let's talk about the storm, where it is now and what's the latest.
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's about 30 miles south of Cape Fear. And it's continuing to move to the Northeast, still 100 miles per hour with 125 mile per hour gusts. It is moving a little bit faster in this 8:00 advisory, ten miles per hour, that's good news for the people along the North Carolina coast. But it's still going to be a rough night for you.
We are going to get a lot of wind, a lot of rain, and that storm surge is going to be very real across this portion of North Carolina. So we're going to continue to see those impacts across the state, Anderson, as we go through the overnight tonight into tomorrow morning.
COOPER: So, at this point, is it expected to make landfall somewhere? GRAY: That's the million dollar question. We don't know. At this
point, I would say it's probably doubtful. It is going to just skirt the coast off to the North and East and that's really what we're going to see over the overnight hours. We're going to see a lot of wind, we're going to see rain, we're going to get storm surge four to seven feet.
So even though we're not going to necessarily get a landfall per se, we might, but if we don't, even if we don't get a landfall, we are still going to get four to 7 feet of storm surge across North Carolina. We all know how vulnerable the outer banks are with that push of water. One of the most vulnerable places in the world with storm surge.
And so, it's going to be a rough night. This is going to end by midday tomorrow, and then it will be offshore, but it's still going to be a wild night across North Carolina.
COOPER: So, it's headed toward -- what kind of impact, I mean, could it have there? Is storm surge the biggest concern?
GRAY: Yes, storm surge is going to be the biggest concern, especially for these areas right along the coast and even into the outer banks. We are going to see a lot of rain and also the tornado threat is very real with these hurricanes. In fact, we've been seeing it all afternoon. We're going continue to see it through the overnight hours, and especially with the sun down now, it is going to be -- it's definitely going to be rough as far as -- as far as the tornadoes go, especially if you can't see those during the overnight hours, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Jennifer Gray, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
I want to check in now with CNN's Rosa Flores. She is in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
So, what's the situation on the ground there?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, when I started reporting this morning, the winds were coming in from the north. Right now, the winds are coming in from the west, because we're getting the back end of this storm. As you can see the wind gusts are pretty bad right now. Earlier today, the wind gusts were at about 20 to 30 miles an hour, but as the day progressed, the conditions did deteriorate with some of the gusts clocking at about 45 to 55 miles an hour.
And again, we're getting the back end of the storm. These strong wind gusts, of course, cause power outages across the coast. Here in the Horry County, about 10,000 people have been without power.
I got to tell you, I've talked to both city officials and county officials. And for the most part, they do feel, though, that they have dodged the bullet so far here in Horry County and Myrtle Beach because the storm surge did not materialize. That's what they were most afraid of. The storm surge was estimated to be at 5 to 8 feet with -- on top of that, they were expecting high tide, and then on top of that, between 4 to 8 inches of rain.
Now, thank God that that did not materialize because that's why they feel that they really dodged a bullet. The worst damage, they tell me, was most likely from a tornado that spun out earlier this morning. We were out there earlier, Anderson. I can tell you that community did receive some damage. There was some damage to buildings and to vehicles. But overall, the good news was that no one was injured -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Rosa Flores, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Now, as I mentioned at the top of the broadcast, the official death toll in the Bahamas is now 30. The prime minister who you'll hear from our next segment says he expects it to climb higher.
Some of the greatest damage and it's feared, the worst loss of life is on the Abaco Island.
CNN's Paula Newton and her team are just back from there, and filed this report.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is so much worse than they had feared. The Abaco Islands forever scarred now by mass destruction, home after home, entire rooftops blown away, debris scattered in unrecognizable heaps, boats tossed like confetti.
The images belie the obvious question. How could anyone survive this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, OK, OK. You're OK. You're OK. You're going to be OK.
NEWTON: We arrived by helicopter in Man-O-War in Abaco with Billy Aubrey (ph), embracing his wife Shawna after days of not knowing if she was dead or alive. Shawna hunkered down with friends in their sea side home until the roof blew off and they all scrambled to find anything still standing.
(on camera): So, Nancy, this is what kept you alive, this little bathroom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This kept us alive. This is it. Came in and hunkered own. Shawna was on the ground crying. We were just trying --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm hysterical.
NEWTON: What did it sound like in here at the time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was loud.
UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: Well, there was a lot of crashing --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crashing.
UNIDNETIFIED FEMALE: The crashing and banging and whirling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stuff we thought was coming through this wall.
NEWTON: So many in the Abaco Islands lived through hours that resembled a horror movie, exposed to winds that topped 215 miles an hour like tornadoes touching down every minute.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Words can't describe it. I don't wish it on nobody. Nobody -- I can't describe it. They could never categorize this, never. It was like anatomic bomb went off.
NEWTON: Residents here tell me their little island paradise is unrecognizable even to them. They're resourceful and self-reliant, they say, but they could have never imagined a storm as powerful as Dorian.
(on camera): You know, there's no better way to describe to you the force of Hurricane Dorian to be right here where people rode out the storm in their living rooms, in their dining rooms.
I mean, look at this. The roof blew off the house here. The entire kitchen came down. Their refrigerator ended up here on the ground. Their living room and dining room furniture is strewn all over.
People describe these things being tossed around the island like projectiles. They all coward, hovered in their bathrooms, in closets, anything they could find to take shelter.
(voice-over): There are now the beginnings of recovery, but only the basics, medical attention, private helicopters to take out those who are sick, the elderly, young families.
JEREMY SWETING, ISLAND COUNCILOR: I'm sure it will never be the same again. But I mean, the people are strong here. We're going to try to do our best to rebuild the best way we can, but we know it will never be the same.
NEWTON: This was a storm of biblical proportions, Abaconians tell me. And yes, they worry it will take a miracle to recover from it all.
COOPER: Paula, you've been talking to a lot of people there. What have they been telling you? Obviously, for most people, none of them have seen a storm of this magnitude before.
NEWTON: Yes, no, and they've been through so many of them, Anderson. Here's the thing. They're telling me that they're terrified. First traumatized, of course, by the storm. Still trying to take that all in.
But as you just said in the beginning of my piece about the death toll, they're terrified of what they will learn about friends and relatives. That's the key thing, Anderson, so many of them are still looking for missing people and that's why what this government is saying about the death toll and having to prepare the country for that is so terrifying to them to listen to.
The other thing, Anderson, of course, is when they talk about rebuilding, they're wondering if they're going to return to any of these islands. They know the monumental task ahead.
Look at the island I was on Man-O-War. They didn't see any help from government. This is now day five. They know that they need a lot. They're asking a lot, and they need it. And without it, they cannot live on these islands.
Obviously, disease is a huge problem right now as well. They better than anyone else know exactly what they're up against and they're wondering if their government, if the international effort will be up to it.
COOPER: Yes, you know, it's interesting. I just spoke to the prime minister before air and we're going to play that conversation in just a moment. But it certainly seems like -- you know, he talks about a search and rescue team from the U.S. coming in with some 50 people, but I'm not sure that -- it doesn't seem like at this point they really have a full understanding of the scale of this.
It doesn't seem like there have been house to house searches or block by block kind of coordinated searches to try to figure out, you know, an actual death toll.
It just seems like they're still kind of in the planning stages, or the assessment stages.
NEWTON: Absolutely, Anderson. Yes, absolutely, Anderson. And what's so terrifying to these people is anecdotally, they have heard stories from people who say I've lost my brother, I've lost my sister, this person slipped under the water, I
didn't see them, I didn't find them. And yet no confirmation if they're dead or alive.
And again, when you combine that with the fact that, as you said, in so many places, they have not seen the government resources, they have not seen search and rescue, they have not seen aid come in. And they're wondering what's next.
It is an open question that I'm sure the government is grappling with right now trying to figure out how best to organize with it. Remember, the storm hit first thing Sunday morning. Most people tell me they lost their power Saturday night. It is now Thursday night here.
You know, this government has to figure out how it's going to coordinate this. And obviously they're beginning to come to grips with what it's going to take. But, you know, having been through so many storms and, Anderson, I know you covered so many of these unfortunately very tragic events, and it's an open question.
Why would we stay here? When I was on that island for 24 hours, more people came to the realization, we need to get out and we need to get out now. They were looking for boats privately. They were looking for helicopters privately. Anything they can do to get out.
COOPER: The prime minister says the national airline is going to start giving free seats to people who want to leave the islands. Again, remains to be seen the details on all of this. I'll play that interview in just a moment. I appreciate all your reporting. We'll continue to check in with you.
So we'll play the conversation with the prime minister about what could soon be a higher toll and what he calls generational devastation.
Also later, of all the things to lie about and all the ways to lie about it, president Trump again today makes the storm story about himself and the minor blunder that he made, but refuses to acknowledge or even just forget about it and move on from.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: As we mentioned at the top of the program the death toll in the Bahamas now stands at 30. That's what Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told me when I spoke to him just before air time. We talked about that, what the island is going through and what it needs. Here's that conversation.
COOPER: Prime Minister Minnis, the -- the health minister has gone on the radio just recently and said that the public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering. Can you say more about that? What exactly that may mean?
HUBERT MINNIS, PRIME MINISTER OF THE BAHAMAS (via telephone): That death toll I've just spoken to the commissioner of police just one hour ago and our death poll at this present time is 30. I've said repeatedly that we expect that to rise. Just this morning we will have gotten 57 man team from the United States of search and rescue team and we expect the death toll to increase. I've pre-warned the Bahamian populous and the world that we expect that to increase. The island is quite extensive long and it's quite a vast area to cover and with the assistance of the search and rescue team that will accelerate the process in discovering if there are extra bodies. And we anticipate there will be more so we do expect it to increase.
COOPER: So how many search and rescue teams are -- are there?
MINNIS: There is 57-man team.
COOPER: A 57-man team.
MINNIS: That -- that -- (inaudible) arrived. Yes.
COOPER: That's -- that's from the United States.
MINNIS: That's from the United States.
COOPER: Some of -- of -- reporters are talking to people in Nassau who are having trouble, they say, getting clearance from the government to fly into Abaco to rescue people. I'm wondering, you know, at least one person that CNN has spoken to said that they'd been waiting for -- for several days (inaudible) for four days. Is -- what is the process for that?
MINNIS: Well we have introduced some that we have restriction in terms of flying because we wanted to insure that those flights that were dealing with humanitarian aid, that were dealing with evacuation and that -- that were dealing with (inaudible) situation on the ground would have been able to move in and out quite freely as opposed to individuals who were just trying, sightseeing, etcetera.
MINNIS: One has to take into consideration that the air terminal in -- in that part of the area was down and a lot of the flying may have been on visibility and we did not want to take risk of having any midair collision and then subsequently another disaster to deal with.
COOPER: Just in terms of -- I mean, for people right now who are in Abaco who, I think they're the residents there. I think there's about 17,000 and correct me if I'm wrong but for the people who have no home can they get water? Are there distribution points? Can they get food or MRE's --
MINNIS: (inaudible) there are various distribution points. Water and food have been brought in by the Royal Navy, the United States and even Bahamas government itself. What (inaudible) when the executive order for Bahamas Air, our national airline carrier, once the aircraft start a regular route we would increase the flight service to both Abaco and Grand Bahama.
And for the next five days, those individuals who want to come to the capital with family members and we will try to accommodate -- accommodate -- accommodate them with other housing needs. Those individuals will be able to fly to the capital free so the government absorb that charge or that cost over the next five days to try and help and accommodate all those individuals who want to leave to New Providence.
COOPER: You recently spoke to -- to President Trump on -- on the phone. I -- I wonder how that conversation went. What sort of help has he offered? What sort of help would you like the U.S. to -- to -- to offer? MINNIS: It was a very good conversation. I was very surprised he opened the conversation by extending condolence to myself and my family because I just had a brother died, just two days ago and so I was dealing with both my brother and the country. So he expressed condolence and he also expressed condolence to the entire Bahamian populous and that the United States would be available would be there to assist us through out this entire ordeal.
And I must say from day one, United States was in our territory assisting us with all of our needs, had it not been for the United States we would not have been advanced this far in the entire process. And I'm sure that even though our death numbers we expect to increase, the United States now come in quickly, aggressively and assist us with the situation. Death numbers would be even more than what would be the final count.
COOPER: And just finally your message tonight, what is it to -- to those who are on Abaco, to those who are homeless, to those who are trying to find loved ones, to those watching around the world who are trying to get in contact with their loved ones and -- and would like to help. What is your message?
MINNIS: Well, I would like to send out a message especially to those in Abaco, it is my intention to visit Abaco tomorrow. There I will communicate -- try to give some reassurance to those in Abaco. The airline, Bahamas Air will fly those who want to leave (inaudible) free of charge for the next five days. Fly them to the (inaudible).
Fly from both Abaco and Grand Bahama and on Saturday I will fly into Grand Bahama and speak with the Grand Bahamians and the residents there and reassure them that the government will not desert them. We will be there with them throughout -- through thick and thin. After all we are all being and we are one nation (inaudible).
COOPER: Prime Minister Minnis, I know you have a huge job ahead of you. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Thank you.
MINNIS: Thank you very much.
COOPER: We're going to have more on Hurricane Dorian just ahead.
Chef Jose Andres is continuing his mission to feed as many as he can as fast as he can in storm ravaged Bahamas. I'll talk with him and hear the latest on what he's seen and what he's done.
COOPER: The Bahamas is reeling from the destruction brought by Hurricane Dorian. Aid efforts to try to get to survivors as the death toll now at 30 rises.
Chef Jose Andres and his team at World Central Kitchen first efforts on our air Monday. They are still feeding people across the Bahamas. There doesn't seem to be a quick end in sight certainly for their work.
Chef Andres joins me now.
You literally just landed in a helicopter from the Abaco Islands. I know you have teams. Where is the biggest need right now?
JOSE ANDRES, CHEF, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Well, the need is everywhere. Ourselves today, we just reach I think on the north of maybe 509,000 meals only. We deliver to the heliport we have in a hotel, Abaco Beach Resort, right on the edge of the city of Marsh Harbour.
For example, in the hospital was a lot of people two days ago. Today, my team told me that the hospital is down to only 60 people.
The U.S. Coast Guard, they've been doing an amazing job moving people out of the islands. I think their work should be congratulated. I mean, U.S. Coast Guard, they are the best always no matter where.
COOPER: Yes, they always do incredible work.
ANDRES: Yes, sir. And they're the first. And, you know, we've been going to some islands, like for example, Green Turtle Cay, 550 people, very close to Marsh Harbour. When we landed there, we found a community that they were working together thoroughly organized. They have the local volunteer police, local volunteer firemen, and everybody seemed to be working together.
I did the first drop yesterday, 550 sandwiches and 300, 400 pieces of fruit, some water. Today we did another drop. So, I feel good. I feel happy.
But, obviously, they began doing a list of all the things they need. Every community needs so much that if you keep multiplying for every little island, every little neighborhood, the aid that has to arrive in the next days is going to be massive.
COOPER: Yes, I want to ask you about that. It's hard from over here to kind of get a sense of how organized things are at this stage. I just talked to the prime minister and, you know, he said, well, they're assessing stuff. They're going to set up distribution of food and water. It's hard to tell how much is actually, you know, organized and set up and how much is just sort of aspirational at this point.
ANDRES: Well, in these situations, aspiration happens often. But you want to believe that there is a plan. Sometimes -- we saw it today, you are in the airport. This is what we call Odyssey Aviation. Odyssey Aviation, which is very much the private airport, is the one that is handling very much all the (INAUDIBLE)
So, right now, it is very quiet. Six hours ago, it was total chaos. U.S. Coast Guards, U.S. border patrol, a lot of planes, private planes, some of them for leisure, others going to pick up other people.
It's been a very long day in this airport with a lot of people waiting for hours to take off or some people, they have not been able to take off at all. They're going to have to be waiting tomorrow.
So on that level, yes, this is the third day after the hurricane. It's some -- some chaos because of the magnitude. But what I think is going to be happening is that, we have 70,000 people in those two islands, 20,000 in Grand Abaco and 50,000 in Grand Bahamas, is that a lot of people.
Especially, the people with me, is they are going to start moving out. In every with a helicopters, and I think we've done more than 10, 12, 13, 14, trips. We always are taking people with us because everybody is using every opportunity they have to leave the island. Why? Because I do believe the living conditions in that island are going to be very difficult for the next few weeks.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. The prime minister told me tonight that the National Airline, that they're going to start offering just free flights over the next five days from Abaco. I'm not clear how people will find out about that, how that news is being distributed. We'll see exactly what takes place.
Well, let's hope there are some sort of way to get people off because clearly with that kind of devastation, there's no place to stay.
ANDRES: I've not been myself to -- in person to the airport, but my teams, they've been doing it. They told me that today they were going to be going to try to see if they did some feeding in the airport.
What's happening is a lot of people are waiting at the airport, are waiting at the airport, and some of them I heard is sleeping there. Why? Because they are waiting for any plane, any helicopter, any family member that send them something to pick them up.
Today was the first day that I was able to get some cell signal in Abaco in Marsh Harbor. So when you have communications, things overall means that they can be getting better. In Puerto Rico, we didn't have cell signal for sometimes, many weeks.
COOPER: Yes. Chef Andres, Jose Andres, always appreciate it. Thank you so much. And thank you, you and your team, for all you're trying to do and all you're doing.
Coming up next, President Trump continuing to focus not with the storm itself on Twitter, but what people are saying about one of his false statements about it. "Keep Them Honest," ahead.
COOPER: We devoted the entire program so far to covering what's happening in the Bahamas and the US, the rising death toll in the Bahamas, the relief efforts, important facts about what's happening in the Bahamas and what people are facing right now.
We have devoted nearly all our reporting this week, in fact, to the situation in the Bahamas as well as concerns about the east coast of the US. For the next few minutes, we're going to talk about something on the face of it is not important compared to what is going on.
It's a mistake a President made about the storm and its path. It isn't important compared to the loss of life and the devastation that we're seeing. But to the President it is important and that's why we're talking about it.
It's so important the fact that he's focused on it repeatedly all week. The President has produced charts and had White House staff work on statements. There's no way to know exactly how much time he's wasted focusing on this while the storm bears down the US, and while people in the Bahamas are desperate for help.
Now, since the first of September, other than retweeting Hurricane Center updates, he's tweeted directly just twice about the Bahamas. By contrast today alone, he sent five of his own tweets and one retweet about his erroneous claim on Sunday that, "Alabama will most likely be hit much harder than anticipated."
Just minutes later the National Weather Service in Birmingham corrected him saying, "Alabama will not see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama." That was Sunday. Sunday morning.
So that's where you would hope this whole thing would have ended, a totally inconsequential mistake in the face of a potentially killer storm in the US. And a killer storm for a fact in the Bahamas. That tweet was on Sunday.
By then the storm path had shifted so much that anyone watching knew it was not going to hit Alabama "much harder than anticipated" as the President tweeted.
But the President can't stand being wrong. We know this. He can't stand being corrected. So instead of just forgetting about it, he is continually focusing on this and is kept tweeting about how right he was. And yesterday, he went beyond even that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: We thought we'd give you an update on the hurricane. We got lucky in Florida, very, very lucky indeed. We had actually our original chart was that it was going to be hitting Florida directly. Maybe I could just see that, Kevin.
It was going to be hitting directly and that would have affected a lot of other states. But that was the original chart. And you see it was going to hit not only Florida, but Georgia, could have -- was going toward the gulf. That was what we -- what was originally projected. And it took a right turn and ultimately, hopefully we're going to be lucky. It depends what happens with South Carolina and North Carolina. But it's heading up the coast, and Florida was grazed, mostly wind, and we're going to have a report on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that map, he still remember, but he started out saying that this is an update on the storm, but he's talking about, you know, a tweet he sent out on the projection from a week or six days before that event.
So that map he held up is a projection of multiple paths that Dorian might take, a projection from last Thursday. And, yes, someone has used a black sharpie to draw on Alabama as you see right there, an additional projection. Not sure where that came from, who drew it, but we know the President uses a black sharpie.
It's not part of the projected path of the storm and, again, all of this, what you're seeing, that's from Thursday. As you know, hurricane paths are updated every few hours. They change drastically sometimes. By Sunday when the President raised that false alarm about Alabama, the storm track had shifted even farther east, even farther away from the state.
The White House claimed the President was being updated hourly. But he seemed to think on Sunday that Alabama was going to get hit harder than anyone thought. This morning he's still tweeting about that to prove that he was right on Sunday, which he wasn't.
"Alabama was going to be hit or grazed and then Hurricane Dorian took a different path up along the east coast." Yes, it did, took a different path from Thursday to Sunday the paths changed. But on Sunday, the President still thought it was going to hit Alabama.
He continued this evening when he tweeted out four charts that he seemed to think proves his point, except as you can see, not a single one of them refers to hurricane force winds and again, they're from Thursday, not Sunday when he sent his tweet about Alabama. A lot changes in a hurricane as we all know.
Then late today, President Trump personally directed his Homeland Security adviser, a guy who probably has a lot of important things to do for, you know, homeland security, Rear Admiral Peter Brown, to issue a statement. And while it appears intended to back up the President's claim that he was not mistaken on Sunday about Alabama, the wording of it is actually very careful. It refers to the briefing on Sunday at 12:30 when the President said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will say the states and it may get a little piece of a great place called Alabama, and Alabama could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something other than that it could be. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: OK. So very strong winds, he said, in Alabama. This is Saturday, 12:30, or even something more than that, he said. Wow, possible, you know, something more than that.
So today's statement Admiral Brown says and I quote, "The President's comments were based on that morning's Hurricane Dorian, briefing which included the possibility of tropical storm from winds in southeastern Alabama."
You'll notice he says nothing about something more than that, as the President said there, much less that Alabama could as the president tweeted just hours before "be hit much harder than anticipated."
So in addition to that, CNN has also learned that late today the White House called Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts into the Oval Office to argue his case shortly after Roberts did a live shot debunking the President's claims.
So this is how the commander in chief spent a good part of the day with the death toll climbing in the Bahamas, coast guard men and women risking their lives right now in this moment in the Carolinas, in the Bahamas, good people everywhere donating supplies and money and expertise, and so many others wondering how they too can help, what they can do.
The President of the United States spending time making sure no one ever forgets about the one thing in this entire terrible episode that simply doesn't matter. Yes, we are wasting time talking about it, but it's what the President of the United States is wasting his time thinking about and talking about. And that's why we're talking about it, because the President is wasting his time focused on this and talking about it, and having his staff run around and make statements, not to -- doesn't matter to anyone but himself.
I want to get some perspective now. Former Republican National Chief of Staff Mike Shields, he's CNN Senior Political Commentator. With us as well, USA Today Columnist and CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers.
Kirsten, it's very easy to say, look, why isn't anyone reporting on this? This is a media -- why is the focused on this? And I agree with that, but the media is focused on this to the extent that they are -- and again, we spent most of our time focused on the Bahamas and the east coast tonight as all week -- because the President of the United States, the most powerful guy of the world is focused on this, and can't let it go, and, you know, is putting probably or having somebody else put fictional sharpie marks on projection maps. You know, this is crazy.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, I think the problem is that it is news worthy, right? I mean, we have to be careful to not get lulled into this idea that you just look the other way when somebody is behaving in a very troubling way. And this is troubling because there is a crisis going on in this country, which you're very ably covering right now. And he is, instead, seems to be at least as focused on trying to convince people that something happened that didn't happen rather than just admitting he made a mistake.
You know, people make mistakes. And he could have said, you know, I misunderstood in my briefing or I made a mistake. But instead he has turned this into some sort of cause.
COOPER: Well, you know, he could have even just not even addressed it. You know, fine, he'd sent out a tweet that was mistaken, who cares?
But, you know, because you could argue, well, if he did correct it then people would use that against him and maybe, you know, his opponents would. He could have just -- I mean, Mike, let me bring you in here.
You know, obviously, I assume you would, you know, prefer -- well, actually, what do you think about all of this?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the President likes being in a situation where he's in a fight with the media.
COOPER: Well, that's true.
SHIELDS: And I think the media keeps walking into it.
And you and I have talked about this before. I believe in a very strong media. I fear for the status, the way the public views the media right now, I fear for it because our democracy needs it.
And the public ratings on their trust in the media goes down and weeks like this are one of the reasons why. And I know you're saying we're only covering it because the president talks about it. But there's obviously another side to that, which is you keep covering it more and more. I'm not saying you personally, you've done a great job with Jose Andres. That's who we should be talking to about what's going on in the Bahamas.
And yet, we keep going to the media writ large and there's an obsession with it. And I just say that the media is doing themselves such a massive disservice and look so petty the way they cover the president even to the point they're saying it's illegal to do this.
COOPER: Mike, but you're focusing on what the people reporting about what the President of the United States is actually saying and doing, commanding his people on his staff to occupy their times to do to make these charts and come up with statements and get the guy from homeland security to acknowledge, oh, yes, we mentioned strong winds in Alabama on Sunday morning.
I mean, this is what the President of the United States is focusing his time on. You're saying you don't want reporters actually reporting facts about what the President is doing. You want reporters to be focused elsewhere and just ignore what the President of the United States is spending his time doing in his executive time. I mean -- SHIELDS: First of all, I think the President -- I don't think we
should create the perception this is what -- all he's focused his time on. This is the same thing that happened in Puerto Rico.
COOPER: You're right. He normally -- he plays golf a lot on weekends. He has a lot of executive time. He watches a lot of TV. And yes, he does presidential duties as well.
SHIELDS: Yes. I mean, he's getting briefed in the --
POWERS: I mean, look at his Twitter feed, right? I mean, look at his Twitter feed what is he spending -- he sends a disproportionate amount of time on this, and I think --
SHIELDS: I could have a sent a tweet while we're having this interview, and it take almost no time for me to do that. Look, the President of the United States is in a situation room getting briefed on a disaster, and this perception gets created as if he's not engaged on this.
COOPER: Like he's also focused on Deborah Messing.
SHIELDS: You just reported that he talked to the prime minister of the Bahamas and offered help.
COOPER: Yes, right.
COOPER: And when -- this is one of the frustrating things, for instance, for me on coverage with Puerto Rico. No one has been able that I've seen credibly to report that a single request, not one request that the government of Puerto Rico gave to the White House that they weren't granted.
So the President is focused on giving them what they want, and yet that then the coverage turns into things like what he's tweeting and what his map says. And so I understand reporting on it, right? It's a fact. I get that. The press should do that. They need to cover the President and report on it.
But they are becomes what -- the media does themselves a disservice when they seem to become obsessed with a trivial thing like this.
POWERS: It's not an obsession to do --
COOPER: I'm obsessed with fact. I'm obsessed with the -- Go ahead, Kirsten. Sorry.
POWERS: No. I mean, it's not an obsession to do one segment on this, which is what you're doing, right.
COOPER: Right. POWERS: And so, I don't think it's fair to call it an obsession. I think that when the President of the United States is doing something, let's just play the Barack Obama game. If Barack Obama was doing this, I don't think Mike Shields would just be saying, oh, this is no big deal that, you know, he has apparently taken a sharpie out and drawn a circle around something, or that he's repeatedly tweeting about it and we shouldn't care about it.
I mean, it is the President. I agree we shouldn't be obsessed, but covering it is not an obsession.
COOPER: Let's just leave it there because, again, I don't want to spend too much time on it. But I appreciate both perspectives. Mike shields, thank you, Kirsten Powers as well.
Just stay, we're going live for Charleston, South Carolina for a report on the rain and the flooding as Dorian heads up the Carolina Coast.
COOPER: The death count climbing in the Bahamas and here as well. It is now up to five, in addition hundreds of thousands without power in the US cities and streets flood, and President Trump nursing a week long grudge over a single mistake about the path of Dorian as we just talked about.
I want to check with Chris, see what he's working on for "Cuomo Primetime" at the top of the hour. Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: How you doing? We're going to check in now with the Bahamas, Coop. We have Patrick Oppmann has finally reached parts of Grand Bahama that we haven't seen yet. And he says it is really rough.
And we're going to understand why the rescuers are having such a hard time getting to areas like this, why comms are still down, why there are so many are still missing and there are fears of so many more fatalities.
We'll then go up the coast and show where Dorian is in the US and what matters to it. And then, I'm going to do two blocks tonight with Chris Christie. The first one, we're going to lay out what you were just talking about with Shields and Kirsten Powers about the problem this President creates, and fundamental incivility in our dialogue.
And then, we're going to talk about an initiative that Governor Christie and I know a lot of people are going to say, "He's going to talk about civility? He started an initiative to make us more civil in politics with his reputation?" Yes, he does and we'll talk about to him about why he's doing it and what he hopes for.
COOPER: I look forward to that. Chris, thanks very much. That's about six minutes from now, appreciate it. I'll see you then. Still up tonight, our live report from Charleston, South Carolina. Be right back.
COOPER: Late word tonight that the American death toll from Hurricane Dorian has just risen to five, the damage from Dorian also rising with the storm water.
Randi Kaye tonight is in Charleston, South Carolina for us. How is it where you are, Randi?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, more than a hundred streets are closed here in Charleston because of flooding, including this one. Some of the water has receded since we got out here tonight.
But if you take a look, it is still pretty deep. I mean, depending on where you are on the street, you could see it's up to my shins there. And if you look back here, behind me, that's the sidewalk. The sidewalk is still flooded. It was up quite a bit on those palm trees and even on the fire hydrants. That's gone down a little bit.
But this entire street is flooded here. Take a look. This whole neighborhood, in some cases, the water is up to the first step in some of these homes. Normally, this would just go down the grate in the streets, but what happen is when they get so much rain so fast, it just gets blocked, just has nowhere to go.
And, of course, Anderson, Charleston as you know is a flat city and it's very, very hard to drain a flat city. It's nearly or barely really above sea level. And, of course, the water just has nowhere to go in a city like this, Anderson.
COOPER: So, I mean, what do they do with it? What are -- how do they get rid of it?
KAYE: Well, in some cases they can wait. Just like the high tide brought it in, the low tide will pull it out, and it will just go right back out to the Ashley River, which is right near here certainly for this neighborhood.
But we caught up with some crews today who were manually getting rid of the water. They open a man hole. They put down a giant hose and they actually pump it out, physically out of -- underneath a neighborhood, underneath the streets and they send it back to the Ashley River, whatever water body is nearby.
But, you know, in some cases, we saw neighbors trying to use a rake to try and pull the leaves out of the drain system and trying to do it on their own, Anderson. So it's a real challenge here in the city like this.
COOPER: The houses in that neighborhood that you're in are just beautiful, such great city. We wish them the best there, Randi. Thank you very much.
The news continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Primetime." Chris?