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President Trump Is The Disrupter-In-Chief; Moore Wins Alabama GOP Senate Runoff Race; NFL Player Speaks Out. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired September 26, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: To disrespect the national anthem and the flag --
NAVARRO: And you don't think he disrespects the presidency by going out to a rally in Alabama and saying "son of a bitch" you think those words by the President of the United States?
MOORE: I don't think he should have used those words.
NAVARRO: And I hope the people of Puerto Rico take a knee, maybe then he'll take notice. Better yet, maybe they should go march with tiki torches and he'll call them fine people.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Let me ask just stop you right there, it is top of the hour, let me just acknowledge. Let me say this. If he had not done that, and to Ana's point, don't you think we would be reporting more on the immediate need for the people who are in the affected areas like our fellow --
MOORE: You are the media. You and the executive producers here, this is my whole problem, actually, with a lot of the coverage of what Donald Trump does, whether it is Charlottesville or other things, you blow these things so out of proportion, cover them nonstop, and not cover the stories that really do matter like what's happening in Puerto Rico. You're exactly right, Ana, what's happening there is a tragedy of unimaginable consequences.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: This is an argument that we hear time and again about whether or not we should cover what the President says and how much attention we should devote to it, when the President is mostly tweeting and making most of his public statements about the NFL, about that controversy. Ultimately we have to cover it. Ultimately it's our responsibility to focus on an issue that he is bringing attention to regardless of how it is while still paying attention to the other important things.
MOORE: OK. I agree with that.
DIAMOND: The question ultimately is one of timing. And the question is, why the President choose to do this now at a time when he is dealing with --
NAVARRO: I'll tell you what.
DIAMOND: -- a natural disaster --
NAVARRO: Because of the financial crisis in Puerto Rico, way before this hurricane. Hundreds of thousands Puerto Ricans had already left the island. Guess what? When they come here from the island, they come here and they vote Democrat. They're going to come to Florida. You know what Florida is? A purple state. If for no other reason he should care what the political consequences are going to be.
MOORE: He is going to Puerto Rico, Ana.
NAVARRO: After he is gotten all this criticism, Steve, after he is been tweeting for days about the NFL, after these people are had been dying in the more perilous of conditions.
LEMON: I have to say that, if you're going to talk about the appropriateness of taking a knee, it is also fair to criticize the people who took a knee, it is also fair to criticize the appropriateness of his tweets and what he is focused on. It's all fair.
MOORE: I don't like when he uses bad language, I agree on that. That is what makes this a very different President than we've had in the past. I don't think it's going to stop.
LEMON: That was quiet. I appreciate it. This is "CNN tonight." I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for watching. It's a little past 11:00 p.m. right here on east coast. We've got breaking news on big stories, including why President Trump suddenly headed to Puerto Rico nearly a week after hurricane Maria slammed the island, and denying he is distracted by his ongoing feud with the NFL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I wasn't preoccupied with the NFL. I was ashamed of what was taking place, because to me that was a very important moment. I don't think you can disrespect our country, our flag, and our national anthem. To me the NFL situation is a very important situation. I've heard that before, about was I preoccupied. Not at all. Not at all. I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work. The massive effort is under way. And we have been really treated very, very nicely by the governor and by everybody else. They know how hard we're working and what a good job we're doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: We're going to get to all of that tonight. First I want to talk about the disrupter in chief, I'm talking about President Trump, the man who is supposed to be helping people coming together but who has been doing exactly the opposite, patting himself on the back over the last couple of days for the reaction to his comments and tweets, about the actions of black athletes and protesting racial injustice, turning the principle protest into a culture war. It played out in big cities and national television and even across the Atlantic, in London. It played out in small towns, like Cecil Township, Pennsylvania, where according to our affiliate KDKA, a volunteer fire chief was so angry at Pittsburg Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin and the teams protest on Sunday that he posted on Facebook, "Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good niggers." Yes I said it. That was his quote. That volunteer fire chief apologized, expressing embarrassment for his post but he is out of a job tonight. If our leader of our country promoted empathy perhaps that firefighter would still have his job. Perhaps Colin Kaepernick would do. I want to remind everybody tonight that the reason for taking a knee during the anthem is to bring attention to racial inequality. It is not about what the President would like you to believe, disrespecting the flag or our veterans.
[23:05:01] Mr. President, we all love and have great affection for our wounded veterans. We want the best for them, few research shows 40 percent of our active military members are racial and ethnic minorities and you better believe they have a vested interest in racial justice.
Mr. President, don't you think they deserve better than to be used to reinforce a false narrative? Joining me now, CNN Political Commentator Marc Lamont Hill, Republican strategist Joseph Pinion and talk radio host John Fredericks a former chair of the Trump campaign in Virginia and CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. Boy, we have a lot to get to. But first we're going to start with Roy Moore. John, you are at Roy Moore headquarters for the election. Describe what is going on.
JOHN FREDERICKS, HOST, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO: I'll tell you, Don, what a night it is here in Alabama for Judge Roy Moore. He was outspent by such a large margin. But I tell you what, Don, this is the night the lights went out on Park Avenue. This is the night, September 26th that the movement that President Trump ignited and started has now transcended its leader. Remember, when Donald Trump, the candidate, said look, I can shoot somebody on Park Avenue and my base would still be with me. Roy Moore proved that tonight to be a complete falsehood and a myth. Donald Trump goes to bed tonight thinking when he got up, he manages his base. President Trump gets up tomorrow realizing his base now manages him. The swamp in Washington, Don, they put $35 million in a primary race to beat another conservative Republican. Either of these candidates are going to win in December.
LEMON: Let's let the other panelists get in. Marc, you disagree with that.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I hate to be in the position of defending Donald Trump. Donald Trump's point was he was so popular and he was secure in his base that he can do whatever he wants and they will still support him. He is still immensely popular in Alabama. The truth is his popularity simply isn't transferable. Honestly, in some way it's the hate that hate produced. Donald Trump played to the cheap seats for the last year and a half, he helped stoke these fires of violence and racism and sexism and homophobia and it turned out Roy Moore was more Trump than Trump. That is why he was able to beat Luther Strange. It shows he doesn't have the kind of political strength to transfer to other people.
LEMON: Joseph, you're a Republican strategic. Did Donald Trump back the wrong guy?
JOSEPH PINION, CHAIR, CONSERVATIVE COLOR COALITION: I don't think that Donald Trump backed the wrong guy. I think Donald Trump set up his own candidate for failure. I think when you have an actual member of the senate who is literally having a special election on the heels of congress, for the second time, not being able to get anything done with health care, I think it was almost preordained that this individual was not going to have a chance to win. I think to Marc's point, I don't necessarily believe that this is a reflection on Donald Trump. I think you see the same thing with Barack Obama, that the star power of the presidency doesn't necessarily -- isn't always transferable to people who would be his surrogates. In this case, the candidate he endorsed was the least like him.
LEMON: OK. Christine, I want to talk about the NFL. You have been with me here since the start of this on Friday night, remember. Explain why today you wrote, quote, congratulations, Mr. President, you've created hundreds of Colin Kaepernick.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: I think the best way to describe it is the visual of Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, kneeling with the other cowboys right before the anthem, last night, Monday night football. Who would have thought 72 hours after Trump went on his tirade in Alabama, supposed to be a political speech, turns out he just went off on one of his venomous tangents, especially the one about Kaepernick and the son of a blank, who would have thought 72 hours later you would have Jerry Jones, one of Trump's people, one of his supporters actually taking a knee. And that is the point I was making. Instead of having this go away, Trump, with what he did on Friday, has just basically energized not only the National Football League and some of the NBA players and the owners as well, but also literally the one thing that bothered everybody was taking a knee, and now you've had hundreds of people taking a knee, in other words now hundreds of Colin Kaepernick.
LEMON: I want to hear from you, John Fredericks, what do you think about that?
FREDERICKS: I just want to watch football, Don. I want to know how my Titans are going to stop somebody from throwing the football. What Donald Trump said, a lot of people have been saying that at their kitchen table, Don? This is really what the people in Washington and the bubble and the commentators and the legacy media, they don't understand, you see a football game, you grew up standing up for the National Anthem, putting your hand over the heart, taking off your what. That is part of America. That is what we do.
[22:10:20] We have young men and women dying for these players right now in Afghanistan, getting their arms and legs blown off. And all we're saying is, look, we grew up in a culture that says you stand up and respect the flag and respect the country that is given you so much. If these guys want to protest, they've got millions of dollars, they can buy thousands of ads. They can go out on the street and do huge rallies. Why do they have to protest on TV and disrespect our troops, disrespect our flag.
FREDERICKS: Disrespect America and disrespect the fair --
LEMON: Go ahead, Marc.
FREDERICKS: Who just wants to see a football game just like me.
LAMONT HILL: One of the extraordinary privileges of whiteness is to be able to just talk about a football game, without the political consequences to act as if it's just a football game with no politics attached to it. It's simply dishonest. Every time we celebrate soldiers at a football game. Every time we talk about the war, every time we salute the flag. Every time we sing the National Anthem that is a particular type of politics. It's just one you happen to endorse. There are other people like Colin Kaepernick and myself who have a different point of view and they want to articulate that as well. Also I don't accept the premise of your argument which is that to kneel is to disrespect the flag or to disrespect soldiers. I also don't accept that just because something is a cultural practice doesn't mean it always has to be a cultural practice. There are many cultural practices in this nation that have been racist, homophobic, and sexist. Just because we do something doesn't mean we have to keep doing it. Colin Kaepernick is attempting to do is put a spotlight on it. Yes, he can do it outside, he can do it at a rally, and he has. We're sitting on the Pettis Bridge not because that is the only way to protest. It's because that is how you get America's attention. We have sit-ins and Marches and rallies because that is how you get America's attention. And Colin Kaepernick certainly has America's attention. It's important for us to have America's attention because one thing that is never popular, football is always popular. Racial justice is never popular.
LEMON: Christine, what can we look forward to this weekend? More protests?
BRENNAN: I do. We talked about the number of tweets versus Puerto Rico and what he is been focused on. Just this morning he had eight tweets, Don, and four of them were about the NFL, including an erroneous tweet about the ratings being down when in fact the Monday night football ratings were the second highest ESPN has had in two years. My sense is if he keeps going on this, if he keeps trying to gin this up, I think we'll see the players once again reacting as they did over the weekend, this coming weekend. I absolutely don't see this story going away.
LEMON: I have to go. We've spent a little bit more time in the last show than we wanted to.
FREDERICKS: Trump is going to win again, Don. He is going to win again. LEMON: When we come back, one NFL player who talked to his fellow
players and fans across the league, he'll tell me what he thinks of the President's criticism.
[23:16:19] LEMON: Breaking news on President Trump's feud with the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens' official national anthem singer Joey Odoms announcing he is resigning, he says he is making an ethical decision as a results of actions on what he class a large number of fans who made him feel he doesn't belong there. Odoms served in Afghanistan with the Maryland army national guard and met the ravens coach there.
Now I want to bring in Baltimore Ravens' Benjamin Watson, Ben, so good to have you on, thank you. How are you doing?
BENJAMIN WATSON, PLAYER, BALTIMORE RAVENS: Good, how are you doing? Good to hear from you.
LEMON: We're talking about the NFL. The President reportedly told guests at a dinner Party, quote, it really caught on. I said what millions of Americans were thinking. As you talk to players and fans across the league, Ben, is that what you're hearing?
WATSON: Well, I think the President definitely tapped into a large part of the American people, obviously. He won the presidency, so obviously a lot of people like the things he has to say. In our locker rooms, however, we've had some great conversations. Ever since what happened last Friday, you saw the protests on that Sunday. We were over in London. We didn't get the news until Saturday about what he said about players kneeling. But even today, in our locker rooms, it has opened up conversations between black players and white players, older players and younger players. It's really kind of turning into I think a positive thing within the locker room for us.
LEMON: You think it's helping at least the players. What about the larger culture outside of the locker room and the NFL?
WATSON: I still see on social media a lot of hate, a lot of anger, a lot of deep seated emotions, and a lot of time back and forth. One thing about social media, and we ought to be careful when we get on social media, because all we get are little snippets of what people think. They're able to hide behind cellphones and computers and say things that are very hurtful. I don't see a lot of empathy, compromise, I don't see a lot of kindness. And that is discouraging for me.
LEMON: Your team, the Ravens, were in a unique situation, because you were in London. How did being in a foreign country impact the team's decision?
WATSON: Well, I think for us, we were five hours ahead. And so we didn't get the news about President Trump's comments until Saturday. I think that made it very difficult for a lot of us when guys were deciding what to do, whether to kneel, whether to stand, whether to lock arms, which is what a lot of us did. Some of us, maybe about a fourth of the team, took a knee. We are in support, I'm in support of a player's exercising their rights. Of a player expressing themselves however they want to. It's been said at the very beginning the reason for guys taking a knee in the very beginning was about a concern for police brutality, about oppression. Whether you agree or not that that is actually happening, that is what the protests were for in the first place. Now, the second wave of protests we saw this weekend were in a direct response to President Trump's comments. I struggled with his comments as well, because as an athlete, as a father, as a husband, and as a black man, it harkened to "be quiet, shut up, play, or your fired." and that was tough. And I think the tears that were shed by many of my teammates were very real.
LEMON: Let me I play the President, what he said today, and I'll get your response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was ashamed of what was taking place, because to me that was a very important moment. I don't think you can disrespect our country, our flag, and our national anthem. Many people have died, many, many people. Many people are so horribly. I was at Walter Reed hospital recently, and I saw so many great young people. And they're missing legs and they're missing arms and they're so badly injured. They were fighting for their country. They were fighting for our flag. They were fighting for our national anthem. For people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem I think is disgraceful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[23:20:35] LEMON: Do you think and you just said in your previous response that it wasn't about veterans or the military or about the flag, this is about police brutality and social injustice. Do you think that he understood, he understands? Do you think he is trying to change the message, what the meaning is?
WATSON: I'm not sure what he understands or doesn't understand. I do know, however, that whether we stand or kneel, we have to I would say have empathy for those who feel this is offensive. That is a very real feeling. People have veterans in their family. For whatever reason they may feel this is an affront to them, an affront to the flag, and an affront to our country. That is a real feeling that we have to acknowledge whether you take a knee or not. On the flip side, you have to listen to the reason why guys are saying they're taking a knee. It's very important to listen, to not change that narrative. I think that there are diversion techniques. I think there are ways to deflect from an issue that may be uncomfortable for some people to talk about. I think that is part of what the President may be doing. He may be playing to a certain narrative and sometimes creating his own. But I think that on both sides, it's important to understand the other.
LEMON: Do you know what your team is going to do this weekend, Ben?
WATSON: I don't know what the team, what we're going to do. We've started talking about that. I think that every team is going to be different, obviously. I never it's important that guys are able to, again, express themselves, are able to articulate the reasons why they're standing, the reason why they're kneeling. The goal -- I will say this. The goal for every American, and every football player that I've talked to, is to stand for the national anthem. Even guys on our team who took a knee. They want to stand. This is the country that we know. This is the country that we love. While it may not be perfect, while as blacks we live in a duality of struggling with many of the things that happen in this country but also being very proud of it at the same time, we want to stand. I think the goal is for every American to want to stand, if and when they can. It's important to support their decision to take a knee.
LEMON: Benjamin Watson, thank you, sir.
WATSON: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: When we come back, the former professional tennis player who was tackled and falsely arrested by the New York police officer. We'll ask him on what he thinks on NFL players protesting during the National Anthem.
[23:26:25] LEMON: President Trump shows no signs of quitting his feud with the NFL over players taking the knee during the national anthem. Their protest against racial inequality and police brutality. I want to bring in an athlete with his own perspective, on all of this. Joining me now James Blake, he is a retired tennis star who was slammed to the ground and wrongfully arrested by a New York City police officer two years ago. Kind of really the reason why these players are doing what they do on the field. James Blake, thanks for joining us, how are you doing?
JAMES BLAKE, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: Good, thanks, thanks for having me.
LEMON: President Trump's comments last week attacking Colin Kaepernick and calling on NFL owners to fire anyone who kneels during the anthem drew widespread criticism from all over the sports world. What did you think of the demonstrations that happened over the weekend?
BLAKE: I thought the demonstrations were impressive, because they showed a unity. I think they somewhat muddy the message of what Colin Kaepernick was protesting, though, because their protests seemed to be directly against Donald Trump, who Trump clearly is pushing the narrative of stick to sports, shut up and play, kind of the new ungrateful athlete, which to me seems like, you know, the uppity of years past, that these people should just be happy with what they've been given and they throw out the fact that they're millionaires and they've gotten so much and they should be happy with that and stick to sports. I think the stick to sports narrative, especially now that we have a celebrity in the White House, I think the unity was great, but I think in my opinion, I don't want the original message to get lost, the fight against police brutality and for racial equality. That is what Colin Kaepernick initially did. And that to me is still very important and still a huge issue in this country.
LEMON: There's a long history of athletes getting involved in social and political issues, Mohammed Ali, Jon Kahn Carlos in the 1968 Olympics. Are you surprised by the negative reaction that Colin Kaepernick protest received?
BLAKE: It's tough to get surprised anymore, when you see the news every day and see how much divisiveness and hatred is out there, you put something on social media and immediately get hate coming back at you. It's not as surprising anymore. For Colin Kaepernick, I think he really knew what he was getting into. I think he knew the sacrifice he was making. I haven't had a chance to speak to him. I do believe he was willing to make the sacrifice. Realistically, he sacrificed 15, 20, upwards of $30 million, if he never plays in the NFL again. He is doing what he can and putting his money where his mouth is. He is giving back to communities, starting, you know your rights campaign, hopefully making a difference beyond the field. I do think there's a great history of athletes having a great effect on society. In years to come we'll look back and hopefully say this is a turning pointing and making a difference in uniting the NFL and for racial equality?
LEMON: I think people will say the same thing about you, what happened to you in New York City and how you handled it, wanting to make positive changes to the police department and not suing them for a ton of money. You don't play professionally anymore, but I have to ask you, would you consider kneeling during the anthem now?
BLAKE: I've been asked that question, it's a really good one. It's difficult for me to say because I was so focused on tennis during my career, I don't know. I don't want to give an unfair answer. I would like to think I would. But I don't know if I would be as educated as I am now about the issues at stake and about how important it is to our country, because I was so focused on tennis. I think in these days, how important politics has become, and how divisive it's become, I think I would have become more educated. And if that is the case, if I knew as much as I know now, I definitely would have stood with Colin Kaepernick and taken a stand against police brutality, against, you know, the racial inequality that is going on in our country. So I would make a stand. I think it would be unfair, and I don't know if I would do it if I was wearing the Davis Cup uniform.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: But James, I think it's really important for people who doesn't understand this issue, who may not be aware, and that is what I said in my opening monologue, this is a time when the President, it's an opportunity for him to have people evolve on this issue. Because you don't know what you don't know. And you didn't know until the very exact thing that Colin Kaepernick is trying to draw attention to happened to you. You still didn't -- you're not sure if you would have stood, right?
BLAKE: Yeah. And you have unluckily and luckily evolved in my thinking. I realized how serious this issue is, how vulnerable I felt when I was attacked, how often this happens to so many others and how little voice they have. I'm someone who has a public platform, has the ability to come here on this show and speak about my issues. But most people don't. And most people, its two years since this has happened and there's been no justice for the officer given at this point. I think most people wouldn't have the resources to fight the way I did, the flexibility to fight the way I did, or the public platform, or really even to find out who did this to them. I want to fight for those people that don't have that voice. I want to make a difference in that way. Yes, I wrote about it in my book, the fact that some people become accidental activists. I wasn't looking to become an activist when I was thrown to the ground two years ago. It happened, it was thrown in my face and I don't want this to ever happen to any of my loved ones or anyone I ever cared about.
LEMON: You touched on it, but the disciplinary trial for the NYPD officer who tackled and arrested you concluded today. What happened?
BLAKE: Interestingly enough, I'm not legally, you know, obligated to know what happens. The deputy commissioner Maldonado can make her findings known in a month that will go to the CCRB the civilian complaint review board and the officer. They don't have to let me know because of rule 58 which is awful for transparency, it doesn't need to be made public. Then it goes to Commissioner O'Neill, and he can make his -- he makes the final decision. He can take her recommendation or he can go any different way with it, from no punishment to completely firing. That is what I'm calling for. Because this is his sixth complaint, five within seven months, all from African-American men. This to me is a pattern. In my opinion you can stop this pattern one way, by firing him and not letting him have a badge and a gun anymore. Or if you embolden him with a slap on the wrist, this can end tragically. I don't want to deal with another grieving family, especially if I can do anything about it. That is why I'm steadfast in my belief this officer should be fired.
LEMON: James Blake, thank you. Regards to your family. I appreciate it.
BLAKE: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, we'll break down President Trump's attacks against the NFL word by word and get the message behind those attacks.
[23:37:14] LEMON: President Trump doubling down today on his criticism of NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, saying he is ashamed of them, calling their actions disrespectful and disgraceful. Joining me now is John McWhorter, professor of linguistics on Columbia University, the author of "Words on the move." John, good to see you. When he talks about disrespectful and he brings up the Walter reed soldiers almost like a verbal prop, is he trying to change the meaning of what the protests are about? Why is he doing that?
JOHN MCWHORTER, PROFESSOR, LINGUISTICS ON COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Don, I always say we have to be careful when we talk about deliberateness with Trump. Because he is a very, shall we say, visceral and immediate thinker. I find it hard to think of him as cynical because that implies he is clever, which he is not. We're dealing with a different kind of animal. But what strikes me is this idea that it's your country and a kind of a red meat hot dog patriotism above all, there's nothing else to say sort of thing, where people say, all I know is, and you're supposed to bow down. What that is a very reflexive kind of thinking which implies that beyond a certain point, there are no questions to be asked. So he'll talk about things like the soldiers. He'll use words like veteran. And if you ask me, it's primitive, it's reflexive. It has an almost 1940's kind of air about it that reminds me, oddly enough, and I'm not one of these people who is going to call Trump a fascist, because once again, that requires a certain kind of thinking and deliberateness that I don't see in him, but this reminds me of Nazis. It's like Nazis talking about loyalty to the state, or talk about our problem right now with North Korea, what does the first letter in his middle name stand for? I genuinely don't know, but it seems this week that it would be for Jon. He is act like Kim Jong-un. You have to be loyal to the state and there is no question and if that is not what you do then you will suffer a penalty. He is primitive.
LEMON: He says the NFL comments are not about race. But 70 percent of African-American -- 70 percent of players in the league are African-American. I want to play this clips and then I want to get your view on his language.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You had some very bad people in the group. You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me. Excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he is fired. He is fired!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[23:40:20] LEMON: So he calls white supremacists very fine people and he calls the NFL players, the black athletes sons of bitches. Dissect those words for me.
MCWHORTER: Very simple. He is genuine in expressing his feelings about aforesaid sons of bitches. It's visceral, he really feels it. He yells fired. And he grunts "fired" as if something arose within him. He means it. Whereas he had to be backed against a wall practically at gunpoint to say something about the raving bigots in Charlottesville and when he said it, he read it from a teleprompter. I would say he didn't mean it, but I would be told, how do I know? Let's try this, he certainly wasn't as passionate about it. Yes, there is a racial angle. If somebody protests taking down a statue of somebody who fought to keep yours and my ancestors enslaved --
LEMON: He says it's the flag not to skills disrespect.
MCWHORTER: He says, there are some bad apples and please leave me alone. But if somebody kneels in protest of police brutality while somebody is playing a very difficult to sing and play song, our national anthem, suddenly they are sons of bitches. And this is a President saying this in front of the nation, not just over a cigar in the oval office when he doesn't know anybody's going to be listening to the tapes. So as you know, Don, I am not crazy about walking around calling every second person in the world a racist. But in this case let's call at it intersectionality. Race definitely plays a part.
LEMON: OK. Let's talk about his tweet now. He is clearly watching the football coverage. He is tweeted different responses. Quote, great solidarity for our national anthem and for our country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings. What's he doing, co-opting the message of the protests?
MCWHORTER: He thinks that it's OK to think about the people who support him in his view. What is that about is that, there are things that are natural, that are the way things tend to poll, where it's the job of somebody in moral authority to teach us to move away from it with our frontal cortex as much as we can. He understands moving away from the natural when it comes to, for example, his hair. What is that yellow hair? The idea is to work against what is natural. But when it comes to something like -- yes, there are people around the country who are being Andrew Dice clays and saying, yeah, he is right, that is right, you're supposed to be support the flag, yeah. There are plenty of people like that. Probably half the country. But frankly, that is a half of the country that could be instructed into a slightly more sophisticated view of what patriotism is, when you love something, sometimes you scold it. Don't most of us who are raising children, which is most human beings, understand that? That is something that can be difficult to understand at first. All of us tear up a little bit at the anthem but a country can be imperfect. He is supposed to lead us in that and he doesn't.
LEMON: Last night, the cowboys tried to bridge the -- they tried to walk a very fine line, they tried to bridge this gap and took a knee before the national anthem, before standing for the national anthem. The President tweeted this, he said the booing at the NFL football game last night when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knee was the loudest I ever heard, great anger. Why is he claiming some victory for that?
MCWHORTER: He is going to listen for that victory because of course there are people who are going to agree with him. Because most people aren't President. They're not supposed to be our moral leaders. But because he is a narcissist, because basically the country is being run by somebody who is 7, it's more important whether he is proven right rather than whether or not we can analyze what's going on and look for what's more complex. Honestly, the relationship between black men and the cops is the main thing that keeps us from getting past race in this country. It's not about reparations. It's not about cultural appropriation. It's about the cops. Opinions vary on this issue. It is frustratingly complex. But if this is all that our President has on it, then we're really in trouble.
[23:45:00] LEMON: This is an opinion piece from a gentleman in "the Washington Post." "Stop and consider, this is a sobering historical moment. America has a racial demagogue as President. We play hail to this chief. We stand if he enters the room. We continue to honor an office he so often dishonors. It is appropriate but increasingly difficult." His words and actions diminishing the presidency, do you think?
MCWHORTER: Oh, very much.
LEMON: Do you agreed with Gerson?
MCWHORTER: I wouldn't put it in such colorful language. Partly because, once again, racial demagogue implies more active, deliberate thought than I see in a President who never surprises me and whose actions are always based on the lowest common denominator, on the instincts of an alligator in the guise of a human. There I am using colorful language. Yes, we are being supervised by a person who is about as advanced on race as a less professorial Woodrow Wilson. It's tragic. I hope that we only have another three years of it.
LEMON: John McWhorter, thank you. Next time say how you really feel.
LEMON: It's been nearly a week since hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico. The mayor of San Juan calling the situation on the island a humanitarian crisis. Power is out, supplies of food, water, fuel, and medicine are dwindling. CNN's Bill Weir has more from Puerto Rico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the most dependable utility in Puerto Rico these days. A pipe tapped into a mountain spring is the watering hole for a community of over 30,000.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a natural spring. It's always here.
WEIR: Are you boiling it or you drink it straight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can drink it straight, this is cleaner than the water you get from the department of water resources.
WEIR: OK, that is good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is cleaner than that.
WEIR: How is everything else in life? Do you have enough food, power?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awful. There's people that have a shortage of food. The National Guard is just standing there, doing nothing. No electricity. No water for the city. It's going to take about six, seven months for anything to happen here.
WEIR: While safe from coastal storm surges, Maria brought hellish mudslide in towns like this. Cutting of families for days and forcing desperate decision making. Do you burn precious fuel searching for supplies? Or stay put and wait for help? Lydia has two cars with no gas, two grandkids to keep alive on a ration of crackers. With no way to reach the highway pipe, they drink rainwater.
[23:50:06] No water, no food she tells me. It's nobody's fault. It's the weather. You have to go on. What worries me the most is my family doesn't know how we're doing, she says. We don't have cellphone connection. On a scale of one to ten, ten being horrible desperate, where are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight.
WEIR: You're on eight? Eight is getting better the mayor tells me, if the gasoline arrives it will fix our problems, because people are starting to get desperate. Gas is more precious than water up here. National Guard vehicles can't move. Worthless ambulance sitting at idle, the hospital has one days left of generator fuel left and one volunteer doctor because the rest of the staff has no way to get to work. There's people stressed out, crying, folks with dialysis, patients with cancer, bedridden patients who needs ventilators.
The fuel shortage is even more evident in San Juan, where lines are miles long. They opened this particular service station at 6:00 in the morning. They run out of gas by 3:00 p.m. So some people at the end of the line may not get the fuel they need. The folks here are telling me that a local ring of gangsters, drug dealers actually commandeered the gas station, took over two lanes just so their guys could get the fuel. How would you describe the level of desperation?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The highest level. Not only here but in the center of the island it's very, very bad. And they are suffering. Everybody's suffering. And let's see how we can work it out and begin again.
WEIR: You're putting a brave smile on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will always do that, of course.
WEIR: Someday after the most primal needs are met, parents will have to figure out how to send their kids back to school, and at Westwood academy this is what awaits. So much to rebuild and so many now considering leaving this island for good. What message do you have for folks back on the mainland?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be calm. Because like I said this week if we don't see anything getting better, I'm going to have to leave the island. I've been here already 20 years, and I'm going to have to leave the island. I don't have any other choice.
WEIR: Bill Weir, CNN, Puerto Rico.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to bring in Congressman Nydia Velasquez, a New York Democrat who has chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Congressman thank you so much for coming in, talking about this important story. We're going to put on two satellite images on- screen, before and after images of Puerto Rico. You can see almost the complete lack of power throughout the island. What do the people of Puerto Rico need the most right now do you think?
REP NYDIA VELASQUEZ, (D) NEW YORK: Definitely to restore the infrastructure because it basically collapsed. Electricity, the power grid is so crucial so that hospitals in Puerto Rico could be able to open to provide the services. Because these are life and death issues related to the power grid. And people are -- they don't have access to water, food, and medicine. Basic, basic things that could have an impact on the elderly and the children. So we are concerned. And right now some of the many information that I'm getting from friends in Puerto Rico is that they are in the brink of a human crisis. If not, they are already facing a human crisis.
LEMON: Let's talk about what's happening. Because a FEMA Director Brock Long spoke about federal aid being delivered. Here he is and then we'll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: We have 16 ships currently operating that we haven't talked about. That is a combination of U.S. Coast guard and our DOD partners. We have ten ships North Korea over the next 48 continuing to bring generators, emergency power as well as more additional food and water that is coming in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He said they're doing all they can do. But if more people don't get help soon, you fear more will die?
VELASQUEZ: Don, six days later after Maria hit and now they are sending 16 ships. Of course we welcome it. But the whole world knew that there was a category 4 hurricane that was about to hit Puerto Rico. We didn't have a plan in place in terms of having the kind of response that was needed given the nature of the devastation that was expected to be caused by such a disaster, a natural disaster.
[23:55:30] LEMON: Why did you say today this could be President Trump's Katrina, congresswoman?
VELASQUEZ: Because the help that is needed is not there. Believe me there's so much devastation. There are isolated remote areas where we have seniors, elderly people, people that are trapped in buildings, 24 and 21-story buildings. And these seniors, it's very difficult to reach them. So that is today I believe if not late yesterday two more people died while they went to a hospital to seek services.
LEMON: So why do you think it wasn't handled better? Why do you think it wasn't managed better?
VELASQUEZ: Well, I was frustrated watching the news throughout the weekend. There was too much attention given to all these things that didn't have to like the athletes and tweeting out --
LEMON: Football and NFL.
VELASQUEZ: Yes. So while there was a -- a quest, a plight by the people of Puerto Rico and all of us throughout the United States, so many people and reporters talking about the dire need of the Puerto Rican people. And today is when we hear that FEMA is sending or the Navy is sending 16 ships. That is the type of response that needed to take place six days ago and not six days later.
LEMON: Well, congresswoman, we appreciate your time. Let's hope Puerto Rico gets the help it needs and the people there. And we appreciate you so much. Thank you.
VELASQUEZ: By the way, if I could mention today I'm sending a letter to the President with 100 signs of my colleagues asking for the appointment of a top senior military person to oversee operations plus to station the aircraft Abraham Lincoln. We did it for Miami. We should do it for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
LEMON: Thank you, congresswoman.
VELASQUEZ: Thank you.
LEMON: That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.