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Cases Of Delta Variant Surge In Areas Of Low Vaccination Rates As Right-Wing Media Spreads Anti-Vaccine Rhetoric; ESPN Removes Reporter From NBA Finals After Leaked Audio; Tokyo Olympics Banning Spectators Amid Rising COVID Cases; "Washington Post:" U.S. Swimmer Michael Andrew Will Remain Unvaccinated For Olympic Games In Tokyo; Residents Get 15 Minutes To Grab Essentials From Evicted Building; 300-Million-Plus Under Alert With Temps Up To 130 Degrees. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 10, 2021 - 17:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are alive in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington this weekend.

America's most prominent conservatives are gathering for CPAC in Dallas embracing the big lie and circle dancing around what passes for a Republican political platform these days.


DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: What was Donald Trump right about? Everything.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Our movement will stay true to America first policies created by President Trump.

LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): And in 2024 Trumpism will rise again.


ACOSTA: It's all greasing the skids for Donald Trump's keynote address tomorrow, continuation of his big lie campaign rally (INAUDIBLE). Trump's false 2020 claims have already inspired the January 6 Capitol attack. And now the Justice Department warns that could be just the beginning.

As long as these conspiracy theories spread, federal prosecutors say more political violence from Trump supporters could flare up. This is all playing out as the last pieces of security fencing are dismantled from around the US Capitol.

And CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is in Dallas for C PAC. He joins me now.

Donie, we see the flags behind you it is pretty obvious what the crowd has or who the crowd has come to see down there. What are you hearing down there? DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jim. A lot of excitement for the former President Donald Trump to arrive here tomorrow both from attendees inside the event. And you can see people even gathering across the street, probably planning to welcome him here tomorrow.

Look, I've spoken to more than a dozen people, probably about 20 people today. Every single one of them believe the election was stolen in some way apart from one man who I spoke to. Have a listen.


O'SULLIVAN: So, you are, you know, one of the very few people I am likely to meet here this weekend who will tell me that Biden won the election fairly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's unfortunate. I got to have the evidence. I got to see it. If you tell me you're going to release the cracking, show me the freaking cracking for crying out loud. And don't tell me go to Mr. Pillowman's (ph) website to get the information.

O'SULLIVAN: Do you guys think the electronics fair?





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They tried to tell us the Tarrant County election we went blue for the first time since 1962.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not called an insurrection to me. What about it was an insurrection?

O'SULLIVAN: The storm (ph) the capital?


O'SULLIVAN: The Trump supporters, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bullshit. I mean, I'm sorry. Bullshit. You don't know who those people were?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, some Trump supporters were invited in and there's video and there's audio that they said come on.


O'SULLIVAN: And there you hear it, Jim. I mean, people are in absolute denial about the insurrection --

ACOSTA: Wow. O'SULLIVAN: -- about the election. And I mean, just to think, you know, the insurrection was just six months ago, the election was less than a year ago, yet people do not have a shared understanding of what actually happened.

ACOSTA: Yes, I mean, it's like a big lie Palooza (ph) down there in Dallas.

Donie, once again, there's also this conspiracy theory that Trump is going to be reinstated as president. It was laughed off the first time. But like the other big lie, it intensifies and people start to believe it. What do you finding?

O'SULLIVAN: That's right. Yes, Trump has in the past few months, he has been flirting with this idea that, you know, if this sham audition Arizona, goes in his favor, that the election could some way be overturned and he would be reinstated to office, which of course there's no way that that can happen.

I will say most of the Trump supporters I've spoken to here today have not bought into that idea. They say, you know, it's better for it to look forward to 2022 or 2024.

Plus, Jim, there have been some folks that I've been speaking to the past few weeks, who are very, very invested in this idea that Trump is going to come back to office in August. And one man I spoke to a few weeks ago said there would be a civil war if Trump didn't return this summer. So, there's very much charged rhetoric around this.

ACOSTA: To say the least. All right. Well, that is just depressing.

You would think by now there would be some progress and they would start to accept the fact that Trump lost the election. He's not coming back doesn't appear to be the case. And the people that CPAC are fanning those flames of disinformation once again.

Donie O'Sullivan, thanks so much for breaking that down for us.

There's another major divide here in the U.S. and it's over the coronavirus vaccine. Right now, not even 50 percent of the country is fully vaccinated as the highly contagious, aggressive Delta variant spreads in parts of the U.S. with low vaccination rates. It's left many health experts wondering why more Americans aren't protecting themselves, even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is scratching his head.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I'm perplexed by the reluctance of some to get vaccinated. Totally perplexed by it.


ACOSTA: Totally perplexing. Joining us now is CNN Chief Media Correspondent and Anchor of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter.

Brian, to understand this vaccine hesitancy, you might not have to look much further than the messaging some Americans are receiving. Call it messaging because it's not information, it's not news, it's messaging.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: No, the anti-vaccination propaganda has become much stronger than it was, let's say six or nine months ago, Jim. What I hear on right-wing talk radio and television is much more assertive and ridiculous. It's not just hesitancy, its outright rejection of the vaccines.

Well, look, just take a listen for yourself.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Power grabs and needle jabs, that's the focus of tonight's Angle.

STELTER (voice-over): To see one reason why the red blue divide on vaccines is getting worse, just turn up the volume.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The focus of this administration on vaccination is mind boggling.

STELTER (voice-over): The focus of right-wing media is vaccine rejection and it's getting downright ridiculous.

DAN BONGINO, THE DAN BONGINO SHOW HOST: They want to go door to door with, what, the vaccine police? You can skip my house bro.

STELTER (voice-over): That's Dan Bongino reacting to President Biden.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITES STATES: We need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and off times door to door, literally knocking on doors to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.

STELTER (voice-over): And that simple idea, something that local governments have already been doing was made to sound sinister by the anti-Biden media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Biden administration is threatening to send political operatives to the homes of people who refuse to take an experimental COVID vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Door to door, hey, Joe, how about no?

DANA LOESCH, RADIO HOST: This is what happens when you get a government too big for its own good.

STELTER (voice-over): This is how it works. How distrust of the government, of big pharma, of the media all gets whipped up into anti- science rhetoric. BUCK SEXTON, THE CLAY & BUCK SEXTON SHOW HOST: They won't admit that though, because that would be telling the CNN watchers, "The New York Times" readers who took the science seriously that they're not as smart as they think they are.

STELTER (voice-over): Buck Sexton sarcasm shows his hostility. And you can hear it all over, right-wing radio and T.V.

Resisting the vaccine is practically a badge of honor, a way to stick it to the blue states with conservative commentator Candace Owens that quote, "Not one person in my family will ever touch the COVID-19 vaccine."

They claim to be defending their freedom, repurposing liberal messaging about abortion rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you opening to say, my body, my choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People have the right to make a choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Biden administration is no longer prochoice.

STELTER (voice-over): And they plan to keep this fight up into the fall.

CHARLIE KIRK, TURNING POINT USA: Students are not going to have to live in a medical apartheid because they don't want to get the vaccine.

STELTER (voice-over): But they are ignoring the public health reality of a pandemic. The more people who are vaccinated, the safer we all are.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're not asking anybody to make any political statement one way or another. We're saying try and save your life.

STELTER (voice-over): But in Republican strongholds, many adults are resisting. And they are egged on by right wing media stars who claim to respect their audience but are actually putting them at risk.


STELTER: This week, the Kaiser Family Foundation said the red blue divide is widening. Whereas a few months ago, there's only a 2 percent gap between counties that went for Biden and counties and for Trump in terms of acceptance of the vaccine. Now, there's more than a 10-point spread between those blue counties and those red counties.

And we are seeing in the reaction, basically the takeaway is that Trump counties are more vulnerable to this COVID-19 pandemic now. They are more vulnerable to get sick, they are more vulnerable. And ultimately, the responsibility is partly on law makers and these right-wing media stars who are spreading disinformation, Jim.

ACOSTA: Yes. I'd like to ask some of these characters whether or not they've been vaccinated themselves. I mean, it would be great if they could disclose that as they're throwing all this garbage out there.

But this week, President Biden said, it's time to go door to door to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated. Members of the GOP, including people like Madison Cawthorn are pushing back on that. Let's listen.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): And now they're starting to talk about going door to door to be able to take vaccines to the people, the thing about the mechanisms they would have to build to be able to actually execute that massive thing. And then, think about what those mechanisms can be used for. They could then go door to door take your guns, they then go door to door take your Bible.


ACOSTA: I mean, that's just dumb. But Brian, I guess the practical effect of all of this is that you're just going to see people across Trump country not being vaccinated and really just refusing to ever be vaccinated because of this kind of hysteria.


STELTER: And suffering for no good reason. Yes.

ACOSTA: Right.

STELTER: Riley John Berman (ph) said it really well this week. He said we are now in the optional phase of the pandemic, there is no reason for so many people to get sick and to suffer, and in some cases die.

But I think when we hear that for someone like Cawthorn, it's just this automatic contrarianism. He's a contrarian just to be contrarian. That's basically the Fox News business model, do whatever the opposite is of what everybody else says. And that can be all fun sometimes, but right now it has life and death consequences.

ACOSTA: Right. And it's prolonging this pandemic, it is keeping that virus out there.


ACOSTA: And it is potentially leading to deadlier variants, is leading to deadlier variants like the Delta variant and who knows what comes next. All because, you know, in part because we can't get everybody on the same page in terms of encouraging people to get vaccinated.

Brian, it is such a great service that you track all of this stuff. Although I must wonder how you just don't, you know, lose your mind listening to people like that sometimes.

STELTER: Well, I think I lost my mind a long time ago, Jim.

ACOSTA: Well, I don't know about that. You're doing great work as always. But Brian, thanks so much for breaking that down for us and -- STELTER: Thanks.

ACOSTA: -- bringing that piece to us. Very important.

And Brian's show, "Reliable Sources" airs tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. It's always critical viewing, please watch.

And coming up, major hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics, a state of emergency over rising COVID infections and no fans. I'll talk about it with the legendary sports anchor, Bob Costas. There he is. We'll talk to him, next.



ACOSTA: This just in, an American airline flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta was diverted to Memphis because of a disruptive passenger. Airport Police met the aircraft once it landed in Memphis this morning. They took the disruptive passenger off the plane, allowing the flight to continue on to Atlanta. We'll keep tabs on that one for you.

In the meantime, we're less than two weeks away from the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. But in most venues there won't be a single spectator in the stance to cheer on the athletes. Tokyo is entering its fourth state of emergency as coronavirus cases rise rapidly with only 16 percent of the country fully vaccinated.

We're also following another big story in the world of sports, this one happening on the sidelines of the NBA Finals. "New York Times" revealing a tape of ESPN host Rachel Nichols who was griping to a friend that the network gave a coveted job to a black reporter Maria Taylor instead of her. Take a listen.


RACHEL NICHOLS, ESPN REPORTER: I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world, she covers football, she covers basketball. If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity, which, by the way, I myself know personally from the female side of it, like, go for it. Just, you know, find it somewhere else. You're not going to find it with me then take my thing away.


ACOSTA: Nichols thought she was speaking privately but her words were being back to ESPN through a camera setup for her live shots, and then made the rounds inside ESPN last summer. Nichols has since apologized, but in response, ESPN has pulled her from her sideline duties.

And with me now to talk about this is the perfect person to talk about both of these stories having led NBCs coverage of the Olympics and the NBA for many years, the legendary sportscaster and CNN Contributor, Bob Costas. Bob, always great to talk to you.


ACOSTA: It's tough to start on this topic, because as you and I both know, there are a lot of egos in this business. But what do you think of the way ESPN handled this? It sounds as though this was known inside the building for some time.

COSTAS: Yes, more than a year ago, or nearly a year ago when the NBA was in its bubble trying to finish up the 2020 season. So, obviously, in retrospect, and maybe they should have known at the time, the thing to do is to take two important broadcasters, Rachel and Maria Taylor, bring them together behind closed doors, hey, we've got this tape, it shouldn't have happened. It's an invasion of privacy.

That's another issue that's mixed in with all the other issues with modern technology, the possibility of these sorts of inadvertent invasions of privacy are a concern. But let's keep this in house. Let's work this thing out. You're both important to us.

Now, without defending everything that Rachel said, even though it's was on a private call. It is either amazingly coincidental or curious that all this comes to a head just as Maria Taylor, a rising star, she's not a star already, lots of interest, not just at ESPN, but around the sports broadcasting industry in Maria Taylor, who is an athlete herself, that she has that in her background. She's very good on the air, she has a tremendous presence. Her contract is up in the next couple of weeks.

And there's been haggling apparently, back and forth. So whether there was some motivation to release this now is something we don't know. But it's certainly a question worth asking.

And I think it comes down to this. Are there a lot of dynamics here, gender dynamics, black, white, dynamics, privacy dynamics? Sure there are. But a lot of times in this atmosphere, people want to take complicated situations that are at least in large part about just normal human impulses, ambition, territory, ego, whatever it might be. And they want to fit into their preferred narrative.

So I've heard on the right, their narrative is, oh, sure, Rachel Nichols was woke and all in favor of diversity until it came for her. And then, on the left, there's an understandable impulse to say, you know, there's sometimes white people who appear to be allies, but then behind closed doors the truth comes out.

But in fairness, if you listen to this or read the transcript, she doesn't disparage Maria Taylor. If anything, she seems to acknowledge that Maria is a terrific talent. But what she's saying is, not that I wanted this job, but I have it in my contract to have this assignment.


That sort of thing, Jim, has gone on in broadcasting for forever. And I'm not trying to trivialize it -- ACOSTA: Yes.

COSTAS: -- if it was two white guys, it would just be, you know, a broadcasting thing, work it out. But we've got other dynamics here, and people will read into it, whatever they want to read into it.

ACOSTA: Well, let's talk about the Olympics. Just as we were asking ourselves, what are the Olympics without Bob Costas, what are the Olympics without fans? I mean, because it is going to be -- I mean, we got used to watching the NFL, the NBA and so on without fans, but the Olympics, I mean, that is going to be strange.

COSTAS: Very strange, because while all sports events draw energy and emotion and atmospherics from having fans in the stands, the Olympics, as you know, are different. There's the backstories, and the personal emotions. And so, having countrymen and family members and friends and all of that sort of thing, that's essential here. It's going to feel empty.

It's not going to be NBC's fault, I've said this repeatedly, they will do a very good job under the circumstances, as they always do. And I understand that they've already staked out cameras and microphones in the homes of American athletes back here in the states that they expect to do well, and they'll emphasize ambient sound, coaches, and teammates and all that sort of thing. But it just can't take the place of the texture that you expect at a big event like that.

And it isn't just that the competitions, part of the coverage of an Olympics is always to take you out into the sights and the important landmarks and what's happening in the streets in the areas surrounding the games themselves. All of that is going to be drastically diminished.

ACOSTA: Yes. And it's a commentary on how far behind Japan is in responding to the pandemic.

Let's talk about this, "The Washington Post" is reporting that Olympic swimmer Michael Andrew won't be vaccinated when he participates in the Tokyo games. He was basically worried about getting it between trials and the Olympics because he didn't know how his body would respond to it. What do you think of that argument? Does that hold any water? Pardon the pun.

COSTAS: Yes. I find it very unconvincing. If you're informed, you know that in 99 percent of the cases the worst thing that happens is you have a sore arm for a day.

Virtually all according to the best intelligence we can get, 90 plus percent of his Olympic teammates, American Olympians, have been vaccinated, they continued with their training. The idea that I can't run the minimal risk that for a day or two, my training might be disrupted by taking the vaccine.

Look, I understand that you have to point toward the Olympics. I understand that it's been put off for a year. I understand that these athletes have very strict regimens that they follow. But at some point, you have to think of others. And this seems like a highly egocentric decision.

ACOSTA: Right, Bob, I mean, he could be sidelined because he catches COVID.

COSTAS: Of course, he could.

ACOSTA: I mean, that's the thing, I don't get this. And that has happened in the world of golf, we saw that happen in recent weeks. And so, it can certainly happen to him. And the worst thing that could happen is that he could get other people sick.

COSTAS: Of course, and complicate the contact tracing and all the rest. He says that he had COVID some months ago, maybe that makes him think that he can't get it again, because that's a notion that's out there.

But your point is correct. It's the danger if it's only inconvenience, that it might be worse than that. But the danger that he poses to his teammates and to other Olympians from around the world once he gets there, even with all the isolation and all the protocols, it's just a bad notion, it's a bad luck.

ACOSTA: It certainly is. Hopefully he'll get that shot, he'll wake up. Somebody will splash in cold water in his face and wake him up to the science of all of this.

Bob Costas, great to talk to you as always. Thanks so much.

COSTAS: Thank you.

ACOSTA: We'll do it again sometime soon. We appreciate it.

COSTAS: Hope so. Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right. Coming up, could you pack up your life in 15 minutes? That's what some Florida residents face today after being forced to evacuate their condo in the wake of the Surfside collapse.



ACOSTA: The confirmed death toll from the collapse of that condo building in Surfside Florida has risen to 86 with 43 people still unaccounted for. And not too far from the site, even more structural concerns are forcing people to pack up their lives. Here CNN's Leyla Santiago.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, officials scrambling to ensure the safety of other buildings not far from Champlain Tower South that collapsed in Surfside.

Drilling is underway at Champlain Tower North, just a block away from its sister building. Engineers are taking samples of concrete for analysis to eventually compare to concrete from the rubble. The city of Surfside is also using ground penetrating radar, GPR. to analyze structure safety.

Have you seen anything that is worried you yet?

ALLYN KILSHEIMER, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: No man. But I can't see through concrete, that's why the GPRs and the compressive strength of Kochi is important for me to understand.

GUSTAVO MATA, CRESTVIEW TOWER RESIDENT: You know, you'll see the building, it looks like a normal building.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): In North Miami Beach, residents of Crestview Tower had 15 minutes to grab personal belongings from their homes after it was closed and evacuated a week ago, deemed unsafe.

MATA: Just 15 minutes is nothing for us. So we take all that you see over there. So, you know, it's not enough but we have something.



SANTIAGO (voice-over): Newly released video from Champlain Tower South shows the parking deck in July of 2020. CNN asked two engineers to review the video. Both noted the corrosion but found it difficult to discern anything.

MAYOR DANIELLE LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FL: The National Institute of Standards and Technology has made very significant progress in tagging and transporting pieces of forensic evidence the pile.

They've now collected over 200 pieces of evidence. And they recent recently have a scientist from the measurement lab in Washington to assist in analysis.

SANTIAGO: As the investigation into the cause of the collapse continues, teams on a recovery mission continue to search for victims and retrieve their personal belongings, hoping to bring closure to families as soon as possible.

MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, (R-SURFSIDE): The pile that originally was approximately four stories is now almost at ground level.

Everything you can imagine has been recovered and processed. This process will continue until every bit of debris has gone through.

SANTIAGO (on camera): And I spoke to Global Empowerment Mission, an organization that is helping some of the survivors move forward.

They still need basic things. In some cases, money for a deposit to get a new home. One indication of how this will certainly be a very long road ahead.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Surfside, Florida (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Coming up the dangerous heat out west. Some areas expected to hit all-time records, as high as 130 degrees. How are people coping? We'll take you live to Las Vegas, next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to stay hydrated with margaritas and IPAs.




ACOSTA: Today, more than 30 million people are under alerts as extreme heat blankets the western United States.

Yes, it's summer and it's usually hot in the southwest. But these temperatures are close to exceeding record temperatures.

It was 130 degrees in Death Valley, California, yesterday. Today, the high in Las Vegas is forecast to hit 115 degrees. This weekend, the low will likely not get below 91 degrees in Phoenix.

And CNN's Camila Bernal joins me from Las Vegas.

Camila, this is some hot weather there out in the southwest. People in these extremely high temperatures, it's hard to wrap your mind around it.

What's it been like for people out there and how are they coping?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, it really is hard to even understand. It feels like someone is holding up a dryer and put it on the highest setting.

People here telling me it feels like you're walking in an oven.

Because, this weekend, Las Vegas could reach its highest temperature ever recorded here of 117 degrees. The National Weather Service telling people not to gamble with these dangerous conditions.

A lot of people here, they are used to this kind of heat. But the tourist, people here for the big fight, concert, or any sort of celebration, they don't always know how to handle this heat.

I talked to some of the tourists earlier today and here's what they told me.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going back to Jersey and our cold weather. We were expecting 90 or 95. When we look at the weather, it's 104, 115. So now we went out early so we can roam around. It's 9:00, it's all burning, like hell here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty much outside to take these pictures and then go into the casinos. But we'll stay hydrated with margaritas and IPAs.


BERNAL: It is fun in Las Vegas. But it's also dangerous.

The state's electricity provider, both here and in California, telling people you need to conserve power because imagine being in this heat without power, Jim.

That's what they are trying to avoid.

ACOSTA: Although, I like that idea of hydrating with margaritas. We won't get into that right now.

Camila Bernal, thanks so much there in Las Vegas for us.

Let's bring in CNN's chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir.

Bill, it's not just Vegas and Death Valley, two-hours drive from there, 130 degrees yesterday. Could do it again tomorrow.

What's going on here. I know you're following this very closely. These are worrying temperatures out there.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Scientists will tell you it's blowing their mind, Jim. What happened in the Pacific Northwest, that heat dome is off the charts.

If you were a scientist, five years ago, and gone to the mayor of Portland or Seattle and said, we need to start thinking of using buses as cooling centers because people will be dying, roasting to death in their homes and clams and mussels will be steaming open in the ocean, they would have thrown a net over you.

This is the reality of this. There's an argument over the record from 1913. Science doubts that happened. The guy who saw that said birds fell dead from the sky it was so hot. They think he was overexaggerating.

It may be mute because, if they hit 135 degrees, then that's the new record ever on the earth as far as we know.

ACOSTA: Incredible.

Yet, to cover that heatwave with the extreme drought that's happening out west in California, the driest rainfall year since 1890s. Wildfires are on pace to be more disastrous than last year.

What are you seeing when you look at this, you know, from a bird's eye view, Bill?

[17:40:01] WEIR: It will only get worse, Jim, sadly. The bathtub ring around lake mead which keeps Los Angeles and other western people alive is taller than the Statue of Liberty now. At its lowest all-time point.

Asking Californians to conserve by 25 percent voluntarily. Where we get into these long, drawn-out sudden disasters can pull communities together.

Drought and famine is, when you look at your neighbor and say, where did you get that water. The debate is, who gets that water? Communities, farmers, endangered species?

That will get more intense as this drags on. And that leads to fires and crop failure, you know.

Heatwave in the Pacific Northwest wiped out the berry crop up in Washington as well. Shellfish I talked about. Salad bowl of the world in California.

It's going to trickle into your receipt at the grocery store before long, sadly.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

We haven't gotten into what this hurricane season will do. The remains of Tropical Storm Elsa is soaking the east coast right now.

We already had five named storms in the record to have that many already at this point in the year. Every year or every so often, every few years we're having that kind of streak.

Is this the new normal now, these stronger storms happening earlier in the year and then making these hurricane seasons just last a long time, and just, you know, any grueling experience for people living in hurricane country?

WEIR: Absolutely. A planet made hotter by human activity holds more moisture in some places and not enough in others, as we're seeing it at both ends of this country.

Nobody was thinking about stronger storms and higher seas in the '80s when they had the housing boom. Beach sand that had salt in it that erodes the rebar.

You just did the story of people evacuating in 15 minutes.

The other thing is, what happens way before the waves are lapping up on South Beach is when insurance companies and banks say, we're not going to lend or insure these properties anymore, it's too risky.

That creates almost an economic dust bowl as property values go down. And that creates a tax base which affects teachers and cops.

So, unfortunately, there's not a lot of, you know, activity happening in Washington. People are waiting for something to happen there. It's infuriating to watch.

At the local level, whether it's hardening communities out west against wildfire instead of putting them way out up in the wilderness or raising the streets.

Key West, Florida Keys, they had a seven-hour meeting this week. Very heated, very emotional. And in the end, they decided they will commit billions of dollars to raising the streets to keep people in the Florida Keys there.

But they admit they have to let some of those munts go.

ACOSTA: Unbelievable.

Bill Weir, thanks for staying on top of the low-temperature story for us. We appreciate it as always. We'll talk to you soon.

Coming up, he was a teenage TV character who loved pressed suits and Ronald Reagan. What would Alex P. Keaton think of Donald J. Trump? We'll ask his TV parents next as we countdown to the "History of the Sitcom."



ACOSTA: The characters you can't stop laughing at and the situations you can't get enough of. Since the beginning of television, sitcoms kept generations of Americans smiling and helped them navigate an ever-changing cultural landscape.

Tomorrow night, a new CNN original series a looks at "THE HISTORY OF THE SITCOM."

I'm joined by two members of a famous TV family, actors, Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross. They played parents to Michael J. Fox's character Alex P. Keaton on hit-sitcom "Family Ties."

Michael and Meredith, thank you so much for joining us.

Michael, let me start with you first.

I loved the show back in the day. It was the best. But we'll talk about the show over the next several minutes.

In your show, Michael, a lot of comedy was derived from the dynamic of these ex-hippie parents and a Republican son.

If you were to do a reboot how do you think the keys would have handled their son being a Trump supporter?

MICHAEL GROSS, ACTOR: Well, all right. First of all, I have a problem with the question, because I don't know that he was necessarily a Trump supporter.

Let me explain why. One of the fascinating things about Alex P. Keaton is that his mind was always telling him one thing -- make a killing, get as much money as possible, make that deal.

But he was truly also the child of his parents. And it was always that tension between his mind and his heart.

And so I think, I think what always won was his heart and that's what we always just loved him trying to, trying to wrangle his, tear himself away to get to his heart.

So I think -- I think it was a different Republican Party. I don't know that he would be a Trump supporter because I don't necessarily think Donald Trump is a Republican of the kind of the Republican I used to know, the class of Republican, and Republicans we talked about at that time.

ACOSTA: Right.

GROSS: So I don't know he would really be there.


ACOSTA: Meredith, if you want to chime in on that question, feel free.

First, we should say Michael J. Fox, just a wonderful human being.

But let's talk about, you know, how Michael P. Keaton would deal with Trump world today. How would he deal with it, do you think?

MEREDITH BAXTER, ACTOR: I have to echo what Michael is saying. I don't see -- this is my politics are coming into this.

But what I loved so much about the characters on "Family Ties" is they were communicators. They discussed stuff.

We may have a difference of opinion but we would still be talking about what you're doing, what the implications are, how it affects other people.

I don't think that happens in a family that is divided when there's a Trump supporter, because everything I know, people, it's that they don't talk at all, there's no discussion. And there's nothing funny about it.

So I would have a hard time seeing how Trump would even find his way into our show.


GROSS: It was a time, Jim -- excuse me. It was a time when things were not quite as divisive. It was a time when two Irish men, Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan, could sit down in the White House over some Irish whiskey and come to a compromise.

That's less and less apparent.

I think things are less funny now than they were at the time because that act of compromise made hilarity possible. You could laugh at each other's positions and not deride them.

We weren't enemies. We were in different places but still remained friends.

So it was easy to make a comedy out of things, I think.

ACOSTA: And, Meredith, in the few seconds we have, favorite memories from the show? What was it like with all those kids around? You must have felt like their parents, these child actors.

BAXTER: Well, I have a fair number of children myself, so it was just like going home and being with all of them.

Do you know, I liked the shows when we just got so crazy, when we got really silly and over the top.

We did one show that was -- helicopters are going over -- that was about the Christmas in the future.

And it showed all of the -- each member of the Keaton family in some kind of poverty or a devastating situation. Like Jennifer was selling dirt. Elise was taking in laundry.

But Michael FOX comes to the door -- Alex comes to the door to save us all.

And he's like Daddy Warbucks. He's like the banker from the Monopoly game. That's what he looks like. And he's going to fix us all because his life has unfolded the way he expected.

ACOSTA: And, Michael, your favorite memory? I just want to make sure I get it in.

GROSS: Oh, boy. I just think the fact that it was such a collaborative group in general.

We were asked for our opinions. We sat down at the end of run-throughs and said, how can we make these characters better, what was wrong with the story?

We were asked that by the writers. Our opinions were valued. And that was a big thing.

I will mention the fact that we all became very close. I -- actors are itinerants. We move from place to place. We're gypsies. To have a show seven years running, you become close to everyone.

The friendship that endures, particularly between myself and Meredith, was one of the high points. That still holds true for me today.

ACOSTA: We can still feel the warmth between both of you and from that show all these years later.

Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, thank you for joining us.

Don't miss "THE HISTORY OF THE SITCOM." It premieres tomorrow night with back-to-back episodes, at 9:00 and 10:00 Eastern, right here on CNN. Don't miss that.

One New jersey man recently shared online how he donated a bicycle to a child through One Simple Wish, the organization founded by a "CNN Hero" Danielle Gletow, which helps people purchase items requested by kids in the foster care system.

Reddit members responded by flooding the One Simple Wish Web site to fulfill all 220 wishes.


DANIELLE GLETOW, CNN HERO: Somehow it just blew up. There were thousands of comments of people relating to the foster care experience.

And then it was just one after another of people saying, you know, we should just clear the site. We should grant all of their wishes.

And then it snow balled until they crashed out site. We were able to grant more wishes. Eventually, they cleared the site of all the wishes.

It's definitely given all of us a renewed sense of energy and hope. And it certainly does remind you that there's so much more good in this world than anything else.



ACOSTA: And to nominate someone you know to be a "CNN Hero," go to

That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back here tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Pamela Brown takes over the CNN NEWSROOM, live, after a quick break.

Have a good night, everybody.