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CNN NEWSROOM

Lawyer For Governor Cuomo Slams Credibility Of Accusers And Investigators; Cuomo's Fight To Stay In Office Faces Wave Of Democratic Defections; Interview With Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA); Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Flatly Refuses To Call For School Mask Mandates; Dixie Fire Destroys California Town; Georgia Governor Refuses To Issue Mask Mandate, Even For Schools; Unvaccinated COVID Survivor Urges People To Get Their Shots. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 7, 2021 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:22]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The numbers of cases in our hospitals in children and our children's hospitals are completely overwhelmed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There seems to be this notion that children don't get sick from COVID. They do.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Children are heading back to school as the Delta variant rages across the country. And officials are aggressively urging anyone who is eligible to get their shots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're running out of time. You're absolutely running out of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't put this fire out now with the weather conditions.

BROWN: California is facing some of the most dangerous wildfires in history with suffocating drought and intense heat. The flames now forcing thousands in the state to evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you receive an evacuation warning, please go. And if you receive an order, get out.

BROWN: And impeachment could become a reality as support for Governor Andrew Cuomo dwindles. Tonight, his lawyer fires back against sexual harassment allegations.

RITA GLAVIN, ATTORNEY FOR GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO: We have a report that's not accurate. This was no Mueller investigation.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

The stakes are raised and the heat is turned up. The personal attorney for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appears on CNN to forcefully push back against allegations that her client, the governor, sexually harassed 11 women. Just days after a state attorney general's report found evidence of that, one of his accusers has filed a criminal complaint.

So in addition to his political survival being in doubt, Governor Andrew Cuomo now faces the risk of criminal prosecution. Minutes ago his attorney Rita Glavin attacked the credibility of the report and the investigators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLAVIN: Because you have to look at what each of these people are saying.

BROWN: They have.

GLAVIN: And what each of these people are saying are not sexual harassment. There are facts they got wrong, important facts particularly with respect to the woman who is claiming she was sexually assaulted. She most certainly was not. There was evidence that they collected and that they ignored, and omitted putting in their report. And they also credited people that they know lied and had motives to lie.

This is the problem that we are faced is that we have a report that's not accurate, that did not go through all of the evidence. This was no Mueller investigation. And I'm just telling you to say blaming the victim for the governor to deny what she has claimed is not victim blaming. What I am doing is telling everybody that that report is shoddy, it is biased. It omits evidence and it was an ambush. And they haven't shared all of their evidence.

Here's the thing, from his perspective, and I do think you're going to hear this from him, he didn't believe it was inappropriate. He has seen what these women have said and I know that he feels badly about this. And you are absolutely correct, Pamela, that he is the governor of the state of New York.

And I don't -- you know, you do have to appreciate when you're in a position of power and you have, you know, younger staffers and the way he may have treated, you know, people he's had longer relationships, he's got to act differently. He's said that repeatedly. And he's also talked about how he needs to, you know, he does slip at times. He's not perfect. But yes, I get it.

BROWN: He does slip. When you say he does slip, what do you mean by that?

GLAVIN: He said it in his video statements, which is that, you know, he does make the mistake. He will say darling, he will say sweetheart. He does ask people questions about their personal lives. He didn't think that that was improper. I do know -- I mean, and let me reference this.

Senator Schumer. Look at a "The New York Times" article from 2012, he routinely is talking to staffers about their personal lives. Are you married? Why don't you marry him? When are you going to have kids? But the governor does engage in that as well.

BROWN: But let me ask you this.

GLAVIN: And I agree with you --

BROWN: Let me ask you this. Go ahead.

GLAVIN: Let me just finish in this.

BROWN: Sure.

GLAVIN: I agree with you it can make people uncomfortable. I've had a lot of conversations now. I'm a lawyer. I have associates who work with me in their 20s or 30s and they've told me these things, this makes me uncomfortable, and I think that the governor has heard this loud and clear.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So I want to bring in a member of the New York state assembly, Yuh-Line Niou, a Democrat and among those working to have the governor impeached and removed from office.

Thank you for joining us. What is your reaction to what you've just heard from Governor Cuomo's personal attorney?

[19:05:05]

YUH-LINE NIOU (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLYMEMBER: Well, for one, I have to say that I appreciate you and what you had to say.

BROWN: Well, thank you for that. I appreciate that. Just doing my job. But, you know, you are someone who has been very outspoken about this, and I want to just get what your reaction is to her claims that this report was not done fairly, that it has omissions and that basically it had a pre-construed narrative or conclusion that it was trying to cater to.

NIOU: Yes, so a couple of things. Whew, I was listening --

BROWN: It's OK.

NIOU: -- and it was a lot.

BROWN: It was.

NIOU: And I have to say that, you know, when the attorneys had appeared together and were talking, they definitely, you know, were saying some things that I can tell you personally it was very triggering. Some of the things that she said just now were very triggering. It is very, very --

BROWN: You are a sexual assault survivor. I want to point that out, correct?

NIOU: Yes. Right. BROWN: So that's what I want to make our viewers know, when you say

triggering is that what you mean from what you went through personally?

NIOU: Yes, it is. Because I was 13 years old when I was sexually assaulted by my own teacher. And, you know, after my own assault, I went to class and then I went to lunch. And I still, you know, when she was talking about how, you know, the -- you know, the assistant actually was joking around, eating crackers and cheese, I felt like that claim that a survivor after being violated should act a particular way otherwise they aren't supposed to be believed or they are not believable is disgusting and vile.

I think that that is something a myth that we all have to break. I will say that this was extremely triggering for so many survivors across the nation. I got e-mails, letters, calls, text messages, DMs, and I posted and reposted some of the tweets that were sent to me because, you know, so many people felt the same way that I did. Because it was so significant.

That response was something that -- that hurt so many of us because they were basically saying that if you were somebody who was able to -- able to try to survive, that that was somehow wrong, you know? But this is how our brains work. The studies have shown this is how our brains work to help us to survive.

We just -- some of us go on to just do the next thing. Some of us read a book, some of us sleep, some of us eat cheese and crackers. So I think that it's OK, you know, and I want people to know that it's OK.

BROWN: I think that's an important message for anyone to hear who, of course, is a survivor of sexual assault as you have been. And I'm so sorry that all of this has brought all that back up to the surface to you. And of course, you're talking about executive assistant number one. There is some discrepancy about the date of when this alleged incident occurred. But your point is that just because someone may have sent an e-mail after, had snacks, doesn't mean that the alleged incident didn't happened.

Like you point out, your teacher sexually assaulted you and then you went and had lunch next door. And it's always -- you know, when you're dealing with something like this, you have 11 women who have come forward to say that the governor made them feel at the very least uncomfortable and that his behavior was inappropriate.

What do you say to his legal counsel as you just heard there who said, look, in some of these cases like kissing someone at a wedding or giving a hug or saying something is not sexual harassment, basically saying that not all of these episodes laid out in the report are actually sexual harassment. What do you say to that?

NIOU: I just have to say that I'm going to echo Charlotte Bennett here. You know, we know when someone is being inappropriate. We know when someone is being malicious. We know when somebody is being patronizing. We know when somebody is (INAUDIBLE) within us. There is a knowledge as a person, as a person who has interacted with

many people, we know when somebody says sweetheart sometimes it's a term of endearment, sometimes it's condescending, sometimes it's patronizing. It really depends on the situation, sure.

[19:10:03]

But it really is also important to acknowledge that, you know, there is not one instant here where, you know, this attorney has acknowledged that it might be enough or it might be that they're all, you know, patterns of behavior and that it is a culture of, you know, bullying and abusive behavior and inappropriate behavior throughout the workplace here. I think that that -- this is what this report has shown and this is why it's damning.

And actually, you know, when it comes to the date, I actually read the report and, you know, I read the same thing you did, that, you know, the quote actually was that, you know, it was around that date. And, you know, there are things within the report of course where they had to reference it, but of course they're going to say it. So, you know, I also thought that your point here was very important about how every single step of the way.

It just seemed like it was always a moving goal post, right? Don't believe the legislature saying he lied about nursing homes. Let's wait for the attorney general's report. The AG's report, it's comprehensive but damning, oh, well, there's a problem with that. Oh, women are -- you know.

BROWN: And what do you say to the fact that she said, at this point she's unaware of any plans he has to resign? Essentially if that happens as you well know the impeachment proceedings will go forward, and there are enough people, assembly members like yourself, who have spoken out and saying that they want him to be impeached. And then it would go to trial, presumably. What's your reaction to that?

NIOU: I mean I think that we have seen -- we ourselves have experienced the third floor. We have known, you know, that there is bullying behavior, retaliatory behavior. And I think that, you know, this is our own knowledge of this place. And, you know, it's very interesting also when she brought up, you know, that comment from June Kim saying, you know, he's very frustrated that he couldn't change this place.

Well, I'm very frustrated as well. I've been elected for five years. I'm very frustrated that we can't change this place. That doesn't make it so that I'm like biased against anyone. The thing is, you know, we know that this is a very toxic and terrifying environment, and I think that this is why we run. This is why we try to make a difference. We try to make that change here in Albany.

BROWN: All right, New York State assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, thank you so much for speaking with us and sharing some of your personal story with us tonight. We really appreciate it.

NIOU: I appreciate you, Pamela. Thank you. BROWN: Thank you.

Well, tonight the Senate is moving closer to passing that trillion- dollar infrastructure package. After months of furious negotiations, 18 Republican senators joined Democrats today to break the filibuster and shutdown debate on the bill. Senators are confident it will pass, but when is still a bit murky.

The bill would allow hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for roads, bridges and railways, and for rebuilding the electric grid and expanding broadband access. This is a top priority for the Biden administration and would give him a much-needed win.

Senate Democrat Bob Casey of Pennsylvania joins me now.

Senator, thank you for joining us. So where are you now? And are you happy with today's progress?

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): Well, it's a very slow process because you've got a split in the Republican Party. Even though today's vote indicated that there is bipartisan support to move forward, and I think ultimately to pass this bill, Republicans are split.

And until they work that out, this process is going to be delayed. But I think most Americans by now have some sense of what's in this bill. And I think they support it strongly, and I hope we can get this done because we have a lot of work to do as soon as this bill is passed to work on other issues like home and community-based services and child care and prekindergarten education just to name a few.

BROWN: So to be clear, just to be clear, you're not confident right now there are enough Republican votes to pass this. How much longer do you see this dragging out?

CASEY: Well, Pamela, it's my sense that there is enough Republican votes to pass it.

BROWN: OK. OK.

CASEY: But there are a couple of Republicans holding it up.

BROWN: OK, so how long do you see this dragging out then?

CASEY: It's hard to be certain. We know one thing. We know that there'll be no more votes tonight, and the first vote will be tomorrow right around noontime. So between then -- between now and then we're hoping that something can be worked out because I think the American people want us to make these investments in roads and bridges and broadband. The issues you just mentioned.

And I can see the need in my home state of Pennsylvania. We've got more than 7500 miles of highway that is in poor condition. We've got more than 3300 bridges that are in poor condition. We need these investments for our communities and to create a lot of jobs.

[19:15:01] BROWN: And what do you say to progressives who are unhappy that this infrastructure bill isn't bigger?

CASEY: Well, I think we're getting to a point now once this bill is completed where Democrats are then going to have to move to a second phase which is those investments I talk about, investments in children, in families, in people with disabilities and seniors. And that's going to have to be done by our party. We're not going to get any help from Republicans on those investments.

And I think, although there'll be a big debate about how much to spend on a particular priority, I think we're going to get that done but it's going to be a lot of hard work between and among Democrats.

BROWN: OK, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, thank you for joining us.

CASEY: Great to be with you.

BROWN: And while the coronavirus spreads at a disturbing rate in the state of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis threatens to pull funding to schools who defy his mask policy. So how do the teachers feel about that? I'm going to speak to the president of two unions representing Florida's teachers when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:20:08]

BROWN: A disturbing milestone in America's war with the coronavirus shows that the Delta variant is winning the race right now. The U.S. is back to more than 107,000 daily cases again. That's the highest rate in nearly six months, guys. Wisconsin's Democratic governor says that this is a critical moment and calls on his citizens to start pushing everyone they know to get vaccinated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TONY EVERS (D-WI): It is a hand-to-hand combat. I am asking people to go through their mental rolodex and try to figure out who in their world might have not gotten the shot yet and get to them and encourage them. It's going to take time. We'll get there, but it is -- it is now individual by individual.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And the U.S. has finally reached 50 percent of the population fully vaccinated. But halfway there is simply not good enough especially for children too young to get the shot.

Right now Florida leads the nation in hospitalizations, and one Florida doctor says children's hospitals are completely overwhelmed. And still the state's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, stubbornly insists he will not order mask mandates for schools.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I have young kids. My wife and I are not going to do the masks with the kids. We never have. I want to see my kids smiling. I want them having fun.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And joining me now with more is Anna Fusco, president of the Broward County Florida Teacher's Union, and Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, the largest teacher's union in Florida.

Thank you all both for coming on.

Anna, I'm going to start with you. Broward County Public Schools, the second largest district in Florida and the sixth largest in the country, says it wants to keep its mandate requiring masks but will make a final decision before classes resume on August 18th. What do you want them to do?

ANNA FUSCO, PRESIDENT, BROWARD TEACHERS UNION: I want them to keep the mandate. I've heard that we have over about 7,000 parents and educators have e-mailed our school board members to ask them to keep the mandate full and keep us safe in our schools and keep our children safe.

BROWN: How many schools, Andrew, that your union oversees and looks at, actually wants to the have the mask mandate but isn't imposing it because they're worried funding will be pulled by the governor given his threat?

ANDREW SPAR, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: Yes, we're seeing today actually a lot of school districts coming out saying they are going to have a mask mandate. Tampa, which is Hillsborough County, Orlando which is Orange Couty, Seminole County next door, Palm Beach County, have all said now they're going to have a mask mandate, but what they're doing to meet the governor's requirement is they're giving an opt out to parents.

And you know, at the end of the day what we've been saying all along is that this governor is focused on the wrong thing. He's trying to get us just to talk about masks but really we need to talk about the overall health and well-being of our students and the faculty and staff in our schools.

The governor is actually holding back billions of dollars in federal money that was sent down in the stimulus money so that schools are not able to right now do extra cleaning and sanitizing, have air purifiers in the classroom and make sure we're keeping the learning going if there are disruptions this year because of quarantining, and that's really where the problem lies.

BROWN: And you know that some schools are in fact still going to move forward with the mask mandate but they're giving the option for parents to opt out. But there are other schools that we know of, Anna, that you mentioned that are still trying to figure it out. What should they do if they don't want to their funding pulled? Some experts say the Delta variant is hitting younger age groups

harder than previous -- variants, rather. Do you think DeSantis is putting lives at risk with this decision? Will children get sick or die because he doesn't want mask mandates?

FUSCO: Well, I mean, we've already seen children are sick right here in Broward County. We have a high school student that is fighting for her life with COVID. We have had two students throughout the state of Florida this past couple of weeks that have passed away from COVID. So, you know, students are dying. And to have this mandate with funds held over our head if we go forward with it, it just shows really, really poor leadership in our governor.

You know, we elected him to take care of our state, not to go against everything that we need to keep us safe and healthy. And, you know, he wants to see his children smile. We can see people smile through masks. Your eyes light up, you know, a glow happens. The mask is just an extra protocol to help keep us safe when we're in our classrooms.

BROWN: Andrew, what do you think? Do you think that with this threat of pulling funding if schools impose the mask mandate, that he could be putting children's lives at risk?

SPAR: Yes, I think we should first also talk about the fact that the rules the governor is talking about only apply to Florida's public schools, not charter schools, not private schools, not anyone else.

[19:25:05]

And what that really shows here especially with what they're doing, they're talking about saying that if students are quarantined or isolated because they have COVID or others have COVID, and they were exposed, that that's considered bullying and therefore they should get a voucher to go to a voucher school that is completely unaccountable.

This is putting politics over kids. The governor had a secret meeting with people to talk about masks in schools and our public schools and didn't have a single representative from the public schools, not parents, not students, not administrators or superintendents. That's the kind of game he's playing and goes to show this is just plain politics the governor is playing, and you shouldn't play politics with people's lives.

BROWN: All right. Anna Fusco, Andrew Spar, thank you so much for joining us.

FUSCO: Thank you.

SPAR: Thanks for having us.

BROWN: And as COVID surges in the south, Georgia's governor insists ordering everyone to mask up isn't the solution. Several cities and school districts in the state are doing it anyway. So how does his lieutenant governor see it? Geoff Duncan joins us live up next.

And if you're still holding off on getting that vaccine or know someone who is, you're going to want to hear from a coronavirus survivor I'll be speaking to this hour.

Quintan Bowen says he isn't against vaccines. Like many Americans he was just putting it off. Well, the hesitation nearly cost him his life. He'll join us live in a few minutes to share his story in the hopes no one else has to go through what he and his family did.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:35:37]

BROWN: California's Dixie fire exploding again tonight, and now the third largest wildfire in state history, Dixie has scorched over 700 square miles, burning down homes and even entire communities.

Several people are missing in Greenville after the Dixie fires set that town ablaze. The area's Congressman posted this emotional message on Facebook.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DOUG LAMALFA (R-CA): We lost Greenville tonight. And there's just not words for how us in government haven't been able to get the job done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: There are currently over 100 wildfires burning across the country, but extreme heat and drought conditions out West have made the region particularly explosive. Thousands have been forced to evacuating California, while even more are taking shelter indoors hoping to avoid the dangerous smoke now shrouding the state.

According to data from the C.D.C., Georgia currently ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to new cases of COVID-19, up to 250 percent in just the past two weeks. Still, Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp insists he does not believe in, and will not issue any statewide mask mandate even for schools.

Geoff Duncan joins me now. He is Georgia's Lieutenant Governor, and one of the few top Republicans in the state who is actively promoting vaccines and masking.

Lieutenant Governor, thank you for joining us. You know it just as well as anyone, the numbers are bad, they are getting worse. Are people getting sick and possibly dying in Georgia because there is no statewide mask mandate?

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): Well, certainly our numbers like many other states are significantly increasing daily, our hospitalizations are increasing. We're keeping a very close eye. The good news is, we still do have hospital capacity and we expect that to continue.

You know, I'm one of those individuals that think the argument for and against these mask mandates is a distraction from the real solution. Vaccines are the real solution. You know, last week, I made a statement that millions of Americans and

to that fact, millions of Georgians are only one question away from being answered -- from getting a vaccine. And I'm just surprised that more organizations and companies aren't focusing on trying to get folks vaccinated, or at least get their questions answered, like Major League Baseball, or the NFL, or the NBA.

You know, look, when they care about an issue, they can certainly create a lot of attention. And so, I call on folks like that to help us try to get the real solution across the finish line here and that's the vaccine.

BROWN: So then, are you for vaccine mandates?

DUNCAN: No. You know, at the end of the day, I think it needs to be a personal decision. But I think at the end of the day, also, that a lot of folks are just, you know, they have questions, right? Whether they take a certain prescription that they've heard, or they've read something on the internet, or they have a preexisting condition, or just some sort of, you know, negative context in the circles that they run in. They just need answers.

And to me, that's where this focus needs to be at.

You know, as a Republican, I believe in local control, just like Brian Kemp does. And so I think if -- you know, although I may disagree with a mask mandate, I think the courts have ruled over and over again, that that's their -- they are right to issue a mandate, whether it be a city or school district and that's their right to do.

BROWN: So, you've got the mask mandate issue, the vaccine mandate issue, you said, it's really a personal choice. So, you do not like the idea of vaccine mandates. But what about like what the NFL has done? With essentially making it so difficult, putting so much of the onus on the unvaccinated that they really have no choice, essentially, but to get vaccinated?

Because the reality is in the number that we're seeing with the vaccines that have been around for so many months, there are so many people, millions of Americans who no matter what you tell them, how safe these vaccines are, they're just not going to get vaccinated?

DUNCAN: Well, certainly that's the NFL's right to do. I mean, they are a private operation and a private organization and there are millions -- hundreds of millions of dollars flowing back and forth from owners to players. And certainly that's their right. I'm not going to get in the way of them conducting their business, but --

BROWN: But I am asking, do you like that? Is that a good model for other companies to adopt or private businesses?

DUNCAN: I think it's up to each and every business to decide on their own. And certainly, I would support a business, a private business that makes those investments because at the end of the day, you know, they've got shareholders to make sure that they are on board. They've got customers and to me, that's how it operates the best. And you know, we've already travelled this path through the first few

waves, but now we have a tool to fight this that we didn't have the first, you know, year or year plus and that's the vaccine.

[19:35:10]

DUNCAN: And so certainly, you know, one of the interesting things, Pamela, for me that popped up last week was in talking to one of my wife's friends was, you know, she said, everybody keeps saying to go talk to your healthcare provider. Well, unless you're married to a doctor, how do you go talk to your healthcare provider?

I think we need to do a better job of being able to drive those answers, those top 10 questions and figure out a way to get those answers out there. You know, if Major League Baseball, a couple of times a game were able to put out a public service announcement, or the NFL in their preseason, or corporations decided to take a portion of their ad buys and run PSAs to try to help folks keep this economy open.

Because the big worry for me, Pamela, is how many more starts and stops can this economy take before we see really, really long term damage done that a stimulus package in your mailbox can't help?

BROWN: And I just want to -- I want to go back because there is the economic consideration, but in terms of vaccine mandates, and I know you're against the mask mandates as well. But, you know, Republicans, their whole, you know, talking point on this or principle is that the government shouldn't be telling people what to do. It should be a personal choice.

That sounds kind of like what you're saying. But we know now from the science and from what doctors are saying that people who were unvaccinated are essentially keeping this pandemic going strong, and they're impacting other people, and causing other people to go to the hospital, causing breakthrough cases potentially with vaccinated people.

So in light of that, how much of a personal choice is it really, when you look at it through the sort of scientific medical lens?

DUNCAN: So, you know, I'm one of those folks that don't think that we're ever going to find a solution trying to create, you know, political positions on this. I think we need to go try to dig in and find solutions. And for me, look, we're never going to get a hundred percent of people in this country or in this world vaccinated, right? That's a reality.

If I'm sitting in a boardroom with a large, publicly traded company, you've got to -- you've got to deal with reality, and the reality is not everyone is going to get vaccinated. So, let's try to get as many vaccinated as we possibly can. Let's try to get as many questions answered as we possibly can to get folks there.

And like I said, if this was a priority of major sports organizations, or teams, or large corporations that just need to make sure they still have fans in the seats so they can keep their businesses alive or make sure folks are able to walk into their store, then I hope, I invite them to be a part of this process in educating America to try to get the last 50 percent vaccinated because that's ultimately the solution here.

BROWN: Okay, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, thanks so much for joining us here on the show. We appreciate it. Thanks for your time.

DUNCAN: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: And the reminder tonight that when it comes to getting the vaccine, hesitation can be harmful. A COVID survivor who got the virus after putting off getting the shot is here to share his mistake and the hopes no one else repeats it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:42:32]

BROWN: Tonight, a COVID survivor says he made the wrong decision by not getting vaccinated and now, he is pleading with others to avoid the same mistake. Forty-one-year-old Quentin Bowen says he started feeling sick in May. A few days later, he was fighting for his life in a hospital bed, unable to walk, and breathing through a tube.

Well, Bowen says, he put off getting vaccinated, not for any political reasons, but like so many Americans, he just never got around to it.

And Quentin Bowen joins me now from his home in Nebraska. Thank you so much for coming on. First of all, how are you doing right now?

QUENTIN BOWEN, CONTRACTED COVID AFTER NOT GETTING VACCINATED: Oh, I'd say I'm probably about 75 or 80 percent. I'm at the point right now that that I find myself trying to do more than I can, you know, get to a certain level and the oxygen drops off to about 80, but it comes right back.

BROWN: And just to be clear, tell us how long you have been dealing with COVID?

BOWEN: Fever started on May 16th. I actually got over COVID, I was still fighting the viral pneumonia, of course on like the 25th. But then the 27th is when I experienced some blood clotting and the pulmonary embolism.

So -- and just to correct, too, I didn't put off getting a vaccination. I actually had scheduled it two times and work prompted me to cancel the appointment and not get it. So, you know, I didn't think I wasn't going to get sick. But, yes.

BROWN: OK. Thanks for correcting that.

BOWEN: I just wanted to correct that part.

BROWN: That was our misunderstanding. Our understanding was that you basically like so many other people had said, you know, I'll get around to it, but you're saying you had signed up to get the vaccine, and twice you couldn't, because of work. You're a farmer. It was a busy season for you. Right?

BOWEN: Yes, that's correct. I didn't fit -- I didn't think I fit the profile is who COVID attacked. I was healthy. I was younger, and I was going to get it and I figured, you know, I had been exposed to it before and never got it. So, I thought I had time.

BROWN: So you had been -- okay, and so just to be clear, this was in May when you first contracted it. Here we are in August, and you're still dealing with COVID.

BOWEN: That's correct.

BROWN: How do you feel about how it all played out with the vaccine -- your vaccine appointments being canceled and then getting COVID and now dealing with it for so many months?

[19:45:07]

BOWEN: Well, it's like I had a friend call me the other day and asked me what I thought about it because he thought he had maybe COVID in the fall. And, you know, thought he couldn't get it again. And I told him, I said that morning that I was leaving the house, headed to the hospital, I knew I wasn't coming home that day. And I didn't know if I'd come home ever.

And I told him, I said, telling my kids, goodbye and that I love them. You don't want to do that. You do not want to be in that situation. That's one of the worst things I ever had to do.

BROWN: And what was going through your mind, as you were going -- saying that to your family?

BOWEN: Just that, you know, what a whirlwind this is. I mean, I woke up that morning, my oxygen was severely low, I had been gasping for air at a point in time during the middle of the night. And the nurse told me to get to the emergency room. So, at that point I didn't know I had a pulmonary embolism, but I knew that things weren't good and that things could get out of hand.

BROWN: And what would you say to people at home who still aren't vaccinated?

BOWEN: Well, kind of like what I said about what when I called my friend, you know, telling your loved ones goodbye, if you've got to go to the hospital and just at that situation, I mean, it's in your hands entirely, take the vaccine, or to not take the vaccine, but once you walk through the hospital doors, it's all out of your hands, and it's in God's hands and I guess, there's no need to tempt Him or to trial Him.

BROWN: Right. You don't want to get to that point when you can do something like take a vaccine.

BOWEN: That's right.

BROWN: And prevent that from happening. All right, Quentin, thank you for joining the show. I'm glad that you're doing better and I hope that you will be back to yourself how you were pre-COVID in no time.

BOWEN: All righty, thank you, ma'am.

BROWN: Thank you. Well, remember when it felt like FOX News was finally being responsible with its vaccine coverage? That did not last long.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: So, if your employer tries to force you to get medicine you don't need and threatens to fire you if you don't, our unsolicited advice is resist, threaten to sue, make a lot of noise. Don't go along with it. You're an American you don't have to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Is the mixed messaging on vaccines harming the viewers they are supposed to inform? Brian Stelter is here to share his take, up next.

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[19:52:02]

BROWN: A major source of COVID vaccine misinformation is the right- wing media, and one of its most popular channels, FOX just can't seem to decide whether getting the shot is a good idea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: If your kids are over 12, you probably ought to get the shot.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: All right, but go see your doctor and decide what you want to do. That's who usually people go to for medical advice, doctors.

DOOCY: I didn't go to a doctor before I got the shot.

KILMEADE: Well, that's your decision.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: That's your choice.

DOOCY: Absolutely.

KILMEADE: That's your decision. But I don't think anchors should be recommending medical advice.

EARHARDT: Yes.

DOOCY: Well, you know, but a lot of people have been tuning in to the show for 25 years to see what we think about different things. I think if you have the opportunity, get the shot. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So Fox hosts on one program say get the shot, while others like the network's primetime personality, Tucker Carlson, rails against the vaccine, calling it medicine you don't need, which is interesting because as you well know, CNN chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, Tucker has also said we shouldn't be in the business of telling people to get a shot, but yet he's very comfortable, clearly raising doubts about the vaccine and saying -- and basically undermining the vaccine, right?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and unfortunately, that continues to be the dominant narrative of right-wing media. When we talk about vaccine acceptance, people deciding finally to get shots, this is about person to person and one-on-one communication, because the media sources that vaccine hesitant people are watching and listening to are continuing to do damage, are continuing to sow doubt.

Every once in a while, you'll see a headline about some right-wing star who has been converted, who is telling the truth about the vaccine, who is urging its fans to get vaccinated. But unfortunately, the reality is more -- every day, the main narrative is about being hesitant, about being resistant, about being skeptical for no good reason.

Right now, one of the most popular narratives, Pamela, is about the border, saying, well, there's all these migrants crossing the border, and they might have COVID and that's really a distraction technique to say, look at those sick people who could be sick and infected. It's a typical kind of trope that goes back decades that has racist tendencies and histories, and we're hearing a lot of that from right- wing media.

So in other words, they are worried about the border, but they're not worried about their fellow neighbors getting the shot -- Pamela.

BROWN: And now Tucker Carlson is in Hungary, lavishing praise on that country's ultra-nationalist President Viktor Orban claiming that Hungary is freer than the U.S. What's going on here?

STELTER: This is an example of Tucker Carlson resisting American democracy, promoting an alternative and he was giving a speech today in Budapest basically talking down America. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: There's a lot I don't know about Hungary, but I know a robust political system when I see one, I think America is the greatest country in the world. I will always think that, but don't tell me it's freer than Hungary, because that's a lie.

[19:55:07]

STELTER: Hungary is ruled by an autocrat who has been consolidating control, censoring the media, clamping down on the Free Press. So, what Tucker is doing there in Budapest, he wouldn't be able to do if he was a Hungarian broadcaster speaking out against Hungary's leader. He is able to do that because he's an American broadcaster, who is free to roam around the world looking for alternatives.

But this reminds me, Pamela about what we're hearing about the Olympics, some right-wing broadcasters criticizing in the U.S., talking down America's athletes. It's as if they are so frustrated by America they're going out looking for alternatives, and that's what guys like Tucker Carlson seem to be doing.

BROWN: All right, Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

Be sure to join Brian for "RELIABLE SOURCES" tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

And coming up, my interview with the attorney for embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. We'll be right back.

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