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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Phone Hacking Trial Has British Media Buzzing; "60 Minutes" Returns to Benghazi; Interview with Bill Keller; Interview with Glenn Greenwald
Aired November 3, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, CNN HOST: Across the Atlantic, a case that promises to reveal secrets on how Rupert Murdoch's tabloids really operated, and the cozy relations of his editors with top political figures and law enforcement officials -- revelations stemming from charges of phone hacking and bribery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Former editors of the now defunct British tabloid accused of snooping for snoops by eavesdropping on phone calls. That newspaper was owned by the corporation that owns and operates this channel.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN: It will be fascinating to hear what comes out of it. It changed how the tabloid media operated in Great Britain.
MARK WHITE SKY NEWS: The court was told that the "News of the World" paid private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in excess of 100,000 pounds a year for his hacking duties. Prosecutors say this must have required high level approval.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOLKENFLIK: A rending "60 Minutes" report on the failure to protect staffers at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, hinges in part of a source whose credibility has been challenged. We'll look at a story and that source and how it has become a political football.
Plus, an intense exchange between two journalistic heavy weights: Bill Keller of "The New York Times" and Glenn Greenwald, most recently "The Guardian", square off over what form of journalism holds power to account.
And if you thought to start a new 24-hour cable channel, you might not promote it like this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
FOLKENFLIK: Those were actors but that was the debut of Fusion TV. A new news outlet showing more of "Glee" as it appeals to a diverse generation of young viewers. I'm David Folkenflik and this is RELIABLE SOURCES.
FOLKENFLIK: Good morning. I'm David Folkenflik of NPR News.
This week marked the start of a trial expected to transfix the British public for months. It centers on charges that editors of the tabloid "News of the World" conspired to hack into mobile phone voice mail messages and to pay bribes to police and other public officials for information that was supposed to be kept private.
The tabloid was the best-selling Sunday paper of Rupert Murdoch's News Corps, and he shut it down two years ago when the scandal reached its height. But the most surprising revelation involved evidence from prosecutors showing that two of Murdoch's top editors Rebekah Brooks and Andrew Coulson, had an affair lasting six years. Coulson went on to serve as Prime Minister David Cameron's chief PR executive.
To discuss the coverage in the trial this week, in New York, we have Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and she's the former director of digital at "The Guardian".
And in London on, we have Peter Jukes, an author who spent a week in the courtroom covering the drama for "The Daily Beast."
Peter, what have we learned this week?
PETER JUKES, AUTHOR: Well, the obvious thing is the affair. But, actually, that wasn't really fascinating to me because it was then followed in prosecutor's allegations, and the allegations at this stage about the affairs and way that journalists were approaching affairs of two senior ministers, two home secretaries and John Prescott, the deputy prime minister.
So, you have that fascinating combination of, you know, an affair among two senior tabloid journalists and then, effectively, whatever means we don't know yet presenting ministers with their affairs and threatening to expose them.
JUKES: But three editors -- sorry.
FOLKENFLIK: I was saying, so far, this is all based on allegations presented by prosecutors, of course. Defense hasn't even started to make a case.
FOLKENFLIK: Emily Bell, what is --
JUKES: So, but that --
FOLKENFLIK: Sorry, go ahead. JUKES: Yes, I was going to say the other thing is that three editors in succession pleaded -- news editors pleaded guilty. That was really the big headline here and the affair.
FOLKENFLIK: That's absolutely.
Emily Bell, what surprised you in the months and even in two years since the hacking scandal broke into the open about the way in which the Murdoch press against which you used to compete operates?
EMILY BELL, THE GUARDIAN: Well, I guess when you cover the U.K. press, which I used to as a media correspondent, you're sort of aware there are a series of practices that people talk about but you never really see them exposed. And as Peter was saying, the way that the press operated in stark truth -- in other words, going into minister's offices saying we know you're having an affair. And then seeing back story of how widespread this was, you know, that's shocking even if you knew about it.
The other thing which has been very surprising in the past two years is how much impact it's had on overall press in the U.K. There's been a great deal of debate and finally a conclusion as to how the press should no longer be self-regulated but actually should be regulated from -- if you like -- a royal charter (ph), which is passed by parliament. And that's been a huge change.
So, I think there's been a very tumultuous period in British journalism. It hasn't quite reached here maybe in the way that we thought it would. Rupert Murdoch --
BELL: -- may remain pretty isolated from it.
FOLKENFLIK: Well, and the restrictions you describe that are being proposed and beaten around by various political figures there and various press industry figures there -- of course, offer restrictions and limitations that would be anathema for journalists here.
Peter, I wonder if we can go back to an affair for a moment just because, you know, it's a moment where you see these two tabloid editors, as you say, you know, intent on sending their reporters not just according to prosecutors but according to the coverage in there, out to report on the private lives of these people. And yet, the secret that they themselves hold while married, you know, that they themselves have a romantic involvement.
Is there anything more than to it than that or is it simply a symbolism of private lives and of the fact that they are spanning both industry and in Mr. Coulson's case, governmental positions?
JUKES: I think it's a key part of the prosecution case. That what Andy Coulson knew, Brooks knew, because we have, you know, that editorship crossing over. He was her deputy at "News of the World" and she went to "The Sun".
So, as Emily mentioned, not sensitive with their private lives in that they had intimate contact like during the Milly Dowler case. Now, that was the most heart-rending in a way. There was mention in court, an invoice from private investigators, Glenn Mulcaire, who hacked Milly Dowler, you know, this murdered teenager, hacked a phone that said Milly Dowler voice messages and the invoice was paid in full.
So, I think it's much more about that -- the salacious stuff about affair is much more the prosecution case, not proven, to say they were working it together, and therefore, there's a conspiracy.
FOLKENFLIK: Sure. Peter, I just wonder, you know, we're talking about different regulations and restrictions on the press. Just in coverage of this trial, as in with all trials in the U.K., there are limitations not faced by reporters here in the U.S. Could you briefly sketch out what some of those limitations are and what you can put in print?
JUKES: Well, it's very difficult. I've been to a lot of pretrial hearings. Let's say there are many pages of restrictions.
But to be fair to the prosecutors and the court really, in the U.K. we have Article Six, Human Rights Convention. A fair trial is more important than freedom of speech. There's lots to stop any juror being prejudiced by stuff that's inadmissible or, for example, guilty pleas --
JUKES: -- which we've known about for a while. The jury could not know beforehand, very different from the American system, but very complicated for a reporter.
FOLKENFLIK: Well, a different balance being struck in the U.K. than in the U.S. Restrictions at a time where we talk about newsrooms allegedly were operating beyond the law.
Peter Jukes, Emily, thank you so much for joining us to talk about this topic.
BELL: Thank you.
FOLKENFLIK: After the break, a "60 Minutes" report includes a new eyewitness account from the attack in Benghazi and ignites a political firestorm. Well, some critics are now casting about the story and that source. We'll take a look at the argument, next.
FOLKENFLIK: In the year since the attack on the American mission in Benghazi, media and members of the Congress have reached a rough consensus on one thing, that the whole story of what happened that day had yet to be told. Last week on CBS's "60 Minutes", a report by correspondent Lara Logan provided new details, including a never before heard eyewitness account from a British security officer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DYLAN DAVIES, FORMER SECURITY OFFICER: One guy shouted. I couldn't believe he seen me because it was so dark. He started walking toward me.
LARA LOGAN, CBS NEWS: And as he was coming closer --
DAVIS: As he got closer, I just hit him with the butt of the rifle in the face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOLKENFLIK: That report inspired Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to make a renewed call for hearings, but it also inspired questions about that eyewitness. "The Washington Post" reported that the security agent had filed an after-action report telling a different tale.
Last night, the security contractor Dylan Davies told "The Daily Beast" he didn't write the report and that he was smeared.
Joining me here in Washington to help sort out that story and its implications: Eli Lake, senior national security correspondent for "The Daily Beast", who co-wrote that story, and Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker" and a CNN commentator.
Eli, how do you evaluate credibility in a case like this where you see conflicting versions of accounts given about what happened?
ELI LAKE, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, it's difficult. And Josh and I are still trying to get another corroboration witnesses of exactly what Mr. Davies/Jones did that evening.
But I would say this -- what he told us about how he disobeyed orders from his superior and lied to him absolutely coheres to what he wrote in his book. So, this is not an explanation that comes after this memo is there. And the memo itself we couldn't find the signature of Davies and the fact he says he didn't write it I think definitely adds more context to this story.
FOLKENFLIK: Does it matter at some point he seems to have given a conflicting account that, you know, if he was there on that day, he was involved in confronting a terrorist, you know --
RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER: Yes.
FOLKENFLIK: I'm willing to give a guy a pass on a jaywalking ticket. But clearly, at some point along the way, he gave a different account.
LIZZA: I mean, look, the issue -- there are a couple questions here. The issue -- the difference between the two accounts is very dramatic, right? In one account, the memo that he tells you he did not write but his superior wrote based on a conversation with him he doesn't go there that night. In the very dramatic book and "60 Minutes" segment, he says, I went there, scaled a 12-foot wall and killed a terrorist with a butt of a gun, right?
So, as a journalist, when I see a very dramatic difference like that, you have to wonder if he's telling the truth on that specific issue.
The larger question of even if he made up that part of the story, does his -- what is he adding to the Benghazi story? He's adding another voice that the security situation in Benghazi before attack was very bad and that the administration should have known about that. I think we already knew that before he came forward, and if administration's goal is to discredit him, it's probably because --
FOLKENFLIK: Perhaps the leaks to "The Washington Post."
LIZZA: By leaking this memo which doesn't comport with what he told "60 Minutes" and what he wrote in his book. That seems to be the reason.
But I think, you know, reporters like Eli who have been following this story more closely than I have I assume will get to the bottom of this. There are other witnesses. There should be other reports. One way or another, we'll find out if the story is true or not.
FOLKENFLIK: Now, we're understanding that "60 Minutes" did not know about this seemingly conflicting report, which does not, as you say, bear his signature, Mr. Davies signature, on it.
In the absence of that knowledge, you know, it seems it's hard for "60 Minutes" to have addressed that. At the same time, your understanding of Benghazi, given your coverage of this, does this affect the larger narrative in any way to have some perhaps chink or vulnerability in this source's credibility?
LAKE: In the broadest sense, I don't think it does because there are so many other people who have come forward about warnings and security situation and how there wasn't enough done in terms of diplomatic security and other things. But I would just say this -- there are two other accounts that exist that have been debriefs of Mr. Davies/Jones. One is a conference call with the FBI, the State Department, and many other intelligence agencies from Doha, when he came -- right after he landed from Benghazi and the other a few weeks later FBI came to his home in Wales.
FOLKENFLIK: So, consistency gives you some confidence?
LIZZA: Did he tell you --
LAKE: I'd like to see those reports and if anybody in the administration would like to leak them, it's email@example.com.
FOLKENFLIK: Ryan, go ahead.
LIZZA: I was going to say, did he tell you that his story to those folks is consistent with what he said on "60 Minutes"?
LAKE: That's exactly what he said. He said that what I told the FBI -- what I told these others is consistent with what's in my memoir and is consistent with what I told "60 Minutes".
FOLKENFLIK: Ryan Lizza, I want to quickly get to one question. It seems to me that this story and CBS has been aggressive on it, used as a political football in some ways.
FOLKENFLIK: And coverage of this story itself has been part of the political discourse. Tell me what the stakes are for people like Republicans on the Hill and for people like Hillary Clinton who was secretary of state at the time of this.
LIZZA: Well, you have Lindsey Graham who is in a very tough Republican primary in South Carolina who is now saying that he's going to hold up all of the Obama nominees until he gets additional answers on Benghazi. There are some people that still haven't been interviewed that he wants.
You know, for -- this -- for better or worse, this is one of those stories where all liberals believe it's overblown and all conservatives believe it's the heart of a dark conspiracy and there's not a lot of people who look objectively at the case. It's one of those weird stories in our political culture that becomes completely polarized.
And, frankly, I think the people who believe that Benghazi is some big cover-up aren't going to change their minds and the folks who think Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong aren't going to change their minds. And I doubt this will be a huge political issue for her going forward.
FOLKENFLIK: A moment where politics makes the journalism of this polarized as well.
Ryan Lizza, Eli Lake, thank you so much both for coming in to talk about this issue.
LAKE: Thank you.
FOLKENFLIK: After the break, to be impartial or adversarial? How is journalism best practiced? Bill Keller and Glenn Greenwald take sides.
FOLKENFLIK: Bill Keller served as foreign correspondent and rose to be executive editor of "The New York Times," is now a columnist on the opinion pages and that's where he thinks opinions should stay. He watched the disclosure of NSA secrets by "The Guardian" this year with interest, as that paper's lead reporter Glenn Greenwald championed a different brand of reporting that he calls adversarial journalism. In his video, reporters should declare their personal beliefs upfront.
This past week, Keller dedicated his column to a lengthy exchange with Greenwald.
I sat down with Bill Keller earlier to discuss it.
FOLKENFLIK: Bill Keller, thank you so much for joining us.
BILL KELLER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's a pleasure.
FOLKENFLIK: It's quite intense exchange. I mean, part of that was based not only in your sense of timing, but also in your sense of collusion of ideas about perhaps advance. He argues, you know, that the idea of impartiality is fundamentally flawed, that truly voiced journalism, people who are willing to not only acknowledge beliefs but acknowledge them publicly can best pursue it, the kind of adversarial reporting that he advocates.
What's wrong with that approach?
KELLER: There's nothing wrong with that approach. It's not the only approach that works. I mean, look, there has been great adversarial journalism in this country over the years. I mean, just been reading about the Muckraker era, the progressive era, the turn of the 20th century, when Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell were aggressively going after the trusts and corrupt political machines and they wrote with real edge to them. They also had the facts. They had the information.
But more and more, we're now in an era where thanks to the Internet, anybody with broadband access can be a commentator. And that's great, the democratizing effect of the Internet has been by and large a good thing. It's kind of pulled mainstream media down from sort of god-like stature that it had for so long. And that's terrific.
But I think in that world more than ever when you have these kind of cacophony of points of view, it's really useful to have somebody who tries to sort of play the arbiter.
And, you know, the shortcoming of activist or adversarial journalism is two-fold. If you go into a story with you know what's right, you won't listen to opposing points of view and gave them the same respect. And I think you should go into news coverage with some sense of humility. A lot of times the stuff that we really think we know is wrong and we should be prepared to have that proven in the course of our investigation.
The other thing is if you declare your point of view publicly, the other thing that kicks in is this human nature, the sense of pride. Once you have announced that you are for x, there is at least subconsciously a temptation to stick up for that point of view in your writing, maybe give short drift to the facts that don't quite confirm your point of view, or to frame the debate in a way that's not impartial.
FOLKENFLIK: In your response, it sounds like your pricing, as well as, you know, the intensity of reporting that appears on pages of "The New York Times" certain values like humility, like civility, like respectfulness. These are not ones I would ascribe to Glenn Greenwald. And, in fact, he suggests in your extensive exchange it kind of gets in the way of the kind of toughest questions and truth telling he thinks people needed to hear.
He, you know, obviously, he refers to events in not just "The Times'" history but, you know, failure of the press corps writ large like WMDs and others that led up to the Iraq war, where he says, you know, a certain kind of gentility will fail to get at the heart of the question and get under the official utterances.
KELLER: Yes. You know, sometimes he sometimes put in our exchange, portrays it as if what impartial journalist do is stenography. You take down what one guy says, you take down what the other guys, and you sort of president it to readers with no judgment or analysis implied. And I don't think anybody who reads "The New York Times" or "The Washington Post" or any of the sort of serious mainstream news organizations believes that.
I mean, civility means you listen respectfully up to the point where somebody is lying to you. And if somebody is lying to you and you can demonstrate it, you say so. You know, humility means that you offer people a chance to poke holes in whatever working thesis you have developed. But it doesn't mean, for example, that you give equal time for people who are -- deny climate change.
FOLKENFLIK: Although we have certainly seen instances of that. You know, there are moments --
KELLER: It's false equivalency.
FOLKENFLIK: Yes, sure.
FOLKENFLIK: You make a distinction in your exchange between the idea of objectivity and impartiality. I think to the lay reader, they see these concepts as being roughly the same thing. Tell me about the distinction you draw in your mind about these ideas?
KELLER: Over the years, objective has been applied to the kind of journalism we do almost indiscriminately. I tend to avoid the word because it implies the kind of absolute pure truth. You know, it's the objective truth. And, in fact, most of what we do, whether it's what I do or what "Times" reporters do or what Glenn Greenwald does is aspirational. We're trying to get at the truth but, you know, be wary of the guy who says he's got the absolute truth.
FOLKENFLIK: Could one not argue in the digital age in this time where we can all access anything we want at element any time news- wise, that you almost need each other to co-exist. I mean, "The Times" can validate certain things and yet they can leverage certain kinds of information enforce topics to the fore in a way that you might feel you can't quite responsibly do.
KELLER: I think there is some truth in that. I mean, I think, you know, what -- you can read the comments on our exchange and you will see that there are still people out there who think that Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden should be locked up if not hung. There is a lot of passion around this subject.
But I think that on the whole, Greenwald as journalist and Snowden as the leaker have forced us to face to have a debate that is long overdue. And to deal with the fact that there is inadequate accountability for the kind of information gathering that goes on in our intelligence community. I think sometimes people like Glenn Greenwald or Julian Assange served a purpose by bring us, sort of brokers of information that we for one reason or another wouldn't get.
And second of all, they serve a purpose by goading us when we slack and we do. Newspapers are put out by human beings and human beings make mistakes. So, I think, yes, there is a kind of uneasy, sometimes contentious, but, yes, we co-exist and sometimes, it almost reaches the stage of symbiosis.
FOLKENFLIK: It's a fascinating exchange. We'll make sure to put a link up on CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES Web site. Thank so much for coming in today and joining us.
KELLER: You're welcome.
FOLKENFLIK: Next, my conversation with Glenn Greenwald on why he thinks Bill Keller and "The New York Times" had formula for journalism exactly backward.
FOLKENFLIK: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. We just heard Bill Keller's view that it is vital for reporters to leave their beliefs at home. Now a sharply opposing take from the law and civil liberties activist turned reporter, Glenn Greenwald. He is leaving "The Guardian" to create a new news organization to pursue adversarial journalism, and he is backed by a billionaire. Greenwald joined me earlier from Rio de Janeiro, where he lives.
FOLKENFLIK: Glenn Greenwald, thank you so much for joining us.
GLENN GREENWALD, "THE GUARDIAN": Good to be with you.
FOLKENFLIK: As we've just heard from Bill Keller, a little bit of a debate broke out here.
Tell me why you engaged in this back-and-forth and what you feel you learned from it.
GREENWALD: It's a debate that has been percolating in media for at least 10 years or so since the advent of blogs, which really arose out of dissatisfaction with large media outlets and I think there's a split among journalists about whether or not these traditional rules for how reporters have to conduct themselves -- which are really quite recent, despite how institutional they have become -- are really optimal or whether a looser and more passionate form of new media reporting is something that produces better journalism.
And so I think we represent both schools very purely and so the opportunity to have a debate I thought was instructive in lots of different ways.
FOLKENFLIK: He concedes the role that an opinionated press -- in some ways an advocacy press -- has played over the years, the decades and throughout American history and yet at the same time, you know, in your exchange with Bill Keller you called it fundamentally dishonest of reporters working for self-described impartial news outlets, not to put on the table the cards their own personal beliefs they might express at home.
Why is that dishonest in your terms?
GREENWALD: Because it's pretending to be something they cannot possibly be. Human beings, all of us, are inherently subjective beings. We perceive the world through all kinds of highly subjective prisms, whether it be nationalistic or cultural or religious or socioeconomic or all sorts of other experiences that shape the way we look at the world, what our values are and most importantly what assumptions we embrace that are quite debatable and subjective.
And so as a journalist, I think it's much more honest and healthy to tell my readers these are the opinions that I have; these are the political values I believe in. These are the outcomes I hope to see achieved and now here's my reporting in the context of what I'm telling you truthfully are the ways that I look at the world that you can then incorporate into how you assess what I'm telling you.
"The New York Times" and these other media institutions pretend not to have those and they pretend to float above it and to have objective perspective that is really quite deceitful and is not how human beings think about the world.
FOLKENFLIK: And I asked Bill Keller about that and pressed him on the distinction between objective, which even he backs away from the notion of impartial, which is I guess the idea that that sense of who I might be or who another reporter might be as a political animal might not be what gets a reporter out of bed in the morning.
It might not be what animates them in the same way it animates someone like you.
Why shouldn't that be a perfectly legitimate way to approach reporting the news? Bill Keller says that's really in some ways the only way he thinks you can arrive at putting together assembling the truth from the facts that you find as opposed to finding the truth and direction you're already looking.
GREENWALD: Look, I think there's room for all of it. Let readers decide which they find most valuable. I think the important thing to realize here is that it isn't new media people, for lack of a better word like myself, who are arguing that this way of doing things is intrinsically corrupting and invalid and it shouldn't be permitted.
I recognize that media institutions that adopt this way of thinking or being produce good journalism, including "The New York Times," lots of good journalism. It's really these older, bigger institutions that try and impose this model that's very suffocating and constraining onto everyone else.
The context of our debate was that Bill Keller said in "The New Yorker" that he would never have allowed me as somebody who expresses opinions to take the lead in reporting on the NSA stories.
So my argument is that this view, that unless you pretend not to have opinions, unless you just conceal from your readers all the things you think, you can't be a good journalist, that's what's illegitimate.
What determines whether you're a good journalist is not whether you abide by these obsolete rules for how you behave, but whether or not what you're saying and telling your readers is accurate and factual. That's really the nub of good journalism. And there are different ways to do that.
FOLKENFLIK: I want to turn to your new venture with the co- founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar. He said he's willing to plunk down a significant amount of money to create anew, instead of buying something like "The Washington Post," but to spend a couple hundred million dollars doing this.
What is this going to allow you that "The Guardian" hasn't afforded you in recent months as you pursued these Snowden revelations?
GREENWALD: Well, it isn't so much that "The Guardian" hasn't allowed me certain things that this new venture will.
The opportunity that I was presented, which is to help build a new media organization from the ground up and one that's designed from the beginning to maximize and empower the independence of adversarial journalism is just something I found irresistible, to be able to just build it all from scratch and to do different and some innovative things.
A big part of what we intend to do is to eliminate these sorts of obsolete relics, these constraints on how journalists can think and behave, to encourage the passion of journalism, the vitality of it, and the spirit of it that says it's designed to be an adversary to those wield the greatest power economically and politically and not a sort of partner with those factions or a servant to them, amplifying their voices.
That's really the vision that we're building and pursuing.
FOLKENFLIK: Just to end where we started, Bill Keller said I respect the idea of adversarial journalism and at the same time sometimes civility and respect means you listen and hear things that you would otherwise miss, even as you're trying to hold accountable, holding feet to the fire of those who control government.
What's wrong with the idea of a little -- as Keller puts it -- humility and civility in the mix?
GREENWALD: The problem with places like "The New York Times" and similar institutions is that the civility and the listening and the humility tends to get directed only toward the most powerful people in our society, the very ones that need checks the greatest.
That's why "The New York Times" record over the last 10 years is things like laundering false claims about Iraqi WMDs that led us to a horrible war or suppressing news of the warrantless eavesdropping program at the behest of the Bush White House through his reelection, and all sorts of other suppression of information that political officials asked them to suppress that the public had a right to know that had effect of misleading and propagandizing the public.
That's what happens when you accommodate too excessively and engage in too much humility with those in power. I think the powerless deserve to be heard with humility and need a lot more accommodation.
But the people in power in the United States have received way too much of that humility from the supposed watchdog press and that's one of the things we intend to rectify.
FOLKENFLIK: Well, it sounds like you are promising a lot of scrutiny and tough advocacy journalism, adversarial journalism, if you words, not so much of the humility. Glenn Greenwald we very much appreciate your coming to talk with us about this.
GREENWALD: Thank you, David, for having me.
FOLKENFLIK: Adversarial both directions: British authorities have accused Greenwald's life partner of espionage for helping his reporting.
Up next, we'll take a look at a new network that's hoping to fuse a younger elusive demographic to the habit of watching television news.
FOLKENFLIK: Spanish-speaking channels like Univision and NBC's Telemundo have long dominated the viewing diet of America's Latino population. But according to the Pew Research Center, second- and third-generation Latinos are choosing to watch TV in English instead of their grandparents' native Spanish. ABC and Univision have joined now to create Fusion, an English language news network aimed at Millennials, 18 to 29 years old, a notoriously hard-to-please demographic. It's a fascinating move but not one guaranteed of success.
Most networks are fighting off the erosion of audiences. To help us tease out what the future might hold for this Fusion of news and fun with a Latin beat, we turn to Christina Norman, a media strategist and former head of the OWN network and MTV.
And here in Washington I'm joined by Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at Pew.
Mark, Christina, thank you so much for joining us.
Mark, kick us off by sketching out the demographic challenge to Univision on the one hand in Spanish and ABC on the other.
MARK HUGO LOPEZ, DIRECTOR OF HISPANIC RESEARCH, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: The Latino population in the U.S. is changing in many different ways. But one of the key ways it's changing is in terms of where people are born and the languages that they speak.
If you take a listen at young Latinos under the age of 18, for example, 93 percent were born in the United States. When you take a look at those 18 to 29, it's two-thirds. But for the other part of the Latino population, the majority were born abroad, and they speak Spanish and they tend to get their news from only one source, which is generally Spanish television news.
But young people are doing something very different. They are looking to many different sources -- Internet, television, et cetera -- and English is often the language of choice among these young people when it comes to consuming news, but even when it comes to entertainment, like television or music. They prefer English.
FOLKENFLIK: So, Christina, as a programmer, as somebody who's runs major networks, tell me a little bit about what you think of what you've seen so far from Fusion.
CHRISTINA NORMAN, FORMER OWN CHIEF EXECUTIVE: I think Fusion is really exciting. And I think they have really tapped into something that is going to have success, that's really growing.
One interesting statistic that I've seen is that the youth population that identifies themselves as multiracial has grown by 50 percent since 2000. There's now -- that's the fastest growing youth segment in this country right now. Those are the kind of people that Fusion is looking to attract. And I think they are off to a great start.
FOLKENFLIK: Is that a strong enough niche, or am I thinking of it too minutely, on which to base a successful cable news channel?
NORMAN: Well, I don't think it's just a news channel. I think they have been positioning themselves as news, pop culture, satire. I also think that the partnership with Disney is what's really key to the success.
The Disney Channel has for years attracted Hispanic audiences and they've been very -- they were one of the leaders in making sure their programming was available on the ABC network and SAP.
If you look at The Disney Channel, those shows are cast with a very multiracial group of young people. Those are the people that grew up watching those shows. Here is the next step for them with Fusion.
FOLKENFLIK: Mark, I wonder, you know, as you look at this and you think about the ways in which this generation of Latinos are perhaps straying from the patterns set by their parents and particularly grandparents, don't they also, however, reflect the same disconnect with major outlets that their non-Latino peers do? That is a lot of them are turning away from cable TV and away from TV in general.
LOPEZ: That's exactly right. We see that in some of the data that we have been looking at, particularly as you see when it comes to news consumption, young Latinos going to many different news sources. And television is less important for them than it is for their parents.
But I think it's also interesting to note that young Latinos today are growing up in a world where their identity is really being emphasized in a way that their parents didn't quite see when they were growing up. That's something else that I think is timely with Fusion's launch but also reflects some of the differences that make today's young Latinos unique.
FOLKENFLIK: So, Mark, there are other news organizations now present that might not have been a decade ago that at least reflect an international or multicultural sensibility. Al Jazeera America now, the BBC is stronger in America than it once was.
Is this more likely to appeal to Latinos because of its specific focus?
Or is it a question of just being more broadly engaged with the world around?
LOPEZ: I think it's a combination of both, but particularly young Latinos and what we have seen in our data, in our analysis, they really are looking for and following things that are related to the community, but have that U.S. somewhat broader, more young people in America with diversity, that that's also part of what they're looking for as well.
FOLKENFLIK: Christina, what kinds of stories would you expect Fusion over time to take a lead on, to show the way for other news organizations in their focus as a way of appealing to this demographic and also as a way of serving it?
NORMAN: Well, I think there's the obvious stories, obviously you'll expect them to explore immigration and issues around jobs. But I also think what's going to be interesting about what Fusion does is the perspective, what is the point of view that they bring to it. And I think that's one of the places in which they can really forge a unique identity which is by making sure that they're covering these stories from the Millenial point of view, using the sources that the Millenials use to get their information, making sure that they're all over social media.
Those are really going to be ways in which they connect with this audience.
FOLKENFLIK: And Mark, just quickly, do you think that this is going to ultimately, over time, be trumped as a more Millenial outlet, or do you think ultimately it will retain its Latino flavor, if it's going to be able to succeed?
LOPEZ: Well, I think its Latino flavor will be part of it simply because Latinos are such a big part of the Millenial generation. So moving forward, I expect that to continue. But I think you'll also see Latino culture become a larger part of Millenial culture as Latinos become a bigger part of the youth population.
FOLKENFLIK: And you were telling me at one point the fastest growing part of the population of -- subsection of the fastest growing part of the population, correct?
LOPEZ: That's correct. Yes, and that's exactly what I think is really interesting, is one in five 18- to 29-year olds today are Hispanic. When you take a look at those under the age of 5, it's more than one in four.
FOLKENFLIK: Well, terrific stuff.
Christina Norman, I appreciate your coming in in Los Angeles.
Mark Hugo Lopez, thanks for coming here in studio. We appreciate it very much.
Up next, breaking news and bad information: they seem as inseparable as Batman and Robin. But why should we accept that?
FOLKENFLIK: To err is human. In that case, man, maybe reporters, anchors and producers covering breaking news are more human than most.
The shooting at LAX Airport in Los Angeles, while tragic on its merits, brings fresh proof. NBC News had to correct its tweet and a report on CNBC that the gunman had been killed. He hadn't.
A tweet from a stunt account claimed the AP and Reuters were reporting that former NSA Director Michael Hayden had been killed. They hadn't made such a report, and Mr. Hayden is very much alive.
The Toronto "Globe and Mail" and other journalists on Twitter fell for that one.
Joining me today here in Washington, D.C., is Erik Wemple, media critic at "The Washington Post."
Erik, Don Byers (ph) of "Politico" says at this point on breaking news it doesn't matter if people things get wrong.
ERIK WEMPLE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I don't know. In this case we didn't misidentify the assailant as we did in Newtown --
FOLKENFLIK: So you've got that going for it.
WEMPLE: Maybe this is a win. I mean, and one of the main media outlets that stumbled in this is in Canada, which is outside of my media critic jurisdiction. So I -- you know, this is --
FOLKENFLIK: So, in a sense, is this a win, we had those things wrong? There were implications early on in the number of reports that the shooter might well be an TSA employee?
So these things come out in the first minutes and hours that seem to misdirect the attention of the public.
Why shouldn't that matter?
WEMPLE: Here's my point. My point about all these things is there are two categories of mistakes in a live shooting like this. One is a mistake on atmospherics or fact; the other is a mistake affecting a person.
So if you misidentify the person, in other words, in the Newtown shooting, we thought that Ryan Lanza was the assailant for a while when it turned out that it was Adam Lanza. That affects someone directly. It affects their person. That's a big deal.
Same thing with the Washington Navy Yard, (inaudible).
WEMPLE: CBS and I believe it was NBC both said it was someone whom we won't name that it turned out not to be. That affects that person's lives. As we learn later when reports said, oh, the guy was just freaking out.
The other mistakes like, say, the wrong weapon, other atmospherics aren't as consequential.
FOLKENFLIK: I mean, you know, why shouldn't viewers and readers have an expectation that the places they're turning for for authoritative information will get it right and will, in fact, be authoritative on this? WEMPLE: They should. And I'm not minimizing those other errors. I'm saying which ones are fireable offenses and which are sort of offenses that should prompt news organizations to take a really good look at what they're doing.
The problem is that authorities, just like news organizations, are dealing with preliminary information. Like in the case with the AR-15 at the Navy Yard shooting, when news organizations reported, oh, it was an AR-15 assault rifle, and they were wrong, they were taking that from internal bulletins, I believe the FBI was sending around, saying an AR-15 was involved.
Well, that was wrong. But everybody is scrounging for information at this point.
FOLKENFLIK: But if you're, you know, if Mr. Erik Wemple blog is leading a cable news outlet or is running the social media for major news organizations such as your own or mine, what is the point at which you're willing to pull the trigger on information?
Is it -- are you willing to say we have information that may yet prove to be true?
Or would you rather hold back even as others are putting things online and putting things on the air to make sure that something actually can be sourced on the record to something authoritative?
WEMPLE: I want on the record official confirmation of anything involving a name. Short of that, three sources on any -- three different sources, not sources --
FOLKENFLIK: Three different sources?
WEMPLE: Yes, three different sources -- and one of the things that's a huge problem with this is that oftentimes you have your local law enforcement officials working on a story. And whether it's Boston, whether it's L.A., whether it's D.C., and the federal overlay at the same time --
FOLKENFLIK: Sure, so you have a multiplicity of sources.
WEMPLE: Right and --
FOLKENFLIK: Hard to get right.
WEMPLE: Sometimes they're all talking -- they're all getting the information from one source.
FOLKENFLIK: So in a certain sense, our expectations should be crafted a little differently in these evolving and erupting scenarios, it sounds like.
WEMPLE: Right and never, ever is it forgivable to screw up a name, never.
FOLKENFLIK: Well, it sounds like in other circumstances, what President George W. Bush referred to as the soft bigotry of low expectations, but nonetheless, a more realistic take.
Erik Wemple of "The Washington Post," thanks so much for joining me today.
WEMPLE: Thank you.
FOLKENFLIK: RELIABLE SOURCES has added a correction corner to its blog with links to several sites where you can see now news organizations are correcting those kinds of mistakes. You can tweet the show with suggestions or comments @cnnreliable or use the #reliable.
That's it for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm David Folkenflik of NPR. If you missed any of today's program, you can find it on iTunes. Join us here again next Sunday morning at 11:00 am Eastern.
"STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley begins right now.