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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
"60 Minutes" Retracts Benghazi Story; Checkbook Journalism?; Miami Dolphins Hazing Investigation; News and Diversity; "House of Cards" Season Two
Aired November 10, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIC DEGGANS, CNN HOST: For a week amid growing doubts, CBS's "60 Minutes" stood behind its interview with security official who told of a harrowing experience during the attack in Benghazi. But on Friday, correspondent Laura Logan admitted her story for the legendary news magazine had fallen apart.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARA LOGAN, CBS NEWS: Well, you know, the most important thing to every person at "60 Minutes" is the truth and today the truth is that we made a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEGGANS: We'll look at what went wrong. The effort to expose the mistake, the implications for CBS News and the debate over what really happened in Benghazi that night.
And as details emerge about the relationship between Miami Dolphins players Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, we'll examine how the media has tackled the subject of bullying in the locker room.
Plus, Netflix's Washington, D.C. set drama, "House of Cards", has just wrapped up filming season two.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM NETFLIX/HOUSE OF CARDS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "The Washington Herald", Zoe, it's not TMZ.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know how many people watch TMZ?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's why print journalism is dying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, it will die with dignity. At least at this paper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're stuck in the 20th century, Lucas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEGGANS: I'll talk exclusively with the creator and executive producer about how reporters like me are portrayed.
I'm Eric Deggans and this is RELIABLE SOURCES.
DEGGANS: Two weeks ago CBS's "60 Minutes" released a controversial report detailing new aspects of the embassy attack in Benghazi. At the center of the story was a security officer they called Morgan Jones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM CBS/60 MINUTES)
DYLAN DAVIES, FORMER SECURITY OFFICER: One guy saw me. He just shouted. Couldn't believe he had seen me because it was so dark. He started walking toward me.
LOGAN: And as he was coming closer --
DAVIES: As I got closer, I just hit him with the butt of the rifle in the face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEGGANS: But within days, "The Washington Post" published a story questioning Jones' credibility and revealing his true identity.
DEGGANS: Correspondent Laura Logan came forward with a lengthy apology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOGAN: Well, you know, the most important thing to every person at "60 Minutes" is the truth and today the truth is that we made a mistake. That's very disappointing for any journalist. It's very disappointing for me.
Nobody likes to admit that they made a mistake. But if you do, you have to stand up and take responsibility and you have to say that you are wrong. And in this case, we were wrong.
And he said that he told the FBI the same story that he had told us. But what we now know is that he told the FBI a different story to what he told us and that was the moment for us when we realized that we no longer had confidence in our source and that we were wrong to put him on air and we apologize to our viewers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEGGANS: Now the publisher of Davies' new book has suspended publication and sales. But with more than a year to investigate Davies' claims, how did CBS fall victim to a suspect source?
Joining us in New York, Bill Carter from "The New York Times", who first confirmed discrepancies Davies stories to the FBI and CBS; and in Tampa, Kelly McBride, lead and instructor at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies; and here in D.C., David Brock, founder of Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog group.
Bill, I'm going start with you. The key problem here seems to be that CBS trusted Davies when he said his account to the FBI matched an account in his book and that also in their reporting but you guys at "The New York Times" were able to discover that that wasn't necessarily true.
So what happened here? Where did CBS go wrong?
BILL CARTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it looks like they didn't actually vet the guy thoroughly clearly because they didn't have this information from the FBI and he was telling them that would corroborate the story he told them.
Yet, the FBI, when it was willing to reveal this, undermined the story. They should have been able to find out through their own sources it seems to me in advance that this was not going to be the case. But they went ahead with this because he was the key to the story. They didn't have a lot else that was new and he was telling something exciting and extremely dramatic like hitting someone in the head with a rifle.
DEGGANS: Now, David, you called for "60 minutes" to retract this story more than a week before they actually did. What did you see in reporting that made you question what they were doing and what do you think happened here?
DAVID BROCK, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA: Well, the first thing we saw was the day after the "60 Minutes" report ran. On FOX News, it was disclosed they had used Davies as a source up to the point where he demanded money. So, that was one flag.
Obviously, Davies has a book out from a right wing publisher. That was the second flag.
And then "The Washington Post" story ran, that day, we asked for a retraction. That took quite a while. The excuse that CBS is giving now is that they were dupes. Dupes of what?
I think they were eager and willing dupes of a right wing hoax. They suspended the traditional standards of CBS News and they adopted the shoddy practices of FOX News, and when you get and go down the FOX path, that's where you end up.
And, really, the bigger piece for me is we have written a book called "Benghazi Hoax" for Media Matters and everybody that followed this story for the past 13 months knows that the entire scandal is a hoax. The only reason the story exists is partisan politics, Republicans trying to sabotage health care, and prevent Hillary Clinton from running for president.
DEGGANS: Now, we would expect that from a group like Media Matters, you would see it that way.
Let me turn to Kelly McBride in Tampa.
You are an ethics instructor. Before CBS retracted this story, Lara Logan made a point saying they spent a year investigating this.
So, should there be an independent investigation to figure out what happened with reporting in this story and what do you make of David's allegations about why this story may have happened in the first place?
KELLY MCBRIDE, POYNTER INSTITUTE FOR MEDIA STUDIES: So, whether it's an independent investigator or whether CBS does its own investigation, the really important thing is that they transparently reveal to the public why they made these mistakes. The day after their report came out, "The Washington Post" story pointed out that Davies original account that he gave to his employer was very different. CBS, at that point, was defending the story. So, it makes you think they knew that there was a discrepancy with their source. They knew that there were some red flags.
Normally, when you have something like that as a journalist, you try and resolve it by at least talking to other people at the scene who could confirm that Davies was actually there. Because that's what's being questioned is, was he really at the embassy when it was being attacked? And because they didn't reveal whether they did that, it's -- the public has no idea right now what went wrong with CBS.
Was it -- was it a problem with their reporting or was it a problem that proceeds their reporting where they just accepted this source because he already had a book out, because the book was published by a company that is owned by CBS. There's so many questions that what's really important is revealing the answers to those very specific questions to the public and not necessarily whether it's an independent investigator or an internal investigator.
DEGGANS: OK, I will point out that "The Washington Post" report you talked about came out a few days after the "60 Minutes" report.
So, Bill, I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say is it possible that intelligence and military sources held back news of this incident report and the FBI report from "60 Minutes" in order to let them report something that was false and then kind of ambushed them with this news to you and perhaps to some other sources? Could this have been some kind of weird sucker punch?
CARTER: I think you can guess almost anything in the story because it's clear there are so many agendas at work here. Clearly, the State Department's agenda here was to undermine this report right away. They wanted to do whatever they could to undermine it. And, yes, they obviously leaked that incident report.
The incident report CBS knew something about because they felt like he had already told them he lied to his boss, you know, because he's countermanding orders or whatever. The FBI report was to now be contradiction to that.
But I think you have to take into account that this is a very hot political issue from both sides. You have so many vested interests. Mr. Brock has a book. This guy had a book. There's many interests in this story.
And I think, in a nonpartisan way, to step back and say, why did they make a mistake? I think they believed a guy they shouldn't have believed. That's fundamental part of this and that's what's got them into this situation.
DEGGANS: Now, David, isn't it possible that the core notion at the heart of this controversy about Benghazi that the government should have known that a terrorist attack was being planned for quite some time before it actually happened. Isn't it possible that could be true even though this source for "60 Minutes" turned out to be compromised?
BROCK: First, I just wouldn't equate my book with this false book.
No, here's the thing. I don't know what Lara Logan knew. She spent a year working on this story. If she had paid attention, we would know on the night of the attacks, Mitt Romney politicized this tragedy for his own agenda. He trashed the president. He trashed Secretary Clinton and said they were sympathizing with the attackers.
So, "60 Minutes" and its story is another version of the same hoax and scandal that they unearthed as "60 Minutes" has nothing to do with Benghazi. It's their willingness to be duped by the right.
DEGGANS: Now, Kelly, I'm to go to you, quickly. Is part of the problem here how CBS initially reacted to this story so quick to defend Davies and so unwilling to allow that there might have been a problem?
MCBRIDE: Yes. That's part of the problem.
The bigger problem though is them not being open about their reporting process. Why were they so quick to defend him given the fact that there was a discrepancy about his actual presence there? They made you think they had done their due diligence.
So, now, to come back two weeks later and for them to say, actually, we didn't do our due diligence on this makes you really question what was going on in the year that they said they reported this story.
DEGGANS: Yes. And so do you think what they have to do tonight -- we don't know what they're going to say on "60 Minutes", to reveal more about how they made this mistake, is that with a they need to do?
MCBRIDE: Yes. I mean, they need to say, you know, so how did Davies come to them as a source? Was it through Simon & Shuster, the book publisher, or had he come to them before then? And when he came to them, what type of questions did they ask him and what type of questions did they ask other people who were at the scene to verify his story?
DEGGANS: OK, Kelly, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm going to have to -- I'm going to have to break in.
Thank you, guys, so much for coming on the show. There's so much to talk about here and hopefully we'll get a chance to deal with it more in the future.
When we come back, NBC airs an exclusive report on a dramatic sky diving accident, but the network is facing questions on whether it essentially paid for the story. We'll ask if NBC crossed a journalistic red line, next.
DEGGANS: When news outlets heard that nine skydivers and two pilots not only survived a two-plan midair collision but also captured the entire crash on camera, TV producers salivated over the story, but the video aired in just one piece, on NBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: All onboard survived, thanks in large part to the fact that they were all skydivers and were prepared to jump and knew how and many were recording video of the moment and their safety return to earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEGGANS: That report aired exclusively due to a financial agreement between NBC and the makers of that footage. According to "The Washington Post," NBC didn't just get footage for their money, they also got exclusive interviews with the skydivers.
Traditional news outlets have often rules about paying sources for interviews. NBC firmly denies any financial agreement for the interviews but admits it did pay for the footage. According to a company spokesperson, quote, "The licensing of this footage is standard industry practice and is the result of a very competitive process with other major broadcast outlets."
If the practice were standard, why are critics calling foul?
Taking a deeper look at the use of cash for coverage and how it affects reporting, we turn to Paul Farhi, author of "The Washington Post" article about NBC's payment practices; and in New York City, Callie Crossley, host of the news program "Under the Radar" on WGBH, a public radio station in Boston.
SO, Paul, I'll go to you first. You broke this story.
NBC is saying, look, everybody wanted to license this video. We're just paying the people who made it for access to the video. What's wrong with that?
PAUL FARHI, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, it is effectively paying for news. What NBC did was paid for the footage in a bidding war with several networks, including ABC. But as part of that agreement, they also locked up the interviews with the pilot and the skydivers, all 11 of them, to appear on camera. They were locked out of any other interview for a two-week period according to one of the pilots or one of the skydivers involved.
So, clearly, it's a package deal.
DEGGANS: So, Callie, I can remember instances where ABC was criticized for paying $200,000 to Casey Anthony for family photos, the accused murderess. Eventually, ABC agreed to disclose such payments when they made them and they got so many inquiries about hot interviews that they've actually said, OK, we're not going to pay people at the center of big stories anymore.
Why do we have this restriction and why do so many networks seem to be doing whatever they can to skirt it?
CALLIE CROSSLEY, WGBH: Well, we have this restriction because it allows you to get the real story. There's always the possibility and probably the probability that someone will enhance the story if they're being paid. There's something about paying someone to tell the truth for journalist sake any way that really calls into question the integrity of the story.
So, that's why we have practice of not doing it. But the practice of paying for it now becomes murky as people want footage.
So, I really do see why networks are trying to get the pictures and footage which is really valuable commodity. It's all over the web. It's going to be used in million places. They have many platforms upon which to use it, but it's the interviews that are still called into question in this scenario. And it can't just be done.
And it so distresses me because you have really good journalists who can get these interviews without having to pay for them.
I'm reminded of my colleague in Boston, Ed Harding, who got an exclusive interview with the guy where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding in his boat, he got the exclusive interview. He didn't have to pay for it. He wanted to tell his story to a journalist that he respected.
That can still happen.
DEGGANS: Yes, I think questions -- question marks arise when you see the price tags. You don't pay $100,000 just for a picture of something or even for footage or something.
So, Paul, NBC has an independent company called Peacock Productions that's also sort of involved in putting together a program on kidnap victim Hannah Anderson. And they're going to help cover the space flight that Richard Branson is funding.
Is that part of the problem, is this some way to sort of skirt rules that we're talking about? FARHI: Yes, that was the first episode of NBC News paying for its news. They arranged a deal with Hannah Anderson and her father to create a documentary through this subsidiary, Peacock Productions, the numbers go up and up and up. It's over $100,000. It might even be 200,000. They haven't disclosed the actual figure.
But, you know, the dodge is always, we are paying to license family photos and footage. However, the cooperation of the source is always part of the deal and that's what's going on in this case.
DEGGANS: So, Callie, we've seen other instances where news outlets have paid for materials. "The Toronto Sun" reportedly paid $5,000 for video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford kind of going crazy and threatening someone's life and Gawker had a story where they said someone had video of him smoking crack wanted six figures.
So, is this just a price of business in modern media?
CROSSLEY: It doesn't have to be, as I've said. But if it's going to be, then we the viewers should know it's paid for.
There ought to be just like we see logos of the networks or the media outlet all over the place on any exclusive footage, there ought to be something that says we paid for this. This is something that we purchased. So then I as a viewer can determine whether or not what you presented to me was influenced by that payment.
I should know. It should be on the table that this was paid for.
And as long as it's not on the table and we don't know it, it calls into question what really went on here and what do we know is truth.
DEGGANS: OK. Well, thanks a lot. I'm going to ask you guys to stick around for the next segment where we talk about a new subject.
Next, the magazine "Guns and Ammo" fires a longtime writer and an editor after publishing a column advocating mandatory training for gun owners. Did the Second Amendment trump the First?
DEGGANS: This week, a longtime writer for the magazine "Guns and Ammo", along with an editor were forced out after they published a columnist suggesting mandatory training for gun owners.
The response from readers was ferocious. Subscriptions were canceled, sponsors threatened to pull their ads and an online campaign to oust the author quickly succeeded.
Callie, the writer and editor were seemingly pushed out over a column which suggested there could be some limits on the Second Amendment, namely, that gun owners should be required to have some firearms training before getting a concealed carry permit. I mean, you've got to pass a test to drive a car in this country. I mean, do you think that the readers of "Guns and Ammo" maybe crossed the line on this one?
CROSSLEY: Remember, there are two issues here. There's a policy debate among readers of "Guns and Ammo" and this guy that wrote a column suggesting the training and media debate about whether he should be fired for expressing his opinion. Presumably, he's hired to engage debate.
But this is an advocacy publication. So, you have to think they can say, look, you didn't follow the line with what we believe to be advocating for our position so you got to go. I think it's shocking because he obviously had done a great job as far as they were concerned in promoting their attitude about gun control or not having gun control.
And so, here you are. It's an advocacy -- he's not doing journalism. It's an advocacy publication.
DEGGANS: Well, now, Paul, are the readers and sponsor, I mean, I know we have said this going into the segment -- but are they really choosing the Second Amendment over the First and not allowing the columnist to sort of get this debate started without paying some kind of price for losing his job?
FARHI: Sure. You are talking about an extreme element of a publication that caters to people who believe a certain set of values about guns.
On the other hand, why didn't the publication stand up to these people and said, look, we are here to foster debate? We are not here to only serve your limited beliefs on this topic. Let's have a discussion and let's not be a mob and drive this guy and the editor out of the publication all together.
DEGGANS: Kelly, you know, I got to say, I'm surprised that the editor of the magazine seemed to be surprised by the backlash. I mean, he's got to know his readers and what they believe and that introducing a debate like this would be controversial, wouldn't you think?
CROSSLEY: Well, yes, but he's got the background. This guy had been nothing but straight down the line promoting what most people in the publication believe. So he thought he had a space, some grace, to suggest a debate within the confines of that publication.
Clearly, the readers did not believe so.
DEGGANS: Now, Paul, don't you think though that it's the job of a magazine to kind of challenge the readers a little bit and push things a little bit?
FARHI: I was wondering whether "Guns and Ammo" is the best place to have a debate about gun control or the worst place. As it turns out, it's the worst place. And that they learned a harsh lesson on that.
DEGGANS: All right. Well, Callie Crossley and Paul Farhi, thanks a lot for joining us.
Ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES, the ugly side of sports. A Miami Dolphins player says a teammate bullied him putting the spotlight on rookie hazing. Did sports reporters miss a story under their noses for years?
DEGGANS: It's been an ugly week for the Miami Dolphins as details continue to emerge about allegations lineman Richie Incognito bullied teammate Jonathan Martin. Martin left the team last week. The Dolphins have suspended Incognito and the NFL has launched an investigation.
The practice of hazing rookie players common in the NFL has been central to the controversy.
Incognito is accused of taking the hazing of Martin too far including leaving him a threatening and racist voicemail. Other Dolphins players have supported Incognito and quarterback Ryan Tannehill told the media he was unaware of any issues between the two players.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN TANNEHILL, QB, MIAMI DOLPHINSS: I think if you would ask Jon Martin a week before who his best friend on the team was, he would have said Richie Incognito. The first guy to stand up for Jonathan when anything went down on the field, any kind of tussle, Richie was the first guy there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEGGANS: So how do reporters sort through these conflicting reports?
And are journalists painting an accurate picture of NFL locker room culture?
Joining us now from Miami is Dave Hyde, sports columnist for the "Sun Sentinel."
And here in D.C., Christine Brennan, sports columnist for "USA Today."
So I'm going to start with Dave.
Dave, you co-wrote a story which talked to several past Dolphins players who knew Richie Incognito. Can I just say that he has got the most ironic name in news right now? But he said -- but they said that the current stories don't seem to make sense. They don't understand what's going on.
So are they covering for a friend?
Have journalists exaggerated this? What's your sense of what's going on here?
DAVE HYDE, "SUN-SENTINEL": Well, my sense is that this is the culture that the NFL has created and there was nothing out of the ordinary that went on with Jonathan Martin that goes on in the NFL culture.
The bigger question and I think it will end up in a courtroom is this allowable; is this even legal and I think ultimately it will head toward a courtroom and we'll see if there's a settlement or it actually goes to court.
DEGGANS: Now, Christine, Incognito, when this broke sent a tweet to an ESPN reporter saying if you or any of the agents you sound off for have a problem with me, you know where to find me, which vaguely sounded like a threat, right?
How tough is it to report on this stuff when you know athletes won't respond to it all that well?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, "USA TODAY": You know, Eric, we have to, as journalists, say what we know and we also have to say when we don't know something. And on this story, there is so much we just do not know. I think it's important and it's actually responsible journalism to tell people that.
The Miami and South Florida media have done a good job of painting the picture of the locker room this week once the initial stories came out.
But I have to say that while bullying is terrible and it's absolutely unacceptable -- I know we all agree on that -- the key question is here is this bullying?
Martin and Incognito, this friendship that we're hearing about, which of course the reporting was done, what was the extent of that?
And I'm hoping this is a watershed moment for the NFL in looking at this issue as a workplace issue, but I also know from covering the NFL for many years that this is a violent game and these are football players. I'm not condoning it for one second.
But we have to look at this game, these young men, playing this violent game that most of us would never survive for a second, and so that locker room culture is certainly different from anything else we've seen.
DEGGANS: Dave, the "Sun Sentinel" had a great story talking about how Dolphins coaches have asked Incognito to draw this young player, Martin, out of his shell.
Are they being disingenuous now when they try to say they didn't know the extent of what was going on under their watch?
HYDE: Well, we're going to have to wait until they come out and answer some questions, real questions, either from the NFL investigator or again in a courtroom over what they knew. Initially it was reported Jonathan Martin was going from emotional treatment after this.
Did they know that he had emotional problems before this?
Did they handle him with that in mind or did they just let him go?
As Christine said, there's a lot of issues. And to me that goes right to the initial reporting of this, the drape has been pulled back on the NFL culture but also it should be pulled back on the reporting. Some of those initial reports were not even in context.
Richie Incognito, for instance, was basically said to extort $15,000 from Jonathan Martin for a trip to Las Vegas that Martin didn't take. Well, we talked to several of the guys who went on the trip and it was an annual linemen's trip. Jonathan Martin had committed to it, Richie Incognito organized it, paid for flights, hotel rooms, shows, et cetera.
And at the last minute Jonathan Martin backed out and so as with anybody going on any trip like this, does the person who backs out, should they pay for their freight? And I think most of us would say, yes, probably should.
So again the reporting on this is coming -- and, again, initially it came from Jonathan Martin's side and it was completely one-sided. I think there's still some balance but there's so many questions out here that remain to be answered.
DEGGANS: Now, Christine, in the past when we have seen journalists, sports journalists report on the hazing that rookies go through, generally it has playful. We've seen it depicted on HBO's behind-the-scenes series, "Hard Knocks."
Is it possible that journalists didn't take this seriously enough and ask tough questions about how extensive this hazing really is?
BRENNAN: It is certainly possible. I guess if we can take someone into the locker room, it's -- I was covering the team here in Washington and for three years (INAUDIBLE), I have been in hundreds of NFL locker rooms. It's a very different place.
Dave, I'm sure, has the exact same stories. It might be a little tougher on a woman but it's tough on any journalist. We're yelled at. We're teased. We're screamed at. So in some ways I think one of the things this is showing us is the fact that there's a lot as I said we don't know.
There's only so much we can do in the locker room. We're in that locker room for an hour or so, journalists are every day for any particular NFL team.
In some ways, Eric, this reminds me of the Tiger Woods story when everyone said four years ago when he had his run-in with the fire hydrant, didn't everyone know this? No. I'm in the press room at the U.S. Open, at the Masters, at the British Open, I'm not hanging out with Tiger Woods. Dave and those other reporters aren't hanging out with Incognito.
DEGGANS: I appreciate the story. I have to break in.
Thanks a lot, Christine and Dave, for joining us.
America is growing more diverse but is coverage by mainstream news outlets keeping pace and if not who is filling in the gaps? A conversation with two journalists about news and diversity when we come back.
DEGGANS: Media outlets focused on audiences of color have made big news recently, from the debut of Fusion, a channel aimed at Latino Millennials from ABC and Univision, to former CNN contributor Roland Martin's African-American-focused daily radio and TV shows, on the TV One and Radio One networks.
So how do these outlets deliver news differently from mainstream media sources?
Is there anything the mainstream media can learn from them?
Here to answer these questions is Ray Suarez, former anchor with PBS's "NewsHour," now at Al Jazeera America, and Richard Prince, who covers news about journalists of color in his online column, "Journal- isms," at the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
So, Richard, those two media outlets I mentioned have focused on telling news from a different cultural perspective.
What does that look like and how is it different than what we see in the mainstream news outlets?
RICHARD PRINCE, MAYNARD INSTITUTE FOR JOURNALISM EDUCATION: Well, the first thing we see are that they are people of color who are the subjects of the news stories and the content is of particular interest to people of color.
For example, one of the biggest stories of the last couple weeks has been the Affordable Care Act.
You would not know from most of the mainstream coverage that most African Americans and Latinos are in favor of the Affordable Care Act. They're not the ones bellyaching but it has been presented and universally reviled by the general population. I don't think you'd find that among Latino and African-American oriented shows.
DEGGANS: Makes sense.
So, Ray, you're headed to a new job at Al Jazeera America after years at the "NewsHour."
What are the various ways that mainstream news outlets can miss the boat on coverage of people of color?
And have you ever felt marginalized yourself as a person of color in a newsroom?
RAY SUAREZ, AL JAZEERA AMERICA: You're always in a difficult straddle because there's an idea that there's a general, broad way to tell every story and if you're going to look at something like the Affordable Care Act, which is also of a different level of interest to communities of color, just because of the profile of who is uninsured in America, the most uninsured and underinsured of all Americans are Latinos.
So maybe there's a different cut at the story that gets at the different interests at stake and the different views of how this is all going to affect them.
Have I felt marginalized? Sometimes, only because -- not because of an active bias or marginalization as much as a kind of myopia that looks at these stories and says, well, there's one way to tell them and that's to your average American, who doesn't look like me or Richard or you for that matter.
And it's that privilege of being the decider who says this is how we tell this story that has very little black and brown input into it.
So it's a tough one. It's a tough one. We're trying to get into a business that is right now deciding what its business model is going to be and it's been shrinking for the last 10 years. So it's tough times.
DEGGANS: Yes, now, Ray, I saw an interview you did with the rap website where you sort of talked about feeling like you didn't have access to that kind of decision-making ability at the "NewsHour" anymore.
Could you talk a little bit about how you felt there?
Some of the executives there said they plan to make you chief national correspondent and you might have more latitude, but talk about that and talk about how you might have that freedom at Al Jazeera America with this new show you have coming out.
SUAREZ: Well, I go on the air tomorrow. I hope some of your viewers tune in 5 o'clock Eastern, live across all time zones. Show is called "Inside Story."
And just by moving from being a correspondent to being a host is a tremendous step up in the influence into the editorial product. When we have a meeting, I'm one of the most heard voices in that meeting because, guess what? People want to keep the anchorman happy.
DEGGANS: Yes, I discovered that. SUAREZ: You are chosen because the people who hired you think that the way you look at the news is worth paying for and worth hiring. So it already means a big step up for me. I'm very excited. Can't wait to get started.
Now, Richard, we don't have a lot of time. But one question that people always bring up is where is the line between fairly depicting people of color and being an unfair advocate in the news for people of color and their concerns.
How do you draw the line between actually being fair or having your finger on the scale?
PRINCE: Well, I think I'll answer that question by talking about a survey that "Essence" magazine just conducted among black women in which they asked how did they think they were being portrayed by the media.
And the categories that they came up with were gold diggers, modern Jezebels, baby mamas, uneducated, sisters, ratchet women, angry black women, et cetera, et cetera. You get the idea.
I think that there's no -- the shows that seem to resonate among mainstream audiences that concern African-American women particularly are not -- can't be described as fair in their representation of how African-American women actually are.
DEGGANS: All right. Well, Richard and Ray, thanks a lot for joining us.
SUAREZ: Thanks for having me.
DEGGANS: Up next, the second season of Netflix's "House of Cards" has just wrapped up filming. After the break I speak exclusively to the creator and executive producer of the show about what to expect and about how the popular online series portrays people in my profession.
DEGGANS: On Friday the second season of Netflix's "House of Cards" wrapped filming in Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore area, focused on Kevin Spacey's power-hungry congressman Francis Underwood, the Emmy-winning show also depicts a young journalist who sleeps with Spacey's character, creating a cutting portrait of Washington journalism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
"ZOE BARNES": How about "Slugline"?
"FRANCIS UNDERWOOD": What's "Slugline"? "BARNES" If I said "Politico" wanted to hire me, what would you say?
"UNDERWOOD": I would say that that piques my interest.
"BARNES": Six months from now, "Slugline" will be what "Politico" was a year and a half ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEGGANS: I spoke in Baltimore with the show's executive producer, creator and showrunner, Beau Willimon, asking him about the state of the media and the show's second season.
DEGGANS: Beau Willimon, executive producer, creator of "House of Cards," welcome to RELIABLE SOURCES.
BEAU WILLIMON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, SHOWRUNNER, CREATOR, "HOUSE OF CARDS": Thanks for having me here.
DEGGANS: One of the things I love about "House of Cards" is that you talk about the media and you depict how the media works. And I'll be honest, in one of the early episodes, I was worried about a stereotypical (INAUDIBLE) journalist, you had this young blogger coming up.
And what I love, too, is, by the end of the season, we see her really teaming up with an old school investigative journalist to try and really make an impact.
Was there a message where about where you think media is going?
WILLIMON: Well, you're talking about Janine Skorsky, who was the senior political correspondent for "The Washington Herald," our fictional paper. But actually at that point in the season, Janine has made the move to "Slugline" as well.
So you have two journalists who have left a prestigious newspaper in order to work somewhere that would be the equivalent of like a "BuzzFeed" or a "Politico."
And I think you see that happening more and more in the mainstream media where you're creating a new mainstream. And so I think reporters will tend to gravitate where they have the most impact.
And one of the questions our show poses is where is that impact?
What form does it take and how does it change the face of news?
DEGGANS: Now I know for some of the critics who reviewed the show, the story twist where you have the reporter sleeping with the source to get access, to get scoops, was something that troubled them.
I wondered, and now I know that was a storyline in the original British version of the series as well.
What did you think when you had to adapt it for television?
WILLIMON: No, remember, she's not sleeping with him entirely just to get sources. In fact, that's four episodes in before that happens. And what they have is a very professional transactional relationship before that where she says if you give me access and you give me new, then I will print what you want. Now you're talking about a form of journalistic ethics there that is questionable, if you can call it ethics at all. But our goal was not to tell the story of Woodward and Bernstein. Our goal was to say the land of media is just like any other profession, where ambitious people will do anything to get what they want.
So the idea of noble, ethical journalism wasn't something we were trying to dramatize. We don't mean for Zoe Barnes to be a template for the way all journalism work. In fact, it's the exception, just like Francis Underwood is the exception. But we weren't going to treat the media with kid gloves, the same way we don't treat politicians with kid gloves.
DEGGANS: One of my pet theories about why other TV shows I feel having dealt with journalism so well is because often it's boring. All we're doing is making phone calls and looking through papers.
Was that a challenge, too, to bring some drama to a process that might be boring on its face?
WILLIMON: Really the focus is on the characters, what is happening emotionally and dramatically for the characters. And whether they are journalists or they work on the Hill or it's Freddie at the barbecue joint, if the characters are compelling and what's happening to them is important to them and that is conveyed to the audience, then it will be important and interesting to the audience.
So there are times of course when we exaggerate things or condense or accelerate things for the sake of drama, but authenticity is really important.
And yes, you're always walking a fine line between if I were being absolutely 100 percent authentic here, it would take four months to break the story, and there would be a lot of sitting behind a desk and making a lot of phone calls.
But I think if you capture the essence, the most dramatic portions of that endeavor, then you are telling the truth, but you're also doing it in a way that's entertaining.
DEGGANS: So, Beau, you've said in previous interviews that media often just reflects what's bubbling around on the surface of society. So as we stand here today, what do you think is bubbling around in society now?
And how do you translate that into a script for "House of Cards"?
WILLIMON: I think the media doesn't shape the conversation, I think they report the conversation and the best journalists can anticipate where the conversation is going.
DEGGANS: Now you guys did just wrap your second season.
DEGGANS: You're a guy that tends to keep your cards close to the vest, but can you tell us anything about what we're going to see in the next season and particularly how the media is going to be featured?
WILLIMON: Absolutely not.
WILLIMON: No, I sort of have a blanket policy, we don't discuss anything that's coming ahead because one of the things that happens when you release an entire season in one day, is that you're already contending with spoiler alerts from the first day of release, so we don't want to do anything to sort of get that process going before day one.
DEGGANS: I totally understand. We'll get out the torture devices and figure out what's happening later.
Well, Beau Willimon, executive producer, showrunner, creator of Netflix' "House of Cards," thank you so much for joining us on RELIABLE SOURCES.
WILLIMON: Thanks for having me, Eric. It's been a pleasure.
DEGGANS: That's it for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Eric Deggans.
By the way, if you miss a program, you can now go on iTunes on Mondays and check out our podcast. Just search for "Reliable Sources" in the iTunes store.
Join us again next Sunday morning at 11:00 am Eastern for another critical look at the media. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley begins right now.