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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
6.0 Magnitude Quake Rocks California; Foley's Boss: "Suicide" to Report in Syria
Aired August 24, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Good morning. I'm Brian Stelter. And it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES. I want to welcome viewers here in the United States and around the world.
And we begin this morning on the U.S. West Coast, with breaking news out of Northern California. That's where a 6.0 magnitude earthquake has woken up the San Francisco Bay Area this morning. The quake's epicenter was only six miles southwest of Napa and 51 miles from Sacramento, the state capital there. It hit about five hours ago. That was 3:20 a.m. local time, a lot of people not able to get back to bed afterwards, of course.
And here are some of the pictures we've seen from the area. Fires at a mobile home park. Damage to historic buildings in downtown Napa, reading from the city's Web site here, it says at least two commercial buildings from the downtown area have been severely damaged. Officials say some people are trapped in their homes and they're calling in emergency officials and responding units from other areas to assist with that.
Take a listen to the quake as it was captured on a family's in- home security system a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an earthquake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an earthquake.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an earthquake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an earthquake. Strong earthquake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: We will talk to the woman you saw on the video in a couple of minutes.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this is the largest quake to hit the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989. So, for many people who have not lived there more than 20 years the most significant earthquake they have ever felt.
But to put it in perspective, that quake had a magnitude 6.9. This was a 6.0. We will get into the details of how different those two kinds of quakes really are in a few minutes.
The USGS estimates more than a million people were experiencing the shaking this morning. Some only experiencing moderate shaking, others much more severe. And there have been some minor after shocks. Fifteen thousand people are reported to be without power. And just a few minutes ago, CNN's Michelle Kosinski tell us, President Obama has been briefed on the earthquake.
Let's start this morning by bringing in a reporter who's on scene, Will Kane. He's a reporter for "The San Francisco Chronicle." He has been up since very early this morning, and now, he is at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa. That's where victims are being brought by helicopter.
Will, thanks for joining us.
WILL KANE, THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE (via telephone): Of course.
STELTER: Do we know how many injured have been brought to the hospital so far?
KANE: The latest update we just got from the city of Napa Fire Department is that 87 people have been injured and are being treated at this hospital. Three of those people are in critical condition. Two of them are in intensive care and the other person is a child who was injured when a chimney collapsed in his or her home.
STELTER: Earlier I saw you were posting on twitter from the mobile home park where there were several burned down homes there. Were there any injuries of that mobile home park?
KANE: Luckily, there were no injuries in that mobile home park. It's a very tight knit community, and from what I could tell, all the neighbors, even before the fire department arrived came together and alerted each other about the fires that were burning in some of the mobile homes and helped elderly residents get out of their homes and make sure everyone is safe and secure while firefighters fought the blaze.
STELTER: We're showing some of the photos that you and others were able to take on the scene there. That's good news that people were able to help each other. You also mentioned that at the hospital where you are now, they set up a triage tent. What's the scene like there? Have you seen helicopters come in?
KANE: Earlier this morning, you know, there were, you know, every minute or two, a new ambulances coming in and dropping off patients. At the triage tent they set up behind the emergency room, it's a standard practice for major events like this to treat people outside of the emergency room. The waiting room was packed. And right now, there is a crew at front waiting for a helicopter
to land. We understand the helicopter is going to evacuate one of the injured patients here to a higher level trauma center in the Bay Area.
STELTER: Where were you this morning, Will? Do you live nearby?
KANE: I do. I was woken up early this morning by the quake, far enough away that all we felt was the shaking and some pictures fell off the mantle. And then we promptly realized how close it was and came up to Napa.
STELTER: Right, right. And I know initially, you know, people when this happens in the middle of the night, they make sure their homes are OK and then, people start making jokes, you know, this is wine country, there were jokes about bottles of wine being spilled, and there were a lot of battle of wines, Will. This is a big, big industry there and it's a serious economic story.
But the most important story right now are the injuries that you're talking about. To hear of 87 injuries so far does sound pretty significant.
And do you have a sense of whether there will be others coming to the hospital? Are the staff there prepared for additional people arriving?
KANE: From what we can tell and from reports we've heard from the fire department and hospital authorities to say they are absolutely prepared, the plans rolled into action. They have not called in outside help at the hospital. They are making do with the staff they have which they say is sufficient. So, things seem to be coming together as expected.
I should tell you, Brian, that the helicopter is about 50 seconds away from landing, so you may lose my audio here.
STELTER: Well, I will leave it there, Will. Thank you for joining me. Will Kane from "The San Francisco Chronicle".
Let me turn to another person on the phone with us, the person you just saw in the home security system video, Camille Freking.
Thank you for joining me this morning.
Tell us what you were feeling in the video we saw there.
CAMILLE FREKING, HERCULES, CALIFORNIA (via telephone): It was pretty startling. So, I was asleep on the couch and woke up, thought it was thunderstorm and then I saw the chandelier in the dining shaking, glass breaking, falling off everywhere, and I realized it was an earthquake. The first thing in my mind was, oh, no, is this the big one? Immediately sprinted upstairs, you know, to be with my family and make sure everyone upstairs was OK.
STELTER: How many years have you lived in the area?
FREKING: I have lived in Hercules for about 14 years. And before that, I was living in San Francisco.
STELTER: So, for you, it is one of the biggest you have felt. Is there anything you felt in the past? Any earthquakes that have been similar to this?
FREKING: Nothing as strong as this. No. This is the -- this is actually the biggest I have ever felt. Anything previously was maybe 3 or 4 at most.
STELTER: And Hercules, where you are -- a number of miles south of the epicenter, in American Canyon, did it do much damage to your home there?
FREKING: No obvious damage. We checked the water heater and the gas. Luckily we have the TVs and cabinets bolted into the wall, in preparation for something like this, because we are all expecting the big one to come rolling around. But as far as the china, the cell phone off the shelves and a fruit bowl falling off the table, pictures falling.
STELTER: So, it's 8:00 a.m. now. Have you been able to get back to sleep? I'm going to guess no.
FREKING: Definitely not. Everyone -- no one has actually gone back to sleep in our house yet. Everyone is a little rattled. And then, you know, the adrenaline rush is certainly keeping us all awake.
STELTER: I hope the aftershocks will not bug you all too much. As you know, you sometimes feel smaller tremors afterwards. But hopefully, nothing as serious as what you felt this morning.
Camille, thank you for joining me.
FREKING: Thank you.
STELTER: And let me go to Atlanta now, to meteorologist Jennifer Gray, to talk about those aftershocks, because often times the experience for days and even weeks afterwards.
Jennifer, how many aftershocks have we seen so far?
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we've seen well over 20 very small ones. We had a couple of hours ago at 2.5. We had one a little while ago at 3.6. That's been the largest one.
But, you know, we've been talking about this violent shaking that over 100,000 people have felt. That was the number thrown out there by the USGS earlier this morning. And, Brian, they say that it was very, very strong, just as these people were saying everyone obviously rattled all over the West Coast.
And we do have this graphic to illustrate the shaking. Right around the epicenter, you know, it was six miles south of Napa. We had to zoom in just a little bit. You can see the different colors on here. Of course, Napa, one of the more populated areas right around the
epicenter. You can see brighter shades of orange. That's the most violent shaking that went on.
It is right around Napa. That is where we are seeing the most damage, the structural damage, the most injuries right there, 15,000 people right there, where that most violent shaking went on.
And then, as you spread out, you can see the lighter shades of the oranges, the yellows. That's where you see 106,000 people right there. And then, as you spread out even more, 177,000 people, and then the moderate shaking on into the green colors, 749,000 people.
So, this is affecting more people than just the 100,000 people or so that experienced that violent shaking. It definitely goes in hand with those pictures that you are showing right there in the center of Napa.
STELTER: So, for all of us who know the Napa area, Route 29 going up, north and south there, American Canyon is where the epicenter was, is that right? This is being called the South Napa Quake by the Geological Survey, I suppose because the population there is more significant.
GRAY: Yes, about 19,000 people live right in American Canyon, about 80,000 in Napa. So, yes, the more populated area, of course, and more structure right there in Napa as well.
STELTER: And, quickly, Jennifer, I know the USGS even has probability, statistic for the likelihood of significant after shocks.
Tell us about that.
GRAY: Yes, the magnitude of about 5.0 or greater is 54 percent within the next seven days. As we know, we can experience aftershocks anywhere from days, weeks, even years after these earthquakes, of course. The most crucial time is the next 24 hours, the next seven days, and even up to a couple of weeks.
As time goes on, those major quakes will start to lessen or the probability of that will get lesser as we go forward in time. But, of course, the magnitude of 5.0 --
STELTER: This is a pretty remarkable picture we're seeing, Jennifer. This is a street in north of San Francisco. It looks like a residential area, one of the many streets that has been affected in some way.
You imagine coming out of your home thinking that you were OK, your family is OK, but then trying to drive down the street, and this is the kind of thing you see. I've seen other pictures on Twitter, that are similar of the road either raised or lowered.
What's the term for that?
GRAY: Yes, we've seen streets buckled. We have seen some of the bridges and structures definitely have been compromised. Some of these structures -- some of these brick structures in downtown area of Napa have been completely collapsed. Yes, these roads have buckled because of the shaking that is going on, definitely --
STELTER: There is a water main break, as well, the city of Napa reporting approximately 30 water main breaks this morning.
Jennifer Gray, thank you for joining me.
GRAY: All right.
STELTER: Thankfully, no deaths reported from Napa, from San Francisco this morning, but a significant number of injuries and the damage you see there as well. We will have more from California throughout the hour.
But up next here in RELIABLE SOURCES, we will turn to the story that really shocked the whole world this week. It's the sickening murder of American journalist Jim Foley by ISIS.
I will speak with Jim's boss about the attempts to pay ransom and about the dangers the reporters face all around the world. That's coming up right after this.
STELTER: Welcome back.
We are going to have more on the breaking news about the earthquake in Northern California later in the program and throughout the day here on CNN.
But now, let's turn to the biggest media story of the week. It's a hard one to talk about. It's the murder of Jim Foley. He was a brave American reporter. He was abducted in Syria almost two years ago while doing his job and he was beheaded by an ISIS extremist.
The video was uploaded to YouTube this week. We are choosing to show you video of his life and not his death.
Jim became a journalist in the mid-200s and I want you to know him as a person. Like so many others, he was inspired after 9/11 and after the invasion of Iraq to tell the stories of the people that were being affected in the Middle East. So, we picked up his notebook and he went to some of the most dangerous parts of the world, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya. And he was even abducted once before in Libya in 2011. He was released after six weeks.
Putting aside Jim's obvious courage, remember, he was also doing a job. He was a freelance journalist on assignment for a Web site called "GlobalPost" at the time of his abduction.
So, that's why I want to begin with two executives who have been on the other side of this story. Earlier, I spoke with Phil Balboni, the CEO of "GlobalPost", as well as Gary Pruitt, the CEO of the world's single largest news gathering operation, "The Associated Press".
STELTER: Phil, let me ask you what your experience has been like over this last two years ever since Jim Foley disappeared in Syria. He was there on assignment for "Global Post". So, what responsibility did you feel throughout this process, throughout this ordeal?
PHIL BALBONI, CEO, GLOBAL POST: It was total, Brian. You may remember that Jim was abducted in Libya during the civil war there in 2011 and was held for 45 days. And, you know, I supervised his recovery and we formed a deep bond over that.
But it would be true for all of our reporters, that when you send somebody into harm's way, you've got to be responsible for them all the way. And Jim was such an incredibly brave man. And we will always miss him.
STELTER: I know this is very sensitive to ask. But is there anything more that could have been done as he traveled back to Syria, covering something he thought was so important to be doing?
BALBONI: You know, I don't think so. Jim was smart about combat situations. He had been in Afghanistan for us, been in Libya and in Syria. He knew his way around. He had the right equipment. He stayed in touch.
On that very day, November 22nd, 2012, he was only about 15 kilometers from the Turkish border. He had come back from a reporting mission in Aleppo. So, he was very close to being across the border and safe.
STELTER: And most recently, we've now learned about the e-mail that was sent from ISIS to the family only days before this video was released. It must have been especially excruciating for you having to do all of this in secret and not knowing what the outcome would be.
BALBONI: Yes. I mean, that's a very important point. I mean, you know, I have been in our profession for 46 years. And every instinct that we have is to tell what we know. But we always follow the family's wishes. And we knew that if there was any risk to Jim, that we didn't want to take it.
And that's why we withheld, we amassed so much information about the captors. We interviewed all of the other released hostages, all the Europeans that came out starting in April. We knew about Jim's captivity. How brutally we were treated by them. Jim was singled out, in fact, for more abuse than any of the other hostages, perhaps because he was American, perhaps because he was a strong and compassionate person.
STELTER: Gary, I know you must unfortunately have faced similar situations. At the "A.P.", do you have any journalists right now who you fear are in imminent danger in various places around the world? GARY PRUITT, PRESIDENT & CEO, ASSOCIATED PRESS: This is an issue
that strikes close to home for "A.P." We have lost 33 journalists over the course of our history. And beginning with the first "A.P." journalist killed covering the news, covering Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn, up through the most recent killing last week in Gaza.
STELTER: Let me underline what you just said -- last week in Gaza -- because three of those deaths you are describing happened this year.
PRUITT: That's right, that's right. And it has been a difficult year and a more dangerous time.
STELTER: Is it getting more dangerous?
PRUITT: I believe it is.
STELTER: Has it been this dangerous before?
PRUITT: It's the most dangerous we have ever seen it, and in part because journalists are being targeted now. It wasn't too many years ago that journalists would have emblazoned on their vests "press" or would be riding in vehicles that would have "press" written on the vehicle, to provide a degree of more safety because of combatants typically wouldn't target the media.
STELTER: Gary, I want to ask you about something you wrote in the immediate aftermath of the ISIS released of the execution. Let me put it on screen. You said, "We believe the assassination of the journalist in wartime should be considered an international crime of war. The murder of a journalist with impunity is threat to free press and democracy around the world."
I think what we are trying to convey is that now is the time to address how to keep journalists safe and declare these to be crimes of war, is that right?
PRUITT: That's exactly right. I mean, if not now when?
Here we have journalists targeted, killed, held hostage, tortured. And (AUDIO GAP) this is a war crime now. These are civilians and held hostage and killed.
But I think the world, the world's countries and international community needs to recognize the role that journalists play in informing the world and providing the news from the front lines that is indispensable. And for them to be treated as combatants, to be held hostage and killed and targeted is abhorrent and a war crime.
STELTER: I think your point about volunteering, wanting, feeling the need to do this is very important. It was true for Jim Foley, as well. His friends and family have talked about how devoted he was to this story of Syria, a story that has not gotten enough coverage in part because it is so dangerous to cover.
And, Phil, I wonder how this affects your thinking about trying to cover Syria going forward. How do you and other news editors figure out when it is -- when it is possible to send a reporter into Syria?
BALBONI: It's not now, Brian. I mean, after Jim's abduction and, of course, in those -- for many months we didn't know where he was, whether he was alive or who had him. But we did not send another journalist inside Syria from that point on. It's suicide for a journalist to go into Syria now.
STELTER: Phil, do you think Jim Foley would have wanted the U.S. to pay a ransom? Would have wanted "Global Post" to somehow find a way to pay a ransom?
BALBONI: Oh, I do. You know, we never hesitated on that. I mean, I'm fully conversant with the United States laws on this. I'm fully conversant with the kind of body of discussion in journalism about paying a ransom and how it might stimulate others.
But when it's your person, your child or your colleague and you know, it's the only way to bring them home that's what you do. And that's why the family with our help was deeply engaged in raising that money.
And we ran out of time. When the bombing began, that sealed Jim's fate, unfortunately. These people don't have any mercy. And if they can't have money, they'll have revenge. And they took it.
STELTER: What was the particular amount that they demanded?
BALBONI: We did learn from the European journalists who were freed, the amount of the ransoms that were paid by their government or with their government's assistance. It was in the range of 2 million euros to 3.5 million euros or let's say around $5 million. We felt that $5 million was the amount that we needed to raise in order to bring Jim back.
STELTER: And, Gary, let me go to you all and the issue of ransoms, as well. Where do you in the "A.P." stand on this? Has the "A.P." ever in a situation where a ransom was demanded like this?
PRUITT: Well, you may recall that Terry Anderson was taken hostage for a long time. And no ransom was paid in that case. And I don't know the exact details behind that on the ransom. We don't have a stated policy on that.
STELTER: You say that there's no policy. Does that mean potentially the "A.P." would pay a ransom?
PRUITT: No, I'm not going to speak to that one way or the other.
STELTER: Gary Pruitt, the CEO of the "A.P.", and Phil Balboni, the CEO of "GlobalPost" -- thank you both for being here.
PRUITT: Thank you very much.
BALBONI: Thank you, Brian. (END VIDEOTAPE)
STELTER: Really emotional conversation there.
And legendary news anchor Dan Rather has been listening in. He'll join me later this hour and he has a lot to say about the way the media is portraying ISIS.
But next, we will return to our coverage of the earthquake in Northern California, magnitude 6.0, the strongest to hit the Bay Area since 1989. We'll be back live there in just a moment.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter in New York.
And let's get back to our breaking news out of California now. A strong earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area this morning.
Here's what we know about it right now. It was a 6.0 magnitude quake. It hit at 3:28 a.m. local time, terrifying people who were sound asleep at that time.
It was centered six miles south of Napa, the famed wine region there. And several fires broke out nearby right after it hit. In some cases, the fires were worsened by the lack of water pressure because of water main breaks in the area. There were also reports of damaged buildings and homes, including chimneys that have collapsed and some reports of homes off foundations there.
Napa officials say that rescue teams are being deployed due to some people being trapped in their homes. There are injuries as well, at least 80 injuries, most just with minor injuries, but there are some lacerations, cuts, bruises and some more critical injuries as well. We're told of at least two people who have been severely hurt.
Here are some of the latest images we're getting. You can see a major crack in the road in some of these pictures. And keep in mind as you look at this about 15,000 people, we are told, don't have power at the moment. This is the strongest earthquake to hit the area since 1989.
President Obama was briefed on the quake earlier this morning. In addition, federal officials are in touch with state and local responders as the recovery just begins to get under way.
I am joined now by Karen Lynch, the owner of the Inn on Randolph in Napa.
And, Karen, this is a wild coincidence. I actually stayed at your inn last year when me and my wife were in the region.
I want to show some pictures that you showed of the damage at the end. I still thankfully recognize it, but it looks like it is a bit of a mess there. Describe to us what it felt like this morning.
KAREN LYNCH, OWNER, INN ON RANDOLPH: You know what? It definitely woke us all up.
I feel really lucky that all of the guests were in bed sleeping. I think everybody was probably safer in their rooms. But it was definitely a -- it was not a rolling earthquake where we were. It was definitely a big jolt, kind of tossed us around a little bit, some pictures flying and cabinets opened and lots of glass broken, lots of mirrors.
But, luckily, everybody is safe and we feel really lucky because we had bolted our foundation, put in the foundation and bolted it prior to reopening. So, we feel pretty lucky.
LYNCH: ... Napa right now, and it's a little scary.
STELTER: At the moment, does the inn have power?
LYNCH: Our power just went back on.
There is still a fair amount of smoke in the air. There has been some houses that have burned. We are in historic downtown. So, downtown has sustained a lot of damage. Right where we are, everything is fine. Our neighbors are all fine. Again, we had a couple of houses that burned, but they're -- the fires are out now.
LYNCH: It's finally light out and so people are calming down.
STELTER: Some of the historic buildings, Napa County Courthouse, the Goodman Library among the buildings that have sustained damage.
And for you all, it was a Saturday night, a Sunday morning. I'm guessing that is one of your busiest times of the week there at the inn.
LYNCH: We were completely full, yes.
We have 10 rooms and we had 20 guests. And the guests have been amazing. The ones who have been through a quake kind of knew what to do. And we took care of everybody who hadn't been through a quake. And it was definitely an experience. We had one person who got engaged yesterday. So, I am sure they will never forget this day.
STELTER: I do wonder now. It's 8:30 in the morning. When I was there, like so many others, people go there to visit the wineries. I wonder what your guests are telling you they are going to do this morning. LYNCH: Well, there is a big NASCAR race. A couple of the guests
were going to that. And then that is still on in Sonoma.
And the rest of them, we're just kind of playing it by ear. We were able to get some breakfast out. And everybody is just sitting around having coffee trying to decide what to do. A couple of guests walked downtown to see what is happening down there. And I think the day will just unfold.
STELTER: These are some of the pictures we are seeing. I'm not sure you if you can see the screen, Karen, but we are showing pictures from the mobile home park, where there were some buildings burnt to the ground.
Sometimes, in these cases, you hear about Napa, people's first thought is to the wine industry there and they might make light of the fact that there are all these barrels, all these bottles crashing to the ground. In fact, it is a very important business, a very important industry for the region.
And not only do we have impacts to that. You can see some of these pictures we're showing on screen now of some of the local wine stores where the bottles have come to the ground. But on top of that and much more importantly, we are talking about buildings that have burnt down and other buildings that have been shaken off the foundations.
I'm happy to hear that at the inn things are not that serious. But it certainly gave you all a jolt. Sounds like it was maybe the worst you have ever experienced.
LYNCH: It is absolutely the worst I have experienced, yes, absolutely the worst.
And it went on for a long time. Thirty seconds is a long time to be laying there wondering what to do. But, again, everybody is safe. Napa is going to rebuild. There will probably be a lot of wine flowing today. And we are lucky everybody is safe.
STELTER: Karen Lynch, thank you for joining me.
LYNCH: Sure. Thank you.
STELTER: Be sure to stay with CNN throughout the day for the latest updates on the aftermath of this quake. We will be it, on the story all day.
Coming up here on RELIABLE SOURCES, back to our media coverage and "Red News/Blue News" on what we don't know about Michael Brown and the man who killed him in Ferguson, Missouri.
STELTER: Welcome back. It has been a busy morning here. And we will continue to keep
you updated on the earthquake in Northern California all day here on CNN.
Also, in a few minutes, I have a critique of Ferguson, Missouri, media coverage to share with you.
But, first, I want to pick up where we left off earlier in the program, talking about the incredible dangers that reporters face in war zones all around the world.
Dan Rather was listening in to my earlier conversation with the heads of the AP and GlobalPost. And he knows so much about the risks that reporters take because he has taken some of them himself. Rather was a network news correspondent back in the 1960s. Then he became the anchor of "The Cbs Evening News" for decades, and now he anchors "Dan Rather Presents" on AXS TV.
I was so struck by what Phil Balboni said a few minutes ago about how entering Syria is effectively suicide for a journalist. And I wonder in all of your decades covering the world if there has ever been something like this, something so dangerous? Is it really that the world has become more dangerous for journalists than it ever has been before?
DAN RATHER, HOST, "DAN RATHER REPORTS": Unquestionably, it is more dangerous for journalists today than it ever has been in all of history.
And, yes, journalists tend to overstate things. But I think this is not an opinion. This is a fact based on statistics. Look at the numbers. Something like 60 journalists have been kidnapped in the last 12 months. I think 80 journalists have been killed over the last 12 months. Don't hold me to those exact figures.
And the chill that goes through every journalist when you hear it's suicide for a journalist to go into Syria today is palpable. And that doesn't mean no journalist is going to go, because journalists, being the strange breed the we are, those who aspire to be a world- class journalist, even knowing the danger, even being told ahead of time it's suicide for a Western journalist, particularly an American journalist, to go into Syria today, some will go.
STELTER: You heard just now Gary Pruitt and Phil Balboni's comments about ransoms. And where do you come down on that? Because, again, that is another issue I don't think news organizations have had to face in the past.
RATHER: Well, it's one thing for governments such as ours and the British government to take a stand and say, we don't pay ransom.
By making that right out front, the governments take the view it would discourage the taking of, the kidnapping of journalists. But, as was stated before to you, Brian, when it's your son or daughter, when it someone in your organizations you have worked with, it's a whole different thing. And I can't blame anyone for trying to ransom a journalist out.
And I would say this. If some member of our "Dan Rather Reports" team was kidnapped, I would be looking to negotiate for ransom. And you can criticize that if you want, damn me if you want, but the loyalty to our people who work with us and take these great chances engenders loyalty back.
STELTER: Do you know of any journalists who have traveled into this area in the past few years? Would you send a team yourself?
We have journalists working directly for our program who have operated in Syria, but I will say none in the last three to six months, because the situation has gotten even more dire. It's always been dangerous in Syria in that any time over the last three to five years, it's been dangerous to work in Syria.
But with the ISIS group, this has become much more dangerous. Let's don't kid ourselves that we journalists are operated in a completely new atmosphere. And just -- we won't go down the full list, but you no longer want to be seen and known as a journalist. It was a time when that was part of your protection.
Now it is part of the danger. And the best you can hope for if you go into one of these extremely dangerous situations is to hope and pray that you can meld into the background and not be identified as a journalist, because -- we can't say it often enough -- today, in many places of the world, journalists are targets.
STELTER: Let me ask you about the television and the media coverage of the past few days since the horrible ISIS video was shown to the world of Jim Foley's beheading. What have you heard? What have you sensed? I know you would hear a drumbeat to war if you heard it. So, have you?
RATHER: Well, absolutely.
Look, the war drums have been beating along the Potomac for some little while, accentuated in recent weeks and now in recent days. As a citizen -- let me take my journalist hat off for a moment. But, as a citizen, this worries me a great deal, because, as a journalist, you have seen war zones.
I'm not padding my part here, but I have seen war up close, not like combatants do, but the savagery, the brutality of war once we put the nation at war, that all of these people on television, some of whom I have enormous respect for, but it unsettles me to hear them say, listen, we, we, the United States, we have to -- quote -- "do something" in Ukraine, we have to do something in Syria, we have to do something in the waters around China, we have to do something about what is happening in Yemen, we have to do something in Iraq, we have to do something about ISIS, what they are talking about are combat operations.
My first question to anyone who is on television saying, we have to get tough, we need to put boots on the ground and we need to go to war in one of these places is, I will hear you out if you tell me you are prepared to send your son, your daughter, your grandson, your granddaughter to that war of which you are beating the drums. If you aren't, I have no patience with you, and don't even talk to me.
STELTER: It worries me, too, Dan, to be completely honest.
It worries me that I hear so many more voices on television that are advocating for action than I do hear voices of people who are trying to push on the brakes, push on the brakes. And it is somewhat reminiscent of 2002 and 2003 in the run-up to what was a, of course, much, much bigger U.S. military action in Iraq than anything that is being contemplated now.
RATHER: Well, there are echoes of what we went through.
And those of us in journalism -- and I can include myself in this -- we have a lot to answer for about what we didn't do and what we did do in the run-up to the war in Iraq, which I think history will judge to be a strategic disaster of historic proportions.
We journalists, including this one, we didn't ask the right questions. We didn't ask enough questions. We didn't ask the follow- up questions. We did not challenge power. And I am concerned that, once again, as the war drums begin to beat and get louder and louder, that there will be a herd mentality of saying, well, we have to go to war in Syria, we have to go to war Ukraine.
I don't think it is an overstatement to say that we need to be thinking very, very carefully and seriously about this and journalists have the special responsibility to at least ask the right questions.
STELTER: Dan Rather, I'm so grateful we got to talk about this, this morning. Thank you for joining me.
RATHER: Thank you, Brian. Always good to be with you.
STELTER: One more point Rather made in my interview with him, he said, don't depend on official sources. It is so important in these times to listen to voices of dissent as well.
New this morning, the British ambassador to the United States said on "STATE OF THE UNION" earlier this morning that -- quote -- "We are close to identifying the ISIS militant who beheaded Jim Foley." And so we will see that story continue to develop in the days to come.
We will keep Jim's family in our thoughts and prayers, as well as the other freelance journalist who was threatened in that same ISIS video. He has apparently been detained by the militants. His name is Steve Sotloff. And we should keep him close to our thoughts and prayers as well.
We will be back here on "RELIABLE SOURCES" with "Red News/Blue News" right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) STELTER: It's time for this week's edition of "Red News/Blue
News," my look at how partisan media skews the stories they cover.
This week, I'm looking at the coverage of what happened between Michael Brown and the officer who shot and killed him, Darren Wilson. Everyone wants to know why Wilson fired so many shots.
So, let me start this week by agreeing with Sean Hannity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": The only thing I would say is, let's not rush to judgment. Let's wait until all the facts are in. I don't know fully what happened, nor do you. But I am absolutely stunned at the differences in the stories being told. I find it unbelievable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: I do too, Sean. I do, too, because, this week, there was a rush to report anonymous claims that Wilson had been badly beaten by Brown.
Here's an example from FOX News on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, there's information out that he was hit hard enough to break the bones around his eye. That information coming from The Gateway Pundit, reporting that the injury is an orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket. The report sources a leak within the county prosecutor's office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Let's stop right there. What is The Gateway Pundit?
Well, it's a conservative blog that posted this, this breaking report about the alleged eye socket damage sourced to two local Saint Louis sources. Frankly, I'm surprised that FOX ripped the information off this blog and repeated it on air.
Later in the day, FOX did find its own anonymous source and published its own story. And every one of FOX's prime-time hosts picked up on it. After all, this seems like it changed the whole story, casting the officer as the victim of a dangerous aggressor, a dangerous black aggressor.
That night, Hannity had a FOX News contributor out in the crowd questioning protesters. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean wants us to ask you, are you aware, one, that the damage had damage to his face, that he had a broken orbital eye socket, significant damage and that Michael Brown may have charged at him, which would give him justifiable reason to respond?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six shots? No. Six shots, no. Broken arm? Six shot, no. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So did the officer have a broken orbital eye socket? If so, no public official will confirm it.
Early on in the investigation, the Ferguson police chief did say Wilson had been treated for a swollen face, but that's it. All day on Thursday, CNN reporters in Ferguson tried to confirm what FOX had claimed over and over again, but, instead, a source unequivocally refuted it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": A source with detailed knowledge of the investigation tells CNN that Darren Wilson had a -- quote -- "swollen face" and that he went to the hospital to be treated for that injury.
X-rays were taken. But -- and this is crucial -- the source tells CNN that Darren Wilson did not have a fractured eye socket. That contradicts reports from other news organizations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: I have yet to see any firm evidence of an eye socket injury.
But that does not seem to matter, because these claims have spread all over the place, sowing doubt in people's minds about what happened that terrible day in Ferguson.
Now, there are hosts on MSNBC that see a different enemy, law enforcement. They have pounced all over the authorities' decisions not to release more solid information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED SCHULTZ, HOST, "THE ED SHOW": You know, it was interesting. The police department released this video of Michael Brown in the convenience store. But they refuse to release any of these pictures that show evidence that Darren Wilson had all these unbelievable facial injuries, an eye socket torn out and everything else that's been reported? What's going on here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Oh, Ed, I think we know exactly what's going on here. "Red News/Blue News" is going on here.
So, let me know what you think. Send me a tweet or a Facebook message. My username is Brian Stelter.
And we will be right back with more RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment.
STELTER: Well, that's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. Thank you for spending the hour with me this morning.
Keep in mind, our media coverage keeps going all the time on CNN.com. And there are three great segments we had to cut from the rundown this morning due to our breaking news coverage. So, we're going to share those with you on CNN.com/RELIABLESOURCES this afternoon.
I will see you back here next Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time.