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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
ISIS Executes British Hostage David Haines; Should Media Air ISIS Propaganda?; NFL Stars and Domestic Violence
Aired September 14, 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 ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Brian Stelter. And it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES. We begin this morning with breaking news.
In just the last few minutes, we learned new details about the world's battle plan against the terror group ISIS. A number of Arab countries have offered military assistance, including airstrikes as part of the coalition fight.
That's according to Secretary of State John Kerry in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation." He said there are some that are clearly prepared to take action.
That news comes hours after another video of another Western hostage being beheaded by ISIS. This time, the terror group's victim is David Haines, a British aid worker. In a moment, I want to talk about whether media outlets are doing ISIS a favor with blanket coverage of these videos.
But, first, let's go straight to London to CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson.
Nic, what did Prime Minister Cameron say about this, this morning?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he said that David Haines was a British hero. He said the British people and David Haines' family should be proud of what he did, proud of a humanitarian work. But he also said the British people need to understand that this is a fanatical organization that has planned, continues to plan attacks against this country. He said the people of Britain simply could not bury their heads, if you will, and ignore this.
This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There is no option of keeping our heads down that would make us safe. The problem would merely get worse as it has done over recent months, not just for us but for Europe and for the world. We cannot just walk on by if we are to keep this country safe. We have to confront this menace. Step by step we must drive back, dismantle, and ultimately destroy ISIL.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: Now, David Cameron said that he supported the United States and their decision for airstrikes inside Syria, but he stopped short of using the same language himself saying that Britain would do that, but you do hear in what he's saying reaching out to the British people here that he is, if you will, trying to build support for that position. But at the moment, very clear -- no boots on the ground, supporting the United States in air strikes, but not committing Britain to the same, Brian.
STELTER: David Haines' face is on the cover of "The New York Daily News" here in New York this morning, the knife up to his throat.
Is the same kind of image appearing on the cover of the tabloids there in Britain?
ROBERTSON: Absolutely. It certainly does, and everyone in this country knows that the man who is the executioner there has a British accent, seems to be from London or the east end of London. Authorities here, David Cameron last week told me they were continuing to try to figure out who this man was and he has said publicly, absolutely the people responsible will be brought to justice. It is front and center of the news here today, Brian.
STELTER: Thank you, Nic, for joining us this morning.
It's clear to me that the press is handing ISIS a grotesque form of free publicity every time one of these videos is uploaded to the Internet. But is there any alternative to that?
We'll joining me here at the desk is Jeff Greenfield, formerly a political analyst for CBS and CNN, now a columnist for "The Daily Beast". And also here, Dan Rather, a former anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News", now the host of "Dan Rather Presents" on AXS TV.
Thank you for being here this morning.
DAN RATHER, AXS TV: Thank you for having us, Brian.
STELTER: I wanted to ask a couple viewers what they thought. I will read a couple tweets from viewers when I posed this question this morning. And the first one here from Alison says, you know, she points out people are skeptical of what the news media tells them. She says, quote, "You can't just report it and not show at least the still image. You have to show proof."
But here is a comment from Anthony, he writes, the alternative is to refuse to share the video because by sharing the video, you're helping share terror and fear.
Dan, I almost always want to err on the side of showing more. I think the alternative is to risk sanitizing the news, the world we live in. Where do you come down on this?
RATHER: Well, it depends on the hour of the day. It's a difficult call. But I think we have to see clearly this is the first social media war. In the way the Vietnam War was the first television war, this is the first social media war. That ISIS has proved to be very adept, very talented, if you will, you always hope evil won't be -- in ratcheting up the hysteria, ratcheting up the image of their influence far beyond what their actual military capabilities are.
We have to understand the media and the country has to understand that a lot of this is about the psychology of propaganda. Think about it. Three beheadings and by the way I say in my own mind, are we certain they have beheaded these people?
But assuming they have, that three beheadings are enough to move American public opinion, change our foreign policy, and take this nation to war.
STELTER: That's a point that Fareed Zakaria made in the last hour, saying nothing has changed about ISIS is except these videos.
JEFF GREENFIELD, THE DAILY BEAST: This is to me the most troublesome part of this. First of all, we should note that nobody has shown the most graphic of pictures. At least nobody except the most fringe part --
STELTER: Even some websites that usually show this stuff say they are not going to show it.
GREENFIELD: But the most important thing is, we -- if you're asking the intelligence agencies or experts how big a threat to the United States is ISIS, there's a lot of debate. Do they have power beyond where they've established a physical presence?
The pictures seem to tell us something different. It's what I would call emotional knowledge. Look, they gruesomely killed two Americans and a Briton. And I think what happens is there's a tendency to think if they can do that, then they can sneak across the Mexican border and spread Ebola virus -- which at least one public official has suggested, and it tends to force I think our policymakers into taking decisions they might not take absent the emotional punch of those pictures.
They tend to maybe say more than what reality lets them say.
RATHER: And where the media, and I include myself in this criticism, where we are short -- we don't talk about context, background, history. We just push the pictures forward, and having said to you before, I'm ambivalent about it.
I generally want to err -- listen, my job is to put the information out there, others decide. But you're conscience, when you say let your news conscience be your guide, this is really helping the other guys. But we have to understand that the shock of the beheadings will
begin to fade a little bit as time goes along and ISIS, smart as they are and they're very smart with share slick videos, I was argue they're in the same league in the social media war context as Hitler was in the 1930s in their use of propaganda. That they will go to something else, something else for shock value when the shock of the beheadings begins to fade off, so we need to be thinking about that.
STELTER: So, are we at the point then where we shouldn't be broadcasting even still images from these videos?
GREENFIELD: I don't see how you can put that genie back in the bottle. You know, back in the -- toward the end of the 19th century William Marcie tweed around Tammany Hall was said to say about Thomas Nast cartoons -- stop the damn pictures. I don't care what people write, as my constituents can't read, but those damn pictures they can understand.
And we can see much of our history -- civil war, Vietnam -- images have had an enormous influence. What I think would be useful or necessary would be to find some kind of social media literacy where you're able to put these pictures side by side with other arguments, and my big concern -- and I saw this in the Iran hostage crisis, we see it over and over again -- the visceral images overwhelm the rational abstract analysis.
STELTER: So, it's not about whether we're going to show the images or not. It's about how we react as viewers to them.
Dan, you want to say something?
RATHER: Well, I'm going to say something -- I think it was a quote from Hitler himself, if not one of his own staffers, who said, "Those who control the images control the race." This was in the context of the 1930s.
And ISIS understands that those that control the images on social media will control public opinion about this. Now, we have to stretch out for the long pull. President has declared war. One, if there's a war, we should all be in. There's no way to half-arsed it with war. But that's a whole other subject.
For those of media, I think Jeff is spot on -- context, history. We need to put these things in. I don't believe in self censorship but I do believe there's such a thing as the media over-covering something.
For example, in this point (ph), CNN 15 straight hours on this.
STELTER: I do wonder, I mean, I have been re-reading one of my favorite books, it's called "The Culture of Fear." It came out in the late '90s, it has this line in the intro, television news programs survive on scares.
I don't know if everyone would agree on that but I do wonder about a structure issue of cable news which is by covering one beheading for so many hours. It -- Jeff --
GREENFIELD: It stands for -- it stands for a greater -- seems to stand for something more than it is. It's, I believe --
STELTER: ISIS has beheaded so many Muslims on camera, accessible on YouTube still. For some reason YouTube doesn't take down those videos down as quickly as it takes down the Western hostages. But those videos are online. They're not covered as extensively.
GREENFIELD: No, and I think that's a simple explanation as to what happens to us, however "us" is, always counts more than what happens to them. But the idea of inflating a single event to define American policy to get us into a potential war whose unintended consequences we may not have thought out -- to force policymakers as I think the Iranian hostage pictures did to Jimmy Carter, to make that front and center of an entire foreign policy is what the danger is.
And the answer, I agree with Dan and I agree with you -- you can't not show them, but you have to immediately say this is what it means. And to your point about CNN or other cable nets, when you loop those pictures over and over and over, I think that has an impact.
And I have always thought even when I worked here that CNN and the other cable networks should think long and hard before filling the camera with these images. And I've always even when I work here the CNN and other cable networks should think long and hard before filling the camera with these images.
STELTER: And one of the assumptions of course is that people aren't watching the way I might be watching. People are watching for a few minutes at a time, they come in, they come out, and they see what's going on.
RATHER: And I think it's very important to understand that these imagines and this social media propaganda that ISIS is putting out is not, despite what we may think, designed only for the West. It's accomplishing what Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda could not, that these images are a tremendous recruiting tool for them. It's a tremendous tool for gathering money.
This is directed as much as anything -- it is directed towards the West and the United States but it is also directed to the civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites.
STELTER: I'm thinking about how judiciously we've used these images in the last few minutes and I'm glad we have because we can't -- I think your point is right, Jeff, you can't put that genie back in the bottle, but we can control our responses to the images and our emotional responses.
GREENFIELD: And to immediately try to ask, look, the question about whether ISIS is a clear and present danger to the United States is a serious question. That's the question that needs debating before we take perhaps irreversible action. And so, when those pictures are on, it would be really helpful if somebody else would come in and say here is what it means and here is what it doesn't mean. Here is what we think it may mean for the United States. Here's what we think it may not mean.
STELTER: You can hear all three of us I think struggling with this balance, isn't it?
Jeff Greenfield and Dan Rather, thank you for being here this morning.
RATHER: Thank you for having us, Brian.
STELTER: Coming up next, right after a quick break, a firsthand account from an old friend of mine about the challenges of reporting on the ground in Iraq and Syria. How do we know how strong ISIS is if we can't visit those areas firsthand? We'll tackle that right after this break.
STELTER: Welcome back.
We are talking this morning about the latest atrocity by the terror group ISIS -- a video of the British aid worker David Haines being executed.
For the past few weeks during RELIABLE SOURCES, I have been outspoken about the media's duty not to bang the drums of war but instead to examine the instruments, to analyze the drum beating, to figure out why it's happening.
Well, my next guest knows all about that. He's a friend of mine from "The New York Times", Tim Arango, who has been reporting on the Middle East for years. And when he came home to the U.S. for a little R&R last week, he told me, quote, "I was surprised everybody on TV seemed to be freaked out about ISIS. This from a guy who has been writing about the rise of ISIS and he thinks there should be more restraint on the part of the press."
So I wanted to ask him, with Haines' death and with the killings of the American journalists Jim Foley and Steve Sotloff before that, how can we know what's really happening on the ground?
STELTER: You have been covering Iraq for years. Are you able to go to those areas controlled by ISIS?
TIM ARANGO, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Absolutely not. I mean, my Iraq story is one where I showed up at probably the best time of the last 10, 11 years, right in the beginning of 2010 when there was a lot of hope and the entire country was wide open to me. We could wake up in the morning and go to lunch in Fallujah if we wanted to just because we wanted to.
And now, the country over time has slowly become more and more constricted in terms of where I can go. And so, nowadays in places like Anbar province or Mosul or other places where ISIS is in control, we have to rely on our stringers which are people, Iraqis, who work in secret for us and tell us information. And then through our network of Iraqis that I know and that my colleagues know, we can call people and speak to people on the ground in those places.
But, of course, no, an American journalist cannot go there. That's an instant death sentence.
STELTER: And when you say colleagues work in secret, that's because they fear for their lives, is that right?
ARANGO: Absolutely. I mean, if these guys who do their job for us and have for 10, 11 years for us and other Western organizations, if the bad guys on the ground knew what they were doing, of course, they would -- you know, who knows what they would do.
STELTER: Tell me how you approach situations that have resulted in kidnappings. These two journalists that were beheaded were freelancers. You're on staff at "The New York Times." Does that provide you more security in some way?
ARANGO: Yes, absolutely. I mean, we have a lot of support, security advisers. We've had an infrastructure in Iraq for a long, long time that, you know, with procedures and there's communications and people know when we're going to places and so there's a lot of oversight and there's a lot of support.
And so, that's -- you know, that's what we rely on, and, of course, in the situations like with Foley and Sotloff, that's what I tell myself in my head, that we have the support. And so, you know, it wouldn't turn out like that for us.
STELTER: Let me play a sound bite from Jim Foley's mother, Diane, in her interview with Anderson Cooper this week. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE FOLEY, JIM FOLEY'S MOTHER: As an American, I was embarrassed and appalled. I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance. Jim would have been saddened. Jim believed until the end that his country would come to their aid. We were just told to trust that he would be freed somehow, and he wasn't, was he?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Since you're home visiting your folks, have you talked it them about the security risk that you face?
ARANGO: Not yet. I just got here. I'm sure it might come up around the dinner table in the next few days. But so far, I have tried to keep it -- to keep it light.
STELTER: I mean, I hate to even try to talk about these issues, but if you were to be kidnapped, if you were to be detained, even briefly by one of these opposition groups, what would you want your family to do? Would you want them to be speaking out in public? Would you want them to be keeping quiet the way Sotloff's family did?
Have you thought about that before?
ARANGO: I haven't thought about that specific question, but, you know, I think it would probably be more in the hands of "The New York Times" than, you know, than my family and I would defer to the experts. I honestly don't know what is better -- whether to keep it quiet or to, you know, or to go public.
STELTER: Tim Arango of "The New York Times" -- thanks for joining me this morning.
ARANGO: Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: A lot of people thinking about those same issues now. Is it better to keep these kidnappings secret, or to share them in public? I'll have more about the media coverage of ISIS later in the hour.
When we come back, it's Sunday so we're talking a little bit of football. How the media has been tackling or not tackling some high profile scandals. We'll be right back.
STELTER: It's a Sunday and it's the fall. So, it's almost time for another afternoon of football. The NFL is such big business, and every day this week such a big story. Adrian Peterson, one of the league's biggest stars, will not be suiting up today after he turned himself into authorities at the end of the week after being indicted on a felony charge of injury to a child. The league is reviewing the situation.
Then, of course, there is this, the TMZ video that came out earlier in the week showing Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee, his now wife. Rice has been suspended indefinitely from playing but he and his wife used another video to show that things between them are just fine.
Here it is. The pair showed up at Rice's high school at New Rochelle, New York, yesterday, to watch his old team play.
This just shows you how the power of video can work both ways.
Two veteran sports journalists are standing by on this but, first, let's get a sense of what it's like in the locker room when scandal hits from two former professional football players.
Earlier, when I was in Washington, I spoke with George Martin, who played defensive end for the New York Giants, and Chris Kluwe, a former punter for the Minnesota Vikings.
STELTER: George, let me ask first to you, what's the feeling in a locker room when the media zooms in a sports scandal? GEORGE MARTIN, FORMER NEW YORK GIANTS DEFENSIVE END: I think
there's two reactions. I think there's a tendency for the team to kind of galvanize together, to kind of come around and support one another.
And I think there's also a distrust, if you will, to the media at times, and sometimes you don't get the full or the honest truth. I think in this case you have seen where the guys have done both.
STELTER: Chris, does the media become the enemy in a situation like this?
CHRIS KLUWE, FORMER NFL PUNTER, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Well, it can if you let it. There's always talk about distraction, you know, if you let the media distract you from your job. But the thing is --
STELTER: Right, distraction is the ultimate euphemism, isn't it?
KLUWE: Right, exactly, with air quotes included. The thing is though if you possess the ability to make it to the NFL, then you possess the focus to tune all that out and focus on what exactly it is you're supposed to be doing for that week.
So, anytime someone says this is a distraction -- well, you're a professional athlete. It's your job not to be distracted. That's why you're out on the field.
STELTER: What do you make of Janay Rice's comments this week effectively blaming the media for putting her through this? I mean, when I read her comments, it got me thinking about the media as the enemy in this case? How did you react to that, Chris?
KLUWE: I think it's unfortunate this situation as a whole. The fact it has become so public, especially for Janay Rice because she is the victim here and it's unfortunate that everyone has to see this video happen over and over again. But at the same time this is a very important issue that the NFL and society at large needs to address, and it's something that, you know, hopefully we will be able to address so we don't have something like this ever happen again.
STELTER: Did you feel, George, it was played too many times, that it was basically on endless repeat all week on television?
MARTIN: I couldn't agree more with Chris. I think that, number one, Ray's wife had to endure this indignity publicly initially where she was literally victimized. And now, she's having to relive that over and over again quite figuratively, and it can't be a welcoming experience for either one of them.
But in the aftermath of all this, now she has to endure the fact that her husband is no longer employed. So, in a real sense of the word, she's been victimized not once, not twice, but three times.
STELTER: Then, of course, we see stupid on television like on "Fox and Friends" when host suggested the next time, they take the stairs. Comments like that just perpetuate the problems when it comes to how domestic violence is talked about and covered in the media.
But this is not just about domestic violence, it's also about how the NFL acts when there are transgressions, when there are crimes.
Let me ask you, Chris, how that -- how that is perceived by players like yourself. Does the league get better press than it deserves? Is it usually treated very softly?
KLUWE: I think the league generally is treated pretty thoughtfully, especially by league sources. There are certain media members out there who tend to right a bit more favorably about the league than others, and it's tough as a player when you see a situation like this where Roger Goodell has essentially set him up -- set himself up as judge, jury, and executioner over the years. And now, it's like, OK, well, if you're the one claiming you have all this power, you can't all of a sudden say, I'm not responsible, I didn't know who was happening.
STELTER: And, George, you used to head up the players union during your playing days. What does the union tell players that are involved in a scandal or not involved or on the sidelines. What does it tell them about how to handle the press?
MARTIN: Well, first of all, I think that you have to look things in two distinct situations. I think the narrative originally focused on Mrs. Ray Rice, Mrs. Rice, and what had happened to her, and obviously the penalty that was imposed upon Ray.
Now it's shifted totally to the league and rightly so where it seems as if there's a great deal of negligence going on. But I think the narrative should shift yet again. We've all expressed our outrage and indignation.
So, what do we do going forward? How do we safeguard and keep this from happening again to other people like the Rices and how does the league implement rules and regulations to prevent other players from going over the line.
And I think you said it quite well at the initial outbreak, that, you know, we're all talking about the two videos that exist, but what would happen if neither video existed? Would there be a reaction at all?
STELTER: You know, that's where I think so many people come down on this issue. There was this emotional response to the video, but we knew what had happened for months and that's why it's so perplexing I think.
MARTIN: Yes, I agree with you.
KLUWE: Well, you know, I --
MARTIN: Go ahead, Chris. KLUWE: No, I was going to say, that just as human beings, we are
very visual creatures. It's one thing to know in the abstract that, yes, Ray Rice hit his wife. I'm like, oh, OK, that's bad. You shouldn't hit a woman. You shouldn't hit your wife.
But to actually see what happens, that gives that you visual imagery that now it's no longer an abstract. It's now a concrete reality of this is what has happened, and that tends to hit people a lot harder.
STELTER: Let me step away from Ray Rice for a moment and just think broadly about how -- how the press and the sports leagues and individual athletes are treated.
Does the media tend to believe the worst about athletes? Is there a fundamental tension or bias there?
MARTIN: I think there is a tendency to oversensationalize and overdramatize the negative.
We hear all the time about these isolated incidents that are rare, to say the least, but we seldomly hear about the grand total of great things that athletes do both on and the field and off. And I think that is -- that's unfair, because the National Football League as a whole is a wonderful institution, of which I'm proud to have been a part of for 14 years.
And there are so many people out there who have been positive influences and role models in the National Football League than not.
STELTER: You are both socially active.
And, Chris, I wonder if you feel like it's hard to get attention for those things unless you're already on talking about a scandal.
KLUWE: Yes. And I completely agree with George, the fact that the vast majority of NFL players are guys who take care of their business, they do good charitable works, and then they go home to their families and they never have an issue with the law or with the league.
And the problem is, you really only hear about the guys who mess up, which tends to reinforce this perception that the league is filled with troublemakers. And I think that that's something that the NFL, it's so important to be held accountable for the times that it does mess up, because it needs to let people know that, hey, we are more than just the sum of our errors.
We have so much more that happens. We teach teamwork. We teach guys working together. We -- there are so many good things that football can teach that we have to be able to focus on those, and use the negatives as learning experiences.
STELTER: We spent weeks in the press talking about Michael Sam earlier this year. Now we're seeing domestic violence in the press, talking about domestic violence in the press because of this issue with Ray Rice. It really is a reminder that sports is a reflection of society, a mirror maybe to society, and that's why the NFL finds itself being talked about in all these different ways.
MARTIN: It's a huge institution. The shield is something that should be respected and safeguarded.
And I would like to see, just from my standpoint, more positivity being shown in the public eye, as opposed to what we're talking about today.
STELTER: George Martin and Chris Kluwe, thanks, both, for being here.
MARTIN: Thanks for having us.
KLUWE: Yes, thank you.
STELTER: We are going to stay on this story after the break and ask, do sports reporters focus too much on what's happening on the field and too little covering controversies off the field?
Also, the conflict in the role of TMZ in breaking this case wide open -- right after this.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
We just heard about how former athletes feel about the media and its coverage of Ray Rice.
So, now let's look at it from the reporters' side and ask, are sports journalists too soft on the leagues they cover?
Or, to put it another way, how did TMZ obtain the elevator video, but not ESPN? Because here's the thing. Any time the NFL is the story, the networks' coverage of the story is very closely watched, because ESPN, CBS, NBC, and FOX all have multibillion-dollar contracts to carry NFL games.
So, their news divisions have to cover the news, but their parent companies have to protect their investments in football.
Two experts are here to help us sort out all these conflicts. First here in Washington, Christine Brennan, a longtime sports columnist for "USA Today" and a commentator for ABC News. She interviewed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this week. And in New York, Gary Belsky, the former editor of "ESPN: The Magazine" and ESPNInsider.com.
Thank you both for being here.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, "USA TODAY": Thank you.
GARY BELSKY, FORMER EDITOR IN CHIEF, "ESPN: THE MAGAZINE": My pleasure. STELTER: Let me start with you here, Christine.
There's a lot of blame to go around here. Does some of it fall on sports reporters? Is there a measure of culpability?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Certainly, certainly. Are we doing the best we can do? Are we trying to find, as you mentioned, that video? TMZ also was leading the way on several other stories, including Tiger Woods. Why is that? I think...
STELTER: And in the Donald Sterling story earlier this year. And people can say it's because TMZ pays for the audiotape, it's because TMZ pays for the videotape. Harvey Levin would say, all networks pay for content. We just pay for different kinds of content.
BRENNAN: Yes, although the traditional print journalism, journalists, including "USA Today," we don't pay, of course. So, that -- I think that those who are completely independent, as, say, a "USA Today" or a network that's not involved with a team in paying rights fees, I know we try.
I know we care. I know at "USA Today" we certainly aren't trying to cover anything up or go soft on anybody. So, I can speak to that and "Washington Post" before that. But, no, it's a valid question.
BRENNAN: I think often you find that sports journalists are still fans or are so wanting to get the story, like in the golf community with Tiger Woods, that they will almost do anything to back off on Tiger Woods because they so want to be getting the chance to talk to him.
STELTER: Gary, tell us about that journalist-subject relationship. Is it just different for some reason in sports?
BELSKY: I think it is different, but I think there's a few factors that play into why it is that sports journalism often seems like it's behind on serious stories.
First of all, it's not always behind. Peter Keating at ESPN exposed the Donald Sterling issue about eight years ago in a fantastic and long, in-depth piece. I think it probably got lost a little bit in all of the ESPN words and images that get out there.
But the bigger issue is that sports journalists are human beings, and they're compromised by sort of a quartet of issues. The first one is that everybody wants sports to succeed. They're also, as Christine said, worried a lot about access.
So, even the most aggressive sports reporters are sometimes -- they sometimes temper themselves because they want to keep talking to athletes. There's always the mythology problem. Right? The people who are in sports journalism are generally fans, as Christine mentioned. And they want to believe, again, probably nonconsciously, no matter how cynical they are, they want to believe that sports is what we all want it to be, which is this sort of athletes as Olympians in the big-O sense, who are kind of pursuing this physical ideal.
And the final issue is that -- is expertise. And by that, I mean, athletes are -- sports journalists are often trained to cover sports as games, as competitions. When the subjects start to become serious, they're not qualified to talk about or to even investigate a lot of the issues that are raised in something like the Rice case.
STELTER: Do you think some of that happened this week? I saw a lot of great sports journalism this week, but do you feel that some of the folks weren't qualified to be talking about these issues?
BELSKY: Yes. To be honest with you, I saw a lot of sports journalists who know a great deal personnel moves and X's and O's and offensive schemes talking about psychology and domestic abuse and crime.
And let's be honest. They don't know very much about that. They're not trained, nor should they be.
STELTER: And, of course, maybe one of the responses to that would be they work for big networks that also have legal reporters and others who can do some of that.
But, Christine, let me turn to you and ask about what I mentioned in the beginning about the network contracts with these leagues, not just the NFL, but the NFL is probably the biggest of them all. Is that inherently a conflict? How should viewers perceive news coverage, for example, from CBS, when they also broadcast Thursday night football?
BRENNAN: One of the worst I ever saw was during the Masters with the controversy of no women members back in 2003, Brian.
And that was an example where CBS News basically ignored the story. It was roiling the nation, whether there were no -- Hootie, Martha -- everyone remembers this, I'm sure.
BRENNAN: And CBS Sports treated it as a golf tournament. And I don't recall CBS News...
STELTER: This week, a very different case, isn't it?
BRENNAN: Exactly. Norah O'Donnell got the video, the TV interview, and I had the print interview.
STELTER: And yet people wondered -- And yet people wondered, did Norah O'Donnell get the interview because of the relationship that CBS has with the league? BRENNAN: And, of course, I have no idea. I know how I got it,
which was by asking and e-mailing and e-mailing and e-mailing, and finally...
STELTER: And both of you asked basically prosecutorial questions, ones that have been very important now, because now we see potentially contradictions in his story.
BRENNAN: Well, absolutely.
And you put it out there and that's what you do. Going back to your original question, though, I think here we are. This is where we are. This is not going to change ESPN having rights fees, people paying networks or paying the leagues, and then also trying to cover the leagues.
STELTER: And ESPN, for example, said to me, we have a church and stated approach when it comes to this. Some would disagree with that. There's been controversies about ESPN and how tough they have been covering football concussions, for example.
STELTER: Sorry, Gary. Go ahead.
For about eight years, I was in the highest level editorial meetings at ESPN, and I have zero stake in the company now. They don't pay me. I don't -- I have very little to do with them.
BELSKY: I can tell you, not once were we ever discussing a serious journalistic investigative issue, not once was there after a consideration of not approaching it or not doing it.
Many times, I presented stories to the people who were in charge of the relationships with the leagues to let them know what we were doing, and every single time, all I got back was, good story, thanks for the heads-up.
STELTER: And I was struck on CBS on Thursday night, at the very first night of Thursday night football on the network, that Scott Pelley took over for a few minutes, did a news update about the scandal, and then handed over to James Brown.
Let me play a bite from James Brown, because he spoke at length about the domestic violence. Here's a clip of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES BROWN, CBS: According to domestic violence experts, more than three women a day lose their lives at the hand of their partner. So this is yet another call to men to stand up and take responsibility for their thoughts, their word, their deeds, and as Deion says to give help or get help, because our silence is deafening and deadly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So there's J.B. talking about it on Thursday.
Was that as tough as he could have been? That was a pretty dramatic statement to make.
BRENNAN: Yes, I think so.
And it's a powerful statement because he is so associated with the National Football League and his coverage of it. And, of course, he's a man, and, of course, he's -- you know, this is the kind of thing -- what I love about a story like this, as horrible as it is, is that sports once again leads to us a national conversation on an issue, whether it's Penn State and that awful story, whether it's steroids in sports, whatever it is.
And here is another example. So, as horrible as that, as reprehensible as the circumstances, we have a chance to have this national conversation. And J.B. was certainly leading that conversation on Thursday night.
STELTER: I'm glad you mentioned Penn State, because it was Sara Ganim at the local paper who really revealed what happened there. She now happens to work for CNN here.
It was none of the big networks or institutions with business ties to Penn State that broke that story. And maybe that just speaks to the idea that we live in a media ecosystem where there are insiders and outsiders, and that we're going to always have both.
To your point about ESPN, it's not as if they're not going to have these billion-dollar contracts in the future. They always will. So, it's about having outsiders as well as insiders both covering these beats.
BRENNAN: Well, I think so.
And the bottom line is, there are young journalists out there that are being pumped out of schools today that so want to break these stories. I'm not at all concerned about that. I just think that when you get close to a team and a league and have been around too much, it's almost like every sports editor should switch beats, because anyone who gets too comfortable -- and I have seen it in all my years of covering sports -- it's just time to break that up and make everybody uncomfortable again. They will do better journalism.
STELTER: Well, at "The New York Times," where I used to work, I was on the TV beat for six years, but people oftentimes move around after five or six years for that reason, to try a new beat.
Gary Belsky and Christine Brennan, thanks, both, for being here this morning.
BRENNAN: Thank you. BELSKY: My pleasure.
STELTER: And let me know who you think. Send me a tweet or a Facebook message. My username is Brian Stelter. And I have been replying to your comments during the commercial breaks here.
Right after this break, a rarity in Washington, a member of Congress who is publicly anti-war. Should she get more airtime? Whose opinions really get heard about this terror threat from ISIS? We will be right back with that.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
If you are like me, you have noticed that almost all of the people who get booked on the cable news show to talk about the threat posed by ISIS are advocating some sort of robust, violent action.
Clearly, there is a threat, but the range of opinions seems to be Obama's strategy to deal with ISIS over here, and then calls for even more sweeping military action over here. Shouldn't we widen that range of opinion to offer a greater variety?
Well, that's exactly why I have booked Congresswoman Barbara Lee this morning. She is a Democrat from California. She's one of the House's most liberal members. And she was the only back in 2001 to oppose the post-9/11 authorization of military force. She is also against President Obama's current bombing campaign in Iraq.
We talked earlier in Washington about the president, the polls and the press.
STELTER: You were on "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" this week, I saw, here on CNN.
Other than appearances like that here on CNN, do you feel that your point of view is represented effectively enough on television and in the press?
REP. BARBARA LEE (D), CALIFORNIA: I have not -- at least my experience has been very seldom are progressives called, people who have an opposing point of view to whatever the current thought is and the current polling data is showing, that they are called to be on the media and on the press to have these kinds of discussions.
And so I think it is very, in many ways derelict, because we are here to make sure that people know what is going on, that they understand the issues, that they know what the crises are about, so they can really understand what the solutions could be. But if they the only have one point of view, that's the point of view they take and embrace.
STELTER: What you are saying sort of contradicts the notion of a liberal media, that reporters are biased in favor of liberals, because you are saying you don't think progressive voices are heard often enough in settings like these.
Has it been lonely feeling for you over the years? I mentioned that lone vote in 2001. Do you have more colleagues siding with you these days than you did 13 years ago?
LEE: Thirteen years ago, after the horrific attacks of 9/11, a resolution came forward which, for me, was a blank check.
It was very broad. It was not defined. It was not a resolution that, quite frankly I could support, and it is a resolution, 13 years later, that has been used over and over and over again for bombing campaigns, for domestic spying. The Congressional Research Service gave us a list of over 30 times that it has been used, so it was a blank check.
STELTER: Let me read to you from CNN's polling this week about this. It says: "Americans are increasingly concerned that ISIS represents a direct terror threat, fearful that ISIS agents are living in the United States," according to a new CNN/ORC international poll. Most now support military action against the terrorist group."
To what do you attribute that point of view that we're seeing in these polls?
LEE: Well, I'm not sure.
I think, again, the media has really focused on a lot of the very terrible things that are going on. And the president, of course, tried in his speech -- and I think that he did a good job -- in saying, yes, ISIS poses a threat, not necessarily immediate or imminent, but long-term.
And I think it is important though, though, that we not allow fear to settle in. We have to understand the world in which we live. It is a dangerous world.
STELTER: I want to read you something that was written in response to RELIABLE SOURCES last week. I talked on the program about the difference between 2003 and now, the run-up to the Iraq war and this current action.
And Seth Mandel at Commentary wrote this: "What media personalities are reacting to is not a hyped future threat, but the fact that ISIS terrorists are beheading Americans and sending out the videos of the acts. And the response from commentators has been revulsion, entirely appropriate, not supposed water carrying for intel sources. The comparison is irresponsible and false," to compare 2003 to now.
Do you feel that we may be learning the wrong lessons from the Iraq experience in 2002 and 2003 and applying them here in what is absolutely a very different case?
LEE: But it is the fear and it's the anger and it's the revulsion with regard to what took place as a result of the 9/11, the horrific, the terrible, the horrible attacks, and the lives that were lost, and the communities that were shattered.
We're still in many ways in mourning from that. And these terrible beheadings, the brutal attacks that are taking place now, anger sets in, quite naturally. And then once that anger sets in, you want a response, an angry response.
And that may or may not be in the best interest of our national security. You know, there is a history to this. So we don't want that history to repeat itself in 10 years. We have to get it right this time.
STELTER: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, thank you for being here.
LEE: Thank you.
STELTER: We have run out of time today for one more interview with a former diplomat, Daniel Benjamin. He says the public discussion of the threat posed by ISIS has been way overheated. We're going to put that conversation online on CNN.com.
When we come back here, we all make mistakes, but "The New York Times" made a doozy of one this week. I want to show it to you right after this break.
STELTER: Finally this morning, everybody makes mistakes, but this one is too funny to ignore.
Take a look at this correction. It was attached to a story on "The New York Times" Web site Thursday. An earlier version of a summary with this article misstated the former title of Dick Cheney. He was vice president, not president.
Oh, to be the editor who mistyped that. For some reason, I just don't see any journalist making that mistake with Vice President Quayle or Gore or Biden.
That is all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES, but our media coverage keeps going seven days a week on CNN.com. Check out our stories about new ABC News anchor David Muir and a Discovery Channel show that is stranding two senators on an island.
We will see you right back here next week, next Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. If you can't can join us live, make sure you set your DVR.