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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Darren Wilson Resigns from Ferguson Police; Ferguson: Tear Gas & Rocks Hurled at Media; Reporting from Ferguson: The Good, The Bad, The Ratings
Aired November 30, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Good morning and welcome to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter in New York.
And head this hour, I will talk with the ESPN reporter who won the very first interview with football star Ray Rice's wife, Janay.
And I'll introduce you to the one writer who saw Bill Cosby's downfall coming. That was eight years ago and almost no one believed him.
Well, let's begin with the story of the week -- the one word that has come to mean so much, Ferguson. In cities across the country, anger, frustration, and despair on full display after a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. The protests have continued every day since, continued last night in Ferguson, and we have media angle cover this morning.
But, first, let's head straight to there, to CNN's Ed Lavandera with the latest on Darren Wilson's status.
Ed, how are people reacting to Wilson's resignation last night.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of people who have been against Darren Wilson since the August shooting of Michael Brown say that it has taken too long to get to this point, but in many ways, Brian, not a lot of people around here, whether you supported, Brian, Darren Wilson or not, never really imagined any possible way that Darren Wilson could continue on the police force.
Last night, his attorneys released a statement on his behalf saying, from Darren Wilson, that, "It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me."
So, Darren Wilson after more than three months being on paid administrative leave is now officially gone from the Ferguson Police Department -- Brian.
STELTER: Ed, thanks. Appreciate it.
I know people have strong feelings about the media's treatment about this ongoing story. So, I want to go back to Monday when we saw buildings ablaze, stores under siege, truly a scary scene right near St. Louis -- with reporters right in the middle of the mayhem and maybe sometimes too close.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Tear gas.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Tear gas.
CUOMO: There's tear gas just dropped right near us. It's going to get bad here if we don't have masks.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People are throwing stuff at me right now. People are throwing stuff at me right now. It's that kind of scene out here right.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Whether it's -- oh! Sorry. I just got hit by a rock.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very -- that's gunfire.
POLICE: You're unlawfully assembled. You need to get out of the street immediately or you will be subject to arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of our face.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just had a big volley. There's another round that just wept out of the tear gas, coming out of the police vehicles.
LAVANDERA: There's a fire that was set to the building. They're blocking our exit. We've just heard dozens of gunshots.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on. Come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do not understand! You are promoting -- you are promoting a certain narrative.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, right. Thank you.
STELTER: That the reporter at the end, CNN's Jason Carroll is back from Ferguson and here with me on set. CNN's Sara Sidner, who you also saw, who got hit by a rock, is in San Francisco. For a printed online perspective, let me bring in Wesley Lowery of "The Washington Post." He's in Ferguson this morning.
Jason, let me start with you.
We see people yelling at you in that live shot broadcast on CNN to millions of viewers. They weren't threatening, but there were times it was too dangerous. Was it too dangerous on Monday night to be broadcasting live anywhere? CARROLL: Well, it was definitely dangerous.
Was it too dangerous to broadcast live? I would say no. I think whenever you come to a point where you're covering a story as important as this one, one that could have historical significance, you have to be there. And as journalists, you know, we know the risks. We knew it was going to be dangerous.
I had been receiving text messages from protesters for weeks saying that the city was going to burn. So, I went in knowing that it was going to be dangerous --
STELTER: Expecting that.
CARROLL: Expecting it.
STELTER: Were you wearing a bulletproof vest? What kind of precautions were you taking?
CARROLL: I did not have a bulletproof vest. I had a gas mask.
I discovered though, when they lobbed the tear gas at us, it came so quickly and I wanted to get the story out, I found that if I coughed it out and continued to talk and just moved away from where the gas was coming from, I was OK or at least I felt OK.
It's only after looking at the images now I realized how close we were. And, you know, you can see some of the tear gas there now.
CARROLL: I was there with my crew, that was my producer there. We just tried to move away. Did the best we could to try to report the situation. Was it dangerous? Yes. Did we hear the gunfire? Yes. Were they throwing things at us? Yes.
But I still felt as though it was significant and important to be there.
STELTER: Sara, let me ask you, it looked to me from watching on Monday night like we had security personnel with the crews that you and Jason were with. Is that right?
SIDNER: That's correct, yes. Sometimes we have security, sometimes we don't. But there came a point in which we all felt like if we're going to be doing this story, the best thing to do is have at least another set of eyes. I don't know if people realize this but we're sort of blind with the lights in our faces, as we are trying to tell the story. When we're live, we are concentrated solely on what it is we're doing and trying to talk about what's happening around us in this kind of setting.
And so, you're not aware of what's going on sort of around you other than the specifics of the story. And so when something comes at you, you sort of need someone to be watching for danger while you're doing your job. And, you know, this, Brian, I have covered wars in different
places the world, Libya, Afghanistan, and so --
STELTER: Yes, we can show some of that video from Libya, Sara. How did this compare?
SIDNER: Two very, very, very different scenarios. One thing that was different in Libya is that we weren't the targets. When I was with the rebels, the rebels actually wanted us there with them to show what was going on.
If you were though with the government at that time, if you were reporting on the government, then you were the target. So, very different scenario.
What there was there was a lot of shooting in the air, extremely, extremely dangerous, but when that happened, it was daytime. It was not dark yet.
When we were in Ferguson, it was dark, and you couldn't see but you can certainly hear gunshots and as you might imagine, I know exactly what gunshots sound like compared to firecrackers which were also being lobbed in some areas.
So, you know, it was a different scenario. There were different kinds of dangers there. But we were targets in Ferguson in some ways.
I want to say this though, there were about 10 or 15 protesters who called me up and said, "Do you need help?" They came down there and it turns out it wasn't a rock. It was a bottle, a glass bottle that hit me in the head.
And they said, we will help you. Where are you? We heard you were hurt. We're coming there, we're going to get you out thereof. We are going to help you.
So, there were people who were peaceful protesters who wanted to get the message out and who did not want this to happen in any way, shape, or form because they feel like the message got corrupted. The message that they were trying to put out to the world got completely corrupted by violence that they did not want to see. So there were people there that also wanted to help us from the public's view.
STELTER: That's good to know. Let me bring in Wesley here, because, Wesley, you were rather famously arrested in August during the earlier unrest, during the protests then.
Were there any press access issues you experienced this week? I know of only one arrest in the past few days and that was a photographer. One journalist arrested --
WESLEY LOWERY, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I only know of one journalist -- yes, one journalist arrested in the last few weeks. I don't know that there were the same types of issues, and there weren't mass arrests the same way this time around as there were the last time. Many fewer arrests generally.
There certainly have been -- it's hard to gauge exactly what the press access issue has been in this case. So, for example, the last few days they've closed down West Florissant, the area that was looted and where the rioting took place. It's been closed as a crime scene and only for a few hours every day have people been allowed in and out.
Some might argue that's an access issue. Others might argue with yes potentially millions dollars of property damage done, maybe they do need 24 hours surveillance and crime scene investigation. So, it's been a different scenario than it was the last time.
STELTER: Jason, let me ask you about the word "riot" because you have covered other periods of unrest before. You were at Penn State when that TV news truck got flipped over by a crowd.
CARROLL: That was a riot.
STELTER: Well, it wasn't called a riot by the press at that time.
CARROLL: You're right. It wasn't called a riot, but it was. And, you know, I think that's another point that some of the protesters that I spoke to who were peaceful brought up. They said we've seen situations like this unrest before. They said this is a situation where the unrest is for political and social reasons.
When we were out at Penn State, it was -- in some ways we experienced some of the same things that Sara had pointed out, we were the targets. A lot of those students were upset because they felt as though, as you remember the story, it was the press' fault for coming after Joe Paterno.
STELTER: I don't mean to compare the two, but it's worth keeping in mind that, you know, when we see these sorts of moments, even on Friday night in San Francisco, there were windows broken during Ferguson related protests, there were bottles thrown at police. It didn't get nearly as much coverage, in part because it wasn't as widespread but I do wonder sometimes if there are racial and other factors that are at play here.
CARROLL: You know, I think that's a point that a lot of people will be looking at. I just know that in this situation, I agree with Sara. I think in some ways the cause got corrupted. There were definitely protesters like the one you saw there that got in my face.
He wasn't there because of Michael Brown. He wasn't there because of police brutality. He had his own agenda.
But there were a number of protesters out there who wanted to have their voices heard. Unfortunately, these images I think in some ways are overshadowing the messages they wanted to get across.
STELTER: Absolutely. And we're going to talk more about that broader topic. This is not just about Michael Brown. But, Jason Carroll, Sara Sidner, and Wesley Lowery, thank you al
for being here.
Let me know what you think this morning. I know this is a hot topic. Send me a tweet or look me up on Facebook. My username is Brian Stelter, and I'll be looking at your feedback whole hour.
We've heard what it was like to report during the height of the hostilities, but I want to ask this question when we come back: did the media's presence actually make things worse? Were people, I hate to say this, but were they looting for the cameras? That in a moment.
STELTER: Welcome back.
Let's put up on screen one of the defining visuals from the Ferguson this week. It's of President Obama addressing the nation, when viewers saw this surreal split-screen, one side the president appealing for peace, while the other side the beginnings of a riot in Ferguson.
Obama sounded pretty self aware of what was happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know there's going to be some negative reaction and it will make for good TV.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Good TV. Well, many agreed with him. One of my last guests, Wesley Lowery, called the violence on demand programming for the nation that flicks from one blockbuster event from the next.
So, let me do something unusual here. Let me show you the ratings from Monday. On the left, these are the 9:00 p.m. cable news ratings for the Monday before the grand jury announcement. That's the total audience. On the right, that's the hour of announcement. You can see CNN with 6.2 million viewers while the announcement was coming in.
That is more than any moment after Katrina. That's more than any moment after the Boston bombings.
These are some of the highest ratings since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And these are the same ratings now but in the 25 to 54-year- old demographic that advertisers covet, 25 to 54-year-olds. You can see, CNN number one, FOX number two, MSNBC, number three.
What's important here is the huge surge of young people that tuned in to see the grand jury announcement and then, unfortunately, to see the violence that followed afterwards.
I heard many complaints about the coverage on Monday night. Here is one of them. Let me put up on screen. It's from conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. She tweeted
this, "If the media pulled back half of the protesters would disperse and go home. Ferguson would be more peaceful."
Is that true? Did the media proverbially, I don't know, fan the flames in Ferguson?
Well, joining me now to help answer that question is Frank Sesno, the director of the George Washington School of Media Affairs, and Frank Absher, founder of the St. Louis Media History Foundation.
Thank you both for being here.
And, Frank Absher, let me go first to you since you're in St. Louis, you're in the region.
What is your impression been of the national media coverage of the story? You have seen hundreds of reporters basically parachute into your community. So, what's been your overall reaction?
FRANK ABSHER, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ST. LOUIS MEDIA HISTORY FOUNDATION: One of the things that's stood out, Brian, is the fact that a lot of national reporters don't know the territory. As a result, there have been some very serious errors on their part in terms of reporting stuff that's not factual.
Six weeks ago, we were told that Ferguson police chief was on the verge of resigning. It hasn't happened. We were told of a major riot in downtown St. Louis. In fact, it was nine miles away in a suburb of University City.
And then, on top of that, we were told three floors of the Ferguson hospital had been set aside for injuries from the riots. There is no Ferguson hospital. No hospitals in the area had done that.
The outcome is, in fact, that people will trust the media much less knowing that what is being reported is not factual.
STELTER: Frank Sesno, did you notice some of the problems, some of the same inadequacies in the coverage?
FRANK SESNO, DIRECTOR, SCHOOL OF MEDIA & PUBLIC AFFAIRS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Sure. I mean, I think that what you have -- whenever you have a story like this is you have people helicoptering in as you say. They're instantly on the streets, and what they're able to do is cover the snapshot through the straw, exactly what they're seeing at that exact moment.
What they don't have, what they don't know is the lay of the land, the personalities, the deep seated animosities, where they exist, and unfortunately, such things as whether there's a hospital or not.
The problem is with a story like this and your audience numbers show it, the passions run so deep, the feelings run so deep, the perspectives of the white audience and the black audience are so vastly different and far apart that this is when it calls -- you know, when you want some knowledge on the ground. This is when the nuance in the reporting also matters.
STELTER: I put up those ratings, as you're saying Frank Sesno, because I think it's worth keeping in mind, these networks did have huge audiences for this. I should say, it was mostly commercial-free. It's not as if networks like CNN literally directly profited during the hours of the rioting. I think that's worth pointing out.
But those ratings get to a point a lot of people online have said, did the networks want this to happen? Did the media want violence to happen?
Frank Sesno, what's your take on that?
SESNO: Of course, the media don't, no. I think that's a very cynical thing to say.
Media -- people don't sit around in editorial meetings at CNN or FOX or anywhere else saying, we hope there's violence so that it drives the ratings up.
But you know that something is going to come along and you know that that is going to drive the audience. You know you're going to get an audience, maybe not this big, with a story like that, and you have to plan accordingly.
But talking about the audience is getting way too cynical in this way. There is a major story. There is a major issue. And you got to cover it, and then it's a separate subject as to what the consequences of that are.
STELTER: Frank Absher, let me ask you --
ABSHER: Brian, I feel the same way here.
STELTER: I'm sorry, go ahead.
ABSHER: I feel the same way because while a lot of people are quick to criticize and say the media caused this by their very presence, at the same time, if the media had not covered it, they'd have been doing an extreme disservice.
STELTER: I want to share a tweet saying a broadcaster friend of mine calling television cameras the idiot maker. When the cameras are on them, the behavior becomes irrational.
Frank Absher, is there some truth to that, to the idea that when the cameras are present, people act out for the cameras?
ABSHER: They do, but also when the national news media celebrities are in town, there's a crush to be a part of this, to be seen with them, to be associated with them. As a result, a lot of people got on television as expert spokespeople who, in fact, were not. The local people know who these folks are. The national media don't.
One of the attorneys who was interviewed extensively at the beginning of all of this was in the process of facing disbarment, but the media didn't realize it.
SESNO: I want to jump in there, Brian, if I can, because I have been out on the streets with cameras in very strange places when things like this are going on.
SESNO: What cameras do, they do change the dynamic. They magnify, they amplify, they certainly can distort, and they can antagonize people who are already out there because people who are out there see the cameras ABC News they may perform for them.
It has an almost odd effect. There's a camera that's capturing you for the world to see, but in some strange way, there's an anonymity that brings because you feel or someone may feel they're part of something somehow bigger, and so, the danger with cameras always, always is that you're not just there tracking the news and recording the news. You may be helping to propel the news. And that's where this gets to be very dangerous and very delicate.
STELTER: A couple days after --
ABSHER: I'm not sure there's a solution for this.
STELTER: Let me play one sound bite from Darren Wilson because this big first interview that ABC's George Stephanopoulos incurred with Darren Wilson made a lot of news later in the week. Here's a sound bite from it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARREN WILSON, FORMER FERGUSON POLICE OFFICER: I felt like a 5- year-old holding Hulk Hogan. That's how big this man was.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Hulk Hogan?
WILSON: He was very large, very powerful man.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That moment before the second shot, you guys are staring at each other. And you said there was a look in his eye like something you had never seen before. You described it as a demon.
WILSON: Uh-huh. It was a very, very intense, intense image he was presenting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: There has been widespread speculation that ABC somehow paid for this interview. ABC is denying that. Here's what they say, "We do not pay for interviews and there was no payment for this interview, period."
But Frank Sesno, a lot of folks I have been talking to on Twitter don't believe that. The people who are pro-Michael Brown, anti-Darren -- you know, I hate to even put it in those terms, but it's how this story has become. They believe ABC did pay.
Do you believe that there's any sort of possibility that maybe there was a licensing deal or some other sort of thing in an interview like this or would that have been too risky for ABC?
SESNO: We don't know, you know? I mean, this is one of the stories I'd like to know more about. When we talk about the coverage of this story, there are about 1,000 things I'd like to know more about, and one of them is, how did that interview take place? What was the degree of coaching that Wilson had there? Why was he the kind of interview subject that he was?
I found it a strange and sort of clinical interview in many ways, not by Stephanopoulos' part, but by his part. So, the story behind the story on this one, I'd sure like to know.
STELTER: Frank Sesno and Frank Absher, thank you both for being here this morning.
STELTER: And we have more to come, including this question, where is Dr. Nancy Snyderman of NBC News? It's been more than a month since she left the air. You know, she was in that Ebola quarantine. But she's still not back. I've got my reporting on that coming up.
We're going to stay with Ferguson after the break because this one story could be viewed in two entirely different ways. Is it as simple as black and white? We will try to answer that when we return.
STELTER: A national conversation on race. How many times have you heard that phrase?
Can I be really honest here? The truth is we're not having a national conversation on race. We're having two very different conversations, and there's barely any overlap.
Tell me if you agree with me about this. There is a conversation mainly among whites that mostly tiptoes around race and sometimes denies race as a factor. Then, there's a totally separate conversation mainly among people of color that argues many white people just don't get it, just don't, or can't or won't understand the pervasive, corrosive, devastating effects of racial bias.
These conversations -- they happen through the media. So I'm tempted to call this white news/black news instead of our usual segment red news/blue news, because one of the reasons why we're having two different conversations is that we're hearing two different stories. One story is very specific. It's about Michael Brown and Darren
Wilson. But the other story is about an epidemic of police violence.
This story, this is the one that many African-Americans have absorbed through a mix of mainstream and social media. It's a picture that is viral online. It's of dozens of men, dozens of unarmed men killed by police. Dozens of Michael Browns, and there are unarmed women as well.
Now, many whites don't know all their names. I don't know all their names. Many African-Americans do know their names.
So, two different conversations based on two different narratives.
Now, to better understand how and why this is the way it is, let me bring in two media entrepreneurs. Elon James White who founded the Web series "This Week in Blackness", and Crystal Wright who created the blog, "Conservative Black Chick".
Elon, Crystal, thanks both for being here.
CRYSTAL WRIGHT, CONSERVATIVEBLACKCHICK.COM: Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: Elon, do you think I'm right about that, there's simply a different story being talked about in the African-American-oriented media and on social media?
ELON JAMES WHITE, CEO, THIS WEEK IN BLACKNESS: Absolutely. The big thing here is that we've been dealing with this for generations. This is not the first time something like this has happened, it probably won't be the last time something like this has happened. We're seeing various people being shot unarmed even now since the Mike Brown shooting.
And so, the conversation for us is about the fact that this is something that needs to be dealt with on a different level. We can't sit here and wait and continue to ask, please treat us like human beings, and yet somehow when people want to look at this, they want to take out all the history around it, all of the obvious bias that's been shown, and they just want to look at it from a very stark and cold way, and you can't do that in this situation.
STELTER: Crystal, what is your take on this?
WRIGHT: Well, I think what's interesting is that for some reason the media, and, Brian, and I think you did this a little bit yourself, you're lumping black people in all camp and all white people. I'm black, Elon is black, and I disagree with Elon. I have a different perspective on what happened to Michael Brown and how Officer Wilson behaved.
I think that's part of the problem, why Americans can't talk honestly about race is because as a black person, I'm supposed to think like Elon, and I don't. I think the real issue is you did bring up an important point -- white Americans feel afraid to talk about race because they feel like if they talk honestly and share an opinion, they're going to be marginalized, they're going to be called all sorts of heinous names.
And I think you're right again, Brian, that we're talking at each other, because white people are supposed to think a certain way. Black people are supposed to think another way, and we can't have an honest dialogue. We have hate hurling at us.
I will say this. I think the real epidemic is not police violence against black men. The real epidemic is young black men killing other young black men. And we know...
WHITE: No, no, no.
WRIGHT: And the violence -- if you -- no, you're going to let me finish, Elon.
WRIGHT: No "ma'am." You're going to let me finish because I was respectful of you, Elon. And I will stop in a moment.
The Violence Policy Center, Brian, said that the biggest epidemic facing black men -- and they called it an epidemic -- is the black homicides that are being committed against black men predominantly by other black men; 17 black men are killed each day in this country.
And there's no outrage, there's no Al Sharpton talking about why this is happening. Michael Brown made very bad decisions. He did not deserve to have his life cut short at 18. He robbed a convenience store, and then he went on the street and tried to be confrontational with a police officer.
So, I think what we need to be talking about is how do we restore trust? I do not believe white...
STELTER: Well, let's hear from Elon on that.
WRIGHT: Wait. Let me just finish real quick.
WHITE: You have been talking for a minute, ma'am.
WRIGHT: Don't call me ma'am, Elon. You were talking longer than me.
(CROSSTALK) STELTER: Let me try to pause for a moment.
Let me hear Elon's point specifically about this black-on-black violence.
WRIGHT: Right. But let me just finish.
White police officers are not waking up each morning and saying that they want to go out and kill young black men.
STELTER: Elon, do you want to go ahead?
WHITE: Yes. Thank you, sir.
So, first of all, the black-on-black crime thing, Crystal is completely and totally wrong on this, because, one, this conversation has been happening within the black community for generations. Like, if you go to any black community, the black church, the people are having this very conversation around violence within the community.
And so, in all honesty, that's really a way to deflect from the issue here. And let's be real real here, OK? The fact is, when a cop kills a young black man unarmed, it's a bit different than violence happening within a neighborhood.
And to pretend that it's anything else is disingenuous at best. And so when you talk about this, when you talk about, oh, black-on- black crime, there's black-on-black crime in similar rates as white- on-white crime. This is a false narrative that people push in order to derail the conversation around our community still being gunned down by the police.
Now, when a police officer, who is supposed to protect the community, who is supposed to protect the people in that space, kills an unarmed man, it's a different thing than gang violence or something like that, because this person has been sworn in to specifically protect the community.
And when they don't and when they can't and when we're still sitting here afraid of state violence and then in the end they're going to be acquitted of that, so that means that when you shoot down our young people, that means you get to go walk free and you get to walk away? That's ridiculous, and that's not something that should be tolerated in any shape or form or fashion.
STELTER: Let me...
WHITE: And, yes, me and Crystal definitely disagree on this. And it's not because she's supposed to think like me. It's because she's wrong.
STELTER: Well, let me take you in one other direction, because I do want to point out some of the conspiratorial thinking. I mentioned in the last bloc the misinformation about ABC not
actually paying for the Darren Wilson interview. Let me put up one of what was too many ugly racist memes on social media this week.
This is one that I saw on Facebook. I'm going to read it to you. "A shoe store got looted in Ferguson last night. Everything was taken, except the work boots. The work boots haven't been touched."
Couple things about that. A, it's obviously racist and awful. Number two, the picture is obviously not from Ferguson. Why is it -- and I want to hear from both of you briefly on this -- why is it these kinds of memes, these kind of misinformation memes have spread so virally online the past week?
WHITE: Well, the fact is that people are -- social media is social media, and there's going to be issues like that.
There's going to -- a lot of misinformation around it, like you said, the idea of even officer Wilson being paid. That's just part of what happens on social media. And emotions are very high at the moment. And they're going to -- you're going to see things like that, and it's problematic.
And we would hope that more folks would stop and take a moment to look and see if this is even true, because like when you said -- like you said...
STELTER: That, I think we can agree with, right, Crystal?
I think, look, social media has a way of fueling people's anger behind computers, where they can hide behind animosity and anonymity, right?
But I think what is really troublesome to me about the whole narrative is, your earlier guest talked about when the camera lens is in the moment, I think people get riled up and they see these images of rioters, the looting that went on.
Let's not forget, guys, 60 businesses are now not able to operate in Ferguson and provide jobs to employees. You have businesses that were either completely burned down or destroyed to the point that it's going to take months to rebuild.
WRIGHT: I don't think that shows respect for a black neighborhood and I also -- well, Brian, and I also want to say that I'm not wrong.
(CROSSTALK) STELTER: I want to focus on the media, and that's why I have to
roll on this.
WRIGHT: Right. Right. Yes, but I'm just saying I'm not wrong.
STELTER: Crystal, Elon, I appreciate you both being here.
WRIGHT: Yes. Thanks. Thanks.
STELTER: I do appreciate it. And I know the debate is going to keep going online.
WRIGHT: Yes. Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: Before we go, I do want to show you this one thing. This is a "New Yorker" cover out tomorrow. It's the iconic Saint Louis Arch, showing the distance that still exists between blacks and whites.
But then this. This is the hopeful edit to the cover produced by the local nonprofit group I Love Ferguson, trying to heal the divide, a beautiful piece of media.
It's time for a quick break here and a turn to football, because, when we come back, we're looking at the media blitz by Ray and Janay Rice now that he's been allowed to play ball again. Hear from the ESPN reporter who scored the interview everyone wanted right after this.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
I'm sure you remember these shocking images of Ray Rice and his wife, Janay. Now, showing the punch would be gratuitous at this point, but this is the aftermath footage after the former Ravens running back knocked out his wife. He dragged her out of this Atlantic City casino elevator.
Those images were published by TMZ in September, leading the NFL to suspend him indefinitely. But, on Friday, his suspension was overturned and now Janay Rice is telling her side of the story for the very first time.
She talked with ESPN and NBC. Here she is with Matt Lauer in an excerpt released recently describing the ride home from the casino.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANAY RICE, WIFE OF RAY RICE: I was furious. We came home, and we didn't talk the entire ride. Well, I didn't speak to him the entire ride home. He tried to talk to me. I didn't want to hear anything. I just knew he hit me, and I was completely over it. I was done, didn't want to hear anything. I just didn't even
want to entertain it, entertain him, anything that he had to say, any explanation. Of course, in the back of my mind and in my heart, I knew that our relationship wouldn't be over, because I know that this isn't us and it's not him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: The rest of that interview will air tomorrow on "The Today Show," but it was ESPN's Jemele Hill who had the first exclusive interview, which was the basis of a first-person essay by Janay that ESPN published on Friday.
Jemele, thanks for joining me.
JEMELE HILL, ESPN: Thank you.
STELTER: You told me during the commercial break this was the first time in your career you have ever had to interview for an interview. Tell me what that was like.
HILL: Well, it was a little bit different process.
Obviously, with this kind of interview, Janay and her family, they wanted to basically have an array of choices. They wanted to figure out who they probably felt the most comfortable with.
And so when I met her and her mom for the first time, you know, I just wanted them to understand my commitment and passion for journalism. And the whole reason that I got into this business was to tell stories. They were already fully aware of what my opinions on the Ray Rice issue had been, and I think they felt as if I were fair.
That doesn't mean favorable, but they felt as if I were fair. And I think that was a big reason why they decided to trust me with their story.
STELTER: And that meeting happened several weeks before the November 5 interview?
HILL: Yes, it did. It happened in New York.
And it was an opportunity, you know, maybe like an orientation, if you will, a meet-and-greet, an opportunity for her to know a little bit about me, me to know a little bit about her, obviously, beyond the headlines that she had been involved with for months at that point.
HILL: I just wanted to get a better feel for who she was. And it was mutual. It was vice versa.
STELTER: So, when her first-person essay was published on Friday, it included this note. It said: "No questions were off- limits. Janay Rice was given approval over its content and release date." And of course that raised lots of eyebrows. So, tell me why you
thought it was appropriate in this case to have her have approval over the content.
HILL: Well, as you see, there have been other as-told-to stories, and a lot of them take this format.
And I know the way it sounds, and I know the way it sounds for me. Again, by trade, I'm a journalist. And so I know people see that language and final approval and they envision this process of her shooting down things not to be in there.
But it was in no way was this ever a dictatorship. It was fully a collaboration. She came into it with the mind-set that she wanted to be as transparent as possible. And as for the release date, this was -- the interview took place during the appeals process, and it just made more sense to not publish this story until after that process had been completed.
I mean, I spoke to her moments after the NFL -- or the arbitrator decided to reinstate Ray Rice, because that was something, a reaction we wanted included in the piece. And it was stuff that I wanted to have. So when I did speak about her in the piece, I can say, well, I spoke to her and this was her reaction to the appeals process.
STELTER: It's so interesting to see her talking to the media, because let me put up what she put on Instagram over the summer. She was attacking the media, talking about the pain that the media had caused.
She wrote: "No one knows the pain that the media and unwanted options from the public has caused to my family."
I think she meant opinions from the public, not options.
But did she say anything to you in this three-hour-long interview about the media and about how she is now utilizing the media?
HILL: Well, I think that was part of the reason why she was motivated to speak, is that she had gone months without saying anything. And I just -- putting myself in her shoes, I imagine it's extremely frustrating to see people like me and you and people in social media, other media pundits who are opining about her mind-set, about her relationship, about the type of woman she is.
And this was her opportunity to set the record straight and to present to people who she really is. And, you know, while on some end, I know there's a certain irony in railing against the media and collaborating with them at the same time, but I think that's why she went through the process so carefully to choose somebody who she felt like was going to be fair.
STELTER: Oh, no doubt. Sources have more power than ever to choose who to talk to.
Let me show you one line that really struck -- stood out to me in this essay. Here's what she wrote towards the end. She said: "If it took our situation becoming headline news to show domestic violence is happening in this country, that's a positive."
Did you get a sense from her that she really feels that this has had a positive outcome in that way?
HILL: Well, I think obviously she would not like to relive the situation. I think that that's pretty obvious.
However, as she told me, there were certain positives or a silver lining, if you will, that came out of this. Among the many was the fact that the level and awareness of domestic violence is now, you know, maybe more than we have seen in this country in quite some time.
The other side of her, from a personal level, too, is that she felt like she learned a lot about herself, about her own strength, the strength of her family, the strength of her relationship with her husband. So, even though it was horrible and traumatic, and there's going to be some probably long-term emotional damage from this entire episode, I think that she has enough perspective to understand that there was something larger and bigger at play than just the microcosm of her situation.
STELTER: She's very self-aware.
Jemele Hill, thanks for being here this morning.
HILL: Thank you.
STELTER: That word she used, collaboration, that's a controversial word. I think it will get some attention.
But I'm told ESPN decided if at any point during this process if they felt their credibility was going to be damaged, they would bail, they would walk out. And they never reached that point. So, there's going to be more to come on that.
More troubles this week for Bill Cosby. When we return, I'm going to talk to perhaps the one reporter who got the story right. He saw the sex scandal coming and we will talk about that in just a moment.
STELTER: Welcome back.
Now to Bill Cosby. And let me turn back the curtain on the TV booking process for a moment, because, last week, I really wanted to talk with Bob Huber, the author of this "Philadelphia" magazine article about Mr. Cosby.
Huber went into detail about the sexual assault allegations against Cosby, and said this: "Maybe it will amount to nothing. Yet there is also the possibility that it will bubble up to destroy him."
That was in 2006. His article came and went, mostly ignored, just like the accusers at the time. But the sexual assault claims became national news this month, causing more women to come forward, at least 15 by our count now, and causing media companies and some universities to sever their ties with Cosby.
That brings me back to the booking process. You might have noticed that the Cosby scandal faded from the headlines a bit this week, overtaken by other news. Bob Huber sure noticed. When the booker for this show told him we would be covering Ferguson most of the hour, he said, don't forget about Cosby. He said, don't let this story go again.
And now Bob Huber joins me from one of my favorite cities, Philadelphia.
Bob, good morning.
BOB HUBER, "PHILADELPHIA": Brian, hi. How are you?
STELTER: Tell me about your experience writing this profile of Cosby in 2006. You never actually got to ask him about the allegations. Why is that?
HUBER: Well, I was not able to ask him anything.
I got on the story because of Andrea Constand. She was an administrator working for Temple University women's basketball. Cosby of course has Temple University connections. He went to Temple. He is on the board. He is involved with the fund-raising, so forth and so on.
They developed something of a mentor/mentee relationship. And he invited her to his house to talk about her career. And that is when she tells the story of abuse, that Cosby offered her a pill. I think she had a headache or was a little anxious. Cosby said that it would make her feel better.
She takes the pill, has a drink, and her story is that Cosby then proceeded to molest her. She waited a year. She pursued it legally. It ended up going nowhere legally, but then she filed a civil suit.
STELTER: And you were covering this in your article. Yes. But then what is interesting to me...
HUBER: That's right.
STELTER: ... you were writing about this, you were doing this big profile. You got invited to spend some time with Cosby, right, but you were not allowed to ask him questions?
That is the second piece of it. And any rate, the civil suit, there are these 13 Jane Does. So, that was a piece that I was very interested in. The second leg is that Bill Cosby was doing callouts. He was going to mostly cities where he was talking very directly and frankly and angrily to mostly inner-city black people about getting themselves together, about taking responsibility, about changing their lives.
I was trying to get to Cosby. I couldn't. I talked to his people. He wouldn't talk to me. As a last resort, I went out to his house out in Cheltenham and left a note in his mailbox, telling him I wanted to talk to him, and I wanted to talk to him about these callouts, sort of a last resort so that I could say to my editor, well, I tried.
But lo and behold, I got a call from one of Cosby's people. They invite me to a callout to Mississippi, to the Delta out there. And I go out and it's event. There are a couple of hundred people there. Cosby is giving his speech about raising yourself up from your bootstraps.
And I'm invited to a little reception, a little dinner afterwards. And I'm allowed to sit next to Bill Cosby, but I am essentially allowed to say nothing to him. I can't ask him anything. He won't answer any questions.
So I get to Cosby, but there is no actual interview of Cosby. It was one of the most bizarre scenarios in writing a profile. I have written many write-arounds where I don't get to the person I am writing about. But to get to the person, then have them not talk to me, you know, I see it as a complete control thing.
STELTER: I think that is pretty revealing about the way...
HUBER: Cosby wanted me to come out, see the callout and write about that.
STELTER: Right. I think that is pretty revealing.
Let me ask you about one other piece of this, because there has so much coverage of Cosby in the past that didn't touch on these allegations.
There is also a new book out earlier this year by Mark Whitaker, a former CNN executive. It's a biography about Cosby that really barely touched on this story. He has come out and apologized for that, after my former colleague at "The New York Times" David Carr wrote about this topic.
He tweeted at David Carr. Let me put the tweets up on screen. "David, you are right. I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively." He continues: "I am following new developments and will address them at the appropriate time. If true the stories are shocking and horrible."
Bob, what is your take on the fact that this biography, this giant biography, did not include more about these allegations?
HUBER: Frankly, I think it's unconscionable. These allegations have been out there for almost a decade. They
were broken in Philadelphia by "The Daily News." And I was able to get 65 words to take a look at the whole ball of wax of Cosby's career and take a pretty direct look at these allegations, talk to some of the women from that civil suit.
And there is a litany of stories there in my piece and there are 13 women who were ready to testify in that civil suit. They didn't because that suit was settled. But all of that has been out for a decade. And for someone to write a book about Cosby and not get into that is absurd to me.
STELTER: Bob, thank you for being here.
And I want viewers to know, we did reach out to Mark Whitaker, did not hear back from him about this.
Ahead here on RELIABLE SOURCES, a medical mystery at NBC with no official prognosis. Will Dr. Nancy Snyderman ever return to air? I will tell you why today is important in trying to answer that question next.
STELTER: Before I go this morning, a quick question that I have been trying to answer. Where is NBC's chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman?
I have been trying to reach her. I haven't heard back from her. And if you Google her name, this is the first result you will see, "NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman to resume work in November." That is a story I wrote five week ago.
Dr. Nancy and her crew had just finished a three-week quarantine because one of their colleagues had contracted Ebola when they were all covering the story in Liberia. Dr. Nancy reportedly violated her quarantine in New Jersey, so NBC encouraged her and her crew to spend some more time, take some more time off to let the controversy blow over.
In October, I quoted the head of NBC News as saying, "We very much look forward to their return next month."
Well, it is the last day of November. And Dr. Nancy still has not been back on the air. Meanwhile, there's a new doctor on NBC, Dr. Natalie Azar, who signed a contract and became a medical contributor a couple of weeks ago.
So what is going to happen here? Well, my sources at NBC say only the top executives know Dr. Nancy's future, but they are predicting she will be back on the air soon. NBC declined to comment this morning.
I'm out of time here on RELIABLE SOURCES, but our media coverage keeps going seven days a week on CNN.com.