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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Debate Debate: Who Should Pick the Candidates?; 2016 Candidates Jockey for Position; Murdoch Plans to Turn FOX Over to Sons; Outrageous Comment by CNN's Own Fredericka Whitfield; The New Face of Sunday. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired June 14, 2015 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:08] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: A seismic shift in the media world, as Rupert Murdoch takes steps to hand over the reins of his multimedia empire to his sons. What does it mean for FOX News?
And, "In Touch" magazine continuing to reveal the Duggar family's secrets. But has its reporting on the reality show family gone too far at this point?
Good morning, everyone. I'm Brian Stelter. And it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES.
We will have more on those stories later.
But, first, what a weekend for presidential politics. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton's sweeping campaign speech billed as a launch speech here in New York. And tomorrow, Jeb Bush's turn. Here's his new logo out this morning, including an exclamation point, but excluding his last name, Bush.
And on Tuesday, maybe Donald Trump? He is making some sort of announcement, perhaps making the GOP primary process even more complicated.
This morning, we're going to peel back the curtain on calculations that are shaping who you see on TV throughout this campaign season, because we're almost two months away from the first televised debate. If there is already a debate raging about who gets to be on the stage.
Now, imagine, 15 or 20 candidates, it will be bad TV. It would stifle any -- you know, actual debating.
So, FOX News Channel's solution for its August 6th debate is to limit it to the 10 candidates who are faring best in national polls. The CNN solution for its September 16th debate is to have two debates basically, two tiers, a B team of lower-ranking candidates and an A team for the ones that are polling the highest.
Now, these ideas are causing Republicans to fight awfully hard to get in the top 10 and then stay in the top 10.
The Republican National Committee supports the networks, but some state party members hate this. Check out this letter. This was signed by more than 50 prominent New Hampshire GOP members and sent to the RNC and FOX News this week, demanding that the rules be changed.
Quote, "The proposed limitations are unnecessarily narrow and risk eliminating potentially viable candidates based on unreliable national polling that is rarely predictive of primary election outcomes."
In other words, they're saying the rules are downright undemocratic, warping the race, denying some candidate a chance to make their cases.
Now, this letter was directed at FOX because they had plans for only that one debate. But after the letter came out, FOX announced a compromise, a bit more like CNN's plan. It involves a forum in the afternoon for the lower-ranking candidates on the same day as the prime time debate for the higher ranking candidates. So, is that satisfactory?
Let's hear from one of the signers of the letter, Jeb Bradley, Republican majority leader of the New Hampshire state senate, and the RNC's chief strategist and communications director, Sean Spicer.
Welcome to you both.
SEAN SPICER, RNC CHIEF STRATEGIST AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thanks, Brian.
JEB BRADLEY, NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE SENATE: Glad to be here.
STELTER: Jeb, what is your position about these debate rules that only allow ten on the main stage?
BRADLEY: Well, look, I understand the need to try to have some discipline in the process. But at the same time, you're going to exclude what could be viable candidates here in New Hampshire. And I think speaking for a state that has done a really good process of, you know, electing presidents over the years, it really should be the voters who get to winnow out the candidates, not the party and not the media.
And I think, you know, a candidate like former Senator Santorum or Governor Kasich or Carly Fiorina or Governor Pataki, or Lindsey Graham, Senator Graham, or Governor Jindal, they'd all be excluded in this format right now if the polls that were in effect today. I just don't think that's appropriate.
SPICER: With all due respect to Senator Bradley -- I mean, the fact of the matter is, in 2012, there were 30 candidates on the New Hampshire ballot. There were 26 on the Iowa ballot. What you're talking about, Senator, is you or other folks want to decide who can be it. You're asking a level of subjectivity.
In other words, if it's not polling, then what is that level? Because you're not going to ever have 30 people on it. And you keep describing credible candidates. What is a credible candidate?
It seems to me as though what you and a lot of other folks who signed the letter is, you want to determine who those credible candidates are. I give FOX and CNN a ton of credit for saying it's not just going to be the top ten that get air time, but any candidate over 1 percent will actually get air time.
And, additionally, when you look at history, a lot of candidates, last cycle at this point, we would have had two GOP debates under the belt, neither of which had Mitt Romney in them.
So, because you don't get in the first debate doesn't mean you're not going to be in the third debate, or the fourth debate, or the fifth debate. New Hampshire is six months away. I think there is plenty of time for a candidate so sit around New Hampshire or Iowa.
Rick Santorum was a great case of this last cycle, really worked hard in Iowa and brought himself up. I think New Hampshire voters offer that opportunity to any candidate, where you can sit there and have one-on-one discussions with people throughout the state and get your numbers up. And if that's the case, by the time you hit the New Hampshire primary, you're going to be in great shape.
[11:05:00] STELTER: Jeb, you were shaking your head earlier.
BRADLEY: I really couldn't disagree with Sean more. I mean, I couldn't disagree with him more. You know, the party apparatus is trying to pick winners and losers. It's not for the party hierarchy to do. It's for voters to do.
And I think the early voting states, New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, Florida, do a very good job of winnowing out those candidates.
Sean, you should leave these decisions to voters.
SPICER: Senator, I don't understand it because that doesn't mean anything. When you say "leave it to voters," at the end of the day answer me this. Last cycle, you had 30 candidates on the New Hampshire ballots. Do you expect 30 people to get on the debate stage at any time?
BRADLEY: Look, in New Hampshire people put their names on the ballot who have no intention of becoming president. No question of that. But you're excluding --
SPICER: So, who decide who the credible candidates? How do you decide?
BRADLEY: Excuse me. You're excluding, Senator Santorum who got the second most delegates last time, because he hasn't cracked the top ten yet. I mean -- or Governor Kasich, the governor of a very big, industrial state, critical for Republicans to be able to win the presidency, with the Electoral College votes. I mean, why would we be excluding Governor Kasich? SPICER: This is nuts. The idea anyone has been excluded is crazy.
How do you decide that we've excluded anybody? No one is --
BRADLEY: You're excluding them from the debate.
SPICER: Hold on. Some of them haven't even announced.
Second of all, when you look at what FOX and CNN both did, they've taken what was a historic number of people on stage and said we'll create a second segment in both cases, so that any candidate receiving over 1 percent can get on the stage. So, Santorum or any candidates above 1 percent is going to get that kind of air time. I think that's probably -- that is historic in terms of the amount of air time that we're offering any candidate that gets above that.
So, I don't see how you can argue that that's not a great opportunity for any candidate.
STELTER: Let me ask if we can find common ground by pointing out that maybe this is the least bad option. Can we agree that the networks are trying to find the least worst way to do this by setting up, frankly, a main debate for the top candidates but offering a secondary area, a secondary forum, for the lower-tier candidates? Would you agree with that, Jeb?
BRADLEY: Well, I think if it were structured so that some of the top- tier candidates shared a debate stage with some of the other candidates that are at that 1 percent level, then I would agree with that. But basically, you're creating two strata of candidates, the ones that have been picked by the media based on polls and ones that haven't done quite as well as the polls. It's going to be tenths of percents of difference between the 10th and 11th and 12th.
That's problem. And --
STELTER: It's been referred to as the children's table for the secondary debate stage. What is the answer to that, Sean?
STELTER: Doesn't that set up a two-tiered system? And isn't that troubling for the RNC?
SPICER: Right. I think what you want is to have the most inclusive process possible by which everybody has an opportunity to get on the stage and make their case to the American people, to early-state voters.
BRADLEY: Unfortunately, Sean, you're creating a perception that there is a top tier and a second tier, and there is almost no argument about that. And when you do that, voters react to that, because other people in the media and you at the RNC, are making that choice. Why don't you structure the two debates, in that everybody in the 1 percent gets on the stage? That's all we're asking. SPICER: No matter how you slice it, as you put it, there's no perfect
answer to this. In 1992, the gentleman that was leading the Democratic field with 20 percent at this time was Mario Cuomo, a gentleman who never became a candidate.
So, let's actually let the system play out a little. But the idea that this is a "be all and end all" is a little ridiculous. It's the first step in a very long process.
STELTER: Sean Spicer and Jeb Bradley, thanks for being here.
BRADLEY: Thank you very much.
SPICER: Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: Much more to come on this. And, by the way, just this morning, CNN announced Jake Tapper will be moderating that September debate here on CNN. Tapper will join me in a few minutes.
And also coming up, breaking news about Hillary Clinton. She is ready to meet the press. We'll tell you more about that.
Right after this break, two of the smartest political journalists out there will join me to dissect the coverage of Hillary and of Jeb Bush. That's when we come back.
[11:13:09] STELTER: Welcome back.
There's some breaking campaign news this mornings, news that members of the political press corps have been waiting to hear for several months. Hillary Clinton is about to start giving interviews.
Clinton is in Iowa today after holding what was billed to be her first major speech in New York yesterday, 500 members of the media asked for credentials. About 300 of them actually got in. It was an issue because there were so many supporters who wanted to be there, et cetera, et cetera.
Anyway, a week -- a day later now, it doesn't really feel like it was much of a major speech at all. I mean, look at the front page of the newspapers, it's barely being covered and maybe that illustrates how the modern ecosystem works.
Clinton's next campaign stop is at the Iowa state fair. And along for the ride is CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny who joins me from Des Moines this morning.
Jeff, tell us about this interview plan. She is now ready to meet the press after frankly avoiding giving interviews for months.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brian.
She is. I'm told by Iowa reporters that she is expected to give a few interviews to Iowa reporters, radio reporters, newspaper reporters, possibly television reporters, which will mark the first time she has taken questions from local press. It's very standard fare, Brian. All candidates when they come through, they sit down with Iowa reporters who have been asking questions of presidential candidates for a long time. So, I think this is something that they've expected and something that we've all expected.
You know, the Clinton campaign was never planning on not doing interviews throughout this whole process. That would have been impossible and absurd. I am told by a few Iowa reporters that is starts today.
STELTER: Of course, it's been frustrating for a lot of journalists. And, of course, GOP candidates, and even other Democratic candidates, have been using this issue against Hillary Clinton. Tell us about that.
ZELENY: Sure. I mean, Jeb Bush has made a point of everywhere he goes, he takes questions, and seems like he is taking even more questions and pointing out, you know, that Hillary Clinton is not.
[11:15:03] A lot of other Republican candidates have been doing it as well.
South Carolina, I was there a couple weeks ago, Carly Fiorina came outside of a Clinton event at the very same spot, the same hotel ballroom and held a press conference to talk about the fact that Secretary Clinton was not taking questions. So they have used this a little bit.
But I think it's important to remember it's June. If she would have gone throughout the summer and fall without taking questions, that would have been a problem and a big deal. But if this is the start of something new today, I think that's a good thing.
STELTER: It does show they're moving into a new phase of the campaign. Stick around, Jeff.
I want to also bring in chief political correspondent for Vox.com, Jonathan Allen.
Jon, thanks for being here.
JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX.COM: Good morning, Brian.
STELTER: I wanted to ask you about the piece you wrote yesterday saying that Hillary Clinton's most important line in her speech was this one. Let's take a listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, by I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States.
(CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So, Jon, tell us why you think that was the single most important line.
ALLEN: Well, I think one of the big mistakes she made in 2008 was refusing to embrace the historic nature of her candidacy, refusing to give women and others certainly some men who see breaking the glass ceiling as a bonus or as a positive, failing to make that personal connection to them.
But even more important, I think when you look at a narrative, somebody who's trying to construct a narrative of being a champion for others, being able to overcome challenges, help them overcome challenges, whether you're talking about income gaps, whether you're talking about workplace unfairness, whether you're talking about discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans, for her to be able to put herself in a position of being somebody who is going to break a barrier, that connects her with the overall narrative of her campaign of being a champion for everyday Americans.
So, I think there is a lot loaded into that, and not just that, you heard her talk about her age. Republicans have talked about her age, tried to paint her as a candidate of yesterday. That's also part of what's going on here. She is going to try to pull a reversal on that and say, regardless of her age -- we heard this yesterday. Regardless of her age it's the Republicans who have old ideas.
Again, you unpack that single sentence, I think there's a lot there. I would argue, probably, the most important thing she said yesterday.
STELTER: And, yet, you know, age will continue to be an issue as expected.
I want to bring up what I mentioned earlier, which is this idea that a day later, the speech doesn't feel that major, but maybe that's because of the way the media is changing. The new "Face the Nation" host, over on CBS, John Dickerson, made this point on a column. He wrote about the speech being a buffalo that gets passed around in social media. Let me show a few examples of that, about how people hear what they want to hear from a speech and now, we have a media that's tailored to that.
Like here's a Facebook post from Emily's List, their organization Madam President, they highlight the quote we just played, about her status as a would-be first female president. So, if you're interested in that, you can share that on Facebook.
Or take this one for example from Think Progress. They highlighted the comments about climate change. Her going after the GOP on climate change.
And then, if you keep going here, look at the Twitter feed of Hillary Clinton. The most retweeted comment during the whole speech was about her position on gay rights. So, essentially, people can share whatever part of the speech they
wanted to share. Maybe, Jeff, maybe that's why this felt like a laundry list, because they were reaching every constituency they wanted to reach knowing different media outlets and different Web sites would carve it up that way.
ZELENY: I think you're right, Brian. There's no question, there was a laundry list. Some described it as the State f the Union. I kind of describe it as ticking through a list of Democratic priorities.
But that doesn't mean that it's not significant. I was struck by the difference between now, what the Democratic Party is talking about now, what candidates have to talk about now in the 2016 campaign versus 2008. It would have been a totally different speech in 2008. So, it's interesting in that respect.
But I think in terms of it not being front-page news --
STELTER: Yes, does it matter anymore? Does it matter that it's not?
ZELENY: "The Sioux City Journal", she came to Sioux City last night, front-page news of "The Sioux City Journal". So, n question, when she still visits a town locally, that is front-page news.
Does it matter if it's not on the front page of "The New York Times"? Absolutely not. Had she been jumping in yesterday for the first time, it would have been. But you only get so many bites of the apple here and there wasn't anything so brand-new in it.
I think the campaign was not surprised at all that it was not on the front page on the major newspapers. They're more focused on local press. That's where the voters are.
So, I think at this point, a negative story in the local press is bad, much, much worse than a negative story in the national press.
STELTER: Local press, and maybe digital media, like I said, to carve up all those pieces of the speech.
STELTER: But, Jon, they did have to get his out of the way, right? This was a great made for TV moment for the campaign. They sort of had to get it out of the way?
ALLEN: Look, this is absolutely a made for TV moment of the campaign. If she becomes president of the United States, you'll see the highlight video will start with this speech of the beautiful island with Manhattan in the background and the U.N. in the background and gorgeous setting.
You know, what's interesting about Hillary Clinton is, she is a candidate charisma-wise never lives up to the setting and the staging, and sometimes even the print, the text of her speeches.
[11:20:08] But you know what? I don't think that's a bad thing for her this time around. You know, some folks talked about how, you know, this wasn't as soaring rhetorically as the Barack Obama speech in 2008. You know what? There are a lot of Americans and a lot of other Democrats who were disappointed by what they saw as failed promises of Obama, particularly related to this soaring rhetoric about a new way of doing things in Washington, about a new movement.
And so, it may be that kind of under-performing on the charisma level isn't the worst thing for her.
STELTER: Hmm. Jon Allen, Jeff Zeleny, thanks to both for being here this morning.
ALLEN: Take care.
STELTER: As Jeff mentioned, some local press interviews coming up.
Maybe also some softer appearances. Maybe shows like "The View", where we will see Hillary Clinton in the coming weeks. Carly Fiorina, the other woman in the race on the GOP side, will be on "The View" on Tuesday.
Now, up next here on RELIABLE SOURCES, Rupert Murdoch -- he appears to be finally ready to hand over the reins of his empire to his sons, pictured there. The FOX News boss Roger Ailes is going out of his way to let the world know he will still report to the elder Murdoch.
There is palace intrigue, and we will dissect it right after the break.
[11:25:44] STELTER: Hey. Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
This week, there's going to be a historic shift in the media business. There is a board meeting at 21st Century Fox, one of the biggest media companies in the whole world.
And this man, Rupert Murdoch, will be handing over some power, handing over the reins to his son James, who will become CEO of 21st Century Fox. His other son Lachlan is moving from Australia to Los Angeles to serve as the co-executive chairman of the company. So, there will essentially be a trifecta of power running FOX.
Now, the legacy of the 84-year-old Australian has been wildly controversial and profitable, spanning newspapers, books, tabloids, broadcasting on cable and satellite TV. What you see on the screen are just a few of those examples.
So, will his sons be able to carry the torch? And will Rupert Murdoch really loosen his grip?
This was intriguing. Already, FOX News chairman Roger Ailes, who reportedly does not get along with the sons very well got on the phone with "Variety" and said he expected to continue to report to Rupert. Hmm. Joining me now, Sarah Ellison, the author of "War at The Wall Street Journal", it's all about Rupert's $5 billion purchase of the newspaper. She's also a contributing editor at "Vanity Fair."
SARAH ELLISON, VANITY FAIR: Thanks for having me, Brian.
STELTER: The initial headlines were a big surprise -- James to become CEO. But then, there was some clarification that this was going to be a power-sharing arrangement. What do you think is going to really going to happen after this board meeting this week where they put this into effect?
ELLISON: Well, I think the story that broke was actually -- it was very dramatic but then turned out that it was almost like opposites day, because everything that you thought was going to be true from what the story said, everyone kept sort of back-tracking immediately afterward. So, Rupert it turns out, people close to the company tell me his title is changing but his role is not changing. James has one title, Lachlan has another title. But I'm told titles really don't matter.
So, it's one of these things where you immediately are getting these sort of quasi official statements from people that make it seem like it indeed, as you said in the beginning of the segment, it's a trifecta and, as long as Rupert is involved with the company and has executive in his title, he is going to be the one who is really calling the final shot. And, in fact, I think he may be even more involved in the company in the near future than he has been just because he wants this -- well, for a variety of reasons that we can talk about.
STELTER: Well, key question is what's on the bottom of the screen there. Will the Murdoch sons get along? What's the answer to that question?
ELLISON: Well, I mean, that is sort of the billion dollar question, which is that --
STELTER: Literally the billion dollar question.
ELLISON: It's probably more than that. Yes. You know, there's a lot of money at stake.
STELTER: The reason why it's being asked is there has been tension before. Lachlan has been away from the company for a long time, for example.
ELLISON: I mean, this is the thing that makes people so interested in the Murdochs and interested in the company is that there has always been a dynamic. You know, Rupert Murdoch raised all of his children talking every morning about the media business. They've been weaned on this stuff. And they're competitive with one another, and they're competitive because they want to be involved in the business. And I think that the -- you know, I hope for their sakes that it
really works, that they have a complementary partnership, which is what people close to the company keep saying. They're very complementary, they have different personalities. It's a difficult thing in a corporate structure to have two people that are equal to each other.
And that is what, again, people are telling me that's the case. Lachlan is not above James. James is not above Lachlan. They're just going to share the power and the father is going to be there to sort of call the shots. But it's hard for any two people to sort of -- who breaks the tie? Well, Rupert breaks the tie. But how does that actually work going forward is hard to know.
STELTER: And this matters because the company is so large, it owns so many titles. Paul Farhi in "The Washington Post" this week wrote that neither son has shown the partisan streak of their father. Is that your understanding as well? That they may not have the same kind of conservative beliefs or commitment to the Republican Party of the United States that we've seen from Rupert and his newspapers at the "New York Post"?
ELLISON: Oh, absolutely. I mean, the thing that's interesting about Rupert -- we don't really know if his sons are going to do this, is that he does have a commitment to the Republican Party. He's very engaged in politics. A lot of that happens through Roger Ailes and through FOX News.
[11:30:02] But he is sort of a master. He's sort of like a heat- seeking missile on where politics might be going, what's the right business decision to make in terms of the politics of the moment.
James and Lachlan, as far as I know, have different politics than their father, but they also don't have that same kind of -- I don't want to say it's like the finger on the pulse, but they don't have the same way of wielding power that their father does.
I mean, James, when he was in London, tried to do that a little bit and it never quite hit in the right way.
STELTER: And there is the Ailes factor to all of this. He says he will continue to report to Rupert Murdoch. Ailes' contract to run FOX News, as he has for 20 years, is up around this time next year, maybe even a little bit sooner than that, according to some media reports.
What's the best understanding of what's going to happen in that relationship? Why is it that he is going to report to Rupert and not to CEO James?
ELLISON: Well, I think that the way the News Corp., the pre-split News Corp., and now 21st century FOX and News Corp., have always run is that it's really Rupert's company. And he and Roger have a very fruitful partnership.
They have done business together for a long time. There is no way that Roger Ailes would be able to report to James in any kind of real way, and nor to Lachlan, for that matter. And so I think -- and he doesn't need to really check in that much. I'm not sure -- I don't think that he checks in that much with Rupert.
STELTER: So it's a very autonomously run channel, yes.
ELLISON: It is an incredible autonomous -- autonomous channel.
And it's also the way that -- that's the way News Corp. has always sort of run. People who run the individual businesses, they talk to Rupert, but they are able to sort of run things the way that they want to. And there is nobody for whom that is true more than Ailes.
STELTER: The other billion-dollar question, literally, is whether Ailes stays, whether he renews his contract next year, because so many people can't imagine FOX News without Ailes. FOX is Roger, Roger is FOX.
I think that this is -- the reason for -- this whole announcement feels very -- it feels bold, but completely tentative.
ELLISON: So, James and Lachlan are there. Rupert is not going anywhere. Chase Carey, the very competent chief operating officer, is stepping down eventually. We don't know exactly when.
But Rupert sort of wants to put his sons in the business, but he's still keeping all the safety nets there. He still is -- he's still going to be very involved, probably more so. Chase is going to still be a consultant. He wants these kids to be able to succeed him, but he is not really -- he's not going away. Roger Ailes is still reporting to him. Chase Carey is still on deck.
He is doing it all, I think, in a very sort of hopeful, yet tentative way here.
STELTER: So we're seeing the beginning of a succession plan, but only the beginning.
Sarah, thanks for being here this morning.
ELLISON: Thank you so much.
STELTER: Now to something outrageous that was said here on CNN yesterday. Anchor Fredricka Whitfield was covering the attack at the Dallas police headquarters with CNN analyst Philip Holloway when she said this about the gunman's actions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It was very courageous and brave, if not crazy as well, to open fire on the police headquarters. And now you have this scene, this standoff.
So you believe these are the hallmarks of more than one person's involvement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Courageous? The comment was shocking, particularly among people who already think channels like CNN sometimes take an anti- police tone.
When I woke up this morning, this was all over my Facebook feed my and Twitter feed. The Fort Worth Police Officers Association is calling for an immediate apology, for example.
I have reached out to CNN's spokeswoman asking if there's going to be a statement. And I have just heard back, so I want you to know what I have heard.
I'm told that Whitfield will address the comment on air this afternoon and say that she misspoke and that she does not believe, not believe the gunman was courageous or brave.
Now, coming up here, a turn to a story that's been in the news for several weeks, one magazine that's been breaking story after story on the Duggars. Find out how they are doing it and perhaps a larger question. Why aren't local police following up? Stay tuned.
STELTER: Welcome back.
The fate of TLC's reality show "19 Kids and Counting" still hangs in the balance after a family sex abuse scandal was uncovered by investigative journalism from a very unlikely source. "In Touch Weekly," a tabloid magazine, was the first to uncover the police report that detailed the investigation of Josh Duggar and the molestation of five girls, four of them his sisters.
This was when he was a teenager, more than a decade ago. "In Touch" also reported that the family waited a year before reporting it to the authorities. And they have continued to lead the coverage recently, publishing a fact-check of Megyn Kelly's FOX News interview of the Duggars.
Put it up on screen here. It says: "The Duggar interview, seven crucial facts they didn't tell you."
As well as this exclusive -- it says, "Arkansas police chief says the Duggars slandered me."
Now, the "In Touch" scoop about the Duggars raises some important questions about what exactly the role of tabloid journalism is and whether the reporting ever went too far, especially when it's about victims in some cases who are still underage. Joining me now is editorial director David Perel.
David, thanks for being here.
DAVID PEREL, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, "IN TOUCH": Thank you.
STELTER: Now, the country remains very interested in this story. You have tried to break more news about it this week. Tell us about the most recent reporting.
PEREL: The most recent thing that we found at "In Touch" is the family is once again under investigation by the Department of Human Services.
"In Touch" obtained information through another Freedom of Information Act showing that, in late May, a DHS worker from Washington County went out to the house, was not allowed in and had to call 911 to be allowed in, as they wanted to check on the welfare of a minor child. We also have learned that the investigation is ongoing.
STELTER: And TLC has an ongoing decline to comment. They won't even say at this point if the show is ever going to come back, if it is ever going to resume production. At this point, I'm assuming it will not. But we will see.
Tell us how this came about in the first place, though. How did you all dig this up? Because people hear tabloid magazine and they think, oh, you must have paid for this information.
PEREL: Well, we certainly did not pay for the information. And I think tabloid is a word that actually connotes size of a magazine. But I don't know what...
STELTER: That's a good point.
Wait. Let's tell the viewers at home tabloid actually has a meaning in the print industry. But people hear tabloid, they think it's about celebrities. They think it might be sleazy. "In Touch" does sometimes pay for news, right, but not in this case?
PEREL: That's true. We will pay for exclusives. We will pay documents. In this case, we did not pay for anything.
This is just good, solid investigative journalism by a very good team at "In Touch" magazine.
STELTER: As we have learned over the years, that kind of reporting can come from anywhere. Right? The "National Enquirer" was the first to tell the world about John Edwards and his own scandals. But let me ask you about this issue of the family, about naming these victims. Some people are under the impression that you named the victims here, the underage sisters. Is that right?
PEREL: No, we didn't.
And back to your point about "The Enquirer" and John Edwards, I also ran that story when I was editor in chief of "The Enquirer," which got us a Pulitzer nomination. And two people from that team, Alexander Hitchen and Rick Egusquiza, have joined me at "In Touch" and broke this story.
So, no, we never named the victims. What we said was, there were five underage minor victims.
STELTER: Did you consider not reporting this at all, though? Once you had these documents, once you had obtained the information, did you consider not covering the story because it could re-victimize these girls?
PEREL: We considered every aspect of it.
But, ultimately, what we decided was the newsworthiness of it and the fact that this was a public document that had to be released, that overrode everything. So, by not naming the victims, we were on the right side of what we felt comfortable doing.
So, a lot of this information was out there in rumor form over the Internet over -- and don't forget that the investigation from the police started when the family was going to appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 2006 and producers received an e-mail laying this all out. It was "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that then called the child abuse hot line four years after the abuse allegations had surfaced.
When you hear the daughters, two of them on FOX News, saying that they had been re-victimized, how did you feel? Did it strike you?
PEREL: I felt that the entire interviews on FOX were very heavily P.R.-spun. I didn't understand how everybody was minimizing the sexual molestation: It wasn't that bad. Josh was just curious about puberty.
But then, suddenly, they'd amp up the rhetoric and they would claim that the police chief had an agenda and took a bribe. And it came across as very distorted, a lot of untruths, and just things that did not add up in a desperate attempt to save a show that makes them $45,000 a year.
But the ultimate...
STELTER: I think you mean per episode, per episode.
PEREL: Per episode. I'm sorry.
Plus, not to mention the spinoff, books and other products. But the ultimate verdict here was delivered by TLC, which pulled the show off the air. Twelve major advertisers have left the show, and the fate of the show, ultimately, TLC is still deciding, as you mentioned.
STELTER: That's right. And if we hear from them, we will let the viewers know.
David, thanks for being here. I appreciate it.
PEREL: Thank you.
STELTER: You won't have to wait until noon to meet the newest face on Sunday morning TV.
Jake Tapper joins me right after the quick break.
STELTER: Welcome back.
There is a new face in the Sunday morning TV lineup. Today is Jake Tapper's first day moderating CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," making him the third new host of a Sunday morning program in the last year. Chuck Todd took over NBC's "Meet the Press" from David Gregory last fall, and John Dickerson replaced Bob Schieffer on CBS' "FACE THE NATION" just last week.
Now, Tapper's first big get for "STATE OF THE UNION," its first big booking, was former President Bill Clinton. And that booking has stirred up some controversy, partly because the interview took place on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative.
And Tapper has been unusually blunt about how these sorts of interviews get booked. Now, of course, he was busy this morning anchoring "STATE OF THE UNION," which is coming up again just in a few minutes.
So I talked with him earlier about his interview with Clinton and about the state of Sunday morning TV.
STELTER: Jake, thanks for coming on the show. And congratulations on the new show.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, thank you so much. Glad to be here.
STELTER: Curious about the Bill Clinton interview, because I imagine these days he is a pretty difficult guy to get to really speak bluntly. He must be afraid of distracting from his wife's campaign. So, what was your strategy for getting something new out of him? TAPPER: Well, first of all, we should note, given this is a show
about the media, that part of our deal with CGI, the Clinton Global Initiative, was that we'd ask questions about some of the programs and issues that they work on, including the economy and veterans issues, things like that.
STELTER: Yes, I appreciate the way you have talked about how these deals work with big-name interviews.
I think what you said to the AP was a really expressive way of saying it. You said: "I wish could have Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio do whatever I want them to do on my schedule in my studio. It's just not the world that we live in."
TAPPER: I mean, I really do.
Look, I don't know -- look, when you are a presidential candidate, it's usually -- it's a little different. You usually -- there is a less of a -- you have less leverage, because you are supposed to go through the gauntlet of interviews.
But especially when you're like a big business person or a big actor or a former president or somebody who is retired from public life, they usually want something. They usually wait until they have something to promote. That's just how it is.
And it happens all the time. There often is a negotiation of some sort. I was able to interview President Bush last year by going to Crawford and participating in his Wounded Warrior 100K bike ride. And that was part of the deal.
I got an interview with President Bush. He wanted some of the questions to be about veterans, which was fine with me. That's a topic I cover a lot, as you know. And I had to, after the interview, put on bicycle shorts and ride a bike and nearly kill myself tumbling down a hill.
TAPPER: There is generally some sort of ask when it comes to somebody big who wants to promote something.
STELTER: Something I have noticed about you is that you're unusually blunt about these sort of arrangements. You try to be very transparent.
Sometimes, you have published ethics disclosures and things like that. Is that purposeful on your part to try to regain the public's trust in the press? Because you and I both know that a lot of folks out in the audience, they just are distrustful of the media as a whole.
TAPPER: Yes. And I get it and I understand why.
And, look, every time there is one of these things, whether it's Brian Williams or George Stephanopoulos or Bill O'Reilly, what -- it hurts all of us. It hurts all of us.
STELTER: One of your new Sunday morning rivals, Chuck Todd, has talked about similar topics. I interviewed here for the show last fall when he took over "Meet the Press."
Now, just last week, John Dickerson took over "FACE THE NATION." And, today, you are stepping in to "STATE OF THE UNION" here on CNN. There's all these new players in Sunday morning TV. This feels like a moment of generational change, does it not?
TAPPER: It certainly is. Only in TV news are a bunch of middle-aged white guys considered like some seismic shift in what we are offering the audience.
STELTER: Do you wonder or do you think the Sunday morning format is perhaps broken because of the emphasis on political insiders, on power players, some of whom come on these shows and spin or even lie or mislead viewers?
TAPPER: I don't think it's broken. I do think there needs to be more pushing back, and I think there has been and is more pushing back.
STELTER: I remember, when you were briefly hosting ABC's "This Week" back in 2010, you instituted fact-checking. You had PolitiFact fact- checking your guests.
TAPPER: We did. We did.
And, as I said to you -- you were with "The New York Times" at the time -- as I said to you, the best kind of fact-checking would be instantaneous, I have all the facts, I know what you are saying is true.
STELTER: Right. Right.
TAPPER: The second best would be like "Pop Up Video," if any of our viewers remember, bloop, that comes up. Actually, the Iraq War vote was blah, blah, blah.
But the third best thing is to have that fact-checking process. I do think -- and I have seen this more on cable and on the network news shows -- more pushing back. And I think that that's a healthy thing. I think that what has happened to the Sunday shows is that Sunday show -- people don't wait until Sunday morning to make news.
And that's why I think it's time to like reinvigorate them, bring some new stuff, maybe go longer than you can during the week.
STELTER: I noticed you had Rand Paul in your studio when I was in D.C. a few weeks ago. And your pitch to him to come on Sunday morning was, we will have more time.
TAPPER: Yes. We will have more time.
That means not only, by the way, that I will have more time to ask them annoying questions, but we will have time to get to the reason behind the principles in which they believe. We will have more time to talk about things that are in his biography.
Look, if you have -- and I know this from the pressures at 4:00 from my daily show, "THE LEAD," but, like, if you have four or five minutes, you are not going to ask about why they decided to go to the college they went to or why they -- in Jeb Bush's case, why did you go to Mexico after college?
And that -- you're not going to have time for that, because it's not one of the five most relevant questions on the top of your mind. But if you have more time, it might be one of the most relevant 15 questions or 20 questions. You can go deeper.
And I hope that candidates will take the opportunity to not only, yes, have me ask them some annoying questions, but also some biographical ones, where they can introduce themselves.
STELTER: Jake Tapper, coming up in a few minutes here on CNN, thanks for coming on.
TAPPER: Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: And, as I just mentioned, "STATE OF THE UNION" at noon Eastern time again here on CNN.
Up next: how Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos's latest business decision hit me personally. I will explain right after the break.
STELTER: Before we go this morning, Jeff Bezos just shut down my hometown newspaper.
You know Bezos, the powerful CEO of Amazon. And, to be fair, he didn't personally shut it down. But what a lot of don't know is that, when he bought "The Washington Post" back in 2013, he also bought a whole stack of very local newspapers, you know, free local weeklies.
My paper was "The Damascus Gazette" in Montgomery County, Maryland, an hour outside D.C. And I learned all about my town by reading it. When I was in high school, they let me start writing for it.
And these are kind of embarrassing to show on screen, but here they are anyway. This is a story about toll lanes on the highway or a story about a new subway sandwich shop in town. It's not CNN news, but it was news, the kind of news we need on a very local level.
But it's the kind of news that is getting harder and harder to sell enough print advertising to pay reporters to write it. And this chart spells it out, a decline for 10-plus years. Thousands of newspaper journalists have lost their jobs along the way.
I'm no romanticist about print. In fact, I'm optimist about the Internet. But something like this on Friday, when all the reporters at all the gazettes were laid off, it got me thinking about what digital still can't do as well as print.
I called my mom to see how people in town are reacting to the news. And she asked the most important question. Where -- she said, "Who is going to cover the truly local news now?"
Maybe you have a story like that from your town too.
That's all for this televised edition of "RELIABLE SOURCES."