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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES

Clinton: NYT Error Called "Egregious"; Will Biden Run Against Clinton?; GOP Primary Debate Days Away; Interview with Dr. Ben Carson; Interview with Jim Gilmore; Donald Trump: Story of the Summer; Jon Stewart's Last Days. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 2, 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: Hey, good morning. I'm Brian Stelter. It's time for RELIABLE SOURCES.

And ahead this hour, as we count down to the first Republican presidential debate, two of the candidates are standing by, one who will definitely be on the prime time debate stage and one who probably will not make it.

Plus, I've got a great story for you -- a journalist who is fighting to break the media's Trump addiction.

And later in the hour, we're going to look back at the popular polarizing, pioneering Jon Stewart as he prepares to sign off from "The Daily Show."

But let's begin with the Hillary Clinton campaign calling out "The New York Times" for, quote, "egregious errors", in a story about Clinton's private email server.

Check out this nearly 2,000-word letter from the campaign, lambasting "The Times". This morning, the newspaper is responding and promising that Clinton will be treated fairly right on the back page of the opinion.

But it's on the front page that there's bigger news. The headline here says, "What Would Beau Do?" Columnist Maureen Dowd says Joe Biden is actively thinking about running for president against Clinton. She says that when Biden's son Beau was dying, I'm quoting here, "He had a mission, he tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country will be better off with Biden values."

This story is something of a bombshell. It's on the front page of other papers now as well. So, how is the Clinton campaign reacting?

Well, Jennifer Palmieri joins me now. She is the campaign's communications director and the author of the letter to "The Times".

And I want to ask you about the letter and what "The Times" is telling you about unfair coverage.

But, first, this Biden news -- there has been talk for months about maybe, possibly Biden entering the race. He has said he'll decide by the end of the summer.

What do you make of this new development, all of this new attention? Will it fundamentally change the race if he does enter the race?

JENNIFER PALMIERI, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I don't know about the -- I don't know about new attention. I had imagined that this would be coming -- that there would be more discussion about the V.P. in the news because he said that he would be making his decision relatively soon.

I have a great deal of love for Vice President Biden, a lot of respect, so do the Clintons, and everyone in the campaign. And we're going to let him make his decision, and otherwise stay out of it.

STELTER: You know this better than anybody. Is it too late for anybody else to enter the race?

PALMIERI: I don't know. It's pretty -- the Democrat side is dynamic. So, it -- you know, you have a lot of early states up. I don't know that it's -- I'll let them decide that.

STELTER: So, it's not too late you're saying? You're saying it's not too late?

PALMIERI: Well, I'm saying -- I'm saying I'll let the vice president decide if he thinks -- if he thinks the timing is right or not.

STELTER: Here's a lot of the chatter in the last few hours, on all of the Sunday morning shows today, has been that, if Democrats were absolutely confident about Clinton's chances, then there wouldn't be a chance Biden would be talking about running. Does this suggest that there is discomfort and uncertainty in the Democratic Party about your candidate?

PALMIERI: I have been in politics a long time, and I don't feel that level of -- I certainly don't feel that level of discomfort. I don't see a lot of evidence of it.

I see Hillary Clinton leading -- beating every Republican in most national polls, the vast majority of national polls. So, I understand when you are the frontrunner, you get a lot of attention and people look to see -- they -- you know, they gauge polls in other ways as opposed to the fundamental question, is she winning or not? And we're looking at the fundamental question, is she winning or not?

We have a lot of campaign that we still need to run -- we're just getting started -- to prove to people that she is someone they can count on to fight for them. But it is -- you know, I think in the coverage, it gets lost. She has the most money, and she is beating every Republican in most of the polls.

So, you can't really ask for much more than that. STELTER: Yes, there has been a lot of talk lately about drooping poll

numbers. Donald Trump likes to mock Clinton basically for having losing poll numbers. But she is winning in all the categories, and in head-to-head matchups against people like Jeb Bush.

PALMIERI: And beating Donald Trump. Yes.

STELTER: But, you know, let me mention Maureen Dowd one more time. I have a quote I want to put on screen. We know she's not a fan of Clinton, hasn't been for a long time.

But here is something she wrote in her column this morning, "Many Democrats fret that she seems for impatient than hungry, more cautious than charismatic."

Would you agree with that assessment of your candidate?

PALMIERI: No. I think that she -- you know, the -- I believe candidates succeed when you let them get the sort of foundation underneath them, about understanding how they want to run their campaign, how they want to communicate with voters.

STELTER: Be themselves you're saying?

PALMIERI: Just be themselves. And that is the -- you know, that is -- in starting this campaign, that was what was important for us, for Hillary to be able to do. So, for her, that meant trying to ramp up to some degree and starting with small groups, small groups of voters.

I understood at the beginning of the campaign that would -- that there was going to be -- we were going to have no runway in terms of press coverage. It was going to be extraordinary amounts of interest, extraordinary amounts of scrutiny.

[11:05:02] And that meant every decision we made was going to be really overanalyzed. So, we tried to allow for that to some degree, but you can't let that dictate your campaign.

So, we thought what was really important was that she starts the way she wants. She has gotten a good base under her. She's been able to talk one-on-one with voters for months now. And we're expanding the campaign in terms of sides of the events and engagement with the press.

But I think that you see on -- I think we see a really -- a candidate that's having a good time out there now and feels -- you know, feels like she's got a strong base under her. And that's -- you know, that is -- we took water on at the beginning of the campaign with the press.

STELTER: What do you mean?

PALMIERI: We took water on at the beginning of the campaign with the press for not having her engage as much with the national press.

STELTER: For not doing as many interviews as we'd like. PALMIERI: Right.

But I knew that was going to happen, but it was worth -- but we have to take the long view and make sure that we're starting this campaign the way that she wants them, that she's able to engage with -- she has thought a lot about how she wants to engage with voters. She has thought a lot about the relationship that you have with a candidate and asking someone to support you for president. And it was important that we start with way, and now, we're expanding out.

STELTER: And she has been on the trail for months. So, if there is any nervousness about this Biden news, I'm not hearing any from you.

PALMIERI: No. Like I said, we'll let him make his decision.

The -- however hard it is to secure a Democratic nomination is however hard it is. And we have no illusions. We've never thought that this was going to be easy. There are a lot of views in the Democratic Party.

And, you know, we'll be prepared to handle whatever comes our way. But you know it's going to be a long haul.

STELTER: Looking at the calendar, August 2nd, August of 2015, not '16.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Let me turn to this email controversy and I want to catch viewers up to speed about it because it's 10 days ago that "The Times" reported that Clinton was the subject of two criminal referrals -- criminal referrals -- over her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.

The story landed like a bombshell. It sounded like a bombshell. But within hours, "The Times" was backpedaling. Take a look here at the headline. First, the paper removed references that Clinton as the subject of the probe, so that watered it down quite a bit. And then they took the word "criminal" out of the story there. You see it's out of the headline there.

So, you decided to go on the offensive about this, this week. On Tuesday, you wrote a letter to "The Times" executive editor Dean Baquet, almost 2,000 words long, showing all the mistakes that were made, calling them egregious.

On Thursday, you made that letter public because "The Times" declined to print it?

PALMIERI: Yes. I would say going back to in terms of why we felt the need to do this, I felt that we need be -- obviously, we had been in discussions with editors and reporters covering the story in real-time and wanted to see how "The Times" handled it in terms of corrections and the public editor, and felt that we still needed to be on the record for a few reasons. One is just, this was so egregious in terms of the impact that it had in press coverage, to suggest that the Democratic frontrunner for president is the subject of a criminal inquiry is something that can't be unwound, and felt that we had to -- in defending my candidate and doing my job I needed to be on the record doing that.

The second thing is that the -- it took them not just a long time to correct it, but it took them a really long -- indefensible time to get rid of "criminal" in the headline and in the lead. It just -- it made no sense to us why it --

STELTER: I think it wasn't until Saturday. The story came out Thursday night. It took a long time to take the word out of the headline.

PALMIERI: I mean, there's that (ph).

STELTER: That word has stuck. Donald Trump is now using the word against your candidate.

PALMIERI: Yes.

So -- and the third thing is just that, overall, for -- you know, this is true not just of "The Times" but in the digital age, I think the press has a view where there is an inclination to think, "I want to be fast and if it's wrong I can fix it online later". And that's just so dangerous, because what we find, and I've had a lot of experience with this, not just this job, but in working for President Obama, that the disaggregation of media sources means any one story with a sensational headline can have -- penetrates in a way that over coverage won't do.

So, I just think it is -- so I'm sure this headline, you know, probably made it on Facebook pages, in addition to having a lot of penetration in print and television, and that it's all the more important that people, you know, take a step back and make sure that they have it right before they put something on. Even if you can correct it, you can never undo whatever that first headline was.

STELTER: Right. There is no undo button in the modern news media.

PALMIERI: No. Yes.

STELTER: Now, did you expect this letter to be published by "The Times"?

PALMIERI: I hadn't necessarily thought that when I wrote it. We just wanted to write it and then in discussing with them, the situation -- we did ask that they would publish it. And they thought about it for a couple of days and decided not to do it.

I would note that, you know, that's not Dean Baquet's decision, because as the editor, he was -- this was an editorial page decision.

STELTER: Right.

PALMIERI: So, it was not his to make. But they --

STELTER: And this morning, here in the paper, he calls it a screw-up. He has pretty strong language about this story.

[11:10:02] PALMIERI: Yes, he has -- he has said that, and other things that he's written about the story, he --

STELTER: Are you satisfied?

(CROSSTALK)

PALMIERI: We -- we just want it to be on record to explain why this -- how this happened. Also, the -- how we were not given time to respond, not that we really could have responded because there wasn't any inquiry.

STELTER: It's important. We should talk about this.

PALMIERI: Yes.

STELTER: The idea is that you weren't given enough time to react. So, you say you heard about the word "criminal" at 8:36 p.m.

PALMIERI: Right.

STELTER: You tried to respond by 10:30, and the story was already online by 11:00.

That's, you know, pretty poor behavior.

PALMIERI: That was -- that is -- that's unusual, or you would hope that it was -- it's more usual than I would like, but you would -- but I do -- thought that that was important for people to understand, too, in terms of when you're making a charge of this magnitude, again, against a Democratic frontrunner, understanding the impact that that's going to have. That's -- that's a problem.

And there is a problem with sourcing and, you know, not -- "The Times" didn't have the inquiry. Their source -- their original source had not seen the inquiry.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Was it -- was it a good job by Republican sources?

PALMIERI: I can't -- it's somebody -- it's certainly a hit job by somebody with a political agenda. So, that seems likely that it comes from that side.

STELTER: But you don't know.

PALMIERI: We -- obviously, we don't know. And this isn't the -- this isn't the first time there have been selective leaks from -- regarding documents that people on Capitol Hill have access to. So, there does seem to be certainly a political agenda, probably a partisan agenda, and it's all the more reason to look at these things again (ph).

STELTER: Does "The Times" have an agenda, you think, against Hillary Clinton? Some have said "The Times" views her as secretive, as even corrupt or sleazy, and just seems to be much more aggressive covering her than other candidates. Do you agree?

PALMIERI: No. That's not my point. My point is -- my point is that they should be getting it right.

STELTER: In this case, they did not?

PALMIERI: In this case, they -- in this case, they did not. They certainly admit they did not. But, again, because of how not just for "The Times" but for all papers and news outlets and how fast these headlines spread and understanding the extraordinary amount of interest in Hillary Clinton, we really wanted to -- we just felt like we had to pause and say this is really egregious. Here is how this happened. And hope that it doesn't happen, you know, not just with "The Times" in the future, but with other outlets, too.

STELTER: Yes. I think you're sending a message to the press. I think you're trying to say to other news outlets, tread carefully and make sure you have your facts right before you come at this campaign.

PALMIERI: And the other thing we hope gets out is, for consumers of news to understand how, you know, to see behind the scenes a little bit how the sausage is made and maybe that they should have -- you know, to be looking at stories with a critical eye, too.

STELTER: If "The Times" calls as I'm sure they have already, actually, and asked for an interview with Clinton, what would you say? Is she going to be available?

PALMIERI: We certainly would not, you know -- on Tuesday, the first day that Hillary Clinton was out in front of the press after the stories had run, we for media avail, we called on Amy Chozick from "The Times," we engaged with them multiple times a day, regularly. You know, we're not harboring any resentment on our part. We're just wanting to have it be worked well going forward.

STELTER: And will she be doing for television interviews? She did one with CNN's Brianna Keilar. Will she be doing more national TV interviews in the coming weeks?

PALMIERI: Yes, I think that we have -- I have two priorities. My top priority is local media, from Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada and South Carolina, and then there's the people that cover her every day. This is -- I think you've seen that she does media avails most days that she travels now, with the people who cover her. That's -- Brianna covers her, so we're going to focus on those correspondents first. And then, we'll branch out from there.

That's what she did in the 2000 Senate race, was really get to know the people that covered her, spend a lot of time with them, let them be our main conduit to the national media. And that's where we're starting this time, too.

STELTER: It's noteworthy, there have not been that many complaints about press access with your media, as opposed to prior Clinton campaigns. What's notable right now is that there's not a lot of noise about media grievances. In the past, there has been. It seems like you're having a smoother experience with the press so far.

PALMIERI: I would say -- it didn't feel that way in the beginning necessarily.

STELTER: No?

PALMIERI: But it is -- it's an ongoing -- it's a work in progress. I think it is a big priority to me that we have a good relationship with the press. What is our fundamental priority is making sure that the campaign is operating the way it needs to and that we're allowing the press in on top of that and we're trying to get to -- we still have a lot more work to do to get our relationship with the press where I would like it to be, but we're making progress.

STELTER: You're going back to work now, today, on a Sunday?

PALMIERI: Going back to work now.

STELTER: Jennifer, thanks for being here. Good talking with you.

PALMIERI: It was a pleasure.

[11:15:00] Thanks for having me, Brian.

STELTER: Thank you.

And coming up, the journalist's perspective on this. The legendary investigative journalist Carl Bernstein is standing by with reaction. He says "The Times" story was a travesty and he'll explain why.

Plus, is Thursday's GOP debate a season premiere of the Trump show? Hear from two of his rivals, Dr. Ben Carson and Jim Gilmore, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STELTER: Welcome back.

We just heard from the Clinton campaign about what they call an egregious error by "The New York Times". But this is what campaigns do, right? They work the refs. They try to discourage bad press.

So, I want you to hear the reporter point of view now.

You know, "The New York Times'" own public editor, their ombudsman, Margaret Sullivan, weighed in this morning. Here's what she wrote. She said, "By rushing to publish the scoop, 'The Times' failed to make sure the story was correct and hurt its reputation for authoritative accuracy -- precisely when its most loyal readers count on."

I want to hear what Carl Bernstein has to say about this, one half of the famed Woodward and Bernstein pair. He's now a CNN commentator and he's also the author of "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton."

Carl, you're reaction to what Jennifer Palmieri has said, calling this an egregious error by "The Times"? CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN COMMENTATOR/AUTHOR, "A WOMAN IN CHARGE": It was an egregious error. It was a travesty. It was reportorial and institutional failure of the kind we rarely see. Hopefully, we won't see it again.

But I do think it's time to move on and look at the larger problems of covering Hillary Clinton, covering this campaign, because "The Times", rightly, has been very aggressive in covering Hillary Clinton because of the nature of the story and who she is.

[11:20:08] But it also needs more context in its coverage. We all need more context in our coverage of Hillary Clinton, partly because so much of the story is about her and the Clintons' enemies. We need more context also about the Bush campaign.

Both the Bush campaign and the Clinton campaign are really run by family retainers and machines and the families themselves, they're a kind of story we've never had before. And we need to look at a different way to cover them.

STELTER: You saw the letter that Jennifer Palmieri sent to "The Times", very unusual move by the campaign. Are they not trying to put pressure on the entire news media to be very careful when covering this email scandal, to be very careful about it, you know, to maybe avoid doing it? I mean, aren't they sort of trying to work the refs here?

BERNSTEIN: First of all, the Clinton campaign and Hillary Clinton regards generally speaking the press as the enemy, and the permanent enemy. Hillary, as I say in my book, has had a difficult relationship to the truth in her public life, but it's much more complicated than just saying she doesn't tell the truth or she obfuscates. It has to be seen in context, particularly the context of the enemies, the story of her life.

But this is a war, and the from press fights back. And sometimes the press fights back not very intelligently.

We need, for instance, to be covering the mechanics of the campaign. We need to be covering the press in the campaign better, because the press is an essential element of it.

But I want to get back to Bush and Hillary. He really is, along with Donald Trump, the likely frontrunner here. He deserves more coverage, and Hillary deserves more coverage than the other candidates. And they both deserve greater examination, along with Donald Trump.

We need to look at everything we know about them, and we can't get cowed into dropping back because the candidates are going to accuse of us bias or accused us of one thing or another. But we also have to do much better than we're doing.

Also, Hillary Clinton is probably the toughest story out there to cover.

STELTER: The toughest story? Why so? BERNSTEIN: Because there are so many elements to her, to how long she

has been part of the public consciousness, because of the foundation, which is the Clinton Foundation, which is now the Hillary Clinton, Chelsea and Bill Clinton Foundation, of which she is a part and figures in this story very prominently, because the email story is very complicated.

For instance, imagine if her enemies had those congressional enemies, the Republicans who chair those committees had access to a State Department server with her emails, what they would do with those emails. Now, she's not going to say that out loud. But we need to have more realism about the dynamic of what this campaign is, the history of the Clintons, the cultural warfare that goes with it.

And also, the fact that she and her poll numbers that have to do with distrust are a disaster for her campaign, and they don't come out of nowhere. She would blame the press. But it has much more to do with her own way of conducting a campaign, of conducting her public life and trying to hide aspects of it.

And it's been frustrating for the press. But the press also shouldn't cry so much. It just needs to go on and do its job, but it needs, as I say, much more context and context really is what the best obtainable version of the truth is about.

And that's what good reporting is, and fairness comes from context. Has the press been unfair to Hillary Clinton? Sometimes, yes. At the same time, has she gotten somewhat of a free ride because the press fails to look at something in context? Yes.

So, my message is, let's get back to work and do it better. And also the Clinton campaign, I think, would do well to open itself up more to access from the press.

I think it's always been a mistake around Hillary. And it's worked to her detriment in the past. And I suspect it's going to continue to work to her detriment. But I don't see any signs of that happening.

[11:25:01] They want to manage this as best they can.

And the same is true with the Bush campaign, incidentally. You know, the Bush presidency certainly was not one of transparency and openness.

And we, again, have to look at the family machines as we go through this campaign, and we've got to look at Trump now in a way that we've never looked at him, partly because the name of his game has always been to make monkeys out of the press. And he's better at it than almost anybody.

STELTER: Monkeys out of the press -- I like that. We're talking about Trump coming up here.

Carl, thank you for being here this morning. I appreciate it.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be here. STELTER: You know, "The Times" has mostly declined to comment on what

Dean Baquet, the editor, calls a screw-up. He did tell Margaret Sullivan, the ombudsman, for this morning's column, quote, "If you look at our body of work, I don't believe we have been unfair to Clinton or her campaign." We'd love to have Baquet on a future program here.

Now, up next a return to Republican politics and to Thursday' debate -- the Trump show, as I said.

Up next, the one candidate who will be on stage and one hopeful who actually won't. Why neither is quite happy with the criteria. We'll talk about that in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:23]

STELTER: Welcome back.

The first Republican presidential primary debate is four days away, and yet we still don't know what polls FOX News will be using to decide who is on the main stage.

It's the top 10 candidates who will get invited to the prime-time debate on Thursday. And then there is an afternoon debate for the rest, sort of a consolation prize for them. So, if the debate were held today, here is what CNN's poll of polls shows.

These 10 candidates would be on stage, while seven others would be invited to the afternoon event. This morning, we're hearing more and more criticism of this debate criteria, including from Ben Carson, a Washington outsider and a world-famous neurosurgeon. He is set to be on the stage. He is polling pretty well. But he is concerned about some of his rivals whose voices won't be heard as loudly.

And he's joining me now to talk about that.

Dr. Carson, thanks for being here.

DR> BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

STELTER: Tell me what it's like to be a candidate in the days leading up to the first debate. Are you checking and rechecking the polls every day, making sure you're still in the top 10 that will be invited to the prime-time debate on Thursday?

CARSON: I have plenty of people who are doing that, so I don't have to do it, quite frankly.

(LAUGHTER)

CARSON: But, you know, I'm not obsessing over it excessively. Everybody tells me, you're going to be there, so not to worry about it. STELTER: And it looks like it. CNN poll of polls has you with 5

percent support, firmly in the middle of the pack.

But I wonder how you feel about the debate criteria, which suggests that six or seven of your counterparts, your competitors, will not be invited to the prime-time debate?

CARSON: Well, I am on record as wishing that perhaps more thought could be put into ways to include everybody.

You know, I just don't see why everybody can't be, you know, provided an equal platform on which to explain their vision for America.

STELTER: You would rather see a debate stage of 16 or 17 podiums?

CARSON: Well, what I would -- if I were charge, I would probably break it into two days, and put half the candidates on one day and half on the other day. And I would randomly select who was in each day.

STELTER: I wonder if you think it's fair that a sitting governor is likely to be excluded, whether it's Chris Christie or John Kasich or Rick Perry, one of them likely to not be on stage with you on Thursday?

CARSON: Well, it would be -- it would be, as I said, very nice to be able to hear everybody.

And, fortunately, there are other mechanisms to get heard. You know, I have taken advantage of social media to a very significant degree.

STELTER: I wanted to play this video you produced this week with IJReview, this operation video, such an unusual thing to see from a presidential candidate.

But I am guessing the thinking behind it was, it's a nontraditional way to reach people who might not see you otherwise.

CARSON: Absolutely.

STELTER: Was this something where they came to you and asked you to do this? How did it come about?

CARSON: Yes. They just -- they said, this is going to be fun. Would you mind doing this?

(LAUGHTER)

CARSON: And, believe it or not, I actually do have a sense of humor. And I think it's good to see other parts of people.

STELTER: Right.

CARSON: Maybe one day, they will demonstrate me playing pool.

(LAUGHTER) STELTER: Let me ask you about the state of the race.

I am a fellow Marylander. I know your resume well. You would be the outsider in this race, but Donald Trump has kind of taken up that identity. He is the one that is getting so much cable news attention. Do you feel your numbers are being deflated by Trump's surge in the race?

CARSON: Whether they are or not, I think, is irrelevant.

This is a marathon and not a sprint. Numbers are going to go up and down. Things are going to change with time, and particularly as people have an opportunity to delve more deeply, not only into people's past, but into their solutions for the future. So, as it gets more serious, that's the time when I think we should pay much closer attention to the numbers.

STELTER: Last week on this program, Sean Spicer of the RNC said no more name-calling.

Obviously, Trump has been insulting some of your -- some of your rivals on the campaign trail. Do you agree with that call for no name-calling, invoking Reagan's 11th commandment?

CARSON: Well, certainly, that is my philosophy.

I don't engage in that, because, you know, the problems that we face as a nation are so severe. There are several things that really threaten to destroy us. And if we get distracted with, you know, third-grade playground tactics, then we're going to get third-grade playground results. We can and we must do better.

STELTER: Well, I bring that up because...

CARSON: This is a very serious time.

STELTER: I bring that up because I have a feeling, with Trump at the center of that debate stage you're going to be on, that it's going to affect the whole debate, if he is insulting people or if he is using third-grade tactics, as you have said.

[11:35:10]

CARSON: Well, I actually think that Donald Trump is not going to be nearly as wild as people think he is.

You know, he's a reasonable guy. He is not going to try to out-talk everybody else. I -- that's my prediction. I don't think he will try to do it.

STELTER: So, we will see on Thursday.

Let me show a poll statistic that I thought was very revealing. It's from a CNN/ORC poll. It shows that 53 percent of registered voters don't know who you are. Now, to me, that suggests this FOX debate is incredibly important for you, because it's a chance to reintroduce yourself to people who otherwise don't know who you are.

What do you want to say to those people who haven't heard of you before or who don't know what you stand for?

CARSON: I would say listen carefully, because you need to get to hear what I have to say, as opposed to what other people have said that I say.

I find it pretty amazing. You know, for instance, there are people who say, Carson thinks all welfare programs should be withdrawn and all safety nets, even though he perhaps benefited from those things.

Where do they get this crap from? But at least people will have an opportunity to hear from me specifically what I think and how I think we ought to fix the system, so that people have the opportunity to climb up from a state of dependency and become part of the fabric that made America into a strong country.

STELTER: You asked, where do they get this stuff from? But where do they get it from? What's your impression? Is it sort of the Internet age, where anything Google-able is out there, even if it's not true?

CARSON: Yes. Well, I believe that certain people have a narrative.

And, you know, people like me who grew up in dire poverty, without much in the way of sustenance, are not supposed to be able to make it without a lot of assistance from other people. And so they don't want that narrative out there. And they're going to fight it with every fiber they have.

But the fact of the matter is, America is a can-do nation. We rose from nothing to the pinnacle of the world faster than anyone else, and to a higher pinnacle than anyone else has gotten. And we have to bring back some of those principles. Those principles include hard work, personal responsibility, and compassion for your fellow man.

STELTER: Dr. Carson, thank you for being here this morning. I appreciate it.

CARSON: It has been a pleasure. Thank you.

STELTER: Now, so that's the view of a candidate who will be on the prime-time debate stage on Thursday. But what's it like for those who won't make the cut?

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore is in that camp. And he is standing by in Richmond. We will go there live right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:55]

STELTER: Welcome back.

And welcome back to the debate about the debates, because, of course, the first GOP primary debate is this Thursday. And the candidates that don't make the cut for the prime-time stage will be invited to an afternoon event.

One candidate that's in that situation is former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore. He is the latest Republican to enter the field.

And he joins me now from Richmond, Virginia.

Governor, thanks for being here.

JIM GILMORE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: You just entered the race a couple of days ago. But will you be at the afternoon debate this Thursday? Do you know how this is going to work?

GILMORE: Well, if I am invited by FOX, then I will probably go to Cleveland and participate, to the extent that I am permitted.

But the fact is that this limitation by the RNC is improper. The RNC should never have put themselves in that kind of position. That's not their job and not their role. They shouldn't be doing that.

The decision about who is going to be president of the United States doesn't belong with a Washington establishment or the news media and certainly not with the RNC. It belongs with the people of the United States, and every candidate ought to have a chance to give their views to the people of this country.

STELTER: And you used to be a chairman of the RNC, so you have personal feelings about this.

You're saying it's improper. But what would you have done differently? How else could it have gone?

GILMORE: Oh, it could have been done any number of ways. You could have simply done two sessions, and done a random pick, and every candidate could have had the opportunity to get their views out.

But the most important matter is not to talk to you, Brian, about the process. It's to talk to you about what we're going to do for the people of the United States. The country is in decline. I have the credentials and the experience to reverse that decline, and to focus on the challenges that we face with our national security, which is very much in danger, and the economy of this country, where people are not working anywhere near to the extent that they need to be.

STELTER: Some people suggested actually that the afternoon debate will be a better forum for those kind of conversations. There will be fewer people.

GILMORE: Yes.

STELTER: And there won't be a guy named Donald Trump on stage.

GILMORE: Well, you know, all I care about is getting my ideas out there for the people of the United States. We need to have a more vigorous economy. There are too many people

right now that want jobs that can't get them. There are too many people that are working part-time that want full-time jobs. There are too many young people that want to start careers. And it's dangerous to the national security of this country when you have a declining economy like this.

And we have to focus on the national security of this country, the threats from Russia, from Iran, from China, from the dissolution of the Middle East, from ISIS. These are the challenges that have to be faced. And I think I am entitled to offer my credentials, experience and the ideas that I have got for this country, but probably won't be in that first group that they want to try to limit the debate to.

STELTER: The owner of FOX weighed in this morning on Twitter. Rupert Murdoch, he wrote that "Thursday's debate is vital for all our candidates," sort of part of the hype machine now for this debate.

Have you been in touch with FOX about this arrangement? What have they said to you about how you will be able to qualify for at least the afternoon event?

GILMORE: Well, they haven't been specific, but they have begun to reach out to me, and I'm pretty happy about that.

But I'm not going to second-guess what they want to do. It's up to them to issue the appropriate invitations. But I'm just saddened that the people of the United States are not going to get to see some of the additional ideas that I can offer, because I'm focused on what's wrong with the country.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:45:10]

STELTER: They say that viewers will be able to see it, but at 5:00 p.m., instead of 9:00 p.m.

CNN is doing something similar in September. We have two tiers, a lower tier and a higher tier. They will both be on in prime time, but there will still be a division.

GILMORE: Well, then maybe there will be an opportunity with CNN to address the decline of this country and what we need to do to reverse that decline.

But that's the key. The key is not to worry about the debate process, who is on -- you know, what the RNC or somebody like that is picking. It's the concerns that face the country today. It's the decline of this country that's been caused by the Obama/Clinton policies that need to be completely aired out.

It's the solutions that I can offer with the experience that I have had as a United States Army veteran, as a person who chaired the National Commission on Terrorism for the United States for five years. These are credentials and experiences that I think can address these

concerns. And I hope that an opportunity through one debate or the other will come to pass. But there will be other vehicles for talking about it, too, as the people begin to focus on these challenges.

STELTER: Yes, there sure will.

Governor Gilmore, thank you for being here this morning. Appreciate it.

GILMORE: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: Up next: a political columnist's bold decision about covering Donald Trump, or actually, I should say, not covering Donald Trump. You have got to hear this. Stay tuned.

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[11:50:39]

STELTER: Welcome back.

I think at this point -- it's August now -- we can say Donald Trump is the story of the summer. His face is all around me, right? It's all around us here.

But how seriously should we be covering Donald Trump's presidential campaign and his off-the-cuff, often controversial remarks? This question is something that journalists are talking about all the time, in newsrooms, in bars, in restaurants, all over.

Trump is surging in the polls, but how much of that surge is related to the constant media coverage? We have heard other candidates start to complain about this. And on the cover of tomorrow's "National Journal" magazine, out right now online, the article there titled "Trumping" really explores this issue.

The writer, Andy Kroll, is taking a surprising, maybe even impossible position for a journalist. Here's what he wrote: "The media could quit him. The media should quit him. And that -- I feel incredibly fortunate to say these words -- is the last I will write on the subject."

Joining me now is Andy Kroll. He's in Washington this morning. He's a staff writer for "The National Journal."

Andy, is it possible? You are swearing you will never write about Donald Trump again?

ANDY KROLL, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": I wrote those words and I meant every single one of them. As you note, we're very careful to say that's the last I will write on the subject, because here I am with you talking about Donald Trump, Brian, but...

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: You're not ruling out any talking head appearances. OK. Got it.

KROLL: Clearly, I'm not. I'm here now.

And I think, as Carl Bernstein said earlier on your show, talking about the media and how it's covering candidates, especially an aberration like Donald Trump and this moment he's having, is a really important thing to do. And that was really sort of one of the big reasons that why we decided to do this story.

STELTER: And you focused on the media's attention toward Trump in your cover story. And have you come to the conclusion that Trump should not be taken seriously, but now has to be taken seriously because the press has created this sort of virtuous or vicious cycle?

KROLL: Yes, and it's incredible to see how this works.

You know, in -- for this story, Brian, I went to Laredo, Texas. I went to the border. This was for Donald Trump's much-anticipated, you know, super hyped visit to the U.S./Mexico border, immigration, of course, being his marquee issue, if he can be said to have a marquee issue.

And when I was there, you know, I was taking in both the things that he was saying -- or, rather, the things that he was not saying. It was absolutely surreal the answers that he gave to pretty straightforward questions about policy, about his campaign, about his ideas.

But there was a point there when, you know, metaphorically, I sort of turned my lens to my colleagues around me, and this just incredible scrum of reporters from all over the world, not just from the United States, who are fixated on this man.

STELTER: Right.

You're saying the media should quit Trump, but are you being realistic? You probably know that's impossible, right? It's possible for you as an individual, but not for institutions.

KROLL: It's aspirational, you might say.

STELTER: Aspirational.

(CROSSTALK)

KROLL: Aspirational.

You know, but, I mean, there are parts of Trump's story -- his story's the story of the summer, and I think you're right when you pointed that out. And there is something to poll numbers, even if polls this early are by and large kind of meaningless. But he is touching something raw with a big swathe of American voters.

And I would love to see more stories not focusing on Trump's latest antic, his latest sound bite, his latest tweet, but stories looking at -- you know, maybe going out and talking to some of these people who do feel support for Trump. What is it that he's saying that is so compelling to you? Or why is it that this -- the issue of immigration has all of a sudden flared into view in the Republican nomination fight?

STELTER: Absolutely.

And, I mean, I think a lot of viewers, even if they don't agree with everything Trump says, they hear a lot that they like about him, and we could explore more about that.

Before I go, let me play that Rand Paul sound bite from earlier in the week. This is really striking. He was on with Wolf Blitzer talking about Trump momentum. Here's what Rand Paul said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I had a billion dollars worth of advertising and every network going gaga over that, you know what? I think we could get ours to rise also.

But there's going to be time for that. I think this is a temporary sort of loss of sanity. But we're going to come back to our senses and look for somebody serious to lead the country at some point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: So, Andy, are you part of that insanity? As of today, it's over? You're now back to being sane?

KROLL: I think that Senator Paul makes some good points there. And I think, you know, Trump is having a moment, but I also think that this moment will -- this moment will go away, whether it is because he implodes on the debate stage in Cleveland or just he runs out of things to say and runs out of -- I mean, I think it's more likely that he will lose interest in this whole thing than will the media, than will the people surrounding him.

[11:55:15]

I mean, he's in it for name recognition and hype. And, you know, it's just a matter of time, I think, before that wick burns out.

STELTER: As I said last week, maybe cable news host is in his future.

Andy, thanks for being here this morning.

KROLL: Thanks for having me.

STELTER: Up next: Jon Stewart's last days on "The Daily Show."

My look back at his contribution to television and politics in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STELTER: Before we go, a look ahead to one of the big media stories of this week, and that is Jon Stewart signing off.

You know, if he's taught us anything using "The Daily Show," it's that humor has a place in the news, that jokes and video clips can hold people and power accountable.

Check out my look back at his career, at his "Daily Show" career, at CNNMoney.com/media.

That's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES.