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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES

Remembering Slain Virginia Journalists; Did the Media Go Too far in Virginia Shooting Coverage?; Interview with Jorge Ramos; Trump's Lovefest with Palin; 2016 Making History; Remembering the WDBJ Journalists. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 30, 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.

On an eventful week for journalism, a week that has people debating just how assertive, how aggressive reporters should be.

Univision's Jorge Ramos stood up. Donald Trump told him to sit down. And Ramos says what happened next was a true threat of press freedoms in the United States. He'll be here for an in-depth interview coming up.

And so will Doris Kearns Goodwin here to put press coverage of Trump into historical context.

But let's begin with what journalism lost this week. Alison Parker and Adam Ward, gunned down on Wednesday, were the first reporters to be killed on assignment in the U.S. in nearly a decade. Their deaths have shattered the newsroom where they worked in Virginia, WDBJ, and shocked reporters all across the country. There is a feeling that it could have happened to any journalist on a live shot.

Adam was the steady hand behind the camera and Alison was the smart, ambitious face in front of it. They were a morning TV team like so many morning TV teams across the country.

On Tuesday, for example, they were covering a fundraiser for the local zoo. Live shots at 5:45, 6:15 and 6:45.

Wednesday was supposed to be the same kind of day. Covering a special milestone for a local tourism attraction, Smith Mountain Lake. They had finished the 5:45. They had finished the 6:15.

But during their last live shot of the morning, a gunman stalked them, came up from behind Adam, waited until the camera was pointed back at Alison and her guest and fired at point-blank range.

Two hours later, the station's general manager, Jeff Marks, announced to both of employee -- both of his employees had died.

And now, the station is beginning the healing process.

This afternoon, Marks will be speaking at an inter-faith service. But, first, he is joining me from Roanoke to discuss this week.

Jeff, thank you for being here, first of all.

JEFF MARKS, GENERAL MANAGER, WDBJ: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: Our hearts, of course, go out to you and to your colleagues. I really admired how your station has not skipped a beat this week. I was even watching your 8:00 a.m. newscast this morning. You all continued to cover this tragedy as it's affected your own station so profoundly.

I imagine that's a coping mechanism, but I do wonder if it's made it worse in some way. Have you thought about taking a break at some point, even skipping a newscast, to give the staff time to heal?

MARKS: We can't really do that. Our bond with the community is such that we have to be there for them just as they are for us. It's been very helpful that our colleagues from three of our sister TV stations inside our company, which is Schurz Communications, have flown here to help take care of things. Some of the more difficult stories, those reporters have helped us with by covering. So, we've held it together with the help of friends.

STELTER: I was going to ask you about that, about rival stations or your counterparts in other markets coming to your all's help. So, it sounds like they've been doing that ever since Wednesday.

MARKS: The first call I got on Wednesday morning was from my counterpart at one of the other stations in town, and the -- all the stations in town and people from all over the country have volunteered to fly in at their own expense and help us in the newsroom. We've been very grateful for all of those offers.

STELTER: Two of the loved ones of the victims work for your station, of course. Melissa Ott, a producer, it was supposed to be her last program on Wednesday. She was engaged to Adam. And Chris Hurst, who was dating Alison.

Do you have any update on how they're doing, how they're coping?

MARKS: I saw Melissa last night. She was in amazing shape, supported by friends and family at an informal gathering that some of our employees did. I think that -- of course, it's been rough for her for several days. And it won't end for a while. But I was glad to see her up and out and getting hugs from everybody.

And Chris Hurst, who is just -- in just as much pain, has been more front and center, doing interviews and carrying that book around of pictures that help him get through this.

STELTER: If you don't mind for a minute I would like to go back to Wednesday at 6:45. I'm -- and it's hard to ask. Obviously, it's hard to ask this.

But when we saw that live broadcast which then went online and went viral in this disgusting way on Wednesday, the camera went back to the anchor at the desk who was shocked but continued the broadcast. What did the control room see and hear? Because Adam's camera kept rolling and Alison's microphone was still on.

MARKS: Well, I've only watched it once myself.

[11:05:00] It was, of course, terrible. As it unfolded, people in the control room thought maybe it was fireworks or back fire. When Alison started screaming and running they knew it probably was neither of those.

Luckily, it was toward the end of the two hours, but they soldiered on and got the newscast done. Melissa was --

STELTER: But in the control room, what I mean is that there signal, their live shot kept going back to your control room.

MARKS: Oh, yes. Yes.

STELTER: Did they see or hear -- I guess what I'm asking is, were they able to talk to Alison or Adam through their IFB?

MARKS: No, no, no. No. They tried very hard to do that. They called their cellphones and there was no answer.

And to those of us who have been in the business for a long time, when I had that information, I thought, let's hope they're grievously wounded, which was the only alternative that could have been good based on all those facts.

STELTER: Do you have the sense that this ex-employee of yours produced this execution? We know by now that he filmed it with a GoPro type camera, that he seemed to wait until the camera was back on your reporter before he shot. Was he producing it, basically using our tools and technology against us in the media?

MARKS: I think that's the most obvious conclusion to come to. I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about him or what he did, because I've been so focused on my employees and how they've responded. But it was certainly a bizarre concoction by a man who was not living in his right mind at a time.

STELTER: You say not living in his right mind at a time. As we all know by now he was removed from the station a couple years before all of this.

I asked viewers for their questions for you. I'll put up one of their questions on screen. It's tough, of course, as we're covering journalists having to do your own jobs.

One of them wrote: If this happened at another station, what would you be asking about this man's firing, about how his tenure was handled? Do you believe he was in his right mind for example when he was let go by the station? Was there something more the station could have done?

MARKS: Well, I'm not a psychologist, so I don't know where on the continuum of mental health he was. Clearly, he was not somebody that we should have had in our newsroom, and he made people very uncomfortable.

But where he crossed the line into delusion and outlandishness, it's hard for me to say. Yes, I would ask, could you have known? And I would say, we were very on guard for a few weeks. It made us a little uncomfortable when we found out he was still living in town.

But can you predict that someone's irritation and anger will boil over -- roll over into violence with a gun? It's never happened to me in my career, and I have had the unfortunate duty of terminating a number of people. I don't know how you stay on absolute vigilance for two and a half years --

STELTER: Right.

MARKS: -- because of somebody who hasn't done anything in that period.

You know, people have said, is this going to change how you send reporters out? And I think that's a question a lot of newsrooms are asking.

STELTER: Yes.

MARKS: But there's no easy answer to that.

STELTER: I have been hearing from reporters in local news rooms across the country. Many of them like me shaken by what happened on Wednesday because --

MARKS: Oh, yes.

STELTER: -- it does feels like it could happen to any team of journalists who was out at a live shot.

Of course, we know something like this is rare but I have heard from journalists who say the idea that only two people are out there as opposed to three or more, or in some case, in some markets, just one reporter doing his or her own live shot, no cameraman, no engineer or anything, that might make it more dangerous and more risky.

Have you given thought to whether it should be only one or two people out there doing live shots?

MARKS: Yes. I don't want to discuss our specific plans and they're formulated by the news director Kelly Soberan (ph), her brilliant team.

STELTER: And, by the way, we should mention --

MARKS: We are examining that.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: And I think we can go ahead and play what I found to be very emotional videotape of the live shot. In fact, Kelly was there with your reporter as it was wrapping up. Tell us what the plan will be going forward.

MARKS: The plan going forward is to look at each live opportunity separately and make the proper decisions. But I'm not going to go here and say every live shot is going to have three or four people because there are crazy people out there, and I think it's best if we keep our plans to ourselves. But it's certainly a subject of discussion here, and I can imagine every newsroom in the country that routinely does these what we call live shots, live reports from the field.

STELTER: We're seeing your reporter now at a football game on Friday night. The outpouring from the community, including at the high school games is amazing to see this weekend. I know you'll be speaking later today at this inter-faith service.

We're just wondering, before I have to go to a break, whether you thought differently about the media now, whether your impression of the press has changed now that you have had to be at the center of the worst story of your career.

[11:10:06] MARKS: Look, no, it hasn't. In fact, it's improved with almost no exceptions.

STELTER: Improved?

MARKS: Oh, gosh, yes.

STELTER: Great to hear.

MARKS: The job that the reporters for the various networks around the world who have been here has been doing has really impressed me. They are operating with compassion.

And you know, we get accused of going into people's houses after a death and saying, "How do you feel?" Well, the truth is that's our job.

But most of the time, 99 percent of the time, reporters are invited in because the family wants to talk about how wonderful the person was, as with Chris Hurst this week.

So, when I was asked, "How do I feel?", I wasn't offended at all. I appreciated having the opportunity to talk about that. And the others from our company who spoke, I think welcomed that opportunity too. And it was handled with grace and with compassion by virtually all the reporters we came into contact with.

STELTER: That's as wonderful a note as I can think of to end on on such a sick week. So many of us in the press do like to criticize our colleagues, there's lots to criticize for sure. It doesn't seem like there was anything to criticize in Alison or Adam's work. They were rising stars from all the coverage we've heard in recent days.

(CROSSTALK) MARKS: You just wouldn't believe how -- they were -- I said to a number of people, if you had 1,000 job candidates in front of you and you had to pick two, those were the two you would pick out.

STELTER: Well -- Jeff, thank you for being here this morning.

MARKS: Thank you.

STELTER: The funeral services for Adam Ward will be held in Roanoke on Tuesday, and Alison Parker's family is holding a private service later this week.

Vicki Gardner, the local Chamber of Commerce executive, we saw in the image, she was being interviewed at the time of the attack. She remains in intensive care at a local hospital. Her family says she is in good condition as she recovers from two surgeries to repair damage from a bullet wound.

Coming up here on RELIABLE SOURCES: the tough ethical questions that newsroom had to face when the gunman uploaded his executions to the Internet. Did we get it right, or did we get it wrong? More on that when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:16:06] STELTER: By now, if you wanted to see the horrific video from Wednesday's shooting involving the two journalists, you could have. There are two videos, one from the station broadcasting live, one from the gunman's perspective -- a horrific new sort of situation to see a perpetrator filming the attack with his own body camera and uploading it to the Internet.

But just because this video exists, should we be showing it? What is the right choice here when it comes to covering tragedies like this one?

Joining me now to try to answer that question, CNN contributor Bill Carter, formerly my colleague on TV beat at "New York Times", and in Washington, Frank Sesno, former CNN Washington bureau chief, and the director of the George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

Thank you both for being here this morning.

BILL CARTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be with you.

STELTER: Frank, let me ask you about the calculations newsrooms had to make on Wednesday morning. The live video broadcast by the station at 6:45. CNN, for example, we showed it once an hour for a few hours and then stopped showing -- what I mean is actually the shooting. Just now, we showed it up until the shooting. But we showed and aired her screaming several times.

Was that the right decision to make?

FRANK SESNO, DIR., GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY'S SCHOOL OF MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Oh, probably. You know, these decisions are always so difficult in the moment of and when something is brand-new and fresh like that. Although, I think the way it's being handled now, the way you handled it just a moment ago is the right way to do it. It gives people a sense of what the event was and what the scene looked like without taking them up to what I refer to as the "moment of death", which is essentially what that video captures.

Typically in media and in this country and much of the world, we do not convey or portray that "moment of death". It is both out of respect for the audience and out of respect for the dignity of the individual who is losing their lives -- their life. So, I think that's a very important thing.

I'll stop but I do want to say one other thing, Brian. I want to commend you and I want to commend Jeff Marks for the discussion that you just had. I think that everybody at that station should get enormous credit for carrying on with the job that they have, for talking to the public, for recognizing their dual responsibility here, which is extraordinary as human beings who have gone through this horrible tragedy, but also as journalists, and wanting to be as transparent in their grief as they want others to be when they're covering a story like that. It's really an amazing thing.

STELTER: Transparent in their grief. It's a perfect way to put it.

Let me come to you, Bill, here in New York about the second video, the even worse video, if that's possible -- the shooter's perspective. To me, it looked like a video game, like something from a first-person shooter game, unfortunately. That video was essentially not shown anywhere except on the covers of a couple New York tabloids.

CARTER: Right.

STELTER: FOX News briefly played it.

CARTER: Not a video.

STELTER: CBS played part of it.

CARTER: That's not a video.

STELTER: That's true, still frames.

CARTER: Yes.

STELTER: Was there the might amount of restraint or may be even too much restraint of that video?

CARTER: Well, this is getting to be the toughest question, because, of course, you don't want to give the shooter the attention that he's called for. That's the big question I think people have.

On the other hand, these shootings are getting out of hand. We're seeing them so frequently. The instant reaction is people say, well, don't react to the media. There is too much grief.

Well, this visceral moment is really connecting to people --

STELTER: You're saying show it so people see the reality of gun violence.

CARTER: I'm not saying -- yes, I think you have to show something. I don't know you want to show -- obviously, the moment of death, as Frank said, you don't do that. But I do think you do need to show what's happening in the country.

I mean, we did see --

STELTER: Others would say that desensitizes people.

CARTER: Yes --

STELTER: That it makes people less --

(CROSSTALK)

CARTER: Exactly, it's a very difficult decision.

On the other hand, how desensitized are we already? We've read about -- there is one of these every week. Every day there is one of these. So there is already a desensitization going on.

I think we have to have some way to grab people by the throat. I think that's what the tabloids are trying to do. Maybe get attention for themselves. But I think they were also trying to grab people by the throat.

STELTER: Let me go to Frank, though.

Frank, is it our job to be grabbing people by the throat, so to speak, when it comes to a story like this?

[11:20:02] SESNO: It's our job to tell the story. And if the story grabs people by the throat then grab your throat. Yes.

I mean, I think that this is something about -- I completely agree with Bill here. I mean, this violence again and again and again is so out of control. And we become desensitized because we hear about it all the time. Until you see it and it's real and you say, oh, my God, that's a human being. How could someone do that? How could that be happening to someone?

That's the power of a picture. That's the power of video. And so, it becomes a very delicate balance with how much is too much and how much is enough so that people understand the story and are, frankly, shocked by it.

Pictures coming from the trenches during World War I did that. Vietnam coming into people's living rooms did that. That is what we do in the news business but it is a very difficult decision when you are seeing the kinds of horrific, graphic images that these videos are capturing. STELTER: To me some of these choices are -- they're affected by the

growth of the Internet because the Internet is a pull medium. You have to click it in order to watch it. It's pull.

Television is a push. We're pushing it to you. So, it's a very different calculation.

SESNO: They're affected by it and we talk about this all the time, the sort of disappearance, if certainly on -- in digital and social media, of gate keepers, of editors, of producers, of people who say that is too far. This man created and produced his own murder video.

And for a while, that it is what people could see and were seeing. Just as Islamic State produced their murder video on the beaches of Egypt or wherever that execution took place. This is uncharted territory in many ways.

STELTER: Yes, really feels like it is. Another one of the new sort of terrible new twists this time was the idea of auto play. For viewers who don't know what it means, if you were on Twitter or Facebook at the time the killer posted the videos, it would automatically start playing on your computer screen. That's a different decision -- different situation than to have to press the button in order to choose to play it.

We saw Web sites react to that, some turning off auto-play as a result. Even some news video sites turning off auto play on news videos involving the shooting because they wanted to warn ahead of time. But that is another example about how the Internet is changing this calculations, and technology is changing these calculations.

Bill, in the moment we have left here, talking about "The Daily News", talking about "The New York Post", both of them in various ways put images, still images of shootings on their front pages, in some ways, tabloids will be tabloids, and that's what we expect from them.

CARTER: Yes, it is. But, remember, Frank brought up the Vietnam. Remember the shot of the police officer shooting someone in the head? That was a tremendous moment where people just said, wow, this is really getting out of hand. And I think maybe the tabloids are doing that. Maybe they're going to send that message. Maybe it was just for self-interest.

STELTER: Well, "The Daily News" has been on a campaign to support gun control. Perhaps that was part of it.

CARTER: I think that was part of the message, and you can argue that they're also trying to sell papers.

STELTER: Of course.

CARTER: I think it's a line you have to walk down. I think there is some value in saying this is the reality of it. Here it is. It's in your face. This is it.

STELTER: This is exactly the discussion that's been going on in the newsrooms this week.

So, thank you all both for having it. And, Frank, though, please stick around. We're going to come back to you later in the hour.

SESNO: Sure.

STELTER: First, an update on a couple of other stories we've been following closely. These are stories that, like the tragic events in Virginia this week, remind us of the risk that journalists face every day.

Yesterday in Cairo, Egypt, a court sentenced a trio of al Jazeera journalists to three years each in prison for, quote, "spreading false news." Their fellow reporters were outraged, horrified as Baher Mohamed and Mohammad Fahmy, who has worked with our team here at CNN in the past, were led away from court after the verdict.

Australian Peter Greste was sentenced in absentia. He was able to leave the country earlier this year. It's unclear if he can be a correspondent, a foreign correspondent anymore because his travel might be restricted.

An Al Jazeera official says the verdict defies logic and common sense.

And in Iran, still no word on the fate of "Washington Post" journalist Jason Rezaian, who has now spent more than 400 days in prison. We're trying to get updates on the story. And as always, our thoughts and prayers are with Jason and his family.

Up next here on RELIABLE SOURCES, Jorge Ramos has been a journalist for 30 years but he says this is a first -- Donald Trump kicking him out of a campaign press conference and then later bringing him back in. Ramos sits down with me for his real in-depth interview about the showdown in Iowa and why he takes the Trump campaign seriously, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:28:45] STELTER: Is Jorge Ramos a journalistic pit bull or a publicity hound, or an activist or somehow all of the above?

He is for sure this country's best-known Spanish language broadcaster with millions of viewers every night. His critics and Donald Trump's critics were quick to take sides after this showdown in Iowa on Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sit down!

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION: No. I'm a --

TRUMP: Sit down!

Go ahead.

RAMOS: I have the right to ask a question -- TRUMP: No, you don't. You haven't been called.

RAMOS: I have the right to ask the question. And this is -- no, this is the question. You cannot deport 11 million --you cannot deport 11 million people. You cannot build a 1,900-mile wall. You cannot deny citizenship to children in this country.

TRUMP: Sit down --

RAMOS: And with those ideas -- no, no, I'm a reporter. And I have -- I -- don't touch me, sir, don't touch me, sir. You cannot touch me. I have the right to ask a question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: It was an incredible piece of political theater in a year that's been full of them. First, Trump boots you out of his news conference and then invites him back into the room for a feisty five- minute exchange caught live here on CNN. So, how did it feel to be in Trump's cross-hairs? What really happened?

I spoke to Ramos for the first real interview since the duel in Dubuque.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:30:00]

STELTER: Jorge, thank you for joining me.

RAMOS: Thank you. Thanks for inviting me again.

STELTER: Tell me the story behind the story.

I know you went to Iowa because you felt Trump had been ignoring your interview requests. Did you expect to get kicked out of the press conference? Were you maybe seeking a fight like the one you had with Trump?

RAMOS: Of course not.

I never expected that he would -- that he was going to expel me from the press conference. I have been a journalist for 30 years, and I have never been rejected or expelled from a press conference. And I -- I knew he was going to be tough. I knew he didn't -- he wasn't going to like it. But I never expected that, instead of answering my question, he was going to call his security detail to throw me out.

The important thing is that what is completely out of line is that a reporter is ejected from a press conference simply for asking a question. That's, from my point of view, completely out of line. And I think it is dangerous for press freedom in this country.

I cover many issues in many countries all around the planet, and this is the kind of thing that you see in dictatorships, but not in the United States of America. STELTER: That's very strong language, that we see this in

dictatorships. You really don't think that, if Trump was president, that people would be kicked out of the White House Briefing Room, do you?

RAMOS: Well, we don't know. That's exactly what he did to me.

And he acted in an incredibly authoritarian way. That's exactly what he did. And that's dangerous for press freedom in the United States, what he did.

I think the way he is attacking other journalists, among them our colleagues from FOX News, the way he censored the "Des Moines Register" reporter from coming into that press conference, that is a kind of behavior that I have never seen in the United States, that I have seen in dictatorships, but never here.

And that's something that we have to be aware of, absolutely. And, look, as a reporter, as an immigrant, as a U.S. citizen, I have the right in this country to ask any question to anyone. And if he doesn't want to answer, that's fine. But, also, I want to emphasize that I waited for my turn. There were two reporters before me who asked a question.

Then I said, I have a question on immigration. And nobody said anything. There was no other reporter who wanted to ask. I stood up. And then he started listening to my question. And then he tried to stop me when he realized that he didn't like the question. He called on another reporter.

And, of course, I kept on asking my question. He told me to sit down. And I wasn't going to sit down.

STELTER: Were you surprised there wasn't more of a movement of solidarity among the reporters in the room, if you were going to be kicked out, they were going to leave too?

RAMOS: Some reporters left.

The reporter from "The New Yorker" left. And what I know, for sure, is that there were two reporters, Kasie Hunt from MSNBC and Tom Llamas from ABC News, who pressed Donald Trump and told him first that I had been as tough with President Obama and Democrats as I have been with him.

And then Kasie Hunt, I understand, asked Donald Trump to allow me to come back to the press conference. So I -- I don't know about the other reporters, but I know for sure that Kasie Hunt and Tom Llamas challenged Donald Trump. And thanks to them -- and I already thanked them personally -- thanks to them, I was able to come back in and ask my questions.

STELTER: There has been quite a backlash to your exchange with Trump.

Here's a few of the comments I saw on television from some prominent television commentators. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: The guy was making a political -- you got a question to ask, ask a question. If you want to make a political statement, you can hold your own press conference.

JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: I think Ramos acted like an illegal alien and got treated like one. He cut the line...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jesse Watters...

WATTERS: ... was disruptive, and then was deported. And Trump let him back in. Isn't that his policy?

BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Jorge Ramos has now become an advocate for people who enter the U.S. illegally. And that's superseded his job as a journalist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: What do you make of that, Jorge, given that you're saying our job is to be aggressive and ask tough questions?

(CROSSTALK)

RAMOS: Absolutely. And that's -- that's our job. And in some instances...

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: But they're saying it's not. They're saying that you are an advocate. They're saying you are an activist.

RAMOS: In some instances -- Brian, in some instances -- well, in some instances, again, when it comes to human rights -- and immigration rights are human rights -- when it comes to the fact that a presidential candidate is attacking a whole community, when it comes to the fact that a presidential candidate is attacking a whole community, when it comes to the fact that a presidential candidate is stereotyping a community, I think we have the right to ask tough questions. And...

STELTER: So, are these guys that are criticizing you, Bill O'Reilly and Joe Scarborough, are they not real journalists?

(CROSSTALK)

RAMOS: Many times, we have to take a stand, Brian.

STELTER: Are they not real journalists?

RAMOS: Excuse me?

STELTER: If they're so critical of you being a tough reporter, are they not reporters? What do you make of these guys going after you?

[11:35:13]

RAMOS: I mean, they can say whatever they want, and they can -- this is a free country, and I think it's fantastic that we have the possibility of having this debate.

If we were in Mexico, if we were in some countries in Latin America or in the Middle East, we would be dead. So it's great that we have the possibility of having -- of having this debate. But I will continue asking tough questions from the presidential candidate who is ahead on the polls.

STELTER: My last question for you, since you are going to be covering the news on Univision and Fusion for many years to come, is there any chance you think Donald Trump could actually be elected president?

RAMOS: Of course.

As any other American, he has a possibility of becoming president. Of course he has the possibility. And...

STELTER: But a real chance? You think it's not just a joke campaign, not just entertainment, not just a sideshow? You think you might actually be interviewing President Trump someday?

RAMOS: I take Donald Trump very seriously,very seriously.

I think it's a huge mistake not to take him seriously, because of the things that he is saying. And we have to take him seriously, because the impact, the structure of the United States, the fabric of life in the United States might be completely transformed if he becomes president. I take him very, very seriously.

STELTER: Jorge Ramos, thank you so much for being here.

RAMOS: Brian, thanks so much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STELTER: And check out more on my interview with Ramos on CNNMoney.com.

And stay tuned, because we're going to talk about what he just said and hear about the other TV journalists Trump is going head-to-head with right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:52]

STELTER: Donald Trump recovering from spats earlier in the week with both Jorge Ramos and FOX News. But there was a lovefest of sorts between Trump and one host that you must see.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You're seeing some idiots in the press, and they're misrepresenting your exchange, like the other day with the political activist, the father of the Clinton staffer, Univision's Jorge Ramos. And you schooled that radical activist, and it was the right thing to do, because I don't think he's going to pull that again.

Where did you get your guts for that kind of necessary confrontation?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, the press was very good to me on that one, because he was totally out of line. He was screaming and ranting and raving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Palin gave Trump a chance to bash the press. Trump instead chose to compliment all of us, with the exception of Jorge Ramos.

Back with me to sense of all this, CNN contributor Bill Carter and journalism professor Frank Sesno.

Bill, Jorge Ramos is both an anchor of Hispanic America and an advocate for Hispanic America. Is there something inherently wrong with that point-of-view style opinion journalism?

BILL CARTER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think there is anything wrong with it. In fact, you could argue too many journalists are one side, the other side, instead of trying to show what really is going on.

Now, I think there is an argument to be made that he pushed himself forward there and made too much of it. And also you could also say maybe he's playing into Trump's hand a little too much.

STELTER: Ah.

CARTER: Because if you think about what Trump has been doing, he is almost like a science fiction creature. When you fire energy at him, he gets bigger. No matter what it is you hit him with, he seems to get bigger and bigger. I'm not sure it's accomplishing Jorge's goal.

STELTER: Frank, grandstanding, making it all about yourself, acting arrogant, these are things we're supposed to criticize in journalists. And yet I have seen a lot of people stand up for Ramos. On the other hand, a lot of commentators have also criticized him for making himself the story.

FRANK SESNO, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I could take those adjectives you just used and attach them to an awful lot of reporters I know. It's what gives them the courage -- I think there are other terms that could be used -- to get in the middle of the stories that they do and take people -- look at them square in the face.

I have interviewed presidents. It can be really intimidating. You have say to yourself, wait a minute, it's a human being. They're doing a job. They're accountable for what they're doing. I'm not in a popularity contest.

Ramos has done this in the past, by the way. STELTER: Right. That's true.

SESNO: Ramos came to Washington. He confronted John Boehner over immigration. He has his issues.

In an e-mail to me, he said there are six areas he thinks that -- where journalists need to take a stand. He didn't use the word advocacy, but take a stand. Human rights, discrimination, dictatorship are among them. And he says Trump touches on all of those.

Look, I think what Ramos did had an element of grandstanding about it. No question about that. But he knew what he wanted to do. He did it on purpose. And, sorry, I don't think Sarah Palin is the most qualified to lecture Donald Trump about how great he is in dealing with Jorge Ramos.

STELTER: Sarah Palin filling in there on a tiny cable news channel that wants to be FOX News some day. We will see if it can get there.

But turning to FOX News, we have been following this Megyn Kelly fight for weeks now, Trump attacking Megyn Kelly, ever since the GOP debate. She came back from vacation on Monday. Trump started attacking her on Twitter right away. And then Roger Ailes said this.

Let's put in screen, the chairman of FOX News saying that: "Donald Trump's surprise and unprovoked attack on Megyn Kelly during her show last night is as unacceptable as it is disturbing."

He went on and on.

And, Bill, the question now is whether the war is back on. I know that they have been saying nice things about each ever since. But Trump has not been on FOX News since that statement came out.

CARTER: No. And if Ailes is going to stick by this he has to apologize, I don't think he will be on. He is not going to apologize.

STELTER: He didn't say he has to apologize. He said he should apologize. But Trump usually doesn't.

(CROSSTALK)

CARTER: And usually FOX would -- they would have him on. He would be on some -- he is very friendly with Hannity. He would be on something.

What is interesting to me about this is that it's a tradition for someone who has had an incident in a debate with a moderator to go after the moderator. Candy Crowley had a big incident when she did the 2012 debate, and the Republicans went after her.

STELTER: Right.

CARTER: In the subsequent days, FOX News did a panel where they basically had people come and say what she did wrong and some defend her. And that panel was moderated by Megyn Kelly. And Megyn Kelly sort of took the position that Crowley should not have been that big a factor in the debate.

[11:45:00]

So, it's an ongoing thing when a person is in the middle of a debate and is the moderator that the candidate -- and Republicans almost always do this -- they attack the moderator.

STELTER: Well, we're now at this point closer to CNN's debate in mid- September than we were to FOX's, and yet FOX's debate still in the news. That is a striking statement about this race.

CARTER: Yes.

STELTER: Bill, Frank, thank you for being here and helping us digest this week's media news.

Up next here on the program, as America's leading presidential historian, you would think she had seen it all. But did this year's Trump juggernaut catch even Doris Kearns Goodwin off guard? Trump makes history next on RELIABLE SOURCES.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STELTER: People sometimes say politics is boring. But has there ever been a presidential campaign like this before?

Twenty-two candidates, I count, including a self-described socialist, a brain surgeon and a former first lady. With a celebrity reality show star sucking up all the media's attention, is this any way to choose the leader of the free world?

[11:50:04]

It's a good time to ask that question. And a good person to ask is presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of the few people actually qualified I think to answer. She's a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a whole lot of great books. Her latest title is "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism."

Welcome, Doris.

I thought right now was the golden age of journalism.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it certainly has been the most entertaining age of journalism.

STELTER: Aha.

GOODWIN: I don't think I have seen anything quite like this last year. When you think about it...

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Wait. You are the historian. We go to you to be told that there is always a historical analogy to something going on now.

GOODWIN: Well, I can give you an analogy.

In 1912, which was the first presidential primary, Teddy Roosevelt and Taft, both presidents, went after each other with such invective, such anger, they called each other fatheads, pinheads, the brain of a guinea pig, traitors.

And as a result, "The New York Times" had an editorial saying this is the very first presidential primary; we hope it's our last presidential primary. This is no way to elect a president. Go back to the convention system, they said, where you just have people nominated in July and you have a two-month race in the fall and it's over.

And here we are, so many months out and so involved in this thing, people yelling at one another within the same party. That hasn't quite been seen before.

STELTER: If it was only two months long, what would we talk about for 20 months?

GOODWIN: Maybe things that are happening in people's lives?

No, I mean, I must admit, like everybody else, there is something compelling about this kind of talk when these guys are talking against each other, when Trump has no political correctness button that he pushes. I think one of the reasons why he is attracting so much attention now is for years the journalists have gone after candidates when they make one silly mistake, they make a gaffe, they say oops or they say 47 percent or they say something that they then have to claim, I misspoke, I didn't mean what I said. They have to be defensive.

Trump has not an ounce of defensiveness. He turns it against the press. It may be that partly what we're seeing is for so many years we have asked our candidates to be authentic, but they fear if they say something that will get them into trouble, they have to put a girdle on themselves.

You feel like all the candidates have put this girdle on. They talk from a teleprompter. They talk from a script. And we are not seeing them. We are seeing Trump as he is. And maybe that's part of the appeal.

STELTER: I quip about this campaign going on too long, but like it or not, journalists are helping provoke important national discussions by interviewing candidates like Trump and probing for insight.

Sometimes, you see very softball interviews with Trump, though. I'm not sure we gain a lot when people are calling him Donald and referring to him like they're old buddies. Do you think there is a situation here -- we saw a poll in Iowa come out yesterday with Ben Carson on the rise, suggesting that maybe we are going to see a continued wave of these candidates all fall. Are you at the point now where you think Trump is more than just one

of these cycles that will flame out? It has been two months, more than two months since he started running, after all.

(CROSSTALK)

GOODWIN: No, it has gone longer than I think many people would have predicted.

Clearly, there is something about that outsider mentality. When you think about what Washington has been like for these last years, and people so upset with a broken system, with parties not talking to each other, with little getting done, there is a sense in which somebody who is not a politician, somebody who is talking against the elite, somebody who is even talking against the press, we have had that in history before.

When people feel anxious or they're worried about something or there is some sense that things are going on in the banks or in Washington that we don't like, a candidate comes along and he can sort of get that appeal going. When you see the combination of Trump and Ben Carson, that's a large percentage of the Republican Party choosing a non-politician.

And whether that's good or bad, there is something still about politics you hope is an honorable vocation, that people are going to feel proud of becoming politicians. But maybe that has been turned on its head as well.

STELTER: The Trump story in many ways is a Republican Party story. You are absolutely right about that. And the story is just beginning to be written about what is going on with the party.

Doris, thank you so much for sharing your insight this morning with us.

GOODWIN: Very welcome. Thank you.

STELTER: And up next, honoring the victims of Wednesday's shootings in Virginia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:58:36]

STELTER: Thank you for spending some time with us this morning.

"STATE OF THE UNION" is next.

But, before we go, this has truly been a difficult week for many in journalism, many reporters shaken, knowing how vulnerable live shots are and how intense live television can be.

So, we would like to leave you with a few of the tributes from journalists across the country, tributes to Alison Parker and Adam Ward. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Today's news hits close to home.

I just wanted to take a moment at the top of this hour, as a fellow journalist, to tell the WDBJ newsroom and Alison and Adam's families, we are all with you. And I am so sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was yesterday around this time that we went live to Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward. They were out in the field, a story. It was like so many others that they did all the time.

Please join us now in a moment of silence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)