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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES

Storm Coverage; The National Review Versus Donald Trump; Donald Trump Versus Megyn Kelly: Round Two; Does the Press Understand the Public's Anger?; Update on Jason Rezaian. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired January 24, 2016 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey, good morning. I'm Brian Stelter. It's time for RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how news and pop culture get made.

Now, ahead this hour: the Donald Trump-Megyn Kelly rematch. Is Trump suggesting me might skip this week's FOX News debate? We have new details from FOX.

Plus, the anger Trump personifies, and Bernie Sanders, too. Was the media late to recognize the biggest voter phenomenon of this election?

And later this hour, finally, good news for Jason Rezaian -- released after 18 months in Iran. I'll talk with his editor Marty Baron and find out how he is spending his first days as a free man.

But, first, let's get to the breaking news here in New York and up and down the Northeast. The great blizzard of 2016 now giving way to the great dig out of 2016. We are standing by for a live press conference by the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The big question for him is whether the nation's capital of media and business will be ready for start of the workweek. This has been a truly magnificent snowstorm, one that actually lived up to the news media hype. In fact, I would say it surpassed the hype.

This morning, 57 percent of the country is covered with snow. That's according to NOAA, with a record or near record totals, all the way from the Appalachians to Washington to Philadelphia to New York.

We have a few updates for you based on what we're hearing from authorities in these various areas. In D.C., schools will be closed tomorrow. In Philly, the airport is gradually reopening. Down the Jersey shore, the coastal flood warning is about to expire but there had been some serious flooding conditions there we'll get to in a moment.

Here in New York, the traffic ban has been lifted. The Ubers, the taxis are back on the road. But the Long Island railroad is having a lot more trouble. We are going to keep an eye on that as the day goes on here.

We do have correspondence up and down the corridor, and let's show a few of their scenes right now.

Chad Myers on a roving vehicle here in New York. Polo Sandoval down the Jersey shore. But let's start with Miguel Marquez in Baltimore.

Miguel, I think you're on one of my favorite neighborhoods there, Fell's Point. Tell us what the secret is to try to stay warm when you're out in these conditions all day and night.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's just layering up, of course. Lots and lots of layers to stay warm. It is a very cold day here. It's not going to melt very quickly, but, boy, they have broken record.

This is Fell's Point, one of your favorite neighborhoods in Charm City. It is a sparkling perfect day here today, but lots and lots of snow. They broke the one day snowfall record here, eclipsing it by over an inch. Over two feet of snow fell in a single day here in Baltimore.

They broke the two-day snow record with 29.2 inches falling at BWI airport. They broke the three-day snow record here. This is one for the record books --

STELTER: Miguel --

MARQUEZ: -- in Baltimore. Massive amounts of snow -- Brian.

STELTER: I love hearing that. There's nothing I love more that setting a new snowfall record.

Standby for a moment, Miguel. Mayor De Blasio here in New York is stepping up to the microphones. Let's listen in his for his update on the conditions in New York.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: Setting that record by literally 0.1 inch. So, this one is a cautionary tale to all of us, a storm that a day before on Friday was still being projective at eight to 12 inches, ends up coming in close to 27 inches when all is said and done.

So, it is an example to us of the fact that we have to be prepared for storms that move very fast, that evolve very rapidly and that could end up being a lot bigger than originally predicted. The good news is that everyone who works for the city did an outstanding job, starting with the folks here at the office of emergency management. I want to thank them for the excellent leadership and cooperation they provided for all of our agencies all over the city.

And it is so important to recognize that not only did our public workers do a great job but the people of New York City heeded the travel ban, respected the fact that the only way to help our first responders and our sanitation workers to do their job was to get out of the way. So, the travel ban was very effective and allowed us to do the work in afternoon, evening and overnight that we needed to do to start the process of keeping the city clear. We did have to enforce the travel ban. Chief O'Neill will talk about

the details of that. But again, overwhelmingly, people heeded it. I think the NYPD checkpoints and the NYPD activity out in the streets, showing people that there were consequences certainly helped a lot.

We want to remind people right now that it's still dangerous out there. So, a couple of messages we want to get across today. First of all, do not drive if you don't have to, at least it's really urgent. We want people to stay off the streets. We want people to keep their cars, where they're parked.

[11:05:02] It is very important to recognize there's a lot of work being done to get the city up and running for Monday. We need people off the streets for their own safety, and we need people off the streets for the safety of others. We need them off the street so that sanitation can clear the streets. We need them off the street so our first responders have the freedom to get to emergencies.

To make it easier on all New Yorkers to keep their cars parked, we're cancelling alternate side parking for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. So, for the whole workweek, alternate side parking will be suspended.

So, therefore, I say to my fellow New Yorkers and again up until a couple of years ago, I drove my own car, looked for my own parking regularly in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. So, I understand how people have to think about alternate side.

Now that you know alternate side is cancelled for the week, leave your car where it is. Don't try to shovel it out today unless you have an emergency or something, truly urgent. Leave your car where it is. We're expecting warmer temperatures through the week.

Mother Nature brought us the snow and let Mother Nature melt the snow and get out of the way. But what we do not want is for New Yorkers to start shoveling out their cars and put all the snow in the middle of the street. That's only going to make thing worse. It's going to make it harder on sanitation to clear the streets they need to clear. It's going to make it harder on our emergency vehicles.

So, I'm trying to give people a good option here, leave your car where it is. Therefore, you don't need to shovel and put that snow in the middle of the street. If anyone has a good reason for moving their car, please, only shovel out the minimum amount of snow necessary and don't put it in the street. Move it towards the side walk. Obviously, don't block the sidewalk but keep it right next to the car on the sidewalk.

So, people have to be really clear about helping. All the city workers are working so hard and working non-stop to keep us all safe. Help them to do their job. Do not put the snow back in the street.

And another caution is working around -- a lot of people out working around. It's a beautiful day. A lot of people are out with their kids going to parks, going sledding. That's great. But be careful. I saw -- I went today driving around. I left Gracie, went through

parts of Upper East Side, up the West Side, then I went out to Queens. I was in Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, came down to Brooklyn and went around through Fort Green, came here to OEM, what I saw was a lot of people walking the streets. And I understand why, a lot of sidewalks have not yet been cleared.

But people have to be very careful. When you're working in the streets, remember, traffic is starting up again, a lot of emergency vehicles around. Keep an eye out. Don't walk in the streets if you don't have to. If you do, you have to be very, very vigilant.

And I'd like to see people not use the streets as much as they are now, because I don't want to see people in harm's way obviously also, especially with young children be very careful as you're walking in the street.

Let me give you some updates related to the plowing situation. And I'll say that outset, Department of Sanitation has done absolutely outstanding job. There's no ways about it. We've now seen storm literally, the second worst in our history could have, this close from being the first worst, the biggest we've ever had.

Sanitation did an extraordinary job, even though the storm came early --

STELTER: De Blasio speaking at a press conference here in New York, 0.1 of an inch from the new record here in New York City.

Let me actually go out to New Jersey to Boris Sanchez now. He's in Ventnor City, New Jersey.

Because the flooding situation along the Jersey shore is one of the biggest parts of this blizzard story.

What are you seeing there this morning?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey. Good morning, Brian.

They didn't deal with as much snow as they did flooding in this area. We're here in Ventnor City. This is a community that is very surrounded by channels. This is a channel that goes into a bay that's not far from here. The water rose significantly. It receded quite a bit since we've been standing here in just the past hour or so. It's gone down quite a bit.

But it was much higher earlier. I've got to speak to the couple that owns this home and another neighborhood. They told us the first level is significantly damaged. There's quite extensive damage inside.

The couple that lives this home actually told me that this is isn't uncommon for them, that it seems like every nor'easter, they have similar problems. He actually joked about seeing icebergs coming down their street.

But as we look at this street, it's a lot more than ice. There's all kinds of trash, debris and wood, random things in the middle of the streets. So, you can imagine this clean up will not be done overnight.

One more interesting thing I want to point out, Brian, if you see that home across the street, it's being put up -- it's on risers right now. We've seen quite a bit of that here. You can imagine a lot of that has to do with the fact that this area was severely affected by Super Storm Sandy just a few years ago, and a lot of people are now adapting to the new reality that these floods are becoming more and more common.

[11:10:10] We should tell you that in some parts of southern New Jersey, we've heard that they've had flooding that was worse than Superstorm Sandy. That's because those areas weren't directly targeted by the storm. So, while the flooding there is historic, it wasn't as bad as Sandy was when it hit here -- Brian.

STELTER: I'm glad you were there with the duration of storm because it's hard to get there now in these locations. Thank you so much for that live update.

Let's turn to New York City now and Chad Myers. He's in our roving vehicle, driving around the streets of Manhattan.

And, Chad, I wanted to ask you, if my impression is correct here. My impression is the reason why this storm is so newsworthy, so notable is because how widespread the area was affected. You know, my mom was watching in suburban Maryland. They've got 28 inches of snow there, near D.C., and, of course, we got 27 inches of snow in New York.

Is that would make this blizzard different?

CHAD MAYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think when you say 30 million people were under a blizzard warning all at the same time, that's pretty amazing. I have not seen a storm like that ever. This truly was a widespread storm.

If you get a storm coming out of Colorado and goes up to Nebraska into Chicago, you don't get snow in Milwaukee if you get snow in Chicago. It's already dried out by then.

This was a widespread long event from Richmond to Petersburg to Fredericksburg, to D.C., Boston. It just -- it goes all the way up I- 95. To spread snow that far is pretty amazing.

STELTER: Now, you've always got a tough job because sometimes meteorologists are accused of exaggerating or overstating or overhyping a severe weather event. And there's not much (ph) to know as forecast, then you get blamed.

MYERS: Sure.

STELTER: In this case, isn't it the opposite? The computer models did not expect New York to get walloped this much.

MYERS: Hold on a second. I'm going to stop the car here for a second.

STELTER: Yes.

MYERS: Hey, ladies, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fun.

MYERS: It is fun for people because there are two inches on the ground, they would be yelling at us saying you guys over emphasize it. We got nothing. How dare you?

We said 12 to 18. They got 24, they go, whoa, this is fun. I don't know how you win. I guess you always under-forecast and hope for the best. But this storm was pretty amazing all across the country.

STELTER: Is there a different dynamic for a national meteorologist like yourself versus a local person who's on a local station? Is there a different dynamic for how you cover a story like this?

MYERS: Well, sure. I've worked at many stations. I've worked in Columbus, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, Oklahoma City. And news directors will always say, hey, bump up your numbers a little. Make it sound a little more juicy.

We don't do that at CNN, because we don't have to, because we don't have to bump up everything. We try to make the exact forecast for what it is and what we think it should be. Now, yes, there are places across the country and cities and news directors that say, make this sound a little bit better. But clearly, we don't do it nationally.

STELTER: Chad Myers, thank you so much. I love that roving vehicle. I was out there yesterday afternoon. It's the best place to be because you're actually warm in a middle of a 20 degree cold. So, thank you, Chad. Enjoy the drive.

Coming up next here on RELIABLE SOURCES: another major storm brewing now. It's playing out in the media. It's the fight between Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

Plus, one of Hillary Clinton's allies now telling me he is changing his targeting from Ted Cruz to Donald Trump. I'll tell you why right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:16:36] STELTER: The big winter storm is almost over but a new one is brewing. It's between the Republican Party establishment and Donald Trump. You see the cover of "The National Review" has been making headlines for days "Against Trump" it says.

The magazine, of course, founded by conservative icon William F. Buckley reads in big bold gold letters, there are names of 22 editors, a who's who of conservative media makers all weighing in on this issue of the magazine.

The editorial states the following, "Donald Trump is a menace to more than conservativism, who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot in behalf of the population as heedless and crude as The Donald himself."

All you can see his response on screen, calling "The National Review" a failing publication that lost its way. He calls it sad with an exclamation point.

Now, while Trump is battling "The National Review", battling these conservative media elites, it looks like he's warming up to FOX News CEO Roger Ailes once again, calling him the greatest man in the history of television. That was at rally the other day. Of course, it comes before the next GOP debate.

Now, what network is broadcasting that debate? FOX News. It's on Thursday. And Megyn Kelly is a moderator. But Trump is taking issue with that.

Now, joining me to discuss all of this is Katrina Pierson, the national spokesperson for the Trump campaign.

Good morning. Good to see you.

KATRINA PIERSON, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON FOR THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Good morning, Brian. Great to be here.

STELTER: I want to start with some news that broke in "Politico" playbook an hour ago. And I just spoke to David Brock about it. He's a Hillary Clinton ally, the founder of super PAC that supports Clinton and, of course, targets her opponents.

He's telling me that, actually, Donald Trump is his new target. Let me put on screen what he's saying. He says, "I may have spoken too soon when I predicting in December that the Democrats would face Cruz in November. I believe the GOP nominee is likely to be Donald Trump. My super PAC is adjusting accordingly," that means he's going to attack you. "I don't agree with some Democrat thinking that Trump would be easy to beat. He's rewritten all the rules and I would expect a tough race with Hillary."

Now, this is obviously big news because this is a very well-funded super PAC that's now taking aim at you and your candidate.

Do you have any reaction to that? Are you surprised to hear that Hillary Clinton's allies are now preparing for a battle with your election in the general election?

PIERSON: Well, no, Brian. We're not surprised at all. I mean, as we have seen across this country, there's more and more support for Donald Trump and his candidacy. A lot of people believe in his vision and what he proposes to make America great again.

When you look at his broad base of support, it is eating at the Democrat support out there. We're looking at even minorities and women that have supported Donald Trump's campaign and so, they should be very nervous. And that's why so many Republicans are coming to Donald Trump's aid because they know he's our best chance at winning in the general election.

STELTER: You see Republicans coming to his aid, but obviously, that "National Review" cover must have been somewhat sad for you all to see such loud, vociferous opposition, right?

PIERSON: Well, no. Look, we've been dealing with oppositions since the beginning and you know that. Since Mr. Trump entered the race in June, there had been a lot of elite Republicans who claim to want to tell everything else what to think about Mr. Trump.

But what they failed to realize is that the Republican Party primary voters have been watching the same people endorse in candidates in 2008 and 2012 that have lost the general election. Nobody wants anymore talking points from think tanks. They want action. They want someone that can get out there and get things done. And when Donald Trump says he wants to make deals, he means actually getting things one.

Whereas, what we've witnessed in the past with some of these elite endorsed candidates is they just capitulate. They don't do deals at all. They'd just give in on everything and they fight for nothing.

[11:20:03] And that's different when it comes to Donald Trump.

STELTER: Can you tell me whether he lobbied "The National Review" at all in the past few months? They've been critical to him all along. I wonder if he's ever reached out, maybe tried to woo them at all.

PIERSON: Mr. Trump really doesn't try to woo anyone. He's not that much of a panderer as many have noticed. But, you know, he has spoken highly of people until they come against him.

STELTER: I don't know about --

PIERSON: A lot of these people came to him asking for money. A lot of people have sent in their resumes even before. And Donald Trump really doesn't go out of his way to say bad things about people.

STELTER: I don't know about the not wooing.

PIERSON: He tweeted in the past to help these publications.

STELTER: You know, I remember when I was at "The New York Times", I write about "The Apprentice" ratings. He would send me article. He circled something he didn't like. He'd write a note to me. A lot of reporters have gotten those kind of notes from the Donald Trump in the past.

Isn't that a form of wooing? You know, Megyn Kelly says that he used to do similar things with her.

PIERSON: I don't think that's wooing. I think he's just telling you what he thinks and feels, and what he thinks is fair or not fair. But he does that publicly as well.

STELTER: Let me ask you about endorsements, because you mentioned the irrelevance you say of endorsement. "The Des Moines Register", of course, endorsed Marco Rubio last night.

Do you have a view that endorsements, that newspaper endorsements simply do not matter anymore? Is he not trying to win over endorsements in key states like Iowa and New Hampshire?

PIERSON: I think if you look at the current political paradigm, the establishment endorsements don't matter. Whether it's a news outlet, a publication, or even a professional politician. Voters have been duped for so long in this country. They want to think for themselves. They want to get out there and meet the candidates and make up their own minds.

STELTER: Well, what about your own endorsements?

(CROSSTALK)

PIERSON: Particularly when you endorse Hillary Clinton in the same way.

STELTER: Sure.

PIERSON: When you have Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio, that lets voters know a lot.

STELTER: What about your own endorsements, because over the weekend, there's been a lot of attention about your past with Cruz. We can put on the screen, the Mediaite headline, one of your past comments about Ted Cruz. You used to work for him and then you switched sides. And a lot of people take exception to that.

What do you say to them?

PIERSON: Well, first, I've never worked for Senator Ted Cruz. I did volunteer. I'm here in Texas. I'm happy to have him as my senator.

But, again, this is a presidential race. And here in Texas, if you look at my seven years of history of grassroots work, immigration is my number one priority. And it has been very clear that Donald Trump's immigration policy is the best and also the best for Texas.

STELTER: I understand you pivot from Cruz to Trump. When you said Cruz can be the next president, isn't that an example of the kind of, you know, commentary in the media and social media that people just don't trust anymore?

PIERSON: Well, not necessarily, because this was long before Donald Trump entered the race. Senator Cruz was the first one out, so I was definitely supporting my senator. But once Donald Trump entered in June and put out his immigration policy, you saw a lot of conservatives come out and support Donald Trump. We've seen Sarah Palin and people like Amy Cramer (ph), all who supported Senator Cruz in his Senate run but are now supporting Donald Trump for president.

STELTER: And your comment from 2012 has gotten a lot of attention this weekend. You tweeted about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. You tweeted about how Obama's father was Africa. You said, are there any pure breeds left?

Do you regret that? Would you like to retract that?

PIERSON: No, not at all. Look, these tweets, I'm an activist. And I am a half breed. I'm always getting a half breed. And on Twitter, when you're fighting with liberals and even establishment, you go back at the same silliness they're giving you. So, I myself am a half breed.

STELTER: You're telling me that was just silliness?

PIERSON: Absolutely.

STELTER: I'll take your word about that.

PIERSON: This is the thing, Brian, this is the thing. We have entered silly season. Donald Trump is up in the polls again. There's desperate campaigns out there. They can't take him down so they try to take down the people that are around him. And we're just not going to get distracted by all that nonsense.

STELTER: I don't know about entered. I think we've been in silly season for a while.

But let me turn to the next debate because I'm very interested on your take on this. Next Thursday, of course, FOX News, the final debate before the Iowa caucus. It's setting up as a rematch between Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly, since their first encounter from last summer.

And you saw what Trump yesterday. Here's what -- let me put on screen. He wrote, "Based on Megyn Kelly's, quote, 'conflict of interest and bias', she should not be allowed to moderate the next debate."

Now, FOX is firing back, telling me last night that Megyn Kelly has no conflict of interest. Donald Trump is trying to build up the audience for Thursday's debate for which we thank him.

Is there any possibility, Katrina, that Trump will boycott this debate on Thursday because of Megyn Kelly's role?

PIERSON: Well, he has not mentioned that at this point, Brian, but if he decides to that, he'll be the first one to announce it. There's no love lost between Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump after that first debate. That's been a very publicized disagreement. But I think it's going to be fine.

Mr. Trump is set to win Iowa, win New Hampshire, win South Carolina and win the GOP nomination and we're going to focus on winning.

STELTER: Is it do you think a disadvantage for Donald Trump to be on stage with Megyn Kelly just a few days before the key Iowa caucus?

PIERSON: No, not at all. I think we're at a point where you either like Trump or you don't like Trump. I don't think any minds are going to be changed. The people who are in the middle that are trying to decide which direction am I going to go, I don't think this debate is going to make that determination just because Megyn Kelly's on the panel.

[11:25:04] STELTER: Katrina, great to see you. Thank you for being here this morning.

PIERSON: Thanks, Brian. Great to see you.

STELTER: Let's talk a bit more about this so-called rematch. Let me bring in Jim Rutenberg, the newly named media columnist for "The New York Times".

Jim, good to see you. Congratulations on your new role.

JIM RUTENBERG, MEDIA COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank so much.

STELTER: You wrote a big story in "The New York Times" about Megyn Kelly, a profile of her. So, I wanted to hear your perspective on this. I think from FOX's perspective, this is all just bluster from Donald Trump. He's preparing -- you know, laying the ground work for Thursday night.

Do you think this is a difficult situation for Megyn Kelly to be in, this so called rematch?

RUTENBERG: I mean, for any journalist, it's a really hard situation because you have the front-runner for the Republican nominee coming after you. This is not a two-sided fight. Trump is the one instigating this. Megyn Kelly is not engaging.

STELTER: Yes, you're saying it's not exactly a feud, because a feud requires both sides to be fighting.

RUTENBERG: Yes, she's doing journalism. From the beginning in that debate, she was doing journalism. Trump is maybe this is a "working the ref" thing. I'm trying to figure that out as I speak.

STELTER: Do you think that Kelly's brand has benefitted from this? You know, in your profile, it's clear that she's thought about her image. She sought to be more of a newswoman than a commentary person -- the way maybe Sean Hannity is who follows her on FOX.

Has this debate drama over the past few months played into that image as a newswoman?

RUTENBERG: I think it has. I'm sure she would rather not be quite playing out this way because it's so reality TV. But at the same time, it is -- you know, she showed that she was going to ask really tough questions. She angered a major candidate.

And he -- in way, he's acting as if he's afraid of facing her on Thursday night, right? This is a way of, like, is he working the ref?

STELTER: You think he's a little nervous about it?

RUTENBERG: Well, that's one possible motive because we haven't seen a front runner go after a moderator in this sustained of a way for this long.

STELTER: There's so much curiosity about Megyn Kelly. Her star has been rising and rising and rising. I would argue she's now the biggest star of FOX News. Bill O'Reilly might disagree with me.

What do you think has been the secret to her success?

RUTENBERG: I actually think that she has an amazing television talent. I think it's preparation. I think listening during interviews and I think it's being -- kind of doing the unexpected. Not playing to type.

STELTER: Let me ask you, before we have to go to break here. You're replacing David Carr, our former friend, our late friend who passed away last February, as "The New York Times" media columnist. A lot of curiosity about when you'll be starting and how you'll be approaching the role?

RUTENBERG: At this point, I'm going to -- I'm planning to start in mid-March so I can do a lot of studying and preparation. I've been away from the media beat for, you know, more than a decade. But I follow it because as a political reporter, to me, the media is so central. So, you know, I haven't been absent, but I'm going to take some time to get up to speed, and, you know, following that act is a really hard thing to do.

STELTER: What's the big story you think you'd like to tell with this prized media column at "The Times"?

RUTENBERG: There are 15,000. So, what I have to do is prioritize. I mean, to me, the change that we're experiencing is amazing. The media environment around Donald Trump is amazing. Our politics, media, tech, it's just a ton.

STELTER: Jim, great to see you. Thanks for being here.

RUTENBERG: Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

STELTER: Coming up on RELIABLE SOURCES: What's the one thing Trump and Bernie Sanders has figured out that this election cycle maybe the media has not. When we come back, we'll get into that, and the answer might surprise you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:31:50]

STELTER: Welcome back.

The Democrats have been under fire their relative lack of debates. But tomorrow night, there is a town hall, CNN's town hall in Iowa. It will be the third time the Democrats are all together in Iowa and the last time before the caucuses.

Now, while the candidates won't go head to head, instead, they will appear separately, this is quite possibly their most important appearance because it's right before the caucuses will take place on Monday, February 1.

But have they done enough with too few forums and a lack of media coverage and could there be a spoiler, an independent run from none other than Michael Bloomberg?

Joining me now from San Francisco, Dan Pfeiffer, a CNN political commentator, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

Dan, let's drill into this Bloomberg speculation, because it's back with a vengeance as of yesterday morning thanks to "The New York Times," the "New York Times" story saying that Bloomberg is seriously contemplating an independent bid, many other sources confirming that news. This was clearly something I think Bloomberg wanted out there, maybe a trial balloon of sorts.

Let me put on screen your comment about this. You tweeted out yesterday: "The New York Times story that Bloomberg is seriously considering jumping into the race is becoming a quadrennial tradition."

Now, can't I say the same thing about Donald Trump?

DAN PFEIFFER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You absolutely can.

And several people pointed that out to me on Twitter and that is right. Everything is always wrong until it's right and -- or right until it's wrong, I guess.

Look, I will say a couple of things about this. One, look, Maggie Haberman and Alex Burns are top-notch reporters. I think if they are reporting that he's seriously considering it, I think he's seriously considering it.

I think this will end the same way it's ended before, which is he looks at the data and recognizes it is virtually impossible for an independent candidate to win a three-person race for president. The math does not work, either electorally or from the overall popular vote.

STELTER: One of the reasons I'm fascinated by this is because Michael Bloomberg owns Bloomberg. He owns Bloomberg TV. He owns the Bloomberg Wire service. He owns Politics. He owns Bloomberg Businessweek.

We haven't really ever seen a scenario like this, where a media mogul has actually considered to run for president, other than maybe Steve Forbes, who owned "Forbes" magazine, right?

PFEIFFER: Right. This will pose a very interesting challenge for the journalists at Bloomberg. How do you cover your own boss? It would be like asking FOX News how do you cover Roger Ailes running for president. This is going to create -- this would be very interesting for folks like yourself who cover the media beat, no doubt.

STELTER: You just blew my mind with the idea of Ailes running for president. But staying on Bloomberg for a second, the company has always had a policy it doesn't cover itself. It tries not to cover itself. When Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg, was mayor of New York City, it only covered him when absolutely necessary.

It would be different now, though. I noticed the Bloomberg Wire did not cover this talk yesterday. Halperin, Heilemann, those guys have not been talking about this on Twitter. So, right now, there's been silence about this possibility. It would seem to me it is going to be tricky down the road.

Let me ask you about another media mogul, because Rupert Murdoch has been weighing in, in the past about Bloomberg. Remember in August, he tweeted out suggesting that Bloomberg should run. He wrote that: "With Trump becoming a very serious candidate, it's time for the next billionaire candidate, Mike Bloomberg, to step in."

He said he was the greatest mayor.

What do you it is about a media mogul about Rupert Murdoch liking another fellow mogul like Bloomberg?

[11:35:00]

PFEIFFER: I'm sure they have a lot in common, and they hang out at a lot of same places, go to the same parties.

And I can never really tell with Rupert Murdoch's Twitter account how serious he's being or whether it's tongue in cheek. But there really isn't a lane here for Michael Bloomberg in a three-person race. Even -- that "New York Times" said in a Trump-Sanders race, he would be more likely to get in.

In a Trump-Sanders race, the way the Constitution lays this out, if Michael Bloomberg is able to win states, he's not going to get to the 270 and then, if no one gets to 270, which people always forget in this independent party speculation, the Congress picks the president, the House of Representatives, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which would guarantee, absolutely guarantee a Trump presidency.

STELTER: This is awfully fun to talk about in the meantime, though, this possibility.

Now, let me ask you about the town hall. We have got the countdown clock on screen. It's a big moment before the Iowa caucuses. What are you going to be watching for, as someone who knows all too well how important the caucuses are?

PFEIFFER: I'm going to watch very carefully to see what their closing arguments are to caucus-goers, because this is, at the end of the day here, it's hand-to-hand combat.

Just a few caucus-goers can tilt some of these caucuses and move delegates in one direction or the other. And so what is the argument that they are going to have that will move these undecided caucus- goers into their column?

And also see what argument they will be making to try to appeal to Martin O'Malley supporters. Now, given his poll numbers, that seems crazy, but you have to reach a threshold support level in a Democratic caucus to be able to get delegates. And if you don't reach that threshold, then the other people who do reach the threshold can appeal to them. They can come over and tip.

We spend a lot of time in 2008 honing our arguments to reach the Richardson, Dodd, even Biden supporters who in their caucuses couldn't get to 15 percent. And then we would try to move them to us, instead of letting them go to Hillary or John Edwards.

STELTER: I love this point every four years where we all become experts about the Iowa caucuses. Thank you for starting to explain it to us. It's good to see you.

Dan, thanks so much.

PFEIFFER: Absolutely. Thank you, Brian..

STELTER: A reminder here. You can watch tomorrow night the Democratic town hall, 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, Chris Cuomo moderating right here on CNN.

Now, coming up, we're talking about anger. Anger. Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders have tapped into that anger. But has the media been late to it? We're going to debate that right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:49]

STELTER: Forget the Democratic Party. Forget the Republican Party. Let's talk about the anger party.

It's arguably the biggest phenomenon of this election season. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have both tapped into the discontent in the country. Many other candidates are trying to.

You want to ask if the press has been late to it, late to understanding it.

Joining me now, Scottie Nell Hughes, a chief political correspondent for USA Radio Networks and a Donald Trump surrogate, and Ana Kasparian, the co-host of "The Young Turks," the progressive radio and talk show on YouTube and elsewhere.

Let me ask you both about this theory. But before I do, let me take a look at both what Trump and Sanders have said about their anger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very angry because our country is being run horribly, and I will gladly accept the mantle of anger. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: do not have a

super PAC. I do not want Wall Street's money. I will rely on the middle class and working families...

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: ... campaign contributions.

TRUMP: I'm angry at stupidity. I'm angry at incompetence.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders called him weak, disappointing.

TRUMP: I'm angry about a lot of things. And I won't be angry for long, because, once we straighten it out, I'm a very happy person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Let me try out a theory on both of you.

Ana, you first.

Many journalists, many members of the media are deaf to the frustration in the country, maybe because journalists, at least the major media outlets, tend to be paid more than the average American or because they live in big urban cities, instead of in the heartland.

What do you think of that theory, Ana?

ANA KASPARIAN, "THE YOUNG TURKS": Well, I think that it's true, especially of establishment media, to be completely honest with you, because the same types of components that corrupt our politicians, I think, also corrupt mainstream media.

So, it's really difficult for mainstream, let's say, cable outlets to talk about things like income inequality, wealth inequality, when the advertisers that are funding their shows are the same corporations that want to ensure that the same system continues.

So, I think when people watch digital media or new media they get a completely different message. They focus on the issues that matter or resonate more with the constituency.

STELTER: Scottie, I know you have a different political perspective, but do you buy into that argument?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, USA RADIO NETWORKS: Well, she makes very some good points, but, honestly, I disagree, because, in journalism, we know if it bleeds, it leads.

And we're not just talking about the physical. When we're $19 trillion in debt, when we have 94 million people out of work force right now, we see terrorism issues not only abroad, but here at home, those are the stories that are leading our headlines. And so a journalist has to have their head completely in the sand if they don't realize that that is what people are watching. And the ratings show that those types of headlines make it. So, I actually think journalists do know about the anger. If anything, they haven't necessarily tried to feed it, but haven't done anything to definitely try to put the warm and fuzzy stories as their headlines.

STELTER: Well, certainly, for reporters who are on the campaign trail actually interviewing voters, I think they are tapped into the sentiment in the country.

I think it's harder maybe if you're in New York or L.A.

I'm sorry, Ana. I think you were going to jump in there. What were you going to say?

KASPARIAN: I just wanted to make a statement about how a lot of the issues that matter the most to the electorate don't get covered at all.

STELTER: Tell me which ones.

KASPARIAN: Let me give you a quick example of that.

STELTER: Yes.

KASPARIAN: Student loan debt is up with of them. That's impacting our economy is one of the most negative ways imaginable, and we're sitting here having discussions about immigration and building walls.

Right now, if you focus on the actual numbers -- and this is according to Pew Research -- immigration from Mexico is below net zero. What does that mean? That we have more Mexican immigrants leaving the country right now than coming in.

And instead of focusing on issues that actually matter to millennial voters, for instance, we're focusing on nonissues in the country, the fear-mongering about Muslim and terrorism.

(CROSSTALK)

KASPARIAN: Go ahead, Scottie.

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: I hate to tell you this, there's more -- there -- no.

Well, I hate to tell you this, there's in this world than just millennials. And I'm sorry. I agree college debt is a big issue.

KASPARIAN: Yes.

HUGHES: But when people are actually scared for their lives, that's the headline right there. So, I agree.

And, also, it looks at party lines. But I think, across the board, both parties right now have let their constituencies down. And the media is just sitting there telling the stories. I'm sorry. If there was a terrorist action that happened in the

United States and they led off with college debt, I would consider that media outlet to be a complete joke.

[11:45:04]

(CROSSTALK)

KASPARIAN: OK.

But -- so, you think that our current economic situation in the United States is not a big deal? You would rather fear-monger about nonexistent threats inside the United States, as opposed to focusing on the issues that are burdening our economy?

And, by the way, student loan debt doesn't just impact students. It also impacts you and it impacts our economy, because how are millennials supposed to contribute our economy when we're burdened with student loan debt, when we're dealing with a system that's corrupt, when 62 richest people in the world own more wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion people in the world?

How are you going to talk to me about, oh, these issues don't matter?

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: I don't want to have to play referee, but I do...

KASPARIAN: Yes, you do, especially when I'm on with her.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: I do think it's worth pointing out that when we talk about anger, what we're hearing, I think, in this kind conversation is different reasons to be dissatisfied with where the country is, different reasons.

KASPARIAN: That's right.

STELTER: And this is why we sometimes, when watch a Democratic debate and a Republican debate, feels like we're on two different planets because of the two different topics or different concerns.

Unfortunately, I'm coming up again against a very hard break. But I appreciate you both being here this morning. Thank you. More to debate about that in the future.

Now, coming up here, an update on how Jason Rezaian is doing. Here he is, his first week of freedom after being able to leave Iran from that prisoner swap last weekend, an exclusive interview with "Washington Post" editor Marty Baron right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STELTER: Welcome back. The 545-day nightmare for Jason Rezaian, his mother, Mary, his

brother, Ali, and all his colleagues at "The Washington Post" is finally over.

This morning, Jason is safely home here in the United States. The family flew home from Germany on Friday on a private with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Of course, he owns "The Washington Post."

[11:50:10]

I wanted to hear more about how he's doing. So, I spoke with the executive editor of "The Post," Marty Baron.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STELTER: Marty, thank you so much for joining me.

MARTY BARON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Pleasure.

STELTER: Tell me about the moment on Monday you were able to see Jason for the first time. He looks pretty well in pictures. But how's he doing physically?

BARON: Well, I think he's doing pretty well physically. And we were really happy to see that.

It was a joyous occasion. We were able to see him for a couple of hours on Monday afternoon in a hospital ward, a conference room in the hospital ward. And he was in good spirits, was talkative. And we just kind of let him talk, because we're not trying to put any pressure on him. We weren't conducting an interview or anything like that. We just wanted to let him talk.

STELTER: So you were able to fly to Germany a couple days before the prisoner swap. You had a sense this was about to happen.

But then there was this very scary delay, about 24 hours where it was unclear what was going on. What was going through your head during that time?

BARON: Well, we were very worried that this whole deal might be falling through.

We just had no idea what was happening. They couldn't find his wife and his mother. It turns out that his wife and his mother were not aware that they were part of the deal.

STELTER: Wow.

BARON: And the Revolutionary Guard was really playing with them and playing with their minds, and had indicated at one point that the plane had actually taken off and that they were to go home, and that they were not -- that they would -- she would have to wait in order to leave Iran, perhaps a week, perhaps two weeks, maybe a month, maybe two months, something like that. So, we had no idea what was happening. And we thought it would be

wheels up in Iran on Saturday, and then everything seemed to be falling apart.

STELTER: Finally, on Sunday, he was able to take off. And you were able to talk to him on the phone Sunday night. That must have been, maybe more than any other moment, the moment where you could breathe a sigh of relief to be able to hear his voice.

BARON: Yes, it was amazing.

He had spoken to his brother already. And then he spoke to Doug Jehl, our foreign editor, for about eight minutes. And then he called me in the room I was staying in on base at Landstuhl. And we talked for also about eight minutes.

And he was very upbeat. And he just wanted to make sure that the first thing he did was talk to some of the individuals who had been advocating on his behalf for all this time. And he just sounded -- he sounded extremely tired, but extremely grateful and joyful to be a free man again.

STELTER: Do you have a sense of whether he was writing his own story, reporting it in his mind while he was in Iranian custody?

BARON: You know, I don't know. I know that he spent a lot of time just reading a lot of books, dozens upon dozens of books. And that was his means of escape, just to -- he had -- look, he couldn't -- he was -- after he was out of solitary confinement, he was in a cell with another individual who was from another country.

They did not share a language, so they couldn't communicate with each other. And so he was essentially without normal human contact for all that period of time. And so his means of escape was to read the books that they allowed him to read. And he just read one book after another.

STELTER: I see you wearing your "Jason is Free" pin. It's a replacement for the "Free Jason" pins you all handed out.

I'm curious about your experience with "The Post," with the owner, Jeff Bezos, the publisher, Fred Ryan, because when "The Post" was sold in 2013 to Jeff Bezos, there was a lot of talk about how this was a family-owned newspaper, and now it wouldn't feel that way anymore. Now it would feel more like a corporation.

Do you feel that that sense of a family ownership structure was actually evident in this case with Jeff Bezos?

BARON: Well, I can tell you that we felt very much like a family during this entire process.

And when Jason was released, we came together as a family in the spirit of joy and celebration. You know, people in this newsroom and throughout our organization, in other departments as well, they gathered just yesterday outside in front of our building with a big banner welcoming Jason home and with a big picture that was sent to him.

And everybody feels like a family. And then Jeff Bezos himself flew his own plane to Germany to be with Jason and brought him back to the United States on Friday.

STELTER: Before we go here, everyone's heard of the new movie "Spotlight." You're portrayed in the movie. It's all about "The Boston Globe" and its investigative reporting.

Do you think there could ever be a movie about this ordeal and about this happy ending?

BARON: I don't know. I mean, I think it's premature to really talk about that.

I think, at some point, Jason will tell his own story when he's ready to do so. What I know is that he displayed a lot of courage throughout this process, as did his family, as did his wife, who was constantly there pressing his case in Iran, and as did his mother, who was in Iran much of this time arguing with authorities and visiting him, and as did his brother, Ali, who was a tireless advocate on his behalf here in the United States and around the world, bringing his case to government figures, the media, everybody he could, to argue for Jason's release.

[11:55:20]

STELTER: I would add that you showed courage as well. I remember seeing you at the New York premiere of "Spotlight." And everybody was asking you about Jason, even though it was supposed to be a celebratory moment for you.

This must be an enormous relief, especially at a time when, otherwise, things are going well for you at "The Post," it seems. You all are celebrating a new building next week. And, of course, you have got the Oscars coming up next month.

(LAUGHTER)

BARON: Yes, right.

Well, it's an incredibly joyful time for us because of Jason's release. This trip that I took -- I have taken a lot of trips in my lifetime, but this was the best trip I have ever taken, the most joyful moment, because we were so happy to see Jason be a free man again.

STELTER: Marty, thank you so much. Good speaking with you.

BARON: Thank you, Brian.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STELTER: Love hearing that story.

More RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STELTER: We're out of time here on TV, but there's much more media and news at CNNMoney.com/media.

Check out our stories about Glenn Beck endorsing Ted Cruz this weekend, also the outcry over the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations and what the Academy is doing about it, plus the story I promised this time last week about Al-Jazeera America and why the channel was doomed to fail.

Also, sign up for our newsletter, again, CNNMoney.com/media.

I will see you next week.