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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Is Media Dumbing Down Guns Versus Terror Debate?; Are Muslims Fairly Represented in News Coverage?; Trump Bans "Washington Post"; New Profile of Trump Spokesperson Hope Hicks; Orlando Journalists in the Wake of Local Tragedy. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired June 19, 2016 - 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 ANCHOR: Hey, good morning and happy Father's Day. I'm Brian Stelter. And it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES -- our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how news and pop culture really get made.
This hour, Donald Trump revoking "The Washington Post's" press credentials. So, should other news outlets unite in solidarity, maybe even imposing a Trump blackout? We'll talk about that.
Plus, an exclusive profile of the woman who defended the ban, Trump's press shy press secretary, Hope Hicks.
But, first, the search for meaning after a murderous rampage in Orlando. We've seen the victims' faces and heard their names and also now starting to see their funerals. The attack at the Pulse nightclub clearly meant something, but what was it? What do we call it and take away from it and how is the media covering people's interpretations?
Just now, I called it an attack. That's a word usually applied to acts of terrorism but the shooting spree was also the worst mass shooting in this country and it was in my mind clearly also a hate crime, framing matters here, and we've seen some critics object to the media's framing of this story.
Look at this exchange, for example, between Don Lemon and Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I really don't think that's the point right now, Don, because the media is trying desperately to make this about guns. This is about Islamic terrorism
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: No, the media is not trying to make this about guns.
MCENANY: Kayleigh, the media is not trying to make this about guns.
LEMON: Yes, they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: What do you think? Is the media trying to make this about guns?
For what it's worth, Trump also talked about guns in the wake of the massacre. He talked about having more guns. He says some of the club goers should have been armed. Listen how proud he reacts to him here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If some of those people had guns strapped right here, right to their waist, or right to their ankle, and this son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) comes out and starts shooting --
And one of the people in that room happened to have it, and goes boom, boom, you know what? That would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks. That would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: He says it would be beautiful. But just now, a few minutes ago, the head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre breaking with Trump saying, quote, "I don't think you should have firearms where people are drinking."
But, let's go back to the sound of the rally there. It's important to understand that there's a feedback loop between Trump and his crowds.
When I interviewed Trump by phone earlier this week I asked him to identify his sources for radical Islamic terrorism. And here's what he said, he said, quote, "There are many sources I rely on, many, many resources, but I also rely on the feeling of the people", he means the emotions of the people at his rallies, the emotions of the Americans who attend -- and let's face it, Americans seem divided.
Look at this Gallup poll. It asked, do you view the incident in Orlando as more of an act of Islamic terrorism or an act of domestic violence? Seventy-nine percent of Republicans said Islamic terrorism. Sixty percent of Democrats said gun violence. Now, unfortunately, Gallup didn't give people the option of saying both or all of the above.
In fact, a few people who participated in the poll actually said, I think it's a mixture of both. But that number was frankly pretty small.
So, to help us make sense of this, let me bring in two newsroom leaders, John Avlon, a CNN political analyst and editor-in-chief of "The Daily Beast", and NPR's head of news, Michael Oreskes.
Great to see you both. Thank you for being here.
MICHAEL ORESKES, NPR'S HEAD OF NEWS: Good to be with you, Brian. STELTER: Michael, what does this poll tell you and how should
journalists inform people what happened when people made up their minds so quickly in the wake of this massacre?
ORESKES: Right. Well, that's what's revealing about this poll. This poll was conducted 72 hours after the horrific events at the Pulse nightclub, and already almost everyone had not only made up their mind about the meaning of the event, they've taken sides in a preexisting partisan debate.
That's the antithesis of what a journalist should do. We've long ago learned that when you have complicated horrific events like this, you have to proceed fact by fact to assemble what really happened. And, in fact, we warned both our journalists and our listeners to remember that in the early hours and even the early days of an event like this, much of what you learned on the ground and even from law enforcement is inaccurate, sometimes dead wrong, and almost always incomplete.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: True.
STELTER: I wonder, John, if you look at this poll and you think this is a -- you know, this is a reflection of where we are as a country, that there's no getting around it, or be more optimistic maybe and say, no, we're not as divided as we seem.
[11:05:00] Maybe polls like this make us feel more divided than we are by not giving us the option to have nuance and say, yes, all of the above.
AVLON: Well, it is all of the above, right? I mean, it is both a hate crime and an act of terrorism. In fact, I would argue that terrorism almost always is a hate crime.
The point is this was the deadliest mass shooting in our country. That is true. It is a terrorist attack. That is true. And when we project partisan politics on even things like mass shootings, that's a sign of sickness on our society.
The poll is not the problem upon itself or the sample set questions. The problem is our impulse to try to hijack these things with partisan narratives and then drive home a larger point which ignores the dead, which ignores the dead, which ignores the suffering, which ignores the objective larger meeting and challenge.
STELTER: Is there --
STELTER: Yes, go ahead, Michael.
ORESKES: It captures another reality which is important both for journalists and for society. It's pretty well-established that if you have a strong opinion about a subject, it's much harder for you to absorb information that may contradict your point of view.
So, if journalists go out and try to honestly depict what's going on, they will encounter exactly what you showed between Don Lemon and that Trump supporter, which is if the facts lead us towards the idea that guns were an important element of this, there will be people who will resist that reporting simply because it doesn't fit their preconceived notion. Similarly, if the facts lead to us to decide the shooter in this case really was even influenced or even directed by outside terrorist groups, they will be those who will say, "No, no, no, this is really about guns."
And it will be harder for the society to actually understand what happened and that makes it harder for leaders and for law enforcement to do their jobs properly.
AVLON: Yes, but I think one of the things that maybe does color us as journalists in our perception and coverage of these attacks, you know, when Tammy Baldwin was part of that Democratic filibuster, she listed the mass -- major mass shootings over the last ten years and it took ten minutes. I just keep thinking as I heard those, all the times that we at "The Daily Beast" covered the attacks, the initial adrenalin, the coverage, how it absorbed all the oxygen in the country and then predictably faded away, and then the sense of the impotence that surrounded us in the wake of Newtown, when we have 90 percent some sort for the bills and it couldn't pass.
And so, that's part of the outrage that does I think drive some of our coverage, that we have lived through these. And, look, people don't kill people, guns kill people, but guns help, and the idea we can't talk about that, the idea that -- you know, this legislation that even members of Congress feel totally defeated and impotent in the face of the shootings we deal with, whether mass shootings or the shooting that occur every day, that's an appropriate filter to place at least when it comes to opinion or editorial in terms of our perspective of these attacks.
STELTER: There also have been a lot of comments about liberal media bias in the wake of this coverage particularly around guns.
Let me something from "Slate" that tried to point this out, arguing that whenever guns are covered, there's a media bias. It says there's a lot of coverage of mass shooting but, quote, "It's much harder to write about the gun violence in inner cities like Chicago but ignoring the wider violence creates the impression that the media cares only about rifles and mass shootings."
Michael, we heard this investigative reporter and editor's conference this weekend that's going on, the panel of gun reporting experts agreed that sometimes there's too much coverage of mass shootings, which are relatively rare but horrible, and not enough coverage of the daily grim death toll from gun violence.
How do you as a leader of the NPR newsroom try to address that?
ORESKES: Well, it's an important subject and it goes to the large issue of the difference between what you can call a glacial event, things that happen all the time and change us over time and those things that happen suddenly.
ORESKES: We're a lot better at covering things that happen suddenly than to stand out rather than the steady accretion of gun violence, although, I will say that there are a number of news organizations and I include NPR in this, who've done a really good job of, for example, covering the gun violence in Chicago, or in other cities in this country. But it doesn't stick with people nearly the way these sudden events do.
STELTER: There's also an issue of media diversity, though, to make sure that newsrooms have employees who know what it's like to own a gun, or know how to fire a gun, as opposed to maybe some newsrooms where there's a lot of left-leaning people or just people who live in cities who don't own guns personally?
AVLON: I think that's a key point, Brian, because actually, the real divide in guns can be largely explained by urban versus rural, which is one of the fundamental divides not only between red state and blue state, but between some of our oldest political debates and divide as a country.
So, I think that's a very fair and important point. I think that covering that daily carnage is difficult but also important. We ran a piece on Friday, 125 gun deaths since Orlando, just in that week. That's difficult to do on a daily basis, especially because there's no national database. But in places like Chicago, where you can actually cover that death toll as it increases over the summer, those are important stories for us to cover every day because the numbers themselves are horrific and itself causes sort of a moral crisis for our country if we ignore it.
STELTER: Also important to hear, aside to this debate, the NRA CEO rarely gives interviews, but he's on CBS this morning. He just appeared on "Face the Nation." And let me play something he mentioned specifically about the media.
[11:10:01] Here's what Wayne LaPierre said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DICKERSON, "FACE THE NATION" HOST: Suggested concealed carry in a nightclub where people are drinking?
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA: I think you should have firearms where people are drinking but I'll tell you this, I have never seen so much misinformation and poorly researched stories the last week as that as we've seen. What happens on the watch list? People forget law enforcement set it up.
That Attorney General Lynch, they're not enforcing any of the federal gun laws. They let it happen night after night after night, and they're being given cover by the elite media like "The New York Times" that writes a five-page story and one little paragraph -- I mean, these bad guys we're facing. They don't say, "Oh, gosh, they passed a law. Oh gosh, I don't think I can do it."
STELTER: That's Wayne LaPierre speaking this morning on CBS.
Michael, is there an issue with gaining access to NRA representatives and gaining access to Republican congressmen who stand with the NRA and oppose new gun legislation? Is the situation we see after a massacre like this, that that side doesn't speak, doesn't comment, doesn't weigh in and kind of waits for interest or outrage to die down?
ORESKES: There's some of that, although we saw Mr. LaPierre this morning, so certainly we heard his point of view. I think there are clearly spokesmen who are accessible. I don't think that's one of the big problems in this debate.
ORESKES: I think the big problem is people don't listen to each other.
STELTER: But also I think there is a calculated -- a calculus on the part of some folks in the gun lobby that they'll wait for the outrage to fade, which it will and then they block legislation that's got 90 percent of the approval of the American people. And so, that's part of calling B.S. which what I think we need do as journalists, is to get the story behind the story about how you can have this massive disconnect between, you know, popular approval for, you know, no brainer background checks that are bipartisan and their inability to pass Congress. And there is a calculated attempt to capitalize off our lack of memory.
STELTER: It's a great chance to hold legislators' feet to the fire here because we're talking about even incremental change, if any change happens at all.
Michael, John, thank you for being here.
John, stick around if you can. I'm going to you bring back later in the show here.
We're going to spend some more time looking at another split in the coverage of Orlando, the radical Islam versus ordinary Muslim- Americans who oppose it. Has something or someone been missing in the coverage or seen in the reading? We'll get into that right after this.
[11:15:51] STELTER: Welcome back.
Covering mass shootings and the people who commit these crimes is very difficult especially when the motives of the perpetrators are multilayered, fraught with contradictions and frankly seemingly impossible to ever truly understand.
And this does seem to be the case with the Orlando gunman -- as we learn more and more and as news outlets try to get it right in terms of the full scope of who he was and why he did this. Let's pause for a moment and ask, are we doing it at the expense of other Americans who are Muslim by not having adequate representation here on TV and across the news media? Are we lacking a variety of views from the Muslim American community?
Joining me to discuss this is Irshad Manji, who herself is a Muslim, a lesbian, and founder of the Moral Courage Project of the University of Southern California. I'm also joined by CNN political commentator, Carl Bernstein.
Irshad, I want to start with you. Do you find you're only booked on television in moments like this, moments of crisis, moments of tragedy when acts of violence have been committed by someone who is Muslim, who is just acting they say in the name of ISIS?
IRSHAD MANJI, FOUNDER, MORAL COURAGE PROJECT: Yes, increasingly, Brian, and it's such a good point that you make, you know, that Muslims typically are in the media only when there are tragic circumstances. I often joke with producers, well, see you after the next shooting, see you after the next bombing, after the next beheading.
And the crazy thing is that, you know, people like me, Muslims yes but also professionals, we're never asked about what we teach or what we do. We are asked only about our religion and how we feel about it.
So, we are reduced to one dimension and that, of course, means that others have a very lopsided view of all that Muslims are not just some of what Muslims are.
STELTER: And I cited your sexual orientation because we keep hearing claims that perhaps this gunman was on gay dating apps, he was frequenting this club, then again the "New York Times" says the FBI hasn't found any concrete evidence that he was gay.
What can you tell me about the portrayal in the past week of these issues involving Muslims who are gay, has the coverage been accurate, has the coverage been totally off base?
MANJI: No, I think actually the media have done a pretty good job here in the United States especially getting the views of openly gay Muslims. And again, we rarely see them, you know, in any story about Islam.
And what I hope, Brian, going out of this, is that when there is another story about Islam, and again, likely it will be a negative one, that even the first openly gay imam here in America, who had many hits during the past week on television will be gone to by editors and producers for his view about theology, even if it has nothing to do with homosexuality, because again, here is an individual who is expert in his own right about what he does and what he teaches, and being gay is just one slice of who he is, not all that there is to him.
STELTER: Carl, let me bring you in. I wanted to talk with you about this as well because I know we both noticed this, something missing this week, this idea that there are limited representations of American Muslims on TV. We can't be RELIABLE SOURCES if we don't have entire sources, right, the entire diversity of the country, right?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There is the bigger question, and that is where is the reporting on the reality of Muslim communities in America of Muslim America? There is so little real reporting on who Muslims in this country are, what do they believe?
Why not a two-hour debate or a two-hour panel during all our political coverage of the Muslim community, and what the statistics are and what they believe and some in the field reporting. We don't do that. We wait and wait and wait and yet our readers and viewers and particularly on television are ignorant about this 3 million-strong population of Muslims in our country.
[11:20:07] MANJI: Can I tell you, Carl and Brian?
I do here in Los Angeles a fair amount of TV projects and some of them have to do with Islam, not all of them. But whenever a project does have to do in Islam, I am told by broadcast executives, Irshad, you got to understand, the average American is stupid. All they're going to hear is the word "Islam" or the word "Muslim" and they will protest our station and, frankly, at this time in the life of our channel, I don't need another demonstration. I don't need to be losing advertising revenue.
So, in a sense, we're getting a vicious circle here, that broadcast executives don't think that Americans are smart enough to understand what Carl, you and I, would like to be able to present.
BERNSTEIN: With all due respect I don't buy that.
I just don't buy it. I believe that at CNN, at NBC, at CBS, I truly believe that real reporting on the reality of Muslim America would be welcomed. It's a kind of laziness and thoughtfulness of the kind that we practice. But I do not believe that the problem is fear of losing advertising.
Look, I taught in Stony Brook University here on Long Island.
MANJI: Well, I wish you would tell that to broadcast executives.
BERNSTEIN: Well, I will, and I'm doing it now. But I taught at Stony Brook University on Long Island here. I have huge number of Muslim students. It's one of the largest Muslim communities in the country.
And I know something about the reality and how different it is from the characterization for instance that we're getting from Donald Trump. If this is as big a political issue as we say it is, we need to be covering it with reporters, not just debating, but we need reporters out there, and cameras crews, and we need to present whatever the facts are. Let's talk to Muslims who if they believe -- really believe in
terrorism in this country. Let's hear them say so if that's the case. But let's go out there and find out. We have a grievous failure of reporting in this election campaign on this aspect as well as on the lives of the candidates. And it's all related.
We're being lazy. We're doing debates and analysis and we're doing that great. But we're not doing beyond the horse race and covering the hugely important and resonant stories underneath and it's one of the reasons perhaps we have two nominees for president of the United States who are disliked by so much of the American people.
STELTER: It's interesting. I hear issue both on the news side and also with Irshad, I hear on the entertainment side of the media business. So, you're saying there's that kind of lack of understanding, and maybe even of fear that you say that entertainment executives think Americans are stupid. Would you like to name any of those studios or networks before I have to go?
MANJI: No, I don't think it would be in anybody's best interest for me to name those individuals, at least not yet. But one quick thing I would add about the laziness, not just of broadcast executives but about journalists.
You know, again, we had throughout this week many mainstream moderate Muslims on television and particularly those representing national organizations and journalists were settled for mere -- often hollow condemnations of this attack in Orlando from these lobby groups.
What we should be asking them in addition to do you condemn, which of course they will, is then what are you doing to reach out to mosques in this country, and to demand that they stop preaching intolerance of gay and lesbian people? And do you acknowledge there's a certain interpretation of Islam that does allow for these attacks to be happening?
Let's put those who are crying civil rights as they should be crying, let's put them on the hot seat as well, to see how deeply they're willing to go to offer the truth and the facts as Carl wants and as I want to the American people, including to fellow American Muslims.
STELTER: On that note, we have to break here.
BERNSTEIN: I worry --
STELTER: But, Irshad thank you very much for being here.
And, Carl, please stick around.
When we come back, I want to talk about a topic near and dear to you, that is Donald Trump banning "The Washington Post" from his events. So, I asked Trump, if he's elected will he kick reporters out of the White House press briefing room? His answer, plus talk of a united Trump blackout, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[11:28:52] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
"I just wanted to be treated fairly", that's what Donald Trump told me when I asked him about his disturbing decision to revoke "The Washington Post's" press credentials earlier this week. His main objection was to this post headline, saying that, quote, "Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting".
It was later changed to the one you see on screen here. It was toned down, because I do think the original headline went too far. Now, Trump did talk about Obama and sinister terms, saying, "There's something going on", but he didn't specifically suggest that Obama was involved.
So, the headline did go too far. "The Post" editors realized that and they tamed it as you saw. But Trump was fed up. He decided to stop giving "Post" reporters press credentials for his events.
"Post" editor Marty Baron responded right away. He said this, "Trump's decision to revoke 'The Washington Post' press credentials is nothing less than the repudiation of the role of a free and independent press. 'The Post' will continue to cover Donald Trump, a it has all along honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically and unflinchingly."
Some people have started to call what's going on a Trump black list. Trump denied Univision's request for press credentials months ago. Others on this list include "Politico", "The Daily Beast", "The Huffington Post", and "BuzzFeed".
So, what is the proper media response to this behavior? How worrisome is it really?
Back with me now, the famed former "Washington Post" journalist Carl Bernstein. He's also the author of "A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton." And here with me at the table, John Avlon, editor in chief of The Daily Beast, and, in Washington, Dana Milbank, the op-ed columnist for "The Washington Post."
And, Dana, since you're there at "The Post," I know you work on the opinion side, not on the newsroom side, can you tell us how, if at all, this ban has affected coverage at "The Post"?
DANA MILBANK, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I don't think any of our readers would perceive a difference. It's a hassle for my colleagues on the news side in terms of covering to get freelancers, other people into the events, to travel unilaterally, to enter with the public, instead of with the press.
But they're still getting the story. I think "The Post" has been fairly dominant in its Trump coverage. I believe that was the reason for the ban, not any particular headline. So it's not really an issue for "The Post."
It's a question of, what's the rest of the industry going to do about this now? Because, as you mentioned, he's gone after a number of news organizations. He's threatened to rewrite the First Amendment. He's talking about using the FCC and the Justice Department to go after news organizations. So I'm suggesting it's time to start -- for the media as a whole to start taking a look at what's going on.
STELTER: We will talk about that in a moment.
Carl, let me ask you about this. I asked Trump, when you're in the White House, if you're elected president, will you kick reporters out of the Briefing Room? He said, no, no, the White House is different. He would never try to get a reporter's credentials revoked if he were president. Do you believe him?
BERNSTEIN: First of all, he's shown himself throughout this campaign to be a pathological liar.
There's very little truthful that comes out of his mouth. So let's start there. But, really, this is about a candidate for president of the United States who does not believe in a free press, keeps talking about changing libel laws and suing the press, and has instituted many, many lawsuits throughout his career.
But, more than anything, as Dana is getting at, the underlying story here is, who is Donald Trump? And I would say and have said that we are seeing the nominee of a major political party for the first time in our history who is a neo-fascist, a particularly American kind of neo-fascist, a strongman who doesn't believe in Democratic institutions.
His bigoted -- his bigotry is evident, and we need to keep looking at it. But this is a story of a candidate who is a total break in our history. And we need to be doing reporting on it, not just debating it on television. And I think "The Post," "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal" are way ahead of television right now in terms of who this candidate is, and also in terms of who Hillary Clinton is.
We need to be digging deeper into these candidates.
STELTER: You say pathological liar. You're calling him bigoted. I just want to pause there for a second.
John Avlon, do you agree? Is that too harsh a statement?
AVLON: No, not pathological liar and bigoted. I'm not a big fan of sort of echoes of Nazi parallels, but I think you are dealing...
BERNSTEIN: Not Nazism.
(CROSSTALK) AVLON: I hear you. But -- fair enough. And we can get into that...
BERNSTEIN: Not genocide.
STELTER: But even pathological liar, are we at the point now, a year into this campaign, this unusual campaign, where it's appropriate to call him a pathological liar?
AVLON: Yes, absolutely.
Look, this is a guy, candidate who lies with unusual enthusiasm. There have been studies to show that, on the stump, he lies as much as once every five minutes. And so it's our job as journalists to hold him to account, to insist on -- a fact-free debate -- part of the sin that gets created is too often journalist organizations, for a variety of reasons, slide into that mess of moral equivalence, where they do, on the one hand, on the other.
And if you end up printing something a candidate says that you know to be false, you become part of the problem. It's our job to actually push back on that.
And, look, Trump and the press have a twisted relationship. He is a celebrity demagogue who craves media attention, yet he resists every attempt to hold him accountable. And it's our job to do that without fear or favor. And if you become part of the black list, as The Daily Beast has been for a while, and now "The Washington Post," where it as a badge of honor.
STELTER: Well, let me ask you about that. So, you have been denied press credentials for Daily Beast for months.
STELTER: Do you attend his events anyway as members of the general public? What do you all do to get around the "ban" -- quote, unquote?
AVLON: There are absolutely ways to continue covering a candidate, even if they don't give you their official badge and put you into the pen and corral you like so many cattle.
You know, what happens is, too many organization, frankly, I think have been uncomfortable holding him to account because they're afraid of losing access. They're afraid of offending his supporters. And that stops them from doing their duty.
You know, in the case of the press, as we see this slide to "The Washington Post," it's worth remembering Churchill's line about appeasers. An appeaser is somebody who feeds the crocodile, hoping it eats them last.
Donald Trump is fundamentally hostile to a free press. And we need to understand that and push back. That doesn't mean ignoring that he's the Republican nominee. That's real. You can't make that go away. [11:35:02]
STELTER: Well, so, Dana, your proposal is what, that there should be a blackout, that other journalists should skip his rallies because "The Post" can't attend?
MILBANK: No, I wouldn't go that far.
I mean, look, he is going to be the Republican nominee, barring something unforeseen. You can't ignore him. We have our civic duty to cover that.
But we can do things so that we stop giving him this credulous, uncritical coverage that -- Ted Cruz was right. He got about $2 billion worth of the equivalent of ads from the media for free. So I'm saying, stop taking the -- his rallies live. Stop letting him call into...
STELTER: But those are not advertisements. Showing the rallies are not advertisements. That is news coverage. And then it is critiqued afterwards and explained afterwards.
STELTER: Do you that's not sufficient?
MILBANK: No, I think it needs to be critiqued in real time. And it just simply isn't.
And the idea of having a fact-checking segment after the fact, I mean, I think a lot of us are hung up in the news business about this so- called objectivity, and saying, well, he said this, and she said this, and not saying, no, these things are wrong.
And I think, as the others have been saying here, Donald Trump, it's not about left or right, conservative, liberal. This is a man who is operating fundamentally outside of our democratic system. And it's not wrong of journalists to point that out. In fact, it's our obligation.
AVLON: No, that's right.
And, look, there's not a tension between the ideal of objectivity and calling B.S. on candidates who lie reflexively. Those two things walk hand in hand. They are in concert. And it may require something as close as possible to real-time fact-checking, so that you're not simply a stenographer for a demagogue.
But that's our responsibility. That's what we need to be doing. And that's totally consistent with the mission of an ideal -- the ideal of an objective press that pushes back, calls B.S., and insists on a fact-based debate.
STELTER: Carl, last word to you about the situation with "The Washington Post."
BERNSTEIN: Well, I think it's absurd that -- that you would boycott Donald Trump or whatever.
We need to cover these candidates, in terms of their lives, their records, their truthfulness, including Hillary Clinton. On television, we are very late to getting past the debate and to the real story of who these people are, what they have done in their lives.
We are now seeing what "The Washington Post" particularly is reporting about Donald Trump's life, his almost -- let's use the word. He calls Hillary Clinton crooked Hillary. Let's take a look at Donald Trump's crookedness in his business affairs, and on television.
I think we have a great divide between the old mainstream media print, now digital press, and television. And television, particularly the networks and cable news, need to look at their agenda and how we're covering this campaign, get in the business of reporting, not just debating and analyzing, which we have been great at.
But we have got a lot of reporters, and we need to be doing the reporting on Hillary Clinton, on Donald Trump, and particularly on America, on Muslims, on neo-fascism. There is a big agenda, because something is going on in this country that requires the most thoughtful coverage we have ever had. And we don't have it yet, and we're not nearly close enough.
STELTER: Carl Bernstein, John Avlon, Dana Milbank, thank you all for being here this morning.
AVLON: Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: Up next here: Can you imagine this job?
What is it like to be Donald Trump's spokesperson? A new profile of camera-shy Hope Hicks shed some light on that. And we're going to get an exclusive preview right after the break.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
Let's go behind the scenes of the Trump campaign now, to the extent that there is a campaign at all. Hillary Clinton's campaign has more than a dozen people who send out press releases and answer questions and accept interview requests, including press secretary Brian Fallon. I'm sure you have seen him here on CNN before. He's a regular all across cable news.
Now, that number of at least a dozen is normal for a presidential campaign. But the Trump campaign has just one press person. Her name is Hope Hicks. You see her here with Trump. Her title is press secretary. And she's one of Trump's closest aides. But you have probably never heard of her. That's because she's never
given a TV interview and she avoids the limelight. We had a little bit of a hard time finding pictures of her for this segment.
Now, when Olivia Nuzzi sought to profile Hicks for "GQ" magazine, Hicks declined an interview request. But she learned that a typical day for Hicks brings upwards of 100 -- 250 media requests usually. She alone usually decides who gets in, who gets kept out, but sometimes it's Trump who plays bouncer for his own private party.
Olivia is a staff writer for The Daily Beast and a "GQ" contributor and joins me now.
Her profile, "The 27-Year-Old Press Secretary for Donald Trump," is in the July issue of "GQ." It will be online tomorrow morning. Now, that's Kim Kardashian on the cover, but I think Hope Hicks is the more interesting character, Olivia. People don't know who she is, but she controls access to Trump.
When I wanted to talk to him this week about "The Washington Post" press ban, she is the one I e-mailed. And then Trump called back an hour-and-a-half later. I was frankly surprised he had so much time to talk to me about this.
And you were also able to interview him about his press secretary. Tell me about the weirdness of the situation.
OLIVIA NUZZI, THE DAILY BEAST: It's very bizarre. Hope Hicks is very press-shy, which is interesting for a press secretary. It's a very interesting quality.
And I was able to interview Donald Trump while Hope Hicks sat next to me and said nothing, and Donald Trump sort of talked about her and her fate, you know, with her right there, not saying anything. It was very strange.
But, in some ways, I think the story of Hope Hicks and how she almost accidentally got to the center of the Trump campaign neatly captures what is so unorthodox about the Trump campaign. Trump in some ways seems to have ended up here by accident himself. He didn't think he would make it this far. And so I think her story is sort of instructive when you're trying to understand him hen and his campaign.
STELTER: So, the banner on screen says, "What's it like to be Donald Trump's spokesperson?"
What did you learn through this process? What did you find out about what a day in the life is like?
NUZZI: Very busy, is what I learned. Obviously, she has a ton of media requests that come in all the time, but she doesn't -- she's not a typical press secretary, in that, again, she doesn't do press, she doesn't go on television. People don't know much about her.
STELTER: She used to work for Ivanka. Right? NUZZI: She worked for Ivanka Trump. She worked at the Trump
Organization. She's never worked in politics before, which is again very unusual for someone of her stature now in the Republican Party.
And -- but she deals with a lot of media requests, but she doesn't spin reporters. She's not out there actively trying to change the narrative about Donald Trump. And, in some ways, that would be an impossible task.
STELTER: So, the Clinton campaign during the primaries, they were whispering about Bernie Sanders. They were whispering about Martin O'Malley when he was in the race. That's typical press behavior.
STELTER: Now, journalists don't have to listen to it, and journalists can dismiss it, but that's normally what is happening in these press rooms.
You're saying what makes the Trump campaign press shop so strange is that there's only one person, and she's not doing that kind of on- background communication.
NUZZI: She's not spinning. Right. She's not spinning or lying to reporters, however you want to put -- you -- however you want to put it.
And it's very interesting to me. Also, I spoke to Trump's spokesman from back in the '80s and '90s, when he was getting a divorce from Ivana Trump. And he told me, Donald Trump is his best spokesperson. He is the one that does this for himself. He knows the press better than anyone. And to be an effective spokesperson for him, you basically just have to stay out of his way.
And I think she's doing a really good job at that. But it's difficult. You can't look at the way that she's handling this job and say she's doing a bad job or she's doing a good job, because there's really no precedent. We have never seen a candidate like this. And so we can't judge her.
STELTER: So, I asked Trump the other day, I said, are you going to hire more press people to help her? And he said, yeah, yeah, we're working on it.
STELTER: But they have been saying that for months, and it hasn't happened.
NUZZI: They have been saying it...
(CROSSTALK) NUZZI: And thing -- I get into this in my story, but she had no idea when she signed up to be part of the Trump Organization that she was in effect signing up to join a campaign.
And she was constantly being promised, is my understanding, there are going to be more people joining the Trump campaign, there were going to be more communications staff.
STELTER: And it hasn't happened yet. Interesting.
NUZZI: It hasn't happened yet.
And I think part of that is, Trump just thinks, oh, well, I can do it on my own.
He's also notoriously very concerned about spending too much money. We could see how maybe he wouldn't want to hire someone who has been involved in politics before to run his communications shop if it would be expensive.
But it is interesting that he is just letting it kind of just -- he's winging it, basically, with the media.
STELTER: Yes. As Jonathan Martin said on "INSIDE POLITICS" this morning, it's as if, for Trump, the primary is still going on, and he hasn't made that pivot to the general. And you see that in the press as well.
NUZZI: Yes. Oh, it's true.
You see him at these rallies. He's still talking about Jeb Bush, he's still talking about John Kasich, who are no longer entities that he needs to worry about.
STELTER: Olivia, great to see you. Thank you for being here.
NUZZI: Thank you very much.
STELTER: A reminder, the article will be online on "GQ"'s Web site tomorrow morning.
Up next here on RELIABLE SOURCES: What is it like for a local journalist in Orlando after this nonstop week of tragedy? We're going to talk to the managing editor of "The Orlando Sentinel" right after a quick break.
STELTER: When you think of Orlando, Florida, what do you think of? I think of the word tourism. I think about the home of Disney World, the so-called happiest place on Earth. But this week, the word Orlando brings something else to mind,
tragedy, the home of the Magic Kingdom basically becoming the news capital of the world, a tragic kingdom.
First, rising pop star Christina Grimmie shot dead after a concert. That's why CNN had a crew in Orlando last Sunday morning, when this happened, 24 hours later, the 49 patrons of the Pulse nightclub killed in the deadliest shooting, mass shooting in U.S. history.
But then this happened later in the week. It was shocking and almost unbelievable, this idea of this horrific alligator attack killing a 2- year-old visiting Disney World on a family vacation. Story after story after story, calamity after calamity after calamity, and, of course, journalists have to cover this, no matter how tragic and no matter how close to home.
It's their responsibility to try to make sense and explain how these events have happened.
And it's been very personal for the staff of "The Orlando Sentinel."
So, I want to go live now to the managing editor there, John Cutter, who has been overseeing the coverage for right past eight days.
John, thank you for taking a few minutes with us.
JOHN CUTTER, MANAGING EDITOR, "THE ORLANDO SENTINEL": Thank you, Brian.
STELTER: You all have covered big national news stories before in your backyard. I think about the Casey Anthony trial. I think about the George Zimmerman trial for killing Trayvon Martin in that case.
But has this been different? Has this been particularly difficult because it's been back-to-back-to-back tragedies?
CUTTER: I think it has been different. And it really did hit close to home.
And you mentioned personal. These are people that we know. I knew people who were at the -- on Friday night at the plaza. We had friends who, when I came in Sunday morning, were worried about their own friends they had not heard from. And then everyone here has been to Disney. We're so associated with it. That was a real gut punch, too.
STELTER: What has been the most difficult part for you, as someone assigning reporters, making sure that they're getting their stories in on time, but also taking care of themselves? What's been the most difficult part for you?
CUTTER: I mean, just to be clear, there's so many people involved in this
But I think the thing that we have tried to focus on the most is to realize that this is about us as a community. This is the place that we live, that we work, so that we have tried to focus a lot on the community, both those we lost and the survivors, but to realize that this is affecting people.
So, there was kind of just wonderful moments this week in which we did try to connect around meals. We have gotten many sent to us from other newspapers. We even had therapy dogs in on Thursday. It just was a little break from the relentlessness of this that I think really helped people.
STELTER: Yes, we can show on screen some of the examples of food sent to your newsroom. We have seen this in the past as well.
Unfortunately, there are so many newsrooms that have had to cover mass shootings, that there are times when they will send things to each other. I saw a paper in Roanoke which covered the Virginia Tech massacre that sent you all a memorial message earlier in the week.
Does this also involve counseling for journalists, making sure that they're taking the time to process what has happened?
CUTTER: And it's not just the newsroom. We actually sent a message to the whole building, to make sure that everyone knew that there were resources available through our company, and to be sure that people would take advantage of them.
But it's very, very hard to pull anyone who works in the newsroom away from wanting to cover this, and that is something that we are very worried about.
STELTER: Right, because they want to continue covering the story.
What about the week to come? I would assume, in the next seven days, we're going to start to see the national media begin to leave Orlando. What stories do you most want "The Sentinel" to be covering after the national media starts to go home?
CUTTER: Yes, one of the things that we have talked a lot about is that this is not something that has only happened to Orlando ever.
So, we plan to visit some of the other communities, perhaps partner with our sister newspapers, and just go to places like San Bernardino, or Sandy Hook, and try to understand, how did those communities process what happened?
And I think everyone is certainly looking to see that, as the investigation continues, what are we going to learn about more details of what happened that night?
STELTER: A lot of praise for "The Sentinel" this week. I have been so, so appreciative of the coverage, to be able to read it online from here in New York, to read what you're doing locally, but I know it's been under very different circumstances.
John, thank you for being here. CUTTER: Thank you, Brian.
STELTER: And we will be right back on RELIABLE SOURCES after this quick break.