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Time for the Media to Use the Reset Button?; Is Media Normalizing an Escalation of Hate?; Sally Buzbee Becomes Executive Editor at Associated Press; Some Newsrooms See Spike in Donations and Subscriptions After Trump Election. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired November 27, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:03] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. And it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works, how the news gets made.

As special welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world on CNN International.

This hour, hateful groups emboldened by Donald Trump's election, online opinions moving offline is seen here. So, what's the proper way for the press to cover this? I will talk about it with three experts.

Plus, did you hear about the new website that saw a 10x spike of donations this month. They are crediting Trump. So, I'll ask, what they are doing with the money?

And later, a big change at the "Associated Press". The next editor is here exclusively to talk about the future of the news wire.

But, first, lets pause, seriously. The national news media reported that 100 miles an hour nonstop during this campaign year. The coverage was saturating, overwhelming, exhausting.

I remember CNN's John Berman telling me on the morning of the Election Day, "Brian, sleep now because you never know what's going to happen after election night." I blew him off, but he was right. I should have slept, because the news cycle has sped up even faster this month, covering all things Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another day, another tirade from Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump tweeted yesterday --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Donald Trump's late night Twitter tirade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is the Trump's tweet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tweeted, quote --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's start with these Twitter comments from President-elect Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump is already tweeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump spent his early morning on a Twitter rant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His tweets of a Tom Cruise's tweets, short and unhinged. But you kind of can't look away.


STELTER: Now, the president-elect is surely going to be a story but is he always the story? Is there too much focus on Donald Trump demand too little on his views and policies? Do his inflammatory tweets serve as a distraction? Maybe something he does on purpose?

Here to discuss that and more are three A-list guests, Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute, also the former editor of "TIME Magazine" and the head of CNN; Ezra Klein, founder of; and Charles Cooke, the editor of "National Review Online."

Great to see all three of you. Thank you for being here.


STELTER: Walter, what are journalists doing wrong in this critical transition period? Do we over react every tweet, every flutter from Donald Trump, because I think sometimes I do?

WALTER ISAACSON, FORMER EDITOR, TIME: Maybe so. But, look, I think we should stop flagellating ourselves. If Donald Trump tweets that's newsworthy and at a certain point, we'll have a team in place and we'll have some real policies to cover. At the moment, it is and he's very much a showman in that. He came

out of reality TV world. So, he knows how to make himself the star of his own reality show.

And, you know, I think sometimes we wring our hands a bit too much. We're going to have a lot of times once he gets in office to start covering his policies.

STELTER: All right. Walter is letting me off the hook a little bit. But, Ezra, what do you think? I mean, you're seeing this sort of day in, day out coverage of Trump, intense coverage. I don't remember it being quite like this with President-elect Obama.

KLEIN: I actually do think it was like this with Obama, except the tenor of the coverage, of course, is very different. Remember, we were in a financial crisis as Obama was coming in.


KLEIN: There was a tremendous amount of transition and cabinet announcements. I mean, I remember that as being a very intense time. But it was a more substantive time. Look, I think we do need to do a better job covering Trump's policies. I think that we made a mistake as an industry in -- during the campaign. I think people tended to think of Trump as -- as Peter Keel (ph) like to put in the Atlantic before him, try to take him seriously but not literally. I think what we have seen since his election is that you actually should have taken him pretty literally. He's nominating the sort of folks to major positions that you would expected if you listen to what he said and if you had thought you meant what he said.

So, I do think something important here that we're going to have to begin to do a better job as he assumes presidency is to believe the Trump means what he says and he will do what he says, because until we do that, I think we just keep on get led around by tweets and letting him off the hook.

STELTER: At the same time, he did change some of his positions this week or at least moderate.

Charles, it seemed, he talked about climate change when meeting with "The New York Times" on Tuesday, we have seen some examples of him maybe moderating or softening his positions.

What do you make of Trump's visit this week with the media, going to "The New York Times" headquarters, also having the heads of five of the networks and a lot of anchors come over to Trump Tower on Monday? What are we make of Trump venting, complaining to the media even after he won?

CHARLES COOKE, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Well, I don't think it should be too surprising that he's changed some of his positions to start with, given that throughout the campaign, he put forward more than one position on almost every topic. He made himself into something of a Rorschach test. That's one of the ways the he won, it's one of the reasons I was a staunch credit of his. I couldn't quite work out where he was coming from and I still can't.

I'm glad he's speaking to the media. I can't say I was pleased that he dressed down the media, as he seems to have done. But we've seen something of a schizophrenic Trump once again this week.

[11:05:00] I mean, in the same day, he said that "The New York Times" was failing and essentially that it was the jewel and the crown of America's journalism.

STELTER: Right. At the end of the meeting, yes, the end of the meeting, he was complimenting "The New York Times".

Ezra, what did you make of that? Were the TV networks wrong to agree to meet off the record with the Donald Trump versus "The New York Times" insisting on an on-record interview?

KLEIN: I'm not going to second-guess that piece of it. But what I will say is that I think Donald Trump has a very symbiotic relationship with much of the media and for the media sources that he himself cares about and clearly consumes. STELTER: Like which?

KLEIN: CNN is one of them. And "The New York Times" is another. He talked in his discussions with "The New York Times" about how he reads them. One reason he's clearly always tweeting the terrible failing "New York Times" is covering him terribly is that he's reading their coverage --


KLEIN: -- and being wounded by it.

But I do not want to credit Trump with changing positions. He has often in interviews tried to make himself look more sympathetic to interviewers. He went before "The New York Times" which is -- has I think believes, for instance, climate change is real and he tried to soften that position.

So far in the places where the rubber meets the road, which is appointments, we have not seen a softening. We have not seen him released new policy papers.

So, I do want to be a little bit careful. As Charles says, he often says a lot of different things in interviews. But overall, the thrust of his policies tended pretty consistent. And until he actually changes them, I don't want to give credit for them having changed.

STELTER: What do you recommend to the current leadership of CNN and to the, frankly, the parent company, Time Warner? You know, we are talking about the President-elect Trump who has said he's going to block the pending Time Warner/AT&T deal for example? It's very unusual.

ISAACSON: Well, I think that's irrelevant to the way CNN should be covering it. I mean, when I was at CNN, I certainly didn't look at all the corporate, you know, Time Warner types things involved. And I know no journalists of CNN would do that.

That said, I think that CNN has a pretty easy road to hoe. It's just --


ISAACSON: Keep it straight.


ISAACSON: Keep it straight. Report what's happening.

STELTER: Even when President-elect calls in the anchors and the executives and complains about CNN and NBC, complains about news coverage?

ISAACSON: It's not your job to let that get your goat -- get under your skin. You have things to cover. I think the media's landscape, though, has changed so enormously from

the days, you know, even in the 1990s, where you have -- there is no one thing as the media. You have everything from Breitbart to, you know, Twitter accounts and Twitter feeds of different people. So, there's no one unified media, and it's not as trustworthy.

If I were at CNN -- I do I know what Jeff Zucker and others were doing, which would say, there is a role for somebody you can really trust, who's trying to get it right, because in the days where you don't know where things are coming from on the Internet. You want top say -- well, here is a few things I trust.

STELTER: I love what you just said "trying to get it right."

You know, Charles, there's been so much conversation about fake news in the past couple of months. These websites trying to get it wrong, try to trick people, try to create hoaxes. Is this the year of fake news? Do you think newsrooms are doing enough to combat this?

COOKE: I don't know what can be done to combat it, except to keep trying. I mean, this is one of the downsides of the internet. If the problem with the world, if the problem with our communications, if the problem with the media in 1950s was that there is too many gatekeepers, and that if you were not on the right side of, say, two, three, four people in country who ran vast corporations, there were three television stations.


COOKE: The problem now is there is no gatekeepers. Anybody can set up a website, anybody can cause a stir, and if the right people link to it and there is a lot of right people these days, it is going to become a story.

The one thing the press can do and stop playing in those people's hands is to slow down a little bit. I mean, Donald Trump is going to need a lot of scrutiny. "National Review" is on the right, but "National Review" has given him a great deal of scrutiny, thus far, and we'll continue to.

But it's very difficult when every single tweet that he puts out or statement he makes is scrutinized, you know, as if it were the Talmud. And I think that if CNN and FOX News corporate types are watching, do slow down, because a lot of people I know on the right who like Trump were already saying, well, they're going to scrutinize him whatever he does and that's the point where they turn to alternative sources.

STELTER: Do these sites, these fake news sites, do they have a poisoning effect, Ezra, on our conversations?

KLEIN: They're not helping.

I am not persuaded. So, the fake news trend is a bad one and it is particularly a Facebook problem. You are seeing tremendous shares and engagement around this content of this Pope Francis endorses Donald Trump, even though that did not happen. But I am not persuaded that this is changing minds in a very big way.

As much as I do think it's an issue and as much as I do want to see it solved, I think it's become a suddenly convenient excuse for what has happened, for how Donald Trump got elected.


STELTER: But I'm not here saying that's why Trump was elected.

[11:10:01] I don't think fake news did it --

KLEIN: No, I know, but I think that's been the role it's played in a bit of a broader conversation. So, I agree, fake news is a big problem.

STELTER: I'm worried about our people opting out of journalism. You know, just choosing not to believe anything.

Walter, what do you think?

ISAACSON: If you can start from a clean slate now, one of the things you would do, whether in terms of cyber hacking or fake news sites or everything else to say, you got to know where something comes from. People have to take accountability for their own information they put out and you would end the anonymity that comes with the package which network and you'd say, let's create so every package has its origin encoded into it, not just its destination.

STELTER: So, you think that would help at least partly to resolve fake news --


ISAACSON: Yes, only partly. People would say, well, that wouldn't solve it. But, yes, you would kind of know that there's some Macedonian teenager telling you that the pope has endorsed Donald Trump or this has happened, as opposed to that's a real source of information.

And secondly, I think it should encourage people yourself, people at all the networks say, you know, if there is one role we can play in the good, old fashion media, is at least we try hard to get it right. People say we're biased or et cetera, sure, their bias creeps in. But every morning, you know whether you know trying hard to get it right or trying hard to get it wrong.


ISAACSON: And there ought to be people saying, we are the ones who are trying hard to get it right.

STELTER: We've got to do a better job of explaining what we do in this confusing Internet information and age.

If you could all stick around for me. We're going to take a quick break here. Coming up after the break: hate, harassment on the rise in the U.S.

Journalists receiving anti-Semitic and racist messages. And we all saw this video last week in Washington. We're going to talk about the proper way to cover this, right after the break.


[11:15:15] STELTER: Welcome back.

Many Americans are feeling hopeful about Donald Trump's election. That's according to new polling.

But many other Americans are feeling anxious, uneasy, fearful. Why?

Well, partly of Trump's assault on political correctness, which contributed to a more course discourse, more misogyny, more racism, more hate, especially on Internet. I think we all see it on Facebook and Twitter.

We've also seen it out in real life. We remember this sporadic act of violence at Trump rallies earlier this year. There's also been a rise in hate mails directed at journalists, and there is suddenly a lot more attention being given to the shadows of the Internet, including the organization of white supremacist groups.

Now, no one is saying that these strains of supremacy and anti- Semitism are new. But it is more visible now. "The Atlantic" caught this on video last week. This is abnormal. And yet, as journalists cover, is a normalizing that's happening? Is it becoming more normal through the act of pointing cameras at it?

Lets talk about this. Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute, also former editor of "TIME Magazine", former boss here a CNN. Also, Ezra Klein, the founder of, and Charles Cooke, the editor of "National Review Online".

Thank you all for sticking around.

Ezra, let me ask you about this. Have you talked to your reporters at VOX about how to properly cover the more racist elements of the alt- right?

EZRA KLEIN, FOUNDER OF VOX.COM: I have. And this is -- this is tricky.

So, what I want to say that there is a real uptake and hate that we see. So, everybody at my organization has had anti-Semitic mails sent to our homes, people have their addresses published online, you get friends and colleagues who are being photoshopped on folks going into an oven in digital imagery.

This has been -- it's hard to cover also because it feels so personal to people, right, and it scares them. It's also a scary thing to cover because folks feel like it makes them into more of a target. As you say, there's a --

STELTER: You mean by covering the alt-right, by covering the racist elements of this movement, it creates a target.

KLEIN: Yes, exactly. And as you say, the trick in covering this is, one, not normalize it, and not to, but also to not make it overly broad. The videotape that "The Atlantic" caught is chilling. But it also isn't something that you should be attached to all Trump supporters, not something that should be attached to Donald Trump.

STELTER: Charles, I could make the case that we should ignore, completely ignore for example a white premise event in Washington, D.C., completely ignore acts of anti-Semitism, or ugly post on the Internet. Am I wrong?

CHARLES COOKE, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: I think there is a case for that. It has been difficult for writers. And all that the instances that Ezra Klein just gave, we had at "National Review" as well, and they have been well-documented there.

What worries me is not so much of this is normalize, I don't think Americans are going to normalize those who photoshopped Jonah Goldberg's head unto a Holocaust victim. I do worry, though, that with signal boosting.


STELTER: Signal boosting, tell me more about that.

COOKE: I think that amount of -- well, I think the amount of attention that is being given to some of these people is well beyond what they deserve, not morally but proportionally. And now, it is a problem and accept that the Trump campaign has brought out some of the worse instincts in the United States. But these people have always been here and almost certainly, it has been worse before this.

I mean, if you go back to 50 years, racial attitudes were a great deal worse. The reason these people are so interesting is because they do buck the trend. They're egregious.

And I wouldn't want that to be a surfeit of interest in this people which would in a sense evangelize for them, when they haven't done a great job thus far, thankfully, of attracting adherence to their cause.

STELTER: Interesting.

Walter, where do you come down on this?

WALTER ISAACSON, FORMER EDITOR, TIME: You know, I think Mr. Cooke is again right, which is that these people have always been with us. I don't think it's just the media who are giving them a megaphone. I think what's happened is in the digital age, anybody can have a megaphone.

When I was a young reporter on "Times Picayune" of New Orleans, I covered David Duke when he lived in a trailer park when he was a nobody. But now, a person like him or a person like these alt-right groups, yes, they get magnified by the media but they get magnified simply by the fact that somehow or another, they can post something and soon, there are 400,000 Facebook shares or tweets.

STELTER: In some ways, these people, if they inundate reporters with messages, they can see a lot bigger and a lot more numerous than they actually are. Again, that gets one of the downsides of the great upsides of the Internet.

ISAACSON: Yes. And, you know, you don't want to have gatekeepers keeping people from saying what they want. But you also now have a technologies and media that allow anybody to say the most hateful things, generally not be held accountable for it and to have their messages amplified.

[11:20:08] So, I think one of the most devastating things about this election is the amount of hatred and just despicable biases against blacks, women, immigrants, whatever, that was unleashed. And now that we come out of Thanksgiving and we're heading towards Christmas and all, maybe as a society, we ought to just, as you would say, take a pause for a moment and realize the basic goodness that we should try to exhibit and how we lost a bit of that this year.

STELTER: All right. I can't disagree with that. I like how optimistic that sounds. Thought at the time, Ezra, I'm wondering what you are telling your staff, the people who are getting these anti- Semitic and racist, and misogynistic messages, what advise do you give them? Do you have to take security precautions?

Sort of tell us about that reality.

KLEIN: Yes, the threats get specific enough, you have to take security precautions and at the times, they purged on that or gotten there.

Look, there are scary stuff going around to the extent that my staff can (INAUDIBLE) journals at all these different institutions, and as Charles said, it's not by any means confined to You try to keep doing your job and you try to keep doing a good job and you try not to let it affect you and you try to understand this is some of the information of the election, and you try to understand maybe what's causing it, but not allow it to overly color your reporting.

I do think it's important that we as cover this side, that we are able to create delineation between covering things that are on the extremes, covering things that are moving from the extreme into the mainstream and then covering the mainstream. And I think one reason coverage has been particularly hard this year is that these things are shifting very quickly. The alt-right has gone from a movement basically nobody knew about it three or four years ago, that movement where Steve Bannon who said Breitbart is the platform for the alt- right is now the chief strategist for the president-elect

So, I think one thing that's happening right now is you have a pretty immature movement that has come to prominence and even to power very quickly, and its boundaries are not well-understood or by itself while policed in the way that more mature established movements are. So, as we try to figure out what to cover and what not to cover, it is I think a continuous effort of figuring what is important, what is not important, and how do we actually know, given how much has been a surprise over the past year or two.

STELTER: Charles, is that something you are wrestling at "National Review Online"?

COOKE: Sure.

I mean, my staff are adults. They're big boys. They can take care of themselves.

The barriers to entry now is just very low. It does not take a great deal of effort to send somebody a message. And essentially, what Twitter is, is a means by which anyone in the whole world can send a message which you will, by and large, see -- which just didn't exist 20 years ago.

If you wanted to get hold of, say, William F. Buckley Jr.'s work address, you could do so, but you have to write a letter, you have to put it in an envelope, you have to go through a post office, and then you have to send it to the office and it would probably at that point be filtered by a secretary. Well, that's the case with Jonah Goldberg or David Prince's Twitter account.

So, in that regard, I think it's as much about the changing world as anything else. And I agree with what Ezra Klein just said about the alt-right. And I agree with Steve Bannon, I think it's a disgrace that Steve Bannon is in a position that he is.

But again, I don't want to over-egg the pudding. The all-right is largely small -- if that's not a contradiction in terms. It is a fringe movement. It's a fringe group. I hope we don't give false impressions to those who are curious about it.

STELTER: Well, on that note, Charles, Ezra, Walter, thank you very much.

KLEIN: Thank you.

STELTER: We are just getting started here. We've got a segment you've got to see right after the break. Two Trump biographers with what they've learned from the election from the transition so far.

We'll be right back.


[11:27:54] STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.

I've said it before, I'll say it again here now -- newsrooms have a lot to learn from this election year. Most journalists were just like Trump and Hillary Clinton, they did not expect Trump would win on election night. This includes the journalists who studied Trump up close and personally, his biographers.

Well, now, we are well into the transition period, and the journalistic soul searching should continue. And so, should clear eye examination of who Trump is and how he may lead the nation.

So for answers, we have asked to Trump fog biographers to come back here to the set to shed some lights for what's in store.

Joining me now, Tim O'Brien, author of "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald", and Michael D'Antonio, author of "The Truth About Trump."

Michael, is this election -- this election result, a fuel employment act for Trump biographers?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": I think it will be. We're going to be busy for your years.

STELTER: People want to know what you all learned while spending time with him. What did you learn about him that actually applies now to being president?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I think his opportunistic quality is really evident and I think the fact that he's willing to push everything to an extreme. So, he has moved the way that we talk to each other, the way that we do politics further down into the gutter than I think we've ever seen it before.

Now, he's in the process of trying to raise himself up but we are all muddy now. We have been down there with him. And to expect him to clean this all up, I think it is a little extreme. I don't think he's going to be able to do it.

STELTER: Jim, do you sense that Trump is even trying?

JIM O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "THE TRUMPNATION; THE ART OF BEING THE DONALD": I think Trump is just being Trump. I mean, the thing that is true about Donald Trump from the second he was born I think is that he's just been a character and he's been himself. One of things I think that propels him forward is that he's comfortable in his own skin, with who he is. He has his own appetites.

He has his own sort of northern star. And I think at the end of the day, you know, he will surround himself with whatever and whoever he wants, and he won't really care too much about the consequences.

STELTER: Well, during the campaign, there were always talks about when we're going to see a pivot. Is this a Trump pivot?

There was never really a pivot. There were times where we use the teleprompter more. But there's really only one Donald Trump, you're saying. There's not multiple versions.




STELTER: And we shouldn't expect him to change now that he's president-elect. O'BRIEN: No.

In a lot of ways, he's a very personable frat boy. And he has these appetites for food and deals and women and humor and celebrity and attention. And he's constantly feeding these things. And that's -- I think the animating force in Donald is this self-absorption with himself and the kind of reveling he does in his day-to-day.

STELTER: Now, before the election, both of you told "Politico" magazine you did not think he will win.

Couple weeks later now, do you now look back and see why he won? Do you have any sense, Michael, of what you believe it was?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I do think that starting years ago, he understood that there were certain sort of dark corners of the American psyche that he could provoke.

I think the birther movement was part of that. I think the economic anxiety that people have and I actually their discomfort with a woman running for president and maybe being president, these were all things that he understood were latent in the public and exploited them.

STELTER: You say that. Some would say, where are you getting that from? I would say, we need a lot more research to understand the election from earlier this month.


But he actually said this to me in 2014, that he understood these types of issues with what he called the heartland of America. Now, we have to remember that he actually lost the popular vote by a pretty substantial number.

And so it is incumbent on us not to race to decide, well, the American public is reactionary in this way, when we don't really know for sure where they stand. And even now, he's gaining in popularity, but he still lags behind Barack Obama at the same point in the transitions.

STELTER: You are saying don't necessarily overlearn the lessons of the election because it is still a divided country? Is overlearn a word?

D'ANTONIO: Well, he's a pretty unique...


O'BRIEN: I think there is a lot you can -- I think it is easy to talk about what is unique about Donald. I think one of the things...

STELTER: You're supposed to call him Mr. Trump, Tim.

O'BRIEN: President-elect Trump. I am sorry, president-elect Trump -- my friend, president-elect Trump.

I think that it came out in the Bernie campaign as well. The Bernie Sanders campaign and Donald Trump campaign, there is clearly a large constituency of people who are hurting economically, who also don't feel that American institutions, whether it's the media, political institutions, or business institutions, have served them well.

And they want someone to shake it up.

STELTER: Since you are both writers, do you think journalists are making some of the same mistakes that were made during the campaign?

I ask, Tim, because you talked about shaking it up. His voters want him to shake it up. Well, every time he shakes it up, whether it's with an incendiary tweet or surprising announcement about a new adviser, journalists react, maybe overreact, say he's doing something that is out of bounds. But that's what his voters want him to do.

O'BRIEN: I think the trick people are going to have with covering Donald is that he is Mr. Id, and he will say anything in the moment about almost anything.

And he is going to put things on the table for the media that will outrageous or inflammatory or curious.

STELTER: Irresistible.

O'BRIEN: Irresistible.

And you can cycle through that every day. And the noise surfaces, at the expense of real meaning.

STELTER: All right, Michael, let's put you in charge, last 30 seconds.

You are running the biggest news outlet in the world. What stories are you assigning right now about Trump?

D'ANTONIO: Boy, I think I am going to ask people to keep a grid about this guy. What are the promises that he made? And then follow him every single day, and what did he do today to deliver coal jobs? What did he do tomorrow to deliver manufacturing jobs?

And also I think we have kind of a boy king here. And there's going to be a regency. And who are the regents that are put in charge of the various departments of government who are really going to be acting on his behalf and on America's behalf?

If it's people that we have trouble with, that's where the rubber is going to hit the road and we are going to have to really watch out for the folks who are doing the thinking for him.

STELTER: A lot of work for reporters to do.

Tim, great to see you.

O'BRIEN: Great to see you, Brian. Thank you.

STELTER: Michael, thank you for being here. Appreciate it. D'ANTONIO: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: And up next, meet the new woman taking charge of one of the biggest newsrooms in the world.

Sally Buzbee, the new executive editor of the Associated Press, joins me right after the break.



STELTER: News organizations do not get much bigger than the Associated Press.

That's why Kathleen Carroll has been so influential in the journalism world. But after 14 years at the top of the AP, Carroll is stepping down.

During her leadership as executive editor, the AP won a host of accolades, including five Pulitzer Prizes, six George Polk Awards, and 15 Overseas Press Club Awards.

Now filling Carroll's shoes is Sally Buzbee, an AP insider since 1998. She has served as a reporter, the AP's Middle East regional editor, and most recently Washington bureau chief.

And Sally joins me now from Washington.

First of all, congratulations.

SALLY BUZBEE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

STELTER: Now, since you have been head of the bureau there in Washington, you have been in charge of election coverage.

What is the lesson of this month, this shocking election result, and now the first couple of weeks of a president-elect Trump administration?


BUZBEE: I think it is very important for news organizations to cover the world as the world exists, be flexible, be nimble, and be on top of what actually happens.

On election night, certainly, many people were very surprised, but we were able to look at the facts, look at the empirical data, look at the vote count as it was coming in, and be really pretty aggressive and speedy about calling the race and pivoting to the person who actually won the election.

It is very important for news organizations to not think that they know exactly better than the voters, better than the public, and really be very responsive to what is actually happening in the country.

STELTER: Do you think you will rely on polls a little bit less in the future, as a result of the polls not quite getting it right this time?


I mean, obviously, that's one of the key questions of this campaign season. We try very hard to always use polls as one very critical data point in campaign coverage, but not make the horse race and the polls the entire focus of our campaign coverage.

We did issues coverage this campaign season. We did accountability reporting and fact-checks. We tried to talk to voters. But I think it is fair to say that everyone is going to be redoubling and retripling their efforts to go beyond polling in future elections. There is just no question about that.

STELTER: This week, Donald Trump, of course, met with "The New York Times." We talked about that earlier this hour.

Has he sought a similar meeting with the AP? Are you interested in sitting down with him?

BUZBEE: Absolutely. We are completely interested in sitting down with the president-elect Trump in all formats, in video, in text.

He has actually been fairly outreaching towards the press. We definitely have concerns about access. There is no question about that. But we are sort of taking a one-step-at-a-time approach, trying to sort of make the campaign conditions, use some of the expectations around access, and trying to get as much information from him as we can.

He does talk to reporters. It is not, you know -- during the course of the campaign, he talked to reporters.

STELTER: And he loves reporters. He reads it all the time.

BUZBEE: He absolutely does, absolutely does.

And it is almost a little throwback to a past generation, where he's a little less controlled, and he actually will do some outreach and talk to reporters. And so I think that's one thing that is a positive.

We do have a lot of concerns, though, about just sort of the normal access that the public has become used to in terms of seeing their president, letting reporters travel along with the president, that sort of thing.

I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding. This is not a perk that journalist organizations are trying to get. This is actually sort of the eyes of the public, so that, if there is a national crisis, people know, the public knows where the president is at any given time and knows what's going on with him.

STELTER: A lot of Trump supporters on Twitter have said to me, you guys have to earn access, you have to earn his respect.

You are saying, absolutely not, this is not a privilege, this is not a perk of the job.

BUZBEE: Right.

I really try to keep it as not something that is a privilege for the press. This is really about accountability for the public. Does the American public and the global public get to know where the president is, what is happening in the president's daily work life, who he or she is talking to?

Those are really the core foundational issues that I think access is about.


BUZBEE: And sort of putting it into the reporters being offended is a very wrong way to think about it, I think, actually.

STELTER: How optimistic or pessimistic are you about covering a Trump administration? We heard commentators all year say this is now a post-truth America, a post-fact world. Do you agree?

BUZBEE: The Associated Press and myself do not agree that this is a post-factual world.

I actually do no think that that is the case at all. I think you see that when people make important decisions in their lives. They seek out objective, factual information.

STELTER: Sounds like some wishful thinking to me, Sally. A lot of people seemed to have checked out of journalism, especially conservatives.

BUZBEE: I think that when people actually make decisions about the things they care about in their life, they do seek out truth.

Now, there is no question that people are going to sort of news organizations and voices that in some ways reinforce what their beliefs are. But, I mean, we did not really see that much downtick in information -- people being interested in information, people being interested in news.

I think what this was about more was that the voice that a lot of journalism is being told in seems to people to be too elitist, too out of touch with the reality that they face. And I do think that's something that news organization need to work on.

But I do not think we believe in a post-factual world.

STELTER: So, you are starting on January 1. What is your top priority when you take over?

BUZBEE: Well, I think that the new administration in the U.S. does actually provide a pretty good opportunity for the AP to do very strong accountability journalism, but also to be very fair and even- handed and objective toward the new president.


So, I think that's going to be a very high priority, to do a good job.


STELTER: But you used to cover the Middle East. Are you expecting a more authoritarian climate in Washington?

BUZBEE: I think that the American public is going to be watching very closely. I don't think that -- there is no indication at this point that we're going to be looking at sort of Mideast-style governance in the U.S.

STELTER: You don't think you're going to learn from your time in Cairo and apply it to Washington?

BUZBEE: You have to hold officials accountable. You have to be open- minded. You have to talk to the public and see what's actually on the mind of the society. In Egypt, were people were upset with the authoritarian government? What was their actually mind-sets?

I think all of those lessons are very, very applicable.

STELTER: Right now, we have only heard from Donald Trump. It will be another thing when we actually see what he does. That will be the real story.


BUZBEE: I actually think it will be a fascinating presidency to cover.

STELTER: Absolutely.

Sally, thank you so much.

STELTER: Up next here: how a Trump victory is giving a shot in the arm to not-for-profit news organizations. Hear how they are going to be spending the money right after this.




On this program, we're all about the media. So, let me take you behind the scenes now with a look at the business side and a perhaps unexpected benefit of Donald Trump's election.

Some newsrooms are seeing a huge spike in donations and subscriptions. Liberal magazines like "The Nation," along with nonpartisan outlets like ProPublica are some of the news organizations that say they are benefiting from this, at least temporarily, as readers look to support newsrooms that will try to hold Trump accountable.

I think this is a really interesting thing. It speaks to the idea that journalists are the fourth estate, a check and balance on government, especially at a time when both the White House and the Congress will be controlled by Republicans.

So, joining me to discuss are two of the beneficiaries of this trend, Richard Tofel, the president of ProPublica, and Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of "The Nation."

Welcome to you both.



STELTER: Richard, tell me about the surge in donations to your nonprofit news organization. What happened on election night on your Web site?

TOFEL: So, almost immediately, Brian, we saw -- almost as soon as the election results were clear, we saw donations go up about 10-fold. By Wednesday morning, after the election, they were running at 10 times the normal level.

We went and asked for money on Thursday of that week, and that was a very successful appeal. And then, on Sunday night, John Oliver on his HBO show suggested, among other things, that people could give money to us.

STELTER: And that must have almost broken your servers. I have heard that when John Oliver mentions something, the crowd goes wild.

TOFEL: Yes. Exactly.

So, by Monday morning, we were getting literally four gifts a minute. And so last year, in the full year, we got $500,000 in small gifts. In the two weeks after the election, we got more than $600,000 from more than 10,000 people.

STELTER: How much of that was thanks to John Oliver?

TOFEL: You know, it's very hard to unspool it, but I would say certainly most.

STELTER: Interesting, so a big surge in donations. We will talk about how you are going to spend the money.

But, Katrina, let me ask you about subscriptions. That's your main source of revenue for "The Nation." Right?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Immediately after Donald Trump was elected, we saw our subscriptions go up about 560 percent. In the last two weeks, it's about 660 percent. On the donor front, we have received about $80,000 from 1,500 small

donors. And part of "The Nation," Brian, is we will have at the end of the year over 16,000 small donors who give $5 to $99. And that's a very important thing for us -- our Web site, 240 percent increase in the last week. I think there's a hunger, Brian, for deep, fearless journalism.

STELTER: What do you with the money? What kind of journalism can we empower in this Trump presidency age with these new donations?

TOFEL: Let me tell you some of the things that we're thinking about doing at ProPublica to adapt, because there is a new news agenda.


TOFEL: And you want the press to respond with new thinking to a new news agenda.

So, we have already started reporting and devoted a reporter and a beat to hate crimes and the alt-right, because this is clearly something that people need to better understand. And I think a better term than alt-right is white supremacy. We need to call it what it is.

But I think that's important. Trade is going to be a much more important subject in the next few years, I think, than it has been. Immigration is a subject on which we need more light and perhaps a little bit less heat.

And we're going to try to move on that. And then there are a lot of people to talk about as we restaff a government. That's appropriate.


TOFEL: But it's important to know who these people are and what they stand for.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I hope that this -- the Trump election will remind people of the importance of quality watchdog accountability journalism.

At "The Nation," we're going to strengthen our investigative reporting. We're going to look at Trump's crony capitalism. We're going to look at the movements and the communities most vulnerable in a Trump administration.

We're going to look at white supremacists. We're going to look at those who are coming in, the appointments. Again, we're not going to normalize. We're going to scrutinize. And we're also going to lay out ideas to move forward, because that's also part of "The Nation."

I think people come to us because we're both a media entity, but also a community. So, how do we move forward in this country? How do we rebuild a progressive movement? How do we rebuild a free press that will be able to sustain what looks like not only Donald Trump, but billionaires in this country taking on the free press and misunderstanding the role of a free press as a check on excessive corporate, political power across the political spectrum?


So, I think it's a time for deep, fearless reporting. It's a time to find those writers who have a spine, and onwards.

STELTER: Katrina, thank you for being here.


STELTER: Richard, good to see you.

TOFEL: Thanks so much.

STELTER: It's important to talk about the importance of donations and subscriptions. Our news diet is only as good as what we pay for.

We will be right back with more RELIABLE SOURCES after this break.


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

But just to underscore what our guests were saying a few minutes ago, we are all better off with a balanced news diet. We're all better off when we chip in and pay for the news sources we trust. That's what creates a better, healthier news environment.

Our media coverage keeps going all the time online, Sign up for our nightly RELIABLE SOURCES newsletter.

And I will see you back here next week.