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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
NYT: 5 Women Settled Claims Against O'Reilly for $13M; Trump's Weekend Tweets; Hostile Working Environment Created by Sexual Harassment; The Importance of Fact-Checking. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired April 2, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: I'm Brian Stelter and it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES. This is our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works, how the news gets made.
In this hour, how a narrative gets made. Another tough week for President Trump. So what does he do? Reignites his war against the news media.
Speaking of that, today has been declared international fact checking day. So, does the White House get it mostly true or pants on fire grade for this week? The top editor of PolitiFact is on.
But, first today, the toxic culture inside the country's highest rated cable news network. This weekend, there's a new report about the women who say FOX News star Bill O'Reilly harassed them and a new report about secret settlement payments that are now being revealed.
It's all included in this front page "New York Times" story saying five people were paid by either O'Reilly or by FOX after accusing him of sexual harassment or other sorts of verbal harassment. "The Times" says the payouts totaled a staggering $13 million. The first settlement was back in 2002 as you can see here. But two of the payments happened just last year, after the sudden departure of FOX News founder and CEO Roger Ailes.
Remember, Ailes was sued for sexual harassment by ex-anchor Gretchen Carlson. Then, many other women came forward as well, including Megyn Kelly. Ailes was pressured to resign but the problems of FOX go deeper. There's now a federal grand jury investigation. Other unrelated lawsuits are pending.
And O'Reilly is sort of the center of the FOX universe, the biggest star with the biggest ratings on cable news, responsible over the course of his 20 years on FOX for hundreds of millions of dollars in profit. O'Reilly says that makes him a big target. He is denying the claims against him.
But all of this begs the question, if Ailes was dismissed because of numerous harassment claims against him and FOX say this kind of behavior would not be tolerated anymore, then why does O'Reilly still have a job, the biggest job on cable news? We will talk to one of the attorneys for an alleged victim coming up.
But joining me first are the two reporters who broke this story for "The New York Times", Emily Steel here in New York, and in Washington, Michael Schmidt. They co-bylined the story on the front page of today's paper. Also here with me, Matthew Garrahan, global media editor for "The Financial Times" who also broke some news this week about FOX, about the Murdoch empire.
So, thank you all for being here today.
Emily, let me start with you on the broad strokes of this story here. You have a very detailed story that I believe you've been working on for many months. Can you tell me how this story came about?
EMILY STEEL, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So, this story came about, we were in the middle of the scandal with Roger Ailes last summer and we thought that we shouldn't start looking into what else was happening at the network. There was this case of Andrea Mackris that happened in 2004 where she sued him for sexual harassment. And we were curious to look what was happening there. And in the course of our reporting, we found that there were other settlements and other women who had made allegations against Bill O'Reilly.
STELTER: Mackris was the not secret settlement. This was a very public deal. You say it was a $9 million settlement back in 2004. So, you're saying there were $4 million worth of other settlements that were made more privately.
STEEL: Right. That's what our reporting shows.
STELTER: And what is O'Reilly saying about this?
STEEL: Well, what O'Reilly has said he is -- because of his prominence, he's a target of suits and allegations.
STELTER: Does that stand up? Is that true?
STEEL: Well, what we've seen is that there has been this pattern where a number of women have come forward to make complaints about him, and as a result of those complaints, there have been settlements that were made.
STELTER: Let me turn to Michael as well. Michael co-bylined the story in today's paper.
Michael, Emily was describing how this has been in the works for months. What was probably the most important revelation that you believe you all found? The most important fact you all put on the record?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: The biggest thing here was establishing that payments had been made after Ailes left. That showed that FOX's way of approaching this had not really changed and that they were willing to cut these deals and hope that they remained secret in a way to keep them out of the press. They saw this as the only way they could deal with this without them bringing -- you know, sort of bringing the issue to light.
The thing at FOX which they would say is, look, we're under enormous pressure here. The Ailes stuff was out here. These were meritless claims. But this was the only way we could deal with them.
STELTER: Do you find that in your reporting, Michael, in other businesses? You know, the line I'm getting from folks who were on O'Reilly's side is, hey, everybody settles. Companies settle all the time. Everybody settles. O'Reilly is no different.
Is that true of your reporting in Washington?
SCHMIDT: Well, what we do know is that companies at times will settle claims that they think are meritless because it's expensive to go to trial. The legal costs are there and you can also lose at trial and you can also have some really nasty headlines along the way. So, the thought is, OK, I'll pay a little bit of money here to make it go away and keep it quiet.
[11:05:03] The problem is, is that there's a repeated pattern here of it happening. So, the question is, is Mr. O'Reilly simply someone that people are taking advantage of or why is it that all of these women have come forward or why is it that all of these women who worked for him felt, you know, so strongly about this that they were willing to do this, to go to FOX and ask for money like this?
STELTER: You said the word pattern. Let me quote from your story. I'll put it up on the screen.
You all said, "The reporting suggests a pattern. As an influential figure in the newsroom, Mr. O'Reilly would create a bond with some women by offering advice and promising to help them professionally. He would then pursue sexual relationships with them, causing some to fear if they rebuffed him, their careers would stall."
Michael, did you all find other than women besides the five that you all identified, who did settle, other women that you didn't write about in the story perhaps for legal reasons?
SCHMIDT: Well, what we wrote about in the story was the information that we felt comfortable with. In the story along with the five are two other women who have made allegations against Mr. O'Reilly but have not received payouts. One is Wendy Walsh who says that Mr. O'Reilly reneged on an offer to make her a contributor after she rebuffed a sexual advance from him.
And the other one is Andrea Tantaros who sued FOX over the summer. Mr. O'Reilly is not a defendant in the lawsuit, but she describes in their some harassment that she had received from Mr. O'Reilly during her time and that had been backed up by a statement signed under oath from her psychologist who said she had contemporaneously to when she said this behavior had occurred had told her therapist about this.
STELTER: And Walsh, by the way, you mentioned Wendy Walsh, her lawyer coming up later this hour. Matthew Garrahan, let me bring you in here from "The Financial Times."
You have been covering the Murdochs for many years. But you weren't involved with this O'Reilly story this weekened. What does it say to you? What stands out to you about thisreporting? What's the headline as someone who wasn't involved?
MATTHEW GARRAHAN, FINANCIAL TIMES GLOBAL MEDIA EDITOR: Well, we've been doing our own reporting on this, too. The thing that stands out, when you look at the FOX response, why did these women come forward at the time? Why didn't they call human resources?
It's important to remember that at the time all of this is going on, Roger Ailes ran FOX News like a despot, right? He ran -- he controlled every aspect, the human resources, legal, financial. He and Bill O'Reilly were, obviously, very close. The women who had a grievance against Bill O'Reilly or a grievance against Roger Ailes, they knew that everything would come back to Roger Ailes. So, it was incumbent upon them to try and settle these things out of the public eyes and settle them personally.
STEEL: And that's a point that's very important. A lot of the women that we talked to said they feared making complaints. They feared retaliation. They thought that if they were to bring forward a complaint about someone as powerful as Bill O'Reilly that their career would be in jeopardy.
STELTER: Now, let me ask a couple questions about the reporting process here, Emily. You've all been working on this for months. I had a personal O'Reilly side say Emily Steel has had it out for O'Reilly for years.
Is this at all personal?
STEEL: It's not a personal story at all. We're just trying to follow the facts and write a fair and accurate story about what happened.
STELTER: Did you all find any evidence beyond what these lawyers for these accusers had said, any third party corroboration like audio tapes or anything like that?
STEEL: What's interesting is that two of the women who reached settlements, these are settlements that Bill O'Reilly paid himself, Andrea Mackris and Rebecca Gomez Diamond, they both had evidence. They had recordings of conversations with Bill O'Reilly.
STELTER: So there was some but you didn't hear that directly? You didn't listen to the tapes?
STEEL: We didn't hear the tapes, no.
STELTER: I'm just asking because I'm trying to think about what holes O'Reilly's folks are going to try to poke in your story. However, I have not see them challenge any facts from what you've written.
STEEL: No, that hasn't happened. STELTER: So, what are you expecting now? Because on Saturday, "The
Wall Street Journal" reported, after your story came out, that Bill O'Reilly recently renewed his contract. It was going to be up later this year. This renewed for an unknown amount of time. He'll be staying at the network for a while.
Do you think there's any fallout to come from this?
STEEL: I think one big question is whether there are other women who might come forward with allegations or accusations.
STELTER: And you can't say whether you have other women besides the five settlements and two others you name in the story, you can't say there's other women like you all interviewed?
STEEL: Like what Mike said, the facts in the story, that we put in the story, are the facts that we thought were ready to go.
GARRAHAN: I think, if I can just say, there are clear parallels here between the culture at FOX News, the fact that it was effectively this rogue unit run by someone who did whatever he wanted pretty much, who had complete control of every aspect of the business, top talent who were allowed to do what they wanted to do, big parallel between that and this burgeoning scandal and the phone hacking scandal which obviously happened at another Rupert Murdoch company.
STELTER: And this was in Britain a decade ago, where reporters secretly tapping into phones.
GARRAHAN: Right. This was another business run without any effective controls from above, without anyone -- without any oversight, with people going rogue in the same way. I mean, cutting deals with aggrieved victims for millions of dollars.
[11:10:04] And you have to ask yourself, what was going on? You know what did this happen? How can this happen -- happening once is bad enough. Happening twice, it's unclear to me how -- how they can justify it in this way.
STELTER: You mentioned one of the comments from the 21st Century FOX, the statement the company issued said in part, none of these women ever call the sexual harassment hotline, this 1800. What did you make of that?
GARRAHAN: Well, as I said, I think that there was fear within the newsroom, within FOX News, because Roger Ailes had such a tight grip on things. And that's effectively what's going with this federal investigation.
I mean, they also made (ph) that weren't accounted for. Millions of dollar checks were written, were concealed within the FOX News accounts and the financial reporting structure. And the parent company didn't know anything about it.
STEEL: One of the things that's really interesting is that one of these settlements that we covered was so secret, it was this woman, Rebecca Gomez Diamond, it was in 2011. The parent company, 21st Century FOX, did not learn about this until late 2016 when they were conducting their own investigation into FOX News under Roger Ailes' tenure.
STELTER: So, what does it mean that FOX has renewed O'Reilly's contract apparently given all of these facts, Matt?
GARRAHAN: I think it's kind of baffling to me. With Roger Ailes, they were sort of boxed in. They had to get rid of him. They had an independent law firm come in and investigate and they uncovered more allegations. He had to go.
Standing by O'Reilly in this way, I mean, I think it's slightly sign of the times. O'Reilly was a figurehead for the network. He stands for something that the network stands for, too. He represents a huge constituency in this country, the pro-Trump voter which is FOX News -- bread and butter for FOX News. I think it's -- things have shifted slightly.
STELTER: Well, he's the corner stone. There's no heir apparent. No one else to be put on at 8:00 and be guaranteed the rating he provides. He is, by far, the biggest star of the network, maybe Sean Hannity number two.
And let me ask you this, Michael Schmidt in Washington, because Matthew mentioned Trump. Is Bill O'Reilly the Donald Trump of FOX News?
SCHMIDT: Well, he's certainly -- as you pointed out, he's certainly the face. The question here will be, is there any other pressure on FOX to really do anything? In the case of Ailes, there was a lawsuit that was moving ahead. There were other women that were coming out and I think that FOX really started to feel the pressure.
The question is, is there any other pressure that will be put on FOX that will be put on the Morduchs that will actually do anything here? And that really remains to be seen. I mean, this could -- you know, O'Reilly could sort of ignore this, FOX could ignore this and it could kind of fall off.
But if this becomes let's say part of the federal investigation or if there are other women that come out then FOX is going to be forced to defend it in a way that they haven't at this point. They haven't explained publicly why O'Reilly was treated differently than Ailes. And until that happens, they may be able to avoid that.
STELTER: You mentioned the federal investigation. Matt brought it up as well.
Was your story, Michael, linked to this federal investigation? Is there any connection?
SCHMIDT: We see no -- at this point, we see no connection to the federal investigation at this point. But as -- you know, as a law enforcement reporter myself, you know, when the feds get in and they start looking at things, they continue to dig and dig and look at other things. And if they see vulnerabilities or possible other wrongdoing, they really like to dig in on that.
And, you know, although the U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York, Preet Bharara has been pushed out by Mr. Trump, that's a very aggressive office that takes on very, very aggressive cases. And when you have them rummaging around in your stuff, that's not a good place to be.
STELTER: FOX said back -- about a month or two ago, they had not been subpoenaed. That they are cooperating with the attorney's office. I'm told that remains true today. Still no subpoena.
So, Matthew, what does it mean to be under a grand jury investigation? You reported the grand jury is going to meet again this week and that someone has been offered immunity.
GARRAHAN: Yes, at least two witnesses have been subpoenaed and had been offered immunity. One of them is Mark Kranz, ands he's the former CFO of the company, of FOX News. He's the guy who wrote the checks. And if anyone knows where the bodies are buried, it's going to this guy.
So, you know, FOX News and its parent company 21st Century Fox may be bullish about how this all pans out, but there's a determined set of investigators within the southern district of New York who are looking for this. Even with Preet Bharara gone -- by the way, he had to recused himself from this investigation anyway because of the friendship with the 21st Century Fox board members. He wasn't involved. So, slight red herring that he's no longer in the frame.
GARRAHAN: But they're looking at it. And they've got witnesses subpoenaed. And they've got the power to go in there and shake the tree.
STELTER: So, we have two separate stories that may eventually be related but right now are separate.
STELTER: This grand jury investigation into FOX finding out about these payments, and then this Bill O'Reilly story that you all have broken in "The New York Times" this morning.
So, let me wrap up by going back to the O'Reilly story.
Emily, your colleague was talking about what the fallout could be. Could there be something like an ad boycott?
[11:15:02] Could there be some financial impact on the show?
STEEL: That's a good question. You see that he has generated more than $400 million in revenue for -- in ad revenues on his show over the last three years. And you wonder, will those advertisers continue to support him. The other big question, too, is whether women inside of FOX News, what
they'll think about this. And whether there will be some backlash inside the network, inside the company.
STELTER: That's a crucial point. Not only that, a semi-related point. Will women appear on the O'Reilly show? Would anybody choose not to go on the biggest show on cable news because of these allegations?
Matthew, do you see other versions of fallout, other possibilities here you'll be looking for?
GARRAHAN: I think the ad boycott is interesting. I don't think necessarily that's going to happen in the short term, but it just creates this, you know, pretty bad impression about atmosphere around the place. I mean, James Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch are going to end up running the company --
STELTER: Rupert's sons, right?
GARRAHAN: Rupert's sons, you know, don't like this one bit, I can tell you. And there are people within the network itself who don't like this one bit. Rupert Murdoch, the buck stops with him. He's been running FOX News since Roger Ailes was pushed out. These are his decisions.
STELTER: This is such a tricky situation now because O'Reilly says there is no merit to these claims. And yet the people around O'Reilly, the people running the company, they all sort of know that he has this reputation inside the company, that he may have these consensual relationships but these women now say it's sexual harassment.
Emily, last word?
STEEL: On that point, there is a big question about whether there is a consensual relationship in the workplace. If someone has power over you, if they have power over your career you may enter into the relationship thinking -- thinking as a woman that you have full power and authority. So, what happens when you want to get out and that person has power over your future, your job, your career? Can you?
STELTER: Emily, Matt, Mike -- thank you all very much for being here today.
Coming up, one of the lawyers involved in this story. We're going to ask how many more women could possibly come forward accusing O'Reilly of this kind of harassment.
Lisa Bloom is the attorney for Wendy Walsh. She'll join me right after the break.
[11:21:28] STELTER: Welcome back. "The New York Times" driving the media news cycle this weekend with
this story, saying roughly $13 million has been paid out to address harassment complaints about FOX host Bill O'Reilly between 2002 and 2016.
Could there be even more coming?
Joining me now, Lisa Bloom, a victim's rights attorney representing Wendy Walsh, a former guest on O'Reilly show who alleges he rescinded on his offer to make her a contributor after she refused to go to his hotel suite in 2013.
Thank you very much for being here.
LISA BLOOM, REPRESENTING WENDY WALSH: Good morning.
STELTER: How did you get involved with this case, Lisa? Tell me what Wendy's claims are.
BLOOM: Well, this is not my first case against FOX News. And I don't expect it will be my last. Dr. Walsh is a longtime friend and she had already been a client of mine on some business matters. And I'm very proud to stand with her and represent her.
As you pointed out, she did not sue. She did not ask for a dime. She has not asked for any money. She simply has told her story publicly and so, I wonder what Mr. O'Reilly's response is to her given that his defense is simply everybody's after money, but she's not even asking for any money.
STELTER: So, why is she holding a press conference with you tomorrow?
BLOOM: Because everybody in the media has come to her since the story broke yesterday asking for more information, and we do have something to reveal at the press conference as to what the next steps are going forward.
I will give you a little preview. There needs to be an independent investigation of sexual harassment at FOX News. How many women have to come forward? By my count, it's already been dozens and dozens of women who have been reported in reputable media to have come out against Roger Ailes and now, Bill O'Reilly and others.
And I can tell you that the law firm of Paul Weiss who everybody in the media has said has done an independent investigation has not done an independent investigation. They represent FOX News.
STELTER: So, let me pause there. So, Paul Weiss looked into the Ailes matter for FOX last summer.
BLOOM: They represent FOX News. They told me that.
That's fine. FOX News is entitled to have an attorney. Those are attorneys for FOX News. They have not done an independent investigation and that needs to happen immediately. STELTER: Now, Lisa, here's what folks at FOX are going to think. We
know what they're going to think. You're a former NBC analyst and liberal activist on a competing channel, CNN, competitor to FOX, calling for an investigation of FOX.
Isn't this all political? Isn't this all competitive?
BLOOM: Yes, that's all they have. Bring it on.
How many women have to come forward? How many millions of dollars have to get paid before FOX News takes sexual harassment seriously? In my opinion, this network is the Bill Cosby of corporate America. Women over and over again are driven out.
STELTER: But what evidence do you have to say that?
BLOOM: What -- the dozens and dozens of women who have come forward and said, "I was sexually harassed there." How many Gretchen Carlsons? How many Andrea Tantaroses do we need? All of these women, by the way, driven out, their careers over. Bill O'Reilly is still sitting pretty.
This has been going on since 2002 according to the "New York Times" article. I mean, this is absolutely outrageous.
Do women's careers mean anything at FOX News? Do the laws of sexual harassment ever get enforced there? We don't see any --
STELTER: The 21st Century Fox would say yes. They would say, we're having sensitivity training now.
BLOOM: Oh, please.
STELTER: We're having sexual harassment training. That we've learned from the Ailes scandal and we're learning from it. They would say they cleaned up the house.
BLOOM: OK. They would say that but the claims are still going on from 2016 after Roger Ailes left according to the "New York Times" article yesterday. Sensitivity training is not enough.
I say bring back the women who were terminated after they brought claims of sexual harassment, drive out the predators at the network and then we'll think you're starting to take this seriously.
[11:25:08] STELTER: Are you the right person, though, to be speaking out? I mean, I'm just thinking about this optically. You're very anti-Trump. You're taking on a pro-Trump host.
Are you the right person to be representing Wendy Walsh?
BLOOM: Yes. You know why I'm anti-Trump? Because I represented four of the women who accused him of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
This is not about me, OK? This is about FOX News and their culture of sexual harassment and showing over and over again that they don't get it. I believe there are more women out there and to them I say, get a strong woman to stand with you. It doesn't have to be me, but it should be a feminist attorney.
I know you're scared. Dr. Wendy Walsh is very scared. She has me at her side and that's what you need. You don't have to go through this alone.
STELTER: So, in O'Reilly's statement this weekend, it's on his website, BillOReilly.com, he said, "The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the FOX News Channel."
I asked his spokesman to come on this program, he declined. I asked his spokesman to provide someone else to speak for him, and he declined. But that's what the statement says, that O'Reilly feels he is a vulnerable target.
What's your response?
BLOOM: Oh, boo hoo hoo, it's so hard to be Bill O'Reilly and have woman after woman come forward. Some of them, by the way, reportedly with recordings of what he said what he was doing in the shower which I probably can't say on your show, right? It's not like people are accusing him of "I slipped and fell on your property and I'm suing you". It's always sexual harassment.
And you mean to tell me woman after woman for 12 or 13 years, they've all conspired together, women who don't know each other to accuse him of sexual harassment? How many women have to come forward before he starts to take this seriously and stops portraying himself as a victim?
STELTER: Lisa Bloom, thank you very much for being here.
BLOOM: Thank you.
STELTER: You can imagine we'll have plenty of more on this story in our nightly newsletter. You can follow along all week long, nightly updates. Go to reliablesources.com for our nightly newsletter.
Coming up next here, President Trump reigniting his Twitter attacks on the press and once again asking if libel laws should be changed. Our panel weighs in right after this.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
And this week, I took a week off from @realDonaldTrump.
That's right. Sunday through Saturday, I did not look or read about a single one of the president's tweets. And I have to tell you, when you log on and read them all in a row, it really is downright shocking. No, it's not surprising anymore, but it's still seriously shocking.
Lambasting real news outlets as fake news has become a crutch for him. Here is one of the many examples.
He wrote: "It is the same fake news media that said there is no path to victory for Trump that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam."
And here the president resorting to name-calling, saying: "When will sleepy eyes Chuck Todd and NBC News start talking about the Obama surveillance scandal and stop with the fake Trump Russia story?"
Is that more deflecting, more distracting by the president?
Joining me now, Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents Association and a White House correspondent for Reuters, and here in New York, Charles Blow, columnist for "The New York Times," and Matthew Continetti, editor of "The Washington Free Beacon" and contributing editor at "The Weekly Standard."
Jeff, are you starting to need a flak jacket for these contentious briefings with Sean Spicer?
JEFF MASON, REUTERS: They certainly have become contentious, there's no question about that.
And the fact that it's getting so much attention shows that people are really interested. I think the American public is interested in seeing how the relationship between the press and the White House continues. And they're interested to hear how Sean answers a lot of the tough questions that he's getting from the White House press corps.
STELTER: Do you trust what he tells you now?
MASON: I think it's important to listen carefully and to fact-check this administration like we would for any administration.
STELTER: So they're no different? They're no different from any other administration?
MASON: I'm just not -- I'm not going to contrast. I'm going to say it's important to fact-check.
And there's no there's no question that there are things that have come out of the mouths of administration officials and this administration, including President Trump, that have not been true. And that requires a steady hand by the press fact-checking and following up.
STELTER: So I'm pulling up the Trump Twitter feed, since I took a break for the week. I wanted to ask you, Matthew, about it.
In his most recent post this morning from the president, he said, the real story turns about to be surveillance and leaking. He says, find the leakers. Is this an example, Matthew, of just two alternate realities, the
conservative media is presenting a story about Obama surveillance and the rest of the media is focusing on why Trump made those claims and on the Russia issue?
MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE WASHINGTON FREE BEACON": I don't think it's two alternate realities. I think it's two different stories.
In fact, there are several stories going on here. There's the story of Mike Flynn and the leak. There's the story of the Trump team contacts with Russia, what that means. And then there is the story that's late-breaking about Devin Nunes and what kind of collection was going on of the Trump campaign or of Trump family members during the election.
The key for me, though, is, you know, Trump was elected to be commander in chief, not media critic in chief. And I even feel when you go and you talk to a lot of his supporters, there's some kind of exhaustion with the endless criticism of the media.
They want to see the jobs. That's what that's what they put him in office for.
STELTER: But I think media critic in chief, it inoculates him. It's an attempt to inoculate him from all the real news coverage that's going on.
CONTINETTI: I think it works during the campaign. And I think it's a tool Trump uses to introduce new stories into the political discussion, stories that he would prefer people to talk about.
CONTINETTI: But, at the end of the day, he's going to be judged by results.
STELTER: So, Charles, it's not a good idea for the president to be calling Chuck Todd sleepy eyes?
CHARLES BLOW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely not.
And I think there's something absolutely Shakespearian about it. By protesting as much as he does that this is not a story, it makes people who are the real reporters among the media more suspicious.
I mean, you and I have both worked in news, the newsroom. And those guys are just trying to call balls and strikes as best they can. What people don't seem to understand about most news organizations is that they're bottom-up organizations. They're not top-down.
People are not necessarily coming in saying we want to craft a story this way, go out and find us a way to do it. Rather, they wait for reporters to kind of search their sources. And whatever they come back to the table with, from that, they cobble together that day's report. And so for those...
STELTER: But what I wonder is, do Matt's readers believe that?
BLOW: I don't know.
STELTER: You're describing how a newsroom works.
Matthew, do your readers of "The Free Beacon" believe that, a conservative-leaning outlet?
CONTINETTI: I think they do. That's how my newsroom works.
STELTER: But media bias is the charge every hour of every day from sites like yours.
CONTINETTI: It's helpful to point out that there's media bias. Right?
But reporters pursue stories. I think the president is frustrated that reporters are pursuing one story. He would like them to pursue another.
What I'm fascinated by is, he is the president. He has the power to declassify all of these documents involved in the Nunes probe. I think it would be helpful for him to be more transparent, because he's being hit right now by all of these revelations that they weren't forthcoming, whether it's General Flynn or Jeff Sessions.
BLOW: That lack of transparency is what I believe makes reporters' antennas stand up.
The idea that if you were to say, please, go ahead and hang yourselves on this, search as much as you want, you will find nothing, but exculpatory evidence that says that we did nothing wrong, and, in fact, because you are selling credibility...
BLOW: ... you will hang yourselves by doing so.
STELTER: That's so interesting about the antenna.
BLOW: But the idea that he is saying nothing there, nothing there, look everything else, shiny thing, shiny thing, to a veteran reporter, that says, why are you going so far out of your way to say there's nothing here if -- let me hang myself.
If not, let me find it. That idea -- and the secondary part of that is that he seems to see this as a matter of branding, which is what he's always done. This is how he built his career. He looks at what is coming out of these reports as damaging his brand, and he's basically saying, you damage my brand, I will damage yours. I will -- you continue to report things about me, I will continue to call you fake and false and failing.
STELTER: At the end of the day, everything's just muddied.
BLOW: Right. And that's it.
But the problem is, is that but media and Donald Trump are playing two completely different playing fields with two different sets of rules. If media lied as much as Donald Trump lied, we'd be out of business, because there's nothing else for us to do but to sell credibility and facts.
So he's basically operating in a different realm. And people -- he keeps trying to position it as if we are the media and he and politicians are the same thing. And they're just simply not.
STELTER: I'm running short on time, unfortunately.
But thank you all. Thank you, Charles.
Matt, great to see you in New York.
Jeff, thank you very much as well.
Up next here, legendary magazine editor Tina Brown, she covered Trump in her early years, but how would she cover him today? And why she says the president may be good for the feminist movement.
She joins me next.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
We were talking earlier this hour about Bill O'Reilly, the controversy involving sexual harassment settlements reported this weekend in "The New York Times."
What about the hostile working environment that kind of culture creates? I was going to talk with Tina Brown about other matters, but she is here with me, the founder of Women in the World, also the president and CEO of Tina Brown Live Media.
So, Tina, thank you very much for coming on today.
TINA BROWN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, TINA BROWN LIVE MEDIA: Thank you.
STELTER: I was going to ask you about your conference coming up on Wednesday, but first this O'Reilly headline in the paper today, what do you make of this ongoing storyline involving FOX News and the culture there?
BROWN: Well, you know, it's an extraordinary thing to realize that 13 million bucks has been paid out by FOX to these different...
STELTER: O'Reilly and FOX. Right?
BROWN: O'Reilly and FOX regarding the sexual harassment cases.
And what it really shows is that, you know, nothing has changed. I mean, obviously, what Lisa Bloom said is absolutely right, that FOX News is the Bill Cosby of media companies.
But, at the same time, unfortunately, sexual harassment has not changed. And one of the points that really we're making at Women in the World this week is, because we have Gretchen Carlson, who is really the giant killer with regard to this, because she's the person who toppled Roger Ailes.
STELTER: The first to sue Ailes, yes.
BROWN: But she also was a very affluent woman with a lot of connections and a top lawyer who's also joining us.
But, you know, most women don't have such means. They cannot hire a top lawyer. And there was sexual harassment in industries like food and beverage and in retail. Look at the Kay Jeweler case recently.
Or even look at the Uber case, where the frat club of Silicon Valley, it's unchanged. So it's really a huge issue that has to be addressed.
Actually, Kirsten Gillibrand has been very good on this, particularly with regard to the military, where she talks about how the superiors in the military cannot adjudicate these cases because frequently they're the harassers.
STELTER: And you included that in your op-ed this morning in "The New York Times."
And there was a quote I wanted to put up on screen from in this morning's paper. You wrote: "In corporations, it's turned out that the trouble is not the glass ceiling. It's the sticky floor."
Tell us about that. What do you mean?
BROWN: Well, what I means, is that we keep hear -- you hear all of these big CEOs at Davos that are swinging around talking about the pipeline, they like to call it, about the big pipeline of women headed for the top and all of these schemes and initiatives about developing women to go to the top.
But they don't get there. The numbers are still paltry. And it is that women are still kind of stuck there in the middle. They may well be very high in the companies, but they're not making it to the top spot.
And that's largely because corporations are not hospitable to women and their different needs. They're still stuck in the sort of 20th century sort of male construct of what a business environment looks like, rather than reinventing the business environment for the needs today of a wholly different kind of a working life.
STELTER: In the media business, is that partly because these companies, these big media companies are still almost all run by men?
BROWN: They are all run by men.
And we'd like to think that Bill O'Reilly is part of the sort of -- is a Paleolithic predator from the age when the white entitlement of guys of his kind was, you know, still there, but it's actually all the way through the company.
And I think at this point, they have to clean out that entire shop. That culture is not fixed. And it won't be really until Bill O'Reilly hits the door.
STELTER: Now, you did make it to the top of "The New Yorker," "Vanity Fair," creating The Daily Beast.
Now, if you were running a daily newsroom right now or a magazine right now, how would you be covering President Trump?
BROWN: Well, I think, if I was editing "Vanity Fair," I would put him in the cover of Mad King Ludwig. I would have him in a gold bathrobe wearing a crooked crown holding his iPhone tweeting, because we're covering a kind of -- it's almost like being in the ward of a mental hospital half the time with what's going on with Trump.
BROWN: You can't make it up.
STELTER: You think that we're all the patients of the mental hospital? What do you mean?
BROWN: I mean that watching his behavior, it's like watching out of control -- that's what makes it such riveting viewing.
His entire administration seems to be so out of control. And, unfortunately, it's addictive.
STELTER: Is that part of the problem?
There was a "New Yorker" cartoon this week, right, that said we're just at home binge-watching CNN.
STELTER: And folks here at CNN liked that. Right? Ratings are up across the board for Trump coverage.
BROWN: You can't get enough of it.
STELTER: Is that a bad thing in some ways?
BROWN: It's a disastrous thing, because you're actually talking about very serious things that are not being discussed, and that is what's so scary about it. I was thinking the other day, how many hours have been spent by
everybody in Washington in the last, you know, two months, whether it's in the intelligence community, national security, everybody trying to kind of retrofit the crazy tweet about being eavesdropped by Obama?
It's like the need to backfill his mendacity by so many different agencies is the most time-consuming thing right now in government.
STELTER: It was a month ago. And we're never going to get that month ago, that tweet...
BROWN: Exactly. It's like, think about all of the things that weren't done in that month.
STELTER: You have Hillary Clinton at your conference this week.
What would you like to hear her address? What do you think she should be doing next?
BROWN: That is a very interesting question.
We have her introduced by Samantha Bee.
STELTER: That will be interesting.
BROWN: Yes, and interviewed by Nick Kristof of "The Times."
I think that everybody in our summit, Women in the World, is really looking for from her a way forward. It's because, in a sense, you know, her loss has motivated women in a way that in a sense her campaign never quite managed to ignite.
So it's as if suddenly there's this huge wakeup call really for feminism, kind of rejuvenated feminism, a different kind of feminism, where women are saying it's up to us to man the barricades of social justice and figure out how we can now have a game plan to go forward.
I think it's very interesting to hear from Hillary about what she thinks we can all do at this point to make sure that much of the things that she certainly cared about and many Americans cared about, because, as we know, she won the popular vote, really do, you know, have top of mind.
STELTER: You included that in your column, that she won by three million votes. Do you think that sometimes come across as just -- as complaining or as bitter?
BROWN: No, I think it's just a fact. I don't feel that -- it's not post-truth. It is the truth.
STELTER: You think it's worth reminding people that she did win the popular vote?
BROWN: I do think we have gone overboard in trying to say that real people have sent us a new message.
I think there's too much of a crouch position from the so-called elite about, you know, how we didn't listen to real people. Well, guess what? I don't think that people who actually know stuff should feel somehow embarrassed about the stuff that they know.
You don't go to have your leg amputated by someone who just walked in off the street. And the fact is that...
STELTER: That's true.
BROWN: ... people who know things, who know facts, whether it's about the economy, whether it's about journalism, whether it's about what's happening in foreign affairs, are worth listening to.
And they're not morons because they're not just in a red state, you know, with an iPhone.
STELTER: In defense of experts.
Tina, it's great to see you.
BROWN: Thank you.
STELTER: Thank you very much for being here.
Up here after the break, it's International Fact-Checking Day. Yes, we're going to celebrate with the editor of PolitiFact right after this.
STELTER: It seems appropriate that yesterday was April Fool's Day, so today is International Fact-Checking Day. Yes, that's an official name, a bunch of organizations celebrating the day.
So, I'm joined now by one of the top fact-checkers in the business, Angie Holan. She's the editor in chief of PolitiFact.
Angie, why does fact-checking need a holiday?
ANGIE DROBNIC HOLAN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, POLITIFACT.COM: I think we need to bring more attention to facts, reason, evidence, logic.
There is so much information, misinformation out there right now. And people need to think about, what sources do they trust? How do they know if something is true or not? Because it's easy to get fooled right now.
STELTER: Compared to the campaign season, when in the fall, before Election Day, there was talk about all those fake news Web sites trying to trick people with bogus stories, is it better now? Are there fewer of those sorts of stories out there, or is it just as bad as it was during the campaign?
HOLAN: It seems like it's just as bad.
Now, it's hard to tell because this is all Internet, it's all being put out by anonymous players. It's hard to measure. But from what we're seeing, as far as things to fact-check, it's a never-ending stream. We just can't seem to fact-check enough right now.
STELTER: And what about President Trump? I mean, during the campaign, PolitiFact and your rivals also found that he was by far the most inaccurate speaker on the campaign trail. He was coming up with more falsehoods than other candidates. Has he improved his credibility since taking office?
HOLAN: As far as what we choose to fact-check, which are statements that grab our attention and sound wrong, his track record has not improved.
He's still, on our scale, earning about 70 percent of Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. The other thing that I have noticed about President Trump is, he will stick to his inaccurate talking points. He won't drop them, the way some of the more traditional and experienced politicians would do if they get repeatedly fact-checked on them.
STELTER: So does that mean fact-checking doesn't really work?
HOLAN: I think fact-checking works from the point of view of citizens being informed.
I think people really need to have their skepticism up and they need to really look at their news sources to see if they're getting information that's good.
STELTER: That is the eternal challenge, isn't it? Your point is, you're not in business to tell President Trump what's true. You're in business to tell everybody else what he says is true or false.
HOLAN: And that's exactly the point. Democracy doesn't work without an informed electorate.
And, right now, for people who are seeking credible, accurate, independently vetted information, they can't just wait for it to come to them. They have to actively seek it out.
STELTER: Well, happy Fact-Checking Day. Thanks for helping us celebrate.
HOLAN: Thanks for having me.
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