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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Harassment Scandal Dethrones Cable News King; Anchor Opens Up About FOX's Culture of Harassment; Fox News Still Subject of Grand Jury Investigation Over Settlements; Trump to Hold Rally Instead of Attend White House Correspondents Dinner; The Trump White House and Transparency. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired April 23, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:04] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey, 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, of how the news gets made.
Ahead this hour, three White House correspondents analyzing Trump's decision to keep visitor logs from the public and his move to counter- program the White House correspondents dinner.
And once a reality show star always a reality show, right?
But the biggest media story of the week, one of the biggest of the year, is the sudden downfall of the man behind me, FOX News Channel's biggest star -- the swift cancellation of Bill O'Reilly's show. For O'Reilly, the spin stops here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: I grabbed some vacation because it's spring and Easter time. Last fall, I booked a trip that should be terrific. I'm not going to tell you where it is, but we have a contest on billoreilly.com, guess where Bill is going? I'll have a full report when I return.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: But he is not returning. While O'Reilly was on vacation, the men who control FOX News, the Murdochs, had an outside law firm to investigate new allegations of harassment by O'Reilly against women in the workplace.
We don't know exactly what the law firm found but it was enough to dismiss O'Reilly. This was unthinkable three weeks ago. But it turns out even O'Reilly was not too big to fire.
Later this hour, we'll broaden out and examine the toxic culture that FOX News boss Roger Ailes created. CNN's Alisyn Camerota will speak with me about the harassment she says she experienced in Roger Ailes' office. While this week was in some ways about O'Reilly's end, it was also a
new beginning. It was a beginning for victims of harassment in the workplace, a feeling that issues are finally being addressed.
Here are what some of the O'Reilly accusers said on television this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CAROLINE HELDMAN: I had been warned by numerous people that he had engaged in sexual harassment with them. I felt like I needed to take a shower afterwards. He undresses women with his eyes!
PERQUITA BURGESS: As I was getting off the elevator, he said, "Looking good there, girl", and he would come around my desk, leer at me, look me up and down. Like sitting there minding my business and h walks past and says, "Hey, hot chocolate."
WENDY WALSH: And then he caught up with me and said, no, no, come back to my suite. At that point, it became hostile and then he spent the time weaning me off the show and getting his executive producer to cancel me.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
STELTER: Bill O'Reilly is being paid $25 million on the way out the door. There's lots of speculation about what he may do next.
Let's keep the focus on these accusers, as well on the choice by the Murdoch family to dismiss O'Reilly.
Joining me now to discuss this, my all star panel, Emily Steel, one of the reporters of "The New York Times" who discovered the secret harassment payments and ultimately lead to O'Reilly's departure. And next to her, Jamia Wilson, executive director of Women Action and the Media, and Sarah Ellison, special correspondent for "Vanity Fair".
Thank you all for being here this morning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for having us.
STELTER: Emily, I was saying that you had a big part in this. Do you feel your -- your story came out on April 1st detailing secret settlements between O'Reilly and these accusers. Now, here we are 21 days later and he is out of a job.
EMILY STEEL, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: What is your question?
STELTER: Do you feel you played a big part in that?
STEEL: What I think happened is these payments, these settlements, these allegations against Bill O'Reilly were secret. Nobody knew about them. The company had helped protect him. Bill O'Reilly himself had struck these agreements so that nobody would learn about this.
And I think what our reporting did was exposed what these women had said had had happened and that company's cover-up and the protection of Bill O'Reilly.
STELTER: Cover-up, there was a cover-up?
STEEL: There was a protection of him. Yes.
STELTER: So, Gretchen Carlson sued Roger Ailes last summer. We all know what happened next. Ailes resigned. Gretchen was paid $20 million. There was a public apology.
Is that when you started looking into O'Reilly?
STEEL: Yes. It was -- in the summer, we had started to look into what happened with the Andrea Mackris dispute (ph) from 2004, when a woman who was a producer on Bill O'Reilly show came forward with allegations against him. And we looked at that scandal.
And in the course of our reporting, we found that there were other women who also had allegations against Bill O'Reilly and who also had reached settlements after reporting inappropriate behavior.
STELTER: Take us behind the scenes, how did you find these other women?
STEEL: So, a lot of that, we can't talk about, Brian. A lot of it is our reporting. But what I can tell you is that we have talked to dozens and dozens an dozens of people. And we also, through a pretty analysis of the people who had appeared on Bill O'Reilly show and that was a good place to start, of people who to talk to.
STELTER: You are saying some of this was in plain sight, it was on O'Reilly show. You analyze who was appearing on his regularly and then reach out to those women.
STEEL: I wouldn't say that a lot of this was hidden on plain sight. A lot of -- a lot of what we unearth were that there were five settlements with women who had reported allegations about this behavior.
STEEL: And those settlements were designed to never become public.
[11:05:02] They had ironclad confidentiality agreement, with one of them that we actually viewed. If there was any infringement, then there would be a $500,000 violation for each infringement. So, these settlements were not designed to be discussed, to be made public. And that's what our reporting showed.
STELTER: Now, here we are 21 days later. Did you expect that O'Reilly would be out of a job three weeks after your story was published?
STEEL: You know, it was at the time when the sorry was reported, it was really hard to tell. There was this (INAUDIBLE) record of the company's protection of him that the company itself was the one that struck the deals with two women in the months after Ailes' departure.
And in addition to what we know is the company reach a new contract with Bill O'Reilly this year, and that was a four-year deal worth $25 million a year. And at that time, they struck that contract, they knew about at least some of the allegations against Bill O'Reilly.
STELTER: And that really brings us to the Murdochs, Sarah. You have been covering the house of Murdoch for many years. What do you make of this choice to renew his deal in March, knowing Emily's story was in the works and then to cancel him in April?
SARAH ELLISON, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR: Well, the one thing I would defer with Emily one is we know about Andrea Mackris, right? We know about that settlement.
STELTER: That was the one we knew about, yes.
ELLISON: That was the one that we absolutely, you know, had been reported on. And that was back in 2004. So, even while the Ailes situation was beginning on we knew there were other things that was sort of there.
I think that what the difference was this time around is that these sons, James and Lachlan Murdoch, had sort of opened up this new avenue. They had had hired an outside law firm. They decided that they were going to say to their own employees, we take these things seriously. And so, once you put an outside law firm there, once you have a hotline of people actually can call, it really takes the genie out of the bottle.
And the question for them and I think one reason why O'Reilly was separated from the company and why he is gone is that the company really knows that there are other women there and there would be a continuous drip of other people who are going to come out. Now, we're going to see those other people still come out. But at least they'll be able to say, well, we have taken, you know, very strong action.
The question for the Murdochs and for the sons specifically as they've taken this new stand is, how deep did they really want to go?
STELTER: So, the confluence of events here that we're describing is, the initial "New York Times" by Emily and Michael Schmidt, and then advertisers withdrawing from "O'Reilly Factor", other women coming forward, calling the hot line, partly thanks to attorney Lisa Bloom, who was leading the way as an activist on this, other organizations, Jamia, like Color of Change also creating pressure in the company. And then, internal pressure within the big FOX media company, employees uncomfortable with O'Reilly.
Jamia, what do you make of the ad boycott element of this. What does it tell, you know, perhaps, liberal groups or advocacy groups that want to see in the future, is this a road map for the future?
JAMIA WILSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WOMEN, ACTION & THE MEDIA: What it tells us is this road map that was started by our ancestors works. Economic solidarity and action from women of color, women like groups and people of colored lead groups works and when we work together in diverse coalitions, we can make things happen. We can win.
STELTER: There was one important piece. Let's take a look at what Bill O'Reilly has said about this topic. In 2004, he was discussing this idea about women making harassment claims. Here's what he said at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: I think that the sexual harassment thing is used as a club, as I said, by many women, all right? It's something they have against men, a threat to keep men at bay, in a very competitive market place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: That's what he said around the time of the Andrea Mackris situation. Now, his defense has some echoes thirteen layers. Let's go on screen, part of his response on the day he was ousted from FOX News. He said, "It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims."
Jamia, your reaction?
WILSON: My reaction to this is that it's not really surprising, given the fact that typical abuser behavior is such gaslighting and harassment intimidation are often used to discredit people who have less power and status due to social dynamics and also positional dynamics within a workforce.
And so, him casting doubt and undermining the voices of people who share their experiences with harassment actually aligns with the habit and practices and the patters of power imbalance and exploitation with FOX's culture and with denying those claims I think that that's another example of saying that the women who stepped forward weren't telling the truth and trying to share we responsibility and cast blame instead of changing a culture to one that makes it a fair an equal workplace for all.
STELTER: That's your take. His view is, he's a victim and he needs to say he's a victim. I wonder, Sarah, let me a little bit cynical here, in order stay employed, keep selling books, find a show on another network, doesn't O'Reilly have to keep denying this?
[11:10:05] Doesn't he have to keep arguing that this was completely unfounded all along?
ELLISON: Well, I think that is certainly his position. He is backed up by the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who defended him right after Emily's story came out, saying that I don't think he did anything wrong. And I think if this gets to a larger question of, some of these, if you look at FOX, if you watch FOX News and you see, for example, Gretchen Carlson this summer, there were examples of what her co-host Steve Doocy was saying to her.
You have seen Bill O'Reilly make statements on air that some people find really offensive, and I think that he can say, "This is unfounded. This is just the way men talk. This is just the way things are."
And I think that he certainly will continue to defend himself and he sees, you know, other opportunities for himself in the future.
STELTER: What do you think he'll do now? I mean, he's got a podcast. He's back on Monday. Maybe he'll talk about this tomorrow in his podcast.
ELLISON: I'm not sure he's going to go that far into this.
STELTER: We don't think that he can legally?
ELLISON: Well, I think that he probably can really continue to defend himself, saying that these are untrue. But I think that this the continued war against PC culture, men being victimized by, you know, minorities and women. I mean, this is all sort of a piece.
STELTER: Emily, do you have the same sense that it was instantly political? The moment your story came out, this became politicize?
STEEL: You know, it did and Sarah noted that a couple of days after the story, "The Times" did an interview with Donald Trump, in which he defended Bill O'Reilly. And as soon as the president of the United States is defending the character, it comes a political issue.
STELTER: So, last question for you, what does your gut tell you what about what O'Reilly will do next?
STEEL: You know, I think that really remains to be seen. We -- he was on this perch at FOX News for 20 years. That's a very long time. And I really don't know what's going to come --
STELTER: Maybe he doesn't know.
ELLISON: Right. I mean, he has his bestselling book. He certainly has a platform of his own. FOX News isn't as dominant as it used to be. It's still the number cable channel, but there are all kinds of other outlets that exist. So, he's probably figuring that out now.
STELTER: You know, when he came back -- when he planned to come back from vacation on Monday he was going to announce his next "Killing" book on his show on FOX. You know, he has this bestselling line of books, "Killing Reagan", "Killing Patton", et cetera. He was going to announce the next one on his air, you have to wonder how it's going to affect his book deals and things like that down the line.
Thank you all for being here. Thank you very much.
Coming up next this morning, a woman coming forward for the first time detailing Roger Ailes behavior. The culture of harassment at FOX, putting the spotlight on the alleged victims here, right after this.
[11:16:38] STELTER: The culture of harassment at FOX News came from the top-down. It came from Roger Ailes. The same man who built up FOX News into a conservative force allegedly tore down women through sexist behavior and ideological bullying.
Ailes had a long history in Republican politics in TV before creating FOX News. According to Gabriel Sherman's reporting, Ailes was investigated for hurling an anti-Semitic slur at a colleague back the mid-1990s, when he was running CNBC. Then he went over to FOX News.
So, what was he like to work with? What tone did he set at FOX for Bill O'Reilly and other employees?
You know, anchors rarely jump from FOX to other networks which makes this next interview unusual. Alisyn Camerota did leave. She spent more than a decade at FOX before joining CNN in 2014. For the first time, she is speaking in depth about the harassment she experienced at FOX.
Alisyn, thanks for sitting down with me.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: My pleasure.
STELTER: This week on your program "NEW DAY", you said there was harassment at FOX. It sounded like you were speaking from firsthand experience. You were speaking about this for the first time. Why now?
CAMEROTA: Well, I don't relish the idea of talking about this. I left FOX about three years ago and have, you know, tried to respect my previous workplace. I still have lots of close friends there. I talk to them all of the time, I have lunch with them, I see them and I don't -- I don't like if idea of even criticizing my past workplace where I was for many years.
But something feels different this week. It felt like there was a tipping point this week. You know, when Roger Ailes was ousted in July, there was a lot of talk about where culture was there and now, with Bill O'Reilly having been fired, it feels as though if I take the Murdochs at their word, they really want to know what was wrong there and what the culture was like. And I don't know how you get that from silence.
So, it feels like this might be the right time to just have this conversation and let some daylight in.
STELTER: And you said on the air Bill O'Reilly never harassed you. But you didn't say that about Roger Ailes. Did Roger Ailes ever sexually harass you?
CAMEROTA: Yes. Roger Ailes did sexually harass me. Let me be clear: Roger Ailes was -- could be charming. He could be
quite charismatic. He can uproariously funny.
He could also be a bit of a bully and mean. And he also was often kind of grossly inappropriate with things that he would say. I think many of us experienced that.
He would talk about body parts. He would say give me a spin. He would want to be greeted with a hug.
But this time that I remember most was when I was first starting out at FOX and I was single. And I remember being in Roger's office. I was saying I wanted more opportunity. He said, well, I would have to work with you.
STELTER: Work with you?
CAMEROTA: I would have to work with you on that case. I would have to work with you really closely.
And it may require us getting to know each other better. And that might have to happen away from here. It might have to happen at a hotel. Do you know what I'm saying?
[11:20:03] And I said, yes, I think I do know what you're saying.
And I just want to say that I knew in my head I'm never going to that hotel under any circumstances. But I didn't know what that meant for me and my career. I remember vividly I had sort of an out of body experience hovering over us in the office, and thinking, is this it? Is this the end of my time here? Will I be fired if I don't do this?
And I just want everybody to understand that when it happens, there is a visceral reaction that you have where you recognize my career and everything that I worked for is under threat and I don't know what's going to happen next.
STELTER: And you end up then doing what?
CAMEROTA: Well, I just went home and I didn't tell anybody at the time because I was embarrassed. It is sort of humiliating.
CAMEROTA: It's embarrassing. When, you know, this man you have gone to tell about your strengths and to sort of see if he thinks that you're doing a good job at work, you know, makes that sort of proposition -- it is demeaning and it is humiliating. So, I was so embarrassed to tell people.
I decided personally, and everybody deals with it, I'm going to ignore that. I'm going to pretend that never happened. He then changed his M.O., and when I say I experienced harassment there, it was different. For me, it was no longer sexual harassment. It was harassment of a different variety.
STELTER: What do you mean?
CAMEROTA: It was sort of emotional harassment. Roger Ailes ruled with an iron fist. He wanted us all to fall in and have his worldview and say the things that he wanted us to say on FOX News.
He targeted me because he sort of figured out early on that I didn't share his world view. And he said you're not saying the conservative things that I want you to say, and you could be a real role model and you could be a real star if only you could sound conservative sometimes.
I said, well, Roger, that's not my job. I'm not supposed to sound conservative or liberal. I'm supposed to be a fair and balanced, in your terms, journalist. I'm supposed to be open and I'm not supposed to take a side.
And that he didn't appreciate or particularly like. I was often, you know, sort of called on the carpet for things because he thought that I wasn't reflecting the conservative agenda. So, he and I had a lot of interaction and some times arguments. Sometimes, he would lecture. Sometimes, he would insult me.
STELTER: So, that's a different form of culture rot within an organization. Bullying or emotional harassment?
CAMEROTA: You'll have to make a choice at that point, of whether or not you're just going to make it easy, your life easy and go along with what he wants you to see, or if you're going to try to fight it and try to stand up for sort of finding the truth or trying to stand up for representing both sides. And I would, you know, say to him, when he would identify something that he thought that I hadn't been conservative enough, sounding, and I would say, you know, Roger, first of all, isn't it supposed to be fair and balanced? Aren't I supposed to be playing devil's advocate? Am I supposed to be representing --
STELTER: Isn't that my job?
CAMEROTA: Isn't that my job? Or am I supposed to be representing the other side? And he said, there is no other side.
Roger's world view, there was no other side. Liberals were always wrong. Conservatives were generally right, and that's what he felt we should be reflecting on the air.
So, when I say there was bullying, it was very unpleasant at times to be alone in Roger's office when he would, you know, boom and bellow at me about how I was getting it wrong.
STELTER: Is Ailes' behavior part of the reason you left FOX a few years ago?
CAMEROTA: Yes, it is. I realized that, you know, Roger was quite clear about how, if only you could say these things, I could make you a big star and I give you great timeslots.
STELTER: So, you're saying, it was first "come to my hotel room". When you rejected it, then it became "say the things I want you to say on air."
CAMEROTA: Yes. But I don't believe those were mutually exclusive. He liked -- you know, both of those things were things he was obviously interested in.
But I didn't -- I don't believe that's journalism. I really wrestled with that. I didn't want to only have to talk about Roger's agenda and the things that Roger thought were best for this country. I thought there was room for debate, and that there was certainly room to hear the other side.
And so, it became clear to me fairly early that I was in a dead-end job and that Roger was never going to convert me and that I was never going to be the person, the mouthpiece that he wanted me to be, and that I needed to go.
[11:25:04] And I just -- I don't like the idea of being summoned to the boss's office and being called on the carpet and being either yelled at or criticized or insulted.
And it gotten really tiresome, so much so that towards the end, I started refusing to go to Roger's office.
STELTER: Roger Ailes, now, Bill O'Reilly, was FOX just rotten at its core?
CAMEROTA: Well, no, FOX wasn't rotten at its core. I mean, Roger was the king and, obviously, everything trickled down from him. So, when he said grossly inappropriate things about women's bodies, there was a feeling there then that's more appropriate and you're not going to get in trouble for that.
So, on that level, he certainly had an impact in terms of the culture and the feelings there. However, there are tons of good people there. There are real journalists. They're trying to do their jobs. They are nice people.
It wasn't just, you know, a constant sort of cloud of toxicity.
STELTER: That's an important point. There has been speculation about Ailes deputies who are now the ones running the network, saying, are they the next to go? Do you need to be cleaned out in order to change the culture? What do you think?
CAMEROTA: I don't know the answer to that. I know that the people in charge, the second tier, the managers, look, I can only speak from my experience. And they were always good to me. They tried.
They -- when they know that Roger was marginalizing, when I was passed over time and again for things that I was clearly qualified for, they felt for me. And they tried to make a case for me to him. They tried I think to speak reason to him, but he was the king.
I trust that the culture has changed. With Roger gone, with the Murdochs moving so quickly now to try to amend what was happening with O'Reilly, clearly, they want the culture to change. STELTER: FOX has become a symbol of problematic workplace. And maybe
there's lessons being learned from that.
CAMEROTA: Well, I hope so. I mean, if this is exhibit A and the reason that I'm talking about it now and the reason we are having this conversation is, because, you know, let's air it out. I mean, I think that there was a lot of suffering in silence and people who felt humiliated and people who felt scared and people who felt intimidated. But let's talk about it, and let's talk about what's unacceptable and how bad it feels to be on the receiving end of it. And I don't know. I mean, I do think that this is a turning point.
So, if that's -- if everything that's happened at FOX is valuable in that way, then I hope that people are more free to speak there and everywhere now.
STELTER: Alisyn, thanks so much.
CAMEROTA: My pleasure, Brian. Great talking to you.
This morning, I reached out to Ailes attorney, Susan Estrich, and shared Camerota's account. Estrich said, quote, "These are unsubstantiated and false allegations. Mr. Ailes never engaged in the inappropriate conversations she now claims occurred and he vigorously denies this fictional account of her interactions with him and of FOX News editorial policy."
Ailes, through Estrich, has also denied all of the other claims against him. Camerota pointed out to me that Estrich was not the in the room. She does not know what happened.
Now, after the break here, what's next for FOX? What's next for conservative media?
We'll be right back with two experts.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
FOX News is trying to make a clean break with the past, ousting Roger Ailes last summer, ousting Bill O'Reilly this week. The Murdoch, the men who control the company, say they are trying to make things right.
But the network FOX News is still the subject of a grand jury investigation over whether there were settlements to alleged harassment victims that were disguised in some way, not disclosed to investors.
This could be a very big deal going forward, this federal investigation.
Now, FOX's ratings have held up very well overall, even when O'Reilly was off last week. There were people filling in. But can FOX hold onto its title as conservative media juggernaut? And what's going happen with this investigation?
Joining me now with insight, Laura Coates, a former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, and David Zurawik, a media critic with "The Baltimore Sun."
Thanks, both, for being here.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.
DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, "THE BALTIMORE SUN": Thank you.
STELTER: Laura, there is so much we don't know about this federal investigation. The existence of it has leaked out. We know one of the elements involves alleged settlement payments and whether investors knew about them.
Tell us how this is going to transpire. Right? There has been reports of grand jury meetings. What could be happening right now and how does this usually go about?
COATES: So, remember, the grand jury process is designed to be secretive.
Also was alleged to have been secretive was that FOX News was paying settlements in the form of a salary payment so investors would not have to know about it. The reason this is important legally is because a company doesn't have to disclose every single payment it makes in terms of a settlement or otherwise to its investors.
The linchpin is whether it is material information that would help to guide an investor's decision about whether or not to invest in the company. And, arguably, you know, a string of settlements that are made to reflect a corporate culture that be harassing in quality or may show there is a bigger businessman management problem would be material to any investor.
STELTER: Material. I used to think material meant, well, if it's a billion-dollar company, it's a million dollars, maybe that's not material to the bottom line.
But you're saying it's actually about more than that. It's about the reputation of the company and what could happen down to line to the company, that that's what makes harassment payouts material.
And, of course, I'm not going to make anyone do math on a Sunday morning, but it does come down to the numbers in terms of how this would play. Normally, it would be a drop in the bucket. This is a very, very lucrative business.
STELTER: A big company. Right. Right.
COATES: However, if these sorts of allegations were going to make the head of the company vulnerable, the captain of that ship, vulnerable to termination, and it did, or Bill O'Reilly, arguably the leader of the network in terms of its ratings, vulnerable to termination, which it now did, an investor wants to know this is down the pipeline to decide what they should be doing.
And if it was not disclosed to an investor, that's big problem to the SEC.
STELTER: So this is a cloud that now hangs over the Murdochs about this federal investigation.
STELTER: David Zurawik, isn't the other angle of this sprawling story -- we talked about the money involved here. We talked about the ad boycott and what effect that had. We talked about internal pressure at FOX, what impact that had.
What about the Sky deal in Britain, the Murdochs trying to have this big deal go through in Britain? And there's a concern regulators might try to block it if they don't think the Murdochs are a fit and proper owner.
Well, they have more time. They delayed it now, so more people can come forward and testify about it. And I absolutely think that is a concern. It may have been one of the reasons that FOX was trying to move swiftly on this phase of it.
Absolutely, I think that's a real problem. That is real money, even by any broadcasting company's standards.
STELTER: Yes, the regulator said they would review the deal by May. Now they're saying they need until June, so it does create this further delay.
STELTER: Ultimately, David, is it discouraging that this was all about money, that it was all about O'Reilly getting paid $25 million on the way out to never appear again? Or is that encouraging? Is it encouraging to activists in a situation like this?
ZURAWIK: Brian, you know the one thing I have learned -- it took me about 15 years to learn that the answer to every question about television is always money. Every question about media, I think, is always money.
So that's not surprising to me. Sure it's discouraging that Ailes and O'Reilly get these kind of payouts. It's discouraging to people. And I'm sure you heard the same kind of jokes in the morning about, wow, this is what you get paid for bad behavior in this society.
It is a bad model, but, look, I think it's important that these two guys were taken down. I think it's only, it's only the start. Now the hard work comes for the Murdoch brothers, if they want to really go in there and root out the rest of the culture.
This is a culture that has been in place for over 20 years. Alisyn's interview with you this morning was really, really powerful. She described that moment ago when it's out of body and you see your career ending if you make a choice.
Women went through that for a long time. Then the way they reciprocated by not advancing her career, Brian, other people had to know. Middle-range managers have to know, why isn't this woman being promoted when she is the best person on my team right now?
They knew what it is. They went along with it. You have to move it down. Look, Bill Shine has been named in a number of these cases.
STELTER: Bill Shine, the current co-president of FOX News.
You have to look at that. If the Murdoch brothers go there, then it gets bloody. Changing a culture of 20 years is very hard work. You cut off the head. You got rid of the new face of this culture, but there's a lot more work to be done for FOX.
I really believe that. And if they stop here, they are going to have a problem. And I think some of this is going to come up in that European testimony.
STELTER: FOX says, for example, 96 percent of FOX employees have now gone through harassment and sensitivity training. They now know about the hot line to call.
Laura, what does all this mean for further exposures to lawsuits? There are some other spending suits involving FOX personnel and Ailes. Is it possible that, if you remove O'Reilly, you remove Ailes, that that makes it a lot of easier for the company to defend itself in these suits or to settle for a lower amount?
COATES: It does advance their defense if they trying to revamp the corporate culture.
What it doesn't do is erase or excuse any knowledge they may have had at the time these actions were occurring. Remember, just because it came to light now to the rest of the world does not meant that it was not well known to the management or executives at FOX News.
If that is the case, if they essentially sanctioned this sort of culture, then I would say they're being very vulnerable to future suits that say, look, you can no longer do what you did with Gretchen Carlson, which is say, we had no idea this was possibly happening. Now you're aware of Bill O'Reilly and you're aware of other settlements. Surely you knew about my case as well.
STELTER: Laura Coates, David Zurawik, thank you very much.
COATES: Thank you.
ZURAWIK: Thank you, Brian.
STELTER: Tomorrow, FOX starts to introduce a new prime-time lineup. We will have all the latest developments in our nightly newsletter, RELIABLESOURCES.com. You can sign up right now at RELIABLESOURCES.com.
We will be tracking Tucker Carlson's first week at 8:00 p.m., the ratings game, all of that. So, sign up right now.
Up next here: Donald Trump saying the press will -- quote -- "kill him." That's a quote from his Twitter feed in the slew of the first 100 days coming this week.
We will have a look at the contentious and often contradictory relationship the president has with the press right after this.
STELTER: Hey. Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
President Trump is snubbing next Saturday's White House Correspondents Dinner. But we found out yesterday he will be counterprogramming it. He's got a prime-time rally planned in Pennsylvania.
Trump opting for applause instead of laughs at his expense, but it puts his contentious relationship with the press back in the spotlight.
Here for our first-100-day review, three reporters who have been covering Trump since day one.
Joining me now in Washington, Glenn Thrush, White House correspondent for "The New York Times," April Ryan, White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, also a CNN political analyst, and Kaitlan Collins, White House correspondent for "The Daily Caller."
April, what are you going to do? Are you going to the dinner or go to got to the rally next Saturday?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm going to go to the dinner and then probably Sunday I will look all the coverage from the first 100 days. We are going to the dinner.
STELTER: What about you, Glenn? Are you going to go to the dinner?
GLENN THRUSH, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": We're not -- I think "The New York Times," as you know, Mr. Stelter, has a policy of not going.
I think I will just kind of hang outside and pine for the days when I was able to have all that rubber chicken and listen to terrible jokes.
STELTER: The chicken is not that good.
You can watch on C-SPAN or CNN.
Kaitlan, what are you going to do? Is somebody else going to write about the dinner off of the live coverage or something? Do you know?
KAITLAN COLLINS, "THE DAILY CALLER": I will be at the dinner.
STELTER: OK. So others will cover the rally live?
COLLINS: Others will cover the rally. I won't be covering it that night.
STELTER: This is that choice that is going to have to be made.
So, Kaitlan, I'm curious. As we hear about this rally, are reporters relishing this artificial 100-day deadline because they can use it to take swipes at the president's relative lack of accomplishments?
COLLINS: I think Donald Trump is upset about the 100-day deadline now.
I have always felt this was a ridiculous deadline and I don't think it accurately reflects what a president has accomplished in his years in the White House. So, I do agree that it's a silly deadline.
But Donald Trump has regularly touted this deadline. He has tweeted about it. He said, look what I will accomplish in my first 100 days. He has put out a list of what he hopes to get done.
But now that his 100 days is coming to an end and he hasn't accomplished that much legislatively, he doesn't want anyone to talk about the 100-day deadline. You can't have it both ways. You have got to stick with that it's a silly deadline, or you have got to do something in the first 100 days and let people review those.
STELTER: I'm going to use it as a real deadline and take a look at January 20 vs. now.
Glenn, I get the sense there has been some change, some softening of the president's anti-media position, for example, giving an interview to you and Maggie Haberman a couple weeks ago.
Am I right that there has been a little bit of softening?
THRUSH: I mean, I never bought the shtick in the first place that he hated the media.
THRUSH: He has a dual role. Maggie and I both come out of the tabloids in New York City. We know that his -- this is the thing that he plays, kind of the slap
and tickle approach.
STELTER: Slap and tickle approach?
STELTER: You got me there. OK.
THRUSH: What I think is really also a difference in the first 100 days is what you just heard Kaitlan say.
I was on a panel with a Breitbart reporter about a week-and-a-half ago, and he too was talking about the president needing to fulfill some of the campaign promises he made. I think what's happened in the first 100 days, one of the most noteworthy developments in media is what's going on with FOX and also what is going on with conservative media, who are now I think, to a much greater extent, holding this president to account in terms of his campaign promises.
STELTER: So, you know, I'm thinking about the Breitbart coverage, thinking about the conservative media coverage.
They are not just sticking to sort of the pro-Trump line. Right? They're not just automatically in all situations taking his back. Is that what you're saying?
THRUSH: Yes, unless you're talking about "FOX & Friends, right, which has rapidly turned into the president's favorite television show.
I think we're starting to see -- I think FOX is an outlier on this. I think a lot of their reportorial talent at FOX are very skeptical. John Roberts is a very good questioner in the Briefing Room, for instance.
But I think in terms of the conservative media that were presumed to be supportive of Trump are being much more skeptical these days.
STELTER: Going back to January 20, that famous press secretary tirade on January 21, April, could we make the case that things have not been as bad as they could have been between the press and the president?
There are still essentially daily on-camera briefings. There are still on-background briefing and interviews. The president is speaking to some, not many, but some non-FOX outlets.
Can we make the case that some of the worst fears of the press corps have not been realized?
RYAN: To Sean Spicer's credit, he has not pushed us out of the White House. If he did try, there would be a fight. And to his credit, he has continued the daily briefings for the most part. And he's also brought in some of the principals to the Briefing Room. But still the issue is access and information. He is doing that, but the information piece is the problem. And you have those pieces with many administrations.
But, for instance, visitor logs, we have been asking for things like that. We have been asking a lot of things. And he will direct us to someone else or to another agency. But he does get credit for keeping the briefings.
But the issues of transparency and other issues like that and more information and access, that's the problem.
STELTER: Visitor logs, man, I have got to admit, I am still frustrated about this visitor log thing, even though a week ago the White House announced they are not going to be sharing who is visiting the White House.
Let's take a quick break and come back on that issue. I want to talk about the power of pictures to give us access.
We will be right back with the panel in just a moment.
STELTER: Let me show you two pictures, two pictures that defy the official secrecy of the Trump administration.
This first picture shows you what the White House is not showing you, who is visiting the president. This news of Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock, their night at the White House, maybe never would have been made public if the former governor hadn't posted these images on social media.
Why? That's because the Trump administration has broken with a precedent set by his predecessor, President Obama. This White House refusing to release White House visitor logs, even partially redacted ones.
Now, the other picture I want to show you, it shows how the Trump administration can sometimes be at odds at with the facts. We've all heard about the aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson that actually was not on the way to the North Korea.
How do we know? Because of images published by the military right on the Web showing the Naval air carrier was still headed in the opposite direction.
Now, before taking office, President Trump called President Obama the least transparent president ever. This is Trump's tweet: "Why does Obama believe he shouldn't comply with records releases that his predecessors did of their own volition? Hiding something?"
Now the same question being asked of Trump White House.
Let's bring back our panel show, Glenn Thrush, April Ryan, and Kaitlan Collins.
Kaitlan, you challenged Sean Spicer about this earlier in the week. I think the argument basically is, if Obama only opened the door halfway, why aren't you all opening it all the way? Instead, the Trump administration is closing the door entirely, not sharing visitor logs at all.
Were you satisfied with the administration's explanation about this?
COLLINS: Absolutely not.
They cited national security concerns for why they aren't releasing these logs. And it's funny to me that when the logs work in Donald Trump's favor, he's a fan of them. But when they don't, and it's who is he letting in his White House, he doesn't want people to know that.
Whenever Jeff Sessions and Mike Flynn were coming under fire for meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States, I looked through the visitor logs to see how many times he was welcomed in Barack Obama's White House.
And it turned out to be dozens of times. Donald Trump tweeted out that story, and was saying look how many times Barack Obama welcomed him to his White House. But then when we want to know who Donald Trump is welcoming into his White House, he shuts the visitor logs down.
So, it is not OK. We need to know who is going into the White House and who could be potentially influencing policy.
STELTER: And, Glenn, when we don't have that information, does that just mean more and more people leak to you instead? You and Haberman wrote a great piece about what happened inside the night that Kid Rock and Sarah Palin were there.
Hey, if it wasn't for Ted Nugent returning my phone call, we would never know, for instance, that the president spent four hours on a school night with Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock.
Look, they had a very far-ranging discussion of policy matters, guns and ammunition, rock 'n' roll. The president served them baked Alaska in Sarah Palin's honor. He even showed them the bulletproof glass on the windows of the White House. It was a fist-class tour.
I think the point that you make about transparency and the point that Kaitlan makes is dead on. It would be cool if we didn't know that Sarah Palin came there, but I think it is very important in terms of accountability.
And this is a very leaky White House, and my suspicion is that sooner or later, they're going to cough up these logs, whether they want to or not. STELTER: This is not a left or right issue. This is a visibility vs.
Let me turn to the missing aircraft carrier, which is now actually believed to be on the way to the Korean Peninsula.
April, what is your read on this? Was this another credibility blow to the White House?
And this is not just talking heads stuff. This is something that the American public is talking about. We're seeing in polls the trust and credibility issue for this president is not there. It's very minimal, if anything.
Now, when you come to an issue of sending an armada somewhere, you cannot just make that call in a moment's notice. I have talked to intelligence officials, as well as generals, to find out what happened. And they said you cannot just summon someone right now to turn. This has got to be something that is planned out, a strategy.
The issue of credibility was knocked right there with that, with that statement.
STELTER: Does this mean, April, the next time the president says -- quote -- "We're sending an armada" -- that's what he said to FOX's Maria Bartiromo -- do you have to report that more cautiously, add more caveats, say, hey, we can't even confirm this is true?
Are we going to have to be more and more careful taking the administration's word on these matters?
RYAN: What we will do what as White House press people, reporters, we will actually take what the president says and actually go in and find out what the real truth is.
We will call generals, we will call our sources in the intelligence community and find out what's going on, because, unfortunately, there's more of an onus to really take what he says, the president or the press secretary or anyone in this administration, and dig a little bit more to find out the truth, go into the weeds and find out what's really happening.
So, we will take what he says, but also dig a bit deeper to find out where the truth may lie, if there is indeed a problem with the truth.
STELTER: Right. It's what we always do, but there's more pressure to do it now.
It ended up being a military reporter just scrolling through Navy Web sites, seeing these pictures, informing us of what was really going on.
Thirty seconds left, Glenn. We saw new approval ratings from NBC and ABC today, the president at 40 or 42 percent approval. There was some conventional wisdom that military strikes would boost his approval ratings. In fact, it was said on this program last week.
That conventional wisdom turn out not to be true, Glenn?
THRUSH: Yes, I think so.
And only 62 percent of the American people supported that. Again, it shows the extraordinary polarization. And a 40 percent approval rating isn't just historically low. It's not cosmetic. It bodes ill for what he is attempting to do legislatively over the next six months, which is a substantial agenda and will define his presidency.
STELTER: April, Kaitlan, Glenn, thank you all for being here.
We're out of time here on TV, but log on to RELIABLESOURCES.com for our seven-day-a-week media coverage. You can sign up there for our nightly newsletter. I will be sending it out tonight around maybe 10:00, maybe 11:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Thanks for tuning in.