Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Seven Killed, 48 Injured in London Terror Attack; Trump Renews Call for Travel Ban After London Attacks; Spokesman Says He Can't Speak for President; Three Big Shakeups in the Media World This Week; American Journalist Quits Russian-Owned Media Operation; The Biggest Congressional Hearing on Television Since Watergate. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired June 4, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:06] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter, and this is RELIABLE SOURCES.
With the aftermath of another terror attack, filling television screens right now, let's get to the breaking news out of London. Seven people dead there, 48 wounded, now we're told 36 victims are still at the hospital at this hour after Saturday night's attack.
First, three terrorists rammed a white van into pedestrians on the London Bridge. Then, the assailants went on a stabbing spree. The terrorists were killed by police.
Now, new this morning, British officials say that 12 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.
Joining me now with the latest from London, Clarissa Ward, CNN senior international correspondent.
Clarissa, we just heard from the health service that 21 of those patients remain in critical condition. This indicates some of the stabbing wounds were quite severe. What's the latest where you're at?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. It is entirely possible, Brian, and we've seen this in many attacks of this nature before that the death toll will indeed rise. So far, though, as you said, seven people confirmed dead and 12 people still in hospital in critical condition.
Meanwhile, we're also learning that 12 people have been arrested this morning. Notwithstanding that, there has not been a decision made, Brian, to lift the threat level to critical. It is currently on severe, which is the second highest level. After the Manchester attacks, the threat level was elevated to critical.
But in this instance, the impression that we're being given is they do not believe there is a larger network beyond the three attackers who, as you said, were killed on the scene, shot dead by police -- and I should add, according to British authorities, shot dead within eight minutes. This was an incredibly rapid response from British police authorities, obviously taking some pride in that, although there is some real concern because there have now been three terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom, Brian, in as many months.
And we also heard from the British Prime Minister Theresa May today, who was standing here behind me just a few hours ago, who said that five other credible terrorist plots have been foiled in that time, too. So, that's eight terrorist plots in just a few months.
So, clearly, Britain coming to terms with the fact that it does have a major problem. We heard Prime Minister May articulate some possible ways of dealing with this problem. But the most important thing, or the most marked thing I think she said was Britain has been too tolerant for too long, and there is a need now to reassess or re- evaluate some counterterrorism protocol, particularly the issue of how long you can detain a suspect without charging them.
So, definitely, a sense that this is still a fluid sensation not in terms of the network being any larger than the three assailants who were killed, but in terms of the kind of political ramifications, Brian.
STELTER: And to that point, I've seen some criticism on social media, Clarissa, of a "New York Times" headline saying Britain is reeling after those three attacks. I saw another channel here in the U.S. this morning saying "London under siege" right now.
How true is that? What does it really feel like there in London?
WARD: Well, I have to tell you, Brian, that, you know, I grew up mostly in the U.K. and the British are famous for their stiff upper lip, and I do think we're still seeing that very much on display here. The attitude that I have seen, while of course people are distressed by this and people don't want to see this happening and there's a level of fear and anxiety.
The predominant thing I see is a kind of -- an indignance, almost, like hold on a second. You're not going to change our way of life, you're not going to get us to compromise our values, you're not going to get us to change the way that we live, the values we treasure so dearly, you're not going to change our democracy, and you're not going to divide us, which, of course, is usually the goal with these types of attacks.
Britain has a large Muslim population. There is a lot of chatter from ISIS quarters about the need to kind of destroy this gray zone of Muslims who live in the West. But so far, the response we're seeing from those British people on the streets of London, Brian, is, no, thank you very much. We're the United Kingdom and we intend to remain that way.
STELTER: Keeping calm and carrying on. Clarissa, thanks very much.
Here in the United States, President Trump has been commenting on the London terrorist attack via Twitter. One of his posts in the past few hours said, quote: we must stop being politically incorrect and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart, it will only get worse. Now, that was in the 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time hour. It may or may not
be a coincidence that two guests on the president's favorite morning show, "Fox & Friends", both brought up the scourge of political correctness in the 6:00 a.m. hour.
Here now with more on the president's reaction and other reactions, CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein, and "Baltimore Sun" media critic, David Zurawik.
Carl, first to you. Do you feel the president is trying to perpetuate fear of terrorism by tweeting the way he has today?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think this is probably a moment when Republicans wish for a Ronald Reagan in the White House whose first concern would have been to express the horror and sympathies and prayers to the victims and their families rather than go on a political rant first and think of the victims later.
STELTER: The president did say or last night, he did --
BERNSTEIN: He did, later. Later.
BERNSTEIN: Later. His first instinct was to talk about, we need to get smart and tough and vigilant --
STELTER: That's right. That was his very first tweet.
BERNSTEIN: We have been tough and strong and vigilant, as the people in the Department of Homeland Security would tell you. Most of the professionals are against his travel ban, who work there. I'm a reporter, I talk to them. They don't think this travel ban against Muslims, which is how originally it was conceived as a good idea or necessary.
And as for political correctness, I think, in fact, the president and others are right in saying that journalists need to address the subject of radical Islamic terrorism and terrorism in the name of Islam for what it is. I've said that to you and others on the air. I think it's the case, but it's not the primary issue here. The primary issue is being effective, and I'm not sure the president has advanced his cause at all in that regard.
BLITZER: Some commentators also objected on Saturday night when the president retweeted the "Drudge Report". We'll pop it up on screen briefly. He was retweeting a headline saying there are fears of a new terror attack with 20 people mowed down London Bridge. This was before British officials were calling this a terrorist attack.
Now, the president had received an intel briefing, but then he is sharing a "Drudge Report" link.
Zurawik, what do you make of this? I think it's unusual the White House has not actually issued a statement condemning the attack in London. All we've really heard from the White House are the president's tweets on my computer here. We've heard from the State Department, but not from the White House. It's really the president himself directly tweeting. That's the only official White House statement.
DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Yes, and that's really -- you know, we've been living in this universe now for a while, but it's really problematic with an event like this. And I'll tell you something, the way those tweets with talk of political correctness were picked up -- I watched "Fox & Friends" during the 8:00 hour, Brian. And there were two people, Nigel Farage, a contributor from the U.K., and Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent, and they both echoed, it was an echo chamber for Trump. Bongino called it garbage political correctness, raising the rhetoric to an angrier. That's not where we should be at this point after an event like that immediately.
But what's interesting to me is it's generated out of the White House now. It's not coming from the media. It's not coming from polarized media devices. The president opens the door to his tweets and then the echo chambers jumped in with it and immediately the debate goes to this angry, partisan, really problematic level.
You know, with Farage, one of the host says, well, now, you've mentioned internment camps. Is that where you -- and she wanted to say, is that where you wanted to see this go? And he even dialed it back a little and said, well, I'm saying, certainly events like this make an argument for it. We're talking about internment camps a few hours after this happened --
STELTER: David, since you brought that up, let me show you how Fox then clarified later in the morning. Here's the clip from "Fox & Friends."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earlier on the show, we had a couple guests mention the word internment, the idea of interment camps as a possible solution to this. I think I made it well know my feeling on that, which I find reprehensible. But on behalf of the network, I think all of us here find that idea reprehensible here at FOX News Channel, just to be clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No suggestions of that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Interesting to see the "Fox and Friends" hosts try to make that clarification.
Let me bring up one more point about cable news first to you, David, and then, Carl, I want you to weigh in as well. This is what MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said on Twitter as this attack, the aftermath, was unfolding in London last night. He said, quote: memo to cable news executives. Report the breaking news and move on. Do not give terrorists the publicity they crave.
David, first to you, first to you on this -- is the incessant television coverage after something like Manchester, something like London Bridget attack actually worsening the problem?
ZURAWIK: I don't think it's worsening the problem. And any media news executive who takes advice from Joe Scarborough needs to have his or her head examined, because look at how his show covered Trump during the campaign. Nobody gave Trump a bigger foothold early on than Joe Scarborough, and now he hates him. He was back and forth, back and forth through the whole thing.
He knows nothing about news judgment on what we should be doing.
STELTER: He's been putting a show on the air for a number of years. You don't think he has any legitimacy (ph) to the idea here?
ZURAWIK: His performance is not a news performance.
[11:10:02] He is not --
STELTER: All right. But put Joe aside. When an attack like this is wallpapered across television?
ZURAWIK: Yes, yes. Here's the thing, you don't say let's not cover it, because the people involved want coverage. If that was the case, we wouldn't have covered the anti-war protests. We wouldn't cover riots in our city and we would be much worse off for it.
Brian, you do cover this. And there is also a competitive notion here. CNN International is the best at this. They are the best at rolling coverage because they spend the money to have reporters around the world, OK?
I want that kind of coverage and normally when something like this happens, CNN's ratings go up. So, for Joe who works for another network to say this is disingenuous in that sense, too. He's not the person to be listening to, is all I'm saying.
Look, I like his show. I watch it in the morning. But Joe is also a gas bag a lot of times and this was a gas bag tweet worthy of Trump.
STELTER: All right. See, what I appreciate about Joe's tweet is that when I'm watching all this coverage, like everybody else, I'm wanting the anchors to try to bring the temperature down and put it into perspective. And sometimes we see that happen.
I worry about how fearful people become as a result of the coverage of these attacks.
Carl, your thoughts? BERNSTEIN: This attack is real news, and the tone that is set by anchors in presenting the real news is of paramount importance. And the tone set by the president of the United States is of paramount importance.
And the tone that was way off, I believe, in this instance, was the tone of the president of the United States, instead of setting the tone of Theresa May who went right to the point, talked about being firm and tough, and at the same time compassion immediately, not exaggerating, not going for the political jugular, not going for easy answers. She sees complexity.
Our president doesn't deal well with complexity. He sees things in black and white, and this is this is another example of it. And as I say, Ronald Reagan to me would have been a model here. If we look at what he did in moments where you want to bring the country together, bring the forces of good in the world together, look, at Reagan's example, not at Trump's.
STELTER: I remember a news executive once saying to me, everything in television is all about tone.
Carl, David, please stick around. We're going to bring you both back later this hour.
Coming up here next, Sean Spicer says he can't speak for the president. But reporters have not been able to ask Trump himself some key questions.
Also later, Scott Pelley leaving the "CBS Evening News" anchor chair, not of his own accord. We're going to have more on that and other media shakeups.
Plus, clearly must-see TV later this week. Coming up on Thursday, James Comey expected to testify before a Senate panel. We'll have a preview, right after this.
[11:16:38] STELTER: White House correspondents are frustrated. That's my sense watching the briefings, talking with reporters. It's been very frustrating trying to get answers from Trump or his aides about the president's own views on, well, for example, climate change. Instead of a straightforward response, there was a lot of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I haven't asked him. I can get back to you.
Yes, I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion.
I don't -- I have not, as I mentioned, I have not had an opportunity to specifically talk to the president about that. UNIDENTIFEID MALE: I do not speak for the president.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Please ask him that. And I hope you have your chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Hmm, but how can we ask the president anything when his last TV interview was more than three weeks ago? That was with Jeanine Pirro at Fox New.
This is one of the president's longest stretches without giving any television interviews. Is this some new anti-press press strategy?
Let's ask Olivia Nuzzi, the Washington correspondent for "New York Magazine", and John Gizzi, chief political columnist and White House correspondent for "Newsmax".
John, you're on the briefing room almost every day. You've become -- well, to the extent that there are on camera briefings.
What is your sense of this White House strategy? Should the president be giving more interviews, holding more press conferences, answering more questions?
JOHN GIZZI, CHIEF POLITICAL COLUMNIST & WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEWSMAX: Well, I do wish, Brian, that the president would have at least have one news conference followed by a series of interviews. That was the pattern in the embryonic stages of the Trump administrations.
Now, having said that, I would point out that presidents have gone through periods in which there is relatively little communication. The difference between then and now being that past spokesmen usually did have effective and detailed, full answers for reporters.
STELTER: And there's all this talk about scaling back the on-camera press briefings. Is it your sense that that's going to happen, John? There were two on-camera briefings during the short holiday week.
GIZZI: Absolutely not and I'll tell you why. This is a president who likes ratings. He loves to talk about ratings of his former reality show, for example.
Well, it should be pointed out when people come up to me after church or in the grocery store and say, I saw you on Sean Spicer, it's akin to saying, I saw you on "CSI" or "Law and Order." Four-point-six million Americans watch Sean Spicer or the briefings every day. I don't think they're going to pull back on the film version of it.
STELTER: On the briefings.
Olivia, though, are the briefings worthwhile if Sean Spicer doesn't have answers to the questions that are being asked? For example, about whether the president still thinks climate change is a hoax?
GIZZI: All right.
OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I think that they are certainly worthwhile. It is always worthwhile to question this administration on the record, on camera. I think it's very important to do even if we are not getting straight answers, even if we are being misled, even if we are not getting answers at all, which was the case often this week.
I think it is outrageous and we need to completely say that it's outrageous and continue to say that it's outrageous that Sean Spicer cannot speak for the man that he's working for. He's a public servant. His job is to give us information so that we can give it to the public. And he is not doing that right now. He's not fulfilling his job.
So, I think it is completely absurd that that's happening, the fact that he didn't know what the president thinks about the biggest story this week.
[11:20:01] It's a little hard to believe and you have to wonder why he's doing that.
STELTER: Maybe because he doesn't want to know. It's better for him to feign ignorance or be ignorant.
NUZZI: I think that's certainly a possibility that he's trying to sort of protect himself by feigning ignorance, as you said. I think it's also a possibility that he doesn't want to be undercut by President Trump again. This has happened a number of times where Sean Spicer had said something publicly, and then later, the president comes out and makes it clear that what he said was false. So, he's probably protecting himself here. I think that's fair to say.
But again, it's important that we question on the record, on camera nonetheless.
STELTER: John, your view?
GIZZI: My view is that one always gets information out of the press conference when he or she pursues a particular topic. There were rumors floating around for example that President Trump was going to abandon the list of 20-plus judicial candidates that he said he wanted to consider for the Supreme Court and that he revealed during the campaign. And I asked flatly at the briefing if the list was being abandoned or it would be used for the next Supreme Court vacancy, and the answer from the podium was, the list would continue to be used for future vacancies on the highest court in the land.
That was a news story right there. I'm sure you would agree.
STELTER: I do agree. I mean, if I had my way, there'd be briefings five days a week on camera, not four, three, two, or one day a week.
Olivia, let me ask you about the broader story what I think -- I mean, I've been on baby leave for a couple of weeks.
STELTER: But the broader story that I was seeing as a viewer -- thank you -- was that we're continuing to see inaccuracies and misstatements and mistakes, whatever you want to call them, from this White House, whether it's about the president saying there's been more jobs created than there have been or other matters.
How did journalists, to the extent that they should, try to keep making it a story that there's honesty or misinformation coming from the White House? How do you make that as a writer? How do you make this a news story and not, you know, just kind of get numb to it all?
NUZZI: I don't know about you, Brian or John, but I wake up every day since the beginning of his -- the advent of his career formally in June of 2015, and I am newly stunned by the things that he says. I'm newly stunned every time he says something inaccurate, every time he lies, every time he says something outrageous. I'm newly outraged by it, as someone who cares about the truth. And I think most reporters wake up to it every day and they feel that way when they see some of the things that he says.
And so, it's not difficult for me and I don't feel like it's a struggle. But I think it's important to, as you said, not get numb to it. It's important to remember that a lot of what's happening now is not normal. He's flouting a lot of norms of our democracy and I think it's important to make sure that we tell our readers that, you tell your viewers that as often as we can.
STELTER: So, John, you work for a conservative outlet, "Newsmax". Chris Ruddy, the head of the company, has been on this program before. Does what Olivia just said sound like media bias to you?
GIZZI: I wouldn't say that exactly. I would say that a lot of reporters certainly do gulp when they're waiting to read the tweets from the White House early in the morning, and I'm sure the White House does. But look, Brian and Olivia, you know perhaps better than I that it's a changing news media, that the 24-hour news cycle and instant responses are naturally going to breed faster responses, sometimes without the panning --
GIZZI: -- and details that have come in the past. But as the German philosopher Goethe once said, sometimes it's hardest just before it's easy.
NUZZI: But, Brian, to what John just said --
STELTER: Go ahead, Olivia.
NUZZI: President Trump is the person who frankly is doing that, who is reacting to the news before we had anything confirmed. We saw that with the terror attack in London last night. He retweeted "Drudge" before he even said he has got some prayers for anybody involved in that terror attack.
So, I think if anyone is reacting quickly to the news are saying that that they haven't quite thought through. It's this administration and its president.
STELTER: A quick note on that point I made about the interviews, the three weeks without TV interview. I did ask the White House if anything coming up, any big interviews in the works this week, nothing official, at least not now. We'll see if the president does kind of resume his pattern of giving more interviews to outlets.
Olivia, John, thank you both.
NUZZI: Thank you.
GIZZI: Thanks for having us, Brian, and congratulations on fatherhood.
STELTER: Thank you. Thank you very much. So far so good.
Up next here, HBO's "Bill Maher". I was not watching because of the baby, but he's facing backlash for using a racial slur on Friday night. We're going to talk about that and other big media stories of the week with David Zurawik right after a quick break.
[11:25:29] STELTER: Police at Scotland Yard saying they're making significant progress in tracking down and identifying the London attackers. Let's listen in live.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But when faced with what they must have feared with three suicide bombers, the firearm officers fired an unprecedented number of rounds to be completely confident that they had neutralized the threat those men posed.
I'm humbled by the bravery of an officer who will rush towards a potential suicide bomber thinking only of protecting others.
As the officers confronted the terrorists, a member of the public also suffered a gunshot wound. Although the injuries are not critical in nature, they are in hospital receiving medical attention, and we will of course keep you updated on that.
Seven people have been killed in addition to the three attackers. Work to inform the next of kin of the victims is ongoing, and this may take sometime as we believe some of the victims are from abroad. On top of that, we have 36 people remaining in the hospital, suffering from a range of injuries, some of which are extremely serious, and 21 remain in critical condition.
You will have heard today about the British transport police officer who sustained injuries in the attack responding to the incident. I can also confirm an off-duty metropolitan police officer was caught up in the attack. Fortunately, he has not suffered life-threatening injuries. He remains in hospital. The investigation team are taking statements from hundreds of witnesses and I can appeal to anybody with information on the incident to make contact with the police.
The cordons in place around London Bridge and around borough market will remain in place (INAUDIBLE) and we encourage the public to avoid the areas whilst our investigation continues. This is going to have some impact on travel arrangements in the first part of tomorrow morning and we'd ask everyone to check with their travel operators and seek alternate route where necessary.
Now, the public can expect to see additional police both armed and unarmed across the capital over forthcoming days and our security plans and policing plans of forthcoming events are being reviewed.
You will also see increased physical measures in order to keep the public safe on London's bridges.
Finally, I ask the public to remain calm but vigilant. And if you see anything suspicious, no matter how insignificant you think it might be, please don't hesitate to contact the police, either 999 or anti- terrorism hotline, 0800-789-321. I'll take a couple of questions.
REPORTER: Do you think all the perpetrators were shot dead by your officers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are increasingly confident that this attack was conducted by three individuals. Clearly, we need to establish whether any associates or anyone else involved in the planning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to finish the work from those involved before I get further details in respect to that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we have routine plans for a terrorist incident, and specialist support from the military to be involved where necessary, and this incident was resolved by police officers as the first reporters.
REPORTER: The military arrive after to be dealt with or they didn't arrive --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The military weren't involved in the resolution of the incident. Thank you all very much.
STELTER: You've been listening to a police official there at Scotland Yard updating the public on last night's terrorist attack in London. The official said the government is increasingly confident that the attack was conducted by only three individuals. So, there are not other perpetrators still at large.
He also provided an update on the injury count. There are now 21 critically injured people inside the hospitals there, still. Others injured as well. He said some of the injuries are extremely serious.
He also announced that eight police officers fired around 60 round when they arrived on scene. He said the metropolitan police suffered a number of rounds during this altercation, when they arrived on scene as these three men were apparently trying to stab people inside the pubs, inside the restaurant at borough market.
Getting update there now from local police.
Quick break here. More RELIABLE SOURCES in a moment.
STELTER: Hey. Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
One, two, no, three big shakeups in the media world this week, and now this weekend calls for a fourth.
The first, comedian Kathy Griffin canned by CNN after a graphic anti- Trump photo shoot. She held a press conference on Friday, an ill- advised press conference saying she is a victim. The point is, she will not be on CNN's New Year's Eve show anymore.
Over on CBS, Scott Pelley won't be on the evening news much longer. He is being replaced by the network bosses.
And there are big changes at "The New York Times" this week as well, the public editor column being eliminated and the paper is also looking to cuts its ranks of editors.
Here to talk about all that and more, back with me now, David Zurawik, "Baltimore Sun"'s media critic.
And, David, the big story this week, Bill Maher of HBO on the hot seat. He dropped a racial slur during an interview on Friday night.
Let's take a look at the clip first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": I have got to get to Nebraska more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome. We would love to have you work in the fields with us.
MAHER: Work in the fields? Senator, I'm a house (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
No, it's -- it's a joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: Sort of out of nowhere there, David.
Obviously, Bill Maher's shtick is about being controversial and shocking. He's been on HBO for years. HBO, like CNN, both owned by Time Warner. What we have heard so far is an apology from Maher and HBO saying it was inappropriate and it won't air on any of the replays of Bill Maher's show.
Is that enough, David? Is that enough to hear from HBO?
ZURAWIK: Brian, this is a tough one.
Look, I think HBO was great with that statement denouncing it right away. That was good. I think his apology helped, but his apology really was, I was on live TV.
Come on. We're on live TV. That kind of word comes out of somewhere. And so -- and, Brian, you know, I teach at Goucher College. I teach a course on First Amendment and free speech.
And the students of color who talk in that course testify to how words like that hurt them, intimidate them, keep them from achieving their full potential, is heartbreaking.
So, I think HBO has to do more when we come back to work, maybe a suspension or something, but this is not OK. This is not OK to just say, I said it, I'm sorry. That word shouldn't be coming out of the mouth of a guy who is one of your lead voices of political commentary.
STELTER: Now to Kathy Griffin. Earlier in the week, of course, TMZ published that photo of her appearing to hold up a bloody head of President Trump, widely denounced by pretty much everybody.
STELTER: CNN said she won't be back on New Year's Eve show with Anderson Cooper.
And now on Friday, she was having a press conference. She says that Trump is trying to ruin her. Is it smart for her to be out there trying to gain public sympathy?
ZURAWIK: I thought that press conference was nuts. And I thought it was beyond disingenuous. It was almost sleazy after what she did to try to paint herself as a victim and appropriate -- really, there is a large cultural moment that we're living in, as I have written about, where patriarchs, people who still believe in patriarchy, who believe men can control women, are being brought down, from Bill Cosby to Roger Ailes to Bill O'Reilly.
This is a big moment. She is not one of the patriarch slayers. She's done none of that kind of work, the kind of work, say, that Megyn Kelly or Rachel Maddow is doing.
So, for her to try to appropriate that after this action is outrageous. Look, this is not political commentary, this is not First Amendment stuff. She is a shock jock. She's always been a shock jock. She's closer to shock jock than she is anything with political commentary.
And that press conference was outrageous. I couldn't believe they did it either.
STELTER: Yes, it made a bad thing worse.
Next on our list, CBS, Scott Pelley. I was shocked by this announcement midweek that Pelley is being moved to "60 Minutes." He's going to work full time for "60 Minutes." They're bringing in a new anchor for the "Cbs Evening News."
Now, a lot of folks say, oh, the nightly news don't matter anymore. I think it does, still has a number of viewers, six, seven, eight million viewers for Pelley's show. But he was stuck in third place, just like his predecessors at "CBS Evening News."
What was your read on why they're moving him off, trying someone new?
ZURAWIK: Brian, I just think you can't, with a shrinking audience -- and by the way, for the last 15 years, they have been saying it's a dinosaur. And I have been saying they're making a lot of money off that dinosaur yet.
ZURAWIK: I agree with you it's not done yet by a long shot.
But with those shrinking audiences and resources going -- network resources going to morning shows, prime-time news magazines, where they can make more money, you can't afford to be in third place and not moving the needle at all.
Here's what I think about Pelley. Pelley has got some really good things. I share most of his values as a journalist. But he mimicked, he imitated Dan Rather, even Edward R. Murrow, in an age where it's a very different television medium. It's more improvisational. It's more fluid. It's more relaxed.
His formality from that era when television was more formal, with someone speaking down to you from the heights of the anchor desk, is gone. And he was not going to pick up.
Look, they tried the same thing, you know, "The New York Times," and 350,000 new digital subscriptions since they have really gone at Trump. CBS tried that, too, with him, and saw nothing. I think they looked at that and said, look, we are never going to move the dial with this guy and we can't afford to run it at this level.
I don't blame him. By the way, being a correspondent at "60 Minutes" is a pretty nice way to make a living when you're in your 60s and 70s, so I don't think we need to feel sorry for Scott.
STELTER: And we don't know who is going to be replacing him yet. Anthony Mason will fill in for the time being starting in a few weeks, but we don't know who the new evening news anchor will be.
ZURAWIK: Bob Schieffer. He's the only guy -- I'm kidding, I'm kidding.
ZURAWIK: But he had great ratings. He had great ratings.
STELTER: After Rather, before Couric, right.
ZURAWIK: I thought they should have given him the job.
STELTER: Right. Right.
Last one for you, "New York Times" moving the public editor, Liz Spayd. This was her last column today. They're also trying to cut back on other editor roles. But the public editor job is unique. It's kind of like an ombudsman, a person who is there to represent the readers.
We're seeing fewer and fewer of those jobs across the media. David, frankly, there's fewer and fewer critics at print newspapers, the way you are at "The Baltimore Sun."
What does it matter that "The New York Times" is removing this job?
ZURAWIK: I don't -- look, two things are going on here.
This is, again, a tough call. "The Times" gives itself good cover when it's laying off editors and people in their newsroom to say, hey, we can't afford this job. On the other hand, they're hiring all kinds of new people in a way for digital.
STELTER: Right. They're removing all their editors. They're bringing in younger Web people, right, right.
ZURAWIK: Which is fine. That's the only way newspapers are going to survive. I get that.
Here's the thing. I think, symbolically, them getting rid of their public editor matters. But, Brian, you know that it's a very hard thing. For someone to be paid by "The New York Times" and legitimately criticize them is complicated.
And Liz Spayd, now, she took on values I believe in, is that, in covering Trump, we should hew to legacy values of fairness and balance and all that. She was constantly in a way, I think, at odds with "The New York Times," which has taken a much more aggressive approach towards Trump.
Look, if I'm the editor and I'm getting them 300,000 new digital subscriptions, and every week, I got to read my public editor criticizing me, I might mention to the publisher that, hey, maybe we can do without this job.
I mean, that's the way real newspapers work in some ways. I'm sorry to see that person leave the job, but I will tell you something else. Margaret Sullivan ran that job and did it in a different way. I think, maybe because she was a former editor, she knew how to maneuver within the realm of newspaper politics.
I think she did a really good job. I would be much more upset if she was leaving the job. Let me put it that way.
STELTER: Yes, well, it makes "The Times" a little less transparent. And these newsrooms need a little more of that, not less, I think.
ZURAWIK: Oh, Brian, by the way, the publisher's argument that social media is the new answer for...
ZURAWIK: Oh, that's crazy. That's so crazy. I can't believe it.
ZURAWIK: Yes, if you let social media tell you what -- tell "The New York Times" what to do, we are in hell already. We're not going in a handbasket.
STELTER: All right, Zurawik, thanks very much for being there.
ZURAWIK: Thank you, Brian.
STELTER: For more on all these stories, sign up for our nightly newsletter, RELIABLESOURCES.com. Log on there now on your phone or your computer. Click sign up and you will get our nightly recap of all the day's media news.
Up next here on CNN: What finally caused a White House reporter for a Russian news agency to say, I'm fed up, I'm quitting? He will join me for an exclusive interview right after this.
STELTER: What happens when a Russian-owned media operation is part of the U.S. journalism landscape?
According to one former reporter, nothing good.
Andrew Feinberg, the former White House correspondent for Sputnik, a Russian-owned wire, radio and digital news service, took to Twitter a few days ago and said he's quitting, he's leaving.
He said -- quote -- "It seems Sputnik is not happy with real journalists. They would have rather have actual propagandists operate anonymously."
Joining me now for his first live TV interview on the matter is Andrew Feinberg, who is now willing to talk about his experience there.
Andrew, good to see you.
ANDREW FEINBERG, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR SPUTNIK: Good to see you, Brian.
STELTER: So, you were in the Briefing Room for months asking questions of Sean Spicer, covering the White House like every other reporter there?
STELTER: And what was different?
FEINBERG: Well, the difference wasn't in what I was doing at the White House. The difference is what's happening back at the office.
And what's happening back at the office is, I'm being fed questions top-down. I don't have the opportunity to develop my own stories or my own leads.
FEINBERG: I'm being told, you will ask this, you will cover this.
STELTER: Pro-Russian questions? What does that mean?
FEINBERG: Things that are bizarre and just don't comport with reality.
For instance, after the gas attack in Syria, that horrible sarin gas attack, I was asked to put questions to the White House that framed the -- the issue in such a way that made it seem like the attack didn't happen, that it was staged, things like that, just things that seemed like, you know, to them, they frame it like a reasonable question, but it's really pushing a narrative that doesn't comport with reality.
STELTER: Now, other newsrooms, the heads of newsrooms at, I don't know, NBC or "The New York Times," might suggest a question to their White House correspondent.
You're saying the difference here is that it was propagandistic approach?
FEINBERG: The difference is, in another environment, it would be a suggestion. At Sputnik, it was an order.
And when I did ask a question that was of my own volition that did have to do with Russia, why won't the United States send weapons to Ukraine, when there is money in the budget and the law gives the president the authority, I was told, no, you must clear your questions with us, and if you don't have any ideas for us to approve, we will send them to you.
STELTER: I see.
So, people right now, they can log on, they can look up Sputnik news' Web site. It has a big Web site. It's all over social media...
FEINBERG: Yes, it is.
STELTER: ... just like R.T., Russia Today, for those of you who have heard of that cable channel.
You knew about Sputnik when you joined, right? You knew it was owned by Russia.
FEINBERG: Oh, yes.
STELTER: So, why did you join?
FEINBERG: Well, I will tell you, I think that there is a legitimate purpose for state-sponsoring news agencies.
The gathering and dissemination of news should be considered a public good. And there are very good state-sponsored agencies out there, the BBC, Voice of America. Agence France-Presse is technically state- sponsored. And there are others, Al-Jazeera also. And they do great work.
But there is a difference a state-sponsored entity, like all of those, and one like Sputnik that is essentially state-controlled.
STELTER: So, you're essentially warning viewers or readers now not to necessarily be able to trust what they hear from Sputnik or R.T.?
Everything that they write -- they don't always print absolute falsehoods. That would be very hard to get away with in today's environment, with the Internet and such.
But they will take something innocuous or a minor detail or a big story, and they will flip on its head to this upside-down universe and frame it in such a way that it fits a narrative that's not real. Things like the Occupy protests and some of the protests against President Trump so far have been framed.
And there was an article on Sputnik's Web site yesterday that was shared by one of their radio hosts: Is George Soros bringing a color revolution to the United States?
So, to us, to normal journalists, you have protests and the First Amendment, but, to them, you know, they push the narrative that the United States is crumbling, it's a failed state.
STELTER: Now, and Sputnik came out with a statement and said, we're saddened, that you're spreading false accusations, and, hopefully, you won't create more, as they said, conspiracy theories about Sputnik.
Any reaction to your former bosses?
FEINBERG: I think that's an interesting choice of words coming from them, a place that pushed that Seth Rich lie, that Seth Rich was murdered -- he was a former DNC staffer -- I'm sure your viewers know this -- that was murdered.
And places on the right and Sputnik were pushing the idea that he was the one that leaked all of those e-mails to WikiLeaks.
STELTER: Right, a sick conspiracy theory, yes.
FEINBERG: And the reason that Sputnik is so invested in this and R.T. is invested is because, if this guy, who they claimed had more access to everyone's e-mail than the I.T. guy, even though he was just an election data analysis, if he did it, then Russia wasn't involved.
That's why they're so invested.
STELTER: There's always a sort of reason behind the scenes for these slanted stories.
Andrew, great to see you. Thank you for being here.
FEINBERG: Not a problem.
STELTER: Appreciate it.
Coming up next: Carl Bernstein back talking about this week's upcoming congressional hearing, perhaps the biggest congressional hearing on television since Watergate.
We will be right back.
STELTER: Hey. Welcome back.
This week, President Trump's Rose Garden announcement that he was removing the United States from the Paris accord on climate change was the biggest political live TV event of the week. It was carried all across the channels, as you can see there.
But I suspect next Thursday will be bigger. All the broadcast networks have already said they will carry the Comey show live on Thursday morning. That's James Comey, the former FBI director, set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the investigation into possible coordination or even collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Now, this is going to be a moment for the history books, at least the biggest since the Lewinsky scandal, maybe going all the way back to Watergate, in terms of live television coverage of testimony. Let me bring back Carl Bernstein, of course, one-half on the famed
Woodward and Bernstein pair that broke Watergate wide open.
I'm thinking, Carl, this is at least going to be the biggest television event since election night last fall. But it stretches back further. There are really historical consequences to this.
What will you be looking for on Thursday?
BERNSTEIN: I think the real comparison with Watergate that is apt and that tells us a lot so far is that Donald Trump is not nearly as effective at presiding over a cover-up as Richard Nixon was.
After being in office for only four months, he now has to face the spectacle of his fired FBI director who has been replaced by someone conducting an even more aggressive investigation, with even more credibility than Comey, now trying to close in on the cover-up in the White House.
Nixon was a three-dimensional figure. Trump emerges as a one- dimensional figure, and to his detriment. And Comey, in what we have heard from him thus far about dealing with Trump, rescores the notion of Trump being one-dimensional and trying to cover up and close down this investigation at a very inopportune moment for Trump.
STELTER: I wonder if you and your former colleague Bob Woodward don't quite see eye to eye on this.
He's said in the past, let's see what the evidence is -- quote -- "This is not Watergate yet." He's been critical of what he says is a smug media going overboard about President Trump.
Have you all talked? And is there a sort of disagreement between the Woodward-Bernstein pair?
BERNSTEIN: No, I think there's a difference of emphasis, that, in fact, Bob and I both agree we need to see the facts.
The facts are thus far we know there is a cover-up. We're unclear what it is exactly is being covered up. But, as for emphasis, I don't think the emphasis is and ought to be on smugness by the media. The real emphasis is the great reporting done by "The Washington Post," "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal," CNN, the Associated Press, "Mother Jones."
This has been an instance of great reporting, out-of-the-box, better than there was in Watergate, because there are many more news organizations involved than when just "The Washington Post" and maybe "The Times" were doing the Watergate reporting.
BERNSTEIN: So, I think the emphasis ought to be on the reporting. And Bob is right in saying let's see what the facts are.
But smug? No, I think that's secondary. STELTER: Only 30 seconds left.
You get some folks saying, hey, people out in Middle America don't care about this Russia thing. What do you say to that?
BERNSTEIN: That our job as reporters is to get the best obtainable version of the truth, not to play to Middle America or to judges or legislators or anything else.
And I would finally say, this is a moment for the press perhaps to be watching the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, particularly Marco Rubio, who could have a role like Senator Howard Baker did in the Watergate investigation, about what did the president know and when did he know it, because this investigation is closing in on a cover-up.
STELTER: So, you will be watching Thursday 10:00 a.m. Eastern, huh?
BERNSTEIN: Yes. I will be watching, and I will be commentating and analyzing...
BERNSTEIN: ... and hopefully coming up with real facts.
STELTER: Carl, thanks so much for being here.
And finally this morning, I was off the past couple of weeks because my wife gave birth. As we were mentioning earlier this hour, my wife, Jamie, gave birth to our first baby, a beautiful baby daughter name Sunny.
I wanted to show you the picture. It's why I'm wearing the yellow tie today. Here she is at home this morning.
So, I wanted to thank everyone for their well-wishes in the past couple of weeks. It's been a wonderful couple of weeks.
But, you know, now, being a dad, it means that I, as a media reporter, I have got a new beat, kids media, children's books, TV shows, movies, apps. Send me your recommendations. Tweet me @BrianStelter or look me up on Facebook. I'm hoping to become a very reliable source about children's media.
We will see you right back here this time next week.