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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
President Trump Versus ESPN; Mueller Obtains Search Warrant for Facebook Info. Aired 11a-12n ET
Aired September 17, 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. Welcome to viewers in our United States and all around the world. This is RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works and how the news gets made.
Ahead this hour, Robert Mueller's Russia probe is raising tough questions for Facebook. We have brand new information from the company about those Russian-linked ads that tried to sway the election.
And speaking of last year's campaign, Hillary Clinton's book, it has some harsh words about media bias. Is she right?
And later, making time for President Trump's errors and exaggerations. That's the subject of my essay this week.
But first, the world's biggest sports network, ESPN, is in the crosshairs after "Sports Center" host Jemele Hill tweeted that President Trump is a white supremacist. Hill prompted new conversations about whether the U.S. president is a racist.
So, why did this particular tweet on Monday made on Hill's personal account catch fire and become a week-long story? After all, she's not the first to call Trump a racist or a white supremacist, and this is far from the first time members of the media or news outlets have questioned Trump's complicated relationship with white supremacy. You can see these recent magazine covers all published in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
There's a couple of things going on here that we should be honest about. Number one, this controversy gave conservative media, like rival Fox Sports, ESPN's wannabe rival, Fox Sports, the opportunity to cast ESPN as the liberal enemy.
We also saw President Trump and his White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders addressing this controversy, being asked about it. It seemed the White House embraced this fight, perhaps another example of media bashing.
So, there's a lot of dynamics at play here, including ESPN's social media policies. We're going to get into that with two top newsroom leaders. But maybe we should call this was what it is. It's media bashing of another color.
Let's bring in an all star panel to talk about this. Britt McHenry is a journalist who used to work at ESPN. Wes Lowery is a national reporter at "The Washington Post", also here with us at CNN. And Christine Brennan is a sports columnist for "USA Today" and a CNN sports analyst.
Great to see all of you.
Christine, first to you, is there something just petty about this, that a single tweet, part of a tweet storm by Jemele Hill while she was fighting the people on Twitter on Monday was picked up by FOX and other conservative outlets, turned into an uproar and caused a week long story.
Is there something kind of competitive going on here?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Oh, I'm sure there is. I mean, this is the world we live in in social media and that's why journalists have to be so careful and I'm so careful about this. And, Brian, as you know, if I'm going to write about Donald Trump, it's in the context, of course, of whether it's the U.S. Women's Open Golf, talking about the man who brags about sexually assaulting women, hosting the crown jewel of women's golf at Bedminster in July. I was there for a week and covered it. To me, that's how you deal with these issues.
But Jemele Hill is an incredible talent. She's here to say. She's a very smart woman and I think the presidency of Donald Trump has probably shaken all of us in a way we never would have thought. And certainly, in all my year at reading columns, Brian, 20 years, I have never referred more to a president of the United States than I have during the last eight or nine months --
BRENNAN: -- involving -- yes, involving the president and sports. That intersection that I think is so important in our culture. That's where I focus my attention, but I think Trump is out there in a way that no other president has been.
STELTER: Britt, am I being cynical, saying this was partly a controversy created or triggered by conservative media that rivals ESPN?
BRITT MCHENRY, FORMER ESPN REPORTER: A little bit, in my opinion, Brian. I don't think this was a controversy. Fox 1 wasn't calling me or any other conservatives to get in or give their two cents. There was a poll by the --
STELTER: Well, FOX News made a lot of this this week. Not the only network, of course. But this was a big story in conservative media on Tuesday. That is partly what triggered all the reactions.
MCHENRY: Well, as you know, I used to work there. So, I have experience being there and just knowing the conduct policy.
And I think what really agitated a lot of people was the inconsistency of treatment. If you're going to send Linda Cohn home, one of the most celebrated sports center anchors because she just said the company was a little too political, and then another colleague calls the president of the United States, the highest office in the land, a white supremacist and essentially anyone who voted for him an enabler of that, that's when people around the country, whether you're conservative or not, are going to take a step back and say, wait a minute, where's the fair treatment here?
And a poll by "The Big Lead", as I mentioned this past spring, which is owned by "USA Today" --
MCHENRY: -- showed that from a small sample size, only 6 percent of respondents were identifying themselves as Republican.
[11:05:01] But you know what, Brian? The people consuming this media, sports fans across the country, Alabama fans, a red state that voted for Trump, they're all over. That's not necessarily what the consumption demographic breakdown is and I think that needs to be taken into account when a network gets too political or in this case, perhaps too far to the left.
STELTER: So, you think ESPN has? You think ESPN is simply too liberal? All of ESPN?
MCHENRY: I think that's a broad statement that I'm not equipped to label. I just will say my personal opinion that this did violate their conduct policy and --
MCHENRY: -- there have been colleagues, including myself -- I had something in my personal life two and a half years ago, private -- an argument that I had that was put out there and I was suspended for a week without pay for something in my personal life. And there's plenty of other examples of suspensions at the network, and that's why there's a feeling of discontent because you see this and people scratch their heads.
Is that an OK thing to say for a sports network?
STELTER: Well, ESPN did not fire you, when you had that issue in your personal life. They stood by you at that time, and they do seem to have taken disciplinary action against Jemele Hill. The statement released Tuesday indicated they had a conversation and she recognized what went wrong here. Then later in the week, she said she regretted causing this dustup for ESPN.
So, there was some disciplinary action even if the company won't describe in the detail.
MCHENRY: Well, she was still on air the next day. And to echo what Christine said --
STELTER: That's true. MCHENRY: -- I think Jemele is exceptionally talented. She was always very kind to me. This wasn't a specific attack against her. It's just -- if she's on air the very next day, the White House press briefing room is discussing this issue, I don't think you can say it's just a conservative thing. It's very bold statements about the president of the United States that if other people are literally sent home for a fewer errant favorite of tweets, or what they said about a company being too political, I just think there needs to be consistency in the media.
STELTER: Wesley Lowery, I want to zoom out and try to reframe I think what happened all week long here. I wonder if the broader point here is that there's two Americas. We know that -- we know there is a kind of ongoing cultural war. In one America, Trump is racist. That's accepted. It's believed. In the other America, saying he's a white supremacist is intolerable, is unacceptable and as Sarah Sanders said is a fireable offense.
WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Of course.
STELTER: How do we get folks to talk with each other if there's such a divide between those two sides?
LOWERY: And it's difficult. I'm not quite sure how you do that.
But I think you're right. I think you really kind of zeroed in on the heart of this issue, right?
This, two -- part of America is a very mainstream political belief. The idea that the president of the United States and previously the Republican nominee for the presidency has done racist things, said racist things, has been elected on a wave of ideological white supremacy. This is not a controversial stance to half of the nation. To the other half of the nation it's remarkably a controversial stance, right?
So, it become this is question of, is this an acceptable thing to say in a public dialogue or is this not? Beyond that, I mean, I think what's difficult here as well when you -- you know, from a journalistic kind of ethics standpoint --
LOWERY: -- when you employ someone to be a commentator, it becomes inconsistent or confusing to now discipline them or attempt to look like you are disciplining them for commentating on things, right? When I --
STELTER: You're saying she's employed to have opinions and then --
LOWERY: That's her literal job. Right, that is what her job is, is to have opinions about things.
STELTER: But about sports. LOWERY: Well, about whatever. I mean, yes and no. I mean, I think
ESPN has embraced all types, of whether it'd be cultural coverage, whether it'd be at times political coverage, you know?
And I think we know now that, you know, journalists aren't people who only care about the one thing they write about or the one thing that they're employed to do. We all have diverse interests. We're human beings, right?
And I think that at a time when sports are as political as they have ever been, when you're seeing major athletes from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to the Colin Kaepernicks, major sports storylines are about this president and this presidency. To have people who, again, are employed to be sports commentators and to handcuff them and not allow them to speak honestly about what they believe about what's happening seems inconsistent with what is what otherwise being asked of these very commentators.
STELTER: My counter argument would be, she can say a lot, but she works for ESPN, she should write a script. She should hand it over to her producers. They should talk about it ahead of it. It should be prepared and thought through, and then go on television deliver the statement. But instead, she just tweeted something in the heat of the moment, fighting (ph) with on Twitter.
LOWERY: Sure, I think every newsroom grapples with this exact thing, right? We have now seized the means of production. We can pull our phone out and we can publish ourselves at any point in time ant it goes out with our names and the link to our organizations.
That said, you know, when you look at ESPN's initial statements on this, I thought there was an inconsistency or some -- you know, there's an idea that we don't want people to think she's speaking on behalf of ESPN.
[11:10:01] No one thinks Jemele Hill when she sends a tweet back and forth with someone is laying out the stance of ESPN, right?
STELTER: Except that millions of people are told that on FOX News.
STELTER: That it's MSESPN, meaning MSNBC. Meaning that ESPN is hopelessly liberal.
LOWERY: Well, that's part of the culture, right? This -- I think so much of the controversy we've seen has absolutely nothing to do with the tweets that were sent with Jemele Hill, with this conversation.
STELTER: Do you think folks are trying to distract from Trump's issues with race, from DACA and other big news stories this week? I mean, the president tweeted about ESPN, saying they should apologize for an untruth. It made me wonder if he wanted this fight with ESPN.
LOWERY: You know, I think sometimes we perhaps over-game or give him too much credit or people around him too much credit. I don't think Clay Travis was out here trying to influence what happens with DACA. I mean, Clay Travis was trying to get attention which is what he does very well by picking these fights with ESPN, by driving a specific narrative, right?
STELTER: And he's associated with Fox Sports.
STELTER: So it's a rival of ESPN, a much smaller rival of ESPN, I think trying to get attention.
LOWERY: Of course, I mean, it's my read on that. And I think it's obvious, right? That these are very often not even good faith engagements, things are taken either out of context or unfair. But, yes, Jemele Hill, whether you agree with what she said or not, is a commentator for ESPN, stating a relatively mainstream political opinion.
This -- and so I think that the idea that this has become a back-and- forth tells us something about where we are in a political dialogue. That, again, we have half of the nation where multiple times a day, they are thinking or saying well, Donald Trump is a racist.
STELTER: And talking with each other about his racism.
LOWERY: Of course.
STELTER: So, Britt McHenry, do you think that's a mainstream political opinion that Donald Trump is a racist?
MCHENRY: See, I would flip the script on what you all, respectfully, have been saying and that I think that that is a huge narrative as well, in just being pushed and the division of the nation and, yes, she is a commentator. But at what point when you work for a sports network does that blur the line?
I'm not saying stick to sports but as Michael Jordan said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- he sells sneakers to both Republicans and Democrats, correct? So I think that you're going to weigh in, you're going to give your opinion. If it's about Kevin Durant deciding not to go to the White House or, obviously, the Colin Kaepernick situation which has been highly publicized. That's where commentators are going to weigh in and giver their opinion.
I certainly have on my own which leans a little bit more right in terms of those situations.
STELTER: Right. Are you choosing, Britt, to make your brand a conservative leaning sports person as you're looking for a new job post-ESPN? So, aren't a lot of people in the sports world sort of embracing politics, trying to brand themselves in various ways?
MCHENRY: I think people are embracing opinion now. That's what's driving because there's a conversation in all of sports that a highlight show or just showing video isn't selling or getting the ratings that it used to. And in a space now in 2017 with social media, all these digital platforms, to stand out more than ever is something you could argue anyone in the media may be trying to do.
I'm not trying to brand myself that way. I've always been a Republican. I'm registered a Republican.
I couldn't say things at the networks. And so, that's when you get into this discussion. I can speak to the fact that this isn't a narrative from my stand point. I know what I was allowed and not allowed to do there and what other -- you know, whether it's reporters or commentators are allowed to do there, and that's where it's just a blurred line. And there's going to be more instances of this happening if it's not a more distinct line of what now is allowed.
STELTER: Yes, I see what you're saying.
Christine, last word to you, does ESPN have a profound business problem here? They've come out with a statement saying, we are not about politics. We are about sports. They're trying to move past this.
BRENNAN: You know, Brian, they're the 10,000 pound gorilla. And so, they're probably going to be getting more than all of us. But each individually -- news organizations, sports organizations, I think this is a new world and everyone is trying to work their way through it.
And I think an important point to make here is that Jemele Hill, with her statement of regret, acknowledged -- obviously, you wouldn't put out a statement of regret if everything was fine. So I'm guessing Jemele agrees with some of the things we're saying here.
And I was always felt as a journalist and as I said, Jemele is a friend, a colleague, as Britt said, she is a talent and an important voice in our national sports conversation and culture and how sports and culture collide in so many ways now, but I have felt as a journalist all these years, there are ways to tackle these issues but you do in the lane of sports or the lane that you have as your vehicle in the media. And I think Jemele would say that as well.
And so, this is going to be a conversation, Brian, we're going to keep having with social media, with Donald Trump and the presidency, obviously as controversial a president as we've ever seen. And sports journalists, we should not shy away from these issues, but I believe that the forum can be a column for me or a commentary about, say, NFL protests.
[11:15:01] That's then where you talk about Donald Trump's dreadful response to Charlottesville. And that's how I have decided to make those decisions and write those commentaries in that format.
STELTER: Thank you all very much for being here. Appreciate it very much.
BRENNAN: Thank you. STELTER: Coming up here, what happens when the White House press secretary says criticizing the president is a fireable offense. We'll talk about the White House's reaction to Jemele Hill right after this.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
Three days in a row, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about Jemele Hill, saying Trump is a white supremacist, and three days in row, Sanders didn't defend Hill's right to say it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not sure if he's aware, but I think that's one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN.
I think ESPN should take action.
I made a comment, I stand by it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Sanders is facing ethics complaints for suggesting essentially that a private citizen should be fired for criticism of the president.
[11:20:05] Joining me now, Michael Oreskes is the head of news at NPR, and Nancy Gibbs, the outgoing editor of "TIME" magazine.
There's a couple of issues here to unpack. I think, first, Nancy, is it a chilling -- does it have a chilling effect when the press secretary publicly says ESPN should take action against the Trump critic.
NANCY GIBBS, OUTGOING EDITOR, TIME: I think it takes a lot more than that to chill the press corps. That doesn't worry me. I do think it's just inappropriate for a press secretary to take a position like that. That's almost the easy -- in a complicated debate, that's the easy part. That's not the role of the press secretary.
STELTER: Is the hard part the social media policies? I mean, what would happen if you had a staffer at "TIME" magazine who tweeted Trump is a white supremacist?
GIBBS: I think it would be a problem and I think it's partly because while we're all First Amendment purists, Twitter is a public platform, and so, those statements are associated with all of our institutions. And so, an ad hominem attack that is delivered on that platform is just not appropriate.
It's not a matter of opinion so much. I think commentators and political columnists tweet opinions all the time. But there are times where that is appropriate and times where that is not. If you were a White House correspondent for any news organization tweeting a piece of opinion, that's a different problem.
So, there are lot of intersecting complexities to this, of when is it OK and what kind of commentary on that platform is appropriate.
STELTER: And, Michael, maybe a part of this is opinion journalists versus straightforward journalists who are just sitting in the briefing room asking questions? Is that part of the tension?
MICHAEL ORESKES, HEAD OF NEWS, NPR: It's part of the tension although it's not the core of this problem. I mean, there's a couple of -- as Nancy rightly said, there's a couple of intersecting issues here.
First of all, just to get it on the record, the White House does not make social media policy for any news organization. The president and his staff have a First Amendment right to say whatever they want. We have to have a thick skin. I mean, it shouldn't chill us because it can't chill us.
The people in charge are the executives of ESPN. They need -- they had, they do in fact have and should have a clear, coherent, transparent policy for handling social media. We have such a policy, "TIME" magazine has such a policy, and you need to be consistent and clear about why you're doing what you're doing.
And I do think part of ESPN's problem is they've had a lot of different situations and they've seemed to have handled them differently.
Mike Lupica, our friend and colleague, has a wonderful column in the "New York Daily News" in which he describes social media policy, and I don't think he was singling out ESPN here, but he describes social media policy in journalism these days as a little bit like what Captain Barbossa said about rules for pirates in "Pirates of the Caribbean", they're not really rules, they're guidelines.
Well, that's the problem. You've got to have clear rues have to stick to them.
And the problem with Twitter -- Twitter is a specifically difficult problem because it invites pithy to the point of there's nothing there but a statement.
And the heart of journalism as practiced at "TIME", as practiced by NPR and, by the way, as at ESPN, which is a very good journalistic organization, the heart of journalism is showing how you got to whatever your conclusion is. The problem with that tweet, it was a conclusion without any background at all. I don't know if it's an opinion or a piece of journalism or what.
STELTER: Right. Michael, Nancy, please stick around.
Much more after the break here.
How did Russian propagandists use Facebook to meddle in the election last year? And is anyone holding Mark Zuckerberg accountable? We have a brand new statement from Facebook right after this break.
[11:28:04] STELTER: Welcome back. I'm Brian Stelter.
If you've wanted to meddle in an election, where would you start? You might start on the world's biggest social network.
Facebook is now a focus of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference. On Friday, "The Wall Street Journal" reported that Mueller's team recently obtained detailed records about the ads that were bought by Russian-linked accounts. These were ads targeting American voters.
Now, I spoke with a Facebook rep this morning. They declined interview requests here on television but the company is confirming to CNN that Facebook is providing information to special counsel Mueller, including ads and related account information.
There's a lot more to this story and a lot Facebook is not telling us.
So, joining me now is Spencer Ackerman. He's a national security reporter for "The Daily Beast". He's been breaking a lot of news about this subject throughout the week.
So, CNN confirming "The Journal" reporting about Mueller getting a search warrant. Tell us why it's so significant that Mueller was able to get a search warrant for this Facebook information?
SPENCER ACKERMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Absolutely, and thanks for me.
So, this is a company that has a tremendous, tremendous amount of data on its servers about what these illicit and fraudulent accounts that spread Russian propaganda did during the 2016 election. It also has a tremendous amount of data on its servers about the interactions the Trump campaign and its associates had through Facebook during the 2016 election. This --
STELTER: And we know that the Trump campaign had those interactions?
ACKERMAN: Well, we certainly know that Facebook not only, A, like it would with any campaign, provided a team to the Trump campaign to help it target voters using Facebook and similarly elections in significant ways occur on Facebook as much as they occur through other mediums. So, what we can do with this data is figure out if there are some hard correlations between what we see with Russian propaganda and what we see with the Trump campaign or pro-Trump information.
And that is what it looks like Robert Mueller is going after. This is something that would at least allow Mueller -- would allow investigators, would allow Congress to see if even outside information about collusion emerges, this would give you some prima facie evidence.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Now you reported this week that these Russian troll farms were posting stuff on to Facebook surreptitiously also created real life events, including one in Twin Falls.
SPENCER: Yes. This is really a significant thing because it's the first time that we confirmation of Russian propaganda occurring online, influencing -- we don't know the size and scope of it but influencing real life behavior.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Yes. There was this small protest in Twin Falls, Idaho, an anti-immigrant rally, right?
SPENCER: That's right. What Facebook subsequently describes as -- I think they used the term divisive social messages. This is how this actually plays out, that there is a fraudulent account linked to this Russian troll farm that promotes all of this really hardcore anti- immigrant, anti-Muslim information. And they say that they're holding a rally against immigrants in Twin Falls, Idaho.
We don't know, honestly, if this was really a significant event. We don't know that the number of people claimed on their Facebook events page actually went. But we do know that it's information from Russian propaganda, trying to get Americans who think they are receiving information from other Americans to do something physical and political.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: So part of this is about media literacy or tech literacy, right? When you're on Facebook, you may not know who's actually corresponding with you. I mean, look, the whole world is addicted to Facebook, and yet these companies, these giant tech companies, Facebook and Google and others, are under a lot of scrutiny right now for good reasons. You've also reported on these hateful ads. You can use Facebook or Google or Twitter or other companies to target hateful ads to people.
SPENCER: That's right. And I would also just mention when we're looking at the question of media literacy, the company doesn't give users information by which they can reasonably adjudicate what's legitimate and what's not, what's coming from other Americans and what's not. It's up to you even though you don't have the tools as a Facebook user to really make this determination.
And it becomes either, on the one hand, a default assumption that you are seeing credible information --
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Yes.
SPENCER: -- from other Americans. Or alternatively, it's up to you to say this whole thing is fake. I don't trust whatever I'm giving you.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: And to be clear, fake news came from a lot of sources before election day.
SPENCER: Very true.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: It wasn't all just Russian propagandists in Moscow that we're putting BS stories on the Internet, so a lot of people in America and other places that we're doing it too. But point is letting Mueller now honing in on to what extent Russia was responsible for some of the lies and some of the propaganda that was out there.
SPENCER: That's right. And Facebook has a ton of data that can help investigators sift through and figure out how genuine these connections were.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: So that's the key point.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Spencer, great to see you.
SPENCER: Thank you, Brian.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Thanks for being here. And one more note about this, Hillary Clinton is also speaking out about Facebook. Here's what she told Rachel Maddow earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON: I mean, transparency would be the best way of undermining Putin. And so we're going to make Facebook own up to everything. They've begun to own up. They have a long way to go before they get to where they need to be, in my opinion. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Now up next, Clinton's media criticism. She says reporters can't bear to face their own role in helping elect Donald Trump. Plus, is she calling for the creation of a liberal Fox News?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to Reliable Sources. Hillary Clinton's account of what happened last year includes major media failures. She believes the press went to easy on Trump and tilted the playing field in his favor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON: I don't think the press did their job in this election. Our press, which is such an essential part of our country, our democracy, has to take some hard look at how it covered what was the first reality TV candidate. She's going to win anyway. So let's cover the other guy because he's a lot more fun. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: In the book she makes her remarkable assertion. She says that many political reporters "cannot bear to face their own role in helping elect Trump. For example, by giving her emails so much coverage and by giving him so much air time." Are Clinton's critiques fair?
Joining me now, an expert on the Clinton, [INAUDIBLE] Amy Chozick. She was the New York Times lead reporter covering Clinton's campaign last year. She's now on leave from the paper working on a memoir about that experience. Amy, great to see you.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks for having me.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: We use to sit together at the New York Times.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: I know.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: I know a lot of folks in the press have privately talked about what this campaign was like. But do you think she's right, is Clinton right, that there hadn't been enough soul searching about the press' responsibility?
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: Look, I agree with Hillary Clinton that for an industry to thrives on investigation and interrogating others, we're very bad at scrutinizing ourselves. And there definitely could be more soul searching about our role in 2016.
That said, the way she presented in the book, it was a little bit like it was our job to get Hillary Clinton elected.
Now our job is to inform voters about their choices and how those choices would impact their lives, whether it was about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or any other candidate. And I think that is where we could have done better and I think we could do some soul searching.
Frankly, I think we could --
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Do you think that has happened? Has there been soul searching?
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: I think we're very quick to move on to covering this massive Trump administration. This is a huge story.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Right.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: So whether it was a matter of looking forward instead of backward, I don't think there's been a lot of scrutinizing ourselves. We know that the media hates to scrutinize itself. So there's that aspect.
But I also think she points out the first reality TV show candidate and sort of -- I think there is -- it's worth analyzing how we covered that as it is with any seismic news event that we missed or that we didn't see coming, whether it was the Iraq war or anything else. I think that there is room for self-reflection there.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: What I find confusing, some of the times, she talks about what it was like to go up against a reality TV star candidate, is that she knew that the moment he entered the race. She knew a year and a half before the election date that she was up against a reality TV star.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: Well, don't forget they wanted to run against Donald Trump. They wanted him to get all the legitimate republicans out of the way.
I think looking Hillary Clinton's criticism to the media, her book, which I think is very good, focuses on 2016. But you cannot look at her antagonism towards the media through the filter of Trump in 2016. This happened a long time or you have to go back to the 90's with Hillary Clinton, the White Water story.
The New York Times breaks the story about the Clintons losing money on a land venture in Arkansas. That turns into the Ken Starr investigation, Paula Jones and Monica Lewinski impeachment. 2008, she thinks the New York Times and other media outlets are too soft on Obama, that we gave him a free pass. And so she entered 2016 very much from the stance of not trusting the political press.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: But many of her voters believes she's absolutely right.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: Yes.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: And I think we need to recognize that in the same that made Trump voters hate the press, hate members of the mainstream media. A lot of Clinton voters have a lot of antipathy as well now almost one year later.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: And I think their antipathy is legitimate in terms of Hillary's criticism about why the emails overtook everything else. I covered all of her major policies, all of her speeches, but that kind of thing just wasn't breaking through. And so when they Tweeted me, "But what about her emails?" every time Trump does something outrageous, I think they have a legitimate claim.
And frankly, there has been some bipartisan studies about how much the emails overtook everything. That's part of a campaign and candidate's job is if you don't like the conversation, change it. Trump was very good at that, for better or worst.
Hillary Clinton, the "Times" probably putting 50 interview requests to talk about her jobs plan, economics, national security, foreign policy. I asked to talk about her time and Children's Defense Fund, her work with women.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: But she was interview-shy sometimes.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: They said no. They were very cautious.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Yes.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: They said no to all of that. I think a lot of those stories would have broken news and perhaps kicked emails off the front page. She probably says, "It wouldn't help."
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: One more media critique from this interview [INAUDIBLE] was really interesting. Here's what she said about one thing kind of a liberal version of Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON: The other side has dedicated propaganda channels. That's what I call Fox News. It has outlets, like Breitbard and crazy info wars and things like that. I don't understand why people who share our views aren't more willing to invest in a media that can be competitive because what you've got is a right wing advocacy propaganda and you've got kind of a mainstream media that engages in false equivalency. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: So she doesn't think the media leans left. She was an actual liberal media infrastructure.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: I think that's such a fascinating evolution for the woman whose career really calls the rise of right wing media. What would Fox News have been if they didn't have Hillary Clinton through the years to beat on. And she's the one, of course, coined the right wing, the vast --
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: The vast right wing conspiracy.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: -- the vast right wing conspiracy, which at that time was very much in the shadows. Now it's very much -- it's in the White House, it's everywhere now.
So I find it a really interesting evolution, almost is that she's given up on the mainstream media. She is now saying they have these weapons, we should have the same weapons.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Going back to a more partisan press.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: Exactly.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Amy, great to see you.
AMY CHOZICK, LEAD REPORTER NEW YORK TIMES: Great to see you.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Thanks for coming over.
Up next here, a plot twist in the coverage of President Trump this week. I'll explain what I mean right after the break.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: According to President Trump, Chuck Schumer recently called him and said, "Hey, Fox is praising you and CNN and MSNBC are praising me. This is so great." We have positive attention for the president. He seems to be basking in it all because he crossed partisan lines working with the democrats on big issues like DACA and tax reform.
This democratic shift is some kind of a lot of attention this week. I'm just wondering how long the positive coverage might last.
Back again, Michael Oreskes, the head of news at NPR, and Nancy Gibbs, the outgoing editor of Time Magazine. So I think there's a sense, Michael, that the president has been enjoying some more positive headlines than it usually receives because of these deals with democrats. Number one, do you think that's an accurate perception?
MICHAEL ORESKES, HEAD OF NPR: Well, I think the coverage of the last week, I wouldn't necessarily brand it positive or negative. But I do think that journalism, in general, tends to focus on what's unusual or new and bipartisanship is pretty unusual.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: It's new. It's the new story.
MICHAEL ORESKES, HEAD OF NPR: And it's new. So I think it's gotten a lot of attention. And if you want to read that as positive attention, I think you could. I think the whole crew of them, both on the hill and at the White house, probably need to focus a little more on their work and a little less on their press.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: On the headlines, Nancy, is this is case of journalist loving a plot twist?
NANCY GIBBS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF TIME MAGAZINE: Well, this is a plot twist presidency, right? When are we going to stop being surprised of being surprised by what he does. This is someone who wants to command attention, that it's all about the ratings, and so we really shouldn't be surprised anymore.
Certainly he -- the point everyone has made that he wanted to win makes perfect sense. I think he would obviously prefer putting some winds on the board with his own team, so putting Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. And for that matter, maybe more importantly, the freedom caucus on notice, that if you won't help me do this, I have other places I can go. It may suggest a more strategic plan than just the improvisational nature of his presidency.
But there wasn't a big downside especially around DACA where you have an overwhelming majority of people who agree with him, or for that matter, hurricane relief, holding hurricane relief hostage to any other agenda is just terrible politics and terrible policy. And so he was on particularly solid ground whether you're looking at it from left or right in both of these moves.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: One of the headlines that intrigued most this week was a BuzzFeed we can put on screen. This was a leak about leaking. The Trump administration, again, trying to combat leaks from the government, launching an anti-leak program and the information immediately leaked to BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner. I this is an example, Michael, of just -- the last thing you do and try to stop leaks is tell people to stop leaking?
MICHAEL ORESKES, HEAD OF NPR: Well, to some extent, it's also an example -- we all need to lighten up a little bit.
So this was a memo that instructed the key agencies of government, everything, from the Pentagon and the defense agencies to the Department of Education to give instruction to their staff about the rules for handling classified information. And there's another category that's not quite classified but is still suppose to be protected.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Right.
MICHAEL ORESKES, HEAD OF NPR: It's perfectly reasonable for the government to explain to people in the government how they should handle the secrets of the government. And the government has a job to protect secrets.
The problem with the whole conversation is that it's become so fused with both the president's crusade against journalism and the now several administrations old campaign to keep journalism from doing its job of bringing out government secrets that need to be brought out.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Through leak or some --
MICHAEL ORESKES, HEAD OF NPR: And so when the government does a perfectly ordinary thing, like try to teach people how to protect classified information --
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: I see.
MICHAEL ORESKES, HEAD OF NPR: -- it becomes part of a controversy that actually transcends the exact issue -- exactly what they're doing it which, in itself, it's not really a big problem . BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: That's really interesting. While I have both of you, Nancy, I want to ask you about your announcement this week, deciding to step down from editor-in-chief role at Time Magazine. There has been four top editors that have retired or stepped down from their roles in the past ten days, the top editors of Vanity Fair, El Glamour and you at Time. What's going on here? Why the editor exodus?
NANCY GIBBS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF TIME MAGAZINE: Internal and there's a lot of conspiracy theory. We did not conspire. But I think in different ways for each of us, there's a feeling that there's a time for everything. I think all of us certainly, I'm enormously proud at what we've done at Time, and it's been a blast. I've loved every day of it.
But it's time to figure out the next things, like you graduate from college after four years isn't that you didn't love college but it's for the next step. You can tell, I've been talking about this a lot with my daughter who's about to graduate.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: And I know you're staying at Time through the end of the year, but what are you going to do after this?
NANCY GIBBS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF TIME MAGAZINE: That's the fun part. It's figuring that out. And actually a lot of what you talk about in these conversations, the thing that really concerns me most right now is how and where are we having a conversation about that is not yelling at each other, where the issues that the country is facing and wrestling with are serious and they go way past divisions of red and blue. And I feel a though we are getting and worst and worst at talking about issues that more and more important.
And that is something I'd loved figuring out at Time. It's something I really want to devote some time and thought too and writing and maybe teaching going forward, because I think it's critical. And shows like this and conversations like these about these new platforms, about these new technologies and their implications for our national discourse is enormously important.
MICHAEL ORESKES, HEAD OF NPR: Yes. There's no more important conversation I would like to say a word about Nancy Gibbs, which is that one of the great legacies, I was sure she was the first woman to run Time Magazine and she was -- I gather, you have the record for most covered stories. Congratulations.
But the real legacy in my mind is really taking the standards of journalism into this century and into this new digital. Because if we don't preserve the idea that there really are facts and there really are ways to write about facts, as her own staff described in their comment this week, to bring your passions but leave your agendas, that that is a role we need to continue to play in a universe of distribution that doesn't make that easy to do anymore. And I think that's very important.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Well, Nancy, best of luck. Michael, thank you for being here as well.
And after the break, the president's repeated misstatements and why they can't be ignored, my essay for this week coming up right after a quick break.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Before we go today, let me show you what the Trump White House's credibility crisis looks like on a daily basis. This is President Trump seemingly making up a poll the other day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mitch is on-board. Paul Ryan is on-board. We all feel -- look, 92% of the people agree on DACA. But what we want is we want very, very powerful border security
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: There is no poll, no data to back up the claim that 92% of the country agrees on DACA.
So that was Thursday morning. The president then went to Florida, tore, damaged from Hurricane Irma, and flew home. And that evening, he misspoke about the storm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Florida, you got hit with the strongest ever recorded. It actually hit the Keys with a -- it was a Category 5. I never even knew a Category 5 existed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Irma was not a Category 5 storm when it hit the Keys. It was Category 4 strength storm. It was Cat 5 days earlier. But Florida did not experience the strongest winds ever recorded.
Now this sounds nitpicky to you, like it's no big deal. Well, it is a big deal to the scientists and meteorologists who study this for a living. And more importantly -- consider Tuesday. On Tuesday, the president will address other world leaders at the UN. His audience is well aware that he has credibility problem, that he has a lot of errors and exaggerations when he speaks. That is why these slipups and misstatements matter.
Here's one more example from his Twitter account on Friday. Trump's team made this web video wishing the Air Force a happy birthday. But then a pilot started replying to the president, pointing out that the shot at the very beginning is not an Air Force plane. It's Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet flown by the Navy.
See, the White House credibility story isn't just each individuals screw up. It's the pattern. Sometimes Trump is sloppy. Other times, he's downright deceitful. And it's always [INAUDIBLE] and say this is old news by now. But it affects the country every day and affects how world leaders perceive them.
Remember when Trump said this in the wake of Charlottesville?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's the thing. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Until that's actually true, newsrooms need to keep fact checking and need to keep making time to cover Trump's misstatements.
We're out of time here. We'll see you next week on Reliable Sources.