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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Hearing From Trump Voters; Women March in Protest of Trump; Government Shutdown; How Has Trump Changed News Media?; Trump & Media: One Year In, What It's Really Like to Cover the White House. Aired 11a-12n ET
Aired January 21, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. I'm Brian Stelter. And 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.
What a difference a year makes. Or does it, actually?
Here we are on the first anniversary of President Trump's inauguration witnessing a government shutdown. The U.S. is once again embarrassed in the eyes of the world. And a lot of Americans are looking at each other asking, can't we do any better than this?
Let me ask you at home. Do you know how we got here, how we got into this shutdown situation? Do you feel like the press has explained the stalemate well? Do you know who to believe, who to trust?
These are urgent questions.
Attacks on the news media led by the president are bound to continue during his second year in office. When he calls real news fake, he's really telling you not to trust sources that he doesn't personally approve of.
So, how will this affect the ongoing Russia investigations? Will the country ever get to the bottom of what Russia did to influence the 2016 election? And will the country ever get over the election? Maybe not, if people remain trapped in media bubbles, really media bunkers, only hearing what they already believe.
As Trump begins his second year, it's a good time to ask, is this phenomenon getting better or getting even worse? And how much responsibility do media and tech companies have to burst your bubble?
And speaking of that, speaking of bubbles, will President Trump continue to shun TV networks not named FOX? Now, he did give this interview to Reuters earlier in the week.
Will he double down on his use of Twitter to rally his base? Will he continue to deny reality and distort facts on a daily basis? Will alternative facts continue to reign? And will trust in the media continue to erode? According to a brand-new Gallup/Knight Foundation poll, 40 percent -- more than 40 percent of Americans, 45 percent, see a great deal of bias in the news media.
And let's look at this next question about fact and opinion. Only 32 percent of Americans think news outlets are careful to separate fact from opinion.
Will those numbers get better or worse in the year ahead, as we look ahead to the midterms?
Those are some questions to begin Trump's second year and to begin our show today.
And, actually, here's one more. What is the bigger story this weekend? Is it the government shutdown, or is it actually the women's march?
Let's take a look at how this story has been covered, both of them. It's been a split-screen weekend. You can see on all the cable news channels pictures of the marches on one side, pictures of Washington dysfunction on the other side.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been marching in the streets in big cities and small all weekend long, marching against the president and his policies. And there are more protests scheduled for later today.
This is a significant ongoing story, these protests against the Trump presidency.
So, joining me now and to talk through all this, the two big stories of the weekend, an all-star panel, political analyst Jeff Greenfield, CNN historian and professor at Rice University Douglas Brinkley, and "TIME" magazine's Charlotte Alter.
She's the author of this week's "TIME" cover story titled "The Avengers." It's about the first-time female candidates, almost all Democrats, trying to now run for office, partly as a response to the Trump presidency.
Charlotte, first to you.
I saw you were sharing pictures from the protests yesterday. You noticed out there on the march routes people holding up your magazine cover, which must have been an unusual sight. I think we can show an example of one of the posters that was out there in the crowds.
What city was that in? And what did it mean to you to see your story being held up like that?
CHARLOTTE ALTER, "TIME": Yes, Brian, I mean, that particular image that you just shared, that was from the Bay Area march. People were sending me photos from the Upper West Side, from Dallas. I have to say, I was covering the march yesterday. I actually didn't
see them myself. They were sent to me by other people. But it was interesting to see a story kind of resonate, and people hold up that image as a symbol of what's happening here.
STELTER: What's the most important takeaway from your cover story? We had women's marches one year ago this weekend, and now a second round this weekend.
ALTER: I think the most important takeaway is that the march is just the tip of the of the iceberg or the crest of the wave, essentially.
All of these women are -- it's not like they are just marching and then going home and doing nothing. They're marching, and then they are running. Or, if they're not running, they're organizing. And if they're not organizing, they're getting everyone they know to vote.
The women's march today, actually, the official women's march organization is launching a new voter registration program called Power to the Polls. And their goal is to get one million people registered to vote before the midterms.
So, this is not -- this is a cultural moment, but it's also a political -- it's like a political revolution. That's what these activists are trying to achieve here.
STELTER: So, Douglas Brinkley, what's the biggest story this weekend, the shutdown in D.C. or these marches in other cities?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think they're both large, but, of course, the shutdown's quite dominant.
If you can't have the federal government running this week, we're in deep trouble. Nobody knows how long the shutdown's going to be. Everybody's entrenched and dug in.
You can foresee, if the shutdown lasts this entire week, it might start affecting the world marketplace. The stock market is going to be in question, and not to mention lives being risked, lives on the line in the military or due to health benefits not being serviced properly, et cetera.
So we're in the middle of the -- the Trump shutdown here is a gigantic story. But I think it works nicely with the women's movement, because, just like on Trump's inauguration, the counter-split-screen was of the women's march.
Now, with the shutdown, yet again, the women are showing it wasn't a one-trick pony. They are in organization resistance mode.
STELTER: Yes, I really am struck by the size of these protests.
STELTER: Maybe I had low expectations myself, thinking it wasn't going to be that big a deal on the one-year anniversary. The pictures, though, told the story in a strong way.
Jeff Greenfield, there's always this debate about how to cover protests, how much attention to give. The March for Life was in Washington the other day. Some conservatives feel it didn't get enough attention. Some liberals feel the Tea Party got more attention than these women's marches are getting.
Where do you come down on this?
JEFF GREENFIELD, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the first thing to say is that if you are committed to one side of a political argument, you are always going to feel that there are more of you and that the media have not given you props.
My own feeling is that the fact that the second year saw this kind of turnout clearly merits major press attention.
But I think, as Doug pointed out, the consequence of a government shutdown is so monumental in political terms, it demonstrates so clearly how the norms have just disappeared, that I think it would be just wrong to say, well, we really have got to focus more on one or the other.
Actually, I was thinking of the old story about the Jewish mother gives her son a red shirt and a blue shirt, and he wears the red shirt, and the mother says, what, you didn't like the other one?
GREENFIELD: There's only -- even in a 24-hour cable news universe, there's only so much time. And you have got two major stories.
And, as far as I'm concerned, they're both being covered the correct way, which is, they are both very big deals. And, lastly, they both demonstrate one of the things that the year of Trump has brought to us, which is this enormous increase in intensity.
The political feelings on both sides run so deep and so powerfully, that they bring millions into the street and they bring government to a halt.
STELTER: It's the great divide. And the great divide is visible this weekend on our TV screens in a way that it rarely becomes so visible, so obvious.
Charlotte, back to you on this topic of Washington vs. outside Washington.
I think there's so much attention around all things Trump. Is it your feeling, as a beat reporter covering this protest movement, that some of these first-time female candidates feel like they don't get enough media oxygen?
ALTER: I mean, Brian I think these are essentially two sides of the same story. One way to look at this is that Trump's struggles to legislate, from
the health care bill to the JFK protests that led to the first injunction against the travel ban, Trump's struggles are victories for this resistance movement that is largely led by women.
So, every time -- you know, many of Trump's political obstacles are his own. He's in some ways his own worst enemy, with some of his tweets and other things that are kind of self-inflicted wounds.
But some of his biggest legislative struggles are actually victories for this well-organized movement that has been organizing against him for this entire year. And I would actually lump the shutdown in with that, because one of the reasons that it's been so hard to get a compromise about immigration is that this left-wing protest movement is insisting on a clean DREAM Act.
They do not want Democrats to compromise on immigration. And I think there is an argument to be made that we might have seen a compromise by now if there were not all of these activists who were flooding the phone lines, insisting that Schumer not sell out the dreamers.
STELTER: And this entire year, looking ahead between now and November, it's all about the intersection of this debate in Washington and the MeToo movement and the women's marches. It's about the intersection of those two stories.
Charlotte, thanks for being here.
Jeff, Douglas, please stick around.
And, by the way, for more from Charlotte, check out our weekly RELIABLE SOURCES podcast on iTunes.
After the break here, backlash against "The New York Times." What did "The Times" do now? They decided to hand over the editorial page to Trump supporters.
We're going to talk about that.
Plus, later: a panel of White House correspondents here to review Trump's first year and look ahead to his second.
STELTER: Hey. Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
How will history remember Jeff Flake? He's the GOP senator, of course, who's become an ardent critic of President Trump.
This week, he was blasted by White House aides and FOX Newsers for daring to denounce Trump's misleading media-bashing behavior. Now, Flake is not running for reelection, so he feels more free to
talk this way. He's given a series of speeches urging his GOP colleagues to stand up to Trump.
His first subject was the free press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: 2017 was a year which saw the truth, objective, empirical, evidence-based truth, more battered and abused than at any time in the history of our country at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government.
It was a year in which an unrelenting daily assault on the constitutionally protected free speech was launched by the same White House.
And so 2018 must be the year in which the truth takes a stand against power that would weaken it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: But will it? Really?
And let me ask two other questions while we're at it.
On this anniversary weekend, how has President Trump changed the media in the past year? And how has the media changed him?
Joining me now is Douglas Brinkley, back with me, actually, a presidential historian for CNN. And joining me now, Olivia Nuzzi, a Washington correspondent for "New York Magazine."
So, Olivia, you get the first word.
Do you think the press has been fundamentally changed by this president?
OLIVIA NUZZI, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": Well, I think that Donald Trump has revealed issues that already existed in the press.
And he's also prompted a lot of self-reflecting and a lot of debate amongst the press about how best to cover him, things that maybe we didn't talk about before or we didn't analyze too closely before. I think everything is kind of up for review now. And I think that can be a good thing. I think it can also be a bit of a distraction.
But I don't really -- I don't know that President Trump has changed the media. He's not changing the way that people are reporting. Everyone is doing their jobs the same way. They're investigating the same way.
I think he has made everyone's attention spans shorter. There's that saying about Trump -- I think Maggie Haberman has said it on this network -- that he makes everybody a little bit like him. And I think that's true to some extent about the press corps as well. We all kind of have short attention spans, the way that he does,
because we're trying to keep up with him. But as for whether or not we have changed him, I think, if anything, we have just made him even Trumpier than he was on day one of his presidency.
STELTER: Doesn't he make more news outlets maybe more profane, more crass as well? Look at all the banners with curse words in them because he used a curse word in the Oval Office.
Maybe that's your point about making everything a little Trumpier.
NUZZI: Right. And I don't think that -- sure, in that we're reflecting what we're covering, I guess things have certainly changed since the Obama administration.
But I don't think he has changed the core objectives of the press or anything about the strategy for how we report a story.
STELTER: And on your point about attention spans, Douglas Brinkley, as a historian, in any other presidential term, wouldn't a story about an alleged payoff to a porn star weeks before an election have received blanket, wall-to-wall, "Oh, my God" attention?
BRINKLEY: Absolutely. It's been stunning how little that's been covered.
And, also, all the women that are charging the president of the United States with sexual harassment, the combination of this shows you somebody who is deeply misogynist, is out of touch with what the women's movement is. And it tells you, Brian, why you have people protesting on the one- year anniversary, why women are so energized.
We thought, because Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee, that 2016 was going to be the year of the woman, but I think it's going to be 2020.
I say that because that will be the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, women's getting the right to vote. And, usually, women, right, go Democratic or Republican, but I think now you're starting to see this real wave of women trying to say that Donald Trump's behavior towards women is unacceptable.
STELTER: Olivia, what's your view on the coverage or the lack of coverage of Stormy Daniels?
There certainly has been some reporting on it. It's been on the front page of "The Journal" and other papers. It's been a big story on cable news. But I just -- I have the sense that, if this were any other president, it would be an overwhelming news story in a way that it hasn't been.
NUZZI: Well, that's true of so many things with Donald Trump, though, where he does something wrong that in any other administration could have taken that administration down, but in Donald Trump's, it's just a Wednesday. But I think it's absolutely true of Stormy Daniels. I can't imagine
how this would be covered if it were, as I said, Barack Obama's administration or George W. Bush's administration.
But Donald Trump, he has had so many scandals like this, that it kind of has a tiring effect on all of us.
But I will say, it is being covered. I think there's so much news. And that's what I have been saying about the attention spans.
We sort of have a lack of attention to devote to all of the different topics that we are covering right now.
STELTER: But I think we can't underestimate the audience. Even if journalists are overwhelmed and exhausted, which I think many are, we can't underestimate the audience's span at the same time.
NUZZI: But I think that the public is the same way. I don't think it's just the media. I think there's so much going on.
We have the Russia investigation. We have the government shutdown. We have the president's agenda, which is getting through in sort of an anemic way. We're trying to assess what is happening with tax reform.
And there are all these different things that would be taking over weeks or months in any other administration, but it's all happening at once under Donald Trump. And I think everyone is sort of struggling to figure out where to turn their head at any given moment.
STELTER: And, Professor Brinkley, about the idea that maybe the president has been changed by the media, do you buy into that idea at all? Do you see any signs of that?
I wonder if, when he reads "The New York Times," when he watches CNN, if he gets frustrated by all of us pointing out his flaws and factual inaccuracies, and it makes him retrench, meaning it makes him listen to "FOX & Friends" and only pay attention to his base? Has the press affected the president?
BRINKLEY: Well, just one thing about Stormy Daniels. She's going on a pornography tour now in front of huge audiences.
BRINKLEY: So she may be tracking in the press.
Donald Trump is a narcissist. He's somebody who's constantly looking to see his name on anything, on -- even if it's a negative story. He believes even bad press, at least you're talking Donald Trump. So, I don't think it's changed him any. But he's made a terrible
miscalculation of having the quote for history that the press is the enemy of the people associated to his name.
And he lets all the critics get to him. He feels he's getting punctured by fiery darts everywhere he turns. The great presidents, people like Theodore Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan, would not read the press to that degree. They'd float above it and they would try to co- opt reporters.
Donald Trump is Nixonian. He wants to create enemies lists of reporters and turn his base, social media base, against individual reporters. And it's in some cases life-threatening to reporters.
NUZZI: Well, I think that's true, but I think it's a little bit more complicated than that, because he does want to create enemies out of reporters, but at the same time he craves approval.
And that's why you see in Michael Wolff's book, for instance, like he talks about how Trump hates "The New York Times," he's constantly talking about "The New York Times" and obsessed with it, and yet he's preoccupied with when he's going to speak to "The New York Times" next. He wants the approval of "The New York Times."
I think he probably wants the approval of CNN, even while he is disparaging them on Twitter on an almost daily basis.
So, I think it's a very complicated thing that we're trying to kind of unpack here about his interior life. And I don't know if we ever will.
STELTER: On that note, Olivia, stick around.
Douglas Brinkley, thank you for being here this morning.
NUZZI: Thank you.
STELTER: When we come back, a question that I know a lot of you have opinions on. Why are so many people on the left outraged when media outlets, including this one, dare to air the opinions of Trump supporters?
STELTER: Are Trump supporters still supporting Trump?
This has been a frequent feature of news coverage for the past year, focus groups, interview, panels, stories all about why Trump voters are still with him.
And some liberals hate it. They hate. They say reporters are wasting time talking to Trump supporters, that those voters are practically in a cult, that they have signed up with a racist and they're never going to change. That's what liberal critics say. On the other side, there's a concern that these features sometimes
treat voters like an exotic species, like Trump supporters are animals in a zoo.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're one year, one year in. How's he doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fantastic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great. Better than I ever would have dreamt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's doing a hell of a good job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's doing really well on policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Industries are booming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything I voted for him for, he's doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's playing three-level chess vs. everybody else playing checkers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's like tenacious sometimes and says stuff off-the-cuff, like we do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I would be a fool not to vote for him again unless somebody better comes along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Now, this debate over whether and how to interview Trump supporters is really a proxy America's deep divide over Trump.
It's specifically because he is historically unpopular and divisive that the views of his supporters are newsworthy.
But because he's so unpopular and divisive, some people do not want to hear it. That's why the "New York Times"' decision to devote Thursday's editorial page to letters from Trump supporters was such a big talker.
There were all of these letters all across the page. It was a decision by "The Times" to want to hear those voices.
And what did I see on social media? I saw a lot of people saying: I don't want to hear it. I'm canceling my subscription. I can't take it anymore.
I think this is worth talking about in more detail, because it's been something that's come up all again and again all year long.
Joining me now is Neera Tanden. She's the president of the Center for American Progress. And back with me is Jeff Greenfield, longtime political analyst and former network correspondent.
Neera, you were one of the many people weighing in on "The New York Times"' decision on Thursday. Why do you think you have had enough of hearing from Trump voters?
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I actually think it's fine to hear from Trump voters.
I think the challenge is that we don't hear enough of the resistance. You have a march yesterday which shows over a million people gathering, after a march a year ago of four million people gathering.
[11:30:09] And I'm all for listening to the views of Trump voters, I just think there is a -- there is a quality of this reporting which is to the exclusion of other voices. The majority in this country oppose Trump. It seems to me the "New York times" or other sources could at least have equal expression for those voices.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Jeff, what do you think?
JEFF GREENFIELD, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if you are regular reader of the "New York Times," for the last two and a half years you have gotten a full dose of view that Donald Trump is hellaciously unfit to be president.
Just today, if you pick up the times, there's an editorial basically calling him out in harsh terms in at least four op-ed pieces, in varying degrees saying that Trump is he utterly unfit to be president. And I thought it was useful for one day for the "New York Times" to present views of people who say, you know what? We know he has problems, but here's why we're for him.
I always thought that one of the terrible mistakes of 2016 from the point of view of the Democrats was to kind of assume, and I think a lot in the press did too that Trump so violated everything we thought about norms of the candidate that really there was no chance he was going to be elected. And if you're going to be serious about looking at the political terrain, it's important to know that there are people not imbued with nativist or racial grievance issues who see in Donald Trump a guy who's delivering for them.
I just did a piece yesterday for PBS only talking with conservatives. Some of whom have come to terms with Trump, and say, you know, he's OK, and some of who are absolutely unremittingly against him on grounds of character.
This is the kind of dialogue that I think we need. And the one last thing, it would be really useful if once, say Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson would put somebody on Fox News to say, you know, this Russian story has some serious parts to it. And, you know, there are parts about his behavior that really ought to disturb people.
I'm waiting for that and I'm not holding my breath.
TANDEN: Can I just say one thing?
STELTER: Yes, I wouldn't neither.
TANDEN: I guess I would say, I do think -- I think Jeff talked about 2016, and I think this is really the issue. I think a lot of news outlets did not expect Donald Trump to win and basically think of going back again and again and again to his supporters.
STELTER: So, what, are they overcompensating?
TANDEN: Yes, I think there is a level of overcompensation here to say, you know, exactly why did they still support him. And I actually think that this notion that, you know, how could you still support him after this is a kind of little bit of a bias.
Look, he's president of the United States. He has supporters. I think a lot of liberals would like to see coverage of equal or even greater value or time to the people who are in the streets marching against him.
I appreciate "The New York Times" editorial page is doing this, but it also needs other outlets need to do other voices as well.
STELTER: Yes, I thought it was great to see this morning on "NEW DAY", anchor Victor Blackwell had a conversation, kind of a diner style conversation with a group of black female voters, not your typical Trump supporters shall we say. So, that's an example of hearing from a wide variety of people.
But here's what it comes down to, Neera, I see people on Twitter and Facebook say, I don't remember Obama supporters being interviewed in focus groups in 2010 or 2011. It's because he was never as unpopular as Trump is right now. And isn't there an element of liberal intolerance here when people say they can't stand to hear from Trump voters anymore?
TANDEN: I don't think the issue -- I think liberal's complaint is not that we can't hear from a single person. Like there's a whole network devoted to the views of Trump and his supporters. It's called Fox News. But I think the issue is, does the mainstream media want to cover both of these voices, the people marching on the streets, as well as the people who still support Donald Trump? I think both of those are reasonable, that when you have a variety of outlets that continue to go to the voices of one side, I think people -- liberals are general legitimately asking questions about that.
GREENFIELD: Well, I remember talking years ago to a United States senator who would go home and watch Keith Olbermann when he was MSNBC beating up Bush. I said, why do you do that? And I was told it's like sinking into a nice warm bath.
And I think on both sides of the divide, people are sinking into nice warm baths to reconfirm what they believe. I mean, the idea that, you know, when I watch CNN sometimes, I think -- I expect the indictment on Donald Trump to be imminent, because the focus on Russian collusion and that issue is very strong.
[11:35:012] And if you turn on MSNBC, you're going to get pretty much a nightly dose of, you know, the prosecutor's case against Donald Trump. God knows when you turn on Fox News and prime time you know what you're going to get.
I must say I think the idea of stepping back and saying, hmm, how did the most unlikely and, in my view, most unfit person for the presidency ever get elected requires some deep understanding of what's going on. And that's one of the reasons I think why you do see people going back and saying to people who flipped from Obama to Trump, where are you now? That's a perfectly legitimate journalistic thing to do.
And I have to say, you know, I think one of the reasons the Democratic Party is in the state it's in which is its lowest ebb since the 1920s, is because is had a kind of blind spot. It could not believe people that were going to vote in a way they could not conceive of voting for.
TANDEN: I got to say, this is like the debate that goes on over and over and over again. It's impossible for Donald Trump to have won, so he did win, so we have to go back to his voters (ph) and support them and if you don't, you are suffering from the indictment of 2016. If you're a person who thought he could win, this whole situation is less shocking.
No one is saying don't talk to the people who voted for him. Sure. But you know there -- I think a lot of people.
STELTER: There's a lot of us saying do not interview Trump supporters. That's real.
TANDEN: I guess what I would say, the reasonable position here is, OK, if you're going to interview these people, let's interview the people who went from Donald Trump to voting for Doug Jones. Let's interview the people who don't support Donald Trump who used to support him. Let's have a big picture of what's happening.
The current in American politics today is a strong majority is forming against Donald Trump. So, I think the media should cover both of these things and say, hey, why are both -- why did this happen, but also what is this new phenomenon happening, which is lots of people are coming into politics to oppose the Trump administration. Those people should have a voice too.
STELTER: Neera, Jeff, thank you so much.
GREENFIELD: I think exactly --
STELTER: Go ahead, Jeff. Go ahead.
GREENFIELD: I just think -- I think that's exactly what the journalistic community ought to be doing. And they are. You want to find out whether or not the people who supported Trump are going to be with him in the next November. That's an important story.
TANDEN: OK. "The New York Times" should hand over its page to their voices as well.
STELTER: Hey, let's get to work.
GREENFIELD: They do it every day.
STELTER: That's the takeaway.
Neera, Jeff, thank you so much.
Up next here, Trump versus the press corps. We're going to talk about three White House correspondents looking back at the combative start of the Trump presidency which is showing no signs of letting up.
This is what the president said a year ago tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth, right?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:42:23] STELTER: Trump is like a raging storm that never blows itself out. That's what a team of CNN reporters said. For this story on CNN.com, it attempted to sum up everything that happened in the first year. The scroll goes on and on.
The reporters wrote that Trump's early morning Twitter rants trigger outrages that obliterate traditional political debate and make days feel like weeks, weeks like months, and months feel like years. Does that feel true to you?
Obviously, reporters cover every individual statement, every controversy, but I wonder if we're doing enough to connect all the different dots, to pull it together for a bewildered public.
You know, I try to do something a little different this week. I went through a database called Fact Base to see just how many times the president used the word fake in his first 12 months in office. Fake news, fake media, fake polls, you know, he says it all the time.
But even I was surprised by the total number. He has said the term fake more than 400 times since he was inaugurated, more than once a day on average. That word, of course, powerful in his repetition, also poisonous in its repetition.
When he says real news is fake over and over and over again, it erodes trust in the media.
Let's talk about it a panel of White House correspondents who are in the briefing room every day.
April Ryan is here, White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks. Also here with me John Gizzi, chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. And "New York Magazine's" Olivia Nuzzi also back with us.
So, April, I wonder what you would sort of say to review year one as we look ahead to year two? What would you say has been the success or the failure of the White House press corps?
APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Well, the success of the White House press corps is that we continue to do our job and we're going to continue to do our job. We have the White House Correspondent's Association that represents us. But, you know, there has been a war on the press by the White House led by this president.
And you said a very big word that really resonates, really touched me, hit me, when you said it's poisonous, because it is. Because, you know, I've talked to other reporters, you know, we got death threats, you know, being on the road sometimes, some the reporters are saying at a moment's notice, the crowd could turn. You know, just recently --
STELTER: April, let me ask you. You just said death threats. You said death threats for reporting?
RYAN: Yes, death threats. Yes, for asking questions and reporting. Yes. Yes.
STELTER: That's for you personally?
[11:45:01] What did you do?
RYAN: It's real. And that's -- me personally. Me personally.
What do you do? You talk to your company and your company has the FBI, the local police on speed dial. You know, just for asking questions.
I mean, you know, people are taking this to a whole another degree. We've been doing this for a long time. Same questions I've asked this president, I've asked other presidents. But Brian, the only question that I've never asked a president and no one else has, are you racist?
But still, we have -- we are ingrained in the First Amendment freedom of the press. There is a back and forth for a reason, but fourth estate -- a powerful fourth estate. That's part of the accountability piece.
And this -- this separates us from Russia, from China, and third world countries, that have a problem. They govern the press. We are free and independent. And there's some people to include this president who feels we should not ask questions.
But going back to what I said, you know, we have -- we've been under attack this year. And even when I asked that question about, Mr. President, are you a racist, I was asking a question. I was not condemning. I was asking, because there's a groundswell.
And what happens is, we are kind of the conduit. We hear and throw it back to the White House and the White House also use us to throw back to the American public. But, this -- while I was in the Roosevelt Room that day, there was someone, a minister, who chastised me and you can hear it on tape for asking question.
STELTER: He called you vulturizing (ph), right?
RYAN: The dynamic has changed.
STELTER: Yes --
RYAN: Well, he called the other people a vulture when they started walking up, but he told me I shouldn't have asked the question.
STELTER: John, is it as dire as April portrays it?
JOHN GIZZI, CHIEF POLITICAL COLUMNIST, NEWSMAX: I don't necessarily agree with April. I do think this being Sunday, perhaps the administration might take a lesson from the Book of Isaiah when it deals with reporters. Come now, let us reason together.
And I think there could be a little bit more camaraderie there and a little more conviviality and less confrontation, sometimes over little things, such as the way that words are phrased. It seems right now, the response of one side to the other is from the next burst of Isaiah, if he refuse and rebel, he shall be devoured by the sword for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
It seems to be very rancorous at this point, and we could do with a few more laughs, if you will. Or a little bit more warmth. I know April will recall, we had a lot of fun just before Thanksgiving telling what we were thankful for, and while some didn't like the exercise.
RYAN: You had fun. GIZZI: We were laughing.
I did. And you gave a very good answer --
RYAN: You had fun. It was --
GIZZI: -- on being thankful for the First Amendment.
RYAN: Yes, I didn't give that answer.
I felt that was condescending. But the press secretary since said she felt she wanted to break the ice. She felt she wanted to break the ice and thought it was going to be taken in a way we could all laugh about it. But for some of us, it felt like we were puppets.
But, you know, she explained her side. And I explained my side about that. We had a conversation about it. But both sides didn't see eye to eye, but she called herself what she told me she was trying to do something good. But it didn't come off that way.
GIZZI: Didn't come off that way to some.
STELTER: I'm thankful for the three of you.
RYAN: To some, exactly.
STELTER: Let me squeeze in a break and, Olivia, you take the first word right after a quick break here.
[11:52:53] STELTER: Hey, back now on RELIABLE SOURCES.
Let's bring back our panel of Washington correspondents.
And start with you, Olivia, talking about President Trump's accessibility, he gave an interview to "Reuters" this week. Hasn't done any interviews since late November. In two weeks, there's the super bowl.
Historically, Obama every year sat down with an interviewer on Super Bowl Sunday. And this time last year, Trump and Bill O'Reilly of all people had a Super Bowl Sunday sit-down.
Given the president's relative inaccessibility, how his aides seem to be keeping him from reporters, do you think he might be skipping the Super Bowl interview this year? Because "Variety" has reported that so far, he has not committed to doing one.
OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, I mean, he is unpredictable. But it does seem like a safe bet, he's been throughout the last year, excluding his Fox News interview, any time he has done a television interview, he's made a great deal of news. So, I think his aides are probably politically at least correct to try
to steering him away from doing that.
But he does love talking to the press. I mean, we see this -- the other White House correspondents here can attest -- we see this when the pool reporters are in the Oval office and he won't stop answering questions even when his own aides are yelling at reporters to leave. I think if Donald Trump had his way, he would be on the phone with reporters and having them in the Oval Office day and night.
STELTER: Right, but his aides and his lawyers sometimes don't want that.
STELTER: John Gizzi, if you could be asking the president a single question, we're in a midst of this government shutdown, what would be the most important question to be asking the president right now, John?
GIZZI: The question is, are you going to stay firm the way every House Republican wants you to, and then give a clue what you'll negotiate about when the government opens or are you going to cave? It's that simple. Everybody is wondering it right now.
STELTER: April, I have about 20 seconds left. What's your question right now?
RYAN: I don't have one question, I want an interview with him, I want to have a one-on-one interview with him. That's my question, will you grant me an interview?
STELTER: And so far, we have seen him mostly speaking to Fox and other Murdoch-owned outlets.
[11:55:04] That's why this "Reuters" interview this week was curious. Maybe he's opening up a bit. We will see.
To our panel, thank you so much for being here and all of you for tuning in to RELIABLE SOURCES this Sunday. Make sure you follow our nightly news coverage in our RELIABLE SOURCES newsletter. You can sign up right now, it's free, at reliablesources.com. All the day's media news recapped for you from our team of reporters.
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I'm in Philly. I'm heading to the NFC championship game tonight, the Eagles versus the Vikings. We'll see what happens. But the newsletter is going to come out early because of the game.
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