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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Trump's 55th Interview with Fox Since Inauguration Day; What It's Like to Cover President Trump Every Day. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired June 9, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:28] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. And this is RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind story, show you how the media works, how the news gets made, and how all of us can help make it better.
This hour, we have the first live interview with CNN's own Jim Acosta. He's out promoting this new brand book called "The Enemy of the People." It has brand new reporting about the beginning of the Trump presidency and we're going to get into it.
Plus, Washington turning on tech companies like Google and Facebook. Why? And why now?
Well, the lawmaker leading the fight, Congressman David Cicilline, is also here live.
And later, we're going to go live to Sidney, Australia, to find out what happened here. These are images of federal police in Australia raiding one of the country's biggest newsrooms. What is going on? What are they looking for? We're going to get into that a little there.
But, first, President Trump's latest Fox News interview is causing controversy. This was Trump's 55th interview with Fox since Inauguration Day. That's more than double of any other major network combined. But this newest one was different.
He was in France there to honor soldiers who sacrificed their lives on D-Day. He sat down with Fox News host Laura Ingraham right there, right with the graves of soldiers as the backdrop. What was he thinking? What was she thinking? What were the Fox producers thinking when Trump went on a tirade.
Look, Trump did take a moment to tell Ingraham how proud he is of her ratings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, congratulations on your ratings. I'm very proud of you.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Thanks. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: And that wasn't even the worse part. Trump had an opportunity to attack Nancy Pelosi and Robert Mueller. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nancy Pelosi is a disaster. Nasty, vindictive, horrible person. She's a nervous wreck. Their good friend, Bobby Mueller. We have crying Chuck Schumer who is a total political, you know, jerk.
INGRAHAM: What can you do to you night the country at a time of great polarization? What else could you do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: That is a great question, Laura. Attacking your critics? Attacking those who you disagree with including Robert Mueller who is a veteran at a grave site? Is not uniting anybody with anything.
And, look, as I watched this interview and I watched the terrible optics, I wondered where is President Trump's communications director to oversee what the camera shots look like, who is working to protect him from those kind of gaffes. Well, let's remember, former Fox executive Bill Shine exited the White House in March and now the job remains vacant more than three months later. Maybe Trump isn't his own best communications director.
Look, I think there's a lot to discuss from this interview and so much more. Let's bring in "New York Magazine" senior correspondent Irin Carmon, CNN media analyst Bill Carter, and the host of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" here on CNN, S.E. Cupp.
What do you think of this Laura Ingraham interview, S.E.? We both work here in television day by day. I don't think either of us would have allowed that kind of embarrassing situation to happen.
S.E. CUPP, CNN HOST, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED": Well, you know as well as I do a lot of prep goes into doing our show, when we're on set, but certainly and especially when you're out on location somewhere. What's the backdrop going to be? What kind of permits do we have to get?
I mea, there's a lot of steps that you have to take to designing this shot, this interview. The idea that someone said let put the president of the United States, who frequently runs off at the mouth is probably not going to hue to social norms while we're here.
CUPP: Let's put him in front of a graveyard on one of the most sacred occasions and conduct an interview in which we ask him about politics. That was a vetted decision. That was on purpose.
I don't think they are stupid. I just don't think it was, it was polite. I don't think it was the right thing to do.
STELTER: Bill, do you think it matters?
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Well, it doesn't matter to the audience he has.
STELTER: To the Fox audience.
CARTER: It doesn't matter to them. It's not going to offend them. But I think Fox is trying to elevate him by giving him that background. I think they were trying to put him in the best possible position --
STELTER: Oh, to make him look presidential.
CARTER: To make him look presidential and connect him to the sacrifice of these great soldiers, great American soldiers.
But he's totally unpredictable. They know he's going to say something outrageous and it doesn't faze them to think, well, the backdrop will be off. The Mueller comment is amazing in terms of what it says because this is a guy who did not go Vietnam for, obviously, kind of phony impairment and a guy who did go and was wounded and all of that. He criticizes in front of an American graveyard. The optics are really terrible in that context.
STELTER: We continue to see cases including this week with the president in Europe where he tells you not to believe your own ears or eyes.
[11:05:02] He did this when talking about protests. He said he hadn't seen the protests. So, maybe they were fake news.
But I thought the most interesting use of the term fake news this week was from Laura Ingraham. Did you all see this? After the interview with the president, she had to go on her show and say the president said something that wasn't true. Watch this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: These people are so amazing and what they don't realize is that I'm holding them up because of this interview, but that's because it's you.
INGRAHAM: Some of you may have heard or read that president Trump held up the D-Day ceremony to do this interview with me. That's patently false. Fake news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Amazing to see a Fox host correcting the president. She didn't say it was the president that made up this idea. What actually happened one of the other foreign leaders was running a little bit late so there was time for Trump to do the interview before the ceremony.
But what do you make of that, Irin?
IRIN CARMON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think we're in panopticon. We're in the M.C. Escher of B.S. right now because what happens is, it doesn't matter what reality is, it just matters what the perception is and be good for Trump. And that -- for Trump himself has always been an ever shifting justification. He doesn't have stable truths. He just -- whatever comes out of his mouth is what he thinks will benefit him the most in that exact second.
And you see Laura Ingraham taking her cues from that. It was something Trump said that was not true, which she then said other people had said which remain untrue but true to what the president has said. If your head is spinning, that's kind of point, right?. It's creating a sense much disorientation.
At the end of the day, you think there are people who are against Trump and there are people who are not, and regardless what the facts are, this is, I know this word gets abused so much in this day and age. But this is classic gaslighting. The gaslighting story is oh, no that lamp didn't move. It must be your imagination. Oh, the president didn't say that or the president didn't make you late.
Whatever it is, in the end, everyone else is lying and I'm the only person telling you the truth.
STELTER: Right, to just stick with your tribe and don't believe what you can see, you're right.
CARMON: Don't trust your eyes.
STELTER: Let's take a turn to 2020 for a moment because there's been a lot of headlines about Joe Biden. In many cases, in many ways, this race the revolving around Biden right now.
Take a look at this headlines from "The Journal", from Fox, from elsewhere, about Biden, quote, flipping over abortion funding. This is about the Hyde Amendment and Biden's change in position.
Irin, what's the media back story?
CARMON: Well, I think it's really interesting because even since Biden was vice president, there has been ground level activism and online activism that has increasingly gotten the ears of mainstream media criticizing the Hyde Amendment. Now, the Hyde Amendment has been in placed for decades. It's been the status quo. Barack Obama called it tradition, right?
This is something that's not been in the center of Democratic politics but because of Twitter, Facebook, online organizing and grassroots organizing I think mainstream media now is more aware that there's an internal debate among progressives about whether things Hyde Amendment throw low-income women under the bus. That pipeline got shorter and shorter between progressive ideas and mainstream journalists like NBC News asking Biden --
STELTER: It's helping shift the party, right? It's helping shift --
CARMON: It's shifting the party to the left, changing what the center is.
CUPP: I also think another story here is that Joe Biden has not been running a traditional campaign where he does a lot of media, where he does a lot of retail politics. So, we don't have a lot of interviews with him yet. So these moments, these gaffes, these campaign breakdowns are all we have.
STELTER: Right. He's not holding a pressers. He's not doing interviews.
CUPP: That's right.
CUPP: So, they are sticking out. I think he would be better served doing a lot more interviews, sitting down. I know there's a risk involve in that. But I think it would help sort of de-saturate the environment so this is not all we're left talking about.
STELTER: That's interesting.
CUPP: Give us some more face time, Joe. We want to hear from you.
CARTER: He did not go into this entirely prepared. You would think this wouldn't come up in an era when so much of the Democratic focus is on women's issues and women are so vital to their base. That they wouldn't have thought that through and talk about a communications director.
Why didn't someone clue him in that these things would come up?
STELTER: Let's end --
CARMON: It's too late.
CARMON: They were not prepared.
STELTER: Remember, people ask me about the Democratic race. I remind them this time four years ago, Trump hadn't entered the GOP race yet. It's so early.
But I bring that up because we're at an anniversary. This time next week is the four-year anniversary of Trump riding down the escalator. It's remarkable to go back and watch the television coverage from that day and how seriously he was taken or maybe not.
S.E., you were on CNN's coverage that morning.
CUPP: Yes. STELTER: You even had an embargoed copy of his speech.
CUPP: There I am.
STELTER: What was the day like for you four years later?
CUPP: It was bizarre. I mean, we can go to Foucault and the panopticon, but I go to Seinfeld. It was a bizarre world. It was a bizarre world.
I had gotten an embargoed copy of the speech from the campaign.
[11:10:03] And not a lot of people had because they didn't have a lot of contacts in the media yet.
STELTER: Right, right,
CUPP: So, I'm looking at this. And I think this is actually very serious and substantive.
CUPP: And within the first sentence that script was abandoned and I'm watching along with everyone else mouth agape, you know, eyes wide- open, none of the script, the script was tossed in what would become his hallmark going off script.
CUPP: And I just remember thinking this is bizarre. Not taking it seriously. To my discredit, not taking it very seriously because he didn't appear to be taking it as seriously as I expected him to, via that speech.
STELTER: Yes, he was in reality host mode. You were all able to turn away and I think when you look back at that first day that told you where we were going. It was entertaining, it was shocking. This was some racism involved involving Mexicans.
Bill, last thought?
CARTER: Well, it was interesting. Howard Stern came out and said he thought it was a PR stunt. That Trump was doing it as PR stunt.
Remember, he announced he was running before. People thought he would never do it, never make his taxes public. Of course he didn't. He wound up running anyway. .
STELTER: Well, four years ago. Look at where we are.
Panel, please stick around. A quick break here coming up from the front lines of the Trump White House. Jim Acosta joins us for his first live interview about his new book. That's coming up next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) STELTER: It is one of the president's most poisonous phrases, "the enemy of the people". He's used the phrase more than 30 times on Twitter, usually attacking news outlets like CNN.
[11:15:05] Most recently, just a few hours ago, it's tiresome, yes, but it's still damaging, casting fellow Americans as enemies.
Well, it is also a phrase CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta is now reclaiming. He's out this Tuesday with a new book entitled "The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America."
Now, the book is out on Tuesday. And Jim Acosta is here for his first live interview all about it.
Jim Acosta, chief White House correspondent for CNN, why write a book about your experience?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I wanted to send a message, you know, to folks who really care about what we do and the message is basically this. I did not want my children to group in a country where the press is called the enemy of the people.
Brian, you and I have grown-up in a country in the last several decades here where, you know, Republicans, Democrats wanted to be in power in Washington, but they didn't demonize us to this extent. And I think it's gotten -- I think it started off as an act based on my reporting that the president threw out fake news, the enemy of the people just to sort of taunt and troll us. And that has essentially gotten out of control.
And now, it's gotten to the point where his supporters, some of his supporters, many of them are wonderful people, but some of those supporters feel it's OK to lash out at us in ways that I think put us in danger, and I think we have to pause, hit the pause button and think deeply about whether or not this is the kind of country we want to hand off to our kids.
STELTER: Some of your critics say, if this really was a dangerous time to tell the truth in America, you wouldn't be able to write a book about it.
STELTER: What do you say to them?
ACOSTA: Well, I don't want it to become more dangerous time. And as you and I both know, Brian, we had a pipe bomb delivered to CNN's headquarters last fall. And as I lay out in this book, you know, I've received a number of death threats. I'm not the only one. A number of news anchors and reporters who cover this president on a daily basis receive death threats.
And, you know, we don't know how serious they are. It could just be people venting their frustrations, and I get that. You know, we all get mad about what we see on the news on a daily basis. But --
STELTER: But some are serious. There have been arrests in some cases, yes.
ACOSTA: Right. That's right, and the question is, whether or not somebody crosses that line and does something that hurts somebody or perhaps kills a journalist and as I write in the book, Brian, I think at that point, we cross over into a different era for the United States. Where we join a list of other countries around the world where the press is not safe to do their jobs and we just can't do that. We cannot take that step because I think it's a far slipperier slope than we possibly can imagine at this point.
STELTER: You can't let it happen here.
ACOSTA: That's right.
STELTER: Some people don't know, you sign this deal, to write this book before the midterms. Then, of course, the day after the midterms, the president kicked you out of the White House. The White House revoked your press pass.
Looking back, do you think the president was just trying to distract from losing the House, the Democratic gains in the midterms?
STELTER: Was he trying to come up with -- change the narrative and that's why he kicked you out?
ACOSTA: Right. I saw that -- I've seen that theory, you know, tossed around. My sense of it is if you go back and I talk about it in the book if you look what happens during the news conference, it's not just the confrontation he has with me. He refers to Yamiche Alcindor's question, she's a reporter from PBS, refers to her question as being a racist question at one point during the press conference because he asked or she asked him about this label that he gives himself that he's a nationalist and is that a dog whistle to white nationalists out there.
And so, there were other moments where the president comes off as rattled and off of his game and some might same unhinged. And so, I don't think it was one of those moments where he was throwing red meat into the water and bright shiny object to change the narrative. I think he's clearly frustrated.
STELTER: You do conclude the book with the lawsuit and CNN's victory in court.
STELTER: Let's go back to the beginning, first full day of Trump presidency. Sean Spicer is sent out by the president to go and lie about the crowd size. Do you ever think about what would have happened if crowd size hadn't been the story of day one of Trump presidency?
ACOSTA: Well, I think it probably would have been a much smoother beginning to his presidency, obviously. But this was a clear casing point where the president is distracted and sometimes consumed by things that are just trivial. Why on earth when you're about to become commander-in-chief and president of the United States are you concerned about what kind of crowd size you have, and why would you insist your press secretary go out and lie to the American people?
And by the way, when Kellyanne Conway goes out there and says, well, you know, Sean Spicer was giving alternative facts, you know, she also got herself into a situation where, you know, they are all piling on, trying to explain way the president's behavior and rhetoric.
ACOSTA: And as I write in the book, you know, Kellyanne Conway kind of regrets making that comment. She said to me that was a slip of the tongue she didn't mean to say alternative facts, she meant to say something different.
And what I found going back talking to various officials is that from time to time there was a sense of regret about what they've all been through. Yes, they are passionate supporters of the president, but in Kellyanne Conway's case, I think she now wishes that she could have had that one over again.
[11:20:07] She wishes she had not said that because she insists in this book that this was not intended to be an Orwellian phrase on her part.
STELTER: Right, the way it was interpreted.
STELTER: You do quote sources on the record and also on background anonymously, you quote an unnamed senior White House official saying, quote, the president is insane. Was that person speaking literally or figuratively?
ACOSTA: I think he was venting his frustrations, this particular official. We sat down one to talk about how things were going with this particular source's area of expertise. I don't want to get too deeply into that.
But plopped down in the seat in front of me and said the president is insane. And I later went back later and talked to this official and I said, why did you say that?
ACOSTA: And this official said, you know, really, I was just frustrated with the president's lack of understanding about the Constitution, the constraints placed on the presidency. You know guardrails were put in place by our Founding Fathers.
The president wanted to know how long you can keep an acting secretary on. He wanted to know, you know, what else he could do with his cabinet. It's this kind of behavior behind-the-scenes that really frustrates his top officials I think a lot more than people understand.
STELTER: I see.
ACOSTA: So, I think this official was trying to explain all of that.
STELTER: One, you mentioned Kellyanne Conway, her husband George Conway continues to say the president is mentally unwell, unfit. Take a look at his latest tweets from today saying the president should resign and seek psychological treatment. I commented that the tweets are astonishing coming from the husband of a top White House official.
And Conway wrote back and said, what's astonishing is the media's and a nation's utter failure to confront the fact that we have a psychologically unwell and unfit president.
How do you view this as someone who covers the Trump White House every day, that these questions are even out there at all?
ACOSTA: Well, I get asked this question from time to time. I tell folks, Brian, I'm not a psychiatrist, so I can assess the president's mental state. But I will tell you my sense of it is covering him for a pretty long period of time now is that he's more crazy like a fox.
And, you know, for example, you know, Steve Bannon explains in an interview I had with him that, you know, what Trump tries to do is really control the narrative by saying sensational things that sound wild and nutty sometimes and he does this because he knows it dominates the news cycle. And so, that makes it a priority for us in the news business to talk about him nonstop and he loves that and he capitalizes on that.
STELTER: Well, about that, do you have any regrets? Do you have any regrets, you said some White House aides, do you have any regrets?
ACOSTA: Do I have any regrets? You know, I wish at times that the press had been a bit more in solidarity with one another and standing up to this White House and saying, listen, you know, president can't call us the enemy of the people. We're not going to go along with that.
And I think we've missed some opportunities here and there to challenge that. I will say, one of the things that I'm most grateful for during this experience is how just about every news organization in Washington and here in New York stood behind us here at CNN when they took away my press pass.
STELTER: Yes, there was a lawsuit.
ACOSTA: That was a very important First Amendment case, and I talked about it in the book.
Had the Trump administration won that case, Brian, it would have sent shockwaves through our industry. It would have put a real chilling effect on the First Amendment in this country and people might say oh, you're just puffing yourself up. You're high on your own fumes. No, the Trump administration's own lawyers went into the courtroom and
said the president of the United States can throw out whoever he wants out of the White House. And we couldn't just have a situation like that.
And so, I was really grateful -- you talk about regrets, one of the things I'm most grateful for is that almost our entire industry stood behind us during that time. And had they not, I think, it could have worked out a different way. So I think, you know, it hasn't been perfect. We're all grappling with, how do we cover this president?
But my sense is that we have to stand for truth. We're not just here to report the news. We're here also to defend the truth. And when you have a president who has made, you know, 10,000 false or misleading statements since the beginning of his administration, you know that makes us fact checkers in real-time.
ACOSTA: It puts us in a position unlike Republicans who controlled the government for two years, sort of makes the forth estate, the press, really the check on a presidency that sometimes goes outside the bounds of normal presidential behavior.
STELTER: Are you tired?
ACOSTA: Am I tired? You know, maybe after this is all and said and done with the book tour I'll take a break.
STELTER: OK, OK.
ACOSTA: But I love this job, Brian, as you do. And I feel this is such an important time and the challenge that we're up against. You know, I talk about how the truth is worth the fight. I deeply and passionately believe that.
Brian, I know you're a father, I'm a dad, I don't want our kids to group in a country where it's OK to say the press is the enemy. And I know that sounds corny and it sounds like, oh, Jim is just getting on a soapbox.
It's not taking a stand on a political issue.
STELTER: No, it's not.
ACOSTA: It's taking a stand on an American issue.
STELTER: It's not.
ACOSTA: We should not be called the enemy of the people. You're not my enemy. Trump supporters are not our enemy.
And so, I hope if there's an overarching message that folks take away from this book is that they have a deep appreciation for what we do and understand that, you know, listen, we're out here doing our jobs.
[11:25:15] STELTER: Trying our best.
ACOSTA: And we're not the enemy.
STELTER: Jim, thanks for being here.
ACOSTA: Thank you, Brian. I appreciate it.
STELTER: The book is "Enemy of the People." It's out on Tuesday. And before we go, let's put the graphic up, 90 days, that's how long it's been since a formal on camera White House briefing, 90 days. That's a record.
ACOSTA: Let's bring them back.
STELTER: Let's bring them back.
Up next here, the congressman spearheading what he says is a top to bottom look at whether and how to address big tech's dominance over the digital marketplace. Congressman David Cicilline is next.
STELTER: Seventy-nine days, yes, more than 11 weeks have passed since Robert Mueller turned in its report with all those troubling details about possible obstruction of justice.
And take a look at this graphic. These are the Democrats in the House of Representatives that are calling for impeachment or an impeachment inquiry. Of course, there are lots and lots of faces, 200 faces, not on this graphic.
But one of the faces on here is David Cicilline. He's joining me now. He's chair of a subcommittee involving antitrust that's holding an important hearing about big tech on Tuesday.
And, Congressman, I want to get to that in a moment. But, first, I do wonder where things stand with regards to Robert Mueller? He still has not spoken to any House or Senate committee. What's the hold up?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): I know there have been ongoing discussions with Mr. Mueller's team and the Judiciary Committee. I think all of the members of the committee understand that it is absolutely critical that Mr. Mueller come before the committee. I think he has a duty to walk the American people through the findings in his report, explain his decisions and the decisions he's made and the evidence he's collected.
[11:30:00] And I expect that Mr. Mueller will be before the Judiciary Committee to testify before the American people.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: It seems like it's taking a very long time. Do you feel the Democrats have lost the messaging war on this issue?
CICILLINE: No, I don't think it's -- look, we want to make sure we're doing this right. We want to be respectful of the special counsel. I think it's always better a witness comes voluntarily. I think someone who's devoted 22 months to this intense investigation is -- deserves that sort of treatment and I think trying to accommodate him makes sense. But if that doesn't work, then obviously we'll compel his attendance. But there's no question the American people need to hear from the special counsel.
STELTER: Meantime, lots of other business before Congress, and you're starting a series of hearings on Tuesday involving big tech. You're not the only part of the government looking into Google, Facebook, etcetera. We learned this week that the FTC and the DOJ have divvied up responsibility for probes into these giant technology players. It seems like Google and Facebook are facing the most heat right now. What do you want to learn with your congressional hearings involving antitrust?
CICILLINE: Well, this is part of a really a broad investigation. This is a bipartisan investigation launched by the Judiciary Committee that will be led by the antitrust subcommittee, and it's really to look at the entire marketplace, these large technology platforms are very dominant, is to look at the sort of monopoly moment that we're in and figure out how we get the market working right.
We want to be sure that they're on engaging in anti-competitive behavior, that isn't harming consumers, harming our access to truthful reliable information, that they're not excluding rivals. You know competition matters in our economy. It's how you generate innovation and entrepreneurship and protect consumers.
And we've seen some consequences of this tremendous concentration of economic power in these large technology platforms, a complete disregard for the privacy of users, misuse of data so that consumers don't really control what happens to their data.
So this is going to be a top-to-bottom review to see how the markets working, what do we need to do to make sure their competition exists in this space and we're protecting workers and consumers and people who are using the Internet. We're in a really serious monopoly moment.
STELTER: You've called for the breakup of -- you've called for the breakup of Facebook. So why should these companies believe that this will be a fair hearing?
CICILLINE: No, I haven't called for the -- Brian, no, I haven't called for the breakup of Facebook, no. I've called for an FTC investigation and we're going to look at a number of technology companies --
STELTER: Into Facebook. OK.
CICILLINE: -- including Facebook. But you know a broad cross -- this is not focused on a particular company. It's really a focus on the digital marketplace that where these large technology platforms are incredibly dominant to figure out why the marketplace is not working. I wonder if you have any view about President Trump weighing in not on the tech companies but on the big media companies. We saw this week the president tweet suggesting a boycott of CNN's
parent company AT&T because he doesn't like how CNN covers him. He was pretty explicit about that but in his tweets. He also called out the outcast by name yesterday when criticizing NBC.
Is it appropriate for a president to suggest a boycott of an American company because he doesn't like the news coverage?
CICILLINE: No, of course not. You know, I was listening to your interview of Jim Acosta, and not only is the media not enemies of the people, they are the guardians of our democracy. And in fact, that's the first hearing that we're going to conduct with respect to this investigation is the impact of these large duopolies on access to trustworthy local news, reliable information.
They are as you know, these two large platforms are really taking much of the revenue using the content of local newspapers and online publishers and putting them out of business. You see examples of it all across the country. That's a problem because these small newspapers don't have leverage. They can't negotiate with the two big large technology platforms. They're really at their will in terms of how their content is used.
As a consequence, we're seeing a real decline in local news. This is not just the sale of widgets. This is about voters ability, the American people's ability to access trustworthy, reliable local news to hold officials to account, to expose corruption.
This is a centerpiece of our democracy. So this is about whether or not you know, citizens of this country will continue to receive local news which is so essential to the functioning of our government. And so that's the first thing we're going to explore in the first hearing that we have as a part of this investigation.
STELTER: Congressman, thank you so much for being here. Great talking with you.
CICILLINE: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
STELTER: And he teed up our next segment perfectly. You're going to hear from three of the experts who will be testifying at his hearing on Tuesday. Find out what they want Congress to do. That's next.
[11:35:00] STELTER: Newspapers big and small feel like they're under assault with platforms like Google and Facebook taking away precious ad revenue. The platforms say they are not the enemy but this issue is going to be in the spotlight on Tuesday when Congressman David Cicilline antitrust hearing takes place.
We were just talking with him about his examination of Google and Facebook etcetera. His first hearing is about local journalism, about what he calls a free and diverse press. They're going to be talking about a law, a bill that's been introduced called the journalism competition and preservation act. Cicilline introduced it earlier this year alongside a Republican counterpart Doug Collins. It's a rare display of bipartisan support.
The bill would allow publishers to temporarily bypass the existing antitrust laws that otherwise protect big tech from having to negotiate with these publications. Let me explain more about this. I spoke with three witnesses who are set to testify at Tuesday's hearing. All of them told me they plan to plug this pending piece of legislation.
News Media Alliance CEO David Chavern, Sally Hubbard is a Director of Enforcement Strategy for the Open Markets Institute, and the editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Kevin Riley. Now, hear from all of them but first Chavern, I asked him what this bill is all about.
DAVID CHAVERN, CEO, NEWS MEDIA ALLIANCE: You know, the government can't regulate the news business under the First Amendment but now we have two major companies that effectively do regulate us. They stand between us in our readers and determine everything about that relationship. And what we're asking is for the ability for news publishers to be able to act collectively to bargain for a better more sustainable arrangement because the platforms now get advantage of all of our content and returned very little of the money back to sustain the future journalism.
STELTER: So you want what, a four-year opportunity for newspapers to work together?
CHAVERN: Yes, interesting the way they -- the antitrust laws currently protect Google and Facebook from us, if you can believe that or not. And what we want is the antitrust exemption if you will, safe harbor that would allow us to collectively act to negotiate for a better deal. It's limited in time to four years and it's about money yes, but it's also about algorithms and data, and how our brand is presented to folks.
We're not asking the government to regulate anybody or tax anybody. We're asking them mostly just to leave us alone.
[11:40:00] STELTER: This bill is called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. People can Google it, can look it up, can read more about it. Sally, is this bill a good idea.
SALLY HUBBARD, DIRECTOR OF ENFORCEMENT STRATEGY, OPEN MARKETS INSTITUTE: You know, ordinarily I don't support exemptions from the antitrust laws but in this case, I do support this bill. At this point, the bargaining power that the tech companies have is so huge and the publishers really don't have any bargaining power to get fair terms and conditions. So I think it's appropriate for this situation and especially because it's limited in scope. I do support it.
I also wanted to point out that the hearing is not only about this bill. The exemption is very important but that we also need to have other remedies to kind of break up the stranglehold that the tech platforms have over the ad revenue that is so essential to support journalism. KEVIN RILEY, EDITOR, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: This is -- I think
there's a realization in Congress. And I've had a chance to talk to Representative Collins. I think the realization is that gosh, this system doesn't seem to be working, you know. The American Way is the person who really invests in something as a local newspaper invested enormous amounts of money and time in covering local news and local issues on a benefit from that investment.
STELTER: Kevin, I noticed in a recent speech you talked about how the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has changed, how it used to be that 80 percent of the revenue would come from advertising and 20 percent from subscriptions, and you said now that has to flip. Now you've got to be primarily supportive based on subscriptions. We're seeing that same transition from papers across the country. How is that transition going for the AJC?
RILEY: Well, let me try to -- let me try to explain it this way, Brian, because at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, our audience has never been larger than it is today. And I think that is true of many, many newspapers when you combine the print audience and the massive digital audience that we can all garner in our markets.
So does it make sense that at a time when our audience as its biggest point our financial difficulties are at their most difficult point? To me, that doesn't make sense. I mean it sounds illogical and that's what I think is starting to get attention from people in Congress and elsewhere.
STELTER: We're going to have full coverage of Tuesday's hearing at CNNBusiness.com. Before we go, let me quickly tell you about my brand-new podcast. It's a special five-episode series called Apollo 11 Beyond the Moon. We are looking back at the moon mission 50 years later and looking ahead to Mars.
You can listen to my interview with Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, plus some other special guests. Look up the podcast at Apple, on Spotify, or whatever your favorite podcasting app is. And we'll be right back with more RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment.
[16:45:00] STELTER: Australia is democratic but this is not what democracy looks like. An outrage still swelling over the police raid at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier this week. Investigators entered the newsroom, went through files, they were looking for evidence -- for information involving leaks of secret information about possible unlawful killings by Australian troops in Afghanistan.
So in other words, it's a leak hunt. We've seen these in countries around the world. In fact, a new report finds that press freedom is deteriorating in many countries including Australia. Let's talk about that. Our panel is back here with me. And Irin Carmon, first to you, how serious is this to see federal police raiding a newsroom looking for a leaker?
IRIN CARMON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is deeply disturbing, Brian. I mean, these are stories that are unquestionably in the public interest. They concern matters of surveillance, of national security. There is always a line that journalists have to exercise about making sure that their reporting is tailored, making sure that they're not putting people in danger, but these stories met that standard. And so I think it's deeply worrying.
And I actually -- when I travel to Australia last year to talk about reporting on #MeToo, investigative reporting on #MeToo, I heard from Australian journalists how constrained they are because the country doesn't have the First Amendment protections that we have. They don't have a tradition or a written statute that protects journalists. Instead, it really comes down to the discretion of law enforcement.
That's a dangerous place to be as we're seeing even in the United States where we do have those kinds of constitutional protections, there's still a certain amount of discretion that prosecutors can exercise. And so when you see journalistic activities for example in the U.S. being prosecuted under the Espionage Act, I think it's really important that we look to Australia.
And think yes, OK, we've got our First Amendment, but there is also always a danger of criminalizing journalism that makes people in power uncomfortable.
STELTER: Right, it has a chilling effect. Let's put on screen that map, this new report that shows deteriorating conditions in many different countries. We saw this recently in San Francisco where a freelance journalist home was raided, it's because police there are looking for a leaker. The point here is that a lot of this is about norms not laws, S.E., and these norms are being eroded.
SE CUPP, CNN HOST: I think it's also important to point out that the AFP also raided the home of journalist Annika Smethurst as part of this leak hunt inside of Australian media.
CUPP: That should be also deeply, deeply disturbing. You know, we like to think of a sort of wall between our professional lives and our personal lives. And when that wall is crossed by in this case the AFP, I think that has a certain chilling effect on the way journalists do their job that maybe police are going to come into my home and raid my home, not just my place of business which is bad enough, but your personal space.
STELTER: Yes, whether it's Sydney or San Francisco or anywhere else, these reports are in the public interest.
CUPP: Of course.
STELTER: Australians deserve to know what happened in Afghanistan on their name. BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: I think the interesting thing is we
have the First Amendment, a lot of these countries don't. We have right courts that are supposed to back it up. We're not entirely sure that's going to happen anymore. That's a little bit under -- on doubt. I think the people of the country have to step up and say we this is intolerable.
[11:50:08] STELTER: And thankfully they have been.
CARTER: They are.
STELTER: I think that's good. And there has been a lot outburst on this.
CARTER: There has been. Yes.
STELTER: A quick break here, much more of the panel in a moment including conversation about YouTube's latest ban sparking debate.
STELTER: Where is the line and who is deciding? Every week there's news about a tech company banning accounts. This week it's been YouTube's announcing they're going to ban white supremacist content, Nazi content, and also videos denying proven atrocities like the Holocaust and the Sandy Hook shooting.
It might sound like a great thing but there's also been a backlash and there's also been some problems with the way it's being enforced. Some educational videos about these issues have also been removed and banned. Let's bring back our panel to discuss this. S.E. Cupp, it seems like it's been a year now with conversations about banning accounts.
STELTER: We've seen a lot of changes in that year and I think people find the slope to be very slippery.
CUPP: It's a tough -- it's a tough line to navigate. In this case, I think erring on the side of not censoring is generally the best position especially when censoring includes educational information, facts, history. I find it particularly jarring though that the people begging corporations to censor this are mostly journalists. That is really alarming to me.
[11:55:16] STELTER: Are journalists begging or are they calling out extremist content on the platforms?
CUPP: They are doing both. They are saying, YouTube you must do something about this and that something is generally get rid of this content. I hope they don't have to say I hate this content.
STELTER: But some are --
CARMON: But journalist -- but journalist exercise editorial judgment every day.
CARTER: All the time.
CARMON: That's not censorship. That's deciding what's good quality content and what's incitement. I mean, the larger question here I think is that it's beyond white supremacist content, right. It's misogynistic content, it is anti-vax, it is child --
CUPP: None of it is illegal.
CARMON: It is pedophilia.
STELTER: But whatever happens -- that's illegal, but whatever happen to meet terrible speech with more speech?
CUPP: That's right.
CARMON: But the recommendation engine of YouTube takes us into a new territory, right. There's been excellent reporting and studies in the last week, a lot of it published in the New York Times showing that beyond even this more speech, the recommendation engine of YouTube is driving people towards ever more extreme content. That's an editorial curation that they are doing and says --
STELTER: On that, I agree with you. The algorithm is able to radicalize people.
CARTER: And they're doing it for (INAUDIBLE)
CARMON: Yes, absolutely.
CARTER: And they -- and they want to make money off that. They've been making money off that. That's part of their -- so they need to they have to have an editorial, every journalism organization, every --
CUPP: It's not a journalism organization.
CARTER: Well, OK, but --
STELTER: We're out of time. We will keep it going this time next week on more RELIABLE SOURCES. Thanks for joining us. We're back here this time next week.