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Reliable Sources

"60 Minutes" Correction Controversy; Media's Global Warming Failure; Interview with Chris Jones

Aired November 17, 2013 - 11:00   ET


FRANK SESNO, CNN HOST: CBS' "60 Minutes" took one minute and 15 seconds to correct its report on Benghazi. Correspondent Lara Logan admitting she's been misled by a key source who claimed he was there.


LARA LOGAN, CBS CORRESPONDENT: The most important thing to every person at "60 Minutes" is the truth and the truth is we made a mistake.


SESNO: And for some, the apology and retraction were not enough. Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather who was ousted after his own "60 Minutes" firestorm several years ago was quick to point fingers skyward.


DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS ANCHORMAN: Whatever happened, whatever if any blame there is to assess, it starts at the corporate top, the top of the corporation, runs through the very top of the news division.


SESNO: Everyone is playing the blame game when it comes to President Obama's health care reform. If you asked the president, he thinks some of it falls on the news media.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Part of this job is that things at go right, you guys aren't going to write about. The things that go wrong get prominent attention. That's how it's always been. That's not unique to me as president. And I'm up to the challenge.


SESNO: And speaking of blame, when it comes to climate change, most believe humans are responsible. More than 190 nations met this week in Poland to discuss how to address the problem. But who gets the blame when a topic this big gets so little attention? And finally, media attention of another sort.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM PARAMOUNT PICTURES/"ANCHORMAN 2": The great ones always return. When they do, one thing is for sure -- their hair will be perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We haven't seen you in a while, America. You haven't changed a bit.


SESNO: Ron Burgundy is back in the anchor chair, which is actually here in Washington, at a new exhibit at a museum. And as Burgundy knows so well, it's all about ratings.

I'm Frank Sesno and this is RELIABLE SOURCES.


SESNO: And good Sunday to you.

Sometimes the best arbiter of prime time news is late-night TV and last night's media road kill was that larger than life, substance- challenged Toronto mayor, Rob Ford. And he wasn't the only victim of "Saturday Night Live's" drive-by.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to go on a show where people do believe me and will believe anything I say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, at this point, what show would possibly believe you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never done crack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have also never smoked pot.



SESNO: Harsh.

It's been three weeks since "60 Minutes" broadcast its now discredited story on the Benghazi attack, but this week's retraction and apology left more than laughs. It left many key questions unanswered. Primarily, how could a news show like "60 Minutes", which has been one of the most trusted sources of news for 45 years, get something so wrong? Why has it not been more forthcoming about what actually happened? Well, to discuss that: with me here in Washington, is Terence Smith, former reporter for the "NewsHour" on PBS, for CBS News and "The New York Times"; Errol Louis, host of "Road to City Hall" on NY1 and a CNN commentator; Dylan Byers is media reporter for "Politico"; and Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for "The Chicago Sun-Times".

Terence Smith, first to you. As a media critic alum, this has got to be tough for you to watch. What does CBS need to be doing now?

TERENCE SMITH, FORMER CBS REPORTER: They need to re-report the story and share with the public the results, explain what happened, not just say we're sorry, we were misled. You know, mistakes were made. That's not good enough.

I think you have to go beyond that to preserve the credibility of the house of Morrow and the house of Cronkite. "60 Minutes" is a gold standard and it ought to act like it, and it hasn't so far.

SESNO: Dylan, one of the things we've learned is that within the investigation inside CBS, Al Ortiz is supposed to do the investigation and he's investigating maybe his boss. Is that an investigation --

DYLAN BYERS, POLITICO: Right. It has very little power here. For instance, Jeff Fager at CBS is simultaneously executive producer of "60 Minutes" and chairman of CBS News, which means whatever Al Ortiz finds in this investigation, he has to bring back to his boss, which is Jeff Fager. How do you conduct an investigation?

The smart move here would be to bring in someone from CBS corporate and therefore you can have a little bit of perspective.

SESNO: Or somebody from the outside, if you really want to get serious about it.

BYERS: Right.

SESNO: Lynn Sweet, some people may think this is media naval gazing. When I posted on my Facebook page that we were going to have this conversation, I asked for questions.

An old friend, Bill Harlow (ph), who used to be a CIA spokesman, said -- here would be my question. If CBS were doing an investigation of malfeasance by a government agency, corporation or prominent person, would they accept an answer of "we made a mistake, sorry"? Obviously not. So, why do they think this is a sufficient response for them?

LYNN SWEET, THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: I don't -- I agree with Bill Harlow. It's not sufficient. But you don't need an investigation to know certain things already, that the source that they relied on was writing a book for one of the CBS publication companies. They didn't reveal that. I don't think we need a lot of an investigation, Frank, to know that that should have been revealed and/or should have weighed heavily on them when they evaluated him.

And the reason why this is -- the show is the gold standard is they have the luxury that a lot of reporters don't have which is time and resources and that makes their -- you know, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and that makes everything that Terence and everyone is saying so much more important --

SESNO: And, Errol --

SWEET: -- and they have to say what happened.

SESNO: Errol, there is and should be -- this is important for people to realize. A higher standard when you are alleging wrongdoing in your journalism.

ERROL LOUIS, NY1: That's exactly right. And, you know, Lynn's point is very important.

It's not just wrongdoing or a mistake. When you have a year and time is not an issue. When you have the reputation of "60 Minutes" and the resources of CBS News, it's not like you ran short and didn't have enough money for a fact checker.

There is something seriously wrong. There's something they need to explain to their shareholders, to the viewers, to the public at large if they want to keep that position, because on one level, you know, people have the freedom to say I think NBC or ABC is now more reliable than CBS News and to a certain extension they may imagine that. Well, that's going to be how this gets resolved. If you don't like it, don't watch us anymore. Don't like as much.

SMITH: Yes. The obvious question in this case may not actually have the obvious answer. But Lynn raised it.

Did they vet this fellow, this main source, properly? No. Why?

Was it because he was writing a book for a CBS subsidiary? I don't think so. Was this supposed to sell books? I doubt it.

But something went wrong here and they ought to explain it.

SESNO: There is something else, Terence -- go ahead, Dylan. I'll come back to Terence.

BYERS: I would just suggest that one of the things that might have gone here is an institutional problem which is that "60 Minutes" exist in a silo at CBS News. I mean, they very much think --

SESNO: Is that what Dan Rather meant, do you think, when he said follow this to a top or is that just sour grapes?

BYERS: Right, exactly. The idea is, is that you can throw someone out there under the bus and his case in 2004, it was Dan Rather.

SESNO: No one is under the bus now.

BYERS: No, but there's the suggestion you put out Logan and maybe, you know, if you let the water go under the bridge for long enough, everything will be fine. But no, there's actually a big problem. It goes all the way to the top, and part of that problem is that "60 Minutes" is in a silo and did not rely, as you guys said, on the resources of CBS News.

SESNO: Lynn, go ahead.

SWEET: One other quick thing. You know, you started this segment showing how "Saturday Night Live" lampooned real life, this is real life now already repeating what happened in HBO's "Newsroom" where they -- almost the same thing, they had a bad source on an important international story.

SESNO: Well, and let it be shown that the source they used and story they were telling actually originated here at CNN and a problem that CNN had years ago where there was ultimately outside investigation to look at what went wrong in the interest of explaining to the public and understanding the role and responsibility that journalism plays and transparent it should be.

Terry, on that point, one thing we haven't heard is who's responsible for what?

So, Lara Logan goes out you know, in the U.K., at BBC, they call them news presenters. These are often producer-driven stories. Shouldn't we know who did research? Who did the writing? It's not all Lara. We don't know.

SMITH: Yes, particularly, if as they said this was the result of a year of reporting. A year of reporting and you don't find that your principal source is false, is wrong in this case?

So who's responsible? They all are. And it is -- I mean, Dan Rather may -- you said sour grapes. It may or may not be but his point is valid that responsibility goes up to the top.

SESNO: OK, we're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we're going to take up some other topics in the news.

But, right now, there's extreme weather out there. CNN is watching that very closely and Candy Crowley has that -- Candy.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, thanks, Frank.

There is some potentially dangerous weather that could develop today in the Midwest. Meteorologist Samantha Mohr at the CNN weather center in Atlanta has some details.

Hey, Sam.


Yes. We have a particularly dangerous situation developing here across much of the Midwest in through the Ohio Valley today. Right now, our main area of concern is right here in Wisconsin where we're seeing some tornadoes and funnel clouds forming right now. We do have a report of one that has made it by a trained spotter. We have seen that funnel cloud here in McKinley (ph) County. We'll take a little closer and look at it out here for you, as we take it out live.

This tornado warning will be in effect until 10:30. This storm is rocketing to the Northeast at 50 miles per hour. It is really moving at quite a pace here. We'll see large hail associated with it.

And once again, with this cell a trained spotter has reported a funnel with this particular area of circulation, this particular thunderstorm. And this larger area here, that's the particular dangerous situation area.

You can see we're looking over the Chicago area. Chicago is included in this watch area -- the severe thunderstorm watch area for this particularly dangerous situation until 4:00 this afternoon. So, this is the area we are most concerned about here.

And as we take you into the Midwest, you can see that this explosion of thunderstorms is happening with all of the moisture heading in ahead of this very cold frontal system.

So, you know, this is the first time in a long time, since 2005, Candy, that the Storm Prediction Center has issued a high risk for severe weather development, including long track tornadoes. This is where you see this pink color here. In fact, we've only had it six times in November in the past 25 years. That's how rare it is to see this type of severe weather outbreak in the month of November.

So, we'll continue to watch it as things unfold.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Sam.

CNN will be following this story throughout the day and bringing you updates as they become available.

We want to back now to Frank Sesno and RELIABLE SOURCES.

SESNO: Well, thanks, Candy.

When we come back, we'll rejoin our panel and we'll look at an apology from the media that took 150 years to make.


SESNO: And welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Frank Sesno.

My guests today here: Terence Smith, Errol Louis, Dylan Byers, and Lynn Sweet.

Now, we were talking about CBS and the apology from CBS before the break. But we would be remiss in our jobs as media watchdogs, it seems to me, if we didn't acknowledge the Gettysburg apology from "The Patriot News".

"Patriot News" editorial in 1863 talking about Lincoln's Gettysburg address said, "We pass over the silly remarks of the president," they said. "For credit of the nation, we are willing that the veil of oblivion should be dropped over them and that they shall no more repeated or thought of."

Well, then, just the other day, "The Patriot News" editorial board said, "'The Patriot and Union' failed to recognize this momentous importance, timeless eloquence of lasting significance. 'The Patriot News' regrets the error."


LOUIS: Well, I tell you, if anything -- they did not go far enough, because frankly the body of it -- in addition to getting it wrong about the eloquence and significance and whether it would be remembered -- they were accusing Lincoln of pandering and of just playing for, you know, short-term political gain in everything that he was doing with regard to the conflict with the South. I mean, it was an extraordinary blown call.

BYERS: I just think it's nice to know when you screw up, you have 150 -- I mean, there are a lot of people that called for Romney maybe supported the Iraq war are happy to know they've got 150 years to correct that error.

SESNO: I see, but I don't think we have 160 seconds to do it.

SWEET: And a quick serious note, they do say that newspapers are the rough draft of history. It's instructive, when I saw that, to say what you think is important today may not be important in the future.

SESNO: Well, just on this point, seriously, Terry, for a second -- you know, that's also something about the written word and what happened. You know, you wonder if all of the noise and all of the talk of cable television, is anyone going to hold us to account 150 years from now?

SMITH: Well, I like --

SESNO: The instrument.

SMITH: I totally love what this paper has done. It's wonderful, although if every editorial board started correcting its errors, it would take up a lot of space. But in their explanation, they said it may have been hubris or it may have been strong drink.

SESNO: But, you know, or both.

SMITH: Or both.

SESNO: You know, it really does take us directly to what President Obama said this past week talking about Obamacare and doing this news conference. He said, you know, the things that go right you guys aren't going to write about. The things that go wrong get prominent attention. This was his big news coverage. He took a bit of a mea culpa.

The next day, "Washington Post", "Obama offers an insurance fix". The next day, "The New Post", "Disaster", it says, "unmitigated disaster." This whole issue of media coverage of Obamacare, making it worse, making it better, piling on.

Dylan, your take?

BYERS: I think that the role of the fourth estate is to challenge the president. I think there's a lot that has gone right with Obama care. I think that in today's media environment you can find that news. That news is often on the front page of "The New York Times."

It's also the role of the media to challenge Obama where he's made mistakes. The White House will be the first people to admit that the Obamacare rollout has been an unmitigated disaster. That's our role to cover it.

LOUIS: But there's --

SESNO: Errol, hang on a second. I want to roll in the Ed Schultz comment that he made the other day. I want you to respond to that, because this is right in your face.


ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: The mainstream media I believe wants Obamacare to fail. They look for every negative number they can find. They're afraid to do a positive story because they're afraid that somebody might not watch.

The media is just cherry-picking the bad facts that are out there, repeating them over and over again, and in many cases they are making stuff up.


LOUIS: I mean, my friend, Ed Schultz, in his own inimitable fashion, I think has a good point. I mean, he's basically --

SESNO: He has a good point. I mean, he wants Obama --


LOUIS: I mean, look, there are elements. You held up "The New York Post", which has inveighed against this from the time the concept even, you know, came out of Obama's mouth five years ago. So, his is not something -- so there is that.

But I think also -- I mean, there is a public service requirement here. I mean, we're talking about Gettysburg retraction. When Social Security came out, when Medicare came out, when Medicaid came out, there's a media responsibility to explain this to their readers, to their audience, to their viewers. This is important. It will help people.

SESNO: It's not sufficiently happened, Terry?

SMITH: No. I mean, the fact is there are many people who want Obamacare to fail. They are mostly on the other side of the aisle.

The media, you can't throw them in the same soup. I think, in fact, in this case, the president has a point, however, that headlines like that, disaster, you're labeling Obamacare before it has a chance.

SESNO: So, Lynn, let me lean on you, because you have been reporting on Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, call it what you want. And isn't it true that your stories like most of the stories certainly coming from this town are predominantly obsessed with the politics of it, criticism of it, what's not working opposed to explaining to people the policy and particulars?

SWEET: And which we've done. Let's look at the whole picture here. That's where I think President Obama was so -- he should have quit while he was ahead at that press conference. This is a story that local papers throughout the country have embrace, come October 1.

I bet almost every local outlet did something to try and educate people, go to the Web site, do this, do that. OK?

People, I think publications and reporters knew of obligations that you are talking about to help the public no matter your politics. And, yes, my columns have been doing, reflecting the story. Botched rollout.

SESNO: Very quickly.

BYERS: Politics and policy are both things that get covered. If you want policies, there are places to read about it. If you want politics, there are places to read about it. Politics of this are disastrous for the Obama White House and that's going to be covered. And it's going to be covered 24/7.

SESNO: The politics are disastrous. The technology has been disastrous. The signup has been disastrous so far.

BYERS: Right. If it gets better, the coverage will change.

LOUIS: And then it vanishes from the front page.

SWEET: And then history will judge it not this first month.

SESNO: We'll come back in 150 years and see if there are any apologies to make.


SESNO: It may be the biggest story facing the planet, but where is the urgency and attention span from the media? We'll turn up the temperature on the coverage of climate change -- thanks to our panel -- when we come back.


SESNO: Earlier this week, nearly 200 countries from around the world gathered in Warsaw, Poland, for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, hoping to take some action to slow global warming and its effects on the world.

Now, as a backdrop through all of this, as you well know, the raging typhoon that slammed the Philippines prompted many to ponder the cause of the storm's power.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN: But this killer typhoon may be the most powerful in recorded history. Here's a question. Is climate change to blame?

CHARLIE ROSE, CBS NEWS: Because some people suggest maybe there's a link to climate change.

TOM COSTELLO, CBS NEWS: While scientists can't say whether climate change contributed to this particular typhoon, they believe global warming is making storms stronger.


SESNO: While plenty of coverage about the typhoon and questions about climate change, what to do about it, how to adapt to a changing world. Those often get fleeting generally superficial coverage in mainstream media. What responsibility do journalists have to report on the global climate change, on the debate, on the nuance and innovations taking place to cope to the changing planet?

Joining me to discuss this, here in Washington, CNN's special correspondent Philippe Cousteau, social entrepreneur, grandson of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau.

And in New York, Andrew Revkin, author of "The New York Times" "Dot Earth", an opinion blog post focusing on environmental topics. Also, senior fellow for environmental understanding at Pace University.

And, full disclosure, I created and I host "Planet Forward". It's a nonpartisan web to television project based at the George Washington University where I work. "Planet Forward" solicits ideas from innovators in energy, climate, flood security and sustainability.

Philippe, first to you.

All of these questions when we see the typhoon here. Scientists cannot say for sure but. You do this for a living on CNN International. What do you make of climate change that we are now seeing in media?

PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that it's very interesting today that we're still having this discussion and debate in the United States about climate change, is it even happening, the skeptics have a powerful voice in this country.

I think the evidence is overwhelming, 98 percent of peer-reviewed scientists agree the international -- the IPCC international panel on climate change just came out with a report talking about the fact that unequivocally human beings are contributing to climate change. It's happening now.

And yet we're still having this debate --

SESNO: In this country.

COUSTEAU: Primarily in this country, about climate change and is it even real? And I think that's caused a lot of real problems and long-term lasting negative impacts on the health of our planet.

SESNO: Andy, I want to ask you this. I mean, the IPCC report that Philippe just referred to talked about, among other things, a more rapid climate increase. It talked about potential that food production could shrink through 2 percent per decade through the 21st century, while food demand increases 14 percent. It talked about in other reports. World Bank talked about sea level rise of 2 1/2 feet potentially.

Is this story -- you know, you spent years at "The New York Times," you have "Dot Earth" blog, is it getting the urgency and the attention that it should, because if you believe this story, which I do, it's not?

ANDREW REVKIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, the background story has, I'd say, never gotten adequate attention but the problem is that it's a bad fit for media norms. Media norms are something that happened today, something that happened nearby -- unless it's calamitous event like the tragedy in the Philippines, and then, of course, with the global media instant market, we all kind of dive in. But the problem there is if we only focus on climate change when there's a hurricane, then you get in trouble, because the IPCC report -- actually, this report is more uncertain about the role of global warming and driving hurricane patterns and intensity going forward.

So, it's unfortunate that we have this -- you know, media and public generally, we tend to focus on these dramatic, extreme weather events, but they are kind of like the hardest place to look if you want to really get -- explore basics of climate change that are completely undisputed.

The 97 percent part is just that we are warming the world and humans are a big driver of that process. When you get into details like hurricanes, then there is real uncertainty. And at the same time, there are other drives of what happened in the Philippines that are clear cut -- growth, poverty, coastal development without any kind of controls, and so you have poor people living in a crowded area. Triple population in the city that was at the crux of this.

SESNO: Well, this is part of the big problem, too, Andy, I believe, which is that there are so many stories and I think one of the issues is that we tend to ghettoized climate coverage and there are these related stories. We know that by the middle of the century, we'll have 9 billion or so people. That's going to require twice as much energy, 70 percent more food, 40 percent more water if we stay on the course we're on now.

I want to show you both a chart that was produced by research from the University of Colorado-Boulder on media coverage on climate change in this country. You see that in about 2007, coverage peaked at 450-plus stories for the five newspapers that they charted. And it peaked again in 2009 as Barack Obama came into office, making climate change a big issue, and then it fell. They have other charts, though, from other parts of the world, and while our stories peak here, if they look at Australia, for example, Philippe, four times the amount of coverage in the top five newspapers there.

COUSTEAU: Well, it's a huge concern. And not only is it the amount of coverage but it's the type of coverage. There's been a lot of play recently about talk of a pause in warming trends.

The problem is, this is complex science. So a lot of talk is, if you look at 1998 forward, that the average temperatures have actually been flattening out and this has been getting a lot of press. But it's -- the 1998 (INAUDIBLE) was the warmest year on record. And so that throws off the statistics.

If you go back two years earlier to 1996 forward and look at the trends, again the warming trend is continuing. So it's also that the quality of coverage -- because this is complex science -- that journalists sometimes I think opt for the pithy answer that -- the easy answer and not really doing the due diligence and the work to make sure that the reporting is accurate.

SESNO: Andy Revkin of "The New York Times" called you up today and said come on in here and orchestrate, be the architect of our coverage and we'll give you 20 reporters to do it, what would you have them do? What would you have any news organization do they're not doing now?

REVKIN: Well, we would focus -- I would focus on what would actually matter, which is energy innovation, as you and I have both targeted in the past. You can't get there from here with our existing energy menu.

When you look at those social science numbers, what people think and worry about and what people get resistant to, there are a lot of Libertarians who really are concerned about energy efficiency. They are on my blog on dotearth all the time.

And so if you can -- if you have an area of enterprise and initiatives where you know you have a lot of commonality across divergent ideologies, then I would focus there.

SESNO: You talk a little bit about reframing; it's what we tried to do with the Planet Forward stuff as well, where we focus on innovation. I think some of these innovation -- some the answers focuses on the solution and casts the new in the conversation in a little bit different way.


REVKIN: If I could add one more element if we have time.

SESNO: Five seconds. REVKIN: OK, vulnerability: there's enormous implicit vulnerability the climate hazard here and tornado zones and in places like the Philippines that can be addressed right now.

SESNO: Yes, if you live near a coast, you'd better start buttoning it up.

Andy Revkin and Philippe Cousteau, thank you both very much. Turn up the heat on the coverage.

Coming up next, rethinking PG-13. New research suggests those movies that you think are OK for preteens might as well be rated R and may be harmful.





SESNO: That was a scene from 1984's "Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom" 20 years ago. The outcry over the violence in that PG-rated motion picture (INAUDIBLE) -- led the Motion Picture Association of American to introduce the PG-13 rating, a bridge between the R rated material for -- that was considered unsuitable for children and the taper PG or parental guidance label that replaced it.

A study released this week in The Journal of Pediatrics has found that the frequency of gun violence in PG-13 movies has tripled since the year the rating was first introduced. Since 2009, pg13 movies have contained as much or more gun violence as R rated movies.

So what's caused movie gun violence to shoot up like this? What should we make of a rating system? I stepped into the real world earlier this weekend with "Washington Post" film critic Ann Hornaday.


I'm at the historic Avalon Theater in Washington with Ann Hornaday, movie critic for "The Washington Post."

Ann, great to see you.

So this report about the tripling of violence in pg-13 films, are you surprised?

ANN HORNADAY, "THE WASHINGTON POST" MOVIE CRITIC: No, not at all. And I think anybody who's been going to the movies in the last few years has definitely noticed an escalation.

SESNO: So what do you notice? Where do you see it?

HORNADAY: Well, you see it, as the study pointed out, you see it more migrating from those strictly adult movies to more family fare. And it's become much more mayhemic, if that's the word. But it's not just gun violence but even -- especially with these comic book movies that we have seen last summer, the mayhem and the chaos is definitely escalating.

SESNO: Well, that's what the Motion Picture Association says actually. They say a lot of this computer-generated violence is not the same. It's not as brutal and somehow it shouldn't be counted in the same way.

Does that make sense to you?

HORNADAY: Well, I think that's valid. And I think that there -- you know, we have to be more sophisticated viewers.

SESNO: But it's more pretend violence somehow, I guess.

HORNADAY: Right. But I think what people are responding to and I think as a parent and talking to a lot of parents myself and viewers, is aggression. Whatever the form, whether it's actual gun violence and naturalistic and realistic, or that more cartoonish, it's still aggression that has consequences, whether we see them or not.

And that's what I think people are noting a disconnect with.

SESNO: When you say we need to be more sophisticated as viewers what do you mean?

HORNADAY: Well, kids especially. I think the kind of subtext to all of this is children and the concern about children being exposed so many of these images.

They're exposed to these images with video games, online; it's -- we're living in a media age. So media literacy is more important than ever. We have to raise generations of critical thinkers who are able to sort through images, talk it through as parents.

It's really crucial that people watch these movies with their children and talk about it later and then we also have to have problem solving that isn't -- we have to have courses in nonviolent problem solving.

SESNO: You know, here, this Avalon Theater has been here for decades. It was here at a time -- I remember when Ronald Reagan, the actor-president, said in his day in the films they never said hell or damn, or he remembered that.

It's changed so much. Pg-13 it's about violence. Somehow that's OK. But sex is not. I don't get that.

HORNADAY: No, that is the glaring -- I won't say hypocrisy; that's the glaring --

SESNO: You nearly did.

HORNADAY: -- yes, I sure did. The glaring contradiction with some of these ratings and -- SESNO: Who does the MPAA serve? Viewers, parents, kids or the film industry?

HORNADAY: They serve the film industry. I don't think there's any bones about that. The MPAA is the lobbying arm in the Washington representation of the Hollywood studios.

But in their defense, I think they've done a much better job in recent years of, for example, not just -- we don't just have the rating anymore; we have the content. They're giving information to consumers to make informed decisions about what movies they'll go to.

Then we have a wonderful website like commonsensemedia and screenit. There are lots of resources out there so it's really incumbent on us as consumers to educate ourselves.

SESNO: What about responsibility of Washington? Does government have a role in all this? MPAA, after all, is right on Congress' doorstep.

HORNADAY: It is. And it sometimes is goes into Congress to lobby --

SESNO: More than once.

HORNADAY: -- which is what their mission is.

Does Washington have a role? That, then you get into First Amendment issues of course. And that's one thing. I mean, we live in a democracy. We have a First Amendment. We also live in a global marketplace. And so a lot of this violence that we're seeing has its roots in movies that are meant for a global audience.

Explosions don't need subtitles. So I think -- I always come back to let's educate ourselves and be more critical --

SESNO: So as a movie critic who has seen hundreds, maybe thousands of movies, Ann, is there a pg-13 that you've seen that's just made you cringe and think, why would a parent want a kid in a movie like this?

HORNADAY: You know, I can't. I mean, the one that leaps to mind, honestly, is "White House Down." The mayhem and the gun violence in that movie did make me cringe and as it happens, it turned out that I did -- you know, it is pg-13. I did hear of lots of different families going to it, which, you know, it takes you aback.

But I just think that underscores my point. We can't control every single thing. I mean, sometimes we're going to -- our children are going to end up seeing things with their friends and with their friends' families that we might not have sanctioned. So it's just more important than ever that we arm them with critical thinking skills.

SESNO: What I'm not hearing you say, Ann Hornaday, is that the pg-13 rating or any of the others should be tightened and that restrictions should be increased.

HORNADAY: I would like to see -- I think I'm just -- am always going to err on the side of more information. I think that maybe one thing the study brought up for me was that even though the ratings world has done a much better job of sharing content information with viewers, I don't think that you can ever say too much.

So they might want to fine-tune that content information even more by saying gun violence or just being more detailed in terms of the images that people are about to see.


SESNO: And our thanks to Ann Hornaday.

November 22nd, 1963, a day seared into the fabric of America. A new account brings it vividly painfully to life inside Air Force One after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I'll talk with the journalist who pieced it together next.




SESNO: In last's month issue of "Esquire" magazine, writer Chris Jones pieced together an utterly riveting timeline of events from inside Air Force One on the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, from the moment the flight crew heard something had gone terribly wrong to the solemn removal of the casket, bearing President Kennedy's body back at Andrews Air Force Base.

Chris Jones joins us now from Ottawa, Canada.

Chris, thanks very much. I have to say, this was one of the most dramatic pieces of writing material I have ever read and in places I almost teared up as I was reading this.

That's how powerful you have put something together here. You build it around the pilot, Colonel James Swindal, whom you describe as handsome 46-year-old carpenter's son from Alabama.


CHRIS JONES, "ESQUIRE" MAGAZINE: I think writing about the Kennedy assassination is a tough trick. It's been so -- not over covered but so covered and so dissected, I was looking for something new, maybe a window into that world that gave it a more human scale again and James Swindal is one of those small characters from that day that I thought people should get to know.

SESNO: And you say he sat there on the tarmac with his roast beef sandwich as the president's valet, George Thomas, another character you introduce, and you have this scene -- lays out a carefully pressed shirt, polished pair of shoes, a lightweight blue suit for the next stop, Austin, a stop that would never take place.

JONES: That's -- I mean, those moments of realization for me are some of the most dramatic parts of that day. I think everybody who was alive then can remember how they heard.

And in this instance, it was just another day. They were flying to Austin later that afternoon. Like you say, George Thomas was laying out John F. Kennedy's clothes for the trip to the Johnson Ranch and slowly this word trickled into that plane.

And you can imagine that day they had flown into Dallas and they had watched their president leave in a limousine, and now they're hearing over their radios that he's gone.

Swindal is listening to Charlie frequency on the radio, surrounded by $2 million of the highest tech communications gear on the planet. Explain what he hears and what starts to happen.

JONES: He can hear the Secret Service agents, so he can hear the motorcade as it's winding its way through Dallas.

And what he immediately hears is the Secret Service agents saying to cover Johnson. Everyone has code names. All of the Secret Service agents have names like Daylight and Dagger. And Johnson's code name was Volunteer.

Swindal hears, "Cover Volunteer," but he doesn't know why. He thinks at that moment that John F. Kennedy's back -- which is notoriously tricky; he was wearing a brace that day -- had gone out and that the motorcade had to stop and they were covering Johnson while it was paused. He had no idea at that point of the gravity of the situation.

SESNO: You walk us through a lot of things, the drama on the plane when they learn the news; the -- George -- the president's valet, George Thomas, goes back to the room after he hears the president's been shot and puts the clothes away.

Later, LBJ and Lady Bird arrive after this terrible thing has gone down. Jackie comes back to the plane. Of all the things that you learned about that took place on that plane, what was most striking and maybe disturbing to you?

JONES: I mean, there's a thousand different moments. That's a really good question.

I mean, I think the interactions between Jackie and Johnson and Lady Bird were fascinating to me. The fact that both camps, the Kennedy camp and the Johnson camp, ended up on that plane, because the plane is for the president.

And depending on your point of view, both Kennedy and Johnson were the president at the moment. The little human details, James Swindal, the pilot, breaking down as they fly over America. Jackie's -- the blood on Jackie and her refusal to clean herself up, to take off the stockings that were still soaked with her husband's blood.


SESNO: (INAUDIBLE) I want them to see -- she kept saying, I want them to see what they have done to Jack.

JONES: She understood -- there was radio transmissions between the plane and Washington that she would be coming off the back of the plane away from the cameras.

And she made up her mind during that flight that, no, no, I want people to see what happened here. And I think in some ways that's the appeal of this story for me.

I'm 39; I wasn't alive when this happened, and for someone my age, these characters are almost mythological in some ways, almost unreal. And there was a way -- this was my way of making them human again.

SESNO: Well, I will tell you, Chris Jones, you made them human. I was in second grade and you took me back there and both there and here. And it's an amazing piece in "Esquire," and I commend you for it and I recommend it to anybody who hasn't read it.

Thank you so much.

JONES: Thank you, Frank, very much.

SESNO: Thank you. Up next, a lighter note, the Newseum stays classy by paying homage to "Anchorman" Ron burgundy.




SESNO: From the HBO series "The Newsroom" to the famous "mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore," Howard Beale in the 1976 hit "Network," TV news is often the stuff of, well, movies.

There's mission in drama and pathos, but satire and excess, too, as ego, glitz, glamour and superficial preening masquerade as journalism.

Ron Burgundy and his team of misfit television personalities about nailed it 10 years ago in "Anchorman," and they are about to try again in the sequel.

And they are being immortalized in an exhibit here in Washington. Yes, a city that could copyright self-importance, peeling back the curtain of local television news in the '70s to show us that, well, reporters are people, too.


"RON BURGUNDY," ANCHORMAN: I look good. I mean, really good.

SESNO (voice-over): From an anchor with alcohol issues --

"BURGUNDY": I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch.

SESNO (voice-over): -- to emotional meltdowns.

"BURGUNDY": I'm in a glass case of emotion!

SESNO (voice-over): The cast of "Anchorman" taught us there's more to anchoring a news show than a great suit and a flashy mustache. With "Anchorman 2" set to debut next month, the Newseum in Washington, D.C., in partnership with Paramount Pictures, decided to capitalize on the buzz by creating "Anchorman": The Exhibit.

Visitors can step behind the camera, pick a story and read from a teleprompter. The Newseum is hoping this piece of Hollywood can help with its desperate finances and deficit spending. It is Washington, after all, but curator of collections Carrie Christoffersen says it's about more than ticket sales, polyester and Sex Panther cologne.

CARRIE CHRISTOFFERSEN, CURATOR OF COLLECTIONS, NEWSEUM: We are telling the real story as well. You know, we're giving you the truth behind the humor as part of this "Anchorman" exhibit, the major plot arc of the movie is about Veronica Cornerstone coming into the newsroom, a woman finding her way behind the anchor desk. And that was really happening in the 1970s. There were very few women on air in local TV in the 1970s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is anchorman not anchor lady, and that is a scientific fact!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's a decade where major expansion is happening in that realm and women are really coming into their own in the newsroom.

SESNO (voice-over): Diversity in the newsroom isn't the only storyline that "Anchorman" explored. Ratings wars between local TV stations were legendary and drove coverage decisions. Still do.

CHRISTOFFERSEN: They take this issue of battle for the ratings, which is a serious thing, it's true to life to a certain extent, who is the winner in the ratings helps who -- what the advertising rates are and that relates directly to profit margins.

But it takes it to a whole new level in the movie, which starts with one punch in a back alley and ends with a trident flying through the air and a man being killed.

SESNO (voice-over): The exhibit features the suit from that back-alley war scene where Luke Wilson's character loses one of his arms, cut off by a rival reporter. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not see that coming.

SESNO (voice-over): News usually doesn't make people laugh, so when it does, why not lead with it?

CHRISTOFFERSEN: For us, at the Newseum, it is really important to have a really solid mix of storytelling here. We know that so much of the news is very heavy, very dark from the 9/11 exhibit to the Pulitzer Prize winning photograph exhibit.

These are very intense permanent exhibits here. So to be able to have an exhibit that's a little bit lighter gives people a little bit of room to breathe so that they can, you know, really take in very well all of the seriousness that's happening as well. I think that we strive for that kind of mix.

SESNO (voice-over): Take it from someone who has spent a lot of time in front of the camera but never sported a mustache or wore that flammable suit, some of the satire in "Anchorman" cuts pretty close to home.

The exhibit is open now to the public; visitors can try out the Channel 4 news desk and their best Burgundy one-liners or visit the glass case of emotion. Or even take home their own Sex Panther cologne.


SESNO: Anything for the ratings. I hate those old pictures.

Well, that's it for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Frank Sesno. If you missed any of today's program, you can find it on iTunes. If you have suggestions or comments, you can tweet us at cnnreliable or use the #reliable.

Finally, it's been my pleasure to be with you periodically over the past few months. Congratulations to Brian Stelter, who becomes the full-time media critic and RELIABLE SOURCES host at CNN. It's an important job to hold up both magnifying glass and mirror to the news media. Brian will be working with a terrific team here, too.

Join us here again next Sunday morning at 11:00 am Eastern. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley begins right now.