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Climate Change Storm Slams Weather Channel; Ebola: It's Not About You America; Interview with Alan Simpson
Aired November 02, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Good morning. I'm Brian Stelter. It's Sunday, November 2nd.
And it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES.
Ahead this hour: a storm hitting the Weather Channel. A co- founder disavows climate change and then the channel disavows him. Both sides are here to talk with me.
Also, 'tis the season for campaign ads. Politicos have thrown $3 billion at the screen so far. Yet, the media is still not paying much attention to this election. Former Senator Alan Simpson is here to explain why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: You lying SOB.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: And later, it is the scariest movie of the year, and all of it is true. Glenn Greenwald has introduced us to Edward Snowden, but now, he has a mysterious second source. I'll ask him about who that might be.
Coming up, we're going to get to the midterms -- T minus two days -- and talk about why network televisions have been kind of ignoring the races.
But, first, a story you will see nowhere else this morning. It's about one of the biggest crises we face, climate change, and the media war over that crisis. Climate deniers, people who believe climate change is not happening in any meaningful way are sometimes painted in the media as fringe characters, as kooks.
So, this might shock you. A man who co-founded the Weather Channel thinks climate change is a hoax. His name is John Coleman. Before launching the Weather Channel in the early 1980s, he was the original weatherman on "Good Morning America", and after launching the channel, he was also a local weatherman in New York, Chicago, and San Diego.
Now, he's retired, but his recent open letter saying that climate change is, quote, "not valid", got a lot of attention and landed him in primetime on FOX News.
So, what did the Weather Channel do? It very publicly disavowed him. After all, for those who believe that the climate is changing and fast, this is a life and death matter.
I have said before here on RELIABLE SOURCES that I don't think there are two equal sides to climate change. The scientific consensus is that it's real. The debate is over what to do about it. And the press has to be careful about creating this notion of sides.
But Coleman's platform as a co-founder of a channel dedicated to weather is unique and so is the channel's declaration that it believes climate change is happening.
So, this morning both players are here, Coleman and the CEO of the Weather Channel, David Kenny.
First, let me bring in John Coleman. He is in San Diego this morning.
Thank you for being here.
JOHN COLEMAN, CO-FOUNDER, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: It's nice to be on CNN. Hello to all your viewers.
I resent you calling me a denier. That is word meant to put me down.
I'm a skeptic about climate change and I want to make it darn clear, Mr. Kenny is not a scientist. I am. He's the CEO of the Weather Channel now. I was the founder of the Weather Channel, not the co-founder.
STELTER: And I'm glad you did because I am addicted to the Weather Channel. I watch a lot of cable news --
COLEMAN: I'm talking now. Hold on just a minute. I'm not done.
And CNN has taken a very strong position on global warming that is -- that it is a consensus. Well, there is no consensus in science. Science isn't a vote. Science is about facts.
And if you get down to the hard, cold facts, there's no question about it. Climate change is not happening. There is no significant manmade global warming now. There hasn't been any in the past, and there's no reason to expect any in the future. There's a whole lot of baloney and, yes, it has become a big political point of the Democratic Party and part of their platform, and I regret it's become political instead of scientific but the science is on my side.
STELTER: I don't think we'll come to a conclusion about the topic right here. What do I want to --
COLEMAN: I know we're not because you wouldn't allow it to happen on CNN, but I'm happy that I got on the air and got a chance to talk to your viewers. Hello, everybody. There is no global warming.
STELTER: What I do wonder is when you see the government, when you see NASA, when you see other institutions say that 97 percent of climate scientists agree, do you think they're making it up? What I don't understand is how you square that.
COLEMAN: Well, that's a manipulated figure and let me explain it to you. The government puts out about $2.5 billion directly for climate research every year. It only gives that money to scientists who will produce scientific results that support the global warming hypothesis of the Democrat Party or position.
So, they don't have any choice. If you're going to get the money, you got to support their position.
Therefore, 97 percent of the scientific reports published support global warming. Why? Because those are the ones the government pays for and that's where the money is. It's real simple.
But that doesn't mean it's right. That doesn't make it true. That only makes it bought and paid for. The money goes in circles.
STELTER: I'm not a scientist.
COLEMAN: That's the truth. So please stand back from this issue and let the two sides be on the air. There are 31,000 scientists who have signed a petition that says it is not valid, that my position is correct, and we'll keep battling, and we will prevail in time, but I don't know if we'll do it in my lifetime.
STELTER: I do hope viewers are Googling the data you're sharing because I think it's skewed, I have to say that. I want to --
COLEMAN: No, it's not true. I hope you will go to the Web sites that present the papers that show that none of this alarmism about ice and heat waves and drought, none of it is happening.
STELTER: Is the Weather Channel part of the conspiracy?
COLEMAN: Well, the Weather Channel has bought into it. As I say it, they've drunk the Kool-Aid. But so has all the media. That's no big surprise.
STELTER: Let me read to you what the channel said this week --
COLEMAN: Oh, I have read the Weather Channel statement.
STELTER: Let me read it to the viewers then.
After you appeared on FOX, they did put out this statement distancing themselves from you. They said, "Mr. Coleman does have a place in our company's history and we appreciate the contributions that he made more than 30 years ago. However, we want to be clear, John Coleman is no longer affiliated with our company."
How did you feel to see them disavow you in that way?
COLEMAN: Well, no problem. I mean, you know, that's all accurate. And the statement that's on their website which they reissued this week --
COLEMAN: -- was written back in 2007.
And that's a rather reasonable statement. It's not full of alarmism. It's not full of the sky is falling. It's a pretty reasonable statement.
It's not -- the programming they put on the TV is not reasonable and when they put on their climate geeks, those aren't scientists. Those are nuts.
STELTER: You sound like a man disappointed.
COLEMAN: They've never put on a real skeptical scientist. They don't give us any spot on their channel. That's too bad that they don't.
STELTER: You sound like a man disappointed by the channel that you helped create.
COLEMAN: Oh, I'm terribly disappointed. I created a channel to give people their weather, tell them what the weather is now and what it's going to be where they live and in their region and keep them posted on the weather and serve a real purpose, and that channel has been totally distorted and become, strange as it can be.
STELTER: Thank you for being here this morning and sharing your views with us.
COLEMAN: Well, I thank you for letting me on CNN. I had my say and it was great fun.
STELTER: Mr. Coleman did throw out a lot of assertions there. Many scientists would disagree with him. As he acknowledged, he does not speak for the Weather Channel today.
David Kenny does. David Kenny is the CEO of the Weather Channel's parent company and he has a very different position on this issue.
Now, he was not able to hear my interview with Mr. Coleman but he is very familiar with Coleman's stance on climate change.
David joins me new from up in Maine.
David, thanks for being here.
DAVID KENNY, CEO, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: Good morning, Brian. Glad to be here. STELTER: So, I thought it was notable you sent a memo to your
whole staff this week and had a Weather Channel statement come out reiterating the company's stance about climate change. What do you want people to know about John Coleman and his involvement in the Weather Channel in the past?
KENNY: What I want people to know is that the science is pretty clear about climate change. We've had this statement since 2007. We've been unwavering on it and I think as always we cover the science.
I think some people were confused to hear a statement from somebody who was noted as a co-founder of the Weather Channel, which is true. We're grateful that he got it started 32 years ago. But he hasn't been with us in 31 years. So he's not really speaking for the Weather Channel in any way today.
Our position is really clear, it's scientifically based, and we've been unwavering on it for quite some time now.
STELTER: Are you concerned he or others are using his title as co-founder in order to try to give attention to something that is misleading, that's inaccurate?
KENNY: Listen, I'm concerned whenever the discussion of climate change veers from the science. The science is really clear. And I don't like our brand being associated with something that's not scientifically based.
I think we can all be proud of our resumes, but I would prefer people use the credentials they have today, not the credentials of three decades ago.
STELTER: So, that makes me wonder if you've reached out to him and suggested that he not be using the Weather Channel name.
KENNY: I've tried to be in touch. But at the end of the day, people tend -- it's a free country, people can speak freely and people can use their resumes and other people put those titles on them. I actually don't think that's a fight worth having.
What I care more about is that our viewers come to us, continue to trust us, continue to believe that we present to them a great understanding of the Earth and how it works based on science.
KENNY: And I care that the scientists of the world continue to partner with us.
STELTER: Do people ever say to you that climate change is good for business? Good for the Weather Channel? Because it causes very scary storms that calls people to tune in?
KENNY: Yes. Listen, at the end of the day we never like to see a loss of life or a loss of property. Safety is a really important mission. So, you know, I don't think we ever take any joy in serious storms.
It is true that there is more drought, more flood, more extreme weather as the climate evolves, and, you know, that actually saddens us. I don't think we ever view it as good for business.
STELTER: David, thanks for being here. I really appreciate it.
KENNY: Glad to be with you, Brian. Thank you.
STELTER: Now, I need to take a quick break but we're just getting started this morning.
When I come back, another scientific story that has been politicized. It's not climate change. It's Ebola. Hear why a CNN anchor is fed up with American coverage of the disease next
STELTER: Welcome back.
What scares you about Ebola?
What scares me is not that I might get infected here in New York City. The odds of that are infinitesimal, tiny.
What does scare me, though, are the mass of contradictory responses, from local, state, and federal officials. What scares me are the politics of Ebola. We've seen it play out red news/blue news style all this week in a way that sort of inverts the usual thinking about left and right.
As nurse Kaci Hickox defied a quarantine this week, commentators on FOX News might have been expected to celebrate her freedom-loving stance against government overreach, but, no. Instead, they took another favorite FOX position, taking the side of law and order, calling her immature and selfish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: She is obviously a great woman. But she should be quarantined for being obnoxious, because right now, she's trolling a country. You know, she should understand that public concern is important as a virus, and people are upset and just -- you know, a couple doctors have said she's hurting the image of the profession and she should think about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Meanwhile, on MSNBC the tone was anti-quarantine, with mounting frustration about what Rachel Maddow called irrational decisions about Ebola quarantines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: The history is a long one. It's not surprising confronting something like Ebola has led to a lot of ridiculous, irrational, inane, panicked decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: I really liked Anderson Cooper's clear-headed questioning about Hickox's situation. Sometimes I am critical of what this network, CNN, does, but not this time. I rewound my DVR to watch this clip again. This is from Wednesday's "AC360." It reminded me of the notion of pre-crime from the film "Minority Report".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There is an argument -- some people compared this to the government saying to somebody, you haven't committed a crime, but we think you might commit a crime at some point in the future, so you have to stay locked up or you have to at least stay in your home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's preventative detention.
COOPER: Right. It doesn't make any scientific sense and at a certain point you have to go by science.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: You have to go by science, and the science tells us the big story about Ebola is not here. It's in West Africa, the real heart of the Ebola hot zone.
Among the places where the outbreak is really raging is the capital city of Sierra Leone, Freetown.
And one person who has a powerful, emotional take on this is CNN's own Isha Sesay.
Isha, thanks for being here.
ISHA SESAY, ANCHOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Good to be with you, Brian.
STELTER: At a CNN event this week in Tanzania, you were quoted saying you're an angry black woman because of the coverage of Ebola. So, tell me why.
SESAY: Quite simply because I think that the coverage out of the U.S. on this global health crisis has been wrong-headed. I think there has been disproportionate focus on the handful of cases that have arrived, sprung up in the United States, and not enough focus on the source, the source of this problem, those three worse affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia where almost 5,000 people have died, Brian.
I mean, the fact of the matter is, families are pieces, communities are tatters, and these countries are basically on the brink. There are thousands of orphans across these countries. There are people dying of hunger because they can't get out to the farms and all the other issue was quarantines and whatnot. And yet, Brian, if you watch the coverage coming out of the
United States, you would think the U.S. was under siege. You would think Ebola was just around the corner and was about to be an epidemic in our midst.
That is not the case. We know that to be so. Thankfully because there in the United States where I live, we have a robust public health care system which I'm incredibly thankful for. But the fact of the matter is, my family lives in Sierra Leone, my brother, mother, my grandmother and countless other loved ones. I know what is taking place on the ground and somehow that has been lost in the coverage -- that devastation, that suffering is not focused on enough in the U.S. coverage, Brian.
STELTER: So, it seems to me there's a lack of knowledge. There's also a lack of empathy for what people in these particularly affected countries are going through.
SESAY: Yes. I would absolutely agree. I would say in the absence of the information, the absence of news networks doing their part in shining a light on the source of the problem.
Brian, I mean, I just want you to take a moment. I want your viewers to pause and think, what would life be like if the country you lived in was locked down for three whole days? Think about the United States, a lock down and everyone in quarantine for three whole days. That happened to my country of Sierra Leone. There was barely any coverage of that moment.
STELTER: What would you say to the notion that all news is local? People are always going to care about a possible Ebola case in a state near them, not in a country far away from them.
SESAY: To the point of all news is local, we are a globalized world, so the issue of borders and boundaries, those are amorphous beings in this age that we live in. So, you know, the problems of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia, we have seen so clearly in the last couple weeks with the handful of cases that have sprung up in America.
We've seen that those problems are our problems. Our problems are their problems. We are all interconnected. So, in telling the story, it should be told in an interconnected way.
STELTER: Isha, what have you seen on the ground, in the countries you've been? Have they turned a corner in this fight against this disease?
SESAY: Well, you know, I'm in Nigeria right now. I'm in Nigeria which is a success story in the fight against Ebola.
SESAY: There have been no new cases of Ebola here in over 42 days. That's an immense success story.
But, Brian, let me tell you, in Sierra Leone and in Guinea, the situation is bad. The situation is still bad. It is present, Ebola in every district in those communities and my own mother, to make it -- to put it in a personal context, is afraid to leave the house right now. You know, my brother is there. Something as simple as getting your hair cut, Brian, that we take for granted, making these casual trips to the supermarket, to get your hair cut, you know, you have to rethink everything in your life at present if you live in those countries, Brian.
STELTER: Isha, thank you very much for being here.
SESAY: Brian, thank you for having me on the show.
STELTER: And one more note on this, while working here at CNN, Isha has co-founded a Web site called Eboladeeply.org. It is dedicated to covering Ebola, the crisis, and nothing but the crisis every day. I highly recommend you check it out.
Coming up here in a moment, if you've been watching network news, you may have noticed the same thing I have -- almost no coverage of the midterms. Is it all a conspiracy to give one party an edge? We will hear from a wise man of the Senate, right after this.
STELTER: T minus 2 two days until election night in America. I am pretty excited about it.
You know, excitement is not exactly in the air or on the air. The ads are everywhere but news coverage has been largely absent, at least until the last few days.
Listen to this. ABC's "World News Tonight" did not air a single story about the midterms in the months of July or August or September. This was first noticed by the conservative group the Media Research Center, and it said this was evidence of bias. Their claim is that the press is helping Democrats by ignoring a political climate that's favoring Republicans.
But is this really about bias or is this about another of those little dirty secrets TV journalists don't want you to know?
The congressional election coverage usually doesn't rate well. Presidential elections do get good ratings but not the midterms. Congress, after all, has a 9 percent approval rating and Americans are angry about the dysfunction, about the paralysis, you name it. So, it all sort of makes sense, right?
But if they don't even want us to talk about the elections -- well, that's scary, isn't it? What does it mean? Don't we have an obligation to cover these things anyway?
I want to ask those questions to one of the wisest men ever to serve in the Senate to help me understand it. Alan Simpson, Republican of Wyoming, served almost 20 years on the Senate and spent even more time than that in Washington.
Senator, good morning.
ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Good morning. How are you? Glad to be here.
STELTER: Thank you, thank you for being here.
We are two days out, and yet when I turn on the television, when I read the news online, it doesn't feel like we're two days from the midterms. What do you think explains the lack of interest, the lack of public interest, and the lack of coverage?
SIMPSON: Well, I think people are so very tired of it all. The ads and their savage and then they have the truth meter and the Pinocchio thing and how long is the nose? People are tired of the whole thing, just sick of it.
STELTER: When -- let me be cynical with you, for a second. Sometimes, all these negative ads, they make me wonder -- are these parties, are these candidates, are these outside groups trying to tamp down interest in voting? If you see all these negative ads after all, you might just shake your head and decide you don't care enough to vote at all.
SIMPSON: Sell, I think people, you know, they don't vote, and midterm elections are tough to get them out. And in midterms, the prevailing party or the president's party usually takes some shots.
But I don't know if I could say that they're trying to dampen voting, although you look at legislators and legislatures around the United States who are trying to put certain conditions on voting, ID, and so on and so on. I don't know.
But what you have now is the hard core on both sides. You got the lefties who are appealing to the left, and the righties appealing to the right.
STELTER: And then there's that silent majority in the middle. It's almost like we have three Americas, not one or two, three Americas. There are those two extremes you're describing and then a whole lot of people in the middle who, as you said, are just tired of it all.
SIMPSON: That wonderful centrist group has thrown up their hands and just said, these people on both sides are stupefyingly numbing. They're telling horror stories using emotions, fear, guilt, and racism on you. Nothing is good.
Fear. And the guy in the middle who can read and write and understand like people on the right and left can't do is just saying, this is nuts. Who is dishing this out and who is going to believe it and plenty of them believe it.
STELTER: Can we fix it? Is there a solution to this?
SIMPSON: Yes. There's a way to fix it. It's called the ballot box. And the next guy that gets up and vaples (ph) into the vapors that he knows this terrible problem confronting America of the dead of 20 trillion bucks at the end of the decade, and he can fix it without turns precious Medicare, precious Medicaid, precious defense, and precious Social Security, you want to get up at the back of the room and say -- you, sir, have given a terminological inexactitude, you lying SOB.
STELTER: I would love for more people to say that.
Let me ask you about -- I said in the intro about bias. The Media Research Center said they thought because there had been so much less midterm coverage this year on the network news, and there have been on 2006 and 2010, this was evidence of bias on the part of the mainstream media. You know, in the case of "World News Tonight", which study focused and singled out, they ended up covering the midterms a few days later. And they have been covering them ever since.
To me, it's not about bias, so much as it is about priorities. They decide to prioritize other stories, in many cases more entertaining stories, because that's what the public seems more interested in.
SIMPSON: It seems to me, in a dismal way, that you're going to put stuff on television that people will watch. And if they don't give a damn about this other stuff, you are going to shift to something else.
You call it prioritizing. I think that's what I would call it, but I don't call it essentially bias. I just call it dumbly listening to the end of the earth and they're tired of it, tired of the ads, tired of the phony stuff in the ads.
I mean, the guy, you know, has got a worker hat on. He's never been -- had a job. You have got guys picking up fish in a market. They don't even know what that is. It's all fakery. And it -- I don't know. Out here in the wild West, I can tell you people are immune to B.S. We can kind of divine that stuff.
And you see that stuff on television and you turn to your spouse or your significant other, you say, what is that? How stupid do they think we are?
STELTER: Senator Simpson, thank you for being here this morning.
SIMPSON: It's a great treat. Thank you.
STELTER: In a moment, I want to tell you about the biggest election year media story that you have not heard about. It's about the campaign ads that we all love to hate. They may be manipulating you in ways that you never imagined, and it's actually a little scary when you think about it. We're going to get the story from a true insider.
As we go to break, here are the poll closing times for Tuesday night, when to make sure you're right by the TV for the results.
STELTER: Welcome back.
So, this week, I was in Phoenix and then in Atlanta, and the one thing the two cities had in common were the dizzying number of campaign ads on TV. Almost every ad on the local news was for or against some candidate. And, usually, it's against some candidate. It's negative.
So do this for me. Stop for a moment and think about how political ads affect our country and, more specifically, how they affect our media. Here is the key number, $3 billion. This year, at least $3 billion will be spent on political TV ads. It's a stunning number.
And most of those dollars goes straight to the bank accounts of TV channels, some to cable channels, but most to local TV stations. I can't say it any better than CBS CEO Les Moonves said it. Here's what he said in 2012: "Super PACs may be bad for America, but they're very good for CBS."
Now, there are buyers of ad time, and there are the people who make the ads. We're going to talk to both.
Let's start with a guy who has made some of the most memorable campaign ads of the last decade. Here is one of his masterpieces, the demon sheep ad for Carly Fiorina, who lost a bid for Senate in 2010. The ad maker is Fred Davis, a Republican media consultant. And he's in Los Angeles this morning.
Fred, thanks for joining me.
FRED DAVIS, REPUBLICAN MEDIA CONSULTANT: Glad to be here, Brian.
STELTER: Let's watch a couple of these ads we're talking about and see what works and doesn't work. This first ad is one that your firm produced for the primary campaign of David Perdue. He's now the Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: If you're as outraged as I am by the size and scope of our government, by the amount of money they take from our pockets, and by the inexcusable, childish behavior exhibited in Washington right now, then I hope you will give this outsider from Georgia a chance. Help me change the childish behavior up there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Love that last shot.
So, Fred, you have said your firm uses something called neuromarketing. Is that an example of neuromarketing?
DAVIS: It is. Neuromarketing, the best description I can give you is a picture
is better than 1,000 words or a picture is worth 1,000 words. What you want to do in any marketing, as you know, is you want to grab someone's attention and you want to quickly get them to understand in their heart what your point is without having to tell them.
And David Perdue, who is an absolutely extraordinary man, but a business guy, has never been in politics before, was running against four very well-known politicians in Georgia. So by kind of clumping them together as part of the problem, it allowed David to stand out as the singular solution, and he won the primary. So we're very pleased with that ad.
STELTER: You have said about neuromarketing, use pictures, use humor, use comfort. There's definitely some humor coming through there.
But is it not somewhat simplistic to not focus on the message, not focus on the facts, but instead focus on the images?
DAVIS: That's the greatest thing in the world about marketing is to make it simple. The more simple you can make it, the better.
I think we're going to talk about Joni Ernst's ad later. That was very simple and it got the point across. And it took basically a nobody and propelled her to the general election.
STELTER: Let's go ahead and play her ad next. She's running the Republican campaign for the Senate in Iowa. And this pig ad got a lot of attention, as you pointed out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST (R), IOWA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Joni Ernst.
I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I will know how to cut pork. I approve this message because Washington is full of big spenders. Let's make them squeal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So, Fred, you were not involved with this ad, but I have seen you talk in the past about how important it is to stand out and surprise people. Clearly, this ad stood out from all the pack.
DAVIS: When I saw that ad, I -- Joni was not expected to be a major player in that race.
And when I saw the ad, I thought it was brilliant and I said, she is going to be. She's going to be in the general and she will probably win. I think Joni will win.
STELTER: What do you say to the criticism about this is pretty cynical, that you're not telling people why you should vote for these people, you're not telling them the positives or focusing on big issues; instead, you're playing to their emotions? DAVIS: I don't think that's true.
I think in both cases you're telling them, this guy is an outsider. We have got a mess in Washington. He's an outsider. In Joni's case, what are the three words, mother, soldier, whatever they were? You're telling them a great deal of information they need to know to make a decision right there.
No campaign is going to have one ad. In both cases, they have gone on and filled in their issue positions over the course of the races. But the baby ad and that Joni Ernst pig ad set the stage. It got people to listen to them, take them seriously, and think of them as a real contender.
STELTER: What's been the worst ad that you have seen this midterm election cycle?
DAVIS: There are so many.
If I were to name the worst ad, I would say the 90 percent of the ads that are all exactly the same.
STELTER: So what is the future of your profession then? I look around and think, we can't possibly just keep spending more and more on elections and have more and more ads running on more and more channels forever. At some point, aren't we come to a breaking point?
DAVIS: There's a mass of political advertising out there. But you talk about the media all year.
The Super Bowl, there's a mass of advertising. What do the great advertisers and marketers do? They try to stand out. I like football, but I watch for the Bud ads. I'm dying to see what they do with the horses every year, that kind of thing.
And if we can make political ads that not only get the point across, but are interesting and entertain and people want to see, people loved the baby ad. They asked about the babies ad. They would ask David about it everywhere he went. They still do. So, I think maybe the level, the quality of literal advertising in politics is getting better.
STELTER: Yes, Fred, thanks for being here.
DAVIS: Thank you very much.
STELTER: Fred is the guy making the ads.
So, now let's go to the other side, the people making money from the ads. It's not an exaggeration to say that nasty political ads help keep TV stations on the air. But if you think the stations spend all that cash on reporters who then fact-check the ads, well, think again. Two of the most crowded stations right now, the ones most
saturated with election ads are in Iowa. And one of them is WHO, the NBC affiliate in Des Moines.
Dale Woods is the general manager, and he joins me from there.
DALE WOODS, GENERAL MANAGER, WHO-TV: Good morning, sir.
STELTER: So tell me about what it's like to be trying to fit all these campaign ads in. You are required by law -- I don't think viewers know this -- required by law to run some of these ads, right?
WOODS: To run all the federal candidates, that's correct.
And this weekend will be pretty full of all candidates all the way through the election.
STELTER: So I know that you probably get calls from annoyed viewers. Who else gets affected aversely by these ads? Do you have calls from local businesses that are frustrated?
WOODS: Well, any of our local businesses that sell the goods and services have struggled for the last four months.
I mean, it's had a negative impact on the economy, because the abundance of advertising right now. You know, for the last two months, probably 70 percent of all the advertising has been political. Now, for the probably 10 days leading up to the election, that's nearly 80 percent of all the advertising on television is political commercials.
To hear you say it actually has a negative affect on your local economy is so interesting, because I'm sitting here thinking, it's all good for these stations. Your station benefits a lot from these ad dollars. But maybe the Subway sandwich restaurant down the street does not benefit. They're the ones that are adversely effected.
WOODS: Yes. There's not many $5 foot-long commercials right now. That's for sure.
STELTER: Well, I'm glad that Subway sandwich shop can get back on the air on Wednesday at least. Dale, thanks for joining me this morning.
WOODS: Thank you so much.
STELTER: After a break here, did Edward Snowden kick off a wave of disclosures about mass surveillance that the government is powerless to stop? As the FBI expands its investigation to a new suspect in the NSA
case, we will talk to the journalist who first introduced Snowden and his secrets to the world, Glenn Greenwald, when we come back.
STELTER: Welcome back.
There is a second Edward Snowden, another insider who may even now be leaking some of America's biggest secrets. That is according to a new documentary, "Citizenfour," that tells the real story of Snowden, the elusive security contractor who leaked millions of documents, disclosing secret U.S. surveillance practices at home and around the world.
It is a fascinating film, a real-time record of Snowden's journey from obscurity to notoriety. Take a look at this clip. This is as he stares down the threat of government retribution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD SNOWDEN, LEAKED DETAILS OF U.S. SURVEILLANCE: I'm not afraid of you. You are not going to bully me into silence, like you have done to everybody else.
And if nobody else is going to do it, I will, and hopefully when I am gone, whatever you do to me, there will be somebody else who will do the same thing. It will be the sort of Internet principle of the Hydra. You can stomp one person, but there is going to be seven more of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Note those words. There will be someone else who will do the same thing.
The documentary focuses heavily on Glenn Greenwald, the journalist and civil liberties activist who staked his career on bringing Snowden's story to the world. And at the end of the film, there is a bombshell. Greenwald alerts Snowden to a second whistle- blower.
Just this week, Yahoo! reported that the FBI may be on the second leaker's trail. They reportedly searched the Northern Virginia home of a suspect, a federal contractor.
Glenn Greenwald joins me now to sort through all of this.
Good morning, Glenn.
GLENN GREENWALD, THE INTERCEPT: Good morning, Brian.
STELTER: We have talked in the past about this idea that other sources may come forward to you and your colleagues.
How did Snowden react when you told him about this, this new source? For those who have not seen the film, how did he react?
GREENWALD: He reacted with a huge amount of shock over specifically the substance of some of the reporting that we have been able to do, but more importantly will be able to do in the future as a result of this information.
And I think he was also very gratified, because, as you point out, one of the principal motives that he had in coming forward so boldly, identifying himself publicly, instead of hiding, was to motivate other people to shine light on what the government is doing in the dark that never should have been kept secret in the first place.
STELTER: So, you now write for TheIntercept.com. Can we expect to see more stories from this apparent second source?
GREENWALD: The hard part about talking about any kind of future reporting is, is, that, as you know and as media figures almost in consensus have noted, the Obama administration has created this very menacing climate for sources where they try and prosecute them at far greater rates than any prior administration in American history.
And so we have to very careful about the kinds of things we can say about our sources or anything like that. So, it's just very difficult to talk about in those terms.
STELTER: Well, let me point it this way.
There is an assumption of course in the phrase second source. When I say second source, it sort of implies that it is the extent of it, but I have a feeling maybe it is not. Do you have a third source, so to speak? Can you comment on whether there are more than two people who are affiliated with the government who have been helping you and your reporters?
GREENWALD: All I can say about that is that one of the goals that we had very much in the forefront of our mind when we created The Intercept was to enable sources to come forward in a secure and safe way, so that they can do what they have always done, which is bring to the attention of journalists information that is in the public interest.
STELTER: Let me ask you about the film "Citizenfour," since you star in it. And it will be reaching more theaters in the weeks to come.
It has been called critically acclaimed. And when I hear those words critically acclaimed, I kind of cringe, because it means it is not necessarily going to reach a wide, wide audience. Are you satisfied with how mainstream stories about mass surveillance are?
If you look at just polling data alone, one of the more amazing things I saw was a Pew poll that asks every year Americans, what do you consider to be a greater threat, the threat of terrorism or the threat of the government's attacks on your civil liberties?
And every year since 9/11, people overwhelmingly have said the threat of terrorism is worse, until we started doing the Snowden reporting, and then it almost completely reversed, where people now say, I think the government's threat to my civil liberties is greater than the threat of terrorism.
You see politicians from both parties running on a platform in opposition to the NSA. It has been the most covered story over the last 16 months around the world and also in the U.S. So, sure, I'm very satisfied and in fact surprised by how much it has penetrated the mainstream.
STELTER: Glenn, thank you for being here.
GREENWALD: Thanks, Brian. Appreciate it.
STELTER: I have a feeling this story, this topic about a second source and then maybe others within the government talking to reporters about mass surveillance is not going away.
I have to fit in one more break here, but when we come back, I'm going to explain why those of us who live really TV ratings are always walking a tightrope, but there is nothing more powerful than live, big event programming, and in one man's case, a literal tightrope.
STELTER: Finally this morning, a note about the power of live, big event TV.
The big truth of TV these days is that it is fragmenting, and people are watching more and more programming on demand. But there is a countertrend in the other direction. And that is why, tonight, when I am supposed to be up in Boston, I am going to stop whatever I am doing at 7:00. I'm going to get to a TV and I'm going to turn on the Discovery Channel.
Discovery is airing "Skyscraper Live." It's the latest and greatest stunt by Nik Wallenda, the wire walker who previously made it across Niagara Falls and a gorge near the Grand Canyon. This time, he is walking between three buildings in Chicago; 13 million viewers watched his canyon walk last year, and that was just in the U.S. Many more watched overseas.
A tightrope walk is a little bit like a football game or an election night, in the sense that it is a TV event. It's the kind of thing you have to watch live, not on demand. And we're going to see more of this as networks try to keep our live attention.
Now, here is how this relates to the news business. You might be surprised to hear that the coverage of Wallenda's walk is not being produced by Discovery. It's being produced by NBC News, by a unit called Peacock Productions. Now, they don't make news in the traditional sense, like the "NBC News Nightly" sense. But they do make nonfiction programming for lots of channels.
The hope, well, at least my hope, is that the money Discovery pays for stuff like "Skyscraper Live" helps over time pay for "The Nightly News." And this is true at other channels as well and other networks as well. This week, ABC announced that the talk show "The View" is now going to be overseen by the news division, instead of entertainment.
"The View" is not really news in the traditional sense, but it is nonfiction programming. And bringing me back to my original point about Wallenda's walk, it is live. On its best days, "The View" is big, must-see, live TV programming, just what the networks want and need these days.
So, that is all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES, but, like I was saying about this on-demand universe, if you missed any part of the show this morning, you can catch up any time using CNNgo. It's a state-of-the-art app at CNN.com/go.
I will see you right back here next week, next Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time and online all week on CNN.com.
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