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Reliable Sources

Journalist Freed After 400 Days in Egyptian Prison; Obama and the Language of Terror

Aired February 01, 2015 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Good morning. I'm Brian Stelter. And this is RELIABLE SOURCES. It's 11:00 a.m. here in New York, 6:00 p.m. in Cairo, Egypt, where there is breaking news and for once hopeful news for freedom of the press.

After 400 days locked up in Egyptian jail, Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste is now a free man. Egypt's interior ministry tells CNN that President al-Sisi approved the deportation of Greste. He left the country two hours ago and he landed in Cyprus just a few minutes ago.

Greste was detained in December of 2013, along with Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed on charges of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood and spreading misinformation, charges that al Jazeera strongly denied. The other two journalists are still behind bars and there's conflicting information about their status right now.

The head of al Jazeera English is standing by live at the network's headquarters in Qatar and I'll speak with him in a just moment.

But let me first go to Ian Lee. He's our CNN correspondent in Cairo, standing by with the very latest on this.

Ian, what do we know about what happened today and why this release happened now?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brian, this was a very quick release. There were rumors late last night and early this morning that some sort of deportation would be taking place. And around 4:00 today, we talked to the ministry of interior. They said that is when Peter Greste was put on a plane to leave Egypt.

We talked to Peter's lawyer and he was very careful in the words he chose. He said this was an extradition, like he would be sent to Australia and there, it would be up to Australian officials to proceed with the case or not. He said this is according to an Egyptian law, that this is not a pardon, this is not a deportation but, in fact, an extradition. As you know, it's highly, highly unlikely Australian officials would move forward with this case. But this is a way for the Egyptian physicians to save face that their due process went forward.

There's also -- I've been in contact with the family members of Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. There's a lot of mixed emotion there. They are very excited that Peter has been released. But now, they are wondering about their loved ones. Does this signal they will be released?

We haven't heard anything about that yet, although Mohammed Fahmy does hold Canadian citizenship. So, this could be another avenue for him to be released. Although Baher Mohamed holds only Egyptian citizenship and his family is afraid that the other two journalists could be released but Baher could remain behind bars -- Brian.

STELTER: And we should mention that Fahmy used to work with us here at CNN.

You and I have been covering this for over a year, unfortunately. We described it on the air as these men possibly are being pawns in a geopolitical dispute.

Can you explain to us, Ian, what the dispute seems to be?

LEE: Well, it seems to be one between Qatar and Egypt. There really over the past year, there has been no love lost between the two governments. Qatar supporting the ousted Muslim Brotherhood, which is now outlawed in Egypt and the President Mohammed Morsy, who was democratically elected president before a popular coup ousted him.

So, there has been a lot of tensions between Egypt, which now ruled by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, a man who comes from the military, ousted Morsi and Qatar who backed the former president.

So, talking to family members and at times these journalists released messages saying that they felt that they were pawns, that this have nothing to do with their case. When we look at the case, there was never any hard, credible evidence that tied them to these charges. At times star witnesses of the prosecution would contradict themselves.

So, when they were found guilty, it came as a surprise and shock for a lot of us.

STELTER: Ian, thank you so much. I appreciate you being with us.

When we spoke here on the program last June to Peter Greste's parents, they said it would not be accurate to describe their son as a political prisoner. They must be so relieved to hear this news early in Australia this morning.

Let's turn now to al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey. It's about 7:00 p.m. in Doha where he's standing by.

Al, you've been waiting for this day. You've been waiting for this day for days. What did you feel when you first heard he was coming home. AL ANSTEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, AL JAZEERA ENGLISH: It's been

remarkable day. We heard a few hours ago when Peter made contact to say he was leaving Egypt. And it's day in a way full of emotions. We are immensely, immensely relieved as Peter's family will be that he's now out of detention, that he is now on his way home to be reunited with his family.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay immense tribute to Peter and Baher and Mohamed and all of other colleagues being sentenced in absentia for their great strength and their great resilience dealing with this terrible ordeal. But, also, in a way, it's ironic today. There is no celebration in the release of innocent people. Peter and Baher and Mohamed and other colleagues are guilty of nothing apart from carrying out fantastic journalism, covering all sides of the story, cover everything that was going on in Egypt and broadcasting that as transparently and factually as possible to our viewers.

So, there is no celebration but, yes, there is immense relief.

But the one thing I would like to focus on today is that Baher and Mohamed, 400 days on, are still in detention and our other seven colleagues and friends sentenced to 10 years in absentia are still sentenced.

And, Brian, and the support and solidarity worldwide, from media in all corners of the globe, from politicians and diplomats in all corners of the globe, and from hundreds of thousands of people right across the world has been immense throughout the 400 days, saying enough is enough, and this has got to be brought to an end. We really hugely appreciate that support and solidarity.

But in so many respects that message needs to continue and the injustice and stand up for journalists in all corners of the globe to be able to do their jobs.

STELTER: To give viewers one example of that support you're describing, CNN and the BBC, usually competitors of al Jazeera, helped you all report from Egypt during this period of time where you are haven't had your own staff in the country.

Tell me about the status of the other two men. Have you heard anything today about whether their return home is also imminent?

ANSTEY: First of all, Brian, I've got to say we and Peter and Baher and Mohamed are grateful. Yes, we're healthy competitors, al Jazeera English and CNN and BBC, yet that solidarity has been demonstrated very clearly and it's very, very much appreciated.

The situation for our other two friends and colleagues and indeed for the other seven sentenced in absentia is extremely unclear. And I think there's lots of rumors about whether there could there be deportation, could there be amnesty, could there be an end to this. Obviously, we're hoping to get a date for retrial on January 1st was called and everyone hoped it would be called in short order and by now, this would all be over. So, I think we need to focus on the fact two wonderful

journalists, innocent guys, seven other colleagues sentenced in absentia, who are again, are guilty of nothing apart from being great journalists and demonstrating that journalism for all to see across al Jazeera English, on television and all of our platforms. So, it's very unclear what's happening to Baher and what's happening for Mohamed. But we just need to bring this injustice to an end and to get them out.

STELTER: Do you agree with what others have said they are pawns in this geopolitical dispute between Qatar and Egypt?

ANSTEY: I think in a way what happened was a clear message to journalists, to the three guys obviously, but to journalists who are covering Egypt to say, look, if you cover all sides of the story and carry out great journalism, beware. I think in a way that was the main message that was what yielded the beginning of this story 400 days ago, 400 days ago plus. I think that was the clear message.

There's lots of discussion about bilaterals and all the rest of it. Actually, I think that was the message. And it's not just to al Jazeera. I think it's the journalists across the board in Egypt and other countries around the world, which is good journalism means covering all sides of the story. Good journalism means digging for the facts and showing those facts to viewers right around the globe.


ANSTEY: In some parts of the world, that's counter perhaps to the narrative that governments or authorities want to be told. I think that was the message here.

STELTER: What will you say to Peter when you see him.

ANSTEY: How fantastically relieved I am to see him. I will ask him how he is.

When we spoke to him early on, he sounded strong. He sounded immensely relieved, perhaps not celebratory but immensely relieved.

So, we'll give him a very, very warm hello and very relieved to have him back. We'll ask him how he is. And I know when he said this that he is also deeply concerned for Baher and Mohamed and for other colleagues and indeed other journalists who are facing the same injustice that he has had to endure for 400 days.

STELTER: I imagine after a period of rest, he'll be looking forward to get back to work, getting back to reporting, what he hasn't been able to do for 400 days.

Al, thank you for being here.

ANSTEY: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: We will stay on top of this story and give you any new developments we get during this hour and throughout the day here on CNN.

But we're going to take a quick break here and get to some rather unfortunate news in the world of journalism, because as we're talking about right here, journalists are targets and in danger around the world. We were reminded of that again this weekend with the ISIS beheading of a Japanese journalist. We're talking about that and the very definition of the word "terrorism", right after this.


STELTER: The release of al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste is a little bit of good news for journalists in the Middle East. We will stay on that story all day here on CNN.

But on Saturday, we were all reminded again about the dangers of reporting in the region when this news broke. Another journalist, apparently murdered in cold blood by ISIS. The man you see in this image is 47-year-old Kenji Goto of Japan, a veteran war reporter. He was kidnapped in Syria last October.

ISIS brutally murdered a number of other hostages over the past year. You hopefully know their names, American journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff are two of them.

What has happened to these journalists is gruesome, is despicable. But would you call the killers Islamic terrorists? It's not necessarily that simple of an answer. The White House and some of the press don't like to use those terms, and it makes some Republicans livid.

In an interview that just interviewed last hour here on CNN, Fareed Zakaria pushed President Obama on the issue. Watch.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Lindsey Graham says that he's bothered by the fact that you won't admit that we're in a religious war, that others who say that the White House takes pains to avoid using the term "Islamic terrorists." So, my question to you is, are we in -- are we in a war with radical Islam?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't quibble with labels. I think we all recognize this is a particular problem that has roots in Muslim communities. But I think we do ourselves a disservice in this fight if we are not taking into account the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject this ideology.


STELTER: That's the president's take and it's not just the president. We've seen discussions about word choice at major media outlets recently. A leaked memo from al Jazeera revealed their strict guidelines when it comes to reporting on the T-word. Here is what it says, this is from al Jazeera English, terrorism/terrorists. It says, "One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. We will not use these terms unless attributed to a source or person." Language matters, words matter. So, here is the question: is

refusing to use the T-word, terrorists, ignoring reality? Or does it bring some desperately nuance to a complicated issue.

Let's ask CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp. She's in Washington this morning, and former al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin. He is now an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

Thank you both for being here.


STELTER: S.E., do you see a connection between what you heard from President Obama in that sound bite and what you see in a statement, in a memo in a network like al Jazeera, do you see a similar line of thinking or a similar ideology?

CUPP: Yes, these contortions to avoid reality are really motivated by a number of things. There is a desire not to offend. And there seems to be a belief that if we don't name the thing, the thing doesn't quite exist. Obviously, that's not reality.

The White House, this administration, has not only gone to painstaking contortions to avoid calling groups terrorists or using the words "Islamic extremism" or radical Islam, it is also -- Obama has time an time again gotten over his skis when it comes to foreign policy saying ISIS that al Qaeda's jayvee team, that al Qaeda is decimated, but Yemen is a success, that Benghazi was about a film.

There's a desire to downplay the threat of terrorism so that it seems less of a threat, matched with the desire not to name the thing, and it becomes a really silly semantic exercise in political correctness that doesn't have an effect of ridding the word of terrorism. No positive outcomes have come from refusing to name the thing.

AHMED SHIHAB-ELDIN, INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST: You know, I have to disagree with you, S.E. I don't think this is about contortions as much as an intent to be constructive, rather than destructive in how we fight terrorism. I think this is an attempt to kind of reclaim Islam, to not allow these terrorists to use Islam and claim that they are doing this in the name of Islam. As we've seen many Muslim leaders, many Muslims around the world condemn these acts.

And so, as much as I understand why Obama and the Obama administration might be opening themselves up to criticism, I think this actually challenges what we've seen since 9/11, which is the equation -- equating terrorism with Islam.

CUPP: Right.

SHIHAB-ELDIN: Playing on fear.

I think that for as much as we talk about this being semantics or this being silly, it's very serious. You know, there's a misperception in America. The majority or a significant number of Americans have never met a Muslim. So, they rely on media, they rely on elected officials for how they use these sorts of term, what those terms mean, how to internalize it, and perceive this threat to be.

And I just want to make one point. For as much as people say Obama is being silly, Obama is underplaying the threat, Obama is being irresponsible -- I think it's much more irresponsible when, you know, elected officials such as Bobby Jindal talk about an invasion, Muslim invasion, that Muslim immigration is an invasion. It's these kinds of things that play into the hand of these extremists who want to portray this as a clash between East and West.


CUPP: But, Ahmed, let me just --let me just respond to that because I think you make some good points. However, I think there's also a straw man here.

No one is saying we're at war with Islam. The word is "Islamic extremism", so that caveat is built into the language or radical Islam.

The point is the White House is not Islam's PR shop. It's moderate Muslims that are going to do the best work in communicating just the kinds of distinctions, important distinctions that you're making.

SHIHAB-ELDIN: I completely agree.

STELTER: Speaking of --

CUPP: The United States' job is to name our enemies clearly, so that our allies overseas and men and women fighting overseas know who they are.

SHIHAB-ELDIN: Very quickly, S.E., very quickly. You bring up our allies overseas, in order to keep our allies on board, in order to help fight this fight, in order to challenge and confront these terrorists where they are committing the biggest atrocities, which is in the Muslim world and Muslims, as you know, are the biggest victims, we need to be responsible and we need to be accurate, as the White House said and not -- I mean, I agree, when you use the term "radical Islam" it's different than Islam.

But as you've seen with films like "American Sniper," popular culture and media internalizing a lot of kind of Patriot Act and language around that, I think there's a danger, whether intentionally or not, whether something the media is knowingly doing, that continues to perpetuate this idea Muslims are, in fact, something to be feared, beyond just radical Muslims. And I think we need to be mindful of the tactics that the White House is deploying.

CUPP: Sure. But let me just --


STELTER: Let me shift a little from politics to the media of this, because I was really shock by a column I read this week in U.K. newspaper "The Independent." It was talking about the BBC Arabic channel is very careful about using this, this phrase or this label terrorism.

Let me read the quote that stood out the most from this column. It says, "Minus the terrorism tag, the threat from groups like these somehow feels less monstrous, more manageable." And then, it went on to say, "We don't report on murderers as avengers, even though revenge might have guided their hand. Why, then, support groups that aimed to sow terror by including that term in their title?"

Ahmed, is there something to that idea, that the language we use for things like this, overinflates the threat a country like the United States faces from terrorism?

SHIHAB-ELDIN: Yes, most certainly. I mean, you know, it's hard to be definitive about it but there was a statistic put out widely discussed and debated by the New American Foundation that found right wing extremists actually have killed more Americans since 9/11 than Muslim extremists. I bring that up because in light of what happened in Paris just a few weeks ago, we also saw euro poll come out with a statistic that suggested that only 2 percent of terrorist attacks in Europe in the last five years have been committed by Muslims.

So, there is a distortion, whether intentional or not again by the media, by Western governments in terms of how Muslims are portrayed, how this threat is portrayed. I think that, you know, that's why using -- exercising kind of responsibility, exercising caution is something that I think is only going to serve us well.

STELTER: I just wonder what's worse, to overinflate the threat or to downplay the threat too much? I personally feel we need to adjust our sense of how important terrorism is as a threat to the country versus all the other concerns and threats United States faces.

But, S.E., I hear you jumping in there. Have the last word.

CUPP: Well, listen, I heard President Obama mention in the interview with Fareed Zakaria mentioned this, that we don't want to overinflate or give more prestige to these groups. In 2012, Hillary Clinton decided not to put Boko Haram on the terror watch list for exactly that reason. And as we know, unfortunately, it did nothing to stop Boko Haram's reign of terror.

Again, these semantic arguments, they're not unimportant but they're distractions. And we all need to kind of face reality and name things for what they are. That's important. There's power in naming things.

STELTER: S.E. and Ahmed, thank you both for being here. Great discussion this morning.

CUPP: Thanks.

SHIHAB-ELDIN: Thanks. STELTER: And when we come back, we're shifting gears. We have a

wild story to tell you about. We're going to unravel the mystery behind lost footage of Super Bowl I. We're going to talk to someone who has a tape and one that was there, next.


STELTER: We are exactly seven hours away to Super Bowl kickoff time when most of us will stop whatever we're doing and tune in for the Patriots, Seahawks, and, of course, the ads.

But I want to tell you bought a Super Bowl mystery, one that stretches back 48 years, back to the very first Super Bowl. It was in 1967. Two networks actually showed the game that year, NBC and CBS. But neither of them have the footage. It's as if Super Bowl I has disappeared.

Jack Whittaker was the play by play man for CBS and he's never seen the broadcast. His story is coming up in a few minutes.

First let me show you the few snippets of video that do exist. This is from two film reels containing part of the historic broadcast. They were found buried away years ago in an attic in Pennsylvania.

We don't know who found them. The man is anonymous. He has the holy grail of footage and almost nobody has seen it.

So, what is the holdup?

Let me bring in Steven Harwood. His client has the recording.

Mr. Harwood, thanks for being here.


STELTER: I'm wonderful. I think this is an amazing story. How did your client discover the tape?

HARWOOD: Well, what happened in 1967, nobody at home really had the facilities or the technology to record games. But the father of my client worked for a company that did have the equipment and went in on Sunday 1967 when the game was played and recorded the game on two inch quadroplex tapes.

And after the game, took the two reels, put them in his attic where they laid dormant for about 32 years.

STELTER: And now the tape is in the possession -- one of the tapes -- is in possession of Paley Center here in New York, museum and organization about the history of television. I talked to the curator there, Ron Simon. He says he's wondering has there been any progress, because now the issue is you're talking to the NFL trying to get a deal done so this tape can be seen publicly, right?

HARWOOD: That is correct. We have certainly kept our lines of communication open with the

NFL. We have offered to meet with them. It's certainly our desire that the NFL get possession of what's on the tape. We think, given that the Super Bowl 50 is coming up next year, looking back at Super Bowl I would make an exciting time to revisit what happened in January 1967.

STELTER: I talked to Ron this morning. He said the tape is in a vault. You know, I'm not even able to go see it in person, because he would have to get your permission.

So, what does your client want? Is it just a matter about the amount of money that's at issue here?

HARWOOD: Well, I think money is certainly an issue. We believe that it has some value to it.

Back in 2005, "Sports Illustrated" put a value on this tape of in excess of $1 million. And to put that in perspective, $1 million is the equivalent of about seven seconds of commercial airtime on today's game.

So I think that there's value on the tape. I think it would be important for the sports community to see this footage. And we think that the NFL is in the best position to commercially exploit and show what's on the tape. And we are most interested in getting it into the hands of the NFL and then into the hands of the consumer and the sports community.

And we feel being compensated for preserving it for all these years is certainly a reasonable thing to do.

STELTER: All right. I hope a deal gets done. Steve Harwood, thanks for being here.

HARWOOD: You're quite welcome. Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: I mentioned Jack Whitaker a moment ago. He's a legend among sports announcers. He's covered all the great sporting events of our time, from the Olympics to the world Cup. He was there on the sidelines for Super Bowl I calling the plays for CBS.


STELTER: Jack, thanks so much for joining me.

JACK WHITAKER, SPORTSCASTER: You're quite welcome. Welcome to Super Bowl weekend.

STELTER: That's right. That's right. We're less than eight hours away at this point.

When you were on the sidelines that day, did you ever expect Super Bowl to become what it is today? We're expecting over 110 million people to be tuning in tonight. WHITAKER: No. We thought it was going to be a very important

game, the cap of the season to crown a real champion. And we never dreamed it would turn into what it has today, which is just a big social event.

STELTER: Right, as much for the ads as for the game itself.

WHITAKER: Well, that's it.

I think you could really describe the Super Bowl today as being too exhausted teams playing second fiddle to a half-time show and the TV commercials.

STELTER: So it's been so many years now. Do you have any recording, any record of that first broadcast?

WHITAKER: No. No, I don't, nothing at all. All I have is what's in my memory.

STELTER: There's no real tape that can be watched, none that anybody has, except for one private owner who is anonymous. That is wild to me. How could that have happened?

WHITAKER: Well, I don't know.

We didn't have much people who were interested in the history of our industry in those days. We lost a lot of important tapes and recordings of important events. I think that's been corrected now, thank goodness.

STELTER: For you as the broadcaster, what was the scariest moment of the game?

WHITAKER: Well, for me, it was the beginning of the second half. Ray Scott did the play by play on the first half and I did the second half.

So the second half kickoff goes, the ball gets into the end zone. All of a sudden, the whistles blow and play stops. And I look down. There's no flag. I can't see anything. I looked over to Frank Gifford. He gave me his, "I don't know."

What it was, NBC was still in commercial and they missed the kickoff.

STELTER: Oh, geez.

WHITAKER: So, they did the kickoff a second time.

STELTER: Yes. That's one of the strange things about the first Super Bowl. Both NBC and CBS televised it. How did that come about?

WHITAKER: Well, NBC had televised the AFL games and CBS had done the NFL games, so who was going to do the Super Bowl? So, Pete Rozelle, in his infinite wisdom, said both -- both networks will do them. STELTER: And you were on CBS, along with Frank Gifford. You

were doing the CBS broadcast. There was a pretty wild rivalry between NBC's and CBS' teams, right?

WHITAKER: Yes. Oh, yes.

And that got as much print as the two teams did leading up to the game. And that was the beginning of a part of the Super Bowl. There's always a backstory that's almost as big as the game.

STELTER: So what do you remember about the telecast? Where were you in the stadium? And what was it like to be broadcasting to so many millions of people?

WHITAKER: Well, it was kind of scary, yes. It always is.

But you have to be a little scared to be any good. And I think after the -- that incident in the beginning of the second half, things calmed down for me and we were OK.

STELTER: Do you think, over time, over the decades, journalists have changed the way they cover sports in an important way? And you worked for both ABC News and ABC Sports in the 1980s. Have you seen a real change in how journalists approach this topic?

WHITAKER: Yes, I think so.

Again, I think it's because of the culture change. Some people ask questions that we would never ask. Or let me put it this way. They ask questions in a manner in which we would never ask a question.

STELTER: Tell me what you mean. What's the difference?

WHITAKER: And, well, they just get right down to it and get kind of rude sometimes.

And, I know it's good journalism to ask the tough questions, but there's a good way to ask a tough question.

STELTER: When you see a scandal or a perceived scandal like Deflategate dominating the press, do you roll your eyes at that, or do you think that is an important story?

WHITAKER: Well, you're supposed to report what's happening.

And sometimes they overdo it, like I think this inflation story has been overdone. But I think generally they do a better job today than we did back then.

STELTER: You covered so many different sporting events. Where does the Super Bowl rank for you?

WHITAKER: It's important because I did the first one.

Secretariat's Belmont was much more important, or just as important, and many other things I have done over the years. And certainly the other Super Bowls I did, I did about 12 of them, I guess, none of them kind of measure up. The first one does because it was the first.

STELTER: Jack Whitaker, thanks so much for being here. Great talking with you.

WHITAKER: Thank you very much. It was great talking to you. Brought back a lot of memories.


STELTER: The Paley Center, which restored this mystery tape, says it would love to arrange for Jack to watch it. It just needs attorney Steve Harwood's permission. So, we will see what we can do, see if we can get them together.

Coming up next: Are the two most powerful men in GOP politics Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes? We're covering the FOX News primary with two experts right after this.


STELTER: Welcome back.

Now it's a time for a segment we're going to call the FOX News primary. Will those two guys, FOX News president Roger Ailes and his boss, Rupert Murdoch, be picking your next president? It may sound ridiculous, it may sound like some liberal conspiracy theory, but there's no disputing that they have real power in the GOP primaries.

And the media pays attention to it, smartly. "The New York Times" reported this week on Murdoch's dislike for Mitt Romney. And now, as we all know, purely coincidentally, Mitt Romney is not going to be running for president in 2016.

So, let's dig deeper on this.

Matt Lewis is in Washington. He's of The Daily Caller. And Gabriel Sherman is here in New York with me of "New York Magazine." He's the author of "The Loudest Voice in the Room," a book all about FOX and Roger Ailes.

Thank you for being here.


STELTER: Gabe, let me turn to you first, because we're just scratching the surface there in that intro about the power of FOX and the power of Roger Ailes. How would you describe it when it comes to presidential primaries?

GABRIEL SHERMAN, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": Well, without a question in the Republican primary, Roger Ailes controls the largest bloc of reliable Republican voters.

(CROSSTALK) STELTER: By controls, you mean they watch FOX News.

SHERMAN: They watch FOX News. They turn out in large numbers come primary day. And the candidates are already kissing the ring.

I can report that according to my sources, Rick Perry came to New York before going to Iowa for the Freedom Summit to meet with Roger Ailes, to have a meet-and-greet and kiss the ring. So, these candidates are already courting Ailes and trying to get on his good side to get reliable coverage going into the primary season.

STELTER: So, what I might say to you is these candidates also go and visit other network executives, visit other media executives. What's different about FOX?

SHERMAN: Because FOX, as I said, controls this audience.

If you want to be a Republican front-runner, you have got to get prime spots on FOX. You have got to get prime bookings. And Ailes is that ring that you need to kiss.

STELTER: Matt, have you sensed the same thing? Have you sensed that it's make or break for these candidates whether they have support of the FOX bosses?

MATT LEWIS, DAILY CALLER: No, I don't think that's right.

Look, I think that the bosses are important because they created a network that is by far the most watched network, cable news network in America, and especially among grassroots conservatives who vote in primaries.

But in terms of them having some sort of a conspiracy to help boost one candidate or another, I mean, look, if they had their way, the Republican Party would be a pro-immigration reform party right now. And so I think the notion that they can sort of from on high wrap their arm around somebody like Chris Christie, I don't buy that.

I think that, look, if you were to poll Bret Baier and Brit Hume and Chris Wallace and Sean Hannity, you would probably get them picking different candidates that they favor. I don't buy that they are going to boost any one person. I do think it will be fought on FOX News, but for different reasons.

STELTER: Let me talk about Sarah Palin for a moment, because, Matt, you wrote a column this week suggesting you have some regret for previously supporting her and sympathizing with her, maybe boosting her.

Here is part of what you wrote in your column: "It's probably time to concede that the early critics of Sarah Palin had a point, and that they shouldn't have been tarred and feathered and in some cases nearly purged from the conservative movement."

As far as I can tell, Matt, Palin is still a FOX News contributor. Typically, what we see is if candidates take serious steps towards becoming legal presidential candidates, that they leave FOX. That's what Mike Huckabee has done and Ben Carson has done. Will you take Palin seriously again if she decides to leave FOX News perhaps to mount a candidacy?

LEWIS: Well, that would be a good start.

But I think more likely she's sort of teasing us. I think that she's flirting with the idea of running again to sort of keep her name out there. Remember, a few years ago, she led the media on this wild goose chase, where half the press was following her bus caravan around the country. Of course, she did not end up running.

But I think one big thing has happened in recent years. That's this rise of a new crop of conservative stars. When Sarah Palin burst onto the scene in 2008 as this fresh face with all this charisma and talent, nobody knew who Ted Cruz was. Nobody knew Marco Rubio or Rand Paul or Nikki Haley.

This entire generation of conservatives have risen since Palin. She helped some of them, by the way. And I think most conservatives I know are saying, Sarah Palin, it's time to move on, let's focus on Scott Walker or somebody else.

STELTER: I'm running out of time here, Gabe, but what are you going to watch for as the next step in the so-called FOX News primary?

SHERMAN: Well, I think the big question for Republicans is that without question FOX is a powerful voice, but it actually was damaging to the party in a general election climate.

STELTER: Right. That's what you suggested in your book.

SHERMAN: Yes. And so for 2016, I want to see can this message that FOX promotes during the primary really resonate with a broader audience? Because that's what the party needs for their electoral fortunes.

STELTER: Gabe Sherman here in New York and Matt Lewis in Washington, thank you both for being here.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

LEWIS: Thank you.

STELTER: And in a moment, an exclusive look at the sexy side of Silicon Valley, where workers are hacking their own bodies to get ahead.

I will explain what I mean when we come back.



We think of New York and Hollywood as being media capitals, but it is also Silicon Valley where the future of media is really being made. Think Facebook, think Twitter, think YouTube. Some of the world's most brilliant engineers and entrepreneurs are there.

But if you think their heads are buried in books and computers all day, well, think again. There is a whole other said to Silicon Valley that may surprise you -- I know it surprised me -- involving drugs, swinger parties, raves and more.

And CNN Money's Laurie Segall pulled back the curtain on the community for a new series called "Sex, Drugs and Silicon Valley."

I just had to show you this report.


LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Part of success in Silicon Valley is dependent on flexing one of the biggest muscles you have, your brain. How well can you focus? Can you stay up all night and code?

But the other part of success is creativity, the ability to think outside the box, to have the breakthrough moment, a moment that could turn your millions into billions.

TIMOTHY FERRISS, ENTREPRENEUR: The billionaires I know, almost without exception, use hallucinogens on a regular basis.

SEGALL: Tim Ferriss is a Valley insider. He is an entrepreneur and he wrote the book about optimizing your time. His lifestyle insights have developed a cultlike following.

(on camera): The creativity comes from drugs?

FERRISS: The people I know who are trying to be very disruptive and look at the problems in the world that exist and ask completely new questions, so they might look at something that's existed for hundreds of years and see something completely different.

KEVIN HERBERT, ENGINEER: I was actually at a science fiction convention with a bunch of friends. And the Grateful Dead "Truckin'" came on the radio. And my girlfriend and I at the time sort of had this revolution of, oh, that's why people listen to the GRATEFUL DEAD on LSD.

SEGALL (voice-over): It was the Fourth of July in 1980 when Kevin Herbert first tried psychedelics. He has been using LSD for decades. Kevin currently works as an engineer for Cisco.

(on camera): How high would you say is the premium on creativity in Silicon Valley?

HERBERT: Everything we do requires is entirely creative. Everything requires creative solutions. And LSD kind of fits into that because you get the sort of magical breakthrough.

I would be at a Grateful Dead show, high on LSD hearing drums. And then something about my work would just come to me. I had been working on a problem for over a month, doing all this hard-core debugging. And I took LSD. I just realized, wait, the problem is in hardware. It's not a software problem at all. I come back to work the next day, tell my manager, I had an epiphany. He laughed, and says, oh, great show.

SEGALL (voice-over): And there is actually scientific proof that LSD could do just that. One study founded by the U.S. government in the '60s took a group of scientists and sent them out to solve 48 different physics, math and architectural problems, problems that the scientists themselves had been unable to solve.

Each scientist was guided through a psychedelic trip, at the end of which 44 of the 48 problems had found solutions.

DANIEL KOTTKE, ONE OF FIRST APPLE EMPLOYEES: I moved here to work in the Apple garage building Apple-1's. That was 1976.

SEGALL: That's Daniel Kottke, one of Apple's first employees. And before we all knew Steve Jobs as the creator of one of the most successful companies in the world, Daniel knew him as the guy he used to trip with in college.

(on camera): You said that Steve has said that LSD was kind of one of the best things he ever did. Why was that?

KOTTKE: It expands your consciousness. It could have been mushrooms. It could have been peyote. It could have been any number of other things. Conversely, Steve was never really interested in smoking pot. That did not expand consciousness.

SEGALL (voice-over): Today, psychedelic research is having a renaissance. People in the industry say there are more studies now than there have been in decades.

FERRISS: We don't know as much about the human brain or body as we think we do. I mean, we're absolutely medieval. I think we're going to look back in 10 years at our behavior now and it's going to look like bloodletting in the Dark Ages.


STELTER: And Laurie joins me here on set now.

Laurie, fascinating piece. Thanks for sharing it with us.

These people are really changing the definition of the work hacking, aren't they?


We always think hack -- so many times people look at hacking as such a terrible thing, someone breaking into something. And that definition is totally changing.


SEGALL: We had -- I had a woman in the series telling me she was trying to hack love.

And the idea was, instead one partner, she said, why not have multiple ones? Because, if you look, the formula doesn't always work. And she was very analytical about it.

But a lot of these people use the word hack when it comes to their bodies, when it comes to their love life, which is really interesting.

STELTER: And you produced this series for CNN Money to be binged basically, right? We talk about bingeing for "House of Cards" or Netflix, but how did you make it to be binged for news?

SEGALL: Well, first of all, it's the kind of series you would want to binge. Right?

We divide it into polyamory, the swinger scene, psychedelics, smart drugs. It is the kind of thing you start watching and you just want to keep watching. It goes. And that was our theory. So, let's put it online and let people watch all of these. And we have created a landing page for it. And that was kind of the concept behind it.

STELTER: And that's at

SEGALL: Absolutely.

STELTER: Laurie, thanks for being here.

SEGALL: Thank you.

STELTER: More RELIABLE SOURCES right after this quick break. Stay with us.


STELTER: "Free Al-Jazeera Staff." I'm holding up this sign, the same sign Christiane Amanpour held up one year ago, because even though one of the three Al-Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Egypt is now heading home today, two others are still behind bars. CNN will stay on top of this story on air and online.

That's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. But we keep going all the time on Let me know what you thought of today's show. Send me a tweet or a message on Facebook. And I will be replying right after the break. Stay tuned for "State of the Union." It starts right now.