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Reliable Sources

Trump Campaign Manager Involved in Altercation; Is Media to "Blame" for Trump's Success?; Discussion of Supreme Court Nominee; Jorge Ramos Speaks about Trump. Aired 11a-Noon ET

Aired March 20, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:07] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good morning. I'm Brian Stelter and it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES -- our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how news and pop culture really get made.

Ahead this hour, Jorge Ramos is here, talking about his infamous spat with Donald Trump and whether he's ever going to get a proper interview with the GOP frontrunner.

And later, something that explains a lot about this election season. We examine people's brains while watching a GOP debate. I've got the headset on right there. We're going to show you this is your brain on Trump.

Plus, Nina Totenberg, the dean of the Supreme Court press corps, discussing big interview with President Obama about his Supreme Court justice case and whether it's divided the press along predictable partisan lines.

But, first, troubling behavior by Donald Trump's right hand man, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Take a look at this video from Trump's rally in Arizona last night. The Trump campaign claims he did not yank on the collar of the protester. But the video conclusively shows otherwise.

It's enough to conjure up the famous phrase "who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?"

Now, you may want to revert your eyes from this next bit of video, but I do think it's important to see -- this is a few minutes before the campaign manager altercation. This protester was punched and then kicked repeatedly by a rally-goer. They were taken away by the police.

Now, Trump says he does not condone violence. But he also spoke this week about riots, if he is denied the GOP nomination. And he also renewed his verbal against FOX's Megyn Kelly, repeatedly calling her "crazy Megyn" and saying his fans should boycott her show. I have new some reporting to share about Kelly.

But, first, let me bring in our panel. CNN political commentator, Kayleigh McEnany, political analyst Jeff Greenfield, and David Zurawik, the media critic to "The Baltimore Sun".

Thank you all for being here. KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: David, let me start with you. Has the media sufficiently held the Trump campaign accountable for these sporadic acts of violence these past few weeks?

DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE: Brian, I don't -- I think part of the problem here is that initially they haven't. When this started as early as July and August, I think especially television and I have to say especially cable television gave Trump a past. He was go good for them in terms of ratings that they didn't want to offend them.

This was especially true of FOX. I mean, he was coming after Megan Kelly in August during that debate. And nobody would take him on about this stuff.

Now, we're seeing him escalate. Trump knows no one will back him down. Try to remember what Michael Cohen said to "The Daily Beast" reporter who tried to report the rape allegation from one of Trump's former wives. Remember that? The horrible language that he used and the threats -- it was like -- like a mafia conversation. Nobody shut him down on that.

We allowed this in a way. I don't want to say -- I'm not blaming the media for this happening. There's a million reasons involved here. But one of the problems was we allowed it to happen. We weren't aggressive enough.

Now, I think there's a much more aggressive press. But I think in some strange ways, Brian, they flip to the other side and it's all Trump, all bad. We can't have any nuance. He's a either a sinner or a Satan. And that's the problem in the coverage.

STELTER: You're right. There's so many thousands of people that attend his rallies, that view him the same way as some Obama viewed in 2008, as hope and change. And sometimes, the tenor of the coverage is quiet negative.

Kayleigh, let me bring you in, because you are a Trump supporter. I want to get your reaction to this video of the campaign manager yanking on the collar of a protester.

MCENANY: Yes, you know, violence is excusable wherever we see it. But I think that this is not an incident of violence. In fact, if you look at the raw footage, you can see (AUDIO GAP) Corey he seems to grab the collar. The video does indicate that. This protester grabbed a young girl's arm. And that's why you see three men from behind come and grab this protester because they saw him grabbing a woman.

When a protester grabs a woman, a young girl, you act. You don't just stand there and after this, nothing happens. So, I think it's important to see that as --

STELTER: But what about this specific issue of a campaign manager out in the crowd? Hillary Clinton's campaign manager is not out in the stands at rallies.

MCENANY: Sure. Donald Trump was asked about that this morning and he said there were really some horrific signs in the audience that had some of the worst expletive you could imagine --

STELTER: Let's go ahead and play that.

MCENANY: -- and he instructed Corey to go out there and remove the signs.

STELTER: Let's show the viewers what he said to George Stephanopoulos a few minutes ago.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: We've also seen that video there of your campaign manager Corey Lewandowski who does appear on that video to grab the collar of the protester, also your private security. Why is your campaign manager out in the crowd engaging protesters? This is the second incident in about a month.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): Well, you know what, because security at the arena, the police were a little bit lax and he had signs -- they had signs up in that area that were horrendous.

[11:00:06] Now, he didn't touch. He wasn't --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the video does show that he touched him. Your security --


TRUMP: I mean, I give him credit for having spirit. He wanted them to take down those horrible, profanity-laced signs.


STELTER: The quote that stands out to me there is "he didn't touch", which suggest he's saying the campaign manager did not touch the protester. The video contradicts that. Now, I can't get on Trump's head. I don't know if he's lying or not.

But, Jeff, I wonder if this is an example of what Chuck Todd said this week, that we're in a phase of post-truth politics. And if so, what can we do about it?

JEFF GREENFIELD, POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, this reminds me of where we are now, of what we thought we had learned of the Joe McCarthy era, when he would make a charge and there were 200 communists in the State Department or whatever. The State Department would deny it and the press would cover it, McCarthy accused the State, says, no.

And after his era ended, the realization came that there were times when even an objected has to say, this is true, this is false. One of the things the media and I think cable TV in particular stands indicted -- convicted of for months is failing to be prepared enough to -- if you're going to put Trump on, and he's a front runner, to say, you said this, this is flatly false and not to cover he said/she said.

And certainly not to put on un-vetted 45-minute long town meetings where all you hear are -- rather rallies where all you hear is Trump speak. That becomes almost like state TV. That's what like happens when Fidel used to speak.

And the appetite for the ratings, Les Moonves of CBS was very candid when he said Trump may not be good for America but he's very good for the company.

I think the desire to have him on and the unpreparedness of so many of the people interviewing him will stand for a long time as a serious black mark on the American press.

STELTER: I want to clarify one point about Moonves. He was talking about the advertising revenue for CBS. But that is an example of how a long, drawn out, dramatic campaign does help the bottom lines of these media companies.

So, you're really thinking that cable news when it covers Trump is like state TV, because I don't hear them complaining as much about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders covered at least partially live.

GREENFIELD: They're not covered with anything like the intensity of Trump because Trump is the mover and shaker. And I would make the same point after almost every debate with whose ever carrying it, whether it's CNN or FOX or whoever, the first person who's interviewed for long moments in Donald Trump and often interviewed by somebody who -- I'm going to be very blunt here -- doesn't have the resources to say, here are the three things you've said that are flatly false and that's --


STELTER: That is the challenge of live TV. It's like a VH1 pop up video for all candidate where you can pop up on the screen with corrections or clarifications. I'm dreaming (ph) here.

GREENFIELD: That to me when I've seen the interviews -- OK, fine.

My only point, I think this is the same standard you bring everybody -- Clinton, Sanders, Cruz, whoever. It's just that if "PolitiFact" is right among other things, about three quarters of what Trump said, this is not matters of opinion, this is just like, you know, no, two plus two does not equal five.

STELTER: I want to get Kayleigh's reaction, but I also want to talk about Megyn Kelly.

MCENANY: Brian --

STELTER: Kayleigh, go ahead. Briefly. I'm sorry. MCENANY: Yes, briefly, I like wise, though, Jeff, I think it needs to

run both ways. So, for instance, pundits seem to generalize sometimes, and they say things like Donald Trump wants to ban all Muslims, and things like Donald Trump won't disavow the KKK when, in fact, there are very important nuances that are overlooked. That he temporarily wants to place a ban on non-U.S. citizen Muslims to fix the problem and figure out how someone got into our country and killed 14 people. He did disavow the KKK many times before that interview and many times after.

So, I think it's important that everyone is fact-check, including pundits. I think that's very important here.

STELTER: Let me turn to Megyn Kelly and get your reaction to what's happened the past few days. Donald Trump calling for a boycott of Megyn Kelly's FOX News show, also using very harsh language here, calling her crazy, sick and overrated.

But this is how FOX is firing back. Look at the statement, a fierce statement, almost deems Trump unfit to be president. And when it read this statement, keep in mind, this is FOX News talking.

It says, quote, "This extreme obsession with her is beneath the dignity of presidential candidate who wants to occupy the highest office in the land. Megyn Kelly is an exemplary journalist and one of the leading anchors in America. We're extremely proud of her phenomenal work and continue to fully support her throughout every day of Trump's endless barrage of crude and sexist verbal assaults."

Now, FOX essentially called Donald Trump an abuser. I want to know what your advice is, Kayleigh, for Donald Trump because he very well could well be watching. We know how much cable news he watches.

MCENANY: He does watch a lot and my advice to him would be to move away from FOX and move way from Megyn Kelly and let's get back to the issues.

[11:10:04] You know, I understand FOX wanting to protect their journalist and Megyn Kelly is a great journalist, absolutely.

But Donald Trump really needs to move away from this because really, right now his competitor is Ted Cruz. It's not Megyn Kelly. It's FOX News. It's Ted Cruz.

So, it's time to move away from this. All of us supporters want to hear his revision and not so much his critique of Megyn.

ZURAWIK: Brian --

STELTER: David Zurawik, isn't FOX in a tough position here because after all, the other prime time hosts, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, are very friendly to Donald Trump?

ZURAWIK: Brian, absolutely. This is late coming by FOX. Back in August when he went after her just as hard and attacked her on Twitter, I defended her more than FOX did for God's sakes, you know? FOX did nothing.

Bill -- I went on Bill O'Reilly show and said, why don't you defend her the way you defended Juan Williams after NPR fired him?

They let her out there. I tell you what I think it was -- for all suppose to be so smart and such a great leader, I think Roger Ailes tried to cut it both ways. He had to put out a statement saying "we support Megyn for the questions she asked at the debate" because she's the future of the channel and she's the biggest star in cable TV.

But he didn't do it with any kind of vigor or any kind of attitude, and they didn't say you don't talk to one of our -- you don't do this to one of our anchors, and he could go on O'Reilly in the hour before her and say bad stuff about her and O'Reilly wouldn't shoot him down. It was outrageous.

STELTER: You say FOX did nothing. FOX would say they did some things.

ZURAWIK: Yes, they did.

STELTER: But this statement is the strongest statement I have seen yet.

ZURAWIK: But, Brian --

STELTER: Let me show you briefly what Kelly said to "More" magazine because it touches on O'Reilly. O'Reilly -- she said to "More" magazine, "I do wish that O'Reilly had defended me more in his interview. I would have defended him more."

I thought that was a very notable quote from Kelly.

I have to pause the conversation there. David, Kayleigh, thank you so much for being here. Jeff, please stick around.

MCENANY: Thanks, Brian.

We'll take a quick break and turn to a broader conversation about how much may be too much. Also this, in light of the Trump phenomenon, do reporters need to rethink how they do their jobs?

And at the end of the hour, I'll be doing a Facebook live chat. Ask me anything about this. Log on to and send your questions.

We'll be right back.


[11:15:49] STELTER: Welcome back.

Among worried Democrats, especially the Republicans, and some media critics, a narrative has taken hold. It says that the media, news outlet, especially television news outlets, are responsible for Donald Trump. This has reached a fever pitch this week, with websites saying the media is to blame for Trump's success.

What do you think? I have complicated feelings about this. When you look at the numbers, it's clear that Trump has received the most coverage.

This is data published by "The New York Times". It shows that when it comes to air time, the candidates purchase Trump, that means for ads, Trump is at the bottom of the list. That's on the left, spending about $10 million to date. But when it comes to earning free media, like news coverage, like this segment, he's far outpaced the rest of the Republican field. You can see it's almost off the chart. He's also outpaced Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side.

And yet, Trump is the biggest story in politics, arguably the biggest story since Barack Obama's rise in 2007 and 2008.

So, joining me now to continue the conversation, Amy Goodman, the co- host and executive producer of "Democracy Now", and back with me, political analyst Jeff Greenfield.

Amy, let me ask you first. We've heard people on this show before in the summer and the fall say, actually, Trump should have gotten more coverage early in his campaign because he's such a dominant force. What do you say to that?

AMY GOODMAN, CO-HOST & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, DEMOCRACY NOW: I mean, I just say, look at what's happening today. Let's look at Super Tuesday 3. You had major coverage here at CNN, at MSNBC and FOX, all the networks all through the night as the polls are closing. You see the concession speeches and the great victory speeches. You see Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Kasich.

You see Donald Trump, you're waiting. You're waiting here at CNN, and MSNBC. They said he's going to hold a news conference. Of course, it didn't end up being one.


GOODMAN: And that's it. Where was Bernie Sanders?

Well, in fact, Bernie Sanders was in Phoenix, Arizona, before thousands of people, and as the networks were waiting on Donald Trump and the pundits are weighing in, they don't even say that Bernie Sanders is about to speak. This was the moment that night --

STELTER: Is that because he was the biggest loser of the night?

GOODMAN: No, because they did not know that at the point. At that point, it looked like he could take Illinois and Missouri. And CNN was very good at stressing this. They said they didn't know Hillary Clinton came in early, afraid maybe the she might lose her own state, Illinois. So, everyone was waiting. This is when Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper saying, you know, we don't know, we don't know and he gives a speech. But they don't only -- you know, a few weeks ago, it was holding on to

Hillary Clinton's speech for an hour news conference of Donald Trump as he sold his stakes and his magazines and his water and everything else he had on the stand. This time, they didn't even record and show afterwards Bernie Sanders. He was completely absent.

STELTER: But to play devil's advocate with you, hasn't Clinton essentially clinched nomination, who's very likely to be the nominee and perhaps that's been the undercovered story for --

GOODMAN: What about John Kasich? I mean, he won one state, at all together. But every single -- I mean, that was the night Rubio pulled out. But at that point, they didn't know what would happen. Would it be a 3-2 split, so you just ice out this candidate?

But it's not only the networks. "Washington Post", March 6th-7th, they had 16 articles in a 24 hour period against Bernie Sanders. And the recent "New York Times" --

STELTER: Yes, I saw that --

GOODMAN: "The New York Times", a positive story recently about Bernie Sanders', you know, record against Congress.

STELTER: But all these candidates should get tough coverage, all the coverage.

GOODMAN: No, no, there was a positive story. They did a positive story. And in a very stealth way, it was edited ultimately to be a negative story. The public editor wrote a column about it and everything.

I think it's very important to understand the media manufactures consent. In this case, their manufacture, this as Noam Chomsky says, manufactures consent. We, right now, this is the anniversary of the Iraq war.

STELTER: What is the consent? Right, the 13th anniversary.

What is the consent that's being manufactured?

GOODMAN: I think this exposure for Trump is very frightening. Yes, there is now some critical coverage.

[11:20:01] But for the year 2015, as the snow bowl rolled and got larger and larger, he got 23 times the coverage of Bernie Sanders.

STELTER: Let me go to Jeff on this, because, Jeff, I would suggest to you, there's a controversy bias on the part of the press. Trump is controversial and unpredictable, and that's why he get so much more attention.

JEFF GREENFIELD, POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm going to pick the prerogative of making a slightly different one. And to me, this is one of the essential questions.

STELTER: Tell me.

GREENFIELD: As -- if I may -- as the media, some of it had gotten critical about Trump, it has had no effect on his support and one of the really central questions we're going to have to face is whether a chunk of the American electorate has been taught to distrust the media so long and so completely that even when the media zeroes on some of Trump's blatant falsehoods or the dangerous rhetoric, his supporters say, oh, that's coming from "The New York Times" or CNN or in some case even FOX, we don't believe it.

And the whole theory about what the press is supposed to do in a free society is to put spotlights on political people seeking power and we may be in a situation where a fairly large chunk of the United States' electorate is saying, we don't care what you say, we don't believe you. If Trump says, it's true.

And that's a real problem. I don't know how we deal with that.

STELTER: I do see that on Twitter feed from time to time, and not just among Trump supporters, but sometimes from Trump supporters. And that's actually what worries me so much about this Megyn Kelly spat. I'm not trying to take sides between Megyn Kelly and Donald Trump, but Trump doesn't seem to be able to watch Kelly's show without tweeting angrily about it.

I guess I want any presidential candidate to listen to criticism, right? Because we're all only as good as our sources of information, and if you can't listen to criticism, if you can't listen to the other side without getting frustrated and turn the TV off, it makes me wonder what kind of decision making powers he would have as president. It doesn't just apply to Trump. I think we see it on display with Trump when he repeats conspiracy theories that aren't true. He's taken sources of information that are dubious and then repeating that information.

I wanted to turn the topic to one other issue because David Brooks wrote something really striking in "The New York Times" this week. Let me put up on screen and get your reactions. He said, "We expected Trump to fizzle". He's talking about media elites. "We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it's a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I'm going to report accurately on this country."

Amy, do you think there's any truth to that? Is he overstating what's going on here?

GOODMAN: Trump actually, when it comes to the polls, they certainly overstate his support. He has a tiny fraction of support.


GOODMAN: But they're the people who are voting. They're the people who are voting.

And I think the opponents for everyone, including Trump, including the Democrats, Sanders, and Clinton, are the issue of people not voting overwhelmingly in these primaries. People have not come out to vote.

How do you inspire them? That's why Hillary Clinton has to be extremely careful if she in any way antagonizes and that means taking the stand that Bernie Sanders takes. It's absolutely critical that she hears what her supporters are saying and care about.

Interestingly, if Trump didn't have the horrific overlay of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, his stands on free trade, what's really corporate managed trade, his stands on issues of concern to people that, for example, the Iraq war, he goes resonate in the population. I think we have to understand them.


GOODMAN: Bernie Sanders is also very critical of this.

STELTER: That trade is a key part of Trump's campaign, yet, it's all about this controversy.

GOODMAN: And I think it shows -- that's very important. It shows that people are fed up of corporations getting the upper hand through legislation. And that's been Democrats and Republicans. That's what the establishment is that they don't like.

STELTER: Amy Goodman, Jeff Greenfield --

GREENFIELD: You know what?

STELTER: Jeff, go ahead. I'm sorry. Quick break but go ahead, please?

GREENFIELD: My point is that what Amy is saying is something like Trump could be a hero of the dispossessed, if only he were a completely different person.

GOODMAN: Which he isn't.

GREENFIELD: And I think there's something --

GOODMAN: He's a xenophobe. He's a racist. It is horrific to think about what he has come to represent, and the violence at these rallies must be reputed in every corner everywhere.

STELTER: On that note, Amy, Jeff, thank you very much. I appreciate you both being here.


STELTER: Up next, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, a classic case of red news/blue news.

And legendary court watcher Nina Totenberg here to dissect it, right after this.


[11:29:05] STELTER: Welcome back.

President Obama ignored Republican warning and made news this week by choosing Judge Merrick Garland to replace the former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia, the court's staunchest conservative, died last month.

Now, depending on which news outlet you were reading or listening to, you've heard different things about Garland. This is a classic case of red news/blue news, as seen here on these clips first from MSNBC and then from FOX News.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": As of right now, the public Senate doesn't plan on having a hearing on his nomination no matter what they like or do not like about him. And that is basically unprecedented.

ANDREA TANTAROS, FOX NEWS HOST: I believe that it's a political trap, Harris. He's going to capitalize on the division of the right and make himself look reasonable, and bipartisan, and the media will ride shotgun on the entire thing.


STELTER: There's lots of reason to believe that Garland is a moderate selection, meant to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.


Some left-leaning outlets bemoaned the choice, saying Obama should have picked someone more liberal. And conservative media took it a step further, crafting a narrative about Garland's judicial decisions, or lack thereof, on gun rights.

This first headline says, Merrick Garland has -- quote -- "very liberal view of gun rights." And the NRA came out with this: "Why We Oppose Merrick Garland's Supreme Court Nomination."

Let's try to sort this out with NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent, Nina Totenberg.

Thank you so much for being here.


STELTER: First to this issue about the Second Amendment. What is the truth about Garland's stand on the famous Heller case?

TOTENBERG: Well, you really can't tell. You can tell what his view was before Heller and then you have to wait and see what his view would be if he were confirmed to a Supreme Court seat after Heller.

STELTER: So, when conservative media outlets say that he's anti-gun, are they stretching the truth?

TOTENBERG: I think that perhaps that's stretching the truth.

But the point is that lower court judges -- and that's what he is -- are bound to follow what the Supreme Court says, and prior to Heller, the Supreme Court had basically said there is no individual right to own a gun. After Heller, there is an individual right to own a gun. And then the question is how, much of a right? I mean, how much can the state regulate it?

And you would have to ask him questions actually in a confirmation hearing.

STELTER: And that's the argument we have heard from White House officials this week, isn't it, that there should be hearings in order to ask these questions.

I want to step back a little bit before that point, though, because you were granted an interview with President Obama about his choice. Let me play this, I thought an interesting portion. Take a look.


TOTENBERG: By the way, when did you offer him the job?


TOTENBERG: Well, he's a very good actor because I had dinner with him Sunday night and he looked like -- he kept just the same. He wasn't going to get it.


STELTER: I thought that was fascinating. Tell me more about that dinner.

TOTENBERG: Well, it was a charity dinner for Martha's Table, which feeds the poor in Washington, D.C., and they have dinners all over Washington in private homes where chefs cook, and he was at the one I was at.

And so everybody was teasing him, me included, and any time -- if his phone rang, everybody said, oh, it's the president. And he was really very convinced at that point that he wasn't going to get it, or so it seemed. I have since been told the president was wrong, that he didn't actually offer him the spot until Monday.

So, perhaps Merrick really was on tenterhooks on Sunday night.

STELTER: We were talking earlier about the challenge of fact-checking interviews in real time, and I guess there's an example that the president was wrong.

Tell me about what you think of the past few days of news coverage of this choice, because you have been covering these elections for many years. Do you sense a pretty clear, predictable partisan divide in the coverage? Is it different than it's been in the past? Or is it pretty much the same? TOTENBERG: Well, the only thing, there's a -- you remember that

Senator Cornyn said they were going to make a pinata out of whoever the nominee is. And it's tough to make a pinata out of Merrick Garland.

He is the ultimate person that everybody -- he's beloved on his own court by the most conservative members of the court.

It's going to be hard to make him a pinata. They are staking out a position in principle that the people should have a role in this and therefore there should be no vote until after the election. This morning, Mitch McConnell ruled out a lame-duck session confirmation.

I think that that's -- you know, if the Democrats win and win convincingly, it's going to be very hard not to have a vote on him.

And, in fact, Republicans will probably prefer to have a vote on him, because the assumption would be that Hillary Clinton would name somebody more liberal.

STELTER: It's as if your beat has become a gambling beat, because they're all making these high-stakes bets about what happens in the fall.


STELTER: Nina, thank you so much for being here.

TOTENBERG: It's my pleasure.

STELTER: One more legal story of note this weekend actually, a damning verdict in Hulk Hogan's $100 million invasion of privacy suit against

On Friday night, a Florida jury awarded $115 million. That's a far worse outcome than anyone at Gawker expected. The site's argument is that a video clip of Hulk Hogan having sex is newsworthy because Hogan had bragged about his sex life for years and even talked about the sex tape in public.

The counterargument is that Hogan is a character and the man behind the wrestling mask, Terry Bollea, is entitled to privacy. Gawker's lawyers and executives always believed there was a real chance they would lose this first round in court and then they would win on appeal.

But the jury's judgment was far worse than anyone ever expected, two sources told me. Now, the jury might award even more money in punitive damages this week and then the appeals process begins.


So, we will stay on top of the story. CNN Money reporter Tom Kludt was in the courtroom for every minute of it. You can check out his stories at

Up next here, a Sunday morning exclusive, Jorge Ramos. Is Donald Trump backing away from his pledge to sit down with America's number one Spanish-speaking newsman?

And a little later, you will see -- he convinced me to try out Facebook Live. So, send in your questions,, and I'll see you on Facebook at the end of the hour.


STELTER: This week, Donald Trump declined to participate in a planned GOP debate on FOX News. It was going to happen tomorrow. Then John Kasich seconded him, and FOX canceled the debate.

Was Trump trying to dodge tough questions? I think Jorge Ramos thinks so. Ramos is the influential Univision newsman who has been a very vocal critic of Trump. He says he's speaking up for his viewers, many of them Spanish-speaking Hispanic viewers who are troubled by Trump's statements.

Now, about a month ago, Trump said he would sit down with Ramos for an interview, but so far, it hasn't been scheduled yet.


So, I asked Ramos about that. He's the author of a new book, "Take a Stand: Lessons from Rebels."


STELTER: Jorge, thanks for sitting down with me.

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION: Hey, great to be here.

STELTER: You received a lot of attention for going to a Donald Trump press conference many months ago. It's recounted in your new book.

I'm curious, when your title is "Take a Stand," what sort of stand do you think the press should take when it comes to coverage of Donald Trump?

RAMOS: As a journalist, we have to cover the basics. If it's red, we say it's red. If it's five people who died, we say five people.

And then, after the basic, in certain locations, you have to take a stand. And when it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public life, dictatorships, or human rights, I think we have to take a stand.

So, when we have a candidate who is promoting hatred and division, who says that Mexican immigrants -- and I'm a Mexican immigrant -- who says that Mexican immigrants are rapists or criminals or drug traffickers, I think we have to take a stand. And that's precisely what I did.

STELTER: With Trump, do you think that makes it difficult or impossible to get an interview with him?

RAMOS: I don't know. We don't know exactly how Donald Trump is going to react.

STELTER: Because, about a month ago, he settled a lawsuit that he had against Univision. And he said he was ready to talk to you. Has anything come of that?

RAMOS: Nothing has -- nothing has changed. And I'm still waiting. If he wants to have an interview with me, I'm ready.

And I hope that he is listening to his interview, because he, as you said -- and you put that out in one of your tweets -- that finally he had accepted that we can have a conversation. And I want to have that conversation. We need to have that conversation, because most of the things that he's been saying about Latinos and the -- his support from the Latino vote is wrong. I mean, he has no support from the...


STELTER: You mean when he says that he has a lot of support among Hispanics, the polls shows that he doesn't.

RAMOS: He doesn't have it.

Eighty-one percent of Latinos, according to a Univision and "Washington Post" poll, say that they have a negative opinion of Donald Trump. And if he were to run against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, he would only get 16 percent of the Hispanic vote. With that, he cannot win.

To put it in perspective, Romney got 27 percent of the Latino vote and lost the election. McCain got 31 percent and lost the election. So, all the things that he's been saying about Latinos, he's wrong. And I would love to be able to talk to him directly and confront him, because I think that's part of our role.

STELTER: So you have put in your interview requests repeatedly, and just haven't heard back or they have so?


RAMOS: Repeatedly.

Sometimes, some of his representatives, they answer. Sometimes, they don't. But we're ready. We're in communication with them. But they just haven't answered yet.

STELTER: Given what you're saying, can you be fair with Donald Trump in an interview? Can your coverage be fair?

RAMOS: I think so.

I cannot be accused of not asking tough questions on Democrats. We had a debate a few days ago. And I think we put pretty good, strong questions against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. I have been tough on Donald Trump. And I think I can be on anyone.

STELTER: So, you're saying you're tough across the board.

RAMOS: Well, that's what I try to do.

STELTER: But your critics have said, because your daughter works for the Hillary Clinton campaign, that you have a conflict of interests. Why do you think that you don't have a conflict of interests that should require you to recuse yourself from covering Clinton?

RAMOS: Because, right from the beginning, I disclosed that my daughter Paola is working for Hillary Clinton.

I think it's fantastic that young people, including Paola, are getting involved in politics. But, at the same time, that's her choice, not mine. I have talked twice to Hillary Clinton, and on both occasions, right before the interview, right before the debate, right before the forum, I said, this is what's happening. I'm disclosing it again.

And nobody has complained about it.

STELTER: Some commentators, like Jamelle Bouie at Slate, have suggested that Donald Trump's rise is white America's reaction to a black president and to an increasingly majority-minority country, including Hispanics in the country.

Do you subscribe to that idea, that there's a racial component to Trump's success?

RAMOS: What I know is that he has a lot of support from white voters. That's what we know.

And what we know is that minorities, because of the things that he has said, are not supporting Donald Trump. The fact is that the trend right now, if we were talking about huge trends, is that this country is becoming a multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial country in ways in which no one even imagined.

Again, in 2055, the white non-Hispanic population will become a minority. So, I do think that Donald Trump has a nostalgic view of the United States. I think...

STELTER: But does it go deeper than that? Should the press take a stand and say that Trump and what he represents, that there's an element of racism to his campaign?

RAMOS: I don't know what's in his heart, but I do know what's coming out of his mouth.

And then, when he -- when he says that Mexican immigrants are rapists or criminals or drug traffickers, I think we have to take a stand and we have to say, Mr. Trump, Senor Trump, that is not true.

STELTER: Some viewers of my program e-mail me and say, people should just report the news. Journalists should just say what is going on and let people decide. [11:45:02]

Why is that not enough?

RAMOS: The most important social responsibility that we have as journalists is to confront those who are in power. That's why we're here.

And we have to cover the basics. And that's reporting exactly what we see. And that's fine. But then the second level of journalism, it is to prevent the abuse of those who are in power. That's our power. That's our responsibility. And, sometimes, I -- if you abdicate that responsibility, you're not being a true reporter.

That's taking a stand.


STELTER: Now, about that possible Trump interview, I asked the campaign for comments. They are besieged by so many interview requests.

But they say -- quote -- "Trump looks forward to sitting down with Ramos in the future."

Now, up next, a debate focus group like you have never seen before. I flew out to Chicago to see how viewers react to candidates on a neurological level. See which contender lights up the brain most next.



STELTER: Donald Trump is in our heads, and I'm not saying that figuratively. There's science to back up how he's penetrated our collective minds.

And during CNN's most recent GOP debate, we convened a special kind of focus group, an EEG study, with Republicans, Democrats, and independents. A neuroscience Ph.D. candidate helped us measure your brain on Trump.


SAM BARNETT, CEO, SBB RESEARCH GROUP: There are small little metal disks that are going to be directly touching your scalp. It's going to be sampling electrical activity.

STELTER (voice-over): This is your brain on presidential debates.

Sam Barnett is measuring brain activity as viewers watch the most popular show of the season. The 26-year-old is a hedge fund CEO by day, and a Ph.D. student by night.

BARNETT: A whole field of research that's really trying to make science fiction a reality.

STELTER: So, he's studying neuroscience.

(on camera): We're in here watching the debate. And what are you trying to measure from people's brains?

BARNETT: We're trying to get a sense of where their waves are going to try to see what content is actually driving people to feel similarly about certain topics.

STELTER (voice-over): In a room filled with equal number of Republicans, Democrats and independents, Barnett starts to study the data.

BARNETT: So, the introductions were pretty mild overall.

STELTER: He quickly notices one thing everybody's brain seems to agree on: Donald Trump.

(on camera): When Trump's on the screen, I see this data shoot up. What does that mean about Trump?

BARNETT: You can see, he's at 35.9, when these others candidates are in the 20s.

STELTER (voice-over): Seeing Trump's face, hearing Trump's voice lights up the brain.

BARNETT: The fact that you can make everyone feel, at least on a neural kind of fundamental basis, the same way is very interesting, because they might subjectively or consciously disagree with it, but something in their brain is ticking in the same way when that's happening.

STELTER: Maybe it's his unique television skills, perfected during a decade on "The Apprentice."

(on camera): What you're showing here is that whether you're a Democrat or a Republican watching the debate, when Trump is on the screen, suddenly, your eyes are wide open, you're paying more attention.


So, everyone in the room is sharing some kind of neural bond. Everyone is kind of feeling the same kind of attention, the same kind of underlying passion at least.

STELTER (voice-over): Afterward, Barnett's analysis found that Trump led engagement among Democrats, Republicans and independents, as well as the women in our focus group. He trailed Marco Rubio among men, but only slightly.

And while Trump might not want to be compared to a four-legged animal, Barnett says there's no denying his appeal.

(on camera): Are there other things you would compare this sort of heightened engagement to?

BARNETT: Dogs have been known for a long time in advertising as this very popular kind of figure to include. And people of all difficult walks of life like seeing a dog in a commercial. It's cute and engaging and interesting, and maybe people are feeling similarly about Donald Trump.


STELTER: Trump was more engaging talking about immigration than, say, education.

BARNETT: This is one of the questions that Trump didn't perform as strong on. But we see this being a much stronger answer for John Kasich.

STELTER: But Trump was best overall at getting this focus group to really focus on his words. No wonder ratings rise when he's speaking on the air.

Barnett uses this method to study advertising, and he's applying it to his hedge fund investments as well. In the not-too-distance future, he expects campaigns to be strapping these contraptions onto people's heads to learn more about their neural reactions.

BARNETT: I would imagine that people would learn from this, and this would continue to shape more affecting messaging in the future.


STELTER: Yes, for advertising, for campaigns, and other uses.

We don't have comparable data for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders from that study, so maybe Clinton or Sanders are more engaging than Trump, but maybe we will find that out in the months to come.

Up next here: how anchors like me are avoiding going the way of dinosaurs.



STELTER: Before we go this morning, a note about the future.

A new form of television is being born on your phone. Apps like Periscope and Facebook Live and YouNow let you fire of a live video stream and show your friends and strangers what is happening around you.

Now, at this month's South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Facebook was really focused on getting celebrities and news outlets to go live. And I even saw it on the beach yesterday in Santa Monica, California. A woman was Periscoping surfers, showing her friends showing where he was. Now, keep in mind, this kind of technology benefits Facebook, it

benefits Periscope and other companies, because it creates more content and it gets people to spend more time on their Web sites.

But I think it also benefits viewers, because it really is a new form of TV, a more interactive form. Univision and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos sold me on it when he sat down earlier this week. He says he's been reaching millions of people via Facebook Live and he has to keep experimenting, because it's too risky to expect people to tune in to a scheduled show like this.


RAMOS: What I have been asking from the audience is going to put me to extinction, because I have been asking the audience to watch me every single day at 6:30. If they tune in at 6:29, they don't see me. If they tune in at 7:01, they don't see me. That's to be a dinosaur on TV.


STELTER: So, try it with me on your small screen. Go on to And I'll be chatting you, answering your questions in about two minutes.