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Is Trump Transforming?; Shrinking Press Access to Hillary Clinton; Why did ABC Blindside Kelly Ripa?; Behind the Scenes of the Reporting of Prince's Death; AP Study: Only 6 Percent Have "A Lot" of Faith in Media. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired April 24, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[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.
Let's take you live to Germany right now. These are live pictures from Hanover where President Obama is about to hold a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. You can see them taking the podiums now.
This is one of the president's most important trips in his final year in office. We are going to monitor this event and bring you any news that comes out of it this hour.
But first, a big, big week in politics and in pop culture. As the general election looks closer and closer, are the two front runners limiting interviews and clamping down on media access? We're going to examine that.
Plus, the consequences of Kelly Ripa's sick-out. This is a big story. Could her bosses at ABC have prevented it with a simple dose of TLC? And has the coverage of her protest been sexist?
And later this hour, remembering an icon. Prince and how he never stopped trying to fight against an evolving entertainment business and control it on his own terms.
Let's begin with Donald Trump, or as he's now being called "Disciplined Donald". All these descriptions of Trump the entertainer are looking dated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: He's completely uneducated about any part of the world.
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I just think this is just an extension of his reality show "The Apprentice." This is just theater.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We are not electing an entertainer in chief.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a classic reality TV character.
CARLY FIORINA (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's an entertainer. It's not what a leader does.
SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: But at the end of the day, he's still a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) clown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Now that, from Seth Meyers, was about a month old. Nowadays, the buzz is all about a tone down Trump.
Here's what Trump's newly hired senior adviser Paul Manafort was recorded saying to the hundred members of the RNC.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: As we present him in formal settings as opposed to the settings that are on the campaign trail, but you'll start to see more depth to the person, the real person. You'll see him in a different way. That's how we deal with negatives that relate to the personality.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
STELTER: I've got to say something about this, what's amazing is Trump talking to candidly about it. In TV and in theater, they call this breaking the fourth wall.
You, the audience, you're the fourth wall. The screen is the fourth wall. He's tearing it down. He's talking openly to the audience about his show, acknowledging that parts of it, are a performance and he has to tweak his act for different audience audiences.
Watch this, see what I mean.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I sort of don't like toning it down. I'm going to talk about that in a second because it's interesting. Isn't it nice that I'm not one of these teleprompter guys? Will you come in?
Well, first of all, if I was, I'd have an audience of about three people here in the front. This is the biggest crowd in the history of this school.
When I'm in a room talking -- when I'm out here talking, I've got to be different, right? I mean, I can say basically the same thing.
So, Paul said, no, he's different when he's in a room. Then he goes out and speaks, it's different. If he gives policy, that's different. You know, we all have -- we're smart people. You act differently.
(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: So to put this in media terms, if we call what's going on "The Trump Show", it's been an unscripted reality show that's been airing ever since June, what happens when it turns into a scripted drama? Or if you oppose Trump, you might call it a scripted comedy. How should journalists approach it and report on it? And how will Trump supporters and the partisan press react?
Joining me now with expert analysis, Mollie Hemingway, a senior editor at "The Federalist", Ana Marie Cox, senior political correspondent for MTV News, and Carl Bernstein, a CNN political commentator and author of "A Woman In-Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton".
Thank you, all, for being here.
Carl, let me get your take on this first. Do you believe it? Do you believe when we hear from Trump advisers that he's going to be toning down his rhetoric?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Look, this is all an act. This is Trump being Trump. The idea right after his victory in New York, we've started saying -- all the analysts on television were saying, oh, this is a new presidential Trump.
This is nonsense. This is part of the persona of Trump, which is to make monkeys of the media, stay away from the real issues, and go deep and let us all talk about him at the dinner table night after night after night.
Media has been central to Donald Trump's ascendance in the business world, making monkeys of the press. He continues to do it, and particularly when we talk about the new Trump the same way we talk about a new Nixon.
STELTER: Mollie, are we all -- as Carl said -- monkeys?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, THE FEDERALIST: Well, I wanted to first off point out that there are other candidates who are broken the wall. They just do a really bad job with it. I think --
STELTER: Hmm, like who?
HEMINGWAY: President George H.W. Bush, remember, he had that message, "I care". That was supposed to be the overarching message, but he accidently said it while he was speaking.
[11:05:01] Trump does pull it off, and it is interesting how much he is able to control the media. So many people are willing to carry this message that this 68-year-old man, who's been remarkably consistent throughout his entire public life, even if that consistency is quite volatile, is suddenly changing or evolving.
I think that the media should require a little bit of substantiation for that claim. His issues that he actually cares about trade and immigration, he's been very consistent on. The ones he doesn't care about, social policies, he still doesn't want to talk about them. He's still insulting Reince Priebus and calling him a thief and coming
up with these schoolyard taunts for his opponents and threatening delegates. So, I don't think there is much change.
STELTER: Ana, what do you think? Do you agree with Mollie and Carl?
ANA MARIE COX, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, MTV NEWS: I do. I think maybe it's a bit of a boring panel here.
STELTER: No, it's good for us to be skeptical.
STELTER: That's the point I wanted to make. When we hear Paul Manafort say he's going to change his ways, I think we've got to apply a lot of skepticism to this.
COX: I think then it's a very good panel, because what I think is happening here is Donald Trump has given us a plot point to discuss in this discussion about whether or not he's going to be able to change. The reality show has gotten a little bit boring. He keeps winning, being kind of this jerk.
So, the new question is, can he stop being a jerk? And we might get a montage of sorts, maybe with, you know, a mirror and some music so that he can go through his different outfits and maybe a training regimen. And then we see whether he succeeds or not. I mean, it's a classic reality show trope, right? I think --
STELTER: Gosh, that's so interesting what you said about him giving us a plot line. He's giving us another plot line. And, frankly, I have seen some fatigue when I watch TV, when I read the papers. There's a little campaign fatigue. Maybe Trump is aware of that.
COX: Oh, I think he is. I think he is -- we keep saying it.
BERNSTEIN: Can I make a suggestion?
STELTER: Carl, go ahead.
COX: Go ahead.
BERNSTEIN: I want to make a suggestion that we've been talking about the wrong thing for a long time in this election in terms of media. And that is it's time to do some real reporting, particularly in cable news, particularly the network news, some real investigative reporting on these candidates, especially Trump, especially Hillary Clinton, especially Bernie Sanders.
Why has there not been a single, to my knowledge, investigative biography on any network of any of these candidates to date? Why do we continue to let the candidates make our agenda instead of making our own reportorial agenda? It doesn't make sense to me.
COX: Can I --
BERNSTEIN: We've got great resources. We're not using them.
STELTER: Ana, go ahead.
BERNSTEIN: Where's the investigative biography of Hillary Clinton?
COX: Well, I -- I was going to say I think there are outlets that are doing some pretty good work on Trump. I think "Businessweek" had a really good piece out.
BERNSTEIN: I'm asking about television.
COX: Well, there are other mediums out there. We can talk about it on TV right now, like I'm doing, which is to say there's a good piece about Trump vodka and what a failure it was. "Fortune" did a long investigative piece on a lot of different aspects of Trump business enterprises.
You know, raking up things like the fact that he's really willing to accumulate a lot of bad debt very recklessly. He also values his own name literally above all else.
The information is out there. I think we should talk about it here. I agree. I think it would be great if cable television did more of that kind of stuff. But I just wanted to make sure we bring it up here.
COX: I also want to point out that the sort of -- talking about his personality, talking about how offensive Trump is, to me, isn't as important as talking about how some of his policies that he about are actually fantastical. I mean, they're surrealist.
You can't deport 11 million people. The wall is too expensive to build. You can't institute a mercantilist policy.
Like some of the problems here with Trump is he's allowed -- we jump on the racist and bigoted things he says and somehow kind of let him get away with talking about stuff that's just not possible.
STELTER: I give an example of that, Ana, from this week an example. I believe a few weeks ago he talked about getting rid of the national debt in eight years. More recently in an interview this week, he suggested he would not do that. Maybe over ten years, he would start to make a dent.
So there's a clear flip-flop there. We could use the techniques of television, as Jon Stewart used to do on "The Daily Show" to show that kind of flip-flop. I think that's why Jon Oliver has broken through so much recently because he uses his 20-minute essays to make an investigative journalism point. Let me ask about one other type of media, right? We're talking about
investigative journalism here. Let's talk about the clearly partisan media. People like Sean Hannity who are rooting for a Republican win.
There's been a lot of controversy about him being too pro-Trump. He's bristled at this, but Ted Cruz has criticized him for it. I wonder, Mollie, what your thought on this about, whether a toned down Trump would not be warmly received by people like Hannity or Ann Coulter or others in the conservative media ecosystem who are rooting for a provocative Trump?
HEMINGWAY: I think we think about conservative media and how they're helping out Trump and how they're conveying misinformation in his defense. I personally reported debunking a story that was carried on "The Drudge Report" about delegate disenfranchisement. That was something Sean Hannity carried.
But we're not focusing on how they're biasing stories that help liberal candidates as well.
[11:10:02] And I think of last week, Ted Cruz was on a town hall on MSNBC. He was talking about those Planned Parenthood videos, which are very controversial. And the moderator interjected and said that those included -- that they were made up and they included re- enactments. That's flatly not true. That's also misinformation that biases.
This week, I covered a hearing on the Hill that totally vindicated those videos, showing that there's a vibrant market in fetal sales. I don't think we see the media covering stories like that. We're so focused on how the media are helping out -- how conservative media are helping out Trump and the like, but we don't think about how mainstream media that has an obligation and presents itself as objective is helping out Hillary Clinton and the causes that are so near and dear to her.
STELTER: Carl, do you agree the media helping out Hillary Clinton at this point in the race?
BERNSTEIN: No, I think the candidates who have been helped by the media, particularly by cable news, is Donald Trump in terms of the amount of free air time, his rallies particularly, have been given. I think it's been egregious. It's getting a little better now, but we need to be cutting more to Trump rallies, from Trump rallies, to Hillary rallies, to Bernie rallies if we're really going to really do this.
But I keep coming back to we need to be presenting who these candidates are on our air beyond these talking head discussions of which I'm often a part. We need some framed pieces that give real depth to the issues raised by the candidate, to their records.
Where is a five-part series on why is Hillary distrusted and is it justified? Where is a five-part series on Donald Trump and his business record? We have the resources to do that, and we on cable and the network
news, it's where people are going. We need to change our agenda a bit, particularly as we get into the general election. We're late getting out of the gate on this. But it's time we do it. And that we recognize the responsibility to do it.
STELTER: So, you're saying go to the tape. Use the videotape. Molly, Ana, Carl, thank you all for being here.
BERNSTEIN: Look, we can keep doing the talking heads, but let's do some more.
STELTER: I'll take a break here.
BERNSTEIN: Let's do some reporting --
STELTER: But I appreciate you all being here. Thank you very much.
COX: Thank you.
STELTER: Up next here, something you should know about how Trump, Hillary Clinton, all the other candidates restrict our access. You see this picture here of the famous rope line from last year. So, who's the most accessible, and who's the worst?
A top news executive will join me for a must-see interview right after the break.
[11:16:02] STELTER: Welcome back.
Hillary Clinton's commanding victory in the New York primary this week had commentators starting, just starting, to talk about Bernie Sanders in the past tense. So, we'll see what this Tuesday's primaries bring. I think we'll see Clinton campaign maybe start to talk that way as well after Tuesday.
But look at this: already, "The Washington Post's" Chris Cillizza saying her nomination was all by assured. He started looking ahead toward the veep stakes.
And this morning's "New York Times" takes it a step further. Check it out on page one, the Clinton campaign begins considering running mates.
Let me take you behind the scenes a little bit. Clinton -- people close to Clinton clearly provided information for that story, unanimously, of course, not the campaign necessarily, but people that support her that want to see that story published. As David Axelrod said on Twitter, the aides and supporters are sending a message to Sanders, it's over.
Now, whether it is or not, my next guest says Clinton is already acting like she's president, in a way that makes trouble for reporters. Now, Brian Carovillano is the vice president for U.S. News at "The
Associated Press" and he joins me now.
Thanks for being here.
BRIAN CAROVILLANO, VICE PRESIDENT FOR U.S. NEWS, AP: Yes, happy to be here. Thanks for having me, Brian.
STELTER: We spoke on a panel together this week. You said that Clinton access is actually very, very difficult. The reporters are not able to ask questions very often to her.
Tell me how she's already acting like a president in that regard.
CAROVILLANO: It was my colleague Julie Pace, who's our White House correspondent, who had the line, that -- you know, it's as though she's already in the presidential bubble. She's conducting her campaign the way that a president conducts business. And the way the presidents have conducted business over the past three administrations from a media perspective in terms of access for journalists has gotten progressively worse.
STELTER: Worse and worse and worse with each administration. Carl Bernstein and others had said.
CAROVILLANO: Yes, that's absolutely true. So we're looking, you know, for clues from the candidates about what the next administration is going to be like. And by any objective measure, the clues are not great. Clinton travels on her own plane. The reporters travel on a separate plane. They're often spending the night in different cities.
You know, fundraisers are completely closed to the media, which is a departure even from how President Obama has conducted business. Usually, reporters are allowed to at least listen to his remarks before they're ushered out of the room. For Hillary Clinton, that's not been the case.
But I certainly don't want to single out the Clinton campaign -- I would say this has kind of been the case across the board for all of the candidates.
STELTER: What about Donald Trump? He seems accessible, does lots of TV interviews. This is weirdly his third Sunday where he's not doing a Sunday morning show. But he's still doing lots of TV interviews is, including the "Today" show this week.
CAROVILLANO: Yes. I mean, you know, for those who hosts Sunday morning talk shows, Hannity, he's very accessible. For the reporters who cover him day in and day out, who are the people who know the campaign, know the issues the best, they have very little access to him at all.
And something that exists in the Trump campaign that isn't the case with Clinton, is there's almost a hostility toward the press.
STELTER: Right. CAROVILLANO: The reporters are kept in a pen, usually pretty far from the candidates.
STELTER: A literal pen. We should explain it to viewers --
CAROVILLANO: Yes, an actual --
STELTER: That means a physical pen that they're not supposed to leave.
CAROVILLANO: Often with police barricades around it. At some point during a lot of rallies, you know, Trump kind of animates the crowds angered by the media calling them scum or dishonest people. And for the reporters who are covering that, who are trapped in the pen, that can actually feel like a fairly hostile environment.
So, it's a different story with Trump, but it's not necessarily any better.
STELTER: So it's a different story with Clinton.
With Clinton, I spoke to a campaign spokesman this morning. He said, we grant far greater access than people realize. We've given 100 interviews and appearances since January.
But some of those were on entertainment shows like "Ellen", and some of those were brief conversations with reporters. They say they're always looking for ways to improve. So, what would we say to the Clinton campaign about ways to improve access?
CAROVILLANO: Well, I think what we're lacking are those kind of spontaneous moments that in past campaigns have been so illuminating. To be able to have a conversation with a candidate on the plane going from one campaign to another, that doesn't exist anymore.
STELTER: Really? Doesn't exist?
CAROVILLANO: Very rarely. Those interviews that they're talking about, those have been under very controlled circumstances and not necessarily with the traveling press that are covering the candidate. And gain, those are the people who know the issues the best, who are there day in and day out, who are talking to the same voters that the campaign is, but they've had very little access to the candidate over the course of this campaign.
[11:20:01] STELTER: So, bottom line here is the administration currently in the White House is not nearly as transparent as journalists would like, and you see signs it could get worse.
STELTER: I wanted to ask you before you, I've got to embarrass you a little and congratulate you for winning a Pulitzer Prize this week. The entire team at "The Associated Press" winning the Public Service Gold Medal, that's the most coveted price of all for an investigation into Southeast Asia's fishing industry -- actually, slavery there. This led to the release of more than 2,000 people.
So, what did this win mean for you personally as an editor of 'The A.P."?
CAROVILLANO: Well, thanks for saying that. I accept the congratulations on behalf of the whole "A.P." The reporters who worked on this project, I have worked very close with them over the years.
I have such deep respect. They're so committed. They do what we do for all of the best possible reasons. And so, it was this really magical moment.
Three of the four were in New York on Monday when it was announced. There were hundreds of people in the room. It's just so meaningful to the whole "A.P." because public service is the "A.P.'s" reason for being. "The A.P." has won 52 Pulitzer Prizes. This is the first one for public service.
STELTER: The first public service.
CAROVILLANO: It was very, very meaningful. The work these journalists did, you know, all of us who do this for a living, are awe struck that in 2016, 2,000 slaves can be freed by journalism. I just think that's an amazing facts.
STELTER: Nice to highlight the best of our industry because we oftentimes critique the worst.
Brian, great to see you. Thanks for being here.
CAROVILLANO: Yes, thanks for having me.
STELTER: And one more note about access. Reporters Without Borders just released this an annual survey ranking treatment of members of the press. You can see a lot of red and black on that map, bad news for journalists.
Now, the United States ranked 41 this year. That's an improvement from 49 last year. But a lot of countries, including Canada, way above us on that list.
This survey is reminder that journalist jobs are getting tougher all the time. The group cited a climate of fear and paranoia about reporting among too many world leaders.
Up next here on RELIABLE SOURCES, we all know the phrase "follow the money". We're going to follow it to Pennsylvania and Maryland, where the candidates are waging a war for delegates on the TV air waves. Top reporters in Maryland and Pennsylvania join me, next.
[11:26:06] STELTER: This Tuesday could be another huge Tuesday for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They have double-digit leads in a majority of the five states where voters will cast their votes. Now, while both Clinton and Trump are projected to win big, it doesn't
mean it's a done deal. I want to explore how the national media is covering these contests versus the local media in these states.
I'm joined now by reporters, columnists from two of Tuesday's two primary states. Salena Zito, reporter for "The Pittsburgh Tribune Review" paper, and David Zurawik, media critic for "The Baltimore Sun" newspaper.
Thank you, both, for being here.
Salena, I want to ask you first about Pennsylvania. You sometimes call it Pennsyl-tucky. Tell me how it's different locally versus nationally in the coverage.
SALENA ZITO, POLITICAL REPORTER, TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Well, the voters have had a pretty good understanding since January when we first reported that the Republican primary process is decided basically by the delegates that you pick. Of the 71 delegates that go to Cleveland in June, 54 of them are unbound on the first ballot, meaning they could go for whoever they want to.
So, people have to understand who each delegate supports as they go into the voting booth. They can vote for up to three of them. The majority of them in the state our newspaper has called -- all 162 of them -- the majority of the ones running in the state have said that they will go whichever way their congressional district goes. Although, I will caution you, the real fight to win those delegates over begins on Wednesday after the primary is over.
STELTER: This makes the coverage a lot more complicated, doesn't it, because of this system in Pennsylvania.
STELTER: I was in Philly yesterday watching local TV. I heard a lot of Trump ads. I heard the "Make America Great" slogan a lot.
And I wonder, David, for you, as a Marylander, are you seeing a lot of political ads as well? I had a viewer on Twitter just now tell me they're seeing lots of local ads in Maryland, but no national, presidential ads. What about you?
BRIAN ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Yes, Brian, we do have some presidential ads. For example, Friday afternoon, Our Principles, a super PAC, dumped -- I was able to confirm -- $200,000, probably about a quarter of a million dollars on the anti-Trump ad with women reading words of women that Trump has said.
That was a big buy at the end of Friday. The station manager I talked to was kind of happy to be cashing that check, I think. But --
STELTER: I was going to say, that's a good reminder that local stations and markets like Baltimore that probably weren't expecting a lot of money from candidates are making a lot of money off this primary. ZURAWIK: Well, they weren't expecting a lot of presidential money.
In fact, we almost never got it because we were so late in the process and because relatively speaking so few delegates. We've had Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton ads running.
The big money in this, we have a mayor's race, Brian, that's really important. It comes literally the day -- on the 25th and the 27th of April last year, as you know, we had riots in Baltimore. On the 26th, we vote for a new mayor. This is a huge election for us. Thirteen candidates, 6 of them have been on television, some of them -- yes, one candidate spent over a million dollars on local advertising.
STELTER: And you made an interesting point to me earlier. You said old-fashioned flyers, attack ads printed out are having an effect. We talk about social media a lot, but old fashioned attacks.
ZURAWIK: Yes, and that's fascinating because all the talk about digital democracy, social media, how it's going to improve democracy, what the story is in Baltimore especially is money and TV and attack ads. In this final week, attack flyers. They're cheaper. You can do one for $15,000.
STELTER: Right. Now --
ZURAWIK: You can say stuff you wouldn't say on television. You can sort of go under the wire. We've been all over them. It's really nasty stuff. Brian, what's disheartening about it is in this crucial election where we have to imagine a better future for Baltimore, our debate now, our civic conversation about the mayor's race is about attack ads, super PAC money and who's a bigger crook.
where we have to imagine a better future for Baltimore, our debate now, our civic conversation about the mayor's race is about attack ads, super PAC money, and who's a bigger crook than the other crook. And that's so disappointing.
Meanwhile, we have a candidate like DeRay McKesson from Black Lives Matter, who was in Ferguson, who was in Baltimore. He's marginalized in this debate.
And, by the way, he raised all his money on Crowdpac, $255,000 I think it was. He did all the right stuff in terms of disclosure that we say we want, and he's marginalized.
STELTER: Trump not the only one rewriting the rules of politics.
Quickly, I have to go in a moment, Salena, but is there anything like that on the local level in Pennsylvania?
ZITO: No, most of the ads in Pennsylvania are national ads. STELTER: National.
ZITO: We don't have any big races going on in the state outside of attorney general.
But the big focus in Pennsylvania right now are the presidential elections. And Ted Cruz and John Kasich, I both interviewed with this week. They have been sitting down and trying to win those delegates over.
STELTER: Yes, we were talking about access in the last block. Sometimes, national access is limited, but local access to candidates does get better in these moments.
Salena, David, thank you both for being here.
STELTER: I'm sorry I'm out of time.
A reminder here, of course, Tuesday night -- cable news viewership keeps spiking on these primary nights, now well into the spring. And so the coverage here will start Tuesday afternoon on CNN.
Up next here: my fresh reporting on Kelly Ripa's very public protest against ABC, a sick-out that has the whole TV biz talking. Is this a case of talent mismanagement?
Plus, the pop music genius of Prince, innovative in so many ways, yet hesitant to some of the innovations that have changed the way most of us now listen to music. We are going to explore that in detail coming up.
STELTER: And welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
Everybody in the TV world is buzzing about Kelly Ripa. And it's because of what she didn't do. She skipped work this week in an act of protest.
She was furious with her ABC bosses for moving co-host Michael Strahan off her talk show and, more importantly, for keeping her in the dark about it. Now, Strahan is moving over to "GMA." Ratings for the morning show have sagged, and those ABC bosses I mentioned believe that the former Super Bowl champion will help the show regain lost ground.
And it makes a lot of sense, but no one told Ripa until 30 minutes before it leaked. So, she felt profoundly disrespected. My sources say she was beyond angry.
Now, we found out this weekend she is coming back to the show on Tuesday. So, now everyone is curious about what she will say about this dispute.
Now, you might just say this is a squabble between a bunch of multimillionaires, but you also might view it this way, as a case of another female television star being mismanaged by mostly male executives.
Think about Barbara Walters, or Deborah Norville on "The Today Show," or Ann Curry more recently on "The Today Show." All those names come into mind.
Now, in this case, Ripa's complaints are about ABC chief Ben Sherwood on the left and the ultimate boss, Disney CEO Bob Iger, on the right.
On one the days she skipped work, she carried out -- she carried a bag while leaving her home. And look at the book she's carrying, knowing the photographers were waiting outside. The cover of the book is "David and Goliath."
Not even subtle, right? Pretty smart P.R. move by whoever orchestrated that.
Now, joining me to break down what is really going on here is Janice Min, the chief creative officer at "The Hollywood Reporter" and Billboard Media Group.
Janice, thanks for being here. Great to see you.
JANICE MIN, CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER"-BILLBOARD MEDIA GROUP: Thanks for having me.
STELTER: Do ABC executives now accept they mishandled this?
MIN: We have learned that they know this was bungled. This was completely bungled.
And you know how Disney loves clean, smooth transitions. This is basically the worst possible outcome that could have ever happened. What we have learned is that they let Strahan drive a lot of the decision on how this would be communicated. There were concerns it would leak in advance of the announcement, through possibly Kelly Ripa and her camp, because they wouldn't have been happy.
So, they let Strahan be the one. It was decided Strahan would be the one to tell Kelly Ripa. But then news leaked out early that he didn't tell her -- he didn't tell her certainly with enough time that she considered respectful. And now we see what happened.
STELTER: Now, I wonder if you think there's a gender dynamic at play here. I sure think there is.
And I think some of the coverage has sounded almost sexist, the way she's been described as being crazy about this.
STELTER: Now, listen, maybe she was very, very angry, but would she have been covered this way if she were a man? And, frankly, would she have been treated this way by ABC if she were a man?
MIN: I don't believe this would have happened if she were a man.
This is a woman who is paid -- it's reported she's paid $20 million a year. She's a valuable, valuable asset. And some might say, well, she gets paid $20 million a year, so go cry in a pile of money.
MIN: But it is incredibly disrespectful.
You have seen this happen time and again with females, that they aren't going to be able to handle the bad news, they will freak out, that they don't need to be part of the decision-making. It was -- it would maybe read a little differently if one of the executives in charge of this whole process was a female.
But it looks like it was men playing chess, and she was left out of the game.
STELTER: One of the men, Ben Sherwood, the head of the television group, he's been moving up the ranks quite a bit in recent years.
STELTER: Some people believe he wants to be the CEO of all of Disney.
STELTER: You think that might have been part of this? He's trying to protect "GMA," of course.
MIN: Of course.
No matter how much you like Kelly's show, "GMA" is the cash cow. It makes about $350 million a year of revenue, compared with -- yes.
STELTER: Let's underscore that.
STELTER: That pays for the whole news division of ABC News.
MIN: It allows them to do everything. It allows for them to host debates, to send people overseas. It pays for everything and it sets the agenda for the whole day.
MIN: Kelly, on the other hand, "Kelly and Michael," that's a show that we believe makes around $30 million a year. The costs are high, largely because of the salaries they pay. And you have to protect "GMA." A syndicated show like "Kelly and
Michael," it's on the ABC-owned and -operated channels, and it can be syndicated, but it's never going to drive ratings to David Muir at night.
STELTER: So, people are going to wonder, what's she going to say on Tuesday? Do you think she will address this candidly?
MIN: I think the e-mail that was very strategically leaked out that she sent to her staff...
STELTER: Friday night.
MIN: Yes, Friday night, where she said that -- she said she needed basically time to recover, and this -- we're all a team, that is a -- that shadows, preshadows what's going to happen and -- foreshadows -- it foreshadows what's going to happen on Tuesday.
MIN: And she -- she doesn't want a problem.
I think Kelly Ripa has one of the best gigs on television. She gets $20 million a year to go on and talk about headlines and have fun.
MIN: And, you know, this is not someone who has to fly to Brussels when there's a terrorist attack.
STELTER: No, but I do think some women who watch her show would like her to address the gender dynamics. I guess it won't happen, but...
MIN: What I don't think is going to happen is the Ann Curry moment, which is -- which would be ABC's worst nightmare.
MIN: That is -- that would be disastrous.
I don't think she wants that, because, if you look at the end result, where is Ann Curry today? Ann Curry is not on television. And Kelly Ripa is a huge TV star. She's unbelievably charismatic. She is a great presence. I think she would be a great presence on a morning show.
STELTER: And some people will wonder if she might leave when her contract is up.
MIN: Her -- her contract is up next year.
STELTER: I was about to ask you that.
MIN: Yes. STELTER: OK. So, that's interesting.
MIN: Up next year, and so this has teed up a whole bunch of different possible outcomes.
STELTER: Let me squeeze in a quick break here, but stay with me, Janice.
We're going to look at the coverage of Prince's death, and more specifically, how the news broke. Does TMZ deserve more respect than it gets and also more scrutiny?
Plus, more with Carl Bernstein. Stay with us. We will be right back.
STELTER: Welcome back.
Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes when one of the world's most famous people dies? I witnessed it firsthand on Thursday, when a death was reported at Paisley Park. At first, everyone feared it was Prince, but no one knew for sure.
Writers and producers here started finding footage of Prince and started writing an obit just in case, hoping not to use it. I was asked to hurry to a camera and be on standby. And then, at 12:50 p.m., TMZ said Prince was dead. It cited unnamed sources.
Now, on Twitter and Facebook, the shock and mourning started instantly. Some people didn't want to believe it, because it was just TMZ, just a gossip site saying he had died.
But here's the thing. TMZ has a very good track record on these stories. It was also the first to report Michael Jackson's death in 2009.
Now, most news outlets, including CNN, held off on reporting anything. And then, 17 minutes later, which is a long time in cable news, and even longer on the Web, that's when the Associated Press reported confirmation of his death from Prince's spokesperson.
And that is when the proverbial floodgates opened with special reports on cable news and network news. But is that approach outdated now?
Back with me now to talk about this and Prince's impact on the media business, "The Hollywood Reporter" and Billboard boss Janice Min, and rejoining me from Prince's hometown of Minneapolis, MTV's Ana Marie Cox.
Janice, let me show you what "The Washington Post"'s Paul Farhi wrote about TMZ. He said: "The delayed reaction illustrates a paradox about TMZ. Although it's been quite reliable on many major stories, mainstream news sources are reluctant to rely on its say-so alone. The news, in effect, doesn't become news until another source matches TMZ's reporting."
Is that old-fashioned at this point? "THR" did go ahead and report the news, citing TMZ, right?
MIN: We did. We did.
There's a lot of hand-wringing that goes on about this. We relied a lot on what you just said, TMZ's record on these incidents. We knew that there had been a death at Paisley Park. We cited the report. We felt like we needed to be in the news game on this one story.
STELTER: And that's the problem. Right?
STELTER: So, if we pretend like we don't know TMZ is reporting a death, it's almost like we're blind or we're deaf.
STELTER: And I worry that viewers and readers actually lose trust in brands when we don't acknowledge what's on the Internet.
MIN: Well, I think a lot of mainstream media doesn't like TMZ. They don't like what they stand for.
They don't like -- if you read "The New Yorker" piece about TMZ a little while ago, about the paid -- the money they pay out to get information.
STELTER: They pay tipsters.
MIN: They pay tipsters.
STELTER: They might have in case. We don't know.
MIN: Absolutely. I'm guessing probably a few people in Minneapolis are a little richer today because of what's gone on.
So, we went with it, and we were very happy to have gotten the official confirmation shortly thereafter.
MIN: I think you can make the argument that 17 minutes is not a long time. There's no news that can't wait 17 minutes.
STELTER: Well, I could argue it's an eternity.
MIN: Exactly. See, this is the new reality. Every second counts.
And, by the way, TMZ, owned by Warner Brothers, which, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.
Let me turn to the music business, Prince's impact.
And, Ana, I want to ask you there in Minneapolis. I know you went to Paisley Park soon after the news broke. What is the most important contribution Prince made to the future of the music business? Because I'm really struck by how he controlled his music so tightly.
COX: I think that you have hit right upon it.
I think that he's an inspiration for artists who want to control their catalog. I mean, he -- his death, in fact, has sort of emphasized just how much control he had over it, since we can't listen to his music online.
He was a true innovator online. I mean, the fact that his music isn't available doesn't mean he didn't embrace the Internet. You know, he did a self-funded Kickstarter-style album 10 years before that was -- anyone else did. He relied on fans to support him, rather than the music industry to support him. And it gave him -- gave him unparalleled freedom.
And I just want to say, here in Minneapolis, Paisley Park, when I was there, they had shut the gates and they were only allowing mourners and not the media to approach. But the history of Paisley Park in Minneapolis is that it was open to the public.
Paisley Park, he would have parties there where he wasn't always there himself, but Paisley Park was open to the public. You could go, you could do poetry, you could paint, you could listen to music. He really created a community of free thinkers, a community of people to support him and to support each other. I think that's his real legacy here.
STELTER: We're looking at live pictures from Paisley Park.
And in the minute we have left, Janice, Beyonce's album released last night. We got to mention "Lemonade." It seems to me this is the kind of thing Prince inspired. So, she releases an hour-long music video on MTV, really a movie, about feminism and racial identity, Black Lives Matter, a lot of powerful themes in this video.
STELTER: Then she puts the entire album exclusively on Tidal, which is the artist-owned streaming surface, that Prince's music is also on.
And what a week for Tidal, right? They have in one week changed the entire narrative of their business, which was, it's not doing well, to, oh, my gosh, you have to go to Tidal.
So, Beyonce, look, this was a major coup, what she pulled off yesterday. And if you couldn't -- and this is what everybody is talking about. And it was brilliantly orchestrated. She addressed all the infidelity rumors that have been gone on, the breakup rumors. And she addressed them head on, you know, asking things in the video, in her videos, even, are you cheating on me?
And then ends with this incredibly beautiful, happy scene of family. And it's...
STELTER: And then you have to go to Tidal to hear the album.
MIN: Then you have to go to Tidal to hear the album. It was genius.
STELTER: Yes. I think Prince might have appreciated that move.
MIN: He would have loved it, applauded it completely.
STELTER: Janice, thanks for being here.
Ana, thank you so much joining us this morning.
COX: Thank you.
STELTER: Coming up here: why trust in the media continues to dwindle.
We are bringing back Carl Bernstein, who hopefully has some ideas on how we can regain it.
Stay with us.
STELTER: Welcome back.
Six percent, just 6 percent of you say you have a lot of confidence in the media. That's according to a new study by a group led by the Associated Press.
And a lot of what's behind this cliff dive are topics we have addressed here today, perceptions of inaccuracies and bias, coupled with what we are reading on social media.
So, let's ask, what do reporters and editors do to fix this?
Let's bring back Carl Bernstein, one-half of the unforgettable Woodward and Bernstein team, now a CNN political commentator.
And, Carl, we were just talking about TMZ breaking the news about Prince's death, but perhaps relying on paid sources. What are we to do in this media environment where you read something online and you don't know if it's correct or not?
BERNSTEIN: I think we still have an awful lot of great reporting.
You see it particularly in old mainstream news, "The Washington Post," "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal." This particular network, I think, though I have been very critical of some things we do in terms of devoting too much airtime to one candidate or another, I think that we're straight in terms of how we present the news, and it's unbiased.
I think there's a much bigger problem. And that is the people who are watching and reading us who are not looking for the best obtainable version of the truth, who are not interested in unbiased reporting, rather who are looking for information to reinforce what they already believe, their political beliefs, their religious beliefs, their ideological beliefs.
It's key to the success of FOX News, that no longer do we have a culture interested in the best obtainable version of the truth that we once had in this country. So, I think the problem is less the media than it is really a combination of media and our citizenry.
STELTER: It's almost something that requires a psychologist to help us address, to help us understand, how do we break through or get through to people that want to believe something that's inherently untrue, or only want to believe what's in their Facebook feed, even if it's not quite accurate?
Actually, speaking of that, let me read what Nick Kristof wrote in "The New York Times" today. This is from his most recent column.
He said: "One of the perils of journalism is the human brain's penchant for sorting information into narratives. Even false narratives can take on a life of their own because there is always information arriving that can confirm a narrative."
Carl, do you see that happening with this presidential race?
And, incidentally, today's column by Nick was one of the few that I disagree with him on. I think that he was a little too easy on Hillary Clinton, who I have written a biography about and who has had, as I say in the biography, some real difficulty over the years in terms of truthfulness and openness.
But, really, our responsibility is to get out to our readers and our viewers what is really going on, the records of these candidates, as I spoke early on. We need to be doing the reporting.
And that is -- you know, our job is not to just give people what we think they want. Our job is to present real news. And there's a real problem in our business about doing that, particularly as we judge our audience by how many clicks we get, instead of making the most important judgment that a reporter, an editor, a news organization makes, and that is, what is news?
The news agenda is the most important thing we do. And, there, we are weak, particularly in television. And we need to be going much deeper in terms of what we're giving our readers and viewers. But let's not let them off the hook. They are increasingly looking for information just to reinforce what they already think. And it's one of the things that... (CROSSTALK)
BERNSTEIN: ... our political debate.
STELTER: It's almost as if there's a shared responsibility, right, partly the media's responsibility, partly the audience's.
Carl, thank you for being here. I have to leave it there, coming up against a hard break. But thank you for joining us this morning.
BERNSTEIN: Good to be here.
STELTER: That's all for this televised version of RELIABLE SOURCES.
But our media coverage keeps going all the time online. Our nightly newsletter version of the show is now available. You can subscribe at CNNMoney.com/media.
We will see you next week from Washington from the White House Correspondents Dinner.