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Pro-Trump Media Escalating Its War on Mueller; Interview with Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. Aired 11a-12n ET

Aired January 28, 2018 - 11:00   ET


BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey. I'm Brian Stelter and this is RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works and how the news gets made.

Ahead this hour, with Trump's immigration plan on the news, what's actually missing from the coverage. "Democracy Now" host Amy Goodman is here with an answer.

And breaking today, President Trump swiping at Jay-Z after this interview with Van Jones on CNN last night. Van is going to join me to fact-check what the president has said.

[11:00:03] But let's begin with this, the pro-Trump media is escalating its war on Robert Mueller. One of their weapons is confusion. So, the challenge for you and for me is to refuse to be confused.

Let's lay it all out here. Almost every day, there is at least one revelation about how many people Robert Mueller has interviewed and how much the special counsel investigation has learned about the inner workings of Trump world. Mueller knows the president has repeatedly tried to pressure law enforcement officials and impede the investigation into Russian interference.

So, leak by leak, like the ones there on screen, it becomes clear Trump is in more and more of a precarious situation. So, with those leaks in mind, here is how it works. The worst it seems to get for Trump, the wilder the conspiracy theories get, the counter-narrative from Trump's allies.

Check this out. This is a montage, just a few examples this week, talking about the deep state, terrible texts and secret societies.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: From what we've seen, it's shaping up to be the biggest scandal in America history. This is going to make Watergate look like an afterthought.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: There are concerns about a so-called secret society.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Secret societies in the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secret society, the missing text, the insurance policy, the dossier. It all adds up.

HANNITY: Abuses committed by very top officials in the deep state, you can't make this up in a spy novel.


STELTER: A spy novel? Fiction writing actually sounds like great fit for Sean Hannity, because he's no good at the facts. When GOP congressmen started talking about an alleged secret society of anti- Trump FBI agents, Hannity ran with it. But when the full context came out and the secret society text looked like a dumb joke, Hannity dropped it. That's how it works. They find another way to attack Mueller.

But the message is always the same. See these Mueller gate banners from Hannity the other night? It straight up says on screen, investigating the investigators. FOX's message is that Trump is the victim of a deep-state plot to ruin his presidency.

And remember, the president watches this stuff and reacts to it. So, one day, he tweets during "Fox and Friends" that the missing text messages is one of the biggest stories in a long time, and then again, again, during the Laura Ingraham at night, where are the 50,000 important text messages?

Now, this is about two FBI officials that were secretly dating and constantly texting each other, trashing Trump at other politicians. Of course, Trump totally mangled the facts about this in his tweets. I mean, yes, the two employees did talk a lot and the DOJ reviewed 50,000 text messages in total, but we don't know how many texts went missing and it's a moot point now since they have been found.

But do you see what is happening here? The more we talk about texts and jokes and memos, the further we get from Trump's dishonesty, his unstable behavior, his attempts to undermine the Russia probes.

This is what it means to have two different universes of information. Just look what happened on Thursday when "The New York Times" broke the news Trump ordered Mueller fired back in June, but backed off when the White House counsel threatened to quit. Well, the two reporters called in at CNN and MSNBC, there was rolling breaking news coverage on cable except on Fox. Tucker Carlson ignored the story and an hour later, Hannity dismissed it.


HANNITY: "The New York Times" is trying to distract you. They have a story that Trump wanted Mueller fired sometime last June and our sources and I've checked in with many of them, they are not confirming that tonight. And the president's attorney dismissed the story and says no, no comment. We're not going there.

How many times has "The New York Times" and others gotten it wrong?


STELTER: Then after a commercial break, reality intruded.


HANNITY: We have sources tonight just confirming to Ed Henry that yes, maybe Donald Trump wanted to fire the special counsel for conflict. Does he not have the right to raise those questions? You know, we'll deal with this tomorrow night.

We have a shocking video of the day to bring you by the way. This footage comes to us from Arizona where you see that red SUV, high speed place chase.


STELTER: He cut it off. That's the alternative universe in action. That it is right there. Let's just turn to a video of a police chase.

The challenge for us as news consumers and the challenge for people like me as reporters is to refuse to be confused, to refuse to fall for all these traps, all these theories, all this noise and instead to stay focused on the huge story unfolding in Washington.

Let's talk about that with Jackie Calmes, White House editor for "The Los Angeles Times" D.C. bureau, and here in New York, veteran journalist and CNN political commentator Carl Bernstein, and Noah Rothman, an associate editor at "Commentary Magazine".

Noah, what explains the propensity for some at the conservative media articles to buy into these conspiracy theories about secret societies and other things?

NOAH ROTHMAN, COMMENTARY MAGAZINE: Well, I think there is a real legitimate basis on the right for questioning the authority of the FBI in this matter, questioning whether there is abuse of the FISA courts, questioning how unmasking happened.

[11:05:09] These are things that are conservative issues and conservatives who have allies in Congress, for example, should be very skeptical when they sacrifice their credibility by going down a rabbit hole, like these texts. You don't have to be a professional skeptic to know that FBI counterintelligence officials were probably not going to be actively sabotaging the presidency via text messages on the government-issued cell phones. You just have to be a little bit skeptical of the facts.

And when congressmen like Representative Bob Goodlatte say that there is a, quote, unquote, conspiracy being uncovered here, they sacrifice their credibility on matters that are really serious. Questioning the FBI is not necessarily sacrifice of honor and integrity. Questioning these texts and going down that as yet another example of why the Mueller probe is legitimate, demonstrates that you have an agenda.

STELTER: I think, partly, these lawmakers, these pro-Trump posts, they just need something else to talk about because if they have to talk about the reality of the Russia investigations, that's a problem. You know, there is a lot of problems they face when doing that. That's my view.

Carl, what's your view of the impact of this new, first in "The New York Times" and reported by outlets including CNN that Trump tried to stop Mueller, tried to get Mueller fired and was talked out of it? How significant is that?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You can't under estimate the significance of the story that he tried to fire Mueller and that his White House counsel threatened to resign. It sent shock waves through the White House. Most people I talked to in the White House do not believe that Trump is untouched by this investigation.

STELTER: You have sources in the White House, Carl?

BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. And yes, you know, this white house is accessible. And if you talk to people in the White House, as many of us do, you find that this McGahn story has shocked people to their core because they understand in the White House how vulnerable now their president is. They are not willing as McCann was not willing to be part of a cover-up, part of an obstruction of justice.

And meanwhile, the president is increasingly alone out there in terms of everybody but his base and that includes the people in Congress who have been his foil thus far, along with the base in saying oh, yes, this is fake news and all the rest. It's almost impossible I think for this investigation to go forward much more and those false fake news claims to have any resonance, because the pieces are starting to fall together.

And one thing we know about Donald Trump's presidency is that more energy effort and engagement of the president himself has been put into try to undermine, demean, fire the special prosecutor, make this investigation go away than any other aspect of his presidency, and he's still determined to do it, and it's not going to work. That's what's becoming more and more apparent and is more and more frustrating to him.

STELTER: What his allies do is claim it's fake news. They say it's old news but try to change the subject.

Here is how "Fox and Friends" handled this on Friday morning. Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a big story apparently the president of the United States last June wanted to fire Robert Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Well, the president says that the fake news. That happened last June. Do you -- it's something we have to tell you about because it's a headline in "The New York Times". What do you think about that? Do you even care?


STELTER: Carl, when you see that kind of reaction, do you even care? They're saying to the viewers, do you even care about this? Are they doing a disservice to their audience?

BERNSTEIN: Look, we are in the midst of a cold civil war as I have said in this country, and the shock troops in the cold civil war on one side and the cold civil war is at Fox News.

Fox is hugely important. It's a political force in this country such as we've never seen in the last 40 years, maybe the dominant political force in many ways of changing or politics. We should not minimize them. We need to look at what it is their agenda is, which has nothing to do with the news.

And yet, there are some good reporters over at Fox. And if you talk to those good reporters over at Fox, they will tell you this investigation is serious business, that they don't know where it's going but it's not going away, it has the president of the United States, members of his family, members of his close business associates, his organization, they are looking at his finances. They are looking at his campaign. They're looking at the transition to see if anything untoward happened in terms of abusing the office, they know this.

STELTER: So I think here is the dilemma then --

BERNSTEIN: And that's the story. But also part of the story is the fact that Republicans enabled Trump to do this.

[11:10:03] They enabled Trump, particularly Republicans on the Hill, to continue to throw this smokescreen out there and say, oh, no, this is about trying to say I'm an illegitimate president of the United States.


BERNSTEIN: He's a legitimate president of the United States.


BERNSTEIN: And let's say that loud and clear, and legitimate presidents of the United States are subject to investigation. They are held accountable to the law. He's attempting to evade the law and that is becoming more and more apparent and in the last week since that McGahn story, I think you're starting to see among Republicans and we'll see how long McConnell and Ryan maintain their kind of silence on this.

I think we're going to start to see, Mr. President, you have got to stop demeaning and undermining this investigation.

STELTER: Well, Carl and Noah, let me come back to you in a moment, but let me ask Jackie about this idea of a smokescreen, these various conspiracy theories and alternative realities that are presented. As a reporter there in Washington writing for "The L.A. Times," what do you do, Jackie? How much time do you spend trying to debunk or fact check to figure out these conspiracy theories versus covering the real issues Carl is describing? JACKIE CALMES, WHITE HOUSE EDITOR, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, you

spend too much time fortunately, it's abbreviated because these conspiracy theories have no basis in most cases. When you see some of the things that have been debunked just in the past year, you know, you go from the Trump's claim that Obama had wiretapped him, that 3 million to 5 million illegals voted for Hillary Clinton and that's why she won the popular vote, that the DNC staffer Seth Rich was assassinated, and they kept it up even after the mourning parents just begged people to stop, and now, and textgate.

So, you spend some time on it. It's time that could be better spent on real news but you can quickly find that it's baseless. And so, I was struck by when you had the clip from Sean Hannity or Fox, the "Fox and Friends" person who said, well, we have to tell you about this, the fact that Mueller was -- or Trump --


STELTER: Trump tried --

CALMES: Trump ordered the firing of Mueller and Don McGahn threatened to quit, says, we have to tell you about this because it's a headline at the "New York Times." Well, Brian, you and I both used to work at "The New York Times". You know that these stories don't get in "The New York Times" unless they are real.

Yes, there were four anonymous sources, but I can tell you, you know, the editors know who those sources are before a story that explosive goes in. So, you know, the idea they are saying we're distracting when the distraction is on the other side is -- doesn't pass the laugh test.

STELTER: There is something notable to me, since Thursday night, since that story broke, other outlets have confirmed it, and what I've seen though is actually a lack of an attempt by the White House to deny it. Trump himself called it fake news in Davos, kind of dismissively very quickly. There hasn't been a statement from the press secretary. There haven't been allies on TV denying it, denying it, denying it.

This morning on Fox, Marc Short said, I don't have knowledge it might have happened. People are being careful actually denying the story potentially because they could be in trouble with Mueller.

ROTHMAN: Right. The speculation is that a lot of this comes out of McGahn's office and we can begin to go down why that would be the case. It doesn't look good for the White House if that were the case. But because these are detailed and they have so many insider information, so much insider information, that sounds reasonable to me.

We can -- we should probably note that when Donald Trump spoke with the "New York Times" in July, he said this is supposed to be about Russia. If this goes towards my finances, then it's going to be a red line for me. That was the Republican line and you know what? It's not irrelevant.

We shouldn't be comfortable with independent counsels that become fishing expeditions. That should have been the Republican line. Unfortunately, they have been swinging at every pitch, aiming for the rafters and muddling their own argument. It's about conspiracies, it's about the FBI, it's about everything, in order to discredit his probe. It's transparently about discrediting this probe, and not what the probe is going to find. So, I think they are doing themselves a disservice.

BERNSTEIN: You can't separate the money from this investigation. There is two strategies Mueller has, follow the money, follow the lies. And that's where he's gone.

We know very little about his investigation except nothing from Mueller's shop. It's been very closed. We don't know of leaks from Mueller's shop.

But we do know there are 20 or so lawyers that have a good look what Mueller is doing and if you talk to the lawyers, what they now understand is that this investigation has reached a point of real peril for the United States and the president knows the peril and he's reacting to it. And also --

STELTER: We need to keep zooming out and tell the big picture story, but I think the headline can be --


BERNSTEIN: But betting on his base. There are people you will talk to who believe in Donald Trump who will tell you look, wherever this goes, if somebody in his family is indicted, if there is an obstruction that he's committed, he may still go to his base and stay in office by appealing to that base, whipping the country up, and he certainly is the kind of person that thinks he might be able to.

[11:15:10] Now, that's an awful lot of speculation and looking ahead. But it's not me saying it. Its' people who know Trump that believe that that's the way he is going.

STELTER: Instead of saying Mueller, he'll say fake FBI.

BERNSTEIN: If Mueller is still standing and so far Mueller is standing and doesn't look like Trump despite his efforts has been able to cut him off at the knees and he's not going to be able to. If Mueller is still standing and comes after him in the convincing way, that forces pardons or forces a report that leads the Congress to look at some kind of action, Trump is betting no matter what happens, he can survive this by this being a part of this cold civil war and fanning the flames of that base.

STELTER: To our panel, thank you so much, Jackie, Noah, Carl, great to see you all.

After a break here, more on this topic with a lawmaker whose having to reckon with it every day. There are practical implications to these alternative universes of information. We'll talk about it with a congressman right after this.


STELTER: For the last seven months, there's been an endless number of cable news conversations about what would happen if President Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller, if he were to ever try to do such a thing? I can't even count how many discussions there have been about that.

But now we know it actually happened.

[11:20:01] Back in June, President Trump tried to fire Mueller. He moved to do it and then he was stopped by Don McGahn. So, all of those conversations, it turns out, it already happened and none of us knew it.

It makes you wonder how many other secrets are still being kept by the White House and how much else Mueller knows that we don't know yet.

But here's the thing, when that "New York Times" story came out on Thursday saying Trump ordered Mueller's firing, I wondered what was Sean Hannity saying back in June? What could have maybe influenced President Trump? What was he hearing on FOX?

We went back and looked.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: This special counsel Mueller needs to be shut down immediately.

And Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, recuse themselves, resign immediately.

He should recuse himself. He's incapable of carrying a fair and impartial investigation. Now, Mueller needs to end this witch hunt right now.


STELTER: That was all back in June. There's also been similar rhetoric, not just in June but recently coming from Republican lawmakers.

So, I'd like to know how that affects things on Capitol Hill and more broadly, how it's affecting the country.

Joining me is a Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a ranking member of the Subcommittee on the CIA.

I wonder, Congressman, how it affects how you do business on Capitol Hill when you have a lot of your colleagues on the other side of the aisle trying to undermine and tear down Robert Mueller's investigation?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good morning, Brian. You know, the president doesn't have to fire Bob Mueller. Indirectly, we see his credibility under attack every day on the House Intelligence Committee by Republicans, as well as on the House Judiciary Committee. And what I hear from colleagues is, you know, words that are parroted by Sean Hannity and it's -- you know, these efforts to, you know, perpetuate conspiracy theories, as well as to go after, you know, somebody who received the Bronze Star, somebody who serve in Vietnam, was awarded the Purple Heart, appointed by a Republican president.

And so, you have to stoop pretty low to try and discredit Mueller, but they are willing to do it to protect the president. The effect, I'm afraid, is they are going to -- also, the collateral damage will be the effect this has on law enforcement, that their credibility, when they go to court on other cases is being diminished.

STELTER: So, you see the Fox News effect, so to speak, in action because you hear similar comments coming from television hosts and lawmakers.

Here's the bigger point and I wonder how you view this as a lawmaker yourself. When we have these two alternative universes of information, these alternative realities, some Americans consuming reporting from "The New York Times" and CNN, others consuming Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, what is the effect on the country? Is it doing damage to the country?

SWALWELL: Well, as I said, this feedback loop, the effect on law enforcement is, you know, their morale is reduced, but the effect on the duty we have to protect the ballot box is also looming because we have an election coming up in November of this year. We have the presidential election in 2020, and we have done nothing to secure our country from another hacking like that occurred from Russia.

You know, it's not disputed that Russia attacked us but we have -- we have put in zero reforms to fix that. I'm afraid that that's part of the Republican effort to try to protect the president. They are unwilling to do anything to protect the next election.

STELTER: That's probably the biggest part of the story overall, isn't, is that we know there was this Russia interference and yet there haven't been a lot of steps to take action against it. There were sanctions, however, weren't there?

SWALWELL: Yes, that's right, and tomorrow is the deadline, again, for the president to impose them. So, the Congress overwhelmingly voted to put sanctions in place against Russia and its military and intelligence officials, however the president has delayed and delayed and delayed. The final deadline is tomorrow.

But when people ask, you know, what evidence is out there aside from the indictments that we've seen and the contacts that they failed to disclose, I think the president's unwillingness to impose sanctions against Russia shows that he feels like he owes then something because they did something for him. STELTER: What about Silicon Valley's role in this? You represent

part of California out there. There's been talk about how Facebook and Twitter were used to spread Russian propaganda before Election Day. And now, recently, there's been talk that some of the memes around release the memo, the Nunes memo, some of that was spread but Russian bots, as well.

Do you think we're getting enough information from Twitter and Facebook and Google about what they're doing?

SWALWELL: That's right. When your hashtag is being supported by Julian Assange and Russia bots and WikiLeaks, you have to ask whether you're simply doing the bidding of the president or a foreign adversary. And what we've called upon for Facebook and Google and Twitter is that now that they know this can occur, that they have a responsibility to work with the FBI, to work with Congress to make sure that their platforms aren't weaponized.

[11:25:00] And so, what are they willing to do going forward and there is also a responsibility on Congress to put in place, you know, disclosure requirements and I also think a duty to report to the FBI if they see this activity before law enforcement does.

STELTER: But you and your colleagues expect a lot of money from Silicon Valley, a lot of donations from billionaires and millionaires of these companies. Are you all really willing to take on some of your donors?

SWALWELL: Well, there is nothing more important than the sacredness of the ballot box and our great democracy. So, we have to. You know, these people employ a lot of constituents of mine and most of the constituents I talk to, they don't want to see their platforms used by Russian bots or Russian intelligence services.

STELTER: Yes. Congressman, thanks so much for being here. Great to see you.

SWALWELL: Of course. My pleasure.

STELTER: Coming up here after the break, we're going to fact check President Trump on his most recent tweet. He was talking about Jay-Z on Twitter today. We'll talk about why that is with CNN's Van Jones who had the interview with Jay-Z. He's going to join me right after this.



STELTER: Van Jones' new show premiered on CNN this weekend, and it caught the president's eye.

Jones' first big booking was hip-hop superstar and mogul Jay-Z.

So, when Jay-Z criticized Trump and implied that Trump is the superbug of racism, Jones pushed back and pointed out that the president has been toting the black unemployment rate.



VAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: He's somebody who is now saying, look, I'm growing -- I'm dropping black unemployment. Black people are doing well under my administration.

Does he have a point that maybe the Democrats have been giving us good lip service, but no jobs, and maybe he's said terrible things, but put money in our pocket. Does that make him a good leader?

SHAWN "JAY-Z" CARTER, MUSICIAN/MUSIC PRODUCER: No, because it's not about money at the end of the day. Money is not -- doesn't equate to, like, happiness. It doesn't.

It's -- that's not -- missing the whole point.


STELTER: President Trump either saw that interview on CNN or saw FOX talking about it this morning, because he reacted to Jay-Z with a tweet.

Here it is: "Somebody, please inform Jay-Z that, because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED."

There is a fact-check we should do to that data, but first let's talk about the back and forth with Van Jones, a CNN political commentator and the host of the twice-a-month "Van Jones Show."

I don't know, Van. Maybe I'm cynical. Is this the best press you could have asked for, for your show?

JONES: I want you know, I personally asked Donald Trump to write that tweet. I wrote it for him.


JONES: No, listen, it's sad because we actually literally were discussing the black unemployment rate.

And I gave Trump -- continuing a lot of trends that have been going on anyway, black unemployment is pretty good. Should he get credit for it? Jay-Z said something you don't hear from many billionaires. He said, you know what? It's not about money. It's about the respect.

And so we had a very powerful moment there. Apparently, Trump missed the whole point and actually walked right back into the trap. Now it's trending globally, you know, Jay-Z's response of -- look, it's great P.R. for the show, but it's bad for the country when you have a president who wants to lecture an African-American rapper and an African-American pundit about African-American issues with bad facts and no information about the show.

STELTER: Let's put on the screen the chart that shows what you were describing, the gradually declining unemployment rate.

This includes white and blacks. Let me see if we can put up another chart first just with the African-American unemployment rate. We can show it's from 2011 all the way to 2017. Let me see if we can put that other chart on screen, because it is a gradual, steady decline.

Here we see now it is at a record low, but it's been declining for six or seven years. And I think that raises this question of how much credit to give President Trump, given that it was Obama's policies that led to that gradual decline.

JONES: Look, I am happy to give President Trump credit for not screwing it up.

I mean, he could have come in and done stuff that reversed that trend. He could have come in and done terrible things. And he didn't. So there was a bull market under Obama. He kept that going, maybe accelerated it. Unemployment was coming down. He kept that going.

Great. But you're not listening to the voices of the black community who say that's not enough to make up for S-hole countries. That's not enough to make up for insulting black football players, saying all of our communities are terrible.

Like, just because we're making incremental progress, continuing incremental progress, that doesn't give you the right then to be disrespectful, and that's what Jay-Z was trying to say.

STELTER: I think the president has been very effective with his Twitter pulpit to get folks to focus on the economy, meaning to say, hey, I deserve credit for the Dow being at a record high.

I don't recall President Obama asking for as much credit when the market was rising for several years before Trump was elected. There is just this difference in the rhetoric.


JONES: The emotional needing this perhaps around the economy?

President Obama inherited a house on fire, two wars and basically the Great Depression, and he was able to save the auto industry, turn that around, pass health care, et cetera.

Trump, for all his rhetoric, actually inherited a pretty healthy economy that had been growing for years, a stock market that had been growing for years, and he didn't screw it up and he's helping it to move forward. That's great. But it is really unfortunate. But I just want to say one thing about Jay-Z. Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter

came on our air last night and did the opposite of Trump. He came on. He was confessional. He was vulnerable.


He talked about mistakes he had made in his marriage.

STELTER: In his marriage.

JONES: And he talked about his challenges as a dad.

And he was so human and so vulnerable. And hip-hop is usually all accusation and boasting. He comes on confessional. But the politicians are all accusational and boasting, Donald Trump, and no confession from Donald Trump.

If you want to listen what Jay-Z says, follow Jay-Z's model, Mr. President. He's a strong guy, he's a rich guy, but he's willing to be confessional, he's willing to grow in public. If you do the same thing, America would be a lot better off.

STELTER: But it's unimaginable to think about President Trump talking about his marriage the way Jay-Z did talking about challenges with Beyonce and going through the pain.

JONES: Three marriages. Three marriages.

And I asked Jay-Z, I said, why did you fight for this marriage? These celebrity marriages happen all the time, they break up, it's no big deal. It's tabloid fodder. And he said, she's my soul mate. And he talked about how hard it was and what he had to do.

He said, I had to get down in the mattress and hear her pain, but it was worth it.

It was a beautiful statement. You very rarely hear men talk that way about fighting for their marriages. If you are going to talk about something, Donald Trump, talk about that. Talk about the fact that this guy is growing in public, he's changing hip-hop from accusation to confession.

And you missed the whole point because you're worried about your ego and getting credit for continuing Obama's trend? It's sad.

STELTER: This reminds me of what every journalist says when a reader replies to their before reading the story. Read the story.

JONES: Yes. Read the story.

STELTER: Watch the full interview.

JONES: Watch the full interview.

STELTER: Don't just watch the clip that might have aired on FOX.


STELTER: Let me put back on screen that first chart, because I want to explain this other chart. To me, this is the story that hopefully will get focused on as a result of Trump's tweet.

The red line is the unemployment rate among whites. The black line -- sorry -- the blue line -- I messed it up. Let me try it again.

The red line is the higher unemployment rate among African-Americans. The blue line is the unemployment rate among whites in the United States. And what you see here is, across the decades, the black unemployment rate has always been higher and has remained persistently higher.

To me, that is an important story that I would love to see the president engage on. Instead, he's engaging with Jay-Z, trying to celebrate what has been a gradual decline, but it's that persistent gap that's the bigger story.


And had the white community experienced black levels of unemployment, we would call that the Great Depression. What is normal now for the African-American community would be considered a catastrophe, a world- shaking catastrophe for the white community.

Why do we accept that? And to Donald Trump's point, there have been Republicans like Jack Kemp who took black poverty and the lack of black opportunity seriously and engaged with the black community, had good policies, had good relationships.

Trump is not one of them. Trump has never shown up for any of these real discussions that happen in the community all the time. He could. He should. I hope he will.

Jared Kushner has been talking about criminal justice reform. That's a key part of getting out those numbers better in the black community. He has somebody close to him who is starting to get some of these issues.

I hope that Donald Trump -- if he wants to talk about this stuff, don't just talk the talk. Walk the walk. Let's be real about it. But in the meantime, Jay-Z is setting a much better example for America than Donald Trump.

STELTER: Can you tell us who is on the next "Van Jones Show"?

JONES: Oh, I can't tell you today, but it's going to be good.

STELTER: I have heard some rumors.

JONES: Oh, there's rumors.

STELTER: Van, great to see you.

JONES: Hey, thank you. STELTER: Thanks for coming over.

JONES: Appreciate you.

STELTER: We will see if the president keeps tweeting about this topic.

Meanwhile, let's turn to the topic of immigration, another giant story from this week, an immigration plan presented by President Trump that seemed to be dead on arrival.

And while you're at it, sign up for our nightly newsletter at, all the day's media news recapped every night.

We will be right back with Amy Goodman talking immigration after this.



STELTER: Breaking news, the left and right agree on something.

Partisan media outlets on both sides blasted President Trump's immigration proposal a few days ago. The right-wing site Breitbart labeled the president Amnesty Don again, calling this an immigration shock.

Meanwhile, here are some other headlines you will see here, Newsmax and Slate and other sites talking about the wall of opposition to the plan, it being dead on arrival, et cetera, et cetera.

There has been a lot of attention on this subject of immigration, but I wonder if there is something missing from the conversation, if we're not hearing the voice of the people affected often enough.

Let's talk about that with Amy Goodman. She's the host and the executive producer of "Democracy Now."

Amy, one of the reasons why your program stands out is that I think you try to talk to protesters and immigrants and people that are affected by government policies.

When you watch other news coverage, do you think we're missing the immigrant story, the actual voices of DACA recipients?


And I think that's critical, just following the basic rules of good journalism. Go to where the silence is. And it's often quite raucous and it's loud, but the corporate media does not convey these voices.

Like going to the Orange County detention center right now, where Ravi Ragbir is in detention. He was at the Krome detention center in Florida. He's one of the immigrant rights leaders in New York who was just detained by ICE. And as an ambulance took him away, two New York City council members were arrested trying to protest his detention. (CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Right. But that was a local news story. It did get attention, I think, from the local stations.

GOODMAN: But it's not local. It's national, because what we're seeing right now is the Trump administration rounding up immigrant rights leader,

Jean Montrevil in New York was just deported to Haiti. I was just with Sandra Lopez, who is in Carbondale, Colorado. She's in the Unitarian Church Parsonage there. She has taken refuge, taken sanctuary. That's another big story.


You have people in sanctuary, in churches, who are in detention. Jeanette Vizguerra was in detention in Denver, Colorado. When she was named one of the most important "TIME" 100 people, she was taking refuge in the Unitarian Church in Denver.

We are seeing something frightening now. Right now, Maru Mora- Villalpando in Washington state, one of the leading immigrant rights activists, is in fear of deportation.

And it's not just individuals. These are leaders. That inspires fear in the communities of millions of people. That does not make them safer and it certainly doesn't make us safer.

STELTER: But certainly it's harder to cover folks who are literally having to seek sanctuary, who may not be able to go and be interviewed or get to a TV station.

GOODMAN: Very easy to go to any of the people in sanctuaries.

STELTER: OK, you're saying go there. OK.

GOODMAN: Absolutely. CNN's trucks, NBC's trucks.

STELTER: And sometimes I do see immigration debates on television where we do see activists, we see representatives of immigrant communities.

Personally, what I think is missing sometimes are the voices of ordinary people who are working jobs and living in the shadows.

GOODMAN: Oh, I completely agree with you, because that is the power of the media.

I mean, we know our family and friends, but the way we learn about the rest of the world and people outside of our own communities is through the media. And there is nothing more powerful when you hear a young Honduran child or Mexican mother like Sandra Lopez, who has lived here for a quarter of a century.

You hear Ravi Ragbir. Again, we're talking about people who have lived here for decades. And you hear them telling their stories and talking about their families.

STELTER: Yet there were millions of deportations under the Obama administration.

GOODMAN: There were. You're absolutely correct.

STELTER: It's different now?


GOODMAN: There is an intensification of the detentions and deportations, but you're right. President Obama deported more people than all presidents before him combined.

And that laid the groundwork for this intensification that we're seeing by Trump. And now even you see politicians, the country's mayors have been threatened by the head of the Department of Homeland Security, by Kirstjen Nielsen.

You can call it Nielsen raiding, a different kind, R-A-I-D-I-N-G, threaten mass deportations, talking about arresting mayors and other public officials who enforce sanctuary cities, saying they are not going to have their police cooperate with ICE agents. They're just not going to do it. They don't see that as the American way.

STELTER: The State of the Union coming up on Tuesday. And I know you have been interested in some of the organizing efforts to sort of react or oppose the State of the Union.

GOODMAN: That's very interesting, because we seen the whole MeToo movement, the Golden Globes, the plus-ones were women who had been abused, taken by other actresses who had been standing up for women's rights.

On the State of the Union night, you have people like Nydia Velazquez, the congress member from New York, who will be taking Amy Gottlieb. She's an immigrant rights lawyer. Her husband is Ravi Ragbir in detention right now in Orange County.

We may see Maru, Maru Mora-Villalpando, from Washington state coming as a plus-one as well.

Immigrant rights leaders accompanying congress members, as congress members just wrote a letter to the Trump administration, 30 congress members, saying, stop rounding up immigrant rights activists. Stop targeting independent immigrant rights activists.

STELTER: And certainly using the State of the Union as a stage, it's a way to get more attention, to get media attention on this issue.

GOODMAN: It shows the lie of President Trump talking about family values, when these families are being ripped apart and millions of people fear that their families will be, too.

STELTER: He would say he's just prioritizing families that are already here. GOODMAN: We already know what President Trump said. He talked about

S-hole countries like Africa, which is a continent, El Salvador, Haiti.

He's made clear who he wants in this country. He didn't say, we don't want anyone here. He in fact said, I wish more immigrants would come from Norway, to which they tweeted from Norway, why would we come to the United States, when we have free health care and free public education?

STELTER: And so the debate continues.

Amy, great to see you. Thank you for being here.

GOODMAN: Thanks. Thanks so much.

STELTER: And after the break, a shout-out to the role of journalism from two unexpected corners.



STELTER: "Fake news, I'm coming to gun you all down" -- that's what a man in Michigan allegedly told a CNN employee in one of several threatening phone calls to the headquarters of this network.

This all happened back on January 9 and 10, a series of phone calls, some including threats. The man was arrested, and he has since been charged in U.S. district court.

CNN said it was in touch with local and federal law enforcement throughout and have taken -- quote -- "all necessary measures" to ensure the safety of employees at CNN.

So, think about that. Think about that threat invoking the term fake news when you hear about these defenses of journalism this week, defenses sometimes coming from unexpected corners of the world.

Pope Francis, for example, calling for support of the dignity of journalism. The pope denounced fake news and disinformation in his annual social communications message. He even took to Twitter to advocate for what he called a journalism of peace, a journalism for people, by people.

Also this week, the powerful effects of local reporting were on display. What began as an "Indianapolis Star" investigation into USA gymnastics abuses back in 2016 culminated in the downfall of that man I don't even want to name, that USA Gymnastics doctor who was sentenced on Wednesday for up to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting over 140 young women.


The prosecutor in the case praised the "Indy Star" journalist who set the investigation into motion, as well as the first woman to make contact with the reporters.


ANGELA POVILAITIS, MICHIGAN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: We as a society need investigative journalists more than ever.

What finally started this reckoning and ended this decades-long cycle of abuse was investigative reporting.


STELTER: It is the best of times for some journalists, for investigative journalism shedding light in dark places.

But, at the same time, we have to be aware of the darkness that exists, the threats that exist against journalism. This week showed both of those.

We will be right back after a short break.


STELTER: I will see you next week on RELIABLE SOURCES.