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Interview with Capital Gazette Shooting Survivors. Aired 11a- 12n ET

Aired July 01, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:12] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey. I'm Brian Stelter. And this is a special edition of RELIABLE SOURCES.

This hour, Jim Acosta joins me with his stories from the front lines of Trump's war on the media.

Plus, my sit-down with "Washington Post" executive editor, Marty Baron.

And later, a wakeup call. Liberal media outlets are sounding the alarms this week about Trump, the Supreme Court, and immigration. But is the rest of the press listening?

We'll get to all of that this hour.

But first, heartbreak in Annapolis and newsrooms across the country. Thursday was the deadliest day for journalists in America since 9/11. And today in the aftermath of the attack in Annapolis, the "Capital Gazette" is honoring their five fallen colleagues with this front page.

Even after the newsroom was turned into a bullet-riddled war zone, the "Capital Gazette" continued to publish. There's been three editions since Thursday. And there's also been an incredible outpouring of support from the community, a reminder of the power of local journalism and the importance that it has in the lives of so many Americans.

We want to talk in depth about what happened at the "Capital Gazette" office on Thursday and how the paper's recovering now.

Let's start by talking to two staffers in one after their first interviews. Rachael Pacella and Phil Davis are two of the reporters who were inside of the newsroom on Thursday, two of the six survivors from inside the building.

Thank you so much for coming on the program.



STELTER: Rachel, I know you are injured. You have what looks like a black eye a few days later. Can you tell us how you're doing physically?

PACELLA: Oh, I'm fine. It looks a lot better than it was. This was looking kind of bad and I got the chance to kind of wash it and clean all the blood off this morning, and it is looking great.

STELTER: I'm glad to hear it. You sound as if you're on the mend, but I know that, you know, on Thursday you were trying to flee the office when the shots rang out. And in this morning's "Baltimore Sun", one of your colleagues was quoted saying, I'd never seen someone fight for their life like that. What did you do? What happened when you heard the shots?

PACELLA: Yes, I was working at my computer. I was actually trying to finish up a story about induction day. Rob sent me a message, reminding me, hey, you didn't send a photo in from that press conference earlier. I said I'll get on that. That's when the shooting occurred.

I heard a gunshot, glass shattered. I kind of recognized it immediately and I ducked under my desk. But after a little bit, I heard more and I realized under the desk was not a safe place to be. That you could just like look around and you see me. So I made a sprint for the door. And I think I tripped -- I'm pretty sure I tripped. I may have run straight into the door frame, to be honest.

But I hit my head really hard against the door frame. I was bleeding. And then obviously, you know, when I did try the door handle to get out it was barricaded. So I hopped over in between some filing cabinets and I hid there.

STELTER: And, Phil, you were under a desk. I guess you weren't able to run at that point. You had to stay under your desk. What did you do?

PACELLA: No, no. I --


PACELLA: Oh, sorry.

DAVIS: Yes. To describe what I was going through at the time, I was in a similar position to her. We work in the same part of the bullpen for reporters. And I had what I thought was a decent hiding spot. So, I thought my best chances would be under there.

And, yes, so I hid, I could hear most of it. I heard all of it, to be perfectly honest. I didn't see most of it until I was able to walk out afterward. But yes, as I was hiding under my desk, I had my work phone on me and I just happened to have a text exchange with Sergeant Amy Migez (ph), the spokesperson for the Annapolis Police Department that was already open because I think I was texting her about something else or I was about to before it happened.

And I started texting her that -- what was happening, what was going on. Because when there was kind of a silent point as to what was happening, I didn't know if the guy had left. I didn't know what was going on. So, I didn't want to call 911. So I just started to text her as quickly as I could kind of what was happening. Once she grasped it, she said she called 911 and told me to stay as low as I could.

STELTER: And that may be one of the reasons why police were able to arrive so quickly. Still, out of the 11 people that were in the office, five died. You mentioned one of them, Rachael. Rob, one of the editors.

Why is it, Rachael, that you think you were spared?

[11:05:00] Was it simply about where you were in the building? Was it that simple?

PACELLA: Well, I thought about this a lot. I remembered this yesterday, because, you know -- it's weird because Wednesday I actually left my laptop at home. I forgot it. And Wednesday I had to sit up front near Rob and Gerald and use a spare computer up there. So I guess I'm happy that that happened on Wednesday and not on Thursday.

STELTER: Oh, my god.

PACELLA: Yes. And I -- spared isn't the right term, you know? Maybe I hid well? I was very scared because I was bleeding pretty badly. And, you know, if he had just looked over and seen the trail of blood to where I was, I think it would have been like a fairly easy thing to find me.

I hadn't -- I don't know a lot of -- I haven't read through a lot of the details about, like -- I know you said maybe he ran out of bullets. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

STELTER: We may never know. I know Rachel you were rushed to the hospital. When did you find out that some of your editors, some of your colleagues were dead?

PACELLA: You know, I think that the police and the folks at the hospital did a good job of kind of -- I don't want to say -- I wanted information. As journalists I wanted information. You know that. I kept asking for information. They just said they didn't know anything.

It was probably around 9:00 after I had done the stuff at the hospital, been discharged, get to the police station, and I told them I wanted information. We agreed we'll do the interview first to be nice and calm.

And then after, you know, my first question was, is anyone dead? Of course, you know we had to step over Wendi's body when we were leaving. But I didn't know if she was definitely dead. But that was when they told me several people died. A little while later, they said it was five people.

And then I had actually reconnected with another survivor who was also injured. And she was the one who told me sort of which people had died.

STELTER: And we have their faces on screen now -- Wendi, Gerald, John, Rebecca, Rob.

Phil, how does the paper go on as a practical matter when you've lost 75 years of journalism experience?

DAVIS: In a practical sense? I can tell you a common shared view of our personalities and who we are, I don't think -- when I read Chase's quote the next day, I won't repeat it because I don't want to necessarily curse on air, but it was exactly how I felt. And I remember actually when -- I was sleeping at a friend's house after it happened, after we were done with police and everything.

And I was still checking Maryland case search, I'm sure you know how that works. The cases here are pretty public. So, I actually searched for the guy's name kind of late at night to see if they had officially charged him. I guess they had filed it officially in key search late that night.

I was still -- I actually kind of felt like, when I saw the bail review hearing that was going to be at 10:30, there was -- even though it was maybe 4:00 in the morning, I was still thinking like maybe I should contact my editor to be like, I don't think I'm going to be able to go to that or something to that regard. But then I woke up at 10:45 the next morning, and I was like, man, I can't believe I wasn't there.

PACELLA: Obviously, you check the docket every day as part of his job.

STELTER: Definitely. And look, I'm glad so many outlets have avoided saying his name too much, showing the suspect's picture too much. It's clearly not about him.

As you said, Phillip, the vigil on Friday night, the story is about these five victims, and their lives, their contributions. I did wonder as I read more about them, did any of you fear this might happen? Was there a fear, Phil, that this could happen some day?

DAVIS: Not to this extent.


DAVIS: Never. It really is -- you know, I've been reading a lot of the stories about the community and the way it kind of coalesced around us. And, you know, it is such a tight knit community.

And certainly, you know, we've had our fair share of blows in terms of commenters or people that are upset with the type of coverage that we write, because we still try to -- even though we're a small paper, we are -- we're critical, we're investigative, we go after the tough stories regardless of how small our newsroom might be now.

But never had we ever gotten a response to a story like that that really made us fear any amount of violence. Once we had started learning his charges and what he's alleged to have -- or rather the lawsuit previously and the alleged connection between his motive and that lawsuit -- I mean, that was 2012.

[11:10:00] Neither of us were here then. So, never on our minds.

STELTER: And I think it's notable that police have not yet said that they know the motive. We know about the grudge he had against the paper, but we don't know what caused him to snap.

I'm sorry, Rachel. Go ahead.

PACELLA: Oh, I was just going to say in the ambulance, that was one of the things I was thinking of. I was thinking a lot -- first, I want to say I'm proud of my colleagues, because when I was in there, I just was like, there's not going to be a paper tomorrow. Like that's so weird. There's not going to be a paper. There's not going to be a paper.

There was a paper. That's wonderful. And one of the other things I said was just, what could we have done to make people hate us so much? Why do people hate the media? What could we have done to deserve this? And I thought maybe it was connected to the election that was on Tuesday. We did a lot of election coverage.

STELTER: Oh, yes, the primary. Yes.

PACELLA: Yes. But yes, I couldn't -- I couldn't -- I didn't expect this. And I couldn't -- I couldn't fathom or think of any reason why someone would possibly do this to us afterwards.

STELTER: Are you having any second thoughts about journalism as a profession now?

DAVIS: You want to answer that for or want me to go?

PACELLA: I haven't -- we've been told not to make any kind of big decisions. But I want to be a journalist. It's who I am.

DAVIS: Yes. It's difficult. You know, I'm sure there are a bunch of people in the truck and you as well that understand that when you get attached to the industry it becomes an intricate part of your life. Something you really can't lose and something that people can't take away from you.

Even in light of this, you know, we don't know how long it's going to take to recover. We don't know what tomorrow looks like, but at the same time, I can kind of look at myself in the mirror and say he didn't take that away from me. So, for me, yes, far in the future? I don't know 100 percent. But it's --

PACELLA: I don't think I've ever had a moment in my life since I first became a reporter that I ever thought it wouldn't be a part of my life, like, ever.

DAVIS: Yes. It feels like it's going to be there no matter what. Even if we don't come back, it's still going to be there. STELTER: Rachel and Phil, thank you so much for coming on the program


DAVIS: Thank you for having us and letting us tell our story.

STELTER: And coming up, another part of this story. As Rachel was saying, the continued publication of the "Capital Gazette". We're going to talk to one of the staffers who rushed to the scene of the shooting and kept the paper going, kept it printing after the attack.

Plus, "The Baltimore Sun's" David Zurawik is here. "The Sun" has been helping the "Capital Gazette" recover. We'll hear his reflections right after this.


[11:16:27] STELTER: Back now on RELIABLE SOURCES.

And before we turn to the recovery of the "Capital Gazette" and how the paper has continued to publish, I want to bring Rachael and Phil back, if I can, Rachael Pacella and Phil Davis.

Because, Rachael, you were telling me as I was saying good-bye, you were telling a story about one of your editors that I think the viewers should hear. Can you tell us all?

PACELLA: Yes, it's a story -- a couple of weeks ago I wrote a profile on a girl in Anne Arundel County named Briah Barksdale who made a presentation to the school safety commission to Betsy DeVos about something she started called the Kindness Campaign.

I wrote the profile and Rob told me that, you know, he thought it was one of my -- favorites of his, you know, he was always kind and encouraging. And we talked in the past about how I'd had some issues with confidence and I lost my voice for awhile. I've been finding it again as a writer in these recent months. He told me he sensed that and he told me that it's very important that we all find our voices, not just in our writing but in our work lives too.

I think that was very meaningful to me that he was always encouraging us like that. I did also want to share that story because I think that that message of kindness is very important right now.

DAVIS: Yes. It feels like he'll go on.

STELTER: It's just incredible talent that we've lost. Not just in Annapolis, but, you know, for the state, for the country. And, Phil, at the vigil you were telling me earlier you saw in the crowd people you'd covered before, people you interviewed before. And this time, they wanted to come out for you.

DAVIS: Yes. No, them giving me, us, the whole paper the platform to grieve so publicly over something like that, and then to be behind us and want to share in that grief. And to see that they wanted to share in that grief. That's honestly what helped me make the speeches I did, because I had no intentions originally of speaking in front of that crowd. But, you know, the names of those people need to be remembered. That's a big part of why we're doing this, is that you can see that those community members were so attached to those people and the stories we heard throughout the day, you know, only informed the support structure we had underneath us at that paper in terms of all the people that were unfortunately killed that day. So, I can't thank the Annapolis community and the Anne Arundel community enough, because they were all there.

PACELLA: And I think I told you this even yesterday, Brian. A couple months ago when a tenth grader in Anne Arundel County organized the March for Our Lives in Annapolis, I wrote a preview of that story and the work she did to organize that. Phil was there covering that. That was a Saturday shift and he was there to write about it.

And then last night, the girl who organized that march -- or Friday night, the girl who organized that march, she played the bagpipes and she was there leading the way and playing music for us as we walked down main street.

STELTER: Wow. Thank you, again, Phil and Rachael. Thanks for letting me bring you back. I really appreciate it.

DAVIS: Thank you for having us.

PACELLA: Thank you, yes.

STELTER: I want to turn to "Capital Gazette" photojournalist Joshua McKerrow now. Josh is in Annapolis, near the crime scene, the office- turned-crime scene.

Josh, I wanted to ask you about what happened right after the shooting. You were not there, thankfully.

[11:20:00] You rushed to the scene. How did you help get this paper published that night? It's an incredible story.


I mean, I don't know if it's that incredible. I think we did what any newsroom would have done. You know, when I arrived on scene, I just did my job and I photographed what was happening. I tweeted a batch of pictures. I photographed some more, I did some video, I tweeted more.

And then I hooked up with my comrades, Chase Cook and Pat Ferguson. And we just went to work. We didn't -- we went to work gathering facts and trying to figure out who was safe. That's just what we did.

STELTER: Hundreds of people across the U.S. have subscribed to your paper as a show of solidarity. And for now, I know that the staff has been working up in Baltimore at the office of the parent company, "The Baltimore Sun".

I saw this morning in the paper, your editor was quoted saying we will never go back to that office space. But now, there's a search for new office space. You know, you are trying to figure out where to relocate in Annapolis.

How do you think this is going to change the paper?

MCKERROW: I think it's going to make us stronger. I think, you know, journalists especially newspaper journalists and community newspaper journalists, they're a special bunch. You know, so many people have come through the "Capital" newsroom over the decades. And they knew the mission and they all know the mission.

I think this will only just rededicate us, rededicate us to this mission. I mean, this isn't going to stop us, and especially when I think about my friends that we lost, there's nothing I want to do more than get back to work and put out another newspaper and get back to covering my town, my neighbors.

STELTER: Let me just keep adding some voices here. Josh, stay with us. Let me add David Zurawik, media critic for "The Baltimore Sun", since I mentioned "The Sun" has helping the "Capital Gazette" stay on it feet and continue to publish. David, I think this tragedy has highlighted the facts that so many newsrooms get so many threats, so much hate mail, sometimes straight up death threats.

How are you viewing what happened on Thursday?

DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Brian, one of the things is I'm surprised at how moved I am by what happened at the "Capital Gazette" and how profound an experience it is and the courage and the dedication of the people you've just had on and reading the obituaries and knowing Rob Hiaasen well. We worked together for 15 years. The exemplary lives they lived in it.

I think one of the stories that is important in a practical sense and this is a media show, is the advantage of being part of something like the Baltimore Sun Media Group because the production and design is done in Baltimore. So, Thursday when that happened, the "Sun" newsroom went into all hands on deck, which I had not seen and experienced since the death of Freddie Gray and the rioting after that in 2015.


ZURAWIK: And we just played an auxiliary role. Those folks, Josh, and those folks, they did it. But there are so many people at "The Sun" who worked at the "Gazette" and feel deeply about it, feel totally involved in it. And everybody just said whatever we can do, you can do.

If you look at a video of the vigil that was shot by a superb young videographer Ulysses Munoz (ph), who just came to "The Sun" last year from the "Gazette", that's the kind of synergy.

It's way beyond synergy. It's tribal. It's brotherhood. It's sisterhood between the two publications, that really clicked in.

And I really hope this. You know, Phil said he wanted those folks, the five to be remembered. And he's so right. And one of the ways we can remember him -- I hope everybody will read the obituaries at "The Gazette" and at "The Sun" and in "The Post" and in "The Times" and everywhere else, see them -- a great obituary makes you see the person as a human being. We're being dehumanized. And that's my takeaway.

Somebody tells you we're scum or we're enemy of the people -- think about these people and see if what you know about them from those obituaries matches up with that description.

STELTER: Joshua, do you feel this was just an isolated incident, a suspect with a grudge against the paper?

[11:25:04] Or do you feel there's something larger here about anti- media rhetoric becoming louder and more dangerous?

MCKERROW: I think there have always been threats to newsrooms.


MCKERROW: It's always been something you've known in the back of your mind.

It's not for me to report whether the rhetoric has raised this or had anything to contribute with this. I don't -- I don't know the facts. I know our job as a newspaper and as journalists is to communicate and create empathy. At least that's how I view my job and that's how I've always viewed my job.

And I think we're lacking that. We're lacking -- we've never talked and yelled at each other more than we do now. And yet, we're not -- it's not working. Nothing is sinking in.

You know, I want to rededicate the rest of my career to helping create more empathy and more communication because that's where we're missing. I mean, that's where the shrill chaos seems to be winning. But it's not winning and it's not going to win.

You know, I was talking with the camera man, you know, five days ago I showed up on an assignment and somebody said, oh, somebody from the crowd rep are (ph) here. You know, I wasn't under any illusions that we were beloved by the community. You know, we were -- we could be a pain in the ass to a lot of people.

And then after Thursday, to see thousands of people show up in Annapolis and, you know, that's us. That's America. That's who we really are.

It's not Twitter and it's not Facebook. It's not even newspapers. You know, it's not even what we report.

It's us -- we're genuinely good people. And we need to get back to that. We need to get back to committing (ph) that. I want to get back to reporting that.

You know, I'm still going to report on the crooked politicians and I'm still going to report on the criminals and I'm still going to do my job like we all are. But, you know, it's also my job to report on the love and kindness, kindness in our community.

And, boy, when you talk about who we lost, that's what Wendi did. Wendi lived and breathed, you know, empathy and communication, and she just wanted to share, you know, the wonderful things in our community.

STELTER: And Wendi --

MCKERROW: And we are better than this.

STELTER: Wendi has written so many stories that are actually done in advance that are going to be published in the coming weeks which feels both heartbreaking and also so appropriate, you know, that her work will be seen and will be read.

Josh, final word from you?

MCKERROW: Well, subscribe to your local newspaper, and just try to remember the names of those we've lost. They were great people. They didn't deserve this. The young people who staffed that newsroom doesn't deserve this. But we're going to be stronger than ever.

STELTER: Josh, David, thank you both for being here.

Quick break. More RELIABLE SOURCES in a moment.


[11:30:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Is he a reporter willing to shout out tough questions or someone grandstanding to boost his own profile? CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta has become the face of the Trump administration's combative relationship with the press.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't be rude. Don't be -- no I'm not going to give you -- I'm not going to give you a question. You are fake news.

It's not what I said, and I know it's hard for you to understand even short sentences I guess.


STELTER: Trump, as you know, has escalated his anti-press rhetoric. First, it was fake news, then it was enemy of the people, now he's saying some of our behavior is almost treasonous, so what is it like to be Jim Acosta? What is it like to come face-to-face with angry Trump supporters at rallies? Let's ask him. Jim Acosta is joining me now here in New York. Thank you for coming on.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN'S CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

STELTER: There was a lot of attention about the most recent Trump rally where some people were yelling go home to you, but then others were coming up asking for autographs. Does that, in a nutshell, summarize this confused twisted relationship? I think it does to some extent. And you know listen, people are going to yell at us, they're going to tell us to go home, we're not going to go home. We're going to stay there and we're going to do our jobs. This elderly woman was whipping up the crowd into a frenzy and getting them to say go home Jim, but at the same time you know, we talked to other people who said, hey I don't agree with what you do, I don't agree with what you say, but I believe that you have a right to do it. You know, there was a man who came up to us at the rally and asked if anybody had a chair that you know we could lend so his elderly mother could sit down. I was happy to hand over my chair. And I was talking with the gentleman, it was interesting. You know, he said, I didn't realize that you know you were going to sing the National Anthem when the National Anthem played in the in the rally or say the Pledge of Allegiance.

STELTER: Interesting.

ACOSTA: And I said, well you know, I went to elementary school in this country. I'm an American. I -- you know, I know how to say the Pledge of Allegiance. So sometimes it's just about getting one-on-one with some of these folks, American to American. And I you know when you have that kind of one-on-one interaction, that kind of conversation, people tend to let you know some of those biases, some of those prejudices that they've developed from watching Fox News and so on to break away and then you can have a real conversation.

[11:35:12] STELTER: Speaking of Fox, we took a look at what happens when you shout questions, either the President or others. Let's take a look first of the video.


ACOSTA: You say that you wanted more people coming from Norway?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

ACOSTA: Is that true Mr. President?

Mr. President, what about the DACA kids? Should they worry about what's going to happen to them, sir?

Mr. President, how is it going so far, sir? Mr. Kim, will you give up your nuclear weapons, sir?


STELTER: When you yell questions, Jim, Fox News, and others attack you. We can show some of the examples, we're having an outburst for asking harsh questions, for grandstanding. These are some of the headlines from

ACOSTA: Right.

STELTER: Why do you think there's so much resentment or criticism of the way you do this? ACOSTA: Well, to some extent, you know, the President and Fox News,

they don't have Barack Obama around anymore, they don't have Hillary Clinton. Although the President goes after Hillary Clinton a lot, so does Fox News and so we've sort of replaced Obama and Hillary. They need somebody to attack and I think that we've sort of filled that role. Part of the issue is as I think you know instead of wanting to focus on the President's behavior, they'd rather focus on our reporting on the President's behavior. For example, yesterday, you know, he tweeted out a bunch of false things that he had watched MS-13 liberate towns in this country. That never happened.

STELTER: That I had -- that I liberated towns from MS-13. Show us the towns. Show us the towns.

ACOSTA: There was another one where he said I didn't recommend that Republicans you know, go after and adopt new immigration legislation. That obviously did you know, that is in direct contradiction with something that he tweeted earlier in the week. And so, you know, we spend a lot of our time spinning our wheels calling out his falsehoods, that consumes a lot of the coverage and it presents I think to the American people the sense that all we're doing all day long is bashing the president when in fact we have to be fact-checkers and so we spend a lot of time simply just fact-checking the President.

STELTER: And fact-checking sounds like bashing right to a part of the population.

ACOSTA: That's right. And I think you know, listen there are folks and I on the conservative side of the spectrum and the media, you know, I refer to them affectionately as the megaphone. They by and large just echo what the President wants to hear, what he wants to say. We see that a lot happening over on Fox News. I told people at that rally on Monday night in Columbia, listen, we're not going to just do the news for the Republicans. We have to do the news for everybody and you may not like what you hear all the time. You know -- and the question I asked to a lot of people at that rally was are you forming your conclusions on what we do based on watching CNN or watching other networks your rivals and so on and their coverage of what we do?

STELTER: That's a great point.

ACOSTA: And by and large, what I find is that people are developing their impressions of us by watching Hannity and so on, and I said hey you know give us a chance. Watch us and then make up your mind.

STELTER: Right, the pro-Trump media calls you fake news and say you're a drama queen. I wrote down some of these slurs. Some of them I can't read because they're curse words. The point is though when you're in the back of the room like you were on Friday and you shout a question to Trump and he probably can't even hear it, isn't it true that you're kind of doing that just to get attention? Isn't that part of what you're doing?

ACOSTA: Well, on Friday when I was shouting that question, I thought, first of all, he keeps calling us the enemy of the people you know, somebody ought to ask him after what happened in Annapolis are they're going to continue to call us the enemy of the people? And so, they had an event, they put him on all the other way -- the other side of the room but there was a moment towards the end of that event when he was walking towards us and I thought, well, here's a chance to perhaps out a question to him and we have seen on occasion when we shout questions, he does answer the question. So, it's not unreasonable to ask that question. It's not like we barge into the Oval Office or barge in at Easter Egg Roll and start shouting questions.

STELTER: So, there's a perception you do in order to get attention for yourself.

ACOSTA: Typically. And what people don't understand is that typically at the very end of these pool opportunities, what we call pool opportunities where we go in and talk to the President or he has an event, we wait until the very end of the bill signing or the event or whatever he has and he says OK, thanks guys and then we'll go in and our -- and we'll ask our questions. People don't understand there's a process to it and you know, we typically adhere to that process. Now, of course, if they're not going to take our questions, we have to find opportunities to ask those questions and that's --

STELTER: It's kind of like Sam Donaldson did decades ago.

ACOSTA: That's right. And listen, if they want to send me to hell, I'll still be shouting at the devil is the way I look at it. And you know, we have a job to do the and I've said this times before and I'll say it again, they can kick us out of the briefing room, they can kick us out of the White House, we're still going to do our jobs. And you know, my attitude is that we fill a necessary role in our democracy. The rest of the world is watching us. They don't understand how the president can call fake news and the enemy of the people, and my response to all of that is my goodness what -- are we supposed to sit back and do nothing? Are we supposed to not push back when we're treated in that fashion? And my sense of it is that you have to push back.

[11:40:01] STELTER: Real quick. I saw Sean Spicer was out pitching a T.V. show, a talk show. Has he tried to book you?

ACOSTA: Yes, I did -- I get a request for that. We politely turned that down. My sense of it is that Sean has sort of crossed the line from you know, being somebody who is a former Press Secretary to somebody who wants to resurrect his career and go on Fox News and bash CNN. And if he's going to do that, I don't think we should give him you know time to do that. If he wants to have a civil exchange, I'm willing to do that. But my feeling up until this point is that he's just not willing to do that. And you know until that -- until that that happens, I'm not really willing to go into that kind of situation.

STELTER: And one of the big stories this week was about Bill Shine the former Fox News co-president now taking a big job at the White House. He's going to be in a big communications role. It's kind of controversial because Shine had to leave Fox in the wake of the Roger Ailes scandal. There were questions about how he handled some of the sexual harassment complaints. He's been named in a few lawsuits. Now Shine has denied all wrongdoing, but this controversy continues. I wonder what it's going to mean to have a former Fox News co-president essentially running communications at the White House. Do we have any sense of what that's going to be like?

ACOSTA: Well, you know, we have so many people from Fox News who work at the White House, who have worked at the White House that you know, this is just further I guess, meshing of these two entities, the White House and Fox News. And you know, what we have in this country right now, Brian, and people need to be aware of it is we don't have what we have traditionally seen as the media's role in this country as having essentially a free press. We have what I would consider to be a system of state-supported media and that you have a White House, you have a president they lend so much support to one individual news network which gives them beneficial coverage that it's -- it has changed the nature of what we view as being our system of delivering the news in this country.


ACOSTA: You know, we -- I think we have a system where one network benefits from a very symbiotic relationship from the White House and we all have to grapple with that on a daily basis. As you know, I mean, on a daily basis we think that the President is watching Fox and Friends, that he's going to tweet about Fox and Friends every morning and we have to respond to that. We spend every day thinking well, is he going to go on Fox News and talk to somebody and we have to cover that. His top aides go on Fox News, you see this in the driveway of the White House. They'll go out Kellyanne Conway and someone will go out, and then the press in the pressroom will respond, run out to the driveway and try to get those aides coming back in because they won't talk to us individually, they'll go on Fox News because they know they're going to get a friendly platform. There was -- there was one day where Sarah Sanders -- in a couple of days -- where Sarah Sanders didn't have a briefing. She was in town, could have easily had a briefing, instead went on Hannity and bashed us. And so, you know, listen, this is a very symbiotic relationship. It's a very hard nut to crack and I think bill Shine going to the White House is just furthering that symbiotic relationship and you know it's something that we're going to have to grapple with. I hope that he understands going in there, that he's going to be working on behalf of the American people, not just one segment of the American people.

STELTER: You have one of the most interesting jobs on television. Jim, thanks for being here.

ACOSTA: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: Great to see you.

ACOSTA: Thanks so much.

STELTER: After the break, hear a message you've got to hear from Washington Post boss Marty Baron. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:45:00] STELTER: It's a question that continues to be asked. Does the news media need to cover President Trump differently? I recently sat down with one of the top editors in the country. Marty Baron, he's the Executive Editor of The Washington Post. I interviewed him on stage of the Aspen Ideas Festival and I asked him is this moment in time truly different?


STELTER: The media critique from the left is that this is a crisis and thus journalists have to cover it differently than Bush or Obama or other past presidents, cover a crisis differently. Do you subscribe to that at all? I mean, are there -- are there things that the Post is doing differently today?

MARTIN BARON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think you know, that certainly, we're perhaps more blunt than we were in the past about --

STELTER: More blunt.

BARON: More blunt about calling out falsehoods than we did in the past and because there's so many of them and they're so -- they're so blatant so I think that we feel an obligation to do that. I don't think we need to reorder the entire way that we do our -- do our jobs as journalists, and look we don't want to -- look, Steve ban and tried to call us the opposition party. We don't see ourselves as the opposition party and we're not inclined to embrace the notions of some people who would like us to be the opposition party. We're an independent news organization. We're independent of all parties and all ideologies. And so -- and what our -- we're faithful, we try to be faithful to the facts wherever they may fall.

STELTER: Your famous line is that we're not at war, we're at work.

BARON: Right.

STELTER: But if one could --

BARON: It's going to be on my tombstone. Apparently, that's --

STELTER: But if one side is at war and the other side is a pacifist, doesn't the pacifist lose?

BARON: Well, that's what -- I guess that's the way that you would frame it. It's not the way that I would frame it, is that I think we just have a job to do and I think that we have the greatest credibility when we do our jobs honestly, honorably, accurately, fairly, diligently energetically, unflinchingly, and that's what we try to do and the public -- and the public can come to their own conclusions.


[11:50:04] STELTER: Such a great point Marty's making there. And you can hear the full interview with Marty Baron on our RELIABLE SOURCES podcast. Find it through Stitcher, TuneIn, or Apple Podcasts. It's some great inspiration about journalism on a week like this. We'll be right back with one more message from the surviving staffers of the Capital Gazette.


STELTER: Today we want to give the final word to the surviving staffers of the Capital Gazette. All 32 of them signed an open letter to readers in today's paper. Let me read part of it. "Exposing evil, shining light on wrongs and fighting injustice is what we do. We are journalists. Yes, we bring values and belief to our work. We believe in truth. We believe in speaking for those who don't have the power to speak for themselves. We believe in questioning authority. Our community is rallied around us to show they understand who we are and that we're not the enemy of the people. We are your neighbors, your friends. We are you. You might not always like what we write or the photos we shoot or the videos we produce. You may not always agree with what our definition of what a story is or is not. Most days we suspect most of you will. But every day the staff of this news organization will report on the news of Annapolis in Anne Arundel County. We will never be the same as we were now that Rebecca, Wendi, John, Gerald, and Rob are gone. Someday we hope to be as good again. That's all we can do. Until then, keep reading. We've only just begun."