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Will We Learn The Truth About Trump-Putin Meeting?; "Art of the Deal" Co-Author on Trump's Fitness. Aired 11a-12n ET

Aired July 15, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:08] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: All eyes are on Helsinki. 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.

This hour, "Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz is here with insight into Trump's European adventure.

And later in the hour, Facebook says it's cracking down on fake news. So, why is this hoaxer still on the platform?

But, Michelle Goldberg, Cenk Uygur, and many more. But, first, one of the world's big mysteries. How will we know what really happens when Trump and Putin get together?

Right now, hundreds of journalists are descending on Helsinki, 1,500 reporters from 61 countries have applied for credentials to cover the U.S./Russia meeting. But they're going to have very little access to the key events.

Putin and Trump plan to meet for a private conversation before official talks begin. No aides, no note-takers. So, we'll never really know what is said, because, really, can we trust either man? No. We can't.

In the past, the U.S. president's words have projected power and shaped global decisions. What the president said meant something. It meant a lot. But not now. Not anymore.

What President Trump says is so frequently false or nonsensical that his words don't have the same meaning, the same power, the same impact as past presidents. It's a shame but it's true. Trump simply cannot be trusted. He has proven this himself time and time again. It's his own lies and his own contradictions that have proven it.

And that is why this is a profound test for journalists. How do you cover a person who twists truth like it's a game? Just saying, oh, well the president said, that is not sufficient anymore, if it ever was.

This week, we learned he called the Mueller probe of Russian interference a witch hunt, he called it a witch hunt again even after learning about the newest indictments. So, he knew the truth before the rest of us but he still lied. Of course not all lies are created equal. Some of his fabrications

are pretty big. Saying that America's GDP has doubled during his time in office.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In fact the GDP since I've taken over has doubled and tripled.


STELTER: In 2016, the GDP was $18.6 trillion. In 2017, it was $19.4 trillion. Clearly not doubled.

Obviously other fabrications by the president are smaller. On Thursday, he took a question from a CNN reporter. Then on Friday he said this.


TRUMP: CNN is fake news. I don't take questions from CNN. John Roberts of Fox. Let's go to a real network.


STELTER: Even the small lies confirm that Trump cannot be trusted. Merely repeating what he says or taking his word for it just makes a bad situation worse.

Look, obviously all presidents spin. But Trump's deceptions are different both in volume and in degree. That's what's different. That's one of the reasons why covering this European trip is so challenging.

Typically, usually, the truth comes out. But it might not this time. Not when Trump and Putin meet privately.

Of course nature and the media both abhor a vacuum. So the unknowns are going to be filled up by Trump partisans who will proclaim him to be a strong leader, improving the U.S./Russia relationship. At the same time Trump opponents will speculate that he's really a Russian agent, having a meeting with his handler, betraying America.

The divide is that stark. So with that in mind, how in the world should the press corps cover this Helsinki meeting?

Let's talk about it with Carl Bernstein, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and CNN political analyst, Sam Vinograd, national security analyst here at CNN, and "New York Magazine's" Jonathan Chait.

A lot to break down here. You know, Carl, I was thinking, if Trump's words were currency, we'd be saying it's been devalued, worth almost nothing at this point. So, what should journalists do after he comes out of the Putin meeting and declares victory or something?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Let me tell you, this is a very porous White House.

STELTER: Right, it's true.

BERNSTEIN: There has been great reporting that's been done out of this White House. And I think we just have to keep going on with that -- not with hyperbole, but we do have to assume what we saw with Rod Rosenstein on Friday is very much part of the dynamic of Helsinki, and that indeed the president's object has been, throughout, to make this appear as a witch hunt.

[11:05:04] It is now demonstrable to all, for all to see, this is not a witch hunt. And if he tries to use Helsinki with Putin to once again claim that this is a witch hunt, as we heard you in that setup, the idea somehow that the press or that the investigators are responsible for the horrors of undermining our elections in a way that has been shown definitively in what Rod Rosenstein laid out on Friday, that's part of the story.

So, we've got a huge amount of reporting to do. I don't think we need to be pejorative.

STELTER: With regards to all the reporting that's been done about Trump's views of Putin and views of Russia, Samantha Vinograd, what do we know for sure about what his walking into? What do we know for sure about Trump's attitude?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we definitely know that Trump and Vladimir Putin actually have a few things in common when it comes to the media. Both of them happen to be propaganda machines. They spread misinformation, disinformation, and sow divisions in the United States, it's Russia mission we know from the intelligence community.

And Donald Trump has proven himself to be a tool, a Russian tool for spreading that mi misinformation and disinformation. But we have to remember that Vladimir Putin had the upper hand when it comes to the media around this Helsinki summit.

Remember, Vladimir Putin and the Russian government control most media within Russia. Russia is ranked 148th when it comes to press freedom. So, we know that Vladimir Putin will be controlling the message out of Russian media. And we also know that the Russian government has very successfully manipulated social media to help spread the messages that they're seeking to get out.

So, Putin definitely had the upper hand in that respect. And he's also going to try to make Trump into a media maven because he knows that President Trump loves being in the spotlight and that when President Trump is in front of the cameras, he goes off script, he undermines the U.S. government, and again, he helps to spread Russia's messages.

STELTER: I wonder what it means, if anything, that Putin has selected fox's Chris Wallace to have an exclusive conversation after the meeting. It seems like Putin knows to go to Fox. At the same time, Wallace is a really tough interviewer. VINOGRAD: Exactly. But he knows that Fox is the president's

preferred outlet. And he knows how to play his assets. And Donald Trump, either wittingly or unwittingly, is an asset of the Russian government.

So, if you're Vladimir Putin, you're going into this meeting and thinking, OK, I have my playbook, I'm going to flatter President Trump, he likes compliments. I'm going to talk to him about conspiracies within the United States. And I'm going to talk about things that he likes and things that he trusts, like Fox News.

Imagine if Putin had said, no, I'm going to go give an interview to CNN or MSNBC. President Trump's spine would have been up, he would have been worried that Putin was going to say something that he didn't like. This way, President Trump is incredibly comfortable going into this meeting.

And to use President Trump's words from a few days ago, he's easy. President Trump is an easy target.

STELTER: You talked about him being an unwitting Russian asset. Jonathan Chait, you went a step further in your cover story for "New York Magazine" this week, we can put it on screen I think, you talked about whether President Trump has been a Russian asset for decades.

Now, you acknowledge this is unlikely, but you're making the point that it's possible.


STELTER: Talk us through it.

CHAIT: Well, what I was trying to do in this story is to make the case that we've been behind the facts on the Russia story since the beginning, when the hack was first reported. Nobody thought that Russia was actually trying to help Donald Trump. And we keep catching up, we keep assuming the truth is just one or two steps ahead of us. And there's so much incriminating information. Much of it has been forgotten.

One of the things I begin with is the fact that the former CIA director, John Brennan, received intercepts from European intelligence agencies of Russian officials talking about their connections to the Trump campaign. And then Brennan came out and said that he thinks Putin has something secret, some blackmail leverage over the president of the United States. That's an astonishing charge. It's made by someone who actually has some information at his disposal. I think we should actually take it seriously.

STELTER: Is there a risk, Jonathan, these conversations end up sounding like conspiracy theories in the same way that Sean Hannity is engaging in that kind of behavior?

CHAIT: There certainly is a risk. I mean, I think you have to be cautious about what the facts show. You can't get ahead of the facts. You can't say this definitely happened when you think, well, maybe it just possibly happened.

You've got to look at other possibilities, as I do. In every step, I try to show where there could be innocent explanations. Sometimes when someone does something that doesn't make sense, sometimes people just do things that don't make sense, and you have to be open to that.

[11:10:05] But look, when you have serious information and serious figures making these charges, I think you actually have to not just blind yourself to these outcomes that they're putting right in front of your face, but say, like, you know, this is one of the things that might actually be where the story is going.

STELTER: I sometimes wonder if a lot of Americans have tuned this story out, this issue about Russia's attack in 2016, because it is so complex, and it's become so partisan.

Carl, is that something you've noticed, that the people don't want to keep track of all of these revelations, no matter how damaging?

BERNSTEIN: Well, I think as in Watergate, a lot of the details are very hard to keep up with, even for reporters. But I think more important, we have just seen, at the end of the week, on Friday, a tremendous development, which puts an end to the fiction that the president, that Republicans in Congress, that Fox, that others have promoted about a witch hunt.

What we now have, and we just heard Jonathan talk about and use the word "might," I think that maybe we don't want to use the word "might" too much in our reporting, but we do want to assemble all the known facts that are there. And what we do know is that the Mueller investigation is going forward.

We are seeing the president's narrative undermined by fact, not by "might," but by what we know as a result of Mueller's investigation. And the attacks on Mueller's investigation by the president and his acolytes no longer carry the same kind of even prospective authority that they did several days ago.

CHAIT: Can I respond to what Carl just said?

STELTER: Yes, please?

CHAIT: I think you have to separate the jobs of a reporter and an opinion analyst like myself. Reporters need to just report what the facts are and put the facts together. Analysts need to base their analysis off of facts, as I do. But it's perfectly appropriate for someone writing an opinion article to say here is what I think could be happening, here is the range of possibilities.

BERNSTEIN: I agree totally with Jonathan on that. And all I'm speaking about is that in terms of our reporting, our reporting in terms of what we know, that the use of the word "might" can be undermining. But in terms of what Jonathan and what interpretative reporting and analysis is, absolutely, it has a place.

STELTER: Samantha, how should folks here on television, writing pieces as well, help keep the story straight, for, you know, relatively casual news consumers who are not watching every single new development?

VINOGRAD: I think there are two pieces of this story that get a lot less attention these days. The first is, the attack didn't stop in 2016. So Donald Trump is walking into this Helsinki summit, meeting with his attacker. We're under live attack by the Russian government.

So, this is not a meeting of equals. It's not even a meeting of rivals. It's a meeting of the attacker and at this point a willing victim, because the president has done anything to really deter the attack from going forward.

BERNSTEIN: Our president, if he is going to be the kind of responsible president that is called for in this instance, needs to push back to Putin and not give the kind of namby-pamby stuff that he said today, worse than namby-pamby, saying that this is fake news and this is rigged and the rest. The only thing that is rigged is the notion that he would go in there and not say to Putin, this must stop, there are going to be consequences, there will be more sanctions, there will be economic consequences, there will be more isolation of Russia. And what this meeting in Helsinki has to be about is stopping the conduct of Russia in terms of what we have learned in Washington in these past days.

STELTER: The table is set. Carl, Sam, Jonathan, thank you for being here.

CHAIT: Thank you.

STELTER: Up next, "The Art of the Deal" in action? You have to hear what "Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz says about President Trump's psyche. That's coming up right after this.


[11:18:27] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.

Rod Rosenstein said something really important on Friday. But it was kind of overlooked amid the shocking indictments of 12 Russian intel officers.

Listen to this.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The partisan warfare, fueled by modern technology, does not fairly reflect the grace, dignity, and unity of the American people.


STELTER: I couldn't have said it better myself. Rosenstein also said Americans need to work together to hold the attackers accountable. And he's right about that too. But there are too many Sean Hannitys out there, too many bloviators

telling tall tells that distort the truth and deflect attention. And this starts at the very top.

When the DNC was hacked in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump claimed the Dems did it to themselves. Quote: We believe it was the DNC that did the hacking to distract from their problems. Quote, too bad the DNC doesn't hack Hillary Clinton's 33,000 missing e-mails.

So, Trump did what he often does, he immediately went the conspiracy theory route. Then a couple of months later, he urged the Russians to hack the Clinton campaign. According to the new indictments, that's exactly what Putin's hackers did.

Now, this behavior of deflection and distraction, it has continued now that Trump is in office. It's egged on by his supporters like Hannity who want the Mueller probe to be wiped away. Hannity is so blinded by his devotion to Trump that he wants the rest of us to be blindfolded too, so that we never know the extent of Russia's attack.

[11:20:07] Hey, Sean, if you're listening right now, please think about what Rosenstein said.


ROSENSTEIN: I want to caution you, the people who speculate about federal investigations usually do not know all of the relevant facts. We do not try cases on television or in congressional hearings.


STELTER: That is such an important warning, a reminder for pundits and lawmakers. But I doubt it will be heeded. What do you think?

Let's dig deeper on this. On Trump's penchant for conspiracy theories and what it can tell us headed into Helsinki.

I'm joined now by Tony Schwartz. He's the co-author of "The Art of the Deal," Donald Trump's famous book from back in the 1980s.

Tony, great to see you.


STELTER: Are you seeing President Trump applying the heart of the deal on this whirlwind trip through Europe?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I'm seeing him apply the Roy Cohn version of "The Art of the Deal", which is pound, demand, insist, and say the same thing over and over and over again on the assumption that at a certain point, people will collapse and accept what you said, even if it's untrue.

STELTER: Is that what he does with these conspiracy theories that I'm talking about as well, where he'll dig deep into some outlandish theory but say it so many times that he tries to trick people into believing it?

SCHWARTZ: I don't even think it's a trick. I think it's a very conscious approach that he takes to -- and we all know that he's repeated the words "no collusion" hundreds of times now.

STELTER: Hundreds of times, yes.

SCHWARTZ: Because it's like a lullaby that he wants to get you to go to sleep to and wake up believing. And he's very, very intentional about doing it.

STELTER: I noticed in Rosenstein's comments on Friday, he was talking about the danger of speculation. But I wonder if some of Trump's critics are falling too much into that trap. Here's something you wrote on Twitter the other day, you said Trump is Russia's most prized asset, quote, I suspect this goes back decades. It will I believe be Mueller's most explosive finding.

Isn't that kind of speculation part of the problem?

SCHWARTZ: I don't under -- I don't think necessarily it's a problem. I think -- we need to keep front and center that this is a person who is far outside the norms of ordinary behavior. And I think what we're watching, actually, and we watched this most recently when he was in Europe, is -- or continues to be in Europe, is the continuing meltdown, you know, in psychological terms, the decompensation that's occurring of a guy who has simultaneously been unleashed because he's pushed away all his potential critics even internally, and at the same time feels under siege.

And the collective or the total amount of pressure that he feels I think in a very predictable way has taken a guy and made him behave in ways that are more grandiose and more out of touch with reality. He lives now inside his own version of reality almost 100 percent of the time. And that reality has almost nothing to do with reality as the rest of us know it.

STELTER: What you're saying is more extreme than the way he's usually characterized on TV. You're saying he's having a meltdown. We don't normally hear that in the conversations about Trump. Why do you feel it's within your realm to describe him that way?

SCHWARTZ: Because I spent an enormous amount of time with him over a period of 18 months, because I am a 25-year student of psychology, because I've spent an enormous amount of time with psychiatrists over the last year who are trying to understand Trump, was one of the co- authors of the book "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump," and because I believe the republic is at enormous risk that goes far beyond what most journalists are comfortable saying, and what the general public therefore doesn't really fully understand.

The danger we face --

STELTER: That this is more of an emergency than we are willing to say? SCHWARTZ: Absolutely. We are in a true emergency. And the rate, the

accelerated rate at which his breakdown or decompensation is occurring is cause for us and certainly cause for me to come on TV more often, to tweet more often.

STELTER: To try to sound the alarm.

SCHWARTZ: I am. I'm trying to be Paul Revere.

STELTER: But you also -- I remember last fall, you said I think he's going to resign. I'd be surprised if Trump doesn't resign by the end of the year. That was 2017. Now we're 2018.

SCHWARTZ: You're absolutely right, I completely missed it. I think I got it wrong. I think I underestimated the enormous attachment that he would have to being in that office.

[11:25:02] STELTER: Oh, he sure seemed to like meeting the queen the other day.

SCHWARTZ: I think he likes meeting all of these people. And he particularly likes dominating these people.

STELTER: So I think what I hear you saying is, journalists need to have more courage when talking about this man's fitness for office.


STELTER: It's something that comes up from time to time. It's not a regular part of the conversation.

SCHWARTZ: He has blurred the line for all of us, between behaving in the ways that we ordinarily would, and doing what we think is necessary in the face of an extraordinary danger. And I think journalists are in a challenging position as a consequence. And I'm relieved not to be a journalist right now.

STELTER: That's so interesting. Why?

SCHWARTZ: Because you I do think that it's critical that anybody who feels and sees what's actually happening feels comfortable speaking out.

STELTER: The other day, at one of the press avails, President Trump was asked about his tweeting habits. He once again used that line about being a stable genius. Here is how he said it.


TRUMP: I'm very consistent. I'm a very stable genius.


STELTER: Is this one of those cases where he's projecting? What do you think that is, when he says "I'm a very stable genius"? SCHWARTZ: Well, I think it's partly simply his grandiosity, meaning

the inflation of his own self-worth covering over a very deep insecurity that I think is at the core of this. And I also think it's a way of describing himself that is actually the opposite, as is often the case with stuff he says.

STELTER: Well, he hears people like you saying he's unstable. So he says he's very stable. He hears people accusing him of collusion so he says there's no collusion.

SCHWARTZ: That's precisely what he does. And he also, another very analogous tactic is, he describes other people in ways that fully characterize himself. That is projection. And he is endless in his projections.

STELTER: Tony, thanks so much for being here.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

After a quick break on RELIABLE SOURCES, why Rupert Murdoch had a successful week.

Plus, Trump's last front in the culture wars, is his next target #MeToo?


[11:30:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Somewhere Rupert Murdoch is smiling. His British paper The Sun owned the news cycle the other day by scoring that exclusive interview with President Trump. And now Murdoch's Fox News is poised for another exclusive, this time with Vladimir Putin right after Monday's meeting. Meanwhile, back here at home, Trump's Justice Department is still tangling with CNN's new parent company AT&T. You'll remember a judge ruled in favor of AT&T buying CNN and the rest of Time Warner about a month ago. But now the DOJ is appealing which once again raises questions about political meddling AKA is Trump using his government to punish his foes and help out his friends. One thing's for sure, Murdoch definitely benefited from the DOJ's appeal against AT&T. We know that Murdoch speaks with Trump all the time but now he has another link to the White House through former Fox News executive Bill Shine. A few weeks ago Shine was more basically unemployed but now he's the Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and he's on the list for the Helsinki summit. But his new rule role is deserving of scrutiny. Shine was forced to resign from Fox News last year amid allegations that he covered up sexual harassment by his boss Roger Ailes. Shine has denied the allegations but his appointment at the White House has been met with criticism from both sides of the aisle. Michelle Goldberg has been right about that. She's an Op-ed Columnist with the New York Times who covers politics, gender, religion, and ideology. The title of your column, Michelle, I think kind of says it all. We can put it on screen. You said it's all about lying back and taking it America. You're saying that's what the Trump White House expects us to do? MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean this is so shocking and I actually think that five months -- even five months ago I don't think the Trump could have gotten away with hiring this person who again was too complicit in sexual harassment for Fox News and was intimately involved in decades-long or at least according to reporting by Gabriel Sherman, was intimately involved in the decades-long kind of almost torture and sexual servitude of one particular Fox employee who would who -- was taken to meet Roger Ailes, was paid in cash for their cash for their assignation, was then told she had to go out and recruit other women for Roger Ailes. Ultimately Bill Shine ended up having her committed. I mean the whole story is so disgusting and so tawdry. And Bill Shine really couldn't be hired I think almost at any private company in the United States with his background. I mean, just his hiring would make that company liable to potential sexual harassment lawsuits.

STELTER: So he's probably has been named in multiple lawsuits.

GOLDBERG: He's been named in multiple lawsuits, not just sexual harassment but also racial discrimination lawsuits. And so this is basically Trump saying you know screw you to the #MeToo Movement and part of the reason he's able to do that is because he has this strategy or I don't even know if it's a strategy but it's at least a technique of doing so many outrageous and grotesque things, breaking so many norms, creating so many shocking headlines that's something like this that would have been a multi-day story in another era just sort of gets swept under the rug.

STELTER: He's a smart T.V. producer right? He's had decades of experience. He knows how to produce T.V. That's valuable, isn't it?

[11:35:05] GOLDBERG: It's valuable I guess if you think that what you're doing is putting out a reality T.V. show and not purporting to serve the American people. I mean I know that that might mean naive to treat any of these people as if they're public officials. They certainly don't see themselves as if they're public servants but that is nevertheless why his salary is being paid by the American taxpayer is to kind of communicate information not to mislead people and to work for just one faction, one small minority faction of the American populace.

STELTER: I would love to hear from Shine. I hope he starts to do interviews. I hope he is able to speak in his own word so that we're not guessing about what he thinks or what he believes.

GOLDBERG: But I don't care what he thinks or what he believes. I care about what he did. He was a party according to both reporting and lawsuits to really egregious abuse of women. I mean his hiring makes the White House if it wasn't already a hostile work environment.

STELTER: I noticed in another column recently, you know recently you talked about the amount of passion against Trump. You're making a really interesting point that approval ratings, approval polls, they can't measure just how intense the disapproval of Trump is especially among women who are trying to now run for office. GOLDBERG: Right, I mean you've seen this huge flood of women into the

Democratic primaries. They're doing really well historically in Democratic primaries. And not just people who are running but also volunteers. I mean, I talked to these women all over the country, you know, in Pennsylvania, in Georgia, in Arizona, these women whose lives were completely transformed by the trauma the 2016 election. You cannot -- you kind of can't overstate the extent to which these women have retooled their whole lives around kind of getting some sort of representation in a government that they feel you know kind of shocked and appalled by.

STELTER: Michelle, thanks for being here.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

STELTER: And much more on that possible blue wave. Cenk Uygur is standing by. He's the host of The Young Turks. He has a lot to say on this right after the break.


[11:40:00] Do you hear it? The left in the United States is roaring. But is the media really listening? I think this is a vital question right now given all the talk of a likely blue wave in the U.S. midterms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recent primary when Henry York has been cited as an example of this blue wave of something that progressive media saw coming and helped make happen while other newsrooms were caught flat-footed. So let's get into it with one of those progressive media leaders. Cenk Uygur is a Host of The Young Turks and Founder and CEO of The Young Turks Network. It's a streaming network that reaches millions of young people. So Cenk how would you characterize what's happening on the left right now? Is it fear, is it outrage, is it something else?

CENK UYGUR, FOUNDER AND CEO, THE YOUNG TURKS NETWORK: Yes, it's frustration built in with a little bit of anger that the system doesn't represent them. The system is representing the donors the politicians and unfortunately, the media over-focuses on the donors as well, who's leading in the money race, how much big donor money have they raised and that creates, unfortunately, an incentive for more what we would consider systemic corruption. So progressives want Medicare for all and 60 percent of the country does. So we're right on the issues and we wish that it would get the coverage that it deserves.

STELTER: Over-focuses you said that the press over-focuses on the other side. I mean, that's what I think is really interesting. There's a widespread perception on the left that the traditional news outlets, the CNN's of the world we focus so much on Trump voters, what they're thinking, what they're feeling that there's not enough attention on the resistance. It sounds like you definitely agree.

UYGUR: Yes, that's a 100 percent. And so, look, at a part of it is understandable Trump is president so of course, you're going to focus on Trump. Everybody gets that. On the other hand, when you look at what happened in 2016, Trump got about $2 billion of free media coverage and that was just in the primaries whereas Bernie Sanders was starved with that attention. If he had gotten the same amount of attention in the primaries, there's an excellent chance that he would have beaten Hillary Clinton and that does make a difference. If candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even get a little bit of media attention outside of what the Young Turks does and the progressive ecosystem does, they have an excellent chance of winning. But if the media shuts them out, that costs them millions of dollars in free media and it is an institutional advantage for the right-wing that is fundamentally unfair.

STELTER: You know, I noticed how you were covering Ocasio-Cortez very early on. You were talking about her race on The Young Turks many months ago, so we're Web sites like the Intercept, they were paying close attention to the race and I think it helped her in a big way. Is this -- are we at the point now where progressive media has matched conservative media, you know, the Hannity's of the world in terms of supporting candidates that you want to see elected?

UYGUR: Yes, in some ways we do one better. We're very honest that we are progressives. We call the Young Turks home of progressives and we support progressive candidates. So the Young Turks has raised well over $80,000 for Brent Welder, we've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for just the Democrats all across the country and that's through small-dollar donations through our audience. So when our audience sees Ocasio-Cortes they see a victory for themselves because they made that happen. And so we had Alexandria on the show and did different videos about her 34 times before her election. So our audience saw that happen right with their own eyes. We said she'd win, we told her why they would -- that she would win and then she won and they helped to make that happen. So that is a little different in media and that's what's coming.

[11:45:18] STELTER: You know, tell me about your business model of The Young Turks because there's been some headlines saying you've been laying off some staffers at the same time you're adding new shows. How do you keep this business thriving at a time when every single digital media companies having a hard time getting advertisers to spend more and more money?

UYGUR: Yes, so every business reprioritized every once in a while and we just did that at The Young Turks and so we launched a new podcasting network. We're super proud of it. We have We the People with Nina Turner in that podcast network, we've got Ana Kasparian and Jimmy Dore, we've got Rebel Headquarters hosted by me. So it is the home of progressives and it has the entire spectrum.

STELTER: That's really interesting. There's a market opportunity or saying around there. Hey, and by the way, thanks for not walking off when I asked about your business. Glenn Beck walked out on me a couple weeks ago when I asked this business so I appreciate that. Cenk, great to see you.

UYGUR: Great guys see you too, Brian. Thank you.

STELTER: Coming up next, to your Facebook, it has an info wars problem. Why can't the company explain how it handles downright damaging content posted on its site?


[11:50:00] STELTER: Did you hear about the Democrats launching a civil war on July four? No? Must have missed it? Infowars' hoaxster Alex Jones claimed it was going to happen. He claimed there was going to be a new civil war on July 4th. It's just the latest example of an Infowars' hoax. A story that was totally made up and designed to deceive people. Jones does this all the time. So here's the big question, do tech giants like Facebook have any obligation to stop him for worsen his tracks? You what these companies say they are working hard every day to stop the spread of misinformation and they say they want to help people find reliable sources. So here we go, one day this week I was at a press event at YouTube all about this and the next day CNN's Oliver Dorsey was in a Facebook event about this. So he asked a simple question, how can Facebook be serious about fighting misinformation and still that Infowars have a page with nearly one million followers? here to tell us what happened next is CNN Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy. Let's talk about why Facebook reacted the way it did. You asked this question at a press event. Here's a part of Facebook's answer in this kind of formal statement they issued later. They say look, we see pages on our site they're on both the left and the right pumping out what they consider opinion or analysis but which others call fake news. We believe banning these pages will be contrary to the basic principles of free speech. So what do we do? Instead, we demote individual posts that are reported by Facebook users and rated as false by fact checkers. So that's the Facebook explanation. Why does it not hold water?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Right, well, I went to this press event where they aim to tout their fight against misinformation and conspiracy theories online. And after the presentation, I asked a very simple question. How can you host Infowars and then sit there and tell us that you take misinformation online to be seriously. And at the time the Facebook executives didn't really have a good answer.

STELTER: But the answer from base was pretty clear. They say we demote those B.S. stories so fewer people see them. That is action.

DARCY: Right it is action and that's Facebook's arguments. I think a lot of people are saying maybe that's not enough action. Why would you poison a hundred people with false information if you're acknowledging that it's not good information, it's not good enough for our large audience so why would it be good enough for a small audience. And I think that is going to be a question that Facebook's going to have to answer going forward.

STELTER: Yes, so the company's response it says you know, these sites might be opinion or analysis. I think the reason why this offended so many people is because they're suggesting it's an opinion you know, it's an acceptable opinion right that for example, the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax.

DARCY: And it's classified on their Web site as a news and media website and Facebook's basically saying different publishers have different points of view. I think this is not really a case of different point of view of left or right, it's really a matter of right and wrong, right? And Facebook could come down and say this is you know, poisoning the well. This is bad information we're not going to host this kind of content on our platform. Facebook's instead saying that we're going to be not removing content that's false and kind of interesting from the company that says it's doing a lot to fight misinformation online.

STELTER: And this is not just an issue for Facebook, it's an issue for Twitter, for YouTube for other tech platforms as well. Infowars pops up on all of them.

DARCY: Right, Infowars has a YouTube channel, they have a Twitter page. Alex Jones is non-stop tweeting and live-streaming using periscope which is a Twitter product and so it does really beg the question do these tech giants have a responsibility to stem misinformation online and if it does, does it stop Alex Jones or does it also go transfer to other outlets.

STELTER: That's partly why this gets so complicated though.

DARCY: Right.

STELTER: Facebook and other tech giant's do not want to be in the business of deciding what's true or what's false.

DARCY: Right.

STELTER: They would much rather with the algorithms just you know, demote really ugly content now have to make decisions.

DARCY: Yes, I think that's why Facebook does not really want to take a position on this. They don't want to ban them outright because they're afraid that that's going to be seen as censorship against conservatives and particularly the approach at media.

STELTER: Alex Jones is going to hear this and he's going say why is CNN out to get me? Why are you trying to take me down?

DARCY: Right.

STELTER: Your reaction.

DARCY: My reaction is I was asking a very simple question at a Facebook event where they said that they are stemming misinformation online, that they're very serious about combating misinformation and conspiracy theories and fake news and so I think the obvious question is how can you host the leading purveyor of conspiracy theories online while claiming simultaneously that you're serious about fighting fake news on your platform?

[11:55:04] STELTER: That's the question. Oliver, thanks for being here.

DARCY: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: Good to see you. You'll find more of our coverage at RELIABLESOURCES.COM. Our nightly newsletter is there, make sure you sign up and we'll be right back in just a moment.


STELTER: Before we go, a quick plug for my next CNN Primetime Documentary. This time we're looking at how POTUS has changed primetime. We spoke with some of Hollywood's top producers from Homeland to Handmaid's Tale for the Trump Show, T.V.'s New Reality. Our Special airs Friday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Up here, a special edition of "STATE OF THE UNION" live from Helsinki.