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Reliable Sources

Trump Resorts to Name-Calling, Claims Woodward is an "Idiot"; CNN: Trump is "Obsessed" with Finding NYT Op-Ed Author; Should NYT Have Promised Anonymity To Op-Ed Writer?; NYT: Trump Grousing About Bill Shine Performance; Reuters Journalist Sentenced To 7 Years In Prison; New Allegations Against CBS Chief. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired September 09, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:09] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: How to cover crazy town.

I'm Brian Stelter and this is RLEIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works, how the news gets made and how all of us can make it better.

This hour, that incredible "New York Times" op-ed, its most read article of the year. Why journalists are asking the wrong question about the op-ed.

Plus, disturbing developments from Myanmar where two "Reuters" journalists have been sentenced to ten years in prison. "Reuters" top editor will join me live.

And later, why it's time to stop using terms like "active shooter".

But, first, breaking news, from "Fire and Fury" to "Fear", President Trump frantically hunting for the administration officials who say he's a threat to the country. Many of these claims are coming in Bob Woodward's new book titled "Fear". It is already one of the year's bestsellers and it's not even on sale yet.

The moment these excerpts came out from "The Washington Post" and CNN on Tuesday, the book soared to number one on Amazon and it has been there ever since. This book is not budging from the top of the list. I mean, solely based on preorders, it's the sixth biggest book of the year on Amazon, with nearly a million copies totaled printed already. And it will actually be released to the public on Tuesday.

Here's the thing about Trump's reaction to the book, by raging against Woodward and claiming he might have made up stories and lying about Woodward's reputation, Trump seems like he's proving the thesis of the book.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This idiot, Woodward, who wrote this book.

It's a work of fiction.

Look at Bob Woodward's track record. The quotes were wrong.

The lack of accuracy.

He had the same problem with other presidents. The book has been totally discredited.


STELTER: A discredited president there lying about a famed journalist.

Obviously, no one is perfect, Bob Woodward is not perfect. But his reputation is very strong, not just in Washington, but across the country. This is the 19th book that Woodward has either written or co-written with colleagues like Carl Bernstein.

Just last month, Trump in a phone call with Woodward said, quote, I think you've always been fair. But now, Trump is railing against the book, tweeting not once, but eight times, and by the way, boosting the preorders. Remember, this is the third or fourth that Trump's behavior has helped sell books. This is what happened with Michael Wolff and "Fire and Fury," and with James Comey's book, and Omarosa's book, and now with Woodward's book.

But here's the news that's brand new. Woodward is responding for the first time. His first TV interview has just aired on "CBS Sunday Morning" and Woodward is saying that his book is a wakeup call for the public.


BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE": You look at the operation of this White House and you have to say, let's hope to God we don't have a crisis, people who work for him are worried that he will sign things or give orders that threaten the national security or the financial security of the country or the world.


STELTER: While Trump may frame this as a question of, who do you believe, the president or Bob Woodward, that is an ongoing argument. But is it an argument that the president is going to win? What about the issues of credibility here? And what about the astonishing claims in the book and in the new op-ed.

Let's talk about it, it was someone who knew the president way back when, Tony Schwartz. He was the co-author of "The Art of the Deal" back in the '80s. And, as you know, Schwartz now an outspoken critic of the president.

Tony, thanks for being here.

Since we're talking about books, we wanted to talk to someone who worked with the president on a book a long time ago. How do you interpret his reaction in recent days to all the revelations in Woodward's book?

TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "THE ART OF THE DEAL": Well, it's textbook Trump. I mean, he makes the shift to whatever position is necessary to try to undermine the credibility of something that's critical to him, he will do so in a way that relatively few people will by deceiving, lying, deflecting, distracting, anything he can do to keep people from focusing on what the book says.

STELTER: So, he'll say whatever he has to say in the moment, just to get through the day? To get through the week?

SCHWARTZ: No, he's trying to control the narrative, as we know. He's trying to shift the narrative. What's happening, though, is that he now has people on every side of him, he himself will pretty much say that he doesn't trust almost anybody anymore. He now has people from every part of the world that he occupies, including inside the White House, saying you're pretty nuts.

STELTER: And do you think too many journalists are so hesitant to bring up that issue?

[11:05:00] You say nuts, I would say, is he fit for office? I think this book, the Woodward book, is renewing and reviving those concerns, but are they being taken seriously enough by the press corps?

SCHWARTZ: I think you and I have spoken about this in the past, and the idea is that it's kind of anodyne way of describing it to say not fit for office. It's fine. But the reason he's not fit for office is that he's mentally unstable, that he's a deeply disturbed guy.

STELTER: But you're not saying that with a doctor's license. You're not saying that with a psychiatrist license.

SCHWARTZ: Listen, I -- you don't need a license to be able to see that when person lies 6,000 times over a period of a year and a half, that there's something profoundly off about them. That is an extreme behavior. So, whether we come up with a term that is psychological in nature, or that's seem safer, the bottom line is this guy is not stable, he's not logical, he's not rational, and he is indeed as you say unfit to be president.

STELTER: Well, I -- let me say with regard to what's in the Woodward book, right, these claims about how his aides think he's a threat to the country, a threat to national security. Do you feel that that's new? Meaning, as Woodward uncovering anything new here? Or when you read the excerpts, were you kind of wondering, hey, what's the fuss?

SCHWARTZ: Well, no, it's a big fuss when the people who are around him and dealing with him every day and fully support his policies nonetheless say he's unfit for office. That is a huge piece of news and it ought to be of real interest to anybody who's sitting on the fence about whether if they believe in his policies, it is worth supporting him. So, to know that in the White House, from a reporter who as you have said, have very high credibility, that this man is perceived by his own aides as unfit, is a huge insight into -- STELTER: But they also deny some of these quotes on the record. So,

John Kelly's denied some of the quotes. Mattis has denied some of the quotes. Now, I have been in situations where sources will tell the truth on background, right, anonymously, they'll tell the truth, and then they'll lie on the record. I think every journalist has experienced that.

SCHWARTZ: Listen --

STELTER: But I do think we should take the -- we should acknowledge that they have denied some of the claims.

SCHWARTZ: Well, fine, acknowledge that they have denied some of the claims, but recognize that these are people who have consistently been not just by Woodward, but by others noted or recognized by reporter for having said very, very similar things.

STELTER: Yes, I mean, Woodward is just adding to a body of work.


STELTER: It's a big addition, but he's just adding to a body of evidence that's been out there for months.

SCHWARTZ: Also, it is -- it's a pattern of this administration to force people into positions where they lie in order to keep their job. So, if you are John Kelly or you are Jim Mattis or you are any of these aides who have come out, now 50 or 60 of them and said, I didn't do that, you do that because you know if you don't do that, you don't have a job.

STELTER: Let's go to some of the other responses from Trump world to this book. We can put on screen what I would call some of the uncredible reactions to the book, people including the president claimed it's a work of fiction, obviously, it's nonfiction, that he just talked to disgruntled sources that maybe Woodward just made up the stories, which is really insulting to a journalist to claim.

They've also said the Woodward is a Democratic operative and an idiot, which is just, you know, it's hateful. And as I mentioned, there's been denials that have been issued. So, that's been the playbook, right, to say in essence, fake news, fake book.

Do you think that those claims, which were effective against Michael Wolff and Omarosa, are they being as effective this time?

SCHWARTZ: First of all, those five of six things and ten more are a fog machine. It's part of the fog machine that Trump and his people create every day land every moment. No, I think what's happening is that his credibility, which was never very high is progressively diminishing, even among those who are generally supportive of his policies.

So I think this is a cumulative impact. I'm very low at this point to say it's a clear turning point, it's an inflection point, but it's very clear that I think day by day, he undermines his own likelihood to survive in office.

STELTER: All right. Tony, thank you for being here. Great to see you.

SCHWARTZ: Great to see you.

STELTER: A quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES, and then the one, the only Carl Bernstein, his reaction to how one of his long time friends and collaborators, Bob Woodward, is being treated by the White House.

Plus, the reaction to this op-ed. New information from "The New York Times" coming up right after a quick break.


[11:13:29] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.

No one knows Bob Woodward like my next guest Carl Bernstein. Woodward and Bernstein, of course, worked together in the '70s during Watergate, but they have continued to be friends and colleagues since then.

So, I'm joined now by Carl as well as Patrick Healy, the politics editor at the "New York Times."

Guys, I'd like to talk both about the Woodward book and about this "New York Times" op-ed book that's still making waves. But, Carl, first to you on Woodward's book "Fear", we've just heard from Woodward for the first time on CBS, he talked to viewers about what he hopes we'll take away from this book.

Let's take a listen to what Woodward said.


BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE": This one was in the belly of the beast.

INTERVIEWER: And what did you conclude about the beast?

WOODWARD: That people better wakeup to what's going on.


STELTER: And to what Woodward is saying in this book and what he wants the public to know? Carl, do I have you? I'm sorry --

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you, Brian. Pardon me.


STELTER: You're a little bit far away from me today. I was asking for your reaction to what Woodward was saying that he thinks the public needs to be woken up. That this book needs to be a wake up call.

BERNSTEIN: Well, I think that's absolutely correct, because the bulk of the book is an astonishing detail piled upon detail, with meetings, of memoranda in which those closest to the president of the United States, make clear that they believe that the country needs to be saved from Donald Trump and from his presidency, saved from his ignorance, saved from his lies, saved from his unwillingness to do the hard work of being president.

[11:15:21] It's an unprecedented situation, it's very different than either Bob's other books on the presidents and presidencies, including our books together about Nixon presidency. Nixon presidency in its final days was teetering with an unstable president. This president, if you read this book carefully has been teetering from the beginning with an unstable president.

STELTER: And there are lots of question about how Woodward obtained this information.

Here's part of what he's said on CBS. And this is so striking, Carl, because he's doing the same thing you and Bob did together during Watergate, going to people's homes late at night. Listen.


WOODWARD: In one case, I called somebody at 11:00 at night and said, I'd like to talk. Yes, yes, yes, we'll get to it. And I said, well, how about now? And he said now? It's 11:00 at night. I said, I'm four minutes away. OK, come over for a while.


STELTER: Come on over.

Carl, what can you tell us about Woodward's style and his reporting methods?

BERNSTEIN: The methodology, in fact, that both of us still use to this day is that which we developed reporting on Nixon, which is to go to source after source after source who has firsthand information about what he or I is covering, and that especially applies to the president of the United States and to confirm by going to source after source and getting different accounts and triangulating them to come up with what Bob and I long ago called the best obtainable version of the truth.

And what you see in this book is such a convincing -- this is not about one person in the Trump orbit calling the president of the United States a moron or an idiot, this is about being in the room with the president of the United States where he demonstrably is not capable of being the president of the United States.

Take a look at the South Korean situation. The way one meeting is described, the president asks General Mattis why, why are we in Korea? What are these 28,000 troops doing there? Why can't we -- we need to just bring them home, get them the hell out of there, they cost us too much money.

And Mattis has to tell to the president of the United States, Mr. President, they're there so we won't have World War III.

And there is anecdote after anecdote, with such very similitude that you know this is exactly what transpired. And this methodology that we started with back in the Nixon days, it works because it's what real reporting is. And remember that as with Nixon, with Trump even more so, he has tried to make conduct of the press the issue, the conduct of Bob Woodward instead of the conduct and lying of that he has engaged in.

You got to ask yourself, look, who are you going to believe here? A reporter with a record that has established what every presidency is really about, the basic information we know going back 45 years, or a president of the United States, who has made compulsive lying the hallmark of his presidency.

STELTER: And the through line with both the book "Fear" and that shocking "New York Times" op-ed is, as you said, the president trying to make the conduct of the press the issue. So, Patrick, let me bring you in on this, on the issue of the op-ed. We should be really clear that the "New York Times" newsroom where you work and the op-ed page, they're separate, there's walls between you, there's floors between you, so I know you don't speak for the op-ed pages, but what I have seen to the reactions of the op-ed are these complaints about the anonymity, the anonymous nature of the op-ed writing and the anonymous nature of a lot of Woodward's reporting.

Why should our viewers trust anonymous sources?

PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. I mean, the "New York Times" has some of the most strict, toughest vetting processes for anonymous sources, whether it's our reporting or knowing my colleagues on the op-ed side and the editorial side for any kind of anonymity that is granted. So --

STELTER: So, the editors know who the person is. The op-ed editors in this case, and we can put them on screen, Jim Dao, James Bennett --

HEALY: Right.

STELTER: -- they know who the senior official --

HEALY: And first class journalists who have covered the White House, who covered, you know, national Iraq war reporting, absolutely, they know -- they know who this is.

[11:20:01] STELTER: What about your boss? Dean Baquet? He's the newsroom boss. Does Dean Baquet know who it is, was there that much of a firewall between op-ed and newsroom?

HEALY: Dean doesn't know who the writer is. He doesn't know the identity. That is the strength of the firewall on this and on many things, between the editorial department and the news department.

STELTER: So, is he trying to find out who the source is? Are your reporters investigating?

HEALY: We can't talk about the journalism that we're doing inside. Just like CNN and others can't. But, you know, what can I tell you is --

STELTER: But if you find out who it is, are you allowed to print it?

HEALY: We -- sure. If we find out who it is, I mean, I can't get into what we would ultimately publish, but the decisions that the editorial department has made from the vetting to the anonymity granted --


HEALY: -- and the news department are totally different. So, if we -- you know, depending on how our reporting --

STELTER: Two different --


HEALEY: Yes, two different (INAUDIBLE)

But, you know, the key here thing, though, is just the deliberative nature of this, and you know this, Brian. I mean, when anonymity is granted, it's not granted willy-nilly. The editors on the editorial page, both veteran, James Bennett, certainly, veteran, you know, Washington writer, and James as well, I mean, they went through a really thorough deliberation process on this. And they felt like even though Maggie Haberman and Mike Schmidt and CNN and "Washington Post" has done great reporting on the inside of the Trump administration, that having someone who was on the inside, who was able to bring some sort of texture and life to, you know, was an important contribution.

STELTER: Let's go to the stats. This op-ed came out on a Wednesday. It is still "The New York Times" number one most emailed story on the website, it's the week's most popular article, it's the most shared article on Facebook. All told, altogether, this op-ed has been viewed more than 13.8 million times on That makes it "The Times" most red single article of the year.

So, from a page view, from a traffic perspective, it's obviously a win for "The Times".

But, Carl Bernstein, what about the ethics of this decision? There's a lot of critics out there saying "The Times" should not have given this person anonymity, not for any number of page views? What do you think?

BERNSTEIN: I think it's a legitimate article to publish anonymously. And at the same time, I think there is something craven about the author not coming forward. This is different than the case of Deep Throat where we were seeking information from someone inside during Nixon presidency, someone who did not want to volunteer much information and we were able to get some out of Deep Throat about an ongoing criminal conspiracy. Rather, this is someone on the inside, who has come to a newspaper and

said, here, I am going to give you this, and I think it's absolutely right that the "New York Times" published it, but I would hope that this individual would come forward in the national interest and give himself more credibility in what he has to say by identifying himself or herself and letting us know and then becoming part of the open debate about Donald Trump's presidency as reported in Bob Woodward's book, because the two follow parallel tracks in which those closest to the president are saying he cannot be trusted with the national security of the United States.

We have never had this in our history. The final days of Nixon -- yes, something a little different with an unstable president because of the pressures he was under, but for from the first days of a presidency, a president of the United States who those working with him consider him a danger to the national security of the United States, this is really extraordinary, and national emergency.


STELTER: You know, look at what "Axios" said earlier in the week, that when this op-ed came out, two other senior officials reached out to "Axios" and said, the author stole the words right out of our mouths, that there are other members of this so-called resistance within the government. However, there have been a lot of folks, of course, coming out saying, it wasn't me, it wasn't me.

Let me ask you about this, Patrick, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, even told people to call up your newsroom, or call -- well, technically call the opinion page and complain about what happened. We can put her message on screen there.

The thing about "The New York Times" phone system is, when you call up and you say the word opinion, you might get transfer to Patrick Healy.

HEALY: Right.

STELTER: It didn't quite translate well. So, did you get any calls yourself? I was wondering.

HEALY: I got two calls saying how outraged people were, and I got three calls from subscribers saying how proud they were of what we've done. And I think one of those, one of those callers made the point. I think this goes a little bit something Carl was saying -- they understand that for tough in depth reporting, whether it's Bob Woodward or CNN or "The New York Times", they're going to be times when anonymous sources are used.

[11:25:11] And what people trust about "The Times" is that we're not going to just grant anonymity, we're not just going to slap on sloppy attribution like senior administration official when they're not.

STELTER: I would just tweak what you said, what some people trust.

HEALY: Sure, that's true, but --

STELTER: There are a lot of folks out there that do not trust anything about the "New York Times" or CNN.

HEALY: No, that's very true. I mean, look, we rise and fall on the credibility of our reporting. But you look at the Pulitzer Prize that Mike Haberman -- excuse me, Mike Schmidt, Maggie Haberman and others in the D.C. bureau of "The Times" won on Trump reporting on the administration, that "The Washington Post" has won, some of the breakthrough investigative work.

It's not like -- I'm sorry, it's not like Donald Trump was calling A.G. Sulzberger into the White House and saying, I demand all these corrections, you know, when they had that meeting over the summer. It's not like when Donald Trump came to the editorial board after he was elected president, and said, what a jewel the "New York Times" was.

STELTER: He called "The New York Times" an American jewel.

HEALY: An American jewel. And we know that Donald Trump has been anonymous source for stories over the decades.


HEALY: And he has praised Bob Woodward repeatedly over the years. Listen to that "Washington Post" tape recording of Donald Trump, President Trump, on the phone with Bob Woodward not too long ago, talking about how fair and strong Bob Woodward's reporting was.

So, you know, anonymity isn't just granted all over the place. It's really thoughtfully handled.

STELTER: All right, guys, stand by. Thank you both for being here.

A quick break, and then, when is a Fox News interview really just a pep rally. We're going to get into that.

Plus, questions surrounding comms chief Bill Shine when we come back.


[11:30:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: This week lots of new evidence that President Trump is volatile, that he's erratic, that he's raging against media outlets at the New York Times and against Bob Woodward the author of the new book Fear. Let's continue our conversation with Patrick Healy, the Politics Editor of The New York Times and we're now joined as well by Sarah Ellison, a Staff Writer at The Washington Post.

All right, Sarah, you're the Post. You're the arch-rival the New York Times, your assessment of this op-ed. Were they right to give anonymity to this person?

SARAH ELLISON, STAFF WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely. I think they can print the op-ed. I don't think that that's an issue. It's clearly newsworthy. It's clearly a very successful story in terms of people are interested in and I think it adds something to hear it hear this message from someone in its own words inside the White House. My issue with it is that the writer talks about not wanting to trigger a constitutional crisis by invoking the 25th Amendment and then backs out of the piece by saying everyone should just relax and be less partisan when meanwhile they're writing a kind of a lot -- five-alarm bell op-ed.

STELTER: Yes, they're telling us the house is on fire but that there are firefighters so don't worry.

ELLISON: Right, so not to worry. And I find that really disingenuous and not very comforting. And I think that all the people who are saying, oh don't worry we got this, they weren't actually elected. Now, I'm not defending Donald Trump in terms of -- you know, I have a lot of issues in terms of things that he has done, but I think that it's remarkable to have people say, don't worry you've got it.

STELTER: Yes, we've got it.

ELLISON: We're subverting the president don't worry --

STELTER: We'll take care of it.

ELLISON: -- and we couldn't have gotten elected on our own. So I think that that internal kind of argument within the piece is just so shocking and disingenuous.

STELTER: Patrick, has this been awkward in the New York Times newsroom that your op-ed colleagues published this?

PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No, it hasn't been. I mean, I think there was initially sort of questions about sort of who -- you know who this -- who the writer was, you know, who knew what, but I mean pretty quickly I think people moved on to again sort of reporting around the 25th Amendment question, reporting sort of like all angles of this. But no, I think that we again, we trust, certainly, a lot of us worked with James Bennet and Jim Dao. I mean, they have now a great deal of trust in the newsroom what we weren't involved so no there wasn't -- we weren't getting phone calls. You pick up your voice and it's going to be like you know, who is this?

STELTER: Who is it, yes. And the Times, did have to staff up security at the buildings as a result. Let's turn to a couple other bits of news, something from The Times this week confirmed by CNN that the President has been grousing about Bill Shine. Bill Shine has been on the job a couple months as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. Of course, he came over from Fox News so this was a sign of that ongoing sort of merger between the Trump White House and Fox News.

So, Patrick, your newsroom reported that the President has maybe been complaining a bit about Shine's performance, questioning shines performance. And then on Thursday in Montana, we saw this rally where Fox host Pete Hegseth was kind of like the warm-up act. It was a pep rally type interview. What do you know about this Shine situation?

HEALY: Right. I mean, the President felt you know, great comfort over the years with Hope Picks. You know, he saw Hope Hicks in a lot of ways as kind of a magician in terms of keeping relationships good with the press. At least you know, Donald Trump as a candidate could hop on the phone you know, have a back-and-forth with a lot of reporters my -- you know myself included and he trusted Hope. And I think you're still seeing the fact that that sort of first wave of folks who Trump really trusted being gone. And now while Shine has the bona fides from Fox News, Trump still looks at sort of the chaos and thinks it should all be able to be solved like that and that he or Hope could be able to do it.

STELTER: (INAUDIBLE) is reporting is that Trump was heard saying bring back Hope Hicks.

HEALY: Yes, but the reality is that when that -- when the Washington Post you know, published the audio recording of Donald Trump and Kellyanne sort of swooping in with Bob Woodward, any attempt at spin and messaging the Bill Shine or anyone else could have somehow undertaken and closed down the story was dead. Donald Trump himself by having that recording and hearing his voice on what he's saying having made it you know, all but impossible for a White House spin machine to quiet.

[11:35:26] ELLISON: I think that's exactly right. And what Trump seems to want and what Hope was able to do to a degree was to save him from himself.

HEALY: Right.

ELLISON: And he won't allow anyone to do that anymore and I'm not even sure that she could have necessarily you know, pulled the rabbit out of a hat on this one. But I think that --

HEALY: She was a Trump whisperer --

ELLISON: But it's always -- it's just a matter of time and it's like -- it's focusing on you know, it was just a matter of time before he was going to get upset with Bill Shine. He wanted Bill Shine to come in and be able to control the message perfectly. Bill Shine obviously can't control Bob Woodward, he can't control the New York Times.

STELTER: Right. But you know maybe he can't control Fox interviews. The banner on screen says, is Shine still producing Fox segments? This is because Jim Acosta noticed shine kind of almost giving instructions to the Fox crew at the rally on Thursday. You know, so I find that curious. I wonder about these Fox and Friends interviews. You know, Fox and Friends on the opinion side of the house, different standards then say Bret Baier or someone at the news side of Fox.

And what about Fox's reactions in recent days to all these troubles for Trump? I've noticed Fox really focusing on Nike, Colin Kaepernick, the NFL. Here's an example of what Pete Hegseth said to Trump at that pep rally interview.


PETE HEGSETH, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Who's going to win in this cultural showdown of standing for the Anthem? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are.



STELTER: This is something Fox and Trump have in common, right, Sarah? Go to the culture war issues when nothing else is working.

ELLISON: Right. No, I mean, they have been able to go to their sort of own red meat issues. They know that this is something that they want to talk about. They love to talk about the NFL. They love to talk about nailing players. There is you know -- I think that their ability to deflect in the way that Trump agrees with is kind of unparalleled and it's shown perfectly in this particular moment.

STELTER: Sarah, Patrick, thank you both for being here. I appreciate the conversation.

HEALY: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: We do have some breaking news. We're going to take a quick break here and then bring in Ronan Farrow. He's just published a brand new story with even more allegations against CBS Chief Les Moonves. Hear the latest from Farrow after a quick break.


[11:40:00] STELTER: It is being called a miscarriage of justice. Two Reuters journalists sentenced to seven years in jail. Their crime seems to be doing their job. Now the truth is supposed to set you free but in this case this time it landed these two Reuters reporters in jail. That the two journalists have been locked up for the better part of a year now but it was this week when they were sentenced, when they were convicted in Myanmar each sentenced to seven years in prison.

Let's hear more about this disturbing case with Stephen J. Adler. He's the editor in chief of Reuters and he joins me here in New York. Stephen, first tell me about these journalists. These are -- these are local reporters, right? They lived in Myanmar just trying to report on their community.

STEPHEN J. ADLER, EDITOR IN CHIEF, REUTERS: Yes, these are local reporters working for Reuters, they're staff reporters and they do basic reporting. And I think, you know, in the in the world of punditry and aggregation you forget there were people on the ground figuring out what's going on establishing facts. The facts they were establishing was that ten Muslim men and boys, 17-year-old boys, were lined up and we have a photograph of them kneeling in front of a grave and then we have another photograph of them hacked to death and shot to death in that grave. And behind them is a picture of some of the people who did it, some of the officials.

And what our reporters were doing in addition to establishing the crime is they were trying to figure out who those individuals were. The government didn't want that and they were arrested. They were set up. They were given documents just to set them up. And then as they walked out of their meeting with the police they were arrested and they've been in prison ever since.

STELTER: Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, they've been in prison ever since. And now with this sentencing, what can you do next?

ADLER: Well, the whole trial showed an entire lack of due process and rule of law. One of -- one of the prosecution witnesses testified that it was a setup, that police were instructed to set up. Another one said that he had notes of the arrest but he had burned his notes so we knew from the start that the justice system was not going to do justice. So now we have to look at how productive would an appeal be and they do have a right to an appeal so we'll look at that. We'll look at international pressure. We have a big social media campaign going to --

STELTER: Yes. We can show one of the pictures of -- it was your newsrooms, they gather together and how that banner is trying to call attention to this.

ADLER: Right. 75 newsrooms, Reuter's newsrooms around the world held up the banner between 30,000 and 40,000 people have used this hashtag free Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. I recommend that people do that. But we're going to look at all opportunities in international forums. The U.N. is coming to town, what opportunities we can do. But we're not going to stop, we're going to get them out. We going to do everything we can to get them out. By the way --

STELTER: This is the first time it happened for you as an editor, right, that you've had two of your own behind bars?

ADLER: Well, certainly for this period of time we've had people detained but not people arrested and imprisoned falsely. It's very frustrating for the staff and I think it should be frustrating for everybody to see that good journalism done on the ground to establish facts can get people in prison for that long a period of time particularly for a story that's so important.

700,000 Rohingya Muslims have had to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh and they now live an enormous very, very dangerous difficult squalid refugee camps and we've been covering this entire situation. And the ability to cover that is so important for any democracy. Myanmar has been moving towards democracy, has been calling itself a democracy, has been talking about increased freedom of the press and this is a real opportunity for the government to stand up and say ok, this is an injustice, we're going to redress it or at least to free them.

And so what we really want is to get them out of prison. If a pardon does that we'd be very happy with a pardon.

[11:45:44] STELTER: Stephen, thank you for being here.

ADLER: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: Please keep us updated on the case. ADLER: OK.

STELTER: Quick break here and then some breaking news again from The New Yorker's new reporting about CBS chief Les Moonves. The reporter who has broken the story Ronan Farrow will join me in just a moment.


[11:50:00] STELTER: Six weeks ago Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker published a disturbing allegations against CBS chief Les Moonves. Women on the record accusing Moonves of harassment and other allegations. Now, Pharaoh has published another story, a second story with even more detail and even more reporting. This story just published on says that six women have raised new assault and harassment claims in incidents that took place between the 1980s and the early aughts. There are some details in this story that I want to ask Farrow about and he's joining me now by phone.

So, Ronan, you've just published this new reporting. Why is it that you've been able to basically have a part two? You had a part one in July, what -- did it take time to have other women be willing to go on the record and speak out now?

RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, there are two things that I'd highlight here. One is these are more numerous claims, these are six women all of them on the record also describing more serious allegations. You know, this includes multiple allegations of either physically forced or coerced oral sex. It includes the case that resulted in a criminal investigation. And the reason, Brian, that these women are coming out now is that they have been extraordinarily frustrated by what they perceived to be inaction on the part of CBS and its board and that really is integral to what prompted this follow-up story.

STELTER: Les Moonves, of course, a legendary broadcasting executive, one of the best-known CEOs in America. But in recent days there have been talks that may lead to his exit. The Board of Directors did hire two law firms as a result of your first story and there has been reporting that Moonves may leave the company in the coming days. Do you know anything more about that?

FARROW: So there are a number of cases recently that we've seen where media companies have moved very quickly to remove and given fire for cause, individuals subject to allegations of considerably less seriousness than these. And so these women have watched this process that you just described.

Yes, outside law firms being brought in to investigate but also Moonves being allowed to stay and continue to run the company and now in the last week as we reached out to CBS for comment, stories emerging that there were exit negotiations but as of a couple of days ago they were still talking about potentially letting him leave with a very generous exit package, you know, up to the neighborhood of $100 million. And many of the women found that very, very frustrating. They felt that this is the board that has let a powerful man to make a lot of money from this company in the words of one person you get away with it.

STELTER: Here's a brand new statement from CBS that's come in while we've been talking. The company says "CBS takes these allegations very seriously. Our board of directors is conducting that thorough investigation of these matters which is ongoing." So I'm wondering Ronan if we're about to hear more from the board, if we're about to hear an outcome in this story. Meanwhile, your reporting is up on and we really appreciate you calling in and sharing it with us. Thanks, Ronan.

FARROW: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: So again, Ronan Farrow and the New Yorker with new and additional allegations against CBS Chief Les Moonves. You'll recall that back in July he said he may have misbehaved in his past but he said he never abused his power. Some of those women who accused him of wrongdoing certainly took issue with that and Farrow's new reporting is up now at We'll be right back with more RELIABLE SOURCES here on CNN.


[11:55:00] STELTER: Finally today, are you still surprised by all these stories about President Trump, the revelations coming from Bob Woodward's book, the claims and the anonymous op-ed? Are you still surprised? For this week's RELIABLE SOURCES podcast, I spoke with Politico's Michael Cruz. He bought all the books Trump ever wrote and all the biographies about Trump too. He has studied the Trump library and he's not surprised by Trump's behavior.


Michael Kruse, Senior staff writer, Politico: Everything he does, everything he is, every way he thinks, he has said out loud often repeatedly over and over and over and so you know, I sort of feel like anybody who is remotely surprised by almost anything that happens every under President Trump has not done the reading, has not.


STELTER: Hasn't done the homework. But hold on. Don't we have to retain our capacity for surprise? We can't grow numb to unpresidential behavior, to lying, attacks on the media coming from the West Wing, right? Well, yes, Kruse said. There is a way to be surprised without seeming ignorant of Trump's history. Watch.


KRUSE: The surprise is not that he is who he is and that he is acting these ways and for these reasons. The surprise is that he is doing it in the context of the presidency, of running the country and of being literally the most important, most powerful person on the planet, correct? That is what is different here. What is different is not who he is or how we act or the reasons that undergird that behavior, it is the consequences, it is the stakes, it is the context.


STELTER: Listen to our entire conversation, my chat with Michael Kruse on this week's reliable sources podcasts. You can download through Apple, TuneIn, Stitcher, and now through Spotify too. We'll see you right back here this time next week for more RELIABLE SOURCES.