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Trump Phoning In To Fox News Shows; Comedy Central Star Gets Serious About Trump. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired October 14, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:09] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. It's time for RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly at the story behind the story, of how the media really works, how the news gets made and how all of us can help make it better.

This hour, reaction to the shocking disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. One of the top editors of "The Washington Post" is here with me to talk about the latest.

Plus, a new and dire warning about climate change, but is the press giving the crisis a cold shoulder?

And later, "Vanity Fair's" editor Radhika Jones tells if there is a future for good old-fashioned print magazines.

But, first, some news you probably didn't hear about this week. Facebook did something great. The site purged thousands of hyper- partisan pages. These accounts were spreading lots of lies and smears about political rivals on both the left and the right. And Facebook said enough.

Now, technically, it said it removed the pages because they engaged in spammy behavior. But the effect is to clean up some of the misinformation that pollutes the site. Twitter has been trying to do this, too. Now, both sides have a long way to go.

But good for them. They are trying to make progress. But there's one problem, the president of the United States is the country's biggest promoter of misinformation, and he's been in a awfully chatty mood lately, super talkative, holding pressers and Q&As, interviews and chats on Air Force One.

He called in to Fox News one night this week and then woke up and called them again the next morning. And the result is even more pollution in the air and on the air. I wish this weren't the case. I wish the fact-checkers weren't working overtime on his comments. It's usually a good thing for press to have more access to powerful people.

But with Trump, the downside of that access is he is saying so much stuff that's untrue that it sows confusion and division. That's what "USA Today" did by running this presidential op-ed the other day, full of distortions, and tat's what "Fox and Friends" did by putting Trump on the phone for 46 minutes and then not correcting many of the errors. So, this is a list we made. This is all of Trump's appearance since

Monday. Look at how many he's done from that made for TV moment, swearing in Justice Kavanaugh, through a number of interviews with the reporters, calling into Fox News, et cetera, Q&As on the south lawn of the White House, et cetera, et cetera, and his press tours continuing today, with his first sit-down on "60 Minutes" since inauguration day.

So, he is talking a lot with friendly outlets and promotional supporters of his, but he is also speaking with real journalists who are going to ask him tough questions. Lesley Stahl's interview was coming up. There is more to come in the coming days.

There's obviously a political strategy at play here. All the other shows can analyze that. But let's talk about the journalistic conundrum with this kind of access comes what?

Here is David Zurawik, media critic with "The Baltimore Sun", Gabby Orr, White House reporter for "Politico", Doug Heye, CNN political commentator and contributor to "The Wall Street Journal".

Gabby, you reported this week that Fox News no longer showing every Trump rally wall to the wall has been a subject of interest at the White House. What do you know?

GABBY ORR, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes, Fox News has stopped taking President Trump rallies for the duration on weekday evenings, choosing instead to go with their regularly scheduled programming and this has obviously set off a lot of frustration inside of the White House, but also among Republican candidates and the campaigns. They really rely on the president's appearance on this national cable networks alongside their candidates to reach his base, to reach voters who would support them in the upcoming midterms.

And now, to not have the hour or the hour and a half long programming of the president just talking to Fox News viewers, many of whom belong to his base, it's a point of frustration. I was told by a White House source earlier in the week that they are encouraging Bill Shine, the White House communications director, to reach out to his old colleagues at Fox News to the see what's going on, to figure out if there is some sort of compromise that can be made.

But we're not sure yet if there is a deal in the works, if they're trying to get President Trump back on. Obviously, a lot of those prime time hour hosts have become frustrated, trading in their shows that they plan hours planning each day for the president to just say what he says at nearly every single campaign rally.

STELTER: Yes, and for FOX, it's a business decision. If the rallies don't rate as well as the regular programming, they're going to with the regular programming. I wonder, Zurawik, if you think Trump calling into to two shows on Fox this week was a direct result of these rallies no longer being carried. Is Trump going to find other ways to get on?

DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, BALTIMORE SUN: Yes, I think that's absolutely what's going on. You know, if you think a little bit even about Trump, all he knows is the ratings. That's where he lives and dies.

Remember, Arnold Schwarzenegger, anybody who does not have ratings as good as him is a loser. So, I think the fact that he realized or was told and couldn't avoid the fact that his rallies were on a downward arc in terms of the Nielsen popularity, I think that really rattled him.

[11:05:07] And I think that he is -- we are in the mid-phase now where he is going to try other venues to get time.


ZURAWIK: And you know, it is pathetic almost, Brian, to see him sucking up to Fox in his last rally last week where he is going, don't you love Tucker, and don't you love -- and he is going down the line, and I thought, this is pathetic. That's all he knows, power and fear, and Fox told him that the ratings are down and we have to go to other programming and now he is sucking up to them.

I think he'll be calling in more and he'll go to other venues and like he is using Sinclair. He is trying to use Sinclair more with Boris Epshteyn, the former aide that he has. He is going to him, and instead of Boris' little must-carry bottom line with Boris editorials now, they are interviews with Trump and senior administration officials.


ZURAWIK: But, listen, he started doing them before the Kavanaugh hearing. And I saw another one that ran on WJLA here in Washington where it is the economy is roaring, and it has never been so great, and what is your reaction, Mr. President, you know? And that's the interview.

Bit they're running in the news programs on the local stations, and now Trump is making himself available to Sinclair and people like that. So he is looking for other ways to go. And "60 Minutes" --

STELTER: Right, local interviews, Fox Business on Tuesday coming, all these interviews. Maybe we can put back on the screen the list of everything he did this week, because, Doug Heye, he is clearly dominating the conversation. This is very effective politically for President Trump to become his own spokesperson, to hold his own briefings.

But is there also a risk of him expressing ignorance on some subjects and, you know, when he's talking about the case of a missing journalist? He said a lot of things that could end harming diplomatic relations, et cetera.

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's always that risk with him, whether it's something that he's tweeting or something that he's saying.

But Trump's purpose here is to dominate all media coverage. And there is no one that we've seen in American public life that's better than that.

STELTER: There's no one on the left, right, there's no Democrat who has half the star power that Trump has right now.

HEYE: If Oprah Winfrey wanted to live in a world of chaos, perhaps Oprah Winfrey could do it, but she doesn't want to live in that world of chaos.


HEYE: Donald Trump thrives on this, even when it's negative news, he drives the coverage. You look at the Kanye West meeting, you either saw a complete debacle or more importantly, you saw it. And everyone saw it. And as we're talking earlier, no one was talking about Nikki Haley's resignation within 48 hours.

STELTER: Remember that? That she resigned this week?

HEYE: And what an important issue that was.

STELTER: Goodness.

You know, we were talking before the show started about the White House briefings and how the briefings are basically dead, maybe there's one briefing a month if the press corps is lucky.

Do you think it matters that the briefing is gone away given that President Trump is so accessible on his own terms?

HEYE: It is absolutely important, because what they may ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders is different than what they would ask the president. It's more, frankly, feedback from the White House, it's more of the White House being accountable. And there's a reasonable discussion to have as to whether or not they should be televised and whether that's' the proper course.

Mike McCurry (ph), the former Clinton White House press secretary, has said that he doesn't want to see them televised anymore, because it's all a show, welcome to the Trump presidency, but we are not getting the accountability on a day-to-day basis from the White House that we need. And that should be concerning whether it's this White House or the next one.

And that's ultimately the issue -- Donald Trump changes how all politicians talk. That is why we are talking about Michael Avenatti running for president. That wouldn't happen with a President Rubio or Walker or Bush or whoever.

STELTER: Or Eric Holder talking about kicking people. He says he meant it just as a metaphor, but that language is changing our politics.

What about the idea that the president when he is speaking so often giving these interviews, there is so much to fact check, David Zurawik? And I just wonder if we are at the point where views of Trump are so affixed, a lot of folks are numb to all the misleading information. We're not seeing enough of that checking every time he goes out and face questions on the South Lawn.

ZURAWIK: Brian, you can't -- I mean, I don't know how you could keep up, the more he grows exponentially in his presence on TV, the tougher it gets. And you are absolutely right at the top of the show, he has polluted our information ecosystem. He's made it almost toxic, when you combine him with the troll farm in St. Petersburg and the Russians and all the other people, this is a really dangerous situation.

Listen, Trump can go on TV and say something incredibly stupid, something that's horrible in terms of the foreign relations, and it almost does not matter, because he is on to the next thing talking about it, and we are always chasing him. Look, the only comfort I take in all of this the right now is that a long time ago on the show, I said, you know, "The Apprentice", everybody says it was a hit, but if you are looking at the ratings arc, it was declining steeply.

STELTER: Right, in the latest seaons.

ZURAWIK: There is a law that -- the Nielsen gods giveth, and the Nielsen gods taketh, and I think that Trump is in decline in terms of the popularity on television, and starting to feel it. That is going to make him even more helter-skelter and crazy, and we're going to get more of it.

[11:10:04] But the threat to democracy about the kinds of the lies, disinformation that he pumps out there is real -- a real danger, and we have to stay vigilant about it and try to fact-check him.

STELTER: Hey, Gabby, I noticed this tweet from the outspoken critic of the president this week, Cornell Morris Davis. He said on Twitter, in Russia, Putin controls the state TV network. In America, the state TV network controls Trump.

Now, I think that is an exaggeration, but is there some truth to the idea that the president is so focused on what Fox is saying about him, and whether they are showing the rallies that there is an elements of control?

ORR: Well, I do certainly think that the absence of the aired rallies for the entire duration has led him to do sort of these kind of the mainstream interviews and the interview with "60 Minutes" that is airing today and all of the phone calls that he made into Fox News earlier in the week, he is trying to make up for that loss of coverage that he is so heavily relied on.

But to be fair, I also think that a lot of what is happening especially at Fox News is that the sheer volume of the rallies that he is doing in these last 20, 25 days before the midterm elections is just hard to keep up with.

As you said earlier, Brian, it is a business decision for a lot of these networks. Obviously, CNN and MSNBC stopped carrying Trump rallies in full a long time ago, because they realized that you're just giving the president basically an hour-long television message to deliver to his supporters and Fox News seems to be realizing that, and I think that it is a problem. It is going to become a moment where the White House needs to take a step back and rework the strategy in terms of the President Trump's messaging.

But I do think that President Trump is obviously frustrated by this decision. His communications director Bill Shine is obviously frustrated, and a lot of White House aides are wondering what they can do to make sure that his message is reaching potential voters, even undecided voters in this last stretch before the midterm elections.

STELTER: And one more element in the conversation, and I wonder, Doug, what you made of this move that was announced the other day. Hope Hicks, formerly Trump's closest aide is joining Fox as the head of PR, Fox meaning the parent company of Fox News, Fox Sports and the broadcast network. She certainly wanted a corporate job, but is this like one of those switches from where Bill Shine went to from Fox to the White House, and she went from White House to Fox?

HEYE: Usually, when you talk about the revolving door in Washington, it's about members of Congress or staff becoming lobbyists.


HEYE: Then becoming more important staffs then higher paid lobbyists, and round and round.


HEYE: This shows that the Fox revolving door with the administration is very real, and there is no surprise when you can see the message backed up everyday on Fox. And there are marching orders.

I can tell you having worked in the Republican congressional offices for the RNC, you know, Fox was looked at sometimes, not to take marching orders per se, but to see what the base was saying so you could react accordingly. More so than this put my boss on Fox so we can get in front of the base and talk to them, what's the base telling us?

STELTER: Doug, great to see you.

David, Gabby, thank you so much for being here.

A quick break and lot more news to get to. Trump may have been accidentally duped by his friends over at Fox News, a joke that may not have landed the right way. Anthony Atamanuik who plays Trump on Comedy Central is going to join me with his take, right after this.


[11:17:02] STELTER: Hey. Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.

Every week, there are stories about President Trump that fly under the radar, like stories that are shocking and kind of embracing, that don't get any attention. I want to show you one of them. This is an example of what I think is President Trump getting duped from Fox News. Now, we're going to play this. This is from "Fox and Friends", of

course. This is Steve Doocy asking a guest about the idea promoted from the right that those left wing protesters against Judge Kavanaugh, now Justice Kavanaugh, that they were paid protesters. So, here is how it was framed on Fox.


STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The president has referred to the people, some of them, as being paid. Were they?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, on set, because people have sent me lots of messages that they are waiting for their check.


STELTER: OK. That is a joke. It is a bad attempt at a joke, and she was saying the real sincere protesters were now waiting for their checks.

And less than an hour later the president tweeted about the quote paid D.C. protesters who are going to protest, because they have not gotten their checks, and they weren't paid.

He didn't get the joke, and in fact, repeated it later in the day at the rally, and listen to tone, and he was serious about this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you see what is happening, and you see where they are coming from. You see. And including the phony protesters that got paid -- and now they want to protest because they didn't get paid yet and they want their money.


STELTER: This is one of the problems with Trump relying on the conservative entertainment like "Fox and Friends". And he hears something that was a bad joke, he repeats it as if it was truth, he misleads his followers and we just call that Tuesday.

Joining me now here on Sunday, Anthony Atamanuik. He's the host of Comedy Central's "The President's Show" and the author of the new book called "American Tantrum: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Archives."

Anthony, you have learned a lot by impersonating Trump these past couple of years, and you take him very seriously as a figure, when you see something like that, you know, these embarrassing moment that happens on "Fox and Friends", what does it tell us about the president?


I think that he's not a thinker, and so this is a person who is reactive. But I think it plugs into something deeper, also. You know, he often reflects the things that he does. So, this is a man who when he started the run for office and the escalator that rolled around the world, he paid the people to come attend his announcement.

So, it makes perfect sense that he would also believe that people would be paid to protest, because has already done that.


STELTER: Yes, a lot of people don't know this, they had to hire some actors to fill the room --

ATAMANUIK: A lot of actors.

STELTER: On the day of the announcement.


STELTER: But, look, nothing wrong with that necessarily, but they were paid supporters.

ATAMANUIK: Right, but don't you have -- I don't have any judgment about that, but it is interesting how he betrays his own logic.

[11:20:04] And I think the second thing is deeper which is the crisis actor the notion. I think that what we don't acknowledge enough is that the president digests not just Fox News, but even more radical media elements online, and that he is existing in a matrix where he is nodding at his audience of supporters who believe in things that are radically untrue. So when he is talking about paid protesters, he is also dog whistling to that part of his support group that believes in things such as crisis actors, conspiracy theories, you know, any sort of belief that the government or the media establishment is somehow trying to undermine or manipulate the truth that they are being fooled by some large globalist conspiracy.

STELTER: Yes, there is the use of language that we are seeing, more and more e extreme language targeting his enemies.

Here's a couple of examples from this week, the talk of angry mobs.


TRUMP: I need your help this Election Day November 6th to stop the radical Democrat mob.

In their quest for power, the radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob.


STELTER: It is really effective propaganda to say angry mob, and angry mob and treat them as evil.

You watched all of the rallies while you were preparing to play the president for Comedy Central. Do you think his rhetoric more off of the charts than it was during the 2016 campaign? Have you seen a change?

ATAMANUIK: Yes, I think it's evolved.

STELTER: Evolved.

ATAMANUIK: I think he's become more comfortable. I think that there is sort of three stages. There was the campaign where he discovered that the rallies were this way of getting sort of mass love from an audience, but he has contempt for the individuals, like I don't think that he would ever touch any individual person in the rally.

STELTER: Oh, come on, he shakes hands.

ATAMANUIK: But he -- I don't think that he would want to spend more than 30 seconds with that person. If you are watching him very close up --

STELTER: That's pretty mean.

ATAMANUIK: I don't think it is mean. I think that Donald Trump is not even being a mean person, I think that he likes collective love where it's not something that he is connected to, where it's something that only given to him. So, that was the first addictive quality.

And then he got into power, he was able to undo a lot of his Republican base that had to move to him, including all of the Senate and the power system, and when he started to work for them, they could work for him, and then he got more confident and I think now, he understands this is the outcropping of a man who sees threats at every corner. There is no fight, there's only flight for Donald Trump.

And I think the next two years are incredibly dangerous especially if the blue wave breaks on the House for the Democrats and breaks for the Republicans to the Senate, which is what is most likely going to the happen, is a split that hasn't happened since the early 1970s. And I think that he is teeing up and keying up a vilification of the left- leaning or the well-meaning or the centrist members of the population as enemies of the state.


STELTER: You're seeing the word evil more.

ATAMANUIK: I think using -- I mean, this is the thing, I'm -- you can say that I am being mean but this is a person on the daily basis who is vilifying and denigrating people. What he did to Dr. Ford was abjectly wrong as a person. Forget as a president.

So I think we need to the recognize that this is not a thinking person, and this is not a person who has any design, and we are reading tea leaves with him. And what he is doing is like a amoeba and he is striking out wherever there is stimuli, and that is dangerous, because there are organizing factors that will figure out how the push the propaganda and start to vilifying over half of the population. STELTER: You mentioned stimuli, and I wanted to mention Kanye West, I

wanted your take in the 30 seconds I have left, about that moment in the Oval Office. Was it serous? Was it funny or was it just sad?

ATAMANUIK: I think it's a combination of sad in two ways. Sad to watch the display happen, and I don't want to get into the psychology of Kanye West or anything, because that's not my job. I think he's pretty ignorant, I'll say that.

But I think that in addition, the distraction that we all take the distraction, a Saudi journalist who was most likely murdered or at least disappeared, and we have a hurricane that has taken out a lot of the panhandle, and real problems in the country, and we keep focusing on the things that are really unimportant.

STELTER: Well, your next special is Monday, October 22nd, on Comedy Central.

But we're going to talk about the missing journalist and hurricane. So, thanks for being here.

ATAMANUIK: Wonderful. Thank you, Brian. Appreciate it.

STELTER: Good to see you.

A quick break, and then we do have the editorial page editor of "The Washington Post" standing by. Fred Hiatt has been working with Jamal Khashoggi for the last year as he has been writing columns for "The Washington Post". Now, with Jamal missing, we'll get the latest from Fred Hiatt in just a moment.


[11:29:16] STELTER: With each passing day, it is more and more clear that journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed after entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul. For 12 days, there's been no proof of life, even as the Saudi's denials have stacked up.

We don't know for sure that he is dead, but all the evidence sadly points in that direction.

So, we need to take a step back and see why this story matters for so many reasons. Journalists and writers are increasingly under threat in many parts of the world. In this case, it's connected to so many concerns of the Trump administration, Trump's infatuation with the authoritarians, his controversial foreign policy moves. Keep in mind, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has close ties to the Saudi Arabian crown prince.

There are also questions about potential corruption because of Trump's longstanding business ties with Saudi Arabia. He's -- this is something he has bragged about in the past. So there are a lot of moving parts here, a lot of pieces to this story that's partly why it is continuing to draw attention 12 days after Khashoggi's disappearance. Now as the Washington Post continues to demand answers, many major media companies have pulled out of a high-profile business conference in Saudi Arabia. CNN, CNBC, The New York Times, and others were set to be media sponsors later this month at a conference they will no longer participate.

There's lots to this let's talk about it with Fred Hiatt. He's the Washington Post Editorial Page Editor. Of course, Khashoggi had been writing for the post, writing columns for the past year. Fred, I know this story feels like a mystery but someone out there does know the truth about what happened that day in the consulate.

FRED HIATT, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: That's exactly right. It's a -- it's a mystery but unlike most mysteries, it could be easily solved. And you know -- I mean as you said chances seem to be slipping. As long as there's a one percent chance he's alive we're going to talk about him in the present tense. But what we know for a fact is that he entered the Saudi consulate Tuesday 12 days ago and he hasn't come out. And so I'll just talk about oh let's have investigations and let's wait for the facts to come out. No, the burden of proof is on Saudi Arabia or should be and that's why President Trump should be saying.

Jamal entered that consulate. He didn't come out. Where is he? You said he completed his paperwork and walked out, fine. Let's see the paperwork. Let's see the video of him walking out. It's a mystery that somebody knows the answer to.

STELTER: Did the media get suckered earlier this year when the Saudi Crown Prince went on this P.R. campaign, you know and came and visited the U.S. and met with a bunch of media CEOs, you know, there's been these fawning columns and profiles of the new Crown Prince. Where we all fooled?

HIATT: You know, I think when the Crown Prince took over and started talking about wanting to bring reform, it was legitimate for the media and for others to you know, to give it a chance and to see what happened. We at the Washington Post haven't lost our focus on the bad things that have been happening in Saudi Arabia long before Jamal's disappearance including things like the imprisonment and lashing Raif Badawi, a blogger who only was trying to express himself freely, and you know, the the apparent kidnapping of the Lebanese Prime Minister, the imprisonment of women activists who were advocating for the right to drive.

So you know, we've been writing about these things and you know at the same time, we've been saying you have to report what's going to happen. But I think even for people who wanted to give MBS the benefit of the doubt, this has to be a watershed moment. This is -- if the reports are true, a crime of an entirely different caliber and it should not be possible for anybody to go back to business as usual.

STELTER: To lure someone to a consulate, to dismember the body, and to take it back to Saudi, it is a crime of a different caliber. I wonder if you look at what's happened in the last 12 days and you wonder if enemy of the people rhetoric not just from President Trump but also then from other world leaders has anything to do with this, anything at all. HIATT: You know, I think in a case like this it's important to -- on the actual crime to keep focus on the actual criminal. And you know, the Washington Post we're very focused saying we've got to get the facts and then there has to be accountability and there has to be consequences. I think there is a larger picture which it's also fair to look at which is that dictators around the world feel emboldened when you have Putin reaching out to Britain to poison his enemies, when you have China reaching out to Hong Kong and elsewhere to kidnap people they perceive to be their enemies.

And when in each case these supposed enemies are peaceful you know, people who have done absolutely nothing wrong you have to ask why is this happening and I do think it's happening in part because the United States is retreating from its traditional role as a leader in the world standing up for democratic values and -- including freedom of expression so that is all true. And Brian, you're right that's part of the big picture but I also think it's crucial to say where is Jamal? That is a single crime it has criminals who are responsible and let's focus on finding them and holding them accountable.

[11:35:03] STELTER: Fred, thank you very much for being here.

HIATT: Thanks for having me.

STELTER: And President Trump for his part says he is especially concerned about this crime because it involves a journalist. Here's what he said to Lesley Stahl in an interview that will air tonight on 60 Minutes.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a lot at stake and maybe especially so because this man was a reporter. There's something -- you'll be surprised to hear me say that. There's something really terrible and disgusting about that if that were the case so we're going to have to see. We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.


STELTER: Joining me now is Shadi Hamid. He's a Contributing Editor at the Atlantic and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Project on U.S. relations with the Islamic World in the Center for Middle East Policy. The President's reaction there, he's been talking about this case all week in response to questions from reporters. Now he's promising severe consequences. Saudi Arabia is firing back and mourning him against that today. What is your current read of this of Trumps treatment of this issue?

SHADI HAMID, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, it's good to see Trump taking a stronger line. I think some of his initial responses were concerning where it didn't seem like he was going to take human rights and democracy seriously in this context and kind of falling back on this reliance on authoritarian regimes which has been kind of Trump's approach to the Middle East. So he is vowing severe punishment. That said, he is all he's also saying that he doesn't have an interest in halting U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and that would be a main point of leverage. So it raises the question what does severe punishment actually look like.

So I think that it's up to those of us who are watching this case to see you know, is Trump going to live up to the some of this stronger rhetoric and -- but it's clear that he is -- that the Saudis feel more and more under pressure and there was just an official statement coming from Saudi Arabia where they vowed greater action against -- in response to any action taken against them and implicitly threatening to use their control and the oil -- in the oil market. So I mean it is -- it is ramping up.

STELTER: Do you think I'm too cynical that I'm looking at Trump's saying we need to find out what happened. We don't know yet. We don't know yet. It's easy just kicking the can down the road trying to move you know, wait till people move on to the next story. Is that too cynical?

HAMID: No. I actually think that's the more likely possibility. And I think the Saudis are hoping that people start to move on and that Trump is not -- Trump is going to be consumed with other things. And also you know -- and I think Fred made a really good point earlier that Trump has emboldened and empowered autocrats and they don't take Trump seriously when it comes to anything having to do with human rights.

What I think is different about this case is that they're almost in a sense -- the Saudis are almost in a sense taunting Trump because Trump has given them a lot of deference he's been very supportive of them. So for the Saudis to respond to kind of respond in this way in almost like disrespecting Trump by putting him in this very compromising situation that he -- Trump made a big bet on this young crown prince and now -- and now he seems to be quite reckless and brazen in his activities, the Crown Prince throughout the region --

STELTER: And about that, I mean, what about the media's role here? I saw Cato's Emma Ashford saying on Twitter the most depressing part of this whole affair is that it took the death of a Western connected journalist to make people care about Saudi atrocities in Yemen or the fundings of -- funding of proxies in Syria. Does she have a point?

HAMID: Yes, that's a really important point, Brian, that the Saudis have been doing a lot of things and the war in Yemen has been an utter disaster. It's one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in really in recent decades and it's not getting as much attention as it should. Last year the Saudi is in effect kidnapped the Lebanese Prime Minister. They detained him and put pressure on him to resign as Prime Minister. That's a case which at the time maybe got one day of headlines but then people forgot about it because it seemed a little bit complicated.

But what I think striking about this is it's something that people can latch on to because it is a human being. And maybe we can complain and say well, what about the thousands of people in Yemen but this is human -- the human connection matters in this -- in this story. And the fact that Jamal Khashoggi is someone who wrote in it with great clarity and he became -- he became a strong voice in a consistent voice for human rights, and he was really putting himself in danger and now we see how he was putting himself in danger. But he -- this is someone who went into self-imposed exile, he moved to the U.S. and 2017 and he gave up a lot to be able to speak critically about his country and the regime that it was taking his country in this dangerous direction.

[11:40:10] STELTER: Shadi, thank you so much for being here.

HAMID: Thanks for having me.

STELTER: We'll stay on top of this of course throughout the day, throughout the week here on CNN. Coming up, the biggest story that we're maybe not covering so much. On the same week that Hurricane Michael wrecked the Florida Panhandle, a shocking new U.N. report came out about climate change. How do we ensure there's sustained coverage of this crisis? I'll talk with an expert next.


[11:45:00] STELTER: Now, to the media's climate change problem. On Monday, another big and scary warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They received some coverage on T.V. but just for a day. On the three broadcast nightly news shows, there were three minutes of coverage on Monday, but look at this, Kanye West's visit to the White House got six minutes of coverage on Thursday. Therein lies the problem. Climate change is a story that impacts everyone. It gets attention here and there but not everywhere.

Let's talk about why and how to change that with Genevieve Guenther. She's the Founder and Director of -- So there's these spikes of coverage, it happens for a day, but then what, what's missing?

GENEVIEVE GUENTHER, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF ENDCLIMATESILENCE.ORG: Well, coverage of climate change drops out because I think the media has thought of climate change as a story for the science section, for the environment section. There are reports that come out that get reported by the media and then it drops off the diet of --

STELTER: So there's not sustained attention.

GUENTHER: There's not sustained attention to it.

STELTER: How do we get there? How do we get that?

GUENTHER: Well, the in the irony is that in fact, the media is reporting stories about climate change every day. Every day there are stories about droughts, about wildfires, about typhoons and hurricanes, about heat about all sorts of effects and very often these stories will appear without the media even mentioning climate change even once. So the idea is not necessarily to do more discrete stories on climate change but actually to mention climate change in the stories that the media is already reporting. Because in fact that is part of the story, that is the context for these stories, and right now the media is silent on that context. STELTER: SNL talked about this U.N. report last night. Here's a

little taste of the joke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This story has been stressing me out all week. I just keep asking myself why don't I care about this?

STELTER: I think there's a fair media critiquing that joke. The idea that folks hear about this stuff and then they still don't find a way to care.

GUENTHER: Well, almost nobody will care about something like this if you only hear about it once. So this is a terrifying statistic. The percentage of Americans who hear about climate change once a week in their media diet is about 12 percent.

STELTER: So most people really aren't hearing about this problem.

GUENTHER: So 78 percent of Americans don't hear about climate change even once a week in their media diets. So they don't realize that in fact, it's a tremendous problem that we have to address right now. It's already affecting us, it's already hurting people, it's already killing people, and we have so little time to transition away from fossil fuel use into a clean safe energy system. So the media actually needs to be reporting on this so people can be informed so that they can make the proper consumer decisions and also the political decisions that they might want to make in a democracy that's going to lead us into a safe future for our children.

STELTER: Right. This needs to be front and center in political debates for the midterms and in 2020.


STELTER: By the way, great to see you. Thank you for being here.

GUENTHER: Thank you so much.

STELTER: A quick break here, and then one of the very first interviews with Radhika Jones. She's the new editor of Vanity Fair. And also a reminder before we go to break, coming up on CNN. Anthony Bourdain's impact. Was Tony a journalist? He always said no, but his friend reporter Jason Rezaian says yes. A special "PARTS UNKNOWN" is tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern time here on CNN.


[11:50:00] STELTER: How does the magazine that's been around for over 100 years grab someone's attention? A part of the answer is on the cover. Now, Radhika Jones was named the editor of Vanity Fair almost a year ago. She's had some very surprising covers. She's been trying to break some of the magazine's old habits, but which ones? I asked her at Vanity Fair's new establishment summit in Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RADHIKA JONES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, VANITY FAIR: To me there's something about the potency of a magazine cover because it is the sort of made object but now it travels mean like through you know, through the world in ways that we don't even sometimes expect. And I've just been very struck since I took the reins at Vanity Fair that you can make a moment out of a magazine cover.

And it's not just Vanity Fair, a lot of other magazines are I think making their moments. It's very exciting. It feels actually like a vital time to be in the business.

STELTER: It's been nearly a year since you took the reins of Vanity Fair, what did that first day feel like taking over for Graydon Carter?

JONES: It was -- it's such a blur. It's hard it's hard to remember. I made a very valiant effort to keep a diary at the beginning because I had read Tina Brown's Vanity Fair's Diaries and I felt that it was incumbent on me to write you know, my version but I have to say it was so busy that I think I lost it after literally a few hours. Like I had you know, I had knowledge of the brand but I had it from the outside.

And I think it's OK to admit that when you come to a place like that, you know, you want to learn from the people who've been there. You want to learn what the traditions are that are worth keeping and that are valuable and then you want to learn what some of the habits are that maybe could stand to be broken.

STELTER: Habits that need to be broken, what do you mean?

JONES: So it's subjective but I have become a little bit of a workflow nerd and I am used to editing digitally, and my sense because Graydon's very generously left me a mug full of sharpened pencils that things were more analog before I grow.


JONES: So everyone has their preferences but you've got to figure out the way to work that's going to help you be efficient and be productive. So we've made things a little -- a little bit more streamlined and digital in terms of how we work.

STELTER: When a reporter said to me the Vanity Fair has now woke from your choice of cover subjects to your choice of features, is that that right? Is there something to that idea?

[11:55:02] JONES: It feels a little bit more complex than that.

STELTER: Well, what are you trying to do? What are you trying to say --

JONES: I wanted to feel -- I want it to feel timely. I want it to feel relevant. I think there's a space for that. I think that people-- audiences are hungry for new faces and new voices and I think that it's been heartening to me to hear that people are surprised by our cover choices across the board because I think having that sense -- being able to create that sense in an audience it's like, boy I wonder what they're going to do next. That's exciting. That means people are paying attention.


STELTER: That's a wrap on this week's RELIABLE SOURCES. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you right back here this time next week.