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In Wake of Shooting; Trump Blames Media for His Tone; Inside the Evacuation of CNN New York. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 28, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. And this is special edition of RELIABLE SOURCES.
Right now, America can hardly catch its breath. Think about the past 72 hours as the headline here on CNN.com says, three hate-filled crimes, three hate-filled suspects. And now a search for answers on a conversation of what inspires this hate, this violence, this disregard for humanity.
What role do our political leaders play? What role does the media play? And what about the big technology platforms?
Because in the U.S. today, people are being radicalized by what they hear and see on social media, and it's pushing some people who are already prone to violence over the edge. Before we go any further let me just say two things are true at the same time: criminals are the ones responsible for their crimes, but people in public life are responsible for the climate, for the tone that can sometimes inspire horrific events. Crimes don't happen in a vacuum.
So there's a lot to unpack, and we have an all-star line-up to do it today. As you know the incidents of domestic terror and hate crimes this week started on Monday with an apparent pipe bomb sent to George Soros, then, of course, bombs sent to politicians, former U.S. presidents, other leading Democratic politicians and two of them were intended here at CNN.
[11:00:04] One of the packages as you know ended up in the mailroom here at CNN in New York and the other package destined for CNN was found at a post office.
And Saturday, we all heard about Pittsburgh, a man walking into that synagogue there killing 11 people and injuring six others, including four police officers. Pittsburgh is reeling now and these are some of the newspaper front pages from across Pennsylvania as the state and as the country tries to make sense of it all.
You know, there are so many good people in the world, so many good people responding to these crimes right now. But then there are these darker forces as well.
And what we all have in common and all share is social media but also this poisoned media environment. We have to look closely at the poison being spread sometimes on television, sometimes out of the mouth of political leaders and oftentimes on ugly, dark corners of social media. So that's something we're going to examine here in the hour to come.
I want to make one more point before we bring in the panel, and that is to take a look at the suspect in Pittsburgh's post on Gab. Gab is this version of Twitter. It's an alternative to Twitter. It's become very popular among hate groups and bigots because you can post pretty much anything on there no matter how ugly.
So, here's what the suspect posted six days before the shooting. He said, I noticed a change in people saying illegals, they now say invaders. I like this.
What he's talking about there? He's talking about the migrant caravan. He's talking about portrayed by far right wing media as an invasion.
Five minutes before the shooing, he posted on Gab. He said, HIAS, this wonderful Jewish refugee agency. It likes to bring in invaders, he says that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in.
We know the suspect in Pittsburgh was deeply anti-Semitic. That was the root of his evil. But he was also anti-immigrant, talking about this invasion that's not actually happening.
And yet, who's been telling him it's happening? That's a part of the conversation we have to have today.
So, let me bring in our panel here.
Bill Kristol is with me, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Margaret Sullivan, and in Washington, Matt Lewis.
Bill, if I can get started with you, President Trump mentioned you by name at a rally yesterday. You've also been outspoken about some of the problems in right wing media as it relates to some of this. What is your reaction first of all to this hate filled week in America?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Obviously, it's horrible and deeply depressing. I do think the coming together of his anti-Semitism and his hatred of Jews, which was already there, presumably, and this notion that the Hebrew, the HIAS, the old Hebrew immigrant aid society was helping -- helps refugee resettlement.
It does incidentally, it's part of a government program. It's what nine agencies that are part of it. You know, that's the way America works, right, public/private partnerships, nonprofit agencies, helped with all the resettlements.
They helped resettle Holocaust survivors. One of whom was killed, it's unbelievable, a 97-year-old woman in the synagogue yesterday, they helped resettle Soviet Jews and they helped resettled non-Jews, so they helped with resettlement. So, it's part -- they are working with the U.S. government.
And one thing Donald Trump could have said last night if he were in the mood to say nice things is to praise these agencies, which are mostly volunteers, nonprofits, helping in U.S. government programs. But this killer obviously hates immigrants, hates Jews, and went ahead and killed a lot of people.
STELTER: He also apparently hated President Trump because he thought Donald Trump had too many Jews in around him, in his cabinet and the White House.
KRISTOL: And that's when you have a toxic environment, toxic political and media environment, of course, you know, this is where the 101 correlation of blaming X for saying Y doesn't quite work. People feel more entitled to act on beliefs that they might once have held or kept private, or held but make public, but not thought of actually acting. And in that respect, it's very, very dangerous.
I know I'm saying this for years and people scoffed for this. Certainly my fellow Republicans, some of them, oh, these are just tweets. That's just him talking. You don't like his style, Bill, but you know the policies are good.
Well, how about this? Can we now talk about the fact that he's helped create an environment that made this possible? And incidentally, Fox News, and parts of -- I hate to even call it conservative, because conservatism for me is a good tradition -- but right wing media, parts of it, have made this much more acceptable. Their coverage of the caravan and the danger of these immigrants.
Last night after I think it was the killing, right, someone on Fox Business had a guest talking about what was it the Soros occupied state department.
STELTER: Yes, let's pull that up because a tweet about this by Josh Marshall went viral. We can show the tweet. I don't want to play the clip from Lou Dobbs because it's so gross.
STELTER: No one is giving it more oxygen. But the point of the tweet, sorry, the point of the segment, as Josh Marshall is saying here, is that Lou Dobbs had a guest on from Judicial Watch saying the caravan from Central America was being funded or directed by the Soros occupied State Department.
[11:05:11] KRISTOL: So, Soros occupied is a play on Zionist occupied government, which is a very familiar anti-Semitic trope. Soros' (INAUDIBLE) among other reasons, and o this brings it all together. So, it's the Jews, the evil Jews occupying U.S. government and bring in alien invaders into this country. And that has been -- you don't have to go that far unfortunately not just right wing websites but even Fox News, as we just saw, to get that kind of --
STELTER: But Fox is going to say, you're blaming them. Are you blaming them?
KRISTOL: I'm blaming them for putting that on the air and not, you know, correcting him in real-time and so far as I know, 12 hours later, doing nothing about it. I'm blaming honestly this level after we have Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, and I know all these people in the past.
KRISTOL: I'm blaming the management of Fox and the investors in Fox and some of the other talent who are decent people at Fox for saying nothing. This is going on a long time. If you watch Fox on prime time, and I don't, but you read about it and you see clips, it's really appalling. And everyone just sits back, well, that's just Fox, they're making money. And we're not going to say anything but the people who own it, the people who run it --
STELTER: And you're saying it's time to talk about this, you're saying we can't ignore this.
STELTER: Look, Margaret, you wrote about this week with regards to the bomb attack, these said look at all these targets. This reads like a list of Sean Hannity's pre-broadcast crib notes. That was the way you put it in your "The Washington Post" column.
Again, are you blaming the Hannitys of the world?
MARGARET SULLIVAN, MEDIA COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think they have a share of this sort of revving up of hatred without regard for what its affect might be and without much regard for the truth. I mean the way things are being pitched on fox and in pro-Trump right- wing media is dangerous, and it's destructive. So I think we need to call it what it is.
STELTER: All right. Matt Lewis, let me get you in here. Your perspective on this. Of course, you are a CNN commentator but also a "Daily Beast" columnist, and you wrote about the media's role, the media's -- some of the blame that go around.
How are you taking this conversation about Fox's role in particular?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I agree with everything that's been said and I think look we're all responsible. We have a megaphone and we're all responsible for helping create and foster what is a very toxic, political environment right now. And I think our politicians have perverse inceptives to gin up their base for elections.
I think cable news has incentives to gin up anger and anxiety and passion for ratings. Same thing with websites, with clicks and tweets.
I agree with everything that we've said so far today. The only thing I would add is, tomorrow, it could be Sean Hannity who's targeted, or a Republican congressman who's targeted. And while I agree with the condemnation of what Fox has done in terms of ginning up this anger over the caravan, I think this is much more widespread problem.
I think that all the cable networks engage in this sort of fostering this anger and this toxic environment. And that's sort of where I would take it. I think this is much bigger problem. It has to do with media, it has to do with perverse incentives and I would just --
STELTER: But are you drifting to a false equivalency situation, a false equivalency between Fox and others?
LEWIS: No, I don't think it's a false equivalency. I think that's an equivalency. I think that we have a pervasive problem that has to do with our politicians who have perverse incentives to gin up anger and sort of a toxic environment.
And I think we have a media environment that needs ratings. Cable news is very toxic. Now, there's some good stuff on it, don't get wrong.
I was just watching Fareed Zakaria. I thought that was a really intelligent thoughtful show, but by and large, cable news is toxic shout-fest. I think it contributes to the anger that we have in America right now, and I do think at the risk of sounding like Donald Trump in Charlottesville where I think he was wrong, but I do think that in this case, there's a problem on both sides.
We had a Republican congressman a year ago who was shot. This is a problem. This could happen tomorrow to a Republican politician.
STELTER: Yes, look there's security outside the Fox News headquarters. Unfortunately, they've had squad cars out there for years because of threats at Fox. This is not an issue that's unique to one side or another or one news outlet or another.
SULLIVAN: But it's not even.
STELTER: But, Margaret Sullivan, you're disagreeing with what Matt was saying.
SULLIVAN: And I really like Matt's recent piece on "The Daily Beast" and much of what he said. But I don't think -- I think that in fact there is a false equivalency here.
And when we talk about the media, we need to stop and think about what that means.
[11:10:05] Are we talking about Fox? Are we talking about Breitbart? Are we talking about "The New York Times," "The Washington Post"?
You know, I think it's important to break it down a little bit because there's so little trust in the news media generally that's it's actually not that useful for us to make these broadside attacks on the media.
KRISTOL: And it's not right. I mean, this shoe is not like Lou Dobbs on Fox Business. "The Weekly Standard's" website is not like "Breitbart". So, let's make distinction.
(CROSSTALK) KRISTOL: God knows there's blame to go around. God knows there's really irresponsible people on the left, right, all kind of places. I suppose distinctions even make sense in this context. There are haters on all sides, I guess you'd say.
But in this precise case with a president of the United States, a president of the United States, that's what makes this different, echoing one particular strain of this, and that strain way more out of control than whatever you find on CNN or MSNBC or on other places. I don't believe there's any equivalence.
STELTER: Give me one second, Matt, to get Kathleen in.
Kathleen, you made a point to me off air that what trips a person into violence is not well understood. You know, we're not going to entirely understand what makes someone go off like that.
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, DIRECOR, ANNENBERG PUBLIC POLICY CENTER AT UPENN: We're not. But we do know you can create a climate conducive to it or less conducive to it. We need to ask, what are the rhetorical cues that are problematic regardless of where they appear.
First, calling someone an enemy is highly problematic characterization and should be reserved for those uses in which we have a real definable enemy. Defining someone as evil is problematic. Nikki Haley made an important point when she said our opponents aren't evil. Our opponents are simply our opponents.
And she did something else important. She's specified all those acts that are evil.
JAMIESON: And when the president said this act is evil, he was saying something important. But he's made it harder to use that word in that setting when he's also talked about people as being evil. Let's stop calling other people evil, and let's stop assuming that people are trying to destroy us when in fact they are not.
Those are the three things that take countries into war. Define an enemy. (INAUDIBLE) suggests in moral terms that it's evil and suggests it's going to destroy us. Under those circumstances, we actually mobilize countries to kill people in other countries. Let's reserve that rhetoric for moments where it's actually necessary.
KRISTOL: I think what's astonishing is, that's such a good point. The Nikki Haley, the president's U.N. ambassador, had to, without mentioning, chastised the president for his rhetoric. That should put a stop to the notion that -- I mean, she presumably wishes Donald Trump well, she has served this administration for two years, she felt it important to do this.
What does that tell you about Donald Trump? STELTER: Here's what I'm wondering -- you know, just to bring Matt
Lewis back in here -- Matt, this kind of conversation happens, some of Trump's biggest supporters hear it and they say you all are railing against the president, you're the problem and the vicious cycle continues.
Is there any way to change that?
LEWIS: It's really tough. And, look, first I'll agree with Bill Kristol. I think although we all have a platform, we all have a part to play in this culture that we've fostered, there's nobody more important than the president of the United States, whoever that may be to set the tone, and I think Donald Trump has abdicated that responsibility, and that's a huge, huge problem.
I would say going back to my earlier -- you know, at the risk of being accused of what-aboutism, I would go back and say I see on non-Fox News, there were mainstream media cable outlets, people called racist, talked about separating families, talk about if you support -- if you're against Obamacare, then you want to kill millions of Americans.
Like, that kind of rhetoric I think also contributes to this bitterness. And what we can do each and every one of us I think try to police ourselves as best we can. I mean, askew that kind of rhetoric where we call people our enemies of the people, which horribly horrific. And as someone who works for CNN, I have a personal stake in not seeing the media that way. I believe most people who work in journalism are good people.
We need journalists to hold powerful people accountable. But I also think this is business, this is an industry -- it needs ratings. Just like Facebook wants to keep you addicted, wants to keep you fired up. Just like Donald Trump wants to keep his Republican base addicted and fired up, I think cable news by and large has a similar business model, and I have just to call it out.
STELTER: I'd rather generate ratings covering anything than this kind of story, though. I mean, you know, People are thought rooting for these kinds of crimes. I know you're not suggesting that, but I want to be clear there's lot of ways to get ratings. It doesn't have to involve mass murder. It doesn't have to involve covering mass murder.
LEWIS: True. But you know what we do? We have panel discussions and shout fests where we call people racist, we accuse people of wanting to kill people for not supporting Obamacare or whatever, that happens all the time.
I imagine, look, I don't think that causes somebody to go out and do something horrific, but I think it does contribute to this culture that ultimately somebody who is vulnerable, whether it's Sean Hannity that pushes them over the edge or Rush Limbaugh, or MSNBC, I think all of it plays a part where we are.
[11:15:19] And I think that we just have these perverse incentives and it's Twitter, and it's the politicians who want the vote, and I think it's the clicks, retweets and ratings. STELTER: All right. Margaret, your last word on this block?
SULLIVAN: So, yes, media plays a part and I don't doubt that. But when you think of all the things that President Trump could have voiced this week, and he did give voice to some in a tepid way, to some of the things he should say, he also spent an awful lot of time blaming the media again in a completely inappropriate way as I see it.
I mean, that's not what he should be calling attention to right now. At this time of crisis, much of which he has brought about through in his own rhetoric to blame the media is just simply wrong.
STELTER: I'll never understand why he's tweeting about baseball on a weekend like this. I'll just never understand it.
SULLIVAN: It's true.
STELTER: All right. Stand by, everybody. Thank you for being here. Let's take a quick break and then talk about a day we're not going to forget here in this building.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to jump in. There's a fire alarm here.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: There's a fire alarm here you might have heard in the background. We're going find out what the latest s here.
HARLOW: We'll be right back.
SCIUTTO: We're going to be right back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: I'll share what it was like here on Wednesday and what's changing at CNN as a result right after a quick commercial.
[11:20:05] STELTER: The news happened right here at CNN New York earlier this week when that suspicious package arrived in the mailroom, and this newsroom here was evacuated. Some of you may have seen it happen on live TV, when our very own Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow heard the fire alarm go off right here.
Of course at the time, they were covering the other packages that had been sent to the Clintons and the Obamas. Within a few minutes, Poppy and Jim were outside along with the rest of the CNN New York staff. And, by the way, not just CNN, the entire company here, all of Warner Media, even the Whole Foods in the basement.
You can see the set went dark. They headed outside. There's a photographer happened to be with them that day, so we have all these pictures of what it was like out on the street when the evacuation happened. And as I'm sure you saw, Jim and Poppy went back live this time on a cellphone. Someone loaded up the Skype app and was able to get this thing back on a live TV.
Nearby hotel lobbies and restaurants became workplaces for employees. CBS generously offered assistance, so that we work and the coverage continued outside the building, almost all day. It wasn't until late afternoon that we were allowed back inside here.
I have to say I was so proud to be a CNN employee this week. To see how this company, how the TV network, how the digital operation all mobilized in a crisis.
CNN president Jeff Zucker e-mailed us updates every half hour while the evacuation was unfolding. In the next day, he got to the New York staff right around here and held a town hall. There was a loud round of applause for our security personnel, and Zucker announced a change.
From now on, all mail destined for CNN will be screened first at an off-site location. It's a sad sign of our times.
On Friday, CNN thanked the FBI, the Justice Department, the NYPD and the other federal and local law enforcement who worked tirelessly to keep us safe.
But obviously, security is not just a concern here at CNN -- far from it. Newsrooms across the country are making changes.
You might have seen this as well. Days before the suspected bomb arrived here a man in Washington, D.C. kicked through the doors of WTTG, that's a local Fox affiliate. He kicked through both doors, started to get in the building and then a security guard shot him once, so he was taken down.
Scares like these have journalists and newsrooms across the country on high alert.
And let's continue our conversation now. Bill Carter, CNN media analyst, Bill Carter is joining the table. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Margaret Sullivan and Matt Lewis are back with me.
Bill, you used to work "The New York Times." so did I. Now there are these new concrete barriers outside "The New York Times" building down the street -- another sign of heightened security at this day and age.
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: It's remarkable. I mean, news people are dedicated professionals. That's what we do. We don't put out messages that are filled with hate and make us targets, but we've become targets. And it's a terrible sign of our times.
And it's also a sign we're in a position we've never been in this country. I think this is kind of a state of emergency. What's happening here in this country is nothing -- I've been around for a long time. It's nothing I've ever seen before. And I remember the Vietnam War and protests and everything else.
This is at a height and level of venom and hate I've never seen. And unfortunately I believe it's being encouraged in places and frankly the responsibility has to fall on those people and they really have to step back.
STELTER: And you're talking about the president?
CARTER: I'm talking about -- the president has demagogued so many issues and he's called the press the enemy of the people. Think about what that means in historical context and where that's been used before. That -- those code words are really dangerous in my opinion.
STELTER: And taking this beyond CNN, what wave seen this week are attacks against freedom of the press -- attempts to attack the core of our democracy, political leaders.
CARTER: Yes, of course.
STELTER: News outlets and places of worship. These are our fundamental tenets.
CARTER: Yes, a lot of this comes back to -- look at the attack on the synagogue, it directly comes back to what they've been seeing on TV and these caravans, and immigrants are threatening people -- and the Jews are somehow facilitating this -- this does not sound like America to me. And the president should be the one who say, this is outrageous, disgusting stuff.
Instead he says, well, I take this tone because the media makes me take this tone.
STELTER: Well, hold on, Bill. He says it is outrageous, but then he turned it to the media. He has it both ways. Yes.
CARTER: The lip service is, oh, I'm very upset about it because that's the teleprompter version of him.
The off the cuff, the honest version of him is, well, my hair was wet. That's really my concern today. And frankly I only take this tone because they're putting these words in my mouth to say these terrible things that women look like horses and Mexicans are rapists. That's him. That's not the media saying.
STELTER: All right. But what the argument, Kathleen, that there's always been crazy people in the world. There's always been crazy people in the United States. And they've always committed acts of terror. This week has been particularly bad.
But do we have to look at this in a historical perspective and say, there's always been loons out there?
[11:25:05] JAMIESON: There have been. But now we're in an environment in which in mass situation, we have the capacity to say, we disprove of some of the signals that are driving toward this kind of outcomes. When standing at a rally and a person next to one is wearing a t-shirt that says, tree roped journalist, some assembly required, or crosshairs pictured on their t-shirt that has a picture of a politician or a political leader inside the crosshairs that people are standing next to that person needs to say, I agree with you that we support this candidate, but we don't support that, we're better than this.
And the candidate who's speaking from the podium needs to say, I want you to take that t-shirt off, that's not who we are.
STELTER: The head of CNN, I mentioned Jeff Zucker earlier, he's the head of CNN, he issued a statement on Wednesday, really, a strong statement to the White House saying: There's a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The president and especially the White House press secretary should understand that words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.
And then, of course, Margaret Sullivan, Wednesday came in and went, and Thursday and Friday and Saturday, and the media attacks continued.
SULLIVAN: That's right. And, Brian, it's actually become very difficult to even sort of keep track of these things. You know, they tend to kind of blend together in our minds, and it's very dangerous that we're at the point where each day brings a new terror and a new reason for fear. And it is this fear mongering I think by the president and some of those around him including -- including right wing media that is a huge part of the problem.
STELTER: So, Matt Lewis, tell me I think there's kind of three kinds of Americans right now. There are those who have been told by Trump that the biggest threat is the caravan, there's those who think the biggest threat to their lives are, you know, people that think the caravan is the biggest threat, right, people that are influenced by rhetoric, and then there's people exhausted by all of this. There's people that just can't take it.
LEWIS: Right, and I think in a way, all three of those things is very bad, right? The last example you give could lead people not to vote or not to be involved. They just tune out. They become apathetic.
And then the other extremes I think lead to bad things as well. So, again, this goes to my larger point about the perverse incidents.
I mean, I think the only thing I would add to this is, Donald Trump is creating an environment where it's very difficult for somebody like me who's in the media to be critical of the media. When he calls us the enemies of the people he basically has declared war in in a very irresponsible way on the media. And I think the media have taken the bait and called war on him. And then when someone like me criticizes the media, it's sort of tantamount to defending him.
I think that we can hold ourselves to a higher standard, I think there is a problem with liberal media bias, I think there's a bigger problem with salaciousness, but by no means do I think that excuses what Donald Trump is saying.
And the last point I'm saying is I am very worried. I think it is well within the realm of possibility that we could see some sort of serious violent attack that works, that actually is successful on the media or on a media personality. We have to take this very, very seriously and the president needs to lead by toning down, by calming things down here.
STELTER: All right. To our panel, thank you so much.
Some breaking news right along these lines as we're talking. WNYT is a local TV station in Albany in New York, it's announced a bomb threat was called into its studio this morning. Its studios had to be evacuated and police are investigating.
So, as I was saying earlier, newsrooms across the country having to face this.
Much more still ahead here in RELIABLE SOURCES, including the role of social media sites in spreading hate and fear.
Plus, my sit down with the new publisher of "The New York Times."
But, first, I'm going to take you behind the scenes of a Trump rally. It's my first time attending one and I learned a lot.
We'll be right back.
[11:30:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: President or Fox News pundit? Let's talk about it. I went looking for the President in Charlotte, North Carolina on Friday. He was heading there for a big Friday night rally but he started the day at 3:14 a.m. by bashing CNN. A few hours later, another apparent bomb addressed to CNN was found in the mail nearby here. The President tweeted again putting bomb and quotes downplaying what he called this bomb stuff and worrying about the GOP's midterm chances.
Now, those are the actions of a Fox talking head, not a president. So I flew to Charlotte. Well, actually I've been planning to go there for a while. When I reflected on my coverage of the 2016 election, I regretted that I had never been to a Trump rally. I thought I should have experienced it for myself. Well, as you know he's having lots of rally this month so I had booked this trip before the mail bombs.
Walking into the arena a big screen tells you to sign up for real news by following Trump on Twitter and Facebook, but in talking to the rally goers I can tell most of them were already signed up. These were the converted. They were here for a political concert, for a celebration, and many of them had been to a trump rally before. They knew the lyrics to his songs and sometimes they sang along. Here, let me show you what it's like. This is video I shot from inside the press pen and it really is a pen because you can see CNN, Fox, NBC reporters working and all the camera crews on the riser and then thousands of rally-goers all around the room.
When you're in that pen you really do feel like a zoo animal. Now, before the rally people are gawking at you taking pictures, saying fake news and enemy of the people. One guy came up and asked me if Sean Hannity was going to be there, another said he wanted to meet Jim Acosta, but look there's all kinds of Trump rally goers. Some hardcore fans where Trump flags on their bodies, but others hang in the back. They don't love everything Trump says but they still want to see the show.
Some folks were rude calling me names, heckling me during my live shots, they didn't have much interest in a conversation, but others were really friendly. These two guys wanted selfies and we talked about the news and the weather. The thing is parts of the crowd are primed to chance CNN sucks. But then after they did that one of them and walked over and said hey nothing personal, another said we're glad you're here. What you see is the individual versus the collective. You see how someone can fire up a crowd and point energy in a certain direction.
Some of them seem to think the enemy the people stuff is just a performance like pro wrestling but others seem to really truly believe it and that's the heart of the problem. Trump is leading a hate movement against the media and he kept it up all this week. No, not everybody in his crowd believes it but some do and that is dangerous. Now, you might have heard that T.V. crews traveled these rallies with security and that's true. The network usually don't like to talk about this. We don't want to draw attention to it but security is there in case anything gets out of hand.
So did I feel like I was in danger there? No, not at all. But the boos and the insults can feel intimidating and that brings me back to looking for a president, looking for presidential leadership. Here's what it was like in the arena on Friday when Trump started his media bashing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must unify as the nation in peace, love, and in harmony. The media has a major role to play --
AMERICAN CROWD: Boo!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN sucks!
AMERICAN CROWD: CNN sucks! CNN sucks! CNN sucks! CNN sucks!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN sucks!
TRUMP: And they do indeed they have a major role to play as far as tone and as far as everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What's newsworthy is what Trump didn't do. He didn't try to tamp down the jeers of CNN after a week of bombs in the mail. Instead, he soaked up the jeers, he reveled in the chants. He wasn't channeling the friendly faces who came over to me earlier and said we're all people, we all love each other. He wasn't channeling the people who were asking me questions about journalism and wine to know more. He was fanning the flames, and not just about the media either. When he tells his scary stories about illegal immigration any rails against Democrats, he's in Fox News pundit mode not president mode. He makes the crowd angrier. The next day, Saturday, the President rightly tweeted about the evil attack in Pittsburgh. He said, we must unite to conquer hate. Yes. So when are you going to start?
[11:40:00] STELTER: Welcome back. We all know the benefits, the advantages of social media. The internet is one of the most powerful inventions in the history of the world. But with all the upsides come these horrific downsides and we've seen them in the past week, we've seen them in how the suspects in hate crimes and domestic terrorist attacks have shared comments, shared hate, shared anti-Semitism, shared conspiracy theories on social networks.
For example moments before opening fire in Pittsburgh on Saturday, the suspected gunman logged onto a social platform called Gab and said I'm going in. We know that he frequently targeted Jews in his Twitter posts before he targeted -- sorry not as Twitter posts, his Gab posts before he targeted Jews in person. But this is not just about Gab, it's about how people can become radicalized by living in the fever swamps of the Internet.
Vulnerable people go down digital rabbit holes of hate and conspiracy theories and hoaxes and some end up doing awful things. I think our information environment is polluted in many ways. So how does a free society grapple with that knowing how many benefits come from the Internet, how valuable free expression and speech rights are. How do we grapple with this? Now, let's talk about with Oliver Darcy CNN's Senior Media Reporter and G.Q. Correspondent Julia Ioffe. Thank you both for being here.
Oliver, how is Gab reacting to this controversies this weekend? You know, the company is known as being like a free-speech oasis. You can post whatever you want. In reality, that means a lot of hate groups, a lot of bigots use the site to spread hate and lies. How are they reacting this weekend?
OLIVER DARCY CNN, SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER RIGHT: Well, their CEO has said that very clearly that Gab is not going anywhere. He said that in a post last night. He says that they will do whatever they can to make sure that it stays online even if it means building up the site from that the ground up. I think it's important though, to talk about Gab, its -- they say it's a free speech platform they believe in unlimited free speech basically but it really is a cesspool for hate.
I mean, if you go on this Web site, it is just terrible. The worst kinds of anti-Semitic, racist, sexist comments are on there and not only are they on there but those comments thrive on this platform. They're encouraged. Users, you know egg on other users and they get more and more extreme. And you're talking about this rabbit hole people go down, if they want validation, it's very easy to go on this Web site, say these terrible things and have -- find other users, network with them and they encourage each other. It's just terrible and it's really disturbing to me.
STELTER: Unfortunately, Julia, you have some first-hand experience with this and I was hoping you could tell us about some of the -- some of the experiences you've had on sites like Twitter, sites like Facebook where there are more rules than Gab but still so much nastiness gets through.
JULIA IOFFE, CORRESPONDENT, G.Q. MAGAZINE: Yes. What you're referring to happened back in the spring of 2016 when I wrote a story about Melania Trump. This is when Donald Trump was still running for president, was still a candidate. Melania Trump did not like the article and made her displeasure known publicly and a bunch of alt- right people came at me with -- first with you know Holocaust memes, gas chamber memes that then turned into real threats of violence, real death threats.
But I do want to take issue with your premise here. I think Twitter, Facebook, Gab, these are all tools and there were tools like this before them. There was the printing press, there were pamphlets, you know, it's -- the thing that gives a content are the people and most importantly the political moment and the people at the top who set the tone of what's acceptable and what isn't and who whip up a certain level of hate and anger and a fear of the other. You know, in the 90s when we had the Oklahoma City bombing and revival of white supremacist militias, they didn't have Gab and Twitter but they certainly got their message across.
In fact, Rand Paul's father, Ron Paul, ran some of these pamphlets and newsletters that went out to these people so that was just a different media tool. I think again, it's just a tool in the hands of the people that give it content --
STELTER: (INAUDIBLE) supercharged now though.
IOFFE: Yes, but it's supercharged --
STELTER: Supercharged, it can be networked, it's viral now in a different way.
IOFFE: But it -- but it's supercharged by the President of the United States and people around him like Kevin McCarthy who trumpet these conspiracy theories, these clear anti-Semitic dog whistles, these racist dog whistles. Again, there was Twitter before Donald Trump. I was not getting anti-Semitic death threats before Donald Trump started running for president and I had had a Twitter account for a good seven years beforehand.
IOFFE: Again, I think -- I think the buck stops with the President not so much with Twitter and Facebook.
STELTER: Let me -- because as you mentioned Twitter, let me bring up another example of this. Louis Farrakhan has been under a lot of criticism rightly so for some hateful things he has said including hateful things he's posted online. Here's an example. This is a YouTube video he posted on Twitter. He says I'm not an anti-Semite I'm anti termite. That's anti-Semitic. But Oliver Darcy, when you asked Twitter earlier this month why does this violate the rules, why does this has been taken down, they said what?
DARCY: Well, they said that it didn't violate the rules because it wasn't harassment targeted at a specific individual but at people at large. And so their current rules they say don't -- there's nothing they can do about it. It doesn't violate the current rules. Now, they have a new thing coming out that basically says if you reduce someone's humanity it would be a violation of Twitter's rules and that would potentially -- that's what you show to potentially violate that. But right now Twitter saying that doesn't violate our rules.
I think one more important thing to bring up too is that we talk about Gab and Gab is certainly accessible pool for hate but a lot of the stuff does also thrive on Twitter and Facebook and we saw that with the bombing suspect who was arrested. He was making all sorts of threats and violent comments on Twitter. People reported those comments and Twitter really didn't do enough than do anything.
STELTER: Yes. He also shared some of these memes that might seem silly to people, these nasty you know, these nasty kind of post, anti- Democrat posts, anti-media posts, they can seem ridiculous, they can seem nonsensical but apparently, some people are influenced by them. Julia, last quick thought on this.
IOFFE: Again it's -- when the ground is fertile all the stuff you know blossoms. And I think the president you showed in your previous segment, the rallies, I mean that's terrifying. That's terrifying. That chanting, that -- you know and it person -- you know, call it historic memory, call it epigenetic trauma but that -- man, that takes me back and yesterday took me back, and that was an old-fashioned pogrom and pogroms didn't happen without the person at the top that's our -- the president condoning it either tacitly or explicitly.
STELTER: All right, Julia and Oliver, thank you both for being here. Coming up, a turn to the biggest media shake-up of the week. Megyn Kelly's NBC show is over. Has her star completely burnt out now? We'll be right back.
STELTER: Megyn Kelly's show on NBC is over 13 months after it began. Now her lawyers are deep in negotiations with NBC about how exactly she's going to exit the network which really means how much is going to be paid on the way out the door. This has been an embarrassment for NBC, a disappointment for Kelly. There's a lot to talk about what went wrong. So let me bring back Bill Carter and Margaret Sullivan.
Margaret, the black-faced controversy this week where Kelly was talking about what's the wrong about black face? That was just the final nail in this coffin. What else went wrong for her?
MARGARET SULLIVAN, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST MEDIA: Well, you know, I don't think that that particular thing, Bill and I were talking about it, we think it was about a 20 percent factor.
SULLIVAN: Really there was a lot else going on there.
STELTER: The ratings is number one.
SULLIVAN: The ratings weren't so good. She really never seemed to be the right fit for that job. She didn't have the warmth and the empathy and the personality to do that kind of morning show so it just really wasn't working and then something like this comes along and it tips it over.
STELTER: What does this say, Bill, about the management at NBC News which made a huge on bet on her, a $69 million bet by bringing her over from Fox? Of course, then there were tensions with management and now they've washed their hands.
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: It seems like they were blinded by you know, celebrity and glamour which was she had plenty of and she certainly would -- they weren't the only person pursuing her and obviously she was a hot property at the time. But the idea of installing her and this kind of job was so wrong hinted. It just made you think well, what were they thinking? The Today Show is all about sort of warmth and comfort and all that and she's an abrasive kind of personality who tried to fit in that and it was a mistake for her too to think she could do it. I mean, it was --
STELTER: So she was destined to fail, doomed to fail?
CARTER: I think she was doomed to fail. I don't think that format would ever work for her and I just think the management made a very ham-handed decision. At the same to the way, they passed on Ronan Farrow.
STELTER: Yes. What about the idea that Kelly was covering #MeToo aggressively. She was covering #MeToo Movement aggressively including NBC's own problems --
STELTER: -- and she contradicted management about why Ronan Farrow left NBC with all of his Harvey Weinstein reporting. Is there an argument be made that Kelly's been pushed out because she didn't toe the line?
CARTER: Well, it certainly didn't help her. I think it alienated her further. By the way, she wasn't even liked by many of the staff. She was like -- so there was a lot of that going on. But you have to say about NBC, what are they -- what was their thinking when they decided Ronan Farrow is not appropriate for us but this woman is. As a news decision that looks pretty bad at this point.
STELTER: And what about the idea that she could go back to Fox, Margaret, because that came up right away.
SULLIVAN: Well, Fox itself has said at this point we're very happy with our lineup and that seemed to be a pretty clear no. I mean, we were talking about what's her next chapter. I mean, I don't think she's done but it's hard to see quite how she resuscitates herself at this point and she may have to swing back right before she can come back on the air in any meaningful way.
STELTER: Right. So there could be an announcement in the coming days about her leaving the network altogether but we already know her 9:00 a.m. show is over and now NBC has to figure out what to put back at 9:00 a.m. All right, Bill and Margaret, thank you for being here. My one final interview today is actually about the place that me, Bill, and Margaret all used to work, the New York Times.
This week at the Citizen by CNN conference, I sat down with the still relatively new publisher York Times, A.G. Sulzberger. The Times continues to gain digital subscribers but I asked him if Trump's anti- media anti-Times rhetoric is turning off a generation of customers that will actually never sign up for the Times as a result. Let me show you what he said. And by the way he ends on a hopeful note.
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A.G. SULZBERGER, PUBLISHER, NEW YORK TIMES: We are now at a point where according to recent polling, the majority of members of one political party answers affirmatively when asked the question is the press the enemy of the people and that's -- that is something I worry about every single day. An independent press is not a liberal ideal or a progressive ideal or a Democratic ideal, it's an American ideal and it's one that all of our Founders felt really strongly about. It's a baked in assumption in a healthy democracy. And you know if you're a small government conservative that's skeptical of overreach, what could you possibly want more than you know a badass reporter snooping around for you know, bad actors you know, doing bad things.
I think as a society it's really important that we find a way to communicate that you know, that an independent media is in everyone's interests. You know, journalism in the abstract can be made into a menace but the practical art of journalism is really a you know the art of digging and listening and learning and empathy and it's hard to demonize that.
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STELTER: A positive note there from A.G. Sulzberger about the power of journalism. And you can hear my full interview with him on the RELIABLE SOURCES podcast. Check it out through Apple TuneIn, Stitcher or whatever app you use for podcasts. It's been a difficult week here at CNN and a difficult week across the country and it's a time for reflection especially on a Sunday morning, a time for soul-searching, a time for all of us to look inward myself included. I would love your feedback. Send me a tweet or a message on Facebook. My handle on both sites is @BrianStelter.
I want to end with the words of the head of that Jewish refugee organization the one that was attacked and criticized by the suspect in Pittsburgh. He said the problem here is hate, the problem is there is a growing place in this country for hate speech and hate speech always leads and turns into hate actions. That's what we're seeing over and over again. That's what we all need to reflect on and address. Thanks for tuning in. We'll see you back here this time next week.