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Have Journalists Learned Anything Since 2016?; Trump's Lying and Fear-Mongering Hits New Lows. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired November 04, 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, it is time to vote. I'm Brian Stelter. And this is a special edition of RELIABLE SOURCES, live from Washington, D.C.
[11:00:03] With the U.S. midterm elections already well underway, more than 30 million people have already voted and the polls open nationwide on Tuesday. Turnout is so high, enthusiasm is so high, that newsrooms are treating this like a presidential election. The networks are adding hours and hours of special coverage and covering nail biters from Florida to California.
So, this hour, we are going to go behind the scenes with top editors and critics. We're going to ask how reliable the polls are this time around and what Tuesday's big surprises could be.
Plus, with President Trump holding rallies all over the country, sinking to new lows with his lies and fear-mongering, one of the busiest reporters in America will join me to break it down. His name is Daniel Dale. He is a full time Trump fact checker, and at this point, he deserved some hazard pay.
All right. So, the stage is set. There are at least three big storylines heading into Tuesday's midterm showdown.
Number one, this election is clearly a verdict on President Trump. That's how it's shaping up. That's how it's being framed by the press.
It's also being framed as the year of the woman, really, the year of the women. So many female candidates running for office this year, and so much energy and enthusiasm, so much activism we're seeing especially on the left. And we're going to see how that translates on Tuesday.
The third storyline I would bring up are the kind of assumptions we are seeing from the talking head class, assumptions about how the House is going to swing, what's happening in the Senate.
I'm wondering if we've learned anything since 2016.
So, let's start with an excellent panel here in Washington. David Zurawik, media critic for "The Baltimore Sun", Eliana Johnson, a national political reporter for "Politico" and a CNN analyst, Molly Ball, national political correspondent for "TIME" magazine, also a CNN analyst, and Nicole Carroll, the editor in chief of "USA Today". Molly, those three storylines I am talking about, am I getting those
right? Are there others you would add to the list heading into Tuesday?
MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: I think all of those are about right. I do think that, you know, in terms of the issue set, this is definitely an election that has shaped up to be about health care and immigration. But I do think those broad storylines pretty much capture what we are seeing.
What has been interesting for me out on the trail is that although it is very clear that Trump is the driver of all this turnout, of all this enthusiasm of both sides being so galvanized, on the trail, you don't hear much about Trump. You have Republican candidates not really bringing him up unless they are in front of a partisan-based audience, and Democratic also really not using this election to rile up their base about Trump so much as trying to break through with more of the issue-related arguments.
STELTER: So, he dominates cable news but he's not actually dominating these local races?
BALL: Well, I think he dominates voters' perspectives. I think people are going to the polls thinking about Trump. It's just that the politicians have tried to talk about other things.
STELTER: And his main talking points in this closing stretch have been fear immigrants, fear the caravan and, frankly, hate the media. That's been his big message, David Zurawik. Hate the media. It's fake news.
Do you think that actually resonates with voters that are going to turn out Tuesday or who have already voted?
DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Well, you know, I think it resonates with his base obviously, and by that, I mean, the people who are at his rallies. I think, you know, it's hard to say, Brian, about this, because as these incidents of violence and threats, real incidents in American life mount, I wonder how people more in the middle, independents and people like that -- it's hard to be -- if you are at all reasonable, it is hard not to say that when the commander in chief, the president of the country, says things like enemy of the people and constantly attacks and praises people who are aggressive towards reporters at rallies --
ZURAWIK: -- it's not hard to feel uncomfortable about that when you see in real life people getting attacked and in some cases people being killed.
I'm not saying it is a quid pro quo link, link, link, but the climate is set by that and I think it's making more people uncomfortable because they have to in a way fear for themselves. They have the live in this America, too.
STELTER: The climate is so hot.
ZURAWIK: Yes, yes.
STELTER: I do think it's interesting, though. There were predictions about these midterms that other Republican candidates would run against the media, that lots of Republican candidates would make this a referendum on the media.
Eliana, are we actually seeing that? Because I'm not seeing a lot of Senate candidates or House candidates bashing the media the way Trump does every day.
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I think that's right. We haven't seen a lot of Senate candidates or House candidates run against the media but we have seen them echo his message on immigration. And we have seen the president insert himself into these races. He has been an aggressive campaigner, he's wanted to go out on the campaign trail.
And in that way, I think the president has raised the stakes of this election for himself because he put himself out there and injected issues that won the 2016 election for him into the midterm election, and if Republicans lose the House, he's put himself in the position of being blamed for those losses.
[11:05:09] And I think Republicans had sort of a crisis of confidence in 2016, thinking that Donald Trump understood their voters better than they did. If they lose the House having campaigned on Trump's issues, immigration, border security, against the media, they may regain confidence and think, you know what, 2016 was a one-off, we actually do know our voters -- entitlements, you know, the typical Paul Ryan-type issues are the ones that resonate, and lose confidence that Trump has his finger on the pulse of Republican-based voters.
STELTER: Yes, right now, Trump has nationalized these midterms. But I wonder, Nicole, how you are resisting that at "USA Today", you know, trying to cover the local issues and how each race is unique, even though this feels so nationalized?
NICOLE CARROLL, EDITOR IN CHIEF, USA TODAY: It's true. We are definitely and we have 109 properties across the country. We are trying to get into the local races.
But to your point, there is something every day we need to jump on and fact check. There's something that's changing the narrative every day. And as one of the largest media companies, we have a huge responsibility to make sure we get the truth out there as quickly and aggressively as we can.
STELTER: Yes, the idea there is so much hyper partisan content filling up Facebook and Twitter. You mentioned fact checking that. You were doing that this week, stories about George Soros and others.
STELTER: How do you choose what to focus on? I mean, how do you make those editorial choices?
CARROLL: Look, it is interesting, because if you go after something that's too hidden, you risk the chance of giving it oxygen. You know, even if you're trying to fact check something, you can give it credence. But at some opponent, it hits the mainstream, and that's our responsibility to fact check it.
And we did go after the George Soros lie about him funding the caravan, and found it started with one tweet and a handful of followers. And within two weeks, it hit millions of people. So, there's really a great danger in these things, starting small and getting large very quickly.
STELTER: And we're going to get more to that later this hour with one of the heads of the Soros Foundation.
You're going to add something (ph)?
JOHNSON: That's what I think it's so fascinating about the Trump presidency, to the extent that he is not a detailed follower of policy debates, he really is following all of these trends on social media. We have seen single tweets make their way into Trump's speeches. Jobs not mobs was -- came from a single tweet on social media. Same as you mentioned with Soros.
The president really does follow social media in a way that I think previous presidents may have been attuned to policy issues.
STELTER: So, what have been the lessons since 2016? You know, since the election that surprised so many people, an outcome that surprised so many people.
Molly, are you seeing a more humble press, a sense of humility?
BALL: I think so. I think even people who do still try to make predictions about what is going to happen, you hear a lot of caveats, you hear, you know, less of the, well, the needle shows this and more of here's what it doesn't show, here's what we should always remember can happen about probabilities.
And so, I do think you hear less certitude because the big lesson from the press in 2016 was just we don't know what is going to happen until it has already happened, which, you know, is an eternal truth of the universe. We should have already known that. That's why I never like to make predictions.
But I do think that because of that, you do hear more uncertainty in all of these forecasts, trying to communicate to readers, look, this is what we think is most probable --
BALL: -- but we actually don't know and there's actually a lot of possible outcomes. STELTER: There are less people making predictions but there's still a
lot of kind of conventional wisdom or consensus coverage, isn't there? Well, it is likely the House will flip. You know, there's -- that kind of presentation of the consensus wisdom?
BALL: Well, I think we have to -- our job is to answer readers' questions and satisfy their curiosity about the things that they want to know. When you are covering an election, the number one thing people want to know is who's going to win. We can't tell them that because it hasn't happened and he with need to be transparent about that fact all the time.
But we also should be conveying to them the state of our knowledge as best as we know it, whether it's based on professional forecasters, based on, you know, special elections and tea leaves that we have seen already.
STELTER: Right, right.
BALL: Based on early voting and pollsters and so on. We are trying to communicate with readers, we don't know what's going to happen, but here is the information that we have since this is what you want to know.
STELTER: I think we can signal there are going to be surprises. We just don't know where they're going to happen. We don't know what they're going to be, but there are going to be surprises a la AOC, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and her surprise victory in New York.
ZURAWIK: And I think, you know, Brian, one thing we've learned from 2016 I think is it's crazy to make these predictions if we don't know, because it is hurts our credibility and we have all of these people pounding our credibility. In Maryland, we have a race where the incumbent governor in Maryland, it will shock people, is up by 20 points in the polls, almost all the polls.
Nobody at "The Baltimore Sun" is saying this is a done deal, this is what's going to happen. We don't know. Maybe Ben Jealous, the challenger, the Democratic challenger, gets out the vote. He said it's all about getting out the vote on the day.
Four years ago, I wouldn't have been so hesitant. Now, every third graph is if Jealous is right and they do get out the vote.
[11:10:01] And that --
STELTER: But to your point on credibility, look at this Gallup polling from 2016 versus 2018, there's actually been an increase, an improvement in people trusting or believing the press is trying to get it right. Of course, that was from a record low in 2016. It has ticked up to about 45 percent this year.
Still a low number but to your point, David, we can improve our own credibility, try to make those numbers go up a bit, or they can drop even further depending on how the press is careful in assessing this election. One more element to this before we take a break. That's the celebrity
factor. We've seen Oprah Winfrey campaigning in Georgia, Taylor Swift endorsing candidates in Tennessee. It's going to be I think one of the storylines on Tuesday is whether those celebrity endorsements matter that much.
Any sense, Eliana, about that?
JOHNSON: You know, Democrats have to contend with the celebrity factor that Donald Trump brings to the campaign trail. He was the ultimate celebrity in 2016. And he was able to make Democrats who had voted for Barack Obama cross over into the Republican Party.
So, I think you see Democrats like Oprah Winfrey, like Taylor Swift and others trying to bring those Democrats back into the tent, the ones who crossed over to vote for Trump. And Trump still has his celebrity status that he brings onto the campaign trail.
So, I think we'll see Tuesday if those efforts have worked. But that's what those efforts, really an attempt to contend with Trump's incredible celebrity that was a very powerful force in 2016 and continues to be in 2018.
STELTER: And you think about where we've been in the last two years, this is the first election since the women's march, the first election since the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the first election since #metoo movement, the first election since Time's Up.
I just keep thinking, Nicole, that the headline in your paper on Wednesday is going to be about the year of the women.
CARROLL: Absolutely. You know, there's record numbers of women running. And we don't know. You're right, we don't know what all these movements are going to happen on the vote. And we know this is all dependent on the turnout.
And so, to your point about being careful, we do need to be careful.
STELTER: All right. Quick break. Much more from the panel all hour long.
We're also going to talk about Trump's lying and fear-mongering on the campaign trail in the past few days, and whether it will have any effect at the polls. Hear from a full-time Trump fact checker, right after a quick break.
[11:15:46] STELTER: Hey, we are back on RELIABE SOURCES, of course, talking about midterm time in America.
President Trump continues to hold rallies every day, continues to repeat many of the same falsehoods and lies that we've been hearing, especially regarding the caravan of migrants moving through Mexico. Of course, there has been a lot of reaction to this -- his hysteria and hysteria on the right about the caravan and then a counter reaction, a lot of mockery of this on the left.
Here's what I mean from "SNL" last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A vicious caravan of dozens maybe millions of illegal immigrants is headed straight for you and your grandchildren. And that is not fear-mongering. That's just -- the truth.
BILL MAHER: Trump is like a racist Paul Revere. You know, the migrants are coming, the migrants are coming!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: But Trump's words and lies are not a joke. Sorry to be the pot of cold water here but this is serious. And I wonder how much the press is playing in to some of these lies.
Joining the panel now, Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for "The Toronto Star", a full time Trump fact-checker. And Marvin Kalb, journalist and scholars, author of the new book, "Enemy of the People".
Daniel, how are you doing it? You must be exhausted checking every single word the president says.
DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE TORONTO STAR: I'm a sleepy man. And I've always been a sleepy man, but I'm increasingly sleepy because the president is getting worse and worse. So, this is -- this is a big job.
STELTER: And you made the point again and again on Twitter, that he is repeating the same things over and over again. It's not as if he is saying 100 different unhinged things a day. He is repeating the same lies over and over again every day.
DALE: He is. That's part what have makes it easier as time goes on, because he is still saying the same stuff that he said, you know, in March 2017. But what's different about this period, these last couple of months, is that he has changed it up and he has introduced a number of whoppers. You know, complete fabrications that he had not been uttering before.
So, these are not simply the usual exaggerations about crowd sizes and so on. You know, he is making stuff up in the last couple of weeks in a way that I don't think we have seen even from a serial liar, the president, before.
STELTER: And "The Washington Post" is also keeping track. You do this full-time, so does "The Post". I think we can show the post data, over 6,400, something like that, false or misleading claims. Sometimes you go a little farther than that, Daniel. You say he lies more often than the "Washington Post" does.
What is that? DALE: Because I think that's the most accurate word for some of these
claims. I also say false claims in many cases where we're not sure if the president is confused, if he doesn't understand the policy. But when he tells the "Washington Post" that his tariffs that he bragged about don't exist, eh said, what tariffs? I don't have any tariffs anywhere, that's a lie, and I think in any other context.
But, you know, our roles as objective journalist, we would tell each that that was a lie. But I think if we want to regain the trust that has been lost in media, we have to level with readers. We have to be seen to be straight shooters. I think in those cases, the word is lie.
STELTER: And yes, at the same time, Eliana, I want to ask you about this, because you made the point to me off camera that a lot of Trump fans -- they are in on his exaggeration. They know some of his what I think of as lies are just Trump being Trump.
Don't we have to kind of -- how do we square that circle?
JOHNSON: Yes, you know, my first boss in journalism made the point to me, readers are smart, and assume that readers are smart. So the lies that are so obvious to us I think are obvious to most Trump voters. They understand that he is not a truth teller, that he is a serial exaggerator. And yet they agree with him on sort of the small grains of issues that he's talking about.
So, on immigration, they understand his fibs about the caravan, his exaggeration and fear-mongering, but they agree with the broader point that they don't want the migrants, even if they're not terrorists or killers or drug dealers, they don't want them in the country. I think that sometimes the media focuses on the lies and they don't focus on the sort of smaller issues or the general sense of the issues that Trump voters agree with him on.
There is reason comprehensive immigration reform hasn't passed in the country the number of times it has been tried, and I think it's because Republican voters don't -- agree with Trump on these sort of small issues.
STELTER: So, Daniel, does that frustrate you as a fact checker?
DALE: It does a little bit but I is he my role as conveying accurate information to people.
[11:20:02] That's what we do as reporters. It's not my job to change people's minds or make people not like the president. My people is to get -- my role is to get facts into the public realm.
And I think we do a disservice to Trump voters and non-Trump voters when we simply reprint inaccurate claims without corrections and context.
STELTER: So, to the Trump closing argument this midterm season about hating the media, Marvin, your brand new book is all about this "enemy of the people" rhetoric. And he ratcheted it up further. You can play me on a loop saying that, because that's been true for two years.
What is -- what stands out to you about this midterm strategy to attack the media?
MARVIN KALB, AUTHOR, "ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE": Well, you know, it's not only midterm. It goes back decades even into the last century. Lies repeated often enough generally by despots are accepted after a while by the people as truths. And if you are successful in conveying a lot of lies that become accepted as truths, they then act themselves out in the ballot box.
There are going to be many people who have accepted the president's version of truth. And they are going to vote for it. I think that he knows that. He's been playing on that. This is a conscious policy. It's politics in the media age.
STELTER: And Jon Stewart said this week that Trump baits the press. He makes it personal. Journalists take the attacks too personally. Do you agree with that?
KALB: Well, there are two issues here now.
KALB: One of them is that a lot of the traditional people in journalism, Daniel represents one of them, I think, is that you are not supposed to get involved in an argument with the president. Your job is to cover the news and then move on. Go home and have dinner and think about it.
The next issue, however, raised by people like Chuck Todd at NBC, is that at a certain point, when the lies accumulate and the misrepresentations accumulate, and you realize that what you have worked very hard to do, namely get the story out to the American people, is simply misrepresented and it's wrong, and every now and then in the history of American journalism, journalists have to stand up.
And I think that Chuck is doing that right now and other reporters have begun to do that and it's the right thing to do. Enough is enough.
STELTER: I've seen a lot of -- David?
ZURAWIK: One other thing about sitting with Daniel in the green room, there is a political strategy of lying and lying and exhausting the people who are trying to tell the truth until it becomes normalized in a way. And, you know, we have the fact checkers at the "Washington Post," a team of three I think, and Daniel at Toronto -- how does it fall on these enterprises to have to fight back against all the resources of the executive branch of this government?
KALB: You may lose.
ZURAWIK: Yes, and he has endless resource. At some point, if we in the press becomes exhausted, he wins. But it's a heroic effort that folks like Daniel are doing in trying -- you know, when you see the post saying 6,500, whatever, we in a way smile, but it's not funny.
If he can exhaust the people who believe in facts and the truth, he will win. And he has all the resources of the federal government. Not just his pulpit in the West Wing press room.
But the EPA changing, take documents off, taking away global warming documents. All of that is sat his disposal. And he is feeding all of that into our information ecosystem.
And we are sitting with one of the few warriors here who goes to battle every day. You know, I'm surprised -- I'm surprised he had energy to get into this booth.
DALE: I'm all right. I'm all right.
STELTER: That's what we are seeing. We're seeing bluntness on the part of reporters, saying the word lie or this week saying the word racist. I mean, we're not going to actually play that ad, the racist ad that was posted by the Trump campaign, but we'll show some of the video just to remind what we're talking about. Frankly, I think CNN probably showed this too much this week.
But it is notable that when the campaign tried to buy air time from CNN to buy this ad, CNN said no. This is a racist ad, it's not going to be sold -- we are not going to sell you the air time. Describing it as racist, David, that's significant.
ZURAWIK: That's huge. That's huge.
It is a bigger story, honestly -- I saw it today. And I thought because I was doing -- I thought, wow, I wish I had a piece of that. This is huge, that CNN said this is racist, said we are not going to take your money and Don Jr. tweeted whatever he tweeted.
STELTER: He was complaining about.
ZURAWIK: Complaining about, yes. No, that was a really great stand to take on it. We have to. We have to call him racist, we have to call him a misogynist when he says things -- the things he says about women.
STELTER: You are going far there saying we have to call him a racist.
ZURAWIK: We absolutely have to do -- look, somebody has to speak truth to this madness of lies. Look, it was -- Brian, it was so institutionalized during -- in the last couple of weeks, that the Republican members of Congress, we all saw these stories, and cable news did a great job covering them, who had voted against the Affordable Care Act were saying Democrats were going to take away no preexisting conditions (INAUDIBLE).
[11:25:11] That's institutional lying, where did they get that? They got it from Trump. It was a strategy. We have to stand up.
STELTER: We have someone like Nicole might disagree.
Nicole, I mean, you are running one of the biggest papers in the country. Is it appropriate to say the president is stoking fear, the president is lying? Is that appropriate in the front page of "USA Today"?
CARROLL: It's appropriate to tell the truth. It's appropriate to tell the facts wherever they lead us.
I do want to bring up -- you mentioned is the press taking it seriously.
CARROLL: And I think it's taking it personally, but we are getting angry because it's getting very serious as far as threats. You all have experienced that directly. We have a list of people who have been threatened.
We have reporters doing their job, telling the facts as far as we think the facts, you know, should be on the front page and they are getting threatened because of that. And so, that's more than take it personally, I think for that, we do need to stand up against that.
KALB: Well, on the personal side, I remember on the Nixon days, I am old enough and you are not to remember this. But during the Nixon days, we had an enemies list. The president's list at that time was a private list of people at the White House who knew who the bad guys were. And I was one of the bad guys.
OK. Today it is a different thing. The president has with the power of the office institutionalized the word lie is a rough word. "The New York Times" used it for a while last year and then backed off.
Daniel is using it now because he believes that it's -- when a lie is a lie, say it is a lie. The words themselves have enormous power in the social media world. And there is an extra responsibility on journalists because we are there for everybody to be very careful. And when you use the word, be absolutely certain that it's right.
And that's one of the responsibilities of modern day journalism, please, get it right. But don't be afraid to get it wrong if necessary.
STELTER: Stand by, everybody. Quick break here.
And then how much faith can you put in the polls? We're going to have an inside look behind the numbers. How the polls really work, or don't work, right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:30:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you anxious about Tuesday night? Most people I know are both Conservative and Liberal. People are wondering how much they can trust the polls they are seeing and the President is actively telling them not to trust.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the fake news did a poll, they're called suppression polls. You know, polls are fake just like everything else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: They are not suppression polls but there is a story behind the numbers that you should know heading into Tuesday. Joining me now is Harry Enten, Senior Writer and Analyst at CNN Politics and Margie Omero Democratic Pollster and Co-Host of the Pollsters Podcast. I've learned a lot in the past couple weeks watching the New York Times do this live polling thing. They show you all the data as it comes in.
And one of the shocking things to me is how many people don't answer the phone at all. I mean, look at this data. They're just a few of the races the Times of been polling, you know, you got to call 10,000 people just to get a few to actually respond, to actually engage and this has been a problem for many years. You see here landline phone surveys and how hard it is to get people to actually cooperate. So Margie, why are we to put any stock in the polls when so hard to get people to actually engage?
MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, because we're still getting people who are voters, they are a lot of the individual campaign polls that we have vote history on them. We are able to reach them and know something about their past voting behavior and also the polls despite, we can talk about 2016, but polls are actually quite -- have been quite accurate in predicting a lot of the elections that we've had so far. I mean we haven't had I think as many surprises as one might think given all the conversation that we have sometimes about can we trust the polls. The polls --
STELTER: Well, let's address 2016. In 2016, the polls were not that far off on a national level. Some of the state polls though were right?
OMERO: Right. And so as an industry, people reflected and studied what happens in the public polling. And one of the differences is we now spend a lot more time looking at education that's such a big important driver, it wasn't 16, it is certainly an 18. There's been lots of analysis that looks at how college-educated women vote versus non-college men and so on. So even how you ask the education demographic question matters not just the representation in your survey but how many different answer categories you give in your educational attainment question matters. So I think there are a lot of pollsters learning from sixteen and adjusting accordingly.
STELTER: Harry, isn't it true that a lot of these special elections have been held since 2016 have shown Democrats outperforming the polls ahead of time. Meaning, the Virginia governor's race for example, the Democrat was far ahead of what the polls suggested he would.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: at Exactly. He was favored, Ralph Northam was favored by three points. He ends up winning by nine. You go to the Alabama special Senate election, in fact, the polls had Roy Moore ahead by a few points, it's Doug Jones who pulls it out by two points. But the thing that I would also point out is you know, you had that slide up about the lower response rates but indeed if you look at the accuracy o polls dating back to 1998, the polls are as accurate now as they were then.
ENTEN: So I think that's something very important to point out. Despite the response rates falling, the people that we are getting on the phone are representative of the population at large at least when it comes to which way they're going to vote.
STELTER: What about the idea this is all about turnout assumptions. And we have no idea how to forecast turnout for what is a historic election we're having.
OMERO: Well, it's not even just whether or not we have no idea, it's an electorate. It's a universe that doesn't exist yet. I mean, people don't know whether they're going to vote, some people, right?
STELTER: OK, so break that down. A universe that we don't know exists yet.
OMERO: Right, so --
STELTER: The people don't know if they're going to vote.
[11:35:05] OMERO: Right. So it's not like there's some secret -- you know, if we only knew exactly what to ask, we would know exactly who was voting and who was not in advance because people are giving their best estimate. I am really excited about voting. Yes, I'm going to vote. Yes, look at my voting history, you can tell that I usually vote, but maybe something happens that day and folks don't vote or maybe they get enough calls or they get enough postcards or they going to have door knocks and they decide to vote on Election Day even though they were a little bit lower propensity turnout in advance. We are doing the best estimate at trying to figure out what the universe is going to look like.
But you're right, it matters a lot when you look at early voting and the early voting shows a real surge in turnout. Does that mean that there'll be a surge on election day or are those Election Day voters that are just voting earlier? We don't know the answer that yet.
STELTER: Harry, what about the idea the President repeats a lot that these are fake polls and that they're designed to suppress the vote? How can we convince folks that that's a bunch of bull?
ENTEN: Well, first off I find it so ironic that the President who all along in his 26 camp -- 2016 campaign, especially during the primer, was pumping these polls up showing them ahead. All of a sudden they don't show numbers he likes so they're fake polls. Look, I know that polls -- some pollsters would disagree with this but the way that the public generally views whether or not polling is accurate is whether or not it gets the results of the election right.
I'm not necessarily sure that's fair but I do think that there is more pressure on pollsters this year to get it right given the president's rhetoric, given what happened in 2016.
STELTER: And I just have this feeling deep down inside that some -- you know, these polls are not capturing young people for example. Am I -- am I just totally -- am I totally crazy to think that?
OMERO: Well, so now most poll polling outlets use a larger percentage of cell phone, you know, reaching folks on their cell phones versus on landlines. There are some outlets that also do online which is another way to reach younger people but there was a time a few election cycles ago where a lot of media outlets did not use cell phones and that's where you kind of lose that ability to reach younger people. But yes, we don't know how younger people are going to vote. The Harvard IOP Poll -- Harvard IOP poll shows that you know, in a surge of enthusiasm among younger people and if that turns out to be true on Election Day, that's going to really make a real difference in the results.
STELTER: All right, so Harry, what's the one thing you want us to keep in mind as we're all watching on Tuesday night? How should we be keeping these polls in the back of our mind as we watch the coverage?
ENTEN: I think what we should keep in mind is that polls are tools, right? They are not necessarily made to be perfect. They come with margins of error. And even the reported margins of error simply sampling error. If we miscalculate who's going to turnout in both, the error could be significantly larger than we might expect. You know, I've been doing these forecasts for cnn.com and some people come back and say, how are the margins of error so wide? It's because that's how good polls are generally speaking.
They give us an understanding of where it's going but the difference between a two-point win for the Democrat versus a two-point win for the Republican, that's all within the margin of error.
STELTER: All right, thank you both for being here.
OMERO: Thank you.
ENTEN: Thank you.
STELTER: Here's the deal for Tuesday night. The special coverage here on CNN starts at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time and it's going to go until 5:00 a.m. and frankly it's going to go the whole day Wednesday as well so we will see you then. Coming up, Fox News vilifying, demonizing George Soros. Why is Fox making him enemy number one? We're going to hear from the head of one of Soros' foundations right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:40:00] STELTER: Heading into Tuesday, misinformation is going to be a factor. Facebook groups and Twitter threads are full of fake stories and fear-mongering about immigration and other hot-button topics. The big tech companies say they're on constant alert watching out for election meddling and misinformation campaigns but it's a challenge. I mean, case in point, Twitter just confirmed that it took down thousands of bogus accounts that were trying to suppress the vote, trying to discourage people from voting. This appeared to be an anti-Democrat campaign. What worries me is what's not being caught, the lies, the smears, that are spreading in the social media shadows.
But it's not just a Facebook problem. Conspiracy theories and hyper- partisan hate winds up on T.V. too. Look no further than Fox News and how it portrays George Soros, the billionaire and Liberal philanthropists. He's long been a boogie man on the right. Of course, as you know, he was the very first recipient of the mail bombs last month. And there's been conspiracy theories linking him to the migrant caravan in Central America as well. Here's just a little taste of how Fox talks about Soros.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George Soros, we cannot underestimate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Genuinely radical billionaire George Soros.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: Soros getting involve, federal money being used.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Soros in many ways is the biggest danger to the entire Western world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Joining me now is the President of George Soros' Open Society Foundations Patrick Gaspard. Patrick, what does it feel like personally when you hear your group and your boss being talked about on Fox?
PATRICK GASPARD, PRESIDENT, OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS: Well, Bryan, first, thanks for having me on to correct some of these mistruths. It's demoralizing but it's not paralyzing. We're determined to continue our work standing up independent media, equal access to justice, and human rights throughout the world. But you know, I'll tell you what's really frustrating. Fox News has had the opportunity to have us come on to rebut some of the more outrageous claims that are being made and they refuse to have us on. When you consider that members of Congress -- '
STELTER: Wait, hold on. They refuse to have refused to have you on?
GASPARD: Refuse, refuse. My colleagues have reached out to producers of Fox News to say you've had anti-Semites on Lou Dobbs show saying the most reprehensible things about George Soros. Let's -- let us on to defend it. Nothing. We've had a week-long programming some years ago from Glenn Beck, anti-Semite programming on George Soros, no opportunity to rebut. In the wake of the pipe bombs, the shooting at the synagogue, we've seen continued demagoguery on the air including by members of Congress like Louie Gohmert from Texas and Matt Gaetz from Florida. No opportunity for our foundation or for thoughtful Americans to come on and rebut. As Edward --
[11:45:25] STELTER: Are you blaming -- are you blaming these people for violence? I think it's important to be clear, criminals are the ones responsible for --
GASPARD: No, no, Brian, no, to be clear -- Brian, to be clear, I'm blaming them for violence, I'm blaming them for the toxic environment that we live in. As Edward R. Murrow said during the McCarthy era, no single person can terrorize an entire nation unless we are there or unless we are all complicit in it. So I'm calling out Gohmert, I'm calling our Gaetz and I'm calling out the producers on Fox who are not creating space for thoughtful, honest discussion.
I will say to the credit of the executives at Fox News, someone recently came on Lou Dobbs' show, said the most racist, virulent things about George Soros and to their credit, they pulled down the segment and said they would never have that person on their stations ever again. Well, it's time to now allow us on to defend this American patriot who works with people like John McCain and Ronald Reagan to help turn the corner on previously closed societies in Eastern Europe.
STELTER: It seems logical to me. All right, Patrick, thank you very much for being here.
GASPARD: Brian, Thank you.
STELTER: The panel's back with me in Washington. And to be fair, there are conspiracy theories sometimes spread about the right-wing donors as well. Eliana, you pointed out to me that Sheldon Adelson is sometimes the subject of Liberal conspiracy theories. This is not a problem it only exists on the right.
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I just want to be clear, I think what's being said about George Soros is absolutely wrong. He's the subject of this these right-wing fear-mongering but Sheldon Adelson is obviously constantly the subject of the same sort of fear-mongering on the Left. President Obama made the same sort of remarks about the Koch brothers and while right -- while the right- wing was very critical of both of those things, I don't recall the mainstream media bringing the same amount of attention to it at the time.
STELTER: The same scrutiny.
JOHNSON: The same sort of scrutiny and attention to it at the time. And I think it's all wrong. I think these people are exercising their rights of free speech as they exist now and if the if people have a problem with it they should advocate changes in the law rather than demonizing people who are exercising their rights of free speech as they exist. STELTER: So the closing arguments now ahead of Tuesday, we've talked
about the President's anti-media messaging. David Zurawik, we know, Trump's going to be on Sean Hannity show on Monday so I would expect more of the same heading into Tuesday.
DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC BALTIMORE SUN: Well, I think absolutely. I mean you know, remember Sean Hannity on the border with like a bandoleros and a boat keeping immigrants ou. This was a couple years ago. I wrote about it, was one of the most ridiculous things I think I've ever seen. This is fever-pitch time when Hannity and Trump talk about immigrants and he thinks he has an issue here.
ZURAWIK: He really thinks he has an issue and he's going to frighten people with it. Look you know, we won't know until Tuesday night how it's --
STELTER: That's the fun. That's the fun. And look we're talking about the power of Conservative media but I think there's a raw potential for the power of Liberal.
ZURAWIK: Yes, yes.
STELTER: What I mean is Pot Save America and the Young Turks and the intercept, Liberal outlets covering these candidates in Democratic battlegrounds. Molly, any predictions from you?
MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: I don't make predictions. As a matter of policy, I don't. No, it's something that I refuse to do for philosophical reasons and also ego reasons. I don't want to be wrong and then --
STELTER: That's the safest position right. And Nicole, wrapping up here, where will you be on election night? What are you doing election night?
NICOLE CARROLL, EDITOR IN CHIEF, USA TODAY: You know, we're going to be in the newsroom, we're going to be watching everything coming in. We're also spending a lot of time looking at polling and if people are having access to the polls and if there's any voter suppression. So there is the result but there's also everything happening that day that the meeting needs to pay attention to.
STELTER: That's a great point. The press is -- it plays a vital role in looking out for voter suppression and voter fraud and any shenanigans at the polls.
STELTER: All right, to our panel, thank you so much for being here. After a quick break, my concern heading into Tuesday. It's about lack of information, lack of news in places across the country. It's a problem for democracy and we'll talk about it in just a moment.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [11:50:00] STELTER: Do you know what's on your ballot on Tuesday? I mean, beyond the Senate and House races? What about judges and state senators, county commissioners, and ballot initiatives? Who is covering those races? That's one of my big concerns right now, because local news keeps getting hollowed out. As advertising moves to the Web and people move away from print newspapers, cutbacks and layoffs keep happen. That means fewer and fewer people are covering state and local races.
Fewer and fewer reporters are vetting the candidates and finding out what they really stand for. And it's especially bad when you drive like an hour or two out of the big cities. Many rural areas are news deserts. Meaning, they lack a local newspaper or sources. This is a brand-new map of news deserts. It's a report produced by the (INAUDIBLE) at UNC. An effort led by former newspaper executive Penny Abernathy.
Her research shows the U.S. has lost almost 1,800 papers since 2004, and others are ghosts, shells of their former selves. Abernathy has a unique perspective because she not only studies news deserts, she also lives in one. She moved back to Scotland County, North Carolina, where she grew up. It's a rural part of the state near the border. And when she came home, she saw the changes. regional newspapers used to cover her county, but not really anymore. So I asked her about it and how it affects the Midterms. Here's what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENNY ABERNATHY, KNIGHT CHAIR IN JOURNALISM AND DIGITAL MEDIA ECONOMICS, UNC: The Fayetteville paper has pulled out. The Charlotte paper has pulled out, the Raleigh paper has pulled out. The only access I have is I have to look for it. And something interesting happened as I was looking for information. I hit pay walls at both Charlotte, at both Raleigh, and both Fayetteville. So even though it is -- even though I go looking for the information it's still very, very difficult to access this information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:55:10] STELTER: So what can people do? Well they get lots of mail from candidates, they see lots of T.V. ads, but of course, that's only telling you what the candidates want you to know. And then there's Facebook where so much political discussion happens but it's full of repeating not reporting. People are repeating talking points and yelling at each other. So in many communities, there's a void and that's a problem that's becoming more and more apparent every election season.
As Abernathy says, it is really a problem for democracy. You can hear our full podcast, our whole conversation with her through Apple or any other podcast app. I hope you'll check it out. Thanks for joining us on this week's program. We'll see you right back here this time next week.