Return to Transcripts main page

Reliable Sources

Trump Says His Mood is Light, Reporters Say He's Angry; Acosta Has His Press Back -- But What's Next?. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired November 18, 2018 - 11:00   ET


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

This week, an important legal victory for CNN. Jim Acosta is back to work, but what comes next? Attorney Ted Boutrous will join me to discuss the path ahead.

Plus, a story you have to hear about a disturbing development in the Philippines, and one brave journalist's fight against her media-hating leader.

And later, how the deadliest fire in California's history is being covered on the ground there. Now, the editor of the local paper will join me live.

But, first, a fact about President Trump. There are times when he is beyond fact-checking. Case in point this week: the big story across the nation's news media has been the president's mood.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is lashing out.









UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Particularly unhinged.

(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: Unhinged. Also talk about mood swings. Could all this be a direct result of midterm losses, CNN's win in court and the ongoing Mueller probe?

And how should the press try to report on a president's mind?

Joining me now is Carl Bernstein, of course, CNN political analyst and one half of the Woodward and Bernstein duo.

Carl, you've said this is a rage-oholic president.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In the last -- since the midterm election, we have seen a rage-oholic president, such as we've never seen in the history of modern presidency. You can use all of those words, unhinged, whatever. He is off on a tear that has both his colleagues in the White House and those who are closest to him and particularly Republicans on Capitol Hill very much afraid of what his actions and words now mean.

And part of it relates to the midterms and we can talk about that in a moment.

STELTER: He said in an interview with Fox today, his mood is light. Not dark. His mood is light and he thinks these sources everybody is citing are made up.

BERNSTEIN: Well, first of all, if you talk to Republicans on the Hill, you will understand now they are beginning to think that the elections, the midterms represent a sea change, and that Donald Trump is no longer the bulwark for the party that they thought they had. They worry about whether he is a viable candidate in 2020. They worry that he could bring down the party with him if he continues to talk and act as he has done. They worry about the Mueller investigation. They worry about his state of mind.

So, there now is a shift in what you're hearing on Capitol Hill. And people in the White House are very much aware of what people are saying, sotto voce, quietly. Again, they don't have a lot of guts, the Republicans on Capitol Hill, to get up and say these things out loud.

But all of us who have our ears to the ground know that there is a new kind of under rumbling about Donald Trump, his mood, his unhinged actions and words in the past couple of weeks. It does go in part if you're going to date it back to the midterms but also you have to look at the Mueller investigation where those around him are saying, look, his back may be to the wall. It doesn't mean that he or members of his family are going to be charged or indicted, but he has not known up until now and he may know now because he has his own spy, looking at the investigation for the first time.

STELTER: That's what you think Whitaker is, spy?

BERNSTEIN: I think that Whitaker -- I think we know at this point Whitaker is the first look and conduit into Mueller's investigation. So, that's a big deal and he's shaken. STELTER: But all the people you're talking about, all sources,

they're talking off the record. They're not talking on the record.

BERNSTEIN: That's right. They never have.

STELTER: So, is this one of those cases where people are spinning publicly but telling the truth privately?

BERNSTEIN: You don't know. We know these -- a lot of these same people, Republicans, were saying a year ago that they have greave questions about his stability. And then as his base began to flex its muscles and they became more and more afraid of Trump and his base, they went to ground, these same Republicans and they've been craven from the beginning about challenging this President.

I think that they might be over, that these midterms have shaken Republican leaders to their core. They know that this was a terrible drubbing, that the demographics and the map don't look good for them and Donald Trump has been president of his base. He has not been president of all of the people. He has not been a president of the United States in the way that presidents have always tried to bring factions of the country together, at least in a minimal way.

[11:05:04] He's made no attempt to do that and he has pushed his party with him. I think now, there's a very different attitude about hey, what road are we going down here after these elections? And with Mueller's investigation and whatever he finds, how do we continue to be supportive of this president when w agree with him, but we can't be following this bagpiper everywhere.

STELTER: To your point about the elections, the president has been leaning on voter fraud conspiracy theory. I want to show you a couple of the things the president about this in recent days. The president does seem to be beyond fact checking.

I mean, here's what he told "The Daily Caller" about voter ID. He said I have seen it. I have had friends talk at it. When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles, some times they go to their car, put on a differ hat, put on a different shirt, come and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It's really a disgrace what's going on.

He went to say, the disgrace is, that voter ID, if you buy, you know, a box of cereal, if you do anything, you have a voter ID. What does that even mean, right? How do you fact check that?

And here's another example, just from the other day, when the president was visiting the California wildfire sites. This, of course, in California on Saturday. The president talked about forest management again, talked about wanting to rake the forest.

It was just a lot of nonsense, but it was broadcast on all of the major channels. Again, here is what the president said there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was with the president of Finland. He said we have a much different -- a forestation. He called it a forestation. And they spent a lot of time on raking and the cleaning and doing things and they don't have any problem. And what it is, it's a very small problem.


STELTER: As a matter of fact, Finland does have problems. As "The L.A. Times" reported, despite what Trump says, Finland fires are totally different than California fires. But a heat wave this summer did cause huge forest fires across Europe, including Finland.

But the larger point is that Finland and California have different climates and different winds. Paradise was a wild urban interface fire. The fire in southern California was not near any forest at all.

But here's the problem, right, now I'm talk about forest management. Now, I'm trying to fact check something that's nonsense. Again, another example here from the president yesterday talking about the fires.


TRUMP: See what has happened here? Nobody would have ever thought this could have happened.


STELTER: That's not just true. It is not just untrue. It's insulting to the victims.

Obviously, here's the local paper, "The Chico Enterprise Records", saying the Camp Fire was inevitable. We all knew it was inevitable. Quote: It is the event so many of us have dreaded for so long.

It's, Carl, you know, I don't know what to do in these situations where he's not just saying something that's untrue, it's one thing to say something that's true and then we can tell the truth. He's rambling on in a nonsensical unhinge way, and I'm not sure we should broadcast it on television anymore.

BERNSTEIN: I think we have two separate points to deal with here. First of all, I think the two examples that we've just picked are not necessarily the strongest, because what he is saying is not different from what many in the regular Republican Party ranks believe or want to believe, that it's off the wall as the scientific community might say it is or the journalists might say it is, there are great numbers of Republicans, not just the Trump base who believe that the climate change is an illegitimate issue, that there is no scientific evidence. Donald Trump is hardly alone in his party about this. So --

STELTER: True, but he is the leader and he's spreading lies and misinformation.

BERNSTEIN: Look, I think that Donald Trump's lying and his pathology about lying, and what it means to have a president of the United States who lies in a way that no other president in our history has and who's lying defines him as a person and his presidency, that is one story.

I don't think this is at the top of the list. I think at the same time that what we have going on is a larger problem of how we cover this president. So, you talk about the very good lawsuit that CNN filed to make sure that there is fair treatment of our reporters -- of all reporters who cover the White House. I also think because of Trump's lying and his conduct of the presidency, which is so different than anything we've ever seen, we need to start thinking of a different way to cover his press conferences and briefings.

For instance, I don't think we should be taking them live all the time and just pasting him up on the air because they're basically propagandist exercises because they are overwhelmed by his dishonesty and lying. So, how could we cover it differently? Maybe we should be there, edit, decide as reports what is news and after the press conference or briefing is over, then go with that story with clips, rather than treating the briefing or press conference as a campaign event, which they really are and which we did in the campaign as well, we gave them all this free airtime on cable news especially.

[11:10:21] We need to start treating it like a news event. And, look, in cable, we have web sites. We can put up the total press conference on our website so that everybody has the chance to see it or the briefing. We ought to and it's a matter of record, and we can be the place of records so everybody can see every word if they wanted.

But we need to start editing. We need to say, here is the story, not just give him a microphone when we know his methodology is to engage us on the basis of lying, propaganda and entroprop. I would never have advocated this many years ago. It doesn't start with Trump. I think we need to rethink how we cover the presidency institutionally on the air, in terms of live television especially.

BERMAN: On that note, let's pause. Stick around, please, Carl. I want to talk more about the lawsuit and the press conferences.

CNN, of course, won a round one victory against the Trump administration on Friday. As you see there, Jim Acosta is back at work at the White House. But what will happen next? We'll have the latest in a moment.


[11:15:32] STELTER: Now to what's next in CNN's federal lawsuit against President Trump and several of his top aides. Correspondent Jim Acosta has his press pass back, but the fight may not be over yet. As you know, the lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, alleging that his suspension of his press access violated the First Amendment and the Fifth Amendment right to due process.

On Wednesday, Judge Timothy J. Kelly questioned both sides. And on Friday, he ruled in CNN's favor on Fifth Amendment grounds, forcing the White House to return Acosta's pass. Here is what CNN and Acosta said in response. Quote: We are gratified

with the result and we look forward to a pull resolution in the coming days. Our sincere thanks to all who have supported not just CNN but a free, strong and independent American press.

Indeed, dozens of major news outlets, virtually all of the nation's biggest newsrooms are standing by CNN in this case. So are advocacy groups that represent thousands of newspapers and tens of thousands of journalists.

But, yes, there's a but, at the moment, this victory is still temporary. The judge's ruling was narrow. He did not address the First Amendment issues, and a temporary restraining order is only in effect for 12 more days. So, the lawyers will be back in court this week for more.

I spoke with Ted Boutrous, who's the lawyer who argued for CNN in court, and he told me what's going happen in the next few days.


STELTER: Take me into Friday morning. You're in the courthouse to hear Judge Kelly's ruling. What was it like inside the courtroom?

TED BOUTROUS, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING CNN: It was tense, because the situation where the order would have an immediate effect and it did. It just made the anticipation and the situation so thick in the room.

STELTER: And what did you and Acosta say to each other after the ruling came down?

BOUTROUS: We said this is important. This is a big victory, because he said, I'm just going to go back to work. I said that's what this is all about. And we had a quick hug there in the courtroom and off he went.

STELTER: So, we're heading into another workweek, of course, also the Thanksgiving holiday. This temporary restraining order is, of course, temporary. So, what are the next steps? What's going to happen next?

BOUTROUS: Next steps are we're, Monday, we will be submitting a proposed scheduling out for the court to go to the next phase, the preliminary injunction phase. The temporary restraining order only last for 14 days. So, unless we come to some agreement, or we agree to extend that, we go back into court and argue for a preliminary injunction, which can be indefinite, much longer.

And so, we're going to do some scheduling issues. And in the meantime, we're going to -- Mr. Acosta is just going to keep doing his job.

STELTER: Do you have any sense of whether the White House will try to settle with you out of court?

BOUTROUS: It's -- this is an unpredictable White House, as you know, but they did make statements. The president made a statement and Sarah Sanders in her initial statement right after the ruling about developing rules and standards going forward. We encourage that strongly.

That's one of our arguments, that decorum and those issues are important, but you can't have after the fact punitive actions taken. There needs to be advanced rules to guide everyone. So, we encourage that and that might be a road, a path, towards everybody just agreeing and going forward. So, we, CNN and Mr. Acosta didn't want to have to bring a lawsuit.

We wanted to work this out and say, let's go forward in a way that is productive. But they forced our hand. They wouldn't respond. That's why we had to file a lawsuit. So, we all encourage coming up with a resolution, and let's just move on. The president can make news and CNN and Jim Acosta can over it.

I think it will work out and maybe everyone can move forward with aggressive news coverage and a lot of press conferences. That will be good.

STELTER: Yes, it will be good. But the idea of rules and regulations, you know, the president saying we're going to write rules for the White House, could that actually be a setback for the press corps if the White House tries to enforce all sorts of new guidelines for how reporters are allowed to behave?

BOUTROUS: That's always an issue when you think about it. But I think the rules to be need pretty basic so that you know at least the fundamentals, so you can't arbitrarily in retrospect get thrown out for trying to ask a follow-up question, that sort of rule. And it has to be something that the White House Correspondents Association and the White House agree to -- just kind of general rules of the road.

[11:20:03] So, no, we don't want some sort of First Amendment code. And again, you know, I said this in the hearing and I'll repeat it. President Trump, when he says people are being rude and disrespectful, he sets that tone. He said -- and I'm not even, I'm not being critical of him.

So, you can't have it that it's just the White House after the fact deciding who they like and who they don't like. The D.C. circuit case we relied says there has to be a compelling reason, compelling, the highest level of scrutiny under the Constitution before you strip someone of their liberty interest or property interest in having a White House press credential.

STELTER: So, bottom line, this is something that's going to continue to be argued about for months to come, even years you'd think? Or this is something that may resolve itself relatively quickly?

BOUTROUS: It's hard to say. I can say this: we want to just simply move forward and let CNN and Jim Acosta gather news and report it. The law in the circuit is very clear in terms of how these things should proceed and what the White House can and can't do. I think we are ready litigate as long as we have to, to protect this

First Amendment rights to ask the court to declare rules of the road going forward. But there's always -- you look for a resolution that makes the most sense, so everyone can get out of court and get back to their work, and that goes for White House and for the journalist.

So, we are open to anything. We're just glad that we got this temporary order and we're ready for anything else that comes down the pike.

STELTER: In this case, though, as you were saying, the system worked, checks and balances worked given the last two years of concern about stress on our institutions, Trump's attacks on the press and the courts. In this case, the press and the courts succeeded.

BOUTROUS: It made me feel really good as a lawyer and as a citizen to see the system work this way so quickly, restore -- you know, right to the ship here in a way that protects the First Amendment and the American people's ability to get information about their government. So, it was a very good day for our Constitution as a general matter and for my clients in particular. So, very gratified to see that happen.


STELTER: Now, Carl Bernstein is back here with me.

Carl, the president says he just wants decorum at the White House. I guess he means like this.


TRUMP: I know you're not thinking. You never do.

You are a rude, terrible person.

Talk about somebody that's a loser, she doesn't know what the hell she is doing.

Excuse me, don't do that.

You ask a lot of stupid questions.


STELTER: Maybe not like that. But do you think the White House will follow with these rules?

BERNSTEIN: Two things.

First of all, you're watching the rage-oholic president at a point of his greatest rage and who it's at. And his greatest rage is at the press. Why? Because we have reported in such a way that despite everything he's done and said, the country at large has a body of fact to judge him and to judge his presidency and he has been unable to manipulate the press as he has throughout his adult life in New York with the tabloids, which are the key to his persona and his success to begin with, his manipulation of the press. He hasn't been able to do it. And so, he's even more raging there.

And whose decorum are we really talking about here? The decorum of the presidency has been undermined and defiled by this president of the United States through the kind of thing that we just saw there. But also through the line, we always come back to the line. That is not decorous, to go back to the term decorum.

A president of the United States who makes untruth, the fundament of his way of doing business both with the press and the people of the country, that is not decorum. And yes, he is going to try to save face here through some rules and he has every right. The president of the United States and the White House has the right to promulgate a set of rules that barely applied across the board in response and regards the First Amendment and all that it entails with respect, they get to make the rules at the same time, they have to be fair, equitable and hopefully, it will be done in consultation with the press.

This lawsuit, which was a really, good, smart lawsuit, gives everybody an opportunity here. We'll see if the White House takes it to move on in a dignified decorous way. Let's see and hope that it happens.

STELTER: Yes, we will see. Carl, thanks for being here.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.

STELTER: Great to see you.

And speaking of the suit, conservative media has been split. Some supporting CNN, others attacking Acosta. Where does Trump's friend and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy stands. We'll find out right after the break.


[11:29:18] STELTER: There's something much bigger than Jim Acosta at stake in this ongoing litigation between CNN and the Trump administration. It's really about who gets to show up at press conferences, who gets to question the president.

Case in point, really weird moment here on Fox News the other night, Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, being interviewed by her dad on Fox News. I guess this is how it works on a pro-Trump talk show.

Sanders was asked about Acosta. I want you to listen what she said in response.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the basic minimum is that if certain reporters like Jim Acosta can't be adults, then CNN needs to send somebody in there who can be.

(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: The point here, though, is that she doesn't get to choose who covers the White House for CNN. CNN gets to choose. That's how it works with "The New York Times" NBC and Newsmax and everywhere else.

So, let me bring in the CEO of Newsmax, Christopher Ruddy.


[11:30:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: CNN gets to choose, and that's how it works with the New York Times and NBC and Newsmax and everywhere else. So let me bring in the CEO Newsmax Christopher Ruddy. Of course, always identified here on television as a Trump friend. I don't know how you feel about that title, Chris, but that's how it's always framed these days right?

CHRIS RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX MEDIA: I'm honored to have that title. I'm very pleased to have that title.

STELTER: If you -- if you talk to the President in the coming weeks, are you going to talk to him about this lawsuit? Do you think the Trump administration did the right thing by trying to throw Acosta out?

RUDDY: Well look, Brian, you know, let's put it in perspective here. This President is probably the most accessible than anyone can ever remember a with the press. I mean, he's talking and engaging with you guys and with us in the Oval Office, South Lawn, Air Force One. He'll take questions when other presidents wouldn't take questions and he'll answer and some of them are very rude and obnoxious questions. When you -- when major interviews take place, he has no ground rules. He's open to any question.

So when he gets questions from people like Jim Acosta which clearly in my mind are way over the line and it's not a press issue when Jim Acosta's being rude and obnoxious to the president that he is upset and angry. I do believe it was overreached by the White House in suspending his credentials on the basis of that. I think there was a lot of other intermediary -- intermediate steps they could have taken they should have taken before that. And as a press organization, I do not support suspending CNN's White House access.

STELTER: So you're standing with Fox News and the A.P. and all those other outlets. There's only been like one news outlet I've seen, this small cable channel called OANN that's trying to get attention by supporting Trump in this -- in this case but what about the idea that you said Acosta is too aggressive, you think he's out of line, but that should be CNN's decision, not Trump's not yours.

RUDDY: Well, I think they'll -- it is the White House press office. They are allowed to set some rules of decorum and engagement. I think that you know, the President cannot allow him to ask a question if he feels he's going to be that hostile. I remember when Barack Obama tried to pull the news credentials of Fox News saying it was an illegitimate, not a news organization. And press organizations to CNN's credit you stood with Fox and said this was egregious and an overreach. And this is not --

STELTER: Obama never got close -- he never got close to actually doing that. He complained about Fox a lot. He never --

RUDDY: Well, they were moving to doing it, they were moving to do it. And I think that -- look, the President, I'm a friend of his but I can disagree and I disagree with this move. The President has had an A- plus performance rating in the economy, A-plus military and security issues, and he's being mired with all of these negative press attacks all day long, goes to France to honor our soldiers and because of weather doesn't make a cemetery visit. He's the most pro-0veteran president than anyone ever can remember and yet you guys are all day long hammering him for going -- missing one of four major events on that weekend.

To me again you know the public, Carl Bernstein said we're judging this president. Well, the public is also judging the media. And you know, what the president has much higher approval ratings than the media. The last time you guys have a Gallup --

STELTER: That's a lot more complicated than that. If you --

RUDDY: I don't think it gets that complicated.

STELTER: If you try to lump everybody together, of course, you could say you don't like the media because everybody has different definition of media. But obviously the president's approval rating, it should be higher given how well the economy is performing.

RUDDY: Well, I think if there was a choice between CNN and the President, the President would likely win that battle. And I think anybody --

STELTER: But there should be that kind of choice because we're not elected, right? We're not elected, we're not supposed to run the government. He's supposed to run the government.

RUDDY: And frankly there's a lack of accountability on -- to the media because you're not elected and the President has that accountability. But look, I think that the function of the press is to ask really tough questions, is not to support the government in power, and Newsmax we ask tough questions of the president. We offer -- if you go to right now, you'll find criticism of the administration, you'll also find the good parts that you guys at CNN won't talk about.

STELTER: Oh there we go. That's the usual thing right? You say -- you say we're not covering the good news, we cover the good news. But here's my problem, Chris. You mentioned what happened with the cemetery in France. Then the next day he comes back to Washington and he doesn't go to Arlington on Veterans Day. He says to Fox, fine, you're right. I should have gone to Arlington, I went last year. He didn't go last year either. So even when he's admitting a mistake, he lies again. And that's why I sit here and I wonder what do you mean he's the most pro-military president ever?

RUDDY: Well, I would rather have someone who's not necessarily speaking a lot of sweet words but doing great deeds and I think the president has a history of doing that for the veterans in this country and for the military. You know, you just can't --

[11:35:03] STELTER: A good deed would going to the war zones, that would be a great deed. A great deed would be not lying about their pay. He says that he increased pay for the first time in a decade. That's not true, that's a lie. It's on government Web sites proven to be alive but he always says it so it's no wonder why we have to cover him aggressively.

RUDDY: Well, I would disagree. I think he has put in tremendous amounts of resources into the military. The Veterans Administration has been really mistreated during the Obama years. I think he's trying to rebuild it make sure that the veterans get especially medical care and a consistent and easy basis. And so he's been a champion of that. He came out off of 60-day very brutal campaign and then he had to go right to France. If he misses a ceremony or two I'm not so worried about that. I'm more concerned about how much he's taxing the economy or whether he's concerned and supportive about our military. And those questions have been answered.

I think the White House could do a lot better job in their communications because the president has such an incredible story, Brian, but we never hear about it. And so I think that -- and there's just so many departments that the president has been cleaning up and deregulation. And I know a lot of this is not your agenda items but I think the economy which is more than doubled in GDP growth since he became president, that's been a fantastic story and doesn't get out there.

STELTER: I think everybody knows, but we'll agree to disagree. Chris, thank you for being here. Great to see you. Coming up here --

RUDDY: Always good to be with you.

STELTER: -- one Editors tale of intimidation. How laws and crimes are being used against her. And also coming up, we're going to go live to Paradise, California and hear how an editor there is covering tragedy in his own town. We'll be right back.


[11:40:00] STELTER: No one truly knows the death toll from the Camp Fire in Northern California because more human remains are still being found each day. The death toll continues to rise and you can see here the cover of the local paper, the Chico Enterprise-Record which has been trying to cover this unfolding disaster every single day while of course some of the staff members at the paper are victims of the fire. Victims as in they've lost some of their homes, lost some of their property. So let's go straight to Chico, California and the editor of the paper David Little. David, thanks for joining me.

DAVID LITTLE, EDITOR, CHICO ENTERPRISE-RECORD: Thank you. STELTER: What does this been like for the past ten days for your

staff? Are all of your staff members accounted for and is everybody okay physically?

LITTLE: They are, yes. We had people missing for three or four days, the last one showed up to work magically two days out -- three days after the fire. We've had ten people who work at the newspaper lose their homes, one who doesn't know, three others who are still evacuated and can't go home, and of course everybody is touched by friends and family members who have lost homes.

STELTER: And my impression is that the fire happened so suddenly but the slow-motion nature of this is why it is continuing to gain so much news coverage because people's bodies are still being found, some people still don't know the status of their homes. Do you feel there's been a delay in the news coverage nationally? Have national outlets been too slow to cover what's happening there?

LITTLE: You know, it's hard for me to gauge. I've been so focused on getting the product out every day and updating things in real time. I -- you know, I felt a little frustration yesterday, all the national media was here and it was just for the presidential visit which I understand is a big deal but at the same time his motorcades going up, you have another motorcade of 5,000 firefighters going up to fight this thing that's still a dynamic threat to our community, and I just wish the focus was more on the recovery and less on the politics.

STELTER: With more than a thousand people still unaccounted for, this is a story that's sadly going to be with us for a long time, and I just think we need to make sure we keep the national news media's attention on it in the weeks and months to come. Tell me about the Paradise Post. It's one of your sister newspapers that really served the town of Paradise coming out twice a week. What is that paper doing now? Where is it even being delivered?

LITTLE: Well, both the paradise post and the enterprise record had a good number of subscribers in Paradise, and now we don't have a town to deliver it to. What we've been doing is running it as usual. The Paradise Post comes out two days a week and distributing it at evacuation centers. Starting Wednesday we're going to also distribute the Paradise posts with the enterprise record and with the Oroville Mercury-Register because we know a lot of people aren't staying at evacuation centers, they're with friends and family and maybe that's a way for them to get their Paradise Post newspaper.

STELTER: Right, right. And what about your staff, what advice are you giving them to try to help them through this time? We had unfortunate experience with covering crisis when the nation's tallest dam spillway almost gave out about a year and a half ago and 188,000 were evacuated in that. I think that prepared us for this. Our people are remarkable. I'm at the office at weird hours and whenever on there, there's -- I'm never alone. There's always somebody there trying to get the news out. We're all really helpless and there's -- we're doing our jobs and that we feel like that's all we can do for the community is just try to help keep people informed and we wish we could do more but that's what we have. [11:45:20] STELTER: But that is your way of helping, yes, absolutely.

And as the editor, it may be too soon to ask this but it comes up in newsrooms after emergencies, are you thinking about how to serve your staff down the line concerns about PTSD, concerns about needing to talk with counselors or anything like that?

LITTLE: You know, I've talked with other newsrooms that have been through this before and I think that's a really good idea. We're kind of in the moment right now but we definitely have to shift to some sort of system where we can get people help who need it. We've seen some horrific things and it's not -- you know, we break down and cry for our neighbors and it's hard. So we definitely need to examine that once we get over this initial phase of covering the fire.

STELTER: Yes. David, thank you so much for your coverage and thank you for coming on the program. Thank you.

LITTLE: Thank you. I appreciate it. And after a quick break here, another editor with a really important story to tell. Her news Web site based in the Philippines is under threat from the country's president. Now there are charges of tax fraud. She's clearly being intimidated so she'll talk with me live here in just a moment.


[11:50:00] STELTER: President Trump not the only world leader using anti-media tactics, far from it actually. President Duterte of the Philippines seems hell-bent on taking down the Rappler. It's a news Web site founded by Maria Ressa, a former CNN Bureau Chief who's been running Rappler for the past six years. Why? Why this attacks? Because Rattler dares to scrutinize Duterte policies and actions. Maria is with me now here in New York. Maria, you're in the town accepting an award in a couple days, a Press Freedom Award, but I know you're going to be heading back to Manila soon. What is the government accusing you of? What is this latest challenge to your Web site?

MARIA RESSA, CEO, RAPPLER: There are six or seven different cases that are up right in investigations. This particular one which the government said they would indict me and Rappler on is tax evasion. Essentially they reclassified Rappler from being a journalist organization to a dealer in securities or a stockbroker, right? And then they said you owe us all these taxes who haven't paid.

STELTER: So that makes no sense to me. It seems like an effort to intimidate you and your Web site. What are you going to do about it because I'm concerned that when you go back to the Philippines, you may be arrested?

RESSA: If you carry it through, sure. But you know, the end goal of all of these cases is political harassment. It -- all the cases are political in nature. They want to intimidate us and to stopping the stories we're doing. We're focused on the drug war that has brutally killed the police claimed 5,000 people but human rights groups go to tens of thousands. The exact number, we have no idea. The other part is these exponential lies on social media. How Facebook has been weaponized and how we're now increasingly seeing rule-of-law bent to the point that it's broken and how it's also being weaponized against journalists.

STELTER: Now, tell me about Facebook in more detail. There's been a lot of claims that in the Philippines, a lot of what Duterte is trying to do, it gets spread on social media, these ideas and attacks get spread on social media. Is that partly how the Rappler is targeted?

RESSA: Absolutely. And you know, part of it is we're a startup that began in 2012. We grew because of Facebook's I know the upside of it right? We were able to become the third top online news site in a year and a half with less than 100 people. But we also were at the beginning of the downside when the exponential lies began. And what was first seeded on social media, it took about a year before that dead became the basis for the cases that the government filed against us.

Facebook is the internet on the Philippines. 97 percent of Filipinos on the Internet are on Facebook and that's part of the reason we've put pressure on Facebook to actually clean up this toxic sludge. We're working with Facebook and even though we're -- I'm pushing them to do more. We're one of the two fact-checking partners from the Philippines.

STELTER: So this case is happening. We don't know how it's going to be resolved. Does it matter that the American president sets an anti- media tone as well because just the other day we're learning that the CIA has reached some -- well, somewhat of a conclusion that Jamal Khashoggi was killed on orders of the Saudi Crown Prince and yet President Trump doesn't seem to believe that yet or hasn't confirmed it yet. He says it's not official yet. He seems to want to make excuses for authoritarians who are trying to suppress the Free Press.

RESSA: You're seeing this globally and it doesn't help that the country that should be leading the charge is actually confused. I mean you're talking about a fight for values right? And for the United States not to pick up this these values of press freedom is alarming at best right? I guess part of our problem here is that if this push continues you're seeing globally, press freedom getting pushed back, are we seeing the end of liberal democracy. You've discussed this several times. And what can we as journalists do when a lot of the power has shifted to tech? How do we continue doing our jobs? How we get our communities together? Get rid of this toxic sludge. How can we really truly define and have conversations that will make our democracy stronger? That -- these are critical points right now.

STELTER: And in that fight, you are such a leader. So thank you for being here and we will stay in touch and try to stay on top of your case.

RESSA: Thank you for having me.

STELTER: Thank you. Before we go today, a very similar conversation about miss and disinformation on Facebook, there's a big New York Times expose the other day about what Facebook knew and when about Russian meddling before the 2016 election. The company says it's making progress now but it's being haunted by its past.

[11:55:17] So I spoke with researcher Renee Diresta all about how to think about this problem of misinformation and what to do about it. She's the guests on this week's RELIABLE SOURCES podcast. You can hear the entire interview through Apple, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite Apple -- favorite podcast app. But her main point is that we have to think about misinformation as a chronic condition, not something that can just be fixed but something we have to manage.

That's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. We'll see you on the podcast and we'll see you right back here at this time next week.