Return to Transcripts main page

Reliable Sources

Two Americas, Two Different News Worlds; Fox and Trump Resume "Caravan" Fear-Mongering; Trump Restores Acosta's Access, CNN Drops Lawsuit. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired November 25, 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.

Ahead this hour, how one freshman congresswoman is using social media to fight back against her critics.

Also, speaking of social media, Facebook in the hot seat again. Mark Zuckerberg under increasing scrutiny, new calls for him to testify. We're going to speak with a researcher who's been studying Facebook's problems.

And later this hour, how one reporter and one video may have changed the Mississippi Senate race. We'll hear from the reporter in just a few minutes.

But, first, the biggest story of the weekend. Well, everywhere except the pro-Trump media. It's that big climate change report with dire new warnings, released by Trump administration on Friday.

Of course, it seemed to be an example of a holiday news dump, sending out this report on a Friday afternoon, when folks are shopping and spending time with family. Even though the report was originally supposed to come out in December, it was moved up to Thanksgiving weekend. Seemed like some funny business was going on.

Still, most of the major networks cover the report in detail. It's been a big story on cable news, except for Fox News. I want you to guess how many times Fox news mentions that blockbuster report on Friday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fox News alert: The White House releasing a major climate report, concluding that climate change will do significant damage to the U.S. economy.


STELTER: That was nine of the whole 30 seconds that Fox News spent covering the report on Friday. Let that sink in. Fox only mentioned the report once on television on Friday. Now, obviously, the report countered the president's ridiculous claims

about climate change. Fox decided to avoid all of that, though. The network actually spent more time talking about Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez's shoes on Friday. More time on her shoes than on the climate change report.

Now, to be fair, the network's newscast did air several segments about climate change, about the crisis, on Saturday. But on the president's favorite talk shows, nada. Not a word. Instead of engaging in climate change denialism, they just ignored the problem altogether, which I would argue is another form of denialism.

So, what is Fox emphasizing instead this weekend? This.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crisis on our southern border is growing more serious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We see these migrant caravans that want to come in, want to exploit our laws.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hundreds of criminals are traveling with one of the migrant caravans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That migrant caravan looming on the U.S./Mexico border.


STELTER: Yes, the caravan is back! Those Central American migrants have been walking north for weeks, and now some of them are nearing the U.S. border.

President Trump and his friends at Fox exploited the migrants in the run-up to midterms. You can see here how the caravan was covered a whole lot until election day, and then it dropped off for a a while, where it disappeared for a few days, and now it has made a comeback on Fox. The network's pro-Trump talk shows are portraying this as an urgent crisis and calling it, look at the banner here, the "battle for the southern border".

It's a vivid example of how two Americas are living side by side. We're living in two different realities, supported by two different news worlds. In most of the country's news media, this climate report is the big story. But over on Fox, and on right-wing websites, it's the caravan.

So let's talk about bridging this information divide with "Washington Post" columnist, Karen Tumulty, "Baltimore Sun" media critic, David Zurawik, and Noah Shachtman, the editor in chief of "The Daily Beast".

Back to the caravan in a moment, but, Noah, did this attempt a news dump over the weekend work, was the Trump administration able to bury news about this dire climate change warning on Friday? NOAN SHACHTMAN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, it didn't

get totally buried if you went to the home pages of the "New York Times" and the "The Washington Post." It was the top story. We featured it as our top story.

But I think it did kind of work. Look, anytime you put out news on a Friday afternoon during Black Friday, it's just not going to get the same kind of traffic that it does, the same kind of attention it does in the middle of a regular news week.

STELTER: Let me turn from climate change to something that is related. That's the devastating fires in California. You think about what's happened the last two and a half weeks since the fire in Paradise, I think we can show on screen, the front page of the "Chico Enterprise Record" from this morning, continuing to cover the story there in northern California.

The death toll from the camp fire in and around paradise stands at 85. The newest information from the local sheriff's department is that 249 people are still unaccounted for. It has been 17 days since the fire and still 249 people are unaccounted for.

David Zurawik, to me this means it's a bigger story every day. Every day this goes on, as the death toll rises, it's a bigger story.

[11:05:01] And yet by the rhythms of cable news, people have mostly moved on, unfortunately, because there's bigger and hotter stories going on. But there's nothing more important than this story in California, given the number of missing there.

DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Brian, I couldn't agree. It's an enormous story and it's shocking in a way, the way it is underplayed.

Now, sometimes when a story goes on this long, a kind of entropy sets in and that sometimes limits the coverage. But I think, again, it relates to the larger symptom of what we're dealing with in news coverage today, which is the way Trump is still able to drive a lot of coverage. Look, even for mainstream media that are doing their job of journalism rather than the right-wing media, which is doing the job of public relations or PR for the White House.

Even for these media, we have to cover the things that Trump does. When he calls up the troops on Thanksgiving and when he politicizes that in a way that it's never been done, you have to cover that. You have to tell people --

STELTER: Let's look at an example of that.


STELTER: Let's look at an example of that, because the call was covered, I think, really appropriately by most outlets. But look at this montage and notice how one of these things is not like the other.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump unable to keep politics off the Thanksgiving Day table.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know how the president celebrated yesterday. He was on the phone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president goes off-script. Way off-script.


STELTER: OK. So, David Zurawik, that's what I mean. Two Americas, two news worlds. CNN, MSNBC, others were emphasizing the outrageous nature of Trump's political call, but, you know, on "Fox & Friends," it's always going to be heroic president doing the right thing for the troops.

ZURAWIK: Expresses profound gratitude, he and the first lady.


ZURAWIK: That was the news headline on

But, Brian, really, when we say two Americas, it's correct. It's absolutely correct. But it suggests an equivalency that is really misleading. There aren't two Americas.

The views that CNN and NBC News and CBS give America and the view that you get on Fox. They're not equivalent. One is journalistic information. It's the institutions, the journalistic platform's best sense of what's true at that minute, and it's intended to give citizens information they can use to make decisions about their life.

The information on Trump on a Fox platform, which was founded as a political platform by Roger Ailes, it was not founded as a journalistic institution, it's to promulgate a point of view, an ideology. And now, Fox has found the great prime-time personification of the current ideology that it's selling in Trump, who is very good on TV, but it will lie to defend that political position.

And one of the lies that it tells now, without any facts, is that this caravan is filled with dangerous people and they're going to storm the border. That lie is okay if you're a propagandist or a PR person, because you're selling the brand, which is Donald Trump. We don't do that.

So they're not equal views. And citizens need to understand, we are trying to tell them facts and what's true. They are selling you a political view, which will include lies if it serves their ends.

STELTER: And, Karen, you spent a long time in "The Washington Post" newsroom before moving over as a columnist. Do you think newsrooms at "The Post" kind of fell for the caravan before Election Day? Because the coverage now has been much more -- much more -- there's been a lot more scrutiny of what Trump is trying to do with the caravan. KAREN TUMULTY, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think that

newsrooms, and particularly our newsroom, I'm proud of, because they are actually using this as an opportunity to sort of dig deeper into the forces that put people on this treacherous path of migration. For instance, we had a pretty ground-breaking story over the weekend of the degree to which people are sending their children in these caravans, in a way they never did before.

So, you know, on the one hand, I think the sort of -- the alarmism is pretty much a function of cable news. But I think other media are actually using this as an opportunity to look at, you know, what is driving people to commit these absolutely desperate acts.

STELTER: Noah, what's your impression?

SHACHTMAN: Well, my impression is, I mean, look, the whole thing is incredible. What you really see here is not just an ideological supporting of the president. What you really see here is the merging of a TV star and a TV network.

And I think you saw over the weekend, you know, the other Friday news dump was that, you know, Bill Shine, the former head of -- or one of the top guys at Fox News, is still being paid by Fox News, even as he's --

[11:10:10] STELTER: Let's put that on screen. Not just being paid, but being paid millions of dollars, I think we can show this. First obtained by CNBC. Seven million dollars in bonuses after he was forced out of Fox, $3.5 million being paid to him this year while he works in the White House.

SHACHTMAN: It's incredible. Look, if someone like that did -- if someone on the CNN staff or "The Daily Beast" staff or "The Washington Post" staff, if there was some kind of arrangement like that, there would be howls from the conservative media, how dare you, you know, have this conflict of interest?

But here, it appears to be business as usual and it runs both ways, right? We had both Hannity appearing as a guest at the president's rallies and you've got a former White House communications director, Hope Hicks, now working for Fox News. There's this symbiosis.

And so, you can't really talk about it like you would another partisan media outlet. It's become this kind of weird hybrid. It's --

STELTER: You said on Twitter, it's not a state-sponsored network. It's now a TV-sponsored state. Like Fox sponsors the government, that's your view.

SHACHTMAN: Yes, it really is. And it feels like -- and there's this insane feedback loop that's happening where Trump will tweet something he sees on Fox News, it will get amplified by Fox, it will rile Trump further up and then he'll make government policy out of it. It's nuts.

STELTER: Zurawik, quickly, Hillary Clinton weighed in on this, in an interview with "The Guardian". Here's a part of what she says about Fox. She said, you know, Trump is acting like an authoritarian by consistently attacking the press, quote, he doesn't attack Fox News because they're like a wholly owned subsidiary of Trump and the Republican Party now. So, he attacks the press and the broadcast media that raise questions about him that don't give him fidelity and loyalty.

But the question, Zurawik, a lot of conservatives saw this quote from Clinton and said, she's attacking the press. She's acting just like Trump. This is inappropriate.

Do you see a similarity between her critiques and Trump's critiques?

ZURAWIK: Listen, Hillary Clinton, I have to be honest, was no friend of the press. The Clintons were no friends of the press.


ZURAWIK: Most successful politicians are not friends of the press. Think of how her team went at "The New York Times" when they were reporting during the campaign. Hillary Clinton is not a friend of the press and we shouldn't look for friends of the press in the political world, especially at that level.

You know, Noah is absolutely right about this thing with Shine, it's outrageous and we saw it really at its worst on the eve of the midterms, when Hannity did that piece at the Trump rally and Shine was in the middle of it. It's outrageous.

And this guy, Brian, is now writing the rules for how White House press correspondents should behave. He's defining decorum, this guy who is in all -- named in several of those lawsuits, who is Roger Ailes' right-hand man. This is outrageous what's going on between Fox and the Trump White House.

STELTER: Well --

ZURAWIK: And yet it goes on. And Noah's right. In a way, it becomes kind of normalized.

We should be freaking out. Our heads should be exploding. He's totally right, what we've --

STELTER: You just set up my next segment, which is about those so- called rule which is nobody's agreed to.

Everybody, stick around. We're going to take a quick break here and come back with the latest on that lawsuit by CNN against the Trump administration. Why the lawsuit has now been dropped and what's happening. We'll get into that right after the break.


[11:17:06] STELTER: Welcome back.

Lawmakers are speaking out this weekend, questioning President Trump's decision to let the Saudis off the hook for Jamal Khashoggi's brutal murder. And "The Washington Post," where Jamal worked as a contributor, is calling on Congress to act. Trump defended his decision the other day, and notice who brought it up amid this Q&A. It was CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Are you letting the Saudis get away with murder? Murdering a journalist?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, no. This is about America first. They're paying us $400 billion plus to purchase and invest in our country. That's probably the biggest amount ever paid to the United States.

ACOSTA: Don't you believe the CIA?

TRUMP: They didn't make a determination. And it was just like I said. I think it was -- maybe he did, maybe he didn't.


STELTER: It's worth noting there, a question and a follow up from Jim Acosta, just one day after the White House backed down from its Acosta ban.

Yes, CNN's lawsuit had the intended effect. After a territory ruling in CNN and Acosta's favor, the White House restored Acosta's press pass and CNN dropped the suit. So, for the moment, things are back to normal.

But the White House did announce these so-called rules, governing conduct at presidential press conferences. One of the rules says follow-ups are only allowed at the White House's discretion, but nobody in the press corps has agreed to the rules.

So, joining me now, Olivia Nuzzi, Washington correspondent for "New York Magazine" Sabrina Siddiqui, political reporter at "The Guardian," and still with me in Washington, Karen Tumulty of "The Washington Post."

Sabrina, did you agree to the rules? Did you ever hear about these rules before they were released?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE GUARDIAN": No. Frankly, I don't think that anyone has agreed to the rules, because there's no reason for the White House to dictate the terms about how reporters do their jobs. I think we should be very clear about what's behind these new rules. The White House wants to hold on to the notion that Jim Acosta was somehow out of line, even though there's no evidence to support that claim. And they're using that as an excuse to try and exert control and restrict access when it comes to the ways that these briefings and press conferences are conducted.

But follow-ups are commonplace. And in fact, they serve a very critical importance when you think about the fact that the president might, for example, try and avoid answering a certain question or he might answer it in a way that's misleading. That's precisely where a good follow up question comes into play.

So all of this really comes back to the idea that the White House does not want to admit it got the Jim Acosta situation wrong and it wants to prolong this feud with the media, because they know that that's something that the president can use to harden support among his -- within his base.

STELTER: Do you think it's possible, Karen, that the White House will try to ban another reporter a month or two or three months from now? You know, if Trump's in a bad mood or if the press is really challenging him on something, will we be back here again in a month or two?

TUMULTY: It's very likely, and they may or may not cite this unenforceable rule, but it really gets us to a kind of bigger question, which is, you know, what is the White House doing, deciding who should have a pass, who shouldn't?

[11:20:11] I think all you have to do is look at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue and in Congress, the decision of which organizations have press passes and a lot of these rules are actually set by elected representatives of journalists. And I think that that is the kind of system that the White House should have here. Essentially, self-enforcement, even in journalism, is a pretty powerful tool.

STELTER: Speaking of the press corps, its relationship with the president, we saw the White House Correspondents Association make an interesting announcement this week. Instead of having a comedian show up at the usual dinner in April, there's going to be an author, instead. The acclaimed historian Rob Chernow will be speaking.

I wonder, Olivia, if this is a capitulation by the correspondents' association. They're saying, all right, Trump's not going to come to our party, so we're not going to have a comedian anymore.

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK MAGAZINE": I think it is. I think the way that it was handled last year with all of the controversy was fairly ridiculous. Everyone sort of played their part, as you would expect them to.

STELTER: You mean people being outraged by Michelle Wolf's jokes?

NUZZI: People being outraged, people being outraged by the outrage. People being upset that we were having the conversation at all, that it was a distraction.

STELTER: At all.

NUZZI: But I think that, you know, Washington is a place that is not mature enough right now to handle a joke and I think it's pretty sad and it says a lot about the state of our discourse.

STELTER: Then said it doesn't to be an author. NUZZI: Look, I think that the argument from the correspondents' association is, when Trump doesn't come, and he's not there to make fun of us, it's weird for the press to make fun of him. And I can see how he's changed the balance of power.

Karen, I see you trying to get in there. What's your view?

TUMULTY: I was going to say, I might argue for the other route, which I have actually done in the past, which is, bring in some music. Believe it or not, past White House correspondent dinners have featured Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles and even at one point, Barbra Streisand back in the '60s.

STELTER: Interesting.

Well, look, something much more important than the White House Correspondents dinner is something you've been writing about this week in "The Post," Karen, this month, actually. It's the president's relationship with the military that's really under scrutiny right now. And I want to run through a few examples of why there's been so much scrutiny.

The president told the "A.P." that visiting the war zone is not that necessary, although now he says he is going to visit. Of course, the deployment to the southern border got a lot of attention. There are a lot of other examples we're putting on screen, including what happened in France when he skipped one of those ceremonies this time last weekend, slamming retired Admiral McRaven. And, of course, on Thursday, as we mentioned earlier, his politicized rant during the Thanksgiving call to troops.

Do you think it's appropriate for the press to be trying to scrutinize this relationship? Because I'm going to channel some conservative media critics here -- what they like to say is the media goes around and around and around calling Trump names. You're racist, you're homophobe, you're sexist. They go around and around and around saying you're unhinged, you hate the military. And none of those stick on the president.

That's the conservative critique and I wonder what your reaction is, Karen.

TUMULTY: Well, the conservative critique, and it's right, is that Trump has already increased the military budget. But again and again, we see him doing things that are quite disrespectful to the service of individual military members. And that list that you put up there is really a short one. It's --

STELTER: It's only in the past couple of months. Yes, there's a lot more examples. Yes.

TUMULTY: Ad I wrote my column on this score on Veterans Day, which is when the president was tweeting, not only had he missed the cemetery visit and not only did he not go to Arlington that day, but he was tweeting that Florida should just accept the election results from election night, which would actually disenfranchise a lot of military ballots.

So again, on a sort of global kind of level of increasing military spending, I think he's been a great ally and friend of the military. It is just respecting the individual sacrifice of our service members, where he keeps falling short.

STELTER: But your view is, it's our job to ask these questions. That we have to scrutinize this.

TUMULTY: And also, our job to sort of point out the hypocrisy of a president who, again, sends 5,000 troops to the border as essentially window dressing, as a prop right before the election.

STELTER: Let me end this block where I began, and that is with Jamal Khashoggi's murder and the government's response. There was a dinner here in New York the other night, the Committee to Protect Journalists' annual press freedom dinner and you see an empty chair there for Jamal in the crowd. Just one of many ways, trying to keep his memory alive.

I wonder if you, Sabrina, as a member of the White House press corps, what did it mean to see Trump reacting the way he did this week? Essentially choosing Saudi money over a reporter's life?

[11:25:01] SIDDIQUI: Well, I think it's important to even put into context the way in which the president responded to the disappearance of Khashoggi more broadly. From the outset, he was willing to buy into Saudi talking points, even as U.S. intelligence showed otherwise and believed all along that the crowned prince had, in fact, potentially ordered Khashoggi's execution.

And so, you know, the White House continued to change its story throughout the weeks that followed. And you do have to ask the question as to what impact this has on the U.S. and its standing on the global stage, because this is a country that has, throughout its history, tried to advocate for human rights, both at home and around the world. And this fundamentally undermines the credibility of the U.S. government, when it comes to pushing for both freedom of the press and for human rights.

Congress, of course, had asked for sanctions and has the power, perhaps, to take more actions. But we've seen Republicans in Congress be reluctant to take on this president. Whether anything changes in the new Congress remains to be seen. But most importantly, I think the way that the president responded has a delegitimizing effect when it comes to America and its credibility, as the world has been watching.


All right. Sabrina and Karen, thank you so much. Olivia, please stick around. Much more with you in a moment.

Quick break here, and then, the freshman arriving in Washington. Some of the -- some new arrivals to Capitol Hill, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her savvy use of social media. We're going to talk about why conservative media seems obsessed with this congresswoman- elect.


[11:30:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Right-wing media still spends a lot of time talking about Hillary Clinton, but lately another woman has caught their eye.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ads favored socialist from the Bronx. What's her name again Ed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

CARLSON: Alexandria --




STELTER: Oh yes. Yes, indeed. We are seeing Fox News and other right-wing outlets obsessing over Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, actually building up her profile in the process. I think we're seeing two things going on. One, social media savvy on display by a new freshman class of lawmakers and two, specifically with AOC we're seeing how she uses social media to disarm her critics. Olivia Nuzzi is back with me here in New York and we're joined by one of Ocasio-Cortez's most vocal supporters Cenk Uygur. He's the Host of The Young Turks which championed her candidacy.

Cenk, what do you think Ocasio-Cortez is you doing on social media that is so unique. What is new about what she's doing?

CENK UYGUR, HOST, THE YOUNG TURKS: Well, what's great about her she's unapologetic and you can see that in what she's doing in social media and in everything she does because there's a couple of advantages that the rest of the establishment Democrats don't have in Washington. One, she doesn't give a damn what Republicans think about her and so she welcomes their attacks and she uses social media as a jujitsu to turn their attacks against them.

So they say, oh, she's a socialist who's for Medicare for all. She says, fantastic. Yes. 70 percent of the country agrees with Medicare for all. In fact, 52 percent of Republicans agree with Medicare for all. Please spread that message everywhere Fox News. You're doing ads for us and you don't even realize it. And secondly --

STELTER: Let me show an example of that, actually. She's posted on Instagram some of the coverage that Fox has had of her. She puts up graphics on Fox and she says thank you for this. Thank you for sharing my goals. Thank you for sharing my messages. So just an example there of, Cenk. What were you going to say was number two?

UYGUR: Yes, secondly, she's untethered from the donors so she could be much braver than the average Democrat in Congress. So she calls for a green new deal and says the people on the select committee should not take any fossil fuel money. Now, the Democrats plan to put Frank Pallone the head of the House and Energy -- House Energy and Commerce Committee. He takes $178,000 from energy companies. That's institutional corruption.

So mostly Democrats go no, no, no, no don't criticize the Republicans because we also take money from fossil fuel companies. Since she doesn't, she doesn't take any large donors money like that, she can criticize the Republicans all she likes and it drives FoxNews crazy.

STELTER: Now, here's one counter-argument about her use of social media. Olivia, I'm Ocasio-Cortez use Twitter, use Instagram every day but not doing some T.V. interviews. And you know, we asked her to be on this program, she declined. I wonder if sometimes her use of Instagram where she's you know, making meals and chatting with her with her fans, it's really interesting to see but it does allow her to sidestep the media.

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right. Well, this is the issue with social media. On the one hand, politicians seem more accessible than ever and public figures in general. They are more visible than ever. We see more of them than ever. But on the other hand, it allows them to speak directly to their voters, to their base to their followers, and they don't have to answer the same questions or appear in the same shows but they may have had to before in order to maintain that same level of fame and so I think she's benefiting from that.

And I also think that that is -- there's sort of a vacuum that Fox News is -- Fox News is projecting a lot because we don't hear as much from her in interviews as you do from other politicians who are maybe a little bit older, less accustomed to using Instagram and I think that has helped her as Cenk made the point that she has been promoting the fact that Fox News is attacking exactly what she believes in and it's just helping her elevate her talking points.

STELTER: Right. It is interest you see how she reacts to Fox's criticism and engages and talks about it and use it to her advantage.

[11:35:02] NUZZI: But the President -- the President does the same thing on the very, very far different side, right? He uses Twitter to talk directly to his supporters. He uses Fox News which is really just an extension of his communication shop and I think that he is able to get away with not answering very tough questions as frequently as other politicians may have had to.

STELTER: So Cenk, as Trump is to Twitter, is Ocasio-Cortes to Instagram? Is that one of the lessons here, she using a new platform in a new way? UYGUR: Well, I mean, look, you can say that Trump was untethered from

the donors in a sense as well because he didn't raise enough money from them. And so, hence, he was able to speak out more vociferously on social media as Ocasio-Cortes on the does on the left. But I got to say one thing in her defense from what you just mentioned, Brian. Look, you say she doesn't do enough interviews on television now, but let's be fair, when she needed those interviews, you guys weren't there for her. So before the election almost no --

STELTER: Our job isn't to be there -- but our job isn't to be there for anybody.

UYGUR: No, no, no, no, but Brian, it isn't about being there were being or not, it's about you guys didn't think she had a chance so you didn't give her any outlet at all and so the people in her district didn't get a real sense of you know, who had the better point of view. She overcame that anyway and went on to win. So if you think hey, well, she's got to go on television to speak to the people, apparently, she didn't. She had to go on The Young Turks and social media to speak to the people and she did and she won. So she doesn't owe television anything. She doesn't know the corporate Democrats anything. She doesn't know Republicans anything. So she can go on a make her case anywhere she likes and it's incredibly effective.

NUZZI: She's an elected official.

STELTER: I think more interviews, the better. Olivia, go ahead.

NUZZI: I'm sorry. But she's an elected official. She certainly owes the media, the public her voice and answering questions. I take your point about her not getting enough attention before she won but I don't think that's particularly unusual for somebody running for Congress. She was not running for president. I think then it would be a different story.

STELTER: Cenk, thank you --

UYGUR: No, I think that --

STELTER: Sorry, Cenk, last word to you.

UYGUR: Just real quick. Look, I think that unfortunately the media covers people with more money and a lot of that is corporate money. And so it's not just about Ocasio-Cortes, it's about the future. And in 2020, will you cover progressive candidates that run uncorrupted and my guess is no. And then you'll turn around and sometimes blame them later.

STELTER: But journalist should cover progressive candidates and conservative candidates. We should cover them and make sure people know about both of them.

UYGUR: Absolutely, absolutely. But unfortunately you give an advantage to people with more money and you do it all the time. And unfortunately, I think it aids and abets corruption. STELTER: I would love to discuss that more in the future. I'm not sure how we support candidates that have more donor money. That's your argument that because they have more donor money, they get more news coverage?

UYGUR: Yes. Brian, are you saying that not everybody in the media says well, that person is a better chance of winning because they have more money so there's this obsession with who's raise more money and hence it's more legitimate? That's the view in the mainstream media which is and not held in the actual elections.

STELTER: All right, interesting. Cenk, thanks so much for being here. Olivia, thanks to you as well. A quick break here, and then a look at one local race that's going to be in a lot of coverage in the next two days. I'm going to talk with the man responsible for creating quite a stir in the Mississippi Senate race. Hear all about it right after this break.


[11:40:00] STELTER: All eyes will be on Mississippi this week. On Monday, President Trump will be campaigning for Cindy Hyde-Smith who's trying to hold on to her Senate seat amid a tough challenge by Democrat Mike Espy. The runoff election is on Tuesday and the race may turn on this video which caught Hyde-Smith making a bizarre comment about a public hanging.


SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R), MISSISSIPPI: If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row.


STELTER: Her campaign denies that those comments were anything more than a joke but she did sort of half-heartedly deny -- sorry, she did half-heartedly apologized but then said this watch.


HYDE-SMITH: For anyone that was offended for my -- by my comments, I certainly apologize. I also recognized that this comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me, a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain.


STELTER: Now, for the story behind the story. The man who originally posted this video is Lamar White Jr. He's the Publisher of the Bayou Brief which is actually based in Louisiana but has been covering the Mississippi race as well. Lamar, how did you get a hold of this video?

LAMAR WHITE JR., PUBLISHER, BAYOU BRIEF: Through a reliable source is what I could say. Through an intermediary and --

STELTER: That is going on this show, but what does that mean? It means a Democratic tracker who was following the Republican?

WHITE: Well, I'm assuming that this was a democratic tracker that was following -- through an intermediary. And I vetted the video and was able to confirm his authenticity before publishing it.

STELTER: And the point is it's real, she said it, it's stupid. It seems like it has racial connotations. There are a lot of racial issues involving this race. I mean, tell us about what the last two weeks have been like. Hyde-Smith has been the target -- the subject of multiple stories, she would say the target of multiple stories about her relationship with race in Mississippi.

WHITE: Well, it's a -- it's a volatile race across the country, the idea of race, the issue of race. and in Mississippi in 37 percent African American population, a comment like that it's just not -- it's not a southern colloquialisms. No one had -- no one had heard it ever before as a joke. So it was -- it was bizarre and it's -- I still don't understand exactly what she meant by it. Certainly not a compliment, you know.

[11:45:13] STELTER: Think about what happened since you posted that video. AT&T which is owned by CNN along with Google and Walmart and other big companies moved to pull their financial support for Hyde- Smith, try to take back their donations, that's just one example of what's happened since you published the video. What does it mean for you as a web journalist, someone who you know, runs a non-profit news Web site, what does it -- what does it tell us about the world today that you were able to get millions of views for this video, calls all these reactions from companies, and maybe change the course of this race in Mississippi.

WHITE: Right. I mean, sometimes social -- like in 2016, we know that social media was essentially hijacked by Russians and by foreign interference. But sometimes local journalists, people like me can use it to -- for good and to bring out the truth and in this case, I think it worked very effectively. And there's a reason it went viral so I'm happy that it reached the audience it did.

STELTER: And we're seeing other local outlets doing similar reporting. The Jackson Free Press, for example, publishing a story over the weekend saying that Hyde-Smith attended a basically all-white segregation Academy to avoid integration. And CNN's KFile team this morning publishing a story as well about her past as we are seeing journalists digging deep and trying to make sure voters know what's on the ballot on Tuesday.

WHITE: Yes. And can I also say, CNN's Don Lemon who's from Baton Rouge has done a really good job on this story as well.

STELTER: So what do you want voters to know ahead of Tuesday?

WHITE: Aside from the racial issues, I think that they need to know that she also opposes taking Medicaid expansion money and essentially that's 300,000 Mississippians that are being denied insurance. In Louisiana, my home state, it's 500,000 more people have insurance now. It's literally save lives. So aside from the racial issues, I hope that they consider voting for the candidate who supports taking Medicaid expansion funding.

STELTER: Lamar, thanks for being here. Great talking with you.

WHITE: Thanks so much, Brian.

STELTER: We will have much more RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment.


[11:50:00] STELTER: Facebook under more and more scrutiny every single day, and that's partly because of this recent New York Times expose that's still having repercussions a week and a half later. In a pre-Thanksgiving news dump, the company's outgoing P.R. chief took the fall for some of the company's shady practices. But there's much more going on here including calls for testimony from Europe and of course discussion now, a bipartisan discussion in the U.S. about possible regulation of Facebook.

I spoke with researcher Renee DiResta about all of this. She's known the forefront of misinformation and disinformation, studying how it spreads across social networks. Here's what she told me about what she took away from the New York Times recent reporting.


RENEE DIRESTA, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, NEW KNOWLEDGE: I think that that indicates that really oversight is needed. That was my key takeaway from the article that they're doing a good job, they've got really good people working there in the room deeply committed to solving or solving is the wrong word actually, to managing this problem, but at the same time it really has to be something that's done in conjunction with oversight from government.

STELTER: There's been a lot of talk since the 2010 election about fixing the problem of fake news, of fixing the problem of misinformation but you say that's entirely the wrong way to look at this.

DIRESTA: I don't think there is a fix for it and I don't I don't mean that to sound pessimistic. It's just that there has always been disinformation and propaganda in the world. There's always been disinformation and propaganda on the Internet. The issue is that right now we have an information ecosystem that really facilitates the amplification of that content. It facilitates it going viral, it facilitates it spreading particularly among small groups. The information architecture really lends itself to the mass spreading of propaganda and disinformation.

The ecosystem is not going to disappear. We're not going to you know, get rid of social networks. And even if we were to break them up there would just be more platforms for propagandists to go after. So I think we have to think of this as more of a chronic condition. I think we should be thinking of this a lot like we think about cybersecurity. Nobody seriously thinks that if Microsoft patches the latest security flaw that you know, Windows is going to be perfect forever. So I think that there's a lot of parallels to that and how we think about disinformation in the social ecosystem.

STELTER: So to put in the context of health, chronic condition, this is not a broken arm that can be healed, this is diabetes. This is something you have to manage for the rest of your digital life.

DIRESTA: It's a chronic condition of the Internet.

STELTER: So there has been some progress but this really means that the attackers are getting more sophisticated doesn't it?

DIRESTA: They are getting more sophisticated. They're laundering narratives through real people. I think really it comes down to impressing upon the platform's the -- that they bear some responsibility here. And I am not advocating for the regulation of ideas, I am advocating for oversight. I think what we saw in that article from the New York Times is that self-regulation with no oversight does not work. It just does not work in this industry.

And I think that looking at you know, creating better ways, more transparency, more accountability, and more governance, people need to have a better understanding of how curation functions work, how their feed is ranked, what the recommendation engine is doing. Because right now any time the platform's make the slightest change, people really believe they're being censored.


STELTER: It's a really good point from the rest of their talking about the information ecosystem and it does bring us right back to the way we started this hour, to this sense that there are two Americas living in two different news worlds. Facebook and Twitter and other social sites contribute to that sense by reinforcing people's echo chambers, reinforcing that filter bubble so it becomes a filter prison where you're only seeing stories that you already agree with. And by the way, that's a problem for YouTube as well.

I'm really curious to see when the Democrats take the house in January whether we're going to see more bipartisan calls for legislation and oversight on this issue. Quick plug here before we go, for our RELIABLE SOURCES podcast, on a more hopeful note, I interviewed StoryCorps Founder Dave Isay about the power of storytelling. He says they're getting offline. And hearing people talk one on one makes him feel more hopeful about the world.

That's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. We'll see you right back here this time next week.