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CBS Trying To Close An Ugly Chapter In Its History; Trump's Deceptions Are Getting Worse And Worse; What Will Be The Biggest Storylines In 2019?; Ups and Downs for the News Media in 2018; Media's Biggest Winners and Losers of the Year; Year Two of #MeToo. Aired 11a- 12p ET
Aired December 30, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:17] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: The end of the year is almost here. I'm Brian Stelter and welcome to 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.
Today, Ronan Farrow, Irin Carmon and Rachel Abrams are all here taking us inside the halls of sexual misconduct in the halls of CBS and another major media companies.
Plus, a big question for newsrooms. As we all gear up for 2020, have we learned from 2016's mistakes? I'll have a blunt conversation about that with Kathleen Hall Jamieson.
And later, looking forward to 2019, oh, yes we are. Some of the most powerful editors in the country are here with their New Year's resolutions.
But let's begin with media shake ups, takedowns, and a year that seems like it lasted a decade. As the ball was dropping back on January 1st, I bet you had not heard of Stormy Daniels yet or Christine Blasey Ford or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. You might not have known the name Jamal Khashoggi, either. Or the name of the newspaper in Annapolis, the "Capital Gazette."
So, now, at the end of a year of so much news and frankly so much bad news, you might have news fatigue. If you do, you're not alone. Yes, news fatigue. Most Americans feel worn out by the sheer amount of news these days, which means they need trusted newsrooms as guides, as curators.
So have we helped? Have journalists done enough to cut through the confusion and lies and propaganda and actually put facts first? You know, right now, our country feels consumed by politics. That's how it feels in America.
From "Fire and Fury", the very first start of the year, a best seller straight through Bob Woodward's "Fear", the theme of the political coverage was an aberrant, possibly even dangerous presidency. President Trump kept attacking reporters and reporters kept reporting. Even after one of them, CNN's Jim Acosta, was blacklisted from the White House grounds. Of course, that didn't last long. The courts proved to be an
essential check and balance in that case. It was a defeat for Trump and his new comms chief, Bill Shine, a Fox News veteran. Yes, nowadays, it's sometimes now hard to tell where Fox ends and the White House begins.
Trump's live tweeting of Fox continued in 2018, keeping fact checkers working overtime. And by the way, the one book that I still want to read, it's that diary. Let's have a diary from that anonymous Trump senior official, whoever it is, who wrote that "New York Times" op-ed. It was the world's most-read op-ed of the year.
While big papers like "The Times" are thriving, local papers continue to close up shop. And some digital start-ups are flailing, too. The media business is in a state of revolution. And that's partly because tech giants like Facebook and Google control so much of the media environment right now.
It's also partly because you are choosing to consume news in new ways. That makes it an incredible and stressful time for my panelists.
Joining me now, Kathleen Carroll, she's the board chair at the Committee to Protect Journalists. Matt Murray, the editor in chief of the "Wall Street Journal," and Sally Buzbee, the executive editor of "The Associated Press".
Thanks, everybody, for being here.
MATT MURRAY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thanks for having us.
STELTER: Sally, as the editor of the world's biggest news organization, what changed this year? What was different about 2018?
SALLY BUZBEE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think there has been a lot of focus this year on the safety and security of journalists. Some of that has been very naval gazing, but a lot of it is very, very relevant.
In terms of reporting inside the United States, I think it was a escalation of some of the trends we saw in the first year of Trump's presidency.
BUZBEE: The fatigue that a lot of our audiences feel about the rush of news coming at them. A lot of us have to sort of also make sure that our journalists are able to handle that pace, too. And that we're keeping up our standards and that we're paying attention to that, you know, just very thoughtful process of not going too fast and really, really, really doing the best jobs that we can do.
STELTER: It's a really interesting point. I mean, Matt, you're dealing with this firsthand. You became the top editor at the journal this year, congratulations.
MURRAY: Thank you.
STELTER: What's that been like, to take over "The Wall Street Journal"?
MURRAY: Well, it's like getting on a tiger and you ride. And as Harry Truman said about being the president, you better ride or you're going to get eaten.
It's been intense from the moment it started and that's the world we're living in today. So, I would add to what Sally said, from my perspective, for what it's worth, I think the media business got much more realistic about the world in certain ways for us. There's no more illusion that technology is going to come along and save us. That the social platforms are somehow going to be a miracle cure.
[11:05:00] And in fact, there's a lot more understanding of the real relationship we have with them. There's an understanding of the value of sort of real trust in journalism versus sort of the less responsible journalism. And both the opportunity we have, but also the challenge to get that out there. And I think there was a new realism about the conditions we're facing that's actually in some ways daunting, but in some ways healthy for all of us in journalism.
STELTER: There's so many websites following your lead. The website has had a pay wall for many years where you have to pay to read the news. Go figure.
All of these websites are now launching subscription models. And we're seeing that in entertainment as well, right? CNN's parent company, now AT&T, AT&T took over earlier this year. Now, AT&T is putting up a big streaming service, launching in 2019. Disney's doing that.
So in both news and entertainment, we're seeing more and more of this model, relying less on advertising, and more on subscription.
MURRAY: I think people almost feel embarrassed when they think back 10 years ago, and we said, all content wants to be free and free makes sense, and this is going to liberate us. It seems highly naive in retrospect. I think in the industry, but also, I have to say, I think for the readers, which explains part of the success we and others are having with subscriptions, they recognize, quality is something you have to pay for. And it's worth paying for.
And we realize we've got to earn that every day. So I think the industry in that sense is maturing a little bit.
KATHLEEN CARROLL, BOARD CHAIR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: I think part of what Matt is talking about, that relationship includes being paid for your work. But also, explaining more about what you do and how you do it. It's easier to demonize and a profession when you don't understand how it works. If you just think that reporting is putting on a brightly colored dress and sitting on a panel like this. And reporting is a lot harder. And it's not very glamorous and not
always very interesting, but explaining how you know what you know is really, really important. And people will be loyal to the organizations that they feel that they have a relationship with.
And I think the news organizations that are doing well are those that are cultivating relationships with their audiences.
STELTER: What have been the most important stories for your y'all's reporters to be focusing on?
Kathleen, first to you. I know the rise of autocracy was something on your mind this year.
CARROLL: Right, and it's not just this year. This has been a several year trend and it will continue. And the demonization of anybody who's considered an other.
I mean, we look at history, if you read history, this is a very troubling trend for the world. And to look at some work that, for example, my old news organization, the "A.P." has done, counting the number of refugees who have died. And without that kind of work, no one notices, no one cares.
STELTER: Because no one else is doing it, right? Nobody else is doing that.
CARROLL: But it's bad for people, that people are considered disposable in that way. And I think that's an important thing for journalism to stand for. It's not -- we're not doing journalism for the elite group or the people in power. Journalism exists for all citizens. And the best news organizations are fighting for those citizens, because they deserve knowledge. So they can make decisions.
STELTER: And. Sally, we have managed to go a few minutes without talking about the president. But all roads do lead back to Trump, don't they, even in your new newsroom?
BUZBEE: Absolutely. There's no question that the presidency of Donald Trump and the Mueller investigation, as it has expanded, was a huge story that had global interests this year. And a lot of resources, obviously, of news organizations were spent on that. The story has accelerated and become more serious, toward the end of the year.
STELTER: You mean, because the investigations have?
BUZBEE: Absolutely. I think that the investigation has become more serious. The investigation has become wider and more expansive and, you know, closer to the bone in some ways, I think, is the way to say it.
And one of the things that I think many of us worry about is there has been -- this investigation has gone on so long, that it is difficult to be able to assess what in this investigation is truly very serious and what is not as serious. That's one thing that journalists struggle with a little bit.
I think the other big stories this year, obviously, you know, we survey editors and they all pointed to the Parkland shooting as a very important thing that happened this year, that seems a little bit in the past to us now, but the Parkland and Pittsburgh shootings really did have an enormous impact on the country. I think, overseas, obviously, the Khashoggi killing, but also the focus that that put on the war in Yemen, which is really one of the world's sort of unbelievable humanitarian crisis.
That sort of focused some attention toward the second half of the year on that long-running war. A war that was getting essentially -- I mean, journalists were covering it, we've been covering it quite extensively and so have others, but it was basically getting no attention until the killing of Khashoggi and then the focus went to that.
STELTER: Is it fair to say that the threats have magnified or multiplied, meaning that there are more journalists being killed or and being imprisoned than there were a decade ago?
CARROLL: Yes, absolutely. And in fact, the journalists that are being killed now are being murdered, so they're deliberately targeted and it's a retaliatory killing. A decade ago, journalists were being killed, but a lot of them were being killed in accidents of war or in warfare, or covering a conflict of some kind.
[11:10:03] Now, two-thirds of the journalists who have been killed in 2018 are murdered. Somebody has targeted them because they are journalists, 34. It's an astonishing number. And it's up threefold from last year.
STELTER: Are there changes, Matt and Sally, that you have to make in your newsrooms to deal with the threat environment that exists?
MURRAY: I would say on one level, the awareness of everybody on the need to be aware of your surroundings and be security conscience has been much higher. Although, I think the journalist also want it much more, so they're responsive. Second place goes a little bit to what Kathleen was talking about, which is, I think the intensity of the -- in some cases, the direct relationship between reporters and sources or readers has really grown. And you're exposing yourself to a certain degree when you're on Twitter or when you're out there and people send you pretty direct things or target you.
You know, we had a journalist this year who wrote a story about sort of a hate speech figure on YouTube. And, she was actually fine, but over the weekend, she got subjected to a barrage of hundreds of hate e-mails. Somebody sent hear a scary photo. Then they turned to me as the editor, I can got about 200 people sending me nasty notes and e- mails. And the ability of people to organize and morph and then use bots to continue these things and just sort of that scary feeling atmosphere, that's a much different thing than we've had in the past.
So I don't know whether I can say that this constitutes a higher threat level, but it certainly puts an air of vulnerability around journalists. And it can potentially be very inhibiting.
STELTER: Yes, because we want to be available and accessible and interactive. Yet with that, comes these downsides.
BUZBEE: I think the "Capital Gazette" shooting was a big shock to people. I mean, an organization like mine which has a bunch of journalists overseas has always had to worry about security, and we have had to worry about targeting and conflict zones. To start thinking about, we want our journalists to be out in the community, but how do we protect them while they're doing that was a sort of painful moment for many people this year. And I think a lot of them are grappling with how to do that.
We're worried about many things. We're about the campaign trail. We're about, you know, our journalists overseas.
One thing that sort of has surprised me, but is, I think, very distressing and Matt sort of alluded to that, which is that people who work in types of journalism that don't seem like they would be getting threats. Let's say, women who work in sports journalism are actually getting some pretty nasty and very directed sorts of both harassment and outright threats at this point. And I think a lot of news organizations are struggling with trying to decide how serious is this, how do we protect our people, where is that dividing line between really aggressive harassment and someone when might actually do something.
And, you know, a lot of the stuff, unfortunately, is very gender focused, too.
STELTER: It's a really important point. And newsroom diversity, lack thereof, continues to be a problem.
BUZBEE: Continues to be a problem.
STELTER: We say it every year and it's still true every year.
STELTER: All right. To our panel, please stand by. Much more ahead this hour.
We're going to talk about media winners and losers after the break. David Zurawik has some surprising picks, that's coming up.
[11:16:25] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
Let's try to pick some of the biggest winners and losers of 2018. I think some of the big winners are those old-fashioned newspapers, "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal" we were just talking about, scoop after scoop from these papers are showing they're more relevant than ever. Another winner this year is CNN's Chris Cuomo. You know, he moved to
9:00 p.m. It was a really risky move, but "CUOMO PRIME TIME" is now the network's highest-rated show here. And cable news in general continues to be a winner. We're seeing high ratings and high interest in all things politics.
Another winner, Marc Benioff. He's the latest tech CEO to go out and buy a news outlet. In this case, he's bought "TIME" magazine. So maybe that means time is the winner? Fingers crossed, they both win in that situation.
Now, what about the losers? I would say David Pecker and the "National Enquirer" is a loser this year. Of course, the catch-and- skill scheme has been exposed. Now, he's been granted immunity from prosecution.
Sinclair, another loser this year. There's been expose after expose of bias at Sinclair through their conservative-leaning commentaries, and Sinclair's deal to buy Tribune fell through.
And perhaps the biggest loser of the year, Facebook. This has been their worst year ever. The company under intense scrutiny for privacy concerns, for data concerns, and of course, the plague of misinformation on the platform.
But those are just a few of my winners and losers. Let's bring in David Zurawik with his list. He's with me here, the media critic for the "Baltimore Sun".
David, your biggest winner of the year. Who would you single out?
DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE SUN: You know, Brian, I don't want to -- not that I'm agreeing with the host, but I really love the newspapers that you picked, because those are the publications that more than any have held to the high standards of legacy journalism. And they've done great work. They've done monumental work, I think, in -- I mean, it's a -- I don't want to go to golden age, but they've done some tremendous reporting.
At this moment, when democracy is imperiled, I think, out of the executive branch of our government right now, where journalism matters more -- I don't want to say more than ever, but journalism matters more than it did maybe since Watergate.
STELTER: And "The Washington Post," of course, of Watergate fame, has really lived up to this moment. The other big papers, as well.
Other winners, I would say, the NFL, you know, always talked about a year ago NFL ratings going down. But they're back up this season. NFL is doing better.
Let's talk about the losers. What losers would you call out?
ZURAWIK: I think one, network television. It's really terrible. It's in the sense of, OK, they're going to say our ratings losses are, you know, it's -- you can't get away from it. We're going to have losses every year. How much can we slow them down?
STELTER: Yes, they're managing decline.
ZURAWIK: But I would say this, you name one show between "This is Us" that anybody cares about? One drama.
STELTER: I was thinking "This is Us" was going to be my pick.
ZURAWIK: That's a great show. That could be anywhere. That is an absolutely great show.
But here's why I have no sympathy for networks. In the '90s, when political conventions didn't draw very big audience, I remember doing story after story with network presidents and network news presidents, when they started cutting back and saying, we're not going to cover the conventions or put on live.
And, finally, they would say to me, hey, Zurawik, look, there are three cable channels, let them cover it. We're going to show re-runs in the summer of bad sitcoms. OK, they did that to make a couple of extra pennies off their sitcoms. And now cable news owns news. It owns news and it owns politics.
[11:20:01] Nobody says, oh, what did CBS say last week -- it's cable news.
You know, I'll tell you, you mentioned Sinclair. This goes beyond Sinclair. They were the final piece in what looked to me like a great Trump messaging machine. They were the -- going to be over 200 stations, and the messages, the messages from the White House were going to be wrapped or voiced by local anchors, local people who people knew in the community. That was a really powerful thing.
Trump lost that. You know, now he's stuck with Boris Epshteyn, their -- I call him a propaganda puppet for Trump, you know? Because I can't find anything he ever says negative. I read his news letter every day looking for it, I don't find it.
STELTER: Trump's also lost the "National Enquirer." "The Enquirer" was supporting him, now not so much due to all of this Michael Cohen stuff.
ZURAWIK: That's the point. He may be the biggest loser in some ways. Look at "The Enquirer" on one end, you look at Sinclair on the other, and you look at the ways as to how he's sometimes had to kiss up to Fox or hold it. When Fox -- when CNN -- MSNBC, again, led the way, and said, we're not going to carry those rallies.
And Fox started to pull back a little bit. And then he said, I love Sean, I love Laura --
STELTER: Read off their names.
ZURAWIK: He was kissing up to them. And that's a weakened system. Look, last year, I was really worried about this right-wing messaging machine he was putting together. I'm not so worried anymore. STELTER: One other piece of it, Alex Jones at Infowars, a radical
conspiracy theorist, he's been de-platformed. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube all banned him earlier this year. That was a big development.
I think there's understandable concern about the tech platforms having that much power, but Jones has almost vanished as a result. One more loser I almost forgot about, Roseanne Barr.
ZURAWIK: Oh, god, oh, god.
STELTER: Her show was the highest rated show of the year. For her to go off on that racist rant on Twitter meant the end of her show.
ZURAWIK: You know, I said that about Megyn Kelly, too, to not learn from her mistakes. Two people, abundant riches that they earned because people -- the popular audience liked them. They should have learned. They should have grown, they should have evolved. They should have not be saying these things at that point in their career.
Again. No sympathy for Roseanne, even though I loved having a blue collar sitcom on television, because there's historically so few, but not one with someone putting out those kinds of messages. And, by the way, we should praise ABC for the way it acted, because that could have been -- that was a big financial hit that they're going to take and they acted like that.
STELTER: And the show without her, "The Connors" still did okay.
ZURAWIK: So it's a winner.
STELTER: Call it a winner.
All right. David, thanks so much.
ZURAWIK: Thank you, Brian. OK.
STELTER: Great to see you. Happy New Year.
Right after this quick break, we're talking about year two of the #metoo movement. And what has changed this year. I'll be talking with three award winning reporters who have led the way in these stories. They're coming up right after the break.
[11:26:46] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
This past year, major news outlets turned their attention to systems of harassment and discrimination and retaliation. Yes, there's been a lot of stores about individual perpetrators, but really, it's about the systems that are in place that have allowed this behavior to go on for so long at major media companies.
For much of the year, the eye was on CBS, the eye network. The network saw CEO Les Moonves accused of harassment and sexual assault by numerous women in a pair of stories in "The New Yorker." In September, Moonves stepped down under pressure. CBS had two law firms come in and review what went wrong.
And earlier this month, based on that law firm review, the board said that Moonves would not receive his $120 million severance package. There may be more to come on this story, but this is about a lot more than Moonves and about a lot more than just CBS.
With me now are three of the award-winning reporters who have been leading the way in this coverage. Irin Carmon is a senior correspondent for "New York Magazine" and a CNN contributor, Ronan Farrow is an investigative reporter for the New Yorker, and Rachel Abrams is a business reporter for "The New York Times."
You know, all three of you have been reporting on CBS for the past year. I wonder, as rivals, do you all feel like you're competitive or do you feel like what you do is complementary?
Irin, first for you. You wrote about Charlie Rose more than a year ago at this point.
IRIN CARMON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: To me, my commitment to this story is seeing the truth come out. And we were just talking about how there's a real sense of camaraderie among the reporters. Of course, you've got to compete for scoops, you're accountable to your publication for breaking stories, to your editors.
But ultimately, this is about something bigger than an individual reporter getting the glory. It's about exposing what happened, bringing it to light in the most accurate, and balanced way possible.
STELTER: And, Ronan, you now have a reputation because of your Harvey Weinstein reporting, for doing this dogged work that takes months. There were rumors about your Les Moonves stories for months before your first work came out.
What is it like to be kind of in that spotlight?
RONAN FARROW, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORKER: You know, it's a double-edged sword. Largely, it's a real advantage as a reporter, because more people talk to you. It is true also, some people immediately hang up on you because of that reputation. And you navigate those things.
And I would echo what Irin said, there's a real sense of all of us doing this tough investigative reporting that we're in this fight together. If you look at those early Les Moonves stories I did, they actually have a big shout-out to Irin's work and further attempts that she and a colleague made at "The Post" to get more information out, where they were forestalled by a lot of dirty tactics.
So, I think we have each other's backs in this, to an extent, even though we also are competitive.
STELTER: And, Rachel, why did you start looking into CBS? This was after the first Moonves story came out by Farrow and "The New Yorker." Why were you curious about this?
RACHEL ABRAMS, BUSIENSS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, our editors were interested in how serious CBS was taking its own investigation to allegations of misconduct both by Les Moonves and broader cultural problems at the network. So, that really got the ball rolling on just finding out a lot more about what the investigators had uncovered, in large part prompted by the stories in "The New Yorker" and in "The Washington Post".
STELTER: So it's a sense of stories building on one another.
STELTER: And a sense of momentum as a result. It does seem like there's this rot inside CBS. Is that fair to say?
[11:30:00] RACHEL ABRAMS, BUSINESS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: New Yorker and in The Washington Post.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: So it's a sense of stories building on one another and a sense of momentum as a result.
STELTER: It does seem like there's this rock inside CBS. Is that is that fair to say?
IRIN CARMON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, you know, when after Amy Brittain and I did the Charlie Rose story at the Washington Post about a year ago, we also wanted to follow up about CBS, what did people know. And that's when you find out that it's not just about the individual behavior of one person, right? It's about a system that enables that behavior, a star system that says that if this person is a rainmaker then they can behave in whatever way they want, that people look the other way, a series of mechanisms that keep people silent from speaking up.
And so I think it's not just -- there's a tendency I think, OK somebody really high-profile got fired we're going to move on. And that's why I think that the last year's reporting is so significant because rather than just say OK, you know, here's this big fish who's gone down in a very high-profile way, you're trying to understand what is the culture that leads us to happen.
And our reporting show that the culture at CBS did, in fact, lead to silence or in the words of one of the women that we spoke to for the second Washington Post story, she said I'd been there long enough to know that people did what they wanted to you and they said what they wanted to you. And that's why she said she didn't report Charlie Rose sexually harassing her because the vet culture.
RONAN FARROW, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORKER: In the midst of the Harvey Weinstein story, it was always very clear to me that this wasn't about Harvey Weinstein, it wasn't even about Hollywood, this was about systems deployed by very powerful, very wealthy people to suppress these kinds of allegations against them. And therefore, when I looked at the array of potential leads to follow up on, what was distinctive about CBS and Moonves was that it was a story about corporate accountability and those vast systems as you say in forming a kind of rot in the eyes of dozens and dozens of sources we talked to.
Now, all of us faced a lot of pressure in these tough stories to carve off different elements and just focus on one guy because it is so hard just to do that. But it was really important in that reporting that I kept in that 60 minutes material that I paid tribute to the other reporters who had talked about a broader cultural problem there.
STELTER: So that's a challenge. What are the biggest challenges doing these stories, these stories about harassment, about retaliation? I would think a lot of sources do not want to talk to you.
ABRAMS: No. And I'm sure all three of us have experienced that in all of this reporting. And you know, I think that generally one of the things that I try to do is to find any kind of documentation that I can which can be -- which can be challenging but I think probably the hardest thing is getting people to trust you and to open up. And the hardest question for me to answer and I don't know if you guys have had this experience but when women that we talk to say I worked really hard to move past this. I don't -- I don't understand why I have to be the person to go on the record. I don't understand why you're calling me. I don't understand why I have to do any of this. It's not my problem. And coming up with an answer is specific to each situation and it's hard and I think it's probably been the most personally challenging part of this reporting for me.
FARROW: There is a deeply unfair aspect of this where the people who have sustained the most damage have been treated the worst are very often the ones on whom it's incumbent to fix this and their voices do have power. And I hope one of the lessons of the extraordinary work these two women have done and so many other reporters have done over the past year is you can speak. It can make a difference. Because once again I would point out this was a systemic problem at CBS, but this isn't about CBS. This is true at other networks and other media companies, at other companies in different industries, and it is only going to change if more of those sources do speak.
CARMON: You know, Ronan mentioned that it's not just CBS. And one of the questions that I think we're all trying to answer about the culture at large, now that we've had these moments of truth-telling where people talk about serious wrongs being perpetrated, how do you rebuild a culture that doesn't enable that? How do you say OK we had this kind of accountability but now how do we not repeat that? How do we make sure that people do feel empowered to speak up? And I think that those are -- those are questions that workplaces are still trying to grapple with and the question will be will there be a sweeping under the rug or will there be a sincere grappling with that in the first step, of course, is transparency in that respect.
STELTER: Absolutely. It's also notable the way that these issues have permeated the culture beyond reporting about CBS or any other company. When you think back a few months to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and how so much of what we're talking about was on the table during those confirmation hearings. You, of course, were doing reporting about this as well. Are there lessons to be learned from the Kavanaugh experience?
FARROW: Well, I would say that was a case where there were a number of women with very credible allegations and then there was a separate circus playing out in the media where there was an immense amount of partisan sniping happening. And all of this went into a cauldron of mistrust and entrenched enmities on the Hill and in the American public. And to me as a reporter who has a track record if you look at tough stories about Democrats and Republicans, that was immensely frustrating. Because the fact patterns themselves were compelling and were important and deserved to be heard.
And you know, obviously, there were the two on-the-record stories that we broke the first details of Christine Blasey-Ford and then Deborah Ramirez. Both of whom I think were very credible. But then there were other leads out there that were foreclosed because of that partisan race to confirm and because of the incredible rancor around it.
[11:35:25] STELTER: So you're saying there are women who had allegations against Kavanaugh who never came forward?
FARROW: I'm not going to talk in specific terms except to say that beyond what we reported more opportunities for reporting were foreclosed by the fact that there was this incredibly vicious partisan atmosphere around it. And that that is at odds with anyone seeking the facts.
CARMON: I think any reporter who's talking to a potential source who wants to talk about serious harm has to be honest about the fact that they can experience some version of what Christine Blasey-Ford experienced. I mean, it was reported that she has had to move several times, that she hasn't been home. And so I think you know, the transparency and ethics as a -- as a reporter involve acknowledging the fact that there are real risks to speaking up.
Yes, you are going to contribute to the truth but it is possible that your life will never be the same again and I think we should be honest about that.
STELTER: Troubling. And more to come in the year to come, is it true, Ronan, that you were able to get a Ph.D. amid all this reporting on all these stories this year?
FARROW: I think no one cares about my getting a Ph.D. except my mom --
STELTER: Oh, come on, I care.
STELTER: How do you find the time?
FARROW: It's a population of two. STELTER: Yes, but what's the secret.
FARROW: I haven't slept a lot in the last couple of years. I'm a little sick right now, I'm giving you all the plague right now, and I think it's totally worth it and I think we're probably all very tired of hearing this.
STELTER: All right, hey, well, congratulations.
FARROW: Thank you.
STELTER: And all three of you -- I mean, all three have been -- have been winning awards all year long as a -- as a result of this reporting, and I think there's a lot of viewers out there that are grateful for it. Thank you all for being here.
ABRAMS: Thanks for having us.
FARROW: Thank you. Good to be here.
STELTER: Coming up here on RELIABLE SOURCES, presidential lying, it's getting worse and worse, but what's the best way to describe Trump's deceptions? We'll have answers from a communications expert right after this.
[11:40:00] STELTER: If we're being honest, President Trump sometimes behaves like an internet troll spreading conspiracy theories and bogus Twitter memes and faulty narratives. In 2018, we saw year two of Trump turning reality upside down in that way, completely on its head and distorting and confusing a lot of people.
This makes journalists jobs much tougher but also thrilling because we have to constantly be on our toes and we have to constantly be fact- checking. In effect with all the President's anti-media messages, he is leading a hate movement against the media. It is that serious. He's whipping up hatred at his rallies and on his Twitter feed.
But here's the thing, he is not our customer, you are, viewers are. And despite his attacks, we need to make sure we keep serving you with straight talk about what's going on, what's going wrong and what's going right. For example, by calling a lie a lie. But Kathleen Hall Jamieson has a note of caution about that in a new name for fake news. She's the Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
STELTER: One of the things I noticed most in the news coverage in 2018 is an increased use of the word lie, an increased description of President Trump and others lying to the public. How do you feel as a professor about that the use of the word lie to describe behavior?
KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON, DIRECTOR, ANNENBERG PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: I don't like it because we don't know intention. It is possible under most circumstances to say someone might simply be misinformed, might be self-deluded, or worse might simply not be able to apprehend reality when it's right in front of the person. Now, it's problematic that things are deceptive, but knowing that someone intended to do it doesn't necessarily add additional information that it's deceptive. It means we need to figure out how to correct that so people aren't misinformed.
STELTER: But lying when the president says something 20 times on 20 different occasions and he keeps getting it wrong at some point don't we know he's lying?
JAMIESON: No we may simply know that he's convinced himself that that's the truth. The question is what difference does it make that he's making that statement. And one of the differences it makes is that we may be hearing him making promises he's not actually making or our allies may be hearing him signaling things he doesn't actually intend. When someone communicates different things in different kind of circumstances or worse comes out of a meeting with a foreign leader, and his account of what happened and the foreign leaders differs, you run the risk that you're missignaling to the United States markets wha the United States actually said what it's going to do.
STELTER: You've taught me of something that's called inconsistent signaling, that there at least different signals being sent. In some cases by Trump on the same day or in some cases members of his government on the same day or the same week. That is a communications crisis if there's inconsistent signals being sent all the time.
JAMIESON: And it's a real problem because if you're not sending consistent signals across time, people begin to discount the signaling at all which means that when you need to send a clear signal, as you do for example when the country moves into crisis, you might simply be ignored and you would have sacrificed that very important asset of the presidency. It also means that you confuse the heck out of our allies.
STELTER: Still on the subject of language, the President keeps using the term fake news. A lot of journalists are still using the term fake news, and you say that's a problem. We need -- we need to take that out of our vocabulary.
JAMIESON: We should consider fake news an oxymoron. If something is fake, it's not news. And one of the characteristics of news that is by news I mean journalism, is that when it makes a mistake and humans make mistakes, they make them all professions, that's the characteristic of humans, in journalism they correct. That's called journalism, that's called news. That can't be faked. They got something wrong, that doesn't make it fake. I'd use viral deception VD, venereal disease is the analog. I want people to say ooh, I don't want to catch it, I don't want to spread it. If it comes anywhere near me I want to quarantine it.
And notice the viral deception focuses on the deception. Now that's problematic, news isn't. News is indispensable to democracy. STELTER: Right. So there's no such thing as fake news. If it's
fake, it's not news. It's viral deception and has the added benefit of saying V.D.
JAMIESON: It does.
STELTER: Your book cyberwar looks back at the 2016 election and the impact of Russian hackers and trolls. With two years distance now, how much of a factor was viral deception and these kinds of techniques in the election?
JAMIESON: Well, first, the viral deception is what the trolls engaged in cyberspace. The people pretending to be U.S. Nationals who trafficked in forms of bigotry, fear, anger, and played to the worst instincts of the body politic largely in the process amplifying themes that are already in the U.S. and ecosystem. And the press didn't have much to do with it because the press didn't know they were even there. The hackers, the second part of the Russian initiative came in and stole content from the Democrats and then dropped it back into our media ecosystem through WikiLeaks and the press made a series of mistakes.
[11:45:30] I argue in cyber wars that -- cyber war that the Russian intervention through the hacking was a necessary but not sufficient condition for influencing the outcome. Necessary because they hacked and they gave it to WikiLeaks. But the sufficient condition was our press' use of it. The press largely attributed to WikiLeaks, not to the Russians, they lost the source. They also didn't note that's Julian Assange who didn't like Hillary Clinton because she wanted him prosecuted.
And in the process, never explained why Putin didn't want to see Hillary Clinton elected, he didn't like her either, and for reasons, they go back to geopolitics. They also didn't stand up on air when they used the content and say we have not been able to independently confirm it.
Now, a good journalist to do that. Why did they assume the accuracy? Suppose there was disinformation there they treated it as if it's accurate all the way through. And then they didn't look carefully at the stories they trafficked into news. So go back now and read the stories based on a WikiLeaks content and asked which was stand the tests of newsworthiness. We need new criteria to determine whether or not we should have considered those things.
STELTER: Thinking about 2020, obviously the primary seasons base we already underway riding into a new year. What are newsrooms need differently the next time there's a -- there's a hacking attack and a bunch of stolen e-mails are out there?
JAMIESON: Well, first they need to learn the lessons from 2016. They need to ask what would we have done differently from what we did. Because different news organizations made different kinds of decisions and you want them to continue to do the things that they did right, right. Some of the major news organizations, for example, didn't pick up some of the stories that were largely irrelevant to governance, others did. They should examine their own consciousness. But they also ought to have some basic regulations employees about how they're going to treat that content if it appears, particularly, if it appears under pressured times and in large quantities because both of those played a role in journalistic lapses.
STELTER: Like leading right up to an election on the eve of a vote or something.
JAMIESON: Yes. And in France, when the hacked content was released two days before the election, there was a regulatory structure that came into play that of course, we don't have because we value our First Amendment protections. What that means is the press has to voluntarily protect us.
STELTER: Coming up here on RELIABLE SOURCES, will the war on truth escalate in 2019. My all-star panel returns with their predictions and New Year's resolutions right after this.
[11:50:00] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter. We're looking ahead to 2019 and what the new year will bring for the news business. Let's get some predictions, maybe even some resolutions from our panel. Kathleen Carroll, Matt Murray, Sally Buzbee, who wants to go first with a New Year's resolution?
MATT MURRAY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Sally does it.
SALLY BUZBEE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Thanks, Matt. I think we should all resolve to spend less time or perhaps no time at all on horse race polls that project -- you know, project forward to the 2020 presidential election.
STELTER: A year ahead of Iowa.
BUZBEE: I can guarantee you that not a single one of them in retrospect will prove to be accurate or really that useful at all. I don't actually think that anyone is going to follow my prediction or my resolution but I think that we all should.
STELTER: I think it's a worthy one. My resolution is I'm hoping for some more White House briefings. You know, the daily briefing died in 2018 --
MURRAY: It's a sad resolution.
STELTER: I hope it makes a comeback. Hey, you know, I'm a nerd. What do you got, Matt?
MURRAY: I think we should all resolve to use social media intelligently and in a limited way and spend more time out of the field reporting, talking to people, getting stories, finding stuff out, and less time talking to each other on social media. I think -- I think that is what I try to tell our newsroom and I think reporting and facts are still the backbone of our business and still the thing that will carry us through.
STELTER: Hard to disagree with that. I mean, what can we do? The value that we can add is bring new information into the world. That's the value. Kathleen, what about predictions for the year ahead?
KATHLEEN CARROLL, BOARD CHAIR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALIST: Well, I have two challenges actually and one of them is for you, Brian. I think there's an awful lot of really excellent accountability and investigative journalism going on in communities and they don't get attention and airtime because of the Trump factor. And --
STELTER: Who? The what?
CARROLL: National news organizations and programs like yours to talk a lot about the President and his effect and that's a completely relevant topic. However, I challenge you to in the next year showcase some of the really great accountability reporting that connects communities and their news organizations and let's stop talking about how they're coming apart and start talking about what they're doing well.
STELTER: Right. And how can we help them?
STELTER: How can we make these outlets more vibrant?
CARROLL: I have an idea. I think anybody who plans to put on a future of journalism conference should scuttle that idea and instead give the money to their local news organization.
STELTER: Fewer conferences and more coverage.
STELTER: More news coverage.
CARROLL: There you go. What about kind of in the months ahead -- in the months ahead, more scrutiny of big tech? Are you expecting that, Sally? More of these stories about Facebook and Google and the minuses that come along with the pluses of these sites?
BUZBEE: Yes, I mean, one of the most interesting things that happen in 2018 clearly is that -- I mean, if you think back ten years ago, everyone was like people should care about privacy. This should be a story and no actual people were actually paying attention to it that much. In 2018 what really happened was that people actually started to pay attention to this story. And I think that is because of the reporting. I think it is because there were actually sort of concretely laid out what is happening to your information, what is happening to your photos, what is happening to what you do online, what -- if you're being traced through a cell phone, what does that actually mean for you and that kind of thing.
STELTER: Right. BUZBEE: And I think it was -- I mean we should feel good about this.
It was when we found concrete examples of how this was actually affecting people's lives that people started to pay attention to it. And I personally think that this is one of the most compelling stories in 2019. And I mean, we're spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to get ahead on that story, how to do a good job on that story. I think this is a global story.
MURRAY: I would add that with a Mueller report which is going to come out this year presumably, one hopes we'll get it behind us one day. But while we're thinking of it through the lens of the President or what it means and obviously that's very important, the Mueller report seems to be likely again to stoke questions about tech influence, how it works how pervasive it is, and we will continue to see more and more reports and information come out that put in pieces of that puzzle and fill it out for us to what's happened here. It's hard for me not to imagine that that doesn't lead somewhere whether it's into increased regulation, whether it's to big shakeups or changes at those companies, whether it's to changes in consumer behavior as people turn them off. I'm not sure what, but the effects are going to be playing out for a while I think
[11:55:23] STELTER: Sally, Matt, Kathleen, thank you so much for being here. After a quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES, a look back at one of the storytellers that we lost this year.
STELTER: Before we go, a tribute to one of the storytellers that we lost this year. CNN will never be quite the same without Anthony Bourdain who passed away in June. It was a shock to us all. Bourdain taught us so much about storytelling, about travel, and how to appreciate life. You know, he wrote in one of his books, without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive and moribund. And he's right. So let's do more of that in 2019. More questioning, more experimenting with new ways to tell stories, more trying new things, more exploring of parts known and unknown.
As this year ends, I'm grateful to John, and Shanta, and Justin, and Daniela, and Julia, and Katie, and all the members of the team here who bring this show alive. And I'm grateful to all of you for watching. So please send us your feedback and tell us what you want, more of -- less of what you want on this show and more of what you want. I'm @BrianStelter on Twitter and on Facebook and I'm always just an e-mail away bstelter@gmail. You feedback always make this program so much better.
Thanks for join us this year and stay tuned now. "STATE OF THE UNION" starts right now.