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Reliable Sources

Sorting Out What's True While Covering Liars; Hijinks, Propaganda and Grifting at CPAC 2019; White House Limits Press Access At Trump-Kim Meeting; Could Hannity Be Forced To Testify Before Congress?; Mag Biz Elects Adam Miss To Editor's Hall Of Fame. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 03, 2019 - 11:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": And I'll see you again back here on "GPS" next Sunday. Thank you so much for being part of my program this week.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. And it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works, how the news gets made, and how all of us can help make it better.

This hour, we're going straight to the source. Maggie Haberman is here, so is Bill Kristol, Olivia Nuzzi, fresh from CPAC, and Jim Acosta, back from Hanoi.

Plus, a little later, why Sean Hannity is under pressure from Democratic lawmakers.

And later, an exclusive interview with outgoing "New York Magazine" editor Adam Moss. Hear his forecast for the future of magazines.

But first, what year is it? President Trump is cursing and complaining about crowd size and calling journalists sick and whipping up his base.

Meanwhile, the bigger crowd this weekend was over at the Bernie Sanders kickoff event, where he hit the same themes as 2016, and even used the exact same logo.

The same outrages, the same argument. So what is actually new? Where is the news for us to report?

Well, this is news. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler saying he believes Trump has obstructed justice, and on Monday, his committee is issuing document requests to over 60 different people and entities. Now, that news coming in in just the past couple of hours.

The mounting evidence of unethical and illegal conduct, that is what's new. And this week, this part is important, this week it was televised in a whole new way, with Michael Cohen's day-long hearing just the first of many. It seems to me the Trump beat and law enforcement beat are merging.

So, let's talk with one of the top reporters who's been covering President Trump for years, who knows him better than anyone -- Maggie Haberman is here. She's the White House correspondent for "The New York Times," and a CNN political analyst.

Maggie, thanks for joining me.


STELTER: What a week. We say that every week. But you commented this may have been the president's worst week ever. I know that's become a cliche. But it continues to be true.

HABERMAN: Yes, this one was fundamentally different, whether it has a different foretelling of the future I think remains to be seen. But certainly in terms of Michael Cohen's testimony coming the same day as the summit in Vietnam that the president was having with Kim Jong-un of North Korea that did not go well. I mean, it had already been downgraded in expectations multiple times and then the president went and didn't get what he was hoping to get and didn't get anything close to it.

And he came back and he gave this speech at CPAC, which was, you know, a record-setting speech in length, which I think was very -- it was his defensive posture. And we've seen this with him over and over when something goes badly.

I think that, you know, we're going to be spending days seeing how the Michael Cohen testimony is going to impact him. We just don't know quite yet. But it was extraordinary, even if you take away the fact there was not a ton new said informationally, the setting for this, Congress, a former lawyer and fixer to the president, saying all of this on the record, on camera --


HABERMAN: -- was jarring.

STELTER: On camera. And we may see more of this as Nadler is saying, asking for documents.


STELTER: We're expecting folks to get caught up to testify. We'll see who does and who doesn't. You all broke some news as the president was returning from Vietnam about Jared Kushner and how the president intervened to force the government to give Kushner a security clearance.

Now, I assume this is the kind of story that was in the works for, what, days, weeks, months?

HABERMAN: A while.

STELTER: And you all happened to publish it after the Vietnam summit. Was that a coincidence?

HABERMAN: We published it when we had it. And as we know, because NBC had published something related to it a couple of weeks earlier, this is a competitive story. Everybody has been trying to figure out what happened with the clearance for a year. And I had gotten a tip several weeks ago that there was this -- Kelly had kept some contemporaneous notes and a memo about him being ordered or directed for clearance and when we were able to publish, we published.

STELTER: How do you all tried to -- "The New York Times," how should we at CNN try to distinguish between the dozens of stories involving the president every week? You know, how do you all make a statement and say, this one matters more than all of the other ones out there?

HABERMAN: This one is -- this one is different, I think, for a couple of reasons. It's important to remember that the president does have the right to do this. This is 100 percent in his purview, which is why when I asked him the question, at which point I already had known that this memo might exist, when I asked him if he intervened to give his son-in-law security clearance, I had thought that he was going to say, "Yes. I did."

STELTER: This was in, what, the end of January?

HABERMAN: Yes. In the White House interview in the Oval Office. And I asked him a question, you know, did you intervene -- did you tell anyone?

And he said -- not only did he say no, he said, "I'm not sure I have the authority to do that." And he went a little further. And I was surprised by that.

I think in this case, you have such a glaring disparity between what he said and what we now know took place that I think it stands out more.

[11:05:01] And I think it will -- look, it just raises fresh questions about -- I think Chris Christie was on Chris Cuomo's show the other night when the story broke, and he had this line about how this is why there is a danger about having family work in the administration, because it impacts certain judgment issues.

I don't know what was in Jared Kushner's clearance file. I don't know what issues the FBI and the CIA had flagged. So, it's impossible for any of us to really assess independently whether there was a genuine concern.

And, again, the president had the right to do it. But then claiming that you didn't do it, I think, is where it becomes a problem. It just becomes yet another brick, I think, as the Democratic House is trying to look at what happened.

STELTER: So how do you try to get to the truth when you're covering so many people that are defined by their unwillingness to tell the truth? HABERMAN: Well, in this case, we had multiple sourcing for the story.

We worked pretty hard on making sure that we had that. That is what we strive to do in any story. But certainly, we developed I think a habit during the campaign.

And I've talked about this elsewhere of we would -- we would hear multiple things and there would sometimes be multiple versions of events. We would say if it wasn't clear, X, Y, Z, says this, but ABC says that. And then we would use, you know, sort of the pieces of information that overlapped that were all related --


HABERMAN: -- and cut aside anything else, because the sources were such unreliable narrators in other contexts.

STELTER: Do you feel you are increasingly on a crime beat, a criminal beat?


STELTER: An investigatory beat?

HABERMAN: No, we're covering the White House.

I think if this ends up having other aspects -- there has been an investigative beat for the last two years because of the Mueller investigation and then for the last year because of the SDNY probe, and they do intersect. But I don't -- I don't think that it fundamentally changes the nature of covering a White House.

STELTER: Yes. Michael Cohen's testimony, we mentioned earlier. There were a couple pieces I wanted to ask you about.


STELTER: One was the "BuzzFeed" report from a few weeks ago. We can put the headline from "BuzzFeed" up on screen. It said in a report that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress.

Now, when he was asked about this, when you talked about this at the hearing, Cohen said Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress but he also said this.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: In his way, he was telling me to lie. He speaks in a code, and I understand the code, because I've been around him for a decade.


STELTER: So, was "BuzzFeed" vindicated?

HABERMAN: I don't think "BuzzFeed" was vindicated, no. I mean, I don't enjoy the pile-ons to take place after these stories. I really didn't enjoy the one that took place around "BuzzFeed". I think there was a story there, but I also think we already knew part of it, frankly, from Cohen's own presentencing memo, which referenced Cohen testifying in accordance in directives of the president.

I think that they wrote a story that went further than what they knew. And I think that when we do that, then we have to deal with the fallout. And so I don't -- I don't think this was a ball-spiking moment. I think that -- I understand if I were the reporters, I would probably argue that it was.

STELTER: Yes, that's what they're arguing. But --

HABERMAN: Right. But I think it's an argument -- and listen, they were on to a story, right, just based on what Michael Cohen said. But what he said is different than what they reported. And at the end of the day, that's sort of the problem.

STELTER: Cohen was also asked repeatedly by so many GOP lawmakers about deals, one kind of deal. Let's take a look at what kind of deal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a book deal coming?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Book deal about your experiences?


STELTER: Cohen did have a book deal back when he was the president's lawyer. Then he backed out of the book deal. Now, the president is saying there's a manuscript for this book that contradicts everything Cohen said publicly and in testimony.

Is there a manuscript? Do we know anything about that?

HABERMAN: The publisher said there wasn't a manuscript. So I don't think it now makes it a manuscript because the president is saying one. And one of the things that was -- a couple of things about this. Number one, the book deal thing seemed like a -- there were areas where these guys could really go after Cohen's testimony, that they actually chose not to. And instead, they focused on stuff like this book deal proposal, which I guess they were trying to show he's trying to make money off the president.

The president has no problem with people writing books about him when they say positive things. Number one. He's tweeted about a bunch of them. But number two, the whole premise of Cohen's testimony was, I used to say all these really nice things about him when I worked for him, because I was subservient. And I was committing these acts of loyalty.


HABERMAN: And now, I'm not going to do that any more. So this book proposal coming when it came is not a surprise. But my favorite part of the president's tweet was, that's what lawmakers need to refer to, that text. Not what Michael Cohen said.

STELTER: Under oath.

HABERMAN: Under oath. And so --

STELTER: Here are the president's new tweets in the last few minutes while we've been on the air. He says: After more than two years of presidential harassment, the only things that have been proven, that the Democrats broke the law. The hostile Cohen testimony given by a liar to reduce prison time is not true, proved no collusion. His just-written book manuscript shows what he said was a total lie. But the fake news media won't show it.

So the president is saying a manuscript that doesn't exist is being --

HABERMAN: We're not showing it.

STELTER: Right. It's being --

HABERMAN: Suppressing it.

STELTER: It's being kept away from the public. So there is a hint of conspiracy there.


STELTER: And that's common in his talking points about the media.

[11:10:01] HABERMAN: Sure. But it's common in his talking points for a lot of things, that there is some hidden hand that's kind of pulling the strings.


HABERMAN: But this is the ultimate "how do you prove a negative here of a thing that doesn't exist and you guys aren't showing the thing that doesn't exist". So --

STELTER: What's the most important thing that you have learned on the Trump beat that you think all of us need to keep in mind? You know, viewers at home, television anchors -- I feel like you know him better than anybody. What do we --


HABERMAN: Thank you.

STELTER: Maybe better than almost anybody on this beat.

HABERMAN: Yes. STELTER: What do we need to remember as we hear about all these investigations and all of these -- his legal trouble? The banner on screen always talks about, you know, the legal troubles are piling up. But what do we need to keep in mind?

HABERMAN: Well, you need to keep in mind that there's actually -- I think this is the thing. Look, we don't know where impeachment is going to go.

I think Jerry Nadler said something very different this morning than what we had heard in terms of obstruction of justice. But he did not then say -- and I think he will be impeached. He clearly knows this -- impeachment is pretty traumatic for a country and I think they're not going to race into that lightly.

I think that there is a tendency to act as if every new revelation somehow changes what is going on or changes the path or changes the future. There's a lot of really bad headlines, and Donald Trump has shown a unique ability to ignore them and refuse to get thrown out of the ring.

And at the end of the day, the ring he's in is the Oval Office. And there's one method for changing power in this country. And it's an election. And I think that people need to bear that in mind.

I also just think people need to bear in mind, generally, that not everything is a four-alarm fire. Because what has happened is -- if everything is, then nothing is. And I think that not treating every tweet as if it's the end of the world and not treating every, you know, mess-up or lie or falsehood as if they're all equal, they're not, is important.

STELTER: Was the security clearance story a three-alarm fire, a four- alarm fire?

HABERMAN: I don't know that it was a fire. I think that it was a significant action that the president took related to his family that he did not tell us the truth about, just directly did not tell us the truth. And then went on to explain he didn't think he had the power to do that. That his daughter said on camera, she was -- that there was no special treatment.

You know, is there a realm of possibility that she didn't know? Sure. But it's -- you know, the clearance was issued at a time when Jared Kushner really wanted to put to rest the idea that he was under investigation. And the argument that a lot of people around him made was he wouldn't have gotten his clearance if he was under investigation.

And Abbe Lowell, his lawyer, described it to "The Times" and CNN as coming from a normal process.


HABERMAN: And we know clearly now that is not what happened.

STELTER: Yes. More to come on that. Maggie, thank you. Please stick around.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

STELTER: Quick break here.

And then CPAC clearing out in D.C. There's this new campaign called "End the Grift" that I want to tell you about. Bill Kristol is here to discuss it right after the break.


[11:16:29] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.

While President Trump was giving the most long-winded speech of his presidency at CPAC, some moderate conservatives were holding events to, quote, "End the Grift". These took place in Boston, D.C., New York and Atlanta on Saturday.

So grift. Grift. It is one of the top words of this political moment. Liberal and actually a fair number of conservatives are accusing the president and pro-Trump media celebs of being grifters, of selling stuff and exploiting people. And these critics say that this behavior was on full display at the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference, that's CPAC, this week.

So I want to unpack what this means, this grifting idea. Here to discuss it is Bill Kristol, the director of Defending Democracy Together; "New York Magazine's" Washington correspondent, Olivia Nuzzi; and CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy, who's fresh back from CPAC.

Oliver, grifting, this idea of grifting, what is it? What does it mean, why is it -- why is it coming up so often these days?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Well, it's basically this idea of exploiting gullible people to sell something, to raise your brand, awareness, and I think it's coming up because, well, look, Brian, CPAC has always been a representation of where the Republican Party is, where it's going and I'm not sure it was ever this place for intellectual discourse as some people would say. But it has in recent years become more like Trump.

It's a celebration of Trump, and so you see a lot of grifters -- people throwing red meat rhetoric at crowds. Guys like Charlie Kirk, Diamond and Silk, Michelle Malkin, those are the people that are -- and they are selling books off in that CPAC, they're trying to get subscriptions to their organizations.

And so, you know, so it's no longer any pretense of discussing intellectual philosophy about conservative movement. It's now about really raising your brand, owning the libs, and selling your books to these people.

STELTER: Guys like Dan Bongino, who recently got a Fox contract, he sells survivalist stuff, you know, kind of junk that people don't really need.

Bill Kristol, you were promoting this "end the grift" idea yesterday. What is it?

BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: You know, just on grift, Eric Hoffer, who was a public intellectual from the '50s and '60s, who deserves to be read more today than he probably, that I remember reading him when I was a kid -- wrote a book called "The True Believer," has this line that goes something like every great movement begins as a cause, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.

And I do think at CPAC, we saw the racket in full display, along with a few true believers and then some decent people who just thought this is a place to discuss conservative ideas. But that was about 10 percent of CPAC. It used to be maybe 60 or 70 percent.

Heath Mayo, a young guy, I talked on the phone once, met him last night in D.C., under 30 I think, just tweeted a couple weeks ago saying, hey, this CPAC thing is ridiculous. That's not what real principled conservatism is. Let's discuss ideas, let's see if we can get some people together to do that.

Out of this one tweet came I think 12 gatherings over the last couple days, I think maybe a couple more tonight, in 12 different cities. About 1,000 people in total. He thinks -- I went to one in D.C. for half an hour, a little early to come to CNN which I suppose shows my misplaced priorities in the world.

It's a wonderful group of people. A lot of young people. It's interesting. I mean, a lot of young professionals, as Heath is -- 30, 35, 40 -- getting together. They -- everyone paid for his own beer, or whatever.

And, you know, they're mixing and mingling, and getting to know people and have some discussion about conservative principles. Not everyone -- some people were quite conservatives, some people are much more moderate, a couple of token liberals, good to see.

[11:20:00] So, I mean, it's -- it shows there is some market. I think we see this in the Bulwark, too, the website I'm associated with. This there is a market for non-Trump conservatism. It is not a majority market right now, but it's not nothing either.

BERMAN: It's partly about rejecting scammers and liars and con artists who are just trying to sell a bunch of B.S. to a conservative audience. You know, shame on them. And I like the fact that the Bulwark are trying to call them out.

Olivia, let's also talk about the president at CPAC, and, you know, I noticed watching the morning shows today, some of the networks are actually bleeping the president because he said bullshit and that's happened to be bleep. Frankly, if it the president is going to talk that way, I think we're going to have to air it. What do you think?

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I agree with that. But I have to say, the president is also the grifter-in- chief. A lot of these things that we are seeing at CPAC, Donald Trump really perfected. He had Trump steaks and Trump vodka, Trump ties, Trump cologne, the Trump board game.

He has been selling products -- useless products associated with his brand for years and years, and profiting wildly from it. And now we see it, you know, taking on a new -- even seedier form as he's in office and he's profiting from his hotel in Washington, D.C. and things like that. So I think that just like he sets the tone for what the Republican Party is right now more broadly, he also kind of okays this behavior by having done it so often and for so long himself.

But I agree. I think that when the president curses, I think it's really important for us not to bleep it, not to use stars or other symbols when we write about it in print. I think it's important that we don't treat viewers or readers like children. And that we let them see and hear the president for who he really is.

STELTER: It's definitely complicated, though. I can see both sides. But it's a problem that newsrooms shouldn't have to have, because the president should act presidential and we're going to have to worry about whether children can watch our broadcasts.

Oliver, we also have the president calling out some of his favorite television stars, radio stars. He rewards these boosters, right? He rewards them with shout-outs. And it kind of keeps this virtuous cycle going for him.

DARCY: Of course. And like I said, this was really a celebration of Trump. When I was at CPAC, there wasn't really room for dissent. Someone talked about the raising of the national debt and how it's exploded under Trump. And they were booed.

You know, these are not people who want to hear anything that crosses Trump. And so, of course, he's going to reward the people who promote him.

STELTER: Yes. And there's an interesting thing going on. Matt Schlapp was on Cuomo's show the other night --


STELTER: -- talking about the president's lying. Schlapp was in denial about it. He was saying, no, no. The president is not a liar. Take a look at what happened.


MATT SCHLAPP, CPAC CHAIRMAN: Don't call him a liar.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: He's a liar. He's a liar.

SCHLAPP: You're specifically telling me it's a big number in California.

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: Matt, it's not anywhere near it and you know it. There weren't people dancing on the buildings after 9/11.

SCHLAPP: You don't --

CUOMO: He lies all of the time and you know it! And this stuff with Otto Warmbier.

SCHLAPP: I don't know it.


STELTER: I don't know it, Schlapp says.

I just wonder, Bill Kristol, your reaction to this, because two-plus years into the Trump presidency, and if we all can't agree that he makes a lot of stuff up, then how are we able to have any conversations?

KRISTOL: Yes, Matt does know it. He's not a foolish person. He doesn't want to say it.

And in some way, he's now rationalizing it, and this is true of so many conservatives and Republicans, unfortunately. That, you know, they're getting good policies or good results, despite the lying.

And so what strikes me is the decay in the defenses of Trump. We're now in sort of late-stage Trumpism. We no longer hear people honestly saying, look, his character is not great and he's been a grifter and he exaggerates and lies. But, you know, at the end of day, it was a choice between him and Hillary and I like the judges, I like the tax cuts, whatever.

I think that's a -- I don't agree with that defense, but I think that's not an irrational defense. In a democracy, you don't get a choice of often of perfect candidates.

But now, they can't say that anymore for some reason. It's a psychological thing and now they're saying ludicrous -- denying the obvious truth as Matt Schlapp did.

KRISTOL: Yes. So, Olivia, last word to you, you wrote about the president's speech. You said it's a form of self care. You know, hugging the flag, those sorts of moments.

His fans do eat it up. But is it newsworthy anymore?

NUZZI: Well, I think any time the president goes on a kind of crazy two-hour ranting monologue, we ought to cover it, we ought to pick out the newsworthy bits from it. But I don't think that it's something that we should air, you know, in total as it happens live without anyone coming into fact-check or, you know, assess what the president is saying.

I think that era of Trump coverage is kind of over, that early era where we aired the rallies in total and just let him talk and talk and talk with no interjection. I think that's over.

STELTER: Editing always, always helps with every story.

DARCY: Right.

STELTER: Thank you very much to our panel.

[11:25:02] If all of this talk about the Trump years has you yearning for the Bush years, CNN has just the new series for you. It's called "THE BUSH YEARS". It's premiering tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time here on CNN.

Up next, Maggie Haberman is back. Jim Acosta is here. We're going to talk about what happened in Hanoi, and Trump's treatment of the press. Why were four reporters banned from a photo op? The answer, coming up.


STELTER: Now to the fallout from Hanoi and new concerns about how the press corps was treated.

This was one of the first events there at the summit, President Trump with Kim Jong-un. There were some questions shouted from the American press. Take a listen.


REPORTER: Mr. President, do you have any reaction to Michael Cohen and his testimony?



STELTER: Notice Kim smiling there kind of enjoying the experience. The President, of course, ignored the question and then a few hours later, actually within an hour, this happened. The White House barring four reporters from the next event, the next photo-op which was a dinner between Trump and Kim.

Let's talk about it why it happened, what it means with CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta who's just returned from Hanoi and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times also back with us. Jim, tell us about what happened and why this stood out?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it stood out in part because I mean, that the press treatment was already off to a really bad start before that moment happened that you just played there. I mean, keep in mind, the White House Press Corps, a big part of the White House Press Corps was staying in the same hotel with Kim Jong-un and then when the North Koreans caught wind of that, we were booted out of that hotel.

I mean, the entire press filing center with all those journalists, all those cameramen and so on were booted out of that hotel. And then flash forward to this pool spray where you heard Jonathan Lemire from the A.P. asked that question, clearly, the president didn't like it. What we were all told after that ended was that because of sensitivities Sarah Sanders said with the North Korean dictator that they were only going to allow photographers into the next pool spray when in fact she was clearly, and the White House was clearly retaliating against the White House and those individual reporters who were shouting questions during that pool spray you just played.

And then what happened in the resulting pool spray, some of the print pool photographers, thank goodness, the still photographers, they went ahead and rebelled and said listen, if you don't let in some sort of editorial presence we're not going in there. And so thank goodness --

STELTER: So it showed a solidarity.

ACOSTA: Yes, and so thank goodness that we had some solidarity there or else we wouldn't have got into the next pool spray but then Michael Cohen wasn't asked in the next pool spray. And so they kind of got what they wanted out of this which is unfortunate.

STELTER: So, Maggie, is it too much to ask that when an American president is meeting with a dictator that the American White House stands up for the press and advocates for press freedom. Is that too much to ask?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: No. I mean, look, we have time and again seeing that this White House conflates the individual with the office and they what they don't recognize sort of the necessity of promoting long-standing U.S. values. This is a constitutionally protected press corps in the United States and we have seen Democratic and Republican presidents stand up for those values, George Bush among them overseas. This president and his White House have chosen not to do that.

It's also -- look, I don't know what happened. I don't know if it was retaliation, I don't know if it was preemptive on the part of the White House press office to try to keep press out so that the president wouldn't look like he wasn't on equal footing with Kim. A U.S. president is not supposed to be on equal footing with a dictator number one. And number two, this is where the White House aides to Donald Trump repeatedly do not serve him well.

There needs to be somebody there who can say to him this is a bad idea because this is how this is going to play out. And time and again, that never happens. Right.

STELTER: Right. Afterwards, the President did hold a press conference at this kind of premature end to the summit so there was access later.

HABERMAN: No, it's good that he did but that having been said, said the whole point of a free press is you don't -- you don't control it this way. You were able to ask the question. I understand it was an uncomfortable question for President Trump. And some of his supporters said to me look, this is this is threatening to him at a moment when he's trying to secure some kind of a deal with North Korea, but the expectations for what was going to come out of this summit have been so downgraded by the time they even got there that I don't know what this was threatening.

STELTER: Yes. Hey, Jim, everyone remembers you were banned briefly from the White House back in November. CNN went to court to get you back and your credential restored. The president has called on you since then. So I was just curious what that relationship has been like. What's happened since November?

ACOSTA: You know, it has been tense obviously. You know, things still flare up from time to time. There was that a press conference in the Rose Garden where I asked the president about his so-called national emergency to justify using funds to build the wall on the border with Mexico and he you know, constantly interrupted and came after us and called us fake news and accused us of having an agenda.

But you know, we go back to work and we do what we have to do. It doesn't matter what kind of names they call us. We're still going to do our jobs. But getting back to you know, what you're just saying a few moments ago about having that news conference in Hanoi, I mean, keep in mind the president during that news conference was calling on instead of members of the White House Press Corps -- he called on some members of the White House Press Corps, but he spent half of that news conference randomly calling on individual reporters who he didn't even know including five or six members of Chinese state media, Russia state media and so on.

And so, the whole thing -- I mean, I think from being kicked out of the press hotel in the press filing center to that pool spray episode, to the press conference, I think this was a big debacle for this White House press shop from start to finish. And getting back to what Maggie was talking about a few moments ago in terms of these sensitivities, it sounds like the sensitivities were more with the president than with Kim Jong-un. And I just think sometimes here at the White House, they get confused over who the supreme leader is.

And I do think Maggie is right and that they do him a disservice. If the President had just asked or been asked some questions about Michael Cohen and gotten that out of the way, I think a lot of this would have been short-circuited before that news conference even started. But because they dig in their heels and try to rebel against what they obviously know something we're going to ask, I think they create more negative press attention than they probably would rather see.

[11:35:28] STELTER: And lest we forget, there's no more daily briefings. I don't want to let those go without remembering that used to be common for you and others to be in the -- in the press briefing on an almost daily basis.

ACOSTA: That's right. But I'm used to have those all the time. I mean, you know on these foreign trips, you would have a press briefing with the Press Secretary or the Secretary of State. That also didn't happen this time.

STELTER: With Sarah Sanders, there have been reports, you know, nine months ago that she'd be out of a job by now, that she'd be leaving the White House after the Midterm but she's still there. Is there -- is there a helpful communication on a daily basis with the White House press shop?

ACOSTA: I don't think there is. And you know, you can ask questions from time to time and you'll get an answer, but for the most part, you know, they're playing favorites over here. Instead of the daily briefing, Brian, what our viewers need to understand is that almost on a daily basis somebody from the White House press shop, a high-level official like Sarah Sanders or Kellyanne Conway is doing an exclusive interview with Fox News.

And instead of a press briefing in the White House Briefing Room, what we're doing in the White House Press Corps is we're assembling in the driveway of the White House in the hopes of catching them before they go inside the West Wing so we could ask them a few questions out in the freezing cold.

Now, of course, you know, White House reporters, other reporters were used to standing out in the cold but we're really being left out in the cold in terms of press access and it's rather unbelievable. Somebody was estimating the other day that Kim Jong-un had taken more questions in that pool spray.

Remember the some of those White House reporters got questions to Kim Jong-un during one of the pool sprays the other day --

STELTER: And that was great. That was historic.

ACOSTA: Yes. But that was probably more questions taken by Kim Jong- un than Sarah Sanders has taken from the White House Press Corps in some time. And so I'm the juxtaposition, the comparison there I don't think it serves them very well over here.

STELTER: It's favorable. Jim, Maggie, thank you both. Much appreciated. A quick break here and then why Sean Hannity might find himself being grilled by Congress. Plus HBO being sued by Michael Jackson's estate over the new film Leaving Neverland. We've got legal headlines rocking the media world next.


[11:40:00] STELTER: Take a look at what Sean Hannity told the President the other day. Could he find himself having to testify before Congress because of this comment?


SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: But I can tell you personally he said to me at least a dozen times that he made the decision on the payments and he didn't tell you.


STELTER: Cohen paid the hush money. Cohen didn't tell you. So Hannity is suggesting he has evidence for an ongoing investigation by the Congress. Now, a Member of the House David Cicilline is tweeting out saying hey, Hannity is volunteering himself as a witness. I look forward to his testimony. It's not actually going to happen? Could that happen?

Joining me now former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rogers, now a CNN Legal Analyst and Shelby Holliday, The Wall Street Journal's Senior Video Reporter. Jennifer, the idea of a member of the media being called in to testify, maybe even subpoenaed, that concerns me. Is that -- is that concerning to you?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, not at all. In fact, it has nothing to do with that. So what Sean Hannity did and I think he really stepped in it here, is to say I personally have information that contradicts what Michael Cohen said under oath. So by doing that, he says, I as an individual have relevant information for you SDNY, and you Congress --


RODGERS: -- and he's opening himself up to being called as a witness has nothing to do with his role as a journalist or an employee of Fox News or anything else.

STELTER: It's about his friendship with the president and his friendship with Cohen. And let's talk about another friend of the president's, Roger Stone. Shelby, this week a judge rejected Stone's argument this anti-CNN conspiracy theory that somehow CNN was tipped off to the arrests of Stone in Florida. What does it mean that Stone has been facing these legal setbacks?

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, Senior Video Reporter, The Wall Street Journal: Well, it's been a rough few weeks for Roger Stone and his lawyers. This is just one of the many setbacks he's had. But the judge basically came out and said there are -- there's no evidence to show that CNN was actually tipped off and she laid out a really important timeline that showed at 6:06 Roger Stone was arrested. At 6:11, the CNN reporter called his attorney.

Then, at 6:11, the Justice Department also posted the indictment online and she went through all of the details and essentially said, this all looks pretty kosher to me and you guys didn't present any evidence. She also noted that --

STELTER: I hope the millions of people that have bought this (INAUDIBLE) that they see -- that they see what the judge said and they read the --

HOLLIDAY: A lot of it is in the fine print so I highly recommend everyone read this. It's two pages but you got to look at the footnotes. I mean, it really does vindicate CNN and it's something that a lot of reporters in newsrooms across the country we're talking about because the Thursday before his arrest, there was some unusual grand jury activity and we all knew something was going to happen.

STELTER: Right. So there was a reason to believe he might get arrested. Turning to another legal headline. This is the Michael Jackson pedophilia film Leaving Neverland. It's airing on HBO tonight and Monday night. It has allegations from two men that Jackson sexually abused them for years. It is a devastating film.

And the Michael Jackson Estate sued HBO for $100 million trying to block it from being air. Now, the film will air tonight anyway. Tell me, why do people file lawsuits that seem to only draw attention to something they don't want to have talked about.

RODGERS: It's a good question because I actually just got a push alert about this lawsuit and about the film.


HOLLIDAY: Now, a film that I wasn't very aware of is now very much on my radar.

STELTER: I feel like the Jackson family has just drawn more attention to this film. But Jennifer, what are the legal arguments here?

RODGERS: Well, they don't really have very good legal arguments. They make a contract argument that is never going to pass muster. You know, then they just want some kind of general tort things. I think it's about the money. They're trying to protect this financial boon that has been the Michael Jackson Estate since he died and the money may dry up if this scandal keeps gaining steam.

STELTER: Right. So the more they can do to try to stop the film I guess helps financially but as I said, the film will air tonight, tomorrow night on HBO. Jennifer, Shelby, thank you both for being here. A quick break here and then one of the top magazine editors of this era. Find out where Adam Moss sees the industry heading and why he's stepping down. That's right after this.


[11:45:00] STELTER: New York Magazine Editor-in-Chief Adam Moss was just elected to the magazine industry's Hall of Fame. And at the end of this month, he's stepping down after 15 tremendous years leading the print magazine and launching digital publications like Intelligencer and Vulture. So we spoke recently in his office about the future of the industry. But first, why he's decided to leave now?


ADAM MOSS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, NEW YORK MEDIA: I don't know how anyone else does it. But in my case, it was really that I was not -- I don't really woke up every morning crazy to do this job. And you know, I said -- as I have said, you -- I think you have to be a little crazy to do this job. So I didn't have that anymore.

I also kind of felt that it was 15 years, it's good for the organization to get new blood or get a rejuvenation.

[11:50:14] STELTER: I feel like we're going through this intense period of change. You're far from the only editor to be bringing in you know, newer blood. MOSS: The business that we're in right now is it's unrecognizable

from the business or the journalism. Even the journalism we practiced in some ways when I first came here in 2004, 15 years ago, we had a magazine, that was it, and that was enough. It was fantastic. And over the years, things changed. The business model changed, the storytelling tools changed.

Suddenly there were possibilities in digital media that for storytelling that we're very exciting and different and I loved. Suddenly you had video. You know, suddenly you had social media of all kinds. Some which was just to promote your material, others which were actual platforms where you had to tell stories too.

So we started with one magazine and I'm leaving within effect six, and that's a lot of change over relatively short time.

STELTER: Is your glass-half-full or glass-half-empty about magazines?

MOSS: I think magazines are changing. I think that people need to adapt and I don't think that print is going away but I think that print will be for smaller audiences, it will be for people who really like the print -- tangible print experience, probably cost more, and people will pay for it because it won't be as subsidized by advertising is it had been traditionally.

STELTER: I find it so interesting that you who so many editors look up to. They say you're the editor of the era that you are not as attached to print as maybe people would think.

MOSS: Yes. I mean, don't get me wrong. I love print and I will be a print reader forever and I love working in print. But now, I know -- you know, you can't -- you can't look back. You really just have to like see what is the opportunity and there's so much good. There really is so much good in -- if you're sort of -- if you're invested in doing the kind of work that you do, you can reach more people now than you ever could before. You can find people there's no distribution walls, really, at all.

You can just reach anyone anywhere in the globe. You can tell stories with words, with pictures, with animated pictures, with sound. There'll be all sorts of new things that will happen over the next 10, 20, 30 years, and I think you just have to embrace all those opportunities because for one thing it's fun. The other is that you know, if your -- if your main job is to is to have an impact in the world, you have much more opportunity to do that now than you ever did before.

STELTER: And what advice are you offering to your successor, to David Haskell.

MOSS: Make this your own. Forget about me.

STELTER: Forget about you.

MOSS: Yes. Basically, that's -- I would say that. I would say that that it would be a big mistake to try to be too reverential toward the past. And I think that media is always about what is next, what is new, what is next.


STELTER: So what is new what is next for Adam Moss? He says he's not quite sure yet. You can hear our entire interview on the RELIABLE SOURCES podcast through Apple, Spotify, you pick. Up next here, other big moves being made on the media chessboard, truly the end of a TV era.


[11:55:00] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. Disney, Comcast, AT&T, CBS, all of these big media companies are making changes, trying to reorient themselves in the streaming world that has been pioneered by Netflix. Disney's deal to buy most of Fox is about to be official.

In this week, an appeals court backed up AT&T's deal to buy Warner Media, CNN's aren't company. Remember the government's bid to stop AT&T? Well, it officially failed and now some big moves are happening.

In a true end of an era moment, kingmaker Richard Plepler, the CEO of HBO is stepping aside. So is David Levy, the President of Turner. Both men are acclaimed executives and their exits are a big deal internally.

Of course, these sorts of changes are pretty common when a new owner takes over, but there is lots of curiosity about what comes next. WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey is expected to bring on Bob Greenblatt, the former chairman of NBC Entertainment in a new role that will combine HBO and Turner. And CNN Chief Jeff Zucker is reportedly adding oversight of Turner Sports. Meaning he'll be running all the live programming both news and sports.

Those announcements are expected in the week ahead. Some of these changes are about freeing up more money to make more content, more shows to make the business more competitive. If you think about it AT&T's big challenge is the same as Disney's and all the rest. The challenge is keeping up with changing consumer habits.

How are you watching T.V.? What do you want from streaming services and wireless providers? The companies that are figuring that out are the ones that will win the streaming wars. Now, that's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. We are streaming on and you can listen to our podcast on any number of platforms as well.

Let me know your thoughts on today's show and what you would like to see next week. Send me your feedback on Twitter, on Facebook. My handle is @BrianStelter on both sites. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see you back here, this time next week.