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Trump is the "Say Anything" President; Chernow Honors the First Amendment at WHCA Dinner; Jordan Klepper on the Role of Comedy in the Trump Age. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 28, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:17] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. Welcome to RELIABLE SOURCES and welcome to Washington on White House correspondents weekend.

The story on Ron Chernow's message for the media is coming up.

But there's a lot more to report this hour, as well, including the spasm of hate crimes. Is this another case of a killer radicalized on right wing message boards? We'll get into that.

Plus, a big announcement from a new collision that's trying to get the word out about reporters in peril.

We also have some special guests here. Columnist Sally Quinn, fact- checker Glenn Kessler, comedian Jordan Klepper, all coming up.

But first, another split screen America, President Trump for the third year in a row opting out of the White House correspondence dinner, instead attending a counter program and rally in Wisconsin.

He is really the say anything president. He's had his second phoner of the week with Fox News, just now calling in Maria Bartiromo, playing up the state of the crisis on the southern border.

When I say he's the "say anything president", here is what I mean -- from conspiracy theories to contradictions, Trump is willing and able to say anything. It goes beyond just misleading statements. In the past few days, he's been alleging a coup attempt, he's been claiming his ex-lawyer Don McGahn is a liar, it goes on and on.

And there's some really shocking new examples from the rally this weekend. So, let's get right to it. We have a panel here in Washington fresh off the correspondence dinner.

Karen Finney is with us. Elaina Plott, Amanda Carpenter and David Zurawik all joining me here in Washington.

I wanted to start, Karen, with the headline out of the rally that I think is not getting enough play today. This is a comment from the president talking about late term abortion. That's -- listen to it first and then we'll try to unpack it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The baby is born, the mother with the doctor, they take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby. I don't think so.



STELTER: Can you put this into context for us, Karen? He's talking about infanticide --


STELTER: -- which is illegal --


STELTER: -- immoral, incredible rare and something -- something he's continuing to bring up on the trail and this was the post shocking way he said it yet.

FINNEY: But this is part of his strategy to just demonize the left, demonize -- I mean, he was in a rally, I think he spoke for over an hour, hour and a half. You know, it's like when he went to CPAC. So, this was his comfort zone. He even brought up Sarah Sanders.

This particular attack is particularly disgusting and egregious as someone who serves on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice America. This was one where unfortunately getting used to hearing from the right. Obviously, it's illegal.

What would happen is, this would only happen in the instance if a child was born with some type of horrible deformity --

STELTER: Without a brain, without a heart, something awful.

FINNEY: Exactly, and couldn't survive outside the womb. And by the way, at that point, it's called surgery, right? There would be a surgery and the decision is made how do you keep this child comfortable? And it would be just like if someone was on -- had to be on life support for some reason.


FINNEY: But he knows that. We're talking about facts.

STELTER: Do you think he knows the truth even though he's spinning it like this?

FINNEY: Sure, because -- I mean, he likes to, it's like you said, say anything hyperbole, use disgusting language to so demonize people, anyone, frankly as you know he does to the press all the time as anyone who is against him has to be.

STELTER: Ye. FINNEY: You can't just be wrong or have a different opinion. You have to be despicable. You have to be evil, right?

STELTER: This is something that there is a lot going on this weekend but something like this comment should be a bigger story.

David Zurawik, here is what Judd Legum, a liberal writer. said on Twitter. He said this clip of the president accusing people of conspiring to murder infants in blankets, this should be headline news for weeks, he wrote on Twitter. Instead it will likely be forgotten by tomorrow.

But this is example number 1,000 of the trend, right?

DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE SUN: It's absolutely true. And, you know, early on when people said we can't normalize it, and the word lost its meaning normalize it that he can now go to this place. By the way, when you watch the full segment where he talked about it, he repeated it two or three times. This was just one bite, and he used the word "execute" in that conversation.

He was really pounding it with those viewers, with the rally goers in Green Bay.

STELTER: It was live on Fox, by the way.

ZURAWIK: It was.

STELTER: This was split screen America, fox covering the rally, CNN covering the correspondence dinner. This is pretty common at this point. But I thought that at the dinner, to turn to the dinner here, Ron Chernow, the historian in place of a comedian, was quite funny at times and he was downright presidential.

Let's look at a few of the things that he said to the crowd.


[11:05:03] RON CHERNOW, HISTORIAN: We now have to fight hard for basic truths we once took for granted.

When you chip away at the press, you chip away at our democracy.

Relations between presidents in the press are inevitably tough, almost always adversarial but don't need to be steep in venom.


STELTER: Not steep in venom, your reaction?

ZURAWIK: That's absolutely. And that's exactly what Trump brought to this conversation where he says it's not -- just what Karen said. It's not enough to disagree, it's your enemy.

He used the word again last night, scum. He was talking about the dirty cops at the FBI instead of the press this time, but that's the level he goes to with it.

By the way, Chernow, the thing I thought watching it is he actually used whipped. I forgot and realized how Trump has bludgeoned and flattened the rhetoric of the political discourse of this country where whipped seems so rare, the thing you might hear from JFK. He used it gentle and nice and his pep talk was fabulous.

STELTER: He also did have a message for the media.


STELTER: Let's take a look at what he said.


CHERNOW: Donald J. Trump is not the first and won't be the last American president to create jitters about the First Amendment. So, be humble, be skeptical and beware of being infected by the very things you're fighting against.


STELTER: Elaina, I think he had an important message there?

ELAINA PLOTT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's so important. So, I want to go back to the abortion discussion in Trump's comments for a minute. What I took there was Trump's hyperbolic kind of translation of what Ralph Northam has said, the Virginia governor, and he said, the infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and family desired and a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother as to what would happen to that viable child.

Like it or not, what Trump said right there, that's what a lot of voters heard when Northam said that. So, I think as reporters to pearl clutch and say, how dare he, you know, it -- compound on it like that. The reality is a lot of people, that's -- when Northam said that, that's the way they interpreted as well.

STELTER: What Northam said is also not true. It's not based on the facts.


FINNEY: Also, Northam is a doctor. He was actually describing a medical procedure. He was exactly --


AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- that made very inartful comment about what happens --

PLOTT: My point is as reporters, we seized on what Trump says. We don't seize on what the Democrats say. We say, well, what did he actually mean by that? Let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

And I think that's what Chernow is getting at. You know, don't -- it can be just to seize on Trump's comments like that and say where could he possibly get that from? Who could possibly take anything from what he's saying is just a little silly to me.

FINNEY: But I think that takes away from again, the fact that Trump consistently needs to -- it not just high hyperbole, it is evisceration, it is very strong, very terse language that is meant to evoke emotion, Mexicans are rapist.

That is meant to put a picture in your head so that when you see brown people, you're afraid of that person because you think he's a rapist rather than saying plenty of white people are rapists, too, if we have that conversation. I mean, it's always about making the other side the enemy and this is the way he is not only trying to keep his base that red meat and keep them angry and fearful.

And the fear that we have for each other is exactly what the Russians exploited in the 2016 election and will do so again in 2020. And he knows it and he also knows by keeping that one-third in check, that's how he keeps Republicans in Congress in check because they are afraid of that one-third of the voting.

CARPENTER: But, Brian, when you describe president Trump as a say anything president, he's also a dog that doesn't know any new tricks. Man, if I were running a campaign against him, I would be delighted because we know what he's going to do.

This thing with the abortion debate, there is a legitimate debate what happens to babies that survive abortions. That's sort of what he's getting at in a grotesque way.


CARPENTER: We're not going to have that debate here, but this is the fire that he's stoking. We know he does this.

So I think you're right to go to the actual policy debate whether than seize on Trump's comments because that's what Republicans and conservatives will be talking about on the ground. He's doing the same thing conspiracies. In the 2016 election, he went (INAUDIBLE) on birtherism, now and happening again with spygate and he will ride that train as far as it can go.

STELTER: Coup, yes.

CARPENTER: Yes, the deep state coup, which I don't think the conservative media is on board with this except maybe Sean Hannity, which is his phone a friend in need. He'll ride that and see if we get outrage over it or mock it for what it is and understanding underlying issues.

STELTER: Speaking of phoning his friend, Sean Hannity, that was one of the phone calls he made this week.

[11:10:01] Do you think, David Zurawik, he's trying to drive a wedge between his friends at Fox and his critics? Because the president is also on through this weekend criticizing Judge Andrew Napolitano, who has suggested the president clearly tried to commit obstruction of justice, criticizing Shepard Smith.

Is he trying to drive a wedge between news and opinion? What's going on there?

ZURAWIK: Well, speaking of old tricks, that's his oldest trick. I mean, it's the oldest one, reward those who kiss up to you and say what you want to say and punish like hell anybody who dares to criticize.

CARPENTER: Ask Megyn Kelly how that works.

ZURAWIK: Yes, exactly. What a great -- yes, exactly. Look at what he did to her when she was at fox and how ugly that was by the way, how Roger Ailes let that happen. We shouldn't forget how that went down. I mean, whatever down feel about Megyn Kelly, that was brutal. They brutalized her.

FINNEY: Brian, I think your point is really important because what he says does matter. It carries weight.

That bully pulpit, part of the reason -- yes, should we have a policy discussion, yes. Have you ever been confronted by some of these people? We're talking about violence, right?

I've been confronted in my face with people who believe the crazy things that he says about black people, about Democrats. It's terrifying. I mean, Olivier Knox started last night talking about death threats, started about his 10-year-old son saying, daddy, is something going to happen to you?

So, we have to -- part of the reason we should be covering what the president says is because it does matter, it does carry weight, it does resonate with a certain part of the population who actually then are motivated to do and then say crazy things themselves and that matters in this country because you have a responsibility when you're the president how you use your Twitter feed, you name it, that actually matters and carries weight. That is part of what Ron was trying to say.

STELTER: It affects conservatives. It is far too much of this around.

Let's get more of that after a quick break. There is another story of another hate crime that seems to have been fueled online, talking about online radicalization and this synagogue in California right after this.


[11:15:43] STELTER: Right now, a 13-year-old girl from Sunnyvale, California, is in a coma, suffering from severe brain trauma because a driver plowed into her and others on Tuesday. It was on Friday when we found out that the police believe this was a hate crime. The driver thought the people in the crowd were Muslim so he attacked them. This story has not received enough attention because the hate crime

was only publicized three days later. There has been attention this weekend and this story is not happening in a vacuum. Day after day, we're seeing stories about people of faith and places of worship being targeted.

Case in point on Saturday, as you've heard, a gunman entered a synagogue near San Diego and opened fire, killing one and injuring three. This appears to be another case of another hate filled loner who found community in his online bigotry, and then his online life, his online hate became real world action.

And we're not going to show you his manifesto that is a ridiculous letter but what he did before is posted to his friends on a website called 8chan. He said: It's been real, dudes, thanks for everything. What I've learned here is priceless.

Think about that? What I've learned here on this website is priceless. Then he posted a link to his manifesto, and he also posted a link to his Facebook page. He said he was going to live stream whatever happens next.

The first person to reply to the threat on 8chan said, get the high score, which meant kill lots of people.

Now there is no evidence he actually did live stream on Facebook, thankfully apparently that didn't work, but the manifesto is out there. There is yet more evidence, this is another case of a suspect radicalized by what he sees on the Internet.

So, thinking about this spasm of hate crimes, each of the stories is distinct. It has to be studied individually. But all of them are linked.

So back with me here to discuss, Amanda Carpenter, David Zurawik, Karen Finney and Elaina Plott.

Thinking about the manifesto, David, I think the press has come a long way. We very infrequently mention the names of the men, almost always men who are committing these crimes. We rarely quote from the language they publish online. But it is important to recognize that he was inspired it seems by the New Zealand killer, that there are links between these attacks.

ZURAWIK: Yes. Well, one thing -- again, there are so many things and at this stage of my career, I'm surprised how many things we're learning how to cover because life in some ways has become so violent and helter-skelter in this era. And I think we are doing better in terms of not publicizing names, not publicizing crazy manifestos, not in any way making this person such a person more popular a figure.

But I think there are so many forces that play here, Brian. You know, one of the things we talked about was, look, these religious sites are soft spots in terms of protection number one. Number two, they are a community group and you mention a loner, sometimes that makes people angry. But the main thing here I think that's going on is that we have

technology that allows this kind of cyber community in one sense and it's what Karen said and we can't deny it. I mean, the level of hateful rhetoric that's out there and that it's not enough to be someone's opponent intellectually, but they are scum and you have to destroy them.

That feels -- look, we've always been a violent society. America's history is founded on violence. But the under belly was generally tamped down. We got some of it with McCarthy. We've got some of it with George Wallace.

But this era we're in with Donald Trump like the gates of hell have been opened and these people get a pass to come out and do it in public.

CARPENTER: But we know people are being radicalized on the Internet. And, listen, I believe in free speech, but if you come in my house and say hateful things, like get in the oven, you'll be asked to leave and these media platforms need to recognize that their company, their platform is their house. So, aside from talking about Trump, and talking about white nationalist, I think there needs to be pressure on social media companies to take some kind of responsibility, some kind of liability to allow this talk to force because you can turn (ph) to me for an after mouthwash, you can get that scum off their platform.

[11:20:06] STELTER: That's an interesting point. You have platforms that are very powerful, so why aren't they (INAUDIBLE)


STELTER: On the other hand, look at Sri Lanka last week. What happens after the bombings? Facebook, WhatsApp, other sites are blocked by the government. If that happened here, we would be screaming from the rooftop about that.

FINNEY: We absolutely would be. And I think that's the tension, right? And I think it also shows that, as with so many things in media, the technology got ahead of us in terms of policy discussions, legal discussions and we're now backtracking even on privacy issues, right?

So, I think part of it is we got to have I don't know maybe we need a better commission or something to better study this and come back and say, here's what we need to be doing. I think letting the platforms themselves self-regulate isn't quite the answer. Letting government take over 100 percent isn't quite the answer.

But I agree with Amanda, there's got to be somewhere in between that says they did it to some degree after 2016 when they became aware of the ways in which the platforms were being used for mal-intent. We know enough about how people self-radicalize and sort of why they self-radicalize that you would think there would be a way to better as you said target them and target sort of those places where they are gathering.


FINNEY: But also, I think it's part of why it's important to say that is hate speech. We have to be able to name it and call it out. There were some people remember in the beginning when they started naming hate crimes that said that's not a hate crime, that's silly.

No, this is a tactic ISIS uses to drive a vehicle into a crowd of people. And so, really, we have to call this out and name it when it happens.

PLOTT: What is difficult is yes, we're having this conversation Sunday morning but unfortunately, the leader of the free world doesn't want to have that conversation. And I think when the president, the most visible person representing this country does not feel the urgency of this question and how to understand this, I mean, the commissioner, do you think Donald Trump is going to start that? Absolutely not. That's what a leader should be doing in these moments and we don't hear anything from him about it.

STELTER: Let's turn to one other story, "The New York Times" publishing in the international print edition, clearly anti-Semitic cartoon. This is something "The Times" has come with a statement of regret about. They have not apologized. You see some of the headlines about it right there.

Elaina, what more do you want to hear about "The New York Times"? I don't think they said about how this happened, how they published this cartoon in their international papers.

PLOTT: What I do think that a lot of reporters are great about is they make a mistake, they are usually quite transparent how this happened, how a source misled them for instance. And "The New York Times" needs to do the same thing. It should not get in a defensive crouch. It should release a statement and say, with very granular detail, this is how we allowed --

STELTER: How did this happen?

PLOTT: Unspeakable cartoon to run in our paper.


STELTER: Error in judgment.

PLOTT: You know, we're talking about normalizing hate speech. "The New York Times" only aids in that when it publishes cartoons in that and gives this meek, silly, little, you know, statement of regret about it.

STELTER: If we do hear more from the times, we'll have it on

To our panel, thank you for being here.

Quick break, and we'll turn to a fallout from the Mueller report. What Hillary Clinton is urging and how comedian Jordan Klepper made this moment happened. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:26:49] STELTER: The White House Correspondents Association annual dinner was a little different this year. Instead of a comedian on stage, there was a historian, the bestselling author and biographer, Ron Chernow.

He was actually quite funny at times and he did make the case for having comedians at the dinner. Let me show you what he said.


RON CHERNOW, HISTORIAN: We need them now more than ever during this surreal interlude in American life. As Will Rogers once observed, people are taking their comedians seriously and their politicians as a joke, and that certainly describes our topsy-turvy moment.


STELTER: Yes, it does.

Meanwhile, comedian Jordan Klepper was across town. He was hosting another event during the correspondents dinner. He was interviewing Bill and Hillary Clinton right there on stage. There was some news that we'll get to in a moment. Klepper is the host of a Comedy Central series "Klepper" is coming out on May 9th and he's here with me now.

Jordan, what about that idea that the comedians are serious and politicians are a joke? Is comedy dead in the Trump age? How do you view it?

JORDAN KLEPPER, COMEDIAN: I don't think comedy is dead.


KLEPPER: I think comedians can be serious. I think the world can understand that comedians can be multiple things. They are not just clowns that are going to dance around. They are that, they are clowns and they will reference their genitalia more than ever the average human. But they're also humans responding to in odd time in our historian.

So, I think like -- I think Trump has changed the way our whole culture wants to react and seize the world, and you just have comedians who are put into position to where if other people aren't saying something, they are the ones that feel like they must speak truth to power, which was always been a comedian's job.

STELTER: Should the dinner have had a comedian then even though the president wasn't there to roast the press?

KLEPPER: I think the dinner can do whatever it wants.

STELTER: Yes. KLEPPER: Comedians don't need this dinner. There's plenty of clubs out there that are called comedy clubs that they can go to. I don't think the dinner should have -- from the outside, it looks a little bit like they kowtowed to a president who says, we don't want to be made fun of.

I think when a dinner like that invites comedians to come to it, like there's a certain expectations from the comedian's point of view to speak to the people in the room, call out what they see as potential B.S., and I think comedians have done that in the past. And so, if you don't want that, you don't have to have it. Just don't be surprised when it happens.

STELTER: When it happens. Tell me about what you learned on stage with the Clintons last night, because I heard Hillary Clinton talking with you about Russian interference and other serious topics. She was warning that candidates in 2020 need to be taking Russian meddling seriously.

KLEPPER: A hundred percent. I think she has some experience with that, but there is not enough reaction. I think the Clintons definitely spoke to that idea that like the alarm bells have gone off but I don't think the fire folks have gone to the fire yet.


KLEPPER: So there definitely needs to be more attention there. We talked about a lot of topics. We talked about the recent shooting that took place and how Democrats need to focus a little bit more on guns and make that an issue, something that she did with her campaign. We had a lively discussion about all sorts of things, about comedy, about life, about love. I mean, that's just what we were doing.

STELTER: And beforehand, you also had an interesting moment with her and Bill Clinton where you convinced her to read some of the Mueller report. Let's watch a little bit of this.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president slumped back in his chair and said, oh my god, this is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

KLEPPER: What do you think?

I'd listen to that audio book.



BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Wait, are you really going to make an audiobook? What are you doing?

KLEPPER: Well, we -- you know, we got that idea. We were looking at some crowdsourcing ideas and she seemed really compelled. I think it was cathartic for her. I think it was cathartic for a lot of people to hear Hillary Clinton read the Mueller report. I would listen to it.

STELTER: You would listen to it.

KLEPPER: I would listen to it. So you have this new show, It's premiering on Comedy Central in a couple of weeks. You are taking on some really serious issues. And again, it's an example of using comedy as you were saying, to address issues in the country. At one point, you were arrested. What happened?

KLEPPER: I was arrested. This series has been go out into the world kind of the front lines of American activism and I went down to a school in Georgia called a -- it's called Freedom University. It's a bunch of undocumented students, DACA students who are unable to go to public colleges in Georgia. They don't have a voice.

And I was put in a position where I could -- I could speak up for them and that took me to jail, Fulton County Jail 12 hours. The strip search thing is true. But I think you know, in this day and age, there are a lot of people sadly under the Trump regime who don't have a voice. And if you have the opportunity where there's some cameras around and you can get some attention, I think that's a good thing.

STELTER: And you say regime. You use that word on purpose, I think.

KLEPPER: Did I? I use none of my words on purpose.

STELTER: That's a comedian, I guess. Jordan, thanks for being here. Good to see you.


STELTER: I guess so. A quick break here, and then Trump's ban on letting staffers attend that dinner last night. That was a new twist, yet another escalation of the hostilities. Sally Quinn is here to react in just a moment.


[11:35:00] STELTER: This may have been a first, a president of the United States ordering federal employees not to go to a party. That's right. President Trump took his boycott of the White House Correspondents' Dinner a step further this year by banning everybody on his staff from attending. He ordered them not to go. An administration official told CNN's Jake Tapper that staffers even tried in vain to talk him out of the idea but did not succeed.

So what does this say about the state of D.C. in the Trump age? Now, joining me to discussed this is Washington Post Contributor Sally Quinn. Sally, thanks for being here. You have been, of course, a fixture in Washington and I don't think you've ever seen anything like this Trump age, right?

SALLY QUINN, CONTRIBUTOR, WASHINGTON POST: No. Well, what I loved was not just the dinner that he told people they were not allowed to go to, but any of the surrounding parties. And this is just the dinner. It's just one thing. There are parties all week going on morning, noon, and night.

STELTER: And there were almost no Trump aides, although I did see Kellyanne Conway at a couple of events.

QUINN: OK, so I saw her at a dinner party on Friday night and people were sort of saying well, how come you're here, and she said that she had talked to the president and gotten his permission to go to a party. And then apparently she'd said -- she'd said to him, you know, well, they're all these parties and he said, OK, OK, go to the parties, but not the dinner.

And so everyone was forbidden to go to the dinner and basically to the parties except I think Kellyanne got a past.

STELTER: It sounds like something out of Veep on HBO. But it actually does have a serious element, because isn't there value? I know people like to derive the dinner but isn't there value in administration officials getting together with journalists and others and being able to actually have conversations?

QUINN: Wouldn't you think?

STELTER: I know it sounds old fashion.

QUINN: Well, you know, the White House Correspondents Dinner started in 1914. And the whole idea was a celebration of freedom of the press, the First Amendment. And it went all along. And then one day my friend Kelly, Michael Kelly who was working for the Baltimore Sun invited Fawn Hall who was working for Oliver North who was then on the National Security Council.

And Fawn was a babe. You know, she had all this hair and she was gorgeous and blond. And suddenly this light bulb went off and everybody said, oh my god, celebrities. This is what we are going to be -- because the dinners were pretty boring. I mean they were very staid Washington dinners.

And so suddenly everybody was in this race to get bigger and bigger and more and more celebrities. And I think that at one point the New York Times decided it was too much because we've gotten too far away from what the whole dinner was supposed to be about which was journalism. You remember that?

STELTER: And thankfully it's back to those roots now. That's a good thing.

QUINN: And so then, when Trump decided not to come which was his first year two years ago, they had Woodward and Bernstein speaking, but it was a really boring dinner. And then -- and then last year, and then this year, I mean, I think one of the telling things is that every year when you pull up to the Hilton Hotel, for blocks there are police barricades and police cars and sirens and crowds waiting outside with placards and everybody gets all excited because the president is coming. This year you just pull right up in front of the Hilton Hotel.

STELTER: Just show right out yourself.

QUINN: There was no security, there was nothing, and there were no celebrities. And so I think that everybody's sort of -- I mean I felt that it was way over the top and had --

STELTER: Back in the old days.

QUINN: Back in the old days. It really turned into a zoo and it was completely ridiculous and sort of on the borderline of being obscene. I mean, at one point my husband Ben Bradlee and I got caught in between a group of paparazzi. And the Kardashians were in one -- on one side of us and Newt Gingrich and Kalista on the other, and we couldn't escape.

And my husband said, what the hell are we doing here? I said we -- and we -- I mean, it was really the end for us. I do go to the Washington Post cocktail party beforehand and occasionally some of the other. But I think that what's been lost to all of us is the fact that this is really is the first -- about the First Amendment. And I think it was a great idea to have Ron Chernow --

STELTER: Yes. So it's good that we're back at that.

QUINN: Yes, and I think Ron Chernow -- I mean, he wrote the book about Hamilton, he's a historian, and he's a very smart guy, and I think he brought some levity back to it. Everybody said, oh my God, this is what -- this is what this is supposed to be about, journalism, the First Amendment.

So I think that's a really good thing but I think it doesn't have the glamour and the cachet it did when you had Hollywood celebrities and T.V. -- journalists celebrities and politicians and -- because there was nobody there. There was no power there. And when you're talking about what makes a Washington party, if you don't have the power, if the power is not in the room, there's a lot of air goes out of the balloon.

So I think that -- I think what Trump is essentially done is killed it and it may well be a good thing because if it -- if it ever -- I don't think it'll ever come back the way it was before because I think people were really wanting to take a bath after the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

[11:40:21] STELTER: OK, so this is a good -- we're in a good place now.

QUINN: So I think that -- yes, so I think that -- and it'll get more -- once we have a new president, the new president will go and then people in the administration will go and the journalists will go and it'll be more -- it'll be more exciting. And you know, sources -- politicians, and sources, and journalists are always a good mix and a lot of business gets done at these things.

STELTER: Right. QUINN: I mean, I was there. I saw two or three people that I wanted

to interview and I wanted to talk to.

STELTER: That's the real value.

QUINN: That was the value.

STELTER: But I think it's a good thing that it's back to the roots now, back to journalism.

QUINN: Yes. And so -- but it was about journalism last night. It wasn't about oh look at so-and-so in her dress and Kim Kardashian and the -- you know.

STELTER: Right. That's a good thing.

QUINN: And that was not what it was supposed to be about.

STELTER: Right. Sally. Thanks for being here. I really appreciate your perspective.

QUINN: Right.

STELTER: Great to see you. A quick break here, and then another special guest, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler. He's been keeping track of every misleading statement by the President. He's got an update right after this.


[11:45:00] STELTER: Back now here on RELIABLE SOURCES. We were speaking earlier this hour about the synagogue shooting near San Diego, California, one person dead, three injured. And right now we're joined on the phone by one of the -- one of the casualties. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was wounded in this attack. He was wounded in his hand and he's joining me now on the phone.

Rabbi, first thank you so much for joining us. My condolences to you and your congregation at this moment in time. I'm grateful that you're able to speak with us. I'm relieved they were able to speak with us. Tell us about your injuries.

YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, RABBI: Well, thank you very much. I just got out of surgery where they were unable to save my right-hand index finger and they tried very hard to save my left-hand finger and we're going to wait to see how that goes. But both of those were blown away by the gunshots, the rifle shot from the terrorists who entered our synagogue just as we were getting ready for a memorial service on the last day of Passover.

STELTER: And as you said --

GOLDSTEIN: And it was just so horrific. I mean, I met the terrorists face to face, eye to eye. Our eyes locked, and he aimed at me, and miraculously I was able to just survive losing my fingers. But still, a life had to (INAUDIBLE) today. Sadly my colleague, my longtime member Miss Lori Kaye, they were standing in between the lobby did not survive. She was shot point-blank.

STELTER: And Lori was killed while trying to protect you. It is unfathomable what that moment was like. And I wonder how much of it you remember. Can you tell us what you saw in that horrific moment?

GOLDSTEIN: It's impossible to recall, to understand what happened. It happened all so quickly. And it was just both of us. Lori and I have known each other for over 25 years. I mean, she is one of the pioneering members of our congregation. She is not just a member, she's an activist. She personified the ultimate of kindness and generosity.

She as one of those people who are always there to be able to help others when they're in time of need. When people are diagnosed with cancer, she would be driving them to their appointments. She would bring flowers to cheer people up. She had baked Shabbat Challah just to being a family some happiness. She was the ultimate woman of kindness.

And it's unfathomable why this beautiful, beautiful, wonderful human being would be shot down. Her mother just recently died and she came to services to be able to memorialize her mother. And her daughter drove down from UCLA. She has an only daughter, Hannah, and she came down to be able to be with a mother and she's doing memorial service.

So she was there to witness and to be there as her mother laying on the floor dying. It was just unfathomable, indescribable terror, horrific disaster beyond measures. And this has to stop. This has to stop. You know, the Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of religion for all faiths.

You know, we are so lucky and fortunate to live here in a country that protects our right to live as proud Jews. You know, we're still recovering from the Holocaust. We found a haven to live as free people and yet we're being mowed down like animals just like we're in Nazi Germany, and this has to stop.

But you know what, we're not going to be intimidated or deterred. Terror will not win. And as Americans, we can't and won't cower in the face of a senseless hate of what's called anti-Semitism. The reality is that we have learned from every event that occurs and grow from it. Every step back can and must become a step -- a giant step forward.

You know, after recovering from surgery, so much thoughts have been running through my mind trying to figure out what sense can I make out of this? Why was my life spared and when -- I was centimeters away to being shot point-blank. And I got away with losing my index finger, that will be a scar forever, and that scar is going to remind me that how vulnerable we are but yet how heroic each one of us can be to stand up to fight against terror.

Now, this event that happened at my -- I have been there for 35 years. I started this synagogue, I started this building when I was just a 22-year-old young man sent on a mission by Rabbi Schneerson, (INAUDIBLE) to establish a Jewish Community Center in Poway. And I work sweat and tears for 35 long years building a beautiful community center that houses a synagogue, a preschool, and they stretch up circle, an organization for special needs children.

[11:50:28] My wife and I -- her life was about what can we do for the community. So as to have this happen to us in 2019, it's unfathomable. So the reality is that this has to raise an alarm and concern for the safety of all places of worship. And our government needs to continue to step up and help properly secure them.

I pray and I continue to sob and cry throughout the whole day, I'm praying for the healings during this time, for the pain and grief, and I asked the world to do something to add more light to combat evil darkness. A little bit of light pushes away a lot of darkness. We need a lot of light now.

And this coming Saturday, I personally feel -- I want to appeal to all the Jewish people to make an effort to attend synagogue. We need to fill up those rooms, not to run away from synagogue but on the contrary, let's fill up the synagogues. Let us show these terrorists, let us show these evil wicked people that they will not do anything to hinder us from being proud Jews and for being proud people walking in the freedom of America. We need to really out through the darkness with as much light as possible.

STELTER: It breaks my heart hearing you talk about Lori. May her memory be a blessing.


STELTER: But it also strengthens my heart hearing you talk about wanting to fill up our houses of worship across this country. Do you know anything more about the other two congregants who were injured yesterday? Do we know about their status?

GOLDSTEIN: Yes, yes. Well, there's one former Israeli soldier Mr. Almog -- and he risked his life helping me gathered the children in the Picard Hall as he got shot in his leg. And thank God he was discharged from the hospital. Another Israeli veteran whose daughter got some shrapnel in her leg nd close to her eye, and thank God she too has been treated and discharged.

STELTER: And your message to your congregation now. I think -- I think you're sharing it with us as we speak about not letting terror win. Do you know when you'll be able to see any of them? Do we know how long you'll be having to be in the hospital recovering?

GOLDSTEIN: Well, I'm pushing myself and the doctors to get me out of here as soon as possible. I have -- I have a message. I have lived through this horror for a reason. And we have been taught anything that you see and hear in life, you could take a lesson and do something with it. And I wanted to say my message to as many people as possible, missing a finger is just a finger, but God didn't want me to die yesterday.

God wants me to continue on being his emissary and to be a partner. And you know what, we are all created in the image of God. We all have a mission in this world. We are all partners with God in creation, and we all need to just take this darkness and do some random acts of kindness. And it's going to tip the scale in our favor 100 percent.

STELTER: Listening to you right now, you must be in pain having lost part of your hand, and yet I hear incredible, incredible resolve in your voice.

GOLDSTEIN: Well, that's because I'm from Brooklyn.

STELTER: From Brooklyn.

GOLDSTEIN: I grew up with the Rebbe, and the Rebbe suffered a lot of pain in his life, and he taught us to always turn that pain into something positive, and that's where I got it. But you have no idea what it's like. I got both of my hands wrapped up. I can't even drink a cup of water. I'm in an excruciating pain out of surgery, but the pain doesn't pale towards what I can do to help another person, what can I do to inspire others who have been in such dark spaces as well. And hopefully, I could accomplish it.

STELTER: And we're hearing these stories about the heroes who led the people to safety out of the synagogue nearly 24 hours ago at this point. What can you tell us about the off-duty Border Patrol officer? He's one of the many people who's been mentioned as playing a key role when this all happened?

GOLDSTEIN: I mean, it's incredible. This is a young -- this is a young man who travels close to three hours. He lives in El Centro which was three hours away from us. And when there is a holiday, he travels three and a half hours to pray with us. And so much -- he recently discovered his Judaism and his Jewish heritage, and he wants to know more about it. And he's an extremely kind, friendly person.

[11:55:14] And I've spoken to him in the past about the coming to synagogue arms because he's trained and I want trained security as much as possible. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford have an armed security officer every -- at every service. So whenever we had extra help, we were grateful for it.

You know, truth to be told. If I had -- if we had an armed security guard at the front door, I think he would have been neutralized right away. But sadly synagogues live in very thin budgets and we just don't have those funding. And if there's any way that perhaps the government would step up and help us fund these type of security, we can minimize these senseless death and horror events.

[11:STELTER: Rabbi, thank you so much for taking a few minutes speaking with us after an unspeakable crime.

GOLDSTEIN: The community has put together a GoFundMe page to help Chabad in Poway. So if there's any way people can assist us through these very difficult time, we can help the victims, we can help pay for funeral charge, fees and just help us through this very difficult time, it would be so grateful.

STELTER: It's a great point. And I would encourage people to look that up on Rabbi, thank you. You are in our prayers --

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you so much. God bless you and God bless America.

STELTER: And your congregation is in our prayers today and in the days ahead.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

STELTER: That's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. We will be back here this time next week. After a quick break, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper is coming up next.