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President Trump and the Information Wars; Trump: "Progressive" Congresswomen Should Go Back And Fix "Crime-Infested" Countries They Came From. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 14, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:14] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. This is a special edition of RELIABLE SOURCES, all about information warfare. I'm going to show you what I mean.

An example right here, Tucker Carlson attacking Ilhan Omar, and Omar hitting back, calling him a racist fool. What does Rupert Murdoch think about all of this?

Plus, we're going to show a triumph of journalism. "The Miami Herald's" reporting about Jeffrey Epstein and that plea negotiated by Alex Acosta. It's the latest example of investigative journalism linked to hasty exits from Trump world. We'll get into that.

And later a story about working together to cover the climate crisis. One of the biggest stories in the world. A lot coming up.

But, first, we've got to reckon with something really troubling that's going on in the media world. And here it is. The information wars are raging. And real reliable information is getting lost in a blizzard of B.S. B.S. that's designed to deceive you.

And most of the misinformation is not coming from Russian trolls, meddlers or other foreign governments. Yes, that's a problem. But most of this stuff is coming from right in our own backyards.

In America, it is fellow Americans peddling smears and racism. In China, it's Chinese government spewing propaganda. And India, well, here's a quote from Facebook's former security chief saying: In India, the disinformation is being proven by the India's political parties. All around the world, this is a growing problem.

Hundreds of years ago, newspaper owners and pamphleteers were able to spread lies. The difference now is the speed and the reach and the allure of the Internet. Information is being weaponized. The tension is being hijacked.

And all of us are really just starting to adapt. It was a lot easier in these days than it is today. The world is very murky. But there is a dividing line.

I want us to keep it in mind. I think it's between the people trying to be constructive and careful, carrying about truth, accountable to an editor or a boss or someone, versus people who are unaccountable, destructive, you know, caring only about winning the information world. Constructive versus destructive, that is the dividing line.

And that brings me, of course, to President Trump. Trump creates such a flurry of information. The truth melts away like an ice cube on a summer day.

I could show you a hundred examples, but here's one this week. Out of nowhere, Trump retweeted a loyal Trump super fan posted this the day after the Charlottesville riot. She wrote here: These protests are not spontaneous, they are pre-manufactured by OFA. She means Obama. And then she linked to a Lou Dobbs segment from FOX Business.

This is lunacy. A Twitter user who spends all day sharing pro-Trump anti-immigrant memes picks up a Fox segment, uses it to claim white supremacist violence was Obama's fault to deep the heat off Trump. And the president retweeted two years later, and no one bat an eyelash because Trump says so much, and the web is so chaotic and it's all so crazy, it's just background noise in this never-ending information battle. That's what I mean when I say there is an information war going on.

None of this is journalism, these memes, these smears, this crap has no relation to journalism. But journalists have to grapple with this misinformation muck, what we used to call fake news. Actually fake stories designed to deceive you, because otherwise, the result is uninformed, ill-informed readers.

We saw this at the White House social media that wasn't. Did you hear about this a few days ago? It was a clear stunt by the president. He was ridiculing reporters while inviting Internet trolls and far right TV personalities and fringe radio hosts to the White House, in some ways maybe a campaign rally for 2020.

It was tempting to say we should just ignore this event and call it a stunt and move on. But something important was happening. Trump was legitimizing provocateurs and in some cases extremists who deliberately spread misinformation. It felt to me like he was preparing his 2020 meme corps, you know, the folks that make those visual images that spread all across Facebook and go viral.

As Charlie Warzel of "The New York Times" put it, the summit suggests that 2016's meme army was just proof of concept for an information war in 2020. Warzel said whatever is coming, we're not prepared. I think what he means by we is newsrooms, media companies, the people that try to make sense of the world for you. It felt the summit was a campaign 2020 strategy session, with Trump's hand-picked press corps.

But the attendees don't work for newsrooms. In most cases, they don't have editors who have been trained in journalistic standards. What they do is they promote the president. They promote his brand, they promote his agenda, sometimes through conspiracy theories and misinformation.

[11:05:04] Now, I'm not trying to lump everyone in together. But that is what we see oftentimes on the pro-Trump web. Now, at the same time, disinformation knows no political party. There are liberals, there are Democrats are getting away with all sorts of smears as well. But we see it constantly on the right.

People like Jim Hoft, he's the founder of the right wing Website called "The Gateway Pundit", just one of the many examples of a website that specializes in this kind of misinformation that confuses people, OK? Putting up lies right here saying that recently Obama was responsible for removing the citizenship question on the census. That's obviously not true. It's false.

There were lots of other websites -- there are examples on this website of smears and false information that's been spread. But Gateway Pundit is just one example of this.

Here's the bigger story, I've got to be honest, I want to take a minute and talk you through this before I bring in the panel. These smears, these lies, this misinformation that comes mostly on the right from pro-Trump Websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, supported by television hosts, radio hosts, they are softening the ground for straight-up racism out of the president's Twitter account.

That's what we are seeing today. This is one of the president's most recent tweets straight-up racist talking about progressive congresswomen. Let's read part of here. He says: It's interesting to see progressive Democratic congresswomen -- we'll put it back on a sec -- who originally came from countries whose governments are complete and total catastrophe. And now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States how to run the government.

Here's the key part. Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came?

Now, he's probably talking about Representative Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia, who fled to Kenya and then came to the United States when she was 12 years old. There are other Democratic congresswomen who she is associated with, who she is friendly with, all of whom were born in the United States.

But the president is talking about Democratic congresswomen who need to go back to back to they're from.

It's 2019. We're two and a half years into the Trump presidency and his racism is becoming more obvious, more frightening. There are millions of Americans who knows what he means when he says go back to where you came from. They have heard those words in the school yard, behind their backs at work.

That kind of racism that Americans have been fighting against for decades is coming from the president's Twitter feed. There's no bigger story in the country right now.

And I want to relate this to the media by pointing out that the ground has been softened by the president by this collection of pro-Trump bloggers, radio hosts, television stars who somehow think it's acceptable to attack fellow Americans like this.

Let's talk about these information wars and a lot more. Again, a special edition of the program. I have a special panel to start us off.

Former senior adviser to national security under Obama and CNN national security analyst, Sam Vinograd, is here. Robby Soave is an associate editor of "Reason Magazine" and he's the author of "Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump". And from "Vox", senior politics reporter, Jane Coaston.

Jane, let me start with you. The president's tweets I view as part of this information war that's raging. And obviously he posts so much so off that's part of his strategy.

But are today's tweets different at all?

JANE COASTON, VOX SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: I mean, I think we can all remember the Judge Curiel incident of 2016 to know that this is not new. That President Trump's views of who is adequately American are, shall we say, different from my own.

But I think that it's reflective of this understanding that to criticize this country means you are no longer able to be a representative of this country, which is a strange thing for someone who in 2015 described America as a hell hole to do. And I think that it's interesting, though, that this hasn't changed. You know, this is the same language he used about Judge Curiel of Indiana. This is the same language he has used again and again and again.

STELTER: You don't think the racism is getting more explicit in some cases?

COASTON: I think if you've been paying attention, this is just the basic way in which he talks about people with whom -- who don't follow him. I think there is an understanding of Trump. And I think one of the challenges we have is we are -- you're going to start seeing a lot of people attempt to defend these tweets by arguing that, no, no, no, he just meant this one representative, he just meant this. Maybe he did mean go back to Cincinnati.

But you're going to start to see that back and forth, back and forth.


COASTON: But the thing is, what is at the root of this understanding, that if you criticize how this country works, you are no longer -- you know, you're no longer acceptable to the president and you're no longer available to continue in the work that you're doing.

[11:10:07] STELTER: As American as the rest.


STELTER: Robby, how do you view it?

ROBBY SOAVE, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REASON: Yes, I think it's shameful that this faction of the pro-Trump right has seemed to actually embrace identity politics, something the right has long criticized as being bad for this country. But they have embraced as now, you know, if you look different or you're from somewhere else, that defines you and thus we're going to criticize you on that grounds. And that's -- again, that's a thing that the right used to be really against or at least claim purportedly to be against.

And now, it's driving and defining so much of their criticism of other people. And, again, Trump ran on -- was like I'm going to be anti- identity politics, political correctness is killing.


SOAVE: All that kind of stuff.


SOAVE: But, of course, like so many criticisms of that, he is what he purports to criticize.

STELTER: So let's go big picture now, Sam. This broader information about information wars that are raging. Do you think that it is fair to say that, you know, these pro-Trump Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, they soften the ground for what then Trump says?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the first rule of psy-ops or psychological operations, is to condition your audience. And President Trump, unlike previous U.S. presidents, uses information warfare against American people rather than against foreign enemies. You had the office of war information, the office of security during World War II, and other government agencies that were used to promote psychological operations against foreign enemies.

President Trump uses information warfare against perceived enemies here at home. And the issue is that all of these memes, all of these tweets are being weaponized. We're talking about these racist tweets today. They will be weaponized by Russian trolls, because they sow divisions, and they're going to be weaponized by Trump surrogates to try to spread information who, to your point, is or isn't American.

And, Brian, we have seen an uptick in hate crimes in this country. President Trump knows that these tweets about the other, about immigrants, have actual security implications and he just seemingly doesn't care because it ticks a political box for him.

STELTER: How powerful are they then? Robby, the people who were invited in the White House, social media summit that wasn't, how powerful do you think these provocateurs or are not? Let's be real about this.

SOAVE: Well -- so I would sound a more cautionary notes than some of these comments. I mean, there have been studies, for instance, that actually very little fake news is being seen or shared on places like Facebook and Twitter. I think the Twitter study was 80 percent of fake news was being seen by just 1 percent of Twitter users.

VINOGRAD: How much of that is Donald Trump's Twitter account, though? Because that's being reshared quite consistently and that has misinformation -- (CROSSTALK)

STELTER: And some of it is not all fake, right? Some of it is hyperpartisan content that can be accurate but if it's all obsessed with immigration, you come away with a misunderstanding about the world.

SOAVE: Right, this is a new way of delivering information to people, social media, broadly speaking.

STELTER: Right. We are all still learning how to interact in this world.


SOAVE: We're learning and I don't think we should just like panic across the board about it because new is always different and scary. But, you know, there are traditional media outlets serving up what people would call fake information or misleading information, too. So, is this so different? Is this, you know, changing votes or warping the country?

It's bad and poisonous to tweet mean things about people. But I don't know this is responsible for Trump being our president.

STELTER: I think it is sending us more into our own corners. President Trump for years has told his fans not to believe the mainstream media. And as a result, they are likely to believe the folks that were invited to the summit. And so, as the result, the left's information pool and the right's information pool are becoming so separate from each other. And that feels like it has long-term consequences for democracy.

COASTON: I agree. And I think there is an understanding we're not even arguing about the same basic facts anymore, and understanding how this country works or what this country is supposed to do. I think -- you know, when we're not starting from, OK, we disagree about this one thing, we're not even sure what we're discussing anymore.

And I think an important point, though, about talking about the social media summit is that several people were actually banned from social media platforms, were not invited to the summit.


COASTON: And there was someone who was invited but then disinvited because it turns out everyone likes moderating content of some kind, especially when it is an anti-Semitic cartoonist.

STELTER: And Robby sets up for our next segment. There are increasing calls on the right for regulation of technology companies, of the Facebooks, of the Twitters because of so-called claims of bias. How new is this? Where is this coming from?

SOAVE: Right, this was a dramatic shift in recent times. You would think the right would just generally speaking -- economic conservatives against government, regulation or intervention into private business. But the right feels that, or some segment of the right, significant segment, feels that they are -- that social media companies, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et cetera, are biased against their content and are taking action against them. And they're saying the solution is for the government to act, to step in.

You know, as a libertarian, I think it would be disastrous. I mean, that has First Amendment implications if you're telling private companies what kind of content they have to allow on their platform, it's a problem.

[11:15:03] STELTER: Right.

SOAVE: But that it's something the right is very seriously interested in doing.

STELTER: So, fact versus fiction on that debate. That's coming up next. To the panel, please stay with me.

Quick break here. Then, we're going out to San Francisco to talk to Renee DiResta about fact versus fiction when it comes to these claims of bias.


STELTER: Hey, we're talking about RELIABLE SOURCES in the age of information wars, when partisans and propagandists spread ideas through memes and bots.

Right now, President Trump seems to be creating this new villain in the form of big tech, big tech technology companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, et cetera. He held this social media summit at the White House but didn't invite any of the tech companies. However, he did say he would have them into the White House soon for a meeting. We will see if that's true or not.

Let's talk about it with Renee DiResta. She's a research manager at the Stanford Information Observatory. In 2018, she testified at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence involving social media.

And here with me in New York is CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy.

Renee, break down the idea conservative bias, the idea that the technology companies are biased against conservatives. How much of that is fact and how much of that is fiction?

RENEE DIRESTA, STANFORD INTERNET OBSERVATORY RESEARCH MANAGER: Yes. So, I mean, this is all anecdotal. And that's the problem. You know, Ted Cruz ran a hearing on this --

STELTER: All anecdotal?

DIRESTA: Ted Cruz ran a hearing on it a couple months ago and he started off by saying, all we really have are anecdotes right now. I mean, there are a couple reasons for that. So, there's two things

that are universally true about moderation.

[11:20:00] And that is that it is nearly impossible to do well at scale and everyone is always unhappy with it. So, when you have the tech platforms, they have tens of millions of posts per day. You know, Facebook probably more than that with 2 billion users.

And so, what you see is massive quantities of content coming out. The latest stats from Twitter's transparency report said 11 million accounts were reported in the last six months of last year. And the most recent from Facebook says that tens of millions of posts are reported per week. And 2.6 million were actioned, which means they were taken down or someone -- you know, something had to change about them in the last three months.

So, when you have that volume of posts that are being actioned, that number of accounts --


DIRESTA: -- anybody can cherry pick certain anecdotal moments and tell a story about them.

What we don't have is any kind of real understanding about whether at scale there's a bias problem, whether there is an institutional or algorithmic, foundational problem with the way that these companies are handling information. There is nothing that suggests that that's true. Everything --

STELTER: So, we don't know --

DIRESTA: -- suggests the opposite.

STELTER: Right. So, we don't know. There's no reason to believe it's true. But it is a very effective political narrative for the president of the United States to say that he and his supporters are aggrieved, that they are the victims of these technology companies which are very powerful.

So, Oliver, is that what the summit was really about when the president gathered his supporters, his fans from social media on Thursday? Is that really what this was about?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, outside of being reprehensible about some of the people he invited, I think it was a fairly smart strategy.

STELTER: Politically.

DARCY: Yes. You see brands, right? And they know that Instagram influencers, for instance, can really sway the way the brand is looked at in public.

STELTER: Yes, on Instagram, you can follow a lot of addresses through Instagram influencers. Same idea. (CROSSTALK)

DARCY: Exactly. So, the president understands that these are his influencers. These are the people that influence media coverage and these are people that influence his supporters. And so, he is inviting them to the White House. He's giving them all the content that they need and really validating them saying, these are my guys, go forth and, you know, meme.

STELTER: And how does this relate to the broad -- and, by the way, not all memes are political.

DARCY: Right.

STELTER: Some are just funny. Some are political and funny. They're a new form of political cartoon. I just think there is just so much confusion and hate being spread through these kinds of viral performances. And that's the issue --

DARCY: The people that he invited to are a lot of conspiracy theories. People that put smears online. And I think what the president of the United States was doing there is basically giving them the okay. I mean, he didn't do it --


STELTER: Keep it going. Get better for 2020.

DARCY: Go out and do the stuff for me on my behalf. And that's what's disturbing and really worrisome.

STELTER: Renee, what is the compact of that long term?

DIRESTA: Well, I think even the idea that we are dignifying this with the idea that it was a social media summit --

STELTER: I know, I know. It was not a summit. It was not a summit. He called it there.

DIRESTA: It was not a summit. Nobody was there to discuss anything. This was a pseudo event.

This was an event that was guaranteed -- it was a gathering to generate media coverage around a manufactured controversy to keep it in the news, to keep people talking about it. This is a David and Goliath story for him, right? He is going to be the defender of people against these big evil tech companies.

And the problem is it really distracts from the fact that there is actually a whole lot wrong with big tech as it is today. And having these waste-of-time kind of moments that are indicative of nothing distracts us from having conversations about the real problem. It makes people believe that they are being censored.

And, occasionally, you know, I would ask folks on Twitter, why do you think you're being shadow banned? Why do you think that is? And you hear responses when you asked that question, like, well, my friends don't see all of my content. So, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of basic things like algorithmic curation on online.

And the fact that you don't see everything that friends post, and that's because there is such a high volume --


DIRESTA: -- that the platforms are constantly curating it to show people what they want to see.

And then the other problem with that, to your point about not all memes are bad, is that the ones that go viral unfortunately are the ones emotionally resonant, that drive a lot of engagement. And so, you have a situation where the most sensationalist content is what's privileged.

STELTER: You look online on some of these accounts, with millions of followers. And all they're doing is talking immigrants killing Americans, immigrants destroying America. There is so much of it -- there's so volume of it. It's so one-sided and so misleading, that eventually, it hurts public understanding.

It's not that every individual video is false. It is eventually it hurts people's understanding. And companies like Facebook and Twitter don't have a solution to that, right, Renee? There's no easy solution for that?

DIRESTA: No, there is no easy solution for --


STELTER: It's about human psychology, yes.

DIRESTA: Yes. Well, it's propaganda. So, it's computation propaganda. It's -- there is nothing that is illegal about propaganda. Most of it is -- you know, there is some grain of truth in there. That is why it is so convincing, that's why it's so resonant.

And so, the problem becomes the platform don't want to be in a position of moderating around truth.

[11:25:00] And so, they are left with this weird challenge of, you know, how can they moderate? And so, some of that is to look at how the information is spreading. Does it look like it's spreading authentically, or does it look like there are bot farms that are in there amplifying content, and you know, pushing things -- trying to be in the algorithms to get into these people's feeds?

There is no easy answer for a lot of this stuff, and that's because it's not going to come down under the terms of service that the platforms have because it's a political point of view.

STELTER: Renee, thank you. Oliver, please stick around. We go to media literacy later this hour. Up next, though, the view from the White House press corps. Alex

Acosta is just the latest example of how news outlets are kind of functioning as Trump's human resources department.


STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.

We're going to go head to the White House beat now and I was going to begin with Alex Acosta resigning from the Trump cabinet, just the latest example of a Trump administration official in the wake of real investigative reporting.

But I would like to begin instead with the president's most recent tweet storm with a clear example of racism. The president saying that congresswomen, progressive congresswomen should go back to where they came from, fix their countries, and then come back to the U.S.

Let me bring in Katie Rogers of "The New York Times". She's been writhing about this. Her story is up on right now and she's taking a few moments to come along with us, before she goes back to work.

Katie, what happens on a morning like this? All you were going to do this morning I hope is come on RELIABLE SOURCES, and then you have to write about the president's tweets.

KATIE ROGERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I mean, well, I -- to be sure, we always wake up on Sunday or Saturday mornings with the expectation that we'll be writing something about what the president has tweeted.


[11:30:00] ROGERS: This particular attack against these for congresswoman came sandwiched between tons of retweets of his supporters and it just is on a day when there are ICE raids across the country. It's a very noisy day in general and he threw this in.

And so trying to write a story that contextualizes what he just said and putting that against what his administration is actually doing today is the -- is the trick.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Actions are always more important than words but words tell you about the actions. In your story, you say Democrats are calling this a racist trope. Have you heard from any Republicans responding to this?

ROGERS: Not yet. I mean, it's still early but mostly it's Democrats coming out and masked in support of these women saying -- I think Speaker Pelosi said something about this proves that make America great again has always been about making America white again. It's a pretty forceful attack on the President's words and it's actually privately Democrats are saying that this is sort of the galvanizing point that Democrats need right now.

This so-called squad has sort of been in a generational and existential battle with Pelosi. Trump might have just given them a gift.

STELTER: Right. This squabble might be resolved at least in part because of Trump's attacks. So let me ask you about Acosta and what it was like at the White House this week. All week long there were questions about what was going to happen. Now that Jeffrey Epstein is back behind bars, the plea deal negotiated by Acosta is under renewed scrutiny all thanks to the extraordinary reporting of the Miami Herald and Julie K. Brown.

By Friday, Acosta is out. I guess that press conference was not enough to save his job. Let's put on screen the other Trump officials who also left their jobs in the wake of really important investigative reporting. What did you make of this pattern, Katie, just six examples on screen but this is not a complete list of Trump departures linked to reporting?

ROGERS: Well, I think Acosta's was interesting because he actually was Senate confirmed. This plea deal came up in his line of questioning, he was still confirmed anyway. What was different was Julie Browns Miami Herald, her excellent work exposing the existence of this plea deal with Epstein that was secret that was kept from the victims, she was -- actually one of the things I saw her do after the press conference on Thursday was she immediately delivered sort of a point-by-point -- well here's what I know about you know my reporting and here's what Acosta said.

One of the examples was she thought his explanation of having a breakfast meeting with Epstein's defense lawyer right after the plea deal was still unclear. It's unclear what they talked about. She was actually -- she knew the subject so well that she immediately was able to fact check that sort of in real-time and it became sort of evident that you know, Acosta was not going to be able to surmount that coverage even though he tried.

STELTER: Now Acosta is out and I hope there can be more focus on the victims in this story. That is the focus. That should be the focus what these women went through. Katie Rogers, thank you so much. I let you get back to work.


STELTER: Coming up here, how should the news media be covering the ICE raids that are reportedly starting across the country today. That's next.


[11:35:00] STELTER: A fear-mongering show for the cameras. That's a fair description of what President Trump has said will be ICE raids major U.S. cities apparently today. He says this is going to happen. We don't have any confirmation yet about this happening but it is reportedly underway this weekend. So the idea is that the ICE is targeting about 2,000 people who are

felons who are supposed to be deported. This is something that, of course, goes on all the time in the United States. But President Trump has been hyping it up talking about it, promoting it like it's a big event while people's lives are at stake.

There is a conversation we need to have about how to cover these sorts of -- well, are they stunts? Kyle Pope of the Columbia Journalism Review thinks so. He says journalism job must be to frame the immigration crackdown as a campaign event not a policy response that claims lives as collateral damage.

Now, let me bring back the panel and talk more about this with our group here Samantha Vinograd, Robby Soave, and Jane Coatson. Sam, the idea that the president is talking up these deportations, deportations that have been happening for decades, what do you think his strategy is?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: His strategy is to paint immigrants as criminals when it comes to internal security, much in the same way that he's done this when he's talked about Mexico, rapists coming across our borders, when he's talked about external security and what's coming across our southern border.

There -- he is trying to stereotype people that are here illegally by putting them in the same bucket. The challenge for us is to hold him to account when it comes to the human rights abuses, frankly, that are happening under his watch when it comes to migrants. We have potentially more family separations that are going to happen as a result of these raids.

STELTER: Right, but he wants these pictures right. He wants us to be showing this all day long all week long.

VINOGRAD: He -- I don't know that he wants us to be showing the pictures of family separation, the pictures of the children that according to the United Nations may be suffering human rights abuse at the hands of the U.S. President. That's why Vice-President Pence was allowed into one facility which had horrific conditions.

And then vice President Pence slammed CNN for the dishonest coverage of his visit to this facility because Vice President Pence said that CNN didn't show pictures of children smiling. We all have to be equitable in how we --

STELTER: We did show those pictures but we had to blur out their faces because of privacy reasons required by the government.

VINOGRAD: Right. But we all have to be equitable in terms of how we talk about migrants. They are migrants that have violated U.S. law. We should cover that. And there are also children that are in inhumane conditions in facilities at the same time. We should be equitable even if President Trump is not.

STELTER: Let's talk about what the president said about free speech this week because I don't want the show to go without noting what he said. Here is his comment about what free speech is and is not.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So to me, free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me, that's very dangerous speech and you become angry at it, but that's not free speech.


STELTER: Is that free speech?

ROBBY SOAVE, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REASON: Yes, that's free speech. And ironically, this was at the social media summit where the audience is supposedly a pro-free speech crowd who are concerned about censorship and you know and these are people who are also very upset.

And I'm upset as well about this sometimes too, about the left kind of turning against free speech and saying things like hate speech is in free speech. Well, this is the exact equivalent of that, Trump saying dangerous speech is not free speech, dangerous speech being speech that is like remotely critical of me in some way.

[11:40:03] STELTER: Yes.

SOAVE: So I mean, it goes to show you that he is a hypocrite on free speech as unfortunately so many are.


JANE COASTON, SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER, VOX: Yes. And I think that we see that time and time again because some of the same folks who were invited to this social media event made the point on Twitter of like while this person isn't banned but I got banned. And when the argument should be no one should be getting banned for -- on speech reasons you know.

And so I thought it was interesting that he's making this point that no, no, no, free speech isn't when I don't like it. It turns out free speech is when you don't like it.

STELTER: Is when you don't like it.

COASTON: And then you know, you have the speech to be able to respond to the thing that you don't like. That's how this works. That's how the constructive speech in this country is supposed to work.

STELTER: It is. One more note. Robby, you inspired me to bring this up about the Little Mermaid. All right, let's put Robby's headline on screen. You said, the backlash over the Little Mermaid casting, a black Ariel is fake news. That's the wrong tweet. We'll put up your right headline in a sec. What is the fake controversy here?

SOAVE: Yes. So it was trending on Twitter that people were outraged that Disney had cast a black actress to play The Little Mermaid who was white in the cartoon. So this is a racing of our culture which is -- which is ridiculous absurd and racist. But actually, it was trending because most people were saying -- were deploring the racism in saying that we were happy to have a black Ariel.

You know, there were like six people who had said the racist thing and then hundreds or thousands of people saying we condemn this. So then it's trending and it looks like news but that's deceptive. It's trending because people were good and like this is a humanity is good moment.

STELTER: I thought this has been a problem for years and it's got getting any better, Jane, this idea that stories are trending but they're not actually trends.

COASTON: And they're not actually trends. And a lot of the tweets -- I think you pointed this out in your piece, they were fake they were -- you know, you steal an image from some Instagram influencer and make that your user image, then you write something banana is racist, and then you just you know, you have one tweet, and that just goes around a lot and then everyone dunks or response to that tweet and then you think yours is done when you're just doing whatever this fake Twitter user wanted you to do.

STELTER: And to link this back to our earlier conversation, Sam, for interference, all these kind of operations, this concern about Russia meddling, Americans are doing this to each other.

VINOGRAD: Americans are doing this to each other.

STELTER: At least a lot of it.

VINOGRAD: They are. And you know, some of this to your point is free speech and Americans using social media as they want to, but I'm going to bring this back to President Trump, Brian. It is harder to get accurate information and to set an example when President Trump's Twitter feed resembles a Russian trolls and spreads misinformation and false facts and conspiracy theories.

Americans as private citizens can use Twitter and social media as they want as long as they don't violate the Terms of Service. And criticizing people, putting up fake memes, that's not violating social medias Terms of Service. What we all have to do is check the user and check the source and be very cognizant of the fact the President Trump and members of his administration are weaponizing information for political purposes much in the same way that foreign actors have done against Americans in the past.

STELTER: Let me pause for the panel. Thank you all for being here. We do have some breaking news. Let stand by for that. I mentioned a few minutes ago, ICE raids have been expected but no confirmation they've started. Now we have the confirmation. CNN's Jim Acosta telling us three minutes ago that a senior administration official tells him deportation raids are now underway in at least some of those cities I mentioned.

The official declined to give any specific operational details on where the raids are taking place, however, CNN has learned that the immigration authorities were planning raids in nine cities starting today Sunday. They were slated for Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. That's according to a senior immigration official.

A raid that was planned for New Orleans was postponed due to tropical storm Barry. So that's the word from CNN Jim Acosta. These Ice raids have started in at least some of those cities that President Trump was talking about. He's been promoting this idea. In my view, he wants press coverage of this in order to stoke fear and a controversy. We will see how the press covers this in the days and weeks to come, but we are told those ICE raids have started.

A quick break here and RELIABLE SOURCES. When we come back, a new for Fox's Tucker Carlson.


[11:45:00] STELTER: Now let's connect the dots between Paul Ryan, Ilhan Omar, and Rupert Murdoch. Ryan the devoted Republican and former Speaker of the House is getting trashed by President Trump for speaking truth to author Tim Alberta in the upcoming book American Carnage which is out on Tuesday.

Alberta quotes Ryan saying we've gotten so numbed by it all, not in government but where we live our lives. We have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don't call a woman a horse face. Don't cheat on your wife. Don't cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example.

Yes, yes, but Paul Ryan, you can help try to rebuild given your appointment to the board of the Murdoch's Fox Corp where Trump's most bombastic beliefs are on repeat all day long. Well, Bill Kristol called this out on Twitter this weekend. He said, perhaps Ryan could do something to halt some of the most egregious nativism and reckless demagoguery and conspiracy theorizing at Fox News since you're on the board.

And that brings us to Tucker Carlson Tonight. Tucker on Tuesday gave a speech on his show claiming that immigrants like Congresswoman Omar are dangerous, that they are undermining America.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST FOX NEWS CHANNEL: After everything America has done for Omar and for her family, she hates this country more than ever. She's an undisguised contempt for the United States and for its people. She's a living fire alarm, a warning to the rest of us that we better change our immigration system immediately.


STELTER: The thing is Carlson has been talking that way almost as badly about Omar for many months. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARLSON: Maybe our immigration system should prioritize people who actually like this country and are grateful to be here. According to Omar, there's barely a difference between this country and terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar herself a symbol of America's failed immigration system.


STELTER: Former Speaker Ryan, what do you think? Is Carlson setting in a good example? CNN's Oliver Darcy is back with me here. And Oliver, let me ask you a different question. Do you see a connection between Carlson's attack against Omar saying she's a danger and President Trump's racist tweets today?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: I think there's a clear connection here between the two. Carlson's rhetoric this week where he's basically saying effectively the same thing the President said this morning that people who are coming to this country hate this country just by criticizing some of the policies. And now the president basically saying today that if you don't like this country you can go back to where you came from.

So there's an undoubted connection between these two things and it's not surprising either, right, because the President does --

[11:50:21] STELTER: He knows he's watching.

DARCY: He watches Tucker Carlson.

STELTER: And he's talking with Carlson.

DARCY: Yes, he gets his advice from Carlson. We know during the Iran incident that he was advising the president. So I'm sure he's probably talking about these other issues and immigrations a hot issue for the president so it's not surprising. It is disturbing though that we're having this kind of rhetoric. It's one thing for Tucker and the president to criticize where Ilhan Omar might stand on policy --

STELTER: Of course. Bring it on.

DARCY: It's another thing to effectively say go back to where you came from.

STELTER: You don't belong here.

DARCY: That's disgusting there.

STELTER: You're not as American as me.

DARCY: Right.

STELTER: That's what he's saying. You're not as American as me. DARCY: And like you pointed out earlier in the segment, anyone who's not you know, maybe white hair and blonde hair and white knows how it feels to say -- to hear those words.

STELTER: Go back.

DARCY: To hear those words, go back to where you came from.

STELTER: Yes, to where you came from.

DARCY: It's not a good feeling.

STELTER: So let's wrap up on the topic of the information war we've been talking about this hour. This information war rages online every day. What advice do you share with folks who just want to know what is actually real and what is true? What is the media literacy lesson?

DARCY: I think it's difficult these days to know what is real and what is true. And I think that's what the President wants. He wants it to be confusing. He wanted to -- people not to know what's real and what's true and to take his word for it or to just be confused in general.

I mean, I would recommend that people watch this network, people read reputable outlets, The Journal, The Times, The Post, but most people I think they don't actually read the front page of the newspapers every morning. They go on Facebook, they see what their friends are sharing, and a lot of times what they're seeing is misinformation content from hyper-partisan Web sites, and I'm not really sure how we get out of this.

I think that we're going to be in this for a while and now the platforms are trying to do stuff about this. And so when they're reading out a lot of this misinformation, now they're being accused of bias because the right is flooding the whole area, the arena with misinformation. It's just a --

STELTER: That's where we are.

DARCY: -- a crazy place that we're at right now.

STELTER: It is where we are right now. Balanced diet is the best advice I can always give about a wide variety of news sources but that's only part --

DARCY: Right. It's easier said than done as well.

STELTER: It is. Oliver, thank you. A quick break here. More RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment.


[11:55:00] STELTER: Hey, we're out of time here on T.V. but I hope you'll check out our on online feature about the Florida Climate Reporting Network. I spoke with two editors and one reporter about what they're doing in Florida to combine resources. And you can listen on our RELIABLE SOURCES podcast, listen to our full conversation about what it means to be collaborating with six newsrooms in the state of Florida.

We'll be back this time next week here on RELIABLE SOURCES, but stay tuned tonight for the movie. This the second episode of CNN's new original series The Movies. It's playing at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. And we'll see you right back here on RELIABLE SOURCES this time next week.