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Trump's Pattern Of Stoking Racial Resentment; "The Cruelty Is The Point: How An Idea Spreads"; Former White House Spokesman Joining Fox Corp.; How Important Will The Mueller Hearings Be?; One Hundred Thirty-Two Days Since Last On-Camera White House Press Briefing; Fox Talk Shows Decry Toxic Socialism; Remembering Edward R. Murrow's Warning To America. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 21, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:16] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. Welcome to RELIABLE SOURCES. This is 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 make it better.

In the immortal words of Edward R. Murrow, we must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.

But President Trump is trying to confuse everybody. This weekend, he is tripling down on those attacks against the people he calls the four congresswomen. He says he doesn't think they are capable of loving our country. He is calling them names, questioning their patriotism, reminding everyone of his racist attack from last weekend.

If this is what Trump wants the next 16 months to be about, is the press up to the challenge? That's going to be our big story today.

As we cover the president, we have to cover his crowds as well. In fact, I think oftentimes the crowds are the more interesting story, why they respond to his provocations, why they chant "send her back". We need to show this is all a part of a pattern.

This pattern can be traced back to 1989 when Trump wanted the Central Park Five executed, the five black and Hispanic teenagers were later exonerated.

Now, fast forward two decades, Trump promoted the lie that President Obama was not born in the United States. A lie that many right wing voters say they believe. As recently as November 2017, advisers told "The New York Times" that Trump still questions the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate.

Look, those portions of the president's track records on race are very well-known, his line of his rapist from his campaign launch event. His call for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S. His smear of a, quote, Mexican federal judge who was born in Indiana. His s-hole countries insult and, of course, the shameful event known shorthand as Charlottesville, which is the tarnishing the name of a great city.

In the week of his "go back" attack, I did see some networks and news outlets bringing back some of this, trying to connect the dots. The "New York Times" headline this morning: Trump employs an old tactic, using race for gain.

We are seeing some people telling that big story. What about his false claim of large-scale killing of white farmers in South Africa? That's not true, but it lined with white supremacist talking points.

What about his first pardon as president? Trump chose Joe Arpaio, the sheriff whose anti-immigrant tactics were so aggressive that he was frequently accused of racism before being voted out of office. What about Trump's own language describing immigrants? What about that time he reportedly grumbled that the migrants from Haiti all have AIDS? What about those times he said athletes who took a knee maybe shouldn't be in this country? Have you forgotten about that? Yes, he said that.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn't be playing. You shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country.


STELTER: What about retweeting racists and bigots? What about exaggerating urban crime? What about implying Puerto Rico is not a part of the United States? What about referring to Omarosa as that dog?

I can keep going and going with these examples. But the point is clear. There is a pattern going back decades.

And with so many examples, it's kind of easy to forget some of them. The pattern is the big story. And the challenge for the press is to show the pattern.

Look, Trump rebuts charges of racism by pointing to low unemployment rates and his support for criminal justice reform. That's an important part of the story.

But journalists have to keep tracking the pattern that goes back decades. We have to keep observing for example the lack of diversity at the top of the Trump administration. And this is evident in nominations to the judicial branch as well.

Here's a headline from two weeks in "The Washington Post". Democrats questioning the absence of black or Hispanic nominees among Trump's judges. Well, it's not just Democrats that should be questioning that.

All of this from the Central Park Five back then to the judges today are all a part of the same big story. But when we get so focused on the story of the day or the story of the week, I fear that we lose sight of the really big story that's going on. Telling congresswomen to go back to where they came from is racist, but it's a part of something much bigger that's going on. So, let's talk about all of that with a superstar panel that's with me here today in New York.

Astead Herndon is a political reporter for "The New York Times". Tara Dowdell is a political and business strategist, but also a contestant, by the way, on season three of "The Apprentice." And legendary journalist Dan Rather is here as well, former anchor of "The CBS Evening News", now host of AXS TV and SiriusXM.

Thank you all for joining me.

Let's process what this week has been like, a painful week I think for many Americans. The decision to call Trump's tweets racist, "The New York Times", other news outlets that have to make choices -- how did you view these choices?

[11:05:03] How were they made?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think media is going through an unprecedented time where the president's words are so kind of vocally stoking that kind of white identity and white grievance politics. It's forcing new choices on media outlets.

I think newspapers want to show, our instinct is to show and not tell, right? The instinct is to bring out a kind of evidence-based showing of the president's history with race, putting it in context as he talks about. But there is still a kind of uncomfort with using those labels that some folks think will turn other people off. I mean, I think as someone who covers race and politics often, that the most important question media loses sight of --


HERNDON: -- is just the question of truth.

I mean, there is a point that some make about whether it turns off readers or what's going to be the reaction. I think the question we should be asking, which is back to our kind of journalistic fundamentals is, was it racist? Was it not racist? And those are the lengths in which media has to come to grips with, become uncomfortable with using those type of phrases when they are warranted.

STELTER: And there are multiple words to use, depending on what's going on, bigoted and xenophobic.

HERNDON: Exactly.

STELTER: We should get specific and explain why we're getting specific.

Tara, what's your view of this? Because one of the standards editors at NPR said this week, we should not be in the business of moral labeling. That's the view from NPR, but a lot of news outlets have been saying the president's attack was racist.

Where do you come down? TARA DOWDELL, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: With respect to -- so, I'm on the

other side. I'm on the PR side of this.

I can tell you with respect to this issue, this ongoing issue that we seem to be grappling with is journalism to me and what it has been historically in historic context is it has always been about exposing wrongdoing, exposing the corruption of both government as well as corporations.

Anyone can be a stenographer. The job of a journalist is not to be a stenographer. And the Trump administration has actually leveraged the fact that journalism is often looking to just put out there what he says.

STELTER: Just quote him?

DOWDELL: And so -- just quote him. And so, he uses that to his advantage to mislead the public.

So anyone can be a stenographer. The role of the journalists should be watchdogs, should be about exposing things, historically, Pentagon Papers in 1971, journalism at its best. 1972, the Watergate break-in, journalism at its best. 1992, exposing sexual misconduct in Congress.

That is what our journalism industry has done at its best and that is the legacy and the history of journalism in this country. So I don't see why we would deviate from that now.

STELTER: Right, don't just quote it. Put it in context.

It applies to the rallies as well. Dan, the Wednesday night rallies, where we see the audience chanting "send her back", Trump did one of those things where he said, don't believe your own eyes, don't believe your own ears. He said that he interrupted right away and moved on. Well, not interrupted, he said he moved on right away. Obviously, 13 seconds was an eternity at that rally.

Why do you think he gets away with telling his fans, don't believe what you saw on that videotape, just believe what I'm saying now? Don't believe your lying eyes?

DAN RATHER, HOST, "THE BIG INTERVIEW WITH DAN RATHER": Part of it is he's a great showman. Let's face it, he's very good on television. He's is a power figure of television.

But the other thing, I think we have to keep in mind, and this goes back to a bit of the previous conversation -- look, racism as is racism does, and this argument among journalists about whether we should say that racism is racism, I'm sorry, doesn't get very far. When it's racism, it needs to be called racism.

But I do point out that the president, it isn't enough just to call out his racist language. When he does things like he lies repeatedly about the four young women congresswomen, he has lied repeatedly, he has taken their words out of context, which is pretty much a lie in and of itself. Now, the journalists' job, whether it's a rally or the president's

tweet or the president's standing shouting on the back lawn of the White House is to put that into context. There is a dangerous trap of forgetting journalists, the long line of things you outlined to start the program. It's very important to put these things into context. And, frankly, what we journalists should be doing is every time the president tells a lie, for example, about these four congressmen, right away it needs to be pointed out, that this is a lie.

And to call it what it is, not say, well, the president has said something here that's a little controversial.

STELTER: Yes, I hate the word "controversial" these days. I see it in banners and headlines all the time. Controversial can be a really good thing. In this case, it's a gross, sickening thing.

RATHER: But, you know, Americans pride themselves. We like straight talk. We like someone that looks you in the eye and has a firm handshake, and tells you what they think. Don't try to cut it.

So, when it's racist, say that it's racist, when it's out of context, say it's out of context. Repeat what he said and then go through the record, because there is this one called a dangerous trap of forgetting a long record.

[11:10:03] And that applies not only to what he's done in race but what he's done to undermine the institutions in the country, from checks and balances. What he said during the campaign and he hasn't done.

This doesn't get nearly as enough attention, in my opinion, that he promised he's going to take care of health care -- he hasn't.

He said he's going to start a big infrastructure -- he hasn't. So, hold him to account not just for the things that he says, including the racist things he says, but to what he said during the campaign. That's been pretty much forgotten, and I do think it needs to be brought to the forefront by reporters.

STELTER: Let's also briefly touch on where the president is getting these ideas from, why attacking these four progressive congresswomen. He is hearing a lot of them on Fox News. Look at the graphic that we produced here, showing mentions of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Fox, CNN and MSNBC, basically from January up until this weekend.

You can see that she's talked about on Fox a lot more than on CNN or MSNBC. And that is true as well for Ilhan Omar. So, we decided to compare Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to a couple of the leading House Democrats, Democrats who actually have a lot of power.

We chose Jim Clyburn, for example, one of the leaders of Nancy Pelosi's House. We can put you on screen the mentions of Clyburn compared to AOC and Omar, and you see he is barely in the news compared to these freshman congresswomen.

Tara, is that a legitimate complaint, that the press is focusing so much on the freshmen, not on the actual leaders of the House?

DOWDELL: That is, of course, a legitimate complaint. This is about racial opportunism. And Trump is taking advantage of race, divisions in this country, existing -- long existing fissures in this country, because he has been rewarded for doing so by his base. And so, he is responding to that.

And one of the things I want to point out, too, as someone who is in marketing and PR is that that so-called extemporaneous chant of "send her back" by the audience seems pretty suspicious because, typically, that type of thing is organized. When you see chants in audiences, a lot of times, it's either someone is stoking it from the back stage or off stage or there are people in the audience who have been sort of planted to do those things.

So I think people should actually look into that as well, because this all seems, I think Trump is far more calculating than people make him out to be. This is all a strategy. He won --


STELTER: Let's hear from voters more, if that's possible. Let's hear from the voters in the crowd more.


STELTER: Let's find out what they were thinking. I would like to spend ten times as much time hearing from voters as we are now.

And, Astead, wrapping up here, the question I started with, is the press up to the challenge? What do you recommend to newsrooms that are grappling with how to cover openly racist behavior from the U.S. president?

HERNDON: I think in the way we think of issues core to kind of politics right now, the same way we think about healthcare and other kind of, quote/unquote, kitchen table issues. Newsrooms need to recognize that race and identity will be the central key point of this election.

And that we and we as media need to empower reporters to think about those issues in the same kind of fact-driven, clear-eyed accountability driven way that we think about other issues. And so, that requires talking to voters. That requires talking to white voters, and saying -- at those Trump rallies, and saying, what do they think about this?

When I talked to folks about white identity, and what they are feeling right now, and they will openly tell you, kind of, that they are worried about replacement (ph) in this country. They are worried about the influx of minorities and immigrants. And that is things that we cannot shy away from, because that is not the side on -- that is not the side course of this election. It is the main entree.

STELTER: It is. It's the main story, the fading away of white dominance is a massive story. HERNDON: Yes.

STELTER: But sometimes, the biggest stories are the hardest ones for us to tell, right? We are more comfortable covering a tweet than we are covering something that's affecting generations.

HERNDON: Yes, and to point back, we have a history of being bad at this stuff if we want to be kind of honest. I mean, when we think about the civil rights movement, we think about the great migration, when we think about newsrooms that historically struggled rising to the challenge of covering race in this country. This requires newsrooms thinking about the issue in a different way.


HERNDON: And that's going to be what we're going to have to do going forward.

STELTER: This is an opportunity for all of us. Let's take a quick break with the panel. More in just a moment.

There's also some breaking news on the Mueller front. Jerry Nadler making a bold statement on Fox. We're going to show that with you.

Plus, a new turn of the revolving door between Trump and Fox. "American Carnage" author Tim Alberta is here with analysis.

Up next, "The Atlantic's" Adam Serwer, he says five words explain what happened at that rally. And he's up right after this break.


[11:18:23] STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURECES.

We have been talking about President Trump, his recent rally, the "send her back" chants has really been an embarrassing week for the United States. Imagine what viewers around the world are thinking when they see this.

But the president has been at this for a while. And you may have heard a phrase, five words to try to sum up the Trump age -- you may have heard this across television -- the cruelty is the point.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seems as though the Trump administration, cruelty is the point.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The cruelty is the point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cruelty is the point.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It seems like the cruelty is the point.

(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: That phrase is spread throughout the media ecosystem. But it started right here, with "The Atlantic" staff writer, Adam Serwer. He wrote this piece on, and Adam is with me now.

I'm interesting how an idea spreads. In this case, the idea that the cruelty is the point. When did you first come up with this phrase? What did you mean? And how do you think it spread?

ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I came up with it after watching the president go after Christine Blasey Ford in front of an entire crowd of people and hold her up for ridicule and scorn. And I think the -- I just sort of realized that this was a fundamental part of the president's relationship with his supporters, this sort of community filleting of the president's enemies.

And I think it's not unique to Trump supporters. I think it's a part of human nature, if you've ever been the kid who got made fun of in class and everybody laughed at you, it's an extension of that same feeling. It's that this president with his politics has elevated that kind of behavior to a political virtue.

And I think the reason that it spread is it sort of concisely articulate something that everybody knew and understood, but struggled to say because it feels so strange for us to be watching something like this unfold today in our own time.

[11:20:13] STELTER: It's also so provocative, and some people perhaps don't want to believe that the cruelty is the point. What it's been like for you as a writer to say this phrase used by presidential candidates and anchors all across TV? What's that like?

SERWER: It's a little weird honestly. You know, I think I didn't expect when I wrote it that it would reap the sort of escape velocity that it has. But, again, I just think -- you know, the reason why it resonates is it because concisely explains something that everybody understands is true, including the president.

STELTER: Let's look at your most recent piece in "The Atlantic". It's titled: What we do as Americans right now will define us forever.

What do you mean by that?

SERWER: I think that the president by embracing this classic racist attack of saying people need to go back to the countries where they came from, he's assailing and very directly in a way he was already doing but not quite as blatantly. He is assailing the foundations of multi-racial democracies that have existed in the United States since 1965.

Now remember, before 1965, before the Voting Rights Act, before the Civil Rights Act, black people were not full participants in American democracy. This is a relatively recent experiment and the president is assaulting it directly by implying that certain people, particularly people of color, are not real Americans in the way white Americans are. And that's an argument that has been with us since the beginning of

the founding and I think for some people, it's shocking that we are still arguing about it this way. But it is an existential question for American democracy and one we have been arguing over from the beginning of our existence.

STELTER: And a lot of journalists watch this program. If you had 30 seconds to tell folks in newsrooms how you think this story, this huge story should be covered in the weeks to come, what would you say?

SERWER: I would say something that my friend Ryan Boiler wrote the other day. I would say, bear witness faithfully.

STELTER: Bear witness faithfully?


STELTER: You mean don't shy away from what's happening in front of our eyes?

SERWER: Tell the truth. That's it.

STELTER: It should be easy.

Adam, thank you very much. It's great to see you.

SERWER: Thank you for having me.

STELTER: Up next, the Trump revolving door is still spinning. Hear about the newest hire at Fox Corp. right after this.


[11:25:56] STELTER: Hey, until January, Raj Shah was Sarah Sanders' top deputy at the White House. He was a chief spokesman for the administration. And now, he is joining Fox Corp. That's the parent company of Fox News. He is now a senior vice president at the network.

At this point, the Fox-Trump relationship has been very well- established. You can see some evidence of it here.

But the new book "American Carnage" looks at how this began. And author Tim Alberta joins me now.

Tim, congrats on the book launch. It's been a hot seller all week.

You argued that the party, figures like Sarah Palin broke some ground, loosened up the ground for Trump. How did that Fox relationship manifest?

TIM ALBERTA, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN CARNAGE": Well, it's pretty interesting, Brian, when you think of the convergence of events around the Obama presidency, around the time he was elected in '08 and taking office in '09, we focused a lot on, you know, the economic displacement and the cultural upheaval of this period, obviously, the political polarization, and all of that plays a huge, huge role in what we're seeing today.

But I think the another thing that's really important to think about is the explosion of social media, the continued advancement of Fox News and of the cable news ecosystem writ large and how that played into the information or misinformation in some cases that voters were receiving. Obviously, you know, the Tea Party wave and the ascent of Trump, much of that was intertwined with Fox News consuming an ever growing share of the sort of 45-plus white conservative viewing demographic that had once been a reliable demographic for, you know, the evening newscast or for -- certainly for even daily newspapers.

The decline in some of those more institutional mainstream media outlets certainly coincided as a corollary with the growth of Fox News and with the Republican Party as a whole moving further and further to the right.

STELTER: And it seems like some veteran Republicans have complained to you, in interviews for your book, about the influence of Fox.

Here's Paul Ryan, the former speaker of the House, saying: Politicians realized, I don't have to work my way up the committee process. I don't have to pass a bunch of bills and prove my worth. I could just go on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and I can be a hero on "The Drudge Report".

ALBERTA: Yes. And Paul Ryan is not wrong, obviously. Paul Ryan actually at one point in our interview called out by name unsolicited Matt Gaetz, who's a freshman congressman from Florida who has I think probably better than many Republicans in the Trump era sort of figured out how to exploit that ecosystem that we're living now, that media political ecosystem and get to somebody who as a freshman lawmaker discovered a way to get really close to Donald Trump and got on Air Force One a whole lot of times, got on Fox News a whole lot, despite saying things unsavory and untrue.

And Gaetz is sort of this celebrity entertainer, a politician who Ryan talks about in the book as being a guy who it doesn't matter anymore if you don't know what you are talking about, if you haven't worked your way up to committee process, if you don't know how to pass a law. None of that really matters anymore as long as you can get on Fox News or as long as you can get that media exposure.

STELTER: Because of the warping influence of television.

Now, President Trump tweeted out that maybe Ryan was paid by you, that's why you said these honest things in the book, which Trump would say critical things in the book. Should I give up hope the president is ever going to understand how the news media really works? That we would ever pay a guest?

ALBERTA: Well, look, I'm still paying off my wife's student loans and my student loans. So, if I was paying Paul Ryan for an interview, I would need a divorce attorney first of all.

Look, I have no idea what the president thinks. I sat down with the president for the book and he knows that I didn't pay him for that interview. So, I assume he was being just tongue-in-cheek. I don't really want to say anything more about it.

STELTER: Tim Alberta, thank you so much. The book is "American Carnage".

ALBERTA: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: Check it out.

ALBERTA: Appreciate it.

STELTER: Quick break here. And up next, the Robert Mueller literacy gap. Will the upcoming hearings make a difference? Plus, a brand-new statement from the House Judiciary Chairman. That's next.


[11:30:00] STELTER: We have some breaking news. T minus three days until Robert Mueller's testimony on Capitol Hill, and the House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler says there is very substantial evidence the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Now, he just said this on Fox News Sunday, we'll talk about how significant it is or is not, but here's the soundbite.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The report presents very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. And we have to present -- or that Mueller present those facts to the American people and then see where we go from there because the administration must be held accountable and no president can be -- can be above the law.


STELTER: So that's what he's saying, but what does it mean. What's going to happen as a result on Wednesday at the hearings? Let's talk about it now. The panel is back here with me. Dan Rather, the Mueller hearings, we've been waiting for this for months, the report has been out for more than three months, you know these print editions of the Mueller report, they've been all over the place, they've sold a couple hundred thousand copies but this is not -- you know, most Americans have not read this report.


STELTER: How important do you think the hearings will be? How many people will tune in?

RATHER: Well, I have no idea predicting rating a long time ago not to try to predict the ratings. However, it has the potential of being a tip over a moment. Everything depends on what Mueller is prepared to say and how well particularly the Democratic members of the committee handled the whole thing.

It certainly has the potential to rivet the country. You know doing the Watergate hearings which everybody's probably tired of hearing about this time back in the 70s --

STELTER: I'm not. You tell me.

RATHER: But the power of television riveted public attention and made a big difference during the crimes committed by the Nixon administration which eventually resulted in his resignation. But I come back to -- a lot of it is up to Mueller. How much is he willing to give?

I mean, this again is his moment. What we'll see -- I will say that the Democrats can't have it both ways. Here is the chairman of the committee Congressman Nadler saying the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. So then question is well, what are you going to do about it.

[11:35:27] STELTER: Right.

RATHER: He's part of Democratic leadership that up to now has taken the pretty much the tactic, the strategy if you want to call that, a wounded Trump is better than a martyred Trump. So they want to keep saying he's committed crimes but so far they're not doing very much about it.

STELTER: He's literally saying on Fox today the president has broken the laws "six ways from Sunday." It's like a police officer pointing to me saying you're breaking the law, you're breaking the law, and then not doing anything, not arresting me. It doesn't make any sense to me as a consumer of news. Does it make any sense do you, Astead, covering this world every day?

HERNDON: Well, I think Democrats are trying to have it both ways. I mean, we have seen kind of an increasing amount of voices. Congressmen Nadler is another one. It kind of get closer and closer to that line of impeachment. But the most important person here is Nancy Pelosi and she has not decided to show no indication of this run on moving.

I think your point about a wounded president is clear and so we talk about news consumption here. You know, both those things are very important. It's important for press to track the kind of way the Democratic caucus is trending, but we always have to come back to the person with the power here is the speaker and she has shown no willingness to kind of move on that impeachment front even as there's increasing cost from the base and on the 2020 side to do so.

You can't see this kind of split-screen. I cover 2020, impeachments, all the rage there. They -- the candidates are kind of united on that front, but when you go to the Hill, that appetite hasn't been as clear.

STELTER: Tara, do you buy the idea that televised hearings makes all the difference? Again, this report has been out for months. Some people have bought the book but most have not. There have been Broadway plays, there have been podcasts, there have been book clubs, there have been all these attempts mostly by progressives to get people interested in the report. DOWDELL: Right.

STELTER: I don't see a lot of evidence that's worked.

DOWDELL: I think that what -- I think that this will be more effective and I will tell you why. It's not just about television, it's about what happens after things air on television, the amplification of it through social media, the amplification of it through news media coverage.

We also have to remember one of the things that the Trump administration has done is every single time there's a mention of Mueller, they've come out aggressively, they've muddied the waters, Trump has done something shiny bright object he used to distract people from it.

I think this will create a situation having Mueller testify himself. This is in his own words up until now it's been other people's words, the Trump administration's words.

STELTER: Yes. Look at these actors that are doing --

DOWDELL: This is Mueller.

STELTER: These actors are doing his account. This is Mueller.

DOWDELL: I think people want to hear directly from Robert Mueller, so I do think it will help. Do I think Democrats have gone far enough? No, absolutely not. I think Democrats should go much farther particularly given of what we know, what we do know from the Mueller report.

STELTER: Normally after something like a Mueller hearing, we'd hear from the White House. There would be a press briefing you know, in that room where we used to have press briefings. But it's been 132 days since the last on-camera White House press briefing.

There's no sign of them starting again this week although I'd be happily surprised if there was a briefing. What do you make Tara of this White House strategy which is did not have these briefings?

DOWDELL: If you have something to hide, you don't go -- you don't you don't go public, right? So clearly this White House has something to hide. That's kind of P.R. 101. I mean, from the perspective of political P.R. 101, you restrict access to information because you have something to hide. You restrict access to being held accountable, you restrict transparency.

So that's a sign. If you have nothing to hide, you do a press briefing all the time. Make yourself available.

STELTER: You know, what's interesting, Joe Biden came out recently and said if he's elected, he will restore regular briefings. Politico's Michael Calderone asked all other Democratic campaigns and virtually every single campaign said the same thing. Two of them didn't reply but basically, every Democratic candidate says we will bring back the briefing so that's significant.

Dan, last word to you, thirty seconds. When we're all watching this hearing on Wednesday, what should we watch for? What's your advice as an anchorman?

RATHER: Well, first of all, I think give us much time to it as you can because it may take time to develop. Secondly, read body language, eye contact, quality of voice. The television -- people get fixed on just the visual image. There's a speaker in the box and how Mueller handles himself, how members of the committee to handle themselves, all of that.

But I guess my best advice is give it as much time as you can and concentrate on what's being said and put it in context of everything else you know about the Trump administration. And keep in mind all along you know, in our pledge allegiance to the flag, part of it is one nation under God indivisible.

And keep in mind when you're watching the hearings, do I think that the administration so far has tried to unite the country or do I think the administration has tried to divide the country whatever the Congress decides in the criminality.

[11:40:30] STELTER: To our panel, thank you so much. A quick break here and then we're going to be talking about some of the rhetoric you've probably heard if you turned on Fox News lately, rhetoric about socialism. I want to ask the editor of the country's biggest socialist magazine what's true and false. That's coming up next.


STELTER: President Trump and his pro-Trump media allies want you to believe that all Democrats are socialist, and then want you to believe that socialism is destroying or even the possibility is destroying America.

We took a look at how Fox News hosts have been talking about this subject. Here's just a few examples from this week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Socialism is absolutely toxic.

STUART VARNEY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: All the Democratic candidates are for socialism or a variety of socialism.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: There are no more moderates in today's extreme Democratic Party. Socialism is completely -- and radicalism completely taken over.

[11:45:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Socialism is toxic.


STELTER: Toxic, OK, we get it. Well, let's widen out the lens because in the United States there is a socialist magazine. It's called Jacobin. It's been out for years. It's been growing in popularity. The editor and the founder is Bhaskar Sunkara. His book is titled "The Socialist Manifesto." And it came out earlier this year. Bhaskar, thanks for being here.


STELTER: So what does -- what is the parallelism between the rise of conversation about socialism in America and the rise of your magazine?

SUNKARA: Well, we have been committed to articulating the kind of politics we think well, can actually reach a majority of Americans, a kind of politics that says that there are certain things in life that shouldn't be the result of accidents of birth. There are certain things in life that we all deserve just by virtue of being born.

And obviously we've grown a lot. We're at 50,000 subscribers before Trump started mentioning socialism. Before Trump got elected, we're at 10,000-15,000. Before Bernie Sanders, we were down in the doldrums.

STELTER: So do you call that a Trump bump or was that a Bernie Sanders bump with people wanting to subscribe to your magazine.

SUNKARA: Well I think during the campaign, Bernie Sanders articulated a set of ideas that were to the left of traditional establishment liberalism, and we needed that as a prerequisite. But it was actually Trump election that really exploded the political spectrum of the United States as we saw that establishment liberalism was no longer capable of really galvanizing people.

And I think as a result, we saw the rise of this dangerous right populism and what Trump represents.

STELTER: The way that hosts on Fox talk about socialism is fascinating to me. Here's an example from economics writer Ben Stein.


BEN STEIN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: All these ways of socialist thinking are ways to control the American people and to take away their freedom to choose, their freedom to do what they want to do with their lives. Socialism is about maintaining government control over people.


STELTER: So control, control, how do you define socialism? How do you react to sound bites like that?

SUNKARA: Well, I think socialism is actually about freedom. It's about freedom to be able to determine the destiny of our own life. So when I think about my relationship with my health insurance company, I'm not thinking about my freedom to choose between different health insurance providers, I'm thinking about the premium that I have to pay every month. I'm thinking about the fact that if I lose my job, if I'm out of work,

then I'll have to find a new provider go uninsured. And if I'm uninsured, I might have to pay a fine at the end of the year. You know, this is the status quo.

And I think that socialism in the United States, Democratic socialism really means there are certain things in life where we don't actually want to be held hostage to the market. And in fact, health care, education, child care, housing, these basic things need to be provided at least at a base level as a right to ordinary people.

STELTER: So you're trying to change a conversation, it sounds like. You're trying to reshape how socialism is defined in the United States. Because when you watch Fox, all you hear about is Venezuela.

SUNKARA: Yes. I think -- I think they -- it really behooves them to try to scaremonger people because the core program that something like Bernie Sanders is fighting for, Medicare for all, a decent job for all, better housing protections, these things are broadly popular.

And as individual policy items they're popular but obviously they need to find a way to make it scary and make this thing this kind of common-sense scary. Because it's common sense to people that when they go to the doctor, they shouldn't get a bill, just like if you know, God forbid, there's a fire in your house, you wouldn't expect to get a bill from the local fire company.

STELTER: And Jacobin has had 50,000 readers in print, presumably a bigger audience online. And do you see that growing during the Democratic primary?

SUNKARA: Yes. It's been growing. I mean, we reached some months up to two million people online. But there's other outlets like Breitbart, Daily Caller, you know, these outlets reach many more people than us, tens of millions of more people.

STELTER: Yes, much bigger. To be clear, you have a much smaller audience than you know -- well, how would you describe it?

SUNKARA: Well, I would say that we are committed to producing our material the degree of rigor. We want people who are conservatives, who are liberals. We want others to be able to read in debate with our ideas, and that means maybe not falling to some of the same traps of engaging and just kind of the real fake news which is that kind of propaganda stick stuff you get in in Breitbart and other venues.

STELTER: Bhaskar, thanks for being here.

SUNKARA: Thanks for having me.

STELTER: Good to see you. A quick break here, and then a warning from 65 years ago that we need to hear again.


[11:50:00] STELTER: This was a challenging week for America but certainly not the first, far from the first challenging week. And it's in moments like these that I think back to Edward R. Murrow's historic 1954 broadcast on CBS, he took on Senator Joseph McCarthy and those red scare tactics of the time after fears of communism in America had reached a fever pitch. This is what Murrow said then.


EDWARD R. MURROW, BROADCAST JOURNALIST: We must not confuse descent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine.

And remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend the causes that were for the moment unpopular.


STELTER: When Murrow spoke straight to camera, there was that sense of a crisis in the country, a crisis that Murrow argued could only be solved when Americans spoke out.


MURROW: This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage in our history but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities.

As a nation, we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves as indeed we are the defenders of freedom wherever it continues to exist in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.


STELTER: Murrow spoke so well about resisting fear and defending freedom. He ended his commentary with the most important point of all, that McCarthy had not created the situation of fear, he had merely exploited it.

[11:55:10] Murrow in that moment stepped away from what was seen as objective journalism to lay out a harsh critique against a powerful authority figure because people are getting so swept out by fear and unreason they couldn't see how they're being manipulated.

It's easy to get caught in the divide between left and right, you know, Trump versus socialism, I don't know, open borders versus mass deportation, all of these slogans and terms. But it's important to recognize that Trump knows what we fear, at least what some Americans fear and he's using it as his fuel. And there's an important role for journalist in identifying that, for speaking out about that. When politicians are confusing dissent with disloyalty, journalists must call it out. That is true patriotism. The kind of patriotism that Murrow demonstrated 65 years and that Americans need again today on television, in the papers, and online.

That's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES, but we'll see you back here this time next week. Our coverage continues all the time on And a quick reminder here that CNN's series, "THE MOVIES" continues tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.

It's a nice break from the news to think about the role of Hollywood and entertainment. That's coming up at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time here on CNN. We'll see you back here this time next week.