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President Trump's Pattern of Racist Tweets; Mueller hearings Reinforced America's Media Bunkers. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 28, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:13] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. And this is RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works, how the news gets made, and how all of us can help make it better.

This hour, Bernie Sanders' campaign manager is standing by. We're going to talk about media bias.

Plus, two journalists who helped spark these incredible protests in Puerto Rico, ousting the governor there.

Also coming up, David Zurawik, Amanda Carpenter, April Ryan and many more.

But let's begin with the one constant of the Trump years. There are always more tweets.

This weekend, racist messages raging from the president's Twitter's feed -- his attacks on Elijah Cummings and the 700,000 residents of Maryland's 7th district. There are six things going on at the same time. I want to tell you all six.

Number one, the tweets are part of a pattern of racism displayed by Trump for several decades. Number two, the tweets were factually inaccurate in several ways. Number three, they are the result of Trump getting distorted information from his friends at Fox News. Those friends are actually doing him a disservice.

Number four, the tweets are a petty response to Democratic oversight of Trump by Democrats like Cummings. Number five, they are a distraction from other important issues, maybe Trump distracts on purpose, maybe he doesn't do it on purpose. Either way, there's a distraction.

But number six, racist and ridiculous stereotyping of a part of the country is damaging to the country as a whole. And that must be covered and it must be covered that way even if it's distracting. Once again, every day, Trump posing challenges for the press.

I think what media outlets should not do is just put Trump's hateful rants in the headline and then move on. That's just stenography. Instead, we should start somewhere else. We should start with what is true.

Let's start with the map of the actual 7th district. Now, I'm a Marylander, so I used to live nearby, went to school here in Towson.

So, this is the district that Cummings represents. It includes farmlands in Baltimore and Howard County. It covers the Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore. It covers a lot of Baltimore actually. It includes beautiful neighborhoods throughout the city. It also includes suburban areas like Ellicott City and Columbia.

It also includes parts of Baltimore city that are struggling and have been struggling for a long time. Baltimore City is complicated. Some parts with well off, some parts are struggling. There are pocks that feel absolutely abandoned.

Once you've seen all of the 7th district, then it's time to report on what Trump said. He said on Twitter on Saturday no human being would go want to live here in this rodent infested mess. He called the district disgusting and said that maybe Cummings should spend more time in that filthy place. He's saying go back to where you live even though Cummings sleeps there all the time.

Once you've addressed the tweets, the big questions for newsrooms are where did this come from? Who is telling Trump this stuff? How did he get it distorted impression of the 7th district?

Well, the answer as is so often the case is right on Fox News. This was on "Fox and Friends" at the 6:00 a.m. hour on Saturday. There's a clip of Cummings questioning the homeland security secretary about conditions at the border.

Then, Fox brought in a guest named Kimberly Klacik, who went to impoverished parts of West Baltimore and made videos of trash lots and ruined row homes. Fox called her a Republican strategist. They've called her that for more than a year now.

Be but there is no evidence she's ever been employed by a campaign. She did run for a local county GOP position and lost last year. So, they call her a Republican strategist, maybe because she wrote right wing blog post for this website for a while.

Then she starred getting booked on TV again and again as a so-called strategist on "The Hill" and on Fox and other shows. Her LinkedIn profile pointedly says she's a commentator, quote, not under contract, which means she's going on Fox for free.

Earlier this month, she decided to take on Cummings by making Web videos about Baltimore's run-down neighborhoods. But I'll tell you all this to explain here is where the president is getting his information.

Klacik was booked on Fox again on Saturday. The president was watching and then an hour lawyer later he tweeted. But, first, listen to what she said on Fox.


KIMBERLY KLACIK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There is a crisis at the border, but there's also a crisis in Baltimore. And I don't think many people realized this, but Congressman Cummings represents the most dangerous district in America.


STELTER: She went on to use words that Trump would parrot basically exactly. Watch.


KLACIK: There's abandon row holes filled with trash, homeless addicts, empty needles that they have used and it's really right next door. It's attracting rodents, cockroaches, you name it.


[11:05:02] STELTER: The videos are real but they're not even Fox's video. They're relying on unpaid guests to went in the neighborhoods and talked to people because she wants to support Trump and tears down Cummings.

And all of this happens and Trump tweets about an hour later. He tweets about a woefully incomplete view of Cummings' district, with clearly racist connotations. Now, all of a sudden, this spat is the national news.

And she was thrilled. Klacik wrote: The president saw my work, this just made my day. Her Twitter feed has all the usual pro-Trump banter.

I get it. She's an up and coming conservative commentator. She wants attention. I sent her several questions, asking about her GOP strategist title and about how she got on Fox yesterday and she declined to answer. She told me she's just trying to help Baltimore.

So she certainly helped somebody. She certainly helped Trump.

So, to cover Trump's racist tweets, I think you've got to start with those facts. You got to start with where the information came from, you've got to the address why it was coming on Fox, why was Fox doing this segment in the first place and then you've got to address, here, what "The Baltimore Sun" put on the front page.

This is this morning's "Baltimore Sun". It says Cummings is a central figure in the almost daily battle with President Trump over access to document and officials' testimony. That's really the story here, right? That's really what's going on.

Trump trying to knock down an opponent, knock down accountability and finding the segment on Fox, this up and coming conservative commentator to help him do it.

But here's the problem. There are several problems. One of the problems is that Trump is getting a distorted view of the country from what he sees on a right wing talk show. This content then fuels his racist tendencies and his never ending campaign continues.

But enough from me. Let's bring in two Baltimore residents with media analysis. "Baltimore Sun" media critic David Zurawik and American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent April Ryan. April is in Detroit for the debate coming up. David is in Baltimore.

So, first question to you, David. How should the press be covering these kinds of tweets?

DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Well, I think listen, Brian, one of the good things, one of the bright spots amid the sickness and misery of the president's tweets yesterday is the response from the press from a lot of different quarters. I thought Victor Blackwell, the anchor yesterday on CNN, just nailed it with an honest, heartfelt, moving response to the president.

And I'm glad you held up the front page. I mean, I'm not being a homie here. I'm glad you held up the front page of the "Baltimore Sun", because that apiece went out to Baltimore and it went out to different parts of -- the reporter went to different parts of the district. They went to Sparks, which is an upscale area, Horse Country.

STELTER: Yes, rural area. Part of the district, yes.

ZURAWIK: Exactly. And wealthy, a lot of money out there. Somebody a barista, I think, at a coffee stand said, well, we don't have a lot of rats. We don't see a lot of rats but we have some very cute country mice.

I mean, even that kind of quote from a real person knocks down the president and the ridiculous -- Brian, he didn't have to do actual research. All he had to do was look at the Wiki map of the district to see what was going on.

And so -- and then we had an editorial and the sun had me and then reporters and columnists and photographers from around the country got together on Twitter and politicians and tweeted truths about Baltimore.

You know, I saw you on with Ana Cabrera yesterday afternoon. You talked about the 7th district and how diverse it is.

STELTER: But does any of it matter? Can you actually meet Trump with facts or does that matter at all? I'm not sure facts matter in this debate.

ZURAWIK: Well, Brian, I think if you have facts with moral outrage and I think that's what scares Trump about Congressman Cummings, the moral outrage he voices from that pulpit he has on the Oversight Committee. It really is. It's a combination of old testament righteousness and the voice, the voices of the civil rights movement that this nation once responded to with an act of social conscience which I think people like Trump and his followers are trying to steal in this era.

And when we hear that voice is when at the end of the Michael Cohen hearing when Congressman Cummings lashed out about the kind cuff crookedness, the kind of lawlessness of this administration, I there that has a real impact.

Look, as journalists, you know, I wrote yesterday, that some days, I think I don't have an ounce of vitriol left to deal with this man, but then he comes up with something like this and we respond. We can't ignore him. You want to ignore him because he's a sick person who even when we denounce him he's happy because at least we notice him and he thinks he's controlling things and he's important.

[11:10:07] He is important as the president of the United States but I think a combination of facts.

STELTER: So, you think ignoring -- you think ignoring the tweets is not an option?

ZURAWIK: We cannot do it anymore. God I want to. God, every time I see one, I want to ignore it. We cannot do it.

STELTER: April, what do think?

ZURAWIK: We have --

STELTER: Is it possible, April, to ignore the tweets or do you agree with David?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let me say this: as a White House correspondent, I cover everything presidential. So I cannot ignore the tweets even though I want to.

Anything he says on Twitter or from a press release through whatever press secretary he has today or tomorrow, you have to look at that as the official word of the leader of this nation.

For this president to target a city after listening to a very young journalist who I don't know, and I have lived in Baltimore all my life -- it doesn't mean I know everyone in Baltimore. But those in Baltimore I've talked to, they don't know her. And I've searched -- I even reached out to Congressman Cummings this morning who was in church while I was texting him and he says, no, he doesn't know her.

It's irresponsible for the president and irresponsible for this journalist not to the look at the full scope to bring all sides. That is one piece of the district. Yes, Baltimore is an area, a community that has pockets of poverty, pockets of wealth, pockets of people who are just trying to make it, and pockets of people who are unemployed, underemployed, people who are just looking for a better way of life.

And as the leader of the free world, as the president of the United States, you're supposed to reach back to help instead of chiding and chastising and, then, look at you. Just because you're mat about Congressman Elijah Cummings wanting to find the truth about your lies, about your ten episodes of obstruction of justice and possible impeachment, take the higher ground as Mitch McConnell tried to tell him to do before and all he thought it was meaning, you know, take -- go higher, he thought it was going -- the president thought it was hit someone in the Senate. No, take the higher ground. When you reach down, you reach down to

help someone. And, Brian, and you know this, you've been in the Baltimore -- you went to school in the Baltimore area.


RYAN: You know what Baltimore looks like. Now, here's the next piece. This young reporter actually has done the president a disservice. Because the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner and his family allegedly have homes in Baltimore and they're being called slumlords.

So this report is now peeling back the onion and it's staking -- and part after the problem may be the son-in-law of the president's family that's helped west Baltimore. So, the president may want to pull back from this a bit.

STELTER: Do you think there's something the press should be doing differently when covering these moral calamities? This kind of racism is an American tragedy. I don't know that a normal typical news story can convey what's going on, April.

RYAN: A normal story cannot convey what's going on. But, you know, this blight did not just happen.


RYAN: If you remember, you know, we were a city that was thriving, people who didn't have college degrees were able to work in places like Bethlehem Steel and get great jobs. Once Bethlehem and Steel and other manufactures pulled out of Baltimore, the blight began and it never recovered.

Baltimore now is a meds and eds city. Meaning medical, John Hopkins, the number one employer. Education is right up there with it. But beyond that, what's left?

Baltimore has some real issues. When it comes to job training, a lot of major corporations are not wanting to come to Baltimore. Why? Because they feel some people are not trainable.

But where does that -- where does that lead? It leads to the president of the United States coming in with a plan, an urban renewal plan, and issue job creation plan.

He likes to talk about, oh, the black unemployment rate is so low. Well, come to Baltimore and fix it there. Target Baltimore. Target Flint. Target Philadelphia.

Target a lot of these urban areas --


RYAN: -- instead of holding your nose up and looking down at them.

The issue is, it's in the news now. Mr. President, what are you going to do to really be president and show that you are the leader, to help people? Power means service. When are you going to serve Baltimore?

STELTER: David, I only have 30 seconds left. You live in Cummings district. I keep thinking to myself, the president is not watching this conversation. He's only watching what he's seeing on fox. So nothing's going to change.

ZURAWIK: Well, Brian, I think you did a great job at the top of tracking --

STELTER: He's golfing though, David.

ZURAWIK: -- the misinformation --

STELTER: He's golfing right now. He's not watching. He's golfing. The president's only hearing this distorted view on Fox.

RYAN: He's watching.

STELTER: He does. He does sometimes watch CNN. That's' true. He does, he does.

[11:15:01]ZURAWIK: Brian, we're not going to correct him. He's not going to change. He's so far down this road of evil. He's not going to change.

We can change voters' minds for 2020. That's what we can do if we keep speaking forcefully and we talk about morality. Journalists do not talk enough about morality because we think people will think we're biased.

No, we need to keep talking about it because we have amoral president and administration right now.

STELTER: David Zurawik, April Ryan, thank you so much.

David's column is up on the "Baltimore Sun's" Website. And we're going to show "The Baltimore Sun's" editorial later this hour.

After a quick break here, media bunkers, and are they getting even thicker? We'll talk about the wake of the Mueller hearings after this.


STELTER: The truth is a force of nature, President Trump said, during the Mueller hearings this week. He's right about that, but Americans are so deeply split about what's true and who tells the truth that it can feel like we're all in bunkers.

This week's Mueller hearings reinforced the idea that there's a bunker mentality. So many viewers, so many readers, living in these bunkers, reinforced by Facebook algorithms and other social media effects.

So, let's dissect what's going on here and what the impact of these bunkers are. The author of a "New Yorker" column "A Letter from Trump's

Washington," Susan Glasser, is with me. And here in New York, "New York Times'" immigration reporter, Caitlin Dickerson, and "New Yorker" staff writer Andrew Marantz, who has a book coming out in October titled "Anti-Social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians and the Hijacking of the American Conversation."

[11:20:04] We will get to hijacking in a moment.

But, Susan, first to you. What was your takeaway from the Mueller hearings? Did it feel like we were watching two Americas having two different hearings at the same time?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Certainly, there was probably zero intersection between the questions asked by the Republicans to Robert Mueller and those asked by Democrats. Republicans are deep into conspiracy theories, rabbit holes, investigating the investigators, Democrats on the other hand hoping to bring the Mueller report to life in a hearing with a very taciturn witness who wasn't very cooperative with either Democrats or Republicans.

And yet afterwards, essentially each side proclaimed vindication. Each side proclaimed that they had somehow won the day. Both things cannot, of course, be true.

And it's just -- it's just a very, very depressing moment where instead of the kind of independent facts that we reporters and journalists value, I think people are just playing even facts as a team sport, as a partisan team sport in America today.

STELTER: You mentioned the conspiracy theories. Let's look at what Sean Hannity was suggesting, some of the questions he was suggesting for the Republican congressmen and then look at what they actually asked.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Justin Cooper, didn't he smash Clinton's blackberry devices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justin Cooper who was a Clinton aide destroyed one of her devices.

HANNITY: Were you aware that much of the application was based on Steele's unverified dossier and when were you aware of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did you become aware that the unverified Steele dossier was included in the FISA applications?


STELTER: Sean Hannity, who has been called the shadow chief of staff at the White House, he was a shadow congressman this week.

So, Andrew, who successfully hijacked the conversation? And what does that mean?

ANDREW MARANTZ, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Yes. He was also a kind of shadow press secretary.

STELTER: It's true.

MARANTZ: So, there's this is idea that we're all kind of having this unified national conversation, the top stories are going to be the top stories for everyone, the interpretation will be the same. That's obviously been shattered. That's not true at all anymore.

And you saw Congress members like Matt Gaetz, Devin Nunes, who are clearly able to be curve the reality sphere such that even if mainstream outlets weren't repeating their claims verbatim, they were kind of -- their narrative was swayed by it so they said, oh, that hearing was low energy, it didn't move the ball forward on impeachment. And that gets echoed in mainstream papers. You see a lot of mainstream journalists I wish we could talk more about substance, but the national conversation isn't headed in that direction, and it almost becomes this self-perpetuating prophecy.

STELTER: There was a lot of criticism on reporters focusing on the optics of the hearing.

But, Susan, the optics did matter I think. What did you think? Did the optics matter?

GLASSER: Yes. Look, I'm glad you brought that up. I mean, you know, I understand this critique, Andrew, but at the same time, I have to say like, first of all, what is the purpose of a televised hearing if not to elucidate and inform both the members of Congress and the public that's watching it. You can do that either by adding new facts and information to the record, which Mueller said in advance he wasn't going to do, or providing a compelling or engaging account or, you know, illuminating it in some other way.

I don't think there was anything really significantly changing for either Democrats or Republicans about this hearing. But you know, to hear many Democrats, many critics of the president tell it, they're so upset at the idea that Bob Mueller wasn't proven to be the most fantastic witness. We have to be able, A, to look at the situation as it is, and B, that doesn't mean that you know, by pointing this out, you're making an equivalent between the monumental and I say monumental lying about the hearing that you've seen from President Trump himself, from his defenders.

What they have been saying since the hearing is an extraordinary revision of the reality of the hearing. But that doesn't mean that Bob Mueller was a great witness just because Donald Trump has been lying about what was in the hearing.

STELTER: Multiple things drew, at the same time. And let's look at the ratings for the hearing. This graphic shows Trump fatigue in four lines.

You see the James Comey hearings two years ago, the Kavanaugh hearing last year, 20 million viewers. Mueller, only 13 million viewers during the day on the big networks.

I think that's a sign of Trump fatigue. It's also a sign that Mueller was not an incredible witness. So, I talked about these ratings on CNN, and Stephen Colbert called me out.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: You can't determine the value of Mueller's tax by ratings. If that were the case, then "Avengers: Endgame" would be the president of the United States.


STELTER: I think he's right. You can't judge the value. You can judge maybe impact of these hearings based on ratings.

So, let's pivot from the ratings to another story this week that I think needs to be noticed.

And, Kaitlan, this is up right to your ally at an immigration reporter at "The Times". The president was talking about these ICE raids. Immigration raids, we're going to target families in the country illegally. The report was there would be 2,000 migrants targeted.

How many were actually arrested?


STELTER: And what does this tell us about the media ecosystem that the president was hyping this and pro-Trump talk shows where is quite excited I dare say about these raids that didn't materialize.

DICKERSON: So let's put the results of the raids into context. First of all, the idea that the president would be tweeting about the total number of targets that were going to be pursued by ICE agents probably wasn't the best idea because in a typical ICE raid, you only actually see 20 percent of people roughly ultimately arrested.


DICKERSON: And so, talking about the total number set you up from the very beginning --

STELTER: Put the bar way too high.

DICKERSON: -- a disappointing result. But, of course, then talking about it had this added effect of making more and more people aware. And I think that actually the effects of people not answering their doors may have been a little overstated because I think that ever since Donald Trump was elected president, the undocumented community has known not to answer their door when ICE comes knocking.

The difference this time was people knew exactly when ICE was coming. And so, ICE wasn't able to be take advantage of people when they walk outside and go to work or take their kids to school. People didn't do that. They hunkered down inside, and that's why you saw the really abysmal numbers.

STELTER: So, Trump's warnings did have an effect. They did instill fear, but they didn't actually result in a lot of arrests. And I guess my concern is, will the folks that heard about the alleged plans for the raids then hear about the result? That's always the question. Is there enough follow-up on these stories?

DICKERSON: Well, I think they may hear about the results. But I also don't want to overstate those because what happened was ICE agents were given across the country lists of targets to pursue. They found out where these people lived, they found what their routines were, they surveilled them in some cases. And those lists still exist.

So, even though, in that one weekend, many people were not arrested, ICE agents will continue to go after these families. This is their job.


DICKERSON: So, we also don't want to say, look, nobody was arrested. Everybody can relax because immigration enforcement happens every day.

STELTER: Right. Everybody, thank you very much. Please stand by.

Much more coming up including a conversation with Bernie Sanders's campaign manager about their complaints of media bias about MSNBC. We're coming back with that in just a moment.


[11:30:00] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: With CNN's two-part, two-night Democratic debate just two days away, let's talk about complaints of media bias coming from the left. Here's a headline from the A.P. this week. It says Bernie Sanders thinks the media is unfair so he's created his own. Yes, the Sanders campaigns new web show is called the 99. It's streaming on Facebook and YouTube and other sites.

One recent episode asked is Bernie too consistent for the -- to consistent for the corporate media? Interesting question. This is all part of a wider strategy. All the campaigns are churning out lots and lots of content including the Sanders campaign they're on YouTube.

But the Sanders campaign says they are doing it because many reporters, not all but many, find Bernie annoying and discount his seriousness. Tensions between the Sanders camp and MSNBC have been especially high. You might think those would be natural allies.

So let's find out more about these media bias complaints. Joining me -- joint me now is the campaign manager for Sanders 2020 Faiz Shakir. Great to see you. You're in Detroit. You're getting ready for the debate. We're two days away. Do you have expectations for this debate versus NBC's debates were there problems with NBC other than those technical glitches for example?

FAIZ SHAKIR, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BERNIE SANDERS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Brian, I'm going to make a radical comment. This isn't a criticism of CNN, it's a really a criticism of the media environment but I believe these debates tend to make the American people stupider. They're performative theater and we don't end up having the conversations that people -- affect people's lives.

So I don't have super high expectations. I think we're going to try to go through it and answer the questions that respond to Donald Trump's tweets and all those kinds of things. But at the end of the day, this is and I think how you win a campaign.

STELTER: How do you win a campaign then, because you all been complaining a lot about the media coverage. Don't you need journalists to be out there on the trail with Sanders covering the campaign?

SHAKIR: Brian, you know this well that Bernie Sanders talks to journalists all the time. He talked to Rachel Maddow, talks to George Stephanopoulos, was meeting with a number of media outlets even this week on Jimmy Kimmel and others getting the message out. But ultimately at the end of the day, we know and we understand where a campaign that's built out of taking on power, taking on established power, arguing the corruption of the political system, the economic system, and in many cases the media system.

And so in order to get that particular message out, you got to go directly to voters and that's why you hear us trying to build these media channels talking directly to people.

STELTER: And Sanders has been doing that for decades. You know, going back to his days in Burlington with public access T.V. The difference now is he can reach a lot more people on YouTube. What is the heart of the critique about what Sanders calls the corporate media? What do you want people like me to do differently?

SHAKIR: Well, Brian, this isn't a personal commentary on you or any other journalist. There's many wonderful talented journalists out there. But in about you know, a minute or so or two minutes or so, you're going to cut to commercial breaks and you're going to see some pharmaceutical ads.

You're going to see a lot of ads that are -- that are basically paying your bills and the bills of this -- the entire media enterprise and what that ends up doing is incentivizing you and others to make sure that you're asking the questions and driving the conversations in certain areas and not in certain areas. Right now, you know, Bernie Sanders --

STELTER: Well, what evidence do you have of that? What evidence do you have of that? I don't actually know what ads run during the breaks. I actually don't see the commercials. I don't know what runs.

SHAKIR: And -- so I've reached out to Phil Griffin, the head of MSNBC, and I'm happy to talk to Jeff Zucker and others. It isn't about you, Brian, but about how these media structures are set and operated and the biases that I believe are embedded within them

STELTER: And I think that's really interesting.

SHAKIR: -- about what they decide are segments worthy --

STELTER: Right. I think that's really interesting, the systems.

SHAKIR: -- are what segments worthy of covering and what aren't.

STELTER: So what do you think you're not being covered that needs to be covered more? What are those topic areas?

SHAKIR: Well, I mean, one classic area, of course, is you know, we're going across the board right now to talking about prescription drugs. Do you know why you pay so much more, ten times more in America on prescription drugs than any other country? Does anyone know that or understand what?

Do you know what the Trump administration is doing about that? Do you even know who the head of the Health and Human Services Secretary is? Do you know his background that he worked in the pharmaceutical industry?

I mean these -- I think Donald Trump turns out these tweets and attempts to distract all of us and there isn't a basic conversation around the fact that he's betraying the working class by having selected a group -- a group of people to run his government who come from industry, who benefit industry, and that story is not told.

STELTER: But don't you know all that from the press? Don't you know all that from reporting?

SHAKIR: No, I that's not how I know it. I've done my own research. We've got our own research to know it. There's probably a few segments --

STELTER: By reading stories, by reading news stories about it.

SHAKIR: Yes, and I would argue to you -- and you know this well, Brian, the T.V. is a certain medium that has an influential power and I -- and I'm making more of a critique here of what media -- T.V. media decides to cover, and it tends to be a game, it tends to be a gotcha.

I appreciate that Donald Trump's tweets are important and we'll have a conversation about that, but it also belies a conversation that he doesn't want to have. And I think that that's what I think you know, me, Bernie Sanders, a lot of us feel gets obfuscated is that the things that affect real American's lives.

[11:35:26] STELTER: And I think many viewers agree with you. Right, many viewers agree with you.


STELTER: The shiny object, the sensationalism, it's a problem. You know, the question is whether it's I think effective for you all to call it out. Maybe it is. Trump has won support from his fans by attacking the media. Maybe that's what you think will work as well.

SHAKIR: I mean -- so we're not playing a game here, all right. It is -- it is truly based out of conviction in sincerity that we do see biases operating against the campaign but also against the issues we care deeply about. You rarely see pundits on T.V. talking about the value of Medicare for all. You see a lot of people criticizing Medicare for all.

You don't see the people talking about the value of canceling all student debt, you see people criticizing it. And why is that, right? Just ask yourself. It's -- you're taking on corporate power, you're taking on the established -- you know, establishment across the board, and all we're arguing for is can we have a fair shake.

STELTER: I tell you what, I'm going to call an audible. Let's take a break as I do it to fit in a commercial, but I want to bring you back if I can. Can you -- can you stay what -- stay around for five minutes?

SHAKIR: Yes, sir.

STELTER: OK, quick break, more in a moment.


STELTER: We are back now, going -- heading back to Detroit, the site of CNN's debate on Tuesday and Wednesday. Bernie Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir is back with me. And we're just talking about media bias, these media structures. You know, Bernie Sanders talked in 2016 and again these days about the corporate media. What do you think is the primary issue with the corporate media in Sanders terms? Is it the focus on personality over issues?

SHAKIR: Yes, I think that's right, Brian. I think there tends to be over-focus on personalities. I'll concede that Bernie Sanders occasionally can be grumpy, he can be agitated because he's upset about a system that's failing people and he gets frustrated about operating within the system that he doesn't believe is being conducted fairly.

And I think people read into that well, you know, either I just don't like him, right, I find him annoying or I find his moralism that hid -- the fact that he is criticizing established powers and the power structures as they are, I find that to be a personal criticism.

So when a person goes on MSNBC and says he makes my skin crawl, I mean what is that about? I mean just a personal criticism and I don't think it would be tolerated of any other candidate, and I hope that MSNBC and other candidates -- or other networks are looking at themselves in the mirror and saying are we treating him as fairly as we would treat others.

[11:40:45] STELTER: You know, when I looked back at 2016, one of my regrets personally was that I didn't take Sanders seriously enough. So I think a lot of this is about personal reflection. Let's always be thinking about what can we do better. But at the same time, lots of commentators are going to say lots of dumb things between now and Election Day, right Faiz?

SHAKIR: Well, I mean, I appreciate you saying that, Brian. And I also would say that one of the -- I think that media ended up enabling Donald Trump -- again not you personally but in general because it played his game, I worry that we're going down that road again. And I think that the reason that you know, certain candidates have appeal -- I think that Bernie Sanders has an appeal, Donald Trump has a certain appeal, is that they're talking to people on the level at least about perceived in Trump's case, problems afflicting your life.

Donald -- I think Bernie is doing it and far more directly, honestly, and candidly, but I think the media should embrace those lessons. Are we -- should we learn something from the fact that these candidates have built movements and that they're speaking to people who feel heartfelt concerns that are not reflected in the media?

STELTER: Faiz, thank you so much. I love the conversation. I hope we can keep having it. Thank you.

SHAKIR: Thank you. I appreciate it, Brian. A quick break here and then we're going live to San Juan talking about a news organization that helps spark those massive protests. Hear from the editor next.


[11:45:00] STELTER: Now, to the story behind the story of these protest pictures that have been filling the airwaves. A small non- profit news organization in Puerto Rico helped to bring these protests out in force. How? By publishing text messages, hundreds of pages of private messages involving Puerto Rico's political leaders 880 pages in total with profane, homophobic, and misogynistic messages between Puerto Rican's Governor Ricardo Rossello and nearly a dozen of his aides and collaborators.

The Center for Investigative Reporting in Puerto Rico published those documents and less than two weeks later, Rossello announced his resignation. Joining me now from San Juan is Carla Minet. She's the executive director of what's known as CPI along with one of the journalists there Luis Valentin Ortiz.

Carla, I know it's loud there. I hope you can hear me. What have the last two weeks been like for your news organization?

CARLA MINET, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM: Well, this has been a nonstop journey for us. We've been working really hard until very late. We've been delivered a lot of tips with a lot of pressure, with a lot of responsibilities. So it's really -- we're a little bit tired right now.

STELTER: A little bit tired. I can imagine so. Luis, was there any question in your mind about whether to publish these text messages? You received all of these messages. They were sickening. Did you ever think about not publishing them or did you have to publish?

LUIS VALENTIN ORTIZ, REPORTER, CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM: I think that that's a good question. And we have to remember that we besides you know, to me, besides those kinds of messages, there was a lot of discussion on public policy issues. There was a lot of things that were being discussed by the governor, Governor Rossello and his top aides that we felt -- we strongly felt that they had to be published and people have the right to have access to that information.

Besides showing the character of its leaders, it also raises a lot of questions, some possible illegal activity like sharing privileged information with people that had no official relationship with the government and also using public resources, people's money to conduct political campaign work.

And I think those considerations and you know, the importance of people knowing the character of their leader merit publishing this document. It was extremely important.

STELTER: Carla, I know it's loud there and I'm going to let you go in a minute, but just how can people find your Web site? How can they donate? Tell people how to find it.

MINET: Well, our web site is It's -- you can -- you can search for Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico and Google it. You'll find it.

STELTER: Yes, if you just Google it.

MINET: You can donate or you can leave us tips or you can leave us messages.

STELTER: Yes, just Google Center for Investigative Reporting in Puerto Rico. You will see the great work they're doing. Carla and Luis, thank you so much. Fun day there, Sunday morning in San Juan, and they've covered so much great news for 11 years and some terrible news out of San Juan for the last 11 years.

A quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES then some conversations about President Trump and how the lying seems to be getting bolder. That's next.


[11:50:00] STELTER: I propose to you that there are two kinds of people in America today, people who reject all of the presidential lying that's going on and people that just accept it, make excuses for it, or look the other way.

Well, news outlets that look the other way are part of the problem. Because if they don't track, and document, and debunk the lies that our political leaders tell, then who is going to? How is the public supposed to know they're being hoodwinked?

This has been on my mind this week for a number of reasons that I want to show you, but first, you know, it's been one year since President Trump had this to say about the media.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.


STELTER: You know, he says that. Every time he says fake news, that's another form of misinformation. And while those attacks haven't changed, he is making new claims, bolder lies, bolder than ever before.

He's out there saying that the country right now has the greatest economy in U.S. history. The economy is strong but new GDP numbers show economic growth that's slowing down. It's certainly not the strongest in history, and his tax cut bill did not generate the boom in business investment that he promised.

The president also this week renewed the unfounded completely bogus claim that undocumented immigrants vote multiple times, that there's lots of illegal voting going on. Come on, man. Your own Commission looked for it and couldn't find it, so much for that.

These examples, we can go on and on with them. This is actually my favorite example of the week. He denied having talking points when he came out and attacked the so-called Squad the other day on camera.

These are pictures of the talking points that the Washington Post took. You can see they were typed up for him and he actually wrote handwritten notes. These are just interesting examples of lies because they can be disproven by photos and videos.

And there are other lies as well. Here he is at the Talking Points USA summit the other day. He said Article Two of the Constitution gives him the right to do whatever he wants even though Article Two outlines Congress has oversight powers and the impeachment process.

Trump even directly contradicted some of the factual statements that Mueller made about the ability to indict a president after they leave office.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mueller said you could be charged --

TRUMP: No, he didn't say that. Again, you're fake news.

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?



STELTER: Repetitive is this. Are we talking about the same thing over and over again? Maybe, but if we don't, then what happens? Who's going to cover all the lies? Let me bring in Amanda Carpenter. She was ahead on this. She wrote a book called Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies To Us.

Amanda, I kind of think that book is becoming more and more true all the time, that his fans do seem to love the lying.

[11:55:20] AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, and even the people that don't like it can't help but be caught up in it. The lies are so obnoxious they're irresistible. I mean, I think what happened on Saturday morning even with his tweet about Chairman Cummings proves this yet again.

He would rather -- everyone in America debate his racism rather than focus on what Chairman Cummings is doing that provoked this attack. At the top of your show, you talked about how the media should have covered this in a headline, and I'd like to suggest one. After Chairman Cummings subpoenas Jared and Ivanka's e-mails, Donald Trump launches racist tirade, because that's what happened.

And why our House members going after those private communications? Could it be because of the private communications Jared Kushner had with MBS on WhatsApp? You know that crown prince implicated in the killing of Jamaal Khashoggi, that's the story here. But Donald Trump masterfully makes it a racist debate about Baltimore and we fall for it again and again and again.

STELTER: But what's the alternative?

CARPENTER: Well, of course, we should recognize it.

STELTER: I mean, my goodness. If we don't cover the lying every day, if we don't cover the --

CARPENTER: We should absolutely cover the lying. We should absolutely call out the racism that is apparent. But we should also think more carefully about why he's choosing this man as a target. Substantively Chairman Cummings is going after that red line he draw. Donald Trump -- don't go after my finances, don't go after my kids. That's essentially what they're doing on legitimate grounds.

But all this gets mishmash in the mush and even Democrats can't explain why they're doing what they're doing. I mean, take what the things that you pointed out about the Mueller testimony. I listened to Chairman Nadler this morning go out and talk about why Donald Trump should be impeached. He just said, well, he's violated the law six ways to Sunday.

The public can't follow that, but the public can follow the ridiculous narrative that Donald Trump has been laying out about the Russian investigation since January 2017 that this is some kind of deep state coup based on a fake dossier by people that want to overturn the results of the election.

People understand that even though it's wrong. Nobody can understand why the Democrats want to impeach him because it's just like everything thrown on the wall. People have to play in the media landscape. They have to be able to message what they say.

You had on Bernie Sanders spokesman earlier and he said well yes, this is just performative art and dismissed it. Yes, it is performative art. You are expected to communicate with the public. And if the Democrats get lost in this whole thing about the witch hunt and can't clearly explain why Donald Trump perhaps poses an unacceptable risk to our national security in elections, then they're going to lose.

STELTER: So you're saying Trump oftentimes tells a better story, a bogus story but a better story, and the Democrats have encountered that yet.

CARPENTER: It is essential that you be able to explain yourself and tell a story that the public wants to hear.

STELTER: Amanda Carpenter, the last word here, thank you so much.


STELTER: And Amanda was talking about Baltimore Congressman Cummings, Trump's racist tweets against Cummings and against the district. So let's close with what the Baltimore Sun said about this today. The Baltimore Sun's editorial is one for the history books. The editorial making a statement on behalf of the city and the region saying this.

The White House has far more power to affect change in this city for good or ill than any a member of Congress including Mr. Cummings. If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone's, perhaps more, because he holds the most powerful office in the land.

Finally the editorial ends, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the Congressman's name correctly, we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office that mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women's private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin, and the guy who insisted there are good people among murderous neo-Nazis, that he's still not fooling most Americans into believing he's even slightly competent in his current job or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.

The Baltimore Sun's editorial this morning. It's gone viral online. Maybe that will be the subject of the President's next tweet. Well, that's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. We'll see you online all the time in

And a quick note here ahead of the big debate this week, there is another new episode of The Movies on CNN tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern time here on CNN. This week, it's about movies from the 70s. And starting Monday, live nonstop coverage of the big Democratic debates. We will see you right back here.