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Tucker Carlson Dismisses Real White Supremacy Problem; Headlines Fall Short of Highlighting El Paso Victims; "Cancel Culture" Comes for "The New York Times". Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 11, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:17] JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It's time for RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works, how the news gets made and how all of us can help make it better. I'm John Avlon, in for Brian Stelter.

And let's start with a brand-new story. That would be story Moon Stelter because Brian and Jamie and big sister Sunny welcomed a new baby boy to the family. So, please join us all in saying, welcome to the world, Story Moon Stelter!

And now onto this week's news. This hour, is the news media ignoring Latinos and the coverage of the El Paso terror attack?

Also, why these before and after headlines from "The New York Times" cause such an uproar and what it says about the debate about how to cover President Trump.

Finally, we'll talk to the reporter whose investigation re-opened the Epstein case about the questions that still demand answers.

But first, do you hear that? That's the deafening silence from Fox News and its board of directors following Tucker Carlson's false claim that the white supremacy problem in America is a hoax. Now, that's under very same week that El Paso suffered an act of white nationalist terror.

Now, here is a fact. Since 9/11, there have been more murders by right wing extremists in America than Islamist terrorists. That's according to New America's research. And if you judge a comment by the company it keeps, Tucker's message was praised by the former KKK leader David Duke.

Now, the next day, Tucker announced he will be taking a long-planned vacation. It is August, but this is a pattern we have seen before at Fox. Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Jesse Watters and Bill O'Reilly, who never actually came back from his vacation. Amid all the turmoil, the seven members of that corporation's board of directors have remained silent. Not remaining silent are three advertisers who announced they would stop supporting the show, and that's on top of 26 advertisers he lost in December 2018, after comments he made on immigration, that's according to "Hollywood Reporter".

Now, with me now to discuss is the host of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" here on CNN, who used to write for the Tucker Carlson-founded publication "The Daily Caller", and senior politics reporter for "Vox", Jean Cosin, who focuses on the far right and white nationalism, and news anchor for Univision, Enrique Acevedo, who's been on Tucker's show several times.

So, S.E., let me start with you. You have known Tucker for years. Is this repeated riff on white identity politics consistent with the guy you knew or did he get the sense he's playing to Fox's prime time audience?

S.E. CUPP, HOST, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED": Well, for -- I mean, you have been in this business as long as I have. And the way you keep friends is even, you know, you disagree with is you sort of separate. And so, yes, I'm friends with Tucker and Tucker is a great guy.

But the Tucker Carlson personality on the show, I think, is playing to an audience. And that audience is largely male, older, white, aggrieved and sort of keying in on those grievances is something I think he's been doing since he got a show there.

But his old bread and butter certainly was not race politics. It was political correctness, free speech. He was far more libertarian than the public Tucker Carlson is today on the Fox show.


CUPP: I think that's more a feature of Fox and its audience than it is of him.

AVLON: Let me push you on that.


AVLON: Because I agree, he is a smart guy. He is a good writer. He can be charming.

But here's the question -- libertarian is the opposite of Trump's nationalism.

CUPP: Polar, polar opposite.

AVLON: How much of the preppy persona was an early warning indicator of white identity politics?

CUPP: I'm not sure that is a persona. That is how he was. That's how he grew up. You know, he went to prep school. He was an actual prep school graduate.

AVLON: Yes, literally a prep school.

CUPP: Right. I think Tucker is authentic to himself. I think that, you know, again, the audience that he's playing to is a different one than he was in the past.

And in the past, Tucker was, as you say, smart, charming, funny, a great writer. So much so that he was known for making friends across the aisle. It's why Rachel Maddow really cultivated his career. It is why -- you know, I was just at a roast of James Carville with Tucker. I mean, it's why he's been able to live and swim in this political world for as long as he has, making friends who respect him even when they disagree with him.

But, again, he's so locked into a niche audience right now that it is sort of a one note that you are hearing.

AVLON: Yes, look, what you do with the camera, what you do when you have the microphone you are accountable for?

So, Enrique, I want to go to you, because you have been a guest on Tucker's show many times. You made a point of wanting to reach out beyond the base, so to speak. But is this time different, describing white nationalism, white supremacy as a hoax, does it change your calculus about going on air?

ENRIQUE ACEVEDO, NEWS ANCHOR, UNIVISION: John, the intention was to expose the audience to a different point of view, one they will probably hear anywhere where they get their information, get their news.

[11:05:02] And it has to be said, not only Tucker's rhetoric, but also the president, this anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, what some elegantly call demographic anxieties, have now been replaced by violence and bullets. I think there's -- we have to, you know, have clear morality on this. And they're in part responsible for what we saw in a place like El Paso.

The man responsible for this was inspired by some of the words, some of the rhetoric coming from them. So I think, you know, this is different in the sense that it's now transcending into violence into bullets, into lots of life for our community that came under target in El Paso.

AVLON: So, I mean, you are saying this is a moral decision, or will you make the decision to continue going on Tucker's show on Fox to reach out beyond, or is this a step too far for you?

ACEVEDO: You know, I haven't been invited to his show after El Paso, but I can tell you I'm not going back on Fox News. I've been on his show, on Laura Ingraham's show. I don't think it's -- not only as a journalist, but as a human being right now, I don't think I have the moral responsibility to make it clear that this rhetoric is now being replaced by, again, violence and bullets.

And in that sense, Latinos coming under attack, it is not responsible for someone like me to go on and expose myself to what's happening at Fox.

AVLON: It's a big statement.

All right. Jane, I want to ask you this because back in January 2017, Lachlan and James Murdoch sent a memo to Fox employees denouncing Donald Trump's immigration ban, saying that, quote, immigration is an essential part of America's strength and praising the unique perspective offered by many people who came to the U.S. in search of opportunity for unfettered self-expression.

What's change?

JANE COASTON, VOX SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: Well, I think it's a complicated issue because the relationship between Fox News and Fox and the relationship between individual hosts on Fox News and Fox is a really complex one. And I think we can remember that, you know, Hope Hicks when he moved over to work for Fox, she sent a memo in support of Donald Trump's criminal justice reform bill First Step. Except lately you started to hear a bunch of hosts talking about these people got out of jail because with drug charges.

And, so, I think that the ability of the Fox News board to really curtail Fox News hosts is extremely limited. And I think it's because Tucker Carlson is an extraordinarily popular prime time host, as is Sean Hannity. Those two entities are better known and better liked by the audience that Fox is trying to cultivate than the Fox board that's purportedly in charge.

AVLON: Yes. And you get into the complexity of this Fox-Trump feedback loop the way that audience actually can't be controlled in the way that some folks might think, politically or in a media wise. You created something significant.

I want to get your take on a quote from Kellyanne Conway that we heard, because she tried to defend Tucker Carlson this week, saying there is too much white supremacy coverage. Let's take a listen.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I think perhaps what Tucker is saying, but you have to ask him, is that the outsized coverage it gets versus all forms of hate, Antifa, anti-Semitism which at least one member of Congress has been peddling last couple of months and all forms of hate have to really -- they have be reined in.


AVLON: S.E., do you think anti-Semitism is less covered than white nationalism, and do we have to choose?

CUPP: We don't have to choose and I think we can always devote more coverage to scourges like anti-Semitism especially since it is on the rise, but so is white supremacy and it is especially important to cover when the people giving it lip service are none other than the president of the United States and some of our leaders in Congress and some of our biggest media figures. It is important to cover that.

And I think we're giving it, you know, at least enough coverage. We could cover this more. I know last night on my show I had a reformed white supremacist on to talk about whether it's a hoax, whether it's real. He knows obviously personally it's very real. It's on the rise.

And you talked about the contours of it, identifying it, how to keep people young. Those kinds of conversations should be had more often, not less often. And to Kellyanne's point, that's not what Tucker was saying. Tucker was saying it is not actually problem. Why? I don't know. Because it's not the leading cause of death in America. That doesn't mean it's not real.

So, she could spin it to be a media attack or critique, but it wasn't. That's not what he said.

AVLON: Jane, what's your take?

COASTON: Yes, And I think it's interesting. One, white national and anti-Semitism go hand in hand. If you remember the horrors of Tree of Life shooting last week, the person who committed that shooting was a dedicated white nationalist who attacked the Jewish community because he believed that they were fomenting the invasion of nonwhite people and immigrants.

[11:10:05] But I also like to note that, you know, there is no reason why we can't talk about both and condemn both. I think also one of Carlson's points was like, oh, if you put every white nationalist in America in a stadium, it wouldn't be full. You know, that's not how we think about any other terror threat. You know, the people who committed the acts of September 11th, you know, it's not like there were hundreds of people behind that attack, but they still, you know, created the murder of 3,000 Americans.

You know, the number of people involved should not be how -- you know, how we consider or view the impact of white nationalist terror. You know, we can remember the Oklahoma City bombing in just over 20 years ago, but we can also remember again and again these frequent acts of mass shooting, of lone wolves all tied together by a specific ideology, which is a terrorist ideology.

It's also -- it's stunning to me that we're even having this conversation about whether or not it's real when the El Paso shooting happened less than seven days ago. You know, the people who were, you know, who were murdered by a white nationalist terrorist who drove more than 600 miles to target Mexicans, in his own words, that happened, you know, burials are still taking place and it is absolutely inconceivable to me to be having this entire conversation that's rooted in whether or not white nationalism is real when we see the body count that it's caused.

AVLON: And that's exactly why appropriately sparked firestorm condemnation. It's not a hoax when you've got a body count.

Thank you both very much, Jane and S.E.

And thank you, Enrique Acevedo. Please stay with us.

Coming up, after a deadly white nationalist attack against Latinos, is the media putting the focus on the right place?


[11:15:16] AVLON: In the aftermath of the attacks in El Paso, did the media put the focus on the wrong place? NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro says yes. The headlines are failing to

illustrate that this was the deadliest attack targeting Latinos in recent U.S. history. This morning, "The Washington Post" is taking a moment to reflect on a human tool of mass shootings, publishing a special 12-page print section naming the 1,196 mass shooting victims since 1966. It's definitely worth a read.

Now, back with me is Univision's Enrique Acevedo. And joining the conversation is the executive editor for "The El Paso Times", Tim Archuleta. And CNN's Nicole Chavez who is also on the ground in her hometown of El Paso.

Tim, let me start with you. You have been leading coverage on the ground for the local paper. Do you feel that the national media has not put the focus on the community and the victims appropriately?

TIM ARCHULETA, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, EL PASO TIMES: I think there is some room for criticism there. You know, being a local -- local newspaper, we really focus on the community and the victims. That's where our focus has been. Obviously, we want to tell the story, but it's really about the victims at this point.

AVLON: Enrique, back to you, do you think the national media struck the right balance between remembering the victims and calling out anti-immigrants rhetoric that seems to have inspired the attack?

ACEVEDO: I think this goes back to the issue of lack of diversity in our newsrooms, John, not just in terms of gender and race. Latinos represent 7 percent of our journalists in our newsroom when we're 17 percent of the population. But also, and I think more importantly, generations, points of view and geography.

One of the biggest lessons from the 2016 campaign was the lack of coverage from understanding from one of the regions that decided the election, the Rust Belt. And we're making the same mistake with the border as the border has been the epicenter on cultural immigration. What's missing from that discussion is a point of view of the border, the voices of journalists like the ones you have on today and who are some of the best in the country covering that region.

AVLON: It's such an important point about diversity, writ large, about the importance of inclusivity, if you're going to get a sense of what's really happening on the ground.

Nicole, speaking of that, you published a really powerful piece for CNN about returning to your hometown in the aftermath of a mass shooting. What does El Paso have to tell the rest of America about unity and diversity?

NICOLE CHAVEZ, ASSOCIATE WRITER, CNN DIGITAL: Well, as I mention in my essay, I covered mass shootings numerous mass shootings before, and one thing that stands out about here, especially the community here, is that how united they are. You will see them say things like I got here the day after the shooting and like people were coming here to pray. They will just talk to each other and like embrace each other. And the community has really come together for this in ways that I

actually hadn't seen before. And it speaks to how this community is. I'm from here and I grew up here.

Everybody will talk to you at the store. If you ever needed anything, you had a flat tire or like, you know, even if you just met somebody, they'll just hug right away, you know, like it's a very, very welcoming community and that is obviously transpiring here in the aftermath of the shooting.

AVLON: It's a town with a big heart setting a big example for all of us.

Tim, I want to ask you about the president because he tried to bring the media for the El Paso attacking, saying that we contributed greatly to the anger and rage build up over many years. What's your response to the president?

ARCHULETA: Well, I would just say that our focus is really getting away from the rhetoric. And really one of the great things about working for the "USA Today" network is we have a very diverse staff. We have gotten a tremendous amount of help from all over, from USA and Nicole Carroll, the editor there. We have a lot of Hispanic journalists on the ground telling the real story.

I just would hope that the U.S. government would provide the same kind of support to the victims. They're the ones that are really hurting. They're the ones that need the support.

It's not about just a quick sound bite. It's about lasting help to help these families recover.

AVLON: All right.

Enrique --

ACEVEDO: John, if I may add, you know, the man who committed this terrible crime drove ten hours to go to the city of El Paso, to go to this Walmart. They both represent a daily social experiment where immigration defines national identity and is not a threat to it.

[11:20:02] We need to be very clear. Again, the president didn't pull the trigger, but he has been pointing at the target, at that same target for too long.

And it happens to be the wrong target, because the terrorist didn't come from Juarez. He wasn't radicalized by Islam. He came from Dallas. And like most mass murderers in this country, he was a white male who inspired ideas of white nationalists like we discussed at the beginning of the show.

AVLON: Enrique, Tim, Nicole, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you very much.

And now, turning to the coverage of Donald Trump's response to El Paso, which has left the president fuming, slamming the dishonest and unhinged lamestream media on Twitter, a reaction to the negative press surrounding his handling of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, that short coming comforter in chief role, a backlash that intensified after the release of these shooting showing Trump smiling next to shooting victims during a hospital visit.

Now, despite blocking the press from covering the visit, the president was also caught on tape bragging about the crowd size at his El Paso rally several months ago.

Joining us with us to discuss that is the Washington bureau chief of "The Daily Beast", Jackie Kucinich.

It's good to have you here.


AVLON: So, look, the president tries to block reporters from covering the visit and then complains about the coverage. Is he setting a trap for himself?

KUCINICH: So, the White House is trying to shape the narrative here and saying they didn't want the press in. This wasn't a photo op. And then minutes after the president leaves the hospital and Dayton in particular, they release this video of the president shaking hands, hugging people, that look --

AVLON: With background music.

KUCINICH: With background music, that looks very much like a photo op. And then you have these other videos, that iPhone video where he's bragging about his crowd size that you mentioned and some of the other photos that come out that makes it look like the president was all about himself rather than victims and the survivors of these shootings, which is where the focus should be.

So, yes, in part he is sending a trap for himself because the information we have coming out is all we have to go by.

AVLON: I want to call out one more thing very quickly. Kellyanne Conway saying the media ignored Christopher Wray, FBI director's warning about white nationalist terrorism before the El Paso terror attack. That's not true. Take a listen.


CONWAY: I looked at the testimony of FBI Director Chris Wray. It got very scant attention.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Christopher Wray says white supremacist violence is a motivation for more and more cases of domestic terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Wray is in the hot seat.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. White supremacy is behind most of the domestic terrorism investigations. (END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Once again, we see alternative facts don't match reality.

What's the right way to cover the White House's calls for unity when they do so much to divide the American people?

KUCINICH: I mean, you have to point out the vast hypocrisy that we see from this White House, when they call for unity and then do the exact opposite. The president does it himself. He says something on a teleprompter and then turns around to his Twitter feed and we get to see what he really feels. So we are compelled to show the dissonance there.

AVLON: Jackie Kucinich, great to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Up next, El Paso sparked one of the biggest debates in journalism. How do you fairly cover a president that consistently strokes the racial divide? We'll talk to two editors in chief next.


AVLON: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm John Avlon, in for Brian Stelter.

"The New York Times" is coming under fire from the left this week for this headline. Trump urges unity versus racism. Now, a firestorm of criticism ensued and "The Times" quickly changed the headline to this, assailing hate but guns, which helped but didn't exactly solve the problem. The #cancelNYT trend prompted liberal commentators like Joan Walsh announced they would be doing just that.

But as cancel culture comes to "The New York Times", here is a question. One, is the left playing into Donald Trump's re-election playbook and how should journalists put Trump's racism into perspective? It's a new version of the old debate between the goals of objectivity and fairness.

Joining me now is editor of chief of "Daily News", Noah Shachtman, and investigative journalist and editor in chief of "The Markup", Julia Angwin.

All right. So, Noah, let's start with you because I think we can all agree it was a bad headline. Mistakes were made. This is a human business. Mistakes made, you fix them.

But I want you read Dean Baquet, "The New York Times" chief editor's description of how he sees "The New York Times" mission in covering Trump. He said, quote: Our role is not to be the opposition to Donald Trump. Our role is to cover him aggressively.

Is that the right balance for "The New York Times"?

NOAH SHACHTMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. It's a great mission. But "The New York Times" has marketed itself now as a subscription to "The New York Times" equals joining the resistance. That's the way a lot of their ads have been and that's the way a lot of people perceive them. And, look, for a lot of people, subscribing to a media outlet is a statement of affinity, a statement of political identity.

And, so, they kind of can't escape that now. Now that they and so many other media outlets are relying on subscription, it's sort of -- there is a problem with choosing sides.

AVLON: But, Julia, I mean, but there is clearly also division between the role of "The New York Times" as the paper of record and maybe just simply a marketing scheme to increase their subscriptions. But it is a division in newsrooms as well. There is a lot of debate and disagreement within "The New York Times" itself.

Where do you come down?

JULIA ANGWIN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE MARKUP: Well, I think the thing is journalists started to understand this idea of objectivity that we were all raised to follow is not working. It is leading to false equivalence where you just sort of repeat a lie that was stated. And, so, everyone is looking for a new guiding light.

I personally think we should use science and have a hypothesis like, is what the president said true and then give the readers some analysis about that. But there are a lot of different ways we could try to approach this problem.

AVLON: A hypothesis as in this assertion we believe and then see if the facts back it up because that would be an inversion of what's true -- usually journalism is supposed to do, which is to follow the facts and then come to a conclusion based on that.

ANGWIN: Yes, there is two different ways of looking at it, right? You can look at all these facts. And I think a really good example is "The New York Times," the way they put a list together of every lie Trump had said for two years in 2016, and they showed the facts to back that up. And then after that, I think they felt and anyone would feel comfortable saying this is a man who's repeatedly and unabashedly lies all the time, right?

And so, then, that hypothesis is fully proven.

AVLON: All right. I want to play also a quote from Beto O'Rourke who really took it to the media in a way that had a lot of folks cheering and get your reaction. Take a listen.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don't know, like members of the press, what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Hold on a second. You know, I -- it's these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he's been doing in this country.




AVLON: Did he get that right?

SHACHTMAN: Look, I'm not the biggest Beto fan in the world but I think he got it totally right in this case. And I do think it's important not to play into Trump's game that when he happens to read from a teleprompter once and says something that's non-crazy, just sort of treated it as oh, the President acted very presidential today and you know he's calling for healing in the nation. It's crazy.

He has repeatedly done racist stuff day after day, month after month, year after year, and you got to call him out on it, absolutely.

AVLON: But first of all, can we agree that the less anger at the New York Times in this hole canceled NYT is absurd to the extent that the New York Times has done a lot of tough aggressive reporting in holding Donald Trump to account?

I mean, the idea that there's somehow in the pocket of big Trump is self-evidently nonsense it seems to me. Tell me if you disagree.

JULIA ANGWIN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE MARKUP: I don't think I disagree but I do think that Noah is right that people who are increasingly in this media landscape which is so niche, like seeing their media as more of an affiliation than just a neutral news source. And the way that they covered that speech was really the pretending to just be neutral like it's just --

AVLON: And I think that is what you know, fired people up.

SHACHTMAN: You should not be canceled. In my opinion, you shouldn't cancel any subscription over a single headline. I think that's totally bananas.

AVLON: And here's the larger sticks, right. At the time at Donald Trump is trying to attack the independent media all the time, there's something darkly ironic about the left right now joining on that pylon sort of echoing something the folks on the right have said a long time.

So again, as a place like the New York Times, as journalists, do you think we have a deeper obligation to make sure we cannot be accused of accusations of bias or do we have an even deeper obligation simply to call it as we see it?

SHACHTMAN: I think we've got to -- look, we're always going to be called biased no matter what. That's just going to happen. But what we can do is be responsible for our own processes, for doing our own good reporting, and for doing things by the book. And I think if we do that, then people can say whatever the hell they want.

AVLON: And some people are going to complain and that's just life. All right, thank you much for joining us. Noah, I appreciate it. Julia, stick around. When extremism teams on online communities, Trump wants to put the FCC now in charge of policing platforms. What could possibly go wrong? That's next.


[11:35:00] AVLON: After a week in which Americans again confronted the noxious nexus between white nationalism and the dark web, the White House on Friday held a conference allegedly to help combat online extremism. But that same day, CNN's Brian Fung got a hold of a draft executive order that calls for the Federal Communications Commission as well as the Federal Trade Commission to step in to the process of policing posts on social media platforms in search of any conservative bias.

Leading journalists and tech watchdogs warned it this could create a new generation of thought police. The order is perhaps ironically titled, protecting the Americans from online censorship. And here to discuss it with me is again Julia Angwin for the Markup.

Julia, let's start. This executive order is like the clear skies initiative all over again if it says it's trying to protect folks from online citizenship but potentially putting federal agencies in charge of determining balls and strikes. What are your concerns?

ANGWIN: Well, there's a lot of issues, legitimate issues have been raised about the fact that all these tech companies have immunity from liability for anything third-party content that's posted. But the proposed solution would give the FCC sort of unusual power to determine whether companies -- each company would qualify for that immunity which really would be unprecedented in giving some companies advantages over others. And it seems like something that feels like it could be used for political censorship, actually.

AVLON: It's almost like picking winners and losers into the market. But you know, one thing that also happened this week that I think is very significant is 8chan was taken offline. This is the dark web forum where a lot of these shooters have posted manifestos in the past. What's your take on the right way to police online extremism?

ANGWIN: Right, and the thing about the 8chan takedown is actually the only reason that happened is one guy who runs a company called Cloudflare decided he wanted to take down their protections that were being used to protect 8can.

And -- so that also doesn't seem like the right way to police things is that one particular company has so much control. You know, that same company is the one that took Stormfront down, The Daily Stormer I believe, a Nazi Web site.

And so that guy has huge amount of decision-making power whether these hate sites live or die. And I think there's legitimately a question of whether we want to give him the control over all of these hate sites too.

AVLON: OK, I want to -- before we go, you are back at the helm at the Markup. There was a strange interlude where you had been briefly dismissed. There was a staff uprising. Folks quit. And now you're back. What happened? ANGWIN: Yes. It was a learned lesson for me. I left ProPublica to found the Markup to really focus on tech and the impacts on society. And I recruited a business partner who had a huge track record running businesses and I thought that would be a great way to complement my journalistic skills.

But it turned out that she had different vision and tried to get rid of me and I have had to realize that you know, running a news organization is not just about the journalism, you also have to get the business right.

And so I'm working on that and have a great partner now, and Nabiha Syed is my new business partner.

AVLON: Well that is true. And getting the business right is the subject of the next segment. Thank you very much for joining us. We wish you all well at the Markup.

ANGWIN: Thank you.

AVLON: All right, in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein's suicide, what does the journalist who sparked the reopening of the Epstein investigation want to know? She joins me next.


[11:40:00] AVLON: Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide came less than 24 hours after a landslide of damning new details in a newly unsealed court documents. Epstein's recent arrest was the result of intrepid reporting from the Miami Herald's Julie K. Brown which effectively caused the case to be reopened long after most folks had given up.

Julie brown joins me now. Julie, welcome to RELIABLE SOURCES. What was your reaction when you heard the news?

JULIE K. BROWN, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, MIAMI HERALD: Well, I was pretty stunned, you know, disbelief. It's still a little shocking that it's something like that could have happened given his high- profile status in the Bureau of Prisons.

AVLON: Well, I mean, certainly. And to make matters worse, the President of the United States at a time when conspiracy theories are flying on line seems to be retweeting them. What's the right way to cover that?

BROWN: Well, you know, I'm not one on conspiracy theories. I think that that's something that I think that you know, we -- you know social media is not the place to get your news. Let's put it that way. I mean, a lot of people think that they're getting information on Twitter and on Facebook and other platforms, but really you should be reading a newspaper and you should be really studying things more critically than getting your news from social media.

AVLON: Well, and it's a new problem that the President of the United States stirring that pot of disinformation. And we're not going to repeat his allegation because it's baseless. But the real question I want to ask you is as a journalist, as someone who has been steeped in this story and done more than most in keeping it forwards, what are the questions you still want answers on because there are a lot of them?

BROWN: Well, you know, I think we got to -- you know, it's important of course to look at what happened here with his suicide, but also I think we've got to keep our focus on the victims and on this particular case which really there's so many avenues that have yet to be investigated on.

Not only on Epstein himself and the crimes that he committed and what other people might have helped him do and other co-conspirators involved in this, but also on how this whole thing happened back in 2008 and why it happened and whether there's any corruption there to look at. And you know --

[11:45:21] AVLON: You're talking about the non-prosecution agreement to deal with Alex Acosta?

BROWN: Yes. And not only that, but quite frankly his incarceration. There are a lot of questions about how he was able to -- I mean, just like in this particular case, there's a question of whether he was able to manipulate some people in the Bureau of Prisons in order to maybe make them look the other way. I mean, we really don't know.

He certainly did that in Florida and he certainly was able to get special treatment in Florida. And how does that happen? How is it that someone is able to get a work release when you're a sex offender and be able to essentially not be supervised even 100 percent of the time to be able to have your own private driver or drive you in a you know, in your own private vehicle to work release and back every day and to go into an office where you know, you're essentially allowed that visitors.

AVLON: Sure.

BROWN: I mean, how does something like that happen?

AVLON: Well, I think there's something rotten in Palm Beach. Julie, thank you for joining us on RELIABLE SOURCES and thank you for reporting. When we come back, we're going to speak to the fourth- generation owner of the Vindicator, a local paper out of Youngstown, Ohio shutting down later this month.


[11:50:00] AVLON: Journalism is a mission-driven business. And while the mission may be clearer, the business side has been murky at best. This past week we witnessed the sudden death of the West Coast investigative site Pacific Standard and the venerable policy wonk magazine Governing which comes at precisely the time we could use more professional non-partisan governing. And those are just the latest in a long string of shutdowns and layoffs and digital and print publications.

Remember, this is all happening during the one of the longest economic expansions in modern U.S. history. For newspapers, the past decade has been particularly brutal. Newspaper employment has shrunk 47 percent over the last decade while Penny Abernathy of the University of North Carolina says more than 2,100 newspapers have closed over the last 15 years.

So a major consolidation of the embattled print industry announced this past week it's not making many newsrooms feel better. I'm talking about the potential merger between the nation's two largest newspaper publishers New Media Enterprises which owns Gatehouse Media and by extension some 400 local newspapers, and they're attempting to buy Gannett publisher of the USA Today, the El Paso Times, and more than 200 other papers.

Any merger between newspaper heavyweights would most likely further monopolize the already winnowing newspaper market. And later this month, another paper is going to be added to that local hit list, a 150-year-old Youngstown Vindicator will stop its presses for good on August 31st.

And this is personal for me because that was my grandparent's hometown paper. The general manager and fourth-generation co-owner of The Vindicator Mark Brown joins us now. Mark, this is a tough decision, I know, after years of losses. Do you ever worry that you failed the community, that you could have done more?

MARK BROWN, GENERAL MANAGER, THE VINDICATOR: Well, you know, we have that feeling all the time. We're very concerned about whether we could have made better choices but we've pumped about a $23 million total over the last 20 years, $23 million into the operation to keep it going so we probably couldn't have done a whole lot more though we still feel like we should have.

AVLON: That's a lot. Well, what if anything do you think can save local newspapers going forward?

M. BROWN: I'm very concerned as I'm not sure what can. I think the advent of Facebook and the Internet has really changed things, the emphasis on social media. People think if they can read a link without actually going and reading the story or they can just read a snippet of a headline that they have the news and they really don't.

And even if they pay attention to some Web sites, they're not getting the breadth and depth that they do if they were actually read a complete newspaper because you see things that you're going through that you wouldn't normally agreed but you do read, and then you become a better-informed citizenry and you make better decisions.

AVLON: And that's the heart of it, isn't it? It's that -- it's that a lack of local press stops holding folks accountable. It stops people from being as engaged. One important question that's been bedeviling a lot of papers that are shutting is some papers wipe out their online archives, effectively erasing recent history of the region. Are you going to keep the archives for the Youngstown Vindicator online?

M. BROWN: We're exploring ways to do that. That's our intention. I don't have a firm plan yet because we're in the middle of trying to deal with issues for our employees right now. So come September 1, it'll still be up but I can't say if it's going to change to a different location at some point.

AVLON: Well, Mark, you mentioned Facebook, and they announced a pilot program this week potentially giving publishers as much as $3 million a year in revenue in exchange for their content. It might help things for local papers small and mid-sized publishers.

I want to thank you for your family's commitment to the community of Youngstown for so long and I wish all the reporters and editors well in that great embattled city. Thank you very much.

M. BROWN: Thank you.

AVLON: For the rest of you, stick around. The RELIABLE SOURCES closes up by paying tribute to Toni Morrison.


[11:55:00] AVLON: This week we lost a giant of American literature, Toni Morrison who died at age 88. The Nobel Prize Winner leaves a powerful legacy and we wanted to close the show with some wise and timely words about truth-telling from her final book of essays The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison.

Writers, journalists, essays, bloggers, poets, play rights can disturb the social oppression that functions like a coma on the population. Truth is trouble. Unpersecuted, unjailed, unharassed writers are trouble for the ignorant bully, the sly racist, and the predators feeding off the world's resources.

The alarm, the disquiet writer raises is instructive because it is open and vulnerable, because if unpoliced is threatening. Therefore, the historical suppression of writers is the earliest harbinger of the steady peeling away of additional rights and liberties that will follow."

That's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES, but remember, we're a multiplatform operation. Our media coverage continues all the time online. Be sure to check out or you can listen to our latest podcast and subscribe to the nightly newsletter.

Plus, don't forget about CNN's new original series "THE MOVIES." It continues tonight at 9:00 p.m. with the stories behind our favorite movies from the 1960s. See you right here next week.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Nation in crisis. After two mass shootings, democrats blame President Trump for a rising tide of hate.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He didn't pull the trigger, but he certainly been tweeting out the ammunition.

TAPPER: The president says he wants to prevent gun violence.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we could get something really good done.

TAPPER: But will this time be any different? I'll speak with Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke next.