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Trump Winning The Messaging War About Impeachment; CNN Reveals Secret Mission To Protect Russian Spy; What Happened When "The Times" Went Up Against Weinstein; Krystal Ball Fires Back At Rush Limbaugh; The Culture Of Fear In The Trump Era. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired September 15, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. I'm Brian Stelter.
This is RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, how the media really works, how the news gets made, and how all of us can help make it better.
This hour, we're going behind the scenes of the week's biggest stories. CNN's Jim Sciutto will join me to discuss the sourcing for his big Russian spy scoop.
Plus, Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, the two journalists who uncovered Harvey Weinstein's abuses, they are here with new revelations from their new book.
And later, Krystal Ball is here. She's reacting to Rush Limbaugh's lies about her and paying attention to slut-shaming in the media.
Much more coming up.
But, first, the "I" word. President Trump is winning the messaging war about impeachment. Democrats are losing. And I'm noticing that the Dems are under increasing pressure, including from members of the media to explain their mixed messaging and their failure to communicate.
You know, whenever impeachment is in the air, there are stories about the process, stories about the substance -- process on one hand, substance on the other. This is actually true in all sorts of political coverage.
With Nixon, the substance was about crimes and cover-ups. With Clinton, it was about lying under oath and obstructing justice.
With Trump, journalists keep uncovering allegations of corruption and obstruction. The list of potentially impeachable conduct grows longer every week, but the political coverage is usually about the process, not the substance, the process.
Which Democrats support an impeachment inquiry? Which don't? Will they impeach? Won't they? And now, to be fair to the reporters who are chasing the story every
day, they are covering the story, because the process is a mess. The mixed messages have become the story instead of the substance.
Now, the Justice Department is even using the Dem's mixed messages to dismiss -- to undercut the attempt at a House probe. Meanwhile, headlines keep popping up about more and more potential scandals. Again, the substance is being covered by the press.
Here's "Politico's" scoop about the Air Force, about the Pentagon spending money at Trump's resorts. And, of course, this issue about spending money at Trump properties has been all over the news. "The Washington Post" covering this, "The New York Times" covering this. They keep breaking news about this topic. What the head of the ethics group Public Citizen recently called, the normalization of corruption.
Now, this week, a federal appeals court revived a lawsuit saying that Trump is violating the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments. The stories keep coming and coming about profiting from the presidency, abusing executive power to punish enemies and allegedly obstructing the investigations.
So, all of this is going on, and on television, you see Fox warning about the impeachment, but the Democrats, the divisions within the Democratic Party are the big story.
Meanwhile, the president is winning the messaging war. On Friday morning, he went on a tweet storm. CNN's Daniel Dale found in three tweets, the president made three false claims while arguing that he shouldn't be impeached.
So, he's making up all of this stuff, he's lying constantly, yet he's winning the messaging war. It's a remarkable situation to see that in September of 2019, that this is the conversation about what the Democrats may or may not do as they inch their way toward impeachment.
So, let's talk more about this with our panel that's with me here in New York today.
Joining me to discuss this is executive director for Justice Democrats and CNN Commentator, Alexandra Rojas, Senior Editor "Slate" magazine, Dahlia Lithwick, and Staff Writer for "The New Yorker" and a CNN Analyst here, Susan Glasser.
Thank you all for being here.
I'm fascinated by this daily coverage of this story.
Susan, this impeachment debate or maybe the lack of a debate is something that's confusing in Washington, and I think, all across the country.
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Confusing? I mean, that's right. I have no idea how to explain this. And you know, we're supposed to be following it. And so, Brian, I think you really hit on something. We are having
almost this medieval, ecclesiastical debate, right? How many angels dance on the head of a pin? When is an impeachment process an impeachment proceeding, an impeachment debate?
It's confusing. Democrats are defensive and divided about it, and have made the story into their own inability to understand how to counter Trump. At the same time, that Trump clearly, I think he perceives a political benefit in talking about it, warning about impeachment.
STELTER: Interesting. I think right-wing media does as well. As we see on Fox all the time about impeachment, but doesn't actually live up to what's going on in the House of Representatives. Left-wing media pushing for impeachment, journalists in the middle trying to figure out what is going on.
Alexandra, what do you think is going on? Looking at this from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party?
ALEXANDRA ROJAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think the fact that we're talking about this as winners and losers and who's winning and who's losing the messaging battle is getting away from, I think, the real substance, right, of the issue that I know is getting coverage. But especially on -- you know, in the media, I think we have to be talking about repeatedly, instead of framing it as always there and I think this could also be --
[11:05:03] STELTER: But shouldn't the Democrats be doing that? Shouldn't Nancy Pelosi and other Democrat leaders every day be talking about the corruption?
ROJAS: Absolutely. I think day in and day out, they should be talking about that. They should be -- you know, I think this could be a huge opportunity for Democrats to take this head-on. And I think, you know, at the end of the day, they have their constitutional responsibility as the -- you know, members of Congress to pursue an impeachment inquiry.
And the confusion, I think is, you know, unfortunate, but they have to, you know, do better and step up. And I think they still have an opportunity to do that.
STELTER: Dahlia, what's your read on this?
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR, SLATE MAGAZINE: I think that we have completely misapprehended what impeachment is. We have this notion that it is this thermonuclear end-times thing. And even the process of beginning an impeachment inquiry, we then treat as though that's lumped in with that, this catastrophic thing that's going to go wrong for everyone.
The framers didn't intend for impeachment to be thermonuclear. They said, this is the only check that we have that the political branches can avail themselves of.
The framers actually deliberately toned down the British version of impeachment. You're not stripped of your title. You're not stripped of your lands if you're impeached under the U.S. constitutional system. They wanted it to be much easier than the British system that they had inherited.
And yet we treat it as though, to even speak of beginning the process of thinking about talking about impeachment, takes us right into DefCon 90. And that's absolutely not what the framers intended.
STELTER: Interesting. You know, Nancy Pelosi's hometown newspaper, "The San Francisco Chronicle," is out with an editorial this weekend about impeachment. Let me put part of it on the screen.
The editorial says: Procedure and process aside, Trump has provided no shortage of prospective high crimes and misdemeanors. Under such circumstances, Democrats should be less worried about admitting they're considering impeachment and more concerned about creating the impression that they aren't.
Dahlia, I think that's an important part of this. What does it mean if the Democrats in the United States do not take action against this potential corruption that's going on every day?
LITHWICK: Well, it means that you have the Republicans and the Democrats agreeing that whatever it is that Trump is doing isn't sufficient to warrant this conversation. And that has to be wrong. It has to be exactly inverted.
Democrats are supposed to be saying, look, the kinds of things that Nixon was -- the articles of impeachment against Nixon --
LITHWICK: -- the articles of impeachment that were actually convicted Bill Clinton, those are the kind of things that Donald Trump does weekly, casually. And it's a handful of things, among many more things --
STELTER: But is it a failure of the press that that's not clear enough to enough people?
LITHWICK: Well, I think that the press loves a horse race. And the story the press wants to tell is exactly the story of, will they, won't they, who's in, who's out? That has nothing to do with the substantive daily corruption, grifting, self-dealing, lying, endangering the military that we're seeing.
Those are the stories that the press can't really bring into the story of impeachment, because they're too busy talking about conflicts at the top levels of the party.
STELTER: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is on CBS today, saying, it's not a matter of if the Democrats will seek impeachment, it's when they will do so.
Alexandra, when she says that on CBS, is she trying to communicate to House leadership? Are freshmen Democrats trying to get through to the leaders like that?
ROJAS: She should be, yes. I think there's an urgency here, right? And I think the other things that Democrats aren't thinking about is that regardless of what happens, Donald Trump, this time next year is going to be saying, if Democrats don't do anything about it, hey, Democrats aren't pursuing me. I did nothing wrong, as always.
So I think it's a really big mistake of Democrats right now to not be pursuing it. And its courageous leaders like Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib who are really I think leading by showing the American people the way. And we have to have a spotlight on it, and, unfortunately, I think, you know, Democratic leadership is -- the hesitancy is what's, I think, holding us back.
STELTER: And part of that is moderate Democrats that were also elected in this freshman class who are worried about what impeachment could do to their political prospects. It's a remarkable story. I mean, the process is really interesting in this case.
One more story for our panel, and that's John Bolton. This week's drama with Bolton either being fired or resigning.
Susan Glasser, you have a column about this on newyorker.com. Is it fair to suggest that Bolton was more influential when he was a Fox News commentator than when he was actually in the White House?
GLASSER: Well, look, it's an extraordinary question even to be asking. It seems like a relevant question, Brian. You know, the national security adviser is one of the most powerful positions not only in the United States but in the world. And Donald Trump is now going to be the only president in history to have a fourth national security adviser in just three years. That's never happened before, since the position was created, given the incredible turnover and turmoil.
So you asked about John Bolton. Clearly, Donald Trump hired him because of what he was saying on Fox News.
STELTER: On Fox, yes.
GLASSER: And he was a tough guy at a time when Trump had soured on the previous national security adviser number two. Remember, he fired that guy, H.R. McMaster, who he saw as too buttoned up and too process-oriented.
What I would say is that John Bolton was able to communicate to Donald Trump in the medium that he cared most about, which is Fox TV. He now risks a situation where he goes back on Fox TV and dumps all over the president, if the president is shifting his foreign policy. Bolton, unlike many of the people who have been fired, pushed out and
humiliated by Donald Trump has said, I'm going to have my say publicly. So I'm watching to see whether he'll be the first really of these former national security and foreign policy officials to actually go out and speak. Remember, you have Jim Mattis right now on a book tour saying, he has a duty of silence --
GLASSER: -- to the president, after quitting an apparent protest.
John Bolton, I don't think, is going to be so quiet.
STELTER: And we'll see if Bolton's replacement also comes from Fox or not.
One more little story that I want to mention, Dahlia, something really exciting that "Slate's" doing. Your Website is launching today called "Who Counts". This is a project that you're asking readers to support, to look at who is underrepresented when it comes to voting.
What are you all trying to explore?
LITHWICK: I think that we're just responding to the fact that we and other media entities try to do the thing where we wait until the week before an election to say, oh, wow, polling places are shutting? What's going on? People -- vote suppression is happening? Folks can't get their IDs?
We want to start a year out and we want to ask readers to help us understand, gerrymandering, vote suppression, the census case. All the ways in which -- again, you talked about boring process questions, these boring process questions of who counts, quite literally in America, we need to do it now, not wait until next year to figure out whose vote is being suppressed, who can't speak, who can't get ID, and we needs readers to help us.
STELTER: And you're asking readers to help financially with support and also with ideas.
LITHWICK: Yes. No, we need the readers to be a part of this. Because for us to sit up on top of the mountain and try to posit what's happening, we don't know what's happening on the ground. We need to find out now.
STELTER: That's the way of the future or the way of the present, to get readers and viewers much more involved as we can.
To our panel, thank you. Susan, please stick around.
A quick break and then a big story you probably saw here on CNN this week. A CNN scoop about a Russian spy sparking a new debate about national security versus your right to know.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
Reporters oftentimes know more than they choose to report. They sometimes hold back information for security or legal reasons. And that's especially true in the realm of national security reporting, with a story like this.
CNN's big scoop on Monday described how, in 2017, one of America's top spies inside the Russian government was extracted, basically evacuated from Russia.
CNN Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto knew more about the spy's intel and identity, but kept it out of his reporting.
It turns out that other news outlets had been chasing the same story, and those outlets then came out with more information. "The New York Times" wrote about the agent's past work and his mission. NBC News revealed a possible location where the spy is living now and shared a story about visiting the house.
All the while, the White House was claiming that reporting on this spy has the potential to put lives in danger.
There's been a lot of reporting on this throughout the week.
So, let's break it down with Jim Sciutto. He's joining me now from Washington. And "New Yorker's" Susan Glasser is here with me, as well.
Jim, one of the most explosive parts of your report had said the following. You said, a person directly involved in the discussions said the removal of the Russian spy was driven in part by concerns that Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.
Now, that is shocking. And many pro-Trump allies and commentators tried to tear down that reporting and say it might not be true.
Do you stand by that reporting now about a week later?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: A hundred percent. I mean, we would not have gone there if we didn't trust the source's involvement, information, and level of involvement in that those discussions. Listen, this is a difficult story. Any story involving intelligence, particularly the sensitivity of an overseas spy whose safety was of concern, and therefore led to an extraction is going to be particularly difficult.
So, the way we approached it was, no one question, we talked to multiple people that this extraction or infiltration had taken place. We did speak to someone high-level who said that Trump's handling and his administration's handling of information factored into that decision and the urgency of that decision. Of course, we went to the agency. The agency disputed that, but the
agency's explanation for the exfiltration seemed not just too simple to us, but to half a dozen current and former intelligence officials that I ran it by, that this exfiltration decision was driven purely by speculation in the media.
So, the way we approached the story was lay it out as it was told to us. The exfiltration took place, multiple people involved told us. A person involved in the discussion said that the president's mishandling of intelligence contributed. And by the way, the final decision to do this took place immediately after that famous Oval Office meeting, in which the president shared and discussed other sensitive intelligence with Russian officials, you'll remember, in May 2017. So, the timing also indicative.
And then we played the CIA's disputes, laid it out there for the world to see, but then tested its dispute against other information that we had.
STELTER: And how do you handle a situation where in this case, the White House press secretary says that you could be endangering people's lives by reporting this story?
SCIUTTO: It's something that factored into our editorial discussions leading up to the story. And again, this was weeks in the works.
So, our approach was twofold. One, this exfiltration had taken place more than two years ago. The spy was not in a plane, in the air, on the way to some undisclosed location, as we were reporting it.
Two, it was my information that the Russians, once that happened, were aware of what had had happened, and therefore, we were not letting the Russians know something that they didn't already know. That was a factor.
Beyond that, there's the news value question here, right? That in one of America's most -- perhaps its most contentious national security relationship, that is with Russia, the U.S. had lost very significant eyes and ears, and that has news value today.
Finally, we took a number of steps to withhold details that we thought might lead people down the path to identifying this person. Now, "The Times" and others, of course, reported things after us, and then even went so far as to cite, as you said, a name and an address, information that we have stayed away from completely.
So, listen, others took editorial steps that we did not.
STELTER: And that's the reality in these situations. Different news outlets make different choices about how much to share and how much not to share.
SCIUTTO: Yes. STELTER: I feel like viewers oftentimes don't realize that, that there are these weeks of conversations about what to say and what not to say in these sensitive stories.
SCIUTTO: Yes, there is. And also, I think, you know, folks will often have the impression, you'll get this, you know, in some -- particularly the conservative media coverage afterwards, that, oh, Jim Sciutto was spoon-fed this story by this person or that, or this administration or that.
STELTER: Yes, they've been trying to guess your source, yes, yes.
SCIUTTO: Exactly. But, first of all, as you know as well as me, that's a fundamental misunderstanding of how reporting happens. You know, no one's ever walked up to a door with a piece of paper and said, here's your story, right? I mean, this is -- you gather information, you test it, you speak to a number of people, you make editorial judgments on what you believe and what you don't believe, right?
And when you have conflicting accounts, as you did here, you present those conflicting accounts and then you test them. You test them.
By the way, one thing that was lost in the reporting is that after that May 2017 meeting, as we reported in our story, two months later in July 2017, and this is the first time this was reported, president, famous meeting in Hamburg, Germany, with Putin, in which he confiscated the translator's notes, very unusual step. Then after that, the intelligence community again had concerns that the president had discussed classified intelligence with Russians.
This is not an isolated incident with this president.
STELTER: That's true.
And that's also why I want to bring in Susan here.
Susan, you've been covering Washington and also Russia for many years. What's your analysis of the significance of this story and the journalistic ethics here?
GLASSER: Well, look, first of all, of course, when reading any national security story, you don't know what you don't know. And that applies whether you're a journalist or just a reader.
And I think that's really something very important here. There's always a different way of framing events.
So, obviously, I can't speak to what's behind the reporting dispute here. "The New York Times" account of this is different than CNN's account.
What I ask myself, as a longtime editor is, is there a possible way to square the circle here? Is it possible, if you strip out the analysis and the context that each news outlet is providing, what have we learned that's actual facts? Can they both be true?
"The New York Times" reported that in late 2016, an initial decision was made by the CIA to think about exfiltrating, bringing out this agent. And then only later, that the agent refused, and only later, as Jim reported, did this actually occur.
To me, those are both very significant reporting revelations that seemed to not be in dispute.
So, what are the things that aren't in dispute, as you, the editor, or the reader are trying to understand?
I think this is a big story.
Russia, by the way, responded in its own coverage, it was the Russian newspaper "Kommersant" went ahead and put out the name of this alleged agent. And along with information from Russian -- unnamed Russian officials saying he was a low-level lackey in the Russian embassy here --
STELTER: Right, they're trying to minimize how significant this was.
GLASSER: So, you know, you have to put this all together. And this is a spy story. These are the hardest kinds of stories to understand what's going on.
STELTER: I think movies will be made on this one.
SCIUTTO: One point, Brian.
STELTER: Yes, Jim, last word to you.
SCIUTTO: If I can, listen, there have been a lot of stories written. The prior consideration of exfiltrating this source was also in our story.
SCIUTTO: So, there is no conflict there.
And what happened, as you know, is that with stories like this, that particular involve the president, that the messaging machine, including Fox News -- sadly, it's a fact -- you know, moves into motion and cites details to the advantage of a counter-narrative, right?
STELTER: Right. SCIUTTO: Which often does not reflect the reality of the story. But I know you deal with that every day, Brian. So, I'm not -- I'm not telling you anything new.
STELTER: It is a reality of the world we live in. It's a conference (ph) of troubling reality that there's this spin machine that's very powerful these days, but the facts in your story and "The Times" and "The Post," a lot of them pretty much all line up. And like I said, there's going to be an incredible movie, I think, about this one day.
Jim, Susan, thank you so much. Both of you.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
GLASSER: Thank you.
STELTER: When we come back here, from #metoo to #shesaid. I'll speak with the two "New York Times" investigative reporters who revealed Harvey Weinstein's abuses two years ago. Now, they are revealing even more.
STELTER: It is the news story that spawned the #metoo movement. Two years ago, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey revealed decades of abuse by Hollywood bigwig Harvey Weinstein. Now, of course, there are legal proceedings against him.
And now, they are sharing the backstory in a brand-new book entitled "She Said." Now, if you look at the back cover of the book, you see a selection of quotes compiled by some of the 80 women who have come forward, included in this book. One of them saying: He counted on my shame to keep me silent. That's Amy Israel telling them about her years as an executive at Miramax. Here's another quote: This way of treating women ends now, that's Gwyneth Paltrow, one of the key sources for their reporting.
The book describes that the delicate and elaborate efforts to gain on- the-record accounts from Weinstein's accusers and then linking those up with information acquired from sources on background. It's an incredible read. It's been described as a new generation of "All The President's Men," and Kantor and Twohey are here with me now in New York to talk all about it.
Jodi and Megan, congratulations on the book launch.
JODI KANTOR, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you so much.
MEGAN TWOHEY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks for having us.
STELTER: You shared a lot in this book about the reporting process, about the experience of gathering this information. I think we should start at the very beginning, Jodi -- the first day that you thought about looking into Harvey Weinstein?
KANTOR: Well, it really came out of "The Times'" reporting on Bill O'Reilly.
Our colleagues, Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt had reported that O'Reilly had paid to silence sexual harassment accusers over quite a long period of time and then the shocking thing was that O'Reilly lost his job. Not because Fox knew about the allegations, they had known about those for a long time, but because of the public exposure of those allegations.
STELTER: This was in April 2017.
STELTER: And then your editor said something to you.
KANTOR: The -- our editors asked what now seems a quaint question, but it was a very powerful one.
They said, are there other powerful men in American life who have covered up abuses towards women?
STELTER: And Megan, you are on maternity leave at the time. You came back and this story starts snowballing. Tell me about it.
TWOHEY: Right. So, in fact, I was actually -- Jody and I -- we worked together but we didn't really know each other. And so while I was on maternity leave, Jody called me. She just started the Weinstein investigation and she was looking for advice on how -- what to say when you first knock on the door of a potential victim, when you first -- when you make that first phone call.
And I had done stories about some of the women who had come forward with allegations against Donald Trump and had done other reporting on sex crimes when I was at the Chicago Tribune. And so she called just asking for advice saying how can -- you know, are there any particular things that you can say that can help women open up about such painful experiences.
And I said that a line that -- one of the things that I had said that had -- that seemed to have resonated with women over the years was we can't change what happened to you but if you work with us and we published the truth, we might be able to protect other people.
STELTER: At the time, Harvey Weinstein was one of the top advertisers in the New York Times. Is that right, perhaps the leading spender for advertising in the New York Times?
KANTOR: I think he used to be.
STELTER: He used to be.
KANTOR: There was there was a long history of advertising there. STELTER: OK, so he leaned on the company and said, hey, I've been a
prominent advertiser for many years, what are you doing to me?
KANTOR: The Times did nothing but encourage us. In fact, some of our sources -- we had a lot of -- we spent a long time calling Hollywood executives who would kind of lecture us and say, Jody, Megan, there's no story there. OK, maybe Harvey Weinstein chased so-and-so around a couch but you know, they kind of minimized it. And they said, besides everybody knows that this is an open secret. If you get this story, nobody will care.
And another thing they would say to us is one day an editor at the New York Times is going to walk up your desk and mysteriously shut down this investigation.
STELTER: Well, that's why I bring up the advertising --
KANTOR: It was too important to advertising, and it was the opposite. The institution was rock solid. And one of the most moving experiences behind the scenes, Brian, was watching this powerful, traditional legacy institution rise up to confront a bully and to protect women.
STELTER: Let's pick up the story right there on the eve of publication. A quick break here, more RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment.
STELTER: Back with me now talking about the new book She Said, about the revelations involving Harvey Weinstein and the MeToo Movement. Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey are here with me. The book came out on Tuesday. It's an extraordinary read about journalism, about business, about the legal worlds.
But we're talking about the eve of publication, your first story about Harvey Weinstein in his decades of abuse of women, some employees some not. He makes one last attempt to stop you from publishing or at least stop you from publishing all that you'd learned. What happened in that meeting, Meghan? Because some of this we don't really learn until we read your book. You didn't talk about this at the time.
TWOHEY: Right. Well, that was one of the things that we were really excited about with this book is that there's so much of journalism and investigative journalism that takes place off the record, that takes place and meetings that are technically on background, basically secretive aspects of our reporting that are never seen in the articles that are published in the newspaper. But we work -- we worked in the course of reporting this book to bring that material on to the record.
For example, the day before a story ran, Harvey Weinstein barged into the New York Times with Lisa Bloom, the powerful feminist attorney by his side with Linda Fairstein, the former famed sex crimes prosecutor by his side, and another powerful attorney Elkan Abramowitz, and basic -- and also with these folders of information and photographs that he wanted to use to smear his accusers and stop the story in the 11th hour.
That was an off-the-record meeting that he kind of surprised us with. But in the book, we're able to bring it on to the record and show readers what it was like.
STELTER: How? How --
TWOHEY: We were able -- I'm not going to sort of -- I'm not going to sort of provide my -- you know, all of my sources on this but we were able to work with participants in the meeting to bring that on to the record and so -- that readers can be in there and see what it was like when this powerful bully was trying to sort of stare us down and smear these women who he feared we're going to be going on the record.
And not just that but the role that these other attorneys including these sort of famed feminist attorneys were by his side in that moment.
STELTER: And you print documents from Lisa Bloom where she's trying to spin in Weinstein's favor trying to defend him, really ugly, really embarrassing for her in retrospect. Jodi, what are the journalism lessons to take away from your experience covering Weinstein and from writing this book?
KANTOR: We really want people to read this book and feel what we felt which is that even at a time when everything seems so stuck, even at a time when it feels like the very notion of truth is collapsing, facts can cause social change. Carefully documented facts can really trigger empathy and compassion and action.
STELTER: About a week and a half after your first Weinstein story and then Ronan Farrow's stories came out, and then other accusers came forward as well, that's when the MeToo hashtag became this international viral sensation. Where do you see the MeToo Movement today?
TWOHEY: Well, one of the things that we wanted to do with this book was we don't stop with the Weinstein story in the moment we published. We really push into the year that followed it as the MeToo Movement took off in earnest and things got more complicated and more confusing.
And we actually ended up sort of zooming in on Christine Blasey Ford who you know, millions of people watched her testify. She became one of the most polarizing figures in the MeToo era. Some people thought she was a hero, some people thought she was a villain.
When we were able to piece together the behind the scenes story of her private path to testifying in Washington, we realized it was so much more complicated than anybody either side knew.
STELTER: And the dominoes keep falling, Bill Cosby, and Roger Ailes. Ailes leads to O'Reilly. O'Reilly leads you all to look into Weinstein. Weinstein leads to other revelations about other powerful men. Christine -- we would learn about Brett Kavanaugh, we learn about all of these accusations and it keeps happening to this day. It's an extraordinary thing.
Thank you both for being here. Best luck with the book. The book is She Said. A quick break here in RELIABLE SOURCES and then the Hill T.V. host Krystal Ball is here to react to Rush Limbaugh's false comments about her. Hear her side of the story and why she decided to speak out next.
STELTER: Slut-shaming, that's how Krystal Ball the host for Hill T.V. is describing conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh's recent attacks against her. Earlier this month Limbaugh made up a story claiming the Ball posed a nude photos when she was 14 or 15. That is crazy. It's completely false. Ball called him out for that, slamming his comments address on her show and on Twitter.
So on Thursday, Limbaugh came out and he kind of sort of issued a correction, he kind of clarified his comments, but he seemingly doesn't know how to apologize. Here's what he said on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: I was of the impression that when she ran for Congress that some nude photos of her from social media surfaced. Well, it turns out that that wasn't quite true. Do you want to be famous?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Limbaugh went on to mock her throughout the segment. Let me just -- Rush, start by saying I'm sorry, I screwed up, I am -- try that. Practice that in the mirror, Rush. Anyway, Krystal is here with me, Krystal Ball. She's the host of Hill TV's Rising and joining me now for an interview about this. Crystal, thanks for being here.
KRISTAL BALL, HOST, THE HILL: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
STELTER: I don't think what she's ever going to learn how say sorry. I don't think I'll be able to teach him.
BALL: I'm not holding my breath on that one.
STELTER: I agree with you. But I was struck by your decision to come out and talk about this because you are the subject of attacks quite frequently from right-wing media, many others are as well.
BALL: Of course.
STELTER: Why did you decide to call him out in the first place?
BALL: Yes. I mean, you know, this is one of the things that you sort of grapple with on a daily basis. And it's actually my husband that gets the Google alerts on my name. Like you know, I don't have to see everything that everyone is saying about me. But he flagged this one for me and said you know, I thought you should know about it.
And then we kind of took a couple of days to think about whether it was worth responding and a couple of things. I mean, first of all, he has millions of listeners and this transcript was up on the internet for all to see and I didn't want that to be out there without me sort of setting the record straight.
But really, more importantly, slut-shaming is a very common tactic that is employed against women to sort of shut down their voices to make them irrelevant, to say that they can't be leaders. And I didn't want this particular incident to go unchallenged. I wanted other women to know that you know, you can speak out you can fight back and people like this can be held at least what to account.
[11:45:36] STELTER: At least the truth can be out there.
STELTER: There were -- there were party pictures of you and you were 28 years old completely clothed --
BALL: I was a little younger. That was like 22.
STELTER: OK, fine, 22.
BALL: So, of age.
STELTER: Not 15, fully clothed. The point is here's -- you know, here's something. He spins it, he lies about you on national radio and there's really no consequences. Do you think in a case like this about suing?
BALL: The thought has occurred to me. And I mean, based on the legal advice that I've received, even for someone like myself who's a public figure where there's an added you know, level of scrutiny, you have to prove actual malice which just means that they either knew it was a lie or there was a reckless disregard for the truth.
I think he quite clearly meets that level, right? He didn't care. I mean, this was -- none of this was remotely true and he didn't care.
STELTER: Let me ask you about a very, very, very different lawsuit but it's still in the realm of legal matters.
STELTER: It's a really interesting development this week about lawsuits filed by the family of murdered DNC staffers Seth Rich. The family sued Fox News a while back claiming the network completely defamed Seth in a story that suggested a conspiracy involving his murder.
Now, Fox has not been held accountable for this, but the lawsuit initially was thrown out. Now an appeals court has revived the lawsuit against Fox. What do you make of that?
BALL: I mean, look, I'm not a legal analyst but what I will say is this. If the allegations are correct, this baseless smear and what was really a conspiracy to smear Seth Rich and attach him to these wild conspiracy theories is one of the most despicable things that I can imagine. I mean, imagine --
STELTER: Yes, they were trying to claim that he leaked documents from the DNC trying to let Russia off the hook to try to help Trump. That's the claim and now this lawsuit is back in action.
BALL: If you are his parents, like there is nothing more unimaginably horrific than losing your child. And then to have a news network exploit that for financial and political gain, I mean, on a human level, that is just absolutely despicable.
STELTER: Yes. Fox says they're reviewing this. They're going to take -- they're reviewing their next legal steps. We will see what Fox does. But it's going to be interesting to see if this case moves forward and moves much more forward because it does reveal something about how the network operated. Krystal, thank you so much.
BALL: Thanks for having me.
STELTER: Good to see you.
BALL: Good to see you too.
STELTER: A quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES. After the break, Barry Glassner, he's the man who coined the phrase culture of fear. He comes up and joining me talking about the fear-monger in chief right after the break.
STELTER: When you are watching a politician speak, look out for their techniques. Are they building up hope or they're preying on fear. Well, President Trump hits the fear button again and again and again.
At his most recent rally, for example, he threatened about the false specter of illegal voting. He said drugs are pouring into the country. He referred to Democrats as the America hating left who are trying to destroy your way of life. That's typical rhetoric from the president.
So should the press be doing something to combat those techniques? Well, one of my favorite authors Barry Glassner is out with a new edition of his national best-selling book The Culture of Fear. Growing up, this was a really influential book for me about the media's role in perpetuating fears that really don't add up.
So he's been updating the book many times over the years, and his latest update involves Trump. His theory is that while Americans feel increasingly more fearful about crime and things like that, it's really just their perception because the danger is not on the rise. In fact, crime levels, for example, have been going down for many years.
So I was asking Glassner about this and also about the Trump phenomenon. He told me that the president is the fear monger in chief,
BARRY GLASSNER, SOCIOLOGIST: Presidents have always been fear- mongering. I want to really emphasize that, and specifically some presidents. So, you know, if you go back to Nixon, he's the guy who said people reacts to fear, not love. They don't teach that in Sunday school but it's true.
And that was really his motto. He did a ton of fear-mongering. And then after that, we've had other fear-mongering presidents. One big example in recent years is Bill Clinton who did a lot of fear- mongering. Clinton talked about our country is going to be in chaos if we don't do something about youth crime. He said that at a time in the late 90s when the youth crime rate was way down. In fact, it was down by more than nine percent the previous year when he said that, something he knew.
So my point is there have been fear-mongering presidents on both sides. Without question, the fear monger in chief of all time among presidents is Donald Trump.
STELTER: How do you think the press should respond to the constant usage of fear as a tactic by President Trump?
GLASSNER: I think the pressure should do two things. First, correct it but very -- in a very terse direct way. Because every time you repeat it, what you're doing is propagating it more, right? You're just spreading it more. And so that doesn't serve any purpose, any positive purpose and it's also unnecessary, you know.
You know, I think we need to think about why is it that the media gets so involved in each scare that this president throws out. After all --
STELTER: What are the reasons?
GLASSNER: I mean, after all, he throws them out all the time. What are the reasons? Most of the time it's -- to me it looks very much like the same thing that goes on in local T.V. news. It's easy, right? These are easy stories to go with and they're very dramatic and they're newsworthy. So they have all those elements which is why I don't completely fault the media for doing this.
The good news for somebody like me who studies this is there are two sides to the media's involvement in this, not just one side. The media are often the people who correct the exaggerated fears and scares. And interestingly sometimes it's the very same reporters. They wake up to what they were doing and they correct. I mean, after all, that's what we're taught in journalism school, right? But I had always assumed it was people in my profession you know, sociologists and media analyst and so forth, who would correct most of these exaggerated fears and scares. We do a lot of it, but so do journalists.
STELTER: Be sure to check out Glassner's book, The Culture of Fear and our full conversation on the RELIABLE SOURCES podcast at reliablesources.com. One last story about covering climate change when we come back.
STELTER: You're going to be seeing a lot of coverage of the climate crisis this month and there are several reasons why. One is the upcoming U.N. Climate Action Summit, another is this initiative called Covering Climate Now. This is a list of some of the more than 250 news outlets around the world that have pledged to provide a sustained amount of attention on this crisis in the week to come.
These are outlets from Bloomberg to CBS, Teen Vogue, to News 18 in India. They've committed this initiative led by the Columbia Journalism Review and the Nation Magazine. It's really an interesting attempt to encourage even more coverage of the ongoing climate crisis.
You can check it out at coveringclimatenow.org. and hear more about it on our podcast. Kyle Pope, the Editor of CJR is my guest on this week's podcast.
Thanks for joining us on this week's television broadcast. We'll see you right back here this time next week for more RELIABLE SOURCES.