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Will Right-Wing Media Protect Trump From Conviction?; Interview With 2020 GOP Presidential Candidate Joe Walsh; The Dangers Of Political Ads On The Web; The Journalists Of Ground Zero; Trump Deceives Supporters About Something They Can See; Trump's Avalanche Of Absurd Twitter Typos; BBC America Wants To Offset News With Nature Docs. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired November 03, 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. Welcome to RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly of the story behind the story. We're talking about how the media really works, how the news gets made and how all of us could help make it better.
And we're starting this hour with political ads, pro and con. Twitter's Jack Dorsey is on one side, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is on the other side. Who's right? Who's wrong? We're going to get into that.
Plus, fact checker Daniel Dale is here talking about the littlest lies or the most revealing.
And we have some never-before-seen data about Trump's typos. So many typos. Let's just say he's never going to win one of those spelling bees.
So, we have a lot coming up this hour, but our most important story is about the enduring toll of 9/11. You know, Jon Stewart recently highlighted the lasting scars of first responders who worked at Ground Zero. But did you know that some members of the media are also sick, and they are also eligible for health coverage?
We want to get the word out about this. So, two journalists are going to join me here live, including the one who shot this video. They have a critical message for others who covered 9/11.
But let's begin with the most important X factor in the impeachment fight: Will right wing media protect Trump from being convicted and removed from office?
Right now, evidence is mounting that Trump abused power and possibly broke the law. But Trump just keeps on going. He keeps on attacking the process and the whistleblower and other witnesses, perhaps obstructing justice in real time.
Trump's latest post, it's brand new. He wrongly says the whistleblower got it so wrong. Now, of course, the damning complaint by the whistleblower keeps being confirmed and corroborated more and more. The key allegations are true.
But Trump's lies continue. He is falsely claiming that the news media knows who the whistleblower is but don't want to reveal the person. Maybe some beat reporters think they know who the person is, but it is far from common knowledge. I have no idea who the whistleblower is, neither do my colleagues.
So, this is what the president is doing now. He wants the whistleblower to be outed. He wants the hoax ended, even though the whistleblower is protected by law.
Outrageous conduct by the president, but deputy vice president Hannity and other opinion hosts over at Fox News seem to be A-OK with all of it, and their opinions are crucial in all of this. They are working to defend the president every step of the way.
So, does right-wing media stand between Trump and removal from office?
Many political pros think so. Here's former Bush aide Michael Gerson writing for "The Washington Post" saying: No matter what the impeachment investigation reveals, Fox News and talk radio will produce an alternative narrative to which partisans can claim.
They even lobby lawmakers on Trump's behalf. Look at this, Laura Ingraham with the "help wanted" sign up there, using her primetime Fox perch to pressure Republican lawmakers, telling them to stick with POTUS or else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: This is McConnell's moment.
And now is the time for Republicans to stand together and defend the leader of their party against these smears.
There is no GOP in 2020 without Trump.
I hope Senator McConnell and the Senate leadership is listening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Pretty explicit right there. Now, Judge Pirro is also getting in on this action, telling Steve Scalise, the GOP is not defending Trump is not enough.
Look, Fox's main defense strategy is to change the subject, to talk about Nancy Pelosi instead. You know, no matter how bad it gets for Trump, his Fox friends always say the Dems are worse.
We look at one of the banners on Laura Ingraham's show all week long. Look at this, you now, the Dems rigged impeachment rules, the Dems are bending real work for impeachment. They're pushing a fantasy. They're obsessed with impeachment. They have chaos, ruin and financial upheaval in their records, radical liberal policies hurting America.
This is the message every single day on these shows. This is how they're talking every day. Fox plus talk radio. That firewall right now is holding for President Trump.
And I don't think we should underestimate the power of that right wing narrative. So, let me bring in my first guest this hour. With me is former conservative radio host and now, one of Trump's 2020 challengers, Republican presidential candidate Joe Walsh.
And, Joe, I was thrilled you could join me because you've been calling this out saying that this alternative reality is something that the Americans need to understand.
JOE WALSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hey, Brian, good to be with you.
This is an absolute shame, and I think you've got to call it out for what it is. The Americans who listen to Fox News and conservative talk radio are being lied to and manipulated every day when it comes to impeachment. It's not a surprise. They were lied to and manipulated every day with the Russia investigation, really with all things Trump.
And it's dangerous because -- look, no matter where you stand on impeachment, and I believe this president deserves to be repeached -- impeached, the vast majority of the American people understand that when it comes to Ukraine, he did something wrong.
But those people who listen to the opinion shows on Fox and those people who listen to my former world conservative talk radio, they have no clue because they're being told every day, he's done nothing wrong.
They're being told every day, Brian, it's the deep state and it's Hillary. They're being bombarded by that every day. That's so dangerous.
STELTER: So, you're saying this is a problem. You're saying it used to be part of the problem. What changes this calculus? Does anything change this?
WALSH: Look, I don't -- I don't -- look, most of the people in the conservative media are not going to change. You've got people like Hannity and Seb Gorka, they've got their noses way too far up the president's butt to ever change. They're going to do what President Trump tells them to do.
Brian, I was in that world. I mean, you get pressure. I got pressure every day from my syndicator. You've got to speak well about Trump. Don't criticize Trump.
If you have a conservative talk radio show these days, you're told, don't criticize the president. And, Brian, it's like a lot of my former Republican colleagues in
Congress. Privately you know, like I know, they don't like Trump. They can't stand Trump. But they're afraid to say that publicly because they're afraid of Trump's voters.
Most of these conservative talk radio hosts, they want to keep their listeners. They want to keep their shows, so they lie to them, they lie to their listeners and they keep feeding them what they want to hear.
STELTER: But how, if the Fox firewall is holding, if the right wing radio talk firewall is holding, how do you get your message out about what I would call your long shot campaign for the nomination? Are you getting booked on Fox these days, Joe?
WALSH: Brian, it's funny. Look, no, I don't get booked on Fox, but Fox stopped booking me a year or two years ago when I began to criticize the president. I mean, well before I was an announced candidate for president, Fox News made it clear to me, we don't want anybody -- Brian, I'm a conservative. They said, we don't want any conservative on Fox News who criticizes the president.
Look, I look at the polls, though, and we see every day that even more and more Republicans understand that the president did something wrong.
"The Washington Post," Brian, they had a poll out just this past week. Donald Trump's approval rating is down to 74 percent. That's a 17- point drop among Republicans.
STELTER: Among Republicans. Yes, other polls have it a little higher.
WALSH: Yes, among Republicans.
STELTER: But let me show the brand new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll because I was really struck by these findings. Trump's approval rating, 45 percent overall in this NBC/"Journal" poll.
But look at strong approve versus somewhat approve. Of the Americans who approve of the president, 31 percent of Americans strongly approve and the other 14 percent just somewhat approve.
Now, Joe, that tells me that his base is actually three out of ten Americans. It's not actually 45 of the percent of the country. It's three -- it's 31 percent.
STELTER: Is that -- is that your calculation as well?
WALSH: Oh, absolutely, Brian. It's a lot smaller than Hannity and Ingraham and all of these conservative talk radio hosts tell you it is. It's about 30 percent of the American people who will support this president if he shoots somebody in New York City. That -- and that's all Trump talks to, and Brian, that's all his
sycophants in conservative media talk to now. And it's a shrinking pool of listeners.
Look, I know it's an uphill fight taking the president on, but more and more Republicans out there, especially the Republicans who are trying to go elsewhere besides conservative talk and Fox News. They're tired of this president and his lies increasingly every day.
STELTER: You know, let me put that poll back up briefly, because the other striking finding is that of the 53 percent who disapprove of the president, almost everybody strongly disapproves. Look at that. Just -- the intensity of the polarization continues to get worse and worse.
Joe, thank you so much for being here. Great to see you.
WALSH: Thank you, Brian.
STELTER: My panel is standing by to react to what the former congressman said.
Plus, there's something we don't have hear much these days -- good for Jack Dorsey, good for Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook now under scrutiny when it comes to allowing lies in political ads.
STELTER: All right. It's Jack Dorsey versus Mark Zuckerberg, two tech leaders taking out very different positions about political ads.
Dorsey says Twitter is not going to run anymore political ads. They are banned. Facebook on the other hand, Zuckerberg defending the practice, saying Facebook shouldn't be deciding what ads run and what don't run.
The center of the fight is a really key question for all of us that use these platforms. Are they making it easier to know what is true, or are they making it harder to know what is true? Because President Trump's campaign is continuing to use Facebook to spread misinformation in their political ads. Of course, they're not the only campaign doing so, but because these ads are so intensely targeted, so personalized, these tech companies are able to contribute to the polarization and radicalization in this country, and that's why I'm concerned about this issue.
Let me bring in my panel and see what they say about this issue involving political ads and so much more while we have them.
Aisha Moodie-Mills is a Democratic strategist and political commentator, Colby Hall is the founding editor of "Mediaite", and Irin Carmon is a senior correspondent for "New York Magazine" and a CNN contributor.
Aisha, is Facebook right or wrong to be allowing these political lies even when -- political ads, even when they're full of lies?
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They're wrong. They are literally spreading lies and misinformation and propaganda, and the reality is that, at this point, it's clear that Mark Zuckerberg and the gang care more about profit than they do about principle. This is not, as he says, about free speech or, you know, it's not his job of getting in the way of people saying what they want to say and having their own point of view. At the end of the day, they are operating and functioning more and more like an actual media conglomerate.
STELTER: Including by pay news organizations for the first time, you know --
MOODIE-MILLS: And to even allow Breitbart, for example, to be there as news when they also spread lies, false information, propaganda, et cetera, I think that there's a real opportunity to hold Facebook accountable that we need to be seizing at this moment because they absolutely should not be putting out all this information because it is screwing up the public discourse.
And they know it, we know it. We watched it happen in 2016 and they don't really seem to care because they're making more money.
STELTER: All right. Colby, do you agree that they don't care?
COLBY HALL, FOUNDING EDITOR, MEDIAITE.COM: I think that Facebook can ill afford to admit that data base marketing is that is underlying political ads, if they were to admit that that was powerful, that's a slippery slope and they would lose a lot of revenue.
I think Twitter versus Facebook, there's a bit of an apples and oranges. Twitter doesn't really make that much revenue from political ads, nor they do have the sort of deep, psycho and demographic data of their users. So, it was a more expedient and easier decision for Jack Dorsey to make.
If Mark Zuckerberg is to say that we can't do political ads, it sort of undermines the core business model and I think that that's really what we're seeing here.
STELTER: Irin, the big picture here?
IRIN CARMON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's interesting because they have said, we don't make a lot of money from political ads.
CARMON: But I think it needs to be viewed in a broader context. If they start saying, we are in a business of making sure that our paid advertising is factual, whether it's about politics, about anything else, they're talking about a huge apparatus. Now, we know that Facebook is capable of restricting the information on its platform, because as media scholars have pointed out, they have done so in response to authoritarian regimes like Pakistan and Turkey that have asked them to take down information. They have some of these tools.
Now, they have clothed themselves in free speech arguments by saying, you know -- I mean, Mark Zuckerberg claiming that Facebook began to protest the Iraq war. I was there, that is not true.
STELTER: Yes, that was easy.
CARMON: But, again, I think they've used these free speech justifications for what I agree is a commercial justification, not just about the political ads but every ad that's on there. And I think this is sort of a proxy war about Facebook's power. It's deeply concentrated power because a lot of the misinformation is not in the paid ads. It's in the organic posts.
And, by the way, it's the same with Twitter, we talk about it all the time, it's on President Trump's Twitter feed all the time. What are they to do about the organic information?
The answer is Facebook is too powerful. At least news networks have competition.
STELTER: Well, the 2020 debate about big tech's power continues.
There is misinformation and smears being spread on TV as well. That brings me to Duffy. That controversy this week about CNN's newest pro-Trump commentator who was on the air to try to denigrate one of the -- one of the figures who has been corroborating the whistleblower's account.
Aisha, you work for CNN just like Duffy. You're relatively new here as well. I wonder what you make of this debate because some of CNN's anchors like Brianna Keilar and Jake Tapper called out Duffy, accusing him of spreading bigotry, anti-immigrant bigotry against Vindman. What's your view of this? Is it appropriate for someone like Duffy to be on our air?
MOODIE-MILLS: Well, I think that, first of all, I want to commend all the CNN anchors who actually held him accountable and said, wait a minute, you are a liar. This is absolutely not true, and you should not come on here and use this platform as a way to just, you know, make Donald Trump love you even more. I think that this is where we are in an interesting time in the media, where we had an opportunity, as those of us who want to be fact-based, who are credible, that we can call each other out.
That's why we have so much problem with Facebook right now because they're kind of this big titan in the room that's not really creating space for real discourse because they're allowing this propaganda to fly. It was great --
STELTER: Well, you said --
(CROSSTALK) MOODIE-MILLS: Well, it was great that at least -- at least there was enough room at this network to be some real discourse where enough of us and enough of the anchors could actually push back and let people know this was actually false information that was coming out of this guy's mouth.
STELTER: Colby, I feel like you had a minority take on "Mediaite" this week. Your article was entitled, the controversial of Duffy is not just good television, it's good for the national discourse.
HALL: Well, you know, I -- 40 percent of Americans, over 60 million people-plus voted for President Trump. And, you know, there are a lot of debunked conspiracy theories and falsehoods that are out there, some of which are being promoted by Sean Duffy.
At the risk of sounding like a sycophant to Jeff Zucker, I agree with his position that he took with you, at the CITIZEN By CNN thing by saying, you know, it's better to have a discourse and a dialogue with someone.
John Berman has done a great job on "NEW DAY" of pushing back on that.
STELTER: Pushing back. I think that's what's important, whether there's pushback or not.
HALL: Right. But, you know, this disinformation and conspiracy theories is like a virus. Do you want to ignore that and let it metastasize or do you want to sort engage it with radiation therapy and try to contain it? And I feel like, yes, there's an argument to be made about putting him on the payroll, but I think what we need now and what you really only see kind of this on the network is a dialogue of those two sides.
CARMON: I'm really happy that there is a dialogue. I'm really happy that there is real time fact checking. But if you talk to people who study conspiracy theories, they actually say that when you repeat them on the air, it helps to legitimize them.
And what I worry about as a reporter, I often talk to people who have views that are totally not based in fact, and I have to figure out how to filter through this, and how to show them. I think it's a different function to give somebody a CNN title and I say this as a CNN contributor.
STELTER: To pay them and give them a title.
CARMON: To pay them and give them a title, because there are journalists here every day who are trying to make sense of what is real and what is not real. And to give somebody that title to have debunked conspiracy theories and spout bigotry I think diminishes it and I think legitimizes these views.
STELTER: Do you think there's anything like this on the left? Or is this something that's unique to the right, right now?
CARMON: There are -- I mean, anti-vaxxers are on the both the left and the right. There are certainly within the Russia discourse, there was certainly people who are promulgating conspiracy theories. I think no matter where it is found, we need to have rigor, and I just think giving people a title and a paycheck legitimizes them as just another point of view.
MOODIE-MILLS: To your question, though, I don't want to make like -- you know, I don't want to create these false dichotomies, right? Because the truth is, is that on the left, it is not a core strategy, say, of the Democratic party or progressives or the left --
CARMON: That's true.
MOODIE-MILLS: -- to create mayhem, to literally use hate, to use vile bigotry, to undermine our democracy in order to win and have power. And I think that is fundamentally a strategy of conservatives, fundamentally a strategy of the right and we're literally talking about good and evil.
STELTER: Well, let's go -- well, that's a Democratic strategist's point of view. Let's go back to the very beginning of the program, Colby. Will right wing media protect Trump from conviction in the Senate?
HALL: You know, I'm reminded of Howard Baker. He was a senator in Tennessee in 1973 who was the first Republican who sort of turned on Richard Nixon that led to his resignation.
And I read a column a year ago that said that don't look to the U.S. senators, the GOP senators to do the same. It's the thought leaders at Fox News that will be the first to turn.
I don't think that that's going to happen. I think that's too strong a barrier, and if someone in right wing media that they're afraid to lose their audience, and if they were to turn on President Trump, they would not just lose their audience but they would be ostracized and become a pariah.
So, I don't think that we're going to see -- and we shouldn't expect to see the right wing media to turn on President Trump anytime soon.
STELTER: Let me get one line from the interview before I take a break.
CARMON: I think we have to think about the fact that the senators who are going to be important in this impeachment fight, just like Fox News, are appealing to a narrow swath of the country that is older, wider and more rural. If we had a popular vote, Hillary Clinton would be president, Democrats would have the Senate. Democrats won the House in part because of numbers, but we have to
view the fox news echo chamber that the electorate that Republican leaders are responding to does not look like America.
STELTER: And, Aisha, last word to you?
MOODIE-MILLS: That electorate that Republicans are going after are only about 35 percent of the general population. They are a relatively small minority and I think it's really important that we're reminded of that. The majority of the people think that Trump is crazy. The majority of people are now moving towards impeachment. And so, we need to focus on the majority of the voices and can stop pandering to this like 31 percent.
STELTER: All right. Very interesting, everybody. Thank you all for being here.
Quick break and then that story I mentioned at the top that I hope you're listening to. The two journalists who sprung to action in September 11, 2001. They have a critical message about the role of journalists as first responders. That is coming up next.
STELTER: On the morning of September 11, 2001, as most people ran away from the burning towers, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs ran toward the scene, into the smoke, and in many case, stayed there for weeks after the towers fell, combing the pile for survivors.
And so did many members of the media. They were there as well, right alongside the first responders. There were also photojournalists, reporters and producers, some who have now been diagnosed with forms of cancer that have been linked to Ground Zero.
One of those journalists actually shot the video that you're seeing right now. And they want you to know that 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund which was recently extended. It is available. It is open for anyone exposed to the toxic dust and debris. In fact, and this astounded me when I found this out, several journalists have registered with even one of the lawyers that's involved, and potentially more should if only they knew about these available programs.
So, joining me now to tell us all about it is Michael Barasch. He's an attorney is here representing two of the men you see here with me, as well as many other affected journalists.
Vincent Novak who's with us in the middle here, he worked for decades as an editor at NBC and rushed to Ground Zero that day, and Bruce David Martin sprung to action to film that video we've been showing. He was working for WWOR at the time as a photojournalist and as a news operations manager.
Thank you to the three of you for being here. And, Michael, tell me about how about many journalists you represent
and what is available for them?
MICHAEL BARASCH, MANAGING PARTNER, BARASCH & MCGARRY: Well, my law firm alone represents 53 journalists and it's not just these guys, but it's also the newspaper journalists. It's the cameramen. It's the guys behind the scenes that you wouldn't know about, and they were breathing the same toxic dust as the New York City firefighters and cops. They weren't just from New York. They were from all over the country.
So my firm now represents 53 of these men and women, but I suspect that's just the tip of the iceberg and that there are hundreds of journalists, just like there are thousands of people who have cancer. They now presume 68 cancers are linked to these toxins which the EPA originally told us were safe, and that's just not true. So, appreciate you following the story.
STELTER: Vinnie, you just received some paperwork from the Victims Compensation Fund yesterday. You have prostate cancer after being at Ground Zero for about ten days?
VINCENT NOVAK, FORMER JOURNALIST AT GROUND ZERO: Longer than that.
STELTER: And what was this paperwork mean? What was the news yesterday?
NOVAK: Well, the news was that the process is complete and my eligibility is confirmed. And it took about a year and a half for the process to work out with the help of Michael's firm, and, you know, it's a relief knowing that it's finished.
STELTER: You know, thinking about that day, Bruce, did you think, as you were walking through the dust cloud, that you might be in danger?
BRUCE DAVID MARTIN, FORMER PHOTOJOURNALIST AT GROUND ZERO: I had no idea. You know, as a journalist, the main motive is just to get the story, get those pictures, never thinking years later you're going to end up dying from it.
STELTER: And what is your current diagnosis?
MARTIN: It's not good but I am very grateful for the life I've had.
STELTER: When you think back to that day, you don't think at all about the feeling that, you know, you're going to be assigned by a boss to go there -- it was all instinct, right?
You go to the scene.
MARTIN: I was never assigned. I always kept a hot video camera in my apartment. And I just started walking down 7th Avenue knowing that everybody had the money shot of the building. But I wanted to get the reactions of the people who were walking away. STELTER: And what's the status of your claim?
MARTIN: I have reached the end of the line and I'll be soon getting that award. But it's really -- it's not about the money right now. I just want everybody to know they could still make those claims even years later, that they could still be helped by the Victim's Compensation Fund.
BARASCH: And Brian, it's not just the Victim Compensation Fund which thank God --
STELTER: Yes, those were the other program as well.
BARASCH: -- got that passed. I mean, it's a sad indictment that you need a celebrity to get anything done in Washington these days. But Congress also passed the World Trade Center Health Program.
And that's why I am imploring everybody the 25,000 residents, the 300,000 office workers, and the 50,000 students and teachers who were exposed to those toxins, sign up now while your witnesses are still around because you're going to have to prove with two witnesses that you were exposed to that dust, that you were working downtown or living downtown. And as the years go on, it's going to be harder and harder to find those witnesses.
So there's so much information out there. I know we don't have a lot of time. But if your viewers go-to 911VictimFund.com -- 911victimfund.com --
STELTER: Yes, and we'll put those on-screen as well. Here they are.
BARASCH: Yes, they'll learn a lot more about how to sign up for the free nationwide health program.
STELTER: Vinnie, what is the most --
NOVAK: They could sign up even if they don't have -- excuse me -- even if they don't have a nine related illness right now, but if they were in the area, they should sign up.
BARASCH: Right, absolutely.
STELTER: Proactively. Vinnie, do you think there's sometimes a stigma about you know, anybody other than the police officers and firefighters that were there feeling that they don't -- they're not as deserving or something. I can see journalists especially a cynical bunch may be resisting.
NOVAK: Right. The news crews are considered respondents but we're not cops and firemen. We weren't there to save lives. But what we did do that day was there was a lot of panic and fear and we were able to show that there were no more attacks. And I think it helped the public understand that you know, things were calming down.
MARTIN: Right. NOVAK: And also, I'm proud of the fact that we documented what the police and the firemen and the ironworkers all did that day and the weeks after.
BARASCH: At the very beginning, you're absolutely right, there was this feeling that I don't want to take money away from the responders like the first firefighters and cops, but thanks to Congress extending this -- permanently extending the Victim Compensation Fund. You're not taking money away from anyone. You're not taking healthcare funds away from anyone. And I think again, everybody should sign up now.
STELTER: I want to thank all three of you for being here. I'm grateful. And let's put back on screen the information about how people can get more information about both the Victims Compensation Fund and the health program. Thank you all three.
MARTIN: Thank you, Brian.
NOVAK: Thank you.
BARASCH: Thank you.
STELTER: A quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES, then we're turning to some of the week's politics news. And sometimes how the littlest lies, the littlest deflections can tell you the most about what's going on. Daniel Dale is standing by. He'll join me in just a moment.
STELTER: I'm sorry to say President Trump's lying is spiraling out of control. Look no further than Friday's rally and Mississippi. CNN's Daniel Dale found lies about several topics from unemployment, to Michelle Obama, to CNN. Let's talk about that one first. Daniel Dale is joining me now from Washington.
There's this thing Trump does it rallies where he claims that the cameras in the back suddenly turn off when he starts criticizing the media. He said this again on Friday, Daniel, and it was a lie again, right?
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: It was a lie again. We had a photojournalist on scene who never stopped recording. And even when he does stop recording, there was no light on his camera that turns on and off. He has it permanently set to off.
And so this is the president looking his supporters in the eye and telling them that something in that very room that they're all sharing together is happening when it's not. I think this is -- this is egregious lying and not just because I now work for CNN.
STELTER: And such a specific detail, I think that's what this is striking about and it's why I'm glad you highlighted it this weekend. When we know for a fact that Trump is lying to its crowd about CNN turn off a live feed of his rally, if we know that and we do, then doesn't that make us doubt everything else he's saying or rather shouldn't that make us doubt everything else he's saying?
DALE: Yes. I think he's given us reason to doubt literally everything he's saying. I think what one of the things that distinguishes Trump as a liar is that he lies about even the most trivial stuff, even the most obvious stuff. So it's not just the typical political lying to defend oneself against a scandal went back into a corner. He is proactively lying about tiny stuff all the time.
STELTER: And this brings us to the al-Baghdadi raid from last weekend, because the president claimed repeatedly that this dead terrorist was whimpering and crying right before he blew himself up. The New York Times has looked into this in more detail, found multiple sources in the Defense Department who have no idea what the President is talking about.
And we've heard from the defense secretary and others on the record saying they can't confirm any whimpering, any crying. It does seem the President made up these details about what was an excellent day for the United States military and yet Trump took it too far. He made up these details about a terrorist whimpering and crying.
How do you handle this when you can't definitively prove that he's making it up but he's lost the benefit of the doubt on these issues?
DALE: So I still try to give Trump maximum benefit of the doubt even after thousands of lies and other false claims. So I don't think at this point that I'm going to include that on my weekly list of false claims because there is still some tiny possibility even if it seems highly unlikely that he is not making this up.
So I think what we do in this case where it's not sure is that we provide the context. We provide the quote if we need to and then we say the commander of Central Command, the Secretary of Defense, and other defense officials said they cannot confirm these details. Give readers the context and help them understand at least.
STELTER: Right. Present at all in that way. Daniel, do you think that there is measurably worsening that's happening? Meaning are there are there a greater volume of lies now than a year ago?
DALE: So a year ago actually was his peak because it was the midterm campaign period. And as I said to you earlier, there seemed to be a deliberate strategy of dishonesty during the run-up to that 2018 vote. But this period is -- he is being more frequently dishonest in this period than he was elsewhere last year. And elsewhere last year was also more dishonest than he was in 2017.
So aside from that midterm spike, there has been a general increase between 2017, 2018, and now 2019.
STELTER: All right, Daniel, thank you very much. Thanks for doing this for us. Thanks for all the fact-checking. DALE: Thank you.
STELTER: Of course, one of the reasons why there is so much of fact- check is because of the impeachment inquiry right now. CNN is doing Sunday night specials for the next few weeks covering what's going to happen in the week to come in the impeachment inquiry. White House in Crisis, the Impeachment Inquiry hosted by Anderson Cooper is tonight 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time here on CNN.
We'll take a quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES, and then another way of viewing the president in his comments on Twitter. We've crunched the numbers like nobody ever has before to look at the number of the absurdity of the misspellings from the President of the United States. See the data right after this.
STELTER: Everybody makes spelling mistakes, all right. Everybody does. I do. Everybody does. But on Twitter, Donald Trump makes a lot more of them than most people. Just this week he misspelled Republican and unfair, but those are hardly the worst examples. We have seen countless absurd spellings from the commander in chief. He is called showbiz shoebiz, there's hamberders, there's the smocking gun, there's a lot of these, even misspelling his wife Melania's name. And he's been ridiculed for it by late-night comics.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you've got a couple of typos on that shirt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, this was taken verbatim from one of your tweets, therefore, it's correct.
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STELTER: That's a thing. That's the truth, right? It's actually not that funny. I know English teachers are horrified by the President's poor form. Lots of other people are embarrassed by it too. But I've never seen anyone do a comprehensive study of his spelling errors or look at what they mean.
So that's where FactBase comes in. FactBase is this excellent Web site that has every single word the president says, some other politicians as well. It looks at all of Trump's tweets, even the deleted ones for this database of typos and other screw-ups. So we gave President Trump the full benefit of the doubt.
These researchers only counted true misspellings, homophone swaps, and incorrect multi-word phrases. So here's what the researchers found, on average, Trump makes a spelling error at least one out of every five days. And since taking office, he's made at least 188 of them total, more than 188 spelling errors on Twitter. Now, what do we compare this to? Let's take a look at Trump's family
members to compare to -- let's take a look at the 2020 Democratic candidates as well and to see how Trump compares. Well, this says it all. Someone like Andrew Yang, 14 mistakes, Bernie Sanders three misspellings, Obama zero. This is during the time since Trump took office.
Donald Trump Jr. tweets a lot so he said 90 mistakes. But generally, all these politicians, they get it right. They're careful. They paid close attention to what they're tweeting. President Trump is really the odd man out on this with constant misspellings on his feed. But it hasn't always been this way.
Look, in 2015, only 18 misspellings, only 18 errors. But there's been a huge spike since he took office. Of course, if he can't get the small stuff right, people worry about the big stuff. And he gets a lot of the small things wrong. Look, the word he misspells most often is counsel as in White House counsel or special counsel.
FactBase found some other frequent misspellings too like Barack Obama, misspelling Barack, maybe thinking of Tom Barrack instead. There's others as well, Capitol Hill he gets wrong a lot. There's a lot of these absurd errors that happen all the time. Trump often mistakes the difference between it is and it's. This is -- missing a difference in these words. So these are some of the most frequent misspellings that we found.
This is -- of course, who can forget covfefe and all of those. Here's Trump's numbers up against Obama's just to give it into perspective here, because again everybody makes mistakes. Obama start tweeting -- Trump start tweeting 2009, Obama's are twenty in 2012. If you compare their errors since joining Twitter, Trump has made 358 of those spelling mistakes, those errors, Barack Obama four.
We could all use a proofreader, right? I think President Trump could use two or three proofreaders. So here to put it all in perspective for us, let's talk to the man who helped us do this research at FactBase, his name is Bill Frischling and he's joining me now from D.C.
Bill, just give us the takeaway. When you all did this research, it took you many hours and we're grateful for it. What's the lesson learned?
BILL FRISCHLING, CEO, FACTSQUARED: Turn on an autocorrect. These are -- most of these errors that we found what was surprising is particular when comparing against the cohort was they were so concentrated. Seven of the top ten errors of accounts we found with errors were all coming out of the White House or from family members. The other three were the highest number was four times lower than Donald Trump's number. And all of these are avoidable.
Twitter -- iPhones have built-in order correct, Twitter and different applications have built-in spelling checks. These are things that could have been avoided. And it's just kind of surprising that given that he's speaks -- he's the 11th largest Twitter account in the world, somebody should be checking it or at least you know, having a bot check it.
STELTER: Yes. It gets this deeper issue about his inaccuracy. Of course, some of his aides claim that the misspellings make him authentic. I just think his English teachers would have flunked him for that excuse.
FRISCHLING: My mom is an English teacher and I would agree with you there.
STELTER: There you go.
FRISCHLING: I don't think -- I don't think that's a reason.
STELTER: It's not the biggest thing in the world, but it still matters. Accuracy always matters. Bill, thank you so much, Bill Frischling the head of FactBased. Check it out FactBase. You can Google as well. And they're launching a tool today that flagged Trump's misspellings as they happen. A quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES. Much more in a moment including a little change of subject, maybe something to give you a break from the news, some natural history programming.
STELTER: With all this crazy news, sometimes you need a moment of Zen, at least BBC America think so. So it's launched a new mini- network called Wonderstruck. Every Saturday, the channel which is jointly operated by AMC and BBC is going to run a 24-hour dose of nature documentary programming.
I spoke with Sarah Barnett, the president of AMC Networks Entertainment Group and AMC studios about why now. Why is this the moment to expand on natural history programming?
SARAH BARNETT, PRESIDENT, AMC NETWORK ENTERTAINMENT GROUP: Well, we're really riffing off of the success that we've seen on BBC America over the past several years with natural history programming. And if you think back to the middle of the first decade of the century, natural history programming was huge. And it was huge for a reason, HD televisions.
We are rolling out to America. And there was nothing more spectacular than natural history documentaries --
STELTER: That's interesting.
BARNETT: -- in terms of showcasing this new technology. So people are buying these TVs, and natural history programming really connected with that moment. Fast forward a decade or so and I think the Natural History programming is connecting again for a different reason, less maybe about the spectacular, and more maybe about some deeper reasons.
STELTER: Is that because CNN and lots of other channels like this one are covering some pretty bad news all day?
BARNETT: Kind of, yes. I mean, when we -- when we launched Planet Earth Two in January of 2017, it was two days before the Trump's inauguration, and it was the biggest new series launch we've ever had on BBC America. And we were seeing that before we launched it, this huge division. And we had this idea that this programming connected in a way that was kind of transcendent.
So the way we launched that show was with lines like, gather together or we're bigger than our differences. And it felt like this event that fit the moment perfectly. Similarly, in the U.K., right after the shock of Brexit, and it had been amazingly strong there, too.
So over the last few years, as you and your viewers know better than anyone, the division, the optimization, the polarization in our world hasn't gone away. In fact, it's exacerbated. So we do believe that we came to programming the world with the world.
STELTER: Do you see a connection between, you know, take this week, for example, fires out west, floods in the east, between all the concerns about climate change and the interest in this programming?
BARNETT: For sure. I think that that is absolutely true. And I would even take it a step further than just the surface of that although that is true. I think that the general ways in which people are feeling so rocked by our changing world, so overtaken by the speed in which technology, politics, climate change, urbanization, you know, a host of other things are confused unsettling, upsetting people in profound conscious and unconscious ways.
So I think watching this kind of content, there is proof, there is data around the fact that this kind of content makes you feel connected to something bigger. There's data behind this. We've worked with a cultural anthropologist and it's shown that being in nature makes you happier. Not just being in nature also watching nature shows makes you happier. 78 percent of the people in this study talked about their improved sense of happiness, of inspiration, of all of gratitude after watching these kinds of shows.
STELTER: That's all for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. We will see you back here this time next week.