Return to Transcripts main page

Reliable Sources

Bill Moyers Issues a Challenge to PBS; Behind the Scenes With Three Congressional Reporters. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired November 10, 2019 - 11:00   ET



BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. Welcome to a special edition of RELIABLE SOURCES, a viewer's guide to the impeachment inquiry.

This hour, Bill Moyers is here with a challenge for PBS. He'll join me for a rare one-on-one interview.

Plus, Anthony Scaramucci will be here. He has a new prediction about President Trump to share.

And we're going to go behind the scenes with three congressional reporters, including Manu Raju. He's out there staking out all these lawmakers, trying to get answers. Now, we're going to find out how they are preparing for the week ahead.

Plus, we're going to go way back to the beginning of this Ukraine scandal and see how Sean Hannity was involved from the very beginning.

First, the big show begins on Wednesday -- public hearings in the run- up to a House vote on impeachment. On one level, it is a television show. On another level, it is a test for democracy and a test for the American press.

So, let me start with three things that we know right now, and three things we don't.

First, we know that we should tune in for the hearings and tune out the spin. Some people are going to insult your intelligence in the days ahead. They're going to say the Ukraine scandal is too complicated, that there's too many players.

In fact, some of them are already saying that.


JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: It's not a sexy scandal. This is about a transcript of a phone call with a country no one cares about. No one can find Ukraine on a map.


STELTER: Come on, man. If you don't think your viewers can find Ukraine on a map, then pull up a map. Help them find it. That's the next thing we know. The onus is on reporters, not pundits

like Jesse Watters, but reporters to help readers and viewers navigate through the story. Media shapes the public's understanding of issues, for better and for worse.

And these days, the word media encompasses everything, from CNN, to your uncle's Facebook feed, to your kid's TikTok account. So, it is incumbent to seek out high quality sources of information as this impeachment effort unfolds.

Look, some people are going to tell you that it's a bust no matter what. They're already cooking up talking points for after these hearings. But don't buy into the predictable, prebaked narratives. Decide for yourself.

And third, the third thing we know through all of this, Trump is going to keep repeating, frankly, some pretty dumb lies, like his claim that he has 95 percent support among Republicans. He keeps saying this over and over again. He said it again yesterday.

The message, of course, is that everyone is standing by him. And no Republican dare defect. But in reality, Trump's approval rating among Republicans is not 95 percent. Look for yourself, it's anywhere from 74 percent to 90 percent, depending on the recent poll.

I bring this up because some of the distortions really do matter. And ultimately, this impeachment process is about trust and abuse of power. Through sheer force, Trump is going to try to convince you that this is just about a single phone call. And his Fox friends are going to try to help him try.

So, journalists will have to keep cutting through the fog and fight for a well-informed public. When he says it's about a phone call, fact checkers have to say it's about a month's long attempt to pressure a foreign leader to help Trump win reelection. And we already know all of this. The details are right there in the transcripts and depositions.

But here are three things we don't know.

Number one, just how low will the deception go? How deep will the deceit go?

Trump's defense is predicated on cheap slogans like "coup" and "hoax". He's constantly contradicting himself saying those slogans over and over again. You know, one minute, he says read the transcript of his call, the next minute, he says that Adam Schiff is going to doctor the deposition transcripts. He says the process should be public and then he objects to televised hearings.

So, this is going to go on and on. How deep will the deposition?

And then the number two thing we don't know is from a TV standpoint, will people tune in? Will people really tune in? I mean, in TV in terms, and I -- (INAUDIBLE) to talk this way, but let's be honest, this is an -- at least on one level a television show that's about to unfold. Will the Democrats put on a powerful first episode? Will they convince people to keep watching?

I noticed this in CNN's Lauren Fox's story this weekend. A Democratic House leadership aide telling Lauren the first hour of the hearing and the first hearing has got to be a blockbuster.

I mean, it's true from a political standpoint, the first episode matters a lot. In the same way there in Hollywood, the first episode of a show either hooks you or doesn't. So, will the Dems deliver? That's an unknown.

And number three, most importantly, forget the TV part -- from a democracy standpoint, will Americans care? Will any of this matter?

Sometimes it seems like nothing matters anymore in the Trump age. Don't buy that. It matters if we all believe it does.

So, here to discuss is someone really special. Bill Moyers was a White House press secretary during the Lyndon Johnson years, and then, of course, headed to NBC and PBS and other major networks. You probably know him from his many years as a long time host on PBS.


And he's here with me in New York for a special one-on-one interview.

Bill, thanks for joining me.


STELTER: You have been around a little longer than me. You covered Watergate. You covered the Clinton impeachment.

On the eve of another impeachment inquiry -- hearings this week, do you fear for the country?

MOYERS: For the first time in my long life -- and I was born in the Depression, lived through World War II, have been a part of politics and government for all these years -- yes, for the first time because I -- you know, a society, a democracy can die of too many lies. And we're getting close to that terminal moment unless we reverse the obsession with lies that are being fed around the country.

STELTER: So, will people care this week? Will democracy hold up through this process?

MOYERS: Some people will always care. We have to remember that we need to serve those people who will get up in the morning and watch the hearings, come home at night and watch the hearings because they really want to be confused, they want to be -- they want to understand. They want to cut through --

STELTER: Cut through the confusion.

MOYERS: Yes, the lies.

So, we have to be -- we have to be concerned with them. Then we have to think about how do we reach the people who don't care?

Do facts matter anymore? I think they do. I think they mattered in the Watergate hearings, in the Clinton hearings, and I think they'll matter this time, too.

I listened this morning to Donald Trump's rally in Louisiana. It was astonishing. He shouted at his audience, and they responded. They believed everything he said.

I'm hoping, if (ph) only 10 percent of those people come and watch the hearings in toto, they will see it's not a witch hunt, and they will begin to doubt their master. And they will begin to break off and maybe become a citizen again instead of a partisan.

STELTER: So when he says coup and hoax, even if many of his supporters believe that, it just takes 10 percent perhaps, you're saying?

MOYERS: Yes, I think in a close election. As you know, he's strong in many states even though he's not popular. And I think his chances of winning, like most people do, are pretty good.

So, that's -- we have to keep that in mind. It may be only a slight shift in the swing states, but -- of people who begin to doubt the lies and begin to live by something else.

STELTER: You know, you've issued a challenge to PBS, your former longtime home, saying that PBS should broadcast -- rebroadcast the hearings in prime time, that -- you know, for folks who are out and about at work or at school at noon or 1:00 p.m., they should be able to watch in primetime. How important is this? Why did you decide to issue this challenge?

MOYERS: Well, these are my friends and colleagues for many years, as you say. And I'm so old, I can look back and see how the trends have changed. They don't remember the Watergate hearings.

But I remember in 1973 when PBS was under fierce attack from Richard Nixon and his cronies, like Pat Buchanan, who called for defunding it and getting rid of it, PBS did a very brave thing. They broadcast the hearings not only during the day, but at night, so that people who are working and can't watch it during the day can come home if they want to, if they're part of that 10 percent who really care, and watch the whole drama unfold.

Brian, right next to where I live, seven or eight construction workers are putting a new roof on the church next door to us. They work hard all day. They're very -- they're expert in what they do. It's a hard and dangerous job.

When they go home at night, if only one of those seven or eight were to watch the hearings as they occurred during the day, it's very hard to find them. PBS is going to put them on a small sub digital -- a digital sub-channel, the World.

STELTER: Yes, it's called the World Channel. I have to be honest, I'd never heard of it before.

MOYERS: Here in New York.

STELTER: The sub channel where they're going to show the -- they're going to show the hearings at night, but you're saying that's no -- that's no replacement for showing them on the main channel.

MOYERS: The World has some fine programs on it, but here in New York as you indicated, the channel is channel 1728, I think. Very hard to find. And World across the country reaches only half of the (INAUDIBLE) stations (ph).

The workman need -- if he's a citizen as well as a contractor, if he wants to see it and let -- and make up his own mind about what he's seeing, there's very little chance, except on C-Span, for them to do that. So, I think even though the universe of our business has changed in these last 40-something years, that PBS has a public service obligation, almost a duty, to carry it for people who don't -- can't be at home and watch it during the day.

STELTER: It also makes me think about the responsibility that other broadcasters, other networks, other newsrooms have at this moment in time to try to help people be as well informed as possible.

You wrote in your column recently that episodic coverage of the news is not enough. I wonder if you could expand on what you mean.


MOYERS: Well, my colleague, long-time colleague, we met during the Watergate hearings, Michael Winship, and I wrote the column, two columns on, and at

We said you can -- you know, our job as journalist is to slice and dice the events of the day as they occur or the day after, usually, but you don't get the whole story there. If you want to get the whole story with the frame of the narrative of Watergate, you needed to watch the whole hearings.

If you want to get the whole story of Trumpgate, you need to watch the whole hearing. Not just the episodes that occur every day which you and others will handle in a professional way, but connecting the dots, telling the story, putting the whole picture up there.

It's a puzzle. This is a complex puzzle. But it's also a momentous moment in America's life. And only two presidents have ever been impeached. The third, Richard Nixon, would have been impeached had he not resigned.

This is a moment in American history where the arc of justice will either be bent forward or it will be bent backward. So, everyone who wants to see it should have the chance to see the whole story.

You don't go -- it's like watching a football game and on the bottom of the screen, they put up the scores of other games. You know who is ahead and who is behind, but you don't know how the game is being played.

If you watch these hearings coming up, and you should have a chance to watch them in prime time, and don't just leave it to the pundits and analysts. That's good as far as it goes. You will see the game being played. -- the game of politics at its most dangerous and as I said, momentum point.

STELTER: I wondered, before I let you go, if there's something to be said for language at this momentous point as well. A letter there in "The New York Times" this weekend says, from 33 writers, words matter, please stop saying quid pro quo.

And then there's a column in "The Atlantic" as well getting to the same point saying, it's not about a quid pro quo. Bribery is at the heart of the Ukraine allegations. If the rough transcript of Trump's call with Ukraine's president is accurate and if these testimonies are accurate, Trump was soliciting a bribe.

We've got to choose our words carefully in this moment (ph).

MOYERS: I think it's a shakedown like many other people do.

STELTER: A shakedown.

MOYERS: And I think you will see that.

Let me say one final thing which is, you never know what's going to happen in the hearing. During the Nixon hearings, people did not know about the tapes until Alex Butterfield said there is a tape. They did not know about the tape that was the incriminating hammer that drove Nixon out of office until the hearing brought it out.

I've been wondering if there isn't a tape recording of that conversation with the president of Ukraine. I wonder if there isn't something that might come out in these hearings, blow it all open as that tape of Nixon telling the CIA, telling the FBI to -- the CIA to stop the FBI from investigating Watergate. There could be.

But other than that, you have a group of informed people who were inside, civil servants who are putting the story together piece by piece. That's very important.

STELTER: But we don't know what we don't know. We don't know how this is going to end. That's the point.

Bill, thank you so much. Good to see you.

MOYERS: My pleasure, Brian. Thank you.

STELTER: Quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES, and then behind the scenes on Capitol Hill -- three reporters in Washington who have been trying to get lawmakers to talk. They're going to join us for their behind-the-scenes stories, next.



STELTER: When the impeachment hearings begin on Wednesday, you're going to see special coverage everywhere. On ABC, NBC, CBS. You're going to see the hearings on Facebook. You're going to hear them on NPR. You're going to see team coverage here on CNN.

And yes, FOX News will be showing the hearings live as well. Local Fox stations will have the option of airing the hearings or not. It's up to individual stations. It's worked that way for a long time there.

But, let's be honest, most people will not watch every minute of this thing live. This is an internet impeachment. Think about your own media habits these days. You probably soak up information like a sponge from lots of different sources and feeds.

So, these hearings will be clipped and digested, condensed and remixed, memed and distorted, mocked and so on and so on. It will be reality TV.

But on the front line in the room will be Capitol Hill reporters like CNN's own Manu Raju, who's been literally running after the story and fight to talk with lawmakers and capturing this historic moment as it happens.

Joining me now is Manu Raju. He's in Washington, along with "Politico's" Melanie Zanona, and "BuzzFeed News'" Addy Baird.

Thank you all for being here.

Melanie, first to you, is this a situation where it's like a sleepless days and nights, sort of stake out situation for Capitol Hill reporters?

MELANIE ZANONA, POLITICO CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, that's what it's been like here on Capitol Hill. These depositions have been taking place behind closed doors. They've been going on ten hours at a time.

And the most difficult part is that these members don't have their cell phones. So, we're trying to get information that's why sometimes you're not getting the details until days later.

The other thing is it's really a historic moment on Capitol Hill. Impeachment, in fact, has become a tourist attraction. Staffers have been taking tour groups past these stake outs and these depositions and these people have been trying to take pictures with us and ask us questions about what's going on.

We also saw people that came for the impeachment resolution vote. A lot of history buffs, civic nerds, curious citizens. I expect we'll see the same thing during the impeachment hearings this week.

STELTER: And, Manu, what is this like compared to a normal time on Capitol Hill? Is there is such a thing? Does it feel very different given the tourists and all of that? MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's

exhausting, number one. But also, this is -- you know, for me, I've been covering Washington for almost two decades now.

And this is probably the most if not the hardest assignment I've had to cover because of the stakes that are involved because of the media environment that we're in and because as Melanie said, there's so much information, significant information that's happening behind closed doors that's happening for hours and hours at a time, and being able to pry loose individual pieces of information, it's very hard, and also important to do, because there's such an insatiable demand for information about exactly what lawmakers are learning to build the case for impeachment.

So, you add that up with the intense competition, with the stakes that are at play, the media environment and how challenging it is to cover the room where these depositions are taking place behind closed door, because there are multiple entrances and exits that we in the press have to cover for members who are coming in and out.


And, of course, all of us are looking at all the different answers to try to get the people who can provide the information. This is all added up to a challenging environment, and this is only phase one. This has been six weeks behind closed doors. It feels like six years behind closed doors, but six weeks. And when we get to the public phase, the intensity will only increase, Brian.

And in the closed door sessions, you came up by name, Manu. Fiona Hill was asked about you because, I guess, what happened, there was a leak during her testimony. And somebody was trying to figure out if you -- if she was the leaker? What happened?

RAJU: Yes, that's right. In the testimony there are questions from a Republican counsel who asked her how I got information during her deposition. And she contended she didn't talk to me. She didn't know me. And she said that the only time she left their view was when she went to the bathroom. She insisted I was not in the bathroom talking to her. She said she did not have her phone.

And I can attest. I did not talk to her while she was in the bathroom. It does show you that it's so hard to get information because the rules are so strict about what people can share, about what happen behind closed doors. And when information leaks out, there's a witch hunt that happens internally to figure out who is the leaker.

And that makes it harder for the press to do our jobs to understand what's going on, because every time there's a witch hunt, more and more sources clam up.


Now, Addy we've been getting these transcripts, 2,677 pages so far from these behind closed doors depositions. There's been this obsession among Republicans trying to name the whistleblower, first, to find out the identity and name the whistleblower. Some of this is in the depositions as well.

The identity of the whistleblower remains a secret. To reporters like you, do people at "BuzzFeed" know the name of the whistleblower, Addy?

ADDY BAIRD, BUZZFEED NEWS CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: We don't know the name of the whistleblower. We know the name is that is sort of circulating in right wing media. There is no evidence that that is the whistleblower. We don't know for sure who it is, and legally, the whistleblower is entitled to be anonymous.

STELTER: So, is there a point where you think you would name the person if you figured it out, if you figured out who the person is?

BAIRD: We had an interesting conversation about this in our news room recently. And where we have sort of come down is it's not in the public interest, actually. And someone said, you know, reporters put the name of people who want to be private out in public all the time. But I think that this is an interesting situation, where the whistleblower, again, is legally entitled to be anonymous.

But the other really important thing, you know, I would argue it's not necessarily in the public interest to release the whistleblower's name. Because we have so many other people who are testifying behind these closed doors who will be testifying in public, who we do know their names, we do know who they are, and they're corroborating what the whistleblower said. So, I think that it would be very unlikely for reputable outlets to ever publish the whistleblower's name.

STELTER: And, look, Facebook and YouTube are taking action as well. We can put Facebook's statement on screen. They say that they're removing the content that names this potential whistleblower because it violates Facebook standards. Twitter notably not removing this content.

Melanie, where do you come down on this issue about the whistleblower?

ZANONA: Yes, I absolutely agree. I mean, I think at this point the whistleblower's identity is irrelevant. So many other witnesses have corroborated the complaint, the core of the complaint. We are going to see the claims made in public in front of the American people and they can vet those people and the American people can decide.

And the other component of this, of course, is the safety concerns with outing this person's identity. That's another reason why this person is entitled to these protections under law. That's why you haven't heard many members say the name out loud. It might be circulating in right wing media, but, you know, it's interesting you haven't heard a single Republican say the name of this person.

STELTER: Let me get one line from each of you before I have to go about how you're preparing for the televised hearings.

Manu, you first, how are you preparing for televised hearing week? RAJU: Well, we had the benefit of reading all 2,677 pages of the

testimony that's been released so far. So, we have a good sense on what these three witnesses in particular are going to be talking about.

My question for me is how the Republicans and Democrats who are going to be questioning their line of questioning, what they are trying to prove to the American public, how Republicans will try to undermine the credibility of these witnesses. How the Democrats try to push out, pry out the narrative that we've been hearing time and time again. And that's going to be a big question for me.

Ultimately, what the questions are going to be, how they are able to get that information out from these witnesses. That's going to be behind the scenes work we deal with.

STELTER: And, Melanie, I'm out of time, I give one line, one sentence in prep?

ZANONA: I'm gong to be rereading depositions, packing snacks and bringing a flat pair of shoes, because it's going to be a long day.

STELTER: Flat pair of shows.

Addy, how about you?

BAIRD: A lot of coffee.

STELTER: All right. Thank you all very much. Great to see you. Wednesday morning, that's when it all starts.

Coming up here, Trump's deputy vice president Sean Hannity, how he's in the middle of this Ukraine scandal, how he's been tangled up in the impeachment probe. We have all the details in just a moment.



STELTER: All of the newly released testimony reveals a lot about right wing media planting the seeds for what has become this massive Ukraine scandal and an impeachment inquiry. You know, The testimony highlights how figures like Sean Hannity have played this role as shadow foreign policy advisers for Trump. Hannity working with Rudy Giuliani, working with John Solomon, formerly with "The Hill", all of these guys were starting this conspiracy theory and among other things, they helped force out the former ambassador, former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine.

Here is what Marie Yovanovitch said in her deposition. She said: When asked if Giuliani and Hannity had, quote, the desire to get her fired, she said, yes, it appears to be the case. When asked if it worked she replied, yes.

And this is just one of many glimpses we get in the transcripts of how right wing media has stoked conspiracy fires about Ukraine. So, let's talk about it now with our panel here in New York. The co-

host of "Signal Boost" on SiriusXM, Jess McIntosh. She's also a Shareblue editor.


Joining us also Washington Post Columnist and Author Max Boot, and Political and Business Strategist Tara Dowdell, once upon a time a former contestant on The Apprentice. I guess we have to mention that for as long as Trump is in the news, right Tara?

You've talked about the right-wing strategy of deny, deflect, and attack. And we've seen that throughout this Impeachment Inquiry so far. Do you have any reason to think anything's going to change throughout this process, or are we just going to continue to live in two alternative universes of information when the hearing start?

TARA DOWDELL, POLITICAL AND BUSINESS STRATEGIST: The only thing that will change throughout this process is I think that the right-wing media will actually ramp up. They're going to go even farther, be even more aggressive. I mean, right now, what they're doing is they're giving us a glimpse of the strategy moving forward, but that strategy is going to be more robust, more comprehensive.

Sean Hannity is functioning as a de facto advisor, but he's also functioning as a chief spokesperson for the Trump administration. Anytime Trump has an issue with something, Sean Hannity goes on the attack. And he went to so far on his own radio show. This has been widely reported but bears repeating. On his own radio show, he attacked Fox News' own polling about President Trump on his radio show.

STELTER: Right. He questioned the polling. Yes.

DOWDELL: He questioned the validity of the polling of his own employer.

STELTER: Yes, that is where we are. It's a strange situation. Max, you've written about this -- the roots of this scandal. And now Hannity keeps coming up in the transcripts. He's named more than a dozen times in just one of these transcripts we've read. What is the significance of that, of the idea that this was going on Fox News, on the Hill's Web site six months ago?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, there's no question, Brian, that, you know, Sean Hannity is the de facto minister of propaganda in the Trump administration. And you know, the way that he and others like Tucker Carlson operate has erased all the lines between what's the media and what's the government because they are both in the government and in the media, and they are a very powerful megaphone because they are spreading these lies, conspiracy theories, just crazy, crazy stuff.

And, you know, listening to you talk about Bill Moyers earlier made me wonder what would have happened during Watergate if Fox News had been around back then to have an alternative narrative to push forward for Richard Nixon, some crazy conspiracy theory with Richard Nixon being the victim of the Democrats. Maybe he would have survived.

It's a very powerful tool right now for mobilizing the Trump base, which is about 25, 35 percent of the public, the hardcore base. They live in an alternative reality, where they're not seeing the evidence, they're seeing these crazy conspiracy theories, and they believe them.

STELTER: So I guess I wonder will impeachment hearings live on television change any minds? You know, these are going to be on Fox just like every other channel. Let's put on the screen the ratings for some of the hearings in the Trump age. You know, James Comey's hours of testimony, for example. About 20 million people are watching that at any given time.

These are average permanent ratings, which means at any given time, over the course of six hours, how many people are watching on T.V. You can see Robert Mueller was the least well rated of any of these big T.V. events. I suspect, Jess, what we're going to see this week is going to be a higher rated event. It's going to be all over the place. But, you know, I do wonder if it will change any minds or if you know it was going to dig in deeper.

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think you're going to see a lot of digging in deeper on both sides. But I also think there are plenty of Americans who have not had the time to devote the energy to this story that maybe we in the media have. We're seeing really disturbing things coming out of the transcripts that have been released over the last week.

The most disturbing I thought, aside from the open extortion of a foreign government was the fact that the Secretary of State had to call Sean Hannity to find out how the President was feeling about an ambassador. That was so shocking. And it just threw into really high relief that Hannity and Giuliani have been operating as unelected, appointed foreign policy execute orders for our country, which is deeply disturbing.

I mean, the entire Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal boiled down to doing government work through property channels and whether or not that had happened. Here we are talking about a man who bought dials reporters, took his iPhone into a genius bar, apparently texted that his password to another reporter --

STELTER: You're saying Rudy Giuliani is not the most tech-savvy guy in the world?

MCINTOSH: I'm saying he might not be the one I want in charge of our national security secrets. And my guess is I feel the same way about Sean Hannity.

STELTER: But you're suggesting that some people are not -- who are not paying attention?

MCINTOSH: They don't matter that this is -- that this is --

STELTER: This week -- this upcoming week may matter for that reason?

MCINTOSH: Absolutely.

STELTER: As news junkies have heard it all, but maybe most people haven't.

MCINTOSH: And this is alarming stuff.


DOWDELL: I 100 percent agree because most people are not paying attention. It's not their job to pay attention in the way that it is people in the media, right? So I think people are raising their children, they're working multiple jobs, they're engaging in activities, you know, around their lives, things that are, you know, sort of critical path items for, you know, the average American family. So no, they're not paying attention.

And so I think the whole point of impeachment will be to focus people on all of these abuses in one setting. And then when you have -- whether they can watch it live on T.V. as you stated before, they will reverberate anything that happens during the hearings. The live hearings will then reverberate through the media, right?

So people will start to get this information in a much more focused manner, and a more comprehensive manner on social media beyond. And so I think that that's why this is important because it allows people to hear all of these abuses in a very focused way.


STELTER: It's in a very focused way.

DOWDELL: Right, from the actual people. Now, remember, a lot of these people are people that Trump hand-picked. These are the people making the allegations. The deep state are Trump appointees.

STELTER: Yes. There should be reminders about that on the graphic on the bottom of the screen. Max, real quick. Jesse Watters says this is not a sexy scandal. Do you think it's a sexy scandal?

BOOT: I mean, I think it's a major league scandal, Brian. I don't know if it's sexy or not. I don't know what Jesse's definition of a sexy scandal, right?

STELTER: You're right. We should leave that for another time.

BOOT: But this is -- this is -- I mean, this is the worst wrongdoing we have seen by a president of the United States I believe in our history. I mean, he tried to extort a foreign country using appropriated military aid in order to help his own political campaign. This is worse, Brian, than anything that Richard Nixon ever did.

So I don't care if Fox anchors find this sexy or not, this is damn serious. This is our Constitution at stake.

STELTER: And Tara, real quick. No matter what happens to the President, whether he's reelected, resigns, or moved from office, The Daily Beast says that he's been talking to Mark Burnett about making a T.V. show in the future. Since you were on The Apprentice, do you think that's true? Do you buy it?

DOWDELL: I absolutely by that.

STELTER: Trump denies that.

DOWDELL: Of course. I mean --

STELTER: He denies a lot of different things.

DOWDELL: Yes, he denies everything. But of course, he is because he likes the adulation. Like even being -- you know, the adulation is what drives him. And so having a show after this, where he can go back to what he -- you know, his claim to fame was The Apprentice. That's where he got all the attention, the global platform.

So to go back to that where people were, you know, where they liked him, I think is where he wants to be. I mean, he's been booed twice. He wants to go back to the adulation.

STELTER: He was cheered yesterday. He was cheered yesterday at the football game.

DOWDELL: Well, people were told that they would lose their seats that they didn't.

STELTER: To the panel, thank you so much. A quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES. And after the break, someone has been a frequent Fox News guest, a former Fox News employee. I want to talk to him about the changing dynamics of the network. Anthony Scaramucci joins me after the break.



STELTER: He briefly worked for President Trump, and now he says Trump's supporters are a cult. Anthony Scaramucci is here with me for a chat about all of that and much more. Thanks for coming on.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Good morning. It wasn't that brief, by the way. I mean, it was 11 days in the White House, but it was about nine months during the campaign and the transition.

STELTER: That's true. That's true. You were working at Fox as a commentator, as a host, and then you had to sever that relationship to go over to the transition team, right?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. I was hosting Wall Street Week. And so when I was announced on the transition team, I had to -- I had to pull the hosting job from them.

STELTER: How much has Fox News changed, do you think, in the Trump years? SCARAMUCCI: I don't necessarily think that it's changed. I think that there's certain news commentators on FOX that have made a decision that they're in the tank for the president. And so whatever he's doing, they have sort of like the Fox News kaleidoscope. They will shift this kaleidoscope to sort of make the colors paint in a way that makes the president look well.

And so a couple of commentators have decided to do that. And you know, what are you going to do? There's other commentators, Shepard Smith, as you know, left the channel. Judge Napolitano, I think they have been a little bit more balanced, a little bit more objective.

But I think there's elements of a business model there, Brian, where they're galvanizing a lot of viewers. Your last panel really did describe it. The president's always felt like an outsider. And so, when you're an outsider, you're susceptible to conspiracy theories.

And it's one of the main reasons why he brought somebody in like Mayor Giuliani to sort of run that shadow system, because he always felt like he was outside of the system. And I think that's where a lot of the problems have come in for the president.

STELTER: And when you say that Trump supporters belong to a cult, and maybe some of those Fox commentators then belong to the cult, what's your evidence? Why say a word like that?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, OK. So, if you go to my Twitter feed, I put out the ten things that you could look at to see if you yourself are in a cult, OK? And what are those ten things? Someone is blatantly lying to you, and you're accepting those lies as truth.

Number two, they're suggesting that they're the only person that is telling the truth. Everyone else, Brian Stelter as an example, all of CNN, MSNBC, they're all telling lies, but the cult leader himself is telling the truth.

Third thing -- and I think this is the most important thing -- you're disaffected. There's a disaffection. The president did capitalize on that. And I actually wrote in my book The Blue-Collar President there was a vacuum of advocacy for white blue-collar workers over the last three decades. And that was malpractice by both establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats. And so he exploited that.

And this is the reason why, even though his policies have failed those people, he still represents an avatar for their anger. And so they're going to stick with him until the spell breaks.

STELTER: You have predicted, though, that the president is not going to last much longer, that he's going to resign, or be removed.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. I think there's an overwhelming cascade of evidence. And so this week will be the starting of that waterfall. It's one thing when things are behind closed doors, and you're doing an investigation. It's another thing when it's open theater, and you can actually see the rank lawlessness of what's gone on and the lack of constitutionality in the process with the president. And I think -- I think it's not just the Ukrainian call. There will be other elements of this story that unfold where people will say, OK, wait a minute. There's a combination of incompetence. There's a combination of a destruction of the executive branch of the United States, in addition to the lawlessness, and traitorous-like behavior. So --

STELTER: Traitorous-like behavior?

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, there's no question. I mean, you -- if you're --

STELTER: A strong word.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, what word would you use? You're on the phone with the president of the Ukraine, and you're strong-arming him to have him go after your political opponent. OK, that is -- you become a traitor to the Constitution and a traitor to the laws of United States. So if you want to pretend that it's not traitorous behavior, we could pretend that it isn't. And we can continue to gaslight.

I think one of the big problems that the American people have in this situation is, we have such respect for the American presidency and the institution of that presidency. The man in that office right now is the successor to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington. And so we have a tendency to normalize something that is very abnormal.

And so as he continues to gaslight, we have to call him into account for what is actually going on. No, this is full-blown traitorous activity. And once it gets exposed, then it'll be up to the American people.

What I'm shocked by, as we sit here today, a couple of days after Election Day, I am shocked that Republican leadership have not disavowed this person. I'm just shocked that they would put their partisan interest and their self-preservation to stay in power over the law and the system of the United States that has led to such prosperity and such freedom for so many people.


STELTER: You're talking about Mitch McConnell. You're talking about GOP leaders who --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, yes, GOP leaders. You're going to have a person above the law now. This will be the first time in 243 years where there's a group of politicians inside that are saying, you know what, we're going to allow this one person to be above the law.

Every other person has been subordinate to the law for the last 243 years, which has led to this great system of liberty and this great system of prosperity. But in order for us to stay in power, somebody has clearly broken the law, clearly doing dishonest things, very un- American things, I might add.

Forget about the bullying and all the style points. I'm just talking about the illegality, Brian, that, if they're going to allow that to take place, I think it is going to be very dangerous for the country.

STELTER: Let's take a quick break. I want to ask you about George Conway's idea. Much more in just a moment here on RELIABLE SOURCES.



STELTER: We are back on RELIABLE SOURCES, and we're back with Anthony Scaramucci, talking about all sorts of things. But I was struck by, of course, this week's other big political news, non-Trump-related. It's Michael Bloomberg thinking about getting into this Democratic race.

There was a tweet that stood out to me from Kellyanne Conway's husband, George. He was replying to somebody from the Brookings Institution, saying Mike Bloomberg's first major campaign move should be to buy Fox News.

And Conway said, "Seriously, that would be the greatest thing he could do for the country." The idea being, I think, if you changed the content on Fox News, moved it away from its pro-Trump bent, then it would change politics in this country.


SCARAMUCCI: So, I mean, it's a cute --it's a cute idea.

STELTER: It's not going to happen, but --

SCARAMUCCI: I don't see the mayor doing that. But, first of all, I applaud him coming into the race, because he's a very accomplished guy, and he's a very practical guy. And I think he will add a voice that's needed in the race. And so, hopefully, he comes in full- fledge.

But as it relates to Fox News, I think their business model will shift after the 2020 election. It's not clear to me that they will stay as the enterprise that they are. And, in fact, if they're sold, that wouldn't come as a surprise either.

SCARAMUCCI: But I think that the current business model, and particularly the punditry at night, I think that's in the process of shifting.

STELTER: Why would Fox News -- why would Fox be sold after election?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, you know, I think when you -- when you listen to their -- Lachlan Murdoch, or you listen to some of the interviews, it may -- it may or may not be part of their long-term core strategy. But I get the sense that it may not be.

And so we will have to see what happens. Now, this is speculation of me as a money manager looking at their core assets, how they could actualize long-term value. I think the system that was set up by Roger Ailes and the way Fox News is produced in prime time, I think the expiration date of that is coming.

And so my prediction is, after the 2020 election, you will probably see different levels of punditry there. STELTER: Interesting. You know, you were, of course, in the White

House, in the press shop. Now Stephanie Grisham is press secretary. Let's put on the screen just kind of a funny graphic, how many times she's been holding press briefings at the White House podium versus the number of times she's been on Fox News. The numbers speak for themselves. You were talking with me, you actually beat her by this ranking.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, no, she's lasted, like, 40 or 50 Mooches, Mooches being defined by day -- 11-day periods of time.


SCARAMUCCI: But I'm 1-0.

STELTER: Because you had one time at the podium.

SCARAMUCCI: I had one time at the podium. But I understand what's going on there, unfortunately, for her. And I like Stephanie. I know her a long time. She can't -- you know, he's the sun king in many ways. There's only one spotlight in the Trump administration. And that's on the president. There can be no co-stars. There can be no disruption of that sort of activity.

All press relates back to him. One of the biggest problems that America has is, he is searching his name, Trump, as opposed to USA.

STELTER: Anthony, thank you for being here.

SCARAMUCCI: But Stephanie is not going to be on any time soon. That's another prediction.

STELTER: I don't think so. We do try to book her every week, though. All right, a quick break. More RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment.



STELTER: All right, we're out of time here on T.V. but sign up for our nightly newsletter at I'll be sending that later tonight with all the day's media news. And join us at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time on CNN live from Iowa. It's the Democratic presidential town hall with billionaire businessman Tom Steyer at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight.

We'll see you back here this time next week for more RELIABLE SOURCES.