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Reliable Sources

Pompeo's Increasing Hostility Towards The Press; Fox's Prime Time Hosts Say The Trump Trial Is Boring; Sketch Artist Fill In The Blanks During Trump's Trial; New Fox Poll: 50 Percent Say Trump Should Be Removed; Facebook Under Pressure To Curb Misinformation About Coronavirus. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired January 26, 2020 - 11:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: By the way, you should know, it is one of only six OECD nations to not offer paid leave to fathers.

Another, it would come as no surprise, is the United States, the only developed country in the world not to mandate any maternity leave either. Not the proudest moment for American exceptionalism.

Thanks to all you have for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. Welcome to RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works, how the news gets made and how all of us can help make it better.

This hour, as the impeachment trial goes on, brand new polling from Fox News that contains some bad news for President Trump. Has he seen the poll yet?

Plus, we will take you to Capitol Hill to show you what you are not seeing during the Senate trial coverage. That's our inside view. Plus, we're going to ask, do Americans outside D.C. care very much about the trial? We're going to go live to Pittsburgh and Des Moines for more on that.

Plus, Fox versus facts. We're going to look at how Fox News prime time is covering or not covering the trial and why that matters so much.

But, first, avoiding questions by attacking the messenger. The Senate trial of President Trump is continuing and Trump's stonewalling is continuing, too.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo knows a lot about the Ukraine scheme, so he's exactly the kind of Trump official whose testimony might be valuable in the coming days. And, of course, in the coming days, we'll find out if any new witnesses will be called at the trial.

In the meantime, reporters are the ones gathering new information about who knew what, when and why.

And Pompeo's hostility towards the press has reached a new high or a new low. It was in this interview with NPR.

Now, Pom -- he was trying to dodge questions about Ukraine during this interview with NPR host Mary Louise Kelly. Now, she politely kept asking the questions and then after the interview, she says she was basically chastised by Pompeo. He ripped into her and insulted her intelligence.

Now in a statement, he's calling her a liar.

The truth is, that Kelly has a lot of credibility and Pompeo does not. But this has become a story with President Trump weighing in right now, retweeting Fox's Mark Levin asking, why does NPR still exist?

We will answer that question a little later this hour.

And we have Susan Glasser, John Avlon and Oliver Darcy all standing by with analysis about this story.

But, first, let me tell you about Pompeo, the man who is supposed to be a promoter of press freedom around the world. Instead, he's trafficking in put-downs.


STELTER (voice-over): Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a history of hostility toward members of the news media.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, I agreed to come on your show to talk about Iran.

STELTER: His treatment of NPR's Mary Louise Kelly is just the latest in a pattern that has alarmed free press advocates.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, NPR HOST: I confirmed with your staff last night that I would talk about Iran and Ukraine.

POMPEO: I just don't have anything else to say about that this morning.

STELTER: Kelly says Pompeo shouted and cursed at her after the interview.

KELLY: He asked, do you think Americans care about Ukraine? He used the F-word in that sentence and many others.

STELTER: Other reporters have experienced similar eruptions in the past.

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Mike Pompeo has been uniquely hostile.

STELTER: Garret Graff noticed the pattern when he profiled Pompeo for "Wired" magazine.

GRAFF: He most seems to bristle, he gets angriest and most condescending in interviews with female journalists. STELTER: The NPR interview was taped on Friday at the State


KELLY: Secretary of State, good to see you.

POMPEO: Good to be with you. Thanks for having me on the show.

STELTER: But his courtesies turned to condensation when Kelly asked pertinent questions about Ukraine.

KELLY: Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?

POMPEO: You know, I agreed to come on your show to talk about Iran and that's what I intend to do. I know what our Ukraine policy has been now for three years of this administration and I'm proud of the work we've done.

KELLY: I confirmed with your staff last night that I would talk about Iran and Ukraine.


STELTER: Pompeo went on to criticize Kelly for using unnamed sources even though Kelly was actually quoting public testimony.

KELLY: I just want to give you another opportunity to answer this, because as you know, people who work for you in your department, people who have resigned from this department under your leadership, saying you should stand up for the diplomats who work here.

POMPEO: I don't know who these unnamed sources are you're referring to. I can tell you this, when I talked to my team here --


KELLY: These are not unnamed sources. This is your senior adviser Michael McKinley.

STELTER: That's right. McKinley did testify that sentiment under oath.

POMPEO: I'm not going to comment on things that Mr. McKinley may have said. I'll say only this -- I have defended every State Department official.

STELTER: But what about Yovanovitch?

KELLY: Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?

POMPEO: I've defended every single person on this team. I've done what's right for every single person on this team.

KELLY: Can you point me towards your remarks where you have defended Maria Yovanovitch?

POMPEO: I've said all I'm going to say today. STELTER: According to Kelly, a State Department aide stopped the

interview. Then, after Pompeo left the room, the aide brought her to the secretary's private quarters and Pompeo unleashed a profanity- laced tirade.


Kelly who has a masters degree in European studies said Pompeo questioned her intelligence, asking if she could find Ukraine on a map.

KELLY: He called out for his aides to bring him a world map of the world, with no writing, no countries marked. I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away.

STELTER: Reporters across D.C. expressed shock about how Kelly was treated but some were not surprised, for they have been on the receiving end in the past.

One veteran D.C. reporter told CNN of being, quote, chewed out by Pompeo, of being accused of hating Donald Trump and towing the Democratic Party line. Pompeo sometimes levels that charge in person on camera.

Last October, he attacked the credibility of Nashville TV reporter Nancy Amons.

POMPEO: Sounds like you're working at least in part for the Democratic National Committee.

STELTER: He hit back at PBS anchor Judy Woodruff the same way.

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS ANCHOR: Finally, you know that there's been no proof of any misdoing on the part of Vice President Biden --

POMPEO: You all keep repeating that line as if you're working for the DNC.

WOODRUFF: I'm definitely not working for the DNC. I'm an independent journalist.

STELTER: After this latest blowup, Pompeo claimed that Kelly agreed to have our post-interview conversation off the record. Kelly says that's not true and NPR backs her up.

Kelly said the secretary had a parting message for her.

KELLY: He said, people will hear about this.


STELTER: Well, that's true. People are hearing about it.

With me to discuss all this and more, CNN Senior Political Analyst, John Avlon, CNN Senior Media Reporter, Oliver Darcy, and in Washington, Staff Writer for "The New Yorker", Susan Glasser. Susan, you're friends with Mary Louise Kelly. You were out to dinner

with her on Friday night. Tell us what she's going through, what she's thinking about this weekend?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, Brian, I think your report was very strong and, you know, this is someone I've known for three decades since we worked on the college newspaper together, and I've got to tell you, she is a journalist of unimpeachable integrity.

And, you know, I was thinking, imagine, it's Sunday morning, the secretary of state of the United States is misrepresenting you, is attacking you, is slandering your professional integrity, and there's just nothing to support it. Pompeo is out there tweeting again today, but the bottom line is that his statement is simply malicious and attacking a journalist. He does not deny the account that Mary Louise Kelly offered of his profanity-laced tirade, and the reason he doesn't because that's what occurred.

And in the end, this strikes me that this is very consistent with the character and personality of Mike Pompeo. I spent six months working on him for a profile for "The New Yorker", and what I found was that he has a hair trigger temper, he has a long history of berating journalists, including privately swearing at them previous to this in off-the-record conversations. So, that's why you didn't hear about it until now.

And, you know, again, the most striking thing about him in the administration is that he is perhaps the most sycophantic -- that's not my word, that was the word of a former senior White House official who observed him interacting with President Trump. He is someone who is aiming, it seems to me, at an audience of one with his public performance around trolling the media, and I do think that is a dynamic of what's happening here.

And the other thing I'd point you to is the fact that he really became unhinged when she asked about Ukraine and his failure defend a career ambassador of the United States who was smeared and removed from her job because of false rumors that made their way into the Oval Office of the United States. So, it's really all about Trump and Ukraine, and a secretary of state who has a hair trigger, out-of-control temper and a long history of attacking journalists and lying about it.

STELTER: Sure makes news (ph) as we get him under oath. Look, he's calling the media unhinged, he's the one acting unhinged.

And in the big picture, John, why does this matter? In the grand scheme of things, is this just President Trump's behavior trickling down throughout the government?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Tone does come from the top and people adopted the president's behavior. That's -- that's certainly true.

But I think it's more sinister than that. We shouldn't just accept the idea that our elected officials, who we pay, lie as matter of course, that they evade as a matter of course.

And, look, he's engaging in what the president does, deflect and project. He calls Mary Louise unhinged.

Listen to the transcript and the tape, the interview itself, she's the opposite. It's a master class in trying to handle someone who's trying to gaslight you.

He says, I've been very clear about our policy. Well, no, you haven't, but it's said in that tone two plus two equals five, why can't you accept that? And the goal, our responsibility is to say, no, two plus two does not equal five, the facts do not add up.

And so, when he tries to push back on her, tries to accuse her of being unhinged, tries to evade basic facts, I've defended every single one of my State Department officials when that's not so, dismisses when she says an unnamed source and she brings up McKinley, and he says, no, whatever he might have said -- well, he was under oath.

It's journalist's job in a democracy to push back on those facts. She's in a far stronger position of credibility and evidence than the secretary of state is.


That's sad but true.

STELTER: Yes, he is. Yes, it's sad but true.

NPR CEO spoke over the weekend saying, we will not be intimidated by this behavior, and, Oliver, the president is tweeting now about NPR and we can put that tweet on the screen asking -- asking Mark Levin's question, why does NRP still exist?

Well, the short answer is NPR, the national organization, only receives a small amount of federal funding, mostly through grants. It is local stations that sometimes need that federal support to stay on the air, but NPR as a whole doesn't get a lot of taxpayer money.

But the president either doesn't know that or doesn't care, right? It's not really about that for him.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: No, he likes to save space to Fox News. That's what he wants administration officials to go on and not really get these hard questions that Pompeo got.

Pompeo really seemed to be almost, you could say triggered by this question. He lashes out. He says that he wants --


DARCY: -- he wants, he tried ending the interview and then he lashes out at this reporter afterwards.

If anyone was upset, it's because the question was difficult. And so -- STELTER: Yes.

DARCY: -- it wasn't the usual question he gets over on the friendly outlets.

But, also, Pompeo is someone who has to put a serious face on this administration's policies, and I imagine at some point, it becomes difficult for him, he gets very frustrated because he's being tasked effectively with defending the indefensible. And so, there's no way -- good way to do that --


DARCY: -- other than lashing out at reporters and that's what the president does.


STELTER: I mean, it does all come back to impeachment. These questions are about impeachment.

AVLON: Well, but they're also about things that are squarely in his wheel house.

But I think Oliver's got on a point. Let's be empathetic. There are people in the administration who are trying to serve the country, and they get frustrated that they keep being asked to explain the president's impulsive, incoherent behavior. But that doesn't mean you can simply lie and evade.

Part of it is the Fox effect. It's made them flabby. It's turned them into snowflakes. They're used to softball interviews, they expect them.

And when they get somebody asking clear, sober, fair-minded questions, they are offended, they are unnerved. And so, they lash out and they lie.

STELTER: Susan, the banner on screen says "facts versus feelings in the impeachment trial".

Is that what's going on here? You know, that there are a lot of facts being put on the table, pretty damning facts against the president, and what we're seeing from the president's supporters are some pretty emotional feelings, right, cursing at a reporter or claiming it's all a hoax?

GLASSER: Well, look, increasingly, I think we've -- we've seen that. You know, on Capitol Hill, you had this incident with the senator attacking CNN's Manu Raju and saying, you're a liberal hack, and then fund raising off it afterwards.

Now, that's not -- you know, I think the nature of that incident is less serious in many ways than this unbelievable attack by the secretary of state on the credibility of a journalist in writing on official stationary. I want to make another point about that, by the way, Brian. You know,

the secretary of state's statement continues to have two different lies about this interview and he actually accuses her of misrepresenting the interview -- absolutely untrue. She has written confirmation from his aides. She asked him 11 questions about Iran before she went on to Ukraine as she told his aides to do.

So, again, this lying -- you have to remember, Mike Pompeo comes from Capitol Hill and the exact place where they're doing this impeachment. If you saw the House Republicans and how they responded, Devin Nunes and Mark Meadows, then, you understand Mike Pompeo. He was a member of the House and very much in keeping with that style.

The reason they're not talking about the facts in impeachment and I spent all week sitting in the Senate gallery listening to it, is because the facts are not on their side. The facts are --


STELTER: I do want to hear more about that experience in the gallery right after a quick break here.

Coming up, we have exclusive data showing how many people are actually watching Trump's trial.

Plus, you need to see how Fox News is reshaping, distorting this historic process. It's a story you won't hear anywhere else, next.



STELTER: The Senate trial resumes tomorrow, so time for a pop quiz.

How are these five news items related?

Number one, Fox News Channel decision to stick with its regular right wing talk shows in prime time, that's while the Democrats were laying out their evidence against Trump on the Senate floor.

Number two, Rudy Giuliani launching a brand new podcast and web video series.

Number three, President Trump sitting down with Maria Bartiromo in Davos and congratulating her for signing a fat new contract.

Number four, Rudy Giuliani going on Judge Jeanine's show and promoting one of Fox's smaller rivals, OANN.

And last but not least, President Trump posting more than 330 times on Twitter in just the last five days. Lots and lots of retweets, including dozens of videos from Fox talk show segments.

What do these have in common? They're all examples of the pro-Trump media universe operating in a really closed loop, downplaying and are totally denying Trump's wrongdoing while amplifying all the defenses. Back with me is John Avlon, Oliver Darcy and Susan Glasser.

Oliver, you study this right wing ecosystem for a living. It does seem the wall is just getting, you know, stronger and stronger, the Fox firewall is holding very strongly.

DARCY: Yes, and they're trying to inoculate their audience from the arguments from the Democrats, which the audiences are now used to hearing, right? They're used to hearing Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity giving them comfort food that they want, and so, this week in prime time the one opportunity perhaps that these -- the audience would see these arguments made by someone like Adam Schiff, they didn't get to see it because they were inoculated by the Fox audience in prime time.

STELTER: Yes, the afternoon hearings, trial coverage, was shown live on Fox News, but then Fox would cut away --

DARCY: In the afternoon when they had the news anchors on supposedly, right, they brought out Andy McCarthy. They didn't bring on Judge Napolitano, the top legal analyst at Fox News who happens to be very critical of the president's position, and wrote this week that there's enough evidence to support his removal. They did not bring him on. They brought on Andy McCarthy, who is very sympathetic to Trump's case.


And if you look even further, Martha McCallum this week, she's a top news anchor at Fox, she did a segment on Hunter Biden's paternity case, instead of airing the Senate impeachment trial.

Bret Baier had on this week Peter Schweizer who has pushed theories about Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden on to promote his new book.

So, it's not just the Fox News opinion hosts who are skewing the news towards Trump, it's also the Fox News, you know, anchors, the people that boast about they give it to you straight who are happening to skew the news towards Trump.

STELTER: They're tilting the playing field in that way.

DARCY: A hundred percent.

STELTER: By the way, you mentioned Judge Andrew Napolitano. His most recent column for and for newspapers was shared by Nancy Pelosi, like shared by the top Democrat, because she agrees with that perspective.

John, you're agreeing about the point about Napolitano.

AVLON: Yes, it's important. You know, dissent is seen as disloyalty. You get benched if you're not following the Fox News line because the business model is all play to the base. And so, they're working hand and glove with the administration to push the same talking points, and that necessarily means ignoring evidence. It means ignoring the Democrats' case.

Talking over it, turning the sound off, and having analysts talk over it in addition to simply wiping the slate clean and doing ad hominem attacks in prime time.

The bigger challenge this ends up seeping up to the Senate and this is where we got a real challenge for our republic right now. Can we agree on basic facts? Can we reason together, even at the level of the Senate? Because the tail wags the dog there.

They're so afraid of losing a close partisan primary, being attacked by the president, that fear is motivating a lot of their decisions to try to avoid uncomfortable facts. That's incredibly dangerous for a democracy but it's happening right now.

STELTER: Chuck Schumer called this out at a press conference that was aired live on Fox News. Let's look at that.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It may have been the first time that many of my Republican colleagues heard the full story, the complete narrative from start to finish, uninterrupted and not filtered through the kaleidoscope lens of Fox News where, at best, things are left out and at worse, things are terribly distorted.


STELTER: I think Schumer's office enjoyed that was aired live on Fox, but the question, Susan Glasser, is whether it matters the Republican senators did hear this full accounting from the Democrats that they weren't hearing from Sean Hannity's show, for example.

Did you see evidence, when you were sitting up in the chamber, did you see evidence that this actually mattered to the Republican senators?

GLASSER: You know, Brian, the Senate chaplain, I came to enjoy each day he would sort of open his remarks with a kind of a relevant homily and he said listen, the trick for senators, and I pray for you, that you will not just listen, but that you will hear and I did see listening on both sides of the aisle.

There are some very diligent note takers among the Republicans, especially Susan Collins, the swing vote from Maine, I don't know how much hearing, and, in fact, you know, the congressional reporters by the end of the week were suggesting that even a vote for witnesses looks possibly even more remote at the end of the week than it did at the beginning of the week.

However, you know, there was -- Senator Kennedy from Louisiana, a Republican, he also agreed essentially with Chuck Schumer this may be the first time some of his colleagues were really paying attention because they were being forced to pay attention.

Here's what I would say. It is very difficult to watch this and I watch basically every minute of it and the reason why is that it doesn't feel like it's on the level. You have a situation where almost everyone, Democrats and Republicans, have essentially made up their mind.

So, how are we to write and think about a process where 24 hours of arguments over three days by the House Democrats, to an audience that essentially, on both sides, is largely unmoved by them, it's a very painful thing for our democracy I think to watch this. But number one, I would say the second week of the trial, is going to be more interesting and newsier in many ways because that's where we'll see, whether, number one, the senators were moved, because they'll have questions that they'll submit and that will give us an indication of whether they were actually listening and hearing.

Number two, there is this crucial vote and, you know, we have a convention of wisdom right now, but things happen in Washington and remember, there's an extraordinary amount of evidence that exists that has not yet come out. Is any of that possibly going to come out in the few days before we hear the senators being forced to finally put their names and their reputations behind this vote. So, it's not over yet. And I think it's going to be crucial for history, regardless of what happens, this is the third I am in our republic this has happened.

So, Fox News can ignore it, but history isn't going to ignore what happened here this week.

STELTER: Look what we found out last night, Lev Parnas' attorney saying Lev Parnas has more tapes of president Trump.


Like you said, the evidence may be all around but not in front of the senators.

John, you referred recently on "NEW DAY" to a slow boil of disinformation and I think that's what we're seeing in the trial. We're going to see that against Joe Biden in the coming days, this disinformation campaign to try to tarnish Biden?

AVLON: That appears to be the case. And covering that becomes very tricky because the entire purpose of getting -- suborning a foreign power to dig up dirt on a political rival is to weaken him as a presidential candidate and to create a sense of moral equivalence about corruption between the two potential candidates.

Look, the real danger is, and I think here's where we shouldn't say this is a fait accompli because senators can't simply submit and agree to this kind of self-castration of Congress when it comes to separate and equal powers.

STELTER: Self-castration.

AVLON: But that's really what's happening here. They say, you know what, we're going to vote for partisan purposes to allow a president to withhold information under an impeachment inquiry, that is saying, we're going to cut off our nose to spite our face because of partisan loyalty and because we're afraid of the president in power. So, the question is, how many will rise to the level of the Founding

Fathers and say, no, we're independents of our branch and our integrity matters? Because we're going to be judged by history. We're going to be judged by our children and grandchildren.

And I wouldn't give up the game. It's not about whether you hit a two-thirds margin, no one ever has. But to say no witnesses for the first time in U.S. history, that's an admission that you're not interested in evidence and facts and frightened for them.

STELTER: And that's what the next few days are all about, aren't they?

AVLON: That's right.

STELTE: Thank you, everybody.

Let's head to the Capitol next. Melanie Zanona is there. I want to ask her about what it's been like only with a pen and pad, we've had to use sketch artists to know what's going on inside the Senate. Melanie has details in a moment.



STELTER: As the impeachment trial moves ahead, the camera views offered by the Senate are staying still. We are not seeing the full picture. So reporters are taking notes the old fashioned way telling us what's happening inside the chamber. And sketch artists are helping as well rendering their own read on the gallery, catching some misbehavior once in a while by some of the lawmakers.

These sketch artists, these images as reporters who are writing in their notes, that's all we have to know what's going on when the cameras are not on. So let's talk more about that with Politico's congressional reporter and the newsletter author of the Huddle Newsletter Melanie Zanona. Melanie, you've been in there every day like a lot of Capitol Hill reporters. What stands out to you the most?

MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, honestly, it's been a little bit like Jane Goodall in the wild observing these creatures in their natural habitat. We've been watching the senators' every move clocking what they're drinking, what they're eating, who they're interacting with, when they're dozing off. But most importantly, Brian, is we're watching how they're reacting to the trial in real-time.

A perfect example is when Adam Schiff read a quote from a CBS report saying Republicans would have their head on a pike if they vote against Trump. And there was a visceral reaction inside the room. Some Republicans were shaking their heads, others were mouthing, that's not true. And these are the important insights and valuable moments that we otherwise wouldn't have seen because the cameras are not picking them up. STELTER: Right. Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell controls the cameras. The news outlets have not been allowed to bring in their own television and still cameras. So as a result, what are these restrictions causing day by day, that there's a lot of worry about the press restrictions, for example, reporters being kept in roped off pens or areas? Is it -- is it as bad as we feared?

ZANONA: It is, Brian. It has been quite a challenge for us. And just so your viewers understand, some of our best news gathering and source building comes with being able to walk and talk freely with members throughout the capital and sometimes that requires running after members who don't want to talk to us and asking them the tough questions.

But because we're stuck in these roped off areas, only senators who want to talk to us are coming over to us, so we can't do our job. A critical component of that is asking questions to senators, and especially to those members who don't want to talk to us.

STELTER: And the reality is a lot of them are avoiding questions because they don't have good answers, right? They're afraid to admit where they stand on these issues.

ZANONA: Exactly. Especially some of those senators who are up for reelection in tough races like Martha McSalley. Of course, there's the exchange she had with CNN's Manu Raju, calling him a liberal hack and not answering his questions. But I will say there are some Republicans and Democrats alike who are willing to talk to us, who have come over, including some of the President's tough allies like Lindsey Graham and Mark Meadows. So there are some members who are willing to talk to us.

STELTER: Melanie, thank you so much. Best of luck in the days ahead.

ZANONA: Thank you for having me.

STELTER: How many -- how much do Americans care? How many people are actually watching the trial? I've got brand new data to show you about that. Plus two reporters far outside Washington, they have unique perspectives and they are just a few minutes away.



STELTER: Now, from inside Capitol Hill to outside D.C. Let's go way beyond the Beltway. Are people tuned in to the Senate impeachment trial? Well, the answer is yes. Even though Fox stars are calling it boring and White House aides are claiming the ratings are low, people actually are watching.

Now, when you look at the average minute by minute ratings, that can be misleading because these trial days are so long. There's been numbers out there saying 10 or 11 million people are watching but that's not true because if you look at the cumulative ratings, how many people are seeing at least a little bit of the trial each day, the numbers are way higher. According to Nielsen, on the first day of the trial, when they were

debating the rules, 50.7 million people at least saw a little bit of the coverage on day one, that's across NBC, and ABC, and CBS, and CNN, and MSNBC, and Fox News. 50 million people at least saw some of the coverage. Now, those numbers are probably going to decline as the week goes on. The numbers aren't in yet for the rest of the week. They're probably going to decline, because there's a little less interest as the trial goes on. But there is a huge audience for this trial. Don't let those Trump surrogates mislead you about that.

Let's talk more about this and some brand-new polling with Cedar Rapids Gazette Columnist Lyz Lenz in Iowa. She's the author of God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America. And in Pittsburgh, National Political Reporter for The Washington Examiner, Salena Zito. Welcome to you both.

Salena, your book is also wonderful. It's called The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics, recently out in paperback. I want to ask you about a brand-new Fox News poll that out just a couple of hours ago finding that exactly half of Americans 50 percent are in favor of convicting and removing President Trump. This is the third poll in the past week or so showing 50 percent or higher approval for removing President Trump. What does that mean to you, Salena?

SALENA ZITO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, you know, I think we need to, you know, take a look at what are -- what is driving people to that conclusion. Are they hyper-partisan, is this really important to them, or are they just marginally paying attention? I also think that that pole reflects exactly where we are in this country, right?


STELTER: Yes, it does.

ZITO: We're pretty much split down the middle, and half of -- half of the people don't like Trump, half of the people do like Trump. And even within the people that voted for Trump, they don't always particularly like his comportment, but they do like his policy. So it's incredibly sort of complicated relationship with -- that we have with American politics right now, and I think that reflects it.

STELTER: I think this is the -- yes, absolutely. This is the data for independents. Again, split down the middle, nobody is moving. Not a single mind seems to be changing. Is that an exaggeration Lyz? What's your impression?

LYZ LENZ, COLUMNIST, CEDAR RAPIDS GAZETTE: I think people are extremely frustrated by this whole impeachment process. Whether you are against the president or whether you really want impeachment to happen for the president, people are just frustrated by what's happening in America. And I think they feel really, really, really overwhelmed, so this doesn't surprise me.

But also, I mean, I think historically with little last impeachment process, you saw, as it happened, a lot of the country divided along partisan lines. It wasn't until later after you know, the Nixon impeachment or the Clinton impeachment when you actually saw people moving and changing their minds.

So this idea that we're so divided, we are but that we should be determining our policies or our politics based upon popular opinion is a little spurious especially since in the past couple of impeachment processes, minds change afterwards.

STELTER: And how do you think people are consuming the trial, Lyz? My impression is that most Americans, they're not watching for hours at a time. They're watching little bits when they can, and they're reading about it on their phones and their computers, but they're kind of soaking up the news, right? They're not watching it for hours at a time.

LENZ: Well, I mean, who can? We have jobs, we have lives, we have children. You know, we've got to get to the doctor. People are consuming it however they can. But I don't think there is a news story out there that people are more aware of. Like there's no -- there's no other news story right now that's more top of mind, I would say it dominates even more than the caucuses, and I say that from here in Iowa, right --

STELTER: From Iowa, yes.

LENZ: -- where we live, breathe, and eat caucus right now. So it is very top of mind. But of course, people are busy it's hard to understand what's going on. Like it's my job to understand what's happening with the impeachment and I'm still a little confused. I think that's the point.

I think that's what Republicans are counting on that if they can make this long, and arduous, and you know, withhold access from the media, that people will tune out and then those Republican senators can justify their votes by saying oh, look, people don't care which is again, I think morally reprehensible.

STELTER: Salena, you had said to one of my producers in a -- in a pre- interview that you find when you're interviewing voters, a lot of them don't even want to give their name anymore because they don't want to be quoted talking about politics because it's gotten so ugly. And I wonder if that relates to what Lyz is saying about impeachment?

ZITO: Yes, I think so. I think people are more cautious nowadays. The more and more exposure there is through social media, through Facebook, through television, they're more reluctant to give their name because they don't know how that's going to impact their lives. And I don't just mean someone that supports Trump, it's who you support across the board.

There is definitely a growing reluctance to give out your information. You don't know if it's going to impact your job, your family life, or if you own a company, if it impacts your business. And I'm concerned that that becomes is a trend and I don't -- I don't think that's really a good idea. I do think that people are talking a lot about the coronavirus. I've found a lot of people very concerned about that, as well. It's sort of -- it's like neck and neck right when you talk to people out there and you listen to what their concerns are. They're concerned -- also concerned about what's going to happen with that.

STELTER: I'm so glad you said that, because our next segment is about the coronavirus and about whether people can trust the information that we're getting from China. So Lyz, Salena, thank you both. Great to see you.

ZITO: Thank you.

STELTER: After the break, I just told you, we're talking about three stories you might have missed in the past week, including the latest from China.



STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter. The coronavirus is shaking citizens' faith in the Chinese government. That's a headline from the Guardian summing up the concerns about how China is handling this new outbreak. Many people remember how Chinese officials suppressed information during the SARS disaster 17 years ago, and they fear that it could be happening again.

China tightly controls news outlets and squeezes out independent coverage. The New York Times recently quoted a former Chinese reporter calling this situation a naked information monopoly. So with a new virus comes new fears about how information is being controlled. And also new sets of viral lies, and those are happening in the United States and around the world. These hoaxes and hysterical made up stories that are meant to scare people.

According to PolitiFact, medical misinformation about the coronavirus has particularly taken root in Facebook groups for anti-vaccine advocates and believers in QAnon. That's according to PolitiFact. CNN's Oliver Darcy is back with me. Oliver, you've written and report a lot about how Facebook and other platforms handle misinformation. This is of the medical variety. What is Facebook doing?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Well, Facebook is removing or fact-checking a lot of these viral hoaxes that are spreading on the platform. Brian, you know, I looked in the Washington Post Web site on Friday, I believe, and the top two most-read stories, one was about impeachments, and the other one was about the coronavirus, which shows that there's high interest in this.

And anytime you have high interest in a story, there comes misinformation disinformation campaigns, people trying to capitalize off of the interest to get readership, but also spread hoaxes that support the point of view. And you mentioned vaccines, that being one. There's some people out there spreading this misinformation that the pharmaceutical companies, you know, came up with this virus. [11:50:34]

STELTER: Yes, kind of cashing or something.

DARCY: Yes, yes. It's obviously false, but they spread a lot on Facebook. It's --

STELTER: So news outlets need to help by fact-checking and debunking the lies.

DARCY: And Snopes and PolitiFact, they are going through a lot of these. They're flagging them for Facebook, and Facebook is taking some action. It's something that, you know, journalists should look into a lot more in the coming days and weeks as this coronavirus, you know, continues to spread.

STELTER: Yes. Two other stories they mentioned that I don't think should be overshadowed by the impeachment trial, one is in Brazil. Charges against the famous journalist Glenn Greenwald, these are cybercrimes charges seemingly related to his worked on the Intercept Web site in Brazil. Does anyone believe these are legitimate charges by the Brazilian government?

DARCY: You know, press freedom groups came out swiftly and they were appalled by these charges. They condemned them. Obviously, the Intercept is standing by Greenwald's reporting and Greenwald is saying that this is basically revenge, you know, for exposing corruption in the government there.

But, you know, we're waiting to see what happens with these charges. But press freedom groups are appalled and they're uniformly supporting Greenwald.

STELTER: Yes. Hopefully, this will be dismissed.

DARCY: Greenwald even has detractors in the U.S. people who tend to support a lot of the things he was doing in regards to the Russia investigation. Everyone really is looking at this and they can see what -- for what it is.

STELTER: Yes. Well, many people siding with Greenwald on this and you know, wondering if these charges will be dismissed in the coming up the coming days by the Brazilian court.

DARCY: And props to -- props to Greenwald too. He said he's going to stay down there and fight these charges, right, instead of he could come back to the U.S. He could -- he could, you know, try to leave. But he said he's going to stay down there, he's going to fight these charges. And he has previously said, he told The Washington Post, he will go to jail if that's what it takes to expose corruption down there. So props to Greenwald.

STELTER: It's part of an ongoing problem with this, this climate against journalists around the world. And one more story that involves a newspaper owner Jeff Bezos, one of the world's most -- best-known newspaper owners. There are these incredible and confusing headlines about the Saudis may be having hacked his phone. What actually went on? What do we know?

DARCY: So earlier this week, you know, the Bezos team basically, they hired these forensic analysts to look at the -- his phone. And they concluded, you know, with medium to high confidence, I think, that Saudi Arabia hacked into his phone. And then on Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors had evidence that it was actually the girlfriend of Jeff Bezos, her brother who leaked these messages to the National Enquirer.

And so I think what's worth pointing out is that both things can be true, right? It could have been her brother's -- sorry -- his girlfriend's brother who leaked these texts to the National Enquirer. And it can also be true that Saudi Arabia did breach his phone. We reported obviously back last year that it was the brother who leaked these messages to the Enquirer, but it's worth pointing out the both of these things can be true at the exact same time.

Unclear though, if Saudis didn't tip off the Enquirer what they did with this information if you know, if they breached his phone.

STELTER: It's a scary new world to think that, you know, the publishers of major news outlets could be hacked by foreign governments.

DARCY: Right.

STELTER: Now the Saudis deny that, but that is a terrifying process.

DARCY: And not only -- the publishers too. I mean, obviously Bezos, I would imagine has higher security than normal, but also independent journalist, journalists who are investigating the Trump administration or asking these hard questions, who have relationships with sources, government sources. It's frankly terrifying to think the state actors could be, you know, using their resources to break into their devices. It's a reminder to be careful everyone,

STELTER: Oliver, thank you. A quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES, and when we come back, paying tribute to legendary newsman Jim Lehrer.



STELTER: Jim Lehrer was a role model for so many reporters. The legendary debate moderator and longtime anchor of the PBS NewsHour died earlier this week. You know, he was on this program back in December a little more than a month ago. And I had no idea that he might be in poor health.

I wanted to talk to him because in this turbulent time, he was a voice of reason, a port in the storm. You know, the PBS NewsHour was Lehrer's co-creation. And it bears the mark of his steady, straight- shooting report. As he said recently not too long ago in a speech to PBS executives, it will forever bear that mark. I want you to listen to Lehrer in his own words talking about why he's one of the fortunate ones. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM LEHRER, JOURNALIST: We really are the fortunate ones in the current tumultuous world of journalism right now. When we wake up in the morning, we only have to decide what the news is and how we're going to cover it. We never have to decide who we are and why we are there. That is the way it has been for these nearly 35 years. And that's the way it will be forever. And for the news --

STELTER: Knowing who we are, knowing why we are here, such important attributes for journalists. Thank you to Jim and condolences to his family. A quick note here on RELIABLE SOURCES, tomorrow is the start of the first-ever national news literacy week, and we have a preview of it on RELIABLE SOURCES podcast. It's important to think about how news literacy can benefit people especially in the midst of this impeachment trial. We will see you back here on the program this time next week.