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How To Document A 50-State Disaster; Exclusive Interview With Amazon's Jay Carney; When Real Life Is Even Scarier Than Fiction; Fox Hosts Are Feeding Pandemic Talking Points To Trump; Covering The Coronavirus Shutdown In New York City. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 29, 2020 - 11:00   ET



BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter, and this is RELIABLE SOURCES. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

We are awaiting a press briefing. We expect sometime later today by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. As soon as we get a better sense of the timing we'll let you know. When that happens, we'll bring that to you.

President Trump is expected to have a briefing at 5:00 p.m. today.

Coming up at this hour, my exclusive interview with Amazon's top spokesman Jay Carney, now that Amazon is more essential and scrutinized than ever. He's coming up in a moment.

Plus, best-selling author Stephen King on the real-life horror that's unfolding. He has some choice words for how this is being handled.

And, later, New Yorker editor David Remnick and many more.

But, first, how can the media convey the depth, the scope of this international pandemic? I want to take you on a tour of the United States first using some of the nation's front pages, some of the local papers that are doing the important work covering what's happening at the hospitals.

Let's start here in San Diego, where "The Union Tribune" notes this grim milestone, 2,000 dead in the U.S. a number that doubled in two days. Now to St. Louis, "The Post Dispatch" reporting on how hospitals are rationing protective gear.

And now to Baltimore, where "The Sun's" banner headline foreshadows much more to come. The headline says: Bracing for the surge.

This crisis does conjure up a hurricane with warnings about the surge. In Montgomery, Alabama, here, the adviser in this paper says hospitals are bracing for impact.

This moment also conjures up a war with reports from the front lines. That's what this front page says. The front lines are expecting the unknown. All across the United States, from Honolulu to Waterloo, from

Tuscaloosa to Chattanooga, cases continue to rise, especially in nursing homes and other vulnerable locations.

There are 100 confirmed cases in Alaska. Take a look at that.

"The Tampa Bay Times" is noting that Florida cases are increasing fast. This is, as Juliette Kayyem, says a 50-state disaster.

Here's Bakersfield. "The Californians" says they are waiting for the worst. From Munster, Indiana, to Daytona Beach, Florida, to Pasadena, California, these headlines are all about new and for the first time in these local communities people dying as a result of this disease.

We are seeing these local papers ask practical questions. Here's "The Times-Standard" in Eureka, California, saying, who's going to be able to pay rent? These papers are also giving basic advice about navigating unemployment. Here's Lawrence, Kansas, "The Journal-Word" explaining how to apply for benefits.

These papers show us that we're all going through this collectively. And we all have these questions in common. There are, you know, slices of life moments as well.

Here's Flagstaff, Arizona, "The Daily Sun": The dash to aisle 11 for precious toilet paper, or here, Abilene, Texas: Wedding plans change, but love endures. It's great city people live-streaming their weddings and their church services and all of that.

But there's also a depressing sameness to the stories. I went through hundreds of these front pages thanks to the Newseum's website that covers all these front pages. Here's "The Victoria Advocate" in Texas describing a feeling of being under siege, I think many can relate to. And "The Las Vegas Review-Journal" noting there's still not enough tests.

And I noticed looking at these front pages yesterday and today, there are not a lot of front headlines about President Trump or other politicians. Those guys are secondary right now. Health care workers are front and center on these front pages.

Here's "The Journal News" in Westchester, New York: Wanted, it says 90,000 more hospital beds. Let's go to "The Kansas City Star": Doctors lacking safety gear. And "The Bucks County Courier Times" in Levittown, Pennsylvania, describing these workers as being in the trenches.

It is vital to help keep this local news coverage alive by subscribing and by seeking it out, even if you don't read it every day, subscribe to these papers, help keep them in business.

And let's zoom out, because this is not just a story in America. All around the world, the story is the same. This newspaper in Spain features photos of health care heroes all across the page. In India, a migrant laborer wearing a mask headed to his hometown. In Argentina, this headline warning of possible supply shortages there. And in the Philippines, this paper carrying the Pope's message: Only together can we do this. Amen to that.

But make note of what we don't see on these front pages, make note of what we can't see, that's the suffering inside hospitals. On my way into work here in New York City today, I drove by three of the hospitals in Manhattan. Outside, there is relative calm. All you see are these tents. But inside, there is bedlam. That's how "The New York Post" framed it yesterday, giving a very rare view at virus patients packed into a hospital in Queens.

This was a video that was basically smuggled out of a hospital to show people the conditions. We're not seeing a lot of that, and there are reasons why. Medical privacy rules and media ethics concerns dramatically limit our views of the front lines. And that's what these are, these are frontlines, where doctors and nurses are saving lives, but we're only hearing about it second hand, through testimonials, through videos that are basically leaked out of hospitals.


And through some very brave photographers who are able, once in a while, to gain access to these facilities. For the most part, we're not seeing this crisis with our own eyes.

So, let's talk more about that with my first three guests this hour. Joining me now, of course, all remote, all working from home, Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times," S.E. Cupp, host of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED" here on CNN, and Dr. Esther Choo, emergency physician and patient advocate.

And, let me start with you, Dr. Choo. We talked about this earlier in the week. You raised this concern with me, the fact we're not able to see the suffering of these patients. Tell me, why and tell me why that matters?

DR. ESTHER CHOO, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, OREGON HEALTH & SCIENCE UNIVERSITY: Yes, as you alluded to, hospitals are not in the business of sharing information about the patients coming in. And mostly, that's for very good reason. We want to protect patients' privacy and dignity. You can imagine if you're a patient suffering or a family member of a patient and the news you hear about you shows up on the evening news, shows up on TV.

But in this crisis, I think it creates a barrier between what's happening inside, what our health care workers are seeing, and what the public needs to know in terms of how bad this disease is. I think without seeing it, it's hard for people to understand what we're trying to avoid with measures like stay-at-home.

STELTER: I have even seen some really crazy people on social media, like fringy people saying, hey, I looked outside my hospital. It seems perfectly fine. And that's just -- that's ignorant. You know, it's foolhardy. But I wonder -- are there ways to free up the rules, to relax the HIPAA rules, to make it possible, as gently and carefully as possible, show what's really happening inside?

CHOO: I think we do need to make decisions as hospitals that some of this information is important for public health, actually. There's a piece of it that relates to patient privacy, but there's also the issue of hospitals not wanting to be up front about the way things aren't going well inside their walls. And I think we need to make a decision that, as hospitals, as health systems, we're going to be a little more open about the challenges we're facing.


CHOO: I'm hearing a lot of stories from health care workers, from nurses, doctors, and especially from trainees that they're afraid to speak up. They have been told that their jobs would be at risk if they were frank about what they're seeing in the hospital, including how very challenged we are taking care of our sickest patients, how we're going in without adequate personal protective equipment, the kinds of things that frankly everybody needs to know so they know how to support us.

There was a story out of Washington that a physician lost his job because he was very open and critical about how the hospital did not have protective equipment. I think we need to, as a specialty, as a field, agree that we're going to be a little more open about our deficiencies so we can be helped.

STELTER: Some of these nurses and doctors who are speaking out, who are making web videos, posting on Instagram and YouTube, leaking videos to "The New York Times," they're basically whistleblowers at this point, right, S.E.?

S.E. CUPP, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it's a complicated and challenging set of circumstances for everyone, including journalists, but it's worth examining. Journalists are only as good as the access that we have to whatever we are trying to shine a light on.

And for all of the comparisons to war that coronavirus has brought up, I think this one is really, really apt, as you mentioned. You know, we embed journalists in war zones with platoons. We embed journalists in all kinds of really dangerous, life-threatening scenarios, including disease-ravaged regions and oppressive governments, because sometimes, that is the only way we know what's really happening on the inside.

So, yes, there are complicated factors that would make embedding a journalist inside one of these hospitals difficult. But it's worth examining if it means we'll know more about what's really happening. To disabuse those conspiracy theories from people who look at their hospitals or their cities and say, well, I don't see anything really all that terrible going on. And to sort of bank up the trust deficiency that we have with the administration or that some others might have with their local governments.

The only way we will know what's happening on the inside is to find out what is happening on the inside.


CUPP: And it might have to come from more access and more exposure. STELTER: Right. Respect privacy, but get inside. Maggie, is there a

connection between the disturbing accounts in hospitals, the lack of protective gear, and the president's attacks on the media?


Because this week, he's been off the rails, the number of tweets and nasty comments about reporters and about reporting, including yours. These are four of the examples that we're not going to bother to read aloud.

Is there a connection between the bad real news and him calling it fake?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there's often a connection, Brian, between the bad real news and him calling it fake. He doesn't want people to believe real time accounts that they're seeing, and it's not just the president. It's a lot of members of the sort of more Trump-aligned media trying to suggest, as you alluded to earlier, if you drive outside of hospitals, you don't see anything that looks that bad, and so, therefore, the bad things you're hearing aren't happening.

I think that the president is doing very little other than watching media coverage right now. He doesn't have the rallies for the feedback. He's just watching television and having meetings about this issue, and I think that he is more sensitive to negative coverage than he normally is, and he's normally pretty sensitive to it.

So what he's doing is lashing out. It doesn't make it any less true, and you mentioned the "New York post" before.


HABERMAN: I think it's really important for people to realize "The New York Post," yes t is often very supportive of the president on its editorial page. "The New York Post" is still a New York City paper, and a lots of their coverage has been really good and specific about what is really happening in hospitals. They're not sugar-coating it.

That should be a message to the president, too.

STELTER: I hope he sees that coverage.

Maggie, the president did attack you directly the other day. "The New York Times" responded by defending you, of course. What -- how do you handle that kind of, you know, attack these days from the president?

HABERMAN: I have to be honest, Brian. It used to be when -- in year one of this or even in the campaign, because he would do it then, too, when you get attacked by the president, it had much more of a ripple effect. I mean, look, we need to ignore it other than just, you know, refuting the substance, although really, there wasn't substance. It was just a character attack.

STELTER: Right. HABERMAN: And he was retweeted (AUDIO GAP) who falsely claimed I had taken the president out of context. I hadn't. The president repeatedly said he wants states to be more appreciative of the federal response. And I was very clear in my tweet, which is what the president seized on to try to hit me over.

I have to be honest that his attacks thee days on media don't generally -- generally don't prompt the same reaction that they used to. I think it's become part of the noise. I think that, you know, he tends to return to the same trick over and over again, and I just think it sort of loses its spark after a while. So, I mean, it is what it is.

STELTER: Yes, it does.

HABERMAN: I understand that he's frustrated. I understand he's having a hard time, but that has nothing to do with whether what we're saying is true or false. And this is a president who has said all kinds of things that are not true about this crisis, continues to say them, including about the availability and frequency of testing, vis-a-vis the population in the U.S. I think he needs to be more concerned with how his own government is performing as opposed to how the media is performing.

STELTER: You would think a family member or an aide would tell him that, would help him -- would help him get through that. It doesn't seem like they are. Take the phone away.

HABERMAN: I mean, I don't -- I don't think that that's -- I think that -- I think that he creates the circumstance where people tend to have to sort of pick between him and the media when they're working for him, and more often than not, they pick him.

STELTER: That's interesting, yes.

All right, everybody, please stay with me for the hour. I have also Stephen King, David Remnick and Hashim Minaj all standing by.

But first, exclusive interview with Amazon's top spokesman, Jay Carney. He's coming up in just a moment.



STELTER: This just in: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will hold his daily briefing at noon Eastern Time today, and CNN will take you live when it happens.

With Americans stuck at home, Amazon is a key connection to the outside world right now. The company is ramping up hiring to meet demand.

But what's the company doing to protect its workers?

Joining me now is Amazon's senior vice president of global corporate affairs, Jay Carney.

Jay, Amazon announced 100,000 new hires in order to keep up with the surge of online orders. How many people have been hired so far?

JAY CARNEY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT GLOBAL CORPORATE AFFAIRS, AMAZON: Well, I know, Brian, that we received an unbelievable number of applications in the first 24 hours, something on the order of 50,000. So, I'm not sure (ph) in the process right now how close we are to filling those slots, but I know we're moving very quickly.

STELTER: Does Amazon seem like a public utility to you at this point? I know that conjures up regulatory issues, but does it feel that way at all?

CARNEY: Well, it feels like we are essential to so many Americans, millions and millions around the country, who are depending on Amazon and other services like it to deliver things that they might otherwise have felt comfortable getting at a physical store.

Now, I mean, you know, Amazon is a big e-commerce company, but, you know, e-commerce is still only about 10 percent or 11 percent of retail. In this time period, during this crisis, I think more people are relying on home delivery, getting stuff on their doorstep, and that's why we had to call on our employees to just do heroic things to work really hard to add hours and then to hire more just to get Americans what they need.

STELTER: Yes, you know, after Superstorm Sandy here in New York, there were gas lines. These days, there are food lines. I drove by four different Whole Foods. Amazon owns Whole Foods. And there were lines outside all of them.

And when I went inside one of the Whole Foods, most of the people who were actually workers, they were carting up supplies, bringing groceries to people's homes. That leads me to a question from Dave on Twitter.

He says: What is Amazon doing to help its front line workers at distribution centers and Whole Foods stores?

What are you providing workers for safety?

CARNEY: Well, it's a great question, because this is our first and primary concern, which is making sure that our Amazon employees, 500,000 plus in the United States are as protected as they can be as they go about doing this heroic work for their fellow citizens.


And, you know, we have instituted, you know, extraordinary measures on our fulfillment centers around social distancing, around extra deep cleaning of facilities, touch screens, other surfaces, making sure that there's no congregation that brings employees together and too close together for any period of time.

And we've also, in addition to raising pay during this period, up to $17 an hour minimum, not up to, but beginning at $17 an hour minimum, which is well more than twice the federal minimum wage, we've offered extended benefits, an additional two weeks of paid time off if you're presumed to have or diagnosed with COVID, or if you have to go home to take care of a family member who has COVID-19.

So, we've also told employees if they're uncomfortable coming to work, if they're worried about their own health, they can take unlimited unpaid time off through the end of April with no repercussions at all. We don't want anyone to feel like their job depends on coming to work in this circumstance.

STELTER: But are you all suffering from the same mask shortages and other supply shortages as the federal government and local governments?

CARNEY: Yes, of course. And, in fact, we are -- we put in orders for millions of masks, and for all the other kinds of personal protective equipment that people around the world are seeking, and a lot of what we are able to get our hands on, we divert right away to people who are in public facing jobs, especially in the health care industry.

As those -- that equipment becomes available, more readily available, we will make sure that we get our employees the masks and the other protective equipment that they need. When we do get it, and it's -- we're able to have them use it, we get them to it right away.

As you know right now, the WHO still says that if you're not ill, you don't need to wear a mask. We're taking every other precaution we can in this time period.

STELTER: Amazon is also a massive media company. Are you seeing a surge in prime video viewership?

CARNEY: No, if we've seen that, I wouldn't be surprised if we had. I know in my house, I'm sitting in our family room right now, my two kids and my wife and I are watching a lot more streaming video than we -- than we used to. And I'd say we were pretty good viewers already. So, I wouldn't be surprised if we've seen that.

We've also, you know, done things in some of the other services to make, you know, to help our customers through this period. Twitch, which is a property we own, you know, a gaming property, hosted a 12- hour live stream, a charity event. We've, you know, tried to help students through our Amazon Future Engineer program by providing online free coding classes to students around the country, high school and college.

So, we're looking for ways. We're -- constantly, we have a daily meeting with our leadership including Jeff Bezos, the CEO. We're -- while we go over the update on what's happening around the world with our employees and with our customers and our businesses, we also spend a significant amount of time just brainstorming about what else we can do or what (AUDIO GAP)

STELTER: Yes. You mentioned Bezos. President Trump and Bezos have -- have had a bad relationship. Is that affecting Amazon right now? Do you need things from the federal government right now?

CARNEY: Look, we are working cooperatively with the administration and, in fact, have -- notwithstanding some of the, you know, comments we've seen from the president about Amazon, I think that are mostly directed or generated because of his unhappiness with "The Washington Post," which is not an Amazon property but that Jeff owns.

And I think that -- you know, I know that my team is plugged in throughout the administration, Jeff himself has been on a phone call with President Trump, where President Trump had said how much he appreciated what Amazon is doing, both on the frontlines and getting goods to Americans and also by hiring at a time when so many companies are having to lay workers off.

So, we're -- we're happy with the cooperation we've gotten.

STELTER: Good to hear.

Jay, thank you very much. Thanks for being here.

CARNEY: Thank you, bye-bye.

STELTER: For more on all of this, sign up for our nightly RELIABLE SOURCES news letter. You can sign up for free right now at We have constant coverage of these stories for our newly newsletter, at

Up next here on the program, what happens when reality is more horrifying than the strangest fiction? I will ask best selling horror author, Stephen King.



STELTER: So, this is how television networks are getting on the air now. I'm in a remote studio here. Nobody else, just a robotically controlled camera.

Many other newscasts are emanating from people's homes at this point, from the morning news to primetime. Late night comics are doing the same.

Even my wife Jamie, she's a morning host on New York One here in the city, she's been broadcasting from the apartment. You can see, my jobs are to run the camera and keep the kids out of the shot, although I fail once in a while.

Newspapers and magazines around the country are being put together mostly or completely remotely for the first time ever, and the publishing world has also been affected. They've been pushing some books back, delaying them for spring launches.

But there are some differences. Stephen King's next book, "If It Bleeds", is being moved up a week. It's now going to come out on April 28th. And I am joined now by the aforementioned Stephen King, the best-

selling author. He's joining me from Florida.

Stephen, thank you for being here. I wonder what you say about an experience where we might be all living through something scarier than any novel could imagine.


STEPHEN KING, BESTSELLING AUTHOR: Well, actually, I did imagine it. I've heard a lot about that --

STELTER: That's true. That's true.


KING: In the last three or four weeks, people are saying to me, we're living in a Stephen King world. And all I can say is boy, I wish we weren't. But there's been -- this has been waiting in the wings for a long, long time. I wrote the stand about a pandemic that wipes out most of the human race. Thank God this one isn't that bad. But I wrote that in 1979, and ever since then, there's been -- this has just been waiting to happen. And the fact that nobody really seemed prepared still mystifies me.

STELTER: It is mystifying. Look, we've seen a lot of failures of political leadership. Let's talk about what happened in your state. The governor of Florida was on the horn with President Trump complaining about New Yorkers flying down to Florida to escape New York City. Then the president mused about a quarantine. Then by the end of the day yesterday, he dropped the idea. He was talked out of it. What's your reaction to that kind of leadership?

KING: Well, you know, it's almost impossible to comprehend it in a way. I mean, I remember back in the 70s when Republicans kind of laughed at Jimmy Carter as being indecisive and wishy-washy, and the President that we have now -- and again, Ron DeSantis here in Florida, the same way. These are supposed to be, go to it guys, these are supposed to be the take-charge guy. It's the guy that you want in charge when something really goes wrong, because they don't waffle. They don't wishy-washy.

So, you had Trump at first saying, well, this really isn't very serious. Don't worry, everything's going to be OK. Then when the stop market starts to dive, when the reality of the thing hits home, he's talking about well, take it easy, really, this thing is going to be like a miracle.

Everything's going to be OK by Easter and we'll have the churches fall and everything will be back. And then a couple of days later he talks about a quarantine. Andrew Cuomo didn't know about it. Nobody really seemed to know about it. It just came out of his head.

STELTER: Yes. And he's not even talking about Easter anymore. It's like every day it's a new -- it's a new idea. The Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times reporter who was trying to attend the Florida Governor's press conference yesterday was barred from attending. This is disturbing and all news outlets have to speak out against this. But what do you think the governor is thinking? What's he doing?

KING: Well, I'm not sure he's ahead of the curve. I think he's somewhere behind it. This whole situation is a little bit like the barn door has been locked but the horse was stolen. I'm going to say 10 days ago. So the view here, instead of a shelter in place order here in Florida, what you've got is a kind of stay at home, OK, if you really want to, but if you need to go out that's OK because of the economy.

I see people on the roads all the time down here. They're walking together. They're talking together. And I have to say that there's been a horrible example set from the top on down. The thing that sticks in my mind is the fact that all these people got together in the Oval Office when President Trump signed the bailout bill. Basically, we'll call it a bailout.

So here they all are side by side and to me, the only anything I could think of was, suppose everyone in that picture had a cigarette, you know, because you'd be talking about the same kind of damage, same kind of possibility of damage to people, and it's a terrible example, horrible example.

But it's a way of saying, and the same thing is true with the sadness down here in Florida, there is a sense, here's an undertext to this thing, Brian, where people are saying at the top, really don't worry about this too much. And if they continue with that attitude, people are going to take it from the pictures they see.

STELTER: And more people will die who don't have to die if we see these failures of leadership continue. Real quick, Stephen. You moved up your next book. I just wondered. Did you move up the next book because you want to give people something new to read when they're stuck at home? Was that the thinking?

KING: That's actually it. In fact, I wanted -- I found out this all happened on the fly. Everything has happened in a hurry. So they move the book up a couple of weeks. I'm not sure that there are enough print copies to satisfy demand assuming people get them, you know, from their independent bookstore. They're putting books out and people come and take them that way.

But John Grisham is publishing a book on the same day and I want to talk to the publisher about maybe doing a twofer. Wouldn't that be cool, a double feature?


STELTER: Interesting. We got to get creative during this crisis. That's right. Stephen, thank you very much for joining me. It's an honor to have you on the program. Up next here, the Fox News presidency, taking a dangerous turn.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) STELTER: We are back here on RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter. We are standing by for Governor Andrew Cuomo's daily press conference. We will bring that to live when it begins. We are seeing some dangerous rhetoric from Fox News and from right-wing media trying to back up the president sometimes offering false hope, perhaps promoting unproven cures and treatments for the virus.

And let me show you something outrageous. We're only going to put this on the screen for a few seconds. The National Enquirer promising it's found cures, take it down. That's a bunch of B.S. I'm really not sure that should be on the newsstand right now. Back with me is the panel Maggie Haberman, S.E. Cupp, and Dr. Esther Choo.

S.E. Cupp, there's something interesting at Fox News this week. Fox Business host Trish Regan who had been benched in part because she was out there talking about the virus being a hoax just a couple of weeks ago. She's left the network. They parted ways with her. But how was what she was doing any different than what Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and others have been doing?


CUPP: I'm outraged for her, in fact. And I didn't like her monologues. I found them to be irresponsible. But when you're out there doing what's expected of you and what other people are doing and are rewarded for, it's sort of infuriating. And we don't know -- we don't know why she was fired. Fox has not explicitly said, but certainly, the perception is.

And I think people would be led to believe that it had something to do with those -- with those screeds about sort of the betrayal of the president, our betraying the president by pursuing the coronavirus, you know, media trying to put those stories out there and, and believing that it was more serious than she and the president seemed to think at the time. That was really irresponsible journalism.

But at the same time, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Lou Dobbs, I mean, have said, I think worse and are still there. So it seems to me, when you're doing the job --

STELTER: Yes. One of the differences is she had lower ratings. I think one of her problems is she had lower ratings, and that was part of the reason why it's easier to let her go or part ways with her. Maggie Haberman, let me show you a tweet from the president from a little more than a month ago. He tweeted this in late February. He said the virus is very much under control in the USA. The stock market is starting to look very good to me.

These are shocking comments from the president. You know, it's worth remembering what he was saying a month ago. But is it penetrating? Do you think the reporting that you and your colleagues are doing about the missed opportunities in the last month, is it actually breaking through?

HABERMAN: I think, Brian, that most people have -- because almost everything of the last three years has come down to an up-down referendum on the president, which is what he prefers it to be, and unfortunately, I think a lot of us have played into that at times. I think that everybody is looking at this pandemic and how the government has handled it primarily through the lens that they picked a long time ago about this president.

And I don't think that new information is necessarily coming to them. I think it's part of why you're seeing the president's approval ratings have gone up, in general a bit, and on his handling of the coronavirus outbreak, it's gone up a fair amount, because what people are seeing is him standing at the podium in the White House briefing room and saying things that, you know, while he is attacking the media, I think, you know, we're not -- we're not a popular group with most -- with most people in the country, and so it doesn't -- it doesn't stand out the way it does.

It is a shame that there is a lot of real information about how this was handled that whatever people have a view of this president politically put that aside for a second, just to understand how their government handled this. This is useful information, just to understand how we got where we are, because there is so much confusing information around.

STELTER: Absolutely. Dr. Choo --

HABERMAN: -- we're seeing of brinksmanship going on between this president who's trying to be at odds with a number of different governors. And so, unfortunately, I think that people are brushing a lot of it aside as just noise.

STELTER: Yes. Doctor Choo, the media has been looking for fractures between the President and Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Deborah Birx. You know, there's these attempts to look for signs of trouble. Is that irresponsible at this moment in time?

CHOO: Yes. We really need a unified response to this. And I mean working on the frontlines and just speaking from my colleagues around the country, we are in there every day doing everything we can with dwindling resources and equipment. And what we need is really strong, clear leadership and to not feel totally abandoned in our -- in our effort to take care of people.

And so we need to figure out who really has a handle on this thing. We need to stand behind the science that Dr. Fauci is putting out every day and figure out a way to rally behind his messages about how to best contain this disease, and yes, and not look to divide the message or to -- or to really question the authority that's coming out of our leading scientists.

STELTER: But Maggie, what do you think of that, about the idea that we're looking for signs of trouble between Fauci and Trump?

HABERMAN: I disagree with it, Brian, candidly, and I was going to interrupt to make that point. I think that we are reporting on what is taking place. I think the idea that anybody in the media wants to get sick and wants to act as if any of this as a game I think is grossly unfair. My colleagues in the White House briefing room are -- you know, I'm in

New York. I'm not down there. If I lived in D.C., I'd be there too -- are putting themselves at risk every time they go in that briefing room. Reporters who are covering this in New York City in hospitals all across the country are putting themselves at risk when they're trying to do this.

I think the fact that there is a distinction between what Fauci is saying and what the President is saying is not the media's doing. And I think it is dangerous to try to categorize reporting as us trying to play some kind of a game respectfully.


STELTER: I appreciate all of you being here. We are standing by for Andrew Cuomo's press conference. The New York governor is expected to speak at the top of the hour. More RELIABLE SOURCES in a moment.


STELTER: These are difficult times, but comedy can help, entertainers can help. And that's why I want to bring in Hasan Minhaj. He is the host of Patriot Act on Netflix. It's been halted. Pretty much all Hollywood production has been halted. So how are you passing the time, Hasan?


HASAN MINHAJ, HOST, PATRIOT ACT, NETFLIX: I'm just with my wife and my babies, man. So I'm in full daddy mode right now trying to be --

STELTER: You just had a newborn like a week ago. Let's put the picture up. What is that like to bring a baby into this world?

MINHAJ: It's -- you know what, it was a surreal experience. And a big huge shout out and thank you to all of our, you know, healthcare workers that took care of us, that are taking care of everybody admits COVID-19 in this global pandemic. So it was this terrifying moment but it was also surreal. It was both of those things, you know.

STELTER: And now, you get to be at home with the -- with the family the whole time. You are still making web videos, though. And I've seen all these late-night hosts and for you, you're on Netflix, you're an any-time host. All these standup comedians still making content. How important is that to you and your audience?

MINHAJ: Well, I need to -- I need to create something. That's just -- it's just in us as performers, we got to do something. So, I think we're just all taking it back to our, you know, open mic and improv roots where we would just do anything anywhere in a black box theater, at a coffee shop. So I'm just doing whatever I need to do to, you know, put stuff out that I think is funny or interesting. So I think that's really what it is. We're just combating boredom.

STELTER: You were going to be hosting the White House Correspondents Association's annual dinner. You're going to be the performer in April. Now that dinner has been postponed, like the entire world's been postponed. But you were up there, what would you be saying about the president in the press right now?

MINHAJ: I would just say -- I would -- the first thing I would make sure is we're all that six feet away from each other. I mean, we're in a Hilton ballroom. So that -- first thing is first, we have to make (AUDIO GAP). And then -- and then I think we would get into the monologue. But I just got to make sure that ballrooms clean first.

STELTER: Right, make sure -- do you think that the President is strong in this moment. Are you impressed by his leadership?

MINHAJ: I'm trying to not watch the news right now, man. I'll be honest with you. That's what I'm trying to do. I'm just trying to take care of these babies and in check the apps once a day.

STELTER: Only once a day?

MINHAJ: That's it. Because every time I open the apps, it just makes me feel even worse. You know, and I'm having these beautiful moments with family. That's the silver lining to all of this, is that it made the world you know, just take a huge pause and for all of us to sort of assess and be with our loved ones. And whenever I open up the apps, I become more terrified and the anxiety just descends upon me. I feel for you, Brian. You have to cover this 24 hours a day.

STELTER: I'm going to go home after this though and take a long nap. That's for sure.

MINHAJ: There you go.

STELTER: Hasan, thank you very much. Stay safe. Coming up here, the editor of the New Yorker David Remnick. His thoughts as we await Andrew Cuomo's press conference, also on "STATE OF THE UNION" an all- star extraordinary lineup, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who says the President's actions or inactions have cost lives. That's coming up as well.



STELTER: Back on RELIABLE SOURCES. Every day these New York City streets get lonelier and lonelier and that is a good thing. But it's not just New York. Dr. Deborah Birx said today that no state, no metro area will be spared from this virus. What is happening in New York now is coming to cities and communities across the country.

Let me bring in the editor of the New Yorker Magazine, David Remnick. He's been publishing the magazine from home. David, we're standing by for Governor Cuomo's press conference, his daily briefing. How would you contrast Cuomo and President Trump's handling of the crisis?

DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR, THE NEW YORKER: Truth versus mendacity? Governor Cuomo, no matter what you thought of him before, whatever arguments you might have had before is treating this with truth and straightforwardness. He's treating the citizens of New York as adults, people who can make their decisions based on the truth and understand the truth.

The President of the United States, well, the cocktail of all his worst qualities is mendacious, his constant telling of lies, his narcissism, his lack of empathy for people in general, his obsession with money, classes, etcetera, has led to disaster, has led to delay. And this will be -- and I think history will prove this -- this will be something that's paid in human lives and that's an enormous tragedy.

STELTER: You wrote from your most recent column for The New Yorker that misinformation is a pathogen unto itself and can cost lives. Is what Trump's doing misinformation? Is that your view?

REMNICK: I do. I think it's a horror. And it's, you know, it works hand in hand with Fox News and other such media. And what you see in this country, unfortunately, is a kind of a country trade is divided in half in some ways, and it's based largely on information and their attitude, as Maggie pointed out, as Maggie Haberman pointed out before, how they feel about Donald Trump.

The idea that the President of the United States would get up in front of -- in front of the country and say that this is going to be like a miracle, that it will all pass, and it's a hoax played out to exacerbate charges against him on the political scene. All of this immediately translates over to Fox News and it gets told over and over again, and people believe it, and it affects their behavior, not just what they do at the voting booth.

And that, to me is something that will go down in history as one of the worst sins a president could ever have made.

STELTER: Two Americas divided during a pandemic. David, thank you very much. As I mentioned earlier, our media coverage continues in our nightly RELIABLE SOURCES newsletter. You can sign up for free right now. It's It comes out seven nights a week during this crisis. We are standing by for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's daily press briefing.

We will bring it to you when it begins. Until then, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper starts now.