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Pandemic And Protests Dominate News Coverage; Trump Attorney Speaks Out On Letter To CNN Over Poll; John Bolton's Book Is Coming Out June 23; Covering The Front Lines Of The Black Lives Matter Movement; U.S. Press Freedom Tracker Shows 400 Plus Violations; Unruly Crowd Harasses CNN Crew While Vandalizing Store; Journalist Blinded During Protest Sues Minnesota Police. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired June 14, 2020 - 11:00   ET



BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter, live in New York and this is RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story.

Coming up this hour, a new example of President Trump abusing his power. I'm going to speak with the senior legal adviser for the Trump campaign joining me live.

Plus, what it's like to be covering the Black Lives Matter movement and living it at the same time. CNN's Sara Sidner is here to reflect on what it's been like covering George Floyd's death and the resulting protests in Minneapolis.

And later, an interview with a photographer who was in Minneapolis, doing the same thing, covering the protests and now is permanently blind in one eye. Hear her account of what happened and why she's suing the Minnesota police, coming up.

First, though, journalists are like jugglers, tracking multiple stories at the same time, but there can only be one lead story here on TV at a time. For the past two weeks, George Floyd's death and the resulting protests have been the lead almost everywhere. This movement is continuing into this weekend. And we're going to cover it later this hour.

But the lead is definitely shifting back toward the coronavirus. Of course, the virus never went anywhere. I noticed on Friday, on Saturday, network newscasts leading with new warnings about the virus and about outbreaks in different states across America.

So, where is the expert leadership? Is the Trump administration in denial about the ongoing pandemic? Think about April, back end of April, that's the last time we saw the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefings on television.

Since then, you know, these experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Redfield, Dr. Birx have not really been on your television screens. You know, we do not see them at the podium anymore. Even the CDC has been mostly silent for the past three months. So, let's talk about this with an expert panel, some reporters who

have been covering this story and doctors who know all about it. I'm joined now by a staff writer for "The Atlantic," and host of the "Social Distance" podcast, Dr. James Hamblin; editor in chief of "Kaiser Health News", Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal; and political reporter Dan Diamond. He's one of the co-authors of "Politico Pulse", the morning briefing on healthcare, politics and policy.

Dan, where are the doctors?

DAN DIAMOND, POLITICO: HEALTH CARE REPORTER: Well, they're still in the administration, Brian. They're not just on TV. It has been 48 days since the White House last convened a press briefing for its coronavirus task force.

What that means is Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, some other experts who were staples on cable television, they are no longer making regular appearances. Dr. Fauci breaks some of his biggest news in interviews with local radio stations or at an industry conference last week. I think it makes it that much harder for their messages to get across, especially in the middle of what's still a raging pandemic around the country.

STELTER: It is still raging. Dr. Fauci was on with Wolf Blitzer on Friday, but that was notable because he had been essentially missing, not missing in action because he's working every day very hard but missing from television screens.

Dr. Hamblin, one of the arguments in the last couple of weeks is that the press has been focusing on much on the Black Lives Matter movement that the press has forgotten about coronavirus. Now, that's not true but certainly there's been a different kind of emphasis on these stories.

How do you explain it? How do you break it down?

DR. JAMES HAMBLIN, PREVENTIVE MEDICINE DOCTOR: This is a pandemic that's going to last a very long time. Every single day the top news story in the country can't be the latest numbers on coronavirus for months and months and years. It may not be the top story every single day but that doesn't mean people aren't covering it, that it's not important.

And that is actually part of the danger, that we get used to a certain baseline level of sickness and death and it only makes news when things start to get better or worse. But we can't -- we can't get acclimated to losing 800 to 1,000 Americans every single day, which is what's happening right now.


Right, we surpassed 115,000 deaths that we know about in the United States, the true toll even higher. Is this like climate change, James, like is this a story that, you know, it is a slow, melting glacier and yet we've got to make sure we pay attention to it as it melts? HAMBLIN: Yeah, that's part of the difficulty of it. And it's also

really all part of one big story. You know, part of the conversation about coronavirus has been de-incarceration, you know, canceling rent, giving people access to health care, forcing social safety nets. So, when you transition a conversation to defunding police or exactly how we're allocating city budgets, it's really all part of one big story.

And I think it's just important to keep in mind that those ties are there and the protests that are happening right now are not detached from the disparities in coronavirus deaths that we're seeing where black Americans are dying at almost twice the rate of white Americans.


STELTER: Right, that's a very important point. To that point, Dr. Rosenthal, were reporters hypocritical to go straight from covering masks and the need for masks and social distancing, and then, all of a sudden, covering these protests where there's not social distancing happening?

DR. ELISABETH ROSENTHAL, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, KAISER HEALTH NEWS: Well, no. I think one of the things is, of course, you know, these protests illustrate when there's something important be to be said, such as police violence against black and brown people, there are ways to live with social distancing in place. And for me as a physician, one of the things that has been heartening is looking at pictures of many of the peaceful protests and seeing every person wearing masks -- a mask, keeping distance.

And I think that's how we're going to roll out life again. And some people are doing it really appropriately and some people aren't. And I think the hot spots we see now are not necessarily from just protests where people weren't doing it appropriately, but from bars and clubs and, you know, yes, even churches, where people didn't take heed of COVID adequately. So, in all aspects of life, we're going to have to think about this virus because as we've heard, it's going to be around for a while.

STELTER: A while, but I think people would be more aware, more -- perhaps more careful if medical experts were front and center on TV every day the way they were in April. Are you disturbed by the relative lack of government and medical experts on TV?

ROSENTHAL: Oh, sure. Sure, I think it's a big vacuum. So, what happens is some people don't believe it for political reasons sometimes, what they hear politicians say, and so you don't have, you know, Tony Fauci up there saying, look at this protest, they're six feet apart wearing masks. That's a good way to do this.

You know, and what happens is into that vacuum comes all sorts of misinformation and disinformation from so-called experts who are not the real experts on this.

STELTER: Right, right. Dan, what about your experience as a reporter covering this day to day. Are officials at the CDC and other agencies responsive when you're writing articles for the web, when you're interviewing them on the phone, for example?

DIAMOND: It's possible to get email responses from top experts, and I did have a long interview with Surgeon General Jerome Adams just a few days ago in the "Politico Pulse Check" podcast.

So, the experts are gettable but they are not as gettable as when they were standing up at press briefings every day, responsive to reporters in the moment.

And in terms of what Dr. Rosenthal just said about the protests and the role of experts in the media covering them, I do think there has been some inconsistency in the media's willingness to ask the same questions of experts who encouraged the more recent protests around police brutality and the same reaction was not the same, actually, with the earlier protests about the lockdowns and the movement to reopen.

Dr. Fauci, when asked, Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, when asked, had warned the new protests could also be seeding events to create new outbreaks as well, and I think the absence of having them on television means that people (AUDIO GAP) physicians, public health experts and local universities step into the void and their messages are not necessarily as consistent as the long-time government experts.

STELTER: Right, mixed messages, people not knowing what to believe. Dr. Hamblin, there's talk about a second wave. Seems the press should be careful talking about waves when this is an ongoing, sustained crisis.

HAMBLIN: Right. When you look at the actual curve in terms of number of daily cases, daily new cases, we've been hovering right around 20,000 for a long time right now. We are in a plateau of an enormous wave. I hope we can call it the first wave. I hope we can call it the only wave, but there's definitely not a second wave happening.

There are local second waves are happening, but at a national level we need to keep vigilant about the fact this is happening, we are losing so many people every day. There are so many new cases every day and it's not a time to be cavalier about reopening or letting up or thinking anything has gone away.

STELTER: Yes, Dan, you said to me off air we should call these tides, high tide or low tide. Is that a better analogy?

DIAMOND: That's how I think about it. There's always going to be, as long as there are many cases swamping the system, there's always going to be a tide unless there is a dramatic change, with therapeutic, with a vaccine. And the U.S. is swamped in so many new places now that were not crisis points a month and a half ago.


Finally to Dr. Rosenthal, because you shared something very personal in an essay for "The New York Times" last month, your mother passed away in early May, she died of coronavirus.


But she's not counted in the official numbers.

She had been sick before COVID, but tell us -- tell us what happened and why it's important to recognize that the numbers we're being given, the data we're being given, it doesn't always include people like your mom?

ROSENTHAL: Yes, and for journalists that's the biggest problem and for the country and for our response, it's a big problem, that the numbers aren't there, the numbers the CDC should be getting for us aren't there. My mom was 96, but she didn't have any chronic medical conditions and basically she was living in an assisted living place where COVID had gotten in the doors. It was a great place. But COVID was pretty much everywhere in New York at that point. She got COVID.

She was -- didn't want to be in the hospital so she never got tested. She was treated for COVID. But because she never had that positive test, the way we're counting deaths, she wasn't counted. And that bothers me because we have this perception that numbers are bad or good and it's about political reputation or business reputation.

But numbers are what we need and accurate numbers in order to figure out what's an appropriate response. And we're not getting those right now. And it's often for political reasons.

STELTER: You're covering one of the biggest stories of your career and you're experiencing it personally. What would your mom be telling you, do you think, right now?

ROSENTHAL: Make my death meaningful. Make sure -- I want to be counted. She was very much about her, I want to be counted. And I think one way we can make all these deaths meaningful is to be accurate and transparent about how we count hospitalizations, deaths cases.

Right now, we have public health officials resigning and being fired because they're not able to be honest about what they're seeing. And that's a tragedy.

STELTER: Yes, it is. Yes.

Thank you to all of you for joining me today. And, my condolences, Dr. Rosenthal, on the loss of your mom.


STELTER: Coming up here, we're going to show you brand-new from "The New Yorker" this stunning new magazine cover and what it represents.

We're also going to break down the Trump re-election campaign's threatening letter to CNN over a scientific poll. What's going on here?

The lawyer who sent CNN that cease and desist letter is up next.



STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.

If President Trump loses in November, his divorce from reality will be one of the reasons why. He cannot stand bad news, like polls that show he's trailing behind Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden in a head-to-head match-up.

When CNN released that scientific poll recently, the Trump campaign sent a cease-and-desist letter, quote, formally requesting that CNN retract its skewed poll by publishing a full, fair, and conspicuous retraction, apology and clarification to correct its misleading conclusions.

CNN general counsel David Vigilante replied and said, no.

So, what's the campaign's strategy here? Is there a strategy?

Joining me is Jenna Ellis. She's a senior legal adviser for the Trump campaign and attorney for President Trump.

Jenna, there's your signature we put up on screen on the letter the other day. What's the legal claim that you believe you have against CNN regarding polling data?

JENNA ELLIS, SENIOR LEGAL ADVISOR, TRUMP 2020: Look, no pollster in the world would stand behind this as a legitimate poll, according to industry standards. So, why would CNN publish?

STELTER: What industry standards?

ELLIS: Why? For one reason, for one reason --


STELTER: This poll is in line with other networks' polls. Pretty much every poll shows Trump losing to Biden.

ELLIS: They want to undermine -- that's not true. You polled adults, not registered voters, not likely voters but adults --


STELTER: That's a normal polling procedure.

ELLIS: That is not the industry standard. And that's showing President Trump 14 points behind when a Zogby poll that was released in June 11th that actually polled likely voters, not just adults that you have the audacity to publish, showed President Trump eight points ahead.

In other polls, they're showing reasonably tied.

This poll was so skewed that the margin of error was 14 points behind. The only reason that CNN published this it's because it's junk science. You know that. You know that if your poll had showed the inverse and showed Joe Biden 14 points behind, you wouldn't have published this poll. And so --


STELTER: Of course, whatever poll is commissioned is published.

ELLIS: -- you're not a journalist. You're not putting out facts. You are putting out activism --


STELTER: So, is this the strategy?

ELLIS: -- and that's why you're fake news and why your ratings are so bad.

STELTER: Is this what you're going to do between now and November 3rd, anti-media strategy all the way to Election Day? What evidence do you have that attacking the media actually helps you?

ELLIS: Well, Brian, you're actually a defendant in a current lawsuit from the campaign against CNN for publishing false and defamatory statements couched in an opinion piece. And so, this has been a consistent pattern for the last three years.


STELTER: Right. So you're suing a couple of different news outlets for publishing an opinion. What --

ELLIS: Let me finish. Are you just going to interrupt me this whole time or can we actually have a reasonable dialogue?

This is why everyone calls your fake news because you finally bring me on to actually talk about things and then -- yet you just interrupt me and won't let me make my point. So, my point here is that this poll is junk science.


STELTER: Your comment about polling and industry standards is totally false. And it is important to interrupt when you share fake information.

ELLIS: Not true, no, you polled adults rather than registered or likely voters. That's not the industry standards --


STELTER: Perfectly normal to poll adults. It's important to know what all adults think about the president.

ELLIS: No, and the only reason --

STELTER: That's actually really important. We should know what voters as well as nonvoters know about the president.


ELLIS: Why, Brian, would you publish that? Are you really willing to stand by such a junk science poll when the other polls show President Trump ahead?

STELTER: They have plenty of time, by the way, to register between now and November. Most polls right now --


ELLIS: That's not the issue at all. That's not the issue at all.

STELTER: -- show Trump losing to Biden in that head-to-head match-up. CNN's poll is in line with other recent lines.

ELLIS: That's -- the issue, Brian, is not whether or not they're registering, the fact is that likely voters and registered voters are the ones that are going to show up November 3rd and those polls show President Trump either ahead of Biden by the eight-point margin that I just described from the Zogby poll that was published June 11th or at least within a much tighter margin.


It is only your poll that shows him 14 points behind and the only reason for that is because you refuse to go along with the industry standards and poll actual likely voters or registered voters rather than just adults.


STELTER: Again, not true. But what's -- not true.

ELLIS: And you also only polled 25 percent of Republicans in that poll rather than --

STELTER: But what's the legal claim? To send a threatening letter --


ELLIS: Don't you want to be correct? Don't you want to be correct and accurate?


STELTER: To threat to sue you've sued CNN and "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" this year --

ELLIS: You call yourself a journalist --

STELTER: Uh-huh.

ELLIS: You call yourself a journalist, Brian, and it's your job to report the facts and let the people decide. Your ratings are so bad and so in the tank --

STELTER: Really?

ELLIS: -- because America knows that CNN publishes activist agenda against President Trump.

STELTER: CNN is one of the highest rated channels on cable. If you think the ratings are so low, which is untrue, it shouldn't matter, but it's untrue, why would you bother coming on?

ELLIS: Because you asked me. And I think that it's important that your viewers, for the few that there are, that they get the facts and the truth. And so, I'm always happy to come on --

STELTER: CNN has one of the biggest audiences on cable in America.


ELLIS: The president is pushing back --


STELTER: Why is it President Trump and his aides care about ratings at a time like this?

ELLIS: You can defend that, Brian, that's fine.

And I'm saying that President Trump cares about facts and truth. And as a journalist, you should care about facts and truth, and to stand behind this poll is actually embarrassing for you because this poll is so completely outrageous --

STELTER: So -- we've heard -- yes.

ELLIS: -- and outside the margins of industry standards.

STELTER: That's not true.

ELLIS: -- that no legitimate pollster would ever stand behind this poll.


STELTER: That's not true. So, is the Trump campaign going to sue? So, is the Trump campaign going to sue over a poll?

ELLIS: So -- we've already -- we have already sued you for false and defamatory statements. Again, you're a defendant in a case that we've already brought.


STELTER: Right. Because you don't like an opinion piece that was published.

ELLIS: And so -- STELTER: Right.

ELLIS: No, it's not an opinion piece, Brian. I think as a journalist you know the difference between an opinion statement and a factually false statement.

So, we have sued over a factually false statement that was couched in an opinion piece that claimed that the Trump campaign was going to, again, collude with Russia and keep that option on the table. Quote/unquote, keep that option on the table.

That is a factually false statement that was embedded in an opinion piece that we are going to court over and suing you for because, again, the American people deserve the truth. That has been completely debunked.

But your network is not credible enough and is legitimate enough network to take responsibility for your errors and to issue corrections like this poll.

STELTER: Lots of people have lots of opinions. That's one of the wonderful things about America. Lots of opinion


ELLIS: If you are interested in opinion --

STELTER: The Supreme Court has long said that a major purpose of the First Amendment is to protect --


ELLIS: -- but not a factually false -- do you know the difference, Brian --

STELTER: -- the free discussion of government affairs, including discussions of candidates.

ELLIS: Of course, it is, the discussion --


STELTER: The opinion articles that you're describing do exactly that. So, why do you think you're right and the Supreme Court is wrong?

ELLIS: It's a factually false statement. Do you know the difference, Brian, do you know the difference between a factually false statement and an opinion statement?


STELTER: I do. Is your goal really to loosen the liable laws? President Trump talked about wanting to do that. Is the real goal to loosen the liable laws in America?

(CROSSTALK) ELLIS: So, then, if someone published a factually false statement, why are you calling it an opinion statement? Why are you calling a factually statement an opinion statement?

STELTER: It's an opinion article. It was published on CNN's opinion website.

ELLIS: No -- so you think it's OK -- do you think it's okay to put a factually false statement inside of an opinion piece and couch it in an opinion pace when it is a factually, provably false statement? Is that OK with you as a journalist?

STELTER: I think it's really inappropriate for campaigns to sue news outlets in order to get publicity, in order to advance an anti-media agenda.


ELLIS: You don't answer my question. Do you think that that's -- you don't want to be held accountable? Do you want to be a legitimate journalist or do you want to be an activist? This is why --


STELTER: I love being held accountable every day by everybody, by every viewer and by everybody else.

ELLIS: OK. Then why aren't you taking -- why aren't you taking responsibility for your junk science poll --

STELTER: Because it wasn't my piece, it wasn't my opinion piece.

ELLIS: -- and also for factually false statements.

But do you agree with the general principle that you shouldn't as a journalist put a factually false statement in an opinion piece? That that's not protective by the First Amendment? That's why we have libel laws and defamation laws. Would you agree with that?

STELTER: So, you -- OK, so I'm not going to let you flip the tables and let you interview me.

ELLIS: Would you -- oh, your --

STELTER: I'm going to leave it to CNN's lawyers about that opinion piece.


ELLIS: Because you can answer that. You know -- you know, Brian, that that is not protected by the First Amendment. You won't answer that simple question. As a journalist, don't you have an integrity --

STELTER: It is protected by the First Amendment.

ELLIS: -- to actually answer that question, Brian? That's false and defamatory statement.

STELTER: Opinion pieces are protected by the First Amendment.

ELLIS: No, that's not -- don't spin that, Brian. Answer the question. Do you think as a journalist --


STELTER: Hey, I'll tell you what I'll tell you what. Let's see what happens in court. Let's see what happens in court.

We're not going to litigate it here. It's going to be litigated in court. That's what you all want, right, to be --


ELLIS: As a journalist, are you willing to put your reputation -- that's a very easy question.

STELTER: You want this litigated in court. Let's see what happens in court.

ELLIS: That's a very easy question, Brian.

The only reason we have to go to court and hold you accountable is because you're unwilling to have the integrity to actually say that a factually, provably false statement should never appear on the pages of any -- in any newspaper or media outlet around the country. That should be something so easy. I mean, didn't you learn that in media class, Brian?

That should be something that we can all regardless of whether --


STELTER: I did learn a lot in media class.

ELLIS: Did you learn that? Or is that too complicated for you?

STELTER: So, tell me about --

ELLIS: You said you know the difference between a factually false statement and an opinion statement.

STELTER: So, what have you learned in law school --


ELLIS: So, tell me, is a factually false statement okay to put out on your network?

STELTER: Yes, what did you learn in law school that makes you think this is a winning strategy?


ELLIS: Is that OK?

So, Brian, this is the first president who's actually willing to hold networks like yours accountable for their egregious, egregious overstep, the false information --


STELTER: That's the strategy, right, to make him look tough, to make him tough, while he lies to the public on Twitter? I'm just curious, that's the strategy, right? He went out there and he lied about the Buffalo piece activist --


ELLIS: You said you're fine being held accountable. You said you're fine.

STELTER: You watch -- yes.

ELLIS: You said you're fine being hold accountable. So, we're holding you accountable, you said you're fine with that --


STELTER: So, you watch -- the president the other day watched One America News, he saw a lie on One America News about a conspiracy theory about Antifa.

He got excited about that lie and he tweeted it to millions of people. So, why do you say it's about truth and facts when he's spreading lies about peace activists in Buffalo?

ELLIS: Brian, he is about truth and facts. He has all about truth and facts --

STELTER: He is not -- Jenna, Jenna, that's a -- you're wasting my time, Jenna. He's not --


ELLIS: So, he has -- so, Brian, you're the one who invited me --

STELTER: Jenna, the idea that the president cares about truth and fact.


ELLIS: You won't even -- we can't even agree -- we can't even agree on what's fact right now. This is the problem with your network --

STELTER: OK. The president yesterday --

ELLIS: -- and why so many people --

STELTER: Let me show you what he tweeted yesterday. ELLIS: -- are so frustrated with CNN is because you refuse to actually

have a legitimate point of truth that we can agree on and then proceed from there. That's where there's not even a reasonable --


STELTER: That's why I asked you what the legal claim was. I tried to start from a place of facts.

ELLIS: -- that you agreed that a factually false statement -- well, the legal claim is that we're trying to hold you accountable and defamation is actually, the last time I checked.

STELTER: That's not a legal claim.

ELLIS: Absolutely. Defamation is not a legal claim? Of course it is.


ELLIS: And I know you didn't go to law school. But take it from the lawyer, it actually is a legal claim, and that's why we're suing you over the factually false statement. So, this is why you're fake news, it's so egregious.


STELTER: Right, so we've talked about the opinion piece. Are you also going to sue over the poll? Are you also going to sue over the poll?

ELLIS: This is why, because --


STELTER: You're not going to sue over the poll. That's my prediction.

ELLIS: We're holding you accountable. We're holding you accountable.


STELTER: Let me ask you, Jenna, about what the president tweeted yesterday. This was clear abuse of power by President Trump --


ELLIS: And this started with a letter, and if you had been willing -- let me answer -- if you're willing to actually correct your misleading junk science poll, then we wouldn't have --


STELTER: It was not a misleading, junk science poll.

ELLIS: This is -- this is -- and again, you asked the legal strategy. This is why the very first step --

STELTER: Yes. ELLIS: -- I know that you're not aware of this -- but the very first step in how we conduct business is to first send a very nice letter to your general counsel asking for the retraction. We did that prior to actually having to file suit over the false and defamatory statements that were embedded in that opinion piece.

STELTER: You know, so -- and we've covered that. You talked about that.


ELLIS: And that's how litigation works.

STELTER: Like I said, that will be litigated in court.

You can keep being patronizing, I don't mind but I don't think it's a good look for you. Let me just ask you about the president's abuse of power over the weekend.

ELLIS: It's not patronizing, Brian, this is something where every American should want truth and facts.


STELTER: Here's what he tweeted about Comcast. He called Comcast a great American company, Concast. He said people should drop them and go to a good provider.

How is that not an abuse of the president's power as president using his platform in that way?

ELLIS: Well, first of all, Brian, again, I knew you'd probably bring something like this up. We agreed prior to me coming on that we would stay to certain topics. And, you know, this is something -- again, I'm happy to talk about anything but this is again where the fake news always tries to--


STELTER: Yes, I told you I'm going to ask you about Trump and the media.

ELLIS: -- gotcha questions, you know?

STELTER: Yes, Trump and the media.


STELTER: Do you think it's appropriate for the president to tell people what cable provider to --

ELLIS: He has an opinion.


STELTER: OK, but he's a president, right? So here's what Norm Eisen said to me. Let's put on screen --


ELLIS: Do you like bad customer service? He's the president, but he's also an American citizen. So, doesn't he have the right to an opinion?


STELTER: Norm was an Obama White House aide, specializing in ethics. He's now at the Brookings Institution.

He said: It's an abuse of power for an American president to use the awesome authority of the Oval Office to target an American company.


ELLIS: I've heard abuse of power, I've heard abuse of power before, (INAUDIBLE) fake news, impeachment hoax.

STELTER: He said it is even worse because here he is retaliating against the exercise of the First Amendment protected constitutional rights.


ELLIS: That's what you guys charged -- that's what you guys charged during --

STELTER: You guys?

ELLIS: That's why you guys peddled and what the House charged was that, you know, false abuse of power. This isn't an abuse of power.

STELTER: Right, and Eisen was involved in that.


ELLIS: This is President Trump as an American citizen having an opinion --

STELTER: When the president is telling people to punish --

ELLIS: -- on really bad service. That's entirely okay.


STELTER: OK, he called out MSNBC and NBC News.

So, he was linking it to his distaste for news coverage. Again, that is so far beyond the pale for American presidents.

ELLIS: It has an opinion.

STELTER: Right. But do you understand how abhorrent that is in American history? ELLIS: Brian, Brian, he has an opinion. He is also a citizen. He's the

first one to actually use -- to use his platform as an American citizen to be able to call out the fake news media and say because you are peddlers of false information.

STELTER: You understand that like some day you're going to regret this, right?

ELLIS: You have for the past 3-1/2 years --


STELTER: Some day you're going to regret this when your kids and your grandkids look back at this --

ELLIS: No, I'm standing up for truth.

STELTER: -- and you use slurs and smears like fake news to hurt news outlets.

ELLIS: Oh, now you're going to personal attacks. That's when you know you lost the debate, Brian.

STELTER: No, but it's --

ELLIS: You can't even come on facts (ph) --


STELTER: I think in 10 or 20 years, if we just sit down and talk about this --

ELLIS: But come on, that's really low, Brian.

STELTER: -- you're going to recognize how damaging it was, how damaging it was to use terms like fake news, to attack journalists who are trying to do their jobs.


ELLIS: In 15 or 20 years -- you're not trying to do your job. You're not a journalist. You're an activist. That's the problem.

You have an agenda and your agenda is anti-Trump. The American people see through that. And they are very grateful that --

STELTER: I really think it's --

ELLIS: -- this president is finally holding the fake news media accountable because you're activists. You're not reporting fact and truth. You won't even say that as a general statement --


STELTER: I -- the reason why I think it's helpful to have these conversations -- ELLIS: -- factually false statements shouldn't ever appear in a media

outlet. That's -- I mean, how is that --


STELTER: Folks have gotten used to alternative realities and I think it's important we see there are alternative realities.

And, Jenna, I appreciate you coming on to talk about it.

ELLIS: How as you as a journalist sit there -- Brian, and you know what?

STELTER: One more bit of Trump news to share with you --

ELLIS: I want to wish our President Trump a very happy birthday from CNN.

STELTER: Happy birthday.

ELLIS: Thank you.

STELTER: One more bit of Trump news before the break. You're going to expect to see leaks from John Bolton's new book in the coming days despite the White House's attempts to hold up the publication of the book. It's called "The Room Where It Happened." It is coming out on June 23rd.

According to the publisher Bolton argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump's Ukraine-like transgressions existed across his full range of foreign policy. Bolton documents exactly what those were and attempts by him and others in the administration to raise alarms about them. This book is going to be a big deal and the leaks will be coming out in the coming days.

Up next, here's in RELIABLE SOURCES here's the headline on right now. It says, "Officer Fatally Shoots Black Man Then Protests Turn Fiery In Atlanta." We're going to talk about what it's like to be covering these protests from Ferguson years ago to Minneapolis this spring. CNN's Sara Sidner is next.



STELTER: This just in from "The New Yorker" magazine a stunning cover of the new issue. It's a work of art titled "Say Their Names" showing George Floyd's body and other black lives lost too soon. You can see images there of Eric Garner and others. This image goes back all the way to Emmett Till and MLK showing how this struggle is decades in the making. "Say Their Names," and that's what protesters have been doing by the tens of thousands.

"The New York Times" counted all the Black Lives Matter marches and protests in this country. They came up with a number of more than 2,000 protests in cities and small towns. You can see the map right there.

CNN's Sara Sidner has been on the forefront of covering this movement for CNN. She is in Los Angeles with us this morning. Sara, you just penned a new essay for that is an absolute must read from Ferguson to Floyd, what it's been like to track this movement for years now. Can you share with us what it's like as a mixed-race woman being out there with protesters, with police, what makes it unique to be coming at this the way you do?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that we have an informed experience. In this country, people see me a certain way. And I've always talked about this that when I go into a city that is not where I live or in the city that I live, when I walk into a protest, the protesters often see me and say, OK, maybe she understands, maybe she doesn't, let's hear what she has to say.

I get a very different reaction from the police who see me as another protester in the streets even when I show my credentials that I am with the press. And so it's a very interesting dichotomy. But I do think that we are informed in a different way. We have our own experiences because I'm a black American in this country, too.

And I think that when we're out reporting, we already know what that pain feels like. We already have experienced in our lives, whether it's our friends or relatives who have had these run-ins with police, we've experienced some of that. And so I think for a very long time we have been keeping our own experience in the background because as journalists we are taught, your opinion doesn't matter. It is the opinions of the people who are out there and the police and all the sides of the story that matter the most.

But I think I have changed a little bit, my thoughts on that. And that is, that to inform the audience of who I am, helps inform my writing. And you can take it or leave it. But I feel like we have a deeper understanding in some instances of what's happening out on the streets because in our own lifetime, we have experienced, maybe through friends or family, this issue as well.

STELTER: Let me just put up on screen a portion of your essay about this, because I think what you're describing is what a lot of journalists are thinking about lately. You say, I have fought all my life to separate my biases from work. And I have recently realized that it may be more honest to name those biases and explain how I am telling the story while at the same time forcing myself to remain objective and having editors help me get it right.

I mean, this has been coming up in newsrooms across the country. There was a black reporter --


STELTER: -- in Pittsburgh who was benched from covering protests because the bosses said she was biased. That's a very -- that's a controversial thing to say but that's happening in some newsrooms.

SIDNER: Yes. It is. And I have been asked the question over and over again, both within my newsroom and outside, can a black reporter cover this objectively? And my question is, can I white reporter?

STELTER: Right. Exactly.

SIDNER: If we're going to ask that question, then maybe we should be turning it on its head because for too long people who have been out on the streets protesting, black and brown people, have said, our story is not getting told the way that we feel it should be told.

We have to remain objective but I am a human being and a journalist, not a robot. And I think that it's important now to tell that to your newsrooms but also to tell that to the public, that you can read my information, you can see my stories and you can judge me for that. But you also need to know where I'm coming from.

And I have evolved myself, Brian, to be perfectly fair. And it's uncomfortable but I've asked people to be uncomfortable so I need to be uncomfortable myself.

STELTER: So well said. Sara, thank you so much.

Everyone read Sara's essay. It's on the home page of right now. Coming up after this break --

SIDNER: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: -- we're going to introduce to you another reporter who is covering the protests in Minneapolis. She's a photographer who went there, like Sara, to cover the movement but she came away blinded in one eye.


Hear what's doing now and how her story can help others, next.


STELTER: Now to the permanent scars that come from covering protests. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has counted more than 400 reported violations of press freedom since late May.

In Atlanta Saturday night an unruly crowd protesting the death of Rayshard Brooks harassed this CNN crew and broke one of CNN's cameras. So it is sometimes protesters who target the press.

More often though the physical attacks come from police officers. In Portland, Oregon, Saturday night this reporter was shoved into the wall when police charged in a group of protesters.

I want to zoom in now on just one much these cases from Minneapolis where a freelance journalist and author Linda Tirado was covering the unrest on May 29th. She says police shot her in the face with a rubber bullet -- the foam bullet breaking her goggles and leaving her permanently blind in one eye. She is now suing the city of Minneapolis, the chief of police and others.

[11:45:00] We reach out to the city, and to the police, to the state there for comment and they did not respond. But Linda is joining me now for her first TV interview since this injury along with her attorney Tai Cheng. He's from the law firm Sidley Austin representing her pro bono.

Linda, how are you feeling and are you able to work in future now that you've been blinded in one eye?

LINDA TIRADO, BLINDED IN ONE EYE WHILE COVERING PROTEST: I mean, I think the nature of my work is going to have to substantially change given that I am a front-line journalist. And it's a question of how I'm going to heal up and whether I'll safely be able to go on location. But, yes, I'm still going to keep working. There's absolutely no way this stops me.

STELTER: Were you targeted by police that night? I know you've shared with us the final photo that you were able to take before being hit. And in this photo, it is dark, but it does look like one of these police officers has his gun up pointed toward you. Do you believe you were targeted by police?

TIRADO: I think that the photos speak for themselves. And as a journalist, I do like to let my work speak for itself.

STELTER: So, tell us more about that moment in time. I mean, were there other reporters around you? Was this chaotic? Because it doesn't look very chaotic in this photo. It looks like some of the other police officers are just standing around.

TIRADO: Yes, there's certainly an officer that looks like he's on his phone at the time. To the best of my recollection, it was not long after police had come forward. There were protesters behind me, police in front of me. But you can see from the clarity of the photo that there wasn't gas around us. There's no way they could have mistaken me with a professional camera or anything but working press.

STELTER: Working press.

Tai, what is the broader context of this lawsuit that you all have now filed? What do you want? And will this partly try to help protect other reporters at other protests in the future?

TAI-HENG CHENG, ATTORNEY FOR LINDA TIRADO: Well, Brian, that's a great question. Absolutely it will. We brought this lawsuit because we have to protect Linda, but we also have to protect other journalists.

The U.S. constitution is clear, you simply do not shoot journalists covering civil protests. It is fundamentally un-American. And we brought this lawsuit for Linda because it's really important, we think, to establish that principle.

STELTER: And, Linda, what about you going forward? I mean, I'm just thinking about the practical nature of this. Insurance, having to pay for your injuries. I mean, people at home got to realize this happens and, you know, you're just left by yourself, for yourself, defending for yourself. TIRADO: Yes and especially as a freelancer without the protections of a press desk and the attorneys that would come with a network or a news head. Freelancers are certainly left to themselves. And I'm definitely going to be looking at surgery bills for at least the next few months. I just got the first bills rolling in and they're pretty big. So, we'll see how it goes.

STELTER: Scary aspect of this the people have to appreciate.

I love your book, by the way, Linda. It's from years ago, "Hand to mouth: Living in Bootstrap America," which is what we're talking about here, but what it's like when you're out working and this happens.

Linda and Tai, thank you both. Please stay in touch.

Coming up here on the program, a media sea change brought on by the Black Lives Matter movement. Major media figures stepping down or taking leave and we are still right in the middle of it. Details next.



STELTER: It is being called a reckoning. Newsrooms and media companies facing questions about race, representation and reporting.

"Bon Appetit" editor stepping down after a black face photo spark a wave of allegations about discrimination. A former "Wall Street Journal" editor moving from news to opinion after complaints about his column. In Missouri a family newspaper owner is out after running a racist cartoon. In Arizona a magazine is trying to regain trust after saying sorry for racist Instagram posts from the publisher's wife. And here in New York a powerful ABC executive Barbara Fedida is on administrative leave after Yashar Ali investigated what he called a long pattern of insensitive statements including racist comments made by Fedida. His story is up on "Huff Post." Fedida claims -- says the claims against her are heartbreaking and incredibly misleading.

So those are just some examples of what's going on. This reckoning is happening across media. Look at cops and live P.D. both being canceled, newspapers finally phasing out mug shot galleries that hurt people who never committed a real crime. We have got radio stations dropping the word urban while describing music by black performers.

There are more and more of these examples. So let's talk about them with journalist and author Farai Chideya. She's joining me now.

Farai, is it a reckoning? How would you describe this moment in media?

FARAI CHIDEYA, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Brian, first of all great to be back with you.

Three R words come to mind. Reckoning absolutely and long overdue. Release. This is actually a release of many decades of built up tensions in newsroom where black and other nonwhite employees have been just trying to do our jobs and we're told that our news judgment was wrong or that somehow we were wrong, from stylistic questions like whether we could wear natural hair to doing judgment calls on stories. And if it came to push or shove, we were often told that our reporting was not up to par.

But I think that the big thing is really reform. This is an era of reform. This is our moon shot where we as journalists get the chance to really make the integrated newsroom that we never achieved out of the Kerner Commission report in the 1960s.

And as you well know, and I'll stop here, the Kerner Commission report gave us a blueprint for integrated newsrooms. We never took that advice, and now we are living through it all over again.

STELTER: What needs to happen next? What needs to happen now?

CHIDEYA: Well, what needs to happen is that we first of all just need to get a grip, you know. Some of my experiences as a black reporter -- and I don't want to make this about me, but it just gives you a bit of a sample. I had a grant that was given to me that was essentially stolen by white collaborators on the project who then tried to throw me under the bus for not completing the project when I never even got my hands on the money.


Luckily I knew the grant maker and was able to explain that. But that was not only theft in my mind it was also information warfare that would damage my reputation.

I have been called young and unprofessional looking for having natural hair. I have been told my story judgment is bad only to later have a white editor do the same story months later. These are just the routine insults. And, of course, probably the biggest one was when John Hockenberry, a white male radio co-host serially abused -- verbally abused three women of African descent who co-host me and two others. The woman who I went to to try to get reprieve from this, Laura Walker, the head of WNYC, said it was horrible but did nothing and now is in line to be a university president.

So the three of us hosts and other concerned people are really asking in a time where young people need to be led through questions of racial trauma and how you treat your fellow human beings, which is a lot of what you learn in college, is she the one to do it? And interestingly, she contacted me yesterday, but she has never apologized.

I'm not saying that apologies are the biggest thing in the world. But I think that there is this idea that when you're a black reporter or reporter of color, you should be the shock troop to go into the most dangerous places, risk your lives. And then when you get back you're told what you did wasn't reporting, it was activism. And your words are demeaned or sidelined. But we can fix this. We can fix this.

STELTER: But that's why there needs to be a reckoning. You're describing why --

CHIDEYA: Absolutely.

STELTER: -- this release needs to happen, these stories need to come out.

One more point about this. We've seen once again a liberal movement to boycott Tucker Carlson's show on "Fox News" after he talked at length about the Black Lives Matter movement calling these the Black Lives Matter riots and saying this is not about Black Lives Matter. He was out there. "Fox" had to clean up his comments.

But my point is, advertisers are once again under pressure to leave his show. It is causing headaches inside "Fox News."

Is this ultimately a business story, meaning it's ultimately about the bottom line for media companies and news outlets?

CHIDEYA: Well, here's a much bigger story. Marsha Cooke who is a V.P. at "Vice" -- and SVP at "Vice" has been on this.

Many channels perhaps on CNN, advertisers will have blocked words. You can't advertise coming out of a news segment that has black or black people or Black Lives Matter, or George Floyd.

So what does that mean when you try to cover the breadth of American society, but the revenue models in the industry don't allow you to have your company compensated for doing the work? That is really important, much more important than Tucker Carlson.

But what I would say overall is we need newsroom leadership at the top that is truly inclusive. We never desegregated the American newsroom. We have a second shot. Let's not blow it.

STELTER: Farai, thank you so much. Great to have you here.

CHIDEYA: Thanks so much, Brian.

STELTER: Before we go, some facts versus fears about demonstration in Seattle. You probably heard about this. Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone abbreviated to CHAZ. City police in Seattle police boarded up and left the precinct in a move de-escalated tensions. And now it's a bit like an occupied Wall Street encampment mostly in a park and in a few nearby city blocks.

"The Seattle Times" is calling this an experiment in alternative community. But if you've been watching "Fox News" they are talking about a lawless state with guests likening it to Mogadishu. Not just on the opinion shows either. Here's how it was presented on Bret Baier's "Special Report" the other night.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The large section of Seattle remains occupied territory with protesters taking over a police precinct and establishing what they call an autonomous zone. President Trump has labeled the demonstrators anarchists and terrorists and threatened to intervene. (END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Now, wait. You can't just quote the president lying about American citizens being terrorists. And then just let it go, act like it's a normal thing to say. He's lying about people in Seattle. Why is that said out loud like it's normal? I don't know.

But, look, to be clear, this is a police-free zone, mostly police free. Some police have come in. It amounts to about six blocks. Look at this map. OK. It looks pretty big if you show the map really zoomed in. But when you zoom way out, you'll see this is just a small part of Seattle.

Now here's what "Fox News" did on the -- we can go -- let's zoom the map out. Let's just go ahead and show the zoomed out map if we can. I just want to make a point this is a small part of a big city, and that's not being reflected in the coverage.

So when you see "Fox News" digitally manipulating photos like this, trying to show an armed man somewhere he's not, give up on those national outlets that are trying to stoke fear. Rely on local outlets and reporters on the ground who are actually documenting what's going on in Seattle.


"Fox" has a reporter there. He should be on the air more often. All right. That's what they shouldn't do, use pictures of Minneapolis for a story about Seattle. Another stunt (ph) to stoke fear and division. Watch out for that. Look for local outlets instead. I'll be writing more about this in our nightly newsletter Sign up for free at for our nightly digest and media news. And stay tuned now for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. It's coming up right now.