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"What Is The Cost Of Lies?"; Facebook Exec Responds To Ad Boycott Campaign; Bill Moyers On Facebook's Response To Ad Boycott; Sources Reveal Russian Plot Against U.S. Troops; Teaching Social Media Users To Think Like Journalists. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired June 28, 2020 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: 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, Kirsten Powers, David Zurawik, Susan Glasser and so many more. We're going to be talking about Mark Zuckerberg fending off this "stop hate for profit" ad boycott campaign that's being organized right on social media.
We have a top Facebook executive, Nick Clegg, standing by. He'll join me for an exclusive interview in just a few minutes.
Plus, later this hour, two journalism legends are here. Longtime PBS's Bill Moyers on threats to America, and former "Good Morning America" host Joan Lunden, and we'll hear what she is doing to help separate facts from fiction on the wild World Wide Web.
But, first, a question that applies to all of us right now -- what is the cost of lies?
Those are the first words in the HBO miniseries "Chernobyl," last year's award-winning dramatization of the 1996 nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union. Secrecy, state deception, endemic lying, those are the themes from "Chernobyl", they affected millions of people back then.
So, the miniseries starts by saying, what is the cost of lies? It is not that we will mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.
The coronavirus is not a nuclear accident, of course, but if you watch the miniseries or read about Chernobyl, as I did this week, you will notice parallels between the Soviet screw-ups then and the Chinese failures this year.
When you look at "The Wall Street Journal", this is pointed out earlier this year when Chinese authorities tried to cover up the truth about the outbreak in Wuhan, that quote from the miniseries, what is the cost of lies, went viral on WeChat.
What is the cost of lies? Now, the United States, thankfully, is far more free and open than
Russia or China, but the lies are taking a toll in America, too. As President Trump and his aides try to push this narrative that we are seeing great success against the virus, cases are surging across the country -- largely affecting the South, the Midwest and Western states that were spared earlier.
Look at the front pages now from some of these states that will really taking the brunt of it. This is from Dallas, you see inside an ICU, a person suffering there. In Austin, the virus unleashed for long lines for people trying to get tests.
Let's go to Arizona. "The Arizona Republic" headline, battling the beast on the front lines. Another local paper talking about how everything in the community is being upended, everything being postponed and changed.
And here's Florida, "Tampa Bay Times", virus seizes an opening, and look at the beachgoers on the beach there, although fewer beachgoers than other weekends, according to that paper.
What is the cost of lies?
The cost is trust. The cost is a collective truth. And sometimes the cost is human lives.
And we have seen that trust violated. We have seen this dangerous downplaying of the pandemic, outright denial -- denialism coming from the president and his aides. And it is partly, I only want to say partly, but it's partly due to the right wing media machine.
Here's a brand-new headline from "The Washington Post's" Margaret Sullivan, media critic for "The Post", saying, the data is in. Fox News may have kept millions from taking the coronavirus threat seriously. She's citing a number much studies that have come out in recent months.
The studies are piling up. The evidence is piling up. That's from March and April. But it's still true now at the end of June. The network, Fox News, the prime time talk shows often don't talk about the virus threat. They focus on their pro-Trump narratives instead.
We looked today at "Fox & Friends," 6:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., they did not bother leading with the virus today, 10:00 a.m., choosing instead to focus on the president's preferred narrative about so-called law and order. They make out cities to be these disaster zones that they're not.
But let's talk more about the virus and downplaying of the virus now with Susan Glasser, staff writer for "The New Yorker", Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik and CNN senior political analyst Kirsten Powers.
Kirsten, you previously worked at Fox. You knew the machine from the inside. When I see these shows talking about anything but the virus, I view that as a form of downplaying or even denialism. How do you see it?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, obviously, I think the biggest story happening right now is the pandemic. And so, to not be talking about that and not be talking about the fact that we're seeing these spikes is to be ignoring the main news that's happening in the country. And, you know, you have Vice President Pence saying a few days ago that things were going better when, of course, they're getting worse.
And so, it clearly is them trying to avoid a topic that is not beneficial to the president and goes against his narrative.
And I think, you know, early on the studies show that their refusal to accept this was a real problem versus the narrative that this was just something that was being done to harm the president, obviously cost people -- cost a lot of lives.
STELTER: Do you think it's that stark, it's that bleak, there's no way around it?
POWERS: I don't know how to get around it. I mean, when you have -- when you look at these studies of how -- they jibe with what I've seen also anecdotally. I have a lot of friends who have parents that watch Fox News and they had a hard time convincing them that this wasn't a liberal media hoax that was being perpetrated against the president.
And so, they weren't taking any precautions early on. And so if you look at the studies showing the people who were consuming mainstream media and taking precautions, that people who are consuming right wing media were not taking precautions and were believing that it was this attempt to harm Trump, there's no question that they have done irreparable damage.
STELTER: This rhetoric affects the president and it affects Florida, GOP governors in Florida and elsewhere, and affects millions of people.
David Zurawik, did you see this continuing today? I mean, yes, it's true in February and March when there was these, you know, ridiculous commentators comparing this to the flu. What is the versions of downplaying or denialism now?
DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN MEDIA CRITIC: Brian, right-wing media is still doing this. And I think just one clear example of this is in terms of the masks. And it goes right to that quote about truth, Brian.
Look, the truth is the public health officials and the medical officials have been humbled by this virus. But the one thing -- and they say, we don't, we don't know this, we don't know enough about it, but the one thing data they gathered shows us to be true is that if you wear a mask and if you social distance, if you don't get in a room with a lot of people, you will have a better chance of avoiding this virus. So, what happens? This is -- the truth is, wear a mask and you will be
safer. But we have President Trump, of course, in his vanity, not wearing a mask and his inability to say he was wrong.
And then the right-wing media echoes that. And we see the result. We see the result in these spikes. We see --
STELTER: It's amazing because --
ZURAWIK: The stories in --
STELTER: The masks should have been in April. That was an April story. I can't believe it's June and we're talking about masks.
But let me show you an example, David.
STELTER: We took a look at Hannity's town hall with the president. It was an hour-long interview special. It was pretty much an example of propaganda. And in this hour-long special, the pandemic came up for a total of three minutes.
Let me show you all the other topics.
STELTER: Left wing lawlessness, inner cities' violence. They love these stories. They don't want to talk about the pandemic.
ZURAWIK: Brian, one of the things they also pushed, that Trump pushed through his right-wing messaging machine was this totally unsubstantiated notion that Americans can't be kept in their homes, Americans need to be free to go out and do stuff. I see it in stories about parents who are saying, my children need to go play -- go to summer camp and play baseball. I can't keep them penned up.
Trump and the right-wing messaging machine, which you and I have been pounding about since 2016 is really -- this is not a game of words. This is life and death. There is -- people who put that message out and I don't understand how anybody who calls themselves a journalists could not give citizens the information they need to make an informed decision about their lives with masks and social distancing.
But Trump and his right-wing messaging machine are muddying the waters, confusing them and telling them they don't need to do it.
STELTER: One of our banners said Trump was inside the Hannity bunker. Credit to Susan Glasser for that line, that's how you characterized this propaganda hour that was broadcast on Fox. But, you know, Susan, the president has actually been doing a lot of television interviews.
We can put up a calendar, thanks to Fact Base, which found that this month, June, was one of the president's busiest months in terms of TV interviews, print interviews, et cetera. He's actually been out there quite a bit. It's just that he's not telling the public what they need to know about the virus.
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's an excellent point, Brian. I mean, you know, obviously, for President Trump, Hannity is his equivalent of a safe space. You know, it's the bunker that he goes into, when there's evidence those other interviews haven't been working.
Obviously, his poll numbers have been going down in a pretty alarming rate. Even his internal poll numbers, according to reporting, show that he is trailing former Vice President Joe Biden.
So, he goes on Hannity the other day, as you pointed out, not only do they not talk about the coronavirus or what is actually happening in the country, but, you know, even propaganda, I found by listening to that town hall, so-called, it can be unintentionally revealing, right?
Even propaganda can show you something. What did it show? It showed you a president who's very disconnected from reality and who couldn't even answer the softball questions he was offered. The first question in the town hall was, sir, what is your greatest accomplishment?
You know, that would have been interesting, even if Russia people would have mocked that pretty mercilessly if that was the first question to Vladimir Putin. You're opening here on Chernobyl, it's an excellent point about the cost of truth and lies.
But remember, Chernobyl actually helped Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union, to understand how gone awry his own government was. He actually changed course in some ways after that. But right now, the lies and misinformation are coming from the president of the United States himself.
And, by the way, it's not just a false narrative he was saying on Hannity. There were numerous untrue, factual statements that were never corrected by Hannity, never corrected by Fox. There is a difference, and I think it's important to hold to in this political year, it's not just ideology that Trump and Hannity are offering. It's actual untruths never corrected on air.
STELTER: In a few decades when I tell my grandkids about this time in our lives, they're not going to believe it. It's going to sound like fiction. Some of it is so unbelievable.
Kirsten, I want you to have the last word. Is the takeaway about the media, that media outlets need to take their influence a lot more seriously?
POWERS: Well, I do think they have to take it more seriously. At the same time, I think Fox does understand the power they have, right? They know the audience they have and so it's not that they don't know they have influence over these people and how devoted they are, right? They don't watch anything else. They watch it all day long. It's the only place they trust.
And so, they know that and yet they have still done this, right? Because it's more important to them to support Donald Trump and to carry out his narrative than to take care of the people that watch Fox News. And so, they're harming their viewers out of their allegiance to Donald Trump. I mean, that is literally what happened.
STELTER: There some dissenters of Fox. There is a resistance at Fox. They just are not winning. I've got some reporting on that coming up in the months ahead.
Kirsten, David, Susan, thank you all for starting us off.
Ahead this hour, Jake Tapper, Joan Lunden and more.
But, up next, Facebook's response to their lack of action. Now, there are major companies, they're saying they're boycotting ads on the platform. Facebook executive Nick Clegg will join me in just a minute.
STELTER: Now to a moment of reckoning for Facebook. Some big companies like Coca-Cola, Hershey's, Honda, Unilever have all paused their advertising on one of the world's biggest platforms. A lot of them say they're doing this in response to Facebook's handling or mishandling of hate speech and misinformation on the platform.
There's concerns about what President Trump posts on Facebook but what other politicians and a lot of users post as well.
There's been this campaign around the #stophateforprofit organized by the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, other groups as well.
On Friday, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg came out and shared some announcements publicly, perhaps trying to calm advertisers' concern. He said that the platform will ban hateful ads. For example, ads that are anti-immigrant, and the company to decide (ph) what label controversial posts from politicians that if you or I posted them, they would get removed, they're going to stay up because they're from a politician, but they're going to be labeled in a certain way.
You will recall that CEO Jack Dorsey over at Twitter made a similar move back many weeks ago, labeling some of President Trump's posts as being a violation of policy.
Look, what Facebook announced on Friday is not doing enough to satisfy critics who want to see a lot more done. They want so see a lot stronger action taken by the company. The question now this weekend, heading into a new work week, is whether this ad boycott campaign is going to continue to gain steam, whether it's actually going to hurt Facebook's bottom line, and whether it's actually going to cause change at the company that so many people rely on for news and information and connection. Let's talk about this now with one of Facebook's vice presidents, Nick
Clegg. He's the VP for public affairs and communication, the top spokesman for Facebook all around the world.
Nick, thanks for coming on.
NICK CLEGG, VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS, FACEBOOK: It's good -- good to be on the show with you.
STELTER: How damaging has this ad boycott been to Facebook so far?
CLEGG: Well, I think everyone takes anything to do with hate speech tremendously seriously. I mean, look, Facebook, we have absolutely no incentive to tolerate hate speech. We don't like it. Our users don't like it. Advertisers understandably don't like it.
You know, we don't benefit from hate speech -- of course not. We benefit from positive human connection, not -- not hate. And that's why the company has been ramping up its efforts hugely over the recent months and years to deal with hate speech.
We remove about 3 million items of hate speech content a month around the world. Ninety percent of that, by the way, we get to that before anyone reports it to us.
And, thankfully, people -- independent folk have certified that we're well ahead of any other social media company. The European Union, for instance, last week, issued a report comparing our performance to YouTube, Twitter and so on, and they confirmed that, you know, in over 95 percent of cases, hate speech cases that is reported to us, we deal with that within 24 hours, which is well ahead of our peers.
But we understand, of course, we need to do more. We understand people want to put pressure on Facebook to do more. That's why we made those additional announcements in Friday -- on Friday. That's why we'll continue to redouble our efforts, because, you know, we have a zero tolerance approach to hate speech.
Unfortunately, zero tolerance doesn't mean zero occurrence. And that's why we constantly need to improve, implementing our policies, enforcing them so that we can seek out what thankfully is still a very small minority, but damaging minority of content on the platform, to make people feel safe and for people to continue to enjoy the positive useful experience that people come onto Facebook for in the first place.
STELTER: Some companies don't seem convinced. Hershey's, for example, saying: We do not believe that Facebook is effectively managing violent and divisive speech. Despite recent repeated assertions, we have not seen meaningful change. What are you telling brands like Hershey's?
CLEGG: With respect, I think there has been meaningful change. As I said earlier, we now get to 90 percent of the hate speech in our platform before anyone reports it to us, which is up from about 23 percent two or three years ago. Of course, we need to continued to do that (ph) --
STELTER: So, progress, but what about divisive speech? Hershey's says divisive speech as well. Hate speech is pretty narrow. Divisive gets a lot broader, doesn't it?
CLEGG: Yes, and I'm afraid that in a highly polarized time in U.S. society, particularly in the run-up to this highly consequential election in November where, you know, people are shouting at each other from right and left, and where, of course, in some sense, Facebook is a mirror to society. We're a private company but we run the platform on which America democracy plays itself out in all of its -- in all of its sort of glory and ugliness.
And so, of course, that is reflected on our platform. I'm not going to pretend that we're going to get rid of everything that people, you know, react negatively to. Not the least, as you very well know, politically, there are folk on the right who think we take down too much content, folk on the left who think we don't take down enough.
We will continue what we think is the only sense of the way forward, to have clear rules, to bear down aggressively on hate speech in particular. Remove it from our platform where we identify, which we now do with greater speed, greater velocity and greater consistency than any other social media company.
We understand that it's a very fraught intense time in the nation, and we will continue to demonstrate our sincerity dealing with this problem with the responsibility that we clearly do bear.
STELTER: An example from Kevin Roose of "The New York Times". He shared this post that went viral on Facebook the other days.
It's a lie about the Vietnam Memorial being defaced by Black Lives Matter activists. This is old graffiti. It was not put there by Black Lives Matter activist.
But these goes viral on Facebook because there's a lot of people that want to believe these lies. Hundreds of thousands of people wanted to believe this lie.
Is there anything Facebook will ever do about that kind of viral lying?
CLEGG: Well, I think what we need to do with things like that, because as you know, we work with over 60 fact-checkers in over 50 languages around the world. They work independently of Facebook. And what they do is they look at things like that and then label it as false or partly false, and then it gets massively downgraded on people's news feeds, less prominent.
A filter is stuck on it and you can't look at it unless you click on that filter. I think what you can -- (CROSSTALK)
STELTER: Right, but you've been encouraging people to use private groups. And in private groups, that's where the real all awfulness is happening, and reporters can't even see inside those.
CLEGG: But we can. We can. And we have AI system and machine learning systems which do, of course, scour content on groups.
We're looking at the moment to see whether we could make administrators of groups more responsible, more accountable for anything that happens on those groups, which is untoward. But of course, we enforce our policies on groups.
And may I just say something, Brian, I believe it's important. I sometimes hear folk imply somehow Facebook or social media generally is awash with hate. And yes, there are hateful people in the world. Always have been, always will continue to be.
But thankfully, the vast, vast majority of content on Facebook is positive, is useful, is joyful, is sometimes playful. It's the local business reaching their local clients. It's the dad running the Facebook group for his daughter's football team. It's the family --
STELTER: Yes. Look, Nick, I'll pull up my feed right now. Most of this is perfectly positive. You're absolutely right. Most of this is just friends and family.
My fear is that Facebook is a radicalization engine for a majority of people who just hear louder and louder lies over and over again. And numerous studies have indicated that as well.
I think the question is whether Facebook is making the world a more fractured place because of that ability to get radicalized, even though, again, to your point, most people are just talking to their friends on Facebook.
CLEGG: Actually, countless independent studies have suggested that the polarization you've seen, particularly in the United States, is not due all to social media. Far from it.
CLEGG: It's a highly complex issue. And that -- there are -- there are countries elsewhere in the world that polarization has declined even as Internet use has increased.
So, I think it's a sweeping generalization to suggest that all ills of the world are due to social media. Yes, we have our responsibility to remove illegal content, terrorist content, which we do now -- over 99 percent of terrorist content is removed before anyone reports it to us. We need to do better on hate speech. We've made huge strides. We're
industry leading already.
But, you know, on an average day, there are 115 billion, 115 billion messages sent on our services around the world and the vast, vast, vast majority of that is positive, human connections interaction. That's what we want to safeguard while at the same time bearing down on the hate speech which is quite right -- quite rightly is troublesome to people.
STELTER: Right. And we can call agree on that. What about the president's posts about voter fraud. Are those the kinds of posts that are now going to be flagged because of these rule changes that Zuckerberg announced on Friday?
CLEGG: Yes, yes. So, the post Donald Trump issued some weeks ago, making claims about mail by vote -- vote by mail, forgive me, those are the kind of posts exactly discussing elections, discussing how to vote, which will now have an automatic link to our information centers both on COVID and voting, so that people have on a very large scale, in those posts they are immediately pointed and they have labels which point them to reliable, authoritative information so people cannot be misled about how to vote, where to vote and when to vote.
STELTER: And then it's up to the people whether they believe them or not, you're saying you are doing all they can.
What happens when the president starts to attack Facebook the way he attacks Twitter?
CLEGG: Well, I think he has done in the past and no doubt he might do so again in the future.
But we -- we understand politicians -- I was a politician myself for 20 years in Europe. Politicians will make very vituperative claims about their opponents and often, you know, will make caricature claims about their own virtues. That's politics. That's always been the case.
And we're not -- we're not there to sort of vet what politicians say. We don't want to get in the way in a democracy, particularly in an election year like this, between what politicians say to each other and voters who in the end (INAUDIBLE) have to make their own judgments at the ballot box.
What we can do, which is why we're launching America's largest voter information and voter registration ever -- effort ever is to encourage people to vote -- to vote. Because in the end, the way in which -- by which people can make their voice heard is by participating in the election and doing so safely and confidently, if they know where, when and how to vote.
STELTER: Nick, you have a heck of a job.
CLEGG: Thank you for saying so. It's a -- it's a very interesting job, dealing with very important issues. Some of which don't, unfortunately, have straightforward or immediate or instant solutions. But we're working very hard to make sure that we discharge the responsibilities that Facebook has got as well as we can.
STELTER: Nick Clegg, thank you very much for being here.
CLEGG: Thank you.
STELTER: After a quick break on RELIABLE SOURCES, Bill Moyers is here with reaction to Facebook rules.
And yet another offensive post from President Trump, thanking great people who are seen chanting "white power". Is the president actually deleting it?
We'll be right back.
STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. Veteran journalist Bill Moyers' recently called Mark Zuckerberg morally hollow for Facebook's inaction in the face of President Trump's offensive posts. Now, Facebook says it is changing some rules. With me to respond is the former PBS host, the former White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers.
Bill, you have so many titles. I guess the best title for now is BillMoyers.com. Everybody can find everything you do on BillMoyers.com. I just wondered if you could react first to what you heard from Facebook a few minutes ago. They say they're tightening the rules. They say they're banning all hate speech. They say they're going to label borderline posts, you know, from the President and others. Is the company starting to -- starting to make progress?
BILL MOYERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, Nick Clegg is an able if unconvincing advocate for his boss, and I hope Facebook is waking up to the Frankenstein aspects of Zuckerberg'S creation, but I'm not sure. You know, he brought it on himself this boycott, Brian, when he took an utterly amoral position that anything goes.
No society, especially a democracy can survive with that philosophy if he have any side go -- if anything goes. And the organizers of the boycott were absolutely right when they -- when they argued that Facebook allows racist, violent, and verifiably false content to run ramp out on its platform. And what did Zuckerberg do? He gave him months ago the middle finger and went off to have a private dinner with Donald Trump.
Look, he is an autocrat. He has told one of your own CNN analysts as he has total voting control over Facebook, even the shareholders can't fire him. So, if you believe that injustice, when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty, you have to admit the organizers of the boycott were left no other way to defend democracy against the hate and bigotry that Facebook was dumping like garbage into the public square. Well, let's hope and --
STELTER: And so, they're vetting them at the bottom line and that's what's so notable. This is all about profits. So, they're going after the profits from Facebook's ad revenue. Let's turn from Facebook to Twitter because in the past couple of hours, the President of the United States shared another offensive post. He shared this video from the villages in Florida where this man you see in his golf cart "chanted white power, white power."
Trump fans are saying it was sarcastic. But the President said thank you to the great people of the villages for supporting me. What do we do in this situation? He posts on Twitter. He shares it. Hours later, the President has deleted this from Twitter. But it's yet another example of the President, I don't, know dog-whistling. What do you -- what do you describe it as?
MOYERS: Well, you can't believe a word he says whenever he says it. I mean, on Friday, his administration, Robert Barr -- William Barr and the Solicitor General filed a petition or request with the Supreme Court to kill off ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act right now. Now before the election.
What did Trump do on Saturday, he tweeted, we're not going to kill off ObamaCare. I mean, do you believe, William Barr, the Solicitor General, or the president? I don't think you can believe any of them.
STELTER: That's what's fundamentally broken, lack of trust when it comes to all these topics, whether it's the pandemic or it's any other policy change, etcetera. You know, the president you know, used the term kung flu the other day, a racist term. CBS reporter Weijia Jiang said a Trump official said the same term to her back in the springtime.
And earlier this week, Kayleigh McEnany, Kellyanne Conway both sparred with Weijia Jiang when she brought it back up. Have you ever seen as a former White House Press Secretary yourself such a personal, hostile relationship between reporters and government officials?
MOYERS: Well, there's always some tension between them, sometimes there's some open feuding between them, but I've never seen anything like this. I mean, you probably know that one of the most popular t- shirts at Trump's rallies has Trump urinate -- a cartoon character like Trump urinating on the CNN logo.
You probably -- if you watch the Tulsa rally from start to finish last week, you will -- you will have seen Trump. He didn't have the crowd in the beginning. They weren't engaged yet. So how did he get their attention? How do they get their passion engaged? He pointed to a CNN reporter and said the cruelest things about her and the crowd came alive. The crowd was passionate again because he had made an enemy out of the person sitting in their midst.
I mean, Jeff Sharlet of Vanity Fair cover that rally as we did, and he saw that the reporters were sitting in a kind of pen in the middle of the stadium. And so, the audience was all after him. They could look right after the press. You know, if you make -- if you make a fool or clown out of the press, then you have persuaded their viewer -- your viewer, your followers, they do not have to listen to that person or learned from him. They can only make fun of him.
And that's what Trump is doing. Brian, this is terrible to say. But there's a -- there's another popular t-shirt out in the Trump rallies that says reporters, journalists, a tree needs assembly. I mean, that's a suggestion that the ultimate violence vested upon people who are trying to do their job and cover the news for the public.
It's an atrocious approach to the media and I never have seen it this way before. Nixon tried, but he didn't have his heart in it. Trump has his heart in it. He loads the media because it built him. And because it had built him, he can undo him.
STELTER: Bill Moyers, thank you very much. Great to hear your insight. Nothing to add to that.
MOYERS: You're welcome.
STELTER: Coming up here, a new movie takes us to a remote U.S. outpost in Afghanistan. And there are new developments about the actual war. We're going to talk more about both with Jake Tapper in just a moment.
STELTER: The war in Afghanistan rarely lands on the national news radar in America. It only pops up sporadically when there is breaking news like this New York Times story about a stunning U.S. intel assessment finding that Russia secretly ordered offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops. CNN matching the reporting, cited a source asserting that the cash rewards did lead to coalition casualties.
So, scoops and sources are two ways to ensure that the forever war is not the forgotten war. Another way is storytelling. A new film titled The Outpost comes out on Friday. You can rent it at home or video on demand. It'll also be in select theaters. It is adapted from Jake Tapper's book of the same name and accounts of one of America's deadliest battles during the Afghan war.
And Jake is with me now to talk about all of this. Jake, on a scale of one to 10, how big is this news about the bounties, especially now that Trump is basically kind of denying it?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it certainly fits in with what we know of the Russians in the sense that they have been trying to destabilize U.S. activities in Afghanistan as well as other places such as Syria. The idea that President Trump's defense is that he wasn't briefed about it.
I don't know what really to make of that, because if he hasn't been briefed on it, then that's shocking, although we know that he doesn't get a lot of intelligence briefings. And then also, this really isn't just about him. It's about the fact that Russia, according to U.S. Intel, is paying a bounty for terrorists to kill U.S. service members, and 22 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan in 2019. So, I know the President's predilection is to attack the media and
talk about himself. But this doesn't really have a huge amount to do with him, it has to do with service members being killed and whether or not the U.S. is responding. And if not, why not? And you start to see -- you see people like Congressman Dan Crenshaw, and Congresswoman Liz Cheney and others saying, we need to know more what's going on here because they presumably care about the focus of the -- what the focus should be.
STELTER: Right. We have to keep on those facts and not on the President's deflections. About the Afghan war, some of the best journalism about this war has come from long form. It's been narrative, it's been nonfiction, like your book The Outpost. I've seen you say that this book, which is now becoming a film, was the proudest achievement of your journalistic career. Why is that?
TAPPER: Well, it's just the biggest, largest journalistic achievement of my career. You know, 400-plus page book where I interviewed more than 225 people and, you know, tried to focus on the war by looking at just one single outpost, the building of it, the existence of it, and then this huge battle in 2009.
And also, I mean, you know, at the time, the book came out in 2012, very few people had heard about Combat Outpost Keating. It's still probably not known by most Americans. But you know, the book is the bestseller and since then, one of the Medal of Honor awardees Clint Romesha, he wrote a book called Red Platoon, others have written books. The Medal of Honor series on Netflix profiled both Romesha and Ty Carter. Now there's a movie coming out.
I mean, now that -- it is getting some attention. And that's why the movie is important to me to further let people know about these incredible men and women who serve our country at a time when we're really not paying much attention to them.
STELTER: And the idea that it's dramatized, that some things in the film are not exactly real, not exactly accurate based on the book. Did it take a little while for you to get your head around that?
TAPPER: Yes. I mean, that's not easy for anybody who is focused on nonfiction. But for the most part, that's very minimal.
STELTER: Yes, it seems like it.
TAPPER: Rod Lurie really -- the director who's also a West Point graduate, he really stuck to what happened to a great deal. There's some conflation and there's some people who served at the outpost in 2006 and 2008 who he portrays as being there in 2009. That's more of a way to tell the story of the outpost as a whole and also to honor the service of those two individuals.
But generally speaking, what's so remarkable to me seeing the film is how much of it actually happened, which is what is so moving for me about it is these are real-life heroes. We don't need to go see Superman movies or Batman movies or whatever. These are the real superheroes and they're ordinary people who do extraordinary things.
STELTER: And I think these films decades from now will help people understand what happened in Afghanistan, and that's going to be really, really important. Jake, thank you very much. By the way, Tapper has a new special hour tonight, Trump and the Law After Impeachment. These long form hours are really the best at helping understand what is going on in Washington, what is upside down. So that's special premieres tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, here on CNN.
Up next on RELIABLE SOURCES, Joan Lunden, and what she wants you to know about a brand new initiative to help seniors think more like journalists.
STELTER: When you are scrolling through social media, try to think like a reporter. Be skeptical, don't automatically believe these crazy mediums. Look for a second source. Triple check before you share something with your friends and family. These tips apply to everybody, but they're especially valuable for older Americans because a number studies have found that older Americans are more vulnerable to misinformation and scams on the web.
With this in mind, the Pointer Institute's MediaWise program has partnered with AARP and Facebook to offer media literacy resources to seniors. And former GMA anchor, Joan Lunden is now a MediaWise Ambassador.
Joan, thanks for coming on the program. It's an honor to have you here. I wonder why you think it is that senior citizens are targeted more often by misinformation.
JOAN LUNDEN, FORMER GMA ANCHOR: This population which is our fastest- growing population, by 2030, there will be far more people over 65 than under 18. They have more free time. They grew up in an era where you believed everything on the news. You never questioned anything.
They are not necessarily tech-savvy, but they're online. Like 76 percent of them say that they are connected mostly to Facebook, and YouTube. Those are the platforms where you find them. They have expendable income, which is why they are so often targeted by scams. And also, over half of them report that they're lonely. And you put all that together, and they are the target audience.
STELTER: So, it is notable that Facebook is funding this attempt to make people more media-wise. What are the tips for seniors in your new program?
LUNDEN: You know, this is going to include an online video series. It will play on -- you can find it on Facebook and on Instagram, and you should follow. Just follow MediaWise, and you'll find it. And you know, they teach you not only the little things that all of us as journalists know to look for, like when did this post actually get posted? Is it really a new post? Is it really a fact? Can you actually find something else to verify those facts?
And it also teaches just a little bit about algorithms in that, what is it that these seniors are doing? What are they clicking on, that makes them targets for scams? And I think you know, you know I'm a boomer senior advocate, and I'm out on programs all the time trying to make sure that they live healthier and happier lives. I think when you feel in control and you feel that you understand and know you have those skills, that you can make this population more empowered, and happier, and listen, during the pandemic, healthier.
Like right now, it's unbelievable how much misinformation is out there about the pandemic. So it's really important, and they're really focused on some of these theories about health, so that they can make, you know, educated opinions. And also, we have an upcoming election. And this is a population that is still very involved in life, and they're still very civically involved.
STELTER: Absolutely. I'm so glad you're doing this, Joan. Thank you very much for being here. And thank you all for joining us for this week's RELIABLE SOURCES on TV. We will see you this time next time. Join us on reliablesources.com for our coverage all week long, including our nightly newsletter, you can sign up for free at cnn.it/reliable, all reliable sources in the newsletter, I promise. And we'll see you back here this time next week.