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America Is Setting The Worst Kind Of Records; Is The White House Keeping Coronavirus Task Force Experts Off The Air? Understanding Trump Through The Fox Prism; Trump World's Pattern Of Legal Intimidation; Tucker Carlson's Ratings Surge And Ad Troubles. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 05, 2020 - 11:00   ET



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

This hour, a patriotic hour, everything from Mt. Rushmore to the musical "Hamilton."

We're going to ask an important question about the government's experts that seem to be missing. Where is Dr. Anthony Fauci? Why isn't he all over your TV sets? We're going to get that answer.

Plus, a look at the President Trump's speech this weekend. To decode President Trump, you have to be able to speak Hannity. I'll show you why these speeches only make sense to Fox viewers.

Speaking of Fox, can Fox's Tucker Carlson, while you picture him there, can you picture him in the Oval Office? Can he make a run for president? We will explain the buzz about Tucker Carlson 2024 coming up.

But, yes, it is only 2020. We don't get too far ahead of ourselves.

On this most American of weekends, the United States is setting the worst kind of records when it comes to the COVID crisis. And we're seeing that story, that reality reflected on newspapers across the country, from Texas to Florida, to Arizona, all of these states that are seeing surges in cases right now.

Take look at the "Houston Chronicle" front page asking, how did we get here? On Saturday, the state saw its second highest day of cases.

Now to Florida, "The Miami Herald", again, the coronavirus cases on the rise there. "The Miami Herald" is telling the story of virus victims in Southern Florida.

And let's go to Arizona for the big picture view, the big picture view of the cruelty of COVID-19, one man's funeral there on the front page of "The Arizona Republic."

With me now are the leaders of those three papers, the executive director of "The Miami Herald", Mindy Marques, the news director of "The Arizona Republic", Kathy Tulumello, and executive editor of "The Houston Chronicle", Steve Riley.

Again, a view from all across the country this morning.

Kathy, first to you. The question is right there on your front page. How did we get here?

KATHY TULUMELLO, NEWS DIRECTOR, THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Well, Arizona had a really early advantage. We had very few cases early on when New York and New Jersey and other hot spots were struggling. But one of the reasons we lost the advantage is that we opened up, and the state failed to adopt any type of aggressive strategies to minimize coronavirus infections and deaths. But we were quick to reopen and we were too complacent about it and not disciplined enough.

STELTER: Mindy, is that the same story in Southern Florida? Is that essentially what's happened you think in Miami and elsewhere in southern Florida?

MINDY MARQUES GONZALEZ, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, MIAMI HERALD & EL NUEVO HERALD: I think our story is a little different because, quite frankly, we were the epicenter of this coronavirus outbreak in Florida from the get-go, although obviously it started with a lot of elder care facilities. But the state did open.

We did a study using the state's own data just a few weeks ago that showed we, in fact, were not meeting the protocols to open up and yet the state did move ahead to open up all parts of Florida, except for South Florida where our local government has had a lot of discretion, and I think that's been a really big help.

STELTER: So, let's talk about the journalistic challenges in covering these ongoing challenges.

Steve, you know, thinking about Houston, Governor Abbott in Texas, is it a challenge to get information from the Texas governor and the government and local officials?

STEVE RILEY, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, HOUSTON CHRONICLE: In two of those three cases, the answer is yes, Brian. State government did not reopen nearly as quickly as the state of Texas did. And, in fact, the attorney general in Texas has allowed state government agencies to, in effect, delay our public records request until they are officially reopened, which does not help understand what's going on in the state.

As far as government goes, we have had difficulty in access. The -- our reporters who cover the governor and politics have not been able to ask him a question for a couple months now. It's not just us. There have been other newspaper reporters that have been excluded from the very small groups he's allowing in to some of his briefings. They're saying he doesn't have room.

But, you know, Texas is a big state. They should be able to find a room where reporters can ask questions.

STELTER: Right, everyone can be socially distanced, but still big enough for the reporters.

Kathy, in Arizona, what about reporters being taunted? I've heard some cases of reporters being harassed because they were wearing their masks on assignment. Has that happened at your paper?

TULUMELLO: Yeah, there has been, in general, in the community strong support for mask wearing and social distancing.


But we have had reporters in many instances get taunted by those who believe that mask wearing is some kind of a political statement. We've also had President Trump in Arizona three times since February, and we've had journalists by his supporters of, you know, leading the country into socialism and fascism by their reporting on the virus.

STELTER: Mindy, what about you? Is there any of that taunting happening?

MARQUES GONZALEZ: You know, it's not so much taunting, to be honest. I think there's a lot of challenges --


MARQUES GONZALEZ: -- that our reporters are facing when they're out on the street. I think it's getting far worse than what we used to see. We were like the Red Cross where we were mutual observers, but I think increasingly our reporters are becoming targets of, you know, verbal, and sometimes physical, attacks, and so that is really concerning on top of everything else that we're dealing with.

And they've just done a really tremendous job to keep the community informed.

STELTER: A pandemic, but due to all this political rhetoric against the media that's been growing for years now.

At the same time, Mindy, you told me off air that reader response has been amazing, that most readers are really relying on "The Herald" right now even though there is a minority that can attack the paper.

MARQUES GONZALEZ: Our readers have just been amazing and we've gotten incredible feedback for the work that we're doing, everything from, you're the only ones that can provide us the information that we need to make decisions in our personal lives.

And the truth is that local news has never been more important, it's never been more clear than this moment, because even though you get great information from, you know, the national media, "New York Times," "Washington Post," you have to have your local media working on your behalf to really understand what's going on specifically in your community, because a global pandemic is very much a local story.

STELTER: Yes, it definitely is.

And, Steve, to that point, what are you doing? What is your paper doing, "The Houston Chronicle," that CNN may not be doing on a national/international level?

RILEY: Brian, we have been, from the beginning of this, taking the data very seriously, and our readers respond to that. We've been running a daily dashboard page with just tons of data from the pandemic both online at and our printed edition.

The things that readers also seem to respond to are interviews with public health experts, public health experts, who can help us place where we are in the cycle of this pandemic and where they think it may be going. I've had many readers tell us that they are -- they've really responded to us, as Mindy was saying. The -- our digital subscriptions are up substantially, the rate of growth has gone up, and newspapers typically have to replace a lot of reprint readers as the year goes on. We call it churn.

And our churn numbers are way down this year during the spring and summer, because -- and we attribute it, of course, to the pandemic.

STELTER: That's interesting. That's a good sign given the other challenges to the business model, including the struggles in local advertising.

Kathy, what about you in Arizona? Is digital subscription -- is there a surge in digital subscriptions there as well?

TULUMELLO: Yeah. Our new orders for digital subscriptions are up 82 percent this year compared with last. Our patrons are higher, people are on our sites longer. We're getting a lot of thank yous from people, and we're trying to reach out in a variety of ways.

We have a new coronavirus newsletter. We ask people to connect with us by text. We are active on all platforms of social media to try to draw people in where they are to our good information.

STELTER: The problem, of course, is the questions people want the answers to most of all are the answers, the questions we don't have answers to, about when is this going to be over? When can we go back to normal? And in some ways, Mindy, I guess some of the coverage has to be repetitive, we have to keep reinforcing the basics, because that's what readers need right now.

MARQUES GONZALEZ: Absolutely. I think, you know, we have to keep digging, we have to keep pushing to get data even when we're being, you know, forestalled by government. We need to revisit some of the -- you know, the science is also changing, and so, we constantly need to keep up with -- and keep our public informed. And they are -- they are relying on us for that. I think like, you know, Kathy and Steve said, we've seen a 60 percent increase in just our traffic to the website just over the last three months.

And so, people are relying on us to do that job for them.

Like the banner said a moment ago, if you want to keep your local newspaper in business, if you want to help it survive, subscribe. And that's true during a pandemic and in any other time, but especially right now when the business is under pressure in other ways. [11:10:01]

Mindy, Kathy, and Steve, thank you all for what you're doing in your communities.


STELTER: Coming up here on RELIABLE SOURCES, an incredible family drama inside Trump's battle against the forthcoming book by the president's niece.

And next, a story you'll only see here, the White House sidelining medical experts from your TV. How can we stay informed amid their absence?


STELTER: Look, nothing good happens when science is sidelined. But think about it, when is the last time you saw Dr. Anthony Fauci in a big formal TV interview setting?


It's been a while. It's actually been about a month he was on CNN on June 12th.

Since then, he's mostly been on podcasts and webcasts. He was able to call in to NPR a few days ago. He was on a BBC show, a morning radio show, in Britain.

An administration official tells our colleague, CNN's Jim Acosta, that high-profile figures from the task force, including Dr. Fauci, have been unable to secure White House permission to appear on American TV networks.

Look, podcasts are great, webcasts are great, but these are the biggest platforms in the country, CNN, nightly news, you now, Fox News, Hannity's show. Like Fauci should be on Fox all the time, but he's not. And neither are many of these other officials, Dr. Birx, Dr. Redfield -- you're not seeing the interviews with these figures nearly often enough.

For example, Dr. Jerome Adams was on the "Today Show" one day last week, or, you know, a few weeks ago. Dr. Hahn is on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" today. You're seeing these interviews kind of few and far between.

And we can tell you from firsthand experience, we've been asking for a coronavirus task force official to come on this program. We've asked for Dr. Fauci, we've asked for Dr. Birx. We've been asking for several weeks, and the answer is always no.

Many other shows are having the same problem.

Margaret Brennan on "Face the Nation" actually brought this up just a few minutes ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET BRENNAN, MODERATOR, CBS "FACE THE NATION": We have not been able to get our request for Dr. Fauci approved by the Trump administration in the last three months, and CDC, not at all. We will continue our efforts.


STELTER: So will we. And we've got to keep calling out this problem as well. It's screwed up.

With me now is the former CDC disease detective and CNN medical analyst, Dr. Seema Yasmin. She's the author of the forthcoming book, "Viral BS".

And, Seema, this is BS. Where the hell are these doctors? I know they have important jobs, but public health communication is a critical part of the response to this pandemic, and the White House is not letting them on television.

DR. SEEMA YASMIN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: And it's no accident, Brian. I think the sidelining and silencing of science and scientists enables and empowers the administration to spin and control the narrative. And most recently, it's doing that to frame the narrative as if it, the administration, is in control of the pandemic, when in reality, the virus is out of control.

But it is more than just sidelining and silencing scientists. It's also actively discrediting science and scientists. Across the U.S. in the last few months, we've seen a wave of public health officials resign from their jobs because it's becoming increasingly impossible and unsafe for them to give public health guidance to do objective science.

The National Association of City and County Health Officials says that public health officials in America are being intimidated.

So, we're seeing that on these local levels, and then, of course, we're seeing Dr. Fauci being verbally attacked. We're seeing lieutenant governor of Texas say, "I don't need his advice anymore," referring to Dr. Fauci, right as cases are surging in Texas.

So from local levels to the highest levels, we're seeing these administration tactics of silencing science, sidelining science and also discrediting scientists.

And now all of that leaves the American public extremely vulnerable to disinformation about disease and therefore vulnerable to disease itself.

STELTER: Right, mixed messages, no message at all.

You mentioned Fauci, people are trying to discredit Fauci. The president just the other day retweeted some far right group's poll that pitted him against Fauci and said, who do you trust more, Trump or Fauci?

They're on the same team. They're supposed to be on the same team. But the president doesn't act that way.

And look, the same problem we're seeing with Trump baselessly claiming this weekend that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are harmless.

What should the press do in these situations where he's making stuff up and misinforming the public about the disease? Should we just stop quoting him? What's the strategy here?

YASMIN: So, there are scholars and misinformation research, Brian, who say that repeating a myth gives it a platform, gives it more oxygen, but there's also evidence that says, look, people are going to hear this stuff, anyway. They're going to hear Vice President Pence kind of framing the increase in cases in young people as almost a good thing.

Here is where the press comes in. Here's an opportunity to say, here's what the vice president is saying, but you should know that the first double lung transplant for COVID-19 was in a young woman in her 20s in Chicago.

So, clearly, this is an issue for young people.

And we're talking a lot about immunity at the moment, and I want to remind us that the free press is an immune system of a democracy. So, the decimation of local news right now over the last 15 to 30 years is literally bad for our health.

In just the last two years, we've seen 300 local newspapers shut down in America and more than 6,000 journalists, local journalists, mostly, lose their jobs. That's bad for our health because working up to a crisis in the middle of a pandemic, we need journalists who are well- trained and well-supported to debunk the BS that we are hearing.


STELTER: Right, and when the president is attacking some of the biggest news outlets in the country, telling you not to believe them, that does further harm to what you're saying about the immune system for democracy.

So, he says -- you know, the COVID -- while the COVID fire is raging, he and his aides say these are just embers. He's been holding these crowded events despite the pandemic threat.

And the White House task force is not holding regular televised briefings.

So should we just assume going forward this is how it's going to be, just -- he's going to continue to promote misinformation the entire way through this pandemic?

YASMIN: Sure. And that's been the trend. I think we should anticipate --


YASMIN: -- more of that.

And, unfortunately, what that means is a confused public. It's -- we're being gaslighted.

So, on the one hand, you can look at the numbers, Brian. You can look at this precipitous graph with an almost vertical incline in cases in the U.S. It looks really bad. But on the other hand, what you hear is Pence saying things like, it's a success. Our pandemic response might be a cause for celebration.

It leads to extremely mixed messages and all of that just leads to a response that is botched -- we're seeing that -- but also a public that is completely confused and not knowing what to believe.

STELTER: Well, that's -- yes, you know, I mentioned Jim Acosta's reporting earlier. His administration source said the feeling inside the White House among aides is that Dr. Fauci is too "doom and gloom". That's the quote, "doom and gloom".

So, you can see, on the other hand, Pence and others are trying to say it's successful. But Fauci is just trying to give them a reality check, and they dismiss it as "doom and gloom".

You know, sometimes things are kind of gloomy, right? There's no way around it. Sometimes it is dark out.

YASMIN: Right. More than 130,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. That's completely tragic. There are data that show that maybe 70 to 90 percent of those deaths could have been avoided if we'd acted earlier and more aggressively.

Some of that is doom and gloom, but people like Fauci are not completely saying this is a hopeless situation.


YASMIN: They're also saying, here are three things we can do to move forward in progress.

STELTER: Here's what to do.

YASMIN: But -- but even that is being silenced.

STELTER: Yes. Exactly.

Dr. Yasmin, thank you for being here. Thank you for doing what you do.

We will stay on top of this story and keep pointing out when these officials are missing from television. In our nightly newsletter, this is our nightly RELIABLE SOURCES newsletter, sign up for free at

Up next, you saw this week's revelations about bounties, about U.S. intel pointing the finger at Russia for paying militants to kill American troops in Afghanistan. A huge story that led to this statement that will go down in history.




STELTER: The president does read. Does he? If so, we have a suggestion for him, coming up.



STELTER: Now more than ever, President Trump only seems to make sense if you know how to speak the Fox News language. Good thing I just happen to have a translator.

Let's take his recent remarks at Mt. Rushmore. Fox fans heard an inspiring address and the channel celebrated his speech for emphasizing America as a great and virtuous country. Most news outlets called the speech divisive and dark, because it was. He said there was a left wing revolutionary culture going on designed to overthrow the American Revolution.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.


STELTER: Scary. You might be wondering, where is he getting that? But Fox viewers recognize what he's talking about. They recognize the scary world he's describing. It is described on all the shows like "Tucker Carlson Tonight." They say the left is trying to erase the past.

This is an everyday constant theme in right wing TV and radio.

So when Trump said things like this, he said children are being taught in school to hate their own country, you might think that makes no sense, but it does make sense if you go to Laura Ingraham school where it's all about grievance politics, victimhood, threats to old- fashioned conservatives and I might add white America.

Trump learned to speak this language by watching Fox, by being interviewed on Fox and by becoming friends with guys like Sean Hannity.

Here's another example recently. Trump has repeatedly claimed that the Black Lives Matter movement is widely known for a hateful chant about police. The quote there is, "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon".

Now, that's repulsive. But it's not a BLM rallying cry. Of course, it's not. It's not a common chant at rallies.

That hateful speech was uttered five years ago by a local group in St. Paul, Minnesota. It lasted for about 30 seconds at a march. It did not spread nationally.

But if you watch Fox prime time, you might think it's said -- it is said all the time at BLM rallies.

The Hannity show loves to play that ugliness. So does the Carlson show. He recently played it as well.

I've heard it on Fox more times than I can count. It is part of the Fox News language.

The network's focus on statues and monuments, it is related to this. It helps explain why the president is so focused on statues and monuments right now.

In the words of the conservative critic, David Frum, the trouble is that even though GOP elected officials are now locked in a Fox created bubble of unreality. Outside that bubble, vandalism of statues looks like petty criminality, a minor local issue.


But inside the bubble, it is all statues 24/7. We are seeing this actually this weekend during the Saturday remarks in front of the White House. President Trump described the American defeat of Nazis and terrorists in the same breath that he warned we're in the process of defeating the radical left. So he'd made a connection between those.

For Trump and his base, the country seems to be under attack. That's the way to understand this rhetoric. I mean, this is the Associated Press headline on the front of many major papers today. "For the nation's birthday, Trump sees enemies -- slams the enemies within." He sees enemies among fellow American citizens. And that's a lot like how Fox primetime sees the country.

Let's talk about this warped view of reality and history with CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Professor, great to have you here. Dark and divisive, that is the slogan of the weekend. Right-wing folks are pushing back saying this speech has been uplifting.

But here's the thing, right? Don't Trump voters want dark and divisive? Don't they believe they're at war against liberals, and so, they like when the President talks this way?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes. Donald Trump is the Infowars' president. He's a conspiracy theorist, and he works to divide and dis-unite the country. The Mount Rushmore speech was aimed at Donald Trump kind of claiming all the statues of America's past as if he has powers to help Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and I will protect them against these evil, pitchfork, anarchist Americans that are trying to loot and burn the streets down. That is the so-called law and order message that Trumps running for

re-election on. It's the only one you have when the economy's in the doldrums, to put it mildly, and then COVID pandemic is going on. And he doesn't want to mention that problem because they might reflect negatively towards him. So he's using these monuments, isolated incidences as fuel to get reelected.

STELTER: There's this phrase that's been catching fire among right- wing writers, wartime conservativism. It describes this attitude that you've got to be very aggressive, that, you know, try to do what the left does back to the left. And I think that's what the President is channeling as well, this idea that he's on a war footing, but not against the foreign enemy against the domestic enemy. I know that's scary, but that's the view.

I mean, here's buck Sexton, a former CNN commentator saying we should rally around the idea of wartime conservativism. It was written about last year in Human Events Magazine. Is that what you are seeing happen as well? Is that correct?

BRINKLEY: You know, I would say -- I mean, what's happening is that Donald Trump is Joe McCarthy. He's creating, like what you said, an anti-communist hysteria that you had to smear people in Hollywood that were once socialist or you had to fire people that were in a union that used to like the old IWW.

I mean, it was -- it was awful in the 1950s, but alas, McCarthy wasn't President of the United States. We are now seeing McCarthyism running out of the White House. And so the smearing of Black Life Matters, which is a peaceful protest organization, very articulate and well- educated thinkers that have been touting James Baldwin as their hero are suddenly being marginalized and smeared by the President of the United States as being almost vermin that needs to be exterminated.

And what's missed, Brian, in all of this is that you know, our country -- we are healing. I mean, you go to Jackson, Mississippi, and the airports named after Medgar Evers, New Orleans parks after Louis Armstrong, Austin, my airport, statues for Barbara Jordan. We are opening our hearts and opening our historical narrative all the time in a progressive and smart way.

Barack Obama states stonewall LGBTQ spot, in New York City, the first gay national monument. He saved Cesar Chavez and all the united farmworkers union area. In California, Buffalo Soldiers in Ohio, Bears Ears in Utah to honor Native Americans.

The history narrative is simply expanding, but Trump's people want to shrink it back down to an era where Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee still high -- you know right high on their concrete pedestals, and they are the reactionaries who are unwilling to bend with modern times.

STELTER: This is a trap I think we fall into often and I think I'm guilty of this like others. You know, there is a presidential election happening. And I haven't mentioned Joe Biden's name once in the past 34 minutes. There is this movement afoot to add new monuments, to reflect the diversity of the country, and yet statues falling down is more interesting, it's more visual, it's more shocking.

You know, the President's challenger, Biden, he held a press conference this week, and then Trump lied about the press conference and said that Biden was fed the questions ahead of time. It's just this is stupid. That wouldn't happen, you know. But that kind of lie is then more interesting than what happened to the press conference. And then we're just in this bad loop, aren't we, Brinkley?


BRINKLEY: We are, Brian. And that becomes -- the loop gets played over and over again.


BRINKLEY: So the question is, how do you solve it? I mean, Senator Kamala Harris, the front runner probably for -- to be V.P. for Biden has said we have to get out of the pop psychology business on Donald Trump and he is what he is, and instead of just let Joe Biden be Joe Biden. I mean, he's running a very common dignified campaign right now.

And while he may get smeared, he's been around enough that people know who the authentic Biden is. It doesn't mean he's not going to get dented and brutalized by opposition research. But I think one of the advantages of having a candidate by Biden, he doesn't have to define who he is. Most Americans know who Joe Biden is, and they like him.

And if the polls are reflecting a hemorrhaging of Donald Trump when he started this cultural war, you know, in trying to make the monuments in marching across the street in Lafayette Park, you know, spray -- you know, tear-gassing protesters and holding the Bible. I haven't seen an uptick in his rallies, and I haven't seen an uptick in public opinion polls for Trump using this as the issue he thinks he can win on.

STELTER: My favorite headline this week was in the Washington Post that said, Joe Biden rises with a less is more campaign. And that just speaks to the idea that a lot of people are exhausted and just want less is more for politics right now. Professor Brinkley, thank you very much. Coming up, one of the men we were just talking about blazed a television trail to the White House. So Could this fellow do the same thing?



STELTER: John Bolton's book as a runaway bestseller. In fact, it's the most sought out after Trump tell-all in two years. And one of the many people Bolton has to think is his former boss. Trump's attacks and the Justice Department's lawsuit gave the book even more attention. The lawsuit was part of a clear pattern, something we keep seeing from the Trump machine.

Sometimes it's the president threatening action against the book, other times it's an actual lawsuit by his reelection campaign, other times a toothless legal threat. We've covered all of these examples over the past few years.

New to the list is a suit filed by one of the President's personal attorneys Charles Harder on behalf of Donald's brother Robert, against their niece Mary Trump. Got it? Family drama here. This is Mary's upcoming book, calling her uncle Donald, the world's most dangerous man.

For the latest on this legal case, let me bring in Mary's attorney Ted Boutrous. Ted, the book is coming out at the end of July. Nobody can stop that. But Mary is still tied up in court. What's the latest?

THEODORE BOUTROUS JR., CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ATTORNEY: The latest, Brian, is that we filed our brief Thursday, challenging what remains a prior restraint against Mary, Simon and Schuster, has been freed by the appellate court in New York to publish the book. So the book is going to come out, but there's still a restraining order against Mary Trump that restricts her from publishing.

We've opposed that. The Supreme Court has never upheld a prior restraint in any case in history where political speech was involved. That's what this is. It's an important book about the President of the United States.

STELTER: Do you see connections between this case and let's say Jim Acosta's press pass being revoked by the White House in 2018? Because, you know, that's another example of someone in the President's orbit trying to squash coverage he doesn't like.

BOUTROUS: I do, Brian. I think it's part of the pattern that started in the campaign in 2016, with President Trump attacking journalists attacking media, claiming he was going to sue all the women who accused him of wrongdoing, and it's carried right through taking away Jim Acosta's press pass, Brian Karem press pass.

So it's really an orchestrated campaign against freedom of speech and freedom of the press and those are integral to our democracy. We're here the day after the Fourth of July, and one of the most crucial aspects of democracy is that the public and the people get to understand what's happening in the government, understand what government officials are and who are who they are and what they're doing. President Trump and his administration and his lawyers are trying to squelch that. And that's wrong and it violates the First Amendment.

STELTER: You prevailed in the Acosta case, you prevailed in court in the Karem case. Now, there's the Mary Trump case. I mean, if they're always going to lose, what's the point of filing? Is it just to tie up the courts and create controversy? What do you think is the real motivation?

BOUTROUS: I think the motivation is twofold. Fold one it is abusive, but it does have a chilling effect, I think, maybe not on Mary Trump, maybe not on Simon and Schuster, maybe not on Jim Acosta, but they've sued smaller news organizations, they have this threat. And in in the First Amendment world, the chilling of speech through the threat of litigation or through actual litigation is one of the significant harms.

And when you're talking about a prior restraint, which is what we have here, that freezes speech, it stops speech. So I think it's part of an intimidation strategy.

STELTER: It's a great reminder. Ted, have you read Mary Trump's book, by the way?

BOUTROUS: I have -- I have read it. It's going to be -- it's a great book.

STELTER: So you can tell us -- you can tell us what she alleges?

BOUTROUS: I can't because I'm going to -- I'm going to leave that to Mary when the book comes out. But as Simon and Schuster has disclosed, it talks about President Trump's character and fitness for office, and really what makes him tick and how he got to be the person he is in the context of the family -- the family and her experiences with him.

So it's fascinating. It's important, and it's a book about the President of the United States in a re-election action year. That is core political speech and I think the public is going to really find the book important and fascinating.


STELTER: Ted, thank you very much. Keep us posted on the developments. After the break here, we have brand new reporting about how My Pillow are propping up Tucker Carlson. You heard right, these pillows.


STELTER: Move over, Sean Hannity. Tucker Carlson now has the highest- rated show on cable news. Between the pandemic and the protests, cable viewership is up across the board. And Tucker at 8:00 p.m. is benefiting more than Sean at 9:00 p.m. But ratings do not tell the complete story because advertisers have been avoiding Tucker's show for the past couple of years, partly due to liberal pressure campaigns.


So what companies are keeping Tucker's show on the air? Who's sponsoring? The answers are striking. According to iSpot.TV data, nearly 40 percent of Tucker's ads are from a single sponsor, My Pillow. Just to put this in perspective, My Pillow only makes up about 15 percent of Hannity's advertising, and that is still a ton for a single sponsor.

My Pillow, of course, is led by avid Trump supporter and occasional White House visitor, Mike Lindell. So My Pillow is literally propping up Tucker's show. Meantime, you've probably seen some headlines this week about Tucker Carlson as a 2024 presidential contender. Here's one of the headlines from Politico saying the GOP is buzzing. And I can confirm the folks at Fox News are buzzing about this too. In

interviews for my upcoming book about Fox and Trump, this idea kept coming up. So let's talk about it with Alex Thompson. He's a national political reporter for Politico. And we just put his headline on screen so you can see it. Alex, how real is this?

ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Oh, it's completely real. You know, the same reason why some advertisers are leaving is the same reason why his ratings are surging. In the aftermath of the Black Lives Matters protests.

You know, you've had a lot of Republicans, a lot of corporations declare that Black Lives Matter. And Tucker has gone -- you know, they've even said maybe we should get rid of Confederate statues. They've put forth legislation and making Juneteenth a holiday.

Tucker has gone the exact opposite direction and sometimes in 25- minute monologues and his fans are really into it. And it's not just in cable news ratings, it's also online. Just on the YouTube page alone for Fox News, his monologues of the last quarter have over 60 million views. And as a result, you have GOP insiders, more establishment types, you know, former strategists for Jeb Bush's super PAC, that he thinks he'd be formidable.

You have former Trump administration officials say that if you want to understand where the Republican Party is, you better be watching Tucker Carlson every single night.

STELTER: The liberals at the same time say that Tucker Carlson is a white nationalist sympathizer. And in the twisted politics -- the twisted game of American politics, that means he has the right enemies. You know, he's made the right enemies in the past few years. He's also mostly avoided talking about Trump. He talks about lots of other things other than Trump, which could also benefit him.

All right. Well, look, we're going to be talking about this I suspect in the years to come. We'll see. Alex, thank you very much for being here. After the break, something to remember when you stream the Broadway musical Hamilton this weekend. You know, it's something that we all need to remember.



STELTER: Entertainment event is linked to the everyday struggles of Americans right now. The streaming event, of course, is Hamilton. The filmed version of the Broadway phenomenon now accessible to everyone for the first time on Disney plus. Well, accessible if you can afford to pay for the streaming service that is.

So as for the real-life Alexander Hamilton, one of his top accomplishments, as seen in the musical, is the nation's financial foundation, a National Bank. It was a very early version of what we now know is the Federal Reserve. So let's flash forward to this week in Washington, where Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell spoke with lawmakers about the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Powell said, "This reversal of economic fortune has caused the level of pain that is hard to capture in words as lives are up ended amid great uncertainty about the future." Powell said the exact same thing back in May. He actually said -- he said the exact same words back then. They were true then, and they are true now, and they will be true another month from now.

So, the repetitiveness is actually key. It's so important to keep the spotlight on the pain and to try to capture it in words. That's what the press has to keep doing. To borrow a line from the musical Hamilton, the world turned upside down. It turned upside down in March. And that is how these two stories intersect.

Let me show you something from the musical's Twitter feed. A fan made a message to remind us that "As everyone sits at home and join Hamilton today, please remember everyone on that stage, behind the scenes, and at the front of the house are all unemployed. Federal pandemic unemployment compensation ends in four weeks, and they will struggle to pay rent. Your senators could help." Yes, they could.

The musical's social media accounts shared the image and said, "We all know that Broadway will be back. But until then, people who work in theaters across the nation need the support of our government." Yes, and so do millions and millions of others. So the press must keep the economic pain, front and center, and must keep putting pressure on lawmakers to hear the cries of these millions of people.

That's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES, but we'll see you online at As I mentioned earlier, sign up for our nightly newsletter. And also check out our podcast. This week's guest is the Atlantic's James fallows.

We talked about his recent article imagining a National Transportation Safety Board probe into a U.S. pandemic response. What would it be like if there was a real investigation of what went wrong? Listen by Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your pods.

And we will see you back here this time next week.