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Reliable Sources

Tucker Carlson Of Fox News Has Taken Trump's Place In The Media Ecosystem?; Gov. Cuomo Ducks Interview Requests, Vows Not To Resign; How To Improve The Media's Coverage Of Voting; How To Cover The Landscape Of Inequality; Media Lessons From Harry & Meghan's Interview; Kicking Off Sunshine Week 2021. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 14, 2021 - 11:00   ET



BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter, live in New York and this is RELIABLE SOURCES, where we examine the story behind the story and try to figure out what is reliable in the news.

This hour, mounting new reports about Governor Andrew Cuomo and a toxic workplace. More and more sources coming forward. How long could he stand against the daily coverage?

Plus, the Democrat's COVID relief law is big news. But what about the even bigger story of inequality in America? How could the media better capture this divide?

And later, fallout from, well, the interview of the year. What will be the long-term impacts of Oprah's sitdown with Harry and Meghan?

But, first, I have come to one inescapable conclusion about the GOP and the media. I want to see you if agree or disagree with me. Even though Republicans are out of power right now, the use of the media, their use of the media has a major impact on the Democrats, and on political dysfunction.

So, this -- what I'm about to say directly impacts President Biden and his administration.

All right. Are you ready for it?

Here is my conclusion: Tucker Carlson is the new Donald Trump. Tucker has taken Trump's place as a right wing leader, as an outraged generator, as a fire starter and it's all happening on Fox just like Trump's campaign did, which means Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch are ultimately responsible.

I mean, think about all of the ways these two men are similar. Every day, Carlson is throwing bombs, making online memes, offending millions of people, also delighting millions of other, tapping into white mail rage and resentment, stoking distrust of big tech and the media, generally coursening the discourse, never apologizing for anything and setting the GOP's agenda. Sounds like a recently retired president, right?

Even before the 2020 election, there was informed speculation about Carlson as a 2024 candidate. Of course, some of Carlson's detractors say he's just a troll. He's just really good at ticking people off.

But isn't that what they said about Trump for years? Yes, Tucker is known to critique Trump and the Republican Party from time to time. This time last year, he was at Mar-a-Lago trying to convince Trump to take COVID more seriously.

But Tucker tells the same conspiratorial "us versus them" story that Trump told. The same they're out to get you story that Trump told for years.

It is the paranoid style in American politics all over again and Tucker soaks up some of the same social media fury that Trump did. He stokes the same debates that Trump did, and it raises the same predicament that Trump raised five or six years ago, whether and how to cover his claims.

I mean, here is some of what Tucker did this past week. He said pregnant service members are a mockery to the U.S. He claimed that the U.S. has a national masculinity crisis. And when military officials rebuked his comments, he flipped out and doubled down.

Tucker also spent the entire segment berating a "New York Times" reporter because she had the audacity to call out online harassment, and then he blasted "The Times" for defending her.

He tried to rewrite history about George Floyd's death and said American leaders used Floyd to enshrine, quote, open racism in nearly all of our institution, and he mocked Meghan Markle and defended Piers Morgan, et cetera, et cetera, the list goes on and on, and it all is because of these individuals on screen.

What Tucker wants is attention. What Rupert Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch want for him is attention. As this headline put it, Tucker is the post Trump MAGA champion, firmly supplanting Sean Hannity at this point as the number one star on Fox News, with ratings far ahead of anyone else on Fox. And, by the way, other shows re-air comments all days long.

Fox News is increasingly the Tucker Carlson channel and the Murdochs recently cut a deal to expand his profile on Fox's streaming service, too.

It's ultimately all about the Murdochs and what they want. How they're going to keep the profits flowing by giving the viewers more and more radicalized content led by Tucker Carlson.

So what does it tell us about the state of the right wing media and what does it mean for Biden's White House?


Let's bring in S.E. Cupp, CNN political commentator and nationally syndicated columnist; Erik Wemple, a long-time Tucker watcher, media critic for "The Washington Post"; and April Ryan, the White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for "TheGrio"; and the one and only David Zurawik, the media critic for "The Baltimore Sun".

S.E.., am I right or wrong, that Tucker is the new Donald Trump?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I see what you're saying. I can't decide if he's the rich man's Trump or the poor man's Trump. In some ways he's smarter than Trump.

STELTER: I think so.

CUPP: Which is disappointing to people like me who know him, because he could be making very good substantive arguments about conservatism and politics that you might disagree with but that be a lot more policy-based. I think in some ways the Murdoch are relieved that the GOP no longer wants to tackle substance and policy and wants to live in the culture wars.

They make for much better television which is why you're seeing Fox become the Tucker channel, the 24-hour Tucker channel and Tucker is leaning into that kind of coverage and instead of doing the stuff that he used to do, that he's more than capable of doing, that Trump never could.

STELTER: April Ryan, do you think Tucker is a thorn in the side of the administration, do you think the White House cares about his daily attacks?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Every cares about Tucker Carlson, the entertainers attacks. He's a thorn in the Biden side, he's a thorn in everyone's side. He is stirring a deadly witch's brew in his cauldron all or the purposes of gaining more attention and more people which translates to money for Fox. Tucker Carlson has put a lot of people's lives on line for his entertainment purposes.

STELTER: Lives on the line?

RYAN: Millions of America around the world. Lives on the line. Taylor Lorenz, when Tucker Carlson puts you on his target board, people throw out crazy threats and death threats and she has to, in exchange, speak loudly and publicly so people could see what is happening to save her life. Trust me because I understand, because I've been a target of Tucker Carlson.

STELTER: Tucker would say he gets lots of threats as well. That everybody gets threats and I would say all of that is despicable and the temperature should be lowered but Tucker raises the temperature.

Let's look at what he did during Biden's prime time speech. This wasn't just Tucker's doing. This was Fox as a network, put up this banner saying, I know Biden is speaking, you don't want to hear from him, but Tucker is about to respond. They put up this live Tucker Carlson reaction cam in the corner of the screen.

All right. So let's get our own Tucker Carlson reaction cam and see how this is going to look. Sorry, Zurawik, we're squeezing you out of the corner there. I can't decide, David, if this was television genius or if this was pathetic desperate attempt to hold on to the viewers on the part of Fox. What did you think?

DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN MEDIA CRITIC: Brian, I definitely don't think it was television genius. And I'm looking for it. Television is a different medium. If you do something and it works, I'll all with you.

But I'll tell you what, this was not genius. What I saw was something that you would see in a high schooler, a middle school class and when the teacher speaks behind the teachers back. And here is the thing about this. Just think about when we talk about dumbing down the civic conversation of American life, this -- Biden is talking about a package, a safety net, that rivals LBJ and FDR and this is the response Tucker Carlson and Fox making faces at him. That's pathetic, Brian.

STELTER: That's a very interesting point. Fox News, you know, used to wrap itself in a flag, say it was the most patriotic network, we're in the midst of a pandemic crisis and they're playing these games.

Erik Wemple, what is your analysis of this, of the Tucker phenomenon? You've studied him for years, blogged about him for years.

ERIK WEMPLE, WASHINGTON POST MEDIA CRITIC: I want to say I disagree with Zurawik there, because I think that if we can get to a situation where all Tucker Carlson does is make facial expressions, I think the country is a hell of a lot better off.

STELTER: Well, OK, that's the dynamic here. This is the tip -- the same question we have for Trump -- about Trump years ago. Should we, all five of us, be paying attention to Tucker Carlson?

WEMPLE: Well, I think that is not longer really an arguable premise since Tucker helped conduct the White House for the past four years. So I think I hear a lot about that, why are we giving them any further air time, it is important to put a stake down and to speak against it.

I know that oftentimes it feels like we're pissing into the wind but it is an important marker to put down. So, I do, I believe when what you're doing, I believe in what I'm doing and, you know, it's clear that the Murdochs don't listen to us. But I think it's important to tell the truth.

STELTER: Here are some of your recent headlines about this, you know, saying that he's announced he's doing more hateful reporting and analysis.


Yet you're referring to the idea that they're adding more and more Tucker programming on Fox.

WEMPLE: Yes. They're expanding his foot print. They know they have a star, so to speak. Tucker, I think, your analogy between Tucker and Trump is for two reasons, hatred and lie. They both traffic in hatred and they both traffic in lies.

And for the longest time people have warned that the next Trump will be savvier in terms of how he lies and that is exactly what Tucker Carlson is. He doesn't lie with every utterance, but he lies strategically and carefully and he lies in such a way that he gets them past his audience. And the rest of the world sits there and fact checks him and nobody else seems to care.

He pulls in 4 million people and to April's point, those 4 million people listen carefully and they take cues from Tucker Carlson.

STELTER: April, you were talking about, you know, the harassment that people experience they're called out by Carlson and by others on television, on Fox, especially. What is the right reaction? How do you and others handle that?

RYAN: You can't ignore it because the numbers are so great when they come at you. But what you do, again, in order to save your life, you have to speak on it and call it out to show people what is happening. This is inhuman what he's doing and we know a judge had to rule over Tucker Carlson when his attorney talked about him, he's not a news reporter, he's an entertainer.

This entertainment value of Tucker Carlson is deadly and Fox News should be ashamed of it because people's lives are in jeopardy. We saw the threats that came into reality on January 6th because of a brew, a poisonous, witches brew was stirred up over there.

STELTER: And Tucker is going to say you're just trying to shut him down, silence him, kick him off cable, you know, and I don't anyone is actually --

RYAN: I don't have that power.

STELTER: Right, I don't think anybody is going to remove Fox News from the cable lineup. But there are -- you know, these questions about Fox's -- as Fox radicalizes and as it becomes more of a political tool, Zurawik, you wrote a column recently for "The Sun" about this, saying Fox should be viewed as a political tool.

And that raises a question, should it be a part of the White House press pool? You know, should it be afforded the privileges that comes with news gathering even though they do have some news reporters at the White House, you're saying they're primarily a political tool so shouldn't that be reassessed, Zurawik?

ZURAWIK: Listen, I really do. I think it is a discussion we need to have. Look, I didn't say it. Lachlan Murdoch said they're the loyal opposition. You look it up in the dictionary, loyal opposition is a political term. It is party that opposed the party in power.

But even in that system, that parliamentary system, it says they share the same larger values for the culture and society. Listen, when you put people on your show telling the big lie as they did with -- with former president, when they put him on, putting that lie on, for people who tried shut down the government, when -- on January 6th, you're not supporting democracy, you're not supporting the larger values of this culture. They don't even stand up as an opposition party, but there is nothing journalistic in what Lachlan Murdoch said.

And, you know what, I say, hey, you know, let's take them on the word, let's not let them on the plane. You want to let Proud Boys on Air Force One, no, I don't think so. These guys are doing the same thing.

STELTER: Hmm. All right, you're going to get attention for that.

ZURAWIK: Thanks, Brian, I needed that.

STELTER: I see you're up first after the break.

Coming up, breaking news about Biden's next meet the press moment.

Plus, the story that affects every other story we cover here, the fight for voting rights in America. Two experts will take on the media's coverage, next.



STELTER: What a difference a year makes for Andrew Cuomo. This new cover of "New York Magazine" is about to hit newsstands showing a jarring zoom in on his face with the headline: The cruelty and the casualties, highlighting the allegations of sexual harassment that have paralyzed Albany.

Numerous sources have been speaking with reporters about a toxic workplace in and around the governor's office. Sources seem afraid to open up, afraid to open up until now.

Earlier this month, "Washington Post" reporter Amy Brittain observed she had never encountered people, quote, as fearful to speak about someone as they are about Governor Cuomo. Former staffers described his rage and vindictiveness and said they feared he would destroy their careers. This speaks to the reporting process and how it could be so hard sometimes to get information out of folks.

The governor is denying the harassment charges and vowing not to resign. That is the state of play as of today. Back with me now is S.E. Cupp, Erik Wemple and April Ryan and David Zurawik.

S.E., what does it reveal that these sources in many cases, you know, now, there are stories in "The Post" and "The Times" with dozens of anonymous sources and some on the record. But what does it reveal that some of these accounts are from five, six, seven years ago and they're only now coming to light.

CUPP: Well, it mirrors the reasons why women in many cases are afraid to tell their stories, because when it is a powerful man, who is vengeful and has the levers to pull to really make your life misery, it's harder, it's doubly and triply harder to tell these stories.

Listen, I don't believe for one second that Andrew Cuomo believes today that he did anything wrong. I sat on that presser, that phone call this week, and listened to his compare being investigated for sexual harassment and assault and legislating to walking and chewing gum at the same time.


Now I know how I heard that, as a victim of sexual harassment, I can't imagine how the women accusing him of sexual harassment, I can't imagine how the women accusing him of sexual harassment heard that themselves, when they know the pain that he's alleged to have caused them personally.

STELTER: Wemple, how would analyze the media's coverage up until now of Governor Cuomo?

WEMPLE: Well, it's been pretty aggressive. I mean, you've had significant contribution by "The New York Times" Jesse McKinley, "Albany Times Union" up there, pushing the story forward, "New York Post" and "Washington Post", all of these forces gathering. Sort of undoes the right-wing conspiracy theory about the mainstream media which is that we don't cover Democratic politicians.

But I would remiss if I didn't mention CNN own huge media story here with Chris Cuomo, the anchor at the 9:00 hour who covered Andrew Cuomo and have love-a-thon with them and they suspended for that interviews. Yet, all of a sudden, they've enforced it again now that Andrew Cuomo is in a midst of a historic scandal in the Albany statehouse. So I think that is a major black eye for CNN.

I will say that you and other people have covered the Cuomo story very aggressively. So I do want to be fair about this. But it is a major black eye for this network.

STELTER: Well, to go a little bit deeper on that. I like that Jake Tapper said this morning, he's been asking for interviewed with Governor Cuomo and Cuomo continues to say no. And Governor Cuomo continues to duck interviews and requests from everybody. He's vowing not to resign, occasionally holding briefings but not giving interviews and not giving his side of story.

Zurawik, what is your reaction?

ZURAWIK: Well, one, the thing that really strikes me about Cuomo, and the drum beat mounts and these are such credible charges, I don't know how he could with stand it. But what he's do it, and this is really sad for Democratic politician of the stature he formerly enjoyed.

He's behaving like President Trump. He's looking at the allegations against him, which are far more, and we had evidence of $130,000 paid to one woman for silence during the election, but he's taking -- that is one of the ways people like Trump corrupt or political system.

Here's a Democrat from a storied family, and now he's behaving like that. He's thinking, well it works for these guys, why can't it work for me. I'm not going to jump out until they push me out. I don't think he could with stand it, Brian. And God bless the press

for pressing him as hard as it is pressing him now. I hope -- I hope it doesn't let up. I hope it doesn't let up and whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. But he's going to stay in as long as he can.

STELTER: And to Wemple's point about CNN, the job always is to cover the story as if it was anybody else or any other story, just cover it the same way no matter what.

Let's turn to the current occupant of the White House and President Biden and questions about his availability to the press. ABC's George Stephanopoulos just announced he's going to be interviewing Biden this week as Biden goes out there promoting the COVID relief law.

The president has sat down for a couple of sit-down interviews, you saw the CNN town hall, he's had a lot of Q&As with reporters, but he has not yet held a solo press conference and there is more grumbling about the fact that Biden he has not held a formal fancy press conferences at the White House.

You now, during Trump, we have would have count down clocks how many times they avoid having press briefings maybe it is time for the same thing for Biden. Let's put up the screen for Biden, 53 days, without a solo press conference.

April, is the press making too much of this, because I know a lot of Biden supporters say this is just B.S. noise from the media and it doesn't matter.

RYAN: No, it is not too much about nothing. The American public is in the midst of colliding crises and you want to hear from the leader of the free world, the man who is signing off on the documents and the laws about what is happening. But I talked to Jen Psaki via email this morning, the White House press secretary, she has affirmed this president will have a press conference by the end of the month. The question is what day and when. Will it be night time or during the day.

He's traveling back and forth the next couple of weeks for the ARP. But at the end of the day, America needs to hear from this president in challenging times, when people are trying to make ends meet, they are hurting on every side. People need to hear what he plans, what is in his head for the move forward for the here and for the later.


STELTER: S.E., what is your take on all of the both right wing and left wing and chatter about when Biden is going to have a presser.

CUPP: I think it is a strategy. It is a strategy to be less visible than the former guy. And to be less -- you know, engrossed in your daily life, right, less involved and inserted into your daily life.

But, I think it is a bad strategy. I get it. But no, we want to hear from the president. Especially one that, I think, a lot of people trust and want to hear what is going on behind the scenes and what is happening and ask questions directly and challenge maybe this president on some of the policies we've seen unfold.

And you and I, Brian, I remember lamenting a number of times over the course of his campaign that he wasn't available enough to the press.


CUPP: So this is -- I think part of Biden world. And I think as a journalist, and just a citizen, we always want more. We want more and journalists want the ability to be able to question the president.

STELTER: Right. We always do want more, that's true.

Everyone, thank you very much.

Zurawik, please stick around for later.

After the break, what we could all learn from Oprah's master class in interviewing. And up next, charges of a growing effort to suppress the vote. We're going to ask two voting rights experts about the fair and balanced, the actual fair and balanced way to cover this critical issue.




STELTER: The fight over the next election is already underway, with Republicans efforting what they call voter security bills across the country. Headlines say this is the new war for the GOP, trying to restrict some people's ability to vote. Democrats, of course, charging this is voter suppression, and that it must be called out every step of the way.

So, is the press doing enough to make this a focal point and make sure it's front and center? With me now is Jennifer Morrell, a former local election official, who works as a partner at The Elections Group. And Jessica Huseman, the editor -- editorial director of a really interesting new pop up newsroom called Votebeat, dedicated to local nonpartisan election coverage. So, Jessica, what is Votebeat aiming to do? What gap are you trying to fill in the marketplace?

JESSICA HUSEMAN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, VOTEBEAT: You know, I think that the biggest problem with election coverage at the local level is that they're just not enough local reporters. The elections reporters that we have, and that I have trained in the past, cover everything from city government to education. And so, we're really trying to kind of see the field with just election reporters, and giving large major Metro dailies a paid for staff member that can do that coverage for them.

STELTER: I see. That's cool. Look, Jennifer, I hear -- I hear a lot of both sidesy coverage of these topics, right? Republicans are introducing these bills. Democrats say this and that. What is the ground level truth about what's going on post-2020 election in these states to change voting laws?

JENNIFER MORRELL, PARTNER, THE ELECTIONS GROUP: Yes. So, I think one of the most important things media need to do here is really push on these legislators who are claiming that they're making these changes to increase voter confidence or to further secure the way voting is conducted in their state.

And I think we need to push back and ask, what about the procedures weren't safe two years ago or four years ago? Because in many of these states, it's the same policy, same procedures had been in place for many, many years. They've worked well. They've proven to be secure. I think we need to push back on that and ask for specifics.

STELTER: Are you seeing just straight up call it what it is voter suppression happening in these Republican-controlled states?

MORRELL: Sure, I mean, all of these measures, whether it's to require identification being mailed in with mail ballots, or to just restrict altogether who can utilize absentee ballots or something as simple as how they get returned, rolling back the option to use ballot drop boxes is going to have a huge impact on all voters, right? Everybody's going to feel the pain.

STELTER: That gets to this forest versus the trees thing where I'll see a story about something in Georgia. Jessica, I'll see a story about some bill in Arizona. But is there -- is there enough coverage widening out and showing the overall story that all of the -- all of the forests in this case?

HUSEMAN: Sure, I think that -- the thing that the media is currently missing is that these arguments might be louder than they've ever been. But claims about voter insecurity in terms of their confidence, or the lack of election security have been a talking point for the far-right of the Republican Party for decades.

And so, these arguments are just building on a decade's long historical base of false claims about election and elections and election security. And so, I think that we need to give national historical context to these arguments because they are baseless now, and they were baseless 20 years ago, but that has not stopped parts of the Republican Party from talking about it every day. And I -- and I think until we combat that narrative, then we're going to keep seeing these stories and these claims.

STELTER: Right. The big lie is the latest rendition of a long-term story that's been told on the right about voting, about the right to vote. So, Jennifer, your advice for the media in the -- in the months to come?

MORRELL: Yes, so I think we need to continue doing what someone's done a fantastic job. Really caveating some of these statements and claims by putting in words like unsubstantiated, unfounded, alleged fraud. I think we need to continue to do that. Jessica is right, this isn't new. But certainly, it's gaining more momentum. And so, I think every single time that needs to be called out for what it is when we refer back to things that are just blatantly false.


STELTER: Right, right. Absolutely. J&J, Jessica and Jennifer, thank you both so much. And one more note about the legal maneuverings in the news lately, I think it's important to remember what the past administration, what President Trump was trying to do, what his campaign was trying to do. Remember all those lawsuits against news outlets, these ridiculous lawsuits?

Well, this week, a New York State Court rejected the Trump campaigns bid to sue the New York Times for defamation where the target of the lawsuit being this opinion article about Trump and Russia. So, that's been thrown out. There's been other defamation suits by other right- wing figures, as well.

Last month, Congressman Devin Nunez's libel suit against CNN was thrown out. What I find is that these lawsuits oftentimes get a lot of attention when they're first filed. They get a lot of news coverage. And then, rarely is the follow-up afterwards to say, Oh, yes, that was B.S. It was thrown out. A judge didn't believe it.

All right. Coming up next here on RELIABLE SOURCES, one journalist wants to reshape the way we cover the landscape of American inequality. We're going to go with him on his mission. Meet Alec MacGillis, next.



STELTER: And we're back here on RELIABLE SOURCES, I'm Brian Stelter. Inequality in the United States is one of the biggest stories of our time, domestically. It does, in fact, impact the entire world. And inequality in some ways has been exacerbated during the pandemic. It is, in some ways, a very hard story to cover, a complicated story to cover.

And reporters can try to do it in many different ways. Certainly, the daily, the weekly, the monthly unemployment data, the claims, the economic data is one way to do that, we can show charts that reveal just the staggering trouble that the U.S. economy remains in.

And obviously, the COVID relief bill, the law that is now taking effect is going to have a major impact and the impacts will be covered for years to come. Journalist tried to show what all this means for American families, showing individual struggles. But what about the larger landscape of inequality? That is the subject of a remarkable new book coming out on Tuesday.

It is titled "Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in the One-Click -- in One-Click America." It looks at Amazon's far-reaching impacts across the U.S. The author is Alec MacGillis, and he's with me now for his first T.V. interview about the book. Alec, thanks for coming on the program. What can we learn from you and from "Fulfillment," about how to better cover the landscape of inequality? ALEC MACGILLIS, AUTHOR OF "FULFILLMENT: WINNING AND LOSING IN ONE- CLICK AMERICA": What I tried to do with this book, Brian, is to really look at inequality from a regional standpoint, looking at the whole landscape of inequality in this country. We talk a lot about inequality in terms of individual income, you know, the one percent, the 99 percent.

But we don't talk enough about places. There's just been this huge growing gap in between places in this country. We've always had richer places, poorer places. But that gap has gotten so much bigger. It's not just about the urban rural gap. It's also about cities that have been left behind.

It's about the growing gap between winner-take-all cities, like Washington, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, New York, and then a whole bunch of other cities that have been left behind, places that a lot of us -- a lot of our families come from, places that a lot of us still live in. And we feel the pain of watching the cities that we live in fall behind these sort of rich get richer, winner-take-all cities.

And my book uses Amazon as a frame on to this problem as a way of looking at this problem around the country. The books not so much about Amazon per se, but it's about Amazon's America, everything that falls within the shadow, the lengthening shadow of this hugely dominant company.

And I had no idea when I started this book just how timely it would now be, they'll be coming out after a year where this company has grown so much more dominance, so much more wealthy where these gaps have gotten so much bigger.

STELTER: You write toward the beginning about tech workers in Seattle, right, living the dream in these fantastical futuristic buildings. And then, in the next chapter about a worker who's making the cardboard boxes that are going to ship packages. And of course, you know, his family is suffering, barely getting by, living in a shelter.

These contrasts are all throughout your book. And it feels to me, we rarely -- we try in television, but we rarely see that worker who's making $10.00 an hour the same amount he made 10 -- a decade ago. So, how did you find these sources? And how did you tell their stories?

MACGILLIS: I found these sources because I've been out there in the country for the last few years, really on the ground, you know, talking to a lot of these people for my -- for my daily journalism. And I -- and I sort of expanded on their lives for the book.

I mean, the real goal the book is exactly as you say, to show you the whole ecosystem, all the way from the high tech high paid workers from Jeff Bezos all the way down to the guy who was making cardboard boxes, the truck drivers to show you this whole -- this whole landscape and to really give you this very visceral sense of what's going on in these lives around the country.

STELTER: And where you are, in Baltimore, is a perfect illustration of this, right? I grew up in Maryland. I love Baltimore. Love D.C., too. The divide between Baltimore and D.C. continues to become more and more stark. Tell us why that is a way to understand this subject.

MACGILLIS: It really was kind of the driving -- kind of the driving core for the book was that one divide. The book is nationwide, but at its heart, really, is that Baltimore-Washington divide. These two cities just 40 miles apart used to be so much -- so similar in terms of scale and prosperity and wealth. And now, have just grown wildly apart.

And we travel those 40 miles now and it's dizzying, just the gap between them. And so, the book uses that as a kind of core example. The fact that Amazon chose D.C. for a second headquarters, chose a city that was already so wealthy, had so many jobs and prosperity, they're now getting 25,000 more high paid jobs. It's rich get richer. Meanwhile, Baltimore gets the warehouses. Baltimore is sort of the warehouse town.


And so -- and then, in one of those warehouses is moving into -- has moved into a place that used to hold the biggest steel plant in the world, guys making $35.00 an hour, now making $15.00 an hour doing much less, fulfilling, purposeful kind of work. And I use that example in the book as just as a -- as a kind of story to tell the transformation of work in this country. And what's really happened to the middle and the working class.

STELTER: At the same time, people love Amazon's convenience, people are going to order your book on Amazon, do you find that strange?

MACGILLIS: I -- I'm happy to have people order the book anywhere. There are, of course, plenty of independent bookstores that are happy to sell the book, as well.

STELTER: That's true.

MACGILLIS: But the book the -- really, the book does try to show you what's behind that easy one click. I mean, this is -- it shows you the whole chain, the whole --


STELTER: Right. And that's what we need to know. Right. And that way, people --


STELTER: -- can make informed choices. And that's critical. But in this -- in this environment of extreme divides between wealth and poverty, we need the reporting. Alec, thank you so much. I highly recommend the book. It's titled "Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America." After the break, what is next for Piers Morgan? The latest fallout from that Royal interview and his walk off the set, next.



STELTER: It was the interview of the year, and the fallout has only just begun from Meghan Markle's charges about the palace to Piers Morgan's departure from ITV. This conversation continues in the U.K. and beyond. So, how can journalists and the press more broadly tackle the topics that Harry and Meghan raised with Oprah Winfrey? David Zurawik is back with me now.

And we're also joined by Trisha Goddard, a journalist and former British T.V. presenter who took on Piers Morgan the day before he walked off the set. Let's start with Harry and Meghan's interview, 21 million viewers in the U.S., at least 60 million viewers around the world. Zurich, your review of Oprah's questions, as well, as the answers.

DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, BALTIMORE SUN: They were great questions. Oprah is absolutely remains the queen of T.V. interviews. It's awesome. I've been covering her for years, and I forgot how great she is in this. She introduced race into this conversation. And that's what made it so profound, because she got to one of the great fault lines, one of the great points of confrontation in our society, and she created an atmosphere where they could talk about it.

STELTER: So, Trisha, now what? Now what for the British press and the Royal family?

TRISHA GODDARD, JOURNALIST & FORMER BRITISH TALK SHOW HOST: It's really interesting, Brian, because this whole thing has been like you've seen from some of the tabloids presenting of opinion as fact. Now, the society (INAUDIBLE) that's where everything goes from here.

They put out a statement denying Meghan Markle's claim, saying that they had a proud reputation of standing up against racism. 160 journalists of color clapped back. There have been resignations. In Murray, the head of the organization has stepped down. What happens next is going to be really, really important for especially the print media.

STELTER: What should happen next? It feels like a reckoning about race that's finally happening in the British media.

GODDARD: Well, what should happen next is diversity should actually occur instead of being actually talked about.

STELTER: Talked about.

GODDARD: That's one of the biggest thing. Yes, yes.

STELTER: And this idea that the British press sometimes, you know, there's this coverage that has racial overtones of Harry and Meghan, because the newsrooms are not diverse enough. Is that -- is that fundamentally one of the critiques?

GODDARD: That is one of their fundamental critiques. I had this debate with a journalist, a white journalist, and asked her to name three of her black colleagues, she couldn't even name three. Her reply to me was that it was offensive of me to suggest that just because there were no black journalists in her newsroom, that white journalists couldn't adequately reflect exactly how black people feel. I rest my case.

STELTER: I think you can rest your case. And what about Piers Morgan? You sparred with him earlier in the week, then he walked off, and he quit his job. Where's he going to end up, at Rupert Murdoch channel?

GODDARD: I don't know. There's going to be a bit of a battle over the right-wing. I mean, what's funny about this, he originally started off as the editor of The Daily Mirror on the left-wing, and the very right-wing media who's courting him now and who, with whom he writes a column for The Daily Mail, they were some of his biggest critiques. And yet, here he is being courted by them. Yes, you're right, probably will end up with one of them.

STELTER: Interesting news on Friday from Harry and Meghan, you know, I've been curious. OK, they spoke, they gave this interview, what are they going to do now? And I think what they want to try to do is translate those words to actions. What does that mean?

Well, here's a headline from Friday, they're investing in the next generation of young, diverse journalists, they're donating money, or the Archewell Foundation donating money to a number of causes, including a couple of journalism, nonprofit startups. So, that's an intriguing part of this, that they're going to try to fund media that believes -- that represents their values. David, last thought from you.

ZURAWIK: Listen, I think this was really one of the most important interviews. People think, Oh, it's the Royals, blah, blah, blah. No, this got right at the heart of what's going on in the country, and in the world, with people, with the white reactionary force that doesn't want to give up power and the growing demographic and the demand for a reckoning. This little interview was good -- not going to be a little interview. It's a huge interview now.

STELTER: Right. Right. Right.

ZURAWIK: And she caught that in the interview. And by the way, hats off to Meghan and Harry, especially Meghan, for being so honest and brave in that interview to talk about mental health and suicide issues. God bless her for that. And what an idiot Piers Morgan is to go after that.

STELTER: I'm sure Piers will react to that, David. Thank you. David, Trisha, thank you both.

ZURAWIK: I hope so. I hope so.

STELTER: We're going to keep covering this in our nightly Reliable Sources Newsletters, so sign up for free at One more note before we go to today, the election of Joe Biden's come with a lot of talk about the role of government. This NBC story says the Coronavirus, quote, may well have demolished the belief in a smaller, more limited government. [00:05:10]

So big government, small government, what about more open government? You should know it's being done in your name with your money. And that's what Sunshine Week is all about. Sunshine Week starts today. It promotes open government and access to public information, showcasing how the federal Freedom of Information Act and local laws help the public pry information from agencies and let the sunlight in.

Recently in Michigan, these laws helped expose sexual harassment complaints. In South Carolina, these laws shined a light on waste and corruption. In Wisconsin, these laws helped reporters uncovered glaring delays in nursing home vaccinations. That's what Sunshine Week is about. You can get involved at

And you know, the public's right to know definitely does need to be defended. This week's trial in Iowa was another illustration of that. You may remember last week, we told you about the case of Des Moines register reporter Andrea May Sahouri. She was arrested and charged while covering a protest.

Well, this week, a jury acquitted her on both charges. That's a victory for her and hopefully a message to other prosecutors. We get into all of this on this week's "RELIABLE SOURCES PODCAST" with three Freedom of Information experts. You can check it out, wherever you listen to your pods. Thanks for joining us here on television. We'll see you back here this time, next week.