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Vaccine Skepticism Is Spreading Via Right-Wing Media; The Story Behind The Teen Vogue Story; Interview With Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN); Biden Admin Restricts Media Access To Migrant Facilities; Shortcomings In Coverage Of Anti-Asian Violence; Piers Morgan Sparked Record Number Of U.K. Complaints; The Role Of The British Media Regulator Ofcom. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 21, 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 figure out what is actually reliable.

This hour, we're going to examine some of the shortcomings in the coverage of the Atlanta shootings. Connie Chung is here with her analysis.

Plus, TV networks heading South, sending drones and reporters to the southern border. What is the full story about immigration in the U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar will be here with her answer.

Plus, whatever happened to second chances. The story of "Teen Vogue", my new reporting about the Alexi McCammond controversy is coming up.

But let's start with the joy of vax. As vaccine news offers light after a dark winter in the United States, while precautions are still necessary, the U.S. is picking up the vaccine pace with the daily data showing another record high on Friday into Saturday. Another 3.1 million doses administered and reported.

States are opening up more appointments all of the time. And many media outlets are covering this story responsibly, and also personally, showing journalists and anchors and personalities, getting their dose.

Now, I hope you've been able to get an appointment now. Here's my selfie and also my wife's selfie at a drive-thru vaccination site. All of these photos are part of an effort to spread the word. I'm getting my second dose tomorrow. I've never been so excited to get a vaccine.

It's all about instilling confidence and, of course, as a massive public health campaign underway to do just that, with PSAs from former presidents, Q&As with people like Dr. Fauci. And here's a little bit of a reveal, Simon and Schuster is publishing a children's book about Dr. Fauci. How a boy from Brooklyn became America's doctor.

That tells you something about media when Fauci gets his own children's book. And as Fauci has said, the partisan divide about the vaccines makes absolutely no sense, but it is real and it is deepening.

And this is where the joy of vax meets the bloom of vaccine hesitancy. There's a lot of coverage in the past week about why this is a big issue on the right specifically. Numerous polls showing the Republicans seem to be the most reluctant to get vaccinated.

So, let's dissect some of the reasons why -- certainly distrust of institutions runs deep, distrust of folks like Fauci and distrusts of the media. And to the extent the media is believed, irresponsible headlines and secondhand anecdotal stories spread undue fear. Some people don't know who to believe or what to trust.

And in that void, cynical performers come along and they say they are merely asking questions -- when they are really sowing doubts. For example --


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: How effective is this coronavirus vaccine? How necessary is it to take the vaccine? Don't dismiss those questions from anti-vaxxers. Don't kick people off social media for asking them. Answer the questions, especially now.


STELTER: Okay, of course. Those are all important questions. They've been answered for months. People will continue to answer them.

But notice that Tucker does not book experts to answer the questions he asks. That's how you know what he's really up to. It's destructive, not constructive.

It's also damaging when good vaccine news is downplayed or when President Trump finally belatedly urged his voters to get vaccinated live on Fox News but then pro-Trump channels quickly moved on, didn't pay much attention to his endorsement.

Or in the really egregious case of One America News, they played the Trump audio clip but then they featured some random doctor that says the vaccine is unnecessary and they're still hyping hydroxychloroquine.

Bottom line here, you are what you watch. And it could make you sick.

So let's talk more about this with Dr. Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, a CNN medical analyst. And Dr. Seema Yasmin, former CDC disease detective, author of "Viral B.S.: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them", also a CNN analyst.

You know, both of you have been so important in the past year helping people know what is going on.

Dr. Reiner, I saw you calling out Tucker Carlson the other day on your Twitter feed saying you might know the motive for why there are vaccine doubts spread on the channels like Fox. What do you think the motive is?


Yeah, it's hard to escape the notion that some of the conservative media outlets in particular Tucker Carlson is -- are and is purposely instilling doubt to achieve a political agenda.


There is no serious doubt that this -- that these vaccines work. The data from multiple clinical trials is robust both in terms of efficacy and safety.

So why would Tucker Carlson, who two months ago desperately wanted the former president to get the credit he deserves for helping to facilitate these vaccines, why now is he casting doubt on the necessity of the American public to be vaccinated? And an inescapable answer and conclusion is that he's trying to hamper what has become a spectacularly successful vaccine rollout by the current administration.

We right now are vaccinating about 2.5 million people a day and we'll get to 3 million people a day. This will be an enormous success.

So, this is I think a malevolent attempt to slow down the vaccine rollout and prevent the Biden administration from enhancing public health and having a big victory. There is no other way for me to explain this because there is no legitimate medical questions about the vaccines.

STELTER: Interesting.

Dr. Yasmin, is it notable how a couple of months ago, there were all stories about whether minority populations would be too hesitant to get the vaccine and how that could hinder the vaccine rollout?


STELTER: And now, the narrative is entirely changed and it is about Republicans, mostly men, so white male Republicans who want to get the shot.

YASMIN: Brian, that is no group in America more likely to say no, I'm not going to get the COVID vaccine than white Republican men. And that is according to a poll that came out ten days ago from PBS NewsHour and Marist College.

But not only that, the proportion of Republican men refusing the COVID-19 vaccine is increasing over time. It is a third of them back in December. Now one half of Republican men are saying they'll refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and we know from multiple sources from the Pew Research that they are dependent on the right wing conservative outlets and mainly on Fox News.

I will say on this topic if Carlson, there was a defamation suit against Fox News last year and in September, Fox News lawyers successfully argued that Tucker Carlson was not a credible source of factual information. They successfully argued that he was a provocateur and entertainer.

But we've seen studies in the last six months that show that people get their news from these outlets and really that it is the truth. So the University of Southern California, University of Chicago and others have found in areas where Hannity has high viewership, there was a higher rate of not only COVID-19 morbidity but mortality as well. There is direct impacts on where you get your quote/unquote fuse from and what impact that has on your personal well being and public health.

STELTER: What is the flip side here, what is the counter? Are other news outlets doing a good job of trying to counter this vaccine skepticism, this causing undue fear? Chris Hayes has been speaking out. Are you seeing others doing that also?

YASMIN: I'm seeing it to some extent. However, in response to your first question as to Dr. Reiner as to the motive for those on the right, it is a ratings war as well. And communication scholars that I've been interviewing have been saying that the ratings for Fox have fallen below CNN and MSNBC and this January, they are lower than in 21 years and according to a Forbes analysis as well.

And whether you look at social media use or traditional media, when you are vying for viewers, you are more likely to become much more extremist and spread very sensationalist and polarizing messages.


STELTER: And to your point, the audience has come back to Fox. The audience has come back but for opinion shows that are in some cases spreading misinformation about vaccines.

Look, I think it is important to note that Fox hosts are saying one thing and management is doing nothing. Don't watch what they say, watch what they do, right? So, this week, Lachlan Murdoch announced another delay in returning to offices of Fox Corporation. Now, the new date in September as it is for other news organizations.

Rupert Murdoch, by the way, you know, was able to get vaccinated months ago in the U.K. and that is big news.

And yet, I've noticed, Dr. Reiner, almost nobody on Fox airwaves has talked about getting the shot. We haven't seen photos of Sean Hannity getting the vaccine, certainly not Tucker Carlson. Juan Williams said he got it and I think Trey Gowdy promoted the vaccine the other day.

But there is not that kind of effort on Fox's air to say, hey, this is safe. It's smart. Get take the vaccine, that's what we're doing. They're not showing that leadership that other networks are showing.


REINER: Right. And in the beginning of this pandemic, now a year ago, the original big lie from the prior administration was politicizing masks and downplaying this severity of the pandemic and saying this it would go away and it is all a hoax and trying to get states to open quickly. So they managed to successfully politicize masks.

Now they are politicizing vaccines. We -- no one really expected that we would be able to have such terrifically effective and safe vaccines in the time frame that they were produced and released to the United States. I never expected that our biggest hurdle would be convincing people to get it. But yet, here we are.

And what Fox is doing mirrors what Congress is doing. Fully, 25 percent of the House membership, largely GOP members, have not disclosed whether they've received the vaccine. Now, it's conceivable that some of the folks just don't want to get it which raises different questions about competence.

But it's more likely that they have received the vaccine but are reading the politics in their districts and not wanting to counter vaccine hesitancy by telling that they've been vaccinated, which means their putting politics above their constituents which should essentially disqualify them for running for office. And I think outlets like Fox News are following that lead.

STELTER: One line for me before I'm up against a break before what the rest of the media should be doing with careful headlines, careful coverage.

Seema, first to you.

YASMIN: Well, I'm going to say there is a lot to be done by more responsible news outlets but really the answer here, Brian, is teaching media literacy and digital literacy and critical thinking from a really, really early age. It's so difficult to counter this. When people already are living in their echo chambers and in adulthood, so we need to start instilling those crucial skills in kindergarten and just really young.

STELTER: So you don't believe some random crazy Facebook headline.

Jonathan, what's your one piece of advice?

REINER: I think media needs to go down to the grassroots level and see where the hesitancy is big, the conservative community and communities of color and young people and ask them what their hesitancy ask, where does that come from and let's start a dialogue. That is what I do in my clinic every week and that is how we break down the barriers. Let's ask people why they don't believe they need the vaccine.

STELTER: There is a dozen different answers and we could drill down on those for different reason.

Dr. Reiner, Dr. Yasmin, thank you both for being here.

YASMIN: Thank you.

STELTER: Coming up, what does America's toxic media environment look like from a abroad? The BBC News correspondent Clive Myrie is here to share his insights.

And next, racist tweets, a staff revolt, what really happened at the parent company of "Teen Vogue"?



STELTER: So-called cancel culture is better described as consequence culture. There are consequences.

But what consequences? Who decides? And at what point do good faith callouts turn from helpful to harmful? Is this culture completely out of control?

These questions come up almost every day now. And I'm not talking about made up controversies involving Dr. Seuss here. I'm talking about cases like "Teen Vogue". This week, the former "Axios" political reporter Alexi McCammond withdrew from the job she was about to start, editor in chief of "Teen Vogue".

McCammond who is black was, look at these headlines, criticized for old racist tweets, anti-Asian and homophobic tweets, offensive tweets from college.

So, "Conde Nast", Anna Wintour and company, have given her this big job, had wooed her away from "Axios" had been aware of the tweets from a long time ago, but then the tweets came back, tweets that McCammond posted ten years ago when she was 17.

She had first apologized and deleted the idiotic posts in 2019. But on the Internet, nothing is ever truly fully deleted. So when her assignment was announced, "Teen Vogue" editors kind of revolted over McCammond's hiring, citing the teenage tweets and others wonder why is a huge magazine publishing plucking this political reporter to run "Vogue's" little sister publication. Is she qualified at all was a big question.

Now, "Conde Nast" defended McCammond at first, talking about her values, her inclusivity and her depth. But that defense wasn't enough, the controversy metastasize. Some on the left say she deserved to lose her job, some of the right said the woke mob was running amuck again, and a lot of us simply said, enough is enough. This is not all about left and right and -- perhaps as a standard of inoffensive perfection, it is impossible to meet.

No one wins in the purity wars. No one wins. Of course, no one I know would excuse racist tweets and almost everyone agrees we should strive for a more just equal society.

But these internal office battles zap energy away from the real struggle. I mean, no offense to McCammond, but her names should not be on the tips of the world's tongues, not for something she did at age 17.

So, ultimately, "Conde Nast" failed here, but they did open a door for a conversation about tolerance, about second chance, and that's why I want to bring in David French to discuss this.


David has been writing about the speech issues for years. He's a senior editor at "The Dispatch".

And, David, I saw commenting that this was an example of intolerance. But then, of course, others would say, well, her tweets are anti-Asian tweets, were evidence of intolerance.

So where do you come down on this?

DAVID FRENCH, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DISPATCH: Well, you know, look, the tweets came when she was a teenager. I dare say that a society that defines people by their worst moments as a teenager is going to be a pretty miserable society.

This was not a situation where you had somebody in real-time, on the job, demonstrating racist behavior. This was a person who had a distinguished professional career. There was no hint of any kind of behavior, instead she was tagged, she was labeled and she was defined by not just her worst tweet which is a bad habit any way that the Internet has gotten into of defining people by their worst moment, by their worst tweet but by her worst tweet when she was 17.

Look, there are tough questions -- there could be tough questions about when does the obligation or the right of an employer to sort of define its own values clash with protecting a culture of free speech where we want people to be free to speak their minds without walking on eggshells. There are tough questions on the margins there.

This should not be a tough question. This was talking about what something that somebody had done when they were a teenager.

STELTER: What do you think has happened in the past few years as these stories come up from time to time, it seems every day of the week. You know, Kevin Hart, James Gunn, there's all these examples in Hollywood, in pop culture, there's examples in newsrooms, Don McNeil pushed out of the "New York Times" because of comments that he made on a trip with students that were racist and there are these -- I feel like every day or every week there is a new drama like this.

As a result do you think that Americans are walking around on eggshells?

FRENCH: Well, you know, what's happened are two things at once. Some Americans are walking around on eggshells and another set of Americans are sort of trying to be as offensive as possible to fight back and show that they're not scared of cancel culture.

So it is toxic on both directions.

STELTER: Interesting.

FRENCH: You have a whole set of people who are afraid to say what they think and a another set who feel emboldened to say whatever they want even when it is actually toxic because they want to make people angry, they want to quote/unquote or trigger or own the libs.


FRENCH: So this is not healthy.

STELTER: Is that what's happening, by the way, with Rush Limbaugh's program. You know, Rush passed away, and now, there are all these people that would like his time slot. This week, Dan Bongino got in the running by getting a radio show at the same hours that Rush was on.

It feels like, you know, Bongino's kind of the libs conservative that you stand against.

FRENCH: Look, there is a giant market for people are going to say something that they know will make people angry and then make as a point of pride not apologizing for it, never backing down. And, look, when you look at some of the intolerance on the far left you could begin to see why sometimes people don't apologize. Because if you apologize, what have you done, you've admitted you've done something wrong and if you've done something wrong, there's no mercy for you, there's no grace for you.

Even when you were -- what you did wrong was when you were a teenager. So --

STELTER: Especially on a Sunday morning. That is where we need, David, grace.

FRENCH: Grace. Without grace, it's a miserable culture. Without grace, it's a miserable nation. We all do things that are wrong.

And look, if somebody comes and in good faith apologizes, especially for things in the past, and especially when they're whole career contradicts that person that they were ten years ago or that thing that they said foolishly ten years ago, why can't we have some grace?


STELTER: My impression is -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

FRENCH: When somebody says sorry that should be a welcome thing, not something that you then pounce on.

STELTER: My impression is that a lot of this drama at "Conde Nast" was internal politics, like office drama not liking the new boss or feeling like this the new boss isn't the right fit. Conde was ultimately pressured by advertisers and cut McCammond lose.

And so, there is this corporate cowardice layer to stories like this.

FRENCH: Well, a lot of times, people can't stand a negative 24 hour news cycle. If they just ride it out, things will be all right.

STELTER: That is what Andrew Cuomo is doing right now. Just wait until the next news cycle comes along. Yeah. FRENCH: Right, exactly. But the bottom line is we have these little cocoons, we have these little bubbles. And when people get in a like- minded cocoon, or like-minded bubble, there's a lot of research that says they become more extreme in their outlook, they often become less tolerant.

And so, breaking into these cocoons and bubbles I think is a very important and introducing maybe the point of diversity and ideological diversity in media can be an important way of breaking out of the cycle of intolerance.


STELTER: Right, absolutely. David, thank you so much.

By the way, 15 years ago today, the very first tweet in the history of Twitter. Jack Dorsey posted this today, I guess what I wonder what have Jack wrought, what has Twitter done to all of us.

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And after a quick break, a look at right wing media coverage and left wing media coverage of the border crisis. We're going to talk with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in just a moment.


STELTER: "Biden's border crisis," that's what pro-Trump media outlets are calling the situation at the southern border.


STELTER: As expected, it is predictable, there are countless hours on Fox and other networks devoted to stoking fears, and hyping the story at the border by Jeanine Pirro journey down to the border to talk with Border Patrol officials, trying to get access there. So, there's this kind of coverage.

It's fear mongering, but there are real issues. There are real access issues at the border. And we are seeing a dramatic amount of coverage of a dramatic surge along the U.S. southern border. So, let's talk about how this coverage should be framed with some of the things a lot about the media and its role in society. Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is with me now.

Congresswoman, thank you for coming on. I'm curious to hear how you think immigration should be framed in the media. Of course, keeping in mind that the border situation is just one part of a massive immigration story.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): Yes, well, thank you so much for having me, Brian, it's really great to be here with you. First of all, I think, you know, our conversation -- our conversations have just been about the political football of who's attacking who on immigration, instead of actually talking about the real situation, which is this, that there are children as young as toddlers that are fleeing unspeakable violence, oppression in their own countries at the hands of their own governments in order to survive.

And we have to talk about the reality that every child regardless of where they come from, deserves a home, and that there is international laws in regards to asylum that we have to adhere to. And these should be the starting conversations, you know, when we ground the conversation with who is legal, who is illegal, who is a criminal, who's alien, then we allow for racist rhetoric to take hold.

And it sort of creates a space where, you know, these children, these families, these individuals who are fleeing these unspeakable conditions, are not humanized. And it doesn't allow us to sympathize with them and empathize with them, and recognize that, you know, they are not that much different than ourselves.

If we were to find ourselves in the situations, they're finding themselves then, we would want somebody to open their doors and welcome us. And that's exactly what happened for me, at the age of 8. You know, I fled war, I came to the border of Kenya, which is our border, which was the bordering country to Somalia, where I was fleeing war, and they let us in.

And, you know, I am now a member of United States Congress. And so, empathy, sympathy and understanding where people are coming from and putting ourselves in their shoes is what we need to center this conversation around.

STELTER: I think everyone remembers the shocking photo of a-- of a girl crying when there was a situation there in 2018. I think her mom was being -- was being patted down during this photo. There are other kids, they're crying today.

And we're not seeing the photos, the photojournalist who took that shot in 2018, is pointing out on Twitter, you know, we're not getting the access we need, he had to shoot photos from the Mexican side of the border into the us with a long lens, there are growing complaints about the Biden administration restricting media access to the border. Are you among those who are concerned about that?

OMAR: It is -- it is very concerning again, that, you know, we're not centering this conversation around what's actually taking place where these kids are coming from, what situations they're fleeing, what their conditions are right now with the border. We're obviously having a conversation on whether the administration should be communicating to people not to come.

And, you know, we seem to forget that people who are fleeing unspeakable violence are not checking their Twitter feeds or news outlets to see if the country they're fleeing to is welcoming them today. And so, I think that there are some failures that are taking place.

And it's really important for us to show the basic humanity and treat the causes of migration in the region. It means, you know, addressing the root causes of the situation. It means dealing with our cruel and contradictory foreign policy that arms the various states, very state actors that are fueling the migrant crisis. It means understanding that searches happen. And you know, this conversation around the hysteria that is happening with the Republicans right now, is centered around, you know, gaining political points.


It's not about the safety of Americans. It's not the -- it's not about adhering to international law and allowing people to seek asylum. It's not about coming to the table and working with us in regards to immigration policy, because if any of those things were true, you would hear hysteria from them in regards to the northern border, you would hear his theory from them around, you know, folks who become undocumented because they overstay their visas.

And so, it shows you really that this conversation, it's about maligning, and, you know, I think creating a torturous space that often becomes dangerous and violent for those that are the least fortunate in our immigration population.

STELTER: Yes. Let's have more information, not invasion rhetoric. Congresswoman Omar, thank you for being here.

OMAR: Yes, thank you for having me.

STELTER: Coming up, today's Atlanta Journal Constitution front page tells the story of a community in pain in Atlanta. How can the media better cover anti-Asian violence? Connie Chung is here on the other side of this break.



STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES, I'm Brian Stelter. First, when that attacker opened fire in Atlanta, we heard a lot about the gunman. We heard a lot about possible motives. We heard a lot about him. Now, belatedly, we are learning more about the victims.

We're learning more about the people who perished. So, let's evaluate coverage of the massacre with pioneering and award-winning journalist Connie Chung. She's here with me, along with Michelle Ye Hee Lee, she's the president of the Asian American Journalists Association, and a reporter at the Washington Post. And she is there outside one of the sites of one of the shootings.

And Connie, first to you, your assessment. I've been hoping to hear this all week. Your assessment of how the media coverage -- how the -- how the media approaches anti-Asian violence in the United States.

CONNIE CHUNG, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST (via Cisco Webex): Brian, anti- Asian hate started the moment it came out of President Trump's mouth. The moment he called COVID-19, the China virus or Kung flu. We saw incidents of Asian hate all across the country now reaching 3800 incidents. I was so incensed by what he had done, that I decided to take sides in

this presidential election in 2020. I created a video aimed at Asians and Asian women urging them to vote because I found out that Asians could be the key in key battleground states if they could tip the ballots for Biden.

I tried to get my old friends and colleagues to cover this story of how important the Asian vote was to this election. No one would do it. No one would pick -- I mean, they'd get back to me, but they'd say, yes, this important story, but I never saw it on the air.

Now, with this horrific incident, they still didn't cover it until it happened. Earlier a few weeks earlier, the New York Times had a story about Asian hate prior to this incident -- not incident, these murders, these horrendous murders in Georgia. And it had it on the front page. A broadcast journalists frequently broadcast organizations frequently use the New York Times as their daily assignment sheet.

Not until it appeared in The New York Times did other news organizations pick up on it and start reporting about Asian hate. Then this occurred. The media has been miserably late, miserably late. And it's because we're that minority that is invisible. We are insignificant. And it's so apparent to all of us who are Asian, I happen to be Chinese.

STELTER: I think I feel like I saw only a handful of stories the way the you're describing, you know, the CNNs and the Washington Posts and The Times. There were a handful of stories, but there wasn't this focus. And then, all of a sudden -- you're right, all of a sudden there has been a focus.

I wonder, Michelle, what you're hearing from journalists who work the beat every day. You represent hundreds of Asian American journalists were members of your association. What are they saying this week?

MICHELLE YE HEE LEE, PRESIDENT, ASIAN AMERICAN JOURNALISTS ASSOCIATION: Right, we have more than 1700 members all across this country and in Asia, and we've been talking about this nonstop, but our newsrooms have not. We have been pitching these stories even if the Asian American community is not our beat. Because oftentimes, as Connie said, we are very much invisible in the newsroom and underrepresented especially in leadership.

You know, this week, AAJA issued guidance when we saw that newsrooms were rushing to describe this shooting as not racially motivated, because the suspects said so. But when you're Asian, you know that racism goes hand in hand with sexualization and sexual violence against Asian women.

What this showed us was that there are not enough Asians in these newsrooms, or people who are well-versed in the history and experience of Asian communities who are shaping the news and, you know, actually directing how coverage is done. So, we came up with a statement and we stepped in.

We made sure that our community was going to be heard in the coverage, and it was clear that our work was necessary because after we issued the guidance, for the first time in 10 years, our Web site crashed because of the traffic.

STELTER: I noticed that. I was -- I was weirdly happy to see it crashed, but I was glad you're able to get it right back up, so people could obtain this information. I wonder, Michelle, if you've learned anything from Connie, you know, as a pioneer in this industry over the years.


LEE: You know, pioneers like Connie and I'm so starstruck right now to be on with her. They carved these spaces for us. They are the pioneers; they carved the spaces that did not exist before them. And what we do as journalists after them is to try to make those spaces a little bigger, a little wider and louder, so that people who come after us can continue to fill them and continue that work that we're doing.

STELTER: Connie, what do you want younger generations of journalists to be doing in these beats?

CHUNG: You know, it's fair -- thank you, Michelle, for saying that. I've seen your byline many times and I always notice if it's an Asian byline. One of the things, Brian, that I think is important to point out is that white news organizations led primarily by white men tend to assign Asian women or Asian people to cover -- there aren't very many Asian males in the news -- in television news business to cover this heinous crime. You know, it makes sense if you're trying to get maybe some sources and that the thought is --

STELTER: Foreign language speakers.

CHUNG: -- that we can infiltrate our own community a little bit better. But why is it that Asians cover Asian stories, to Blacks cover Black stories, to Whites cover White stories? Anybody can cover a hate crime. And as far as I'm concerned, it's very obvious that this was a hate crime.

If it occurred in a Hasidic community, you would say that was a Jewish hate crime. If it occurred in a -- in a bunch of Black-owned businesses, you would say that was a hate crime. It's not up to us in the media to declare this. I was shocked when FBI Director Christopher Wray already said he doubts if it was a hate crime.

Legally, it's one thing to declare something a hate crime. But it needs to be asked by everyone, every reporter in the media. There's nothing wrong with asking if it's a hate crime.

STELTER: And I think this NBC headline got it right. "Racism, sexism must be considered," experts say, even if the police aren't going to say -- aren't ready to say they don't have all the evidence, we must consider these perspectives. Connie, Michelle, thank you both for being here. I expect President Biden at his first presidential press conference will be talking about this subject on Thursday. After the break, here on RELIABLE SOURCES, let's look at how the

United Kingdom regulates the media. And whether there's something we can learn from the U.K. that applies to the U.S. and other countries. We're going to discuss that after the break.



STELTER: Piers Morgan's televised tirade against Meghan Markle earlier this month resulted in a record number of complaints to Ofcom. Markle herself was one of the objectors. So, what is Ofcom? Well, it is the British media regulator, looking after everything from the postal service to mobile phones, to the content on T.V. and radio.

This video is from their what is Ofcom explainer. It's pretty nice, right? Ofcom was brought into being by the British government almost 20 years ago, but it is not a government agency. It is a standalone authority. And here's the thing, it is funded by fees paid by British broadcasters. With that money, it collects complaints from viewers and tries to hold companies to account, sometimes do inquiries and also by doling out fines.

Of course, American T.V. stations are occasionally fined by the FCC for profanity or nudity. But there's nothing like Ofcom in the United States. Some of the things Ofcom monitors are journalistic standards, do impartiality, do accuracy, taste, decency, (INAUDIBLE) hate speech, may get fined.

If a program makes a huge mistake and fails to correct it, it may get investigated. Ofcom puts pressure on T.V. channels to play it straight, or at least acknowledge opposing viewpoints. And the group's leverage is licensing. Because the air in Britain, you need to be licensed by Ofcom. CNN International is among those channels, by the way.

Now, I'm sitting here in New York talking about this. And I'm thinking this would never fly in the United States. Thank goodness for the First Amendment. But I've heard from many Londoners who say the opposite, who defend Ofcom as a bulwark against the kind of hate news and hyper partisan disinfo that's all too common in the U.S. and elsewhere. Nobody knows what Ofcom will do in the Piers Morgan case. And there's lots of views about what it should do, and whether it should even exist.

So, let's get into it with Clive Myrie. He's an award-winning journalist, a longtime correspondent, now chief anchor for BBC News Channel. Clive, you got me thinking about this because you recently gave a lecture in honor of the late Harold Evans, talking about regulation in the U.K.? How does the average, you know, person there feel about Ofcom? How does the average viewer of the BBC feel about Ofcom?

CLIVE MYRIE, CHIEF ANCHOR, BBC NEWS CHANNEL: They feel Ofcom is very important and very necessary. You know, from the beginning of mass communication, not just in the United States but in the U.K., societies have understood that it's a powerful tool. It can put out their misinformation. It can put out that lies.

It can put out their propaganda. It can put out their disinformation. And as a result, responsible democratic societies need to keep a check on this very powerful tool. And you had that. You guys have that in the United States with the creation of the Federal Communications Commission in the 1930s and 40s.

You had a fairness doctrine that had the principle that broadcasters had to put opposing points of view whenever they went to where. You had all that just as we have Ofcom. Then, you got rid of it in 1987. I think a more pertinent question is why you got rid of it, not why it doesn't exist.


STELTER: Is that because Republican politicians didn't want it around anymore after the fairness doctrine was dismantled, they created a lot of airtime for right-wing radio. You pointed out in your speech that James Murdoch used to rail against Ofcom, but now he's very concerned about disinformation. So, perhaps he's come around. That's Rupert's son, of course.

MYRIE: Yes, of course. I mean, you know, he gave a big speech here in the United Kingdom back in 2009 I think it was, where he said, the prime motivator for any media organization, mass communication company should be money, should be profit, and from that would stand public confidence, it would stand more money to improve services, you would get loyalty and trust, if you have enough money making the kind of programs that the public wants.

And therefore, the public would be the regulator. They would decide whether or not you're stepping out of line. But I'm not entirely sure that that has worked in the United States and having been a correspondent based in Washington for four years under George W. Bush's administration also, you know, working as an L.A. correspondent, and seeing what happened last year with the -- with their storming of the Capitol building and the disinformation over Coronavirus and so on, I don't think that's a regulatory framework having the public decide that really works.

STELTER: I hope everybody watching can talk about this over their lunch or their breakfast in the U.S. and of course, wherever you are around the world. Clive, thank you so much for coming on. We're out of time here on RELIABLE SOURCES, but we will see you this time next week. Thanks for joining us.