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Trump DOJ Obtained CNN Reporter's Phone & E-mail Records; Polls Keep Showing The Power Of GOP's Alt-Reality; AP Staffer Fired For Pro- Palestinian Tweets?; A Narrative Shift In America Politics; BBC Reporter On Investigating Infamous Diana Interview. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 23, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter live in New York, and this is RELIABLE SOURCES. Here, we examine the story behind the story and figure out what is reliable these days.
This hour, interesting story out of Chicago where the mayor has been stirring debate by using diversity to pick and choose who could interview her. We're going to speak with a report who gained access but chose to reject it.
Plus, scandal at "The Associated Press" this weekend. A new reporter, new employee let go. Is it because of her pro-Palestinian tweets? We're going to get into social media policies in newsrooms and what went wrong here.
Plus, Martin Bashir's career-making interview of Princess Diana now deemed deceptive by the BBC. Their lead reporter who's re-reported the story is going to join me in the next few minutes.
But first, four stories about this network, CNN, including Chris Cuomo's apology and Rick Santorum's departure. We are going to get into all of it.
So, let's start with the subpoenaing, the seizing of Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr's records.
Everyone week, we are learning more about what the Trump era Justice Department did, more about its practices, more about its secret seizures of reporter phone records.
First, "The Washington Post" was notified that phone records for three of its reporters were subpoenaed by Trump's DOJ. And now we know it also happened to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Her phone and her email records as well seized by federal against apparently investigating leaks.
Snooping on reporters has been a bipartisan practice in D.C. Recall the Obama era Justice Department doing the same thing.
And that is what makes President Biden's vow so notable. He says no. He says it will not happen in his administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Should the government be seizing reporters' phone records and emails, and would you prevent your Justice Department from doing that?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Only yours but beyond yours --
REPORTER: But honestly --
BIDEN: Absolutely, positive, it's wrong. It's simply, simply wrong.
REPORTER: So, you won't let your Justice Department do that?
BIDEN: I will not let that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: But how realistic is that process? And what's being done to undo or what happened in the prior administrations?
With me now is Perry Bacon Jr., columnist for "The Washington Post"; Claire Atkinson, chief media correspondent for "Insider", and Nicole Hemmer, an associate research scholar at Columbia University, who's been studying conservative media for years. She's the author of "Messengers of the Right."
Thank you all for assembling this morning.
Perry, let's start with you. First, "The Washington Post" and now, CNN. We're learning more about the Trump DOJ snooping. How big a deal is it to hear Biden saying "not on my watch"?
PERRY BACON JR., COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: It was a big deal. But like you said, this has been bipartisan, this idea of seizing records. Although the Obama team in the second term suggested they shouldn't have been doing that in the first term. So, they backtracked from that. Trump did not at all do so.
I would rather here ultimately from Merrick Garland, because ultimately DOJ is in charge of seizing these records, DOJ -- you know, Biden is not involved in day-to-day cases the department will pursue on leaks or anything else.
What you want to know is not -- you know, Biden has offered a broad position but I want to know what Merrick Garland does on two issues. Is he going to look back upon what happened at the Trump days and suggest why it happened and why it shouldn't happen?
And two, will they actually abide by this sort of vague presidential promise and really never seize reporters' records no matter how much they want them? There is an important promise to make, but it's really Merrick Garland who's going to execute or not execute it?
STELTER: Claire, we heard CNN boss Jeff Zucker called for a meeting with the Justice Department. He said this network strongly condemns the practices of the Department of Justice that had been revealed.
Do you have a sense that, you know, we're going to keep learning? Is it possible we're going to keep learning about other leaked probes affecting other newsrooms?
CLAIRE ATKINSON, CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, INSIDER: I mean, it seems likely, doesn't it, Brian, to you know, when you think about the relationship that Trump had with all of the media.
ATKINSON: It feels like clearly that is entirely possible. I think it puts America in a very difficult position when it comes to taking on China or Russia and spreading the word about the importance of press freedom when Americans, American journalists were spied upon. It's wholly repugnant.
STELTER: Let's move to the story about the Cuomo brothers, the second story on the list. "The Washington Post" revealed that CNN anchor Chris Cuomo joined a series of conference calls to advise his brother, of course, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo, about how to handle the sexual harassment scandal that has engulfed the governor's office.
CNN's Oliver Darcy reported that staffers here at CNN were bothered by Cuomo's conduct and by the violation of journalistic standards. The network said in a statement that it was inappropriate engage in conversations that included members of governor's staff and they say Chris acknowledges that fact.
And Chris did issue an on-air apology to colleagues on Thursday, saying he put them in a bad spot and he won't do it again.
Nicole, if Chris Cuomo wants to call into strategy sessions with his brother's aides, shouldn't he just take a leave of absence from CNN? Is that the right solution in the future?
NICOLE HEMMER, ASSOCIATE RESEARCH SCHOLAR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I mean, it certainly is one solution. It's not unusual for people in the media and politicians to have relationships but if you're going to entangle them in any way, you have to be absolute transparent about it and you have to be very, very cautious. A leave of absence would be a great way to acknowledge what the conflicts of interest are there.
So this should have happened. And certainly, should happen going forward if he wants to rebuild his credibility.
STELTER: Perry Bacon, Jr., some people loved when Chris interviewed his brother, the governor, during the worst moments of the pandemic last year. Others thought it was totally inappropriate. Was that the original sin here in your view?
BACON: Yes. I found the interviews, good, engaging. They were informal. They were humorous at times. That said, at the time, I had the same thought, gee, is this the right
way to go? And now that we've seen how Cuomo handled -- the governor handled COVID and how there were problems there in terms of disclosure and honesty, I don't think his brother was the right person probe that.
CNN has a lot of other anchors and I think that looking back, it's going to be hard to criticize or suspend Chris Cuomo now after you've allowed a kind of un-journalistic or bad journalistic practice for much of last year.
I know that Andrew Cuomo is a governor of the biggest states in the country and his handling of COVID is relevant, but CNN has a lot of other anchors. And they should to be interviewing Governor Cuomo, not his brother.
STELTER: Cuomo is a part of this next story. It's about Rick Santorum. CNN parting ways with right wing commentator Rick Santorum. "Huff Post" broke this news yesterday and said Santorum's contract was, quote, terminated. This stems from Santorum's speech last month when he spoke dismissively about Native Americans, stirring outrage, leading to this segment on Chris Cuomo's show, where Santorum said he misspoke, but did not actually apologize.
So, now, he's out. And, Nicole, the question is, what's the context for this decision by CNN?
HEMMER: So, you know, this decision actually reminds me a lot of the decision in 2012 for MSNBC to cut ties with Pat Buchanan who had been on the network for a decade, for some racist and nativist things that he had said. And in this case, too, it's not that Rick Santorum said something that was unusual for the set of beliefs that he has. It's just that the tolerance of CNN and its audience for those beliefs seem to have changed.
So, I think is the most important context for what happened here.
STELTER: And I think it is striking to see Native American groups, journalists, activists speaking out and drawing attention to Santorum's comments and their power, their voices were heard.
Lastly a huge power shift in the streaming wars, the cable wars and again it is involved CNN.
Claire, you've been covering this, along with others, AT&T spinning off Warner Media, which is CNN's parent. And then it's going to combine that spinoff property with Discovery, creating a new media giant for the streaming wars or the streaming Olympics so to speak.
Here is the front page of "The Wall Street Journal" after the announcement. You could see AT&T unwinding this big bet on media.
My question, Claire, is what do you think it means for CNN, as well as for the media business writ large?
ATKINSON: Yeah, I think there are a lot of questions about the future of CNN. There were reports that potentially that the head of news, your boss Jeff Zucker, might buy it in a management buyout or something of that nature. Now we know it's discovery CEO David Zaslav who's taken charge.
He's well-known to be very interested in the media business. I'm sure he feels like CNN is the crown jewel of the company will now have a huge global business behind it. It won't be part of a telecommunications firm that for all intents and purposes didn't have a good handle on running a big media company.
So I think it is going to be interesting to see how it develops, how CNN's streaming services come about, will they live? Will they be part of the HBO platform?
ATKINSON: Will they live on their own? So I think, you know, we're all eyes on it right now.
STELTER: Right. The deal, if approved by regulators, if okayed, will take effect next year and Zaslav in interviews this week vowed to protect CNN's editorial independence. Important to have that on the record.
Everybody, stay with me. I want to get your thoughts about how the reality based media should be covering an alternative reality GOP.
And later, what's the plan for Tribune's newspapers now that a vampire hedge fund is taking over.
STELTER: From bipartisan to bye-bye. Plans for a January 6 commission now on life support with many Republicans running away from the bill and some straight up denying the reality of the riot.
You could see it here in the new Reuters/Ipsos poll with more than half of Republican respondents agreeing with the ludicrous notion that left wingers led the riot to make Donald Trump look bad. In the same poll, 61 percent of Republicans at least somewhat agreed that the election was stolen from Trump.
This is a live issue, still every day. And the reason, well look no further than how right wing media talks or doesn't talk about the riot, and about voting rights, and democracy. All of it seems at stake right now.
So let's bring back our panel and talk about this -- Perry Bacon Jr., Claire Atkinson and Nicole Hemmer all with me.
And, Bacon, you wrote, boy, you wrote for "The Washington Post", one of your debut columns.
[11:15:01] You said the state of American democracy is -- well, it's even worse than you think.
So, how should the reality-based press covered an alternative-reality GOP?
BACON: Honestly. I mean, that's the key important thing here, is cover it honestly. I think we've had this view for a long time and journalism should be not align with either party. But I think we've determined it to mean journalism should be equally distant between two the two parties and I think that is not realistic.
Journalism has a bias for facts, evidence and truth. And if like half of the voters in one party and a lot of the elected officials in the party are not but truthful, journalists are going to cover that and look like their covering that party more negatively.
So, in this environment, we have to prioritize, we have to be pro- truth, pro-democracy, pro-evidence and I think that's going to make it look like we're pro-Democratic. But I think we should be pro- democratic, small D, not pro-Democratic, capital D.
STELTER: Stand up for democracy, stand up for decency. But Nicole Hemmer, doesn't that just cause even shouts of media bias and an even more polarized landscape, and even more fractured country?
HEMMER: I don't think it causes it. It is a response to it in many ways, right?
HEMMER: What else can you do but to cover the issue of the insurrection and to point out when Republicans are showing an anti- small D democratic bias because that is an existential issue not just for journalists but for the country. And to not be honest and to not stay on that beat even as Republicans try to memory holed the insurrection, I think it would be a dereliction of duty.
STELTER: So speaking of right wing media, speaking of the GOP, let's talk about the Republican Party's favorite network, Fox News.
Claire, you have a interview with Fox Corps CEO Lachlan Murdoch. He almost never speaks to reporters. So, let's go through what he shared. He had a lot of blame for Facebook and Twitter for becoming a biased filter for the facts, basically saying social media was dividing us not cable news. He talked about Fox News being center right.
So tell us what the big takeaways you thought were from Lachlan Murdoch.
ATKINSON: I mean, I think there is a perception that his hand off the tail and he lets the CEOs of the different divisions run the company and what I found in the reporting as well as in talking to Lachlan, is that he's very involved. He's on the 8:30 call on the Fox News', you know, morning call every day. That's kind of surprising. He told --
STELTER: Especially because he's living in Australia. So he's --
ATKINSON: That's right. He's in Sydney.
ATKINSON: Yes. And so, he's working through the night. He's sometimes doing meetings in Australia during the day.
I was really interested though to hear that he intends to be at Fox for decades because of a some questions about whether, the Fox, the corporation that owns Fox News, whether that would become private or it would -- whether they would sell it. And so I think it is very significant that Lachlan told me, I intend to be here for decades and decades.
I know his siblings had criticized him. James Murdoch had talked about how he felt differently about what's on Fox News and wanted some things changed. So it is interesting to see Lachlan commit long term at the company.
STELTER: Right. Especially this idea that James could take over somebody and kick Lachlan out. Lachlan says he wants to be there for a long time.
He also said his father, Rupert, is still going strong. Here's the quote, saying he is working every day and it is an exciting future ahead of us.
What did Lachlan tell you about Tucker Carlson, Fox's biggest lightning rod who's been pushing vaccination disinformation? What did Lachlan say about Tucker?
ATKINSON: He believes that Tucker is brave and what he means by that is that Tucker says what is on people's minds. Lachlan has a philosophy degree from Princeton University and he mentioned that it kind of informed his thinking about everything, like question everything, question conventional thinking, whether it's at the dinner table or in society in general. Always ask questions about why people think the way they do and, you know, he believes that Fox News offers a diversity of opinion.
STELTER: If you want to know, Tucker Carlson's future at Fox, there it is. The boss loves him. They are very close. He thinks Tucker is brave.
Let me show another quote from your interview, Claire, it's all online, by the way, at insider.com. Folks can read the entire piece. But I want to plug another quote, because it is really rare to hear from Lachlan Murdoch.
Here's what he said about Fox being criticized by Donald Trump as well as from the left, saying, quote: In a strange way, if you got the left and the right criticizing you, you're doing something right. You really are in the middle. Nicole Hemmer, is that true? Is that right?
HEMMER: No, I don't think that's actually right. I think that is bad logic just in general. But I think that it is interesting because Fox News has always pitched itself as the conservative balance to liberal media bias.
And this is a real shift, saying that, well, we're being attacked from the left and the right. And that new addition of we're being attacked from the right suggests that Fox is going to be pivoting a little bit in the coming months as it tried to fend off these new upstart conservative networks.
STELTER: Perry, you seem amused by this?
BACON: I am. I don't think that Fox is center-right. I don't think that they're trying to triangulate between the parties. I think he said a lot of things that sound like nonsense to me to be totally honest. It sounds like Fox is going to be what it's been for a long time. Its ratings are good, it has a certain -- it has a big audience on the right. I don't think Tucker Carlson is counter cultural. He's for a lot of the things that most Republicans are for.
I just -- it sounds like the interview -- it sounds Fox is going to keep doing what it's doing which has been successful and also a real, dangerous part of the media environment in that it encourages a lack of facts, vaccination misinformation, lying and other dynamics. It's like we're not going to be rid of the dangerous version of Fox we have any time soon is what I'm gathering.
STELTER: Full interview is on insider.com.
All right. Turning to this weekend's biggest media scandal that I'm seeing grow every day. It's a firing at "The Associated Press".
Emily Wilder is a recent Stanford University graduate. She was let go from her brand-new gig working for "The A.P." in Phoenix in the wake of this pro-Palestinian activist tweets that we're seeing that she had shared when she was in college. These are old social media posts, in some cases critiquing Israel, standing up for Palestinian human rights.
These were pointed out by a college Republicans group at Stanford. So she was called out basically by the right for these tweets in her past. And then senators like Tom Cotton piled on. At first "The A.P." told her she was safe, but then she was terminated.
She has issued a statement this weekend saying: I am one victim to the asymmetrical enforcement rules around objectivist and social media that has censored so many journalists, particularly Palestinian journalists and other journalists of color.
So she is saying, this is all because of her tweets. "The A.P.'s" union, its guild, is saying, well, she's so new, we can't do anything. But we're really concerned about how "The A.P." is enforcing its social media policy.
And as for "The A.P.", well, here's what "The Associated Press" says. We have this policy, this social media guidelines, so that the comments of one person cannot jeopardize our journalists covering the story. Every "A.P." journalist is responsible for safeguarding our ability to report with fairness and credibility and cannot take sides in public forums.
So, let's talk about what this looks like. It looks like "The A.P." gave in to a bad faith outrage campaign, lots of tweets about one journalist, one out of thousands.
Let's be honest, she has no editorial leadership role, she was working in Phoenix for goodness' sakes. But "The A.P." is saying that she was terminated because of things she had just recently posted. Tweets she posted while employed by "The A.P." but they won't say which ones or won't say why.
So all of this, Perry, raising a question about social media policies, you know, how that works. Let me go first to you, Claire, because we were talking about this during commercial and you had some strong thoughts on this, the social media policies enforced by lots of newsrooms including "The A.P."
ATKINSON: I think it's a huge mess, and I think no journalistic entity has a good handle on it and I think the problem is that people -- young journalists and journalists of all ages want to express themselves in social media and, you know, I think broadly that the coverage of the story has come down on the side of the young reporter.
ATKINSON: You know, we saw situations with the "Teen Vogue" who had tweeted things before she became a journalist who also had to step down from "Teen Vogue". We saw "The Washington Post" reporter who was a victim of sexual assault and was told you can't write about this topic for the paper, and then the paper backed down.
So, you know, this mass confusion here. I think we need a complete rethink of the rules, and how people operate, I think people do have biases, we should understand that. And I don't think she was writing about Israeli/Hamas situation.
STELTER: She wasn't, yeah.
ATKINSON: Right. And she was Jewish. So I think that's worth pointing out too.
STELTER: And I should have included that in the explanation. Like it all comes down to this idea that one person, even if you hate what they post on Twitter, they do not represent the entirety of the a global news operation.
And once we all agree on that, we shouldn't fall prey to these bad fame campaigns. At the same time, social media platforms are a constant source of headaches for news management. I wonder, Nicole, if you think this is related at all, is there any
link between this story about "The A.P." and Nikole Hannah-Jones, the famed "New York Times" writer, leader of the 1619 Project who has been denied tenure at UNC. They're with holding tenure, apparently due to Republican pressure or Republican concerns about her work with a 1619 Project.
HEMMER: Yes, I mean, I do think that that is the common tie. When people generally talk about something like cancel culture, they talk about it as a product of the left. But in both of the cases, it was Republicans going after these two women.
And in the case of Nikole Hannah-Jones, I mean, she has been a particular hate project on the right especially around the 1619 Project for sometime. And while she still will have a job there, she doesn't have the kinds of protections that she really needs in order to continue to do the writing on race that she has been doing for so long.
So it's a real loss for her. It is a pretty bad decision by UNC and the board of trustees but I think it helps us understand the way that this particular type of power works, right? That it comes down through the board of trustees as posed to somewhere else in the university.
STELTER: Perry, do you want to button all of the stories up for us? It is an overwhelming sort of amount of news but I think there is a common thread here about power and how it's utilized.
BACON: Yea. Two comments, I think. One is that the Republicans are fairly opposed to I would call it honest discussion of racism, honest discussion about voting, honest discussion about the 2020 election. So they're sort of punishing people for views that they -- that are not held by the Republicans that are accurate and truthful in a certain way.
In a social media account, it is worth zoning in upon. I do think once you work at a news organization, you probably have to sort of think about what are your tweets and how do they reflect the organization because, you know, my Twitter says I work at "The Washington Post", so I'm a representative of them.
But I'm worried about it appears as if your social media post from all time before you worked at a place or whenever you -- maybe your Facebook page, maybe your private blog, there have to be more precise rules, your Twitter, when you work here, is different than your Twitter before you worked here or your personal sub stack, you know, when you do work here.
I think that's the problem is. We're not -- we're sort of falling prey to this, if anybody -- if you're controversial -- good journalists are good controversial. That's part of doing journalism well, is raising issues and raising ideas that are not in the status quo.
So punishing journalists for being controversial is a bad norm that I'm seeing way too much.
To the panel, thank you. Endless thanks for getting into all of these topics with us.
Later this hour, Prince William, along with his brother Harry slamming the BBC. And we're going to get into the reasons why.
But, first, the Biden book scribe who faced down Sean Hannity. And now, he's here. Edward-Isaac Dovere is next.
STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter. For you know, five or six years, Donald Trump overpowered everything else in American politics. But there is now clearly a new narrative. You know, Trump is back in New York City this week, but barely made a peep.
He was interviewed on a channel so small, one American news, that it's not rated by Nielsen, and he has his The Washington Post put it sliding toward online irrelevance. That brings me to this new book about the 2020 campaign. It's called "Battle for the Soul."
It's about the Democrats who were trying to beat Trump and I read it kind of expecting Trump to still be the star, you know, more Biggest Loser than Apprentice, but still the star. But actually, the juice in the book is all about Biden.
Edward-Isaac Dovere is the author of the book, he's also a Political Journalist at the Atlantic. Edward, thanks for coming on. So, do you think you're part of a part of a change in politics where Trump is a part of the story, but the whole world doesn't revolve around him anymore?
EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, AUTHOR: When I set out to write this book, my intention was to track what was going on in the Democratic Party. I figured we had a lot of people, a lot of great journalists who were spending a lot of time on Trump as they should have, you should have, and all of our colleagues who were doing that it was a very important presidency.
But there is a whole story that happens in these four years for Democrats that had a lot of different twists and turns, a lot of things that weren't being paid attention to and a lot of things that people just didn't know, and that is what I set out to do in this book. Trump shows up as a presence of points in the book. He's sort of the context for all of this, obviously, because they were all trying to get him out of the White House. But he is really not anywhere I would put them at light, the level character in the book. STELTER: Right. But when you're writing about American politics, like for example, when I was reading the book, you reminded me Trump held a rally on the South Lawn to attack his political opponents from a balcony, like something out of a thermal country. Like, when you remember that happened. It's hard for that not to overpower everything else, right?
I mean, and then you've got, you know, Biden, who Biden's gaffe of the week was he was out driving a new Ford electric truck, and he made a joke about wanting to run over reporters. Everybody knew he was just kidding. Everybody knows it wasn't a big deal that was considered a gaffe on Fox News. That was a big story, compared to you know, the crap that Trump was pulling for years.
DOVERE: Yes, and like, as I said, I'm glad that everybody was paying as much attention to it. But also, there was this other thing that was happening, and I think we should think about like this is now the people who are in power, at least for the moment, are the Democrats in the White House, in the House, in the Senate.
They, they didn't have as good a year in November as they were hoping to but they are in power. And this is the story of how that happened. It starts on election night, 2016, with Biden and Obama watching Trump win and tracks all of that through the primaries, all the craziness into the general election, but looking at what was going on in this very difficult time for the Democratic Party.
STELTER: Is it harder to cover Biden world than it was to cover Trump world? Is it harder to get inside and get information and get leaks?
DOVERE: It's harder to get people on the phone who will talk. But when they do talk, I think that they you can rely on what they're saying more they're not usually out to knife each other or to lie to reporters that have worked on the agenda, or whatever it may be. That's what's going on whenever even still you talk to anybody around former President Trump. That's not what it is with Biden.
But look, it's you know, if you're looking for tabloid drama, The Biden White House is not the place to go. If you're looking for them to try to grapple with some of the things that have been going on in this country, then that is where to go. It's not, it's less the stuff of the New York Post, I guess, I would say, than, than the Trump White House.
STELTER: That's a great way to put it. This is a Washington Post presidency and not a New York post presidency, that's maybe distinction. Isaac, thanks so much. Best of luck with the book. The book is "Battle for the Soul," comes out Tuesday.
DOVERE: Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: For the latest on all the day's media news, sign up for our nightly RELIABLE SOURCES newsletter at ReliableSources.com. And after the break, an eye-popping decision by the mayor of Chicago, we're going live in the city next.
STELTER: Hey, welcome back. My next guest is the center of two major media stories out of Chicago this week. One involves the sale of Tribune, one of America's largest newspaper publishers, and the other is about the city's mayor and diversity in the media.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is deciding to give interviews only to journalists of color around the second anniversary of her mayoral -- I can never say that word -- her tenure as mayor. What is she is citing is a lack of diversity among the city hall press corps.
So, she's trying to lift up journalists of color. But in doing so, she sparked an intense backlash from multiple directions. Some people pointed out that this could be considered anti-white racism. That's certainly been one of the arguments, others have been saying that this is something that is important to advocate for, but maybe she's doing it wrong.
So, let's talk about it more with Gregory Pratt. He's a City Hall Reporter of circuit for the Chicago Tribune, and he's the President of the Papers Guild. Greg, thanks for coming on. You were offered an interview with the mayor, and what did you decide to do?
GREGORY PRATT, CITY HALL REPORTER, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, our paper decided to turn it down because we didn't feel it was appropriate for a government official to tell us who we can send to do an interview. In this case, it didn't affect us. I'm a Latino. So, I wasn't prohibited, I fit, I was able to get an interview. They didn't tell me that was a condition. I didn't learn about it until it sort of started percolating with the other reporters who were denied. But we just thought it was an issue of independence.
STELTER: Has she continued with this, though? Have other journalists agreed? And what's the larger you think context for this?
PRATT: Well, she's absolutely correct, that there are diversity problems in the media. And we as a guild have also tried to raise those ups in the newspapers working on them. But there, there was some debate within the media, there were people who agreed that it was a good way to do it, and it's a one-time thing.
There were people who felt that. OK, thank you. But in the future, please stop denying so many interview requests from journalists of color. There were a bunch of news outlets that, that were very critical of that including the City Bureau, The Tribe, and Southside Weekly. So, it wasn't, it was a thing that had very polarizing reactions.
STELTER: Yes. By all means, I think she's right to challenge the media on diversity. A lot of people have been doing that for many years, and that's got to continue. We got to keep the pressure on to make sure newsrooms look more like America and the public they serve. But at the same time, we did ask her for an interview as well and we were turned down. Greg, let's turn to Tribune been acquired by Alden Global Capital.
It is a much-feared hedge fund called a vulture, called a vampire. You and others in Chicago Tribune tried to stop Alden from taking over, but on Friday, shareholders voted to go ahead with the deal, which means his hedge fund will take over probably this sometime later this summer, and is expected to institute even more cost cuts. What's the current state of the Chicago Tribune and the other Tribune papers?
PRATT: Well, we're deeply disappointed at what was the very dark day for journalism in Chicago and across the country. Alden is a is a company with a horrendous reputation for cost cutting, cost cutting that is not tethered to reality, but is instead bound to drive up already significant profit margins. And so, the mood is dark. On the other hand, we are resilient, tough group of journalists and we are going to continue putting out the paper as we've done for 174 years.
STELTER: We just put a map on the screen you see all the papers from Hartford to Baltimore, Virginia, Virginia Beach, to Orlando to Chicago. These are really important papers and communities up and down the East Coast and all the way to Chicago. What do you expect Alden to do? What do you expect this hedge fund to do?
PRATT: Well, they've only ever made significant cuts of newspapers. So, I would suppose that that's where they're going to go. They say that they're interested in journalism, which obviously we have significant skepticism of, but we're, we're going to advocate for our readers, for our citizens, for the city of Chicago and for our journalists.
STELTER: And there's already talk in Baltimore and other cities of maybe creating new rivals to these papers, not for profit outlets to cover the news. Greg, thank you very much for being here.
Coming up, the Royal accusations being leveled at the BBC after that internal investigation into the prince Test I interview from 1995 BBC panorama reporter John ware will join me after the break.
STELTER: It was a career making sit down with Princess Diana, Martin Bashir landed the interview in 1995. But now, it is back in the news with the BBC confirming suspicions of false pretences and "calculated deceit" used to land to the interview. We will speak with a BBC reporter who's been covering this story in a moment. But first, here's CNN is Max Foster with the setup.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the world's biggest scoops connected to one of our generation's greatest tragedies. And now, we learn it may have led to one of the media's most irresponsible cover ups.
MARTIN BASHIR, FORMER BBC JOURNALIST: Do you think Mrs. Parker Bowles was a factor in the breakdown of your marriage?
DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES: Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it's a bit crowded.
FOSTER: The landmark interview in 1995 when Princess Diana confirms Prince Charles's relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, and described in Frank detail her royal life had made her bulimic. 26 years on, and the truth is finally out about one independent investigation called the deceptive tactics that the BBC's Martin Bashir used to score the sit down.
BASHIR: Why have you decided to give this interview now? Why have you decided to speak at this time?
FOSTER: A simple question at the time, but the independent investigation commissioned by the BBC, and led by a retired judge, Lord Dyson, found that Bashir had had documents forged that suggested palace staff were being paid to spy on Diana. Bashir took those to Diana's brother Charles Spencer, and Bashir was then introduced to Diana.
RICHARD KAY, REPORTER, DAILY MAIL: So, his point is that the whole premise of the interview was set up on false and dodgy grounds. It might never have taken place, and the whole course of history could have changed.
FOSTER: Bashir left his role at the BBC before the findings were released last week, citing health reasons. He tells the Sunday Times, "I never wanted to harm Diana in any way and I don't believe we did. My family and I loved her." Earlier this week.
He apologized for the bank statements, but said they had no bearing on Princess Diana's decision to take part in the interview, according to P.A. media. A BBC internal inquiry into the scandal in 1996, was woefully ineffective. According to Dyson's report, and its findings were covered up. Prince William was scathing in his response.
PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her. But what saddens me most is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns, first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she'd been deceived.
FOSTER: The BBC's Director General Tim Davey says that while the BBC cannot turn back the clock, after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today. But is that enough?
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I hope very much that the BBC will be taking every possible step to make sure that nothing like this ever happens, again. FOSTER: The public broadcaster under pressure to prove it can regain
public trust, lost not just because of one reporter, but also the system that protected him. Max Foster, CNN, Hampshire, England.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So, a former judge conducted a review and found us evil conduct. The BBC panorama program did its own review, and found the exact same thing. So, let's talk about that with John Ware, he's the BBC Panorama Reporter who laid all this out on the BBC airwaves on Thursday. John, that must have been quite an experience.
JOHN WARE, BBC REPORTER: Well, it was, whenever you wash your dirty linen in public, it's an experience. But it's, it's, it's not unprecedented. This is a terrible mistake by the BBC. But it is, in my view, an aberration, and there have been at least two or three occasions when the BBC has, you know, as we say, here come a Cropper and a doctorate put its hand up. And I think that's evidence of the fundamental health of an organization.
STELTER: I think it is, too. But do you think viewers and readers are going to just kind of move on quickly past this? Or is this going to linger for a long time? Because I'm seeing fall out every day since Thursday?
WARE: Oh, sure. Look, you know, the, the enemies of the there are many enemies of the BBC, principally politicians, generally speaking, people on the right on the political right, some on the left, but mostly on the right. And of course, whenever there's a crisis, they leap in and make the most of it. So, there's a lot of talk this morning about, you know, fundamental reforms, systemic problems to be resolved, and so on and so forth. I don't know -- I mean, this is going to sound, I hope it's not going to sound terribly complacent.
I don't mean it to be. But I don't think you know, process reforms are going to address what was a cultural problem and I think an awful lot of work in the BBC has been done to address the cultural problem. There are now oversight boards, editorial, you know, every journalist is asked to go on a on an impartiality course on various courses, this, that and the other. So, I, I don't want to sound complacent but I think this was 25 years ago. It's not today.
STELTER: And you know, in some ways just reaffirms like one of the most important rules of life. Don't lie. Don't lie to the source. Don't lie to someone you're trying to interview. Seems simple in that way. John, thank you very much for coming on. Appreciate it.
Finally, today, quick plug for our RELIABLE SOURCES podcast. John Donovan is my guest. We talked about media manipulation, the meme wars, and the fight against digital disinformation. Also here on CNN later today, the next episode of this wonderful series the story of late night.
Tonight's episode 9:00 pm Eastern time. It's about the end of the era of "LATE NIGHT" as Johnny Carson said goodbye and a new generation of "Late Night" hosts came in. That is tonight 9:00 pm Eastern Time on CNN. We will see you right back here this time next week.