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Hannity Isn't Spouting "Opinion," He's Spreading Poison; Nine Confirmed Dead In Condo Collapse, 150-Plus Missing; Hedge Fund Owner Seeks Cutback At The Capital Gazette. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired June 27, 2021 - 11:00   ET



BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brian Stelter at the anchor desk, and we are standing by for a press conference by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and other officials at the site of the collapsed building in Surfside, Florida. We are expecting brand new updates on the painstaking search effort and we will take there as soon as the news conference begins.

The top editor of "Miami Herald" newspaper is also standing by to join us.

While we wait, let's begin this hour of RELIABLE SOURCES with two newsmakers who can tell us a lot about the divided states of America. The major networks did not carry Donald Trump's Saturday night rally. Even Fox News ignored it.

But Fox is serving the ex-president's agenda in lots of other ways. Reporters likened the rally to a revenge tour, and Fox sure knows revenge.

To understand why so many Republicans have abandoned democracy, to see why so many believe the big lie, to get why so many are trying to rewrite voting rules, you have to hear the poisonous propaganda that the GOP's activist base is listening to. You have to really hear it. It's coming more from Sean Hannity than Trump right now.

So, that's what we did this week. We watched every episode of Sean Hannity's show and we color-coded it as you can see. We focused on his language, the insults and phrases that he repeats every night. Nasty little words like these.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Socialist, stalker, weak, failure, shameless, psychotic, indoctrination, hell holes.


STELTER: And that's just the beginning.

On Hannity's show, President Biden is president sippy cup. Biden's a weak, frail, cognitive mess, Hannity says, yet the Democratic Party is portrayed as an existential threat. Hannity calls it the Green New Deal socialist party and he labels some Dems extremists.

He calls American cities hell holes. He sometimes calls them Democratic-run hell holes.

And he says the media is a mob, full of, quote, stalkers. Just think on that for a minute. Fox claims to employ lots of reporters, but their primetime star calls reporters stalkers, to the idea of the news media as a check and balance, as a form of accountability, flawed but essential.

No, no, no. On Hannity, the media is the enemy even though Fox is the media.

Here's my point: don't get numb to this abusive language, because it is through these insults, it is through these attacks that Hannity yields power. This dark, dire language is fundamentally authoritarian. It softens the ground for movements like Stop the Steal, you know, Trump's ploy to actually steal the election. It portrays anyone who disagrees as not legitimate, as not American.

It's not opinion what Hannity does. You know, that's been a Fox for decades, right? Opinion shows, we have opinion shows. No. Saying, I don't know, well, yes, we should keep the 2017 tax cuts in place, that's an opinion. Let's expand universal pre-K. That's an opinion.

Hannity is spouting something else. Hannity is spouting poison, denouncing democratic norms like a free press, that's poison, corrosing (ph) the public discourse is poisonous, and the Murdochs let it happen every day, and it radicalizes people, people like Hannity's colleague, Tucker Carlson, who's out there calling the joint chiefs chairman a stupid pig. God bless the USA that we're allowed, that that's okay, that that's normal, and yet, there is nothing healthy and constructive about it.

It's destructive. And the language gets more and more vile, with a propagandist One America News suggesting that Democrats could be killed for suggesting -- for supposedly stealing the election.

So, this is a big lie, on top of a big lie, on top of a big lie. Just listen to how coldly he talked about executions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are the consequences for traitors who meddled with our sacred democratic process and tried to steal power by taking away the voices of the American people?

Well, in the past, America had a very good solution for dealing with such traitors. Execution.


STELTER: And then, of course, he tried to weasel out of what he said by saying he was just reporting the legal pun for treason. Right, right. Pro-Trump media is getting viewers comfortable with violence. That's

really what's going on here. These people live, eat, sleep, breathe the election fraud lie, and they want their followers to do the same.


The level of rancor, resentment, all-out hate for fellow Americans just keeps intensifying.

Look at the Web site like the Gateway Pundit. The mainstream media on their line is evil, and Nancy Pelosi is a demon, and Dr. Anthony Fauci is the greatest mass killer of the 21st century.

On a show like Hannity's, reporters are stalkers and cities are hell holes. And you listen to enough of this filth and you stop recognizing your country, and you start living in fear or disgust, and you might stop at nothing to save America.

That's what the signs at Trump's rallies say, save America. But do they even know what they're trying to save anymore? Do they even know the real America?

Adam Serwer joins me now. He's a staff writer for "The Atlantic". His book "The Cruelty is the Point" hits stores on Tuesday.

Adam, you coined that phrase when President Trump was abusing his power several years ago. And now, your book is a collection of essays and new work that you've written. What's the application of that phrase today, "the cruelty is the point"? I guess I'm asking -- is cruelty still the point?

ADAM SERWER, AUTHOR, "THE CRUELTY IS THE POINT": Yes, it is, but that's for reasons that go far beyond Donald Trump. Most people think of cruelty as an individual problem, and it is that because, you know, it's human nature. Anybody can be cruel. But what I'm focused on on the book is cruelty is a part of politics, especially the way that it's used to demonize certain groups, so that you can justify denying people basic rights under the Constitution and exclude them from the political process.

And that -- part of that is what you were discussing in your monologue when you talk -- people are talking about treason and execution and all that kind of nonsense. What they're saying is that the party did not legitimately win the election and so extreme measures are justified in order to prevent them from doing something horrible to you.

And this has a very old pedigree in American politics. Unfortunately, it goes back to the founding of the country when the Declaration of Independence said all men were created equal, but then they wrote slavery into the Constitution, and it continues to haunt us to this day. So, it's really not a Trump thing.

And to the extent our system allows one party to hold power without winning a majority of the votes, it becomes more and more urgent to persuade your base that they're on the verge of destruction, and so, anything they do to prevent that destruction is justified, which is why you're seeing this sort of on-air musing about executions for traitors.


SERWER: It's violent stuff, but the reason why they're doing it is to persuade their viewers to accept extreme measures if, you know, those are taken.

STELTER: It's hard to explain to folks who don't watch Fox or OAN just how radicalize the contents become, right?

Like I'm in New York, it's not a hell hole. We've got our problems, we're going to be fine, right?

Hannity's control room is in New York. It's not a hell hole, it's all good, right?

It's -- and yet every night, he lies to his viewers in such way that if you don't listen to it, if you don't hear the poison, you might think that we're out of the Trump storm. And then if you listen to OAN and Fox, you realize we're very much still in this storm, and to your point, it's actually much, much bigger than Trump.

SERWER: Yeah. I mean, I think you have to look at Trump as kind of a product of Fox News.


SERWER: Fox News was Trump's main line to the Republican base. He was reflecting Fox News back to Fox News viewers.


SERWER: And that is why they loved him so much. He was telling them that -- he was watching Fox, and he was repeating what he heard on Fox to Fox News viewers, and that created a kind of intimate connection, because they -- he was sort of creating a community in which they all hated the same people and he was validating that hatred, and it's a feedback loop that continues to this day.

The larger issue, really --

STELTER: It's still happening every day.

SERWER: Yeah, it's still happening. It's still happening every day.

STELTER: Can I ask you, in the book, you talk about memory. You say, we need to remember, but there is a danger of historical amnesia. People may be already forgetting what's happened in recent years.

So, what's the warning there?

SERWER: I mean, I think part of the surprise with Trump being elected was because we had buried in our memory all these aspects -- all these historical aspects of our politics that Trump was a manifestation of. And so, when he came to power, everybody was like, well, this isn't who we are, or they came to see him as sui generis, when in fact he is a manifestation of the historical, ideological and structural currents of our political system.

He represents a part of the United States that has been a part of our politics, you know, since the founding. He's not simply -- I mean, like he is obviously in some ways unique because of his personal characterological qualities, but the ideological forces he represents are, you know, much older than he is.

STELTER: What do you want Fox viewers, OAN fans, big lie believers, to get -- to take away from your work, Adam?

SERWER: I want them to take away the fact that the rival constituencies, the people who vote for the Democratic Party do not want to destroy them.


They want to live in this country with the same rights that they have.

STELTER: What a basic statement that I hope Hannity's viewers will hear someday. Hmm.

And, Adam, do you think you can reach the tens of millions who say in polls they believe the big lie?

SERWER: You know, I don't feel like my job as a journalist is necessarily to convince people that I'm correct, I feel like my job is to lay down a record of events as close to truth as I possibly can and hope that, you know, people will read it and internalize it.

But I don't think my job is to convince people that I'm right. My job is to tell the truth as best as I see it.

STELTER: Adam, thank you.

Let me head back to Florida now. I believe the press conference that we're waiting -- press conference of local officials in Surfside is about to begin. You can see Governor DeSantis there along with local officials.

There was a meeting early this morning. The Miami-Dade mayor shared a photo of the meeting that included some rescuers from Israel, some experts in this kind of rescue work who have arrived in the U.S. and are there on the scene to help. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to start the press conference now. Remember, please hold your questions until the end. We'll be selecting you and address who the question is going to be. And I would like to bring now the governor, Mr. DeSantis.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Well, I want to welcome the FEMA administrator and thank Administrator Criswell for her attention to this tragedy and the support that FEMA has provided. We've already -- FEMA has already personally registered a number of families for individual assistance, and obviously, as this unfolds, there potentially be more who will qualify. So, we want to thank them for their willingness to do that.

I also want to thank all the folks that have been out there. If you look at that rubble now, you see folks on top, you see major machinery, and they're working around the clock like they have been from the wee hours of the morning. And so, I want to thank all the search and rescue teams for their tireless efforts. They've stepped up to the plate and they have not stopped during this whole time.

We'll be discussing with the county about whether, you know, we need additional personnel to backfill them. We have not yet to this point. We did get a small team from Israel to come, a lot of the families who have unaccounted-for loved ones wanted that. That was something we obviously welcome them and they've been on-site as well. They're looking for if there's voids where they can potentially rescue somebody, that's kind of the name of the game.

Obviously, you're going to start to see a lot of major debris that are going to be moved out of there. There is a site that's located. Those -- the debris that gets out does have forensic value and so, that's going to be parsed once it's taken. There is a big warehouse that's been identified. The state is assisting with some of the machinery and some of the dump trucks to be able to move that out as appropriate.

Thanks to the community for stepping up. We have huge amounts of money that has been pledged, that has been donated. There's going to be folks that are displaced, there's folks whose lives have been shattered as a result of this. And so, to see people coming together to support their fellow Floridians, and actually some are not even Floridians, but they're still part of the family down here, we really appreciate it.

And we also appreciate the collaboration with the federal government, and then as well working with our great first responders locally. Florida DEM stands by to meet any unmet needs. We don't have any right now, but it should summarize we'll be there for 'em and we'll be there for the folks down here in Miami-Dade County.

It's a pleasure for me to be able to welcome the FEMA administrator. I appreciate her responsiveness in authorizing the individual assistance for those who have been affected.

So, Administrator?


On behalf of the president, our hearts go out to all of the families and the loved ones who have been affected by this really tragic incident. And we join countless others across the nation and really across the world who are keeping everybody in our thoughts as we continue to wait for additional information.

You know, I'd also like to recognize the amazing work that's been going on by the first responders, the urban search and rescue teams. They've been working tirelessly 24 hours a day since this happened, and it's a true testament to the amount of resources and the level of skill that's located right here in the community. And I think it's also really important to recognize how the community has really come together, the number of volunteers that have shown up, the number of non-profit organizations.


Community members have really come all together to help this community in a time of great need.

And FEMA is here to assist with that. We're here to assist with any resources that might be needed as this response continues and we move into recovery efforts. We do have urban search and rescue teams that are available to come in and assist as the need is determined.

We've also brought in the army corps of engineers to provide some additional technical assistance, and we are committed to working with the incident commander, with the mayor and the governor and the state team to bring in any additional resources that might be needed throughout this event.

We have also, as the governor mentioned, began registering families who need assistance, and we are going to be working with them directly face to face as they learn how to apply for assistance and navigate the federal system, and we are going to make sure that we give them the assistance that they need.

Governor, Mayor, helping to serve this community is our top priority, and I want you to know that we are here to support with whatever the federal government can bring to assist as long as we need to. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much, Governor, and thank you, Administrator.

And now, the Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.


Here we are, day four. We have the governor. We have the FEMA administrator. We are so grateful for their presence and for the incredible teams that they brought to bear here in this community. And as you know, we've been working around the clock -- since the wee hours of the morning Thursday, we've been here 24 hours a day.

Our teams have done an amazing job and yesterday, we suppressed the fire that had been going out of control and the smoke that was inhibiting activities in certain parts of the pile. So around noon yesterday, that was brought under control, making it possible for the search to continue in those areas as well.

So throughout the rest of the day and through the night and until now, we are working. We have six to eight squads that are on the pile actively searching at any given time. Hundreds of team members are on stand-by to rotate as we need a fresh start. So we are not lacking any personnel, but we have the best. We have the right people and the right number and we are getting it done.

As we continue to sweep these piles with our canines, with our cameras, with our sonar, we are standing with our engineers as well, making sure that our first responders are safe. We need to be sure that the pile does not fall on them, that it does not fall on any possible survivors, and we are diligently pursuing that as we do our work.

So we're cutting a deep trench to assist us. It's now 125 feet in length into the pile. It's 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep. Now, this trench is very critical to the continuation of the search and rescue process. We've continued all night to build that trench, and as a result of that, we were able to recover four additional bodies in the rubble as well as additional human remains.

As of today, one victim passed away in the hospital, and we've recovered eight more victims on-site. So I am confirming today that the death toll is at nine. We've identified four of the victims and notified the next of kin.

My deepest condolences to the families, the friends, the communities of those who have lost their lives, and my prayers are with the families and the whole community as they mourn this tragic loss.

We are making every effort to identify those others who have been recovered, and additionally, contacting their family members as soon as we are able. So we're going to continue to work closely with our partners, the state and FEMA. We have all the resources that we need to do this work, and we have the assistance that these families need.

We're meeting constantly with the family members, giving them the updates first so they don't hear it on the news, so that they can talk with us, ask questions and mourn with us as they hear bad news and continue searching for survivors with us. They are receiving multiple briefings every single day.

Volunteer Florida is coming. Thank you so much, to the Florida department of emergency management for deploying them.


And they will assist us in coordinating the many, many donations, the outpouring of the community. These donations are incredible and you do need help to coordinate that.

So I want to continue to share how grateful we all are right here in Surfside, in Miami-Dade County, in Florida for the entire world reaching out, caring about what happens to us here. We feel your love, we hear your prayers. These mean so much to us and to the families as we continue our efforts.

So God bless our families, god bless our first responders and to all those that we've lost, thank you, thank you. You're in our prayers.


STELTER: This is the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, speaking.

I will step in for a moment while she speaks in Spanish to a local media on the scene. What she has not yet shared the updated number of the missing. Currently, the number stands at 156 missing at this collapsed site.

Hopefully, this number is going to shrink. Hopefully, some of these people have been found and they are safe. But so far, no indication of that. No sign of positive developments at the site.

Some news, though, so far in this press conference, and we're going to go back to it as soon as she resumes in English. The death toll now at nine. It was at five this morning. The death toll at nine because of those four additional bodies that were recovered.

I think the biggest news so far is this trench that is being built within this site so that they can try to better access all of the debris.

Also noteworthy, Governor DeSantis talked about what's going to happen with that debris. The heavy debris, he said, is going to be removed and brought to a warehouse. He said it had forensic value.

What he's talking about are questions about how this happened, how this collapse occurred. The forensic value of that rubble is very, very important, in some ways reminiscent of a plane crash, how a plane is reconstructed in an airplane hangar to figure out what went wrong. So, obviously concerns about what happened, what went wrong are paramount in surfside and up and down the Florida coast right now. Some people moving out of their homes out of fear that their homes are not stable.

So, I think it's notable that DeSantis started there by talking about this debris having forensic value and figuring out how to learn from it.

Also notable that all of these officials who have spoken so far are talking about all the personnel that are on scene. They do not have a shortage of personnel. What they do have is a shortage of positive news to share, positive developments to share.

Let's see if I can bring in Rosa Flores, who is on the ground with us while we're seeing this Spanish language translation. We're going to come back to her as soon as we -- the press room resumes in English. But Rosa is there.

And, I'm hoping, Rosa, you can give us a sense of what the mood is, what the feeling is now that we're in day four?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brian, the pain is palpable here on-site. I can tell you that there's a memorial wall not too far from where I am. There are pictures of the missing.

Right now, access is blocked off. We don't know why. But I can tell you from being there yesterday that family members were approaching this wall very emotional because, of course, this is the closest memorial to the collapse site. At the same time, there is this energy from first responders, the rescuers, that are working tirelessly to try to find signs of life under the rubble.

We learned, like you said today, more about this trench. The original reason for this trench was to get to the smoldering fire that had been complicating this search so much. Now we know it's 125 feet in length, 20 feet wide.

And I believe the mayor is speaking in English. We're going to go back to her.

MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: We're supporting the families. That's our only objective right now. To that end, we all were up at the family meeting this morning and there was a little reassurance for the families, which was wonderful. It was nice to come out of there.

The mayor has engineered teams to come from out of the country into our country from Israel and from Mexico, and they have now been embedded with our teams, our world class teams.

I want to add that one of the questions from the residents was pretty poignant, and they wanted to know if the Israeli team thought that the Miami-Dade team had been doing the right thing. The gentleman, the commander from the Israeli team, did not hesitate, turned around and said, they've been doing exactly the right thing.


Which was a beautiful validation of the state of the art sort of techniques and the integrity and the energy and the enthusiasm and the dedication we have with our team members here.

I want to add right now there's been some discussion about the sister building which is basically the identical building in almost every way to the one that collapsed built by the same contractor around the same time with the same central plans and probably with the same materials.

And given that we were not able -- I was not able to answer questions that were coming in from residents about the safety of that particular building given this other one had collapsed out of the blue, I had reached out to Mayor Cava and Senator Rick Scott and asked them if they thought it was a good idea if we gave people the choice to potentially relocate, and the support.

After that, meeting with Governor DeSantis and his team, we determined that there was going to be support available. So we've gone ahead and advised the condominium association that should they feel uncomfortable staying in that building given the circumstances, that we have alternatives for them. I'm not sure everybody is going to take advantage of that, but that is the state of affairs right now with respect to that.

So, anyway, that's the update. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, mayor. Now the Lieutenant Governor

Jeanette Nunez.


STELTER: CNN's Nick Valencia is at the family reunification center.

Let's hear from Nick now and what the experience is like there.

How are you, nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Brian. There is an incredible amount of distrust here among some of the family members and friends of those still unaccounted for.

A range of emotions being felt here by those I've spoken to, fear, denial as the hours and days tick by, anger that has boiled over to downright outrage. It was just a short time ago that we had planned to bring you one of those family members whose sister and brother-in-law they believe are still alive buried under the rubble, but it was last minute they chose not to go on camera. They were bordering on an anxiety attack.

It seems as though some family and friend are looking for someone to blame at this point because they have really -- you know, this range of emotions that are happening with them. Some of them, it is very clear that they are starting to become unraveled, that they are starting to become unstable. Their hope is fading.

There are others who I spoke to yesterday who said that they believed in their gut that their loved one was still alive, only to be among those who were given the grim news today that their loved one had perished.

Adriana LaFont, yesterday, I spoke to her and she told me that she was holding out hope until she received reliable and confirmed information that her ex-husband was dead, and that's what happened this morning.

STELTER: Nick, let's get back to the press conference.

JOSE "PEPE" DIAZ, COUNTY COMMISSION BOARD CHAIRMAN: It's helped so many, especially the people who are not here have their family and foreigners. I want to thank you and start with that.

I want to thank the firefighters who do not stop. It's 24 hours on nonstop. All the teams, the teams that are here, the first team that was here, our USAR team, and the new teams that have arrived from outside the country, I want to thank all of them.

I also want to thank the administrator for showing up and helping us, and I appreciate that tremendously as our governor and the whole team from the representatives and the senators from the state of Florida that have been here.

Also, the mayor, outstanding job with other mayors in other cities and working together. We are working together as one team to solve this issue as fast as possible and try to get the information to the families which are in a very difficult place. They want to know information, they need to know information, but it is a slow process.

And it's a process that has to be done the way it's being done. And I know that's difficult, but that is the way it is.

So, once again, there is a lot of thank yous to be given, and as the administrator said from FEMA, the community has really stepped it up and have done an incredible job in volunteering, making sure food is here for the first responders and the families and everything else that is needed.


So for us, thank you as a government. And I'll tell you this part, my colleagues and I, once, we understand what actually really took place, because this is a big talk that's going on right now, what took place. Once we understand, I am guaranteeing you, less legislation will be taking place, so this will never happen again, ever, because nobody could have ever thought this will happen here. And that's what's going to happen.



STELTER: Nick, I'm sorry for cutting you off. I want to make sure we heard that. It is notable all of these local officials, they seem to be trying to speak directly to the family members who are so frustrated trying to provide reassurance that the government's doing everything it can to try to find loved ones, anyone who might be alive, Nick?

VALENCIA: Well, look, the reality is that the first responders are frustrated and disappointed in themselves. They've been working hour after hour, day after day to try to come up with, with something some sort of information knowing that they are giving to briefings to these family and friends have those unaccounted for, and they're going back and really saying the same thing over and over again, that these families need to be patient that this process takes time, and that's not satisfying what these family members want to hear.

They are beginning to turn in some cases on these first responders who are doing, we assure you and they've assured us everything that's within their power in a safe way to try to recover -- if there's any trying to cover anyone that's it's still under this debris.

Earlier, we heard reports that there was a landline that was calling one of the family members here at the landline of an elderly couple, I asked Maggie Castro with a Miami Dade and fire if she could explain that if they've investigated that they're under the belief after investigating that it's some sort of technical glitch while the family because they don't want to give up hope until they see their loved ones dead or alive.

They believe that their loved ones are still there trying to get in touch with them. So this idea that there's this, you know, us versus them type mentality that is playing out here as these family members become frustrated, they start to lose hope, you know, they're tired, these are sleepless nights, they're, they're waking up. And we can only imagine, you know, as they wake up after day, if they're going to sleep at all, Brian, you know, putting us ourselves in there. Good --


ALAN COMINSKY, FIRE CHIEF, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Good afternoon. First, I can't overemphasize enough the hard work these brave men and women and the efforts and tireless efforts that we're doing, 24 hours, non-stop. We have several teams, as the mayor mentioned in regards to our strategies and how we're looking with the deployment of the resources that we have.

It's just incredible. I couldn't be prouder as the fire chief of what we're doing. It's extremely difficult situation. Again, what we've encountered, which I've been emphasizing I'm in is just the most difficult.

And now, our rescue teams are non-stop doing all that we can search in every area, every bit of hope to see if we can find a live victim. As the mayor stated went in detail in regards to our operations, you know, we're rotating through we've gritted out the debris field, we have more heavier equipment we brought in, so you see larger cranes and different aspects. This is an evolving process. So, as we continue, our searches will be modified throughout. And we'll continue our process throughout the operation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kevin, do you want to, do you want to get the Florida (INAUDIBLE).

KEVIN GUTHRIE, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR, FLORIDA: Good morning, Kevin Guthrie, Florida division of Emergency Management Director. I just want to thank the governor for his leadership and the Mayor Cava for cooperation. I want to welcome the administrator Chris Well here with us. I think it's very important that everyone sees that we're in lockstep together right? At the federal level, state level, local level for the benefit of those individuals that are here, involved in this disaster.

As far as state resources, just want to give a quick update. As Mayor Cava has already mentioned, Florida, volunteer Florida will be coming in to assist with Donations Management today. We have the Department of Business economic development that is here on scene, and they're going to assist with businesses and residents with the economic injury side of the -- of what this has caused.

Again, as you've heard everyone say, there are Federal Urban Search and Rescue teams. I have been in constant contact with FEMA with the administrator, they are ready to send them when the chief has advised we need that assistance. So again, want to make sure that everybody's aware that there have been offers and we know that there are offers and the chief will let us know when he needs those resources. With that being said, I appreciate your time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we're going to open it up for questions now after the questions, so I'm going to bring the Creole translator so please don't Let's leave the mics here until she's done. And the conference concludes, OK. When, remember when you're called upon address the question what's going to be for? Go ahead, ma'am.


JUDIE BLOCK, ABC NEWS REPORTER: Hi, Judie Block, ABC News. I'm wondering if we know when seismology report is coming in? And also, are there any -- have you discovered any pockets, are there any openings anything happened overnight?

COMINSKY: We've come across no natural voids that we've seen so far, as we're opening up, as what's mentioned with the trenches and the other aspects. Any avoid any crevice that the team see, you know, that's what I searched through, we continue our standard process of that been trained using all the resources that we have anything that shows in, in the positive potential, any little bit of potential, the crews are aggressively then in that area, and obviously aggressively, but it has to be a methodical process.

So, they're well trained, they're -- go all over the country, you know. So, we have -- all the Florida teams, actually the other three, we're looking to bring in as well. So, we'll have all the Florida teams here, and we'll continue this process, or the way we're, we've been moving.

BLOCK: Have you seen the seismology report and how will that impact your --

COMINSKY: I haven't. We have several engineers that are constantly monitoring. I mean, so that part of it's critical. So, we're constantly monitoring, nothing's been brought forward. You know, it's always a concern. We're always looking.

The engineers will kind of guide our teams were looking process wise, making sure, you know, things are short and making sure they're using proper techniques and how we're doing things. So, obviously, safety is a paramount for us but it's very difficult. I mean, we want to do all that we can. So, obviously, we're moving as fast as we can, as hard as we can, you know, I've tried the most positive outcome as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a question right now.

JAMIE JOHNSON, CORRESPONDENT, TELEGRAPH: For the governor. My name is Jamie, I'm from the Telegraph. The local police here have had their holiday leave canceled, they're working 12 hour shifts. You say you're in discussions about bringing in extra resources. But this weekend, you sent dozens of Florida police down to Texas to help with the border, is that the best use of resources?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, those, those would not be people that would deploy in this situation. Those are like Highway Patrol, Fish and Wildlife, so it has nothing to do with this. And so, any type of connection you're making is just totally wrong and political. As soon as they have a request, when they come to Kevin or they come to me for help locally, we will work to fill that request.

There has been no such requests at this time. And part of the reason there hasn't been is because these guys are some of the best in the business. I'd hoped that none of these things would ever happen anywhere. But if something like this happens to people you would want are Miami-Dade Search and Rescue these teams have gone all over the world.

These are the people that you want, and they've been there within minutes, and it's been non-stop. And I thank them a number of times, I know the mayor thanked them a number of times, we should all thank them, because they've done a fantastic job.

Should there be a need for more? We've had, we have mutual aid agreements with states, we've moved people around from the, from the state with these taskforce as well, we will absolutely meet that. But they are stepping up and meeting the challenge and their needs have been met. And when it gets to the point where we may need to do we will but there has not been a request for that up to this point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I realize this is a (INAUDIBLE) issue, both your men and women (INAUDIBLE). Are you able to say when the search and rescue effort become search and recovery?

COMINSKY: No, at this time, I'm not hot -- hope. And that's what I'm focusing on. So, I'm going to continue that as much as possible, that's the driving message, that what we're looking for. So, we're going to continue moving and moving and searching as hard as we can, and as for as long as we can until we have to make that decision. So, no, that hasn't come across at all.

Again, it's very difficult. What we're encountering here is a very extreme, challenging situation. This type of collapse is difficult, and definitely federally. But that's why I want to emphasize the teams we have here, we're part of the Federal team. So, I'm in the state assets, the Federal assets. I mean, it's incredible support to be here, but our task force, we're part of those deployments and stuff as well.

So, we're here and we'll continue moving. So, I mean, it's it's remarkable with the support that we have. And it's remarkable here in Miami Dade County with our task force here and what we've been using, and that's just within the state and the task force being here. So, we'll continue moving through and do what we're doing, and you know, obviously trying the best that we can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One second. One second.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief, can you paint a picture all about these trenches and you're able to do that safely --


STELTER: The search continues in Surfside. Let's go back to Nick Valencia and Rosa Flores now. Rosa, the news here is that there's sadly very little news.

FLORES: You know, there is. We know that the death toll now is at nine, we were expecting the death toll to increase because yesterday the mayor announced that remains had been found today. Now, we're learning that four bodies had been found. And Brian, one thing that's very important to note here and you were talking to Nick Valencia about this, about the urgency that these families are feeling about what is going on at the site of the collapse and will they know what happened to their loved ones?


We've learned from the Miami-Dade Police Department that homicide detectives and medical examiner personnel are working alongside these search and rescue teams, why? Well, because these homicide detectives can then process the scene, they're able to take photographs of the bodies and or the remains. And that'll be part of the investigation. Of course, we also know from the police department that after that happens, DNA is recovered. And then the body and or remains are transported to the medical examiner's office.

And that's important because, of course, the families that are waiting for answers, the fastest way for them to get an answer about their loved one is through that DNA that's collected at the scene. And so, Brian, that's what's happening right now, the mayor saying that they have 24 hour tests that that they can do here on site. And again, the urgency there is to give information to those families. Brian.

STELTER: And Nick, you've been at the family reunification center. Did any of the comments at that press conference? Do you think any of that went any distance and helping these families feel better feel any better?

VALENCIA: For those that are clinging to hope? Yes. I think though that hope is starting to fade amongst some of those family and friends. What we do know is later today, and earlier this morning, fire officials were organizing and scheduling tours or essentially the ability for family members to go to this site to go and see the rubble themselves. You know, we don't know exactly when that will take place.

We don't know how many of them have elected to go to the site themselves to see that but many have wanted to go back there and have not been back since the building collapsed. I was asking Maggie Castro with Miami Dade Fire and Rescue: at what point does this become go from a rescue mission to a recovery mission, you know what make what goes into making that decision? And she says it is until all options, all ability that they have on their end has been exhausted.

It is still a rescue mission, no matter how many days have passed, no matter how many hours have passed. There's a lot of factors that go into that. She says, that's well above her pay grade, and that's a decision made at the highest levels here in Florida. And I want to bring up one other point here. What we were told off camera was that many people are given hope by you know the example used of Haiti and a young girl found eight days after, after that earthquake there in the rubble. What was told to me though, is that is an entirely different

circumstance. You know, that was an earthquake, the infrastructure isn't, the material isn't used like it is used here. And the situation that we saw on camera of how this collapse just from the top down, makes it a really hard thing to survive. Brian.

STELTER: And I'm haunted Nick by what you described, about a phone ringing a landline phone ringing and family members wondering if that's someone in the rubble trying to call for help. But authorities believe me it's just a technical Gremlin somewhere in the system. And yet, it's an opportunity for faith right and for hope as well. Rosa and Nick thank you both.

The update from Surfside: nine dead, dozens and dozens and dozens missing. We'll be right back with more RELIABLE SOURCES in a moment.



STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES, I'm Brian Stelter. Now, let me take you to Annapolis, Maryland to the site of a brand new memorial for the five staffers who were killed inside the Capitol Gazette newsroom. This Memorial Park for the guardians of the First Amendment will be dedicated on Monday, the three year anniversary of the mass shooting.

Also, this week the admitted killer is going on trial with a jury set to decide whether he was criminally responsible, meaning sane or insane at the time. Meanwhile, the Capitol Gazette faces a very different threat now, industry-wide cuts to local news have included the closure of the gazette's physical newsroom and the so called vulture hedge fund, Alden Global Capital, recently took control of the Capitol Gazette and the rest of tribune's papers.

It's enacting a new round of buyouts, causing many journalists across the company to take the money and leave, in part because they fear even more cutbacks are ahead. Among those leaving the Capitol Gazette is the paper's longtime editor, Rick Hutzell. He wrote that it was an extremely difficult decision, but the right one for him. Rick, thanks for joining me, I imagine these anniversary moments must be really, so what's going through your mind today?

RICK HUTZELL, EDITOR, CAPITAL GAZETTE: I'm focused on Monday. The memorial is dedicated on Monday, and it's going to be another opportunity to draw attention to the lives and remarkable achievements of Rob Hiasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendy Winters, John McNamara and Rebecca Smith.

STELTER: I think so many Americans could never imagine that a newsroom would be would, there'd be blood on the floor of a newsroom? You know that you hear about that in third world countries. You hear you don't hear about that in the United States. But now, now we do and now we did three years ago. When you reflect on that day, what, what parts of it do you remember what stays with you that from that day? HUTZELL: I remember just the work that my colleagues put in to cover the event. People like Chase Cook and Pat Ferguson and Josh McKerrow, who were not in the newsroom that day. I remember being concerned about those who had survived. I spent part of the night in a police station waiting to talk to one of the reporters, Rachel Patella, who escaped from the newsroom that day and I really focus on the work we put into moving forward.


STELTER: Right, producing the paper even the next day. Yes, yes. And now, three years later, you all are covering the trial and covering the aftermath. And, and this memorial that's been established. My sense is that Annapolis is a town that I love, I grew up going to Annapolis, that the arms of the community have really wrapped around the Capitol Gazette. But has that been enough to keep the business thriving because we hear about all these cutbacks in local news, and it includes that your paper?

HUTZELL: I hope that Alden capital proves them all wrong, you know. I hope that they invest in the company, the capital remains profitable. It remains beloved in the community, it remains a part of a vibrant community; people like Brandi Bottalico, J. Judge, Brooks DeBose, Alex Mann, Lilly, Lilly Price and others, they're working very hard to make sure that it remains that and it has value. I was the business editor for a long time and I understand that something has value, you know, businesses take that into consideration.

And, and what community journalists and what journalism is, it is something of value, you know, small newspapers like ours, they're part of what makes the democracy work. They're part of what makes a community have a sense of identity. And, and whether, you know, the current business model works or whether it evolves into something else, or whether smart people who see things, I can't figure out how to make it work, that won't go away.

And so, we're going through a period of transition. I don't know what the future looks like. I just know that what we do is important. And I think that will, that will persevere, it may be in ways that it doesn't look like now.

STELTER: Even the county executive in our, in our locality is an open letter to all them saying this is a gem, this paper is a gem, please do not go through a cutbacks trying to cut it to the bone, like so many newsrooms have suffered. Do we know if any executives from the new owners are they going to come to the memorial tomorrow?

HUTZELL: I worked for Alden for about two weeks, so I can't really say now that I'm out, you know what they're doing?


HUTZELL: And I'm certainly far enough down the food chain that I you know, they weren't asking me what we should do. But I do want to thank county executive, Stuart Pittman. You know, he was he was kind enough to note that we didn't endorse him. But, but, but he, he got he got and Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley get Governor Larry Hogan get, you know, the importance of community journalism, they certainly don't like us every day.

STELTER: That's OK. That's how it should be. But they still want the paper to hold them accountable. I keep noticing more and more local leaders are saying the same thing. We need our, we need papers or newspapers or news Web sites in our community. Even if we don't always like it, we need them to thrive. So, hopefully the Cap Gazatte will. Thank you so much. Sorry, go ahead. Go ahead.

HUTZELL: No, there are things, there are things you can do and there are things they can do to help keep you alive. And it certainly isn't taking it over and running as a government entity. It's making sure that legal ads don't disappear, it's subscribing to the paper. I will -- I do want to say one more thing, and that the Annapolis Memorial is one of two I've been involved in.

And just as an observer in Annapolis, I'm also on the board of advisors for the, for the Fallen Journalists Memorial in Washington. And that's going to be the first Memorial on federal property in Washington to remember people like my five friends. Remember people like Alison Parker and Adam Ward people, journalists who have died, you know, while working, and, and that's equally important. It's just going to take a little longer.

STELTER: Right to have that in D.C. as well. Rick, thank you very much.

What is a newspaper in the year 2021, small or large? What are they and what can they be? That turns me the Los Angeles Times which hopes it has some new answers. Three years ago, billionaire biotech Patrick Soon-Shiong bought the LA Times away from tribune actually, it's been three tumultuous years as the paper has lagged behind its rivals in subscription growth.

You see one of the headlines there says "disappointing digital numbers." So, what's the plan? Well, Soon-Shiong hired Kevin Merida away from ESPN to edit the paper, and I spoke with both men about the opportunity in front of them.


KEVIN MERIDA, EDITOR IN CHIEF, ESPN: You know, we're in the digital revolution, and we keep learning more about how people are consuming including how they're consuming newspapers. And I think the opportunity is, is to really redefine the modern American newspaper. Journalism is here to stay. It's foundational. It stood the test of time. And we'll continue to produce that great journalists, we have some of the greatest journalists in the world.

But I think the opportunity is there's a, a broader kind of ecosystem of content, you can wrap around the journalism and, and compete for people who would not have thought about the L.A. times before and, and to bring other forms into it and to do live events and to experiment with audio more and to bring in comedy, and poetry, and music and, and ways to reach people on social platforms where you go to where they are, and, and engage in conversations.

And so, when you when you bring all of this together, then you widen your ability to track audiences. We're competing for people's time, and we're competing for people's money, you know, which is precious. And so we want to be in the consideration set, and I think build the audience that comes to the LA Times.


STELTER: Comedy, music, poetry. That sounds like a broader media organization, not just a newsroom or newspaper.

MERIDA: Yes, yes, look, I think a newspaper in some ways, is an inept term for what, what we can become now. And, and it doesn't change what journalism is, you know, but a modern media company. I think Patrick has said that. And, and, you know, when I think about young people coming up, if I tell them to get a subscription to a newspaper, you know, even my young son's like, maybe they think they don't need that.

But -- but you do need to know if we can provide, for instance, everything you want to know about the drought in, in coming drought in California or, or wildfires, or about the great multicultural mix, and that there is in Los Angeles, and we are central to your lives.

We can become irresistible, and there's lots of ways to reach people. And, and that includes, hey, block parties, maybe, you know, maybe we maybe there are a great battles of DJs we can host you know, we already have a great book festival there, there are many things that you can do to attract people to you that that are, in some ways beyond what people think of a newspaper as.

STELTER: Well, I think news outlets have to think like Netflix and HBO now meaning, OK, you're a subscriber, why are you going to stay subscribed? What are you going to give me new every month or every year to give me a reason to stay subscribed? And you're describing all of these ways to broaden out and give people more reasons to pay and keep paying for the product?

But I know, Patrick, a lot of people are wondering about your commitment to the news organization. You bought the L.A. Times three years ago, Patrick, there was a report in the Wall Street Journal in February, the headline was Los Angeles Times owner exploring sale of company.

You immediately said the article was inaccurate. You said we're committed to the L.A. Times. But have you ever had regrets about spending so much money on this paper and experiencing losses and not reaching a profit?

PATRICK SOON-SHIONG, OWNER, LOS ANGELES TIMES: None whatsoever, in fact, quite the opposite. Right? Think about it. In order for us to actually create this particular platform, I needed to build, we needed to build a content management service or system from scratch. And we've done that with Graphene, which can now take printed press news, video podcast, all in one app, launch that. Then build a la time studio launch that. Really it is, as Kevin said, a competition for engagement. What we

building in a sense, is an engagement engine with true journalistic skills. So, you get news, and you get engagement, you get information, you get entertainment, and you get you get something that you can have, something that you're interested in participating on a daily basis. When I sort of had peace, it was really important for me to tweet instantaneously because not only we committed we doubling down on this --

STELTER: The journal story said, "He has grown dissatisfied with the news organization's slow expansion of its digital audience and its substantial losses." Is any of that true?

SOON-SHIONG: Well, I've grown dissatisfied with the rate of change of not recognizing have losses. Having said that, the rate of change now is now escalating. We are now up to 400,000 digital viewers, and soon hopefully a million you know, is 40 million people in California alone and there's no reason why we can get one in 10.

So, I think now with Kevin, on board and the basically cultural vision that we are major platform and not just a newspaper. It's a news media. That now, I think it will be it will be accelerated and it takes time for, you know, organization to change a culture.

But no, I've not been that that was inaccurate that I was dissatisfied. In fact, I was very proud. I mean, within three years, we've won Pulitzer Prizes, Emmys, and multiple awards. So I'm very proud of the work that our people have done.


STELTER: That's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. But the entire interview with Patrick and Kevin is up on our podcast. You can check it out at And while you're there, sign up for our nightly news letter as well.

We'll see you right back here this time next week.