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Category 4 Hurricane Ida's Landfall Is Imminent; Inside The Efforts To Get Afghan Journalists To Safety; Eye Of Hurricane Ida Nearing Louisiana Coast; ABC News Producer Sues Former 'GMA' Boss; Rachel Maddow Renews With MSNBC, But There's A Catch; Spotlight Coverage Of California Recall Election. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 29, 2021 - 11:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Ferocious Hurricane Ida now lashing the Louisiana coast, and the 11:00 a.m. update has just landed from the National Hurricane Center.

I'm Brian Stelter. This is RELIABLE SOURCES.

This is a life and death situation for a part of the beloved Gulf Coast that is far too familiar with storms. This is a close-up satellite image from the last hour from a NOAA satellite that shows the eye of Hurricane Ida approaching Louisiana coast.

The 11:00 a.m. update, 10:00 a.m. Central Time, says, this is an extremely dangerous 4 hurricane nearing the southeastern coast of Louisiana. Catastrophe storm surge, hurricane force winds now moving on sure.

Let's look at this close-up radar and you get a better sense of what's happening. From Grand Isle to Port Fourchon, that is where the northern eye wall of Ida is approaching. There it is, Grand Isle on top part of your screen. And that area is a key part of the infrastructure for oil and gas.

A little further north, you see Cocodrie. Let's pull up the webcams if we can from that area, from Cocodrie, you can see how the tide has risen in these bays, in these marshland areas in Louisiana.

So, close-up on the radar. That shows you the eye just offshore: it's moving at 15 miles per hour, which means the storm surge is moving quickly into areas like Grand Isle, where we do at least a couple of dozen residents decided to stay behind. We're going to go live to many reporters and local officials in Louisiana in the next hour.

But let's begin with Chad Myers, who can break down the latest forecast for us.

Chad, this is not just rapid intense pick. It's almost like we need a new term for what this is because people went to bed and they saw a category two storm. They are now seeing a hurricane on the verge of cat 5.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yesterday, the storm tried to do an R.I., the rapid intensification. The sun I believe and the warmth of the day got in the way. When that sun went down last night, Brian, the atmosphere decoupled and everything went crazy.

The water was warm. The atmosphere got cooler and the air wanted to go up. Here is why this is such an important event I know you think, 75 miles per hour, 150 miles per hour, that's too times worse.

No, no, no, it is not linear. It is not linear. You have to go all the way here from a category 1, we will call that a one-time storm. When you get down Ida because of the logarithmic for 256 times worse than a category 1 storm. That's what the people here are dealing with.

High wind warnings. Trees are going to be down. Power will be out for weeks or months. This is just coming on shore, really, in the next couple of hours.

An outer eye wall coming on right to Grand Isle. Winds are 75 by Doppler indicated and then probably to the north and to the west, we have tornadoes possible. The tornadoes could be significant.

Remember, Katrina had 59 tornadoes with it, and this is actually Katrina came on sheer at 1:30. This is 1:50. Pretty close. Doesn't have as big arms.

We're already seeing from Waveland to South Beach, the water is going to go up. It is going to try to be 15 feet, especially in the bayou here, around Grand Isle, that water is going to go up, and it's going to try to make its way all the way up to the Mississippi River. But it's not going to get there because there is a levee there.

Where will it go when it pushes this far up? Will it reach other levees that maybe not be so high. That's something that we're going to be watching. 110-mile-an-hour winds are possible in New Orleans proper with this, because, you know, look at how much land is south of there.

For most of that land, you need an air boat. There is lot of water down there, it is still very warm. It is going to keep going to the north the next couple of days and finally get offshore sometime during the middle of last week -- Brian.

STELTER: Louisiana used to look like a boot, and it doesn't anymore because we've lost so much coastline. We've lost so much there. Does it mean areas like Houma and New Orleans are in more danger because we have lost so much coastline?

MYERS: Absolutely, because there is water now where there used to be dirt. You look at a map of Louisiana and you go that's dirt. No. It's wet. It is ditches and swamps.

And as ditches and those swamps are wet, and they are warm. The water isn't cooler than the Gulf of Mexico. So when this thing runs on shore, it isn't going to run out of steam. It is going to keep going for a while. And we're going to see 10 to 20 inches of rainfall. All the threats

are there. Wind damage likely, surge damage likely, probably fatalities from the surge. We also see the flooding and flash flooding here in the rainfall.

And, you know, tornadoes are going to be possible, too, all the hazards had as high as they can get with this storm.

STELTER: And we know the right front quadrant, what to watch is the eye wall comes to shore in the right front quadrant really, is that Grand Isle?


Is Grand Isle going to get the worst of the actual landfall?

MYERS: Yes, absolutely, and then up into the bayou to the west and south of the Mississippi River. That's the area it's going to get this water pushed up in here. Now, there's not going to be as much water over here, but there will be surge, probably five to ten foot surge here. But 15 feet in the levees and the bayous and these ditches are going to be covered up. Even Houma is only ten feet over sea level. This storm is headed there.

STELTER: Let's go there next.

Chad, thank you. We'll come back to you in a bit.

Derek Van Dam is in Homa.

Derek, tell us about the phone alert that went off and rang your phone a couple hours ago.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Brian, this is the stuff of nightmares. We are staring down the eye of a monster. Just as you mentioned, moments ago we received the weather alert from the National Weather Service, extreme wind warning.

Let me tell you about that. That is held for specifically life- threatening wind events moving into a particular area. I am located in Houma, Louisiana. We have had sustained tropical storm-force winds. The storm, the center of major hurricane Ida is only 60 miles from where I am.

So, hurricane winds are approaching because they extend roughly 40 miles from the center of this hurricane. So, we are feeling the conditions going downhill rather quickly here. We know the threats going forward. This is a monster storm that is potentially life threatening within this particular area with storm surge and catastrophic winds already approaching the Louisiana coastline.

STELTER: It is going to be a long day for you. We will come back to you, Derek. Thank you.

Let's go to New Orleans where there is an alert about the 911 system. We will get to that in a moment. But Nadia Romero is in New Orleans. Where in New Orleans are you,


NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brian, I am right on Bourbon Street, iconic bourbon street on a Sunday morning. It would usually be filled with people, but not today because of Hurricane Ida.

We are starting to feel the extreme wind that you heard Derek talking about. As the wind picks up and the rain starts to pick up here waiting for the biggest impact of Hurricane Ida. These shops along bourbon street throughout the French Quarter all have been shut down, many for the weekend. There are a fee places that are still opened.

Shop owners told me they stayed open during Katrina. They are not shutting down for Ida. Other places shut down, boarded up, sandbags are all along the street and other parts of the quarter here as people brace for the storm.

And, Brian, as you know, this area is a big tourist destination. A lot of people are now trapped here. We met people from Oklahoma City. We met another family from New Jersey. They said, we are used to storms.

So, we have never experienced a hurricane. They thought they would be able to get out in time. The airport is now shut down. Yesterday all the flights booked up. People are stuck here to ride out the storm -- Brian.

STELTER: Nadia, thank you.

We just received an alert from the city of New Orleans that I want to pass along. The 911 systems are experiencing temporary difficulties, technical difficulties, they say. If people are watching trying to reach 911, the number is 504-821-222. That's the situation in New Orleans.

As you can see, we are across the state of Louisiana. We're going to go live to Baton Rouge in the few minutes as well and we're going to keep an eye on those web cams as the northern eye wall approaches the Louisiana coast. We're going to see some of the storm surge happening live and we will bring it to you as we do.

Turning now to RELIABLE SOURCES. We are going to bounce back and forth between our weather coverage and our usual media coverage this hour. We want to start with a simple question that has no clear answer, how will we know what is happening in Afghanistan now, with so many journalists evacuating, how will we know?

Let me start with some exclusive reporting about the somber reality of the situation. Two short weeks ago, this moment on TOLONews seemed like a hopeful sign amid the chaos of the Taliban's takeover. This was a historic scene, a female journalist interviewing a senior Taliban official on the air on an Afghan news network.

CNN's said this would have been unimaginable when the Taliban last ruled the country two decades ago. The anchor's name is Beheshta Arghand. She is 24 years old. She made history that day. And she followed up two days later by interviewing Malala. It was

Malala's first-ever interview with Afghan media.

Arghand was breaking ground. She was doing something she had dreamed about in school. In ninth grade, she decided she had to be a journalist. She even delivered news reports to her class, like she was the anchor on TV.

Then she enrolled at Kabul University, studied journalism for four years. She worked at several news agencies and then landed the job at TOLONews, that happened seven weeks before the Taliban took control of Kabul, when her world fell apart.

Interviewing the Taliban official on the air was so difficult, she told me, but she did it for Afghan women.


I interviewed Arghand via WhatsApp. Her English isn't perfect, but her message was crystal clear. She said she told herself quote, one of us must start.

If we stay in our houses or don't go to our offices, they will say the ladies don't want to work. But I said to myself, start working. And I said to the Taliban member, we want our rights, we want to work, we want -- we must be in society. This is our right.

Arghand demanded women's rights. She insists the Taliban must respect, educate, and empower women. She did it on national television.

And I'm afraid you are guessing what happens next. And your suspicions are right. Last weekend, Arghand decided she had to leave Afghanistan. The dangers were too much.

She reached out to Malala asking for help and was evacuated to Doha, along with her family. It is unclear where they will ends up.

She told me, quote, I left the country because, like millions of people, I fear the Taliban.

But she also said this: If the Taliban do what they said, what they promised and the situation becomes better and I know I am safe and there is no threat for me, I will go back to my country and I will work for my country, for my people.

This is precisely the brain drain that so many experts have been warning about, a brain drain from Afghanistan. News outlets continue to evacuate staffers and workers and families this week, but the American withdrawal deadline means the window is closing and may have already closed.

So, who will tell Afghanistan's story?

Joining me to take us behind the scenes of the evacuation efforts is the executive director of Reporters Without Borders USA, Anna Nelson. And investigative journalist Azmat Khan, a contributing writer to "The

New York Times Magazine", who's reported on Afghanistan and the American wars for years.

Thank you both for coming on.

Azmat, what have you heard from friends, from colleagues about their experiences trying to leave the country? Have most journalists that you know left Afghanistan at this point?

AZMAT KHAN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: Many of them have, but there's still a great number who haven't. Oftentimes, these are people who weren't necessarily already in Kabul, right? Most of the journalists being evacuated are journalists who lived in Kabul. So people in some of the more rural areas, places like Kandahar, elsewhere, have been having trouble.

They also oftentimes don't have the paperwork and documentation ready that made it easy for them to enter the airport. So, for example, many friends of my own, we could get people on a flight manifest, we could get them a seat, and to put them in a convoy. We could prepare the documents that they needed, and they would approach the airport and get turned around. And this was happening repeatedly over the last week.

Some of them have made it through. Others now, it looks like their next best option is going by land through Pakistan. And that's where there is a lot of engagement happening with the Pakistani authorities to try to facilitate that, especially for those without passports.

STELTER: Anna, what have you experienced with Reporters Without Borders. I know the organization has been trying to get journalists out. You know, the CNNs, the Foxes, the ABCs, these major agencies have been able to evacuate dozens of staffers and family members, like, you know, folks who drove cars and cook for correspondents in Afghanistan. But it seems to me some of the independent journalists, freelancers, stringers have had a harder time evacuating.

ANNA NELSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS USA: That's absolutely the case. That's true. And what Azmat was describing in terms of access has also been our experience in trying to get journalists to the airport. We had places for them on planes. We had other countries, European nations in particular, that were willing to take them in.

We just couldn't get them to the airport. And that's just tragic when you think how close so many got. And it's worth pointing out we had estimated there were 12,000 journalists, 1,500 of whom are women in Afghanistan. So, those who did get out are just a very tiny percentage of the people who are at grave risk now.

STELTER: I think the big broad question I have for both of you, and, Azmat, I'll start with you, is how will the world know what happens in Afghanistan in the coming months?

KHAN: Right. I think this will really come down to what kind of leverage and engagement there is with the Taliban. Remember, the Taliban had been making promises, saying that they're going to respect journalists.

And I think it's up to organizations and governments to really hold them to those promises and to use the different kinds of leverage they have to ensure that they stick to them.

Now, I would also caution that the situation in Kabul is going to be different than other parts of the country. So there are major news organizations like TOLONews who have, you know, senior heads like Saad Mohseni, who've been arguing for that kind of engagement and sticking to standards and promises who I think are going to be able to do, you know a relatively strong job of advocating for their journalists.

But I think in more rural areas where it is harder to access people on the ground in the first place, where cell phone technology or mobile lines get cut pretty often, it's going to be much tougher there.


And I think that news organizations are going to have to learn from health organizations and other NGOs that have operated in those areas to try to understand how they did the work they were doing in the past few years, in an effort to try to replicate it or to even perhaps hire from them and to train a new generation of journalists.

It's hard work but people need to start getting creative about reaching some of those areas we already don't hear from enough and are threatened I think not to hear from, more from.

STELTER: Right, coverage too Kabul-centric.

Another thing I noticed today when the U.S. carried out an airstrike in Kabul, targeting these suicide bombers on their way to the airport, we see journalists being cited anonymously. So, an NBC News producer, a journalist working for CNN in Kabul. So, you know, we're avoiding bylines to try to protect people who are in Afghanistan.

Anna, is there a fear that the country will become, you know, a black hole for news?

NELSON: That's exactly the word I would use, is a black hole, that journalism will not just dissipate, but disappear completely. That is a very, very real concern.

And, of course, we have heard the Taliban on their charm offensive saying that they will protect press freedom. And I hope that those in charge now do understand that a functioning society depends on a functioning situation of press freedom, that journalists are able to do their job.

One of my main concerns is for those female journalists, both ones with experience and those who were just starting down that path of a dream of becoming a journalist in Afghanistan, that their voices, their stories won't be told because they're not represented. STELTER: That's my concern as well. Anchors, you know, that have fled,

like Beheshta, who felt she couldn't stay anymore. And her career was just starting, and hopefully, it can continue.

Anna, thank you.

Azmat, please stay with me.

More on Afghanistan after the break and the questions being raised about news coverage.

Plus, why Rachel Maddow's new deal with MSNBC means management needs a new 9:00 p.m. host stack.

And later, a far right radio host is leaping ahead in an California governor's race. Hear from the editor of one of the newspapers he's attacking.

And we're going to keep bouncing back and forth between RELIABLE and hurricane coverage.

This was a moments ago in the midst of Ida. A local reporter from affiliate WVUE on the ground in New Orleans. You can already see some of the flood waters obviously showing up in parking lots and lakes. We are seeing flooding from Biloxi all the way across to baton rouge. We'll have an update on Ida in just a moment.



STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.

Now let's evaluate coverage, especially American coverage, of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Many are, as "The Arizona Republic" put it, clutching onto hope. We continue to see evacuations from the country, although it has really slowed down in the past couple of days since the bombing at the airport.

This is a complicated, consequential international story. A lot of it is covered through a political lens. I want to ask several guests if the media has been missing the mark in coverage of the withdrawal and in the events in Afghanistan. Is the story being too simplified?

Let's talk about with, let me bring back Azmat Khan. She's back with me, along with James Fallows, journalist and contributing writer for "The Atlantic". And Eric Boehlert, the founder and editor of "PressRun Media".

So, let's go around, talk about critics of the coverage thus far. James Fallows, first to you, you wrote a groundbreaking book decades ago, "Breaking the News" where you critiqued the American media's obsession with breaking news coverage. What has gone wrong in the coverage in the last two weeks in your view?

JAMES FALLOWS, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": So, in the simplest terms, I think in moments like this, the media -- the American media have three responsibilities. Number one is to tell the story, and to humanize the story. I think with some obvious exceptions, there's been a lot of coverage of the news and people understand the drama of what's happening on the ground.

The second thing that media need to be involved in is accountability of how these things happen on the American side, the Afghan side, the civilian side, the military side. I hope there is more of that.

The third thing the media should be doing is keeping things in perspective. How it fits in historical terms. I think here there is a gross failure by the U.S. media, by the instant equation of the fall of Kabul with the fall of Saigon which it has almost nothing in similar -- that is similar except for the pictures of helicopter. I can make the case later on.

But I think keeping things in perspective is where the media have fallen shortest on the U.S. side.

STELTER: So, the comparisons between Kabul and Saigon, which we heard a lot about two weeks ago, you're saying those were -- those are besides the point.

FALLOWS: It flattens the reality of what happened in the Vietnam war by saying what is happening in Kabul now, tragic as it is, is similar to that. There were 20 times the Americans killed in Vietnam. There were -- you know, dissimilar difference of scale in the casualties in Southeast Asia, that there are almost a million people who took to sea as boat people, 100,000 who drowned. It was different sort of thing.

STELTER: Azmat, you said to me off the air, this is not about the last two weeks. Most of American media has been ignoring Afghanistan for years.

KHAN: It's true. I think that as U.S. troops withdrew from the country in 2014, you also saw news organizations dedicate less attention to the country.

Now, there are notable exceptions to that. There has been a group of Afghan reporters at the "New York Times" who just have been on it in terms of tracking casualties. But we tend to see the most accountability reporting, the most investigations happen, when U.S. soldiers are dying.

So, even though the war was continuing at record pace, we were dropping more comes to at record pace in Afghanistan in 2019, media coverage was some of its lowest that year. It has terrible effects. And what I mean by that is many Americans are watching what is happening in Kabul right now as it's unfolding.


And that is informing their decision about whether or not the U.S. should have withdrawn, rather than some of the events in the last few years, including for example, the fact that ISIS-K, which carried out the attack on Thursday has been staging similar attacks for years. And the United States has been dropping bombs on them, large ones, the mother of all bombs, in fact, a bomb that was more than 21,000 pounds, to no avail.

So, the question really is, what would be different? And are we getting the context to know that so have an informed debate about this war.

STELTER: OK. Eric Boehlert, now you're up. The liberal argument that last two weeks has been, the media is too pro-war, trying to argue for more intervention, trying to get back in Afghanistan. Then the bombing happened.

Have you seen a change in recent days?

ERIC BOEHLERT, FOUNDER AND EDITOR, PRESSRUN MEDIA: Yeah, I think -- I think the bombing, there was less of a need for the press to inject drama, not in a the story ever needed drama but I think the press got married to the story line, very doomsday, Biden teetering on collapse, the evacuation will never work. These are things that just did not pan out.

A week ago, the consensus -- media consensus was we probably wouldn't evacuate 20,000 or 30,000 people. We are up to 110,000, 120,000. You know, according to 538, Biden's approval rating is down 2.5 points in the last two weeks. This is amid relentless 24/7 Kabul coverage.

So, you know, the story kind of pivoted but the press didn't pivot. I think with the horrendous attack, we saw more strayed forward news coverage rather than let's inject drama into this.

A quick data point on the lack of coverage trier to this year -- ABC, CBS, NBC, evening news, 2020, five minutes of Afghan coverage for the entire calendar year.

STELTER: Now, about that, let's go deeper on that, James.


STELTER: There are multiple major events happening this month. The COVID crisis, among the unvaccinated in America. Climate change. I mean, my God, this hurricane is a monster.

What do you say about proportionality and how much Afghanistan should be the front page story versus COVID or climate change or other stories?

FALLOWS: So, I think that a challenge for us in the media is to try to keep multiple things in view. The hardest thing about having been president -- I say after having worked in the White House decades ago for Jimmy Carter, is that the president is having to deal with emergencies on all fronts all the time.

I think for those of us in the media and the citizenry right now is an example of what governments need to do about thinking about climate change day-by-day, thinking about Afghanistan, thinking about COVID which is still an emergency, thinking about this hurricane. If we in our roles in print and broadcast and other ways can try to

present people -- there is a famous line adopted from Matthew Arnold, see things steady and see them whole. We can't always do that because essentially what's on TV commands attention right now. But having that in the back of our mine, this is what our governments are dealing with and our citizens should be aware of these multiple challenges all the time.

STELTER: James, Eric, and Azmat, thank you all for the conversation. We have a lot more coming up this hour, including the latest on a scandal shaking ABC News.

We are following Hurricane Ida and giving you updates every few minutes.

Here's a live look at New Orleans. A lake front on Lake Pontchartrain. We're going to have the latest from New Orleans. We're going to check in with a Paris representative. And we're going to look at where the eye wall is next.




STELTER: Hurricane Ida now knocking on Louisiana's door like a drunk neighbor, unwanted, unwelcome, and about to do serious damage. The current forecast for landfall at 155 mph winds would make Ida the strongest Hurricane to ever make landfall in Louisiana. Right now, the National Hurricane Center says winds are at 150 mph. Right now, that is a strong catapult -- category four Hurricane. This is the first landfalling hurricane in the United States this season and one of the worst in decades.

Let's look at this close-up radar. This is really key now as we get close to landfall. And you'll see the eye, the Northern eyewall now approaching Grand Isle, really, you know Grand Isle is going to be in that Northern eyewall in the next couple of hours.

There are -- we believe a couple of dozen residents to have stayed on Grand Isle. So, for more on that let's bring in Cynthia Lee Sheng. She's the Jefferson Parish President. Jefferson Parish reaches all the way down into Grand Isle. So, Cynthia, what do you know about the conditions on the barrier island right now?

CYNTHIA LEE SHENG, PRESIDENT, JEFFERSON PARISH: That's right. Jefferson Parish has -- our lower-lying area is Grand Isle. We did have a camera on Grand isle, we lost that connection at 5:00 a.m. We know they lost electricity, so we really kind of lost communication with them. And as you said, you know, we're expecting that eyewalls to be hitting them right now. I spoke with the mayor, Mayor Camardelle at Grand Isle yet less -- yesterday evening and he thought there were about 40 people left on the island.

So obviously, you know, our concern is with them. They're about to start really getting hit hard. We're OK here. I'm located in Gretna in the Greater New Orleans area, obviously, we're not feeling the effects yet, but all of our concern right now and our prayers are with the folks that are still in Grand Isle.

STELTER: Ground no stranger to hurricanes, it's been flooded many, many times, always rebuilds. Is this one different for any particular reason? Is it the rapid intensification overnight, or some other reason?


LEE-SHENG: Well, you know, the people in Grand Isle are strong people. A lot of them are Fishermen in daylight to ride out the storms at their homes. These are people that will get out there right after a storm, start repairing their property. These are people that are not afraid. They don't wait for the government to come in, they do it themselves. And so usually they don't like to leave but this storm, the mayor told me that he thought probably 90 -- 95 percent of the island left yesterday.

So, they understand whether they understand the threat, they understand what it looks like -- like you said. They usually ride it out and they even took the warning. I issued a mandatory evacuation for them but again, there are still 40 people we imagine that are still on the island.

STELTER: That are on that island, all right. Viewers, on the screen on the left, will see the close-up radar, that Northern eyewall, the most ferocious catastrophic winds just offshore Grand Isle to the north, and then a little bit further down is Port Fourchon, a key part of America's oil infrastructure, of course, those workers have evacuated. But that could be significant in the days to come as Port Fourchon appears to be directly in the path of the eye of Hurricane Ida.

A little further you'll see to the northwest, Cocodrie, also some residents still believe to be in that vicinity. But you'll see on screen, the pictures tell you the entire story. That eye is about to swamp the Louisiana coastline. Cynthia, thank you very much for calling in. We will stay in close touch.

And turning back to RELIABLE SOURCES for a moment as we pivot back and forth from the Hurricane and the biggest media business headlines of the week.

The first of these big media headlines is bad news at ABC News. The former Top Producer of Good Morning America was accused of sexual assault in a new lawsuit filed by an ABC staffer. Michael Corn adamantly denies the allegations. He left the network in April and now works for News Nation, a startup cable news operation.

The lawsuit also implicates ABC alleging that some executives knew of complaints about Corn and failed to take action. Staffers at ABC are frustrated. They're angry and they want answers. With me now as the reporter who broke the ABC story Joe Flint, Staff Reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and Claire Atkinson, Chief Media Correspondent for a Business Insider. Joe, I heard months ago that you might be working on something about this. I also heard there were legal threats against you and your paper. Is that true?

JOE FLINT, STAFF REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, I was working on this story for quite a while before we published and there were interactions with Mr. Corn and his legal team along the way. Yes.

STELTER: But now this lawsuit has been filed, it's public knowledge, and ABC has a mess on its hands, what do you see happening next? Because the head of ABC News who just came in earlier this year promising culture change. She said she wants an independent investigation into these allegations. Do we know if Disney, the parent company is actually going to do that?

FLINT: Well, Disney hasn't said yet whether they're going to launch any sort of investigation. We will see how that plays out. I think Disney view -- given that there's a lawsuit right now in play, it might be hard for Disney to do anything right now except focus on the suit and the allegations in it.

STELTER: Right. Good point. And News Nation, Claire, is this upstart low-rated cable news channel, Corn came in to try to help it out a few months ago. News Nation has basically just ignored this. I've heard complaints from staffers in News Nation saying what's going on? We're in the dark here. What have you heard clear?

CLAIRE ATKINSON, CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, INSIDER: Right. I mean, in this day and age where corporate responsibility is front and center, the fact that Nexstar has said we're not going to comment on it, kind of a beggar's belief to be perfectly honest. They are battening down the hatches. It's interesting that when Michael Corn left ABC News, there was no adulation in a press release saying thank you for your service.


ATKINSON: Lots of women that I had been speaking to over the course of months on this story also were kind of stunned when Michael Corn got this job. And I think, you know, I think any news organization when accusations are made, even if they're denied, and Michael Corn has the right to state his case and to deny the accusations, but surely to take a pause and to perhaps suggest some time off, while News Nation and Nexstar get to the bottom of what these allegations are.

STELTER: You're right. Right, it's intriguing. All right. Turning now to another headline, a story that you broke, Claire, about Rachel Maddow staying at MSNBC, staying with NBC Universal, but not exactly in the same job. Sources say she's going to be leaving her daily flagship 9:00 p.m. show sometime next year, I hear next spring.

In order to start to do some other work. Instead, she's going to host specials on MSNBC, but she wants to work on other projects, podcasts, dramas, TV shows other kinds of things. Claire, what are you hearing about this new deal? What -- why is it that she wants to basically become like a studio boss instead of a daily host? ATKINSON: Yes. I think this is kind of like a new -- a new era of talent deals. The Daily Beast had reported that Rachel's going to be paid $30 million, that there's some denials about that number but it kind of drives with the neighborhood that I was hearing.


ATKINSON: I think it's not like a straight salary. It's perhaps a remuneration package which could have involved, you know, how well the movie does, how many books get sold.

As to replacing Rachel Maddow, I -- she is irreplaceable. I don't know what they're going to do at 9:00. Perhaps there's a way for Rachel to take the kind of features she does and they slot it in as a tape versus live. Her fans are absolutely rabid. In the same way, Sean Hannity's fans love him at Fox News, Rachel Maddow's fans are crazy for her. So, it's not an easy decision for MSNBC. Obviously, she's a hugely high-rated talent in that slot, finding somebody else to replace her is going to be a very difficult job for the -- for the network.

STELTER: Yes, it is -- yes, it is. Joe, you also wrote about another succession story this week, Jeopardy. We know that, well, you know that Mike Richards is out as host but he's still producer for now. Who's going to be taking over Jeopardy for now? What do you know?

FLINT: Well, it's still up in the air but I wouldn't rule out Ken Jennings. I -- yes, he did -- he did his hosting bit, he's still in the running and we'll see what happens. Obviously, Mayim Bialik is listed as another contender. If I were a betting man, I don't think Jennings is a crazy bet. And to go back to Mike Richards, he is -- he is there now.

As our story indicated, that does not mean he is there and part of the challenge for Jeopardy was getting these shows they needed to get done out of the way, and now the show is going on a hiatus for a little bit. And I think it -- we'll see what happens after that. Whether he returns from the hiatus or not, I think that's still up in the air.

STELTER: Seems like it is. Claire and Joe, thank you both for breaking down these stories.

When we come back, we'll go live to Louisiana State Capitol for the latest on Ida. Plus, when the attacks on media turn local. How the Sacramento Bee is fighting back against far-right governor candidate Larry Elder?



STELTER: Looking live at WLOX in Biloxi. Storm surge and floodwaters already swamping the famed U.S. Route 90 as hurricane Ida pushes water toward the Gulf Coast. During the break, this just in, the extreme wind warning has been extended one state over in Louisiana, really where Ida is bearing down. There's an extreme wind warning for the areas you see on screen,

Grande Isle into the south but also, inland toward Houma that's been extended now till 1:30 CT. An extreme wind warning basically means the eyewall is coming ashore, it's going to feel like a tornado.

The National Weather Service warning people, this will feel like a long-duration tornado because when you've got winds from 100 to 150 mph coming through for an extended period of time, that is the best way to describe it. It's like a tornado bearing down on the Gulf shore there, and, thankfully, mostly unpopulated areas of Louisiana but as we heard earlier, there are some folks in Grand Isle and certainly many folks further inland in the towns like Houma. We're going to continue to monitor this and go live to Baton Rouge in just a few minutes here on RELIABLE SOURCES.

Look now at the California recall election. Governor Gavin Newsom fighting to hold on to his job as the state hurdles toward that September 14 vote, an effort largely promoted by Republicans. If the vote tips over 50 percent, Newsom's out, and the candidate who gets the most votes on a second question gets the spot.

One contentious figure is taking the lead it seems in this recall, that's far-right radio host, Larry Elder. He's been a fixture on Fox News for years, and now he's making news of the right-wing media playbook, which is to say he's bashing the media. At the same time, he's denying multiple allegations.

There are multiple scandals swarming around him about his finances, his relationships with women but Elder's been refusing to answer reporters' questions, and he's been positioning the media as the enemy, even going so far as to revoke press access for a top California paper, the Sacramento Bee. That happened after a dispute over text in a voter guide.

Elder has a real shot at the California Governor's seat. So, what could it mean for the local press in the state? With me now is Colleen McCain Nelson. She's the Executive Editor of the Sacramento Bee. Larry Elder, radio host, might be a California Governor so, why is he shutting out the press Coleen?

COLLEEN MCCAIN NELSON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE SACRAMENTO BEE: Well, there's been an evolution here. At the start of his campaign, Larry Elder gave some limited access to the Sacramento Bee and other nonpartisan media outlets, he met with our editorial board, he did an interview with the Sacramento Bee reporter but as the campaign has going on and as the questions have gotten tougher. He has pulled back and really reverted to mostly speaking with conservative media outlets.

Media outlets that he thinks are more closely aligned with his viewpoints, and has made the calculation that he doesn't need to speak to non-partisan media outlets in a lot of cases. And he has gone so far as to announce that he's revoked access to Sacramento Bee journalists, that he won't allow us to cover his events or press conferences, and that we are not invited. STELTER: So, he's a member of the media, because he's a radio host, shutting out the media, which really shows our parallel media worlds, right? There's this world of journalists trying to scrutinize all the candidates, then there's this world of right-wing media that's trying to prop Elder up, and the two worlds are, unfortunately, they -- there was not really a lot of overlap. So, what are you doing instead? How does this ultimately hurt Californians when Elder won't answer questions?

NELSON: Well, it hurts voters. And so, this isn't about the Sacramento Bee, it's about voters. And when candidates don't answer our journalist questions, they're declining to answer the questions of our readers, and those are the people that Larry Elders -- Larry Elder and others say they want to represent and serve.


NELSON: And so, what we're doing in response is, covering the campaign fairly and comprehensively. And whether we're invited to Larry Elder's press conferences or not, we're still going to cover Larry Elder just as we're cover -- covering the other leading recall candidates and so we're continuing to report on Larry Elder's views on key issues.

Because he is a radio show host and an author, he's voiced his views on a wide range of issues publicly so we're recording extensively on his public statements, both past, and present and we're doing everything that we can to make sure that our readers are informed and have the information they need when they go to the polls.

STELTER: And that includes about the current governor, how his Newsom been with regards to the press? I've heard a lot of local reporters say that he prefers to talk to national outlets and not the locals.

NELSON: Sure. And reporters always want more access, of course, and we would love to talk to Governor Gavin Newsom every single day. But he has answered some of our questions. He too met with our editorial board and you know, has provided some access. He also has done some national interviews, certainly gave it -- given national interviews in the last couple of days. So, he can make that decision, but he is providing some access to California reporters as well.

STELTER: Colleen, thank you very much. Hope to speak with you again between now and the recall date.

After the break here, we're going back to Hurricane Ida, the latest from New Orleans, from Baton Rouge, and from the coast. We're going to check in with the Editor of one of the local papers there in a moment.


STELTER: Hurricane Ida now turning the Louisiana wetlands into a giant washing machine. It's a category four superstorm ransacking parts of the Gulf Coast. Specifically, we've been keeping on Grand Isle, Louisiana looking for any images out of that barrier island. Here is something shared by Charlotte Landry. She watched her security camera feeds to monitor her home and she's been seeing the water quickly rising, that was before the home lost power so she then lost her cameras.

We're also watching some of the storm gauges on the island. They are showing the storm surge quickly rising on Grand Isle. That's to be expected. The Northern eyewall is very close now to the Louisiana coastline. This Hurricane rapidly intensified overnight. It's going to be in the history books because of the way it was able to grow into a monster overnight.


STELTER: And these are some of the local headlines from this morning's papers that are still able to be printed and delivered in Louisiana. I want to bring in a couple of guests who are in newsrooms covering the storm. Peter Kovacs is the Editor of The Times-Picayune and the Advocate, and Dave Cohen is the News Director for WWL Radio in New Orleans. Peter, first to you, what is your current plan for the -- for your newspapers there?

PETER KOVACS, EDITOR, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE: Well, we printed a newspaper this morning and we delivered it successfully, and we're printing one tomorrow but most of our plan is to cover the storm online. You know, it's going to get where you can't drive around and deliver a newspaper.

And you know, we have the largest news staff and the largest online audience in Louisiana, and even in the run-up to the storm this week, we've had about 20 million page views, which is probably three times what's usual today, we probably have four or five times what's usual. So, that's our plan.

STELTER: Does anything feel different about this Hurricane to you?

KOVACS: You know, we have, I would say, including myself, probably a thousand years of staff experience covering hurricanes, and you know, they're all different and in some ways, they're all the same.

STELTER: Right. That's right. Let me bring in Dave Cohen. He's the News Director for WWL radio. Dave, Are you with me?


STELTER: Let me tell you one of the main things I remember about Katrina 16 years ago today. It seemed at first in New Orleans was spared and then, late at night, Jim (INAUDIBLE) called into CNN, trying to hold back tears describing people screaming for help on the rooftops in the flooded wards. So, we didn't know the real full story right away.

In a hurricane, it's like a fog of war situation. We may not know exactly what happens in real-time. You, of course, were on the air during Katrina and for the Hurricanes sine. Do you feel that New Orleans is better prepared than it ever has been for this kind of -- this size of a hurricane?

COHEN: From an infrastructure standpoint, there's no doubt about that, that the levees are taller and more sturdy, and they've been armored, and they're built now to be resilient and withstand overtopping so they don't scour and fail like they did in Katrina. Leading to that day after the discovery of 80 percent of the city being flooded, and the worst of that disaster in U.S. history at the time, so yes. And from that, the billions of dollars spent on flood walls and gates and pumps and armoring the levees clearly, the city is better prepared from that aspect.

Also, technologically, the city is far better prepared. All of the cell phone towers now have natural gas generators so they won't run out of diesel fuel and go dead like they didn't Katrina. We now have a far better, you know, smartphone network where we have so many better ways to communicate and see what's going on. So yes, I think we're better off in terms of preparation and in terms of being able to cover this and to know at least as best as we can in real-time what's happening.

STELTER: One more bit of good news I mentioned at the top of the hour, 911 services have been interrupted in New Orleans and Orleans Parish, we're now told the 911 services have been restored in Orleans Parish. That's good news. Let's go back to the live radar just to show that Northern eyewall again, because as we approach 11:00 a.m. Central, noon, Eastern, you can see that Grand Isle is getting smacked by the worst of it.

Let me show you a tweet from a Jefferson Paris official just a few minutes ago. This person said Grand Isle lost connection of our weather station from the outer eyewall. The last measurement of the winds was 136 mph. That is an unsurvivable sustained wind speed. If you're in a home that's built out of wood, other materials that are not built for this kind of hurricane, that's unsurvivable and so we will see what pictures come out of Grand Isle in the hours and days to come.

Let me just go back to Peter because you're in Baton Rouge. How close do you let your reporters get to where this hurricane is coming onshore?

KOVACS: Well, you know, we've had reporters out, we have reporters in their homes right now, we have reporters, you know, at the Emergency Operation Center. We do not have someone in Grand Isle right now, we -- bet -- which I think -- I think makes sense but, you know, we've had reporters, you know, out in boats in hurricanes in the past.

STELTER: Yes. Peter, thank you very much for being here. Dave, Thank you as well. CNN's coverage is going to keep going all day and all night. We are live for the foreseeable future. In a few minutes, Wolf Blitzer will take over for a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM."

The landfall of Hurricane Ida will be in the next two to three hours. Where exactly it is going to make landfall? That's unclear, but we look at the live radar, and you can see where it is coming ashore.

One of the strongest hurricanes in Louisiana history, one of the strongest anywhere in the United States in many years coming ashore between Grand Isle and Cocodrie, of course, mostly marshland, and mostly swampland, but as you get inland, there are going to be a lot of residents experiencing 100-plus mph winds and as this storm blows ashore. There's another advisory coming in from the National Hurricane Center. So Wolf Blitzer takes over our coverage now.