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COVID-19 Has Humbled All Of Us; CNN Shuts Offices To Non- Essential Worker As COVID Spikes; A Week Full Of Embarrassing Headlines For Fox News; A 'Watergate-y' Week?; Manchin's Sunday Morning Message To Biden. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 19, 2021 - 11:00   ET



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

This hour, was it the worst week in Fox News history? I'll explain how Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham caught up in two scandals, how it's all actually linked together.

Plus, breaking news about Joe Manchin and fate of the Build Back Better bill, a clear setback for President Biden.

And on a week of setbacks for Biden, the vice president is speaking out. You have to see what happened in this interview with Charlemagne Tha God. Oliver Darcy, Claire Atkinson, Carl Bernstein, many more coming up.

But, first, another COVID search and a new set of questions. The COVID-19 pandemic has been one long, excruciating lesson about humility, and about being humble in the face of changing circumstances, and a wily virus, about being open to new information, new inputs, new approaches, about accepting experts sometimes get it wrong and that leaders sometimes fail to lead, and that journalists who strive for clarity sometimes stoke confusion.

Humility means recognizing different points of view. Humility means being respectful of the trauma of the past two years.

The Washington National Cathedral tolled this funeral bell 800 times this week to honor the 800,000 lives lost to COVID in the U.S. Now, that is a humbling death toll. Everyone has lost something or someone to this pandemic.

Humility realizes people mourn in different ways. It is still okay not to be okay. It's okay to be unnerved by the latest news. But humility also means understanding why others have moved on. Different people evaluate risk differently. Some folks who are vaccinated and boosted are fully back to normal, so are some unvaccinated.

But others in both camps are still taking lots of extra precautions and many are confused about what to do, what the smartest choice is. The omicron variant, as this professor writes, is a case study in unknown risks. The more unknowns there are, the more humble we must be. The more careful journalists must be.

Omicron may be milder but it is still overrun hospitals because it's so damn transmissible, that's what experts are now signaling.

But hopefully, those experts and health experts and leaders are feeling humble too, because so much of what we were told two years ago has not aged well. We were told two weeks to stop the spread. We were told to scrub the virus away.

Later, it became very clear airborne transition is the key but I still hear PSAs and politicians talking about handwashing. Are they really following the science?

We were also told vaccines meant freedom, and yet 2021 has been this year of limbo as "The New York Times" calls it, mask on, mask off, and then back on again. Humility, of course, means being able to adapt, adjust, accept error but without succumbing to fatalism.

There's a popular strain of right wing media thinking saying screw the experts, they've been wrong all along, ignore them and move on. There's a doom and gloom event to that kind of news coverage.

Here's today's "New York Post", calling it "Misery on 34th Street". But I say bah humbug to that.

Coming to have (ph) with COVID in December 2021 mean something very different than it did in March 2020, or even December of 2020. The news coverage must convey the differences. I know there are flashbacks right now to March 2020 but the differences are the story. We need to convey that as the story changes, attitudes have to change, too.

You know that phrase we've heard all along, living with COVID. The keyword of that phrase is not COVID, the key word is living. So, that brings me to some of the new questions that should be on the table now.

The definition of cases is changing. With a highly transmissible variant, there are many, many, many cases, for example, here in New York City. More than 20 states are reporting rising cases right now.

Of course, that's the delta surge and then the new variant on top. So with this inevitability about more and more cases, what's the better metric to be using? How shall we be evaluating the fight against COVID?


Does the NFL point the way forward? The NFL this weekend saying we're not going to be testing every player all the time for COVID because a lot of them are positive and they don't even know it because they're asymptomatic. The NFL is only going to test if people show symptoms, if players show symptoms. Is that the new way forward? It feels to me like in some media circles, this was the week where

getting COVID became an inevitability, that there's this acceptance that everybody is going to get COVID eventually, tens of millions of Americans already have, and everybody else is going to at some point. Is that the proper approach, just to accept that at some point, you'll be infected, which doesn't mean you'll get sick, doesn't mean you'll suffer but at some point, everyone will be infected? Is that the proper approach now?

And if so, why is it still so hard to find that home test, especially in blue America? By the way, pro tip, if you want to find at-home tests, get somebody in red America, red state, to mail them to you since all of the stores at least here in New York as I have seen, are sold-out.

And here's another question since we're hearing about schools closing again, we collectively took action to protect the elderly in 2020. Now shouldn't we be doing more to protect children by letting them live normal lives? Are we really going to let the kids suffer even more?

And are the facts about COVID getting through to the people who need to hear them? Is the media setting the table in the proper way for this holiday season to help people through this confusing time?

Well, those are the questions, let's see if our guests have answers.

David Leonhardt is here, senior writer at "The New York Times." He writes the morning newsletter and has covered COVID extensively. He's also been ahead of the curve in explaining what's going on with these new variants.

Also with me, Katherine Wu of "The Atlantic", staff writer at "The Atlantic" covering science, and lately, of course, that means covering COVID.

Katherine and David, thank you both for coming on the program.


KATHERINE WU, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yeah, thanks for having us.

STELTER: David, how are you thinking about this weekend and these surges? I mean, look, you and I know what's happened the past few days. Major metropolitan areas where a lot of journalists, there's been an incredible spike in COVID cases, there's a lot of attention on it now and I think there's debates about how to be covering the story and how to be assessing cases differently.

Is the NFL the right pathway forward? Is the NFL's changing protocol -- is that the right pathway forward now?

LEONHARDT: I'm not sure it's the right pathway for everyone. I do think directionally it tends to treat this differently the way the NFL is doing it.

But here's basically how I think of it. I think, Brian, your point about uncertainty is really the first point. There's an enormous amount about omicron that we just still do not know. Based on the best available evidence, it almost certainly seems to be substantially more contagious than any prior variant.

We don't exactly know why, how much of that is because of how it spreads between unvaccinated people or whether it's all because of the fact that vaccinated people are more likely to get mild cases than they were before. But it's more contagious.

The early evidence suggests it's somewhat less severe. That is uncertain. And it is a little bit less reassuring than it may sound at first because let's imagine it's 30 percent less severe. That sounds like a big deal, but if it causes three, four, five times as many cases, it can still lead to overwhelmed hospitals.

So I think uncertainty is number one. Number two is it's more contagious. Number three is as best that we can tell, it's not more severe than other cases, which means, as Katherine has explained in her writing, if you're vaccinated and especially boosted, omicron probably does not change your health risk, your individual health risk, in a huge way. But for the population, it's really scary.

STELTER: Katherine, do you agree with David's assessment? Is this really scary?

WU: Yeah. I mean, I'm certainly in the camp where I'm deeply, deeply concerned. I never think it is time to panic but I think all of the warning signs are there. We have very little time to act, and honestly, our country was not prepared for a new variant that was moving this fast.

And to sort of grimace all the way back to the NFL strategy, I think there are some concerns there. We sort of have to strike a middle ground here. We know more post vaccination infections are going to happen. And we know that people are going to get reinfected and we do I think have to find a middle ground towards catastrophizing all post vaccination infections and, you know, certainly not dismissing the milder cases because they certainly do matter.

But I worry a little bit testing people only after they become symptomatic. We know with every version of this virus that we've encountered so far, people become contagious well before they start showing symptoms. Some never do.


WU: Now, that does not impose a significant health risk to an individual but this is a collective problem. We know this has been an infectious virus. This is not just about, you know, eating healthier and avoiding strokes.


This is an infectious threat. And skipping out on those tests could endanger others, especially those who might be more vulnerable than the person in question. STELTER: If the average vaccinated and boosted American who gets COVID

is just going to have a few bad days in bed at most, then why -- then why should the country start to close schools and why should offices start to empty again, Katherine?

WU: Well, I think we do have to keep in mind that not everyone is vaccinated. Certainly not everyone --

STELTER: OK, but they screwed up. What about for the vaccinated, boosted Americans, why should they suffer now?

WU: I mean, hopefully, we can remind ourselves that again this is a collective issue. The decisions people make, regardless of vaccination status, are going to affect the people around them. Not everyone who's vaccinated and boosted is entirely in the clear.

You know, remember that we have people who are elderly, people who our immunocompromised. While vaccinating is still the best move to protect themselves, not everyone is going to reach the same level of protection, even with the same number of vaccine doses, even with the same vaccine brands.

Those who fully vaccinated and fully boosted or whatever language we're using, this has always been a heterogeneous population. I think we use the same terms for people but really the fully vaccinated are not a monolith and because we know they can still occasionally be infected, they may still be contagious. That means for every person not vaccinated around them, there is still going to be a risk or someone who is fully vaccinated and still at higher risk.

We have to keep in mind that not everyone unvaccinated did make that choice willingly. We have young kids who haven't had the opportunity to get vaccinated. We have slightly older kids who may only be reaching the quote/unquote full vaccination now. And they haven't had that opportunity.

We are always operating in a heterogeneous population and we do have to consider that globally the situation looks even worse.

STELTER: That's definitely true. When I say screwed up, I mean American adults who had chances and chances and chances and turned them down, partly due to disinformation pollution.

Look, I have two kids, 2 and 4, they can't get vaccinated. In my view, the risk is low enough to them they should live normal lives and have wonderful childhoods and continue with life.

And, David, isn't that what all this is about, it's all about risk assessment, and the risk assessment for someone older or immunocompromised are going to be different for someone with omicron than a healthy 30-year-old?

WU: That's right, and the tradeoffs are hard. Closing school has been so damaging to children. Not just closing it but the disruptions to it. And children are at such little risk on an overall basis that closing schools in many every case would do more damage. Not every case but almost every case, would do more damage.

So, that to me is on one side of the spectrum. I mean, if we wanted to reduce flu deaths every year, we would close schools but obviously we decide school is more important. The flu is bad. It kills 30 million to 40 million Americans every year.

COVID is much worse than the flu. And so, taking those operations for COVID makes sense but it also doesn't make sense to go to some zero COVID strategy.

And I think the surgeon general report here was really important. He said we can't create another pandemic in the course of trying to treat one and we have. We created a mental health pandemic. We created a physical health pandemic.

When you look at things like drug overdoses, when you look at the rates among mental health problems with kids, when you look at the massive learning loss among kids, we have to weigh all of this when saying what sorts of things are we going to do in order to respond to COVID. And, unfortunately, every single choice brings health costs to it.

STELTER: Is there -- is there a part of you, David, that wonders if the media is overreacting right now, given we just don't know that much about omicron yet?

LEONHARDT: I mean, the media is no monolith, as you know, often, right? So, could we find examples of the media overreacting? Yes, we could.

There have been times where I would say clearly the dominant strain of media coverage has been overreaction. I don't think we're in that moment right now. Again, we can find examples of overreaction.

But omicron is serious and it requires a really nuanced response in which we try to acknowledge the fact that for most boosted people, the risks really remain quite low. For children, they remain minuscule. You're probably putting your kid in more risk by putting them in a car today than omicron presents.

And yet, omicron not only presents a risk to the unvaccinated, but as Katherine was saying, but it does to older people in their 70s and 80s. I'm not saying we should grind to a halt to get that number down to zero but for the media to be saying, look, cases are rising rapidly, we don't know what's going on, there's a good chance we'll have overwhelmed hospitals, I think that's the right message at this point for the media to be conveying.

[11: 15:05]

STELTER: David and Katherine, thank you both for the insight.

LEONHARDT: Thank you.

WU: Thank you.

STELTER: After the break here, what CNN and others are doing in response to the surge.

Plus, Fox feeling embarrassed about riot revelations. We have fresh details you won't hear anywhere else.


STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.

This delta surge and now concerns omicron are causing changes across the media landscape, including here at CNN. Letting you in some news inside the network, this happened overnight. CNN announcing that the offices are closed to nonessential personnel effective immediately in order to keep the number of employees in the buildings low in order to protect everybody.

Basically, think about it this way, CNN, other networks have to stay on the air no matter what. If you have lots of people testing positive, have to stay home, then it's going to be harder to keep control rooms functioning and keep anchors on the air.


So, by closing the offices to everybody but essential personnel, it tries to reduce the level of COVID and tries to protect everybody involved.

CNN certainly not the only network making this move but it's frustrating for a lot of staffers who have now been back in the office and now will have to go and work from home once again.

We're seeing this across the landscape. I mentioned "The Washington Post" reimposing a mask mandate across its newsroom yesterday as well. And here's the news from Michael Paulson about Broadway, 10 of 32 Broadway shows canceled performances last night. We're going to see more of the same in the days to come.

"SNL" as well dropping its live show instead of putting on a taped performance, having to mostly run taped practice rehearsals from earlier in the week and you will see there a few of the stars being able to celebrate at the end of the episode, but all masked up.

So what happened to "SNL"? A raft of positive cases. So many crew members, perhaps staff members, who tested positive made it impossible to put on a normal show.

And all of this, of course, takes a psychological toll. Even hearing about it has an impact. All of these daily, hourly, even minute-by- minute headlines about COVID making us feel like we're heading back in time when in fact we're not and the situation is much better than it was nearly two years ago for the vaccinated.

With me is Derek Thompson, staff writer for "The Atlantic", author of the "Work in Progress" newsletter. He's also the author of "Hit Makers".

Derek, great to see you. You write about the media -- media consumption works, how it affects

people, what they read. I have a lot of sympathy for viewers right now who are getting -- not necessarily contradictory signals but a lot of information, confusing information about these new variants.

DEREK THOMPSON, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yeah, I do too. I have a lot of sympathy for them as well. There's a new Netflix satire by Adam McKay out called "Don't Look Up," which is a satire about global warming which a lot of think is about COVID as well. It's movie that stars Leo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep. It's about some scientist that's seen asteroid is about to hit the earth and the media wants to ignore the story.

And the whole idea is consistently ignoring things as obvious as an asteroid in a telescope lens. But I think we just learned is that the vast majority of stories aren't like a clear high-definition picture of an asteroid in a telescope lens. A lot of time that image is blurry, right? We don't know if it's an asteroid, or a dove, or a raven or a balloon.

And right now, a lot of people are trying to figure out, what exactly is the shape of this omicron threat? And it's not particularly clear. One quick point, meteorologists -- not most journalists but meteorologists have a way of talking about predictions that involve percentage odds of certainty. They say 40 percent chance of rain, 90 percent chance of high wind.

It might be nice for us to sort of steal that in epidemiology reporting and future reporting saying, we have 90 percent certainty this is more transmissible but only 6 percent certainty it's less severe. I think those percentage odds might help people.

STELTER: Right. That's very interesting. Try to get people the best data necessity can.

Now, we know there are different audiences the media is programming and producing for. When I'm on CNN, I feel like I'm speaking to a vaccinated and increasingly boosted audience. If I were speaking on Fox News, it might be 50/50, half the office is vaxed, half is not.

Do you feel like the vaccinated media is doing an effective job and whether we're talking to?

THOMPSON: I think we're doing an okay job. The way I think about it is there are three circles of risk, con centrist circles. In the center circle there are people like me and you. People who are boosted in their 30s, 20s, 40s, and I really think it's important to point out everything we know about the omicron chain suggests boosted individuals simply do not same the same risk they did from the OG coronavirus in March 2020. It's a different kind of risk. It's much, much lower.

Then there's one ring out and Katie Wu from "The Atlantic" was just talking about this, there are seniors and immunocompromised people in our networks. I just canceled train to see my 94-year-old grandmother because I couldn't get a rapid test. I did not want to mix households knowing she was older and not boosted. And I thought there was a larger risk to her, and David talked about how they face a much larger danger.

And outside of this is the circle of people who could get vaccinated but haven't. As we've seen over the months, there's been a larger and larger difference between share of people that are dying of COVID who are vaccinated versus those that are unvaccinated. The unvaccinated face a much higher risk I think from omicron and delta, which is very much sort of the reality here.

So, those are the rings I think about, boosted ring, immunocompromised and healthy around the boosted ring and largely unvaccinated population both in the U.S. and world. I think it's important for the media to address them individually, and say, when are we writing for ring one and when are we writing for ring three?

STELTER: Ah, interesting. When we're doing that, what do you suggest about not causing undue fear and anxiety?


There's certainly -- there's a certain level of anxiety and stress you feel just about hearing about the subject at all and I get that. But I want to make sure we're not drumming up undue fears at a moment like this. Because it can take you back to March 2020 without intending to.

THOMPSON: Uh-huh. I think it's important to point out, you know this, I know this, I think people that watch your show know this, the media does have a negativity bias. The media often does lean a bit more towards catastrophe.

During a pandemic I think it's largely better to air on the side of negativity. But at the same time I think we don't report the same kind of positive evidence we see in the data. So, I think, right now, it's very important to be clear, when we look at the early outbreaks in South Africa, you look at what's happening in places like the Netherlands and places like Denmark, that yes, we seeing with a high degree of confidence, 90 percent certainty, this thing is more contagious than previous strains of COVID.

But what we're also seeing in place after place is evidence of milder disease. Now, whether that milder disease is coming if the fact there's a lot of immunity banked in these populations because they just got delta or they are recently vaccinated, that could be, but I think it's important to put an emphasis on both of these facts.


THOMPSON: We are seeing more contagiousness and more mild cases. They are both very important to point out.

STELTER: For what it's worth, it's worth very little. I assume I'm going to get it at some point. I assume everybody I know is going to get it at some point, but because we're vaccinated and boosted, we have better and better chances.

Derek, thank you so much for coming on the program. Good to see you.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

STELTER: Up next, how much will the big lie cost Fox News? There's a new legal drama, next.

Plus, Carl Bernstein on how to cover a D.C. conspiracy.




STELTER: Fox News once branded itself as pro-police, pro-military, pro-law and order. But that's not believable anymore, if it ever was, because Fox has done its part to make January 6 disappear.

Not only do they hardly ever cover the continuing daily fallout from the Trump riots, they disparage the people who do. They blast Democrats and Liz Cheney and media outlets for caring.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're obsessed with January 6.

JESSE WATTERS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FOX NEWS: They're getting crushed by inflation, their voters are getting crushed by inflation but all they care about is January 6.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want this distraction. They want to have this story out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This January 6 fixation.

LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS: The entire January 6 campaign has become one of revenge and defamation.


STELTER: Those are just a few of the comments from this week after Cheney read aloud the text messages that Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade sent to Mark Meadows during the 1/6 attack.

Now, Mark Levin is furious with the Committee.


MARK LEVIN, HOST FOX NEWS: This Committee is violating the Bill of Rights. It's violating due process. This Committee is on a "criminal hunt" trying to get people humiliated and embarrassed.


STELTER: Oh embarrassed you say? Humiliated? Is that how your colleagues feel? Are they capable?

With me now, former Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky, Insider Chief Media Correspondent Claire Atkinson and CNN Senior Media Reporter, Oliver Darcy.

Julie, you used to work at Fox, Democratic strategist, Liberal commentator. You've been on the air with some of these folks.

Do you feel like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, were they embarrassed this week? Were they capable of embarrassment when those text messages were read aloud?

JULIE ROGINSKY, FORMER FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you have to understand there are two types of people of Fox News, the ones who truly believe what they say on-air, Sean Hannity is one of them, and the rest who know what they have to do to get good ratings, but fully understand what they're doing and fully understand that they are obviously not telling their own viewers the truth.

I don't think Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham are embarrassed because I think Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham truly believe what they're saying on air. And so therefore, there's nothing for them to be embarrassed about.

They truly think this is a witch hunt. They truly think that the President, the former President is getting some sort of unfair tagging, despite the fact that Laura Ingraham herself said that he was destroying his own legacy by doing what he was doing.

But she clearly forgot that she had said that on January 6.

And so I think, as I said that they're not embarrassed because there's nothing for them to be embarrassed about.

The rest, however, I think are more complicit because they obviously know that what they're saying on airs is insane. And yes, they're saying it because their ratings demand that they do.

STELTER: Hmm. Oliver, how do the text messages link up to the other big Fox or the week, which is Dominions lawsuit -- the defamation lawsuit against Fox is being able to move forward.

That lawsuit survived a motion to dismiss, which means now they went to the discovery phase.

And this is also about the big lie on 1/6. So how would you link these up?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, I think they show that it's incredibly difficult, Brian. It's uncomfortable to build a business based on lies, right? This is what it's about.

It's about Fox hosts and Fox as a network of lying to viewers and now they've been exposed and now they're facing litigation, which could cost them a lot of money because they were not honest with the viewers. They were dishonest. And I think that's really the thorough line here. It's maybe you know, some advice for Fox, be just, tell the truth once in a while.

STELTER: Claire, will Fox try to settle? And do you think dominion will do anything go along with it?

CLAIRE ATKINSON, CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, INSIDER: Oh, that's a really good question. I'm sure there's concerns about how much it's going to cost them Brian, but I think it's really important to think about Fox News as a business in the context of what was going on around January six. The Fox News had called the election early in Arizona.


ATKINSON: Fox News viewers got very angry when Trump lost. Some of them went off to Newsmax. It was imperative at the time that Fox News hung on to those viewers. And if Trump is the candidate, again, it will be very important to support him.

Fox News knows what the viewers want. They know that viewers are still behind Donald Trump for the most part. This is a $3 billion business when you look at advertising and subscriptions --


ATKINSON: It's Fox's 25th anniversary this year, they're celebrating being number one, not just in news, but in all of cable.

And I think that's important to remember that Fox News is an incredibly powerful outlet when it comes to giving viewers what they want to hear, entertainment, as well as, what they produce in the daytime.

And so, you know, this is -- what happened on January 6, created reputational damage not just for Fox News hosts, but for everybody associated with Donald Trump at that time.

STELTER: That's the thing though, about the business. You know, I was going to come and say, well, was this their worst week ever? You know, I could easily make the argument. This was foxes worst week, you know.

Losing Chris Wallace to CNN and having this defamation lawsuit moving forward, having to delete an anti-Semitic cartoon from their Instagram because they didn't catch it ahead of time.

Like there's been a string of embarrassments for Fox. And yet it's probably not their worst week ever, Claire because the cast machine keeps humming along.

ATKINSON: Absolutely.

STELTER: Hmm. I hate to be so cynical, Oliver. Is there a less cynical take here?

DARCY: I don't know. The problem really is that nothing can get Fox or at least into motivate them to doing the right thing and not lying to viewers, not pumping out conspiracy theories and disinformation.

I was -- I was just watching Maria Bartiromo's show and she was interviewing Trump and she's asking him questions about whether someone else is directing Biden and in charge of the country. Like this is some really loony stuff.

And it seems that there's really no amount of litigation that can force them into being honest with viewers and toning back some of this coverage.

I really have a hard time you know, without -- you know, more optimistic take, Brian.

STELTER: Speaking of Trump, you know, he does these interviews. They often barely get mainstream media attention because you know, he's just out there saying the same batshit stuff again -- I'm sorry, a BS stuff again. It's Sunday morning I try not to curse.

But let me put this up on screen because it is BS. This is a Vanity headline -- Fair headline interviewed -- describing another Trump interview.

Trump goes full anti-Semite, on loads on American Jews in wildly bigoted rant.

And like, this is barely going to get attention, Julie, even though it's disgusting because he does this stuff all the time. But I think we do need to pause and just acknowledge what he said. He's attacking the New York Times. He's you know engaging in very deep anti-Semitic kind of commentary. And Julie, it's never acceptable. It's never OK.

ROGINSKY: Well, certainly listen, I'm Jewish, and here go my Twitter mentions, but this is --


ROGINSKY: -- far for the course. As to what -- as to what Donald Trump has said, I remember I was on Fox, when the whole yellow share of star if you remember the yellow star of David, that was somehow purported to be some yellow share of star controversy in 2016.

And I criticized that at the time on Megyn Kelly Show, which is obviously no longer on Fox, the crazy amount of anti-Semitic tweets that I got as a result of just calling out the President and saying -- or he wasn't the President then, but calling out the candidate at the time and saying, this is not OK. This is unacceptable.

And the -- and the default answer always is well, it's his daughter and his son-in-law are Jewish. So what? So what?

He has a consistent bias when it comes to anybody who's not him. He is a white, straight waspy man, and if you don't fall into that category, he disdains you, whether it's your -- if you're a woman, or if you're Jewish, or if you're African American or Latino, he disdains you.

And the fact that his own base won't call it out, I'm not surprised that they won't, but the fact that the media that is in his pocket won't call it out is even more shameful to me.

There are not many Jewish people working at Fox so I don't know if anybody's brought that to the attention of the executives on the second floor there.

But somebody should because this is not the kind of behavior that needs to be condoned by as you said the number one cable station around right now. It's just -- it's unacceptable.

STELTER: And there's -- you know these interviews all the time, it gives them like Mike Huckabee and I'm giving -- now, Maria Bartiromo.

I'm glad you watch the interview this morning Oliver with Maria Bartiromo, because, again, this stuff just gets missed.

This -- these comments about Jews were in a publication there just came out a couple of days ago, but these keep coming these interviews keep coming.

And if newsrooms ignore Trump, I think they ignore Trump at their peril.

All right, Julie, Oliver, Claire, thank you all for being here.

So to come this hour, Fox was Joe Manchin choice of venue when he torpedo the Build Back Better bill this morning. We have analysis from the one, the only Carl Bernstein. He's next.



STELTER: Was this a Watergatey week? That's what the Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch said on Twitter, he wrote.

Any other boomers out here who remember Watergate? I was 13 to 15 but I was a total Washington nerd. He says.

This week has reminded me so much of how that felt that initial feeling that the breaking will be forgotten and then suddenly the story explodes 10 months later.

Bunch, of course, talking about the 1/6 Committee, talking about the investigation into who, know, what, when the investigation into the conspiracy surrounding January 6. So

Are there similarities? Well, let's ask Carl Bernstein. You know him, of course very well. He's coming out with a memoir next year titled chasing history, a kid in the newsroom.

Carl, it's out in January, right? I read an early copy and I was amazed by your book.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you so much. It is about my first days in journalism from 1960 to 65, starting as a 16-year-old kid until I became a reporter, still as a teenager. [11:45:00]

STELTER: So that's a little preview we'll talk about that when it comes out. But later in your career, of course, you and what were breakup and Watergate. Did this week feel similar to you at all?

BERNSTEIN: No, because the really important thing to remember about Watergate is that courageous Republicans cast their vote for articles of impeachment in committee against Richard Nixon.

Republicans went to the White House and told Richard Nixon that he had to leave office, that he was a constitutional criminal, that he had undermined our electoral system, and he had to resign led by Barry Goldwater, the great conservative his party.

Republicans are doing nothing of the sort in the Trump era, they have become the party of voter suppression, they have embraced a seditious conspiracy, led by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, by his chief of staff, Mr. Meadows, and also by a gang of constitutional thugs, such as Jim Jordan.

So what we have now is ongoing, a conspiracy, looking toward the next election in 2020 for the President of the United States, in which the Republican Party is committed to voter suppression, which is really a seditious enterprise.

So it's becoming a party of sedition, such as we have never seen since the Civil War. And even then, no President of the United States ever committed the kind of seditious acts as Trump did on January 6 and through his -- the end of his presidency.

STELTER: So if that's the case, what do you want the press and the public to do?

BERNSTEIN: I think that we need to start covering the most important story for us to cover. Yes, we need to continue giving huge prominence to COVID and whatever breaking stories there are, but probably, as in World War Two, and as in the Civil War, the coverage has to be of the real war.

And that could be four or five years as it was in World War Two and the Civil War. And that is the fight against Americans who want to vote a party committed to keeping Americans from voting.

I covered the civil -- the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when it -- when it was passed. This party of seditious undermining of American democracy and our electoral system is trying to undo that Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed all Americans the right to vote.

So this is the big story that we cannot lose sight of. We need to cover it like the war that it is, every day, every important battle.

Yes, we need to cover all stories. But this story is ongoing and must be the focus of our attention because it is about the undermining of American democracy at its most basic level. And it's been embraced by one of our two political parties. STELTER: Carl, let me fend a quick break, we'll get to the breaking news about Joe Manchin and President Biden in just a moment.



STELTER: Today, Senator Joe Manchin chose Fox News Sunday to share his decision about the Build Back Better Act specifically that he will not vote for the Act, a devastating blow to President Biden and his agenda.

Of course, the headlines have all been about what's going to happen with the Act? What's going to happen with the legislation? And now, Manchin torpedo in at least for the time being.

Carl Bernstein, back with me. It gets you never say never when it comes to DC news but this is a setback for Biden. What's your read on it, Carl?

BERNSTEIN: It's a huge setback. It shows once again the power of Senator Manchin, which is so disproportionate to what it ought to be and of Senator Sinema as well.

But what we have here is the interests of the American people in the legislation, it is going to go down, defeated or not come to fruition, the real interests of people, children, adults, daycare, etcetera, etcetera.

Beings put secondary to the short-term economic situation. Short term, meaning that there is plenty of time to address problems of debt. It is an ongoing problem.

But this is the one opportunity that we've had to do extraordinary things for the American people with this narrow Democratic majority in the Senate and it's now been undermined by Senator Manchin.

And this also goes to the question of Voting Rights because unless there is something that can be done about the filibuster rule in the Senate, which Manchin again, has indicated he will not change, there is not going to be an effective legislative means of doing what needs to be done to guarantee American democracy through the right to vote for all Americans without being suppressed, as we're seeing now. So that too is the --

STELTER: That draw me picture perfect.

BERNSTEIN: -- only we're going big story.

STELTER: Indeed. Carl, thank you very much.

Finally, today. The Vice President defending her boss in an interview with Charlemagne tha God. Watch what happens when one of her aides tries to interrupt the interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Who the superhero that's going to speak against Joe Manchin?


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I want to know who the real President of this country is. Is it by -- is it Joe Biden or Joe Manchin?


SYMONE SANDERS, CHIEF SPOKESPERSON TO THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm sorry I just want -- I interrupted, I think the Vice President cannot hear you. It's Symone. I'm so sorry Charlamagne, we have to wrap.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: She can hear me.

SANDERS: Did you hear him? Can you hear me now?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Can you hear me madam Vice President?

SANDERS: OK. So I'm sorry we got to wrap. I'm sorry I interrupted.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: They're acting like they can't hear me.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Oh, so who's the real --

HARRIS:I can hear you.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: -- So who's the real President in his country, is it Joe Manchin or Joe Biden, Madam Vice President.

HARRIS: Come on, Charlemagne --


HARRIS: -- It's Joe Biden.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I can't trust sometimes --

HARRIS: No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no. It's Joe Biden. And don't start talking like a Republican about asking whether or not he's President.


STELTER: Quite a mic drop by the Vice President but striking to hear Symone Sanders interrupt. Apparently the interview is very long so she was trying to move it along, but a quite a compelling piece of tape from Charlemagne Tha God.

All right, that's a wrap on this week's RELIABLE SOURCES. We'll see you back here this time next week.