Return to Transcripts main page

Reliable Sources

Reporters Keep Exposing Evidence of Trump's Big Lie; Life on the Frontline; Rebuilding TV Rain from Outside Russia; Chris Wallace Describes His Decision To Leave Fox; Remembering Russian Journalist Oksana Baulina. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 27, 2022 - 11:00   ET



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

This hour, life on the front line. We're going to talk with Fred Pleitgen at the war and his coverage first in Russia and now in Ukraine.

Plus, the Russian government shut down TV Rain, but that didn't stop the husband and wife from rebuilding their work now in another country. We're going to talk with the team about their new venture.

Plus, the big news here about CNN+. The streaming service's top two executives are here to preview this week's launch.

But, first, democracy still in peril. Concerns about the vulnerability of the U.S. political system have taken a back seat to daily coverage of the war in Ukraine but the domestic dangers are still clear. Reporters keep exposing evidence of Donald Trump's big lie and the powerful people who advanced it.

As we learn this week, text messages from Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas lay it all out, a push to overthrow, to overturn the election in 2020.

Here is one of the texts from Thomas saying, Biden and the left is attempting the greatest heist of our history. That's what she exclaimed to White House chief of staff mark meadows in November of 2020. Then this text from January 2021, post-riot says, we are living through what feels like the end of America.

The end of America, no. The end of a shared reality, yes. Powerful people tried to overturn the 2020 election in the United States.

And while the investigation into that continues, the anti-democratic wing of the GOP is still hard at work on it today. There is an investigation going on about something that's more than a year old, but the events are still happening now. In fact, Trump repeated his lies in front of a crowd on Saturday night saying, quote, I ran twice, I won twice and did much better the second time and now we may just have to do it again. I listened to the entire rally so you didn't have to. It was entirely

about the big lie. That was the entire theme of his rally. And yet Trump is mostly out of sight and out of mind for much of the population. If you are not watching fringe far right media you're barely hearing from him.

And this "Huffington Post" White House reporter argues that Trump's banishment from social media is helping him. People have forgotten how dangerously ignorant he was. It's a very interesting right now, because we are not hearing a lot in the press about these stories and yet they are still developing every day. So I suppose instead of saying follow the money we should follow the texts.

With us now to talk about this and more, Jane Mayer, the chief Washington correspondent at "The New Yorker", she has been covering Ginni Thomas and Clarence Thomas for years and she recently wrote an article titled, "Legal scholars are shocked by Ginni Thomas's "stop the steal" texts.

Also with me here in New York, CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp and senior media reporter Oliver Darcy.

Jane, you have been on the Supreme Court beat for quite a while. Tell us what was important about this week, the revelations from CNN and CBS and the "Washington Post" actually revealing these texts that are in the possession of the 1/6 committee. This is a puzzle piece that we had not filled in until now.

JANE MAYER, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: What's happened now is that a relatively old story which is Ginni Thomas' activism which has been apparent almost since the time that Clarence Thomas joined the court has crossed a new line. I think this story started developing when Ginni Thomas went to Facebook and started posting her excitement about the January 6th protests and that's what caught my eye and I think the eye of a number of other reporters. She came out and she embraced the idea of the MAGA protests and it was clear that she was all in on the sort of stop the steal idea. It's been developing since then piece by piece.

What it's really actually taken is a tremendous amount of sort of investigative work from "The New Yorker," from "The New York Times" and now from the "Washington Post" and CBS as well. These are, you know, several of the best investigative reporting news organizations in the country and it's been kind of a tag team effort as this thing has developed and the latest development of course is that her texts have become public, so that we can see that she was pushing -- pushing the White House, the Trump White House, to overflow the election and try to stop Biden from being, you know -- accepting his win and taking the White House.


STELTER: And these texts came out at the same time that Clarence Thomas was still in the hospital and there was a lot of secrecy around his hospitalization. The Supreme Court barely released any information and then finally when he was able to head home on Friday they announced that he was heading home, but there was a lot of secrecy. We have a head line from the Hill that makes that clear. This secrecy about Clarence Thomas, there's secrecy about Ginni Thomas.

Isn't the theme here, Jane, secrecy?

MAYER: Yeah, I mean, this has been one of the problems for reporters all along is that the Supreme Court is so completely shrouded in secrecy. And so, it's very hard to penetrate the inner sanctums there and find out what's going on. It takes a lot of deep reporting and it matters hugely.

I think this is the thing that people need to understand is that what we're looking at is potentially a tremendous conflict of interest for Clarence Thomas to sit on key cases that have to do with the protection of our democracy in which his wife apparently has some kind of a major role that she's playing. There is -- people think that the Supreme Court is not governed by any kind of ethics code that they have to adhere to, but it is actually what I think many people don't understand is it is actually governed by a specific federal law that says that all judges, including Supreme Court justices have to step aside and recuse themselves from cases in which their spouses are actually have an interest in the outcome of the proceeding. Also in cases where the public might derive a reasonable member of the public might think that the justice had a conflict of interest and couldn't be impartial.

So that's why there's this growing chorus of experts that are saying Clarence Thomas has to step aside at this point from any cases having to do with the January 6th attacks on the capital and on the 2020 election. And this doesn't -- this is not just experts who are liberals, there are also conservatives now who are calling for this. One prominent conservative legal scholar is Adam White from AEI who was interviewed in the "Washington Post" yesterday saying he regards this as a serious matter.

STELTER: And so, this Thomas matter is not over.

Let's widen out to the media story that came through in these text messages from Thomas to Meadows. Here's one of the text as quoted by the "Washington Post" saying she's telling Meadows: Listen to Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn, Dan Bongino.

So, Oliver Darcy, this is clearly an example of how right wing media's influence caused a lot of people to get delusional about the election result.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Including people who should be smart enough to see through the lies that were pushed by this right wing media machine. But, clearly, she was very influenced by this and she's imploring others to listen to talkers to get their news.

I think this is also disturbing on another level, right, because either Clarence Thomas believes the stuff that Ginni Thomas his wife is pushing or even he her husband can't actually get through to her and tell her that these are lies that are being pushed by right wing media organizations and they are not true. So either he believes it and is in agreement with her or even he can't get past this right wing media machine that is so potent and convince his wife of the truth.

STELTER: S.E., do you see an imbalance of outrage this week on the story?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, the outrage is warranted. We in conservative circles have known about Virginia Lamp Thomas' political leanings for decades and the conflicts have been questioned by everyone, including Sean Hannity at one time questioned her conflict. The outrage is warranted, those texts are very troubling and we should be looking at whether Clarence Thomas knew or if that's a conflict.

But, listen, you don't have to look far to find a very similar story that was really ignored by the media and, in fact, called false over and over and over again, and that's the Hunter Biden laptop story. Hunter Biden is a relative of a very famous person the way Ginni Thomas is the relative of a powerful famous person and, you know, my Twitter feed is clogged with blue check reporters who are instantly believing that there is some tie between Ginni and Clarence.

And, you know, the rush to dismiss Hunter as not a relevant story by lots of reporters I think is hard to ignore.

STELTER: Jane, do you have a reaction to that? Jane?

MAYER: You asked me. Is sorry, the sound is a little bad here.

STELTER: As an investigative reporter do you look at the Hunter Biden story and say there is a lot more to dig into here?

MAYER: I mean, the Hunter Biden story is Hunter Biden is being investigated by the Justice Department and by the IRS, as I understand it at this point.


And so, it seems that there's no shortage of legal interest in Hunter Biden and yet we have not seen the Ginni Thomas has been called by the January 6th committee because there's been such sensitivity about not calling a Supreme Court justice's wife. There's talk of subpoenaing her, but I would say if anything they've been, you know, leaning over in the other direction in order not to take action on her because of the complicated issues that have to do with the three branches of government and one not want to go interfere on the other.

CUPP: Yes, but the legal interest in the hunter Biden story would make the journalism interest, I think, even more warranted.

STELTER: To raise it.

CUPP: Yeah.

STELTER: The other big Supreme Court story this week were the confirmation hearings. We can't move on from Ketanji Brown Jackson even though she's likely to be confirmed and some of this felt anti- climactic. But the news here to me, Oliver, was watching these GOP senators come up with culture war arguments for the midterms, use them against Jackson and felt to me like they were trying to get booked on Fox that night. Did it feel that way to you?

DARCY: Definitely.

STELTER: The hearing was like an audition to get on Hannity's show that night.

DARCY: Right. And if you want to understand what Republican politicians what motivates them, why they say the things they do you just need to pay attention to the media ecosystem in which they operate in. That media ecosystem rewards culture war stuff and these viral moments inside these hearings.

And so, I think the goal if you have someone like Ted Cruz or josh Hawley, people with presidential ambitions perhaps, the goal is to say something that's going to get clipped on social media, go viral and then get you invited on sean Hannity's show to rally primary voters and to raise money. It's a very clear incentive structure.

CUPP: Yeah, Republicans in Congress and folks on fox had nothing on her so they had to go to the literal bottom of the barrel to dreg the racism, the sexism, the child porn sympathy. I will say on that aspect, the smear that she is sympathetic to possessors of child pornography as Jesse Watters put it, to me that sounds a little like actual malice. That sounds a little like slander because I can't think of like a worse thing to accuse someone of.

So that will be interesting to watch because that was -- that was low even for these folks.

STELTER: Interesting. The banner here says the fan service model of political media, it's a Hollywood term, what a director of a movie does to make sure the fans are happy by adding in a happy scene with the characters or having the two stars fall in love at the end. It gets fan service and it feels to me like that's what these senators are doing, making sure that I remember their fans are happy with their performance in these hearings even though it has nothing to do with getting her confirmed.

DARCY: Yeah, doesn't seem like they're interested in probing her legal qualifications for the Supreme Court. It seems like their interested, like you said, on getting on Hannity's program later and by saying things that are going to rally the Republican Party base.

STELTER: Yeah, there is fan service on the left as well. This is not unique to the right. I think there is a lot of fan service happening.

CUPP: And fan fiction.

STELTER: And fan fiction, that's right.

To the panel, thank you all very much. Oliver, stick around.

Up next here, we're going to go live to Ukraine, Fred Pleitgen will share his experience on both sides of the border in the past month. And later, Chris Wallace shedding light on his reasons for leaving Fox

and launching a new show here for CNN+.



STELTER: Now to the latest on the many challenges on the press in the war zone. Russian armed forces have been bullying and threatening journalists in Ukraine according to Reporters Without Borders. Getting the truth out of Russia has been a challenge, tough for teams on the ground in both countries, of course, that anti-journalism law in Russia has made it hard to report from Russia in recent weeks.

CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen has been able to cover the war in both Russia and Ukraine. Remember, he was originally in Russia witnessing tanks rolling into Ukraine, he was able to witness that all firsthand, and then with Putin's crackdown on the media, Pleitgen is one of those international correspondents who left Russia.

He is now in Ukraine. He's been there for the past couple of weeks. He's been across the country and joins us now from the heart of Kyiv.

Fred, thanks for coming on the program. Tell us where you are.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Brian. First of all, thanks for having me on. I'm actually right in the heart of Kyiv right in the city center. It's quite interesting because of course we all have to wear our flak vests on the ground because there is a lot of shelling coming from the Russian missiles as well.

But you have a tank barrier in the center of the city and some traffic rolling past. This is the way people live. This is very much a city on war footing.

Just to give you an idea how central we are, if we pan over there, you can see this is the Maidan Square, Independence Square, which is right in the city center. One thing that always gets me about this place, Brian, is that you have, you know, this place is a place at war but they still have the I love Ukraine sign that has illuminated the night which shows the defiance in the facial of this Russian invasion going on, Brian.

STELTER: It feels to me, you tell me if I'm wrong, Fred, compared to 10 or 20 years ago you've had more access, you've been able to move around, we have equipment now that let's you broadcast live, you know, from your backpack and so that's why you were able to show us tanks rolling across the border from the Russian side and why you're now able to walk the streets of Kyiv.

So, because of advances in technology, people around the world are getting a close up view of the war from all sides.

PLEITGEN: Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. I think with technology we had even five years ago I don't think we would have been able to do what we're doing right now. We were able to go on line, go live from almost anywhere.


And I think when we are at the Russian border, that was Belgorod, that was south of Belgorod at the border with Kharkiv, even there we had a strong enough signal to do live shots, with he could film almost anything. One of the things that I think we underestimate is the amount of filming we can do on our iPhones. For instance, we can't get out our big cameras and send that in immediately.

So, yeah, I mean, the technology certainly does help a lot. You're absolutely right, the fact that we can film from all these places and go into Russia and I was in multiple fronts in Russia as well and then come here and really do almost all of it in real time, show our viewers what we're witnessing almost in real time, that certainly just shows what a jump there has been in technology and how we're able to utilize that.

STELTER: Right, I'm thinking about the Iraq war almost 20 years ago and how when we had those incredible live pictures through the desert you basically had a satellite truck following them to get the pictures out. Whereas now, you can be live on your phone showing the whole world what's going on.

Is the problem, though, Fred, that governments try to restrict you? That Russia enacts a law making it dangerous to report? They tell you, you can't film in certain places. Are those practical challenges now the main issue?

PLEITGEN: Those are. I would definitely say that those r it was certainly a challenge when we were on that front line in Russia. You have to keep in mind on the Russian side, there was a huge amount of Russian military stationed there and Belgorod (AUDIO GAP), the other side of Kharkiv, that is a highly militarized city, they have a bunch of military bases in there.

And so, you know, when we were out there and standing there and watching that military equipment come back we were deeply checked by Russian military, secret service, Russian police, generally the military folks at least three or four times a day and in some cases, you know, you would be held up at check points for an hour and they would check your documents, they would photograph your documents, send them to places, question you. That's something that really went on the entire time. And, you know, luckily we were able to talk our way out of a couple situations on that side of the border, but it is certainly something that did make it more difficult to report. And then, you know, with this new law that the Russians put in place, that obviously makes it even more difficult because of the serious repercussions that could happen if you report something that essentially they don't like to hear because it's called the fake news law, but essentially it's what they don't like to hear, they can really get back at you for it.

STELTER: Fred, thank you very much for the reporting on both sides of the war, from both countries. Thanks for coming on the program. Still to come, the story of a Russian journalist killed by her own

country's army and how she's being remembered this weekend.

Plus, how one news outlet pressured by Putin is reinventing herself. We're going to talk to the husband and wife team who fled Moscow, shut down their studio there and are launching a new source of news.



STELTER: Every day, Russia takes additional steps to muzzle the media. Today, the country blocked access to the German newspaper "Bild." Here is the editor and chief promoting its telegram channel as backup.

That's what many reporters are doing, are coming up with alternatives, responding to Russia's crackdown on independent media.

The independent Russian channel, TV Rain, for example, felt compelled to shut down operations in Moscow, the studio was emptied, newsroom was emptied, signal was shut off but the leaders of the channel are continuing to report the truth, this time from the neighboring country of Georgia.

Joining me to discuss all of this is the husband and wife duo behind TV Rain, Ekaterina Kotrikadze is the host and correspondent and Tikhon Dzyadko is the editor-in-chief of TV Rain.

Thanks for coming on the program.

Ekaterina, you and I spoke a month ago when you were still in Moscow. You warned us something like this might happen and you were right.

So, what's happened in the past month for you and your team?

EKATERINA KOTRIKADZE, FORMER NEWS DIRECTOR & ANCHOR, RUSSIA'S TV RAIN: Well, the website of TV Rain was shut down, the new law in Russia was adapted which actually bans journalists from working, from being professional journalists and you are facing up to 15 years in prison if you call this war a war, if you are quoting President Zelenskyy or doing anything like that, if you are reporting the truth.

So we did not have any choice. Right now, we are in Georgia, first we were in Istanbul, but now we are in Georgia and here we have a YouTube channel, mine and Tikhon's and also we are planning a reunion of TV Rain maybe in a couple of months in Europe.

So far, we are concentrating on our YouTube channel because it's a really important thing. We are filling the huge demand from the viewers, from the audience, people are asking -- were asking us to do something, to give them one alternative source of information, not to be dependent on this propaganda machine, Russian propaganda machine.

And, you know, so far, so good. We have just one -- one stream on our YouTube channel and we are planning others. STELTER: Planning more.

So do we know, Tikhon, if folks in Russia can access your YouTube channel? Is it accessible or is it blocked?

TIKHON DZYADKO, FORMER EDTIOR-IN-CHIEF, RUSSIA'S TV RAIN: Yes, it's absolutely accessible, YouTube is not blocked yet in Russia and on last Tuesday, when we had this first stream and it was really successful and a lot of people from Russia watch this live stream as well. And I hold that today they will watch our interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which we recorded this morning and it will be uploaded on our YouTube channel in half an hour or so. So yes, of course, people in Russia are watching it, we note.


STELTER: Is there -- is there more of a supply problem or a demand problem? Do you know the idea of supply and demand? Is it that it's hard to supply news into Russia or is there a lack of demand from Russians to know what's going on in Ukraine?

KOTRIKADZE: There is a huge demand definitely, Brian. Honestly saying I was astonished by the amount of people who were texting us in direct messages on social media and also comments on our different accounts asking us to launch something to start -- to start -- to start seeing the truth about what's going on. The demand is just enormous.

And you know, there were 25 million views per day when TV Rain was still alive, covering the war after the war has started. It means that there are a lot of Russians, millions and it's really important to understand that it's not true when you're hearing that, you know, results of sociology in this dictatorship regime saying that the most part of Russia supports this special operation so-called Special Operation Ukraine.

You know, this is not true, and we can see and we can feel it so that's why we're doing something that we know how to -- how to do professionally. And I hope that it's going to -- it's going to give some relief -- a sense of relief to people who are waiting for us.

STELTER: Right. Tikhon, I could imagine there's a part of you that might just want to give up and go into another line of work. Is there ever a moment where you think about doing that?

DZYADKO: Not really because I have a huge problem. That's the only thing I know how to do in my life. So I have somehow --

KOTRIKADZE: Same here.

DZYADKO: I have somehow earned money to feed myself and my family. But no, I've never been thinking about giving up because I understand that me and we and our team, we have a huge responsibility to our viewers --

KOTRIKADZE: Yes. DZYADKO: -- Who'd been supporting us for over 12 years of existence of TV Rain, supporting us with money by subscriptions and with donations and supporting us with watching us. So a lot of people, millions of people, tens of -- thousands of millions of people in Russia are eager to get independent information and I think it's our role to provide them with this kind of information.

STELTER: Well, that's information. Yes. And, Ekaterina, last question to you, the big headlines here in the United States today are about President Biden saying Putin cannot remain in power. And then, of course, how the White House tried to -- try to walk that back a bit, or clarify what he said. How did that, "resonate" with you and the folks you know, who had to flee Russia in the past month that Putin cannot remain in power?

KOTRIKADZE: Well, he didn't say that Putin must go. Like, you know, the American presidents used to say about (AUDIO GAP). It is different. Biden was saying that he cannot remain in power, in his opinion, because of what he was doing and he's -- doing in Ukraine so if you watch, for example, propaganda videos on different Russian channels and social media, you will see that this is the truth about Biden, he's trying to change the authorities and change the view of Russian Federation.

This is what he was planning from the very beginning. It's -- I mean, it doesn't sound like this to me, it doesn't sound like this to the people who are real journalists, we're here in Georgia or in other countries who fled Russian Federation. It just means that after you become a criminal, you -- I mean, it's impossible to go on in a normal world, in a normal life. Well, let's see what happens.

STELTER: Thank you both for what you're doing there and for staying online. We'll have more on the war in Ukraine later this hour. Next, a turn to the media business, and this new CNN Plus service you've been hearing about, what is it exactly? Well, stream all about it next.



STELTER: All right, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES where we have some news about the news to share. CNN is an icon of the cable and satellite age but now cable is competing with streaming. And there isn't a streaming subscription service for TV news in the United States. So if you were creating the newest product from scratch in 2022, how would you build it?

That's one of the questions one of the starting points for CNN Plus, this new streaming video service is launching on Tuesday. It's a big deal in the media business because it's the biggest bet any company has made in the news streaming world. CNN's hired hundreds of people and created dozens of new shows for the service. It's kind of like Netflix and HBO Max, you can see it there because you sign up and you get a live array of TV shows and films. But it's different because you also get live news and interactive interviews. So if you were inventing a news video in 2022, how would it look? Well, instead of making a multi-hour-long morning show, you might have a 10-minute recap of the news available on-demand whenever people wake up. Instead of cutting off a segment for a commercial break, you'd let stories be as long or as short as they deserve because there are no ads or hard-outs. And you'd have time for anchors to share more.

Like, Anderson Cooper having time to talk about parenting and Jake Tapper to interview authors without all the breaking news interruptions that you're used to on TV. So that's the idea for CNN Plus. It's not going to change this channel at all. CNN on TV is one of the most popular channels on all cable in the U.S. and it's watched around the world on satellite so we're going to keep doing what we do 24/7.


STELTER: And due to CNN's deals with cable and satellite providers, you'll still need a subscription to cable to watch this channel. You're not going to get this feed on CNN Plus. But CNN has been adding content and other ways for decades. The best example is CNN's huge free ad-supported website so, think of CNN Plus, as additive as the latest addition with everything from Anthony Bourdain's travels to a daily version of this show. Yes, full disclosure, you'll be able to see me on weekdays, 11 a.m. Eastern Time on CNN Plus, in addition to Sundays here on cable.

Now, I've been on the inside of CNN Plus for almost a year. We started doing pilots and all that last summer. But I'll be honest even I've had some questions along the way. What is the business model? What's the value proposition? So to get answers, let's bring in two CNN Plus leaders. Andrew Morse is an executive vice president here. He's the company's chief digital officer and the head of CNN Plus. And Alex MacCallum is the general manager of CNN Plus and head of product for CNN. So welcome to you both. This thing launches in a couple of days and you have time to be here with me. It's ready -- it's ready to go, Alex.

ALEX MACCALLUM, CNN HEAD OF PRODUCT: We are ready. We are ready.

STELTER: So I was describing the different layers of CNN Plus, what makes it different from what's out there already?

MACCALLUM: So CNN Plus is our new news streaming service that leverages CNN's trust and credibility, the incredible journalistic expertise of this organization to bring new forms of storytelling to customers. So there are three things that we're trying to do. The first is efficiency. We want people to be able to watch what they want to watch when they want to watch it where they want to watch it. The second is live. So we will have eight new shows every day of best in class excellent programming. And the third thing is empowerment. We want to, with Interview Club, allow users and subscribers to really drive the conversation and go deep on the stories that really matter to them.

STELTER: We can put up on screen one of the promos, which shows Interview Club in detail because this is a really interesting example of what you can't do here on normal TV but you can do online, right, Andrew? So is that the idea over CNN Plus figure out what we can do differently with the -- with the technology that is available today?

ANDREW MORSE, CNN EXECUTIVE VP & CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER: It's right at the heart of what CNN Plus is. It has to be different. It has to be distinctive. As you said, the CNN television channel, actually, all four of our CNN television channels are incredibly important to users and is as well. With CNN Plus having live programming, and a massive on-demand library and this interactive platform give users something that doesn't exist. So it is truly unique.

STELTER: And here's Interview Club now. So you can log in, you can write a question in the corner of the screen, and then those questions will get fed to the hosts and be answered by experts. So you can imagine situations where doctors and other medical experts are able to answer questions about the pandemic, for example. The -- so there are three buckets, basically, live, on-demand, and interactive. Do you have a sense of what you expect people are going to want? I mean, what kind of research shows what people want from plus?

MORSE: Sure. I mean, we've spent a lot of time in it and at its heart is great journalism, world-class journalism. And I think that's really important, right, the three red white letters of CNN that have defined this brand for 42 years, that will be at the heart of CNN Plus, so you'll see our reporters around the world, whether it's in Ukraine, whether it's in Washington, whether it's across the country, the commitment to news is important. We know that that's a huge demand from consumers.

We also know aside from just being informed, they want to be engaged every day. So as you said the great reporting from Tony Bourdain, from Stanley Tucci from Eva Longoria's new series, we know that they want to be able to sit back and engage with really powerful long-form nonfiction. And then they also want to take part. That's why Interview Club is so important. And we've seen it time and time again, people want to engage with the news, they want a deeper level of context and insight.

STELTER: Now, the nuts and bolts of this if not being available and not providing the current CNN, why everyone's watching right now on streaming? Is that simply because cable and satellite operators have deals -- carrier's deals for the current CNN?

MORSE: Well, I think they're two ways to look at and I'll hit one and I think Alex probably hit the other. Look, the relationships that we have with the cable providers are really important. And also, the relationship we have with audiences who are watching CNN right now are really important. So CNN will continue to do that and that's why for us from the beginning, the mission was to try to come up with something completely distinctive and complementary. So you'll see a lot of interplay between the linear network and CNN Plus because the audience in the service is complimentary. But also there the audience needs are different right on when it comes to a streaming platform.

STELTER: What do you mean? MACCALLUM: Yes, so I think you said -- you mentioned this up top a little bit, the shows that we're making are actually made for a streaming service. So because we're not doing one set linear feed, we can do a show that allows people to get up to speed in the morning what's the most important stories are, if that should be five minutes, one day, 15 minutes in the next day, we have the flexibility to be able to make the shows as long or as short as they need to be to fulfill what has a customer needed. So I get up to speed up in the morning show could be five minutes as they said, we can also let people go deep for 45 minutes on something that's really important happening right now.


STELTER: I've been -- I've been enjoying unlearning some of what I've learned to do here on TV. For example, you don't say good morning on streaming because somebody might watch an hour later in the afternoon. And that, you know, it's interesting to think about how we would -- how we're making it in a different way so it's not just more CNN. Now, what about the competitive marketplace, Andrew? Fox News has Fox Nation which has a lot of entertainment programming on streaming, NBC, ABC, CBS, they all have these free ad-supported streaming services so we're doing something different, but why?

MORSE: Well, we see a really unique opportunity for us because of what CNN is. So let's start there. CNN is a brand that's known around the world. Aside from the BBC, there really is no other global news organization like CNN, so we see a really substantial market opportunity. Second, when you think about subscription businesses, and that's what we're doing, as you noted, we are going to be the only global video-driven news subscription business.

And the reason why that's important is I would say look at the New York Times, everybody's so eager to kind of point to other streaming services. And really what we're trying to do is something different. The New York Times has transformed itself from a newspaper company into a modern digital company and they've been rewarded by Wall Street for their really fast subscription growth.


MORSE: If we look at the assets CNN has global reporting resources, expertise in video, world-class talent, and anchors, we see a different opportunity. If we had the resources and the brand of some of our broadcast news competitors, we probably would have taken a different path. But for us, we see a really substantial business opportunity.

STELTER: And, Alex, you and I both worked on the Times previously. How do you measure success here, is it -- only through CNN Plus. Is it a number of subscriptions? Is that the measurement?

MACCALLUM: Number of subscriptions? Yes.


MACCALLUM: We want people to subscribe and we want them to come back.

STELTER: And how much is it going to cost?

MACCALLUM: $5.99. But we have an offer for the first four weeks, so Tuesday, you can get 50 percent off just available for the first four weeks and is 50 percent off for life.

STELTER: So three bucks for as long as I stay a member?

MACCALLUM: Yes. Well, 50 percent off for as long as you stay a member.

STELTER: Interesting. OK. So that is Tuesday and for the first month, and where do people go to see this?


STELTER: OK, that's easy. Andrew, Alex, thank you both. Good to see you.

MACCALLUM: Thank you.

MORSE: Thanks for having me.

STELTER: So 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday. That's when CNN Plus goes live. As she said, sign up with for that. And I'll see you on plus weekdays at 11 a.m. Eastern Time, the same time as Sunday's here for RELIABLE SOURCES daily. Up next, CNN Plus star, Chris Wallace breaking the silence about Fox News and his new show here. All right --



STELTER: Hey, welcome back. Today, Chris Wallace is speaking out for the first time about why he left Fox News after so many years. In this interview with The New York Times, Wallace said "I'm fine with opinion, conservative-liberal opinion. But when people start to question the truth, like who won the 2020 election? Was January 6 an insurrection? I found that unsustainable."

Oliver Darcy is back here with me now. Oliver, Wallace, is far from the only Fox figure to feel that way, but he's probably the highest- profile, I want to say it.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Definitely. We've seen Jonah Goldberg and Steve Hayes. They also departed Fox over some of the incendiary rhetoric around January 6. But yes, Chris Wallace is the highest-profile person to come out and really go after Fox. And you know, he says it was unsustainable and that he spent much of 2021 looking for another place to go.

STELTER: Right, looking for a new job. Yes.

DARCY: And so CNN is now that solution. STELTER: Right. So he's going to have a show called "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace," an interview show that starts on Tuesday. Here's another quote from the interview in the New York Times he says. "There has not been a moment where I have second-guessed myself about the decision to leave Fox." So he doesn't have any regrets, any hesitation about doing the right thing. I think what's so striking is that Wallace is saying something a lot of our sources of Fox have said, which is the place really changed after Election Day 2020. Yes, it was already conservative, but it went into a rabbit hole area that was hard to recover from.

DARCY: Yes, as he says there's a difference between opinion and then questioning reality. And what we've seen from Fox is this questioning of reality, this willingness to lie on behalf of the former president. And I think for Wallace, at least what he's saying is that that was -- that was when he realized he could no longer be associated with that network.

STELTER: Right, with that network. Oliver, thanks so much. Read our newsletter at And after the break, back to the war, why people in both Ukraine and Russia are mourning the loss of this brave journalist?



STELTER: Russia has lost a brave voice against injustice. That voice belonged to Russian journalist Oksana Baulina. She has at least the fifth journalist to be killed in Ukraine this month, and she was killed by her own army's shelling according to witnesses. Despite having little conflict experience, Baulina "needed to be there on the ground and bear witness." Her friend said. She needed to bear witness to the atrocities being committed by Russia.

The former fashion editor turned Russian dissident was working for a media outlet called The Insider, filing in pieces on the reality of the conflict. She was doing what many journalists commit their lives to do and she was reporting the reality of war before sadly becoming part of the story. Working for The Insider, Baulina was a producer -- before The Insider, she was a producer for the Anti-Corruption Foundation. That's the group founded by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Now, that group is remembering her as a courageous and honest journalist. Her friends are honoring her fearlessness, "an amazingly brave Russian journalist." Here's a tweet from one of her former colleagues saying she was someone with a phenomenal sense of moral clarity. She also previously worked at CODA.

They posted a tribute talking about how Baulina dedicated her life's work to fight against political oppression. Her passion for the truth is what drove her to Ukraine to cover the war. And her journalistic integrity kept her there to uncover what was going on that the reality that so many Russians are in denial about. So she will be remembered along with the others that were killed in Ukraine this month for doing everything possible to speak loudly and not let journalism be silenced.

We'll see you back here this time next week for more RELIABLE SOURCES.