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Can Musk Wiggle His Way Out of Twitter Deal?; Elon Musk Denies Sexual Harassment Claim; Hungarian PM: Shows Like Tucker Carlson's Should Be 24/7; Sean Hannity Played Kingmaker In PA Senate Primary; The News Cycle Is Full Of Doom And Gloom; Major Cast Departures At Saturday Night Live. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 22, 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 we figure out what's reliable.

This hour, American conservatives gathering in Hungary to hear from the prime minister there, Viktor Orban. And you need to know what they heard. We'll get into that.

Plus, one of this month's controversial GOP primary candidates, she's blaming Sean Hannity for her loss. Kathy Barnette will join me live.

And there are shake-ups at "SNL." We're going to talk to late-night expert Bill Carter about the big-star exits and this week's up front, and so much more.

But, first, an epic struggle over the future of talking and tweeting. Right now, all stories lead back to Elon Musk.

He's everywhere. One minute, he's like the head of state holding a key meeting with Brazil's president, the next like a teenage troll tweeting cruel emojis and memes.

Musk continues to say his original agreement to buy Twitter is on hold. The company is saying the opposite, opposite, arguing there's no such thing as on hold. Twitter's board saying they will enforce the merger agreement despite Musk's apparent belated concerns about bots on the platform.

So, has Musk outsmarted everyone with this bots excuse, or is he like a student who failed to do his homework and now he's lashing out, saying it's everyone else's fault? In this case, the ramifications for Twitter and behind are global in nature.

Let's make sense of it with Margaret Sullivan, "The Washington Post" media columnist and author of forthcoming book, "Newsroom Confidential". Also from "The Post", national correspondent Philip Bump and disinfo debunker Khaya Himmelman. She's a fact check reporter with "The Dispatch".

Welcome, everybody. Phil, is anybody believing Elon Musk's narrative here that he's

concerned about spam bots on Twitter, and that's why he's going to hit pause on this deal? Does anybody buy it?

PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, absolutely. His base of supporters, especially on social media, thinks he's telling the truth.

He's very good at this. He has a strong supportive community that backs him. They're very vocal on social media. Do experts believe it? No, not particularly Matt Levin from "Bloomberg" who wrote a really excellent and scathing column, sort of saying, well, his original complaint about Twitter was the bots. That's theoretically why he wanted to buy it. Now to say there's too many bots so he doesn't bite is all disingenuous.

Obviously, there's stock part, you know, machinations and so on and so forth. But, yeah -- I mean, he's fighting this interesting social media war with this huge base of support. You know, how does out in a courtroom? That's a whole different issue.

STELTER: Right. And this is definitely going to be a legal battle. Can he wiggle his way out of the deal?

Margaret, why does this matter beyond just Twitter hard-core users? Why do you think this matters to everybody, even folks who don't use Twitter?

MARGARET SULLIVAN, MEDIA COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, Brian, the social media platform, and I think even particularly Twitter, you know, are very influential in our overall kind of media ecosystem, how everybody gets informed. You don't have to be on Twitter to be affected by it.

And, you know, Musk's ownership of Twitter, if it comes to that, which is dubious, would be extremely influential. His talk about being a free speech absolutist, well, it sounds kind of good in a way, I don't think would actually work out very well for the users of Twitter because it would introduce even more horrible stuff then there is now and make it much more unusable, especially for women and marginalized groups who suffer there anyway.

STELTER: Even more harassment, even more chaos, even more poison.

This week, Twitter introduced a new misinformation policy. An interesting phrase, they're trying to take further action, Khaya, in breaking news moments, in moments of crisis, to diminish liars on the platform.

But I have to wonder, you know, they're announcing this why Musk is trying to buy the platform, or maybe still trying to buy the platform, and saying he wants to restore a lot of freedom and freedom of speech. This was like sticking into Musk.

But what do you think of this policy as well?

KHAYA HIMMELMAN, FACT CHECK REPORTER, THE DISPATCH: You know, this policy has been in the works since last year. So --

STELTER: Oh, okay, pre-Musk.

HIMMELMAN: Yeah, reportedly. So, it seems like we also know the consequences of misinformation on the Internet, since January 6, since Ukraine. It seems like this is bigger than Musk to say that this is despite Musk seems little shortsighted I would say.

STELTER: But it shows that these tech companies are continuing to try to deal with the nonsense that pollutes the Internet. You live in this world, on his beat every day. How do you size up the disinformation landscape?

HIMMELMAN: Yeah, unfortunately, is it's a huge issue. I think some content moderation, I mean, it is helpful. We are still working on it.


You know, it's bigger than we know. I think this is a good first step. We'll see what happens if Elon Musk ends up buying Twitter, if he keeps the policy in place or not. But it's certainly a good first step. It's a huge issue and, you know, steps need to be taken.

STELTER: Everybody stay with me. Much more in a moment.

But Musk is the news for other reasons as well. On Thursday, the website "Insider" published an allegation that he sexually harassed a SpaceX flight attendant in 2016. The unnamed accuser says Musk propositioned her for sex and SpaceX paid $250,000 settlement for her silence. That's according to "Insider".

Musk tweeted that the incident never happened. He then bashed the website and said Tesla is building a hard-core litigation department, adding, there will be blood.

Here to respond is the global editor in chief for "Insider", Nicholas Carlson. He's in Davos for the World Economic Forum's annual meeting there.

Nick, tell us about your decision to publish. Why did this unnamed accusation meet your standards for publishing?

NICHOLAS CARLSON, GLOBAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, INSIDER: Well, anytime you have a very powerful man, and there are credible accusations that he's done something wrong, the way that he was accused of doing this story and then, when, further, there is a settlement of the company paid, I'll note that the -- neither company nor musk has denied the settlement. They denied the underlying allegations. And so, that's absolutely and sort of obviously newsworthy.

STELTER: So, because there's a document showing a settlement, that makes it newsworthy in your mind.

Tell us about the timeline. When your team's first ask Musk for comment because he was tweeting earlier this week saying political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in the coming months, and then he announced he's going to vote Republican.

Did your request for comment come before or after these tweets?

CARLSON: It came before all those tweets, and I would only be able to speculate what he was attempting to do. But we asked him for comment, he then reached out and said, I'd like more time. He actually waited about nine or 10 hours before asking for more time. We said, okay, you can have more time.

He reached out to him personally a few times, and come talk to us, we want to hear from you. And, you know, as is often the case with these sorts of circumstances, he declined to use the more time that we granted him.

But, yes, all of the requests were in before he was asked -- going on the sort of rant about whatever political party he's joining at the moment.

STELTER: Yeah. So, a lot of folks think he tweeted those comments because of the request for comment about the allegation, but we don't know for sure. So, it's been several days, has Musk threatened legal action against your website?

CARLSON: We haven't faced any legal threats from Musk yet. We are prepared to defend the story vigorously. The line is and it's the truth is that we stand by our story, which is based on documents and interviews and speaks for itself. It really does.

STELTER: And what about the accuser in this case, the unnamed accuser? You're your reporters been in touch with her? And does she have any further comments?

CARLSON: You know, what we're going to do is we're going to stay in touch with our sources. We're going to look for more documents. We're going to pursue any leads that prevent themselves to us. And when there's more to say, we'll say it. And it will be as thoroughly vetted and as solid and rock solid as the last report we made on this.

STELTER: I do wonder what it was like, you run a big newsroom and you're backed by a big company. But here you are reporting news with the richest man in the world. Is there ever a moment when you hesitate, where you fear publishing?

CARLSON: Well, you know, this is an important story. And if you're going to be in the journalism business, when you have a story that is a credible, documented accusation in which the company pays a settlement a couple years after the incident, and it's corroborated in the sense that a friend put a document together to say that contemporaneously that she heard this, it's just obviously newsworthy.

It's a little -- it's a little trepidatious given his enormous influence and wealth, as you mentioned. You know, he could put all the lawyers on retainer for the rest of his life and not even notice.

And so, you know, we had to be sure. We have to be rock-solid on this. And we have great support in our corporate ownership and grateful for it. And it's really what we are to do, is bring this kind of truth to the world.

STELTER: Nick Carlson, thank you very much, for coming on the program.

Back with the panel now.

Philip Bump, this decision by Musk to say, hey, by the way, I'm a Republican now. Just a few hours after being asked for comment. Who knows if it's connected?

But Musk does represent something bigger in our politics right now. This -- he says he was a Democrat, he says he supported Democrats. And now, he can't stand the left and he's heading to the right.

And there's a lot of people like him, and he's a symbol of something bigger happening in the culture right now.

BUMP: No, that's exactly right. I mean, this is -- this is a big issue even outside of Elon Musk, as you pointed out.


I mean, this idea that he is trying to -- first of all, this idea that he's trying to leverage partisanship to defend himself against this accusation, as it appears to have been the case.


BUMP: It's very hard to believe that it's a coincidence, as you point out, that all of a sudden he started making these noises about partisanship immediately before this report came out. That by itself, of course, is a very big problem that we have these days, where everyone is being encouraged to see news reporting through a partisan lens.


BUMP: And then, of course, you have this broader question, you know, with this mean that he tweeted out how he stayed in the middle in the left has moved into the left. It's spurred this analysis, including for everybody including myself, you know, this is part of the bigger conversation that he is spurring about Twitter, right? He's having this conversation about where that is itself predicated bipartisanship.

And so, he's looping this same "Insider" fight into this idea that he needs to rise to Twitter's defense because the right is being excluded from the conversation, which, of course, has been something percolating, you know, since well before Donald Trump left office.

So, that's a fundamental question, right? This is the issue of the partisan tension in the United States it manifests in unexpected places.

STELTER: Right, Musk fashioned Democrats, he's the only one going after Biden recently. Earlier in the week, Jeff Bezos, who, of course, used to be the CEO of Amazon, one of the other richest people in the world and the owner of "The Washington Post", he called out the Biden administration. He's been posting tweets about inflation, about other policy proposals. There's something that feels a little Elon Musky in Bezos' tweets.

I wonder, Margaret Sullivan, since you were at "The Washington Post", like Philip, does this make your job more difficult? When your billionaire owner is tweeting, not just about how great Amazon is, but about policy proposals?

SULLIVAN: I mean, I can honestly say that it does not make my job more difficult. You know, I have had the interesting experience of working at two newspapers had been owned by billionaires, Warren Buffett at "The Buffalo News", and Jeff Bezos at "The Washington Post". And, you know, it doesn't mean I agree with everything they are or have done, or will be or say on various platforms and places.

But, but I will say, they have both done would I consider to be the two most important things, which is to provide financial stability. Buffett no longer owns "The Buffalo News", but when he did, that was the case.


SULLIVAN: And that they kept their hands off the papers journalism, and its editorial policies. So, no, it hasn't made my job more difficult.

STELTER: There are different kinds of billionaire ownership, and in this case --

SULLIVAN: Yes, there are.

STELTER: -- that's what you want, that's what you want.

SULLIVAN: That's right.

STELTER: Khaya, another big headline, a story broken by "The Washington Post" this week was about the Disinformation Governance Board. This Department of Homeland Security board that was going to try to bring together different parts of the government and what they're trying to try to stop people from getting tricked by lies on the Internet.

It sounded logical. But this thing was doomed to fail. It became a conservative meme. They called it the ministry of truth, relentlessly mocked it, and especially mocked the leader of the board, Nina Jankowicz, who had a history online posting lots of liberal opinions and some misinformation.

So, just break it down for us, what's the heck happened here to this Disinformation Governance Board?

HIMMELMAN: Yeah, I think the first issue is the name. I think the word Disinformation is highly politicized. I think we learn that during the 2020 election. I think disinformation, fact-checking, what I do is super politicized term. I think we're seeing that play out.

I think -- I think that's the number one issue. I think we saw the taking of the board through a disinformation campaign. I think the number one thing we learned is how powerful these disinformation campaigns are.

I think we've also learned that we are still very reactive to disinformation. We haven't let learned how to be proactive. Unfortunately, I don't think we've reached that point. I think we are very far from that point.

I think we're still struggling from January 6th, which is a tremendous surprise to us. I think we're still reeling from that.

You know, this was a bad outcome, but hopefully, a learning experience for all of us. I think the biggest takeaway here is there's a lot of work to be done. Disinformation is rampant. And we do not really know how to handle it quite yet.

STELTER: I think you can learn a lot about who's defensive and who's offensive these days.


STELTER: And the Biden administration announcing this board completely defensive and do.


STELTER: All right. To the panel, thank you, everybody. Stick around. More in just a moment.

Up next, what the crime scene in Buffalo has in common with an authoritarian leader's remarks in Central Europe. Margaret is going to rejoin us from Buffalo with her observations.

But first, you saw those pictures in the corner of the screen if you want to go, the first military flight carrying emergency supply of baby formula has just landed near Indianapolis, Indiana.

Baby formula flown in on a military plane, this is part of the Biden administration's Operation Fly Formula, as Americans are coping with the nationwide shortage. The palettes of the formula was flown here from Germany. The staff, the master sergeant overseeing the shipment telling the staff, quote, we are literally saving babies.


But this is both a failure as well success. The existence of this plane is a failure of the government and a failure of corporations as well, even though these pictures today are meant to symbolize success, by the Biden administration.

More to come on this, but now, a quick break here on RELIABLE SOURCES and more in just a moment.


STELTER: The Conservative Political Action Committee in the U.S. just held its first conference in Europe. It chose Hungary, because according to its website, the country is one of the bastions of the conservative resistance of the ultra progressive woke revolution.

The keynote speaker at CPAC Hungary was Hungary's far right leader Viktor Orban. He has some advice for Republicans in the U.S.: A, if you don't like what the media is saying, you should have your own media. Orban, of course, accused of taking over and influencing the control of the media in Hungary. He also said, make sure Tucker Carlson-type shows are on the air night and day, 24/7, he said.


Many non-Hungarian reporters wanted to cover this conference but outlets like "Vice" "Rolling Stone", "Vox", "The A.P" were apparently all turned away. Some outlets like CBS were able to attend. We've been able to hear about the conference, but there was an interesting blockade of the media at CPAC Hungary.

Let's bring back our panel, Margaret Sullivan, Philip Bump, Khaya Himmelman.

Philip Bump, what's the importance of Orban giving this advice to U.S. conservatives at the same conference where Tucker Carlson appeared and other far right figures as well?

BUMP: I think it's really important to start from the fact that CPAC chose to go to Hungary as a model of governance, right? The American right has long been obsessive about patriotism and American supremacy and, you know, exceptionalism in the United States. Now go to Hungary, where they're basically paying homage to an authoritarian leader who is taking all of this very hard-line stance against what the American right sees as progressive values.

I mean, I think that is by itself extremely symbolic. And then, of course, we have Orban who comes forward and says, this is the sort of media you ought to have. If an autocrat is telling you what your media should look, that's not what you do. I mean, what else can you say about it?

It's alarming. I mean, that is the only way to say it. And, you know, the fact that the American right sees Orban and sees the policies of Orban as something to emulate is disconcerting.

STELTER: I do see a bit of a connection between Hungary and Budapest and Buffalo, and here's what it is. There was quite a bit of replacement type talk at the CPAC Hungary conference. Not always with the words "replacement theory" but in the idea immigrants replacing white people.

And, of course, as we know, Margaret Sullivan, the suspect in Buffalo subscribed to this racist white replacement theory. He wrote all about it in his racist creed before entering the store last weekend.

You've been there in Buffalo, where you work for years. You've been there all week long.

What are your observations from that community given this racist talk is what drove the suspect into that mostly Black supermarket?

SULLIVAN: Right. Well, there's no question in my mind, at least, Brian, and we always have to use words like alleged, but I think we do know that the gunman was motivated by the same kind of fraud and growing ideology that we're seeing in these other places that you're talking about, this idea that white people are being replaced by Jews, by Black people, by the other.

And it is a very ugly and clearly a very destructive and a very disturbing tendency. And you cannot really separate the strands of Tucker Carlson on Fox News and 4chan and all of the other ways that this ideology is making its way into our society in very, very disturbing and very, very destructive ways.

And it's just been a devastating event here in Buffalo. And, you know, one that is -- you know, you can't even get your mind around. And we know why it happened.

STELTER: One of your columns was titled, it's time for local journalists to recon with the racism we overlooked. As a former editor of "The Buffalo News" there, what do you mean by that?

SULLIVAN: Well, I think this is true not just of local journalists but journalists everywhere. But, certainly, there have been policies, and this is true of Buffalo, that have created or enabled or aided the segregation of a community and racism of a community that brought this shooter here.

I mean, he didn't go just anywhere. He was from Binghamton and he looked around to see where is the place that -- where is the zip code that he could drive to easily that had the highest concentration of Black people, and he came up with this neighborhood on the east side of Buffalo. So, you know, what are these thing that's have created and sustained that atmosphere?

And, you know, it is not -- it is not just about Buffalo but it included Buffalo. And it is something that in terms of coverage, policy, overall approach, we need to do much, much, much, much better on.

STELTER: Now there's talk about regulation of social media, those are big cans of worms that could go in very bad directions.

But, Khaya, we saw Senator Chuck Schumer writing a letter to Fox bosses, to the Murdochs, imploring them to halt racist rhetoric. I worry there's not enough examination of the Internet here as a role, as Margaret mentioned, the 4chans of the world.

And it's not just -- I don't know, is disinformation even the proper word for the kind of racist rabbit holes people can fall down? I guess disinformation is part of it.

HIMMELMAN: Yes, disinformation is such a broad term. I mean, it includes so much.


HIMMELMAN: It's something that -- something that I have been thinking a lot about. There's this parody website I have been fact checking a lot called Real Raw News, which is -- I mean, it's literally parody news but it's conspiratorial.


It's super dangerous. It's -- they have headlines about fake executions and about the COVID vaccines containing all sorts of dangerous ingredients. I mean, it's dangerous and pernicious.

I mean, I don't know if you can even characterize that as disinformation. It seems like something more --

STELTER: It's almost worse somehow.


STELTER: I'm looking at it now. Thinking all of these lies, this is a website full of lies that it could pass as "The Buffalo News."

What do we do about that? But here's the concern, right, do we really want the House and Senate to come up with a law to figure out to do with websites full of lies?

HIMMELMAN: Right. I mean, I guess that's kind of the question. I mean, I guess you continue to fact check the work that I do, that I will continue to do, fact check -- even though people say why do you fact check such ridiculous claims? People believe it. You know, people really believe it. It's not just ridiculous stuff on the Internet.

STELTER: Many think they're on to hidden knowledge that no one else tells them and they can form like communities and that is the worry. To your point, this is so broad, I hate to sound hopeless.

BUMP: That was -- when you spoke with QAnon people, that's what they said. I did my own research. This is what I found. The research that they were doing, was that garbage, right? This is where you live (ph).

STELTER: That's what the Buffalo suspect sounds like to me, unfortunately.

BUMP: Yeah.

STELTER: All right. To the panel, thank you very much. Great conversation here.

For more of our daily dispatches about all these news, sign up for our nightly RELIABLE SOURCES newsletter

Did Sean Hannity make a difference for Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania? Look at all of those interviews? One of Oz's rivals is accusing Hannity of lying about her. And you're going to hear from her, next. [11:30:00]


BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: When Dr. Mehmet Oz stepped on stage Tuesday night to celebrate his potential win in the GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania, he quickly thanked Donald Trump, and then Sean Hannity. Yes, Oz benefited from the so-called Fox primary with Hannity, featuring Oz in primetime 21 times. Oz said Hannity also helped him behind the scenes.


DR. MEHMET OZ, REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE, PENNSYLVANIA: Sean's like a brother to me. He understands exactly how to make a difference and he's been doing that this entire campaign, much of it behind the scenes.


STELTER: Oz and David McCormick are now heading toward a recount in a too close to call race. The third-place finisher was Kathy Barnette, and she is blaming Hannity, among others for her loss. Kathy Barnette joins us now for her first interview here on CNN. Kathy, thank you for coming on, just a housekeeping question first, are you officially conceding the race in Pennsylvania?

KATHY BARNETTE (R-PA) FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Yes. You know, I am -- I believe Pennsylvanians have made their voice clear. I, like so many others here in Pennsylvania, we're watching to see what happens over the next couple of days.


BARNETTE: And I would certainly stand by what the voters of Pennsylvania have decided to do.

STELTER: That means you will endorse the nominee in your state?

BARNETTE: I will -- you know, whoever should prevail, I will certainly be in support of them. I want to see the Republican Party win.

STELTER: Now, this is basically a deadlock between Oz and McCormick. Do you think there was Sean Hannity who put Oz potentially over the top? Was Hannity's influence that important in this race?

BARNETTE: Well, I think what we saw with my race is, you know, a broader issue, right, so the spotlight was shining on me.

But I think it's a -- it's a-- it's a much broader story here and that is the partisan journalism that we see across both sides of the aisle because there are so many people, there are people coming to me -- coming at me from the left and from the right.

And you know, on Friday evening, five days ago, I was -- the American people were being told that I'm a member of Black Lives Matter, and then three days later, the same American people were being told that I'm marching with white supremacists, right?

And so what that did is created an echo chamber, and it made it very difficult for the voters here in Pennsylvania to know what it is to do. I was just listening to your previous blog.

And you know there's a reason why so many people feel as though they cannot trust mainstream media and have to go out and do their own research because there's so much partisan journalism that's going on that is creating a very challenging environment for Americans to know what's true, what's not true.

STELTER: I was in Warminster last weekend when you shut the media out of a campaign rally with the gubernatorial candidate there. Do you regret shutting out the media from events?

BARNETTE: Yes, no, that's not true, Brian. I did not shut the media out of any event that I was in charge of. I was a guest at someone else's rally.


BARNETTE: And so as their guest, they got to make the rules. But the next day I held a press conference, there were well over 30 different media outlets, I have leaned forward the entire time to share my story I've lived.

STELTER: That's correct.

BARNETTE: An extraordinary American first life.

STELTER: That's a -- that's a fair point that it was Mastriano at that event in Bucks County. Why not answer the basic questions that people asked you during the campaign, though?

Last weekend on Fox News Sunday, you were asked, where were you an adjunct professor, and you did not answer that basic question?

BARNETTE: No, that's not true, Brian, again.

STELTER: It is. I have the transcripts here.

BARNETTE: And so again, I -- you know I don't know what this late --

STELTER: You still haven't told us where you taught.

BARNETTE: I don't know if it's laziness or being insidious.

STELTER: Where did you teach?

BARNETTE: No, no. Well, I don't know if it's laziness as journalists or just something more insidious, but it is a dereliction of duty because it is all right there.

I have been running for over 13 months and just five days ago, the media has finally paid attention that there was someone else other than Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick running. [11:35:00]

BARNETTE: I worked at Judson University and what I said if you can go to my website, even now, and it's there.

STELTER: I did do that.

BARNETTE: But if there was true -- if there was true vetting, then you will be vetting on why John Fetterman chased down a black man with a shotgun. And now that particular person is the Democratic nominee for the Senate -- for the Senate.

And so that would be very good vetting that needs to be done. I embellished nothing.

My life has been out there as an open book for many years but again, whether laziness or just something more insidious, the media refuse to do their job in presenting just the facts to the American people and allow the American people to make the decision.

Instead, what we saw with my race is that people from both sides of the aisle come up with a narrative and then go look for facts to try to back up their agenda. And that has created an environment that's very dangerous for our form of government.

STELTER: My sense was that when Salena Zito and Shannon Bream asked you about the university, you didn't give the name. But you are right. It is now listed on your website, Judson University.

But there were these specific bio questions that you didn't answer when reporters asked them, and I think that was one of the critiques of you. That was you were not willing to be vetted.

BARNETTE: Yes, I know.

STELTER: You're saying a lot of other folks are not vetted either. Yes.

BARNETTE: No. And what I'm saying is, yes, a lot of people were not vetted. But what I am also saying is that I have been running for 13 months and I was in -- I was in a statistical tie for first place for over four weeks.

Now, the media only paid attention in the last five days of the race, but I wasn't in the statistical's eye.

STELTER: Do you feel like you were ignored. Now, that's interesting.

BARNETTE: For the first place. I was ignored because the media had their pet.

STELTER: Well, but there was a lot of scrutiny toward the end -- there was a lot of scrutiny toward the end.

BARNETTE: Right. STELTER: CNN's key file found a long history of bigoted statements in your past, many of them on your Twitter feed. Do you have any response to the folks that say you hate gays and Muslims?

BARNETTE: Yes. You know what, again, you know, I ran this race. I did a brilliant job in running this race. And again, I don't know if this laziness as journalists or just something more insidious, but none of those statements were full statements or full thoughts.

And again, we have a man who was running for U.S. Senate who chased down a black man who was simply outside jogging, minding his own business, held him up until police came, and there he is now -- I don't know at one time you or anyone else vetting that person.

STELTER: I understand that and Fetterman needs to answer that.

STELTER: Fetterman needs to answer that. He's going to answer that. But your history of anti-gay comments would certainly have been used against you in the general as well.

BARNETTE: No, there is no history of anti-gay -- there is no history of anti-gay or being -- or being --

STELTER: "Two men sleeping together, two men holding, that's not normal." You said in 2015.

BARNETTE: Or being Islamic -- or being Islamic phobic. No. Well, like I said, none of those tweets were full thoughts or full sentences. It was whatever you can copy and paste on Twitter. You don't know the context, it's 10 years ago. I, like most people in America, you grow or else you just stay static and so I don't know what the context is but I've been very -- I've been very clear on what the context of some of those Islamic tweets were, at that particular time where we were living, but I don't believe the media cares.

And as a result, we've created an echo chamber where the American people are highly uninformed or unsure of what is true and what is not true. And I think that that is going to make a very dangerous because we're dealing with very real issues. You -- I was watching the previous segments, again, talking about inflation.

Last year, I talked to a farmer. He was paying $40,000 just to fertilize 600 acres of corn, this year, it's $120,000 and who do you think are going to eat that? It's going to be the American people.

So what we're experiencing now without -- families with no formula for their babies or this inflation that is going to continue to ramp up this administration having no answers for the gas prices or anything, those are the very real issues that people are contending with.

That is the reason why I was surging. That is the reason why people were coming to my -- to -- over to my campaign because I kept the main thing, the main thing and that's Pennsylvanians. Whereas, the media find me are we want to go back 10 years.

STELTER: But you couldn't persuade Sean Hannity. You couldn't persuade Sean Hannity. Was it the crux of the problem?

BARNETTE: Whether or not I can persuade him, I, over 320,000 Pennsylvanians voted for me, I have lived an exemplary life.

If the media was truly interested in understanding what in the world was going on, then they will be looking at how in the world did this young black girl who grew up on a pig farm below the bottom rung of the economic ladder, live an exemplary life, embellished absolutely nothing on my resume --

STELTER: As if we are interesting.

BARNETTE: Was able to compete against those particular -- compete against two very wealthy people spent well over $60 million.


BARNETTE: I spent less than $2 million and I was on the verge of winning. I think that's the story. It's what is it about the American people that caused them to pivot very hard and start coming over to my side?

If there was honest journalism, people will be asking that question because I think I tapped into something and I ran a far more brilliant campaign than my two opponents.

STELTER: I think we are interested for the record. That's why I'm glad you came on the program today. Thank you very much for being here.

BARNETTE: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: Still ahead, Trevor --

BARNETTE: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: Thank you. Trevor Reed's message about the media now that he's been freed from the Russian prison, that's coming up. Plus, we are going to find something positive to say about all the bad news lately. I promise.


STELTER: Every time you turn on the news these days, you are swamped by a tsunami of negative news. The only things not happening are tsunamis.


STELTER: I mean COVID surging in some areas, markets plunging, crypto crashing, inflation raging, gas prices soaring, and there's the baby food shortage and a seemingly never-ending string of mass shootings, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and a monkeypox outbreak.

It goes on and on so as the media is supposed to look for silver linings here, we just going to give viewers what they want. Let's talk about it with Bill Carter, CNN Media Analyst and New York Times veteran.

Bill, this felt like a uniquely grim week for some reason.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yes, it's really bad and you left a whole lot out because --


CARTER: You left out, you know, corruption at the Supreme Court, you left out the threat against democracy, you left out the fact that there was a coup that still has -- that -- actually we're not been examining.

STELTER: We're still learning more about coup d'etat.

CARTER: More and more about that. So, yes, it's like I've been around a long time. I don't remember a gigantic pile up as bad as this, nor really a dangerous period -- more dangerous period. I think it's really dangerous for the country.

STELTER: And political talkers, always trying to focus on what does it mean for the Democrats and Biden in the midterms? Forget about that for a minute.

CARTER: Yes, absolutely.

STELTER: What does it mean for our psychology for our health as a nation in a world?


STELTER: When you're just inundated by seemingly negative headlines all the time?

CARTER: It feels like, long COVID. We're in the middle of --

STELTER: It feels like --

CARTER: We came out of long COVID. It's like everything is bad and we can't get healthy again. And really, it's a tremendous challenge, I think, particularly for the media because what stories do you focus on?

How do you not give short shrift to things that are really big and backward when other things happened like baby formula?


CARTER: It's just this story -- if you're a mother that needs formula, that's the story you care about, you have to hear about that.

STELTER: And the media swarms stories.

CARTER: Absolutely.

STELTER: We go from one big story with times. We go to the baby for most orders now and then we'll be on to something else next week.

CARTER: Right.

STELTER: So what do you think it's underappreciated or undercovered right now. When we're going from one to another?

CARTER: Well, I do think the overarching idea that we have a party that really wants to go autocratic is really a threat. It's really dangerous. But the war in Ukraine, that is enormous because that has geopolitical implications that we can't foresee.

It could be really long-term. We don't know what's going to happen when that gets resolved if that gets resolved. You can't ignore that.

But then you have these race-based incidents now that are really scary that are -- you know, and that now we're seeing it's spilling over into homophobia.

I don't know if you saw the thing online with this guy saying he's going after LGBT people and he's going to get them, he's going after them hard. I think that's another thing.

It's going to raise its ugly head as this goes on. It's really a very tough time out there.

STELTER: But to make the counterargument, is it possible that because we see all this bad news in our social feeds, as well as on television, it makes the world out to be even uglier than it actually is?

CARTER: It makes you -- it only affects your psyche. I think that's true, but I think the world's bad, right? I think it's legit -- it's legit for everyone to say, wow, I don't remember this much because I --


CARTER: I mean, I was around for Vietnam, I was around for civil rights moving, there's a lot of bad stuff going on. But the confluence right now feels really quite overwhelming.

STELTER: But I think your point is, I like the phrase long COVID applying that to more than just the actual pandemic --

CARTER: Yes, totally.

STELTER: It feels like a drag, it's some sort of --

CARTER: Absolutely.

STELTER: Correct them.

CARTER: It's psychologically a long COVID. And people say, when you have it, you have brain fog. Well, that's what we sort of have now. Where we're like -- we can't even think clearer. What are we supposed to really do? How can we attack this? STELTER: So --

CARTER: And I think the media really is important here.

STELTER: What's the positive part here? Is it that we shouldn't watch so much, read so much, consume so much of this or --

CARTER: Because it for me is that we still have free media in this country, we still have a way to attack these things and to tell -- to try to direct people, even those a lot of people don't want to listen to media anymore.

You can't give up on that. You have -- and you have to tell the truth.

You can't say oh, there's two sides to homophobia. No, there isn't two sides to homophobia. There isn't two sides to a lot of these issues.

You have to be honest about it. But we still have that freedom to do that and that's really important. They don't have that in Hungary. People want to celebrate Hungary, they don't have it. We do have it.

STELTER: All right, much more with Bill in just a moment. We're going to reveal Time Magazine's picks for the most influential members in the media this year.




KATE MCKINNON, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: Live from New York, it's Saturday night.

COLIN JOST, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: So, are you officially leaving?

PETE DAVIDSON, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: Yes, man. Lorne accidentally gifted me a sock so I'm free.


STELTER: SNL wrapped up its 47th season last night and said farewell to a number of cast members, including Kate McKinnon and Pete Davidson.

Late-night TV expert, Bill Carter, author of The Late Shift in the word for late night is here.

Bill, is it just me, or are these goodbyes, these farewells a bigger deal than they used to be, maybe more emotionally?

CARTER: They are. They're for sure more emotional. I think it's partly that Lorne has affection for the -- for this cast. And I mean, when Kristen Wiig left, it was a hugely emotional thing.

And Kate McKinnon obviously choked up and they gave her that -- you know the opening to give her that incredible platform.

And she was a major talent. She's at the top, I think in the -- in the top stratosphere. Davidson, I think is a remarkable story.

That guy, no one know if he'd survived. He was in big trouble emotionally and with drugs and everything. And he straightened out. He became quite good on the show.

He did a fantastic Andrew Cuomo if you remember that. He's very good at that. And I think he's going to have a very big career. I do.

STELTER: Right. And he's going to be in one of these -- he's there -- he was at the upfronts this week --

CARTER: He was.

STELTER: He's in the upfronts promoting one of his new projects.

CARTER: He has a show about his life, yes.

STELTER: About his life.


STELTER: So about the upfronts, this is traditionally the biggest week of the year in television, all the major networks, and YouTube now hold big events in New York City promoting their upcoming programs.

And, Bill, they've really become corporate presentations about streaming platforms as well as broadcast networks. What did you learn this week?

CARTER: Well, you really saw that the broadcast networks are a minimal part of it. They used to be they were the focus and --

STELTER: The whole point of the whole point show.

CARTER: The whole point of that. And it's really a pitch to advertisers. That's what the upfronts are. Hey, buy our product, buy our new shows.

And you know, those new shows, they're basically not going to be culturally impactful the way a big hit on Netflix gets to be.


CARTER: It's just people don't live their lives around broadcast shows anymore. But the advertisers need them. They need to have a mass audience somehow because it's -- we are so diffused in the country now.

We don't really gather in places that are -- except for football maybe. And then the prices of football advertising are enormous before that reason.

But we're going to see commercials on streaming. That's one of the big developments. I think we're going to see a lot of commercials -- there's already some.

HBO Max will give you an option on things, Netflix is going to give you an option, you don't want to pay $15 a month, well, for 10, you can get a -- with commercials. And I think that opens the door and we'll see a lot more of that in the future.

STELTER: And so is this everything old is new again?

CARTER: It is.

STELTER: There's nothing new under the sun --


STELTER: You know, television started with an ad-supporting model.

CARTER: Absolutely.

STELTER: And now streaming is going this way.

CARTER: Yes. And people -- and all -- every medium that television has, or any video or entertainment, it changes over time. Radio didn't think it would ever go away. TV didn't think it would ever.

Cable would take over -- cable didn't think streaming would take over and now streaming is saying maybe there's too much streaming. It just is a continuum and you better be on your feet and notice this change happening and react to it.

STELTER: The other headline for me from the upfronts was a sheer number of reboots.

CARTER: Unbelievable, yes.

STELTER: All shows coming back.

CARTER: Absolutely.

STELTER: I know this is what happens every year but I wonder if --

CARTER: More than ever.

STELTER: Is it, yes?

CARTER: More than ever. Because you can't -- how do you break through with a new show? What do you -- how do you manage that? Because they used to promote the heck out of nobody's watching to be promoted to.

You can't do that so you have to say, oh, it's a reboot of something you already know, folks. We don't have to tell you what it is. You know what it is.

STELTER: Right. So you want to -- when you say nobody's watching, do you mean all in one place at the right -- at the same time?

CARTER: Exactly. People watch -- STELTER: Because there is more consumption than ever or this is more


CARTER: Exactly. But nobody watches together the way they used to. Nobody exchange. We aren't sitting there all at the same time watching the breaking bad finale, for example.


CARTER: And it makes a big difference because you don't want to exchange information at the water cooler anymore. You can't. Oh, you didn't see it, yes I can't talk yet.

You know that really changes the way it shows we received them.

STELTER: Right. Well, here's the scoop to share with the viewers, Time Magazine coming out with its time 100 List, tomorrow, that's the 100 most influential people of the year.

But we have a sneak peek at the media names on the list a day early. So here are the top 100 media influencers and I get your reaction, Bill, Joe Rogan, David Zaslav, Dmitry Muratov, the Russian journalist, Sevgil Musaieva, Emily Oster, and Sally Rooney. Let's talk about a couple of these, Bill.

David Zaslav, of course, the CEO of CNN's parent company Warner Brothers Discovery, at his corporate presentation this week, he really described a balance between streaming linear TV, like CNN theatrical releases.

CARTER: Right.

STELTER: And I wonder if maybe that's the new, new normal for these media companies trying to say hey, we have our hand in every pod.

CARTER: Absolutely. And, you know, Zaslav is absolutely a worthy inclusion because he's now in the middle of what is going to be a massive transformation at Warner.

And I think he's a fascinating character because he's basically the guy who's just built this quiet thing in Discovery. I don't think people were thinking that's the next thing that's going to take over the world.

But David is an ambitious and smart guy and he's maneuvered his way into a great position. And I'm fascinated to see what he's going to do.

STELTER: To see what he does. Joe Rogan is on the list as well.


STELTER: Kara Swisher has the blurb in Time Magazine about Rogan. I know some people love him. Some people hate him.

CARTER: Yes. STELTER: There's no doubt he has influence.

CARTER: Yes, absolutely influential. And time has always said we'll put someone in that -- well, they put the eye toll on the cover. I mean --

STELTER: Oh, for Time person of the year, right.

CARTER: So they -- and I'm not saying Joe Rogan's, yes, it's all right.

STELTER: No, no.

CARTER: OK. But I'm just saying if you are a person who has that kind of cultural impact, you will be included whether or not it's positive or negative.

STELTER: Yes, and let's see a couple of -- a couple of journalists in Russia and Ukraine.


STELTER: And also author, Sally Rooney.


STELTER: Bill, thank you very much for being here, great to see you.

CARTER: Always great to see you.

STELTER: Before we go. Jake Tapper's exclusive interview with Trevor Reed is airing tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

The Marine veteran told Tapper that he thanks the media for helping him get out of that atrocious Russian prison. He says if it wasn't for the constant coverage of his plight, he might still be behind bars.


TREVOR REED, U.S. CITIZEN WHO WAS DETAINED IN RUSSIA: I mean, it's just -- there's countless people that I need to thank I'm not going to be able to cover all of them.

But another big one that I need to thank is the U.S. news media for covering this because if they had not done that, you know if they would have said, you know, that's not interesting, that's not really going to be profitable for us, this would have never happened.

And U.S. news media played a critical role in accomplishing all of that so, you know, CNN, ABC, FOX News, everyone who covered that, I want to thank them for doing that.

And I want to say keep up the good work and continue to do that with other hostages. We need that. That's something, unfortunately, that our government needs to function.

And please keep up the good work. Keep doing that. That's critical.


STELTER: And you can watch all of Tapper's exclusive interview with Trevor Reed in a CNN Special Report, Finally Home: The Trevor Reed Interview on CNN tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

A quick plug for our weekly RELIABLE SOURCES podcast as well.

This week, it's all about Twitter bots and Elon Musk's claims. We spoke with Professor Kathleen Carley of Carnegie Mellon about what's really going on with spambots on Twitter.

I learned a lot. I recommend it to -- follow it wherever you listen to your podcast. And we'll see you back here this time next week.