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January 6 Coverage Showcases Split in American Media; Documentarian's Account of January 6 Insurrection; Do Newsroom Twitter Policies Need A Rethink?; The Tangible Cost Of Russia's New Censorship Law; High-Speed New Cycle, Slow-Speed Investigation. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired June 12, 2022 - 11:00   ET



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

This hour, I'm going to sit down with the filmmaker who testified during the primetime January 6 hearing.

Plus, former Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer coming up.

Also this hour, a young family ripped apart by Russia's censorship law. When are you tell your kids when their dad may be facing 15 years in prison?

And later, "The Washington Post" airing its dirty laundry. Will the online drama move off-line, or will it tear that newsroom apart?

Lots to get to. But, first, appeals to fact versus appeals to feeling. The January 6th commission is appealing to both. It's pushing people to feel U.S. democracy is under assault. Many insiders, political pros, types of people who populate your TV screen all day, they had a gnawing feeling that the presentation on Thursday would not change anything.

The implication was that it should sway public opinion, that the fact pattern should convince skeptics to care more about the attack at the Capitol and all of Trump world's dishonorable conduct in the winter of 2020.

But this is where the facts come into conflict with feelings. Now, I'm with Jim Sciutto on this one. The CNN anchor was sick of all the chatter about whether any minds would be changed on Thursday night. That's not our job, he wrote, our job is to disseminate the facts. And that's what we do.

But it's also a fact that the American media has been so split apart, and that split affects every story we cover. It's like the weather. It has to be factored and everything all the time.

Fox News put feelings over facts by refusing to air Thursday's hearing. Instead, just showing silent video while Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity swore that the event was just a sham, nothing to see here.

Fox ignoring the hearing made its viewers feel good about Fox. It helped them feel they were right not to fret much about 1/6, not to pay much attention.

Look at the banners Fox put on screen. They say the committee is not on a fact finding mission, even though the lawmakers have found lots of facts. These banners say the hearing was propaganda, and this framing helped Fox viewers feel even more loyalty to Fox.

See, the network stars kept saying the rest of the media was, quote, colluding with Democrats. Suggesting Fox was the one being bravely independent.

The lower rated right-wing news channel, Newsmax, handle they hearings differently. It did air large parts of the hearing live but controlled and put up pro Trump banners and included anti Democrat talking points. Again, it was all about feelings, the feeling that the other side was worse.

Notably, these shows did little to actually defend Trump. In the MAGA media universe, the January 6 hearings are not about Trump, not about this plot to steal the election of the forces to ban democracy. In the MAGA media universe, these hearings are about Democrats trying to make Republicans feel bad, feel guilty for 1/6. That's the narrative.

Tucker Carlson seems to be taking it especially personally. On Friday night, he still acted shock that the other major networks televised hearing when he called two straight hours of campaign propaganda scripted by the Democratic Party. He said, quote, nothing like it has ever happened in this country.

He's a smart guy. He knows the State of the Union happens every year, live on Fox and everywhere else. He knows Republicans hold conventions and Democrats hold convention and aired on TV. He knows that other hearings are blanketed on the airwaves, including Trump's impeachments.

But forget those facts, right? He's playing to feelings. But I do think he's under something with that banner.

Nothing like this has ever happened in this nation. A president lying about an election that he lost, his allies fighting to steal power, his supporters attacking the Capitol, his base ignoring new information about the plot, his social media platform helping engage in the cover-up. Nothing like this has happened. Tucker's banner was true, but not for the reasons he thought.

Let's bring in Garrett Graff, author of "Watergate: A New History". He's also contributing to "Wired" and a CNN contributor.

And Shelby Talcott, senior White House correspondent for "The Daily Caller", with us as well.

Thank you both for coming on. Garrett, you wrote for "Wired" this week that America's media ecosystems are, quote, increasingly separate and unequal. What do you mean -- especially with the "unequal" part?

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. One of the things, you know, this is almost 50 years after the Watergate burglary and I've spent a lot of time thinking about the comparisons then and now. The challenge that we now face is that Fox has created, and the right-wing media ecosystem beyond it, has created an alternate set of realities that have decision formed and outright lied to their viewers and the American people.


And that it makes democracy very hard to function when citizens are starting with fundamentally different sets of beliefs about what has actually happened. Democracy requires a certain agreement upon a set of facts, such that citizens can participate actively and thoughtfully in their own government.

And Fox is sort of step by step lying to the American people, night after night, in a way that has torn their viewers from reality. I think that it is not surprising to me that they kept the truth of the Thursday night, January 6 committee hearings from their public because I think there is a very strong argument that Fox News, writ large, it is effectively an unindicted coconspirator in the violence and insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th.

STELTER: We're going to hear more about that at Monday's hearing, when a former Fox political editor testifies. He is in the room where it happened, so to speak, on election night and beyond. It'll be really interesting to see what he says.

Shelby, I don't want to -- you're from "The Daily Caller". I don't want to treat you as a conservative media spokesperson here anymore than Garrett as a liberal media spokesperson. But I would love your point of view on what Garrett just said on that fracture in the country, Fox lying to viewers.

SHELBY TALCOTT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, DAILY CALLER: Well, I would say, I mean, I can't speak for Fox News specifically, but being from a conservative leaning news outlet, I would say that the angle from conservative media, at least where I work at "The Daily Caller", is not working class voters in these swing states are struggling with a whole slew of problems -- high inflation, gas prices, grocery bills, baby formula. So, how did these hearings help with those issues?

So, it's not that conservative media is trying to run cover for Trump, it's just that, with everything going on in America today, it's hard for the media, in conservative media's view, to sit there and try to force a big chunk of the country to care about this issue more than the issues that they are actually experiencing it being affected by day-to-day.

STELTER: Garrett, do you buy that? GRAFF: I don't. In part because I think the challenge is that both

can be true at the same time. There are all number of struggles in the U.S. economy and society today. But January 6th was an assault, unprecedented, on our American democracy.

And getting to the truth of it, understanding the truth of it and ensuring that it doesn't happen again as one of the most important issues that we face as a country. It's a very existential question about whether American democracy survives.

STELTER: In that way, it is quite different from Watergate. As you mention, the 50th anniversary is this Friday, your book about it is fantastic, "Watergate: A New History". But it's never limit to the lessons we can learn from anything that happened in the pre-Fox, pre- cable, pre-social media era?

GRAFF: There is. And I think there are some important distinctions to draw between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. Richard Nixon's crimes, which were many, part of fully understanding Watergate was that this was a case where the crimes were actually much worse than the cover- up.

But his crimes were against the American people. These were abuses of power, abuses of civil liberties, abuses of governmental reach.

Donald Trump's crimes, and I think the January 6 committee did a good job getting to lay the groundwork and understanding, where fundamental crimes against American democracy.

That makes it so much more important to try to get to the bottom of, because those crimes against democracy are ones that are much harder to bounce back from if we don't take them seriously and address them.

STELTER: And thinking about the next 50 years, Shelby, not to get us to challenging of a topic here. But I was 50 years, ago let's think about the future. Is there a world here where Americans who watch CNN will also read "The Daily Caller"? Where readers of "The Daily Caller" will also watch MSNBC or ABC?

Because it feels to me like things are so fracture that there's very little overlap now happening.

TALCOTT: Absolutely. And I agree with that.

I mean, I hope, as a member of the press, that we can start having people who read the caller also tune into CNN. And I think that could be the answer to all of this.

Instead of saying that all media have to cover this topic the same exact way, with the same gusto. How about we figure out how to get people to broaden what they are reading and what news they're watching?


And, you know, maybe that ties until last partisanship. I don't know the answer but I hope that that's where the future of media and the future of news consumption is heading.

STELTER: Shelby and Garrett, thank you both for starting us off today. Good to see you both.

TALCOTT: Thanks.

STELTER: Two journalists first. Now, let's bring in an activist. "Pod Save America" podcast co-host Dan Pfeiffer, he was the White House director of communications that senior advisor to President Obama. He's out with a brand new book titled, "Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook and the MAGA Media are Destroying America".

Dan, I wonder if part of your message about Democrat's messaging bumps is right there in the title of your book. It is blunt, it's bears no prisoners, you're trying to make it very clear where you are. Are you trying to make a statement about how Democrats should better communicate and message to the country?

DAN PFEIFFER, CO-HOST, "POD SAVE AMERICA": Absolutely. Political messaging has two parts. What you say and how you get people to pay attention to. I think Democrats have done a good job on the first part for much of the last many years. We have popular policies, people agree with us.

But getting people to pay attention is incredibly challenging in this media environment. And it is structurally stacked against Democrats with Fox, Facebook, this parade of right-wing digital sites.

So there is a benefit of being loud and focusing a lot of attention on how you get people to hear what you're saying, not just what you say.

STELTER: So, with the number of Thursday primetime hearing, 20 million plus is the number Nielsen put out for the television audience. There's no way to measure the truthful reach of the hearing on streaming and social media and everywhere.

But let's say that 20 million, as the base number of the core audience that wanted to watch whole hearing. Was that a big number to you or a little number? Was that an impressive number to you or not so much?

PFEIFFER: Look, I think when you get more people to watch a congressional hearing than the Final Four, that has to be measured as a success for the committee. That is a big deal.

As you point, oh is a fraction of the overall country, we should assume that the vast majority of those people have already made up their mind about Donald Trump's culpability and what happened.

But I think the important thing, and this is one of the things that are you in the book, is that we have to think of that audience not as the end result. Each of those people has the ability to take that message and carry it forward to the people in their lives, in their social networks.

And in fact, usually I get these reports every day about which Facebook post are the most -- get the most engagement. It is a rogue's gallery of Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino, almost every day. The day after that hearing, it was primarily discussion about the 1/6 hearing.

So, that seems like you are going to get more people paying attention and more dominance of the conversation that does that 20 million. So, they should see that as a success.

STELTER: There's a columnist at "The Atlantic" this week that wrote just saying January 6th is a dangerous shorthand. That this was not about a single day, it was about a months-long plot to overturn the election. And to say January 6th actually makes it sound less than one it really was.

How do you put January 6th and that plot in the sweep of history? Where do you put it?

PFEIFFER: I actually 100 percent agree with you. We have the capacity as a country to prevent an assault on the Capitol from happening again. We can have better response, more troops, there the National Guard will I'm sure be there on whatever the equivalent of January 6th is in 2025.

The story here is a months-long, wide ranging criminal conspiracy to overturn the election. But we also have to project that forward, because January 6th is a shorthand for what is happening right now.

You have a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan arrested in his house for participating in the insurrection. You have a Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate who's ran on the platform of giving Pennsylvania's electoral votes to Donald Trump, no matter what the voters say.

This is a clear and present danger and I think, as we think about was excess means for these hearings, it is focusing the mind on what is coming, not just what happened.

STELTER: How do you straighten out Tucker Carlson's spin, and Fox's decision-making? Because you write a lot in your book about Fox, a battling the big lie, as you put it.

What do you think of their decision this week?

PFEIFFER: Well, I -- two things, one, is I think Garrett said in the previous segment, they are full participants in the story. There's no way in which that they could cover it. They fomented the big lie. They -- their host were engaging with the White House as the -- as the insurrection was happening. They were part of the story.

There is no January 6th, there's no big lie without Fox. Leadership at that company are responsible for what happened.

But the other part of this is, they had no choice as well because they have lost control of what Roger Ailes built. The last time they did something that angered Trump, they ended up third in the ratings.

So, their only option here is that they made a business decision about what was good for them, and what was politically good for the Republican Party. And so, I don't think we should be surprised by that.

STELTER: So, here is what is so interesting, though, this weekend in Rupert Murdoch's "Wall Street Journal", Rupert Murdoch's "New York Post", they are essentially anti-Trump editorials.

Here is "The Journal": Mr. Trump betrayed his supporters by calling them on Jan 6th, and he's still doing it.


That's their takeaway from the hearing.

So, is Murdoch trying to have it both ways? He has -- his newspapers saying one thing and his network saying another?

PFEIFFER: Well, you would know more about this, I think, that I would. But there seems to be some sort of split --


PFEIFFER: -- within the Rupert Murdoch world between perhaps Rupert and his son who is more involved in the day-to-day at Fox News and very close with Tucker Carlson who seemed to all of the shots there.

STELTER: That's the thing. It was Tucker's hour, 8:00 p.m., there's no way that he was going to give it up. It was really going to be curious about what they're going to do tomorrow, Monday. It will be during the middle of the day.

It's going to be during what Fox calls its news hour. What will they do? Will they show the hearings with their former political editors who are testifying about their network, or not? Of course, we're going to find out tomorrow.

Here's another editorial board, though, from Murdoch's paper. Here's "The New York Post", this weekend, saying; Tune out the hearings go watch "Stranger Things" instead. Unsubscribe from Trump's daily emails begging for money.

Basically they're saying, move on from Trump. Let's make America sane again.

So, it is notable, Dan, that strong parts of the conservative media world are saying, no more Trump, let's move on to DeSantis, whoever else it's going to be. Enough about Trump.

PFEIFFER: Well, as I write in the book, the creation of this entire right-wing media apparatus was designed for one purpose, to elect Republicans to office.

And there is a strong current among some Republican political operatives, and some folks in the conservative movement that Donald Trump is not their best chance to win, because of his role in what happened before, because he seems so obsessed with January -- with looking backwards as opposed to forwards. So, this is not a moral statement from Rupert Murdoch's papers about

Donald Trump being bad or the dangers of January 6th, they just want another candidate, perhaps Ron DeSantis, to be in a position to allow them to control the White House again, by any means necessary.

STELTER: This all, of course, relates to President Biden, and I wonder what your view is about his messaging woes. There's all of this debate about Biden's media strategy. He goes on Jimmy Kimmel this week in L.A., but does not hold a press conference during the summit.

He does not give a lot of television interviews, and basically never goes in the news in the press. He just answers reporter questions when they're shouted at him.

What's your read on this, Dan?

PFEIFFER: Well, look, I can't myself in the 99 point ninth percentile of Americans both sympathetic to this White House communications staff is. They're operating under tremendous constraints.

The structural media disadvantage has grown so much since our work there, at the media environment is so much worse than when I work there not that many years ago.

I have noticed, and I think you mention Jimmy Kimmel, that the White House has got more aggressive and weeks and weeks with finding ways to have Biden get his message out on his own time. I think that is good. There needs to be more of that.

I think the question, ultimately though, there are problems are not messaging related. They are substantive. It is inflation. It is the pandemic. It is Russia, and Ukraine, many of which are outside of their control.

And there's a tendency among people like me to focus on, like what's the message problem? There is a reality problem here. A lot of it is not the president's fault.

STELTER: A five-dollar gas is that story, whether they want to be or not.

Finally, I should pull this up earlier, from the pages of "The New York Times", should Biden run in 2024? Whispers of no by Democrats.

Where are you, Dan? Should Biden run?

PFEIFFER: I think we have -- I think that we have set the record for the earliest presidential level speculation. We have an election in six months. I think Biden, as we sit here right now, he'll be by far the most electable candidate to run. But we're so far from that.

So, I'm not even, I'm surprised -- I should be surprised that there --


STELTER: You are opting out of the conversation. You're not taking a side?

PFEIFFER: I don't think anybody should be taking part of that conversation right now. We have a midterm election here where the Republicans are trying to elect big lie believing folks who are promising to steal the next election. That's much more urgent threat right now than who's going to run in 2024.

Biden said he's running, I take him at his word, and I don't know why we need to talk about it now.

STELTER: Dan, thanks for coming on the program. The book is "Battling the Big Lie". It's a bestseller on Amazon.

Up next, we will talk with one of the witnesses who testified on Thursday.

And later, major media businesses news, Twitter putting the ball in Elon's court. So, will musk pass, or make a slam dunk?



STELTER: One hearing down, many more to go. The House's investigation of the Trump coup plot became much more detail this week, thanks to footage from one filmmaker. Nick Quested and his team recorded these images which the committee used throughout the hearing on Thursday.

Quested was subpoenaed and that's why he testified at the hearing detailing how extremist groups like the Proud Boys met the Capitol and not a Trump's rally that day on January 6th.

So, let's talk about the videotape, what it means. Nick Quested is here with me in New York to talk more about it.

Thanks for coming on the program.

NICK QUESTED, FILMMAKER: Thanks, Brian. Thanks for having me.

STELTER: You made a point of saying, I am here because of a subpoena. Why do you make that clear in your testimony?

QUESTED: Well, because I am providing what products, and as a journalist I wanted to be able to protect myself in the future, and so, the subpoenas an important aspect.

STELTER: Right. To say this is not normal. I would not normally do this --

QUESTED: But these are extraordinary circumstances. So --

STELTER: Right. Did you have any doubts about actually sharing the tape with the committee?

QUESTED: No. I felt the committee, working in a fact based way, in trying to build an argument, and I look forward to seeing more of the facts come out.

STELTER: So, you are there basically embedded with the Proud Boys? Is that the best way to describe it?

QUESTED: I think embedded is a sort of a -- a bit of an overreach. But I was following the Proud Boys. I pick them -- I was interested in them from the summer, really, onwards because, you got to remember, the psyche of the country at that point, when you have COVID, was rife at that point, and people were scared, and there's pressure on the food supply. And you started to see the protests from George Floyd become very animated and violent in some cases.


And then, so the Proud Boys were sort of leading this voice in these protests, or counter protests. And so, we reached out to them, and then Enrique was eager for us to come down and cover them.

STELTER: Now that you have exposed some of their work, have you heard from many of these folks? And how do they feel about it?

QUESTED: I interviewed Enrique on the night before and the day of January 6th. But at that point of still making a movie about why America is so divided. I did interview Enrique subsequently, but I still had not quite found the enormity of what had going on hadn't really crystallized in my mind at that point.

STELTER: You bring a global perspective to this. To folks outside of the U.S., this is seen live around the world, what do you say about the importance of the January 6th investigation now a year and a half later? Why does it matter now?

QUESTED: I mean, when you think of its importance, it takes a while for the facts to emerge. It takes a while for people to crystallize their position.

So, I think it's important that, you know, a legislative like a congressional committee uses its power to find the facts. Until we have the facts on record, we can't really have a proper discussion about how to change things or what's actually happens.

STELTER: Right, there will be more of a historical record. To me this though is a live story. Overnight, in Idaho, a bunch of men arrested, possibly trying to raid a gay pride event. Feels to me like this activity by extremist groups in the U.S. is very much a live and ongoing today story, and January 6th is one marker of that story. Would you agree?

QUESTED: Oh, absolutely. I think that America has become polarized, and we're going to keep seeing incidents that enhances polarity.

STELTER: Is there any pulling back? Is there anything like de- escalation that you see that is possible?

QUESTED: I mean, I would hope that we could de-escalate the situation. But when news is so polarized, how are we going to claw back? We need a common set of facts. Once we can set up a common set of facts, maybe then we can have a discussion about the best solutions, and America can come together to, you know, be what America should be.

STELTER: I would like to believe that video evidence can help with that. And we will see what happens in the weeks to come.

QUESTED: Absolutely. I mean, I only speak to what I saw, so -- and I filmed it.

STELTER: Nick, thank you for being here. Next to talk to you.

QUESTED: Pleasure. Thanks so much.

STELTER: Still to come, this man, Vladimir Kara-Murza was arrested in Moscow right after condemning Putin on CNN. Now, he may be facing 15 years in prison. We hear from his wife momentarily.

Also up next, one "Washington Post" reporter terminated. Another suspended. What is happening at "The Washington Post"?



STELTER: Oh, Twitter and journalism creating huge headaches in a major newsroom. To tell you this story, I need to take you back about 10 days when Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel retweeted a sexist joke.

Fellow reporter Felicia Sonmez quickly replied to Weigel's lapse in judgment, both on Twitter and internally on Slack, denouncing the tweet while taking a clear shot at The Post as a whole.

This is not the first time Sonmez had been critical of The Post. She filed a lawsuit against the paper and several of its editors, a lawsuit which was recently dismissed, claiming she faced workplace discrimination after sharing that she's a victim of sexual assault.

But last weekend, things were out of hand on Twitter. A number of senior Post staffers were taken to the site to voice their opinions about the workplace climate. Editor Sally Buzbee tried to restore order, reminding staff to "treat each other with respect both in the newsroom and online."

Weigel was suspended for a month partly because he had been warned before about wayward tweets. And then as tensions continue to escalate on Twitter, Buzbee put out a more stern follow-up memo warning we do not tolerate colleagues attacking colleagues either face to face or online.

But the attacks seem to keep happening. On Thursday after a week of incendiary tweets about The Post, Sonmez was forced out. She was terminated. There's a bit -- a bit as incredible amount of Twitter wreckage in the wake of this one sexist joke that was retweeted by a reporter. Let's figure out why this matters to The Post and readers with CNN Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy. He's been breaking news about this all week. And Mara Schiavocampo, host of the Run Tell This podcast.

Welcome to you both. Oliver, did I even summarize this? And now what is -- what is the core of the story? Why does it matter to Post readers?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: It's a very complex story to explain. And I think one point we should make, though, is that this is not only Twitter's fault, I think it's easy to say that, you know, oh, that because of Twitter, this broke out.

I think there are some underlying institutional issues at The Post, which have left some employees, you know, not the entirety of The Post newsroom but some employees there feeling like there is inequity

And it has given -- you know, ended up giving birth to this bigger problem. And that Twitter exasperated the issue because it allowed this drama that would normally have probably played out internally to play out in public and also allowed these reporters to -- like Sonmez, who was at the center of this, to have a platform to criticize leadership and criticize her colleagues.

STELTER: Can it be a good thing to have these fights in public?

DARCY: It certainly put some pressure on The Post leadership to respond, you know.


DARCY: We know that The Post you know if you ask them I mean, I think in the eyes of management they reacted very sternly and quickly to Weigel's retweet of this sexist joke there, condemned him both publicly and privately.



DARCY: And they also suspended him for a month without pay. So in their eyes, they acted very quickly. But I do think that you know, there has been a tremendous amount of pressure placed on Sally Buzbee, the executive editor, and other newsroom leadership to respond to some of these issues because it has played out on Twitter.

STELTER: So Vanity Fair calls this a social media meltdown. What's your read on it, Mara?

MARA SCHIAVOCAMPO, HOST, RUN TELL THIS PODCAST: Yes, you know, social media presents a really big dilemma for newsrooms because newsrooms do value journalists with large social media followings.

That's an A-form of professional currency, not the only one, but one form. But often the perspectives and personalities that go along with attracting a large audience can be in conflict with the objectivity of journalism.

And it's also a dilemma for the individual journalist who feels like you have to engage, you have to be part of these conversations as part of your job. But where is the line? How far is too far?

Not only is there no industry standard, but often the standards within organizations are inconsistently applied. So for example, behavior that one person --

STELTER: Right. And that's a big part of the issue here.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: One person will be applauded for something that could get someone else fired. And so ultimately, it's up to the individual's judgment in the moment because the social media guidelines that are out there don't address all these nuances.

And that's what we see happening over and over again, is that people have to have perfect judgment all of the time, despite some of these contradictions.

STELTER: Wait, so people have to have perfect judgment all the time even though that's impossible?


STELTER: Right? Oliver, isn't The Post rewriting its social media rules right now?

DARCY: It is. It's --

STELTER: They were already working on that.

DARCY: Yes. The Post guild is working with leadership and they're going to, you know, have an updated social media policy at some time. I think it's also important, Brian, to point out that this is occurring as The Post is supposed to be celebrating its legacy, right with Watergate coming up.

STELTER: 50 years since Watergate this week, right.

DARCY: 50 years since Watergate. It's supposed to be celebrating its legacy. Instead, all the headlines about The Post are about this internal drama.

And there's also other internal drama we haven't even touched on in the -- in the features desk staff over an article that ended up having to be corrected. So there's a lot of stuff going on at The Posts and it's distracting I think from the actual work the newsroom is doing.

STELTER: We'll have a lot more on this in our nightly RELIABLE SOURCES Newsletter, signup at We'll have a lot more with Oliver and Mara in just a moment as well. What the Wall Street Journal is reporting and revealing about the top Facebook executive, Sheryl Sandberg.


STELTER: In Russia, objecting to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine can come at a very high price or rather, a very long sentence. Kremlin critic and writer, Vladimir Kara-Murza, was detained in April on the heels of these television appearances, including some on CNN, where he denounced Putin's "regime of murderers."

He is still behind bars today. Kara-Murza is a politician, an activist, and a contributing columnist at the Washington Post. He submitted that essay this week. His lawyer carried the text out of prison for him and sent it to Washington.

In the essay, he thanks his wife and soul mate, Evgenia, for her support. So this week, I spoke with Evgenia about her husband's arrest, and what might happen next.


EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF DETAINED KREMLIN CRITIC & WRITER VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: My husband was sentenced to 15 days for disobeying a police order and sent to jail for 15 days.

We knew right away that this was only the beginning. We knew that the Russian authorities were using this as a pretext to hold him, to give themselves time to find some more serious accusations against him.

And this is exactly what happened. My husband was supposed to be released on April the 26th but on April the 22nd, new charges were initiated against him. He was charged under the new law. So basically by calling this war a war, a person can get a 15-year prison sentence.

STELTER: When it was passed with that 15-year potential sentence, did you and your husband talk about making a change about not speaking out, about -- was there a fear that his time was coming up?

KARA-MURZA: Well, we have always known about the risks. The risks have always been there. And they were very tangible since 2015, since my husband's first poisoning.

STELTER: The poisoning.

KARA-MURZA: And the murder of Boris Nemtsov. Yes, but it would be, I think, quite hypocritical of me to try and dissuade my husband from going back to Russia. This is his -- he believes in what he's doing.

STELTER: Your husband's worn many hats over the years, politician, as you said, author, historian, contributing columnist for the Washington Post. Tell us about that dynamic between politician and journalist or writer. It's something that we don't see as often in the United States, but we do see it in other countries.

KARA-MURZA: Vladimir is a renascence man. Journalism has always been important to him because this is a way to provide people with objective information about truth. This is a way to diffuse truth, to speak about what is really happening. So journalism has always been important to Vladimir. But he has always -- he has always seen himself as a politician.

STELTER: What are you telling your three children about their father and about what might happen to him?

KARA-MURZA: Telling them the truth. We've never tried to hide the truth from the kids. You know especially now, we have two teenagers in residence so it's hard to -- it would be hard to hide the truth from them even if I wanted to.


KARA-MURZA: They're online more than I ever will be and they know everything that's happening around the world. They are, of course, very worried for their father's safety, and they want him home.

For them, he's not a politician, he's not a journalist, not a historian, he's their daddy I cannot imagine how hard and frightening the soul is for them. But I think that at the same time they realize who their father is because they know about his work.

And I think that they're proud of him. I do hope that they're proud of him because they should be.


STELTER: So she says Putin has to go. You can hear the rest of the interview on our RELIABLE SOURCES podcast, available through Spotify, Apple, and every other podcast source.

This just in. A bipartisan group of senators announcing they do indeed have an agreement on new measures to address gun violence. Significantly, there are 10 Republican senator names attached to the press release detailing these new measures.

A bipartisan deal was just announced in a press release and CNN's Dana Bash will be live at the top of the hour with all of the details. Of course, Uvalde was one of the catalysts for this new attempt by the Senate to take action.

And there's important news you need to know from Texas. First Amendment advocates warning that the bi -- that amendment is being violated right now. We're going to have the latest in a moment.



STELTER: Time is running out. That's what Sunday morning's edition of the Uvalde, Texas local newspaper says. This editorial in today's letter news warns that the nation's attention span for empathy and action is fleeting while the front page says the district attorney is forecasting a six months wait for answers about what went wrong at Robb Elementary.

Local authorities are mostly remaining mum about all of the details involving that massacre. So there's this huge tension between the fast-moving news cycle and the slow-speed investigation.

Oliver Darcy and Mara Schiavocampo are back with me now with more. Oliver, I suppose this is an example of local journalists trying to get to the truth.


STELTER: But they're being stonewalled. And I think we have to keep calling it out.

DARCY: We do. And it's -- it is indicative, though, of how local newsrooms, how important they are, right? Because they are trying to get the truth about what happened for their community.

And had they not been there you know, I think there is a big temptation amongst the police force -- not a temptation, a desire to not be very forthcoming with the community. And so I think it is indicative of how important local newsrooms are when a tragedy like this strikes.

STELTER: Right, in order to keep following up.


STELTER: I've noticed, Mara, essays, letters to the editor in local papers in Texas, saying this feels like a First Amendment violation to have the authorities stay in so quiet, but also more than that, to push people off property to push journalists off public property, really getting into -- have legal territory here.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Yes. And we've also heard stories of them reportedly threatening parents or people who were on the ground with some type of legal action if they choose to speak out about it, which is also a relevant First Amendment issue.

But you know, to Oliver's point, in terms of the strength of the journalism that we're seeing here, the whole reason that we have this investigation happening is because reporters who were on the ground covering the story were dogged about questioning law enforcement's timeline and account.

And that represents a really important shift that's taking place in journalism, which is that police accounts must be treated like any other account. Meaning they have to be verified and corroborated just like any other account otherwise, they are claims until they are verified.

Because what we do see far too often is that law enforcement accounts are either, inaccurate because you know, things change and there's a lot of confusion when things like this happen, or they're intentionally misleading.

And it's important to have really accurate information about what took place because that informs how other law enforcement agencies will handle situations like this in the future. STELTER: 100 percent. It informs the gun debate as well. All right, more with our panel in just a moment. More RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment.



STELTER: Now, three tech stories in two minutes. First, the Wall Street Journal reporting that Facebook's parent company, Meta, is scrutinizing its COO Sheryl Sandberg's use of Facebook resources over several years. More to come on this as Sandra prepares to leave that job this fall.

Next, another journal scoop, Facebook rethinking its deals to pay for news. Oliver, this is about news publishers who received millions of dollars from Facebook and if they take these away, if these halt these payments, that could be a real blow.

DARCY: That could be. And I think this really just underscores how unreliable Facebook has been of a partner for news organizations. Brian, you can remember when they really were incentivizing people to pivot to video and a whole bunch of publishers pivoted to video, and that backfired on them.

And now you have another instance where Facebook has just been a very unreliable partner, potentially backing out of this deal to pay publishers.

STELTER: They say they're going to shift the money over to others, right, Mara?

SCHIAVOCAMPO: Yes. So part of the thinking is that they may be wanting to use the funds to incentivize content creators. And that's part of a big shift that's happening industry-wide. We see it with TikTok, with Substack with only fans.

There are more ways for creators to make money than ever before. And that's really important because, without those contributions, these social media companies have nothing. They have no way to attract and retain an audience unless people are creating engaging content.

STELTER: Creating content.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: And the plurality of voices is a really good thing in the media landscape, but they should be able to do both.

STELTER: Finally, Elon Musk and Twitter. What happened this week with Musk? Did Twitter call Musk's bluff?

DARCY: Yes, Twitter is basically calling Musk's bluff. He was saying he wasn't going to go through the deal unless they had this access to this data. Twitter basically said, OK, sure. Here's the data.

STELTER: Have their data.

DARCY: And so now they're forcing his hand I think to push this deal through to its conclusion.

STELTER: And we'll see if he really takes over. Mara, I think the answer Elon Musk is there's never an answer.

SCHIAVOCAMPO: And there are more questions and more questions and never many answers. He is an enigma. It's not even clear if he's intentionally enigmatic as a kind of trolling of the public or if it's just an expression -- an authentic expression of his personality, A lot of questions but no answers.

STELTER: Yes, exactly. Thanks, everybody, great conversation. Stay with us now. Dana Bash is up next with live coverage of the guns deal from the Senate.