Return to Transcripts main page

Reliable Sources

Doctors Describe "Chilling Effect" After Court Ruling; News Outlets Fighting For The Full Story In Uvalde; A 2024 Rematch Many Americans Say No Thanks; Tech Giants Are Investing Billions To Make Metaverse; This Week Is A Big Test For Netflix And Streaming Biz. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 17, 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.

In just a few hours, a report coming out of Texas. What happened, what really happened in that school in Uvalde. We're going to hear answers. We're also going to get into what still needs to be revealed by authorities.

Plus, the media talking about potential rematches in 2024. The voters are telling pollsters they want nothing of it. We're going to show you the numbers and why they matter.

And later, we'll try to go into the future. Talking about the metaverse, what it could be. Expert Matthew Ball is here sharing his findings about what could be a 3D internet. We have a lot coming up.

But, first, you know, it's been, let's think about it, in the three weeks since the Supreme Court ended a constitutional right to an abortion, it's been easy to see the political story and political debates. It's a lot harder to see the medical story, meaning the reality about abortion access, the sudden changes at the state level. The crisis situations for pregnant women that may be denied care.

Doctors are conferring with one another and some sharing anecdotes but the accounts are second hand and details can be very hard to confirm.

Take this reporting from "USA Today", quoting a top doctor at Tufts Medical Center. She says until the Roe ruling, I never had a colleague tell me about a pregnancy that was being forced to continue because of rape. In the last week, I heard of three.

But the specifics may never be heard. Patient privacy is paramount and many rape victims would never want to talk to a reporter. They would never subject themselves to media glare. After all, look what happened to the unanimous 10-year-old in Ohio. "Minneapolis Star" quoted a doctor who said a 10-year-old rape victim was pregnant and because Ohio had outlawed abortion after six weeks, the girl was brought to Indiana to end the pregnancy. The story first was cited by abortion rights proponents as evidence of

extreme Republican laws were having dire consequences. President Biden even brought it up. Then, anti-abortion activists and conservative media outlets raised doubts about the case.

Some GOP media personalities said they did not believe the 10-year-old actually existed and portrayed it as a hoax until "The Columbus Dispatch" reported a man had been arrested in the case. Police say the man confessed to raping the child on at least two occasions. None of the media outlets that sowed doubt about the case were in court for that arraignment. It was up to a local reporter in Columbus to uncover the true story.

Now, once "The Columbus Dispatch" did that, once they report on the suspect's arrest, Fox's Jesse Watters went back on the show and credited himself with putting the pressure on to find the suspect. Then he plastered the photo of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana based OB/GYN, he put her face on screen and suggested maybe she was part of a cover-up, maybe she had committed a crime by not disclosing the abortion.

Dr. Bernard then released -- her rep shared the documents. News outlets reported the truth once again and now she's challenging state officials threatening to sue because of the way they have harmed her reputation.

So this media crusade, this media spectacle doubting whether this 10- year-old girl existed and then local reporting actually following through and coming up with the information. It's a really sad statement about this post-Roe society.

It turns out that Dr. Caitlin Bernard, this woman in Indiana who shared this example with the "Indianapolis Star", it turns out she was working on a guest essay for "The New York Times" with a colleague, pediatrician Tracy Wilkinson. They were going to write an essay together about the effects of abortion bans.

They were going to co-write it, but then because Bernard this national story and was suddenly plastered all over the news, Wilkinson decided to write it alone. She said there is a chilling effect happening in medicine. That's a big story for the press to cover.

So, joining me now is that colleague, Dr. Tracey Wilkinson. She's a pediatrician and assistant professor at Indiana University. We're going to bring in the panel there in a little bit.

Dr. Wilkinson, thank you very much for coming on with me this morning.

DR. TRACEY WILKINSON, PEDIATRICIAN: Thanks so much for having me, Brian.

STELTER: So I tried to summarize the story. Tell me what I left out and what's important for viewers to understand.

WILKINSON: Yeah, you know, watching this story unfold on the ground in Indiana was terrifying for us all. But I want to make the point that everybody was watching this story in many different states and many different regions of this country in health care and we're very scared they could be the next physician with their picture on national news being threatened by an attorney general. And that is very chilling.


STELTER: In this case, it was the Indiana -- the Indiana attorney general who was making those comments. He seems to have pulled back now that Dr. Bernard has sent a cease-and-desist letter. Do you know anything more about that?

WILKINSON: I don't. But what is disappointing is that reporters who claim to care about the facts were following the lead of anti-abortion activists to make this story happen, and unfortunately, gave a platform to the attorney general of both Ohio and Indiana to perpetuate lies and harassment against a physician for doing her job in providing compassionate health care to their patients.

STELTER: And now, most of the coverage in right wing media is about the immigration status of the suspect because there is no evidence he's here legally, he seems to be here in the country illegally. So, that's now the focus of the right wing media coverage.

Where do you think the focus should be?

WILKINSON: You know, when this whole thing started, I wish the focus had been not on just on one patient but many, many patients that struggle to access abortion every single day, long before the Supreme Court hearing decision happened. And the millions of people that are going to continue to access abortion now that state legislators are taking over and legislating health care, taking these decisions out of the hands of patients where it should belong and giving it to state houses.

STELTER: So can we break that down a bit? So, this one case of this 10-year-old, this horrible story that turns out to be a horrible true story, how common or uncommon is it?

WILKINSON: Unfortunately, it's not uncommon, which is where focusing on this one story is the problem. We need to be focusing on the entire landscape of abortion access. This is not just one person's story. Many people can relate to this story especially providers in this field because they each have patients that have similar qualities that have struggled and are in situations that need compassionate access to evidence-based health care.

And when you have threats on national television happening, it's very difficult to deliver that type of health care.

STELTER: So we know statistically that in America, in the past day, there is a young girl that's been abused that may get pregnant and may need to seek out -- may want to seek out an abortion. And those stories are mostly never going to be told, right? There are so many reasons why most of those accounts will never be shared with the national news media.

It seems to me this is a really challenging story for the press to get its arms around because we have so little visibility into the reality.

WILKINSON: Yes, and, you know, the chilling effect on physicians trickles down to a chilling effect on patients. Why would you go and tell your story if you could become the next national news story? That would be terrifying for me as a grownup let alone somebody who is 10 and was recently assaulted.

STELTER: So in this environment, what do you want to see change? What are you trying to push for now?

WILKINSON: I want to see, you know, bigger theme stories being talked about, pushing legislators to really talk about the issues instead of talking about people. It's really, really important for us to center this conversation on overall health care access and not on specific patients.

STELTER: To your point, you know, this is a people story. It's a medical story. The press says a political story when it's a medical, health care story. It's also by the way a crime story, right? It's about finding the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and making sure they're held accountable, but then it's a medical story about what happens afterward.

Now, when you talk through this with folks, do you feel like most people are on your side? Do you feel like your message is getting through? You know, your guest essay for "The New York Times" certainly gain attention, but I find a lot of people don't like to talk about this topic at all.

WILKINSON: Yeah, I think it's -- it's not uncommon for people to want to shy away from political hot topics but my point is the essay was that, you know, I'm a pediatrician. I'm not an abortion provider and I'm nervous practicing medicine in Indiana.

And all physicians regardless of their specialty should be looking at their state laws and also feeling uncomfortable, if there is a threat to their ability to practice medicine and to be able to deliver evidence-based medical care without interference from the state.

STELTER: From the state, and there, of course, are many states that are doing that. Indiana is now considering strict abortion restrictions.

There is a narrative, though, there is a commentary that I hear from the right mostly, from anti-abortion leaders who saying we are trying to save hundreds of thousands, millions of lives so yes, there may be cases like a 10-year-old, a tragic case of a 10-year-old rape victim but we're trying to do something much bigger, much more important for society. What do you say to that?

WILKINSON: I just say that their reasoning is completely flawed.


STELTER: Why? WILKINSON: These decisions -- these decisions belong in the hands of

the patients that are living their lives and are going to make these decisions for themselves.

When somebody else says I'm going to make this decision for you, you should be very concerned. These decisions belong in the hands of patients and their clinicians and not at a state house.

STELTERR: Dr. Wilkinson, thank you very much for coming on and sharing this with us.

WILKINSON: Thanks so much for having me.

STELTER: Now for the story behind the story of that reporting from Ohio and Indiana, let's bring in Natasha Alford, VP for digital content at "TheGrio", Bill Carter, CNN media analyst, and Nicole Carroll, editor in chief of "USA Today" and the president of news at Gannett.

Now, both "The Indy Star" and "The Columbus Dispatch" are Gannett papers. So, Nicole, let's begin with you.

Tell us -- "The Indianapolis Star", clearly, you know, was doing important reporting interviewing Dr. Bernard, finding out about this case, and then "The Columbus Dispatch" was able to confirm it. Tell us how they were able to confirm it.

NICOLE CARROLL, PRESIDENT OF GANNETT'S NEWS DIVISION: Sure. We had a reporter, Bethany Bruner (ph), who was in the courthouse that day when the suspect was arraigned. She had been looking at the county clerk's website. And every day, they put the arraignments on the website.

And she saw one that said an arraignment for a rape of a girl 13 or under. She pulled the court case and it was the 10-year-old. So she went to court and the in-court police said the suspect had confessed and that the girl indeed had gone to Indiana for an abortion. And she was the only reporter in the courtroom.

STELTER: The only reporter in the courtroom. None of the folks out there doubting the story were anywhere near the courtroom.

So, what do you want people to know about local news given "Indianapolis Star" reporting and then "Columbus Dispatch"?

CARROLL: Local news is so important. We need journalists like Bethany and thousands more to get to the truth of this stories around the country. There is going to be more of these stories that are going to be hard to confirm and that people may question.


CARROLL: I thought you brought up a great point about many times there isn't going to be a police report because the women or the girl doesn't report. Sometimes as in this case, the police report was confidential. It was a referral from children's services. So all the people who were yelling about show us the police report,

there may not always be one available, and we're going to tell the stories. We're going to find different ways to verify them. We're always going to make sure they're true but we're not going to have the same methods maybe we had in the past.

STELTER: Nicole, stay with me.

Let me bring in Natasha Alford and Bill Carter here with me in New York.

Natasha, you say this is a terrifying example of partisan media behavior. Why?

NATASHA ALFORD, VP, DIGITAL CONTENT & SR. CORRESPONDENT, THEGRIO: Well, we live in a world where people watch the news and sort of adjust their truth based on the channel they're watching, right? They expect whatever network to confirm what they already believe.

And I think this story shows the power of local journalists to refocus us on the truth, right? This is not about a political agenda and this actually takes like journalism skills. It's not about just going on Twitter and sharing your opinion. You have to know how to find records. You have to know how to pursue that truth.

But what was terrifying is that people went on television and they cast doubt on the story without even making the effort to find out the facts.

And then, you know, that saying your apology needs to be as loud as your disrespect, the apologies were pretty quiet. They were pretty weak once they found out they were wrong. That speaks to again an environment in which we don't elevate truth but we elevate political agendas.

STELTER: In the last four days, I checked closed captioning transcripts. Last four days, MSNBC has talked about abortion three times as much as Fox.

So, Bill, in the wake of this story being confirmed, Fox has sort of moved away from it and there's focus on it from left-wing media.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Well, that's the thing. They -- Fox and the whole right wing media don't want to ever acknowledge that they're wrong, ever. Their audience will not accept that. They will never acknowledge that they're wrong.

And in this case, you had an attorney general in Ohio who couldn't do the same work that a local reporter did. He said he couldn't find a scintilla of evidence that there was something going on despite the power he had. So, they put him on to spout this.

And it really speaks to the idea that everybody shoots from the hip now. There was no thought involved in that. They didn't bother saying, well, this case, could this possibly be true? They automatically suspected the timing and went after it even though

if you looked at the record, 50 cases in Ohio last year of this exact situation of a young girl who had been raped who had an abortion. That's amazing.

STELTER: That's the thing -- that's the thing, Bill. Conservatives say -- some conservatives say, ah, the pro-abortion media picks out the worst cases, the most horrible crimes in order to make the argument for all abortion all the time. But actually, this is not a rare case.

CARTER: Not rare.

STELTER: Unfortunately, it's not a rare case.

And the folks who wanted it to seem like a hoax, they just may not want to face the reality of what these laws say.

CARTER: You know, the great piece your other guest wrote indicated in Ohio there was 50 cases last year. The year before, there was 63. The year before, there was 50-something. The year before, there was 70- something.

This has happened all the time. All you have to do is look at that and say, well, this certainly could have happened. Let's not jump to the conclusion that it's a hoax.

STELTER: Yeah, I'm going to borrow what you said to me in an email.


You said this isn't about right or left. It's about right versus wrong.

CARTER: Right.

STELTER: It's about crimes.


STELTER: To the panel, everybody, stick around. We have lots more to talk about, including this next story that I want to get everybody's analysis about. It is coming out of Uvalde, a report about to be released about the truth from inside that school that awful day.

But local news outlets have already shared the tape. We're going to talk about that and whether that was the right thing to do.

Plus, who is going to lose in the Twitter-Musk war? Will anyone win? We're going to have the latest on that battle, as well.


STELTER: Today, the Texas House committee investigating what went wrong in Uvalde are put -- they're releasing a report, first to the victim's families and then to the public. The report will add context to the hallway video that we've now all seen, 82 minutes of security footage from inside Robb Elementary, first published by KVUE and "The Austin American-Statesman" on Tuesday. It was apparently leaked to those news outlets.

Then, the editors, the producers -- they watched the tape.


They listened to the tape and they made choices about what to show. They attached a note right there, saying they've removed the audio of children screaming.

That's America in 2022, newsrooms removing the cries and screams of little kids as they were shot and killed. It's important from a media prospective, editors listened to it. They made decisions. They decided that the audio was too graphic for you to hear.

Now, reporters will be doing the same today. They will be combing through today's report. They'll be trying to figure out what the biggest headlines are, what the biggest takeaways are. But it's important for you to know there's a lot that still is not coming out yet.

Media outlets are actually in court. They are filing lawsuits. They are filing Freedom of Information Act forms to obtain more information from this investigation and from the aftermath of the massacre.

That doesn't mean we're all just going to rush on TV and rush onto the Internet and publish it all. There is a difference between news gathering and reporting.

But it's important for the full record to be released and to be examined by reporters. After all, look at this headline from "Grid". There's at least 12 times that law enforcement has misrepresented key details of what happened in Uvalde that day.

So let's go there to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, CNN crime and justice correspondent, who's on the ground in Uvalde, waiting for this report to be released publicly.

Shimon, tell us about all of the other layers, all other materials that you, that CNN that other news outlets are trying to obtain.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is body camera footage. There's 911 calls. There's the radio transmissions.

And that's the key thing. It's those radio communications that officers were having between each other on the ground as they were making decisions.

And from everything I'm told, there was just complete chaos over the radios. You know, there was a lot of questions about leadership and who was really in charge of the scene. We know that the state officials, state investigators have really blamed everything on the school chief, Pete Arredondo. But the mayor here in Uvalde has taken issue with that. He believes

that it was every one, every agency, that was on the scene. They are all equally to blame for what happened here, for the lack of police response. So, there is still so much we don't know.

Also, the interviews that many of these officers gave, right, right to investigators. We need to know what they said. We need to know what they were thinking in those moments and why these decisions were made not to go inside that classroom as kids quite -- I mean, sadly, and horrifically were dying.

STELTER: There's sometimes this criticism of the media that journalists are vultures, we're trying to chew away every little bit that we can and hurt the people at the center of these stories. So, how do you explain, when you're interviewing families, when you're talking to victims' families, why it's important for the press to get all this information?

PROKUPECZ: So, in this story, it's been a unique experience for me because I normally, Brian, don't focus on families and victims. You know, usually, I come in to a story like this and so much of my focus is on law enforcement and reporting on the law enforcement action and building sources and developing information for us to report.

In this situation, the families have been so key in giving us information and telling us exactly what was happening. It's the kids of the parents, the kids who survived, those parents whose stories really in many ways are the only way we're learning about what happened inside that classroom.

And so when I met -- I've met, you know, my team here, Matt Friedman and our photographer here, you know, Lionel Mendez. We all met with the families. It was about 60 family members in a room and we worked to convince them to talk to us because we felt it was important that their stories get out because that is the only way that they will get information. That is the only way change will come.

And we're starting to see that. Our interviews with the family members has had an effect on officials here. And we're going to see that develop throughout the day here as we learn information from the report and there will be a press conference later.

But you will see because of some of the work that journalists are doing here, it is having an effect on the way officials are now responding, and they feel the need to give information to the family members here and the public.

STELTER: Right. That pressure being applied by the press has been pivotal and it's held these officials accountable.

Shimon, thank you for coming on. We'll see you later today when that report comes out.

Let me bring back our panelists now -- Nicole Carroll, Natasha Alford and Bill Carter.

So, Nicole, again, head of "USA Today", overseeing Gannett's news operation.


This is again an example of a Gannett newspaper leading the way. So, "The Austin American-Statesman" gets ahold of this leaked video, the hallway video and editors had to decide whether and how to show it on television and to show it on the internet.

Tell us like what are the -- what are the -- what's the ethical balancing act that happens in that situation?

CARROLL: Sure. First of all, the reporter who got that was Tony Plohetski. And just like Bethany Bruner in the last one, you know, it shows the importance of local reporters in our communities.

When we received that video, we've been fighting for it since the beginning like your reporter talked about. All the media -- we're trying to get the record to show the truth for the families and the public. That's our only agenda is to get the truth out there.

And the officials had been stonewalling us. The stories have changed. The stories we've been misled, documents have been withheld.

So when we got this video, we knew it was an urgent need to get that out before the public to show the truth. And so, that was our consideration.

We absolutely wanted to be sensitive to the families. We -- you know, our hearts go out to the families. So we did edit out the sounds of the children and there is one child who comes into the frame briefly and leaves and we blurred his face.

But we left the rest in because it's all about accountability to the law enforcement agencies. As you watch that, you see them standing in the hallway for an hour after they had arrived and you know at that exact moment, there are kids inside those classrooms calling 911, and you know there are parents right out side those classrooms begging the police to go in.

You can read that in a story but when you see it, you can feel it. And that's a different experience of the information. Again, our priority is for the truth, for the families and the public, and that's what we did.

STELTER: Let me show "Statesman" editor Manny Garcia's comment about what more still needs to come out. He said: This story is part of a much larger public records and legal battle from our journalists aligned with reporters in Uvalde around Texas and the United States to obtain all videos of the tragedy, body cam footage, communications, 911 calls and more.

Again, people; might hear that and say, why do you want to see all of this, Nicole? Why you journalists want to obtain all of this?

Is the answer that we're not going to necessarily show it all, we're not going to show all the body cam footage of the police officers walking into the close room and seeing piles of bodies, but it needs to be released to the public? Is that the argument?

CARROLL: It needs to be -- we need to get to the truth. And we're fighting for these records so we can get the truth. Of course, we don't want to show graphic images. Of course, we don't want to do harm.

But we do have to get to the truth so this never happens again. Again, the agencies in charge of this had misled us. They've given contradictory statements.

We'll see what comes out today. We're very interested in what happens today.


CARROLL: So, you know, when they said, why didn't you let the officials release this video, we wouldn't be doing our job if these same officials who had been stonewalling us, if we let them decide when and where and how this video got out? Again, our priority is the people and the families and the truth.

STELTER: Bill Carter, "New York Times" veteran, now CNN media analyst. This local station in Texas broke into programming to share the tape. "The Statesman" broadcast it on YouTube.

Is it the right call in your view?

CARTER: Yes, it was the right call in my view. And I agree basically to what Nicole said.

But I'm for transparency in general, but radical transparency when someone is trying to do everything they can to keep you from finding out the truth. You have to at least then approach it with total skepticism and belief that they won't do the right thing.

So here is a news organization which has information that you don't know how they're going to handle because they handled all the rest of it in a very disreputable way really.

STELTER: Is this a fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you sources --


CARTER: Absolutely, that would be my approach, totally.

STELTER: Or is that the other way around?

Natasha, this is also an example, maybe the ultimate example of something we talked about for years. Whether news outlets can trust police accounts and how much we should be taking stock in police accounts?

ALFORD: I think America is waking up. I don't know, maybe, it's just because I'm a Black person in America.


STELTER: You think -- you think white America is waking up to that reality?

ALFORD: There you go.


ALFORD: Because this is a reality that I've known since childhood, right, the way that police may have recounted an event happening is not exactly how it went down. My father's generation knew that and the generation before knew that.

And so, I have a lot of empathy for these families. I feel their pain. And two things can be true at the same time, that we need videos like this to create accountability and to establish a public record and then to say, what happens next?

Remember, Governor Abbott being on that stage, talking about the bravery of the police officers, right?

So, there's this theory about how we want and expect police officers to behave, but there's a reality of how different officers may behave in any given situation. And so, we cannot take that for granted.

And we are thankful to those journalists for pushing the issue, for not stopping at that press conference with however Governor Abbott and other officials wanted to portray what happened, but asking the tough questions that needed to be asked.


STELTER: Right. Nicole Carroll, thank you very much. Bill and Natasha, please stick around, more with you in a moment. We're going to talk about a brand new poll about 2024 and what voters are saying about President Biden. And later, why the best TV drama right now is not on Netflix? It's about Netflix.


STELTER: Nearly every day, there's a new story about President Biden in 2024 and just as often, there's a story about former President Trump likely running again. What those stories need to note is that many, many Americans, by some measures, most Americans want to move on. Most are not eager for a rematch.


STELTER: Detailed new polling by the New York Times and Siena College shows that only 50 percent of Republicans would vote for Trump if the primary were today. Ron DeSantis is number two, though with 25 percent support and half as much as Trump. On the other side, barely one in four people who expect to vote in the 2024 Dem primary say the Democrats should nominate Biden again. The age gap is enormous with younger folks almost completely rejecting Biden. Now, if a rematch were on the ballot in 2024, some of the people polled said they would just stay home. But overall, Biden would still beat Trump 44 percent to 41 percent.

That's not the big story, though. The big story, the one that we need to reflect on in our news coverage is it a whole lot of voters want to "upend the system." They want structural change. They're fed up not just with President X, Y, or Z, but with the entire system. They've lost trust in it all. Lots of Republicans doubt their vote counts, in part because Trump has lied to them about that. Lots of Democrats doubt their vote matters in part because Democratic leaders have let them down.

What's going on is not about a political horse race. I know those are fun to cover. I know many media personalities have built their careers covering political horse races. But the story now is about whether to race horses at all. Many think the races are fixed, so news coverage, as usual, is not enough.

Let's see what Bill Carter and Natasha Alford think. They're back here with me. So, Bill, a brand new Fox News poll this morning, it shows basically mirroring The Times' findings.


STELTER: Showing only three in 10 respondents want Biden to run again, and only four and 10 want Trump to run again. Have you seen that before?

CARTER: Never. But I have to say it's rare to see a rematch, anyway.


CARTER: That's sort of rare. I think it's adding two or three times in our history. Most recently, Eisenhower and Stevenson, it's going way back. But the other thing is you have to remember, these are two guys who are already considered too old to run the first time. So, the idea that they're going to run again and have no change when the whole country is at, I mean, the whole country says we're on the wrong track, basically.


CARTER: Both sides were on the wrong track.

STELTER: Almost 90 percent.

CARTER: So, obviously, there's something wrong at the top. I feel like it's --

STELTER: And we've lived in an environment for nearly a decade where all we hear about is Trump and now Biden, Trump, and Biden.

CARTER: It's negative. And everybody is attacking, always on the attack.


CARTER: You now have media that is specifically out there to attack whoever the -- ahead of the other party.

STELTER: So, is this partly about the media, Bill? Is it that we live in such a saturated media environment?

CARTER: Right.

STELTER: We hear so much bad news about Biden about Trump about all of it, no wonder people tell these pollsters they want to give up to some sort of.

CARTER: Absolutely. That's -- I think that's a huge part of it. There's a drumbeat out there constantly. They -- everything's wrong, this is wrong, this isn't working.


CARTER: Abortion is either we have to celebrate or it's the worst thing that's ever happened. It's always this head-butting. And I think people are -- but people want to live their lives. They don't want to have all of this negativity buried in them all the time.

On the other hand, that's all they watch. They only watch channels that -- they only watch, generally, channels that support their point of view, which is something we touch that earlier. And that gives you the blinkers. You can't see what else is going on.

STELTER: Natasha, it's also the age gap is the big story.

ALFORD: Oh, yes.

STELTER: And the big story is structural change, and young people have had enough. They're fed up.

ALFORD: Well, for many young voters, Biden felt like a compromise, to begin with, that it's not who they wanted. They were told this is who you have to rally around to fend off Trump, to fend off white supremacy, right? Because there's even more at stake than just an election, people's lives are impacted by who is in office and who that person empowers to feel like, you know, they can behave whatever kind of way.


ALFORD: So, he was a compromised candidate, but also, who's the next generation, right? What -- who is the Democratic Party cultivating to be a leader for the next generation? Or is it just people who have said, you know, I put my time in and so I deserve my time now? Wait in line. Nobody wants to hear that anymore.

STELTER: Nobody wants to hear that.

ALFORD: What's next?

STELTER: I think the media has to keep up with these shifting winds, this incredible desire for change. Not surprisingly, Bill, every poll shows inflation tops people's concerns. It's ahead of something like January 6. We do know there's going to be a prime-time hearing by the committee on Thursday, seems that this is going to be the last hearing of this series, and then probably more in the fall. Does it make a difference to be in primetime?


STELTER: You're our TV expert, does it matter the primetime or the hearing?

CARTER: I think so. I do think so.


CARTER: They're announcing upfront. These are big people. We're putting it in prime time. You know, when the president would make a statement, if he made it in prime time, you knew it was bigger, right? I think the same thing is happening here. And they have -- they have basically laid this out like a TV show, the cliffhangers at the end of each episode. And now here's the -- at least, the season finale, right, the summer season finale.

And they're going to try to swing big and I think they're announcing that ahead of time. And so far, they've backed up their promises. They've said things are going to be here's a surprise witness and it was the biggest witness so far. I think they have something that they think is so big, they want to maximize the audience.

STELTER: Thursday night. And by the way, since it's in prime time, Fox News unlikely to show it.

CARTER: Right.


STELTER: It probably won't get seen in right-wing media but it'll be seen everywhere else. All right. Thank you, Bill. Thank you, Natasha. Lots more coming up here on RELIABLE SOURCES. What will the future of the Internet look like? Can we even imagine it? Well, some of the richest men of the world are imagining it. They're placing bets about the Metaverse. Is it looks like this? We're going to explain it all. We're going to make it make sense next.


STELTER: Everyone's heard of the Metaverse, but almost no one knows what it is or what it could be someday. So let's help change that. The Metaverse is a vision of the internet's future, a vision of an immersive 3D internet, perhaps, melding physical and virtual realities. Sci-Fi storytellers have been imagining this for decades. In fact, the word Metaverse was first coined in 1992. But now some of the biggest companies in the world like Facebook are remaking themselves and investing billions in this vision.


After all, Mark Zuckerberg renamed his company, Meta, to reflect this reality. Matthew Ball has been writing about the Metaverse since the modern concept -- infancy. He's the CEO of Epyllion. He's the author of the new book, the Meta-Verse: How It Will Revolutionize The World. So, Matthew, tell us. Can we start with what the Metaverse is not? It might be easier to explain it that way.

MATTHEW BALL, AUTHOR, "THE METAVERSE AND HOW IT WILL REVOLUTIONIZE EVERYTHING": You're absolutely right. As the term has surged in popularity, confusion, uncertainty, and conflation have abounded. The Metaverse is not crypto nor blockchains and NFTs. Those may be relevant technologies or more broadly philosophies, but they're separate from the Metaverse itself, which reflects, as you mentioned, a 3D version of the internet, a parallel plane of existence.

The Metaverse doesn't replace everything. We're in the mobile and cloud era, we still use local storage. I'm on a personal computer right now. And the Metaverse is not a video game. 3D simulations are best expressed in entertainment but that today is because they've been too limited for much more. Now we're seeing it in industry, education, healthcare, and more.

STELTER: So in the future, I might be able to go to a theme park in the Metaverse, but more importantly, I might be able to go visit my doctor.

BALL: That will be part of it. But I would tell you that you already can. In October, Johns Hopkins University performed the first ever live patient surgery using a mixed reality device.


BALL: When you walk through the Hong Kong International Airport, you're reproduced live in a 3D simulation, and the operator uses that to determine which gate, which plane is used, and why.

STELTER: So it's already in some ways here. What are the -- Mark Zuckerberg to the world trying to do? The -- Disney as well as major media companies are making investments in this, but what are they actually working on?

BALL: A good way to think about this is to ask the question, what did you require for the iPhone? A lot of that was user interface hardware, much of which Apple pioneered, but a lot of it was in telecommunications infrastructure and the underlying technologies that allow us to exchange information from thousands of miles and different networks away. None of this was designed for three dimensions.

STELTER: When I was thinking about the U.S. government last week saying hey, we're going to up the bar for broadband so that slow internet doesn't count as broadband anymore. And we're going to have to continue to do that as a country and as a world to create higher quality connections in order to enable a 3D internet. Is that right?

BALL: Totally. And just as quickly as the biggest technology companies on Earth started pivoting to the metaverse, national organizations have as well. The South Korean Metaverse Alliance was formed by the Information and Communications and Technology Department, uniting 450 companies, from fridge manufacturers to vehicles, and banks, all to build a national service. Russia right now is reportedly looking to build its own national 3D simulation service because right now everything that they use comes from us.

STELTER: So let's try to -- I know a lot of this is unpredictable and that's one of the points you make in your book. A lot of this future is unpredictable. But can we picture a version of CNN in 10 years? Can you tell us how this interview would be different in 10 years?

BALL: Well, I think we can imagine that the studio audience can be infinite, not just your colleagues. Certainly, John King has been innovating when it comes to data presentation, and the ability for the audience to feel as though they're in the mix. We'll start to see that and frankly, the audience at home will be able to turn on and off what they want, touch the screen instead of hoping John does.

STELTER: Oh, so like we would all have our own magic well, that's one -- that's one practical example, right?

BALL: Quite right.

STELTER: Interesting. OK. Matt, stick around. I've got lots more questions for you, including about this. Here's the headline on CNN BUSINESS right now. Netflix is in tough shape, and this week will determine its future. Why is that? We're going to tell you right after this.



STELTER: Netflix is at a pivot point and so is the entire streaming video universe. On Tuesday afternoon, Netflix is going to report quarterly earnings. And this comes in the wake of that poor first- quarter performance back in April, losing subscribers and thus losing the affection of Wall Street and investors.

All eyes now once again on Netflix to see what it posts, what it says about subscribers, is inflation, is the economy hurting streaming video subscriptions? There are lots of questions Netflix is going to face this week, so let's bring back Matthew Ball.

We've been talking with him about his Metaverse book. He's also the former head of strategy at Amazon Studios. Matthew, welcome back. So, you are an expert in this streaming universe. Why is Tuesday so important for Netflix but also for the rest of the media business?

BALL: So obviously, we saw a rougher first quarter as the pandemic which had tailwinds, it lasted longer than anyone in streaming expected comes to a close. There are fears of saturation of price tolerance of the number of services the average person will hold. And Netflix, which is the most saturated, the most widely adopted, is starting to feel the pressure.

STELTER: So they are going to report earnings and then the rest of the major media companies will do the same, and we'll have a sense of subscriber growth or loss. What is -- what will this quarter mean more broadly for the industry? Is there a reset going on about streaming?

BALL: Well, so for years, we looked at Netflix as an example of what could happen if you pulled off your sales forecast, you hit hundreds of millions of subscribers, we hope for 30 to 40 percent gross margins. The fact that Netflix is weakening and below 200 million subscribers long talking about half a billion if not a billion subscribers starting to show that perhaps that long-sought-after target isn't going to be as rosy as we hoped.

STELTER: Right. And so the company is not going to perform as well for investors. But they're still making incredible numbers of television shows, so is HBO Max owned by CNN's parent company, so is -- so is Hulu and Disney Plus, is there any slowing of that speeding train of streaming content?


BALL: Absolutely. We saw Disney Plus over this year announce that they were going to trim their content, spending by 1 billion I believe that the combined Warner Bros. and Discovery have talked about 3 billion easing off. And that reflects the challenge. Everyone needs subscribers but they feel like spend is not sustainable.

And already as we take a look at this quarter, Antenna has reported that Netflix has gone from the best performing streaming service when it comes to month one sign-up retention to the worst, that they're at a four-year peak in combined churn. We're starting to see some burning at the edges.

STELTER: Right. So Tuesday is going to be critical. Matthew, thanks, and congrats again on the book launch, it's The Metaverse And How It Will Revolutionize Everything, comes out Tuesday in over a dozen countries.

We'll be back with more -- a little bit more about Twitter and Elon Musk right after this break.



STELTER: Finally today, an update on the Twitter saga. Now that Elon Musk wants out, the company is now suing Musk. And the very first hearing is slated for this Tuesday in a Delaware courtroom. We'll have the latest in our Nightly Newsletter,, and we'll see you back here this time next week.