tv Reliable Sources CNN May 31, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PDT
ime minister to president but remains in power. let's hope 35 years from now this is actually history. thank you for being a part of my program this week and for the last seven years. i will see you next week. good morning. i'm brian stelter and it's time for "reliable sources." it's a big news day. we're beginning with the news story the whole tv business cannot stop talking about. it's about brian williams and what's going to happen with the suspended newsman. it's been almost four months since he was suspended and most people have been assuming he will either come back to "news now" at the end of the suspension or he will be leaving nbc entirely frankly tarnished or disgraced after that exaggeration scandal. but this morning my sources are pointing to a third option a new role for williams. not necessarily at "news now," but somewhere else at nbc. now, these talks are still top secret inside the network and anything could happen but nbc news's new chairman andy lack is said to be advocating for this
third option this new role that would keep williams in the fold. presumably it would keep lester holt at the "news now" anchor desk for the foreseeable future. brian williams has called nbc home for over 20 years but it's still quite possible two sides will not agree on this new role. some of my sources think he is on the way out but others see a way for him to stay in. these negotiations have been going on for weeks and several times along the way it's seemed there is imminent news but i'm at the moment told there's been no official decision about whether he will stay or whether he will go. so we have all the angles covered this morning beginning with brian, a correspondent with ""vanity fair"" who wrote an article about what happened inside nbc when all this happened in february. thanks for being here this morning. >> pleasure. >> your story was a tick tock explaining how we got to this point. do you think it makes sense for him to return in some way? >> i think for all parties concerned it makes perfect
sense. if you're nbc why get rid of a very valuable asset? if you bring him back in the fold let him do some documentaries, standups let him do something in msnbc, what's the worst that could happen? that doesn't work out and there's pushback you can part ways then. and for brian it's very clear he knows what the future holds for him out there if he leaves nbc. it's called dan rather. i don't think he wants that. >> tell me what you mean by that? you don't think there's a lot of other possible jobs for williams out nbc. >> i think there's going to be possible jobs. i don't think any of them possess the luster or the prestige ever anything he could do at nbc news. i've always thought that nbc remains his last best chance to stay in the news business. if he leaves he would almost certainly go into a talk show role which may ultimately make the most sense. >> sources i have been talking to don't say it's necessarily within nbc news like msnbc or
nbc entertainment. >> who is not going to watch the first thing brian williams does? let's say he does a one-our documentary on his own plight. let's see that leads to standups or specials on msnbc or a talk show on msnbc. and if none of that works out, then they part ways. i mean i think from andy's point of view brian is too valuable just to throw out the door. we also know the men have long strong social connections. were. >> they were said to be friends and when lack was hired two months ago, people said this means brian williams is coming back to the nrn"news now" a.j.or chair anchor chair. >> i don't see him coming back to "nightly." at nbc he has to be the top news executive. he's a manager and a symbol. and it's very clear that down in the ranks there's not a lot of support for having brian come back and there is a lot of support for lester holt who remains terribly popular with nbc and whose ratings are
holding up. >> he's held onto almost all of brian williams' audience. i have been surprised that holt has done as well as he has given all the drama and uncertainty right now. >> lester holt is no one's idea of a buzzy star but he's a workman-like professional popular newsman who brings the credibility to that news desk that nbc badly needs. >> i'm told that when he was out in california recently accepting an honorary degree andy lack and the head of nbc news came with him. they had a meeting at the l.a. bureau with the staff and perhaps that was a show of support for holt. one of the weird things is they're not promoting holt. they're not saying he's the okay yar. he's just the fill-in. >> everyone involved realizes lester is taking one for the team. he's in an unpleasant situation. he's in limbo and i think they want to do everything possible to show their support for him not just to show the support but also because he is so popular in
the ranks. >> you dive down so deep into the story for "vanity fair." wrote one of the definitive stories about what went wrong. are you surprised we're still talking about this that there hasn't been an announcement by nbc? >> no i'm not. from the beginning i felt nbc was going to take as long as possible to come up with a solution. they need to keep their finger in the wind. they need to get a sense how people like you and other media critics are going to react to all the potential roles. i always anticipated and i think we're just now getting to see a series of trial balloons about what brian might be and they want to see i think how the public and how the media react to that. >> there's one thing this story has in comemon with the duggars, and that is nbc doesn't have to do anything and tlc doesn't have to do anything about the duggars because that show isn't currently on the air so they don't have to make a decision about its future. maybe that's what's happening here too. nbc doesn't have to decide today because lester ho elt is doing well and brian williams is on
the bench. >> it's strange but time is actually on nbc's side. we're entering the dog days of summer and i would guess they're going to take this to the last possible minute. it's in both sides' interest i think to take all the time they can and both sides it's clear at least elements of both sides would like to see brian come back in some role. >> brian, thanks for being here. appreciate it. for more let's turn to andrew wallin steen from "variety" and david zurawick. >> thank you. >> andrew let me start with you in l.a. i want to companyapture the idea that the whole industry keeps talking about the story. it's an obsession among television news types. have you sensed this died down or is it the topic du jour for the industry? >> i don't think the attention is quite as great as it was when the scandal first broke, but, man, the suspension has created a lot of suspense. if i was running nbc entertainment, i would say this
is good fodder for a drama series. >> david, i would completely agree with what andrew just said. i wonder what you make of the idea of a new role for brian williams. you've been outspoken his credibility has taken a severe blow here. >> i think it has. as a journalist. i don't think he can return to that anchor desk. he certainly can't return as managing editor and anchor. number one, i think brian and you are absolutely right about trial balloons. i think nbc is floating a trial balloon and this is a good place to do that. but i think also if you look at andy lack's history, he did news magazines in the '80s and '90s, and one of the things i learned writing about those news magazines is they were a great place to lay off anchormens' sal salaryies salaries. you saw the anchors hosting prime time news magazines because the money was so great for them.
andrew hayward was another guy that did this at cbs. andy lack knows how to do this, and if they're stuck with his salary in some ways putting him in even a quasijournalistic show, something like "48 hours" or having him do interviews that might work for them. if lack can pull that off, it's a smart thing but he's got to get him out of the evening news -- out of the "news now" for for a whole bunch of reasons. his journalistic credibility is shredded. with millennials especially who are photo shopping him into any screen scene everywhere. this third pocket sounds okay as long as it's not journalism. >> don't you think americans are fundamentally forgiving people. if enough time goes by he can return to a news anchor job? >> i hope not. honestly i'm serious, brian. i think it's part of a kind of
malaise in this country that people on wall street who are too big to fail can do terrible things in 2007 2008 to the economy and not be toumpdched. i think there's a reason people were saying early on about brian williams too big to fail. he's going to get away with this. i think americans are really sick of that heartsick in a way, and i think if they put him back in that anchor chair they're going to risk facing that kind of blowback from those people. >> andrew help us pull the curtain back a little bit. fundamentally, it comes down to money, right? it comes down to financials. we're talking about a contract and one way or another nbc might have to pay brian williams a lot of money. >> yeah but, you know, here is the thing i don't understand. why would he be not okay on the anchor desk but you put him anywhere else and he'll be just fine? i think that's ridiculous. >> because it's an entertainment program. because he's doing entertainment. >> he faces a credibility problem. he faces a credibility problem -- >> not if you're doing "48 hours" introducing sessionmentsgments.
>> david, you're being ridiculous. >> it's not ridiculous. >> literally the debate that's happening inside nbc about this. andrew go ahead. >> listen he needs to get out there and do what he has not done from the very beginning, which is address this problem head on at length very specifically show some contrition. if he doesn't do any of these things nbc could make him a correspondent on mars and it will still be a problem. >> it's way too late for contrition. it's way too late. >> david -- >> i think -- i do believe that the american public has it in its mitts to offer some forgiveness, but not if brian williams is going to continue to stiff upper lip this in silence. >> but you can't -- >> it's not too late. >> let me try one other idea out on you, david, because i know you follow cable news. what about msnbc? what about putting brian williams back where he grew up
in cable news on msnbc? >> i think landy lack yy yy andy lack has to fix msnbc which has massive problems. i don't think putting brian williams back there right now with the credibility issues is the right move for msnbc. he has to convince people that msnbc is concerned with giving americans trustworthy, reliable information. putting someone who has lied and who has lied on several occasions and seems to have some kind of come pultionpulsion to enhance his story is not how to fix a troubled network. you think wow this guy by cable standards this, guy would drive ratings through the roof. if it wasn't a credibility issue and msnbc hadn't blown itself up with its ideology -- with its overcommitment to ideology in
the last few years. >> i think the agreement is there will be a second act for brian williams. the question is exactly what it will be. one good news item for nbc news and i wanted to ask you about this about the "today" show. it had back-to-back ratings victories in may. that hasn't happened in a couple years. are we starting to see a comeback for what is frankly the more important asset for nbc news the "today" show? >> well if i'm debra turner i don't think i'm popping champagne corks but it's an encouraging sign. she's seeing good results there, seeing "meet the press" is doing well. the evening newscast with lester hole of course doing well. these are all good signs, but no victory lap in sight just yet. >> andrew wallin steen, david zurawik, thank you for being here. when we come back another breaking news story, one that's just developed in the past few hours. u.s. secretary of state john kerry air lifted to a hospital in geneva switzerland, after breaking his right femur in a
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let's get to jim sciutto in washington. jim, do we know where he is at the same time and what his condition is? >> brian, he's still in switzerland, still in the hospital. they're working out the logistics for how he would come home. keep in mind they're cutting short this trip. these were important talks in paris and madrid on the anti-isis coalition and of course leaving geneva where those crucial iran talks are under way with less than a month to go for the deadline. a serious injury and they're bringing him home to the doctor who treated that leg before because, remember he had a hip replacement surgery and this break on the same side as that surgery was, they wouldn't be bringing him back if this wasn't a serious injury. that said, they say he's in good spirits. the injury certainly not life-threatening but it's something that highways to be taken care of. >> this must be creating a lot of conversation where you are in washington about the effects on the iran talks. >> it's bad timing there's no question. you have a month to go. you're really in the stretch run
here and the personal relationship between secretary kerry and the iranian foreign minister has been key to these negotiations from the beginning. you still have major sticking points on sanctions relief for instance access to sensitive nuclear sites in iran. those are the kinds of things when you have two people who have been working together from the very start of these talks, those face-to-face conversations mean something, and that's why kerry more than anyone really is always flying around the world for face-to-face conversations, whatever the issue is so here you have a case where, you know it's possible it's going to keep him away from that and that has to have some effect. does it kill the deal? no, but it's not good timing for an injury like this. >> jim, thank you very much. we'll see you on "state of the union" in a few minutes. >> thank you. >> sanjay gupta is joining us. you're a doctor of course. you have described how difficult it be to recover from this type of injury. since john kerry is the key man in these negotiations with iran
it's a key mission, can you see a situation where he can continue to play a role? will kerry be able to continue to play a role in the negotiations? >> well, you know, i think there's search going to be a period of time when he's just going to have an operation, then be recovering from that and during that time, you know, the recovery is really, you know, crucial and he'll likely be in a hospital for a few days and just be recovering. after that brian, it's four to six months probably people will typically talk about in terms of recovery but it can be longer and there's a lot involved. it's going to be hard for had i am to travel. certainly harder for him to travel. might he be able to do some of that still? perhaps. i think it's going to be a call that his doctor is going to have to make and as jim sciutto just mentioned, he had his hip replaced on that side in 2009 so now he has this problem on top of it. so how bad is that area of his leg? how much is that going to affect his mobility overall? i think he'll still be able to
be active and engaged with regard to your question brian, but maybe harder to do as much of it in person. >> >>people may be wondering what is it like to travel back across the atlantic when there's an injury like this? >> there's two ways of looking at this. one is that this is a painful injury. look the femur bone that he broke, the thigh bone is the strongest and longest bone in the body. to break it it requires a lot of force, and it's painful. so he's dealing with that. i'm sure he's getting pain medications and all that to address that. but if there is a good side it is that they made the decision that he can travel. he can, you know, be stable enough to make the journey back to the united states have the doctor who originally operated on him take care of him again who knows his leg well. so that's a good sign. if this were much more urgent or emergent or if there was something else that were more involved going on here they could have made the decision to
just operate, recommend the operation right there and the fact that they're allowing him to go home i think is a bit of a good sign. >> pretty unfortunate, pretty painful situation. dr. sanjay gupta, thanks for being here. >> no problem, brian. thank you. >> when we come back the big media question of the week. with eight declared republican candidates and three democrats and many more to come how do media outlets decide just how much coverage each candidate should get. as the field gets more and more crowded, we're going to debate that next. thank you. that next.
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jumping in the race. on saturday it was former maryland governor martin o'malley followed by bernie sanders on tuesday, rick santorum on wednesday and, wait for it former new york governor george pataki on thursday. for those of you keeping score at home. that's three candidates on the democratic side and eight company candidates so far. if that's not enough for you, donald trump says he plans to make a major announcement on june 16th. lincoln chafee is talking about getting on the democrat side. so for the political press s this just an embarrassment of riches or just an embarrassment? with so many candidates the question is who deserves a turn in the media spotlight and how do we divvy up the attention. this is cnn's republican presidential debate back in september of 2011. there were eight candidates crowding the stage that night. and four years late tler could easily be double that number jockeying for air time especially if all these guys and
girls get into the race. which is why fox and cnn have announced debate criteria to limit the numbers. the democrats have the opposite problem kind of. with hillary clinton dominating the polls, how much attention should o'malley and sanders and maybe chafy really get from the press? should we make editorial decisions based on the reality of polls or the possibilities that anyone could win? so let's bring in two people who thought a lot about this. ron fournier a columnist with the national journal and molly hemingway, a senior editor for the federalist. thanks for being here. >> good morning. >> great to be here. >> ron, very simply is it polls or is it possibilities? >> it's both. you know what reporters is do is you look at the data at the history, you look at trends you do a lot of reporting and then you make a judgment. which of these people has the best chance at -- or of all these people let's put the focus on the folks who are going to impact the campaign or the presidency. it's kind of like a sports
writer. if you cover baseball you've got a thousand major leaguers. you don't give them all the same amount of attention. you kind of look at which ones are going to affect the game and constantly reassess. and the shot storm, the backup shortstop, he goes on a hot streak in the summer and then you focus on him. >> doesn't the media also manufacture rivalries like that sometimes? >> yeah sometimes we do have -- our greatest bias isn't our ideology it's our bias toward conflict. there's times we manufacture a conflict. we shouldn't. we should always be thinking not just what does this event say and how it might affect the campaign but how it might affect and reflect the kind of person this candidate would be as a president. that's what we should be doing. it's not what we always do. >> molly, what's your take on the republican field currently? do you think it's simply a matter of too many people? i bring that up because you suggest something really interesting, something that i loved the idea about.
you said every candidate should agree not to sign a tv deal or a book deal for two years after they're running. tell me about that idea. >> well there's no way that's enforceable, but you have these issues that, you know some people are in this race a little bit more legitimately than others but i just completely reject the idea that this is a problem to be solved. this is a tremendous journalistic opportunity. i mean you have serious ideological disputes going on on the republican side of things. different ideas about education policy common core, foreign policy interventionism, surveillance. and as journalists we complain about the influence of hundred on politics and complain about barely distinguishable candidates who don't have interesting policy ideas and what we have are interesting debates that affect the entire country and even candidates who seem maybe too us a little less legitimate might have really good ideas on a particular policy issue. it's not like the primary is being held today. this is a long process, and i think we can just take our time and really explore these ideas.
>> one of the big debates has been about how much attention bernie sanders should get as a candidate and now o'malley now that he is in a race. where do you come out on that as a right-leaning writer but someone paying close attention to this left-leading debate. >> there's no question hillary is dominating this side of things. these are candidates with interesting ideas. their ideas alone can impact the race. i see no problem with fully interrogating, you know, tax policies and martin o'malley and bernie sanders have intriguing ideas about tax policy and it's something that's even good for hillary if she can actually be forced to engage some of these discussions. >> like you said we have a lot of time. ron, i wonder if you see an msnbc primary sort of going on. we've talked on this program about the fox primary, about fox news covering these republican candidates and giving them attention or not and how that influences the race. this week i wonder if you satisfy any msnbc primary activities going on with bernie sanders and o'malley? >> yeah do you have a little
bit of that. the ideological media, and it's not just on tv but it's also in print and on the web, they have a vested interest in creating a conflict in creating a race so that the viewers who tend to go to polarized media will have something to show up for. that definitely is a factor. >> molly, i heard you jumping in there as well. >> i worry the way we cover these things we sometimes marginalize ourselves as media figures. we have seen some ganscampaigns have figured out they don't need to work through the media. they can take their message directly to the votesrs. we need to not focus on gaffes or silly conflicts but focusing on substance and making it interesting and entertaining for voters. that's where we're going to do the best and that's where we should focus our efforts. >> i was just going to follow up because i agree completely. every day there's something that happens on the campaign trail that tells us what kind of president these people or this person would be and that's what we should be focusing on is what
kind of leadership abilities are they showing or not showing every day. >> i was going to throw a provocative question to both of you before we go because i love what you said molly b this being a tremendous journalistic opportunity but i do wonder are there any candidates in this gop race sometimes looks like a clown car, that should not be getting our attention. donald trump, for example? >> i have a hard time saying it about anyone other than donald trump. people are saying it about more than just him. donald trump it's hard to take seriously but that's not something journalists need to decide. maybe he has a message that really resonates outside of news rooms and it's not our job to pick winners and losers here even though that is a difficult case. >> ron, what about you? donald trump? should we take him seriously? >> i agree, it's hard to imagine donald trump being president. he has a pretty interesting tv show but not a political background. >> but if he's polling in the top ten, he will be on the debate stage. >> i only have one vote. my job is trying to figure out
not just who is going to win the campaign but what kind of president they are going to be and donald trump might say something or do something that isn't going to get him to the white house but might affect who does and i have to pay attention to that. >> thanks for the thoughtful conversation this morning. >> thank you. >> thanks. up next on the program, allegations of blackmail and sexual misconduct surrounding former housekeeper dennis hastert. the question now is how did the press corps not find out about this for decades? we'll explore that just after this. if you suffer from a dry mouth then you'll know how uncomfortable it can be. but did you know that the lack of saliva can also lead to tooth decay and bad breath? well, there is biotene specially formulated with moisturizers and lubricants... biotene can provide soothing relief and it helps keep your mouth healthy too. biotene, for people who suffer from a dry mouth. here at friskies, cats are in charge of approving every new recipe. because it's cats who know best what
welcome back. the blockbuster news of dennis hastert's criminal indictment sent shock waves through washington this week. the former house speaker is facing serious charges for lying to the fbi about the millions of dollars he allegedly paid to a former student in an apparent hush money to keep him quiet about allegations of sexual misconduct. this all apparently allegedly happened while hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in yorkville, illinois. there's still many unanswered questions in this case and it
all has me wondering how did one of the most powerful men in washington hide this from the media for so long? makes you wonder what else we don't know, right? joining me in washington buzz feed's washington bureau chief john stanton. thanks for being here. >> it's good to be here. >> buzz feed is one of the first outlets to report on this indictment the other day. it's all been based on anonymous sources, all the things we have heard in recent days. how can we trust sources in a case like this? >> well i think you have to a certain degree trust the reporters, trust the outlets. we went through a lot -- talked to a lot of people a lot of sources to make sure what we were writing was true and i think in a situation like this where getting at information that the government is withholding for whatever reasons a part of these indictments is always going to be difficult and it's going to necessitate us to work with anonymous sources and it's incumbent on the reporters to trust the people that they are working with to know that they have a good track record and to verify through multiple
people that the stories all line up. >> i think it's good for viewers to know when there's anonymous sources, editors are involved bosses like you are involved in those processes. >> there are a lot of instances in which we know things we believe to be true that we have multiple sources telling us are true but we don't have enough sources telling us or we don't -- the stories are not quite consistent enough that we don't report on. so for instance the story that came out from "the l.a. times" on friday that this involved allegations of sexual misconduct. a lot of people in town knew that after the indictment came out and were working on this story before it came out. we heard that we heard those kind of things but none of us have been able to report it because we had not gotting the sourcing together to do it. >> eventually a lot of news outlets confirmed that news report including cnn but initially lots of journalists knew it but weren't quite ready to report it.
>> exactly, exactly. >> let me play a weird sound bite for you because this is a clip from c span. it happened last year but it was unearthed in the wake of the indictment. take a look. >> illinois is our next call. here is bruce, independent line. hi. >> hello, danny. >> how are you doing? >> pretty good. remember me from yorkville? >> bruce, you're on go ahead with your question. >> it was weird from start to finish the laughter and all the rest. all of it makes me wonder about stories like this when we learn about a huge secret that's been kept for decades. how did all the journalists miss it? >> i think it goes back to what i was saying earlier that there are some times where we hear things about politicians or organizations or whatever here in d.c. that, you know we learn things about them but we're never able to report them there's not enough sources, not enough evidence things don't come together quite right. a lot of people outside of washington and outside the
system don't see it because we working on the story are never able to get it. in this instance while there were occasionally a few rumors that people that i have talked to said they heard over the years, mostly quite frankly, it sort of seemed to boil down to bad taste jokes about being a wrestling coach and the old saw about that right? and most everyone that i have talked to certainly in washington who knew him, that knew his inner circle knew the people around him, said did this come as a shock? our reporters who have been working in yorkville say in the community as well that this is really taken pretty much everyone by surprise. folks that are pretty plugged into this town's gossip mill had never heard this before. and so this may be an instance in which this was just covered up really really well and this is how it first came out was because he slipped up with this money situation. >> john thanks so much for being here. great talking with you. >> thank you. >> my next guest said the same thing, sometimes cover-ups work.
alan dershowitz joins me. thank you for being here. >> my pleasure, thank you. >> is that the takeaway that sometimes you can keep a secret from the whole journalism world for decades? >> but it's a very bad idea. it's a very bad idea to ever pay hush money because you're owned by the young man. let's distinguish also what kind of truth we know. i think we have a pretty good basis for knowing that he paid money and that he paid it in a structured way. what we don't know is whether he paid hush money to prevent a true story or a false story from coming out. people often pay hishush money to prevent a false allegation from coming out. false allegations can be as career ruining as true allegations, and we have no information as far as i know to corroborate the fact that he actually engaged in improper touching or whatever other sexual allegations there were. >> as an attorney do you hear media reports based on anonymous sources and approach them with a lot of skepticism? >> yes. i'm very skeptical because the media often fails to distinguish
between uncorroborated word of a single pern like this young man investigated reports, indictments, convictions. once they hear there's been an allegation and it's covered by some legal privilege because it's in a legal document then the press is eager to report it because scandal sells, and they often don't do enough to tell the public how credible the information may be. >> you were caught up in a scandal yourself recently over sex allegations that were unproven. you wrote a letter to the editor of the "new york times" about it because when -- tell me what happened. >> what happened is i was falsely accused by some woman who has falsely accused many many other people. i disproved it. the judge struck it but "the new york times" ran -- >> that part wasn't covered. >> that part wasn't covered. "the new york times" ran a big story of putting me together with prince andrew and then when i filed a lawsuit and got it struck on the ground that it was irrelevant and wrong to do it "new york times" just didn't report the story for three days. when they finally buried the
story, they didn't even mention my name in the headline so i wrote a letter because scandal sells far better than vindication does. and, you know, the media didn't analyze how incredible the story was, that this was a woman who claim she had diber erdinner with bill clinton and sex with many other public officials. fortunately, i was able to disprove it. i don't think anybody believes the story anymore but it's still out there because the media doesn't do a good enough job reporting on the vindication when they report on the allegation. >> you sometimes see it on google. the initial story is so much higher in the results than the follow-up story which might actually have corrections or something like that. >> that's right. >> we don't know what will happen in this case with hastert but it's a reminder sometimes initial allegations are not always met by evidence. >> skepticism is a very good trait, not only for journalists but for people who listen to journalists. >> there's a tension because part of me expresses the idea
that you should trust reporters when they have anonymous sources baugh they check them with editors. on the other hand skep at this tism is valuable. >> even here the media failed to report they had no corroboration whatsoever for the truth or falsity of the sexual allegation. all they had corroboration and it was leaked to them by the government as part of their plan for the dime was that he had paid hush money, but that doesn't lead you inexorable to the conclusion he had done the act he was trying to hush up. >> more to come on this story. thank you for being here and analyzing with us. >> thank you. coming up it will be a rare sunday at work later today for senators as they race a midnight deadline for a key terror tracking program of the patriot act. but is the media buying into too much of the fearmongering going on? glen greenwald joins me in a moment.
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the final countdown is on for a vote to keep key provisions of the patriot act, a controversial law that among many other things allows the government to collect phone metadata on ordinary americans. the president says the u.s. needs this information to stop terrorist threats here at home. one senior administration official given anonymity said that congress was playing russian roulette with national security by not passing the extension for this bill. but there's a complication. rand paul is vowing to make sure the bill does not pass. and we will see what happens this afternoon. it sure looks like it's in peril. but no matter what happens, here's something to keep in mind. none of this would be happening without edward snowden. without his release of top secret documents. without the "guardian" and "washington post" newspapers agreeing to decipher the documents and tell the world about the nsa's programs. without journalists who stood up to the government. some people think those journalists did a terrible thing. some people think snowden's a
traitor. but this is a case of journalist shining a light in the darkness and affecting the public debate. now, one of those journalists, glenn greenwald-s joining me now from rio. he was one of snowden's original contacts and now a journalist for the intercept. glenn, thanks for being here. >> good to be with you. >> i just wanted to highlight this idea that without snowden we wouldn't see rand paul necessarily on the floor of the senate this afternoon trying to stop this bill. remind us where the debate was and where it was after snowden. >> well remember that when the patriot act was enacted even in the weeks after 9/11 when the country was pretty much willing to do anything the government wanted it was recognized it was an incredibly radical and extremist piece of legislation, and the idea was these powers we're giving the government should be temporary, not permanent, and so they're going to sunset every five years unless congress renews them. and yet in 2005 the bush administration demanded renewal and overwhelmingly congress renewed it with no fight. in 2011 president obama demanded
renewal and congress overwhelming ly overwhelmingly renewed it without any debate. now you see not just rand paul but dozens of house liberals and house conservatives and other people standing up together and saying we're not going to just renew the patriot act without reform we're going to have serious reform and in some cases a lot of people are saying we should just let these provisions lapse. the whole world has changed when it comes to this debate as a result of the revelations from edward snowden. >> have you been in touch with snowden recently? how does he feel about what's about to happen in the senate today? >> i mean, he feels, you know very good about the fact that there's a real debate. he has serious qualms like i think most privacy activists and advocates do about the usa freedom act, which is the piece of ledgegislation that the obama white house and the intelligence community has gotten behind. it's woefully inadequate at best. but it's really good to see, this is going to be the first time, and this is extraordinary, since 9/11 14 years ago, that the congress is taking away
powers from the federal government in the name of terrorism rather than giving them new ones. so hopefully this can be built on. >> when you hear news outlets mostly citing anonymous sources threatening about the risk to the country if these provisions do not remain what do you hear? because i sometimes worry that we encourage people to be more afraid than they should be by repeating these talking points from administration officials. >> american nydia outlets should really be ashamed of themselves the way they do that. supposedly the lesson that large american media outlets learned from their role in selling the iraq war to the public was oh we're not going to allow government officials to prop propagandaize the public anymore. we're going to put their names on things and have them be held accountable. yet this all turned out to be a complete scam. if you turn on any major cable network including the one we're on unfortunately or read any
large northwestern newspaper you constantly see reporters giving anonymity to the people they're supposedly serving as watchdogs over in order to scare the public. that "new york times" article that you reference that game anonymity to obama officials to say nothing other than you're playing russian roulette with national security if you're one of our critics on the patriot act was disgraceful. it was the kind of reporting that got judy miller fired. and yet they continue to do it. >> yet some officials have said it on the record. loretta lynch for example has made very severe statements about what could happen without these provisions of the patriot act. are we not supposed to report what they say when they're on the record? >> no of course on the record should absolutely be reported. and then there should be reporting that goes along with it from people who dispute that or from facts that undermine it. i mean, here's the thing, brian. >> so your point is one of the quotes from her was will you be less safe. that was one of her quotes. i think what you're saying is there should be follow-up when in fact something expires and the country's not less safe.
>> right. i mean the obama administration put together a panel to ask this panel of experts who had access to classified information are these metadata domestic spying programs keeping us safe? and their own panel concluded that there has not been a single terrorist attack stopped by this program. so to allow obama officials to go around the country saying you're going to die at the hands of isis and al qaeda if we can't spy on you without noting that all the evidence negates that is irresponsible. it's stenography journalism. >> glenn, thank you for being here. i appreciate your time. >> thank you brian. i appreciate it. >> and the vote and the debate in the senate will happen this afternoon. one more story four here on "reliable sources." and it's coming up right after the break.
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we are out of time on tv but check out the rest of the week's media news on cnn.com, including my take on the week's big media merger that's charter plus time warner cable. it's all on cnn.com. and stay tuned because "state of the union" starts right now. this is cnn breaking news. >> good morning from washington. i'm jim sciutto. and breaking news we're following today, secretary of state john kerry cutting short a crucial diplomatic trip in europe after breaking his right femur in a bicycle accident. this just 24 hours after cancer claimed the life of vice president biden's eldest son, beau biden. let's start with secretary kerry who remains in a swiss hospital for treatment. special precautions being taken because kerry previously had hip surgery on his injured leg. the state department issued a statement just