tv Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter CNN June 7, 2020 8:00am-9:00am PDT
so much. perhaps it's time to partner with someone who knows you and your business well enough to understand what your wealth is really for. live in new york. it's time for "reliable sources," our weekly look at the story behind the story. more protests are expected today in times square and across the country. we're going to talk this hour about "the new york times" and the op-ed by tom cotton that "the times" says should not have been published. what happened? an insider is here to speak on about what this says about journalism in 2020. plus, president trump telling americans not to believe their own eyes or ears. masha gessen is here with analysis. later i'll show you what happened when the white house turned the press corps into props. yes, anti-social distancing
props. alexi mccammond and oliver darcy is coming up. frommed video of george floyd dying to the video of these marches in big cities across the country, we are able to see it all these days. also in small town america, don't sleep on what's happening in small town america. protests in hundreds of cities. buzzfeed's has been keeping a list of hundreds of these protests in towns and small cities, in many cases these are unprecedented. reporters in these towns are saying they've never seen anything like it. this weekend there were anti-racism protestses from hickory, north carolina, to loveland, dole kol, from richmond, kentucky, to palmer, alaska, and so many places in define. we've seen action in capitals around the world. peaceful, powerful protests around the world. in the iphone age we're able to see it all, including scenes like this, videos that can expose the use of excessive force by police, videos can also reveal criminal behavior by people in the streets, photos
can shock the conscience. videos can also complicate the narrative. videos and photos can show unity. photos can expose lies from people in power. videos can show injustice wherever and whenever it happens. but even these images don't capture the full picture. for what it's like for black reporters to see these images day in and day out and be covering these moments as they're happening and be living this story. i don't think i can possibly ever fully understand how my african-american colleagues are feeling while facing a unique set of challenges, unique burdens, covering this story while living it. so, that's where i want to begin this hour. there's been some headlines about this recently. there's a cnn.com headline saying many journalists of color are fed up and speaking out. staffers calling out management at places like refinery 29d, buzzfeed, "the new york times" and philly enquirer. the top editor resigned.
there was an article published in the paper with the title "buildings matter too" which understandably caused an uproar from staffers at the inquirer. more than 40 journalists called out sick and tired, a protest earlier this week. this is bigger than any one moment, bigger than any one news room. let's start a conversation about this. i want you to hear from the three guests i have standing by. let me bring them in now beginning with jemele hill, nicole hannah jones of "the new york times" and the founder of the 1619 project, the pulitzer prize winner, and karen attiah from "the washington post" running the global opinions project at "the washington post." thank you all for coming on the program today. jemele, i hope you can set the table for us about the reality of news room diversity and for what it's like for african-american reporters and writers to be covering but also living this story. >> well, the reality is that
newsroom adversity is still awful and that it has remained a consistent problem in our business. and so i think what you're seeing is that a lot of black journalists having to experience the trauma of what is happening generally to black people in this country are also having to deal with newsrooms who are inadequate when it comes to diversity and inclusion. how can you cover this moment when your own news room doesn't reflect the community or the country that you cover? so it's a constant battle i think a lot of black journalists we face in news rooms, in different media outlets across the country is these problems have been systematically unaddressed. it's just a poor reflection of our business and also, frankly, a reflection of this nation. >> karen, has progress been made in recent years? >> you know, i think a lot about how the kerner commission report after the civil rights movement explicitly talked about this
problem, about diversity in news rooms. here we are in 2020 still addressing the same problem. there have been studies that said news rooms are actually less diverse overall than other workplaces in the united states. personally, i really don't like the word diversity when it comes to all of this. diversity is natural, it's a given. we are still fighting for integration in our news rooms, to the communities we cover actually trust us and are heard. we're uniquely unprepared, i think, overall, to cover this moment. however, again, a shout out to the black journalists,ings a shout out to local news that are covering a lot of what is happening but on a broader level our industry should be ashamed at this moment actually. >> and the black-owned press, the press as well. your point about integration is interesting. nicole, is that a better word for us to be using? >> yeah, i mean, a say all the time that i find diversity to be
a useless term. it's a term that makes everyone feel good and also pretends the particulars of being a black american are the same thing as being, you know, any other type of marginalized group, and it's not. i think what is really critical to understand is news rooms are, you know, our job is transparency and yet news rooms don't want to be transparent about their own diversity numbers, the american society of newspaper editors has stopped doing its annual diversity survey because so few news rooms are willing to participate in it. we have news rooms that, you know, are attempting to explain racism and racial injustice to the largest society while being unable to actually deal with racism and racial injustice within their own institutions. and that's highly problematic. >> you know, looking at the coverage of the past week, i would love for all of you to assess the positives and negatives of the news coverage of this current movement. you know, jemele, i noticed sean
hannity' show was rerunning old video of riots and looting. i thought it was to misleading to the point he's lying to the audience, pretending that's happening currently. there was unrest, vandalism on sunday and monday night in new york city. it's not happening today. i wonder if we'll see riot porn, which is a problem because it mislead people about what's happening today, what's happening now. >> well, i mean, consider the source when it comes to sean hannity. >> true. >> unusual for what they do. it's like asking a zebra to change its stripes. it's not going to happen. i will say i've seen certainly a lot of things that have, i thought, put the unrest and rebellion, just using those words, i think, is a significant step. i saw those used a lot more in the media as opposed to maybe at previous times like after ferguson. i think there was a little bit of a shift compared to the coverage we saw after ferguson.
nevertheless, there were still awful moments. the headline at the fefl inquirer, "buildings matter too." that gets back to what what we've been talking about when it comes to what your news room looks like and how that's to happen likely because you don't have adequate representation. or if you do, maybe they're not in a position to actually speak to why something like that is an awful reflection of what we're seeing. >> do you think the inquirer is also an example of people power because journalists in the news room spoke out and they were able to affect change? >> yeah, i do. i mean, i think -- look, this is what we all got in the business to do, is that journalism is not a profession of being friends. journalism is a profession of agitation. what we're seeing from inside of these news room in pittsburgh, in philadelphia, in new york, that is what we're charged to do, is hold everybody accountable, even the people who sign our checks. >> a job of agitation, that line
is going to stick with me. nikole, how would you size up the news coverage from the past week? >> i think overall, i've been pleasantly surprised. there were certainly moments at the beginning of last week where there was a lot of focus on looting, ady proportionate focus. at one time i was on a division show trying to talk about the systematic and historic nature of the uprisings, and there was live footage my entire interview of someone looting a foot locker -- people looting a foot locker in philadelphia. i thought that was irresponsible. you have to show it but don't show it out of proportion with what is happening. i think really working to explain this moment to iminto this moment with history, to talk about kind of the racial injustice, the systematic long-term racial injustice that communities have experienced, i think the news has been much better than i've seen in the
past. i think there's been much more of an effort to explain that to the american. you be. i think polling that shows 76% of americans, the highest that we've ever measured, believe that systematic racism is a major problem. it's reflective of our coverage. >> karen, final word to you. >> yeah, i agree with nikole, this is an historic moment we're in and the entire world is watching us. i have friends and acquaintances who are cheering us on from around the world. and i think be right now, again, we journalists, we're the first draft of history, so we have to keep that in mind be as we're trying to navigate this moment and, you know, i just -- i just hope everyone in power is listening. >> karen, thank you. nikole, thank you. i want to show you the president's newest lie about these protests and also talk about all the news that is fit or not fit in print. "the new york times" publishing
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that was a show of solidarity by staffers of the paper. there are times when columns and op-eds in "the new york times" cause controversy, that's sometimes the intent. what makes this difference, i think, is how widespread the reaction was inside "the new york times" with more than 1,000 staffers talking about it in internal chat rooms and by what management then did as a result. because at first "the new york times" editor acknowledged the concerns but tepidly saying i believe in the principle of openness to a range of opinions, even those we may disagree with, and this piece was published in the spirit. james bennett wrote, readers who might be inclined to oppose cotton's position needs to be fully aware of it and reckon with it. the paper said we found a rushed
editorial process led to an op-ed that didn't meet our standard. there was a tense town hall meeting with staffers on friday. salzburger said cotton's piece shouldn't run and bennett announced it would not run in print and there wouldn't be as many op-eds in the future. friday evening "the times" added an editor's note to the piece explaining the reasoning behind why it was published and what went wrong and expressing regrets and fact-checking the piece. all of this is just cannon fodder for senator cotton who went on fox news and elsewhere blasting "the times" saying the paper caved to a mob of woke kids in the newsroom. there are generational divides here but that is not entirely what this is about. there are other aspects as well. let's bring in nikole hannah-jones, the founder of the 1619 project. nikole, what happened from your perspective? >> i think we saw kind of a bunch of things occurring at once. the opposition -- let me just say that "the new york times"
journalist who oppose this column love the institution of "the new york times" intensely and also care deeply about journali journalism. what was the main issue is you have a u.s. senator in the party you you pofer saying he wants to use the military to repress dissent, not going into the normal fact-checking process that anyone making such claims should go through and making assertions that our own reporters had discredited through their reporting. that was the main concern. but i think so what happened is a larger symptom that we're seeing in news organizations across the country, which is they are really struggling to cover in a way that appears to be nonpartisan a political landscape where one political party in many ways has gone rogue and not following the rules. if you're covering that straight down the line, you look like you're picking sides. so, this adherence to
even-handedness, both sidism, the view from nowhere doesn't actually work in the political circumstances that we're in. and what a lot of people said is that, you know, it is fine. we as a news organization must air the opinion of someone like senator tom cotton, but in a news article where we can check the facts, where we can push back, that you don't just hand over your platform to someone that powerful making assertions that might have been unconstitutional and most certainly some of them were not accurate. so, it is not just a "new york times." news organizations have been struggling with how do you cover where we are politically without always having to get those calls that somehow the coverage is in opposition to the republican party as opposed to just covering what is happening. >> i agree with you that other news outlets are struggling with this as well, these dynamics. there are some who hear about this who say, this is liberal
intolerance. what happened to free speech? meet more free speech with more speech? that's a bedrock idea. are you saying that it's -- that bedrock idea doesn't hold up anymore? >> well, free speech is not that i as a sitting senator or i as someone sitting in my living room has the right to run my opinions in "the new york times" unedited and unchecked. that's not what free speech is. senator cotton certainly has the write and say what he wants in this country but we as a news organization should not be oning something offering misinformation to the public unchecked. yes, we absolutely believe his views should be aired. that is necessary. we know someone with this power thinks this way. but that's a different thing all together than simply allowing someone to say things that are not true, to make assertions that might be unconstitutional without a check. many of us journalists said there should have been a news
article where his views were aired but in a way that was factual because we know we are struggling with americans getting this information and our role as journalists is to give people correct information so they can make decisions. >> yeah, my reaction to the op-ed was, he's overreacting. everything's okay. these cities can get through this on their own. it was ugly in new york city but we don't need federal troops. he was just overreacting. let me bring in another guest, karen attiah and oliver darcy. karen, you run the global opinion section for "the washington post." how do you think "the times" handled this? >> you know, there's a long-standing norm that we're not supposed to criticize competitors, but -- >> okay. >> no, but -- no, but, in this case, this was a case where i was very vocal about even this notion, right, that tom cotton doesn't have any other platforms
to make some of these assertions. he's a sitting lawmaker. there are other platforms. as an opinion editor, opinion journalism is still journalism. it's still through fact-checking, you make your argument but it needs to be based in fact and not mischaracterize reality in order to fit your agenda. so, you know, in this case, when people say, oh, but let him say what he wants, this is an attack against free speech if we're not letting him write frankly, basically what tom cotton is arguing is largely peaceful protesters, their free expression of anger should be met with force. so, it's interesting to me the people who are crying censorship don't see it from the other side tat calling in the u.s. military, the most lethal military in the world, should come in and crush americans, right? so, i think that's part of it.
and i think also it's an issue of, again, how we cover violence. what is both sides to violence? what should the other side of that be? should the onus be to find an op-ed that says, protesters, go arm yourself, defend yourself against the military. you know, i think that that -- those are the questions that aren't thought through when there's a rush to get a provocative piece that, again, right now the debate right now is moving towards defunding the police. we're not even really talking -- nobody seriously, i think, is talking about bringing the military in, as you said. things have been largely calm and peaceful. right now we're looking at locally defunding and de-escalating police. i think they also missed the mark on what the true conversations are right now. so, yeah, it was a mess all around. sorry, "new york times." >> i think it's worth reminding people there is a division
between news and opinion. opinion is separate from news, these newspapers. oliver, what's remarkable in this case is news staffers at "the times" were speaking out against the-on-section, and a little vice versa. tell us about your reporting inside the paper. we did ask a "times" executive to come on, the editors to respond, and they did not come on. >> this is probably been the biggest controversy inside "the new york times" newsroom in some time. it does remind me of a larger war that has been sort of waging inside "the new york times" newsroom, particularly throughout the trump presidency. you saw last year, for instance, there was a big debate whether you call trump a racist or describe his actions as racist. so, this is the first time, however, this has really spilled out into the public view with "new york times" reporters tweeting in solidarity of their colleagues who are opposing this. so, i think that is certainly
very interesting here. >> more with oliver a little later. thank you, nikole and karen. we'll continue to cover the controversy on our "reliable sources" newsletter. you can get on the list at cnn.it/reliable. from press corps to press props. how president trump is using reporterses for his empty power moves. ♪ ♪ ♪
police brutality. this is in some cases affecting reporters who are trying to cover the story. according to the u.s. press freedom tracker there have been more than 300 total what they call violations since may 26th. these are assaults, these are arrests of reporters on the scene, most of these have occurred at the hands of police when there's been tear gas and rubber bullets used. in some cases protesters, vandals have also attacked reporters in major cities. we saw journalists describing nypd officers stealing his bike and striking him with abaton, shouting expletives to reporters from the associated press. a local san francisco was detained. and we've seen in minneapolis the aclu filing lawsuits to protect journalists' first amendment rights. add voe cassie groups are demanding mayors and governors step in and make sure these assaults are reporters are
halted. these were mostly last week. i want to be clear, the violent chapter seems to be over and this newer chapter is about people, so many of them. "the washington post" front page showing the crowds. the chicago "sun-times" front page talking about peaceful and powerful protests across the country. massive protests in the age of a pandemic and u.s. president who doesn't seem to have a handle on either. with me now is axios police reporter alexi mccammond. are the president and press and public forgetting about the pandemic amid all this? >> thank you for having me. no, don't think everyone is forgetting about the pandemic in all of this. we can focus on different things that call our attention and demand our attention like the protests against police brutality. we can't go outside without masks and gloves. the way the coronavirus has penetrated our lives is impossible to ignore. one thing is president trump, he
he hasn't forgotten about the pandemic but he wants to move past it. he talked about reopening the country weeks ago when experts advised against it and he's talking about the economy again. >> we're up to 110,000 confirmed dead in the u.s. that total will be hit probably total, unfortunately. let's talk about what happened in the rose garden the other day when the president wanted to put on a show against social distancing. reporters and news crews went out to the rose garden for what they thought would be a news conference. they put their cameras in place. you can see on the left side of the
screen the chairs were set up the way they should be. when president trump came out, all the chairs were moved together for the white house because they said this looks better. it looks better to be seen closer together. the president liked it. he referred to it, and it seems the reporters were used as props to show, hey, everything is okay now. back to normal. there's no pandemic threat. you can also sit next to each other.
>> well, we know who things to be true about president trump based on his pattern of behavior. one, he has little respect for journalists across the board. two, he is concerned about the optics and aesthetics of things. when he was first president he was reportedly going through these pages of extravagant curtains to put in the oval office. we don't have to think too bar back about thinking about the border wall and having it matte black with spikes on top. now he's violating the norms and the guidance from his public health experts that we should be maintaining six feet apart from each other. one of the easiest things to do during this global pandemic simply for the optics because that is what matters. >> there's plenty of room in the rose garden for more space. a lot of protesters were not following social distance. this is a challenge as this movement goes on. what about the president suring
reporters. chr kristin welker said they were shushed by president trump. is it a coincidence he's shushing women reporters? >> and both black women. he's done it so many times. if we think back to the president's pattern of behavior, he says disrespectful to and about women. we can think back to the election when he said to those nasty things to kelly after the debate. he is threatened by strong women and that's how he behaves and acts out against them. >> this is all much bigger than the president. this story is not about him even if he wants it to be, even if he has photo ops in lafayette square. >> the president's words matter because he's president. it can get lost if it's fox news
showing riots days after it happened. we're losing sight of the bigger picture of all of this. we talk about policy reforms, which are an important step in how we move forward. i think what this situation has laid bare, what george floyd's murder has laid bare is the deep disconnect we have between white americans and black americans. what we don't understand about the black experience and the frustration and sadness and pain that comes with that, not just when we're being murdered by police but because we're dying at higher rates because of coronavirus, we're losing jobs at higher rate because of this pandemic, all the other forms of systematic racism. >> thank you for saying that. thank you for focusing on the big story here. you at home can hear from six more journalists on the front lines of these protests on our podcast.
check it out, search "reliable sources" wherever you hear your podcas podcasts. up next, the president and his photo op, i do want to talk about this with the author of the new book "surviving autocracy," wale hear from masha gessen on the significance of this moment and the president's role in just a moment. s one thig you can be certain of. the men and women of the united states postal service. we're here to deliver cards and packages from loved ones and also deliver the peace of mind of knowing that essentials like prescriptions are on their way. every day, all across america, we deliver for you. and we always will.
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do not belief your lying eyes. that was a grach marx punch line. today the president is saying historic days of peaceful protests in washington had far fewer protesters than anticipated. he said the same thing on twitter saturday night. he is ignoring the point of the protests and saying we shouldn't believe these pictures. we shouldn't believe our own eyes. the same thing happened earlier this week. there was almost a full week of deception about whether tear gas was used against protesters. we saw it live on cnn.
reporters felt it in their lungs. we shouldn't believe our own youngs. masha gessen hits on this strategy, hits on this idea. she talks about power lies. she says the trumpian line is the power lie or the bully lie, the lie of the bigger kid who took your hat and wearing it and deny he took it. the point of the lie is to show i can say what i want when i want to. the new book is called "surviving autocracy." is that what this week was about, a week full of power lie by the president and his aides? >> you know, the power lies are such a part of our regular reality now that i wouldn't even say -- i mean, certainly, first of all, this week was about the protests. but as far as the president is concerned, i think this week was about an escalation of the way that he performs power, dh in a
way is much more bigger than the power lie and much more important than the power lie. >> how would you assess his call for troops, his treatment of the military? was this the closest to au autocracy we've seen in the trump years? >> you know, a power claim always begins with a performance. i think trump is performing the way he imagines power. he thinks power looks like control. we've heard him say this many times. it looks like dominance. he -- you know, the helicopters, the tear gas and the unidentified full combat troops in front of the lincoln memorial between those columns. all of those to him are images of power. that's what he thinks power looks like and he thinks power sounds like. >> so much push back -- was
there such push back this week from the military, from former generals? did we avoid a worse case scenario? >> i don't think we can say we avoided a worse case scenario. i think we have gently put the brakes on it. i was very concerned that secretary esper's defense was basically, i didn't know where i was going. think about this for a second, the secretary of defense said that he blindly followed the president and he cannot be held accountable because he didn't know what troops were going to be used for and where he was going and how he was going to be used in a photo op. this is not reassuring. this is not push back. this is a kind of, you know -- it's a very half-hearted attempt to distance himself in case this president fails. >> in your new book you say that we should be covering trumpism not as news but as a system.
i was wondering if you could explain what that means. >> you know, trumpism in a way is a trap for journalists. if you covered his tweets, if you covered his statements, if you covered his lies, you are inettably perpetuating them and yet you don't have the option of not covering them because they have consequences. even when he says things that are absolutely meaningless on the face of it, they have meaning because he is the president and they have consequences. so, i think of reporting in the age of trump as a kind of harm reduction, right? it's not -- we're not going to fix it by reporting, we're not going to be able to resist much by reporting, but we can try to reduce the harm that this man is doing to our politics, our society and our country. and when we -- >> the job of journalism -- >> more context and always try to describe it as a system rather than as separate news stories. >> you think that is the job of journalists to engage in harm
reduction? >> i think it is the job of journalists to engage in harm reduction. i think if anything -- we should have learned anything from the last 3 1/2 years, it's that journalists are political actors. journalism is a part of our politics. politics is impossible without journalism. journalists cannot perform neutrality, cannot pretend that there are always two sides to each story when this is happening. >> thank you. again, the new book is titled "surviving autocracy". coming up next on "reliable sources," oliver darcy is back with a report on chaos, kind of a rebellion on the staff against mark zuckerberg.
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controversial looting starts, shooting starts post, still untouched on facebook. twitter, on the other hand, flagged the post for glorifying violence. this is kind of a small darcy, senior cnn reporter. he's bianca with when he now. i hate to say a post like that is small, but it's one huge problem facebook has. it's mark zuckerberg versus some of his employees this week. tell us about that. >> reporter: they were fed up with zuckerberg's inaction on trump's post. they violate service. zuckerberg doesn't take any action. what he said friday is he's going to review the policies and maybe they'll implement new policies and that will allow them to take action, but staffers seem at facebook, a lot of them, to have lost a lot of confidence in the leadership's, you know, ability to take action or will to take action, i should
say. >> this weekend 140 plus scientists who had been funded by the zuckerberg initiative from the family, they wrote a letter to zuckerberg yesterday speaking out against his inaction on this particular post. however, this is bigger than any particular post. look at the most popular content on facebook the other day. the top performing post of the week was this post by candace owens, far-right wing commentator denigrating george floyd. she was in a meeting with mike pence. she goes on there denigrating george floyd and she gets tens of millions of views on facebook. it shows how this is a radicalization engine. >> zuckerberg talks about how he wants facebook to elevate good voices in the public conversation. but if you look at the voices that facebook is elevating, if you look at the content that is going viral, you have, for instance, like you said, that candace owens video was the top video on facebook this past week and she's saying all sorts of things about george floyd and
denying any systemic racism problems. so there is a deeper fundamental issue with what the facebook algorithm and social media algorithms they reward. is it provocative incendiary content or more reasonable voices? time and time again you see the former do well on social media platforms. and i think that's the issue that these policies, these terms of service things they come up with, those don't really address the deeper issue with these social media platforms. >> meanwhile, fox news air this ridiculous info graphic showing what happens when there is unrest in cities and the stock market doesn't seem to care, the markets go up in the wake of michael brown's death or george floyd's death. this is so foolish fox had to apologize for it. give fox credit, they apologized. it's media outlets versus
facebooks of the world. >> reporter: it's interesting what they apologize for and what they don't apologize. kudos to them for apologize being, but there is so much other content they stand by, they're silent and don't apologize for. i hate to give them too much credit for this instance. >> when they're talking about riots and violence, they're like this weekend. when they focus on six or seven days ago, they lie. oliver, thank you very much. let's take a quick break on the program and how this network and networks like it are staying on the air in the age of the pandemic.
are coming up on three months since newsroom suddenly moved to work from home methods. almost nobody is in television networks or studios or offices any more, so i want to introduce you to the team that's responsible for keeping cnn, cnn international, and our other networks on the air. this is the master control operations team. they made a work-from-home video. ♪ >> master stand by, going to break. copy, ken. >> roll the break master. >> and 3, 2, 1, and you're clear. two minutes. >> there are moments that define us. >> 1:30. >> tests we're truly capable of. >> one minute. >> but we do not waiver.
>> 30 seconds. >> we adapt. we change. >> 10 seconds. >> we keep moving forward. >> stand by. and 5. >> 4. >> 3. >> 2. >> 1. >> and you're up. >> knowing that this, too, shall pass. cnn master control, we stand together through these tough times. >> this, too, shall pass. i love those words and thank you to the master control operators who are steering us through this storm in the meantime. these are unprecedented days and weeks, and now months. but networks are staying on the air thanks to these employees. mals ter control is about to hand off the state of the union with jake tapper. he has a very news making interview with colin powell in a few seconds. i want to tell you about one special that's airing later today on cnn. the title is "unconscious bias."
what is it, how does it affect us? join for a special conversation. the program is "unconscious bias, facing the realities of racism". that's live tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern time. i'll see you back here this time next week. >> call for change. thousands of peaceful protesters take to the streets and demand to be heard. is their message reaching our leaders? i'll speak to housing and urban development secretary dr. ben carson in moments. and law and order. president trump threatens to dominate u.s. cities with military force. >> stop the violence and restore security and safety in america. >> his response prompts stunning condemnation from former generals. is the nation's moral role in the world at risk? former chief