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Unmanned SpaceX Rockets Explodes After Liftoff; How Coverage of LGBT Movement Has Evolved; Interview with Cornel West. Aired 11-12:00a ET

Aired June 28, 2015 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:08] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Good morning. I'm Brian Stelter in New York.

There is breaking news from Florida. Minutes ago, an unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching from Cape Canaveral on a resupply mission to the ISS apparently exploded on liftoff.

Here is the video.


STELTER: On the NASA, TV broadcast and on this web stream there is no speaking as the announcer and everyone else tries to process what had just happened. As I said before, this is an unmanned mission. You'll hear now the announcer speak for the first time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we appear to have had a launch vehicle failure.


STELTER: There is little else we know at this point, as the engineers try to find out what has happened. But Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, has tweeted the following. He says, "Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. We'll provide more info as soon as we review the data."

Let's get to Miles O'Brien, one of the world's leading aerospace experts, and he joins here on the phone.

Miles, you have seen a video along with the rest of us at this point. What do you see from it? What do you take away from it as an expert?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST (via telephone): Well, clearly, it's a catastrophic failure as they were about to jettison the first stage. You have to remember that everything that is happening in a rocket at a time is at the very edge of what we consider engineering capabilities. It doesn't take much of a weak link to cause what you saw just there, incredible dynamic forces, a lot of speed, and a lot of pressure on the structure itself.

And there will be plenty of information on the ground right now indicating what the possible failures might be. A rocket has a huge amount of telemetry, data, coming down to the ground as it rises to orbit. And so, I'm sure they'll be able to figure this out pretty quickly but it's a big setback for the international space station program for sure.

STELTER: And perhaps for SpaceX as well. I'm talking to CNN's Rachel Crane over email. She has been studying and covering the SpaceX missions for a long time, as have you, Miles. She pointed out to me. SpaceX has a perfect record on these cargo missions until today.

O'BRIEN: This is their seventh official supply mission, actually eighth flight to the station. They had a test run. The first failure, they've had minor problems along the way, but basically a flawless campaign to the International Space Station. It's been an extraordinary run, frankly, given that this was a brand-new rocket design, built by SpaceX.

Elon Musk, the CEO almost entirely, all the parts and supplies and design done in one factory in southern California. It's been an extraordinary campaign and an extraordinary run, and getting to space is not easy. Frankly, a lot of us are surprised that they got this far without a serious failure.

STELTER: The most remarkable thing I've seen in the past few minutes as people process this terrible moment, thankfully an unmanned mission but a very sad piece of video to see, was a tweet from Scott Kelly, one of the astronauts who is on board the International Space Station. He said earlier this morning that he was watching this liftoff from the space station and then after this happened he followed up and wrote, "It sadly failed." He wrote, "Space is hard."

Three simple words that express exactly what you're saying, Miles, that we sometimes take for granted just how hard this can be.

O'BRIEN: We do tend to take it for granted. And especially when you have had a run of seven or eight successful launches, you think you've got this thing licked.

But it is unforgiving of even the smallest mistake, the smallest failure point. Scott Kelly is in the midst of a one-year flight on the international space station to test a lot of things about endurance in space which will put NASA in the position it hopes someday to send people to Mars.

The concern, of course, immediately is, are there enough supplies up there for them. NASA assures us things would not become critical until as late as September and there are additional flights in between now and then, including a new Russian progress flight that is going up the latter part of this week. So, we'll be definitely holding our breath during that launch. STELTER: So, in other words, this is not something that is going

to create problems for the space station in the short term.

[11:05:04] You're saying that this is not something where the supplies needed to arrive this week.

O'BRIEN: Yes. They build a lot of contingency in because what happened today is something that everybody expects will happen eventually, frankly, it being rocket science. So, there is a tremendous amount of backup supplies and capability on the station so they don't have to get on the Soyuz rockets and abandon ship by any stretch.

So, there is capability there. We don't have to worry about the crew at the moment. We do have to spend some time figuring out what happened. SpaceX won't be flying for a little while, while they figure this out, for sure. There are still other ways to get to the space station.

STELTER: This rocket was carrying over two tons of cargo, including a new piece of hardware for the space station, so future space taxis could dock with the space station. Tell us about the taxis.

O'BRIEN: Well, that's the thing. There was an additional docking ring they were going to attach, which would make it easier to attach more vehicles to the station. Again, that's not going to -- it's not a life or death situation. It's about making it easier, sort of an air traffic control problem. Place the taxi and keep the aircraft to come visit.

So, they'll have to build a new docking ring and put it on a future mission. That plan will be delayed somewhat but not critical to the health and well-being of the crew. It's just not -- it's not easy getting supplies to and from the space station, never has been. And up to this point SpaceX and Elon Musk has had an extraordinary run.

STELTER: Miles, stay with me for a moment if you can, for a moment. Let me bring in CNN correspondent Rachel Crane as well.

Rachel, you were watching when this happened. You wrote on Twitter, "Let's hope the third time is the charm here."

Tell me about your hopes going into this mission and what you see now.

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Right. You know, like you mentioned, Brian, I was scheduled to have a phone interview with Elon right after what they hoped would be a successful barge landing of the first stage of the rocket. Everybody was eagerly awaiting not just the resupply mission but also the experimental landing on the barge which would have been their third attempt. Now that is an effort to try to reuse this first stage of the rocket.

The primary mission here was the cargo reply mission, but also the cherry on top was the third attempt of landing the first stage of the rocket on the ship in the middle of the Atlantic to try and push forth the reusability of these rockets.

STELTER: When you see video like this, Rachel, you must imagine what Elon Musk is thinking and what the engineers are thinking. What questions do we need to be asking them in the hours ahead?

CRANE: You know, I also should point out that today is Elon Musk's birthday. So, really his heart must just be dropping right now. Everybody -- the question we should be asking is when will the astronauts get their additional supplies, when the next cargo mission will be? Also, what was the reason for this explosion? We do not know now.

Like Miles pointed out, there are all kinds of data and vie to be scrunched immediately to try to figure out what was the root of this explosion. And hopefully, we will have that information in the next several hours and be able to better understand what exactly went wrong here and what the anomaly was.

STELTER: NASA saying they will hold a press conference today, but no earlier than 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. And, obviously, CNN will cover this all day long.

Rachel Crane and Miles O'Brien, thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: You're welcome.

CRANE: Thank you.

STELTER: In a moment we'll turn to RELIABLE SOURCES on a historic week for gay marriage in the U.S. Was the media part of the story, and was that appropriate? We'll talk about that.

And also, the press bleeping the president when he used a racial slur. Was it a proper thing to do or a refusal to hear the truth? We'll discuss all of that when we come back.


[11:12:53] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.

Now, at the end of this historic week, historic for race relations and historic for the gay rights movement, consider how media sources change and shape society's views about equality.

Just consider for a moment how news stories, and interviews and sitcoms and Facebook comments all help us see each other and hear each other. Think about how movies and magazine covers and art exhibits and tweets and Snapchats and the faces we choose to put on the air sometimes change people's hearts and minds.

Because media can divide and hurt us, we talk about that on almost every program here. Media certainly can divide. But media can also help us see each other. See each other as equal, and help us process societal change.

On Wednesday, cartoonist Bob Engelhardt captured this really well. He represented the moment when the Confederate flag is coming down. And later in the week, his cartoon was reappropriated, it's unclear by who, with to more flags, rainbow flags coming up. A historic week in five panels.

Now, some people say news outlets have abandoned neutrality on the subjects of this weeks' marriage ruling and we have great guests standing by to cover those angles.

I want to begin with how personal this is. In 2012, Sam Champion became the first host of a network morning show to come out, to talk openly about being gay and about getting married. Sam is now host on the Weather Channel, and his husband Rubem is an artist in Miami.


STELTER: Gentlemen, thank you for being here.


STELTER: What do you think about when you think about where we are now with the Supreme Court versus where we've been decades in the past?

CHAMPION: When marriage and the ability to proclaim your love and share your love with your family and friends and your community, when that was something that was state by state and not available everywhere, you just didn't feel solid in it. And there was still kind of the feeling that was left for approval, you know, which shouldn't be.

I almost feel like we have been lucky. We are very independent, strong people with a strong family and a sense of community. But there are a lot of people in this country who haven't been able to say who they are and who they love and feel that they were safe in this country.

[11:15:05] And I hope that changes today.

STELTER: At the time you all met and got engaged, you were still on "Good Morning America."


STELTER: You had to carefully plan how you were going to be open about this.

CHAMPION: I think that was more of a respect for the network and not something that we truly cared very much about.

STELTER: Get to this issue of how comfortable viewers might be. And the broader issue of how television has in some ways helped lead the country to the point we are at now. CHAMPION: I think TV always eases the path for change. I think

what people watch in their homes, what they're comfortable with in their homes leads the way for acceptance in this country. I think it always has.

STELTER: Has there ever been a time in your career where you felt you couldn't be open about your sexuality?

CHAMPION: Sure. But most of the times, I always felt like it didn't matter, and it shouldn't matter. I didn't want it to become part of the conversation. For me -- Brian, you understand in this business the way you want to be judged and gauged is on your ability, and in some ways on your performance -- your ability to gather information, your ability to deliver information, your ability to create quality information and your performance of that.

I didn't want something that could be a negative detraction to limit my opportunities in the business that I loved.

STELTER: What were times in the business, Sam, where you felt maybe people were not quite as accepting as they are now?

CHAMPION: Well, I think -- I have been in the business a long time, Brian. By many, I guess most accounts, more than 30 years.

America is different. Time is different. TV is different. Communities in general are different in what they're accepting of. There weren't gay faces on television when I started. There was also --

STELTER: There were, but maybe not openly gay.

CHAMPION: That's interesting. I think that's probably true. I mean, I'm sure it's true. But because it wasn't open, there wasn't anyone you could point to and say, look, I aspire to talk about my personal life or have an open personal life because Bob, Fred, Angie does it.

You know what I mean? There wasn't anyone who --

STELTER: That's why it was news worthy when you shared your engagement and marriage on television.

CHAMPION: And we became to understand -- we came to understand that. At first, again, just kind of selfishly and boldly we thought, this is our life and we're going to have our life. It was something that we really started to understand once people started talking to us.

RUBEM ROBIERB, SAM CHAMPION'S HUSBAND: That's when we got the feedback from people that met us at the airports, on the street, and congratulate us. When you have that feedback, it's fantastic because you feel that people feel related with you and they feel -- and they feel good for you because you maybe have a chance to express yourself the way they don't. STELTER: Not to be negative. Wonder if there was ever a time

where you felt like your sexuality hurt your career in some way or you felt prejudiced against in some way?

CHAMPION: Oh, many times. I think, in this business, there are people who will judge you for anything they'll get a chance to judge you on. You know what I mean?

So, I don't feel special for the fact that I was judged because, when I got to New York anyway, at WABC, I was openly gay in the shop at WABC. I didn't talk about my personal life to the press.

STELTER: You talked about how it was an open secret at work. Is it right for the press to withhold that information? I ask because when I was working on my book about morning TV, I knew you were gay and had a boyfriend and before you were engaged knew it but never reported it or shared it.

Journalists don't generally try to out people until they've spoken publicly about it.

CHAMPION: There can be negative attention for being gay. We hear about the suicides. We hear about the teasing. We hear about bullying. So, there is a not of negativity, communal and societal negativity.

So, I think someone has to be strong enough to handle their life, their family, their friends before they come out. I don't think we do people a service to push them out until they're ready to handle what can be a negative situation for them. At the same time, I get when people say we need role models, so we need people who aren't openly gay to come out and say who they are.

STELTER: Thank you both for being here.

CHAMPION: Awesome to see you.

STELTER: Thank you. Thanks.


STELTER: Now, I want to bring in someone who not only witnessed coverage of the gay rights movement from the beginning but who was a part of it. Look at this "New York Daily News" story headlined "Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Stinging Mad". That's the day after the 1969 protest at the Stonewall Inn.

Now, look at this cover announcing yesterday the Supreme Court ruling. "U.S. Gay", it says, "equal dignity in the eyes of the law."

Now, Richard Goldstein is a former executive editor of "The Village Voice," and author of several books, including most certainly. is here with me on the set.

Richard, thanks for being here.


STELTER: When you see the 1969 headline --


STELTER: -- what comes to your mind?

GOLDSTEIN: The entire media were very hostile to gay people in the '60s and before then.

[11:20:00] "The New York Times" in '63 ran an article. Headline was, "A Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Concern." Inside it says, "Problem is thought to be medical".

Their theater critic criticized Tennessee Williams and other gay playwrights for writing misogynistic views of women. The entire media were anti-gay. So, the so-called bias of the media is the bias of society. The biases of society have changed so the media's coverage has changed.

STELTER: So, you've seen the media respond to a changing culture.

GOLDSTEIN: That's right.

STELTER: But the idea is cheerleading for gay rights, you take a longer view of this.

GOLDSTEIN: If conservatives want to change the media point of view they have to change society.

STELTER: When did progress start? Your office overlooked the stone wall inn, the beginning of the gay rights movement. At the village voice, a pro-gay institution there was still hostility.

GOLDSTEIN: Yes. I mean, we hired gay people during the McCarthy years to write. We were pro-gay as an institution but individual reporters could be homophobic and they would be in the paper. So, we did have coverage. We gave it front-page coverage. But some of it was very homophobic and we were zapped by activists.

STELTER: Tell us what zappiness --

GOLDSTEIN: Yes, it means you invade the office in sit in. We called it zapping.

STELTER: And these are gay rights activist.

GOLDSTEIN: Yes. We did this to "The Times", we did it to "Harper's" magazine, we did to "The Voice". My own paper was zapped. I would have to deal with these people.

STELTER: At the time of Stonewall, you were married to a woman.


STELTER: At what point did that change?

GOLDSTEIN: Early '70s. Look, within a few years --

STELTER: You began to feel comfortable enough to openly identify --

GOLDSTEIN: The movement allowed me to access my deepest feelings. It wasn't a question of comfort. It was a question of self-knowledge.

STELTER: In the early 1970s.

GOLDSTEIN: Social activism can produce self-knowledge and self- awareness. It isn't just that you're comfortable. It's that you discover yourself through politics. And that's what I learned from the gay movement, self discovery.

STELTER: And yet at the same time, even the 1970s, and into the '80s, and even the '90s, we saw a lot of hostility in the press, at least in individual media outlets and columnist toward what we now know as the gay rights movement.

GOLDSTEIN: Because the society was in transition. It was the work of thousands of individuals, tens of thousands, coming out in every profession so that everyone had to say, look, this is my colleague. All of a sudden my colleague is gay.

This is what actually changed the media and changed the rest of society.

STELTER: Did you think you would see what happened on Friday at the Supreme Court?

GOLDSTEIN: No, of course not. I was married two years ago in Vermont to a man, the second marriage for me, by the justice of the peace on her lawn. And I thought, this would never happen, ever, ever. I was going to be satisfied just with knowing myself and with struggling against the most blatant kind of biases.

It was a crime to serve a drink to a homosexual in New York City.

"The Times" would not use the word gay. We had to zap them. They said. "Not in my newspaper." That was their line.

STELTER: Young people assumed it was inevitable. You thought it would never happen. What a revealing point about the differences in public opinion.

GOLDSTEIN: Yes, it shows you every struggle against oppression is worth waging because the future is really yours to shape.

STELTER: Thank you for being here. Nice talking with you.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you.

STELTER: We'll continue on this theme of news outlets and whether this is cheerleading or whether there has been oppression over the years. I talk about that with two guests after this break.


[11:27:44] STELTER: Welcome back.

The White House and social media all lit up in rainbow colors on Friday. This image posted all over Facebook and Twitter. And a wide array of digital news outlets like "BuzzFeed" and "Huffington Post" and Fusion, many others, all added rainbows to their logos in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

This raises an important journalistic question. Did news outlets abandon their usually objectivity on the equal rights issue? And if so, is that defendable?

Joining me now is Chris Geidner, one of the leading writers on the issue for years. He's now at "BuzzFeed" and focuses on these issues.

STELTER: Thanks for being here.

CHRIS: Good morning, Brian.

STELTER: Traffic up on "BuzzFeed" 300 percent for LGBT related content on Friday. A lot was thanks to your articles. You were at the Supreme Court.

And what I wonder is, as a reporter who is gay and who is open about that, and who is known for covering these stories, was it possible for you to be objective on this?

CHRIS GEIDNER, LEGAL EDITOR, BUZZFEED: Yes, I think. I think that it's been something that I've been covering, as you said, for really almost more than a decade, since I started my blog back in 2003 around Lawrence v. Texas.

This is something that, if anything, the fact that I'm gay has made me more critical of covering this story because I am interested in knowing what the motivations are of people on every side of the issue. And that includes some real in-depth looks at what LGBT organizations are doing and being willing and able to look critically at sort of what their motives are at times.

STELTER: You've been asking the question I just asked. It can come across as offensive, because I've seen it raised time and time again, objectivity. I was curious. You know, BuzzFeed, as you know, has a position in favor of marriage equality. And I wonder if you think that's a more honest, transparent way to go about reporting the news?

GEIDNER: I mean, our editorial position in support of marriage equality and in support of LGBT rights is not much different from "The New York Times," "The Washington Post." I mean, last night, I retweeted somebody who had tweeted both of their front pages on Saturday morning. And in terms of branding and their decision about the coverage, I would say it was very similar to the coverage at "BuzzFeed", although I would say ours was better.

STELTER: That's really interesting.

I mean, you think about the -- all of the debate that we've seen, all of the conversation about this, about whether there are two equal sides. I think maybe what I hear you saying is there aren't two sides. There are two sides, but they shouldn't be equally balanced.

GEIDNER: Yeah, I mean, I have spent time interviewing everybody who has been involved on the side opposing same-sex couples marriage rights. I sat down with Brian Brown, the head of the national organization on the eve of the 2012 election when they, for the first time, lost state ballot initiatives and had the most extensive interview with him because he was aware of my work, he knew where I was coming from. Before I was at Buzzfeed I was at Metro Weekly, the LGBT magazine in D.C. And my coverage was the same there, even though nobody doubted what sort of Metro Weekly's editorial position was.

STELTER: The split between digital news outlets -- you know, younger outlets like Buzzfeed, that put up the flag on Friday and older outlets, more mainline outlets, it's a really interesting difference we see. I think part of it is about appealing to young people and part is about reflecting where the country is growing.

Chris, I appreciate you being here and sharing your perspective with us.

GEIDNER: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: Joining me as well, someone with a different point of view on this. Mollie Hemingway, a senior editor at The Federalist.

Mollie, I have a feeling you probably don't agree with me that these media outlets that are putting up these rainbow flags, that they're trying to appeal to young people.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, THE FEDERALIST: Well, I just think what we saw was that the media moved to celebration before they even read the decision, much less read the dissents, understood the significance of the decision and how it will affect culture war issues moving forward.

They truly did for it. And you know you see it in -- you didn't see the media cheerleading when religious liberty, Hobby Lobby was handed down. You didn't see them cheering free speech rights when Citizens United was handed down.

There is no question that there was just celebration going on with this decision. And that's not journalistic objectivity.

STELTER: What would you have liked to see more of in the coverage? I would think more voices in opposition?

HEMINGWAY: Well, certainly so. And it's not just the problem of what happened on Friday. This is something that has gone back decades. We have seen the media really push this issue? I mean, it made sense that they were celebrating because they were very much activists on this issue.

We never saw good coverage of the arguments for retaining natural marriage, we never saw enough of that. We never saw fair debates. And so it's not surprising that there would be celebration given how much the media had invested in this particular issue.

STELTER: And that's partly because journalists, especially in places like New York and L.A. and D.C., they're more likely to know more people who are gay, who have benefit from this ruling?

HEMINGWAY: Well, studies have shown that the media have been biased on this issue for decades, going back decades and are certainly out of touch with the concerns of Americans outside of their bubbles in New York and L.A.

and D.C.

And, you know, we have seen so many good reporters like Chris Geidner covering this topic, really focusing on LGBT rights. We don't see reporters focusing on religion news. We don't reporters covering religious liberty questions. And we don't see people covering even just marriage in general and the decline of marriage over the past few decades.

You can definitely see where the media's cards are on this topic.

STELTER: And yet do you feel it's a risk for outlets like yours to seem out of touch, a phrase you just used. Out of touch.

HEMINGWAY: Oh, we're not out of touch actually. I think the media are far more out of touch than they realize. They definitely have their fingers on the pulse of the elite. They definitely are in line with Hollywood and

cultural elites, but they don't cover the actual people who are reading a lot of the news.

So, we have done very well by covering this issue fairly. We have people from both sides of the topic, from all sides of the topic, looking at all the things that you don't think about, about how nuanced marriage is and how foundational it is to civilization and society.

So, it's not being out of touch at all.

STELTER: Molly, thank you for being here. I appreciate it this morning.

HEMINGWAY: Thank you.

STELTER: Busy morning here. But up next, President Obama dropping the n-word on a podcast. And TV and cable channels didn't know whether to bleep it or not. We're going to talk about that with Dr. Cornel West right after this.


Although this was a huge week for President Obama on many fronts, ultimately it may be remembered most as the week he wept there on race.

In Charleston Friday, delivering a eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, killed in the vicious attack at the Emanuel AME church.

And, in a garage in Los Angeles, days earlier in an unfiltered interview with podcaster Marc Maron using a word we're not used to hearing from a president. It's been downloaded more than 1.5 million times in the past week, a huge hit for a podcast.

Now activist and author Cornel West is the perfect person to talk with about the president's new found candor. We began by looking at by how the networks, all the TV networks, were stymied by one simple question: to bleep or not to bleep.


OBAMA: Racism we are not cured of. Clearly. And it's not just a matter of -- it not being polite to say nigger in public.


It not being polite to say nigger in public, that's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.


STELTER: There is something so strange about the bleeping of the word. In all of the clips, only I think CNN and CBS decided to air it unbleeped.

CORNEL WEST, AUTHOR: Well, I mean, the problem is that you've got the long history of denial coming to terms with the vicious legacy of white supremacy.

STELTER: Do you think when it's bleeped that's denial?

WEST: Oh, absolutely. But even you even have denial even when he says it. He has to come to terms with what he's talking about. What does it mean by nigger? What does it mean to keep people afraid and scared and intimidated, to keep black thinking we are less intelligent, less beautiful. And of course in the name of that is to make sure we're still dominated, to make sure our minds still have slave mentalities.

When we reach the point, my dear brother, when we understand that the legacy of white supremacy is a matter of national security, it's a matter of truth and the condition of truth to allow suffering to speak, and it's a matter of justice. Justice relates to a variety of different issues.

Racism, of course, is the one issue that can do, what, bring the curtain down on America. We should have been talking about it for seven years. I'm glad that the president now is beginning to speak about it much more consistently.

STELTER: He certainly instigated a lot of discussion this week. And yet, a lot of it was about the word.

Did -- did you feel that the -- the larger meaning got lost?

WEST: In a way it did. But in a certain sense, too, once you start talking about the flags, and recognize it's not just a matter of region. We've got good brothers and sisters of various colors in the South, West, Midwest, East. But the legacy of white supremacy is systemic.

Now, the president said a few years ago -- a few months ago in regard to Ferguson, what?

Racism is not endemic.

That's a lie, Mr. President. It is endemic. It is systematic.

STELTER: Why would he say that then?


WEST: Political calculation. He's afraid of Fox News. He's afraid of the right-wing. He thinks they're going to attack him.

They're going to attack you anyway, Mr. President. Stand for truth. Stand for justice. That's the legacy of John Coltrane and Martin Luther King, Jr..

STELTER: You're saying perhaps he pays too much attention to Fox News?

WEST: He is a politician. He needs to stand up out of moral conviction. Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer didn't struggle for nothing. Nina Simone didn't sing for nothing. Donnie Hathaway didn't move our souls for nothing. There were talking about truth, justice and how do we relate to each other as human beings just as they are.

STELTER: Can I play a sound bite for you...

WEST: Sure.

STELTER: -- from 20 years ago?

WEST: Sure.

STELTER: I was so struck by this, when we found this the other day. This is President Clinton in 1995 speaking at a Congressional Black Caucus dinner.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In every country, forces of extremism have a stronger voice than they have had in years. You see it in a bomb blowing up the federal building in Oklahoma City. And you see it in more subtle ways, yes, even in America, like when five children in an upper class suburb in this country write the hated word nigger in code word in their school album.


STELTER: Now we checked and that got so much less attention 20 years ago than the president saying the same word did this week.

Is it because of a different kind of media we have now, a social and digital media, or is it because the president is black?

Or are there other reasons why you think it got so much more attention this time?

WEST: Well, part of it is is that Obama, of course, being a brilliant and charismatic black president in neo-liberal mode and the fact that you've got a social movement on the ground, you've got courageous and visionary, marvelously militant young black, brown, red young people -- Ferguson, Staten Island and so forth -- it's in the context of an emerging social movement.

And then you get a black president saying it, you are going to get a lot of -- a lot of attention.

But as -- as you rightly say, it's not just about the words. It's about how does it get us to come to terms with the truth about America?

Founded on white supremacy, indigenous people's land taken, their babies and women violated, enslaved Africans for over 80 years under the U.S. "Constitution," unbelievable terrorism and torture.

And yet out of that, what have black folk done?

We've taught the world, in the face of hate, how better to love. Look at the response of the precious black folk who were murdered. Teach the world something about love in the face of that kind of hatred.

That is what Martin King, that's what John Coltrane, "Love Supreme," that's what Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?," that's what Fannie Lou Hamer is about.

But you've got to listen to the love. And, of course, love is not just proclaimed, it has to be enacted.

STELTER: There was so much talk about forgiveness in the -- in the immediate days after the massacre in Charleston. More conversation about forgiveness than I think we might have had heard if they had had white skin.

WEST: Yes, but I think the problem of talking about forgiveness too early is that it still makes white folk the major point of reference. It was love of black people as the basis of love of others. The greatness of black people has been that we've refused to hate in the face of hate.

Emmet Till's mother said, what?

I don't have a minute to hate. I will pursue justice all my life. She didn't say I forgive prematurely, because once you talk about forgiveness, you're talking about the white folk who did it. And so you're making white folks center stage again, you see?

The love that flows through the vanilla side of town begins on the chocolate side of town. That's what was coming through in those magnificent witnesses.

And I believe that forgiveness is a long process, it's not an utterance. So if somebody rapes your mother, you're not going to forgive them the next day. You've got to work that through. But the important thing is you're not going to hate. And so you just contribute to more hate. That's part of the genius of the best of the black freedom struggle.

STELTER: It sounds like you're not ready to declare mission accomplished. Far from it.

WEST: Never. We've got a long way to go. We've just got to keep smiles on our faces and love in our hearts, but also be willing to fight. So we forgive, yes, but we also fight, my brother. The beloved warriors, justice warriors.

STELTER: Do you see enough folks on television fighting?

Do you see enough people on cable news making the points you're making...

WEST: Oh, no.

STELTER: -- or do you feel it's too marginalized?

WEST: It is too marginalized, you know. You really do. You've got it -- you've got MSNBC, you know, is basically Obama propaganda. You've got Fox News, right-wing propaganda. CNN, much more ambiguous, able to generate some insights, wrestle with some issues, like your show. But still, CNN fearful because you've got to deal with the profit margin. You've got to deal with making money.

Amy Goodman, very good...

STELTER: But doesn't it...

WEST: -- democracy news, tell the truth.

STELTER: -- but conversations like this rate.

So how are you saying it's about profit margin, that that's a risk for CNN, for example?

WEST: Well, but -- but how many conversations do you have like this on CNN, you know what I mean? (INAUDIBLE)

STELTER: Well, I think we're coming off of a week with...

WEST: -- not enough.

STELTER: -- with almost non-stop discussion of race and other issues...

WEST: Well, no, you've got discussions...

STELTER: -- culminating in Friday's funeral.

WEST: -- you've got discussions of black people and black faces. But I'm talking about telling the truth. Truth is not connected to skin color.


, Dr. West, thank you for being here.

WEST: You stay strong, my brother.

STELTER: Thank you.

WEST: Indeed.

Thank you so much.


STELTER: A lot to think about from Dr. West, a lot to think about in all of these segments today.

And up next, the biggest media story of the week that you haven't heard about. It's a decision that will affect cable news for years to come.

So what is it?

Stay tuned.


STELTER: Hey, welcome back.

This week, you might have heard that Roger Ailes renewed his contract. You can see it. Actually, Fox News covered it as breaking news on Thursday morning.

Ailes is a legend in television, the founder, the CEO and the chairman of Fox News.

But here's what you haven't heard. He could have gone elsewhere. He says that he had multiple -- excuse me. He says he's had multiple job offers, multiple parties reaching out to him wanting to see if he'd be available. That's according to two people who have spoken with Ailes. His

spokeswoman did not get back to me about that this morning.

Now, the reason why this is interesting is because there was a lot of uncertainty earlier this month when Ailes' boss, Rupert Murdoch, said he would be handing over Twenty-First Century Fox to his sons, James and Lachlan. James officially becomes CEO this Tuesday.

But the Murdochs moved very quickly to renew Ailes' contract, thereby making sure no Fox News wannabe had a chance to hire Ailes.

Now, here to talk about this and the week's other big TV news, Lester Holt's first week as "NBC Nightly News" anchor is Michael Wolff.

He's a media columnist and author of the new book, "Television Is the New Television."


STELTER: Thanks for being here.

Is it a surprise that Ailes, with one year left to go on his contract, now has an ironclad three year deal, taking him through 2018 at Fox News?

WOLFF: It's not a surprise at all.

What would you do if the most talented man in television news, perhaps in the history of television news, was -- was working for you?

You would do anything possible to keep him working for you.

STELTER: You would pay any price?

WOLFF: Pay any price. Absolutely.

STELTER: And the most significant detail of the press release on Thursday was that Ailes will be reporting to Rupert Murdoch, as well as the sons.

Tell us the significance of that.

WOLFF: The significance is that he will be reporting to Rupert Murdoch. So the -- that's a figure leaf for the sons and their new jobs. And even the sons in their -- and their new jobs, even though the sons now theoretically run the company...


WOLFF: -- their father continues to run everything. So, you know, I think, in a word, nothing changes.

STELTER: And Ailes wins, as Erik Wemple, in "The Washington Post" said. Ailes wins, and that's the key.

Now I want to get...



WOLFF: -- I think you could say Ailes always wins.

STELTER: Always wins.

The "Hollywood Reporter" column you wrote this week, it was about NBC and Brian Williams. You mentioned that Ailes was consulted about how to bring Brian Williams back.

What can you tell us about that?

WOLFF: I can tell you very little because this was in -- in confidence at the -- at high levels. But obviously...

STELTER: But that he was...

WOLFF: -- I think you, you know, I mean what Ailes has done when his -- his people, his anchors are -- the outside world demands this, that, the other thing, these are -- they've told lies, they've done this, Ailes famously stands by them.

So I think NBC, which realized that it has handled the Brian Williams situation just terribly. I mean a kind of classic botched job in crisis management.

So they went to the guy in their business who has handled it right.

STELTER: And Lester Holt's first week on the "Nightly News."

Did they do the right thing ultimately by putting Holt in charge and having Williams come back in August as a special reports breaking news anchor on MSNBC?

WOLFF: Well, I think they did the right thing for -- for them. I mean the point that I made in my column was that MSNBC is much more important to "NBC Nightly News" then the "Nightly News."

STELTER: It makes a lot of money. Yes.

WOLFF: It makes an infinite amount more money.

STELTER: All of these conversations about television bring up your book. It's called "Television Is the New Television." You talk about all the rosy predictions about Facebook and Netflix and BuzzFeed and all the digital media darlings and how it's actually unsexy, old media, television, that's the real killer app in digital.

WOLFF: And as a matter of fact, James Murdoch just said this past week, television is the -- is the killer app.

Yes, I mean I think -- I think it's a remarkable story. And it's partly about digital media's relentless boosterism of its own self, you know, that digital media is inevitable, digital media is taking over the world, digital media is where everyone wants to go.

The truth is, digital media doesn't make any money. Tele -- people continue to watch more television than they consume digital media, actually more television than ever before. And to boot, virtually everybody in digital media wants to figure out how to move their business into television.

STELTER: You pointed out that this week, we heard from BuzzFeed and "The Daily Mail" that they both are getting into the TV business, or they're looking for ways to get into TV.

WOLFF: And the HuffPo, too. Yes. Everybody -- I mean literally that is the thing. I mean in every digital office, they sit there and they say how can we move into television, because video gets higher rates for advertising and actually people watch it.

STELTER: I think one of the main points that I thought was the most interesting was how print newspaper executives made a lot of mistakes when handling digital that television executives learned from and did not make, that TV executives were not putting everything online for free, they were more careful about their business and they were in a healthier position as a result.

WOLFF: I don't think it ever even crossed the minds of television executives that they would not charge for their content. That is the rule of television. Nothing is free. And it not only has saved them, but has created an industry that continues to grow and to be right at the center of American culture.

STELTER: TV is the new TV.

Michael Wolff, thanks for being here this morning.

WOLFF: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: Good to see you.

And we'll be right back with more RELIABLE SOURCES in just a moment.


STELTER: I'm out of time on RELIABLE SOURCES this week, but "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.