Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
FOX News Boss Harassment Suit: Roger Ailes Sued by Ex-Anchor Gretchen Carson; Did Media Coverage of Grim Week Make It Worse?; Nation Divided: Police and Protests. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired July 10, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:08] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good morning. I'm Brian Stelter. It's time for RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story in the media world, how news and pop culture get made.
This hour -- you've heard it and I have heard it. America is in crisis, America is divided. That's what we keep being told. But is it true?
And is some of the overheated news coverage making things even worse? We're going to examine the coverage of the latest police shootings and the acts of domestic terrorism in Dallas.
We will also look at the use of social media and live streaming on this story, and give you and update on the arrest at protests in several cities. This video here from Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson, he was live-streaming when he was arrested last night. At the moment, he is still behind bars.
Several journalists have also been swept up in the arrest this is weekend, and we will talk about that.
But there was a major story about the media this week, about one of the most powerful men in media, FOX News chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes. This was a bombshell. Longtime FOX News anchor Gretchen Carlson filing a lawsuit against Ailes on Wednesday, alleging pervasive sexual harassment by Ailes, and claiming she was fired after refusing his sexual advances.
Ailes is vehemently denying the allegations, saying they are, quote, "false." And this is a, quote, "retaliatory suit for the network's decision not to renew her contract." Ailes is citing her relatively low ratings in the 2:00 p.m. hour as the reason for her dismissal.
Lawyers for Ailes are also charging that Carlson violated her contract arbitration clause. Now, Carlson's lawyers are contending that the other lawyers are just trying to keep this case out of the public eye. That she, quote, "never agreed to arbitrate anything and that she intends to fight for her right for a public jury trial."
Carlson's lawyers also tell me and the other reporters who have been calling, that other women, perhaps more than a dozen have come forward with their own stories. Yesterday, "New York Magazine" published accounts from six more women, two of them on the record, four of them anonymously, all alleging harassment by Ailes in 1960s, '70s, and '80s.
So what does this mean for Ailes? What could this mean for FOX News?
Let's ask my panel. Joining me now, Gabriel Sherman, the writer of the piece we just mentioned, a national affairs editor at "New York Magazine", who published yesterday's accounts. Also here in New York, Danny Cevallos, a CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney. And Jamia Wilson, the executive director of women, action and media.
Gabe, let me start with you and your most recent reporting. How would you summarize the allegations from Gretchen Carlson and from these women you interviewed on this?
GABRIEL SHERMAN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, really the allegations from the women I interviewed were over a 25-year period, dating from the 1960s when Roger Ailes was a producer on the number one daytime show, "The Mike Douglas Show", all the way to the late '80s, when he was the top Republican political strategist in America, that he basically propositioned women for sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities.
STELTER: Some of these you wrote about in your book published in 2014, called "The Loudest Voice in the Room", I have it here. What is different now? Obviously, one difference is there is a lawsuit, a public document.
SHERMAN: That is the crucial difference. I published accounts in my book of on the record women who had been asked for sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities by Roger Ailes. What is different is that a high profile FOX News anchor has come forward for the first time and filed a lawsuit, putting these allegations into the public domain, that bring it all the way to the present. This pattern of behavior I documented going back and earlier in Ailes' career, now we bring it up to the present day, that is the crucial difference.
STELTER: Let me ask Jamia -- she's with us in Boston this morning -- to reflect on what this represents, to have a high profile anchor come out and make these allegations. Jamia, what do you think it means for television more broadly about the culture of newsrooms like FOX News?
JAMIA WILSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WOMEN, ACTION & THE MEDIA: Thank you so much for having me. I think that this is a very important moment for us to really focus on what it means for women to have less access, ownership, and participation in media. And specifically for a woman who is a high profile anchor, as was just mentioned, to be working in an outlet that was a hostile working environment for her, where she's constantly enduring a barrage of sexist misogynistic comments that have been made toward her, but also having to endure sexual harassment every day in her workplace.
And she's just one example of many women across the country who are enduring this and women who are enduring this in the newsrooms. We can look at the case with Jian Ghomeshi in Canada as well, as an examples of how pervasive this is, and why it's important that we look at this one story that is illuminating this issue, and think about all of the other stories that are now being cast in the shadows that will start to come to light as a result of her speaking out.
STELTER: Yes. So that is what she is alleging, you're right, and her lawyers have said that this is a brave stance because she may never work in a television newsroom again.
Let me ask one more question to you, Gabe, before we bring in Danny as the attorney here.
[11:05:01] You interview these women. You worked with the law firm to gain access to them. I have been told other news outlets have the same opportunity and declined because four of the women could not give or would not give their names.
Could you tell me what conditions if any you gave in order to speak to these women and whether you came away believing their accounts?
SHERMAN: Well, a couple of things. I sort of pushed back on working with the law firm, like any reporter, I persistently covered this story. It's a story I covered in my book. So I chose to call them as a source like any of us.
STELTER: But the law firm did provide their information?
SHERMAN: Sure. That was their decision and you could talk with them about, you know, why they chose me versus another reporter. But --
STELTER: Did you find them to be credible, all six?
SHERMAN: The women are incredibly credible. I mean, this is a story I've covered. It fit a pattern of behavior that I covered in my book. I interviewed them at length.
These are stories they didn't even tell their families, their husbands, their children. I mean, these are incredibly personal stories. And so, for a lot of women, they faced fear of retribution for speaking out. And I found to be very credible.
STELTER: One of the women you quoted, Kellie Boyle, I was able to reach a friend of hers, from college, who says Kellie told her the story at the time in 1989. So, for what's that worth, a corroborating source for one of the accounts.
Danny, I'm holding the eight-page lawsuit here. It's unique that there is a suit. It's on the record. That's why this story is getting so much attention.
When you read this, when you assess it, do you -- do you believe this will eventually go to trial, or is this the kind of thing that gets plain out in public as a PR campaign underway that will eventually reach to a settlement?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Before a plaintiff ever wants to have a trial in court, they have to stay in court because the defendant is saying there's an arbitration clause that the parties agreed to that keeps them in private arbitration. And big companies love arbitration because it's not very --
STELTER: Let's unpack that. You and I have contracts with CNN. We have arbitration clauses. It's very normal on television.
CEVALLOS: Brian, not only your contact with your job, but consumer electronics, every one of us out there is subject to about 11 or 12 arbitration clauses that we may not even be aware that we're in.
But the key here is that the plaintiff has wisely alleged New York City law, not New York state law, New York City discrimination laws arguably, the strongest in the entire country for plaintiffs, a very good strategic move to use that law. But on the other hand, if a court decides that they validly agreed to arbitrate the cases like this, this case will go to private arbitration and it will be out of the public eye.
The plaintiff in this case will argue, no, no, no, not so fast, we didn't agree to arbitrate with Roger Ailes. We agreed to arbitrate with FOX News. And those two are separate and distinct entities.
STELTER: How soon will see a new development? What will the next step in this be?
CEVALLOS: The law requires that this issue be determined relatively quickly as compared to other cases because courts recognize that parties that are -- have arbitration clauses want them to remain private and they should go to arbitration as quickly as possible.
I should add that courts, by the way, love enforcing arbitration clauses. Why? One less thing for them to worry about. They would love to shove it off to a private arbitration and clear their own docket.
So, there is a well-recognized preference for courts to enforce arbitration clauses. However, the court must find that the parties did agree to arbitrate under a valid contract.
STELTER: Let's note what some of the FOX News hosts are saying in defense of their boss. Let me show on the screen what Greta Van Susteren, the 7:00 p.m. host on FOX News, said to me on the phone this morning. She said, let me put on screen, I believe, this does not ring true to her.
Quote, "I have been there 15 years. I've never seen it, I've never heard it. Never heard anything close to these allegations."
We've also heard similar comments from Jeanine Pirro, a weekend host on FOX News. You can see her on the screen here. As well as former host, Kiran Chetry, who says, she we can put Kiran Chetry on the screen as well, she wrote a Facebook post, said, of all of her years on the network, Ailes, quote, "never once made her feel uncomfortable, or put forth any sexual advances." So, that is a number of comments from women in FOX News. We've not heard from Megyn Kelly, the highest profile host of FOX News.
Does it matter, Danny, that these women are coming forward defending Ailes?
CEVALLOS: Assuming for now that this case stays in court, which is a huge assumption. It very well might end up in arbitration, it likely will end up back in arbitration.
CEVALLOS: But assuming that it does, the New York City law is so permissive for plaintiffs. For example, all you really need is a single act of discrimination that qualifies under the laws. Other laws, other state and federal laws require a pattern of hostile and pervasive conduct.
But given how strong New York City law is for plaintiffs, you don't need to show a whole lot if you are a plaintiff.
But remember, there's another wrinkle. The plaintiff in this case has filed in New Jersey court, asking them to enforce New York City law. I'm not so sure, and I'm sure there are master strategists on both sides of this case, they have their reasons for doing it, I'm not sure they can have New Jersey court enforce that law. But they must know what they're doing and they made a very deliberate tactical decision to file in New Jersey, as a jurisdiction asking to enforce New York City law.
[11:10:01] STELTER: I want to bring Jamia in a moment.
But, Gabe, you've been covering FOX for years. FOX views you as an antagonist. They believe you are openly hostile and biased against FOX.
Do you -- first of all, do you agree with that? I mean, do you believe yourself an antagonist?
SHERMAN: I'm a reporter, Brian. I cover FOX the same way I would cover any powerful media organization or political campaign. I mean, I'm basically focused on reporting the story. This happens to be the biggest story in media and I cover it no differently.
STELTER: So, you've covered Ailes. You probably know what he's thinking right now. He might be thinking this is liberal media bias, that people are out to get him.
STELTER: How do you think personally he's going to handle this in the weeks and months to come?
SHERMAN: Well, if history is a judge, his strategy is to go on the attack. I mean, let's go back to 2004 when Andrea Mackris accused Bill O'Reilly, FOX's highest profile talent, of sexual harassment. FOX News PR machine went on the attack, discredited her motives, said she was trying to seek money, extortion.
So, if history is a judge, FOX, and we already see a push back, they will try to discredit Carlson's claims and any of the other women's claims who come forward.
But what I think is important is not to get lost in the process, not to get lost in the strategy and really focus on these stories and these women who are taking a grave, personal risk to their reputation by coming forward and challenging the most powerful man in news business.
STELTER: I think that's what Jamia was saying earlier as well.
Jamia, if you could give us one final thought on this and give us a bigger picture context. Do you believe this is a positive in some way, a positive for the news business, to have these allegations surface because it may make women in other newsrooms and other situations feel somewhat more comfortable coming forward if they say they have been harassed?
WILSON: I would like to say that the Anita Hill case very much, studies have shown, that that radicalized the amount of -- and the increase in reporting of women who are reporting sexual harassment in the workplace. And it's really important that we think about that case and look at the history now and how it's informing how women in the present and the future will consider the way that they're treated in the workplace and what action they can take in order to create equal work places for themselves and the next generation of women that are coming after them.
STELTER: Jamia, please stay with me. I want to bring you back later in the hour.
Gage, Danny, thank you both for being here as well.
As Ailes is denying both the allegations by Carlson, an attorney is also denying the allegation from other women. The question for us after the break here, is there any chance Ailes would step aside as the owner of FOX, the Murdochs, conducted internal investigation?
We have two reporters who cover the Murdochs for years joining me right after this.
[11:16:06] STELTER: Welcome back.
Even FOX News boss Roger Ailes has a boss, three of them actually. Twenty-First Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan.
And now, with Ailes under scrutiny, this is what 21st Century Fox is saying, "While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy" -- who was also mentioned in Gretchen Carlson's lawsuit, they say, they "have served the company brilliantly for over two decades." The company also says, "We have commissioned an internal review of the matter."
So, with Ailes now named in this lawsuit, alleging pervasive sexual harassment, FOX New is not named, Steve Doocy is not named, but Ailes is. And so, this review is now underway. And we know very little about it. Media critics, observers are wondering if this is an opportunity for Murdoch's sons, who have been assuming more control of their father's media empire and who are said to be less of a fan, less fans of Ailes than their father Rupert.
Could Ailes actually be ousted as a result of this? It's being asked online.
Let me ask two of our guests here, David Zurawik, a media critic for "The Baltimore Sun", and David Folkenflik, media correspondent for NPR, and author of "Murdoch's World: The Last of the Old Media Empires".
Folkenflik, I've got to be honest, I feel weird even saying it out loud -- the idea that Roger Ailes tenure at FOX could come to an end. It sounds almost outlandish to me. And yet, is this something that is conceivable now, that now there's this internal review going on and we know nothing about it?
DAVID FOLKENFLIK, NPR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it's conceivable. I mean, part of the question is what this review finds and part of the question is, what other allegations surface in public view? You know, the real specter I think looming over this is the context of Bill Cosby, in which there was such a parade of women who came forward ultimately seemed to be credible that regardless of what played out in the legal sphere, the public relations sphere seemed quite strong.
STELTER: And to be clear, those are allegations of rape. There is no such allegation here about Ailes.
FOLKENFLIK: Absolutely right.
STELTER: What is similar though and the reason why Carlson's lawyers have brought up Cosby and called the Bill Cosby of media is that there might be other women.
Tell us, as the NPR media correspondent, are you working on this? Are you pursuing other women stories? Are you talking to other sources?
FOLKENFLIK: We're looking at this story from a variety of different angles. We're looking at it from the defense, that Mr. Ailes is affirmatively presenting, arguing, you know, you can see the memo that he sent right after that September 2015 meeting with Gretchen Carlson, which he said, let's give her another shot, let's see how her numbers do, let's promote her more.
STELTER: So, Carlson alleges there was sexual harassment in that meeting, and yet -- and she says as a result, she was retaliated against. But this memo says Ailes went out of his way to seek more promotion for her.
FOLKENFLIK: That's right. But at the same time, we're trying to talk to current and former colleagues of Mr. Ailes at FOX to figure out what he was like as a boss, as a figure, whether or not this kind of harassment occurred, whether these advances were made.
STELTER: Do you have a sense today that we will hear from women who do or did work at FOX News?
FOLKENFLIK: I know that there's a grave concern both people who are loyal to Mr. Ailes, but also people who are fearful of speaking out. That this is a climate where, you know, as Gretchen Carlson's lawyers said in one of their responses over the weekend, you know, this was a case in which when Gretchen Carlson talked to a small local outlet, she was rebuked for doing so on a completely anodyne topic.
For people to do so about something so fundamental about essentially the creative force propelling the vision and the profits of FOX News, you know, that is something that really put their careers on the line.
STELTER: "The New York Post" has not mentioned this lawsuit. I mention that because Murdoch owns "The New York Post." "The Wall Street Journal", though, which he owns, also has.
Folkenflik -- actually, let me go to Zurawik on this, we're talking about the coverage of this story, we're talking here on CNN, a rival of FOX's, we should be transparent and honest about that. And yet, this is a massive story everybody in the TV business is talking about.
What's your impression of how FOX and Ailes have handled it so far, Zurawik?
DAVID ZURAWIK, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Well, you know, you expect it, Brian. You absolutely, if you follow them at all, you know that they were coming out swinging. And they did.
STETLER: By leaking the memo we're talking about.
ZURAWIK: Look, look, that's -- OK. That's the thing. Let's talk about that.
FOX has a very sophisticated, very aggressive, very even nasty operation where they attack opponents and they put stuff in the hands of reporters at certain places and there's a lot of ways that that game is played and you saw that happening.
[11:20:17] You know, I mean, I saw it -- I could tell where things were being placed by what was showing up in the first couple of days of this. That's really -- you know, that's the way the game's played. I hate it. I have never played it with FOX and I don't like it. They're going to do that. It's going to be tough.
You know, as a matter of fact I do want to say something, Brian, about Gabriel Sherman in the first thing. You know, I read his reporting, I read his work, I read his work, if they come after him that way, I think reporters like us need to stand behind his work, because he does good work, he's a good reporter and we all know this goes on. All three of us here and everybody connected with this knows what kind of hardball FOX plays on these kind of things and the stakes couldn't be higher.
STELTER: When you say we know this goes, you don't mean sexual harassment at FOX.
ZURAWIK: No, no, no. Not at all. No, no, no. Thank you. No, no, no.
I'm talking about trying to undercut somebody's credibility, who attacks FOX. Trying to -- in some ways try to bully reporters who are trying to report this story.
No, thank you for that clarification. That's not what I meant at all.
But this is, FOX is, I've never seen, you can go back to Bill Paley, CBS, he's had Walter Cronkite, or he had somebody else's, the front, to Edward R. Murrow, as the face of that.
ZURAWIK: This is his channel. It's built on his ego, and when you ask about stepping aside, they can't let him step aside unless he's going to run it like a manager who's ejected from the game and runs it out of the club house. They will fall apart if he's not in the lead.
Everyone I have ever talked to over there has almost a personal Roger Ailes story and they're personally loyal to him. Everything about it, the culture of that network seems to me to be his personality. It's a great triumph that he gave this little startup, the swagger and this arrogance to become what it is.
But also, if that ego is involved in treating women the way Carlson alleges, that's going to be like a great tragedy. That's what takes him down -- could take him down.
FOLKENFLIK: So, let's think about this in a couple of ways, though, because it seems to me that this is a moment in which the interests of Roger Ailes and FOX News may diverge from the interest of the Murdoch family.
STELTER: And maybe the lawsuits intended that way because it's not against FOX. It's only against Ailes.
FOLKENFLIK: It's not against the institution. And so, David Zurawik rightly talks about the public relations war, and right now, the public relations war is one in which FOX is for the first time, really on the defensive and really taking incoming fire.
At the second time, the legal fights, you know, the Murdoch family is responding a little differently. When Bill O'Reilly was sued, as was mentioned earlier --
FOLKENFLIK: -- for sexual harassment, and they settled without admission of wrongdoing. But it was believed that they had a lot of that harassment on tape.
In this instance, the lawyers for Gretchen Carlson say that they have evidence and documentation of the advances that Roger Ailes made. We don't know what form that takes, if it does indeed exist. But nonetheless --
STELTER: Yes, I know there's been speculation inside FOX, that there might be recordings, but we don't know.
FOLKENFLIK: We don't know. But nonetheless, you know, the Murdoch family announced that they will -- or have not denied reports that they are hiring outside counsel to do this. This gets it out of the internal control.
There was not an outside counsel to do this when Bill O'Reilly, their biggest star, was accused of sexual harassment, it's a different thing. When Col Allan, who's the editor of "The New York Post", was accused of sexual and racial discrimination by an editor who was dismissed, they did not appoint an outside counsel to do that.
This is a different model. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that you have Rupert Murdoch transitioning the control of the company to his sons, Lachlan and James, neither of whom have ever been enamored of Roger Ailes. In fact, Ailes made Lachlan's life very difficult during Lachlan's first run of the company, the parent company of News Corp.
And what you're seeing now I think is this tension between Rupert Murdoch's loyalty, and the Murdoch sons desire for their company to be truly a 21st century company as opposed to run with the mores of Dan Draper era.
STELTER: So, that's the context for us to keep in mind in the weeks to come. And I have a banner on the screen. "Should Ailes step aside during the company probe?" Because I have asked 20th Century FOX, they haven't said if he will or not, if he's in charge or not.
Now, I think as of today he's in charge. But it is interesting that the company, the Murdochs aren't saying a word on this.
FOLKENFLIK: They are being quieter than silent on this issue. There is no word other than that initial statement.
One of the interesting threats, you know, is how does this affect FOX? How do they cover this issue?
You know, one of the story lines that I have been told that FOX was intending to pursue on the Hillary Clinton campaign was the question of Bill Clinton's sexual affairs, Bill Clinton's sexual actions towards, say, a subordinate, an intern, Monica Lewinsky, whom we may remember. Does this make it more complicated for them to go after that story?
There are a lot of threads that play out here if Roger Ailes stays on the job.
[11:25:00] STELTER: That's fascinating.
David, thank you for being here.
The other David, Zurawik, please stick around for us. We'll be back with you in a moment here.
Coming up here in turn, gosh, what a week. You know, a pair of deadly shootings caught on camera, then a murderous rampage of Dallas police officers. Sometimes you feel like you're speechless talking about it. You don't know what to say.
But I want to ask if the media is making it better or worse. We'll be right back.
STELTER: It has been to put it simply a bad week. Has the media coverage made it worse?
Journalists have investigated the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and relay the latest information and sometimes misinformation from the aftermath of the ambush in Dallas.
The coverage has been nonstop. It feels like we can barely catch our collective breath. I could barely last night watching some of the protests on line. And that in and of itself, that nonstop coverage has an effect on people's perceptions of what's going on.
But we should pause to examine how the coverage is being constructed, particularly the television coverage. What is being debated? Who is being interviewed?
It's been hard sometimes to even get a word in edgewise on cable news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. Excuse me, sir. I have let you -- I have let you speak. You're going to let me speak.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me finish my point because you...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you. Shame on you.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: One at a time, please. One at a time, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don't you be quiet? Why don't you listen? You're so arrogant. You can't even hear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying the same things that led...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Let's talk about this in more detail with a panel we have assembled to discuss the topics.
Jamia Wilson back with me, the executive director of Women, Action, and the Media. Also back with me, David Zurawik, media critic for "The Baltimore Sun." And joining us now from Dallas, Tomi Lahren, the host of "Tomi" on TheBlaze.
Thank you all for being here this morning.
And let me start with you, Tomi. Tell me, am I mispronouncing your name? Let me check.
TOMI LAHREN, HOST, "TOMI": It's "Tommy," like the boy's name.
STELTER: Tomi. I apologize, Tomi.
The most hopeful thing I read this week was this from NPR's Sam Sanders. He said that, in Dallas, it's actually much better on the ground that on the Internet. On social media, he said there's so much vitriol, but not in person.
So, I wondered. You're there. Is that true? Is that what you're sensing among your neighbors?
LAHREN: Dallas has really come together in the aftermath of this horrific ambush.
And I can see it everywhere. Last night, I was driving in downtown Dallas and around uptown, and everything is lit up in blue. We have got blue lines running through everything. Our radio stations are all talking about backing the blue and how blue lives do in fact matter. So Dallas is strong and coming together. Make no mistake.
STELTER: At the same time, you're a conservative host on TheBlaze. We have heard conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh call Black Lives Matter a terrorist group. Sarah Palin says the media has been complicit.
I have got tweets from viewers saying CNN has blood on its hands for covering police violence, police brutality. Do you subscribe to that kind of belief, that the BLM is a terrorist group?
LAHREN: I think that the Black Lives Matter started out with fantastic intentions.
They were trying to correct an injustice, real or perceived. And they were seeking equality and to bring attention to the things that they felt in their communities. However, we saw, in the aftermath of Ferguson, that things took an ugly turn.
We saw looting, we saw rioting, we saw burning down of communities. Now we're seeing -- and though it is not all -- and I'm very careful to say that -- though it is not all of the protesters, we do see some that are holding signs saying "F. the police," "Kill all pigs." Social media, though they might not be the first and foremost people of the movement, they are posting with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter horrific and awful things and calls to violence towards the police. So, I do believe that this movement needs to get itself back in check, because it has taken an ugly turn.
STELTER: David, is there a danger in reading too much into the worst of humanity, whether it's the far right or far left comments online, rather than focusing on the core, the good of most people?
ZURAWIK: Well, Brian...
LAHREN: I think that everyone is inherently good, but I think, right now, our anger on both sides are killing us. It's killing us.
STELTER: David, let me -- OK.
Sorry, let me get Zurawik's take as well.
ZURAWIK: Well, I think, Brian, you can't exclude what's happening on social media anymore, because it's absolutely there.
We are not -- I mean, this is a -- you know, sounds like, duh, but we are not gatekeepers almost in any way, shape or form anymore to this discussion. The difference is, when you had gatekeepers -- and for all the sins with our system, before you got to publish, you were socialized to a set of values that said, like it was like driver's ed, be careful, you can kill -- you can destroy career with these words. You can inflame things with these words.
And they didn't let you publish until they thought you were a responsible driver. Social media, you have people putting some of the worst stuff out there. They publish in the midst of these heightened warfare almost in -- and then they take it down, because, oh, duh, I was wrong.
That's so reckless. And, Brian, it's people working in the media working on legitimate media platforms who are doing this. I don't know how you deal with that. It's really incumbent on the people who own the platforms to sort of police what their people are saying.
But it's not enough to have people on if they publish something and it's awful and it denigrates a whole group, and then you take it down and you say, oh, never mind. That's part of what is going on, yes.
STELTER: We saw the Dallas P.D. yesterday saying that the media was reporting misinformation, saying that shots had been fired outside the headquarters during a security scare, when there had been no shots fired.
Actually, actually the police had been doing their jobs trying to use a device to enter a locked fence. You can see the complaints from the police department there.
Jamia, let me bring you in here and pivot back to this issue of who's speaking on cable news and about what. There were a lot of complaints on Twitter yesterday about Joe Walsh -- that's a congressman -- being on "CNN TONIGHT" on Friday night with Don Lemon.
Walsh made a tweet, a number of tweets, during the Dallas ambush. Some of them were perceived as threats against the president. He deleted one of them. So, he was interviewed by Don Lemon about this. He was challenged by Don Lemon.
But I have heard a lot of people online and on social media saying he should not be allowed on CNN's airwaves. What do you think? What do you make of that?
WILSON: It was disappointing to see...
STELTER: Sorry, Jamia, go ahead.
WILSON: It was disappointing to see that he was given a platform to promote a dog whistle to racists, as well as to use coded language and overt threats that were undermining legitimate movement work to help bring people together, as well as to end state violence against black people.
STELTER: You don't think he should be on the air to be challenged?
Zurawik, go ahead. What do you think?
ZURAWIK: Well, Brian, I think -- I have thought about this. And I agree with Jamia. I totally agree with her feeling about this.
But, on the other hand, as a journalist, I feel that those voices have to be explored. They have to be not necessarily heard in their own voice, but put in some kind of context.
ZURAWIK: My compromise would be, you talk about what Walsh said, but you don't bring him on. You talk about it with people. You have folks like Jamia. You have a panel like this, and let us talk about it.
And by doing that, you're somehow saying to the audience, this man is irresponsible in this kind of rhetoric. You need to know it's out there, but we're going to try to contextualize it and talk about it and offer a framework for thinking about it.
That might sound paternalistic. That might sound old media thinking. Maybe it is. (CROSSTALK)
STELTER: I agree with you. I agree with you.
And I think we need to know what everybody is thinking. I actually worry that we're not hearing that maybe half or more than half of the country that's very clearly pro-gun rights, for example.
Tomi, I see you agreeing, I think, or maybe disagreeing with David. What was your sense?
LAHREN: I entirely disagree.
If you disagree with what someone is posting on social media, or you disagree with their voice, you bring them on and you allow them to address it. You don't talk about them. You allow them to defend themselves. You allow them to clarify. And you have that open and honest conversation, as I have asked to do on many of the platforms that have said I went too far.
You bring that person on. You let them speak for themselves.
ZURAWIK: You did. You did go too far, Tomi. You did.
LAHREN: That is your opinion.
ZURAWIK: No, it's not -- I wish it was your employer's opinion.
That's really reckless, that kind of tweet at the situation we're in. As a journalist, what you did appalls me. That's the end of it. I'm trying to be civil about this.
LAHREN: And I appreciate it.
A, I'm not a journalist. I'm a commentator. I'm allowed to have my feelings and my opinions. And I stand behind the things that I say, because the thing that hurts people the most is when you're honest. When you look at someone from an honest lens, from your perspective, and you bring that forth, you're immediately labeled for it, and you are immediately criticized.
What those on the other side wants to do is criticize, label and silence those that disagree with them. I don't play that game.
ZURAWIK: There's no room for the kind of ignorance that your tweet put out there at this time in our history.
LAHREN: I agree with you that there's divisive language out there that needs to be tamed. And I agree that some things that I may have said come from a place of anger and come from a place of being truly heartbroken at what happened in my city of Dallas.
But make no mistake. The First Amendment applies to everyone. And the best way to combat speech you don't like is not to silence others. It's more speech. It's more conversation.
ZURAWIK: Not to give them a platform.
LAHREN: To silence people does no...
STELTER: Jamia, Tomi, David, thank you all very much for being here.
I think it's important that we actually not cut off these conversations. We have other guests as well that I want to hear from. Frankly, the more voices the better, on a week like this.
Before we go from this conversation, though, we have a number of arrests, the number of detentions of reporters this weekend that I want to make sure you know about.
This was Friday night in Rochester, New York, two reporters from a local station, the only African-American reporters actually on the scene of this protest, who were taken away. According to the station manager, they were very concerned by this.
But the journalists were released pretty quickly and the local authorities did apologize.
We are looking for more information out of Baton Rouge as well. There's been at least two arrests, two detentions of reporters in protests there last night.
Speaking of that, this is video of DeRay McKesson, a Black Lives Matter activist, being arrested in Baton Rouge. We're going to talk about the effect of live-streaming from Periscope, from Facebook Live, and how it is changing citizen journalism in bold new ways.
We will be right back.
STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
This morning, one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, DeRay McKesson, is behind bars. The way we all found he was arrested last night in Baton Rouge was is because he live-streaming at a protest there when he was arrested.
And about 100 protesters were also detained. In this case, he was using Periscope. Others have used Facebook Live this week. But live- streaming is one of the threads that connects all of this week's tragic stories.
Diamond Reynolds' live-streamed on Facebook, making her friends eyewitnesses to her interactions with the authorities after her fiance, Philando Castile, was shot by a police officer in Minnesota. Witnesses to the ambush in Dallas were also live-streaming the
shootings. At one point, one of the shots zoomed in on the bodies on the ground.
Meanwhile, activists and minority groups and anyone who feels like they're not a part of the mainstream media is increasingly able to make their own media, to producer their own podcasts, their own shows, their own accounts.
I want to talk about all of this and much more with Jelani Cobb, staff writer for "The New Yorker," Elon James White, publisher of "This Week in Blackness" and media director of Netroots Nation, and Mike Wilson, the editor of "The Dallas Morning News."
Mike, I know -- I actually don't know what these two past two days have been like for you. I can't imagine. We were texting middle of the night last night. Have much have you slept and how much has your staff slept? How is your staff doing after these few stays?
MIKE WILSON, EDITOR, "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS": I think the staff is doing great.
We're of course all affected by the emotion of this situation, but it's helpful to have a story to tell and a community to serve. We have all slept OK. I think most of the hard work is done by the people you see behind me.
STELTER: Let me go to Jelani. I'm sorry I said Jelani.
Jelani Cobb here with me on the set in New York, you think through these issues, the media coverage of these stories. What has been missing? What has been lacking, especially in the mainstream media coverage, the television coverage of both the police-involved shootings and then the ambush in Dallas?
JELANI COBB, "THE NEW YORKER": Well, there's one thing.
We would never have seen that Diamond Reynolds video through a traditional media outlet. Certainly, the discomfort, the extreme discomfort of witnessing someone die before your eyes, I think that that would have been something that people would have been very hesitant to broadcast in traditional media.
But it's also...
STELTER: You mean we wouldn't have put it on the air if we had gotten that video ourselves. But because it was live on Facebook...
STELTER: ... we didn't really have a choice but to cover it.
COBB: Right. Exactly. There's kind of -- there's no filtering process there. And the bigger question, I think that people have said that we have to go kind of bypass media to say that we want our communities, we want the broader people to be able to see exactly what's happening.
STELTER: Elon, do you agree that it's increasingly important to go around mainstream gatekeepers, to the extent that there are gatekeepers at all?
ELON JAMES WHITE, CEO, TWIBNATION: Yes, I do agree with that, but I don't agree with the amount of showing of the videos of death that we have been seeing.
STELTER: Tell me about that.
WHITE: At this point, this is not something -- this is not something new anymore.
This is not something that just started yesterday. This is not something that is a surprise. We have been being murdered by police for decades. These are stories that you have been told by your grandparents, by your uncles, by your cousins, your nephews. These are stories that have been very, very vocal within our community.
What happened was, it wasn't being heard. It wasn't been believed. It was always said, well, what did you do? What happened? What -- how did you get yourself into that situation? And we're seeing that these people weren't in these situations.
But at a certain point, you can't just keep watching black death over and over. The trauma's that's being -- happened to a community across the nation, because this is no longer localized. As social media has continued to grow and social media continues to push these stories, you see these things and communities are being connected across the country.
But at the same time, communities are being traumatized greatly, because you know what? I know that we're being murdered. I don't need to see it with my own eyes, because the fact is that it's not going to -- if you need to see someone get murdered to understand that maybe, maybe racism still a part of America, that police brutality is still a problem, maybe you didn't really care in the first place.
STELTER: Well, Sure.
I mean, Jelani, we have to reckon with what it means to be seeing these videos over and over again on our most intimate of devices, our smartphone screens.
We also have to reckon with violence in our culture, the billboards for movies with guns, the video games that I and everyone else seems to play.
STELTER: How do we have all these conversations at once, though, guns and violence in media and all these conversations at once? COBB: I think there's been a part of this conversation.
This is very quickly to respond to Elon's point. I completely respect where he's coming from in terms of this. And the idea of people having this kind of consistent and recurring trauma of seeing these images is one that resonates deeply with me.
At the same time, I teach about lynching. And one of the primary means that we have of documenting lynching is that people actually sent postcards. People were so depraved that they sent postcards, and not -- as kind of recreational things, saying, these are the images of these people who are dead.
And then the moment that it happens is absolutely horrific and inhumane, but in the long term, this is actually part of our record, the way that we're able to document the inhumanity that we have witnessed and survived in this country.
So, I think that's the counterbalance here. The other part that you said, I think, was guns. And I think this has been somewhat missing from this conversation.
STELTER: That's the other common thread. I actually think the gun debate hasn't really been had in the wake of what has happened this week.
It's been much more about race.
And, quite frankly, we have had this conversation about guns in a particular way, that one side says that -- I think Wayne LaPierre said famously, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Well, we saw what happened in Dallas, where there was one individual who was armed and was able to shoot 12 other armed and trained, highly trained individuals, before he was cornered and taken out.
And so the kind of idea that a highly armed society automatically equates to one that is safer, it seems that Dallas refutes that.
STELTER: Let me pause here for a moment, come back with all of the guests in a moment. I want to go back to Dallas and Mike's experience, the editor of the newsroom of "The Dallas Morning News."
Very quick break. Be right back.
STELTER: Mike Wilson is back with me, editor of "The Dallas Morning News," along with Jelani Cobb, the staff writer for "The New Yorker," and Elon James White, publisher of "This Week in Blackness."
Mike, why the front-page editorial today?
WILSON: You know what?
After a couple of days running on this story and covering a lot of pain and a lot of noise, we wanted to step back and have a quiet place to talk about what this means for our community. And the front page is meant to be that quiet place.
STELTER: You just tweeted during the block. This is a first for me.
You said: "I appreciate Elon's point about trauma caused by showing black death on video. I fear, however, the audience needs to see it to understand."
Elon, let me get your reaction to that.
WHITE: Here's the thing.
I believe that, for some people, yes, they need to see violence in order to understand violence. But the fact is that we have been showing violence on television for decades. People watched Rodney King be beat in the street, and people still don't believe it.
And the fact is that media has to be taking -- take responsibility for some of this problem. Media uses black death as a point of reference, as a point to show -- to sensationalize and to get ratings.
And the fact is that it's unnecessary. If you want to actually do the job that media is supposed to do, then they should be having these conversations when there isn't a murder video on there. They should be having the conversations when they are talking to presidential candidates, asking them about, what is their day one plan to stop black death, as opposed to letting them just ramble about what they think should happen in the black community and not actually get real answers, so that we know what will happen.
STELTER: I disagree with you on ratings, but let me go to Jelani on one last point here.
Media silos. Everyone is so damn siloed. I don't know if FOX News viewers even knew about these police shootings in detail.
STELTER: What do we do?
COBB: And what happens is that you have the kind of a la carte media, where you can get the perspective, your perspective on the world echoed back to you.
STELTER: We have to force ourselves to be better than that.
COBB: It wasn't simply media, but it was also the NRA and other kind of organizations as well.
STELTER: At this moment, we have to force ourselves, I think, to be better than those silos.
Unfortunately, I'm out of time.
Thank you all for being here.
Jelani, thank you for being here.
Elon, I appreciate it.
Mike, thank you in Dallas as well.
WILSON: Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: We will see you back here next week from Cleveland, actually, for the Republican National Convention. Can you believe that's a week away?
Thanks for tuning in.