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Why Trump Supporters Say Media is Biased; What's the Role of a Trump Surrogate?; Media Frenzy Leading Up to Election Day; Fact Checking the Candidates. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 7, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:06] BRIAN STELTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good morning. I'm Brian Stelter, and this is RELIABLE SOURCES -- our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how news and pop culture get made.

This hour, Trump's toughest week yesterday, with critical media coverage and sliding poll numbers. We're going to examine that.

Plus, how news outlets are getting creative, fact-checking statements right on the screen. Is it fair?

Plus, new reporting on the future of FOX News, with ousted CEO Roger Ailes still denying sexual harassment allegations against him, meanwhile the Murdochs are speaking out.

But, first, the United States of anxiety, does all this election coverage scare you? I mean really scare you?

If so, you're not alone. Check out these findings from the ABC/"Washington Post" poll hot off the presses this morning showing Hillary Clinton with an eight-point lead over Donald Trump.

Here's the stat that really caught my eye. The poll asked, thinking about Donald Trump has president -- are you comfortable with this or does it make you anxious? Fifty percent of Americans say very anxious, another 20 percent say somewhat anxious, that's a total of 70 percent. Now, 51 percent say thinking about Clinton being president makes them anxious as well.

The numbers have been this way all year long, which is why I think media coverage needs to acknowledge not just what's going on with our brains, but what's going on in our hearts, what's going on with our guts about this election. There's anxiety, there's fear on all sides.

And these tensions are why TV's so-called Trump supporters are so controversial. You might call this the loneliest job on cable news. Right now, his surrogates, his supporters -- well, they're playing defense.


SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Here in the panel, we have seen it all weekend, four versus one. There is never -- and that's why the American people are watching these segments and saying, wait a minute, maybe this is more politically motivated.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: But talking about the make up of a panel does not help the argument for Donald Trump.

HUGHES: But it does help because it shows the continued media bias that you want to sit there and you want to harp on him on these issues and you're forgetting the other issues on the other side.


STELTER: Did you hear what she said there, panels of four versus one.

Trump's aides have been complaining about the same thing all week long. It seems like may be a talking point from the campaign.

The norm on TV, of course, is a panel representative of all sides of an argument, and this year, that means anti-Trump Republicans alongside pro Trump guests. But today, we're going to do it a little bit differently.

We're going to talk about Donald Trump and the charges of media bias in a different way, with the insiders who support him, who say there's an awful disconnect between the media and Trump voters.

So, let's hear from them now. Let's put them up on the boxes here. Political columnist Kristin Tate, Amy Kremer, co-chair of Women Vote Trump 2016, Scottie Nell Hughes is a CNN political commentator and the political editor of, and CNN political commentator and talk show host John Phillips.

Scottie, you made a lot of news this morning -- this week. I want to start with you. I want to ask you about these charges of media bias. When you -- when you talk about this on television, when you point this out on Twitter, why do you think it's a winning argument for Trump to assert media bias?

HUGHES: Well, first of all, media bias is not new. Even Newt Gingrich came out and said it's just a fact. There are probably 80 percent of all those in the media probably lean left, and that's something we're going to have to address and move on with.

But the reason why is because it shows not only what we're talking about, but more importantly, what we're not talking about. I think that's where a lot of this bias is coming from, where we spend so much time talking about all of the issues of Mr. Trump and yet, maybe one or two of Hillary Clinton amongst the hour. And then you sit there and you go to these panels, and this is not just here, it's across the board. Also with the news articles, when you look at headlines, where you usually, you know, three, four, seven to one. Seven against Trump, and one for.

Now, granted all those might represent various facets of people that might be against Mr. Trump. But nine times out of time, one or two people are the only ones who are necessarily a pro Trump view if you're lucky.

STELTER: Scottie, you're Nashville.

Amy, you're in Atlanta. Amy, do you think there's a sort of media bubble problem that so many journalists and producers and bosses are in New York and D.C. So they're not able to represent the views of the rest of the country?

AMY KREMER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I do think that's a problem, Brian. And when you talk about establishment, a lot of people are referring to the media as being part of that establishment. You're not part a flyover country, great America out there in the heartland.

It's a totally different atmosphere and what people are being talked about is totally different from what's going on in New York and Washington, and that's where the media is coming out of. And that's why people turn on the news and they hear all this bias, they feel like it's not a fair representation.

And it's not just -- I have to go back to something that Scottie said, it's not just the negative things that are being said about Trump, but it's the omission of certain things. You want to talk about --

STELTER: Give me an example.

KREMER: You want to talk about Trump University, but there's no talk about the laureate schools where Clinton has received $16.5 million for being the honoree chancellor for four years, four to five years.

[11:05:04] There's no talk about that. And that's important.

I mean, there's no talk about Hillary Clinton's dealings with Russia when she was secretary of state, and the money that flow to the Clinton Foundation. All that's talked about is Trump's relationship with Putin.

I mean, those are two things right there where --

STELTER: But aren't you aware about those facts about Clinton from the news media?

KREMER: I'm sorry. What was that, Brian?

STELTER: Aren't you aware of those facts about Clinton, those ideas based on news media coverage of them?

KREMER: Actually I am not. I have done a lot of reading and that's why I'm aware of them.

STELTER: But isn't it from media reports is what you're reading?

KREMER: I don't know that necessarily all of it is media reports, but -- I mean, some of it may be.

STELTER: Don't you think you're doing an apples versus oranges comparison when you bring up Trump and Clinton? Isn't it possible that there are Clinton controversies, but they're not as big and newsworthy as Trump controversy? STELTER: But who are you to decide if they're not newsworthy? I

mean, that's for the American people to decide. The media should it lay out there and let the American people decide, put the information out there. It's not the media's place to determine what's newsworthy and what's not.

If there are scandals on either side, then put them out there and let the American people -- give them the information and let them decide what's important and what's not.

STELTER: So, Kristin, let me bring you in here. You're with me here in New York. Isn't it the news media's job to decide what's newsworthy? Isn't that the definition of news?

KRISTIN TATE, POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Well, I mean, it is. But, look, the media is obviously biased. We all know that. It's been worse in this election season that ever before.

The DNC email leaks proved that.


TATE: I mean, those emails showed top reporters at NBC taking marching orders directly from Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

STELTER: That's not what they were doing.

TATE: They showed "Politico" submitting stories --

STELTER: They were emailing, they were communicating. We email with the RNC as well.

TATE: Well, they showed "Politico" submitting stories to the DNC.

STELTER: One story, one reporter, and that reporter has apologized.

TATE: -- for approval before publishing those stories.

Look, this is a problem, but I also think we have got to point out the fact that a lot of the bias is because of the liberal ideology. But some of it is just because of entertainment, right?

Trump's sins are mostly rhetorical and it's very fun as readers to read about Twitter duels and Trump bashing someone's wife. It's more fun to read about that than it might be to read about things like email servers which is kind of boring.

So, part of the bias is because of liberal ideology. But I think part of it also is just because the media is giving people what they want, which is entertainment.

STELTER: Let me bring, John, in this conversation.

John, you're out in L.A. You got a radio show. You hear from your listeners all the time. But let me play devil's advocate with you. When your listeners complain about media bias, isn't this a victim- hood argument? They're the victims of a big, bad liberal media?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it may sound counterintuitive this week, but I think in many ways, the media bias helped create Donald Trump.

Let's go ahead and start out with your original sin, which was Megyn Kelly asking him a question about Rosie O'Donnell being a fat big. She was very dismissive of him where they start with that question with Trump and then they move on to, you know, foreign policy with the serious candidates.

The problem was, that wasn't in empty theater. That was in a theater filled with people and FOX News provided the laugh track that allowed people to say, wait a minute, people know what's going on here.

Then you move on to "The Huffington Post" that covered Trump in the entertainment section and put in a wild disclaimer saying that he's a racist and everything like that. The Republican consultants bought into that narrative.

So, in the early stages of the primary, they didn't spend their time going after Trump who ended up being the real threat. What did the Jeb people, they spent tons of money going after Marco Rubio.

So, think in many ways, this media bias created a pathway to victory for Donald Trump in the primary.

Now, of course, things have changed as we transition to the general, where they jumped on him any time he makes a joke that they don't like, the joke about the emails in Russia was clearly him just going for a laugh line. But then when Julian Assange goes on Bill Maher --

STELTER: Do you really think it was clear that he was joking? The audience in the room didn't think he was joking, do we just not have a sense of humor?


PHILLIPS: Well, I mean, he said he was joking. Paul Manafort said he was joking.

HUGHES: The mother of the baby said he was joking.

STELTER: I like to think I have a sense of humor, John, but I didn't think he was joking.

PHILLIPS: With Bill Maher -- well, that's what Paul Manafort said. But on Bill Maher, Julian Assange goes on and he says, you need to hack into the Trump emails and that was deadly serious and that fell on deaf ears.

STELTER: In that case, WikiLeaks came out later and said actually, he was kidding about that. That was a confusing case. I didn't know what to make of that.

But let me -- let me get into this issue of what it's like to be on air supporting Trump. I was really struck with Kayleigh McEnany, another CNN political commentator, said on Erin Burnett's show this week. Let's play the clip where it sounded like she was frustrated by her candidate.


KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We are at a juncture where Donald Trump does need to step back and listen to Newt Gingrich who still believes in him. He said today, Donald Trump can win this, but in order to do that, he needs to stick to the issues, and I think Donald Trump owes that to himself, to Republican voters, to Newt Gingrich who stood by him and me quite frankly who stood by him.

[11:10:00] His message resonates, and if he can get back on message, he can make up that gap, he can win this.


STELTER: Interesting comment there.

Amy, does Trump ever disappoint you and do you feel comfortable saying so?

KREMER: Well, look, I mean, of course I have been disappointed at times, I have with every candidate I have supported. They're human beings. They're not perfect.

But at the end of the day, I am going to stand by him. And I do think that he needs to be on message and the American that support him are going to stand by him. We need to talk about the issues that are facing Americans that they're concerned about, jobs and the economy, and our safety and security, our national security. I think those are what we all want to be talking about, because that's what we voters are going --

STELTER: Well, in that case -- I'm with you on that, but in that case, why does Donald Trump talk about media bias?

Let me show you a few of his tweets from this week complaining about CNN, "The New York Times," and other news outlet. He called CNN a press shop for Hillary Clinton, which is obviously inaccurate. He went on a series of comments against media outlets.

Why is it advantageous for him and let me ask, Scottie this question. Scottie, why is it advantageous for Trump to be tweeting up a storm attacking news media outlets?

HUGHES: Well, I think when you look at in the case of like "The New York Times", we've show time -- you know, they wrote their story about all of the women that were against Mr. Trump that used to work with him and these women came out the next day and said, that's not what we told you. And did you ever see a recant from "The New York Times" apologizing to Mr. Trump for that?

You mentioned the baby story --

STELTER: That's been the thrust of the story, the meat of the story was true.

HUGHES: But that's it. But they still should apologize for taking the words of these women to try to sit there and twist.

You just mentioned the mother of the crying baby. The mother herself came out and said, I was already out of the room, I took it as a joke as well.

So, you know, that's the problem. You sit there and you hold Trump one accountable and then you look at Hillary Clinton supporters and you go, you know, have you ever been disappointed in your supporters or in your candidate? And I have to tell you, most of them, maybe they're better --

STELTER: I'm sure they have.

HUGHES: Well, let's ask them that question, and, of course, they're going to say the email scandal? But are they going to mention Benghazi? Are they going to talk about the millions that went to Clinton Global Foundation and the initiative?

You just look at the time spent focused on these little trivial joke issues that spawn into bigger issues. Great casing point is this week. We saw the Khan family, rightfully so, the proper honor that their son deserves. But this week we saw two families also come out as well as several others, Gold Star families endorsing Mr. Trump, saying we would not go on a political stage and use your politics and bash candidates. We would talk about our son.

Those sound bites aren't getting replayed every five minutes, like we saw the obsession across both the print as well as the TV, and the radio media and the broadcast media last week. Those sorts of issues are why people feel like there's media bias.

On the other hand, talk radio is the exact opposite, if you look at it. The power of talk radio is overwhelming conservative, 30 million listeners, amongst just the top three people.

STELTER: And this week, Rush Limbaugh, the king of them all, renewed his deal.

Let's all agree. Let's end this on an agreement that none of us care about the crying baby thing, right? That that was a silly thing. I think it was. I think we all think it was.

Let's take a break here and come back on the other side and continue our conversation with the panel and talk more what it's like to be a Trump surrogate on TV, what the secret to success is.

Also later this hour, I have a message for Sean Hannity. It's something I have wanted to tell him all week long. So stay tuned.


[11:17:08] STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. Before the break, we were talking about what it's like to be a Trump supporter, a Trump surrogate on television. What's the actual role like?

On Thursday, "Washington Post" reporter Callum Borchers wrote this. He said, "If the job of a surrogate is to represent the candidates they support, then they're actually doing a pretty good job, they're pushing past standard political boundaries, relying on non-sequiturs, and making assertions that are demonstrably untrue. They're doing so confidently, attacking the dishonest media when criticism comes, it's the Donald Trump school of messaging management."

Is that fair? Is that unfair?

Let's bring back our panel of pro-Trump commentators, Kristin Tate, political columnist, Amy Kremer, a co-chair of Women Vote Trump 2016, Scottie Nell Hughes, CNN political commentator and political editor for, and John Phillips, also a CNN political commentator and talk show host.

John, let me start with you. You're one of the newest hires here at CNN supporting Trump's point of view on the air. Partly, the reason why CNN hired you and Scottie and others is because all of the other CNN Republican commentators of this network are anti Trump. You think about Ana Navarro, and Kevin Madden and others that are not siding with Trump.

What is your experience been like, I'm curious, as a CNN political commentator in recent weeks?

PHILLIPS: Well, look, I'm a Republican that lives in Los Angeles in 2016. So, all of my friends are Jews, gays and scientologists. I'm used to hanging out with people that have different points of view. So, that's nothing new.

I don't work for Donald Trump. I work for CNN. And because of that, I'm not Tariq Aziz, the information minister. I can go on, when he has a bad day, when he screws up, I can call the balls and strikes and say that.

And I think that's important for those of us in the news media, particularly for those of us offering commentary on this election, to always keep that in perspective. We have to be honest brokers.

And there's one thing I want to point out about CNN. Whether you're on with Chris Cuomo or John Berman or Jake Tapper, these guys ask some of the hardest questions in the business, they hold your feet to the fire, and that's exactly what the should do. That's what any good news organization should do. They do that to me and they do that to others and I'm very appreciative of that.

STELTER: I didn't bring you on to compliment us, but I appreciate the sentiment.

PHILLIPS: Thank you. STELTER: Scottie, you're the other paid commentator here on this panel. What do you do to prepare for these segments? How do you prep -- since you're not talking to Trump all the time, you're not hearing from him directly, how do you prepare?

HUGHES: I, like John, is not paid by the campaign as well. While I definitely get a lot of information from, just, you know, the campaign will send out their traditional press releases they send to all the press, it has to give a lot of research, and I am one of the folks that came on back in July with Mr. Trump.

So, when you sit there and to prepare for these, it's more about studying up on what Hillary Clinton, in hopes you'll be able to counter and go against Hillary Clinton and point out some of her points. But unfortunately, in a lot of cases, we're always having to defend Mr. Trump in the words, because that's how it is and it usually goes negative.

[11:20:00] And you just don't look at your Twitter feeds like I'm not going to look at my Twitter feed for the next 30 minute after this.


STELTER: Oh, I think everybody is being nice.

But let me ask you about defending Trump's words because, you know, my job here is to fact check Donald Trump. Do you feel like we're doing too much of that? What do you mean when you say you have to defend his words?

HUGHES: Well, no, I don't think -- there's no such thing as defending too much of Donald Trump's words. All I ask is you also defend -- that you fact-check Hillary Clinton's words just as much. I'm not specifically saying you, I'm saying the media as a whole. That's all we're asking.

We don't want to sit here and have things biased against us. We want things to be fair. Life is not fair, but at least, let's try to have it here. One of the great things about CNN is that we have the opportunity to show how respectful conversation from two people who come from a different point of view should go.

And sometimes when we have these panels and we have these arguments and we tear into each other and we have four people arguing with each other, that has not set a good example as to how the rest of America should act toward each other. When we want people to actually find solution, because at least we're talking, when we go quiet and we go silent, is why we're having a lot of the problems we're having in America today.

STELTER: Kristin, let me ask you about this issue of fact checking. PolitiFact, "The Washington Post", other sources would say that Trump makes many more inaccurate statements than Hillary Clinton does and that's why there's more focus on Donald Trump's words. Is that an example of bias? TATE: Well, again, a lot of Trump's sins are rhetorical. While

Hillary's might be more substantive and it's more fun to read about Trump's sins.

But what I think is kind of hilarious about all of this is that the more the media tries to tear down Trump, the more kind of it blows up in the media's face? The good news for Trump --

STELTER: How does it blow up in the media's face?

TATE: Well, a lot of these outlets they are trashing Trump, like "The New York Daily News" which ran a cover as Trump as a clown, they're losing readership by the day. Look, I'm a millennial, all my friends are millennials, we all get our news online nowadays. Eighty-eight percent of young people get their news directly from Facebook, and Trump has been very good at utilizing that to his advantage.

STELTER: But on Facebook, they're clicking on links and going to CNN and other news media stories.

TATE: Right, but I mean, a lot of it is Trump directly using Facebook. I mean, yesterday on CNN, you were talking about this really creative video Trump had put on Facebook, very low cost, very creative. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is spending millions on these ads to broadcast during the Olympics, but, you know, a lot of people during the Olympics, when the ads come on, they might get up and go and get a sandwich. They're not really watching TV during the ads.

STELTER: All right. Let's take that a step further, Amy. Let me ask you, if this is so effective for Trump, then why is he losing in all the polls? Why is this attack against media bias, why is this anti- media campaign not working for him with more voters?

KREMER: Well, I think part of it is Hillary's bump after the convention, and I think come back after Labor Day when people come back from vacation and their kids are back in school and they start paying attention. I think we're going to get back on the issues that voters care about. And I do think that the polls will even out.

But even on the polling, Brian, let me say this, that, you know, polling can be skewed too by the way the questions are answered, the number of Democrats versus Republicans that are polled. I mean, so you can't say that there's not any bias in the polling, because I believe there certainly is.

But I think that after --

STELTER: People are going to hear you say that, Amy, and say this is a review of unskewed polls from 2012, which hurt Mitt Romney, the belief that the polls were skewed against Romney actually hurt his campaign because supporters were convinced he was going to win when he wasn't.

KREMER: Well, and I understand that, Brian. But you know what? The thing about it, a poll is only a snapshot in time. If people really want to elect Donald Trump, they need to be out there working for Donald Trump until the last ballot is cast, and the polls close --

STELTER: It is -- yes, it is a snapshot in time, what if I take 50 snapshots, I mean, the Real Clear Politics has Clinton up by seven points, that's outside the margin of error.


HUGHES: But, Brian --

KREMER: Go ahead.

HUGHES: Let me ask you -- let me point this out. Let's look at this Georgia poll that we keep touting, that Trump is down four points that Hillary is ahead four points. They actually did the same poll back in may, this time they asked more Democrats than they did Republicans in August.

So, when you look at that number, of course it's going to be more skewed in Hillary Clinton's favor. They also weighted the poll differently in August, where they only -- they put more weight on the African-American vote, the female vote and the young vote, the youth vote, three areas that Hillary Clinton does well on.

That's why when people see these polls, it's more important that they go and get their own research, they pull the numbers themselves and see exactly what that poll is based on.


STELTER: Is it dangerous to tell fans to not believe the polls?

HUGHES: I didn't say don't believe it. Do your own research on them.


TATE: Another really important thing --

STELTER: Go ahead, Kristin.

TATE: Another really important thing that we need to consider is that a lot of these polls don't take into account mobilization, right? Trump supporters, they are champing at the bit to get out there and vote. They have stood in the snow during primary season to campaign for him. They're angry. Those people want to vote.

Hillary supporters, a lot of them are not as passionate. When the pollers call them, they're going to answer the phone and say, "yes, I support Hillary," but these folks may not be as incentivize to actually go out there, take the time and the effort to go cast their votes. So we got to keep that in mind when we look at these polls.

PHILLIPS: And, Brian --

STELTER: Last word, go ahead, John.

[11:25:01] PHILLIPS: Yes, I want to make this point. Donald Trump had a horrific week. The fact that she is not blowing him out in these polls I think is an indication. She has every possible advantage. She has a money advantage, a name identification advantage. She's been in government for years and years and years, and for him to come out of this week and not be down double digits in a serious way in all the polls I think shows that he still has major viability.

STELTER: I'm pretty sure he's still getting more free media attention than she is though. That is one advantage.

And I would say you got to wait a few more days to see the polls from this week to see how he and she are doing.

Let me say one thing as we wrap up here, one thing I resent about some media coverage this year, some outlets are treating Trump supporters like an exotic species. I think that is, you know, not only gross, also hurts media's trust. It actually hurts the press' reputation.

So, I'm glad we can have this conversation and have it at length today. Thank you all for being here.

TATE: Thank you so much, Brian.

KREMER: Thank you, Brian.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

STELTER: Coming up next year, with all eyes on the presidential debate seven weeks from now, Trump is starting to claim the debate schedule could be rigged against him. We're going to talk about these negotiations that are happening.

Plus, the FOX News sexual harassment inquiry against former boss Roger Ailes. Did other executives know about the allegations against him. We'll get into that coming up.



STELTER: The next stage of the presidential campaign seasoning is set, sort of.

In just 50 days from today, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should meet on the debate stage for the first of three presidential face- offs. But I say should meet because Trump's allies are objecting to the fact that two debates are scheduled on the same nights as NFL games.

And this week, Trump told "The Washington Post" he's trying to negotiate the debates, as he did in the primary season, even going so far as to say that he wants to play a role in who moderates them.

Here on last week's show, Trump adviser Jason Miller said the discussions with the Commission on Presidential Debates were going to start this week. But I checked with other sources who said that's not true, and that, technically, Trump and Clinton haven't even been invited to the debates yet. That will happen closer to the September 28 date.

Michael Wolff, writing this week's "Hollywood Reporter" cover story, says the debates could help Trump maybe turn around his poll numbers.

Quoting him here: "In this next stage of the campaign, the debates are, of course, in the Trumpian world view, rigged. He will challenge their legitimacy, making his ultimate appearance there his personal drama and powerful counterattack against the rigged system."

And Michael Wolff is here with me now out here in New York.

Michael, you're nobody's partisan. You're an independent observer, generally skeptical of all the candidates. Why do you think Trump is making this -- an issue about the debates? Is it a useful battle for him to have?

MICHAEL WOLFF, "HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": It's completely -- I think it's his game. It's his metia (ph).

Trump is -- and this what we in the media sometimes fail to understand or become victim to -- he is an entertainer. Hillary Clinton is a politician. Trump is an entertainer.

And it comes down to that comparison, politician, entertainer, it becomes very volatile. So are 35 million, 40 million, 50 million people in the U.S. at a given moment in time truly entertained by Donald Trump?


WOLFF: If that happens, because he says something, because he makes a gesture, a flippant remark, an insult, then quite possibly the dynamic of this campaign changes on a dime.

STELTER: And that is a risk, perhaps, for Hillary Clinton.

WOLFF: Totally, because she is not only not an entertainer. You might say she's anti-entertainment.

STELTER: How so?

WOLFF: She's hard work. She's -- you know, it's homework.

STELTER: Right. The brand is about policy.

WOLFF: It's homework to listen to Hillary Clinton. She...

STELTER: You think so?

WOLFF: Yes, totally, completely. Have you listened to her?

STELTER: Some people are going to say that's a gendered comment to say that for her -- to listen to her, it's homework.

WOLFF: I invite them to say that.


WOLFF: It is. She's boring. She's dutiful. She's inexpressive.

You can down the list of things, which I think she would probably admit to.

STELTER: Boring might -- right.

WOLFF: Her staff -- her staff goes around saying, oh, yes, it's a problem, Hillary can't speak in public.

These are -- this is a significant -- it may not be a significant drawback to being the president of the United States. It's a significant drawback when you stand next to somebody who is, for whatever reasons, the most -- maybe this -- is this an exaggeration? Maybe not. The most compelling person on Earth.

STELTER: With that in mind, with the entertainment values in mind, I wonder if we're forgetting what a normal election feels like? Mitt Romney wasn't entertaining in 2012, and neither was Barack Obama, and you know what? Maybe the country was better off for it.

WOLFF: Well, quite possibly.

What we have is this -- is a -- a -- an incredible change in the dynamic of how to run for office in the nature of the media, and its reaction to the people running for office.

There's a classic thing that the media thing changes every four years in some substantial way because of the demands of a campaign.


WOLFF: Now it has changed because the -- one of the candidates is entirely, entirely focused on the media.

So, the idea that he is actually a politician, that politics is involved, that policy is involved has gone out the window. He doesn't care about that. Paul Ryan, is he going to support, is he going to wreck the Republican Party, doesn't make any difference to him.

The only thing that makes a difference to him in his campaign dynamic is, are you paying attention to me, and can I -- and can I capture that attention?


STELTER: And it's like a fireworks show. And he has to make sure the fireworks keep exploding, so there's something to see in the night sky.

WOLFF: Absolutely.

And that is -- we say -- and across -- everyone is saying, he's crazy, this can't happen. But it has been happening. And who knows? It could happen.

STELTER: What do you make of this battle between Sean Hannity and "Wall Street Journal" columnist Bret Stephens?

I think we will put one of the headlines on screen about it. Stephens called Hannity the dumbest anchor on FOX News. And then Hannity responded with a profane name for him. Liberal sites like Talking Points Memo are eating this up.

But what is your reaction, Michael? Does this divide the -- show the divide within the GOP, within the conservative media?

WOLFF: Clearly.

I mean, the conservative media is now eating itself. The Republican Party is eating itself.

STELTER: These are both Murdoch outlets, right, "The Wall Street Journal" and FOX News.

WOLFF: Totally.

Even the Murdoch outlets actually, we now though, with the -- with the ouster of Roger Ailes, are eating themselves. Yes. I think -- and I think that they are as confused about Trump, about his meaning to politics as anyone else.

STELTER: You mentioned Roger Ailes. This week -- it's been two weeks, of course, since he resigned from FOX News. This week, Lachlan Murdoch, one of the Murdochs in charge of the network, talked about the future of FOX News.

He said FOX will preserve and protect its important and unique voice, even without Ailes there, which people have interpreted to mean, FOX is going to stay conservative-leaning even without Ailes.

Are you skeptical of that, though? Do you think FOX News will change without Ailes there?

WOLFF: I think it will change entirely.

STELTER: Entirely?

WOLFF: I think the Murdochs have to say that. What are they going to say to cable operators and advertisers; we're going to change what has been a huge success for us? No.

But, clearly, they are of a political -- a different political temperament. They are -- have been embarrassed by FOX. And, most importantly, Roger Ailes' FOX, Roger had complete independence, unique in the television business.

Whoever takes over FOX will no longer have that independence, will report to Lachlan and James. And they will function as all companies, as all corporate entities function, as the corporate entity that owns CNN functions. They will say, be careful, be cautious, don't go there.

STELTER: So, you think -- right now, Rupert Murdoch is in charge as acting CEO.

WOLFF: Well, I...

STELTER: But it's only a matter of months before FOX News might start to change the way it does business?

WOLFF: Right.

And Rupert -- understand Rupert's level of being in charge. Rupert doesn't know anything, zero, about the television business. While he knows about how to make money, he would not know how to program and has never programmed a second of television.

STELTER: I wish he was still on Twitter, so he could respond to that.


STELTER: But you're right. He's always been a newspaper guy, yes.

WOLFF: Well, it's absolutely true. It's not a question.


WOLFF: It's his -- that's why he never got involved with FOX's program, not interested in it.

STELTER: So, this will be an interesting test for him for the next few months.

Michael, great to see you. Thank you for being here.


STELTER: After the break here: looking at coverage on cable news of Trump and Clinton. We're seeing fact-checking right there in the banner on the bottom of the screen. Is there a big change in the way Trump's being covered?

We will talk about it after the break.



STELTER: The balloon drop feels like so long ago, doesn't it?

In the span of just two short weeks, we have gone from coverage of Donald Trump clinching the Republican nomination -- there they are -- to coverage of his so-called worst week yet.

You have seen the headlines. Here's The Huffington Post and others, making long lists of every alleged gaffe and saying Trump is running out of time to turn it around. Is that really the case, though?

Meanwhile, I have noticed a new tone in the television coverage of Trump and Clinton. And I have the perfect person now to analyze that with me, Dan Abrams, the founder of Mediaite, and a former general manager of MSNBC.

Dan, great to see you.

DAN ABRAMS, FOUNDER, MEDIAITE: Good to be here, Brian.

STELTER: I have noticed cable news channels not always showing Trump's events live anymore wall-to-wall. What is this about, you think?

ABRAMS: I think it's a couple of things.

I mean, first of all, I think that Trump was a novelty when it started. People couldn't believe the sorts of things he was saying at his rallies, on television. And now it's become a little bit expected. And he's now a real candidate for president.

I think the other thing is that now that it's not a Republican Convention and it's a Democrat vs. a Republican, I think the media feels more of an obligation that, if they're going to cover a Trump rally live, that means they're going to have to cover the Clinton rally live.

And let's be honest. The Clinton rallies just aren't as interesting from a TV perspective. So they have to make tough choices as when to cover him and when not to.

STELTER: Did you feel this as well when you were at MSNBC years ago, the same kind of dynamics happens in a general election vs. a primary season?

ABRAMS: Well, look, I don't think we had anything like this, right? We didn't have someone who so dominated the media coverage.

But I don't think there's any question, when I was running MSNBC, that we would sit there and think about, how do we be fair here? We have to make sure that we're not sort of giving one side an overt advantage when it comes to the amount of coverage one gives it.

And, remember, this is distinguished from the opinion coverage, right? People are going to say, well, you know, MSNBC was taking this position, or FOX takes that position. But I think that the good cable news networks are pretty clear about when they're doing opinion and when they're not.

STELTER: Speaking of FOX, I haven't seen FOX do this fact-checking thing, but I have seen CNN and MSNBC do it.

Let's run some video of fact-checking in the banners on the bottom of the screens on CNN and MSNBC, a couple examples just from this week. Here's one on MSNBC. "Trump says he watched a nonexistent video of Iran receiving cash."

Here's CNN saying, "Trump's son says father apologized to Khans. He hasn't."

Is this a new development in cable news, Dan, to be fact-checking in real time?


ABRAMS: Well, it's a new development to be doing it in the Chyrons.

We have had fact-checking in real time, but it's in the Chyrons. And, look, I say bravo to these networks for doing it. Why? Because I think one of the great sins of cable news is that we tend to make everything two-sided. We ask questions like some say, or critics will say, except that the answer is, it's just not true.

And if it's not true, let's call it not true. Let's call it in the Chyron. Let's call it when we're asking questions, et cetera. And I think that's one of the big problems with cable news.

STELTER: If you say anything here in this segment and you slip up, we're going to put it in the banner, so I guess you have been warned here, Dan.


STELTER: Do you think -- the commentators who were talking earlier, these pro-Trump commentators talking about media bias, that it's smart for Trump to be hammering away at media bias?

He's been even e-mailing out every day to reporters various examples of what he says are media bias. Is this a smart strategy for him going forward? Because, normally, the old saying from the newspaper days is that you don't pick fights with people that can buy ink by the barrel.

ABRAMS: Look, I think it was a smart strategy in the Republican -- during the Republican primaries.

I think now it doesn't make as much sense. But let's be clear. The media, both conservative and liberal, doesn't like Donald Trump as a whole. It doesn't mean every individual. But let's admit that.

But what's not true is that somehow they love Hillary Clinton, because they don't really like her either. Why? She's not holding press conferences. There have been all these sort of Clintonian over the years responses, where people don't get direct answers, et cetera.

And the truth is that many in the media, I think, are to the left of Hillary Clinton. And as a result, they don't like her from the left. So there's a lot of reasons that the media also doesn't like Hillary Clinton.

So, is Trump right that the media doesn't like him? Yes. But are the Trump supporters rights that somehow the media is in love with Hillary Clinton? This is not Barack Obama circa 2008, when the media was swooning over Obama. This is a very different situation.

STELTER: It's a good reality check about media version of the unfavorable ratings for the candidates.

Dan, great to see you this morning. Thank you for being here.

ABRAMS: Thanks, Brian.

STELTER: Up next: Trump and his new favorite buzzword, rigged.



STELTER: One of Donald Trump's favorite words is rigged.

Now, let me tell you why that's a problem for the press. He comes back to this word time and time again.



Rigged, rigged, rigged.

To rig the system.

Rig the system.

Totally rigged.


Totally rigged system.

The election's going to be rigged.


STELTER: During the primaries, Trump's tirades against a rigged system were very effective with voters.

We all sort of know what he means when he says the word. So now he's expanding on it, saying other things are rigged, too, like the media.


TRUMP: We're running against a rigged press. We're running against dishonest people, OK, really dishonest people.



STELTER: That's not true, but Trump certainly is not the first candidate to rail against the media.

Here's where he is the first, though. And this is a really troubling first for a presidential candidate. He is saying he's worried the election in November is going to be rigged against him.

As you can see here, the comment garnered a lot of headlines this week, even though many experts have come out and said it's a preposterous claim to make.

On Thursday, President Obama called it ridiculous.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't even really know where to start on answering this question. Of course the elections will not be rigged. What does that mean? That's ridiculous.


STELTER: But with all due respect to President Obama, he may not be the best messenger on this subject.

Instead, voices who are trusted by Republicans, trusted by Trump's base should be the ones reassuring people about the integrity of the voting system. So, is that happening? No.

Conservative media is helping Trump spread doubts without a shred of evidence.

Here, let me show you how not to interview a candidate about something as serious as this.

This is Sean Hannity just handing Trump the mic. Watch.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: You said in a speech today you're afraid this election is going to be rigged. Explain.

TRUMP: Yes. Well, I have been hearing about it for a long time.

And I'm telling you, November 8, we better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it's going to be taken away from us.

HANNITY: All right, Mr. Trump, thank you so much for being with us.


STELTER: That's it?

If there were ever a time to extend an interview, to challenge a candidate, that was the time. Don't feed me baloney about Hannity's show being only an hour-long and that he might have run out of time. This interview was on tape. The producers should have kept it going. Hannity should have asked more questions.

Interviewers, even the one that support the person they're interviewing, have an obligation to probe further and push back when a candidate says something dangerous.

And this is dangerous. Suggesting an election is going to be stolen? This is Third World dictatorship stuff.

Now, maybe Trump's just making excuses for an eventual loss. But here's where the media's role comes in. Journalists cannot just play these sound bites, quote these claims, and then move on to the next subject. We can't just let it seep into the discourse like it's normal.

We have to stop and fact-check and contextualize.

I think "The Washington Post" did a good job here. The headline says: "Trump Is Wrong. Rigging an Election Is Almost Impossible."

And "The New York Times" has a helpful Q&A this week explaining that voter fraud sometimes happens, but it rare, and the reports of misconduct are often overstated in the press.

Again, the conservative media is vital here, but Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity both failed their audiences this week. Both men interviewed Trump. In both cases, Trump suggested there was something fishy about the voting in 2012, and then later in the week, Hannity picked up the ball and ran with it blindly.



HANNITY: Here's an interesting statistic.

"The Philly Inquirer," one week after the 2012 election, pointed out that in 59 separate precincts in inner-city Philadelphia that Mitt Romney did not get a single vote. Not one.

And according to "The Cleveland Plain Dealer," there were nine precincts in Cleveland alone, again, not a single Romney vote. Not one. Now, maybe I'm conspiratorial.


STELTER: OK, let's pause it right there.

Yes, Hannity, you are being conspiratorial. A Google search would show that there are also precincts in other states, like in Utah, where Obama did not get a single vote.

Hannity is not a journalist, but he has a megaphone. And he is using his megaphone irresponsibly. If a Democratic candidate were saying this stuff, saying the election could be rigged, then every word of this essay would apply to him or her. But, right now, it's the Republican candidate for president who is

trying to delegitimize our democratic process without proof. It's unpatriotic for any interviewer or any journalist to help him.

I'm out of time here. I will see you next week.