Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Academy Boots Harvey Weinstein; FCC Commissioner Reacts to Trump's Threat; Legendary Newsman On News "Overload"; President Trump Versus the First Amendment; Inside "New York Times" Investigation of Weinstein. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 15, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:11] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey, I'm Brian Stelter. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works and how the new is gets made -- or sometimes doesn't.
Ahead this hour, President Trump versus the First Amendment, seriously. I have an exclusive interview with an FCC commissioner who's speaking out about Trump threatening FCC station licenses.
Plus, legendary journalist Bob Schieffer here to weigh in on how to make sense of an overloaded news cycle.
But, first, Hollywood saying good riddance to media mogul Harvey Weinstein, expelling him from the Academy. The unprecedented move is the lead story in this morning's "Los Angeles Times".
Even more women are now coming forward with sexual harassment and assault allegations. Actress Lysette Anthony just spoke with London police and said Weinstein raped her in the 1980s. There are other accusers as well. And the NYPD is looking into allegations against Weinstein here in New York City.
While Weinstein himself is laying low, possibly in rehab, his brother Bob is trying to keep their company at movie and TV studio afloat. That may not be possible. The board of directors of the company is bracing for lawsuits from accusers who believe Weinstein's behavior was covered up.
You know this statement from the Academy really underscores the gravity of this scandal. They say they are sending a message by booting Weinstein, a message at the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over. That's what they say.
But before looking ahead, we have to look back. Entertainers and media execs and journalists all have some soul-searching to do. In Hollywood, will the expose is about Weinstein's behavior be a catalyst for meaningful change? And in newsrooms, why did it take so many years for these stories to be published?
Joining me now is Janice Min. She's the former editor-in-chief at "The Hollywood Reporter". She's now a consultant to its parent company.
Janice, in a word, what does it feel like in the Hollywood universe in the wake of this scandal?
JANICE MIN, PART OWNER, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: I mean, it's people obsessed here, but also there's a huge sense of relief. It's a dam that has been holding back clearly, you know, flood waiting to invade the town. So this is -- people are relieved. They're saying it's about time and also truly mystified that it took this long for all of this to come out, and that includes both media and executives in town.
STELTER: Tell me about your attempts to break this story years ago, because we've heard a lot about legal threats that were made by Weinstein's team over the years suppress stories of his harassment.
MIN: Sure. You know "The Hollywood Reporter" has one of the finest toughest and entertainment journalists in the world, Kim Masters, who has worked really hard to break this story. When I started at the Hollywood reporter, one of the first things Kim ever told me was about her -- an off-the-record conversation she had had with Harvey Weinstein.
The question she had said to him over a lunch was, he had asked her I believe whether -- so what do you know about me? And she said, I've heard you've raped women before and his -- the whole lunch was off the record so I can't tell you what his response was. But from that day, that was one of the stories we knew we wanted to get to the bottom of.
Separately, other reporters on staff had created, we still have them these whiteboards with names of actresses, names of executives, trying to figure out how to crack that crack the silence. We came really close once -- I believe we came close, I'd like to think we did to getting what of the actresses who is now --
STELTER: How recently?
MIN: Last year, last year. To getting one of the actresses who has now confirmed she was raped by Weinstein to speak at our women entertainment breakfast. It's getting the -- getting breaking that wall of silence, you can see how powerful it is when you get someone to go on the record, we didn't have it.
STELTER: So, the main issue you're saying over the years, over the decades was women unable to speak on the record and that -- again, that was partly because of legal threats, wasn't it, or settlement payments?
MIN: Yes, I think that -- you know, one of the things that was so stunning to me in "The New York Times" story when they unearthed all of this was how relatively small the payments were to the women. Maybe I think -- I think the highest one was around $100,000. But for that price and I'm not saying that's not a large amount of money but for that -- for that price, they were able to buy the silence of scores and scores of women for sometimes decades.
And it was really the fear of Weinstein's power and reprisals and what he could do to you if you -- if you broke that agreement, that kept the town in fear.
[11:05:02] STELTER: So, we've talked about this legal team, these legal threats, these settlements. Now, his legal team seems to be unraveling. I've confirmed from a source that David Boies is no longer working directly with Weinstein and you have some information about another attorney.
MIN: Charles Harder, sort of the media's Darth Vader of the past few years, he is no longer working with Harvey Weinstein. So, it's an interesting pivot we're seeing here where he's gone from media attorneys to -- with the hiring of an attorney or criminal defense attorneys, he is -- he clearly sees he is not winning the media war and he now has to take care of his own.
You know, with investigations open now in New York and London, criminal investigations, he has a lot of sorting out to do on that end.
STELTER: So --
MIN: You know, when you would you go back and read Charles Harder statement he made about "The New York Times", it sounded very aggressive. Let's remember, he released that statement that he was going to sue "The New York Times" that day, when that news broke, I really don't think that will ever see the light of day at this point.
STELTER: And for our viewers at home, Charles Harder is the leader of the lawsuit against Gawker, the Gawker media and the Hulk Hogan case, he is a suing other news outlets on behalf of clients as well. He threatened that suit against "The Times", doesn't seem likely to materialize.
MIN: Probably not.
STELTER: Let's take a look at last night's "SNL". This was a notable joke from "Weekend Update" talking about prison time for Weinstein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weinstein has been accused of multiple counts of sexual assault is reportedly going to Europe for sex rehab. Somehow, I don't think that is going to help anybody. He doesn't need sex rehab. He needs a specialized facility where there are no women, no contact with the outside world, metal bars, and it's a prison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Given the possibility of investigations by the police here in New York and in London, but what about NBC here? That's a clip from the entertainment side, "SNL". But NBC News had Ronan Farrow working on this investigation for many months.
I remember Ronan asked me about Weinstein back in January, and I had never heard these claims. I was shocked to hear he was looking at these --
STELTER: -- harassment allegations. I know you talked to Ronan while he was working on this investigation as well.
MIN: I --
STELTER: But then in August, NBC told him to stop working on it. What do you think went wrong?
MIN: Well, I only know what's being reported right now. It seems that it probably went up the food chain. I can tell you I talked to Ronan and I actually went back and looked -- I talked to him at the end of July and I was he was sewing the whole thing up as far as he had relayed to me, and it -- and I asked him repeatedly just knowing how difficult these stories are to do, I said, so it's going to run, it's really happening, and he said, I am told right now it is.
So, something obviously went awry. I believe those -- I believe that story will eventually come out and fold because you know it's an organization filled with journalists and that they talk and also many people who touched -- I'm assuming -- touch that decision.
I can tell you the power that -- these attorneys are a menacing group of people. I think, you know, just in -- you know, "The Hollywood Reporter's" own experience with Charles Harder occasionally --
MIN: -- you know, we saw that with a story recently involving Roy Price from Amazon who was let go and it's -- you know, Kim Masters went through the wringer and she wrote about it in "Columbia Journalism Review" the other day, but she went through the wringer trying to not only get her story to see the light of day but to preserve her reputation. There was a lot of -- there was a -- there was a lot of I would say invention of things that cast doubt on her unfairly, that harmed her in the pursuit of the story.
STELTER: She was writing this. She was working on it. She had a hard time finding anybody who was willing to publish it and now, Roy Price now that the story has come out and the accuser has spoken on the record about alleged harassment. He's the head of Amazon's TV division. He's now on a leave of absence so that's actually another one of these aftershocks as a result of the Weinstein scandal in some ways.
STELTER: But if I can just go back to NBC for one moment, the idea here --
MIN: Of course.
STELTER: -- Ronan Farrow tries to report on this. Eventually, his bosses say, stop. The network denies that, you know, Comcast was -- the owners were involved. But we don't know exactly what happened there. Then, Farrow takes it to "The New Yorker" and David Remnick, the
editor, is eager to be able to work with him and publish the story. Is this actually a sort of success story after many disappointing years, that there are enough variety enough did enough diversity at media outlets that eventually the truth will be published by somebody?
MIN: I mean -- I think it's hard to call it a success story because --
MIN: -- I -- you know, I think I think you can look and see the chilling effect that the Charles Harder has had on media in the past few years. And I think, you know, Kim said some said something so well in "Columbia Journalism Review" that in all her years at various outlets, "Washington Post", "Vanity Fair", lots of different -- "TIME magazine", she had never had a lawyer successfully kill a piece. That was true.
[11:10:01] And this -- and in this case, this was -- this was a level of intimidation and fear. You could also think about how all these corporate counsels and First Amendment attorneys that work for these outlets, they most often have one obligation which is to not is -- to protect a company against risk and also to -- you know, publishing is not exactly a financially vibrant industry right now.
You have to also look at the companies that are the parent companies of media organizations and think how much risk are they willing to absorb and how much public battle are they willing to absorb against, you know, I think you know -- Harvey Weinstein doesn't have a Peter Thiel backing him as far as I know. But in the case, you saw what happened when you have billionaires who can outspend a media organization in a legal fight.
STELTER: Yes, this is --
MIN: It's not pretty.
STELTER: This is really unpeeled -- it's kind of peel back the curtain on how people try to stop stories from coming out via lawyers.
Last question for you, Janice, real quick. I think what everybody is wondering: are there other Weinsteins in Hollywood?
MIN: Yes, there are. I think -- there was probably no one's more -- more considered to be in that in that capacity than Harvey Weinstein. There are -- I would say there are different levels of predators. I know that sounds so dire to say that, but sure. This is an industry built on powerful men and who control almost every aspect of the town.
And, you know, one of the things I said, I'd said to Maureen Dowd today in her column was that even, the "Hollywood Reporter" does this famous 100 most powerful women in Hollywood list, and even the most powerful women in that list still report to a man.
All the statistics in this town for the past 20, 30 years are unchanged in terms of women and power, women in front of the camera, women behind the camera, producers -- I mean, it is -- it is --
STELTER: Directors, yes.
MIN: Direct -- and let me just state this also. Hollywood is not unique in this. The gender problem, which is sort of getting -- you know, hopefully, will be discussed even more as an out as an outgrowth of all of this is pervasive everywhere. Look at -- look at our house, look at our Senate, look at our White House.
So, Hollywood is just symptomatic of a larger societal problem. It is not the problem per se.
STELTER: The big story there. Janice, thank you very much for being here.
MIN: Thank you.
STELTER: Later this hour, more on the Weinstein scandal, something you only see on RELIABLE SOURCES.
I sat down with Jodi Kantor of "The New York Times" who helps break this story wide open.
Up next here, Trump's anti-media attacks, where's the FCC Chair Ajit Pai? He's remained silent on Trump's latest tweets about the FCC. But his colleague, commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, will join me right after this break.
[11:16:45] STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
These next words from President Trump, this tweet I'm about to show you, these are not to words of a Western democratic leader. They're the words of an autocrat. He wrote this week: Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged, and if appropriate revoked. Not fair to public, he says.
Let's talk about this in depth. I think you need to understand how licenses really work and what this means.
I'm joined for an exclusive interview by Jessica Rosenworcel. She is a current commissioner, one of the five commissioners for the Federal Communications Commission, recently reappointed by President Trump.
Jessica, thanks for being here.
JESSICA ROSENWORCEL, COMMISSIONER, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Thank you for having me.
STELTER: You're a Democratic commissioner. I know you don't see eye to eye with President Trump. Tell us first how FCC licenses work. They're not giving out to networks. They're giving out to local stations, right?
ROSENWORCEL: That's right. They are not given out to networks, just local stations. We have about 1,800 of them all across the country and they have licenses for eight-year periods. And when those licenses are up, the agency assesses those stations and makes sure they have complied with FCC rules and policy. And they also make sure that that station has served their community. That's all.
STELTER: Is it political, Jessica? Do you look at a station and say, that station is anti-Trump, it's got to go off the air waves?
ROSENWORCEL: No, absolutely not. I think it's essential that the FCC and all that it does is careful to abide by the First Amendment when it engages in any kind of policies involving broadcast licenses.
STELTER: Is there any precedent for a president saying that we should take a look at those licenses?
ROSENWORCEL: You know, I think we have to go back to early '70s when President Nixon expressed a little displeasure with some stations that were owned by "The Washington Post" Company in Florida.
STELTER: In the midst of Watergate reporting, right, right.
ROSENWORCEL: Exactly. And some of his allies sought to get those licenses revoked. That was not ultimately successful, but that's useful precedent in this case.
STELTER: So, this is incredibly unusual. But let's take it a step further. Does it worry you that the president is talking about maybe possibly trying to have licenses revoked?
ROSENWORCEL: Well, I think it's important to realize that the Supreme Court characterizes our First Amendment as a profound national commitment to having robust, uninhabited and wide open debate. You know, that debate can some times be hard hitting for public officials, but it is absolutely essential that we support the First Amendment and everything that the FCC does.
STELTER: If that's the case where are your other commissioners? Why hasn't your chairman, Ajit Pai, spoken out about this?
ROSENWORCEL: Well, I can't really speak to what he is thinking. But I do think that history won't be kind to silence. And I think it's important for all of the commissioners to make clear that they support the First Amendment and that the agency will not revoke a broadcast license simply because the president is dissatisfied with the licensee's coverage.
STELTER: How is this going to go down? Let's play this out for one minute. So, licenses are renewed every eight years. You probably wouldn't agree with me, but I would call it normally a rubber stamp process. What I mean by that is licenses are almost always renewed for every person, every company that already has a license.
So what would happen in two years if one of Trump's friends in a low market decided to challenge a license?
[11:20:05] Is it possible we could actually see Trump's words turn into actions?
ROSENWORCEL: Well, I would hope not. I think we have to honor the First Amendment and our democratic norms associated with it, and I don't think that the government should be in the business of substituting its judgment for programming licenses. I think it's essential for news gathering that the government isn't dictating what content should and shouldn't be on the airwaves.
STELTER: And quickly, Jessica, since I have you here, there's a lot of concern on the left about Sinclair taking over Tribune. Sinclair has a conservative bent and is trying to buy more TV stations. Are you involved? Is the FCC reviewing this?
ROSENWORCEL: That's a transaction that's presently before us, and while I can't prejudge its outcome, I've certainly expressed some concern. My concern is primarily this: it would be unprecedented for the agency to allow a broadcaster to get this large and reach more than 70 percent of American households all across the country. And I think with that large size, we lose something about the local quality of broadcasting. And I think that's something we should be worried about.
STELTER: All right. Jessica, thanks for being here. We hope to have you back soon.
ROSENWORCEL: Thank you.
STELTER: Let's bring in two former FCC officials now, Michael Copps, former commissioner who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2001, and Tom Wheeler, who was appointed by Barack Obama in 2013. Tom was the chairman of the FCC until Trump's election.
Tom, I think Jessica is trying to be polite to her colleagues. Maybe you can speak as a former chairman, what's going on with the FCC? Why hasn't the chairman weighed in on Trump's dangerous tweet?
TOM WHEELER, FORMER CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Well, Brian, I wish I knew why he hadn't. I know what the effect of him not doing it. I mean, it's the silence of the lambs. I mean, he is making himself complicit in a coercion that the president was engaging in when he was trying to send a message to broadcasters, saying we're watching and we control your right to be alive.
And the failure of the chairman of the FCC and the other Republican commissioners to stand up and say, no, we took an oath to protect the Constitution and the First Amendment and this will not be allowed -- that failure is shocking.
STELTER: Michael, you and Tom are both Democratic former commissioners. We tried to book a Republican to join you. A couple of them declined. But I suspect a lot of Republicans, former FCC commissioners, are just as horrified by Trump's comments as Democrats. Is that your sense as well, that this doesn't stand regardless of party?
MICHAEL COOPS, FORMER COMISSIONER, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Well, I hope you're right. I mean, Trump is just not a reliable source when you come to this question. He doesn't understand the role of the presidency vis-a-vis, an independent agency, which was set up to avoid exactly this kind of intervention and interference.
He doesn't understand the licensing process. You can't take a license away from NBC. They have 28 owned and operated stations. You'd have to act against each one of those stations. And they have many, many more affiliates who run NBC programming.
And if you don't like NBC programming, you'd have to take their license away. So, the FCC wouldn't be doing anything other than looking at licenses for the next few years.
STELTER: Yes, I kind of think what Trump is doing is he's grasping for levers of power at his disposal, right? One day, he says the Senate Intel Committee should investigate fake news. Then he says maybe we should have equal time rules?
Is that your impression as well? He's trying to figure out ways to poke at the media?
COPPS: Well, I think so. And, you know, in reality, the fellow should be grateful to big media. I've got a lot of gripes with big media and the lesser journalism that it now has than it had years ago, and fewer news rooms and all of this consolidation.
But big media helped make this guy president of the United States for the wall to wall coverage, billions of dollars of free air time, to the extent that we have the president -- the CEO of network, CBS, Les Moonves, saying I don't know if Trump is good for America or not, but he's damned good for CBS. So, Trump ought to be sending thank you --
STELTER: Oh, he was saying he did appreciate the ad revenue -- yes, appreciated the ad revenue then.
STELTER: Tom, last word to you.
WHEELER: Well, the interesting here, you -- Jessica brought it up, the issue of the Sinclair merger. So, Chairman Pai has gone out of his way to rapidly change all of the FCC rules that could possibly be used to question the validity of that merger of a pro-Trump broadcaster. And now, when you have Trump trying to intimidate other broadcasters, there's absolute silence.
And the interesting question is, what went on in the Oval Office meeting between Donald Trump and Ajit Pai when he was summoned to the Oval Office, that they won't talk about and were any of these kinds of issues?
So, the American people ought to know that the FCC is standing up for freedom of the press and the American people ought to know whether there is something else going on here to promote pro-Trump broadcasting and be silent on the threatening of others.
[11:25:21] STELTER: Tom, Michael, thank you both for being here.
Those are some strong words about Ajit -- I want you to know I'm messaging him again right now, trying to get him to come on the program in the future.
Up next here, veteran journalist Bob Schieffer talking about news overload. Hear from him right after the break.
[11:30:02] STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
This is a new book by Bob Schieffer. You know him, of course, as a longtime moderator of CBS's "Face the Nation" and briefly the "CBS Evening News" as well. He's written a book all about news overload. I highly recommend it if you are a media junkie like I am.
At one point toward the end, he says: Americans are so overwhelmed by information in the digital era that they cannot process it, an interesting point let's talk about with Bob. He joins me now from Washington.
Great to see you. Thank you for being here.
BOB SCHIEFFER, AUTHOR, OVERLOAD : Thank you, Brian.
STELTER: Why did you want to take on this issue of news overload at this point in time? Well, I think what's happened here, Brian, is we're going through this technology revolution in communications that is having as profound an effect I argue as the invention of the printing press had on the -- on the Europe of that day.
We were just bombarded with news 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so much that there's no way any human being could process it, let alone kind of sort out what's true, what's false, and what is somewhere in between. It just seems like a fascinating thing to me that maybe we were in the middle of something and didn't realize it. And so, that's what I try to unravel in this book.
STELTER: And you say mobile devices are probably making this worse something that I think we kind of all feel but rarely talked about the effects of phones on our on our daily lives.
But let me ask is it is it really that that there's more news these days or are just more access to the news? And that's really what's messing with our minds a little bit.
SCHIEFFER: Well, what's happened here is that now everybody is a publisher. It used to be, you had at least a barrel of ink and a printing press to be a publisher. If you've got a phone now, you were a publisher. But are you following the same guidelines that we're used to the legacy media following and that is before you print, before you go to press, before your broadcast are you checking it out to make sure it's true. And in many, many cases, especially on social media, that's simply not
true and it -- that's what's making it so hard right now.
STELTER: We saw ESPN's Jemele Hill suspended this week. Her second violation of ESPN's social media guidelines. So, she's on the bench for two weeks. This is just a high-profile example of newsrooms and media companies trying to grapple with Twitter and Facebook. You know, "The New York Times" even put out new policies, new guidelines this week.
How do you think journalists should be using this technology?
SCHIEFFER: Well, I think we should follow the old rules and that is, don't publish until you're sure that you've done some investigating and found out that it's true. When in doubt, don't publish. Some companies follow the just the opposite, when in doubt, go ahead and publish it and let -- and let the readers sort it out.
It -- I think we have to have a responsibility for what we put out there on the Web. I mean, I think Facebook, now you have 62 percent to 67 percent of people saying they get news on Facebook. For some people, that is their only source of news.
In the beginning companies, like Facebook and Google were saying, look, we're technology companies. We're not responsible for what we're putting out.
SCHIEFFER: Now, they are coming to realize they have to take some responsibility and they've begun reforms to do that.
SCHIEFFER: But we're a long way from resolving this problem. The problem, Brian, the news travels so fast now once it's out there, it's almost impossible to take it down. That poor man that owns a pizza parlor here in Washington, where it's supposed to be this porn ring operated by Hillary Clinton, totally false, the guy's been arrested who came there and shot off one of the knobs on the door. But he still has private security that he has to pay for because he's still getting death threats.
STELTER: Well, I did not know that. All this months later, he still has security.
STELTER: And last question for you, Bob, it's like what we wrestle with almost every for every week on this program, is how seriously to take President Trump's tweets? You know, especially as his tweets about so-called fake news. How do you approach it? How much do you do care or read into all the president's words on Twitter?
SCHIEFFER: Well, I tell you -- all these attacks on the media, look, at my age, I've been called everything from a nattering nabobs of negativity back --
STELTER: Spiro Agnew, yes.
SCHIEFFER: -- in Nixon days -- to a female hygiene product these days. I don't pay much attention to that kind of stuff. You know, I've been called all kind of names.
What I do take seriously is when he tries to destroy the credibility of the media, an independent press that can gather information that people can compare to the government's version of events and that is what we do. It's as crucial to our democracy as the right to vote, and when people try to undermine that, I think they're undermining the foundations of our democracy.
[11:35:04] STELTER: Bob, thank you so much for being here and a reminder the new book called "Overload", check it out.
SCHIEFFER: Thank you, Brian.
STELTER: Coming up here, a tale of two amendments. Has President Trump already violated the First? And what's all this talk about the 25th?
STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
It's not unusual for the man behind me to attack news coverage he doesn't like. This week alone, we counted 12 anti-media tweets that dismissed real reporting as fake news. A lot of his anger was at NBC, given reports about him wanting to increase the nuclear arsenal and things like that. So, a lot of anti NBC tweets from the president.
He always has a target. Whether it's NBC or CNN or "The New York Times", and his contempt for a free press doesn't just seem to be contained to Twitter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write and people should look into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[1:40:06] STELTER: Disgusting.
I thought that quote did not get enough attention this week, is a example of his real disregard for the power of the press. Now, we did hear from at least one GOP senator on the subject of those FCC license threats. You remember how we talked about earlier this hour, the president saying that maybe network licenses should be revoked.
Senator Ben Sasse, no friend of President Trump, warned this, he wrote; Mr. President, are you recanting of the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, to protect and defend the First Amendment? Some people say, yes, he has.
Let's talk about it what Trevor Timm. He's the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. And Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger with "The Washington Post".
Trevor, make the case here. You've made this in a column this week that the president already has violated the First Amendment just through his words.
TREVOR TIMM, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FREEDOM OF THE PRESS FOUNDATION: Yes, you know, I think everybody would agree that if Trump actually took government action against NBC for stories that he didn't like, he would be violating the Constitution. But actually, there's a good argument that he is already violating the First Amendment just by making these threats.
You know, there is Supreme Court cases and appeals court cases around the country that talk about how government officials using their position of power can't threaten or coerce private entities into censorship or self censoring themselves for cases that would otherwise be protected speech. And that's exactly what we have here.
STELTER: But people over at FOX News are going to take this clip and they're going to say, Trevor, you're triggered. You're overreacting. Trump's all bark, no bite.
TIMM: Well, actually, you know, the courts have actually addressed this question as well. You know, it doesn't even matter if Trump doesn't have the sole power to carry out these threats or even if you know they're empty threats. You know, we've seen Trump threaten over a dozen news organizations with libel lawsuits during the campaign for example. So, we know he can issue empty threats.
But it's still a First Amendment issue whether or not it's likely that he'll take this action that he's threatening.
STELTER: Great chance to remind folks it was a year ago that those women came forward accusing him of sexual harassment and assault, and he threatened to sue "The New York Times" over that story. A year has passed, and there was no lawsuit. It's a good reminder that legal threats do not mean legal action in all cases.
Let's take a look again at that sound bite we just played. President Trump in the Oval Office and then I'd like to hear your reaction, Jennifer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Jennifer, you wrote about this for "The Washington Post". What was your reaction to that sound bite? JENNIFER RUBIN, CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER AT RIGHT TURN, THE WASHINGTON POST: I was horrified and I guess I'm getting used to being horrified with this administration. But he took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution and that includes the First Amendment. So, in his denunciation, who's saying that this is disgusting that the press get to write everything that they want, he really is renouncing his oath of office.
And I would say to Senator Sasse and the rest of the Republicans in the Senate in the House who have been lumps on a log, they should do something about this. They should conduct hearings. They should begin considering in the totality of all of his behavior whether he is in fact unfit to hold office.
And they haven't. They haven't demanded any hearings. There is a raft of behavior that he's engaged in that the Republicans have no interest in investigating whatsoever and they really are now in danger of not upholding their oaths.
They took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution. And I think in failing to check the president not only in this regard but in his other behaviors, in his classic conflicts of interest, in his -- certainly his firing of the former FBI director, they are not taking their oaths of office seriously, and there is nothing more important than the First Amendment. And for them simply to shrug their shoulders or roll their eyes or send a tweet, I think really does not hold them in good stead.
STELTER: Let's take a look at all the headlines this week about not the First Amendment but the 25th amendment. This, of course, a mechanism for removing a president from office. There was a lot of attention around this idea, only an idea of course in the last few days. I know you brought up as well, Jennifer. Are you advocating now for that? And is that appropriate?
RUBIN: I'm advocating that this be taken seriously. We now have a senator, very well-respected, Senator Bob Corker, suggesting that the president really is not thinking properly and we've certainly seen a lot of behavior which suggests that he is unwilling or unable to practice his obligations, to fulfill his obligations, and that he is not behaving rationally. I think it's time for members of Congress to begin talking to people who see him on a regular basis, to be in talking to people who have left office, and to begin to take this seriously.
We are a long, long way from the 25th Amendment, and I do not want the 25th Amendment to be invoked in lieu of impeachment.
[11:45:01] In other words, to be used because we think he's unfit.
But to the extent to which people are beginning to wonder whether he is rational, whether he is able to understand material put forth him -- in front of him, whether he is able to make rational decisions, Congress needs to get involved in this and they should start talking seriously to members of the cabinet. As I said, they should talk to people who talk to him on a regular
basis and we've had some of his close confidence now say who that they're horrified, they're shocked by what he has been saying lately.
So I think we all need to take it seriously and stop just rolling our eyes and say, huh, it's Trump being Trump.
STELTER: Trevor, Jennifer, thank you both very much for being here today.
TIMM: Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: Up next, inside "The New York Times" investigation into Harvey Weinstein. How the reporting happened, how the paper was finally able to expose his wrongdoing. My exclusive sit-down with the reporter helped break the story right after this.
[11:50:04] STELTER: Reporting protects women, Jodi Kantor says. Now, "The New York Times'" Kantor investigated Harvey Weinstein's conduct with actresses and models and assistants, she sought to corroborate allegations against him and then provided a powerful platform to report on it.
This story published 10 days ago by Kantor and her co-writer Megan Twohey blasted wide-open Weinstein's wrongdoing, caused him to apologize for some of it and now he may be in rehab. I asked Kantor how did their view of the story change as they were working to get it published.
JODI KANTOR, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that our view of the story changed when we began to learn about more recent incidents. I think, initially, one of the questions we had was -- well, there all of these allegations from the s and will people just say, hey, this happened so long ago. I would still argue that that's a worthwhile project and that excavating the history and getting it right is very key.
But especially once we got the internal company documents from the Weinstein Company that illustrate the allegations from the last couple of years, we realized the kind of moral gravity of the story shifted. We said this stuff -- the pattern of allegations we now have is a 30- year pattern. And that's what raised the big questions: how could woman after woman tell the same story for 30 years and basically nothing happened and nothing changed.
STELTER: Was your reporting started in the wake of the Roger Ailes ouster? Was it -- was it that FOX News scandal that then triggered you looking at this one?
KANTOR: I think it was more a recognition here that we had to try to tell these stories, certainly informed by the FOX reporting, but it wasn't like we were ticking off a list. I think it was more -- I think it was more us asking the question of, what else do women who have worked for powerful men have to say?
STELTER: Yes, Ailes was a wake-up call to a lot of people that this behavior wasn't just in the '70s, '80s or '90s, but it's happening now.
KANTOR: I think there's also a strong parallel with Ailes, because he was the boss. If you were a woman at FOX and you wanted to report this, who you were --who are you going to report it, to Roger Ailes? And I think the Weinstein story had a very similar quality, both for the women who were employees and also for the actresses.
STELTER: So, you're working on this all summer long, getting the story ready for publication. How much did you know about what Ronan Farrow was doing at the same time?
KANTOR: I had like kind of a dim awareness that kept changing. It was a little confusing to be honest it all makes sense now but because we had heard that he was doing work for NBC and then it switched to being "The New Yorker", we kind of couldn't get a full sense of it.
But -- I mean, I congratulate him on his reporting and I also thought it was so significant that here in the last week, "The New York Times" has published thousands and thousands and thousands of detailed words about these allegations, "The New Yorker" has published thousands and thousands and thousands of detailed words about these allegations, and yet there's been almost no overlap between our journalism, the number of women who are in -- who have been in both of our stories, the number of situations that we both reported on is very small.
KANTOR: There -- I'm sorry to say this in a way, but there appear to have been more than enough allegations to go around.
KANTOR: I was worried about not doing justice to the material. I was worried about not being able to land the story.
You know, the other thing that I have to be honest about is that there are sources who said that they spoke to us because we were the first female reporters who ever approached them. They said they just wanted to talk to women.
STELTER: What will you tell your 11-year-old daughter about doing this reporting?
KANTOR: I think what I would tell my eleven-year-old daughter is that, first of all, I really do believe that, you know, the magic of journalism is that you can start out with a hard question and a notebook and a pen, and hopefully a great institution like this behind you and you really can confront somebody really powerful and ask the hard questions.
And I think that one thing that's been fascinating about watching this story come out is that the public was eager for the truth. Lots of us have spent lots of time and money watching Harvey Weinstein's movies over the years. I got a real sense of the public and readers being behind us and wanting to know the truth.
And one thing I was also really happy about was seeing how much respect there was for the women's stories and the women who chose to come forward. I think any woman coming forward in that situation, you know, if you're unknown you have one set of fears, right, like I'm this anonymous person who's going to be dragged into the media spotlight. If you're very well-known you have a different set of fears which is, oh, God, I'm going to be tabloid fodder for days.
And it seems to me that the world has treated the women who have come forward very respectfully and I'm glad for that.
[11:55:03] STELTER: Jodi, thank you so much.
KANTOR: My pleasure.
STELTER: You can hear the rest of my interview with Jodi Kantor on our RELIABLE SOURCES podcast. Look it up through iTunes or other podcast apps, and we've posted the entire interview for you.
We're out of time here on TV, but our coverage keeps going online all the time. We've just posted a news story about what happens next for Harvey Weinstein, for his former company and for Hollywood as a whole. That's all at reliablesources.com, or you can also sign up for our nightly newsletter. It sums up all the day's media news six nights a week and we emailed to you right to your inbox. So, sign up at reliablesources.com.
Let me know what you thought of today's show. Tweet at me @BrianStelter, or look me up on Facebook, and I'll see you right back here next week.