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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Choose Your News: Focus on Franken Or Moore?; Trump's Hypocrisy on Sexual-Harassment Claims; Head-Spinning Changes in the Media Business. Aired 11-12p ET
Aired November 19, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:12] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey. I'm Brian Stelter.
This is RELIABLE SOURCES, our weekly look at the story behind the story, of how the media really works and how the news gets made.
Ahead this hour, FOX defending Sean Hannity as a liberal group was urging advertisers to drop him. The head of the boycott effort will join me live.
Plus, expert analysis of this week's mega media biz moves. Is Rupert Murdoch looking to sell parts of FOX?
And later this hour, behind the scenes with Anthony Atamanuik. Find out why we visited President Trump's childhood home in Queens.
But, first, we're finding out what happens when shouts of fake news get personal. We are now more than six weeks into the tipping point, a global phenomenon, something that started with Harvey Weinstein and led to numerous other allegations of misconduct by other men in positions of power.
This week, Democratic Senator Al Franken's face was added to this growing graphic.
Journalists are continuing to investigate and corroborate me-too accusations. Women courageously continue to come forward and speak to reporters about their experiences. I ask, is it possible to imagine a world where accusers no longer have to do this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANITA HILL: Only after a great deal of agonizing consideration and great number of sleepless nights that I am able to talk of these unpleasant matters to anyone but my close friends.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He exposed himself to me and he asked me to kiss it.
MEGYN KELLY, NBC NEWS HOST: He tried to kiss me and then I pushed him away. He tried to kiss me again, I push him away again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I almost wanted to wipe my mouth just because I thought I feel awkward.
BEVERLY NELSON, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: He began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head on to his crotch.
LEEANN TWEEDEN, NEWS ANCHOR: People have been texting and calling and they're like, you know, stay strong because you're doing something that is going to make the world better for your daughter. Maybe I am. If I am, OK. I'll take it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: That was a remarkable interview this week, one of many. And in these past six weeks, many men like Al Franken have apologized.
But the Republican Party's nominee for Senate in Alabama has gone a different direction. Roy Moore and his allies have been crying fake news and denying the claims while actually spreading some falsehoods of their own.
I think we're in this choose your own news environment again, with some people choosing, for example, to believe the allegation against Franken, but awkwardly tiptoeing around the allegations that are piling up against Moore.
Let's talk about this with Anna Claire Vollers. She's an investigative reporter with Reckon by AL.com. She's interviewed new accusers of Moore this week. Also in Alabama, Elaina Plott, staff writer for "The Washingtonian". In D.C., Marc Fisher, a senior editor at "The Washington Post", and here in New York with Michele Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education.
Anna Claire, first to you, let's take a look at the editor on the top your newspaper, and two others. These are Alabama's biggest paper this is morning, all saying that Roy Moore should be rejected by the voters and the Democrat, Doug Jones, should be elected. Does it make your job harder on the news side when the opinion side is calling for Moore to lose the race?
ANNA CLAIRE VOLLERS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, RECKON BY AL.COM: Well, being part of the media here in Alabama, which is a very conservative state, we're used to hearing the fake news leveled at us pretty much all the time. All I can do is do my job that my sources and do journalism the best that I can.
STELTER: It seems this is a situation where it's not just random Twitter trolls shouting fake news. It's actually -- Anna Claire, it's actually your neighbors. That must be hard.
VOLLERS: It can be sometimes. A lot of times I write about controversial things probably 80 percent of my inbox is negative e- mails from people who are upset. And, honestly, this time, I say it's closer to 50/50.
I've gotten a lot of response from readers who say we appreciate what you're doing, the good journalism that's happening here and we want everybody to know that not all of us are supporting Moore. So, I've gotten a lot of good feedback as well. STELTER: And, Elaina, you're there in Alabama as well. Is it fair to say that at this point, Roy Moore is running an anti-media campaign? Is that really his strategy with 23 days left?
ELAINA PLOTT, STAFF WRITER, WASHINGTONIAN: Absolutely. Here is the reason why, Brian. You know, I spent the last week interviewing members of Kayla Moore's ex-husband's family, to kind of see if what's being reported about Roy Moore is a pattern in their eyes.
I've been struck by the question I've gotten over and over is not, well, do we think these allegations are true, it's why now? Why now? And I think that plays exactly into the fake news narrative. Because they see -- many of them see the very act of reporting as antagonistic.
[11:05:02] "The Washington Post" didn't send reporters here to flush out their coverage of the Senate race, as they would in any state but rather explicitly to condemn and dig up dirt on Roy Moore. So, with that --
STELTER: So, that's the claim. Let's go to Marc and ask though.
Marc, is that why you all send reporters to Alabama?
MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, TRUMP REVEALED: No, not at all. In fact, our reporter was in Alabama working on a story about Roy Moore's supporters, the pastors who supported him. It was only in the course of that that she was -- she stumbled upon this story about the young women who Roy Moore had approach early on. So, it really was almost accidental that the reporting took that turn. It was kind of organic.
You know, the reporter who first got on to the story as being attacked as being part of some sort of northern outside agitator press when, in fact, she's from Birmingham, Alabama. But, you know, there's a long history in Alabama and, you know, much of the country of seeing the press as this outside agitator, invading force, and that's unfortunate.
But as we heard earlier, it really is a very mixed bag this time. We're hearing a lot of people who are very grateful for this reporting and the whole fake news thing, I think a lot of people have -- they're on to what Donald Trump and Roy Moore, how they use that phrase to kind of -- as red meat for their base. A lot of people of the same people who shout fake news are people who crave respect from the news media, including both Donald Trump and Roy Moore, who Roy Moore keeps scrapbooks of the news clippings going all the way back to the beginning of his career.
STELTER: Elaina, back to you on that point, about the split reactions in Alabama. Here's a poll from Fox News this week showing a real divide in reaction. Thirty-six percent of registered voters do say they believe the allegations, 37 percent say they do not, and then the rest aren't sure what to believe.
Is that -- does that square up with what you heard when you're interviewing voters there as well?
PLOTT: You know, I thought a lot about that Fox News poll since it came out because I think the methodology for those polls is usually quite good. But based on my reporting, I'm just not hearing that kind of divide.
I think it's also premised on maybe a question in which Republicans are actually going to the polls and flipping for Doug Jones. I don't see that happening. Republicans here are fatigued. I think if they don't vote for Roy Moore, it's because they just don't turn out. I don't know if I see a lot of flipping going on.
STELTER: And the same question for you, Anna Claire, have you seen fatigue as well?
VOLLERS: I am. I think a lot of the divide you're going to see is the cities versus the rural. You know, the pastors -- a lot of the pastors who came out yesterday opposing Roy Moore, they were exclusively from the Birmingham area, whereas you see pastors from the smaller towns and areas who are still very, very supportive of him. And I think that extends to the citizens who live there, too.
STELTER: Very interesting.
So, Michele, let me come to you here in New York. There was a lot of talk about Sean Hannity and what he was going to do. He gave Moore an ultimatum and then bluffed and said he'll let the voters decide.
Do you think there's been too much attention paid on conservative commentators and their reaction to what's happening in the race in Alabama?
MICHELE CULA LIPKIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR MEDIA LITERACY EDUCATION: I think that's a great question. I think that we might be focused on the wrong things and certainly when we start to bring in fake news into the conversation, we're focused on things besides the facts, right, and besides the information we should be looking at, from the accusers from the legal standpoint. All of those things matter.
STELTER: Yes. you said to me off camera, not all information is created equally. Maybe we need to take the reporting more seriously than some random pundit's reaction.
LIPKIN: Yes, I think from a media literacy perspective, that's where I get most frustrated, that all information should be weighed differently and we have an inability to evaluate information right now. And you shouldn't be able to debunk months and months of investigative reporting with a tweet.
And I think we have a real misunderstanding of what investigative reporting is and the meticulous nature of it and the blood, sweat and tears that goes into it. We need to understand that and have to understand that the hierarchy of information.
STELTER: Yes, to your point that's a literacy issue. You know, these investigative reporters will spend months on a project and yet in the social media world, sometimes it can look the same as a random tweet or some random Facebook post because on the web, it's all sort of structured the same.
LIPKIN: Yes, and that's where the platforms and actual structure of media and communication gets difficult to decipher. But we have to do better to understand that, to be media literate, for sure.
STELTER: Let me go back to Marc with the question about some of the lawsuit threats we've seen. There were threats from the Moore camp to sue "The Washington Post" and to sue Anna Claire's newspaper.
Marc, has the lawsuit materialized yet?
FISHER: No. And we're not holding our breath. It was an inchoate threat from the lawyers from the Moore campaign, really kind of an amateurish threat letter. But this is just part of an overall campaign by the Moore family and campaign to try to discredit the reporting that's being done.
[11:10:03] And, you know, I think it's having some impact with the hard core base of Roy Moore. But for a lot Alabama voters who I was talking to this week, they see through this and they understand that their guy may have done something wrong. It doesn't mean they're going to step away from their guy, but, you know, there's a circling of the wagons that goes on in these kinds of situations. But I think a lot of people do see through these kind of transparent attempts to discredit the reporting.
STELTER: And, most importantly, Anna Claire, to finish where we started the segment, you all are all taking your jobs very seriously and trying to be very careful. I don't know that that always comes through but the audience needs to know how carefully people like you do this work.
VOLLERS: Yes. I really want people to know that we don't just call up any old person and print whatever they say about Roy Moore. I mean, a lot of work goes into vetting the people that we speak with, to talking to others to finding paper that validates what they're saying. And then and only then and after editors to repeat it do we publish something like this. We take this kind of accusations and allegations very seriously.
STELTER: Anna Claire, Michele, thank you for being here.
Elaina and Marc, please stick around, because when we come back, we're going to revisit that famous quote, when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. We're going to talk about these women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct and how their stories are now back in the news.
[11:15:42] STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES.
Listen to this quote from "People" magazine. Quote: I feel this issue has been hold all year but not forgotten. It's been simmering on the stove with the lid on, like a pressure cooker. But now, the heat's on and it's coming to boil. And the lid is going to blast off.
That's Natasha Stoynoff, a writer for "People," describing the ongoing attention or a lack of attention to this, the more than a dozen women who accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct during the campaign last year. Those women, some of them do feel forgotten and feel there's never been justice for their stories.
But now, we're seeing a revisiting of these stories against President Trump and also against former President Bill Clinton.
I'm back now with my panel in Birmingham, Elaina Plott, a staff writer for "The Washingtonian", and Marc Fisher, "Washington Post" senior editor. Joining me here at the table, CNN media analyst, Bill Carter.
Marc, you wrote about the harassment and assault allegations against President Trump. In your book to "The Post", "Trump Revealed", are these allegations at the heart of why he hasn't said more about the Roy Moore scandal?
FISHER: Well, certainly, there seems to be a reason. I mean, there is some vulnerability there. There's real land mines for President Trump if he does become vocal on the Roy Moore question, because there are these women out there who have these stories we've been hearing, all these men in entertainment, in media and in politics in recent weeks.
And so, the president doesn't want to go there. So, he's going to be dragged in that direction in various ways. There's a pending lawsuit that is gaining steam where he may be called upon to give a deposition. And, obviously, there's this sort of politics of inspection that we're going through now where a lot of people's pasts are being examined.
So, it's very vulnerable territory for a president who doesn't really want to talk about that.
STELTER: Elaina, do you think the press is right to be reviving these stories now?
PLOTT: You know, I -- actually I have to agree with Marc slightly. My sources in the White House and other sources who are close to Trump tell me that this is pure tribalism. Donald Trump was very quick to weigh in when allegations against Al Franken came to light. This is clearly tribalism. I don't think Trump is giving any thought to the fact that he might be vulnerable in wading into this territory.
STELTER: We're in this choose your own news environment again I think when it comes to this topic. I mean, Bill, there was a lot of attention from conservative media sources on the Al Franken photograph. And, by the way, the rest of the media also very quick to cover that story, rightly so. But I think some of those conservative outlets do shy away from these stories about Trump or Moore.
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Of course, it's their guy. Everything about your guy I believe. Everything about my guy I don't believe. That's the way it's being cast.
It is interesting though, things should be in context. Al Franken has this one woman. It's bad. What he did was bad -- against 12, 15 women accusing Trump? And all Trump said in response, remember, was he was going to sue them. He didn't do that.
And he said they have been disproven. It hasn't really. Going after Fl Franken has made it incumbent on the media to say, okay, this is what your position is. We have to challenge you on these cases because they are still out there.
STELTER: Yes, on Fox Business today, Maria Bartiromo slipped up and a guest was talking about Trump and Maria said, there are no allegations against the president.
STELTER: I'm sure, though, that was an innocent mistake by Bartiromo. But for some reason when I pointed it out on Twitter, she blocked me.
STELTER: I think there's something curious about that bubble within FOX where you don't really want to have to talk about the allegations against Trump.
CARTER: And, let's face it. You know, you can be for a certain political position but you shouldn't abandon your sense of reason. OK, there's still obviously a story here.
These women, you have to make an awfully big case that 12, 15 women got together and all made up -- that would be a spectacular plot that somebody hatched. These are individual people who had conversations, corroborated conversations at the time. They're all in the same category as these other cases we've all covered.
[11:20:00] We know that they're out there.
CARTER: And it's very hard for you to slough them off. In the middle of the campaign, when it was Hillary's emails and all things, things got diverted. He has opened up these this can of worms I think by going after Franken.
STELTER: By tweeting about Frankenstein.
STELTER: Marc Fisher, do you think it's fair to be playing the "Access Hollywood" tape over and over again? I mean, you look at CNN and MSNBC, there has been a lot of attention in recent days back to the tape from 2005. Is it fair?
FISHER: Well, the tape is not really directly analogous to the Roy Moore situation. The tape is mouthing off and saying really nasty things, whereas the allegations against Roy Moore are about actual physical behavior. But there are at least these dozen and more women out there who have stories to tell about Donald Trump. That's the direct analogy to the Roy Moore case. And that's really where the attention will go if this sexual misconduct story has the energy that it has.
And, Elaina, quickly, a preview of what you expect in the coming days, will reporters keep shouting questions to the president to see if he talks about this?
PLOTT: I think he will not at all try to relitigate his past allegations. That's my pithy response. We're not going to see much more.
Elaina, Marc, thank you for being here. Marc agrees.
STELTER: -- stay with me.
One more Trump note actually: he's still avoiding all hard-news interviews. I want you to notice this. It's been more than six months since this moment in the White House, this interview with NBC's Lester Holt. That's the last time the president gave any TV interview to any major network not named FOX.
Now, Trump sometimes does answer questions at informal pressers when reporters shout them. For formal interviews, he confines himself to his FOX friends and a couple of Christian broadcasters.
I just want to be clear, this is really unusual behavior for any U.S. president. I can think of a few reasons why Trump says no to real interview requests. I mean, he would have to answer questions about sexual harassment, the women who are accusing him. He'd have to answer questions about the ever-worsening Russia investigations. He would be asked about his son, Donald Trump Jr., communicating with WikiLeaks and his son-in-law Jared Kushner's apparent forgetfulness.
Not to mention this. How much his family stands to benefit personally if tax reform is passed? Lots of questions the president is able to avoid by avoiding interviews.
Up next here, speaking of FOX, is Rupert Murdoch looking to break up 21st Century Fox? And are the secretive Koch brothers part of the bid for Time Inc.? Head-spinning changes in the media business, right after this.
[11:17:12] STELTER: Rupert Murdoch, ready to sell parts of 21st Century Fox? Now, not Fox News but yes, Murdoch is in talks about selling his movie studio, his international businesses and channels like FX.
It's been a dizzying week of media business developments and it matters to you because we're talking about major shifts and who owns some of the country's most powerful media platforms. Here's just three examples from this week: Comcast and Verizon are in talks with Murdoch about buying parts of Fox. I'm told any deal is weeks away.
Meanwhile, the billionaire Koch brothers, known for backing conservative causes, are backing Meredith's latest bid to buy a rival magazine publisher Time Inc.
And in a sign that times are getting tougher for digital media companies, Mashable is selling itself to Ziff Davis for the fire sale price of $50 million. Now, to put that in context, last year, Mashable was supposedly valued at $250 million.
So, lots of media deals are in the works. But will government regulators give their blessing?
CNN media analyst Bill Carter is back with me to talk about that.
Bill, let's take these in reverse. First, a reality check for the digital media companies like "BuzzFeed" and "Vice", which according to "The Wall Street Journal," are missing their projections for the year.
STELTER: What's going on with these advertising supported businesses?
CARTER: Well, they are -- they can't compete with Google and Facebook, who are commanding all the advertising. If they can't get that revenue, there's nothing they can really do to compete. So --
STELTER: Let's put on screen the graphics showing Google, Facebook and then everybody else.
STELTER: This is new ad dollars, according to E-marketer, going to the big companies. Everybody else, hundreds of companies are stuck over there on the side, Google and Facebook.
CARTER: And 75 percent is going to Google and Facebook, 75 percent of the revenue. So, everyone else is fighting literally for scraps. And you see these people saying either they're going to, you know, look for new businesses or they're going to give up. I mean, you know, that's what Mashable decided to do. They backed out entirely.
STELTER: Now, why do you think Rupert Murdoch is willing to part ways with some of his empire?
CARTER: Well, I think that's really fascinating to me because I remember years ago, I interviewed Barry Diller and when he left Murdoch and I said, what is Murdoch's goal? And he said, world economic domination. And he wasn't kidding because that's what he wanted to do so.
So, for him to retrench like this, something big is going on. And I think he looks at the landscape and thinks, he can't really amass what he needs to do to compete with these big players.
STELTER: Yes, he can't compete with Google, Facebook and Apple. Yes.
CARTER: He can't. But I think it's interesting what's going on somewhat dovetails with our previous conversation in this way.
STELTER: About sexual harassment?
CARTER: About sexual harassment, because one of the big factors is he wanted Sky TV badly. And it looks like he's not going to get it. I think that's one of the reasons he's backing out. And the reason he's not going to get it or one reason is because of the sex scandals at Fox News.
STELTER: Right. These American sex scandals have been a problem for him in Britain.
CARTER: Exactly and the international business are definitely one of the big factors in what these other companies want, Comcast, Verizon. They're very much interested in that.
STELTER: Meanwhile, AT&T and Time Warner -- of course, Time Warner owns CNN, this channel -- the companies are bracing for a possible antitrust lawsuit from the Justice Department. I'm told the suit could be filed any time in the next few days.
But here's my headline from CNN.com. Some State Department attorneys general have been unwilling to get on board with the case.
So, while the DOJ is getting tough, the FCC is doing the opposite, right?
STELTER: The FCC, the other big media regulatory body...
STELTER: ... is making it easier for local stations, like Sinclair...
STELTER: ... to buy even more stations.
CARTER: They wiped out this rule.
STELTER: Yes. What is the rule?
CARTER: The rule was to eliminate mass ownership in the same market of media outlets that double -- media outlets.
Sinclair, which is their -- the patron of the Trump administration, is the big beneficiary of this rule change. And, obviously, on that side, they're willing to open things up.
And, on the other side, with AT&T, it's a very unusual thing for a Republican administration to do, to step into a merger this way. So, you have to really wonder, what is the thing that links those two things?
One is that CNN is considered an enemy of the Trump administration, and Sinclair is an ally.
STELTER: Do you think CNN is an enemy of the Trump administration?
CARTER: No, I don't think it is. But, in Trump's head, it is. And that's what's important.
I'm not saying that this is why the Department of Justice is doing this, because there are reasons to look at mergers like this. There are legitimate reasons.
But when a president comes out in the campaign and says, I'm going to block that, I'm going to tell them I don't want CNN, It makes you really question what's going on.
STELTER: This week, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was asked about whether there's been talks behind the scenes to stop the AT&T deal. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has any White House employee or official, including the president, contacted the Justice Department regarding the AT&T/Time Warner transaction or any other transaction?
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm not able to comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So, not a confirmation, Bill, not a denial.
STELTER: He's just saying he can't talk about...
CARTER: He can't comment.
STELTER: ... whether there's been talk.
CARTER: Yes. Maybe he doesn't remember if there were talks.
STELTER: Bill, good to see you.
CARTER: Nice to see you.
STELTER: Thanks for being here.
STELTER: Reminder -- our quick newsletter plug -- we're covering all these business deals every day and delivering the news to your inbox every evening. Sign up for free for our nightly newsletter. Log on to RELIABLESOURCES.com.
Up next here on the program: Sean Hannity calls -- let me show you -- this man a known bigot who runs the biggest censorship, anti-free speech group in America.
How is that for an intro? Angelo Carusone will join me to respond right after this.
STELTER: Sean Hannity's show is simply called "Hannity," but I think it's time for a renaming. It really is the Hillary Clinton horror show.
Let's call it "The Clinton Scandal Hour," because, night after night after night, Hannity delights in supposed Clinton wrongdoing, seizing on old stories and spinning them into huge scandals.
Vox recently called him the media's top conspiracy theorist.
Now, my theory is that Hannity focuses on the Clintons partly so he doesn't have to deal with the daily Trump-related controversies.
Lately, it's also been a convenient diversion from the Roy Moore scandal.
At the end of one of his Clinton-bashing segments this week, Hannity kind of randomly said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HANNITY")
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": By the way, I have sources all of us are being surveilled illegally, just in case you're interested.
Just telling you. Anyway...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Sean, that's a huge story. You're under surveillance? By who, the Trump administration?
You know, kooky sound bites like that would sometimes go unnoticed, if not for Media Matters. Media Matters is a left-wing group that monitors right-wing media.
The group flagged that video clip and many, many more as part of an ongoing anti-Hannity campaign. Right now, it's promoting an ad boycott. It says, "Sign up to join the effort to encourage Hannity's advertisers to stop financially supporting his propaganda."
Let's talk about that with the group's president, Angelo Carusone. He joins me now here in New York.
Angelo, what's the status of this ad boycott? You announced it several months ago. Have you succeeded in peeling off any advertisers?
ANGELO CARUSONE, PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS: Yes, definitely.
I mean, we have statements from 30 companies that have committed that they're not going to advertise on Sean Hannity's program.
STELTER: But were they advertising to begin with?
CARUSONE: All of those companies were actually advertising to begin with.
And then there are many more companies that never started in the first place, because they say this is too volatile, there's too much potential controversy associated with it.
And I think we've already seen the financial effects. In September alone, even before the latest flare-up, FOX News's ad revenue was down 17 percent, which is rather atypical for the market as a whole. And it very much dovetails with the massive exodus of advertisers in the first wave in August.
STELTER: Hannity says he's against any ad boycott.
Why do you think it's appropriate to try to take away any commentator's advertisers?
CARUSONE: I don't -- I don't like it at all.
STELTER: Then why are you doing it?
CARUSONE: Well, because I think, at some point, you are forced to do it, right, because I think -- and most commentators work for a company.
And those companies have guidelines and policies and procedures that they force and have and police themselves. They have -- their own commentators adhere to a standard. No other network would let their personalities go out there and do the kinds of destructive and reckless things that Sean Hannity does.
But when you're faced with an entity that doesn't have any accountability, you have two choices, do nothing and continue to endure the destructive consequences of it, or appeal to a higher power. In this case, it's the advertisers.
And I would remind everybody that that was required in the case of Bill O'Reilly, that FOX News had re-signed his contract and had no intention, even knowing all the things that he had done, of forcing him off the air. It needed to be forced. And I think...
STELTER: Well, they say they knew some, but not all.
But with Bill O'Reilly, we saw an immediate advertiser exodus...
STELTER: ... to the point where there weren't enough ads to put in the time slot.
We're not seeing that with Hannity. So, how successful is this really?
CARUSONE: I think that, for me, it's always been a long game. You know, I'm not interested in sort of a short-burst flare-up.
It is obviously enormously effective. That's why Sean Hannity is complaining about it. I think it's reflected in their bottom-line numbers.
I think it's more comparable to when Glenn Beck left FOX News, that you sort of reach a critical mass of advertisers that don't want to be associated with the program anymore. And, as a result of that, the ad rates start to decline.
The quality of the advertisers willing to advertise on that program goes down. And it no longer becomes commercially sustainable or viable. And I feel like we're at a very critical point there with Hannity just about reaching that place.
STELTER: You're a liberal group. Do you fear that, if this works, Rachel Maddow's show and other liberal shows will be targeted?
CARUSONE: I think that would be radically unfair, right, because it isn't about his perspective or ideology.
I think that Tucker Carlson is gross. I find his content odious. But we're not leading an advertiser campaign against him, because I think part of this is that -- and I would remind everybody that Media Matters isn't out there smashing Keurigs. And we're not calling for boycotts of these companies, mostly because it's not necessary.
A lot of times, all we have to do is talk to them and show them what it is that their advertisements are running alongside of. And they're making a business decision. And that business decision is to avoid Sean Hannity's volatility. And that was reflected in this weekend. They just don't want it. I
mean, there are advertisers that leapt in, in August that, when the -- and when the Keurig thing flared up, came back to me, and said, you were right.
STELTER: Here's what FOX told me in a statement for this segment.
They said: "This intimidation effort is nothing more than political opportunism based on deceit. Sean Hannity hosts the number one program on cable news because millions of Americans make the decision to join him every night. And the audience relationship is stronger than ever."
So, I think, Angelo, what they're saying there is, this is not a repeat of O'Reilly. We're not going to drop O'Reilly. We know the audience loves Hannity.
CARUSONE: Well, they're not saying anything about his advertisers in that statement.
STELTER: That's true.
CARUSONE: That's right.
STELTER: I have asked repeatedly if advertisers have withdrawn. And there's no comment from FOX.
CARUSONE: And that's because, publicly, we know that they're withdrawing.
And I find -- I find it interesting that FOX News thinks that I'm the one that is intimidating them based off of deceit, because that seems to be how it is that they function in the information landscape.
STELTER: Well, let's take a look at how Hannity has been talking about you lately.
I know this is uncomfortable even to put on screen.
STELTER: Let's show part of what Hannity had on the air this week.
He continues to call you racist, anti-gay. At some point, I think he has brought up anti-Semitic issues, implying that you're anti-Semitic.
STELTER: How does it feel to see this on television?
CARUSONE: Well, this in particular is rather hurtful, because I am gay. And I have -- my boyfriend and now husband -- for a while, we weren't allowed to get married -- of 14 years is Jewish.
And so, right on face, it's sort of a ridiculous sort of jab to sort of come at me in -- obviously on the most personal way. And we see that reflected all the time with not just Sean Hannity, but
the right wing as a whole. They always go after people's strengths or characteristics.
So, that is, they think, a sore spot. I find it to be a reflection of who they are and how they think that's -- I don't see that to be a valid criticism at all. Obviously, I'm not homophobic. And I'm not...
STELTER: He was screaming at you on Twitter this morning.
I wonder, has he ever tried to book you on "Hannity"?
CARUSONE: No, he hasn't. And...
STELTER: Because I would love to watch that. I really would.
CARUSONE: I don't think he would do it.
And if he would do it, and like -- like FOX News has had in the past, every time they have offered to book anyone from us, they have never allowed it to be a live interview.
CARUSONE: And I think that reflects a lot about the way and shows FOX News' intentions.
So, no, he hasn't tried to do it. He will have on Roy Moore. He will have on Bill O'Reilly, even after he's fired from FOX News.
I think, at this point, though, we have crossed that threshold.
CARUSONE: I wouldn't want to appear on his program. I'm telling advertisers not to associate with Sean Hannity because of his volatility, his recklessness, his ability and willingness to go out there and undermine attack women that speak out in this moment, of all times.
So, I wouldn't want to actually elevate that show by appearing on it. But, in the past, maybe it would have been an appropriate way to engage.
STELTER: Angelo, thanks for being here.
CARUSONE: Thank you so much for having me.
STELTER: Good to see you.
CARUSONE: Thank you.
Up next here on RELIABLE SOURCES: You have surely seen this photo, but how did it happen? Hear from the photographer right after this.
STELTER: Some photos become memes. They help us understand the world around us, like this one.
These pictures were snapped on Wednesday. They show the treasury secretary with his wife, Louise, showing off the first dollar bills that he and the U.S. treasurer had signed.
Simple, right? Well, until the Internet got involved and had a field day with tweets like this. Here's something, a wide variety of reactions here.
This person saying the photo practically memed itself. Another person saying, why do they pose for photos that make them look like Bond villains?
The photo even went viral on the floor of Congress. There was a Democratic staffer who carried this chart to the House floor during a debate on tax cuts and jobs.
So, let's talk about how that photo came about.
Joining me is the photojournalist who took the pictures, AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin.
Great to see you.
JACQUELYN MARTIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER: Thanks for having me.
STELTER: Let's take a look at what Steve Mnuchin said about your photos just a little while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I never thought I would be quoted as looking like villains from the James Bond. I guess I should take that as a compliment.
I didn't realize that the pictures were public and going on the Internet and viral.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Jacquelyn, how would he not know that the pictures were going to be public?
MARTIN: I don't know, Brian.
I'm there as the Associated Press photographer. Certainly, the photos are released, well, on the AP wire, which goes to the entire world. So, I'm not sure how they didn't think that.
There was another still photographer and several video crews as well. So, I think it was pretty obvious it was a media photo-op.
STELTER: When you were there in the moment, did you think this was going to be a viral hit?
MARTIN: Well, I mean, when I got the assignment, it's a pretty routine assignment. The treasury secretary goes to check to see their signature on the new notes at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. And it's a pretty standard assignment for D.C.
STELTER: That's right.
MARTIN: Expected for that thing to happen. But I just didn't expect his wife to end up in the photo.
And how that happened, actually, is that the secretary went up with the treasurer for the sort of -- to take a look at the sheets of bills coming off the press. And they took a look and went and held it up and showed for a photo.
And then he actually gestured for his wife to come over and join him in the photo, which I was not expecting. But I do have to say, I did think the photo might get more play once she joined him for that photo-op.
STELTER: Yes, to Trump administration detractors, it shows the billionaires running the government. It's like this iconic image that I think is going to end up in history books.
Must be kind of a good feeling.
MARTIN: I mean, as a photojournalist, we show up and we photograph what is in front of us. And then it's up to the public to look and interpret that reality for themselves.
MARTIN: So, although it's great for the photos to get longevity, it's certainly not something I expected to happen.
STELTER: Jacquelyn, thanks so much for being here.
MARTIN: Thanks for having me.
STELTER: And up next: This man plays President Trump on TV. Find out what he has learned wearing the makeup next.
STELTER: Impersonating President Trump is a unique assignment for all of these comedians.
You know, the comics end up learning a lot about the person they're playing.
That's what Anthony Atamanuik taught me when I interviewed him recently. He plays Trump on Comedy Central's "The President Show."
We even went out to Trump's childhood home in Queens as part of my upcoming special report on "Late-Night in the Age of Trump."
Now, that airs tomorrow. But I want to show you what Anthony told me about what it takes to play Trump on TV.
STELTER: Anthony, great to see you.
ANTHONY ATAMANUIK, ACTOR: Great to see you.
STELTER: Out of character, not as President Trump. Why is that?
Well, it takes two hours to get into the makeup, so, that's why.
ATAMANUIK: Yes, no, I try to stay out of that suit and face as much as possible.
STELTER: Do you get made up almost every day as the president?
ATAMANUIK: Three times a week, generally, because we shoot field on Monday, field pieces, and Friday, and then we shoot the show Thursday.
So, generally, I'm in that getup three times a week. And it does take about two hours.
STELTER: What did figure out early on about playing him?
ATAMANUIK: I would say that playing Trump, there's three things. He's lyrical. And the way he speaks is sort of like rivers and eddies.
So, most people speak in sort of a river, maybe parallel rivers of information. He has one sort of flow. And then there's little eddies that come off the river where he cycles, right?
So, he will be like, we're wonderful. The country's doing so great. We're so great. We're making so much -- so many great jobs. Jobs are wonderful. I make jobs. The country makes great jobs.
And then he will move out and then leave the river, move to the next thing. So he's a cyclical talker. And then I learned that he has no center of gravity. He is always pitched forward and he holds his arms like a toddler, sort of at the sides. He doesn't have -- adult humans tend to have sort of a little bit of a wing gate. They hold their arms up a bit.
He lets them like a dead -- like a puppet, like just kind of lie to the side.
STELTER: When did you realize you had Trump nailed down?
ATAMANUIK: I think I started watching tape of him like pretty much every day.
When we were on -- my friend James Adomian and I did the Trump vs. Bernie tour. I would spend every night in a hotel watching his rallies, and digesting his hand movements and his pull.
A lot of people do this, but he pulls. He pulls inside when he does it. He doesn't do it straight down. Or he has sort of like an animal thing with his jaw where he's like, he pushes his jaw forward, and does this Mussolini sort of turn.
When he's at press conferences, he doesn't like to move his neck. If you notice, he pivots with his shoulders. So, the next time you watch him, you will see that he does this, as opposed to turning his neck.
STELTER: Watching tape every day, it almost sounds like you're getting ready for a football game, right? You are going to watch all the tapes.
ATAMANUIK: Yes, yes, absolutely.
You have to, because if I want to be effective in the satire, then I have to do -- I want to get him down, so it's automatic, right? I don't want to have to think about doing him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ATAMANUIK: Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: The best Trump at a rally?
ATAMANUIK: Free-form rally.
STELTER: Free-form rally.
ATAMANUIK: Free Kellyanne Conway.
When Kellyanne Conway came in, suddenly, he was promptered. Bannon and Conway got him all promptered. And I think everyone remembers the first prompter Trump, when we were like, what is it, like a grandmother reading...
STELTER: You could tell he hated it.
ATAMANUIK: Well, also, he's not an effective reader, so everything is sort of this just unemotionless, just like he's reading a list of menu items to somebody.
But when he was free, oh, like a bird, he was just all over the map, and the Ben Carson thing with the belt and stabbing his own belt buckle, and the Marco Rubio -- the Marco Rubio water bit is a legitimately funny bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's Rubio!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Do you have favorite Trump phrases or mannerisms, sort of, of all the ones you have studied and watch, things that are fun to actually do?
ATAMANUIK: Believe me. I love believe me. Believe me. Believe me.
ATAMANUIK: I just love it, because it's like a spell.
STELTER: Is it the face?
ATAMANUIK: Believe me.
He always -- he pulls his jaw out, and he usually -- if he does it and he's at the podium, he will go, believe me, and then he like throw a smile up.
And he will -- usually, it's after a promise. Like, he will be like, we're going to bring the coal jobs back; 50,000 coal, we're going to bring them back, folks, believe me, folks. Believe me.
And it's such a, like, spell. It's just like, believe me, believe me.
And then they all...
STELTER: A lot of this is physical comedy. You're making a lot of the gestures and movements.
STELTER: Is it tiring?
ATAMANUIK: Oh, yes, the fat suits alone.
And I have like a cooling system underneath with the thing that looks like I have like a colostomy bag, but it's like running cool water up my chest.
The ball cap is -- I'm not complaining. I have a great job. But I'm saying, physically, to be Trump, I wonder what it's like to be him, because I just have only got to put it on for six hours. He's got to wear that body all the time.
STELTER: He has to live it.
ATAMANUIK: Yes. Too bad. Too bad, Donald.
STELTER: Hear more from Tony tomorrow night in my prime-time documentary, "Late-Night in the Age of Trump," Monday 9:00 p.m. here on CNN.
See you then.