Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
Is Press Overplaying Stormy Daniels Story?; CNN: Joseph diGenova Not Joining Trump's Legal Team; Bolton Latest in TV-to-White House Pipeline; Students Helped Cover March for Our Lives for "Guardian". Aired 11a-12n ET
Aired March 25, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:09] BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: The power of television on display this weekend.
I'm Brian Stelter and 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.
There's breaking news, a more upheaval in Trump's legal team.
Plus, this news from a shocking resignation letter. It was written by Fox News analyst Colonel Ralph Peters. He's calling Fox a propaganda machine. Do others at the network agree with him? We'll get into that.
Plus, the events of this weekend this time really is different. The March for Our lives is over. People are wondering what's next. So, the co-editor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas student newspaper is here to talk about that.
And later, new, shocking leaks about President Trump's behavior. I'll talk with former Fox News anchor Eric Bolling who thinks he can help plug the problem, plug the leaks.
But, first, this hour, what will President Trump do to distract from this? Yes, the president's problem with women getting the "60 Minutes" treatment tonight.
The country's highest rated news program is airing an interview with adult film star Stormy Daniels, who was paid hush money by Trump's lawyer before Election Day. And that 10-second video, that's all we've seen from the interview. CBS has not released any clips of Daniels speaking.
We know that Anderson Cooper taped the interview two weeks ago, and he has been in the edit bay at "60 Minutes" all week-long finishing the story.
We also know it's double the length of a typical "60 Minute" segment. But that's pretty much all we do know. In fact, Daniels' lawyers have been hyping the interview on Twitter and promising a sequel. He says, quote: Tonight is not the end. It's the beginning.
And, of course, Daniels is not the only woman in the news talking about the president. Earlier this week, we all saw Anderson Cooper's interview with Karen McDougal, another woman who's alleged to have an affair with the president 10 years ago.
There's also a story in the news about Summer Zervos, an "Apprentice" contestant who says that the president -- that Donald Trump many years ago, again, many years ago, groped and kissed her. Now, she is suing for defamation.
So, there is a lot of attention around these stories about these women and their relationships with the now-president. There are questions about how much coverage is too much, and then there is a more practical question. Will the president watch tonight's "60 Minutes" interview?
We know he is scheduled to get back to Washington just in time. He's supposed to land and get back to the White House shortly before 7:00 p.m. So, if he wants to, he can tune in.
We also know that his wife, Melania Trump, will be staying in Mar-a- Lago with their son on a pre-planned spring break vacation.
There is a lot to get to here, both the sex and also the substance, so let's bring in our panel.
David Zurawik, media critic at "The Baltimore Sun", Olivia Nuzzi, Washington correspondent for "New York Magazine", and Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner".
Sarah, first to you on the substance of this story. I was struck in the Karen McDougal interview a few days ago how sympathetic she came across, how it wasn't really about the sexual relationship that it was alleged, it was about the hurt feelings. What do you expect from Stormy Daniels tonight?
SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: You know, I think that partly, the women that's baked into the equation of Donald Trump. He never branded himself as this wholesome politician, a family man. He was always someone who sort of presented himself as what we know him to be from the tabloids.
But even though the media does have a tendency to cover the salacious lead to frame this as a sex scandal, it becomes legitimately consequential when we talk about how the Trump Organization potentially acted to cover this up.
STELTER: You mean about campaign finance laws.
WESTWOOD: Right, that is the legitimate angle of this story. Otherwise, it's too easy for White House allies to dismiss this as tabloid fodder. But it is a consequential story for this White House.
STELTER: There's also the allegation that she was threatened, physically threatened. Her lawyer has been saying she'll address that tonight in the interview. We'll see what he said what she shares.
David Zurawik, what about the idea of television's power here, that it's one thing to hear or read about an alleged affair involving Donald Trump and a porn star, it's another thing to hear her speak on camera?
DAVID ZURAWIK, MEDIA CRITIC, THE BALTIMORE SUN: Yes, and also, Brian, to see her speak on camera. Don't forget "60 Minutes" pretty much invented the interview, the intense interview and all of those moves where the camera closes in on somebody's face and gives you this incredible tight shot of the face especially, when they're grilling somebody.
But in this case, I think it'll have an incredible power to see her in a very personal way, bearing witness to this story of her relationship with Trump. That's a tremendous power.
And, you know, there are some great writers in this country, but I don't -- I hate to say it because I work with words. Words cannot compete with that, and especially in the hands of "60 Minutes", this interview -- and Anderson Cooper.
[11:05:06] I mean, this is going to be a powerful, powerful moment.
And don't forget, you alluded to it at the start, it's so true. Trump is such a creature a television, it's not real until he sees it on television. If he watches tonight, he may blow up the Twitter universe if he sees this.
STELTER: And NCAA basketball is the lead-in, which means an even higher rating than usual for this program. So, it's going to be a Stormy Sunday.
But, Olivia, is there simply too much attention on this?
OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: No, I think that it can look a little bit ridiculous, right, when we're talking about porn stars and playmates non-stop on cable. But I think Sarah was correct that there are very serious elements to this story and there's a lot of potential for it to become an even more serious story, and I think that we need to cover that.
And I think -- you know, this whole idea that we're not -- we're paying too much attention to this, not enough attention to other serious things, we can cover everything. I don't really -- I think it's not a serious argument that people keep making about the media. It's not as though we're not covering Russia. I think that's getting a lot of attention.
It's not as though we were not covering the march yesterday. I was there, you know, a lot of other reporters were there. I think we can cover everything. I think it's ridiculous --
STELTER: There's time for all.
NUZZI: Yes, I think it's just ridiculous to say that we can't.
STELTER: And, by the way, the Zervos suit, it's a little bit different than these two allegations of affairs because Daniels, McDougal, those are allegations of consensual relationships. Zervos, like some of the other women that came forward before election day, is alleging assault, sexual assault, that she was kissed and groped without permission back in 2007.
She's going after Trump for defamation because she can't sue for the alleged assault. So, to sue for defamation, there are all sorts of legal consequences to that case, which make it a lot more than sex -- but a lot more than sex.
One more point about Karen McDougal before we move on, she talked to Anderson Cooper about this payment from the "National Enquirer", this hush money from the supermarket tabloid, and the idea that she was paid in order to protect Trump, here's what you said to Anderson Cooper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Why do you think they squashed the story back?
KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYBOY PLAYMATE: Back then or now?
MCDOUGAL: They didn't want to hurt him.
COOPER: You think it's because of a personal relationship with a guy who runs AMI, he's his friends with Donald Trump?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: This is the idea of catch and kill, the story gets caught, bought and then killed, gets buried.
David Zurawik, doesn't the interview beg the question about whether other stories we're caught and killed, we just don't know the answer?
ZURAWIK: Absolutely, and again it does go to the point of the way team Trump deals with this and the nasty team has, not just a Roy Cohn wannabes as lawyers, but also friends in the media who allow their platforms to become weaponized as tools for him. This is despicable, this catch and kill business.
And I totally agree. I don't think we know the tip of it yet, Brian.
STELTER: Sarah, is there a sense that the White House really cares about these stories, is paying close attention, you know when you're there for briefing? Is this a big -- is this a big topic or something they'd rather just avoid and pretend is not happening?
WESTWOOD: The White House knows that if they speak to the stories directly, they're only going to give them more power. So, they've really been trying to avoid directly addressing the issue, just pushing reporters' inquiries off to outside legal counsel. And so, I don't think that they're looking to engage this story in any way. This "60 Minutes" piece might make that more difficult though.
STELTER: Right, right.
All right. Panel, stick around. Let's get a quick break here and then come back and talk about some of the leaks from the Trump White House. Check out what Jimmy Kimmel said about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: The fact that we know he's mad about the leak is because someone leaked his reaction to the leak. It's a lot of leaks. It might be time for this White House to start wearing depends because --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:12:22] STELTER: Even more upheaval in the president's legal team. News just in the past few minutes about Joe diGenova. You might recall almost a week ago, it was revealed through a leak that attorney and Fox News regular Joe diGenova was going to be joining President Trump's Russia legal team.
Well, we've learned just a few minutes ago, that is no longer the case. The White House confirming that diGenova will not be joining the legal team after all. He may assist the president with other legal matters, but he will not be one of the lead lawyers. In fact, "The Washington Post" says the president is now facing Robert Mueller's probe with no lead lawyer. You'll recall the John Dowd's decision to quit just a couple of days ago.
I wanted to mention to diGenova because that was originally a leak. It was unconcerned and now, it's being taken back. But the biggest and most embarrassing leak of the week was this one, it was a report in "The Washington Post" that President Trump congratulated Vladimir Putin on his Russian election, quote/unquote, win after being warned not to.
Remember, the staff had written on the top of paper apparently, do not congratulate Putin. Now, this was truly a shocking given by Trump White House standards.
Let's talk about it again with our panels. Back with me, Olivia Nuzzi, David Zurawik, and Sarah Westwood.
Olivia, the significance of leaks in a moment, but first, the diGenova, anything we should read into the fact that the president is on Twitter saying lots of lawyers want to work for him and yet days after Dowd puts the team, Genovese not coming on board after all?
NUZZI: Well, it seems like a pretty debasing experience to be one of President Trump's lawyers right now. It's not as though things are going well or it looks like they're going to start going well anytime soon. But I think the diGenova news was interesting for a few reasons, but it made me think about when Mike Pence was first announced, that the vice president, recall, there were a few hours where we didn't know if that was really going to happen because President Trump who was then a candidate obviously was allegedly upset about the leak that he was going to be picked his vice president.
So, sometimes it seems as though the president reacts to the news and it really does change his decision-making process when it comes to personnel or even policy.
STELTER: We do see on a daily basis, these leaks from either White House aides or other government officials, some of them that seem designed to undermine the president and that's why I wanted to highlight the "do not congratulate" leak because it did seem so disturbing.
You know, Jonathan Swan of "Axios" said administration officials are rattled they're stunned by this. I notice Fox's Ari Fleischer saying, who leaks this stuff? The White House staff is disloyal to this president and to each other.
Sarah Westwood, is it that bad?
WESTWOOD: This is one of those leaks that we actually haven't seen for a long time, since the May-February timeframe.
[11:15:01] You remember in February, there was a leak about President Trump's conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that was really embarrassing for the White House. Then in May, we had that leak about the fact that president Trump had revealed classified information to the Russians at the White House. Those aren't just damaging leaks about infighting that's classified information that's being given to reporters that's a whole other classification of leaks and I think that's something John Kelly in particular had moved to crackdown on the fact that we're seeing another one this week suggests maybe he is starting to lose his grip on the operation of the West Wing.
STELTER: Journalists benefit from leaks and yet I wonder if the do not congratulate type leak where it does address national security, if that's the kind of leak that the president actually gain sympathy from, from some Americans, hey, wait a second, he has these staffers who are not working in his best interests.
WESTWOOD: Absolutely, I think you didn't see a lot of people jump to exploit that leak as much as you might some of the other more, you know, gossipy leaks. You saw some people, even some people who are usually critical of Trump, defending him in the wake of this leak. And I think, you know, it just shows that President Trump does need to do a better job of vetting his staff. A president from any party shouldn't have people around him who are actively working against him, although from a journalistic standpoint these kinds of leaks are vital and they're fascinating.
STELTER: Because we learned something new about the White House, about how it's working or not working.
You know, David Zurawik, I think some viewers have an annoying sense that these leakers, that these aides or whoever they are inside the White House, inside the government, that they're trying to protect the country from Trump. I know those are pretty bold words, but we've heard this time and time again ever since inauguration day, that leakers are trying to text the country from the president.
Do you feel there's any legitimacy to that argument?
ZURAWIK: Well, Brian, I think certainly if you listen to some members of the intelligence community and former members of the intelligence community, even on, you know, cable TV talk shows. There's a sense of that.
I think and look, look, you know, Olivia used the word debased for the relationship that being a lawyer for Trump, I think he treats everybody so badly. Look, he tells us he's the world's greatest CEO, he's doing a terrible job of setting up a team after, what, 14, 15 months with all these leaks. He's terrible at managing this.
But worse, I think there are people -- and you know he'd say it's deep state I suppose, but members of the intelligence community who are true patriots who have gone to foreign places and put their lives on the line for this country, there's people in the State Department who have done this for this country, and they see this guy with this helter-skelter crazy on watching cable TV style of management leading this country what some people see in a direction that's going to take it off the rails and they feel they have to act and in that sense a leak is a pretty innocuous or safe way to do it although there's great danger for people who leak, too.
It's not a cowardly thing to do. It's a courageous thing in some cases. Yes, I absolutely think that members of the Washington, I suppose you'd call it the swamp although you know I don't know if he got that from Cambridge Analytica if he really believes there is a swamp if you look at the kind of people he's bringing into his administration.
But those leaks are important to us. Right now, they're one of the most important elements of this democracy I believe and God bless the journalists like to say it like the - Washington correspondents we have who have to figure out who they can trust in this crazy White House. You know, these are people who say one thing at 10:00 o'clock in the morning and another thing at 10:00 o'clock at night. You go to print with that and you can be in trouble.
I think the press should be praised for what it's doing the people who are working these leaks for us.
STELTER: You know, I love the real-time viewer feedback. Here's the feedback from my father-in-law, OK?
He says, Brian, they're not leakers. They're whistleblowers.
Olivia, is my father-in-law right?
NUZZI: He is right. I think everyone here is right to a degree, but I don't think it's as simple as we're making it sound. It's not though all leakers are patriots and they're trying to help the country and they're doing something courageous. Some leakers are just gossips, some leakers just want to feel important by giving reporters information. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for that. I'm very pro- leak, whatever the reason for the leak.
But some of these leaks are, you know, people trying to protect the country or people trying to undermine the president or Sarah was talking about people being disloyal to the president, not wanting to help --
STELTER: Yes, look at the leak about NDAs, right, non-disclosure agreements. It leaked out this week that Trump had some senior staffers sign NDAs in an attempt to prevent leaks. And yet we learned about that through a leak.
I mean, some of this is comical.
STELER: And I wanted to ask you about your "New York Mag" cover. You profiled Hope Hicks for this week's 'New York Magazine" that came out on Monday on newsstands. Did you get a lot of leaks from the White House? Tell us about how leaky the White House was in your case.
NUZZI: And the White House is very leaky in my case but not all leaks. Some things are just gossip. As I said, some leaks are just people wanting to give you the full story, full context that really if they were truly just working on behalf of the president and his agenda, they wouldn't be getting to a reporter.
[11:20:06] And so, leaks in a broad sense were very useful for my reporting and are useful for everyone who's covering in the White House right now. But it's not so black and white where, you know, every leaker is a patriot trying to help the country, even if it means fighting with the president. And, you know, everyone who's trying to plug the leaks like John Kelly is working, you know, for his agenda. I don't think it's that black and white.
STELTER: And one more note about this week of the White House, the president said he was going to hold a news conference to rail against that omnibus bill that he then signed, then it wasn't actually a news conference, right, Sarah? What was that like at the White House that day when we were hoping to be able to ask questions the president and it turned out not to be?
WESTWOOD: We were actually all gathered outside of the lower press office there right behind the briefing room waiting for details of when and where the news conference will take place.
STELER: Yes, a surprise news conference, yes.
WESTWOOD: Right, minutes before it was supposed to start, aides didn't seem to know where it would be, when it would be, what kind of reporters would get to go if it was just the pool, if everyone who was present would be invited, it was really just sort of an ad hoc thing that the president seemed to have announced via Twitter after his staff had already put together a press briefing that 1:00 p.m., the exact same time.
STELTER: Is it that he doesn't know what a news conference is, when he says news conference, what he really means is, I'm going to talk to the cameras?
WESTWOOD: He seems to have used the word news conference interchangeably just to mean anytime he appears before the media sometimes.
STELTER: To make news.
WESTWOOD: Right. He might take questions. Sometimes, he might just read from a script, like he did on Friday. So, I don't know that he's trying to mislead people as much as he just genuinely doesn't seem to understand what the term means.
STELTER: Sarah, thanks for being here. David and Olivia, great to talk with you all.
Let's say a quick break here and then bring in my next guest who wants to be the next Fox Newers to join the president in Washington. Eric Bolling here for an exclusive sit-down right after this.
[11:26:31] STELTER: Welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
I get my advice from the shows. Do you remember when then candidate Donald Trump told Chuck Todd that? It was on NBC's "Meet the Press" in 2015.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS": Who do you talk to you for a military advice right now?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great you know when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals and you have certain people that --
TODD: But is there somebody, is their go-to for you?
TRUMP: I mean, I like Bolton. I think he's tough cookie, knows what he's talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: That's some foreshadowing, you know, because two years later, the revolving door between the White House Situation Room, and the Fox News green room continues to spin.
The latest hire is John Bolton, Fox News analyst and former U.N. ambassador, he is set to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser. As you can see, both has been a frequent commentator on Fox for a decade, and my next guest might be heading down the same path.
Joining me now is former Fox News host, Eric Bolling.
Eric, great to see you.
ERIC BOLLING, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: Thanks for having me, Brian. Good to see you as well.
STELTER: Are you in talks right now with the White House?
BOLLING: About a job?
STELTER: About a job.
BOLLING: No, no. Donald Trump is my friend as celebrity Trump, as candidate Trump, and as President Trump. And I do have a lot of conversations with him, one-on-one sometimes, sometimes Oval Office with other people.
And it really has surrounded the opioid crisis recently. We -- my wife and I lost our 19-year-old son. You know, the day after he passed, we were having a very hard time, and the phone rang, the cell phone rang, it was President Trump who said, I can't imagine what you're going through. Just understand I'm with you. I'm here to help.
He also called on Thanksgiving Day. We were about to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, phone rings again, as we're sitting down. It was Donald Trump again.
So, he -- we talked about the opioids, what took our son. It was an accidental overdose, and I realized at the moment he cared about this crisis. It was something that he was -- you could feel he had empathy and compassion for, and it's something you don't see him showing on TV quite a bit.
So, I said, would you mind if the next time I'm in .D.C., if I could sit down and we talk? And sure, I've had three or four one-on-one conversations with him, a couple of phone calls. And it's always been around the opioid crisis, some policy stuff, too. I have some great ideas for infrastructure.
STELTER: That's why I thought these were job interview conversations.
BOLLING: Well --
STELTER: You tweeted the other day that you would work for a dollar at the White House.
BOLLING: Well, what happened with that tweet was I was so infuriated when I saw that big $1.3 trillion omnibus bill, this massive bill, you know, Donald Trump has wanted funding for the wall. There was very little, there's a drop on the bucket funding for the wall, and he got pushed. It was thrown on him.
And I got really upset. I said, you know, you really need to do a couple of things. Number one, stop the leaks. These leaks are ridiculous. You can't have a conversation without five minutes later, the press getting -- his reaction to a conversation he had with a world leader, the press is already printing it, talking about it. We're talking about it on TV.
So, I said, stop the leaks, plug the leaks, get rid of the people who are leaking in a very, very public way. Now, McMaster was -- I don't know. I guess he resigned.
For me, it would be a little bit more tough if he was, in fact -- I'm not saying he was, but if he was a leaker, go public with him. Do a perp walk out of the White House. Have the cameras follow him out, so that they don't end up going to another network or going somewhere else and say, yes, I worked for the president for a year, a year and a half, but I leaked, which is very damaging to his presidency and, in fact, the country, and then end up with a better gig later.
STELTER: But, Eric, what if you have a boss who is erratic, who's behaving in ways that are dangerous? You don't think they should leak to warn the country?
BOLLING: I don't think a private conversation with a world leader -- I don't think anything should be leaked out of the White House.
[11:30:04] I think that should all be plugged. You know, your father- in-law believes --
STELTER: It sounds like communications director is the right job. Communications director --
BOLLING: Your father-in-law believes that these are whistle blowers, not leakers. I would beg to differ. I mean, you can't run any organization if everything you say is going to be on the front page of the blog by the time you leave your office.
STELTER: I respect what you are saying. Are you trying to be White House communications director?
BOLLING: No, no. You asked me that. I would never lie to you. I have no conversations with the White House regarding jobs.
STELTER: Why do you think the president is so inclined to hire TV personalities? You know, Larry Kudlow last week. John Bolton this week.
BOLLING: I think it's because as a president, you want like-minded people around you. I think what Trump had going against him when he entered the White House was, he wasn't a Democrat so, a normal Republican going into a White House has infrastructure of Republican followers, a group. What Trump had against him was he had half the Republican Party who didn't like him, and the never Trumpers were as damaging as the liberal left was to President Trump.
So, he enters -- and clearly you have to put in seat fillers and, honestly, that's probably what he did. He put some people in probably who weren't on the pro-Trump agenda until he figured out who was and who wasn't, and you move those people and you move people who are -- who see it the way he sees it. The country the way he sees it.
STELTER: Do you expect to see other Fox Newers in the White House? Pete Hegseth has been mentioned as a possibility.
BOLLING: You know, I don't, and I don't know. I don't stay in contact with the Fox Newsers.
But when I -- you know, when I did sit down with the president, I had some great ideas on opioids, I had some ideas on infrastructure that I presented to him. And I'm not doing it because I want to go there. I'm just doing it because I think the country could be better off with more pro-Trump ideological people surrounding him and advising him.
Gary Cohn, I used to work on a board of directors, New York Mercantile Exchange, I was with Gary Cohn. We saw completely different views of the world. Smart guy.
But he was not the right guy to put in as a national economic adviser, senior level to President Trump. It just wasn't. He was a Goldman Sachs globalist. President Trump is a America first economic nationalist.
STELTER: You know, I mentioned Fox. Do you miss working at Fox?
BOLLING: I had a great 10 years there. Fox and I separated about eight months ago amicably.
BOLLING: And, look, I spent 10 years in that montage you put up at the beginning. I interviewed John Bolton. I interviewed President Trump, presidential candidates, and I have nothing bad to say about my 10 years at Fox.
STELTER: What happened at the end? You were accused of sending inappropriate messages to your colleagues. Were you scapegoated, or were those stories true?
BOLLING: Well, here's the deal, and when I left Fox, we went through a long and extensive period, and what Fox and my lawyers decided to come up with in their comments and Fox's statement was, we separated amicably. I agree with them completely --
STELTER: But you can't tell me if you did it or not?
BOLLING: I'm not supposed to be talking about the lawsuits because things are still pending. Things are still pending.
STELTER: What about what one of your colleagues, Colonel Ralph Peters, said --
BOLLING: How's this? How's this? My wife of 20 years and are completely on board and on the same page and that -- I have never done anything like that.
STELTER: There was a story this week I've never seen before. This cable news contributor lighting a fire on the way out the door.
You saw what Ralph Peters said about Fox. He called the network a propaganda machine. He worked there for years with you.
But he wrote this. He said: in my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration. When prime-time hosts who have never served our country in any capacity, dismiss the facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, DOJ, the courts, the intel community, which I served, and not least a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller, all the while scaremongering with lurid warnings of deep state machinations. I cannot be part of the same organization.
I've never seen anybody on cable news do that on the way out of the door. Did you agree that Fox is now a propaganda machine?
BOLLING: Well, you know, I haven't been at Fox for a very long time. Ralph Peters -- I used to book Ralph Peters when I'd sit for Hannity or O'Reilly.
BOLLING: And he would come on and he was always a friend brand. He'd always got have something extremely provocative to say. That's -- you know, Ralph Peters is entitled to his opinion.
Again, seven months ago, when I -- eight months ago when I left Fox, there were not a lot of pro-Trump people at Fox. There was only a handful of us.
STELTER: Right, not a lot of pro-Trump people at Fox.
BOLLING: Go look back seven or eight months ago, and you'll see, it was -- there was Hannity, myself, maybe even Pirro. And beyond that, there was not a very -- you know, look, here's the thing about any network. I'm sure it's certainly true for Fox or my experience at Fox and likely CNN.
No one calls you and said you have to be on board with Trump or against Trump or pro-Obama or against Obama or have this political leaning or ideology. We are free to have our own opinions.
[11:35:00] I'm sure you are.
I always was. I was never told which way to go with anything, and I never did. So, the beauty of capitalism in the marketplace, free speech is that there is a Fox which leans one way. CNN may lean another way. Another group may -- MS may lean yet another direction. You have choices and that's the beauty of the American capitalist system. STELTER: But Peters is going further. He's saying Fox is assaulting
our rule of law by trying to tear down Robert Mueller's probe by trying to discredit Mueller's probe. He says he is embarrassed to work there.
Were you ever embarrassed?
BOLLING: No. No, no. I was never embarrassed. Well, Ralph Peters has always made very provocative statements. He would come on -- and for the record, Ralph Peters never liked Trump from the very beginning. He was -- he was -- he never thought Trump would win the presidency, and he certainly wasn't a pro-Trump advocate afterwards. He is entitled to his opinion, but as I'm sure everyone here, Don, and Anderson and Wolf --
STELTER: But the difference is you're naming --
STELTER: Correct. But you're naming journalists. Hannity -- Shep Smith recently said some of these guys are entertainers, not journalists. I wonder if you agreed with Shep, that some of the primetime hosts are entertainers at this point.
BOLLING: Oh, no (ph). I think Shep has his role. By the way, he has a lot of opinion in his quote/unquote journalism show. But look. He has his role in the opinion --
STELTER: Standing up for the facts though isn't opinion. Isn't that what you are seeing on cable news? People are trying to stand up for facts and decency.
BOLLING: Yes. But what's the point? You can still have a strong opinion and stay within the boundaries of fact, and I think that's generally what happens.
Like Sean Hannity is a very good friend of mine. Laura Ingraham is a very good friend of mine. They're very opinionated, but they're always within the boundaries of fact. I mean, as opposed to a different type of news show, a straight news, a 6:00 news show here, at Fox or anywhere, you're going to get straight news.
This is what happened today. When you go into the primetime, every network as well, when you get into primetimes, the primetime hosts, on cable, are delving further and further into opinion, but staying within the realms of fact.
STELTER: A year from now, you think you'll be in the government or you'll be on television?
BOLLING: All I know is, at this moment, my goal in life is to save families from the opioid scourge that we have been -- honestly, horrendously dealing with for the past seven months.
BOLLING: Losing a child is nowhere anyone should be, and hopefully, what I'm doing with the opioid push with the White House, with the help of the White House, will save some lives. And that's really my -- I'll let God light the next path for me. Right now, that's my only path.
STELTER: I have learned from the way you have shared your pain in the past seven, eight months, about what's that like.
BOLLING: So many people have, Brian. I mean, it's, like, opioids are touching more and more people, and young people. Younger and younger people are being affected by it. If you are under 30, you're most likely to die by accident from an overdose, and likely an opioid overdose, more so than guns or cars.
STELTER: Eric, thank you for being here.
BOLLING: Thanks, Brian.
STELTER: Good to see you.
After a break here, a student journalist from Stoneman Douglas High School. She covered the aftermath of the school shooting there and yesterday, she covered the march in Washington.
[11:42:50] STELTER: Hundreds of thousands of people descended on Washington for a march against gun Violence. The year was 2000, in the event right here was the Million Mom March. It was, according to the Brady Campaign, the largest national protest of gun violence in U.S. history, until Saturday.
The March for Our Lives drew an even bigger crowd, and it derived its power from a new source. The Brady Campaign said it is passing the title of largest gun violence protest, passing it on to the youth of America.
Of course, the leaders have been the students from Parkland. They've been in a unique position. They've been keeping the gun debate in the national headlines like never before, and yesterday, at the March for Our Lives, a group of journals and students from Parkland were writing the headlines and shaping the coverage of their march for their school paper, and for "The Guardian" U.S. Website as well.
Joining me now talking about the day after and what's to come is Rebecca Schneid. She's a co-editor-in-chief of the school's paper, "The Eagle Eye". She posted this article today on "The Guardian". And also here with me as Lois Beckett, a senior reporter for "The Guardian" U.S.
Lois, how this collaboration come about? LOIS BECKETT, SENIOR REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN U.S.: My colleague Oliver Laughland was in Parkland reporting on the day of the shooting and one of the things he did was read "The Eagle Eyes" Website. He was so impressed by it, so when he came back to New York, he came to our editors and said, we should collaborate with these students. Their voices are really important. Everybody loved the idea, and we did it.
STELTER: Yes. Look, I, of course, was a high school student paper editor, so I love my student papers even now.
Rebecca, I wonder what yesterday felt like for you because I see a lot of Parkland students becoming activists, but you all were there as journalists. Do you see a difference right now between journalism and activism and what you're doing?
REBECCA SCHNEID, CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE EAGLE EYE: I think that for me, the purpose of journalism is to raise, you know, the voices of people that maybe don't have a voice and so, I think that in its own right journalism is a form of activism. And I think that there is distinctions for me you know as a journalist and also as someone that wants to demand change, but I think that the partnership of the two is the only reason that we are able to make a change.
STELTER: How is the experience of the past five weeks to this, this sickening shooting and then the march yesterday, how's it changed your view of your career in the future?
[11:45:03] SCHNEID: I think that in the beginning, I was a bit disillusioned because there are some journalists that I think handled the situation a little bit, not in the most respectful way, you know, but that's an every situation, there's always going to be those people. But, you know, throughout the past couple of weeks, I've seen how journalism has made this entire thing possible.
The use of Twitter and the use of social media and also in all the publications and TV shows that have allowed us to use our voices, it demonstrates me more than ever that journalism is necessary in this world to make sure that our voices are heard.
STELTER: And what's your expectation for the rest of the school year and for the fall? What actually happens now?
SCHNEID: Now, we just keep on fighting. We keep on using journalism to raise our voices because the second that the cameras go away, then people can you know forget about us and politicians can forget that we're there. And so, now, it's more than ever we need to fight for our voices to be heard. And not only that, we need to use our right as voters and as citizens know of America, we need to use that right to vote out the people that won't listen to us because it's really hard to make a change when the people that are supposed to be listening to you aren't.
STELTER: Now, Lois, I think there's a tension in some of the coverage, certainly I saw it on social media over the weekend. People saying that the national press is clearly tilting in the direction of gun control advocates. Do you see that? Do you feel that? Do you think there is a bias in some of the coverage?
BECKETT: I've said for a long time that mainstream media coverage just doesn't understand guns that well, there are small errors and how people talk about weapons, mixing up a semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons. And a lot of conservatives and gun see that and they see that people in the media might not understand gun culture --
STELTER: I think they're right to be frustrated when journalists get terminology wrong.
BECKETT: Absolutely. But there's also as a question of tone and focus on this idea of gun owners being presented as these fringe gun nuts, when this is actually a fairly mainstream thing to do. These are tools that many Americans have in their houses.
And not being able to understand that, only being able to see the sensational angle, is very dangerous and trying to cover this political issue.
STELTER: To me, this weekend was so -- sorry, for me, this weekend was so newsworthy because of the intensity gap. This is a term that's been used for decades to suggest that the NRA and gun rights activists have so much more intensity that they are willing to go out and vote on a single issue, whereas gun control proponents, they're not nearly as passionate, not nearly as intense. Do you see that intensity gap changing now?
BECKETT: Well, there are two things that actually changed on Saturday. One was the intensity gap, the willingness of people to vote on this issue, but the second was the empathy gap, the problem for decades has not just been an intensity is that white and suburban advocates who might support gun control on paper aren't willing to show up for black and brown children who die every day. There's been a gap in how we talk about this issue.
And the Parkland students made a real effort to say we are here for all kinds of gun violence. We are lifting up all these voices. This is not just a suburban or urban movement. We all have to fight together. That's incredibly powerful and that's very new.
STELTER: Lois, great to see you.
And, hey, Rebecca, how do we find your school paper? How can we read it?
SCHNEID: Well, we have a print issue that comes out quarterly, so that will be, you know, posted and printed out and it's going to be on issue. And then we also have a Website, the eagleeye.news, they're eagleeye.news. So, make sure you check that out because --
STELTER: I'm looking it up.
Rebecca, thanks for being here.
SCHNEID: Thank you so much for having me.
STELTER: Quick break here and next on RELIABLE SOURCES, my essay on the denier in chief.
[11:52:41] STELTER: Hey, welcome back to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Brian Stelter.
The commander-in-chief is also the denier in chief. President Trump's tweets about his legal team are the latest example. He hopped on Twitter the other day to denounce a "New York Times" report that he was planning to shake up his legal team. He said he was very happy with his lawyers, including John Dowd, and then you know, John Dowd resigned.
As of today, Joe diGenova is not joining the team either. Just one of many examples of why it's so hard to cover the White House.
Then, there was H.R. McMaster, another example of this, is he on the way out, is he not? You know, per Sarah Sanders, he was there to say. I mean, she even said it on camera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: General McMaster is not going anywhere. As the president said yesterday in the Oval Office to a number of the people, he thinks he's doing a great job and glad he's here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Sanders also tweeted it said there was pretty much no way he was going anywhere. She said that he and the president have a good working relationship. But as you know, McMaster was replaced by John Bolton. According to "The New York Times", McMaster confirmed that his departure had been in the works for weeks.
Now, the most generous explanation of this is that things are constantly changing in the Trump White House, which means that denial one day is obsolete the next day. That's being generous.
Another explanation is that they're just lying and deflecting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: His staff has gotten a lot of criticism for, you know, we have all written about this one went out and lied, this one went out and lied. In some cases, people are lying. In some cases, people are told a lie by him and they don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: And that's the thing. This is ultimately about the president, not his blindfolded aides. It's about his approach to the job his leadership qualities, his tendency to twist the truth and deny reality.
I mean, he's doing it again right now, saying on Twitter that many lawyers and top firms want to represent him but multiple major news outlets have all reported the same thing, that Trump has been turned down by white glove law firms.
Now, something interesting from just this morning on ABC's "This Week". Chris Ruddy, one of the president's friends, the CEO of "Newsmax", was on ABC, saying the president is perplexed by all the reports of chaos at the White House, even though we just talked about all the staff changes.
Here's what Ruddy says Trump is feeling right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX: He told me that he thinks the White House is operating like a smooth machine, his words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: Really? I don't have anything to say. If you think, this is smooth, you know, hey. All of this ties together. It's all calls for alarm for a lot of the journalists who have to deal with these denials and then these realities on a daily basis.
When we can't take the White House spokespeople at their word and when we can't take the president at his word what happens then? What happens then?
That's ultimately one of the biggest questions of this presidency. It's a challenge for reporters and a challenge for all of you at home. So let me know what you think. Tweet me. Look me up on my Facebook. My handle is Brian Stelter, and I'll see you right back here for RELIABLE SOURCES this time next week.