tv Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter CNN October 17, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PDT
president bill clinton will be leaving the hospital. we're told that clinton is leaving the hospital shortly and heading home to chappaqua, citing a source that the doctor about to be released, after getting three, four days of antibiotics. we will be hearing from the former president's doctors. but i think we see on our own camera on screen, bill clinton walking out of uc irvine with hillary by his side. he's been there over the past few days. remember he was initially in california speaking for a public appearance when he was feeling ill and checked into the hospital there. you can see the former president shaking hands with some of the doctors as he leaves. we'll just pause here for a moment .
president clinton's spokesman saying, clinton discharged today, his fever and white blood cell count normalized and he will continue home to new york to finish his antibiotics. on behalf of everyone at uc irvine medical center, we will continue to monitor him and monitor his progress. that's a statement from the chair there at the hospital, provided by bill clinton's spokesman. so good news sunday morning, former president bill clinton out of the hospital, heading back to norm. now this is "reliable sources." we skax the story behind the story and tell you what's reliable in this wild world. on top, two blaming the press but are they passing the buck? plus, fox defies families, that's the sign on the poster outside fox headquarters. we will join the author of
"brain "brainwashing," who was there. and netflix, what does it say the streaming giant is not budging about calls to take dave chappelle's show down. and i have a very special story to share before threats against journalists. first, democracy dies in darkness, yes, but it could also die right in the light. while president biden is urging people to face the truth and warns about democratic principles being under assault around the world, his predecessor is leading that assault in the united states. donald trump's latest delusion is mail-in ballots in one arizona county were rigged and thus a new election should immediately retake or the past election should be decertified and republican declared the winner. so trump is basically saying, make me president again, as if this is some sort of reality tv show where the host will just
come out and say, never mind, we're rewriting the rules. of course, the big lie is a never-ending, present tense story, as this nbc headline pointed out, >> translator: stole the election line on the ballot in 2022, as so many republicans are being pressured to agree with his falsehoods and to take anti-democratic actions. with this as the backdrop, "peril" co-author robert costa will join me in a moment. first, a media critique from a former democratic alliance attorney, marc elias. he wrote about how peddling these lies can topple democracy, we're one, maybe two election as way from a true constitutional crisis. marc, thank you for coming 0on the program. >> thank you for having me, brian. >> you have been critical of cnn at times, critical of this show last week. i want to hear your number one critique of how the news media is or is not covering threats to democracy. >> yes, first of all, thank you
for having me on. and i'm usually more praising of your show than critical, i want to be clear at the outset of that. the problem with the media is that it treats certain aspects of democracy as sacrosanct. for example, any encroachment on the first amendment right to publish newspapers or curtail the media or to take action against the media is uniformly denounced by the media in absolutist terms. but when it comes to free and fair elections, there tends to be more of a nuanced and sliding scale that the media has. so, for example, this morning jake tapper did a great job in asking adam kinzinger about his opposition to the john lewis voting rights act. so kudos to jake for doing that. the answer that the congressman gave was that he agrees with the decision in shelby county to undo preclearance, and opposes the reauthorization of the
voting rights act. now, in 2006 that was such an extreme position that 98 republicans in the senate -- i'm sorry, 98 senators voted in favor of reauthorization of the voting rights act. not a single dissenting vote in the senate. it was signed into law by a conservative president george bush. and yet here we are in 2021 be adam kinzinger actually marks kind of the midway point in the press coverage of democracy because of his position on -- on the january 6th commission. rather than representing a still extreme position in opposing voting rights. so that's really my main critique, the goal posts have been moved and for everything other than the press' coverage of press freedoms. >> so the press takes its own interests very seriously, but then doesn't do as good a job with the rest of it you're saying? >> i think that's exactly right. >> so what should we be doing
differently? >> i'm sorry? >> what should we do differently in concrete ways? it feels like every day there's a slow, gathering storm. we see this democratic backside happening. what should the nightly news and newscaster and ap do on a daily basis differently? >> it should cover that on a daily basis. that's my point. a couple weeks ago there was more coverage about the failing of a news outlet i had never heard of, quite frankly, and yes about the backsliding of democracy. so rather than treating it as a one-off story here or there, treat it like we treat covid coverage. treat it like we treat other major stories that pose existential risks for the country by covering it in every day in a clear pro-democracy slant, not unbiased slant. >> there's a new book out by
molling hemiway, fox news contributor, called "rigged," supposed to be discussion about how the election was stolen and putting her thumb on the trigger. and she was called out among you as others because you're calling this lawyer boogieman out, in your mind, to steal elections. how do you recover from that extension of right wing media? >> as anyone who follows twitter knows, tii tend to take it head on. and this by the way is one of the things your show does extremely well and i wish all of the media did what your show does, you don't ignore the right wing misinformation, you take it head on. so that's what i really try to do. i try to call it out and point out the inconsistencies and absurdities of it. but otherwise we need to keep our eye on the ball of focusing
protecting democracy going forward. >> i appreciate what you said about this program and about some people are trying to call attention to this every day, every week. i think cnn every day is sounding these alarms and one of my fears is that other networks, other major outlets are not, and they're going to regret it years from now. isn't this ultimately about, let's not have regret 20 years from now? >> that's exactly right, brian. i can't speak to what it means for ratings tomorrow or next week. what i do know is that ten years from now, 20 years from now, when your children and grandchildren look at this moment in time, they will celebrate those people who spoke forcefully and called this out and they will be ashamed of those people who hid in the shadows and created a sense of both size. so i agree with you. >> marc, thank you four coming on. the. >> in thank you for having me. we were talking about the problems, maybe we can talk about the solutions. i mentioned robert costa. let me bring him in, co-author
of "peril," huge best-selling book and also a national reporter at "the washington post." you're on leave now because of "peril," robert, and you told me that "peril" or work for it started to make you think differently about your beat. so what is the beat these days for political reporters? >> at first when we began this project, bob woodward and i saw donald trump on january 6th as a passive figure, watching television as the insurrection happened on capitol hill. but after spending nine to ten months digging into the story, it became evident that democracy itself here in the united states is in peril, and it's because president trump when he was president was anything but passive, and donald trump now out of office is aggressive. it's easy to look at first as a reporter at the cascade of tweets and statements now with him out of office and just see words, but the reporting bears out action. he used power when he was in office to test democracy to the extreme. he's doing it again inside the
republican party, to pressure republicans to say the election was stolen. this is such an important beat, democracy. it's not just red versus blue anymore. it's not just follow the money. it's follow the money, cover politic hes but most importantly, cover democracy. >> so it sounds like you're going to bring that back to "the post." political reporting is not what it was 10 or 20 years ago. we have to approach it differently. >> both sides or rest versus blue, republican or democrat, is only a surface-level prism for understanding american politics in this fragile moment. you have to see how power is being used not just in the halls of the capitol but outside. and our book shows people like steve bannon wielding power now, weaponizing it, to try to push lawmakers, push state officials and you see now a real effort afoot inside different states to have trump allies who think the election was stolen to now hold
positions of power and with the demise of local media, which is a very unfortunate story in many parts of this country, more accountability at both the national and state level is necessary from a reporting standpoint. >> your critique of the mainstream media's approach to this, is it that we -- i mentioned cnn and others are trying to take this very seriously. you're clearly taking it very seriously. is it others are -- they don't see what's happening or they're afraid to call it out or they don't have bosses who will let them call it out? what's your impression of what's going on? >> it's not so much a critique but sense of urgency, that these are serious times, and whether it's a spending debate on capitol hill, it's not about personalities, about senator manchin and senator sinema versus president biden, this is about issues, policies, money, democracy. and to have the media -- the media has one great thing in its
favor, the pursuit of truth and when you pursue that truth, want to have as much integrity as possible. my statement here is not a critique at all but just a sense of urgency after doing this book with bob woodward, who throughout his entire career has tried to hold those in power accountable for their decisions. >> you have -- i want to say this the right way -- you're a product of conservative media, but maybe you would say it differently, you have roots in conservative media. you use to be the washington editor at national review. throughout the impact you see the impact of right wing media. at one point general mark milley worrying about extremism right underneath his nose in the united states. how have you seen right wing media evolve in the trump years and beyond? >> i wouldn't use the word product, brian. i'm a reporter and was a reporter at national review and covered the right seriously as a beat for about four years. what i saw then, brian, up close
with somebody like donald trump using birtherism to gain power inside the republican party. i'm glad i covered that beat in an intense way for years. i saw birtherism up close, tea party up close, i saw bannon rise as a top propaganda filmmaker on the right and leader of breitbart and ultimate leader of the trump campaign. you have to not avert your gaze as a reporter of things happening on the fringe. i covered it as a reporter when it was the fringe. then it became the source of power in the republican party. >> right, that's that's the endless debate, how much to cover trump, how much to cover marjorie taylor greene if she's the fringe of the party, but you're saying that fringe is moving towards the center? >> it's not about giving enormous air time. i'm not a television producer. but as a reporter my argument with trump has always been he actually needed to be covered more. you need to have more delving into the finances of a
candidate, more about their conduct in the past, that more reporting is always the answer. it's not about not covering them, it's about covering them in a way that gets at who these people are, how they will use power if they win it. >> i love that phrase, the answer is always more reporting, absolutely. robert, stay with us. i want to ask you about katie couric back in the news for all of the wrong reasons. and later, an in depth interview with bari weiss leaving "the new york times" and exposing what she calls self-censorship in media. find a northwestern mutual advisor at nm.com alberto and i don't fit into those other family plans. that's why we love visible. they do things differently. yeah, it's wireless with unlimited data and if you join a group it's as low as $25/mo. all powered by verizon. 5g included. woo! just get together and save!
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pelosi saying you all and the media can do a better job selling the build back better act. look, the press is not responsible for selling that bill or any democratic bill. but the democratic frustration is real and not just swt speaker. vermont senator bernie sanders also blaming the media as this axios reporter points out. this is a statement from friday saying the press has done an exceptionally poor job of covering the bill and, thus, people don't know what the democrats are trying to advance, what's in this spending agenda that right now is slowly making its way through the congress back with me now is robert costa, author of "peril" and reporter for "the washington post." robert, both pelosi and bernie complaining about the press this week. what do you think? >> as both a democrat and republican, we can expect their opinion and they can have their view, but it shouldn't be
guiding coverage. that said, this is one of the most significant pieces of spending we've seen in recent decades being debated on capitol hill, and it deserves immense attention and scrutiny, in depth coverage. as we discussed democracy deserves accountability across the board, so does coverage on capitol hill. this is vital thing for the press to cover so people are informed about the details of legislation, where their taxpayer dollars are going, and to bring it beyond a debate about the filibuster. in the sense of covering things about where people stand on the filibuster. >> is it the media's fault that the average voter may not know a lot about what's in this massive spending bill? is it the media's fault? >> it's not the media's fault per se but the media, collectively speaking, and i'm speaking for myself here, we can always do a better job of providing readers about ways
t that make this kind of information on spending accessible. that's a challenge for the media every day, how do you get over something that's details and numbers oriented and make sure you're packaging it in a way that actually connects with an audience. >> you know a lot about relationships between journalists and sources. let me ask you about a journalist/source and scandal this week getting attention, especially from right wing media. katie couric has a book coming out and she admits a lot of things. she admitted comments that the late justice ruth bader ginsburg made many years ago. she wrote, i faced the con none dumb when i asked rbg wa what she thought about colin kaepernick taking a knee. she said, i think it's dumb and disrespectful, she told me, and then she went on. she felt torn. a supreme court aide called and asked her not to air that part of the interview. she did air a portion of the interview but she took some out.
here's the difference, she left out ginsburg's harsh characterization but left in, quote, it made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a dangerous life. so she omitted a key part of the interview with a supreme court justice and she's getting a lot of criticism for this. robert, couric said she still wrestles with the decision she made. did she make the right decision to take out that quote? >> i have note read miss couric's book but based on what you just described there, it reminds me of the trump era where interviews with trump were detailed in articles but ultimately many news organizations, including "the washington post" decided to put out transcripts of those interviews because when you're dealing with people in power at the highest positions, whether it's a president or member of the supreme court, readers, citizens deserve to have as much information as possible, and full transcripts, if you can provide them, really help readers get behind the scenes of the reporting. couric as a reporter or
journalist can decide how she said its the package together. but when it's done in a way and important as a supreme court justice, people deserve to know what was said. >> this contributes to a decline in trust in media. when she admits years later she basically covered something up, even if she says i don't know if i did the right thing and i'm wrestling with it and trying to be transparent now, it contributes to a lack of trust in media. here's the headline of the week, joel at muss saying it adds to the misinformation problem. is that fair? >> trust and integrity, that's our currency in the media. we have to do everything possible in time of disinformation to protect that integrity and trust. and whether it's an article, a tweet, we're all out there all the time, and the best disinfectant is sunlight. get as much sunlight on those stories as possible so people reading and digesting this information feel they're getting
something not packaged or cut up but the full truth. get as close to the truth as possible. >> if a supreme court r supreme court press aide says, can you not run that clip, that's more reason to run it, right? that's more reason to think it's news worthy. robert costa, co-author of "peril," thank you so much. >> thank you. up next -- is it time to think of a surgeon general's warning for these fox news shows? (judith) in this market, you'll find fisher investments is different than other money managers. (other money manager) different how? don't you just ride the wave? (judith) no - we actively manage client portfolios based on our forward-looking views of the market. (other money manager) but you still sell investments that generate
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ceo scott. i sleep well at night. this is a recent interview with the hollywood report ir. if i waste time reading social stories about myself, social media, what have you, i wouldn't be able to get any sleep. i sleep well at night. keep that in mind as we talk about fox's vaccine scepticism, sometimes outright denialism and how it has prolonged america's pandemic. fox's headlines on screen, banners on screen, mandate mayhem, mandate madness, it's all about sending a message that the people refusing the vaccine, resisting the vaccine are the heroes of the fox news story and the people trying to protect others are the villains. it's a heroes and villains story. it's presented by fox and other maga media outlets. so it's nice to know the ceo still sleeps well at night. she was vaccinated a very long
time ago, of course, just like most of her talent and most of the producers, most of the figure heads who run fox corpo corporation. and yet many of the viewers come away with the sense the vaccine is scary, untested, unproven, something to be skeptical about, something to take only if necessary. is that a form of brainwashing? is that a fair word? i want to ask a couple guests now, oliver darcy, cnn media reporter who covers this day in and day out and jenk senko, award winning documentary filmmaker and author of the book "the brainwashing of my dad" and also directed the film of the same way and now out newly as a book. jen, thank you very much for joining me. brainwashing is a strong word but it came to my mind this week watching fox's never-ending vaccine mandate coverage. that's what fox primetime is all about these days. >> right. >> how do you view their
coverage of vaccines? >> how do you view fox's coverage of vaccine mandates? >> well, i think it's irresponsible, i think it's dangerous, i think it's hypocritical. i think the main reason why fox covers vaccine mandates and masks the way they do is to divide, to further divide the american people. t they gain. they gain new republican voters and that gives them deregulation for their corporations and tax breaks for the uber wealthy. so they just took an opportunity since trump, you know, didn't like wearing a mask and didn't really take covid seriously, it was a perfect opportunity to make this just another divisive issue. >> they had to sync up with trump in 2020, that's right. tell us about the brainwashing
of your dad. it's the title of your book but it's not just about your dad. what you describe is this phenomenon families are torn apart by right wing radio and tv. why did you decide to address this head on? >> well, our family kind of suffered for about 20 years when my dad discovered rush limbaugh and fox news. his personality entirely changed. he was unrecognizable. he became a zealot. he became very critical of democrats. and we were run of the mill democrats. it wasn't so much he became a republican but an extreme republican, and he was always in a rage and he was always trying to convert us. he was like a zealot. and my mother would get in these arguments with him and say, you know, frank, i think you're brainwashed. and when i first named the movie
"the brainwashing of my dad," i didn't actually think it was necessarily brainwashing but that's what it felt like to me and many, many people. of course, after i did the movie and talked to neuroscientists, then i found oh, yeah, it is brainwashing. but i've seen this happen to so many people and thousands and thousands of people have told me their stories. it's always very sad. >> however, media reporters like you and me, we don't always cover it that way. you rarely hear about that. you rarely hear about the impact of the viewers of the content on fox news. maybe that's changing. >> right, brian, it's difficult as media reporters i think to convey to people how persistent these anti-vax messages on fox are. >> exactly. it is day in and day out. it never ends. >> it's like a fire hose of anti-vax rhetoric coming from these people. i was thinking about it in these terms, if you had a company out there throwing anti-vaccine rally filling up football
stadiums every seningle night, that would be alarming to people. it would be a big story. fox is doing that every single night and filling up dozens of these football stadium, if you will, with people to tune in for anti-vaccine rhetoric from the hosts, guests they bring on. and these rallies, if you will, are being put on by a company which has very strict protocols themselves. 90% of the staff is vaccinated. if you don't have a vaccine, you have to submit to daily testing, face masks are required in certain areas. the hypocrisy is off the charts. so when ann scott says she speaks well at night, not only is she defying the public discourse, she's being a hypocrite, quite frankly. >> and when tucker carlson is asked about the mandate, he said that's not for me to say, and totally punts, even though he could have said a lot. my partner in crime, "reliable sources" news letter, you can
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writer and editor bari weiss left her post at "the new york times" saying it was a liberal environment, a culture where journalistic curiosity could not be pursued. now one year later she launched a public lags called "common sense" via subtext. she has over 100,000, even though a lot pay though the content is free. she said it's an escape from the madness of traditional media. and here is what she meant by that. you write, there are tens of millions of americans who are not on the hard left or hard right who feel the world has gone mad. so in some ways has the world gone mad? >> well, when you have the chief reporter on the beat of covid for "the new york times" talking about how questioning or pursuing the question of the lab
leak is racist, the world has gone mad. when you're not able to say out loud and in public that there are differences between men and women, the world has gone mad. when we're not allowed to acknowledge that rioting is rioting and it is bad, and that silence is not violence but violence is violence, the world has gone mad. when we're not able to say that hunter biden's laptop is a story worth pursuing, the world has gone mad. when in the name of progress, young school children, as young as kindergarten, are being separated in public schools because of their race and that is called progress rather than segregation, the world has gone mad. there are dozens of examples that i can share with you and your viewers. >> and you say allowed -- >> and note this. >> you say not allowed, not able. who are the people stopping the conversation? who are they? >> people that work at networks like, frankly, like the one i'm
speaking on right now who try and claim that it was racist to investigate the lab leak theory, it was -- let's just take an example. >> when you say allowed, i think it's provocative thing to say. you say we're not allowed to talk about these things but they're all over the internet, i can google them, find them everywhere, i heard about every story you mentioned. of course people are allowed to cover what ever you want to cover. >> but you and i both know, and it would be delusional to claim otherwise, that touching your finger to an increasing number of subjects that have been deemed third rail by the mainstream institutions and increasingly by some of the tech companies lead to reputational damage, perhaps you losing your job, your children sometimes being demonized as well. so what happens is a kind of internal self-censorship. this is something that i saw over and over again when i was at "the new york times." people saying to themselves, you know what, why should i die on that hill? why should i take the three,
four weeks to smuggle through an op-ed that doesn't suit the conventional narrative? i might as well commission the 5,000th op-ed saying donald trump is a moral monster. what's going on is the transformation of these sense-making institutions of american life. it's the news media, it's the publishing house, hollywood studios, our universities, and that are narrowing in a radical way what is acceptable to say and what isn't. you and i both know there doesn't need to be an edict from the c s-suite for people to say that. let me give aweyou an example. dory abbott, he was slated to give an incredibly prestigious public lecture, but he was canceled because of a twitter mob. what was his sin? he argued people should be hired on the basis of their merit and their individual, you know -- their individuality, not based on their identity as a group.
that was his thought crime. for that m.i.t., one of the most research universities in the world, caved in a matter of eight days. you can say to me oh, that's cherry picking, oh, that's a one off. what are the downstream effects of an example like that? every other scientist and academic watching that is saying wait, hold on, if he's being canceled for that, what does that mean for me? i might as well shut up. i might as well practice double think in the freest society in the history of the world. that is one of the great stories of our time, and that is the story that's been uncovered largely not because of disinformation or not because they're lying about it, simply because they're ignoring it. it's disinformation by omission. >> people who know not to touch the stove, people are learning not to touch the stove unless the narrowing of the views are happening. this is why i'm a subscriber to common sense. these topics are important and we need to talk about them
openly on tv as it's happening. the idea cancel culture is happening but it's minor has been a narrative out there fleept weeks. i'm sure you read some of the stories saying, yes, there are a few examples of people being so-called canceled but it's not an emergency, not a massive situation. you're making the argument that because of self-censorship, cancer culture is pervasive, is that a fair assessment? >> yeah, i would say it's extraordinarily pervasive. what i'm saying and what i find so interesting is you don't need a strongman and you don't need an edict from the top in order this to be felt in a very, very, very pervasive way. all you need is a few of these very potent examples, and then what you need is could you 5rdous5 cowardice at the top of a lot of these organizations. you need people who are unwilling to say no to the small minority of ideological zealots who believe in this, want to
negotiate with it for whatever reason. as we have learned from the trump administration, institutions are just people. institutions are just people. and so if an institution whose job it is to uphold let's say liberalism wrongly defined decides not to do that anymore, why should it be a surprise then if that institution becomes a liberal? we just watch what happened in that sense. that's what i would say about that. >> your point about the leadership is realli really vit. when there's a crowd on a social media site saying you offended me, you hurt me, you've been racist, sexist, whatever it is and that twitter mob can sound loud and powerful -- and it's actually a small number of people -- but we see companies sometimes cave to a huge crowd that is actually pretty small. and that's a story happening over and over and it sounds like you're trying to push back against that. >> i'm definitely trying to push back against that. one of my ways of pushing back
against that is simply starting another party. meaning, you can stay in the room and try and scream as loud as you -- as is possible every single time it happens, or you can say you know what, i'm going to be my own boss, i'm not going to worry about, you know, angering a tiny group of people on twitter and then being subject to a mass head or a boss that doesn't have the spine to stand up for it. >> meanwhile we have an internal media flourishing, your publication and others. i have seen it reported you're making a lot more money than you ever did at "the new york times," but you're reinvesting that money to pay writers to write articles and news reports and opinion pieces. is that the new business model, you will create a new business section or new newspaper view subscriptions via subtext? >> yes, so i've made a lot more money than i ever thought was possible in journalism, but i'm making less because i've hired now four, about to be five
people. so i'm reinvesting all of it because i really, really, really believe in this model. and it's proving itself. it's proving itself because of the fact 100,000 people have signed up for this newsletter and there's no payable yet. it's all totally free content. but i'm saying oftentimes i'm just saying the thing that a lot of people believe and are curious about. that's the business model. the business model is let's note the fact there's a chasm right now between what people are willing to say in their kitchen tables in the comfort and trust of their most loved ones, their families, and what they're willing to say on twitter. oftentimes it's literally two different personas, or at least that's what i found. i'm trying to say no, let's have those private conversations in public. the only way that the culture changes is if we have the courage and bravery to do that and to show people that you can
do it and you can survive and not just survive, you can thrive and i have never been felt freer or more excited about my work than i do right now. >> for more on that, you can hear the entire conversation with bari on the "reliable sources" podcast. now for a semi related story, let's turn to former hollywood reporter anthony 0 belloni, author of the must-read newsletter "what i'm hearing all about hollywood." matt, so good to see you. so much about netflix this week, dave chappelle, how netflix is defending dave chappelle standing by him amid outrage over trans phobic remarks in our outwrithous comedy eshl. is this the example of netflix resisting so-called canceled culture? >> absolutely. it's interesting to hear your interview with bari weiss because this is an example of a big hollywood institutional entity doing the opposite of what she's saying is so pervasive. it's standing by dave chappelle, even amid outrage of its own employees. there's going to be a walkout of
employees at netflix who are so upset about the hateful language in this special, yet netflix has decided it is best interest in its business model to have a free and open. >> you said in your newsletter, they're taking this important stand, but doing a terrible job of pr. they're not explaining their position very well, are they? >> they are not. you can look at the policy, and i think the policy does ultimately make sense for netflix if they're going to be a talent-friendly platform. the way they're communicating this, this has been a complete disaster. multiple emails from the ceo ted cerandos. violent video games and how they don't believe the content has real world impact on people. if that's true, what the heck are you doing at netflix? you're supposed to be in this business because you want to influence people via content.
it opened the door, is everything okay on netflix? are we going to sew porn or enough films or torture videos? it's going to be a disaster. >> i did invite him on. succession is back tonight on hbo. who is your favorite? >> you've got to love shiv. >> i was going to say shiv. >> they're all great. this season is absolutely funnier, meaner. if you look in media, a lot of little easter eggs you'll notice about what's going on in the current state of media. >> i guess i'll say logan since you said shiv. coming up, threats against the press are pervasive, rarely shared publicly. you don't hear about the kind of threats and harassment the journalists face. coming up, i have a very personal story about that. so we turned bath time into a business.
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something with all of you for the past six months. because of an active prosecution, i waited until now. this story is about the real life consequences of election lies, and i want to start it in the middle. in january of this year, when i reported this -- >> a man in california was charged with sending threatening texts to relatives of both congressman hakeem jeffries and
abc's george stephanopoulos. they were sent on the day of the capitol riot, allegedly telling a relative of george stephanopoulos that, your words are putting you and your family as risk. we are nearby, armed and ready. the government found he was a serial harasser, messaging dozens of victims. i was one of them. when i reported on stephanopoulos being threatened, i was actually what the prosecutors call victim number one of the same perpetrator. that's where the story begins, november 15th of last year. here is something i said on cnn that day. >> the 2020 election is over, even though president trump is still in denial about that. his claims of voter fraud are the fraud. >> so that man in california watched a video of that segment and apparently got angry, angry enough that he researched me and my family members online. he found our phone numbers, our addresses. he texted and tried to lure me into a conversation.
he said my brother was being cooperative. it was late at night. so i got freaked out. i called my brother. sure enough he was getting strange messages, too. then it got worse, he sent me a voice message saying you can either choose to dig the hole deeper. it was really creepy when the man sent a picture of my dad's grave site. how did he find it? i have no idea. did he go to the cemetery? i have no idea. then he texted about my mom's house, implying he was there before moving on to other victims. others at cnn were also threatened and harassed. so were multiple members of congress and a mayor and non-ceo. this man was triggered over and over again by accurate news reports about trump losing. the government's filings made me realize this wasn't just about trying to scare me. this man thought he was a part of something bigger, a crew said to keep trump in power.
he really seemed to believe trump won. to him every day was january 6th. but i didn't know about any of this when fbi agents called me back in march. like a lot of journalists, i've become numb to the torrent of trolling. we try to toopportunity out. it's always there whenever they stand out there for a live shot or ask for an interview. threats and harassment hinder a free press which is why i was getting ready to testify against that man at trial. so many reporters have stories like this one. they're usually all bottled up, never shared with the public and never prosecuted by authorities. this case with dozens of victims can be a statement, a statement that, in the words of u.s. attorney damien williams, trying to instill fear in others by threat will not be tolerated by law enforcement. on friday the california man pleaded guilty to one count of making threatening interstate communications. it was the count related to stephanopoulos though he was never named, nor was i or any
other victims. dozens of pages, text messages, copious evidence of the big lie threatening brothers, mothers, fathers and kids. he was threatening george's family when george was live on national television covering the riot. think about what that was like for george stephanopoulos. that man is behind bars. this is the type of harassment that journalists feel every day. it is pervasive. i hope this case really is a statement. i want to say thank you to the fbi and the prosecutors for their work in making that statement. that's a rap for this week's "reliable sources." we'll see you right back here this time next week. ♪ ♪ backed up, with negotiations at a standstill in congress and supply chain shortages hurting the economic recovery, does the biden administration need to change course? transportation secretary pete buttigieg joins me next. plus, lock them up?
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