tv Reliable Sources CNN October 20, 2013 11:00am-12:00pm EDT
at long last, the congressional standoff ends. the nation's news organizations took note of the political drama amid my stakes for the nation's finances. >> breaking overnight, the sh shutdown finally over. the debt ceiling raised. >> the federal government is getting back to work today after a late-night end to the partial government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling. >> the political spectacle made for feverish copy but we'll look at whether the media was distracted from underlying economic issues and news organizations report the death of a member of congress only to discover he's still alive. too late to headoff retweets. another case study in fast and
furious world of contemporary reporting and thomas drake traveled to moscow to visit edward snowden. we'll talk to drake about that meeting and about his own experiences in revealing secrets the nsa wanted to hold tight and arriving this weekend to a theater near you -- >> this is information the world needs to know. >> we need to crush these guys. >> a take on wikileaks founder julian assange. the man who says there should be no secrets. i'm david folkenflik and this is "reliable sources." today we'll consider how the news you consume gets to you and how that flow of information can get cutoff and what changes are made in coverage. take this month's political drama over the partial
government shutdown and the del ceiling debate. at times it seemed as if the economic story affecting millions of americans and markets abroad was overshadowed. joining me here in washington to tease out how the media performed or didn't perform is david gura and michael. how well did they do? >> i wouldn't give them high marks but i wouldn't say it was all bad. the difference is the press is used to covering political polling. that's a psychological measure of what's going on. the real story is what was going on in the bond market and you didn't see a lot of top notch coverage. >> tell me what you mean by that. >> the bond market was the real signal as to whether or not there was going to be a default and how serious the idea of a default was. the bond market never blinked
during this process. >> it translated into political press corps or broader press corps to translate this into ways the public can comprehend. >> these things aren't easy. when you talk about the debt ceiling and bond market, these are things that most of us aren't thinking about on day to b day basis. i think we had this condensed period of a couple weeks where focus was on the deadline at the end of it. seemed like political story won the day in the end. >> there's real drama here in terms of you've got the two chambers of congress at war with each other. internal divisions within the republican party that really drove this seeming stalemate for a long time and there were enormous economic implications. the bond markets and question of the impact of the government shutdown itself and the question
of what would happen abroad faith and full credit of the united states if this happened. those stories were written. why didn't they get through if indeed they didn't get through? >> it's always easier to cover the food fight and the loudest voice in the room. harder when you have to say here are measurable things and things you really need to pay attention to. breaking through in that clutter is a real challenge particularly now when everything is tweeted out around the world in two seconds. >> i noticed your own news organization bloomberg news had a poll that they found in a study found in late september that 59% of the people polled believed that the united states deficit had gotten larger. about 10% thought it had gotten smaller. 26% thought it was about the same. the deficit was cut quite considerab considerably. is that the fault. public or fault of the press? >> i think when you have something like we've just been through, things become proxies for other thing and there's
discontent in this country with fiscal issues. as i said, issues like the debt ceiling are things we don't have to think about all the time and things that we're not writing about or talking about all the time. that i think became a proxy for this issue of the deficit and for issues of the debt as well and we're hoping to grab -- people are hoping to grab onto something that's clear and in this case it's what happened. >> so where do you turn as a citizen as opposed to as a reporter if you want things other than specialized reporting and intense reporting of bloomberg, there's reporting that explains and makes clear to me what's going on behind the political clash of the moment. >> fortunately there are a lot of different sources out there. you can go to specialized sources online and read things. it's homework. it's not easy. it's not fun. it's very important. interesting to note, so many people don't understand this. we had michael bennett, senator from colorado in for news make erinterview and he told us
before he came to washington he never heard the debt ceiling. he had been in the debt and equities market a lot of time. it's a foreign language for a lot of people. we have to do a better job of explaining it. >> at this point there was an early concern about false equivalence in politics and what was interesting to me as an experiment i interviewed a liberal commentator and a prominent writer for the conservative national review magazine. they both defined the problem politically as within the republican house conference. you saw a lot of reporters going from this is a clash between parties to saying there's something happening here where republicans party is figuring out where its future lies and this is driving this real political dilemma. are there challenges of so-called false equivalency equally in the world of economics or in covering the financial angle to this very story? >> these ledgers don't balance always. it's always important to explore both sides. you have to do that.
you shouldn't come down on one hand on the other hand just for the sake of saying it's an objective argument when it's not. the fight was within the republican party. the democrats wanted to maintain status quo. republicans were trying to change the game. >> david, one of the things that strikes me about the field of economics and study of finances, it's not a hard signs. we're not talking about geometric equations that standstill over time. how do you make sense of it when experts themselves conflict? >> it's dismal and imperfect. there is a hunger for theories and we would be able to figure things out through them. if i could bring up the debt ceiling again, there was so much press conference of what might happen at the stroke of midnight on the 17th. in fact, that deadline was quite squishy and it was a simple equation. treasury was dealing with what was coming in in terms of revenues and what was going out.
we got hung up on theoretical side of things when it was basics that could have been easily conveyed to people. >> dismal and vital. thank you so much for joining us. when we come back, a whistle-blower story. former nsa official thomas drake talks about his experience being prosecuted by the obama administration's justice department and his visit with nsa leaker edward snowden in russia. i was made to work. make my mark with pride. create moments of value. build character through quality.
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when thomas drake saw waste and abuse in the intelligence agency that had repercussions for the privacy of u.s. citizens. the u.s. government saw it differently. in 2010, drake was charged for crimes under the espionage act. the obama administration now used it eight times. it's the same law that was used to indictment former army private bradley manning. now known as chelsey manning and also edward snowden. in a report for the committee to protect journalists, former "the washington post" executive editor lynn downey called the obama administration on leaks the most aggressive attempt to control leaks since nixon. all charges but one against drake were dropped. he pleaded guilty to excessive
use of government official computer. i spoke to thomas drake about what the future holds for the information leaked to the press and recent trip to moscow to meet nsa leaker thomas snowden. thank you so much for joining us to talk. >> thanks for having me. >> prime minister david cameron, intelligence chiefs here in the u.s., they have said the snowden revelations have been damaging to national security of the u.s. and u.k. why shouldn't american authorities have an interest in protecting national security secrets? >> there is an interest in protecting national security secrets but national security secrets don't include using secrecy to cover up wrongdoing in violations of citizen rights and liberties. we do have rights in this country and democracies our citizen rights and citizen liberties. the idea that somehow we need to violate those in order to satisfy national security i think is a false argument.
that false dichotomy created these conditions that i certainly lived in which the government believes that we need access to all of the data and if that data is individual and of citizens then so be it because the national security takes a prior priori higher priority. >> after going through internal channels to call attention to what you thought was a soft program at the nsa, you decided to contact the baltimore sun on security matters. what precautions did you take to avoid detection as you were talking to her about such sensitive matters? >> i knew it was a faithful choice. i knew given what nsa was capable of doing that any contact with a reporter by any normal means was going to be probably detected and so i made unanimous contact with her in late february of 2006 via highly encrypted means. even that was fraught with peril because even encryption on
internet can be detected with just the use of it. if i had come out and gone there, i would be fired immediately. how long can you go when you decide to sort of cross the bridge as it were and here i'm contacting the press on what i believe are issues of vital public interest. and yet they consider it a criminal act. a criminal conduct. ultimately i was charged under espionage act of all things. >> you were charged by the justice department during president obama's term. president obama's administration, his justice department also charged mr. snowden. what do you conclude about the obama administration led by a president who promised transparency and who hailed whistle blowers while running for office about his feelings about the flow of information to the public through the prosecute e press? >> he charged more whistle
blowers and truth tellers than all administrations combined for nonspy activities. some refer it to as a war on democracy. it is highly hypocritical. all of those words aside, his actions speak far louder. you're right. it did take the obama administration to actually charge me. >> you still work in the computer field but as a former whistle-blower, it's a different one. what is life like for you now? >> quite different than it used to be. i sacrificed a lot. i faced 35 years in prison. i was able to hold off the government. that's a huge thing. i was able to keep my freedoms. i work now in a very different arena. i sell computers to the public. it's quite a different life. i actually had to rebuild it. not easy. >> and so what did you learn from your trip to moscow when you met with edward snowden, the
newest person to disclose classified information from the nsa? >> i met a fellow whistle blower. i feel extraordinary kinship with him. he committed an extraordinary act of civil disobedience. he recognized that what he was exposing was significant wrongdoing on the part of nsa on an extraordinary scale and had documents to prove it. >> wouldn't he have been someone that you would have thought he's compromised national security? >> not at all. no. >> even when you were at the nsa itself? >> no. see this is where this national security thing gets conflicted. it's a state region and you're not supposed to question it. you don't use national security to violate the rights of citizens. for the first time in 12 years we're having the conversation and discussion about what that balance is supposed to be like. i would argue you can have both. it's not this idea that you have to choose liberty over security.
and in fact, i would argue that our fundamental national security is based on our liberties and freedoms. if we give those up, then we give up who we are as a people. >> thomas drake, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. >> you're welcome. >> up next, two perspectives on the obama administration's crackdown on leaks and its attitudes toward journalists. ido more with less with buless energy. hp is helping ups do just that. soon, the world's most intelligent servers, designed by hp, will give ups over twice the performance, using forty percent less energy. multiply that across over a thousand locations, and they'll provide the same benefit to the environment as over 60,000 trees. that's a trend we can all get behind. congestion, for the smog. but there are a lot of people that do ride the bus.
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leaker or whistle blower, the terms evoke a delicate dance and a violent crash. here with we now in washington, lucy dalglish. and joel brenner, former inspector general and senior counsel for the national security agency. you saw that interview i just conducted with thomas drake, a whistle blower for the nsa. what did you make of what he to say of his argument?
>> drake was involved in -- he basically lost his point of view in a competition for certain symptoms at the agency. issue as to who was right about that, he may have been wright. nothi nothing wrong with the way he conducted that. he decided to leak information to "the baltimore sun." he was really leaking classified information. i thought it was a terrible thing -- i thought he was overprosecuted under the espionage act. i thought it was ridiculous. >> you thought prosecution of him for giving material to "baltimore sun" under 1970 espionage was in itself a wrongful act. >> not a wrongful act. bad politics, bad law. we create people like mr. drake who have become a force to be adversary when they see what it
is like to be attacked by their own government. when you impose the question whistle-blower or leaker, very often people can be whistle blowers and leakers. they can be scoundrels and do something useful. we listen to snowden for example all of the public seems to hear is what i think is a useful debate about whether the government ought to collect this data. that debate should have happened a long time ago in my view. on the other hand, the public doesn't understand that it has done us tremendous harm. drake is wrong with this in terms of the ability to collect foreign intelligence. week one, he says we're collecting russian diplomatic communications. do you think that was news to the russians? certainly not. everyone tries to collect communications but the russians didn't know we had stolen or broken codes. >> there are arguments that they
suspected this all along. the question that jill abramson told me she gets all the time is who are you to choose? who are you to get to make that decision to publish? we're talking about the demand side of the leak equation. why do journalists get to make this decision and not the government? >> we depend on journalists to make decisions like that all the time to decide what is news and what's not news? to gather as much truth as they possibly can in a very careful way, report it as carefully as they can and quite honestly if not a journalist, who? because if they're not out there asking questions every day and reporting them to the public so that the public can make informed decisions at the ballot box and elsewhere, there is going to be no ability in this country to hold anybody that we've elected to congress or appointed to an agency accountable. this is all about accountability. >> one thing that strikes me is that you mentioned before that we're now having a debate that's
useful. the president said this. some of your former top colleagues have said this. these debates wouldn't have occurred in the absence of edward snowden's major leaking to "the washington post" and the colleagues at the guardian. how do you expect that to occur in the absence of such information that the government would very much seek to prevent from getting out? >> i think that we have a massive overclassification problem. and that classifying the rules under which the foreign intelligence surveillance court minimizes collection was terrible. why shouldn't people know that? that would give people greater confidence in how things are -- i think there was a lot of decisions there. there were a lot of decisions about classifying things i thought you were unfortunate. when i was in the counterintelligence business, which i did between stints at nsa, i was told once that your
job is keeping secrets and my job is finding them out. and that's how i think a pretty good description of how liberal democracies work. now we have the government actually taking steps to keep the secrets and we're having the journalists profession with hair on fire saying our form of government, liberal democracy is under attack. i'm not buying it. i think we're in a time of unparalleled transparency and information flows. and we got unbelievable transparency. in spite of it overclassification and we have some very serious leaks. >> transparency and yet unbelievable ability and reach of government prosecutors to find out what's going on. you are shaking your head. tell me why. >> the transparencytransparency. the white house is putting out
far more stuff on their own website than ever before. what they have done is made it impossible for anyone who is a federal government employee to speak to a journalist without fearing for their jobs or maybe even fearing going to jail. so i think we're almost dealing with anti-transparency. i understand that the obama administration thinks that they're being incredibly transparent. they are being transparent about certain things they want to be transparent about. they are okay with ways of fraud and abuse but don't want anyone to get information that could lead to accountability over bad policies or bad laws or bad actions and even things that in some cases might be unconstitutional for the government to be doing. >> or in retrospect one might want to debate about. the government has more powers than ever before and also less ability to prevent other people from distributing that information globally. thank you so much for joining us
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if you're in search of a consistent voice of doom about obama care, one not need turn farther than sean hannity. he turned the attention to this subject on his show several times this year. it featured families that said they would suffer under the affordable care act. >> you're self-employed. tell us your obama care story. >> we don't have insurance for our daughter who has a pre-existing condition. we're looking at $20,000 in premiums. >> the lawyer and democratic pundit eric stern thought those complaints didn't ring true so he called each of them and he argued that many families would have derived real benefit from obama care. the democratic lawyer and writer eric stern joins me now from
montana. thank you for joining us. welcome. >> hi, david. how are you doing? >> picking up the phone and calling people strikes me to do actual reporting. what inspired you to do this after seeing this piece? >> i was watching it. it just didn't sound right and smell right with what folks were saying and how hannity was casting. i thought about it a bit and i'm loosely familiar with affordable care act and rules and regs and what's coming down the road. i basically figured i would track them down. i googled them and looked in white pages and linkedin and talked to them. >> you're a former aide to the democratic governor. sean hadnnnity is an opinion ho. why would he go after precision in reflecting some concerns about an act that he opposes? >> i didn't expect that. it's not news that he's full of it. i just thought that at least you
can't make something up out of whole cloth. you have to have fact to base even a bias story around and this one didn't even have that. >> they might argue that this is true to experience of these people. you reach some of them and explain facts and one was concerned about affects for small businesses. he had only four employees. what was discrepancy between what he talked about and what you found to be the case. >> he had to keep employees on part-time status because full time he would have run into cost problems and obama care would negatively affect him. that only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees. he was talking about something that wasn't relevant. >> for those that haven't looked online is what they said in exchanges with them to determine what they could get under obama care, for them they may actually
distrust the government to oversee this private health care insurance exchanges. why isn't that true to their experience? aren't they entitled to that? >> they absolutely are entitled to it. hannity is not entitled to point to what they're saying as evidence of a train wreck and that obama care is currently failing. he's reporting on something that hasn't even happened yet. >> so why do you think it is that there are people out there, a, who are in your view and in from you've demonstrated perhaps somewhat misinformed about their opportunities about this and that there are media outlets that are providing information that itself may be inherently misleading. >> well, fox news to call it a media outlet is a stretch. it's a republican television channel. they have a right to do what they do. hannity, i watch hannity from time to time. i have no problem with what he does. >> hannity is a more distinctive republican figure and fixed than
some other hosts. i'm sure what you see is different than what you see on hannity. it seems as if what you found here is an opinion host presenting something as fact that is far from it. >> correct. that's exactly what he was doing. you're right. there are some shows on fox where they make more of an effort to have an adversarial impact. there is a lot of misinformation out there. a guy like hannity is director of the right wing information in this area. >> it led to you to pick up the phone and find out what facts were. thank you for joining us. coming up next, it's the journalistic black eye that reporters fear. getting the story round.
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major news organizations reported his death a day early. the pointer institute in st. petersburg, florida, tracked it back to a tweet by a florida blogger. many nonjournalists retweeted the false report. it was also reported live on the air. >> congressman bill young has passed away. the florida republican was 82. he served a remarkable 22 terms. >> yet young was still at that point alive. ka in the scheme of things unfortunate and sloppy but not consequential. it was reported that lewis would not recover the race. he reported that mcauliffe was accused of lying but it was someone else. that report was also corrected
and withdrawn in under two hours but not until it made the rounds on twitter. joining us to talk about the accuracy of news at the speed of lie, maggie haberman and andrew lih. what are we to make of news at the speed of light? how are we to do this better? >> you know, we have a lot of demands on journalists these days. almost every news organization and the industry is asking for journalists to be up front and center and be part of the breaking news cycle. it used to be that news organizations had a handful of folks who were gate keepers to put out things on the wire and breaking news items. now with twitter and other platforms, we have pretty much anyone in the news organization being asked to perform that role and it's increasingly complex. we have more tools. we have more devices and more platforms to try to do this.
you are trying to balance three main things. you are trying to balance speed, accuracy and depth and now more and more journalists have the ability to be participants in that speed portion and a platform like twitter makes it more challenging because twitter is so open and allows for anyone to jack into their system and do interesting thing with tweets. sometimes things that come along later to correct those things are harder to try to sift through. that's something that makes it much harder these days for journalists while building their personal grand and trying to be leaders in the industry to try to master these tools at the same time. >> maggie haberman, i say you tweeted the news about the late congressman young and that you quickly retreated your regrets about it. what lessons do you draw and what harm ultimately was done although a sad mistake to make nonetheless one that was quickly corrected. >> i think it's always unfortunate to have mistakes and i would argue the professor was absolutely right. there were four demands that
need to be balanced and one is fairness. twitter is, you know, sort of one dimensional platform. everything created equally when you look at twitter. hard for people to remember that our individual twitter feeds are news platforms so when you see someone like luke russert or me or other people tweet that kind of news, people do think that it's real and that is why it's regretful and why i apologized after i did it. this is not the first time that's happened on twitter. there was a false report about lou paterno dying last year. >> my news organization with gabby giffords and others as well. i want to turn for a moment to the story involving bob lewis which i know you followed which erupteded on tw eed on twitter story was amended and apologized for within two hours. it seemed as though dynamics of the virginia's governor's race changed in a moment and changed right back.
what is an honest mistake owned up to by mr. lewis but what is the harm done by that kind of story? >> that kind of story, that would have real ramifications if it had gained legs and been broadcast out on tv and made it into the papers. it was corrected very quickly. i feel terrible for bob lewis. i would like to say on that story, there's a lot we don't know about how that happened. ap and mr. lewis have both declined to get into how that mistake was made in a lot of ways. bob lewis is a veteran and a very well respected veteran. people make mistakes but all mistakes as you say are not equal. that one could have had real impact and it's because the ap moved quickly it did not. >> interestingly you have the ability to get things wrong more quickly than ever and ability to remedy them more quickly than ever. that said, i haven't heard yet a way to resolve this. i haven't heard any solutions to
what gene we implant in our heads and how we stop exercising that hair trigger so quickly when we can get things wrong so broadly. what do you say to that when you talk to students and what should expectations be for people? >> i see two solutions that we need to look into. one is certainly getting into individuals to be more aware and be more skeptical even if you're seeing evidence that looks like stories that you've had before and you still need that skeptical gene in there. the other thing is that i'm down here in atlanta for the online news association conference and there are now firms specializing in social media intelligence so that when you have tweets from folks you may not know that much about but seem like they are reputab reputable, there are more firms getting in that business to provide information around the accuracy. >> what do you think is a fair expectation of our citizens and consumers when they see tweets
or facebook postings or like from reporters. should they believe them in the first hour or two? >> i think it depends on what the story is and the track record. we've all made mistakes. i certainly have made my share of them. i think that the expectation has to be for news consumers that certain platforms and certain people and certain brands and outlets are trustworthy. that doesn't have to change. i think to take a minute to reflect on topics like the death of a former congressman is a specific issue or maybe involving a potential corruption or allegations in a gubernatorial race. >> serious topics. maggie haberman, andrew lih, thank you for joining us. we appreciate it. with a promise of radical transparency, i'll talk with a screen writer who sought to capture the movement and its mysterious leader. how much protein
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the promise of wikileaks allowed ordinary citizens in and whistle-blowers anonymity to reveal the inner workings of wrong doings. julian assuaange became a hero some quarters. now, the dreamworks studio has turned the saga of wikileaks and its founder into a feature film "the fifth estate," which hits theaters this weekend. >> he said they're coming after us. we need to publish now. >> it's hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive material. it's not like the video. we wouldn't know what the hell we were publishing. >> i thought the point of this organization was to publish in full. >> i thought the point was --
>> reviews of the film have been mixed with one particularly scathing critique coming from assange himself who called it, quote a work of political ap tunism, influence, revenge, and cowa cowardi cowardice. i spoke earlier with the josh's film writer josh singer. >> thank you for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> what interested you about wikileaks and particularly about julian assange? >> i have been fascinated with the idea for a while. i went to school with harvard law and took a class called internet and society back then about 12 years ago, and so i had been fascinated with wikileaks just when i started read being it in the news. when dreamworks came to me with these two books, i was intrig intrigued, and the first thing i did was call up all my old law professors and i said give me a clue. people were debating what should be public and what should be private. there was this other question of
who should be making this decision. that was really about this context of journalism that in the last ten years we've really had a bit of a problem with the fourth estate in that, you know, newspapers have been going out of business. there are a lot fewer investigative reporters around because they've lost their jobs. so who is going to provide that check on government and on powerful corporations? and what was fascinating was that julian and daniel seemed to be that check. they were pioneers in terms of real fifth estate journalism and providing this drop box for any whistle-blower to safely give information and for that information to then be passed on to the public. >> how did you ultimately land on this question of the role that assange himself played in the desire for what seems to many to be an extreme form of transparency? >> well, you know, i think assange was a pioneer. i think he's a genius.
i think he had a lot of very good ideas. i think where it gets muddy, and they had some of these instances early on, but it gets muddy when you're putting out larger quantities of data and when you're not -- when you're putting it out unedited. and that was the idea. you wanted to put out idea unedited so it didn't reflect bias and they were doing their homework and making sure the information was real, that it wasn't made up information, but putting out information unedited i think -- there are some concerns to that. and i think where you fall in that spectrum helps define how you feel about julian ultimately and how you feel about, i guess, about where wikileaks went. >> it sounds like you're walking a fairly fine line yourself. after all, there are those who have come down hard on them and they seem to be most effective when they partnered with the fourth estate, names like "the new york times", the guardian" and other european countries as
a way of vetting and getting some of their information out. julian assange himself was very concerned about this. this weekend he's put a fairly negative review of his own about the movie, but he also tried to discourage benedict cumberbatch, your versatile and talented lead actor, from portraying him saying your skills play into hands of people who are out to remove me and wikileaks from the world. i believe you should reconsider your involvement in this enterprise. when you saw those words when he posted them on the website and shared them with your colleague, benedict cumberbatch, what did you conclude from that? >> julian has always been critical of the two books we based our narrative on because while those books praise the ideals of wikileaks and praise the ideals of transparency, they criticize him and julian doesn't like criticism. i think it's important to distinguish the ideals of wikileaks, what they set out to do, these ideals of transparency, from julian. i think this is a common
conflation, which sis unfortunate, because i think some of julian's actions have not been for the best for the cause of transparency. i think you can someone for who is what edward snowden is doing and for the way in which he leaked that information and still not be for julian assange. i think edward snowden i think was, as we saw in "the new york times" on friday, was very responsible in terms of how they handled his information, making sure he wasn't going to take any of it with him to russia. i think he was very responsible in terms of who he reached out to, and i think they and "the washington post" and "the guardian" and to a lesser extent "the new york times" have been very responsible with the information they've been given. and i think they've behaved quite admirably. now, it's not well-known that edward snowden has said that if julian assange still had a submission platform, which he does not, there's no way to actively submit on his website
new information, snowden has said if assange still had a submission platform he would have submitted his information to wikileaks. you can be a fan of snowden and still be glad julian assange did not get that information. >> so in this new film, a slightly fictionalized but heavily researched treatment trying to get at the trooet of the movement and of the person who led it from the outset so visibly, julian assange. josh singer, congratulations on the opening of your movie, and thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> for his part, julian assange is now something of a diminished figure. he took sanctuary in london in the ecuadorian embassy from which he recently ran a filled bid to become a senator in his native australia. that's it for this edition of "reliable sources." next up "state of the union" with guest host gloria borger.