tv Brian Karem Free the Press CSPAN March 5, 2022 7:00pm-8:02pm EST
from the point of of an ethnographer. as it were right. well, dr. aaron saying we're out of time for questions. i want to thank folks who have submitted questions what i would encourage you lots of your questions are answered in dr. anderson's most recent books. so, please please go out and get that. it's called black and white space and it will scott to your question as an educator. it will share some examples about how you can understand how black students may navigate whitespaces. so i do encourage you to read it. it's interesting read that dr. anderson shares a lot of his stories and experiences and also as i mentioned weeds in history and some of the the systemic issues that we see plug in our good evening, everyone and welcome to pnp live. i'm brad graham the co-owner of politics and pros along with my
wife list the muscatine. and we're very pleased to be hosting journalist brian carham this evening here to talk about his new book free the press the death of american journalism and how to revive it. a couple of brief housekeeping notes first though the post to question at any point during the discussion. just click on the q&a icon at the bottom of the screen. and in the chat column, you'll find a link for purchasing copies of free the press. brian's journalism career has ranged across print broadcasts and online media and stretches back nearly 40 years. we currently serves as the senior white house correspondent for playboy. he also hosts the podcast just ask the question which features conversations about politics current events and pop culture. during the trump presidency brian himself became the story on an occasion or two in confrontational exchanges with
administration officials among them, press secretary, sarah huckabee sanders and white house aid sebastian gorka. white house even tried to suspend brian's press pass in 2019 before a judge blocked the move and an appeals court panel later chatted the white house for having violated brian's constitutional due process rights. and free the press ryan combines a history of the dramatic change in us news media in recent decades with tales of his own experience in the business. we describes a disappearance of many news organizations the spread of bias and news reporting and the tensions between the government and the fourth estate. we also offers at the end some ideas for reviving a vibrant and free press in this country. publishers weekly called free the press a trenchant study of what ails the american press enliven by brian's vivid memories of the good old days.
number three yeah, i want to hear all about those good old days in a minute right now a conversation with brian this evening. we'll be zachary karim who you may notice as the same last name. that's because he's brian's son. and he's a writer director and executive producer of the same podcast that brian hosts just asked the question. zachary also is a writer of political satire and has been working on a science fiction short film currently in post-production. so brian and zachary the screen is yours. thanks, brian. i appreciate it and and zach. thank you for doing this. i'm open for i mean, i'll start out i guess brad. i'll talk a little bit about the good old days because i'm old but the story everyone always wants to know is you know, who was the first president you met and for me, right? and as the story goes i was
upstairs in the upper press. i was married 24 calo youth of 25 and i was standing upstairs and usually back in those days. you would bang on the door and then you know, well at least helen thomas did and and sam donaldson who was kind enough to write the intro for this book and bang on the door and say hey larry if you were saying larry speaks get out here talk to us and one day it was up there. just seeing how things were going and secret service came through and said that the president was going to come through and and we all had to leave. so we all turn to leave whoever was there and remember was there that day and i turned to leave and tripped and fell on the floor because i was you know, i i've always been graceful and as i was there on the ground, i looked up and who was standing over me but the president of the united states and ronald reagan looked down at me and said well young fella you don't have to bow to me. and so that was my introduction
to dc presidential politics. the book is about talks about how unfortunately for the last 40 years the federal government state and local government. so all destroyed the free press and in doing so it's through through dismantling the a lot of the guardrails that were in place to make sure that we were fair and and free and if you talk to whether it's someone on the left or someone on the right or someone in the middle, everybody says that there's something wrong with the press. they just don't know what it is. they they think they know what it is, but they don't and this is a book that takes a good hard. look at what is actually wrong with the press in the united states. so you that yeah, absolutely so to that point actually i want to ask you what you know, you've identified the problem. and then i kind of you know, take a step forward here and i want to find out how long and
how far away are we from? fixing things like in it. is there specification that needs to be passed at like a local a state of federal level? else start there. yeah, i think on a federal level we need to go back to the fairness doctrine and reintroduce the fairness doctrine and make it applicable across the internet and across broadcasting and radio there. are those who say you can't it can't be done, but they also said they couldn't do with you know television and we managed to do it right look and then i'm sorry at level. we need to make sure that public notice ads are protected. those are the we have been local newspapers of almost cease to exist community newspapers hardly exist anywhere. there's vast news deserts in the united states, and we need to clear that by supporting local and and community newspapers and
those public notice ads are a big part of the budget for many small newspapers. they also let people know what's going on in their community and we need those. i'm sorry, you know, i was just want to clarify on you know for people listening if they're not aware of the fairness doctrine and what it actually entails. i just wanted to hear that i know but you know, yeah, yeah, you know, it's in here, but i want to know yeah if you could just as written in 1949 and introduced during the truman administration made it. possible for an animated actually necessary that if you were approaching a subject of controversy that you had to provide fair amount, you know both sides of the story you had to make sure that there was a if you said that you know war was inevitable then then you also had to say well, all right someone on the other side would say hey.
you know, it's not right and the problem when you took away the fairness doctrine. is that what happened with the when when reagan administration got rid of the fairness doctrine it created vast new silos where you would only turn to where you wanted to go for the news that you wanted right your information bubble. yeah, and so newscast is stopped being information but became entertainment and we cease telling people what they need to know and started telling them what they wanted to hear and that's why i say that good journalism and capitalism are incompatible though. they're also tethered together and that's the that's the damnedest of it. okay, so to that point then before the fairness doctrine was repealed or yeah what just i want to get like a little bit more speed like with the tv with the you know, the tv stations radio stations in the
newspapers. did it it made them. well, it was it was for tv and radio. okay, not for newspapers right newspapers had other problems newspapers have long had far greater problems and newspapers have had a problem of of television and radio and the internet taking away their audience once radio actually. once radio opened up that shortened the new cycle. newspapers used to be great great places to go for information and and in depth information one of the by you know, as you know, i collect newspapers old newspapers one of the the greatest copies of original copy of a newspaper that i have is is from 1865 and it's abraham lincoln's. it's in the new york observer and it's it the news account of abraham lincoln's assassination. it's a lot of of you know
history books that i've read and the thing about newspapers that were are instill great is that you can't hack the newspaper. it's the same today as it was in 1865 when it was printed what we're doing here now is ephemeral it can be hacked. it can be changed. it can be erased you have deep fakes, but one of the things that made the newspaper so great and by the way, one of the things that let christianity spread was that the bible was printed it was the greatest thing that was ever printed for hundreds of years since gutenberg invented it first. inventor was the bible. it was a top 10 seller everyone read the same source material and that's what newspapers were the same source material over a great deal of distance, and it was a great it. you know, it helped the united states become a little bit more civilized and at the beginning of when our national congress got together for one of its first things, but well first meetings one of the first things that they did in congress was to
subsidize newspapers and allow them to transport newspapers cheaply through the us mail and that helped educate and in you know that help us become an informed educated electorate. so what the fairness doctrine did was try to codify in on television some of the very principles and precepts that had gone into newspaper that were thought of in these for a long time and it worked and there was never any really serious repercussions for those who didn't do it because most people it and because that they did do it everybody kind of hopped on the band like and said, okay. we got to be fair. we got to do this we got to do that right and we don't do that anymore. we don't give both sides, you know. both sidesism is is a fine edge to walk. i'm going to tell you i'm not gonna report that you know that when i report about men going in space, i'm not going to have somebody sitting by my side, you know telling me the flat earth society version of it. i'm not gonna have people right
that you know that the holocaust didn't happen and i'm not gonna listen to people telling me that you know, january 6th was a walk in the park. i was there that was an insurrection and that was dangerous and it should never be repeated. i won't repeat the lies, but they're for reasonable people and reasonable facts when facts are vetted reasonable opinions can differently we need to air those absolutely. okay, so if you don't mind i do want to take a quick step back then you baby whatever you want really change the subject here, but you know, just talk about you a little bit more just because i want to know why you know, i personally even know this but i don't know why you feel your uniquely suited to understanding the problems that are facing the american media and you know, so i you don't need to get obviously go over here, but i want to know why as my oldest son told me i was that's true. well, i mean, that is a very yeah, that's right, you know this and i and i don't mind sharing it with people.
i you know, i've been a reporter since well, i started in high school as a reporter working for the jefferson reporter in louisville, kentucky part-time, and i went to college at the university of missouri and or as you know as my father-in-law said, missouri, and i worked at the kingdom daily sun gazette and you know and my first job after leaving college and getting married and having a you know, the oldest son. it's sitting here with me. yes. we you know, we went down to texas and i i've traveled quite a bit and done quite a and i think one of the unique things that what you don't get to see from reporters. is there have been because of the constriction in our news business. there are fewer reporters today. there's twice a number of people on the planet as on the day that i was born half the number of reporters and what we lived in
laredo, texas. you know, there was a hundred thousand people. there were two daily newspapers in english. i think one or two in spanish. there were three or four television stations that did news several radio stations and i went back there last year and the year before when uh for for the border crisis and there's 300,000 people. so there's three times in over people is when i was living there and there's one newspaper and one television station. hello to heatwave burler. i know you're still there doing the doing the the weather, but that's that's what's happened to journalism. so there's few of us left to know it was like, back in the you know good old days and i felt like it was my responsibility to pass on to others what journalism really was what i grew up believing it to be and what we can you know make it once again. so that's the that's the short
story. yeah, it's but to that point. so to that point then can you kind of elaborate on why you know it's obvious that like a lack of diversity of ownership and you know lack of institutional knowledge is bad for the news media. but what like why why does it specifically matter that someone has 30 or 40 years experience and not necessarily that many but why does it you don't need to have that much but like, why does it matter more than hiring someone directly out of college, you know what i mean? like what you think people out of college you can need to know people you need to spend your time. i'm still you know, i hope i'm still learning after all the time i've spent doing this, but i think you need to know your way around a city council. meeting a pta meet. i think you need to cover high school sports. i think you need to cover. you need to make yourself. well aware of what's going on in the city manager's office or the county clerk's office know how
to get information and know how to talk to people a lot of people it's not me most and it's happened several times when i've walked into the white house and i had people come up to me and go. i really don't know what i'm doing here. i was kind of dropped into this and and it's their first job out of college and really need to have more experience. you're gonna be taking advantage of the elitism that they talk about in journalism exists, and it's because we hire people who are straight out of college. maybe they got their masters degree, but they never once had to cover a high school sporting event. never once had to go and cover a pta meeting every once had to do any of those things that i don't have those contacts it kind of just the experience and you and and how to get information from a variety of people and finding out what binds us together one of the great things about a community newspaper is look it when all that's left is national
news. it's divisive by its very nature democrats republicans communist. social the people, you know, what socialism is or capitalism is they hear these buzz words and and these slogans and they're you know this that was one of the things that we were warned about back in the back in the 50s during the mccarthy era and and that's also in the book when we're this a 1958 r ada conference and you know the speaker there is talking about how if we don't catch this in now that we're going to be overtaken by sloganism and by propaganda and we have been it's the fact that you know, you and i may disagree about an issue at the national level fine, but every one of us wants our streets paved wants to make sure that the street lights work. why is why can't i get milk at the local grocery store? all of those are local in why can't i get clean water most of the major national stories all
had all were given birth in a community newsroom, and that's why you've got to have that community journalism montgomery county where i live. here's more than a million people one of my first moved here. there was a daily newspaper the montgomery journal there were two weekly newspapers or three and and the washington post covered it as well as radio and television today. there's none of that there's and the washington post a scaled back. it's coverage jeff bezos when when he bought the the washington post scale back the coverage and killed the weekly newspaper that they ran. so that's that's the problem if you don't have reporters on the ground, it's that ability to gather news. it's that ability to be tied into your community. we're not a part of the community site. we're called the enemy of the people, but we're not we are the people they're just aren't enough of us doing the job. and so also when you have
boardrooms that are controlling things and boardrooms are usually on these large vulture capital venture capitalists. i call them vulture but these venture capitalists that own 300 newspapers i was never supposed to happen. there was there was legislation introduced in the 80s to to limit the ownership and it was killed and reagan snow the stronger newspapers will survive and that's better for the first amendment and that's not true. you need more voices. you need ben back dickey in one of the most unsung heroes of mine in in journalism said there needs to be real diversity of ownership, but we're gonna have diversity of ideas and we don't have that and and that's that's what experience will teach you but more than more than anything else. i think it just teaches you what's really going on the world, you know, i didn't know what i was 25 years old. what the hell i was doing and i i told i've told many reporters that have worked for me. i said, well, this this is what i think. and i go i don't care what you think. what do you know?
i barely care what i think like i want to know what you know and vetted facts teaching people how to vet facts how to gather facts. that's the important thing journalism is printing stuff. that isn't propaganda and isn't pr and so you're gonna someone with the president facts even in high school sports. yeah well to that point. yeah, i mean even in the boat like to that point, you know in the book you quote. yeah, you don't say who it is. you quite a lies man. you say journalism is always. about bringing up information people want buried. otherwise, it's nothing more than propaganda. so yeah kind of to that point. where does that how do you see the gun or how do you see it being fixed in you know in the future obviously you need a cooperation between the government and the private corporations and that's accomplished legislation. is that kind of what you're you're this is the thing that
most controversial aspect of the book and it's the thing that angers large boardrooms the most and that is you need to break up the medium monopolies, right? okay. you have to create a smaller more competitive. companies at the same time. that's not the cure-all reinstituting that you know the lanes in which we drive you, you know, roger ailes helped destroy the united states and there's no other way to say it. he hooked on he latched on the nixon and then reagan and then fox news and created the -- that we have to deal with today. there's no way that you cannot deny that but there's more that needs to be done. it's we need a national shield law so reporters, you know, i went to jail four times. i remember walking out of jail holding my young son in my hand as i walked. oh, yeah. that was you you and your mom and i'm walking out of jail after two weeks and you know having to spend time there
because i kept the source confidential and there are others, you know that have done that and you shouldn't have to do that. you shouldn't use the espionage act to go after reporters as presidents have done you you need besides the besides putting the rails back on and making sure the fairness doctrine and a national shield law and busting up medium monopolies. you really need to start at the ground level and you need to support through subsidies and tax breaks. you have to support community journalism. that's where it all begins if we don't support community journalism, we're done. it's that simple and if we don't understand that then god help us are the founding fathers understood that quite well and that while less controversial in in speech is actually more controversial indeed because it takes actual government. it's government working actually against itself because government doesn't want to be held account or at least most
people i know in government really don't want to be held accountable and those that do aren't long for government how many of the people who voted impeach ronald up and teach ronald impeach donald trump in the republican party or not running for action. i mean, it's hard to survive in a divisive environment and we need to make it less divisive community newspapers help bind communities together. i mean you may think many think about it how many times have parents cut the pictures out of a community newspaper because their kid was in it. i mean how many times have you gone and go? well gee what's going on this weekend go to the newspaper and builds in here interesting. and how many times i've talked to and there's a great part in this book when i'm talking to a guy about community ads, you know, the salesman used to go in read these these public notice ads and go. okay. this estate sale was here and this person is moving here. this person got this job and that's how they would approach
them again. hey, i'm the car salesman in your area or hey, i'm doing this and you know, let's get together. let's talk. it was a way of bringing a community together and we've got we've got to do that and we don't and that when you're community is together. you're less likely to want to kill your neighbor or go after your neighbor accuse them of being anti-american if you've also shared, you know, your kids are on the same team or you've worked together to get a road page or you know, all of the things that bring a community together are part of the community newspaper experience and i ran one of the well as you know, i ran two of those for more than a dozen years and that those news are vital to what's? great and good about america and we're sacrificing them and that's got to stop. so but so then you feel that the future of local news. it will also be print right like obviously everything is going online, but you want the print
paper because of its, you know, i want all of it. i you know, the biggest problem the the biggest problem today. we don't understand that and in newspapers haven't learned this yet many television stations are behind the times and and you know, all right. look, to call yourself a journalist at the very least. you need a copy editor someone who's going to say that spelled wrong. that doesn't make sense. let's go back and look at that fact. and verify facts. otherwise, you're just a blogger and there's no no offense to them. you're welcome. you those are opinions and they should be labeled as such. but newspapers and television stations radio stations and those on the internet have not learned yet that the internet is a great unifying force and we have divided ourselves because of it but the uniform unification behind it. that's that could be behind the potential. is great. and if it's used properly and
and the thing is is today a newspaper isn't just a newspaper. it's a radio station. it's a live stream. it's can go live now from you know, i can i can go live with this. i i and i have and so can a television reporter. so can a newspaper reporter and this paper reporter can go live from the scene of a fire with this and put it on their website. of course. yeah, the greatest advantage the greatest thing that newspapers bring to to the front and and is so needed is context. and depth and not just the stuff that goes on you know right now and i mean how many times when i was a kid, did you pick up you look at the scores and who scored this and who scored that and oh this person did that. oh, by the way this had, you know get that anymore. you have to search for it and that's not you know that nobody wants to sit around and search for 30 minutes when if you knew
that wow, the courier has it. let me go to the courier because that's right. everything is okay right one stop shop. if and that's the bottom line today. your newspaper has to be your one stop shop for everything and if that if newspapers took that attitude and hired people instead of firing them and we're willing to take a smaller percentage of profit versus a greater the they're so short-sided, you know newspaper hedge fund owners are like maximum profit minimum time. it should be long-term profit sustainable profit over many years. to make newspapers viable so i'm going to come back to that actually in a few but what i want to do right now is talk a little bit about what's cool about the book is that it's also not only is it, you know kind of describe prescribing kind of the ailments of our, you know forth
the state right now and then also offering, you know, remedies and solutions, but it also is a how to on kind of how to journalism and so one of the cool things i you know throughout it is, you know, all of the anecdotes that kind of i feel like build a really good narrative and like kind of teach how how it is to do, you know be a journalist and one of the things that you talk about kind of want to ask you about was what is the purpose of being a burst or balloons, you know, and why does that make you a good reporter? and who said that that was uh, that was actually told me by barry bingham senior. i was in the story behind that is i was a big hl mencken fan and as anybody listening or watching, uh wonders who hl mencken is i recommend you read him because he was very cogent a very on point about the problems of journalism and politics a hundred years ago, and and he talked about chain store problems, you know, it's the market approach to change store journalism that's ruining
independent journalism. it used to be as he said that the rewards in this business came in and the freedom of expression and now they come chiefly and money and that's the simple fact of the matter is is there's nothing easier and on earth into full reporter and he has some wonderful and it goes about that but my personal anecdote about that was i was working at the courier journal and loyal times and i thought that's where i would spend my life. because i had grown up reading that newspaper is always one of the top 10 newspapers in the country and it's where i spent was inspired and inspired to be and i wasn't there long before it sold it and it to connect but one day i was sitting and i had a up a quote from hl menken above my desk and one day i walked in from trying to get an interview and the secretary for the section the neighborhood section. i was working in said brian senior wants to see you upstairs, and i i thought i was
getting fired because senior never wanted to see anybody is very bingham senior was the patriarch of the family and new body. not not the lowest guy on the totem pole, not me. i never you would see him. so i i went upstairs. i was trying to figure out what the hell i did wrong and i got upstairs in the secretary saddam mr. chairman, you know, he'll see you now and i'm going oh -- i said in beautiful office and it dawned on me slowly over a few minutes at you know as he asked about my family and new, you know members of my family because if they were judges and lawyers and i had done on me that maybe i wasn't gonna get fired and he said are you the one that posted that that notice above your your desk that quote from? henry and i go henry who the hell's henry? yeah. oh, man. can i go? yeah, that's how did you know that he goes nothing happens in my newspaper. i don't know about and then he he said hi and and talk to me for probably you know, it was less than an hour, but for me a young reporter it seemed like
days as he talked about his friendship with hl menken and that's about knowing mankin. and then he said something that i'll never forget. he said mankin was a wonderful burster of balloons at a time when balloons needed to be burst. and i i said well who does that now? and he looked at me goes now, i wonder and that was how i left it. and so i always took it as inspiration to to burst balloons and by that what he meant was to poke holes in the bs and politicians are full of it others are full of it, and it's your job as a reporter to go after the facts one of my early mentors was was and is and one of my dear friends today is sam donaldson who i love dearly and sam was you know, he said look, he doesn't blame the president or their people for trying to put their best foot forward that's their job, right? but our job is to challenge them
on the facts challenge their policy challenge their utterances. so the american public gets to know the truth and then the public decides what to do with the facts. and so that's always always stuck with me and it is when you point out that someone's full of it. it doesn't mean that you're happy that you're automatically friends of the guy that opposes them. i have as you know as much problem with politicians on either side or against them, you know, yeah, it's just that today. there's one side that adheres to science and one who wants to you know, drink clorox, and i'm not going to do that. so, you know, it's it's those things that that are you know in the neighborhood of burst. i will burst that easily in eagerly burst the balloon that only i can fix the problem that ingesting chlorops is good for you that that dog dewormer or horse dewormer will help you. i you know stay in your lane the scientists or this and then we'll point out the facts and
that's you know, i i think you should clearly label your stuff as either fact, you know, this is news backs or opinion, and i don't think and one of the things i i have a problem with her young reporters going out. yeah. i want to be a columnist. many years experience. do you have too and you got 10 or 12 come back to me? and then then maybe i'll value your opinion, but you don't know enough to have one and that's what we're unique good solid management, but when you're paying people it used to be that you had to have five years experience to go anywhere. right, and now they're hiring you straight out of school and then when after five years when you need a raise and you're making more money and you got a family they boot you out and hire another person who's cheap. and so that's that's you know. the first thing that was said to me when i walked into the briefing room in 1986 from sam was he said brian that first row in the brady briefing room seven seats. there's about 200 years of
experience there. listen to every one of them and learn from them today. there's less than half that amount of experience in there and that's we have lost institutional knowledge. so it's harder to burst those balloons. so to that question then it kind of leads me, how do you i mean, you know, and it's it's something that we kind of touched on obviously a little bit earlier on in the conversation but um we haven't like outright said it but like how do you then are you talk about it in the book? so i want to hear you kind of explain how you your idea for solving the new like news deserts and you know because they're so it's such a large problem that everything is just being amalgamated. you know, we're only getting well if you break up the monopolies, that's the start and then like i said you get to have a you're gonna have to subsidize. community journalists, there's just no other way to do it. you're going to give them tax breaks. you gotta give them but you kind of get them low interest loans
and that's why one of the things i also proposed in this book is that i think the president of the united states ottoman panel a blue ribbon commission and get leaders in this industry to talk about how to revive and save the industry. i think we need to put all of our heads together if we can put together an infrastructure and pass an infrastructure bill. look this affects everybody right or left. everybody needs facts and news. so it i i know that there are enough people on both sides of the aisle that want this done for heaven's sakes. i think it was jim jordan and and jamie raskin who co-sponsored the last bill for a national shield law to report different people. you'll never find but they agree on the need for free speech and supporting it and those we need to get these people together and get legislation passed and and get you know bailouts and if we can bail out the large snls we can bail out, you know small
newspapers and i think that should be our priority. and i know now we're getting close to the time where we got a field some other questions, right? yeah, so that well, that's what i'm gonna do here actually was gonna transition over and and ask you some of these audience questions what well go for it, whatever you got. all right. yeah. so this comes from an anonymous it's indeed. okay ask. that the only way home wherever we go. what would be your first step in changing the relationship between the people and the press, how can we get the people to trust the press again? well, you got to get a you got to get an independent press it's that simple and look your reputation is build every day on on making sure that what you're reporting is factual and people are going to make mistakes. i you're not fake media. you're just a human being. you know when the titanic was first reported, i've got four different newspaper front pages down stairs in my house.
let's say you know everyone saved 200 people died 300 people that went to the fourth one, which was a week later that came out with the right numbers. it wasn't fake media when false news. it was what the best news we had at the time that we printed it. we need to a understand that and be when we do make mistakes. here's something that we don't have much of today and that is ombudsman. we need to make sure that when we make a mistake, we acknowledge that we made the mistake and we correct the mistake as quickly as possible if you can't do that you're in deep trouble. all right. next question. i'm ready good question and a good answer mr. guest. all right, so actually let's start the top here because it's a little different but what this comes from audience member patricia and she asks, what do you consider the best question you've ever asked. are you a free saturday night when i asked your mother out for a date, but i'll approve that
answer because it led directly to me. so yeah professionally, i think the best question i i i don't know. that's a good that's a that's actually a great question. i think the question i asked that had the most. impact was the one i asked september 23rd of donald trump and before the election and said win loser draw we accept a peaceful transfer of power. and i think that showed us right then the insurrection was as eminent and i think that's the most impactful question of asked of him. that's absolutely so moving on them. keep on going here. what's your current? this comes from anonymous attendee? so this is a what's your current impression of how the press interaction of the government are reporters more buttoned up and does that keep them from posing important and difficult to the leaders. my impression is the press interacts. with the government pretty poorly we need to challenge them
and i think that comes because i don't think reporters are more buttoned up. i think they're afraid of losing access more than anything else and i think that they're younger and less experienced and the one thing always tell young reporters when when i have them working for me is you don't work for the government those people work for you. hold them accountable put their feet to the fire truth to power. i'll back you a thousand percent. you never have to worry go after them if you're afraid that you're gonna get fired or lose access because you're doing your your job. that's a problem. okay, absolutely. all right. let's keep on going here anonymous attendee again, how have you adapted to the digitization of news media? how does it help or hurt journalists? i think i covered that pretty much i we yeah, we have to adapt and understand that newspapers
print and television and radio and internet are all now pretty much the same. i mean, there's components of newspapers, you know on all your television websites. you just need better copy editors more that's more copy editors if we need anything else in the world. we need copy editors. okay, all that brad see the next one is from brennan. okay, you want me to that one? all right. so yeah to follow up on the question earlier after everything you've been through especially the last few years. do you have an optimistic view of the future? and if so, what does that look like? i do have an optimistic view of the future as long as i'm breathing. i have noticing view of the future and i i think that what it looks like. is breaking up medium monopolies supporting a community journalism and making sure that the rails are put back in place that we run in the right direction. and absolutely and is that that leads me to a quick question? do you see that at like in the
ethos in like in the white house press room like as far as do they do the reporters there see themselves as part of the guardrails for the government or is that not so i i think we we've got to get better at framing the argument and that's one of the reasons why you need experience people in the white house who know what the issues are who have covered the issues and one of the things you know, walter cronkite was great because he had experiences a beat reporter and covered world war two so when he went to vietnam and reported that he didn't think that we could win and lbj said i've lost middle america if i've lost walter cronkite people respected him because he had he was he never made himself the story although he came out and gave an opinion and an opinions aren't unheard of in news. there's nothing wrong with them. you need to respect the person who's doing it and walter cronkite had the respect because people knew he had the gravitas.
that's the difference. we need the gravitas. we need to our institution respect that a little bit more. all right. so good moving on here. this is more of a mcafee. but what and pamela mcafee i think right? is that the question we're getting different ones. which one are you seeing? how can you bring the fairness doctor back? there you go. yeah. yeah fairness doctor back. without the threat of out. is that where you're talking to fairness doctor and back without the threat of losing your fcc license. you have to lose you. you need to threaten them to lose their sec license quick answer there. there has to be there has to be a consequences for for that. you okay? all right. so here's one from an anonymous attendee. and what ways does the government limit press access? oh, well, that's quite easy. there's a number of ways in
which they put limit access personally limit access to information but not filling out for you. you fill out freedom of information requests, and they don't give you the information. that happens at federal level the state and local level. they make you they charge you they make it cost prohibitive. oh you want copies of that report? well, okay. it's gonna be a dollar a page 10 cost dollar page. yeah, it does because we got to have somebody do the job of making the copy so, you know, you want 10 copies. yeah and small newspapers can't afford that. mmm information needs to be made available. and by the way today just put it on an email and send it. you know, here's put it on this on my portable stick, you know my thumb drive that that needs to to take a place and then the other ways they restrict access is oh there's that guy that did the bad story on us. he's not going on air force one. oh, there's the guy who i'm not gonna answer that question because that guy's gonna be you
know, tough. i'm gonna call on, you know, billy bob over here who's gonna ask me that the easy question that i know and i like now look in the press briefing when there are times when everyone every press agent every press secretary is gone to the easy question that they know is going to be asked so they can get a breath in between the tough questions that they are they're going to be asked got no problem with that, but you can't restrict access to the reporters that are gonna ask you the hard questions open it up. don't close it down that benefits the republican by the way politicians that makes you a lot better and all the politicians who say well, they're just gonna make fun of me. we're gonna make fun of you. anyway, you might as well let the tough questions. come at you. all right. so we'll go on to this one here. do you have a personal line that you won't cross when it comes to decorma etiquette when conducting interviews?
well, yeah, of course, but i i first i'm never gonna lie to tell you. i'm not a reporter. i'm gonna be honest with you and say this is a reporter and i got to ask you a question. i've seen people, you know wonder about that now. i have walked up to someone and ask them a question and they didn't know i was a reporter i said, oh wait. i want you to know i'm a reporter. yeah, but at the same time i yeah, there's always ethical lines that you you don't cross. i'm not gonna lie to you. i'm not gonna you know dress up as a fireman, you know, there's that great. yeah, but on the other hand guess what the government has dressed up as reporters during the reagan administration. they had people dressed pretend to be reporters and crossed a very ethical line that they should never cross the government does it we should not but i have no problem asking anyone any question at any point in time. there's no such thing as a bad question. there are only bad answers.
great. all right. here we go. now i'm satindi as a 20 something. i appreciate your explanation of meeting experience in journalism to do an adequate job. what's your best piece of advice to those first starting out? the advice i always give every reporter i've ever hired. i want you to have a balanced education. i don't care if you have you know, a degree, honestly, i don't know you that's that's not what's important what i want you to be balanced fair and curious. i want you to to go out and be happy with what you're doing and always ask another question and always if you walk out of the newsroom thinking this story is a be prepared for it to change directions it would be be without that you can't that's me without that. you cannot be a good reporter. you have to be willing and able to to change your mind on at a moment's notice.
secure um here we go, brian i skip one and we'll go back to janice, but i just saw jeff spivak is up there. yeah, that's when i was gonna move on to yeah, that's the jeff one because he's a definite. yes. let's be back ryan. what does it say about our country that you've spent time in jail, but donald trump hasn't i'm sorry repeat was we we kind of crossed over ryan. what does it say about our country that you've spent time in jail, but donald trump has not it. i love you jeff. that's it. and you know, i you that the i don't know what it says. i it it's scary to me that that has happened. but i i think it tells us that. money buys you free time i think it's scary that that i but you know, he hasn't been charged with a crime and for the record. i was in charge with a crime. i was just i was a i had a
confidential source i was held in contempt of court, but you know a little jail time would would probably make him a little more humble. okay, so let's go here. well, this is more of a statement this couple. what i'm trying to be political about it, yeah. so yeah, janice paulson says as an older person who is in contact with other seniors who say i don't listen to the news. it's too depressing and sad makes me upset ignorance is what they want to take advantage of the people and i'll just power and we can't let them take it back from us more of a statement. but yeah. your thoughts yeah. knowledge is power and you have to be curious and want the knowledge one of the biggest problems is a lack of education in this country lack of decent reporting and guess what? we don't vote. i mean, you know, we consider a great voter turnout slightly over 50% which means even if a majority of the voters vote you
in that's still a minority of the electorate you need to take democracy seriously, and you know it was well thomas jefferson who's said if he had you know, he fought tooth and nail and i cover that in the book too. he fought tooth and nail with a free press and and actually sued a bunch of times and tried to get people to stop printing things. but he said, you know given the choice between a no government or no, press he gladly take no government or you know words to that effect. i think you have to be involved it democracy doesn't work. unless people are involved in educated. so come leads to actually this is a kind of follow not necessarily followed, but you know we'll just here question from only easily and she says do you have ideas about how the us can add guardrails to social media considering our first amendment? this is where many get their their news yet. algorithm spons etc. so destructive to society we have well i that's a good
question. i think that that's covered in the book. i think pick up the book and read it. yes. they're covered in the book it no definitely is. yeah we can add guardrails to social media. it's it and it's two really in-depth to go into here, but i go through in the book numbers of ways in which it can be done. but the fairness doctrine can appeal can apply and and to them yes, well kind of like to your point earlier about in what you do address in the book is not excluding these social media like influencers and people that are you know doing this news rather bringing them into the fold and getting them to be more not necessarily, you know, but kind of so that way you can introduce a lot of the you know, like the actual education professionalism you were talking about that's what i try to do in this book. i'm not disparaging bloggers. i just want to educate absolutely. yeah and they'll get man go
you're an idiot, you know about well, i can't help you there. yeah. i i know my 40 years of experience pales and comparison to the three or four you've spent doing your blog or your podcast, but you know if you if there was more accountability and more people doing just some of the basics of journalism, i think better off and if that sounds elitist, i forgive me, it's just 40 years of experience talking and and and i'm an old fart and i i am set my ways about what journalism is, and i'm not i'm not changing that but can we go to sleep rosemont? you let's go and say yeah. mission all right. so from stephen rosenbaum, do you think that the january 6th commission will get the justice department to bring charges against any members of the former administration or congress. if so, when? boy, he i love that question, too. i think that there will be charges. we already seen the oath keepers have you know the head of the other speakers got caught charged in the last couple of days?
congress is another matter. i hope so and i don't know but i think that if we're going to have justice that though the january 6th commission is going to have to go after the seditious actions of members of congress. i think their traders i was there make no mistake about it. we came that close to losing our democracy. the fight is still on. they need to be held accountable most members of congress who responsible need to be expelled and if you don't agree, i'm sorry, but i was there and i'll talk to someone else who was there and witnessed it for themselves, but i will not hear an opinion from someone who doesn't know what went on and you can accuse me of anything you want, but you're ignorance does not equal the knowledge that others have from first-hand experience. and if you think that makes you partisan, i would correct you and say no having the fact and
knowing and seeing things firsthand is tantamount to making an informed decision which is why you need journalists. i think we need to expel those congressmen. i think we need to hold them all accountable. i would investigate indict and prosecute every single person that was involved. all right. we have like a few so i'm gonna try and got a couple of minutes. yeah, what got a few few minutes left go on. yeah. all right, so and some of these some of these have been like partially addressed. so, you know, i'm just gonna read through them and if they're you know, kind of it opens up something that'd be great. so how do you get this comes from anonymous attendee? how do you get people to actually believe facts and not continue to see lives as if they are facts. well, you got a whole journalists accountable for reporting facts and then once once the facts are reported, you have to hold people responsible for those facts. no the fact the facts are this and you know, i'm staying in my
lane. i'm not an infectious disease expert i trust those people who are infectious disease experts because they they went through a lot of education to get where they are dr. fauci isn't the problem dr. fauci is part of the solution and if you can accept that as a fact, i can't help you. there's just a way of helping you, okay? all right, so i'm moving on did you spend a lot another anonymous attendee? did you spend a lot of time reading through legislation? would it be way simplify some of our legal rhetoric? most americans not lawyers. we are the most lawyers aren't writers though. they think they are not it's the there's two. oh, i do want to get to well, did you want to answer that one? i mean, yeah, i think that's the answer. i would it be worth it. yes. i would love to simplify our legal rhetoric because most americans most lawyers aren't writers and they think they are they love the sound of their own voice. no, absolutely so it should okay. okay. yeah. i i want to go to that one
interview pet peeves. can i answer that? yeah share any interview yeah, my i have one big pet peeve when i interview someone. don't -- in my ear and tell me it's raining. i i grew up from a long line of my dad sold cars for a living. my uncle's were attorneys. my grandfather was a lawyer and a judge. i know -- when i smell it. so you can try to -- me. you can try to bamboozle me all you want but brother just tell me the truth and things go a lot easier so my pet peeve is when people try to bs me and think i'm gonna fall for their bs and don't try to intimidate me either that doesn't work the last president found that out. just be just deal with me honestly, and that's the best way to do it. alrighty, so here where do you
draw a line when it comes to canceling people and limiting access to media? some people think trump is better off as a candidate now that he's banned from twitter. i don't believe in canceling anybody. i don't believe in reporting on trump because i don't care what he says right now when he makes news, i i wrote a column about this a few weeks ago after he is indicted or if he is indicted or if he declares himself a candidate then he becomes newsworthy again his his ramblings and his misogynistic speaking and his self glorification is just an idiot on the sidelines screaming and we got enough of them and i don't care so i i don't cancel. i don't think anybody should be canceled that's garbage, but i sure as hell don't need to report on donald trump right now because he's also garbage okay, interesting this sue kind of i like that one on the bottom too,
right? yeah. so from anonymous to me. is there anything that you would have done differently over the course of your career? a little brush my teeth better. i don't know. i don't because i like where i am now, so if i done anything differently i wouldn't be where i am now. um, i don't regret any action that i've taken as a reporter my mistakes i learned from him. we all make them and if you're happy where you are as a human being then there really is no need to visit. what would i done differently over the course of my career? i did what i thought i needed to do at the time. i did it. sometimes i was right sometimes i'm wrong. i'm a human being we're all gonna be right all gonna be wrong. all right. so this one just came in from mary marlene and it's says i see nonsense report on so many of my tv stations here in utah. how does a consumer of news that energy didn't finish the
question? yes. how do you discern what i think where she's going with that is yeah. how do you discern that's where you need to be a voracious consumer of news and facts and more than one source, and how do you complain to the networks? that's easy. call them up. yeah, if it's a network if it's a local television station called the local television station, you know, people say you can't fight city hall sure you can you just got to do it. it's not easy. um, i think we got some people one more. maybe it's more. oh, we got two more. let's try to get yeah, would you ever consider opening up your community paper again? i would love to at some point time consider doing it. i think it's real important to have community newspapers. they're fun to they're they're actually fun to work on young reporters are my favorite reporters to work with because they all want to learn and they're all you know if i've been very blessed with the people who have worked for me. they've all been really really
good and i've enjoyed the experience immensely. all right, and then finally, can you talk about the importance of first-hand experience ie working and reporting on the border or covering city hall etc. well, i think there's nothing more important. then being out in the field and work the i learned a lot working on the border enough to know that the bs that passes today. is that bs you need to get out and see for yourself these things. that's one of the best i'll end it this way the best part of being a reporter is getting to go out and see the world as it really is and reporting it to your fellow citizens and letting them know what's going on and there's a joy in seeing it with your own eyes traveling the world on somebody else's nickel is really good too. since most reporters aren't paid squad. so the idea of traveling the world and seeing what's going on is really really important and i've appreciated all of that.
i think that's i think we got brad back with us. good job moderating zach. i think you've done your dad proud and and brian don't you don't you love it when when your kids ask you? why it matters is someone has 30 or 40 years. i got the two from from my kids every now and then but as your books as your book shows brian, it certainly does help not only to know the history of journalism in this country, but but to have experienced it and do provide a lot of perspective and some very constructive suggestions. for reviving what's been what's been lost? unfortunately in the news media. well, thanks brad. i appreciate that. to everyone watching. thanks for tuning in a reminder that in the chat column. you can find a link for purchasing copies of free the press. from all of us here at politics
and pros stay well.welcome to 'h in forum and the commonwealth club. i'm sure i'll evans davis the executive director of the san francisco human rights commission, and i'm pleased to be moderating. today's program. i am beyond honored to be in conversation with renown civil rights activists host of msnbc's politics nation founder of the national action network and author of the