"Is Fake News a Myth?" - Sharyl Attkisson

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[Music] well good morning good morning and welcome back hmm if I could ask everyone to take a seat try to get the volume level down just a little bit too much freedom may be in this group good morning welcome good morning and welcome to our second day of this Hillsdale College national leadership seminar in case you missed the program last night my name is Tim Casper I work at Hillsdale College in the external affairs department where else to serve as deputy editor of an Primus and I have the privilege of teaching in the politics department at Hillsdale College before we get started I wanted to say for the record that when I said last night that Frank Luntz had three hours to speak I was joking again welcome I'll be our emcee today before introducing our first speaker I'd like to point out that the college has some literature tables set up outside of this room there are lots of publications they're put out by the college including issues of in Primus I mentioned last night that the circulation of an promise is bigger than ever but it's not big enough so keep keep sending us those names and we'll keep adding them to the list our first speaker this morning is sharyl Attkisson she's an Emmy award-winning investigative journalist and the host of Sinclair Broadcast group's Sunday morning news program full measure previously she has been a correspondent for CBS News and an anchor and correspondent for CNN for five years while at CBS she hosted health week 1/2 hour weekly medical news magazine on PBS she's a graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and communications and she spent the early part of her career working in local news as a reporter an anchor and producer in Florida and Ohio she's received multiple awards for her work in addition to her Emmys these include the Barbara Olson award for excellence in independence in journalism and the Edward R Murrow award for excellence and investigative reporting in the midst of her excellent reporting work she also finds time to write she is the co-author of a college textbook and author of two bestsellers the most recent of these is the smear how shady political operatives and fake news control what you see what you think and how you vote fake news is the subject of her talk this morning please welcome to the podium cheryl atkinson can you see me I'm so short I can't see you hi Molly so the subject of the talk was requested that I speak about his fake news a myth and I thought I'd begin with an informal fake news survey so question number what is going to be when do you think the term fake news in its modern context started being used and argued about I'm going to give you four choices I'll let you know in advance what they are was a pre-2012 was it during the 2012 campaign then again more so in 2016 was it an early 2015 as the most recent presidential campaign began or was it less than two months before the 2016 elections so if you think fake news came up pre 2012 raise your hand mm-hmm during the 2012 campaign for a little bit but then more so in 2016 okay how about early 2015 just during this election cycle and then fourth choice who thinks that came up about less than two months before the election was over yes you people are right number two who invented the phrase fake news in its modern context your choices here are the left the right the media and Donald Trump who thinks it was the left who thinks it was the right who thinks it was the media who thinks it was Donald Trump I have some information for you all today that will surprise you I too was surprised the answer the question is fake news first arose in its modern context as far as I can tell about two months before the election seem like we've been talking about it for years we had not been I did a pretty thorough search on this as a research for my book looking for the origins of this of this I was surprised too I remember though looking back that I first heard a hint of it when President Obama gave a speech and it was on October 13 2016 at Carnegie Mellon in this speech he insisted that somebody needed to step in and curate information in the wild wild west media environment I thought it was strange because literally absolutely nobody was asking for any such thing people in the public were not saying please government or please third party step in and curate my information for me but I knew it was no accident or off-the-cuff remark because when the president makes a speech like that and comes up with an idea it's an initiative it's an agenda so what was it I wondered and whose interest did this know did this notion serve my question was who wanted to control the information we were receiving on the internet and on the news and why if you think about it the Internet is really kind of last bastion where you can get every kind of idea imaginable for better for worse uncensored so if the government for example were to try to shape or censor a topic well the Internet is the great equalizer if the government of the corporations or the news media we're to try to controversial eyes certain topics or sense of them well you can still go and exchange these ideas on the Internet who is it who doesn't want that to be the case is the question so let's back up a little bit and look at the origin of fake news before it was called that fake news has pretty much always been embedded in our culture just wasn't called that for example the 1950s and 60s some of you may remember the supermarket rags they gave popular rise to blatantly fake news like front page images of aliens impregnating unsuspecting and usually large breasted earthling women right we all knew that was fake news but there are lots of examples of fake news surfacing in mainstream news so here's just a few of them in 1996 you may remember a news media frenzy wrongly blamed a security guard named Richard Jewell for the Atlanta Olympic bombing remember poor Joel we were chasing him around at his mother's house the media had pretty much convicted him in the headlines every day we later learned poor Jule had actually been a hero moving people away from a suspicious backpack before it exploded also in the 1990s the press widely reported that a Chinese scientist named Wynn wholly had stolen the design plans to our most sensitive nuclear warheads warhead secrets which is called the w88 and I broke the story at CBS News that the FBI had actually framed the scientists lying about his polygraph they said that he had failed when in fact he had passed with flying colors and the government had actually leaked the false information to a willing press on 9/11 a TV network news reporter falsely reported that one of the terrorist planes crashed in the presidential retreat Camp David never happened and yet they never corrected that by the way in 2014 you probably remember this when Rolling Stone reported on a sensational case of a fraternity gang rape that turned out to be so unsubstantiated that Rolling Stone retracted the article and the reporter was found guilty of malice and a defamation lawsuit and here's a huge one that I don't hear people talk about much in 2014 the police shooting of Michael Brown remember day in and day out the hands up don't shoot scenario was reported on its it launched movements it launched riots well eventually even the Obama Justice Department eventually said that the entire hands up don't shoot scenario was probably fabricated and they said the police officer actually acted in legitimate self-defense I'm sure you can think of a hundred more examples but why didn't we call any of this fake news when did that begin and why well the first widespread use of the phrase in its modern context that I could find was exactly one month before that President Obama speech at Carnegie Mellon on September 13 2016 a nonprofit called first draft announced a partnership to tackle malicious hoaxes and fake news reports seem to be a legitimate thing they said the goal was to separate wheat from chaff and prevent unproven conspiracy talk from figuring prominently in internet searches to relegate today's version of the alien baby story to a special Internet oblivion then came President Obama's speech the topic of fake news suddenly dominated headlines from this point on every day I mean it seemed to me as if the media have been given its marching orders fake news they insisted was an imminent threat to American democracy in November a month later President Obama continued his hard sell against fake news this is 2016 he said in a speech if we are not serious about facts and what's true and what's not we can't discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda then we have problems if everything seems to be the same no distinctions are made then we won't know what to protect we won't know what to fight for I didn't know what he was talking about mind you this was all the beginning of the campaign that we soon saw to aggressively fact-check not only some in the news media but every word that trump utters or tweets not as predecessors or his opponents mind you but Trump and it was also the beginning of the push that we saw for Facebook and Twitter and other third parties to judge and call out supposedly fake news but as a reporter who studied the industry that seeks to manipulate us on behalf of paid interests I know that few themes that arise on the news or a few things distributed through politicians arise organically a noted propagandists I interviewed for my book the smear told me you know nearly every image that crosses your path and daily life or on the news was put there for a reason often by I'm gonna pay a lot of money to place it there my question was was the whole anti fake news campaign an attempt to shape our views and limit our access to certain information by labeling selected websites and stories as fake and controversial izing them but who would be doing that in the job that I have I find that if you follow the money you often get a lot of answers to questions so I want to know who is behind the funding for that nonprofit first draft and it's anti fake news campaign I did a little digging what really wasn't very hard it turns out the funding came from Google Google's parent company alphabet was headed at the time by a man named Eric Schmidt who happens to have devoted himself to Hillary Clinton's election campaign offered himself up as a strategist to her campaign and is listed right now on open secrets as her number one campaign donor through his company alphabet with more than 1.6 million dollars so his company funded this nonprofit first draft around the start of the election cycle so it's no surprise that Hillary Clinton supporter and surrogate david brock next turned up prominently in the anti fake news movement on December 5th 2016 Huffington Post published an opinion piece from Barak that seemed to blame conservative fake news for Hillary Clinton's defeat Brock wrote this fake news is an existential threat to our democracy for the first time in our history we have a Minister of disinformation Trump advisor Steve Bannon who commanded a vast proto-fascist media empire operating from a plum perch in the West Wing the next day Brock held a conference call detailing his plans to remake his flagship smear group Media Matters into something new an effort that pivoted from being a Fox antagonist he said into an arbiter of what he called alt-right fake news outlets all conservative of course Brock announced that he would be working personally to pressure Facebook and Google to better filter out fake news the first order of business he said is for some of these companies to adopt standards and clean their own now for a little background in context counting just two of Brock's super PACs and he has a whole host of LLC's and nonprofits and super PACs and all kinds of groups under different names but just for the two super PACs he had collected and spent more than 50 million dollars in Liberal donor money in the 2012 and 2016 campaigns to try to get Clinton elected or to support other liberal causes was he privately blaming the freewheelin internet for his machines failure to convince enough donors to vote or enough voters to vote for Clinton despite the fact that Clinton raised far more money than President Trump and was able to dominate the mainstream news and social media narratives so completely that almost everybody thought that Clinton was gonna win but the irony of brought going after fake news wasn't lost on a lot of people one of my friends wrote to me who's a journalist the ultimate huckster has announced he's going to lead the fight against fake news a conservative blogger wrote in an article virtually everything that david brock does would qualify as fake news under any objective criteria a day after Brock made his announcement by the way he resigned from the Citizens for responsibility and ethics in Washington which is called khru it's one of the groups he had taken over and transformed from a watchdog into a highly partisan campaign tool to attack Republicans he said he was retiring from that position because he needed more time to devote to his anti fake news campaign the next day the intensely political nature of this movement became clear when Hillary personally jumped aboard the anti fake news Train she spoke this was in December of 2016 to reporters after meeting with members of Congress she claimed to be appalled by what she called the epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year again I think there's a lot of irony there because Clinton herself has a long-standing relationship with fake news she had falsely blamed a YouTube video for the September 11th 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks while acknowledging privately in emails from the start that she knew Islamic extremist terrorists were she'd falsely said that we had dodged sniper fire on a trip in Bosnia nobody shot at us and she'd falsely claimed that she never handled classified information on her private servers the FBI says it found 2093 classified emails including some that were top-secret but in her appearance at the Capitol Clinton tells reporters it is now clear that so-called fake news can have real-world consequences now at the time she was referring to the arrest of a gunman who had fired shots at the pizza restaurant named in pizza gate you remember the pizza gate scandal the suspect was apparently motivated by online fake news reports lives are at risk Clinton declared it's a danger that must be addressed and addressed quickly it's imperative that leaders in both the private and public sectors step up to protect our democracy and innocent lives by the way don't you think it's sort of an odd coincidence that the owner of the pizza restaurant involved in pizza gate was a former David Brock boyfriend it's a true story just days after Brock and Clinton announced that they were gonna go after fake news Facebook cracked it announced new steps to curb the spread of fake news CBS reported at the time that that step was the result of months of public pressure as far as I could tell the months of public pressure came not from the public at large but from special interests executing an orchestrated campaign in fact Brock would later tell his donors his and Media Matters that he was largely responsible for forcing Facebook's hand but suddenly everybody was talking about fake news it was on the headlines day in and day out then along came Donald Trump the wild card probably the only politician that could have her would have been able to change this dynamic and kind of turn the campaign on its head each time advocates cried fake news Donald Trump called them fake news he made his rallying cry at rallies and he called out CNN Trump redefined it basically fake news he said was mainstream news organizations reporting false information or making mistakes due to sloppiness or so now the right had its definition the left had its definition the left move forward with its efforts to establish systems to curate or control their idea of fake news problem is of course who they were appointing as the curators some of them had conflicts of interest with the entities that their fact-checking some are guilty of so-called fake news themselves so let's look at a few examples of that we already mentioned google and alphabets ties to the Hillary campaign but before that Google advised Obama and Google representatives in fact were invited to more than 420 closed-door meetings in the Obama White House Facebook's new plan to help crack down on fake news included collaborating with pointer Institute's PolitiFact ABC News factcheck.org The Associated Press and Snopes now this audience probably already knows the possible perils of all that from a neutrality standpoint its relying on some of the very organizations that have gotten caught in compromising situations or engaged in transactional journalism or reported biased and incorrect news themselves let's take ABC for instance ABC has been accused in the past of shelving or skewing negative stories about its corporate parent the walt disney company ABC miss reported that there was a possible link between the conservative Tea Party and the killer in a mass shooting in Aurora Colorado remember that one 2012 ABC News routinely allowed TV host George Stephanopoulos to conduct political interviews throughout campaign 2016 without disclosing his status as a Clinton Foundation donor and a former top aide to President Clinton after it was appointed as a fact checker ABC was the very network that falsely reported that president Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn was going to testify that Trump had directed Flynn to contact the Russians false fake news but they're judging fake news anywho according to Facebook each fact-checking entity would be given access to a tool to evaluate stories that may be inaccurate if the chosen fact-checkers agrees story is misleading the story would get a disputed label stamped on it and then an article reference explaining why it's supposedly false so now in March of 2017 that Google funded nonprofit first draft they released their own field guide to fake news which I looked through it included a category described as anti-liberal fake news sites but none that were anti conservative apparently under the definition used by first draft and its partners there aren't any left-leaning bad actors that are worthy of mention only right meantime Trump kept up the drumbeat and worked his supporters into a frenzy with his own campaign against his definition of fake news he managed to co-opt the term so completely but this kind of cracked me up in January of 2017 even some of the entities that were originally promoting the phrase started running from it and crying uncle for example the Washington Post wrote it's time to retire the tainted term fake news in fact it's now commonly missed reported that it was Trump who thought up the phrase actually it was just a hostile takeover you get a drink we'll go on so that kind of takes care of the genesis of all this fake news stuff but if you see the anti fake news campaign as I do an effort to control certain information and censor other information with the media's help it's an extension of a phenomenon I call transactional journalism or the black market information trade what do I mean by that I mean the friendly mutually beneficial relationships that have developed between reporters and those on whom we report it's when relationships cross a line beyond chumminess and the players strike clandestine business deals whether formally are implicitly to report on people and topics a certain way reporters may offer favorable treatment in exchange for giving what they call a scoop they may agree to let an interview subject dictate terms and topics and timing of publication they may promise to ask some questions and avoid others they may carry on cozy relationships that allow their reporting to be influenced in ways they don't disclose to the public usually reporters are for the most favorable treatment to those with whom they're ideologically in sync all of this crosses an ethical line in my opinion transactional journalism results in a perverted dynamic public officials basically manipulate us in the press into competing to be first to receive the government and political propaganda self-serving rumors or press releases promoting agendas and smearing opponents and let me tell you how it works in the newsrooms the reporter who's first to publish these handouts gets a hearty pat on the back from colleagues and their bosses great get they say and the news business a great get used to mean to me that you as a reporter got an exclusive story as a result of your ingenuity and shoe-leather journalism and persistence today it simply means that you're the recipient of a White House or political party leaked transactional journalism is basically a vehicle that serves as a smokescreen it makes narratives appear to be organic hard-nosed journalism when they're the exact opposite topics and people make news now because it's all been pre-arranged pre-planned and agreed upon when I first started reporting at a national level I listened as colleagues and managers spoke in awe of many stories broken by certain noted journalists and publications the rest of us were often sent chasing after their exclusives you know see if you can get what they got why couldn't you get that story but after a few years I learned that many of these stories were not the result of hard work and digging at least not on the part of the journalists the reporters were simply willing repositories for propaganda by operators and smear artists who literally call them on the phone and leak information that they want reported as if it's somehow news rather than propaganda or a press release simple as that it's hardly reporting in my book in fact when I went to journalism College to the University of Florida one thing that really sticks in my mind is they told us a lot of people will come to you with press releases and talking points and things they want you to report you do not report that if it's something that's interesting and may be a starting point for a story and then you have to ask yourself which part of the story do I have what else do I need to confirm to get the whole story maybe you've got part of it maybe some of it's true maybe some of it isn't but it's not something that you published that's called propaganda today instead of recognizing these so-called exclusives for what they really are handouts from players advocating for their interests or smearing opposing views we in the news media covet them and perpetuate them and encourage this whole syndrome work in Washington DC long enough and you get wise to what's really happening you tell your managers the objects of their desire these stories that they see the competition get that they want a little more than press releases that certain special interests weren't publicized for their own advantage some managers get it but some tune out they just wish you had the exclusives and it's not just in this country when I was writing the book the last book the smear a US smear operator I spoke to who worked on a foreign election campaign told me how he discovered much to his delight that many knew publications overseas are overtly in the tank for one political candidate or another actively shaping the artificial reality that the public sees the news publications attempts to influence votes go far beyond typical endorsement are common on the editorial pages they use their news stories to construct a desired reality here's what he told me two foreign newspapers called me and basically said tell us what you want us to report give us the information and tell us when you want us to publish it obviously that kind of service was good for him and his candidate it was to my benefit he told me but even I thought it was kind of outrageous here in the u.s. there have always been questionable dealings between some reporters and the interests they cover whether Democrat Republican or corporate interests but thanks to the persistent nature of email we actually have some documentary evidence that exposes the black market information trade in some specific cases that we will discuss right now it's basically revealing the transactional nature ship of relationships between news makers and the media every day's it should it shows that deals are being cut in secret backs are being scratched one hand is washing another it makes it easy for special interest to accomplish a smear or put forth their agenda emails dating back to Obama's first months in office unmasked transactional journalism conducted by Washington reporter mark M bender from the Atlantic he's also written for New York Times New Yorker Washington Post vice hotline ABC News and CBS because I guess his brand of journalism is what they want this particular transaction I'm gonna read you takes place July 15 2009 as Secretary of State Clinton is set to make a speech now under normal circumstances a speech like this isn't considered very newsworthy sort of a boring speech at a think tank tank type of thing and her aide Philippe Rhines might normally have to work pretty hard to get anyone interested in covering it but in today's dynamic an advanced copy of the Clinton speech would be heralded as a great get and so Amador wants it the question is what is he willing to do to get it in an email exchange the Clinton aide Philippe Rimes tells am banned or the reporter there are certain conditions he must meet in order to get the text of the speech Amanda replies okay so Hillary's aide Rhines dictates in a numbered list number one you and your own voice describe Hillary's words as muscular number two you note that a look at the audience seating plan shows that all the envoys envoys will be arrayed in front of her which in your own clever way you can say is certainly not a coincidence and meant to convey something and number three you don't say you were blackmailed this is all in writing notice ambetter say I'm sorry but I'm a journalist and I can't really be dictated to like that we're just gonna have to take a pass no he emails back got it here's an excerpt from a mother's final article when you think of President Obama's foreign policy think of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that's the message behind a muscular speech that Clinton is set to deliver today to the Council on Foreign Relations he also noted the seating arrangement the way Clinton's aide had demanded once these emails became public it was around February of 2016 the Atlantic issued a statement that said this is not typical and it goes against our standards Amand are insisted the emails didn't capture the totality of his communications and weren't indicative of his normal reporting techniques he said the way Rhines had described the Clinton speech it was muscular so I found the adjective appropriate so muscular was my word no one fed me anything period well I did a little searching on Google it must be a coincidence then that I found other reporters who thought up the exact same unusual adjectives when describing the same Clinton speech Washington fixture Mike Allen of Politico formerly of the New York Times and time also called that same speech muscular and noted the seating arrangement the way Clinton's aide instructed an vendor to do likewise the headline at New York magazine used the word yes muscular and the article actually had a cartoon of Clinton with bodybuilder arms in it it's just one example of why I say when you notice the news media or pundits all seizing upon similar terminology it's reasonable to suspect it might be an orchestrated effort more emails on July 26 2009 when Secretary of State Clinton appeared on NBC's Meet the Press the reporter Anne bender emailed Clinton aide Rhines adoringly she kicked a in 2010 after Clinton press conference and bender gushed in another email this is an awesome presser she's pitch effing perfect on this stuff moving on to different topics different people there's more secret collusion between news reporters and federal officials to be found in emails between the CIA and Kendall a nyan an AP reporter who had previously covered the CIA for the Los Angeles Times the emails these are from 2012 revealed a surprisingly deferential and collaborative relationship according to the intercept which obtained the emails Delaney ins interactions with the CIA include him explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office of the CIA entire story drafts to review prior to publication this is a stark departure from normal ethical practices here's what he wrote I'm working on a story about congressional oversight of drone stock strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys he told the CIA and he added that the story will be reassuring to the public later Delaney ins sent the CIA press office a draft of his story and invited them to weigh in this is where we are headed he wrote asking if they wanted to push back on any of this later he emailed the CIA a softer version according to the intercept and asked does this look any better emails from 2013 show politico's mike allen greasing the skids with clinton Rhines now to set the stage for this Obama is about to be sworn into a second term Clinton is leaving her Secretary of State job post Benghazi and she has presidential aspirations well it turns out Allen has some of his own aspirations he wants Rhines Clinton's aide to arrange a high profile interview with Clinton's daughter Chelsea to get it Allen offers to sacrifice the basic tenets of journalism here's what he wrote this would be a way to send a message during an arguably no one besides me would ask Chelsea a question and you and I would agree on them precisely in advance he continued bargaining by offering up favorable conditions as he imagined how the Chelsea interview would play out this would be a relaxed conversation our innovative format always gets heavy social media pick up the interview would be no surprises I would work with you on topics and would start with anything she wants to cover or make news on quicker than a network hit and reaching an audience that you care about with no risk sounds kind of like a used car salesman now it's an unmitigated ethics violation for a reporter to offer to agree on precise questions in advance and conference with the person he's going to be interviewing or their representatives at least it used to be that's because it results in secretly pre-scripted events that require play-acting by both sides fake news despite Alan's alluring offer he doesn't get the Chelsea interview in 2015 the whole email exchange was obtained and publicized by the gossip website Gawker which sardonically commented Chelsea Clinton ultimately declined Alan's generous offer not to ask her any questions that she didn't already know about okay so here's a good one Alan replied to the fuss once the emails were made public with a brief item that he wrote in Politico titled my bad in it he brushed off the gaffe as clumsy as if he'd been misunderstood you may have missed a Gawker post last week that rightly took me to task for something clumsy I wrote in an email to Philippe Rhines seeking an interview with Chelsea Clinton at a political brunch and the email I said I'd agree to ask to the questions to be asked in advance I have never done that and would never do that he insisted his explanation seemed oblivious to the contradiction was he misleading Rhines at the time or as he misleading us now he continued Politico has a policy against it and it would make for a boring event as you know from attending our events they're spontaneous conversational news driven a scripted back-and-forth would be a snore we didn't do the interview with Chelsea Clinton and we would never clear our questions but the email makes me cringe because I should have never suggested that we would we retain full unambiguous editorial control over our events and questioning that explanation makes me think of Orwellian doublethink so I actually went to my 1984 book looked it up and wrote down this definition to know and not know to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously and accepting both of them to tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them to forget any fact that has become inconvenient so this pretty much sums up might take a fake news and the transactional journalism that helps make it possible and why I say when you watch the news I recommend you do it as I do and ask yourself who wants me to believe that and why and I'd be happy to take some questions so we have time for some questions it's a little cozy in here we do have two microphones it'd be patient and we will bring the microphone to you thank you Jeff Myers from Summit ministries the Facebook CEO is in front of the house today was in front of the Senate yesterday and it didn't seem like the senators or representatives have been able to get the right questions of him to kind of get it what they suspect Facebook is doing how would you approach that if you were interviewing him today well you assume as one might that they want to get at certain things with Facebook I look at everything in a really twisted way because of where I come from today members of Congress in my view rarely hold hearings on interests that lobby as greatly as Facebook in fact facebook lobbies so that there will not be hearings and regulations on them and they have huge lobbyists up on the hill so I wondered why are they holding this hearing this is very unusual and that both Democrats and Republicans agree that also makes me suspicious I'm sorry that's how I am I figured it out this is just my theory sorry Zuckerberg wanted to do the congressional appearance he asked to be able to do the hearing so that he could alleviate fears and concerns and build public confidence in a very public way in light of this data breach this is how he wanted to do it and so you know with some exceptions there have been some tough questions from some members but in general this is good for all of them they look like they're holding Facebook accountable and the type of hearing they don't normally do anymore Zuckerberg I believe one of the hearings so he gets to reassure the public and kind of set the record straight and calm things down that's what I think is going on Mika and Joe a question about Mika and Joe and how do they get away with what they do there no they're nothing more than the view revisited in the morning and they don't seem to really have anything profound or add to the conversation they're so biased and how do they keep their job well there's a market for that a lot of people love Mika and Joe you know I don't think ratings are huge on these cable channels in general but there's a market for putting out certain ideas and narratives very popular with this audience I wrote in one of my books about we're talking to each other a lot now Mika and Joe really aren't talking to middle America they're talking to Washington insiders and New Yorkers and political people they're distributing information and propaganda and ideas that appeal to a certain group of people and news organizations as we all know have somewhat transformed in the last couple years things that wouldn't have been allowed before at least we would have pretended to try to be down the middle or somewhat fair that's all been thrown out the window this is a whole new dynamic and I assume what they do is rewarded internally and complimented and well-regarded this is kind of ancient history about 20 years ago I was the regional consultant for birthright a pregnancy aid organization and I was hosting a gathering in Albuquerque and a journalist from the newspaper wanted to interview me which she did and then the article that ended up in the paper just made cursory mention of our gathering and 90% of the article was devoted to a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood and I just wondered how do you avoid this kind of thing when you know you would under most circumstances like to have some kind of publicity well I think it's very difficult to avoid I mean what I've learned to do I've been on the receiving end of interviews since I quit CBS News and have written some books some people want to interview me sometimes they're kind of hostile people and I have my own techniques for example who was the guy interviewed me on MSNBC Chris Chris Chris what no young guy right on before Rachel Maddow Chris Hayes so he interviewed me and it was a pretty long interview I hope I'm not gonna him mixed up with also an interview that the CNN media guy did brian Stelter but anyway one of them interviewed me for a long time brian Stelter was hilarious cuz he just kept asking the same quantum difference errs and kept asking the same thing and I finally said try to be polite but I I knew who's gonna edit this and I kept saying I'm gonna keep giving the same answer to that question whatever it was and when he would ask me a question he'd try to sound tough but when I would answer and the cameras on me he'd be going like it was all a game you know we're all playing this cute game or something and I thought he's going to edit this down to this little slice of something that looks a certain way there's not representative of this conversation so with either he or Chris Hayes when something similar happened I actually tweeted out in advance that I did a great interview with whichever one it was and that if the whole thing didn't air I would be putting forth a transcribed version on my website for people to see because it was a really good interview the rest of the interview so whichever one it was again this was a couple years ago it was supposed to be I think edited down to a five-minute segment they aired the whole ten minutes like later in the show they found a big spot for it I don't know if it's because I said I was gonna put the transcript out because I had recorded it but I think it helped I don't know what you do when you're you're really at the mercy of the reporter and I think it's worthwhile to get your view forth but a lot of times it's just not going to be the way you hoped and the way you wanted you know I I guess that's just the chance you take today or even 20 years ago Russ Maneri what sources or what ways do you use to find credible reliable information in other words how do you sift information to maintain your rudder how do you do that it's um it's sort of just more a technique I've developed over 30 years that has to do with listening to people that you run into at the ground level not the stories that they're trying to push to you PR firms call and try to push you stories and give you research I try to find out well who what's the other side of that why is that narrative being put out and I assume that anything that comes to me if I stumble across a whistleblower I start out going this is someone trying to trap me in some sort of lies so that I will be discredited so I always start with any story that I hear that it has to be proven and I try to make it a tough sell that's from my own safety and because I know people are trying to ruin or discredit or get me to publish something that they could point to that's inaccurate so I have well established over a period of years good sources and most every important facet of kind of government and corporate maybe not every in a lot of important facets of government and corporate worlds where I have people who've proven very reliable and trustworthy in the past on many topics who can refer me to others to trust or who I can go to over and over again on maybe a medical topic or maybe a business topic so I feel like I've just developed a good circle of human sources and I know I even know some people that some groups I use you know you want to get an opposing viewpoint on something I know which ones have proven reliable and I know which ones are less reliable and I may still use their viewpoints because it may be necessary to get their viewpoint but I try to know where they come from in terms of how accurate they've been in the past and that's just kind of come from longevity I think it'd be really hard to start out today trying to do that from scratch yes Michael Lowery from cara's Springs the speeches that Republicans make listening to Donald Trump the people in the Trump administration going back to Bush the first Bush the second why can't the conservative values that are underlying what we think are republican values why can't they get across on television in the interviews why do Republicans seem so one-dimensional in the media I think Molly will be a great one to answer that question later Molly Hemingway I'm not a student of politics so much it seems to me that the Republican Party has been dominated at least in the press by the portion of the party that for example doesn't like Donald Trump and the portion of the party that is less conservative and then the party leaders such as Ryan I hear the complaints from members on the hill but before him Boehner have made sure that the members who have views that you're discussing they it's harder for them to obtain important positions the leadership in both of both Democrats and Republicans have become very heavy-handed the members don't have a lot of independent choice and how they vote in hearings they hold and investigations they conduct so maybe there are quite a few out there who feel that way and want to do that but they're being controlled from the top and my sense is they're being controlled from the top because of certain money interests that are pulling strings that some of those who are donating in a really major way cannot be looked into or investigated or cannot be the subject of certain hearings and so everybody's got to kind of fall in line into this weird extra-constitutional system that's been developed on Capitol Hill but yeah you chefs Molly that later because I know she has good insight on that Fred botcher wit in Colorado and just since you're part of the center of gravity over there in Virginia and Washington DC I was just wondering all the forces with President Trump are against him I mean there is no he's really like a lone wolf in the whole world that is Washington the whole corridor the United States and things like that wait what do you think what are your thoughts about you know the things that he I believe in what he was trying to do I believe in some of his programs he's trying to put together do you think he has a chance at all well I would say yes only because he's already accomplished the impossible and every time things sounded the most dire in the media about him that he you know he was just toast and he was melt Time magazine twice had pictures of him melting like a wax figure on the cover during the campaign and he won and that's despite the Machine of the media and Democrats and Republicans fighting him I'm not sure there's ever been a candidate that's had all of those forces and social media so roundly opposed to him and yet he's still won so that's the one thing that makes me think he might be able to succeed but I think the opposition against Trump comes from a different place than some people I don't think it's so much ideological because we all know members of both parties are happy to compromise with distasteful figures as long as those four figures are in their camp kind of on board with them Trump is outside the money system that they have spent really decades building and I moderated a town hall debate with Jim Messina who's the big Obama and Hillary data man you know the Democrat data person and Karl Rove who is the equivalent on the Republican side both of them hated Donald Trump at this town hall and just laughed and laughed about the idea that he could possibly get elected both said that they would love to run against him because he's such a terrible candidate but it was clear to me that you know billions of dollars have been made in Washington DC from interest both Democrat Republican many overlapping buying access and building a structure that's been built with corporations and companies of a structure for access and making sure things certain laws get written a certain way and not written another way and hearings do and don't happen and it would have been okay if either Bush had gotten elected or Clinton because this structure operates the same way with both sides but Trump was the one that would come in and all the people that they've paid and all the you know hands that have been greased this is different it's not that he won't have his own ideas and favorites and even perhaps conflicts but they'll be totally different than these systems that have been built for decades in Washington DC that's my perception of why he is so disliked my hero was rush limbaugh and one of the things he does his producer finds sound bites of a dozen different broadcast journalists on the same topic and they all say the same thing and using the same words where do they who's on high who's giving them those words well a couple different things it's a good question I discussed this quite a bit in the smear and I have examples of I believe was after Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the convention and everybody decided it was dark remember dark dark dark dark dark doctor headlines and all the there's a lot of things you could have said if you really I didn't think it was so I thought that was interesting number one but number two let's say it was there's so many descriptive words you can use synonyms but everybody picked dark and so I put that on the book kind of compiled it and it turns out that I believe during the speech Clinton's campaign manager I don't know was Podesta or somebody had actually tweeted out that it was dark sort of like the signal so some of it is it's not really an order from on high some of it is just sort of the club' feeling you know they're not a lot of original thought I thought when I got into journalism that there would be a lot of free free thinkers but in fact there's a lot of groupthink in journalism so some they're not even doing it on purpose but it's just a lot of copying each other you know how I can tell you because I've been on some of these Sunday programs not mine full measure which is original does not do what I'm about to tell you but most the Sunday programs I believe when some of the anchors prepare for Sunday shows they come in early and they spread out the New York Times and The Washington Post and maybe a couple other publications all you know the print version and they look and they see what other reporters have been writing about the topics they're about to give thoughts on they're not coming up with I mean to me they're not coming up with our own thoughts as much as they're deciding which ones they agree on in the main publications they read so that's kind of how I think this groupthink happens and that's partly how these same words get used all the time but when you see that that says to me always that there may be another side of the story or somebody is putting that out and they know how reporters work that that will get picked up hi my name is Kim Munson and with the Ameri tics radio show I also served on City Council of Lone Tree Colorado from 2012 to 2016 one of my responsibilities as I served as the representative to the Colorado communications utility Alliance that is where I saw a real push during the Obama administration for net neutrality I didn't understand it but I detected something wrong and of course when Donald Trump then pushed back on that everybody there was a big brouhaha can you talk about net neutrality please so I tried to research net neutrality because it's sort of like fake news no one had ever heard of it one day and the next day I had crazy friends of mine going like you gotta keep the net neutral and it's got you know just I'm like what are you talking about and they couldn't tell you like if you really asked them to go beyond the first sentence they had read an article maybe but they really didn't know what they were talking about so I tried to read articles no one writing the articles seemed to know what they were talking about I'm not kidding they would all just say stuff like I used to think when I thought this I was just like crazy and uninformed but now that I'm old I'm like no they don't know what they're just writing and they don't know what they're saying you know so I tried to read the the actual bill or regulation and it wasn't public so I'm like so everybody's writing about something that's never been made public that's only been yes what oh I should tell me he knows something about net neutrality it's like come on up you can tell me but the best I could figure without having read the actual publication was if you decide that every narrative as I do is being put forth by some special interest usually a money interest the money interest behind this seemed to be the telecom companies like Verizon were fighting with the cable companies like Cox and there was something to the benefit of the telecom companies and something to the benefit of Cox and they were lobbying Congress that's why Congress was on net neutrality I'm sure they couldn't tell you what it means either but this was a battle between these companies and I'm not sure anybody many people fully understand it but remember we were all gonna die from net neutrality of exactly hi my name is rich Bacigalupi I'm from six miles across the water from this lady Whidbey Island Washington states there's a few of us that made it out of Washington to be here today unwashed where I live in Western Washington it's it's hardly a bastion of open thought however where we live I try to bring forward community discussions and community forums and some of them been actually the the Hillsdale lectures we show those where we live and lots of people come out for him I'm trying to put one on now on fake news and so I approached our local newspaper editors and people who kind of control the media flow where I live and they've been very hostile to the concept of wanting to have an open discussion on fake news as I call it willful ignorance or feigned outrage that I would even approach a newspaper editor to even comment on the topic of fake news and he even went so far as to say that I was questioning his journalistic integrity to even ask him to be part of a panel so I'm not giving up but I want to put this forum on where I live but maybe in your advice how do you approach people who would be on both sides of the spectrum I'd say conservative or progressive or however you want to look at it to be part of such a forum where how what would you say to someone like that and say I want you here I'm not questioning your integrity but I think from the beginning they're feeling targeted as fake news so that's my question to you if I want to put that on how would I approach it with these people it's a good question because I think the signal has been given that now it's time to retire the tainted term fake news now it doesn't mean what they wanted it to mean so now they don't want that discussion and I'm not sure how you get you should be able to get fair-minded people on both sides to discuss it but that's the problem are you going to find fair-minded people on both sides and I don't know how to convince them I would say that you know there's a big brouhaha over the company that owns my show full measure called Sinclair if you saw the little squares of the anchors reading the same thing over and over all that was was a promo distributed to all the stations that Sinclair owns this is a not an uncommon practice at national local news I've worked for local news stations CNN PBS CBS we do joint promos with the locals sometimes at the local we're told what kind of promos to do or Dan Rather is sent to us you know when I was in local news I had to interview dan Rather on my noon show when he came to do a promotional appearance you know this stuff is common and you can argue whether it should be or not but it wasn't strange that Sinclair was issuing this promotion and sort of a mission statement really to its affiliates and do you know what it said and this is I'll give you some verbatim little bits of quotes it simply said that in this era of fake news there been a lot of mistakes and inaccuracies reported that we they're saying in our local stations are gonna check our facts and try to be as accurate and fair as possible and that news we see is neither left nor right it should just be factual that was the that's became became an international controversy last week because people didn't read the promo that's what the promo said so then I had journalism friends of mine argue they were just out of their minds about this and I said read the promo is there anything in there you don't agree with because if there is something you disagree with you shouldn't be in this business because it's all just basic you know news should be neither left nor right should be fair it should be accurate and even said at the end we're not perfect we'll probably make mistakes and we want to hear from you and it gave you know a website to go to or an email address I don't see how you argue with any of that but one of my friends said well you know it uses the charged Trump terms the charge Trump and I'm like fair and accurate neither left nor right and I know they met you know that there's too much fake news which I had to break the news to him that Trump didn't think up for the phrase just like I told you guys so I don't know there's just this weird I feel the same way you do you should be able to have rational discussions with people that they won't touch they're just kind of entrenched and few points about all this we have time for one more question yeah I was just wondering YouTube promotes certain news outlets and does not do the same with others so it sort of puts other ones down like Tucker Carlson you won't see on the front page of YouTube first of all do you think this is at the at all considering that their their own corporation and second law do you think they have a that this will have an effect at all well it's back to the Trump effect I mean the Clinton people dump clearly dominated social media and pretty much everywhere you looked online and yet Trump still wants so it doesn't have an impact probably some but there are enough people I think who do look past that should they be doing it well I don't like that they do it but I'm kind of mixed on that because for whatever reason these companies are highly successful their businesses they don't owe you no they don't owe me or you anything in particular they don't know Tucker Carlson anything they kind of can operate you know I'm not a person that pontificates are analyzed as a sort of thing but from my view they have a right as a business to do pretty much what they want with this whole Facebook controversy I don't like the data breaches but you know I checked off all the boxes and never read any of it to and I knew my date it was going places and I know when I see these ads pop up on my Facebook page that have to do with something I just emailed somebody about that they're looking at my stuff so I don't like it but some of this is also free enterprise I'm not sure how far their responsibility goes just because they became a big successful company I think the other side needs to you know hopefully get in there with their own their own ways their own companies well thank you all very much was a pleasure being here I appreciate you have okay Thank You sharyl Attkisson I should mention before we get to our next speaker that among the many items on the literature table littered literature tables outside is a flyer for the 2019 Hillsdale College cruise which will sail around the British Isles that trip is going to take place in June of 2019 we'll be sailing round-trip from Southampton aboard the Regent Seven Seas Explorer the cruise among other things is going to be celebrating the completion of the Winston Churchill biography all 31 volumes of it we're also planning a post cruise program with the Churchill theme in and around London and that will include a visit to Chartwell Churchill's country home so if you're interested I encourage you to pick up a flyer I also note that we're going to be packing up the literature after lunch
Channel: Hillsdale College
Views: 126,899
Rating: 4.8761611 out of 5
Keywords: Fake News, Hillsdale College, National Leadership Seminar, Sharyl Attkisson, American Greatness
Id: oa7QvcKYGZA
Channel Id: undefined
Length: 63min 41sec (3821 seconds)
Published: Wed Apr 11 2018
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