tv Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter CNN January 3, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PST
hey, i'm brian stelter live in new york and this is "reliable sources" where we examine the story behind the story. and figure out what is reliable. this hour how the media bunkers in georgia are affecting the senate runoff races there. we will go live to atlanta and savannah. fox and newsmax facing legal threa threats. will election tech companies sue over the damage to their reputations. and from the hope of the vaccine to the reality of the delays. how the media is helping china spotlight on the flaws of this covid-19 vaccine rollout. juliette kayyem, dan abrams and many more are minutes away. first, what a way to welcome 2021. a cult is attempting a coup in america. in the momehome.
free, land of the brave, the biggest story is about cowards feeling captive to a lame duck president, pretending he won an election that he lost. how was that? what did you think of that? was that the proper way to frame this story? is it accurate to call this a coup attempt? are these the plotters? is president trump betraying his oath of office? are the lawmakers supporting him sedition? these words matter a lot right now. with congress set to certify joe biden's election win on wednesday, the framing is really important. how the nation's news media tells this story is a critical factor. for example, should tv networks show the proceedings live when the gop objectors are baldly lying on the floor of the senate? they are going to make up stuff. they are going to be engaging in this deception campaign. should it be aired or should they be ignored? maybe it's like the hijacking of a plane. the criminals are claiming they
are heroes, that their cause is just. the press has little choice but to cover big news like a hijacking, but the press can't fall for the hero narrative. the khris middleton has to keep -- the coverage has to keep reiterating what is true, what is real. in the case of the election that trump's gam bits have been laughed out of court and he can't keep his story straight. this new york sometimes story right at the top said here are the facts, here is the truth. even the supreme court has seen through this. but let's also be honest. truth telling can only get you so far in america these days. facts are no match for delicious fiction now that america lacks a shared reality. trump and senators like ted cruz and josh hawley are exploiting this. trump's lies and the senators' objections are like debris left downstream after a flood rips through a town. it's muddy, messy residue that wrecks the environment. let's go upstream to see where
it came from. these lawmakers don't want to end up like trump, out of a job. they are trying to satisfy their voters. senator holly said he is listening to his constituents. he is listening to voters who are those voters listening to? you know the answer. broadcasters like rush limbaugh and jeanine pirro have the power in the party because they have the microphone. each person is different. each talk show host's narrative is a little bit different and distinct, but for decades the right-wing media has been telling a story about evil elites, i hadiot politicians, godless kids trying to take over america. before election day they said trump would win and only lose if it was rigged. now they insist it was rigged and they have filled up trump and his fans with so much false hope that there are now fears of violence in washington on wednesday. you should listen to these radio shows or webcasts for a few minutes between now and wednesday. they turn the english language
upside down. they say they are defending democracy when they are attacking it. every word is what aboutism claiming that democrats are worse. listen for a few minutes and you can start to imagine. you can start to convince yourself that trump won because in this maga bubble the only people you hear from are trump supporters and experts who sound smart and say voter fraud is everywhere. fraud, fraud, fraud. listen and you can get whipped up into a frenzy. and then you look at facebook and see memes and posts from your friends. they say the democrats didn't treat trump as legitimate. you see that and stick with your tribe and that's how you get radicalized. you see a tiny piece of possible fraud that's already been explained away and you imagine the entire national election was hijacked. that's radicalization. and it's the result of decades of bombastic talk about real
america and law and order and patriotism. that led the gop to this unpatriotic place. trump consumes all of this talk and parrots it on twitter. here this morning, crediting one american news with some lie about georgia. then the lawmakers jostle for a turn on these tv shows and podcasts and they say, hey, the polls show that americans don't trust the results after they told everyone not to trust the results. and they take jabs at the big bad media for calling out their conspiracy theories and then they make it out to be a plot, everyone's against them. and you know what flows right downhill. right downstream. to the point that pollsters ask which news outlet do you trust the most? 83% of those who trust fox news say biden was not elected legitimately. that's such a sad chart. the vast majority of other news consumers folks who trust cnn, npr, cbs, nbc, they acknowledge that biden was legitimately elected. so it stunt coming up on
wednesday, this flood tearing through town, it's a show. it's a show for the fox audience. it's to satisfy news max fans. it's it pacify oan junkies. it's to serve rush listeners. it won't just be heard on right wing radio. this episode of democratic erosion is going to be witnessed live by the entire world. this show for fox has real-life consequences. real life sticakes. let me talk with timothy snyder now from yale university and the author of noumerous books, including the bestseller "on tierney." a book that i learned a lot from. thank you for coming on. you came out with this years ago and it's been newly relevant every year. tell us, you see the start of 2021 as we head into this gop
objection show that's not going to amount to anything except embarrassment around the world. >> well, i think one way to think about it is we are moving from the territory of the medium-sized lie into the big lie. mr. trump came to power saying a lot of things that weren't true but rnt weren't that big. for example, that mr. obama was born in kenya or what have you. but we are now moving dangerously towards the territory of a big lie. the idea that mr. biden didn't win the election is a big lie. it's a big lie because you have to disbelieve all kinds of evidence to believe in it. it's a big lie because you have to believe in a huge conspiracy in order to believe it. and it's a big lie because, if you believe it, it demands you take radical action. this is one way we have really moved forwards towards authoritarianism and away from democracy. it's coming to a peak now. >> democratic erosion, democratic back sliding. these are fair terms. what about the word coup? >> oh, i mean, i have been using
that word for months now. mr. trump essentially announced that he was going to carry out a coup. he has been doing this for six months. the only real difference between mr. trump and other coup attempts is basically he announced it in advance. because he announced it in advance it numbed us all and then we are scared to use the word or scared to imagine it could happen in america and so on and to forth. when you say you are not going to respect the outcome of an election and then when you use all the means that you have to try to overturn that election, you are trying to carry out a coup. the fact that he made mistakes or it might or might not work, that's beside the point. he is trying to change the system. and by extension, senator cruz, senator hawley are taking part in this. what they are doing on wednesday isn't just about wednesday. it's about a process mr. trump has begun which they will probably continue in 2024. >> the outgoing chief of staff mark meadows is on twitter saying it's time to fight back,
which in this context means fight the american democracy. how should the press, the reality-based press cover the next few days? >> i think there are some deep breaths to be taken. i think it's important the next few days not just to cover the next few days. i think it's very important to cover basic facts like turnout 150 million americans voting, like the success of the election itself. i mean, unlike previous elections, we actually did have an election 2020 that people around the world could admire. we should be covering the thousands of poll workers who did a difficult job. we should give air time to the state and local level election officials who did something as opposed to making allegations about allegations. those things have to be there. then we have to take a deep breath and think about the context. the context we just talked about, which is trump trying to change the nature of the american government. the deeper context, you know,
senator cruz refers to 1877 in his announcement. 1877 is the beginning of a long era of voter suppression and discrimination against african americans. that's the deep context. the deep context is when you say fraud, you mean black people voting and you don't want that to happen. we should also be covering the future. mr. cruz, mr. hawley, these are presidential aspirants in 2024. what they are trying do is set a precedent that if you lose as a republican candidate for president, you can lie about it, claim you won and have a plan b. it may not work this time, but if you make it look reasonable in 2020, then you have a plan b in 2024. >> you are making me think about how to cover these lawmakers, including hawley. here is what cnbc said along these lines yesterday. he said, i have a question for reporters. how do you treat the republican party and those members who have shown they oppose democracy? would you interview jefferson davis about taxes or health care? does any position matter more
than rejecting the election? it's an interesting question from lease man. i read a quote from the acclaimed sociologist. she says if there is one thing i think the mainstream press gets wrong about trump is that they are comfortable talking about economics and personality, but they don't give primacy to feelings. to feelings. well, should the feelings matter? i know they do matter. they matter enormously. this is all about feelings. not about fact. i think she has a point, right? the press is not used to talking about the feelings of voters and that's what's driving this, or in the case of the president, the 's narcissist i can feelings about losing? >> yeah, i would make that point slightly differently. we can't focus just on feelings because mr. trump has the most important feelings. it's always the rich and the
powerful whose feelings get a lot of attention, right? and we are getting that right now, right? this is a privileged, very privileged minority whose feelings and beliefs are getting a lot of attention. i would say is missing is something that she covers in her book, local reality. what we miss in this country is local news. if local news were stronger, we'd all have a stronger sense about how the elections actually happened. if local news were stronger, people would have an easier time talking to one another about the issues that actually matter to them instead of everything becoming a national spectacle. part of what is happening now, this spectacle we will have on wednesday is a result of the fact that everything has to happen nationally when a lot of things should really be happening locally. >> professor snyder, thank you for being here. >> that national spectacle in georgia is what we are getting the after the break. three reporters on the ground covering the senate races there and the apocalyptic rhetoric we
are hearing. we will get to them in just a moment. i'm a performer. always have been. and always will be. never letting anything get in my way. not the doubts, distractions, or voice in my head. and certainly not arthritis. voltaren provides powerful arthritis pain relief to help me keep moving. and it can help you too. feel the joy of movement with voltaren.
. are we covering the georgia senate race for tor the apocaly? the ad spending upwards of $500 million in this battle for control of the u.s. senate. the spending on campaign ads is out of control and the winners are local tv stations, especially in atlanta, reaping millions of dollars each. this story notes that the airwaves are so saturated the nasty negative ads probably have diminishing returns. a professor comparing the ad war to a real war. two sides in their bunkers firing off shells not is persuading anybody. in the final weeks of the campaign, what we see from the gop is very clear. it's a fear the democrats stance in the messaging. watch. >> if they are in charge, america will never be the same. save america. >> and he is stuck on this
socialist agenda that would defund the police. that kind of radical talk is a cancer that would destroy our community. >> this is about saving america from socialism. >> if the radicals take total control, we will never get our country back. >> saving america, saving america, that's the drum beat. now to the democrats. jon ossoff taking a lighter tone in some ads focusing op getting out the vote. but raphael warnock is focusing on what he says is a life and death vote. >> elections as we have learned tragically this year are a matter of life and death. >> let's go live to georgia with three journalists in the state covering the runoffs there, rana cash, emma hurt for wab "e! news," one the npr affiliates in atlanta and astead.
these ads, are viewers sick of it? are they over it? do you turn on your tv at this point? >> i think that's an understatement, brian. the rest of the country has been able to move on, but day in and day out, no matter which program you are watching, you are inundated with ads. your mailbox is full. it's exhausting and some of the ads are kind of scary, to be quite honest. but it's overwhelming what we are seeing. it's constant. >> it really is. i am thinking, if you see these crazy nasty ads, you either freak out or you tune out. you are either panicked about the election, or you are numb to it and you don't carefully more. that's just me looking from afar. what are you hearing from voters in georgia? >> i think it's numb. i think they have completely gotten overwhelmed with ads. this did not just start during the runoffs for georgians. they were having this in the months in the lead-up to the general election. so as i have traveled around the country over the last year, you
have these moments for a little bit. des moines, iowa, folks are in that last week in the early primary states and some of the battlegrounds. but this has been the largest investment in these types of advertisements for such a consiste consistent period. i feel for georgians who are ready for this runoff to be over. but it speaks to the kind of base motivation strategy for both parties. they are telling those messages to their camps. they are not really looking to persuade fully. they are looking to get out their respective bases. >> doing everything as a catastrophe. i wish somebody could turn the temperature, turn the volume down, but there is no one in charge of turning it down. emma, you are in atlanta looking at this locally and nationally. i want to show you some of the rhetoric on fox news in the past month talking about what would happen if the democrats are able to hold control, to take, you know, have control of the senate. let's watch these clips and then talk about them. >> it would mean a pact and
politicized u.s. supreme court. it would abolish the legislative filibuster, expect d.c. and puerto rico four new democrat senators. >> they want to abolish the electoral college, make puerto rico and d.c. states, jesse, which means that, look, america will never be the same. >> we are faced a choice. we are going with american values or socialism, extremism or radicalism. >> that's the national narrative. it's echoed by the local candidates. none that have is going to happen in a 50/50 senate. if the democrats do take control, they are not going to be able to add puerto rico as a state. nothing's going to get done. isn't there a lot of exaggerating going on in the right-wing media and by the republican candidates? >> there is exaggerating on both sides saying this is life and death, saying that this could be the end of freedom in america. but that's the stakes for the parties right now. and that is reflective of the
amount of money and investment that they are dumping on the heads of 7.7 million georgia voters much and it's really overwhelming. a lot of people have tuned out. a lot of people have made this decision months and months ago. but they are stuck with it, and we are days away from it being over, maybe. >> to your point about both sides, this really is a both sides situation. we can debate what side is worse. look at the fact check of jon ossoff, cnn pointing out he made a false claim about kelly loeffler. when ossoff was asked about that by jake tapper today, he tried to double and triple down. let's talk about how successful the candidates are. perdue and loeffler mostly appearing on fox s that a fairway to describe what's going on? the republicans mostly sticking to fox news? >> i think that's accurate, particularly on the national scale. they are where their base is,
right. they are talking to people, trying to motivate those who are already in their camp. at this point it's not trying to persuade people one way or the other about who to vote for, but more so get out and vote. i think from a local standpoint kelly loeffler has been more accessible than david perdue and jon ossoff and raphael warnock are both approachable and accessible and are conducting interviews, but perdue is primarily staying in that very conservative centric circle. >> yeah, emma, what's that about? perdue has held campaign events and not even told the press until afterwards. >> it's true. since the runoffs, i can't remember the last time he has taken questions from a group of reporters. he has done very limited interviews, nationally mostly on fox news. you know, you can hear him kind of explain why on the trail when he says, i already won this
thing. he did outperform ossoff by nearly 90,000 votes. he outperformed president trump. there seems to have been a decision let's not rock the boat. we did it in november and let's just keep doing what we are doing, but i have heard off the record from republican operatives around here that they are dismayed by this strategy, particularly from the perdue camp because they are saying this is not the time to hupgnke down. we need you to be out there fielding whatever you can feed. >> there is also an episode with loeffler yesterday, cnn, let me put up the picture of this guy at the door that was stopping reporters from entering. here is the tweet saying cnn and a few other outlets were denied access to the q&a with loeffler. have you experienced situations like that with the candidates? >> i was following senator loeffler the last couple of days and i got to say that at those events, which were mostly smaller, there was very easy access to the senator and she was taking questions at every turn. she is kind of running that backlash strategy. and so for particularly outlets
in which conservative and right-wing media want to vilify places like cnn and "the new york times," those can oftentimes be fundraising chips. i remember martha mcsally and the way she treated -- on capitol hill. we know that this is part of the strategy that is coming particularly from republicans trying to vilify open press and media. and so that is definitely part of basically their political agenda at this moment and a way to drive that support with the base. >> on tuesday night, of course, you will see wall-to-wall coverage of these senate races. since you live in georgia full time, what's the one sentence, the one thing that you want the rest of the country to remember, especially the rest of the news, the news world now that they have descended on georgia, what should we keep in mind on tuesday night? emma, first to you. >> i hope everybody realizes we are very unlikely to know who won tuesday night and probably not for several days.
so while we all have our election night specials, election night as absentee balloting has ramped up, it's more and more meaningless because not all of the votes will have been counted. everyone take a deep breath. it's going to be a long haul. >> last word to you. >> i agree with emma. i would add to keep in mind while this race has enormous national implications, obviously, as you mentioned, there have been hundreds of millions of dollars poured into the state and things like that. senators from all over the country have descended upon georgia to support these various candidates, but at the end of the day this is a vote by georgians and it's a georgia election, and so what is going to be important is how much they have reached, how well they have reached out to people right here in these 159 counties in this state. >> yes, indeed.
thank you both. thank you all for being here. we are going to have complete coverage in our nightly "reliable sources" newsletter. sign up for free right now at reliablesources.com. after the break, new year, new covid denialism by the outgoing president. results tha. they should expect the same from their education, too. with flexpath from capella university, you can earn an r.n.-to-b.s.n. in nine months and under $10,000. capella university. don't just learn. learn smarter.
♪ birds flyin' high, you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ breeze drifting on by you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ it's a new dawn... if you've been taking copd sitting down, it's time to make a stand. start a new day with trelegy. no once-daily copd medicine has the power to treat copd in as many ways as trelegy. with three medicines in one inhaler, trelegy helps people breathe easier and improves lung function. it also helps prevent future flare-ups. trelegy won't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden breathing problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking it. do not take trelegy more than prescribed. trelegy may increase your risk of thrush, pneumonia, and osteoporosis. call your doctor if worsened breathing,
so many of the people affected by covid-19, so many of those hospitalized, so many families affected, they are essentially anonmoose. we don't know their names. we don't see that i faces. it was big news on saturday that cnn legend larry king has been hospitalized with covid-19. he is at a hospital in l.a., and he has been there for more than a week. we know larry king, a cnn icon, hosting "larry king live" for 25 years. he remained active in his decade since leaving cnn and he was working a few weeks ago. hopefully he will be back at home soon broadcasting from home like so many others curing the covid-19 crisis. the numbers, the hospitalizations, the death toll continues to have a numbing effect on people. you could see it in the news coverage as these weeks turn to months and now we head into a second year of the pandemic. remember in may that front page
of the "new york times." it said an incalculable loss at the 100,000 dead mark. a front page we had never seen before. in september, "time" magazine captured the 200,000 dead mark. well, in mid-december it was 300,000. and overnight, 350,000 dead. in this pandemic. the numbers are coming more quickly this winter. new terrible numbers more often. and most are just numbers. most are anonymous. faces names we will never know. my grandfather joined that tally just before new year's. which is why this new tweet from president trump caught my eye. he said a couple of hours ago, the number of cases and deaths of the china virus is far exaggerated in the united states because of the cdc's ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries.
what a sick, sad lie. some of his friends have died. some of the president's friends have died. where is the compassion? i guess we'll be asking that question for a couple more weeks before a new administration takes over and the challenges that new administration is facing on the vaccine rollout are so stark. so i want to bring in two experts to talk about the news coverage of this split-screen pandemic. dr. james hanlin, a staff writer for the atlantic and the host of the social distance podcast and juliette kayyem, former assistant secretary and a lecturer at harvard. thank you for being here. i want to dig into the numbers that we cover every day, these gutty new records all the time. james, you were with me six months ago in june and here is what you said on this program six months ago about the death toll. >> we can't get acclimated to losing 800 to 1,000 americans
every single day, which is what is happening right now. >> we can't. you said we can't get acclimated, but we have, haven't we? >> yeah, it seems we have. in fact, we have gotten acclimated to far worse. we have broken 2,500 on the seven-day average right now for deaths per day, and that has become, it's such a large number that we have coping mechanisms to guard against having to deal with that. we have become numb. it becomes meaningless. it's too tragic to deal with. and so while i think it's important that we keep following the numbers, i think that they are proving to be an ineffective motivator for some people to continue caring and continue taking actions that are needed in order to stop this pandemic, which we need to remember is entirely preventible. >> juliette, you told me today,
split-screen pandemic now because we see the suffering on one side and the vaccines on the other side. what does the press need to do in this new year to cover the split-screen pandemic? >> i think you will cover both. we cannot forget the devastation that is ongoing with the new story of a vaccination discovery and more manufacturing, the good news and also some of these issues related to vaccine distribution. one of the things on the second piece, which i am really focused on, is to refrain from sweeping judgments about where we are at any given moment. this is a rolling vaccine distribution with manufacturing coming onboard quickly. new vaccines, including the johnson & johnson one, likely to be approved in january. so you are going to have a supply issue, and then, of course, the distribution issue. so these early hiccups, i am not defending them. they are fixable. they are fixable in real time. this is something that we need
to monitor. the press needs to expose. but i think we are going to start to see really good numbers, you know, after this first real week back, after vacation, and then we fix both the small challenges, logistical ones, which are really local ones, and with the new administration coming in begin to look at the surge in april, may with the general population and resources. so we just have to just, as a single day is not a disaster and it's not a course correction and we don't need the military to take over. unfortunately, we need a little bit of patience. this is really hard to do. 50 state rollout strategy. >> let's dig into that in a moment. le wi let me fit a break in here. we will talk more about this vaccine question. look at these front pages from this morning. will you get the vaccine? a slow, messy start. are these headlines getting it right? more in a moment. from capella u, move at your own pace. you can even finish the bachelor's degree you started in 12 months for $10,000.
news outlets have shifted from celebrating the covid vaccines to covering the chaotic rollout in the united states. doctors and nurses, pharmacists and hospital reps seem to be sounding alarms citing delays in distribution. gaps between the number of vaccines delivered and administered as well as general disorganization, confusion. there is a headline from "the new york times" editorial board that says, we came all this way to let vaccines go bad in the freezer? but i am getting the impression from you that might be
overstated, we are not actually seeing vaccines run out. >> no. and that editorial rightfully sounds the alarm. this is one of the hardest places for someone like me to be. slow and messy is accurate, right. it's not like it's perfect, but we never promised you a rose garden in logistics. this is really hard to do. it is going to get fixed on the local and operational level and then the strategic challenges will be addressed by the biden administration. that editorial did not tell the readers that the vaccine, if frozen, lasts at a minimum of six months. so you don't want people to believe that if they don't get in line now, they are completely out of the loop. the media, commentators need to build confidence in the vaccine itself because we are bumping up against a lot of vaccine hesitancy. so that bawas my take on that editorial. i think that we will start to see, as i said, some of these logistic challenges addressed. we are going to have a surge
issue which is going to have to be addressed by new administration. as for donald trump, why did we believe him on the 20 million? i am not forgiving it, but no one thought that you would deliver 20 million in december given that the first approval was right before the holidays. but i think we will start to see better numbers relatively soon. >> you mentioned vaccine hesitancy and news headlines can have an impact on that. from the "new york post" the other day, israeli man dies from heart attack hours after getting covid vaccine. sadly, a lot of older folks are getting vaccinated, more likely to die as they get older. the man happened to have a heart attack. it wasn't related to the vaccine. but when news outlets put up entire stories about it, it can be scary, james. >> it absolutely can. and as you know, journalists are obligated first and foremost to present the facts and tell the truth. but the ways in which certain
facts and certain stories are highlighted will shape a narrative, a public narrative. right now there is a lot of demand for the vaccine and that's great. as the supply grows, we are going to see people coming into the option to get vaccinated with certain feelings and opinions about the cost and benefit to themselves and they are being molded right now in a very delicate time by certain outlier anecdotes where people have had allergic actions or bad events like you mentioned. we are mentioning the many, many, many people individually who had fine experiences. >> juliette, are you worried about this, as well? >> yes. i think these anecdotes will make people believe that the vaccine overall is not safe. the vaccine so far in the protocols and now out in the real world is showing itself to be safe and durable and we need to just reiterate those numbers. these outliars are exactly that.
the same is going to be true with the distribution issues. we need to cover them because that makes agencies change and respond. on the other hand, let's look at the overall numbers. i think i said to you early on, you know, this is a hard story because you are going to measure in bulk at this stage. did we get to 4 million, 5 million, 20 million. those are numbers that that's how you measure success with a logistical challenge like this. >> a headline that i think got it right. abc said there was a nurse who got vaccinated and then tested positive for covid. that's not unexpected. right there in the headline where people are likely to see it. that's true on the distribution as well. thank you both for being here. after the break, right-wing media could be facing legal battles for election denialism claims. my next guest dan abrams says we should take these threats seriously. let's get checked for those around us. let's get checked for a full range of conditions.
introducing letsgetchecked a health testing you do at home. let's get round the clock support from a team of nurses. let's get fast, accurate results. know your health. know yourself. for a limited time only, get 40% off at letsgetchecked dot com find a smarter way to learn with flexpath from capella university. you might even earn your masters degree in 12 months for under $11,500. capella unversity. don't just learn. learn smarter. my job is to help new homeowners who have turned into their parents. i'm having a big lunch and then just a snack for dinner. so we're using a speakerphone in the store. is that a good idea? one of the ways i do that is to get them out of the home. you're looking for a grout brush, this is -- garth, did he ask for your help? -no, no. -no. we all see it. we all see it. he has blue hair. -okay. -blue.
progressive can't protect you from becoming your parents, but we can protect your home and auto when you bundle with us. -keep it coming. -you don't know him. when you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar is crucial. try boost glucose control. the patented blend is clinically shown to help manage blood sugar levels. boost glucose control products contain high quality protein and key nutrients to support immune health. try boost. a drink with friends can turn into a few. stop! it's easy to lose track. and getting a dui is easier than you think. plan ahead, call a cab. share a ride. if you choose to drink, choose a sober way to go. go safely, california.
president trump's bids to overturn joe biden's win were rejected by courts across the land. now there is talk of a new set of lawsuits going after the trump allies who told scary stories about voter fraud. were those scary stories defamatory? before the christmas holiday dominion voting systems sent 21 letters to a wide variety of right-wing media media personalities and trump lawyers warning that litigation related to their false claims about the company is imminent. among those who received the letters maria bart om owe, lou dobbs, rush limbaugh, oan and fox news.
a defamation law firm representing dominion sent letters to the white house counsel and to president trump's personal attorney rudy giuliani instructing them to preserve all records relating to the company. at this moment the letters from the two companies are the only threats of action, but there is one lawsuit that has been filed by eric coomer, director of product strategy and security at dough minute yin. he is suing the trump campaign and surrogates and pro-trump media outlets alleging defamati defamation personally. it states they knowingly circulated a baseless conspiracy theory so challenge the integrity of the presidential election. while this theory has been rejected it's immediate and life-threatening affects have been real. that's dominion. there is another company that suggested it may have been defamed. how serious are these suits? let me bring in the one, the only, dan abrams, a lawyer, the
founder of mediaite to get some answers about this. we are in a holding pattern to see if the lawsuits are filed by these companies. do you think this could be a serious threat to right-wing media outlets? >> absolutely. and they have already indicated that it's a potential serious threat by actually putting on their air fact checks or clarifications or whatever you want to call it literally >> news max doing the same. that tells you we're taking this really seriously. what they're in effect doing is having a segment which is fact-checking or correcting things that have been said by their own hosts or their guests. and that tells you the lawyers got involved. the lawyers said this is serious. the lawyers said we've got to do something, and now we're going to have to see if any of the lawsuits, the further lawsuits get filed. >> yeah. do you think that this -- the
corrections by going on the air and basically admitting fault, doesn't that weaken the position of the networks and admit they know they were up to no good. >> they're not quite admitting fault. they're saying we want to make sure the record is clear. they're going to say we never said it was true. our reporters never claimed this to be the case. there's going to be a lot of arguing about exactly what did they say, but in the end, as a legal matter, it's going to come down to was it true? and i think that that's going to be the interesting question here is because the president's allies are insisting to us again and again, it is true. this happened. no one is looking at it. well, this will provide them an opportunity to potentially explain that, but we know the answer already. right? because we've seen the lawsuits filed in court about dominion. we've seen the lawsuits filed in court where they've mentioned
smart matic. i've read through the lawsuits and the affidavits. it's not just that their unsubstantiated. they're unfounded. >> whenever i hear about news rooms being targeted by lawsuits, i get worried about press freedom. is that relevant in this context and in this case? >> it's always relevant. you should always think about that. the difference is it wasn't a single report or single statement. this is really a narrative of these companies being portrayed as the villians. and not just sort of random stuff. they stole an american election. what more serious allegation can you make than that? and repeatedly making that allegation? if that is the lawsuit, and they've got nothing to back it up, i don't think there's any long-term danger to the first
amendment. i don't think there's any long-term danger for media organizations but look, any time the media gets sued, there are legal rulings that are made that could be used in the future, so we just have to see. >> i have thirty-seconds left. i wonder if the press is being too wishy washy about what's coming up. we say things are baseless or unsubstantiated. are those words strong enough? >> unsubstantiated isn't, but unfounded is stronger. even the republicans themselves, ted cruz, isn't saying there was voter fraud. he's talking about the allegations of voter fraud. that there's a cloud that needs to be resolved. and it's very different from saying there was voter fraud, because we've seen the documents. we know that thus far there is no proof of it. >> that's right. dan, thank you. >> sure thing, brian. >> coming up, some wishes, resolutions for the new year
i made a business out of my passion. i mean, who doesn't love obsessing over network security? all our techs are pros. they know exactly which parking lots have the strongest signal. i just don't have the bandwidth for more business. seriously, i don't have the bandwidth. glitchy video calls with regional offices? yeah, that's my thing. with at&t business, you do the things you love. our people and network will help do the things you don't. let's take care of business. at&t.
what will we be covering in the year ahead? i asked cnn's reporters and editors about their hopes for the year ahead, their predictions about their beats. firs first,. >> my hope for 2021 is it's not a year of devastation for local news. no more layoffs or buyouts. no more losses of physical news rooms and other resources but rather we see investments. i hope that local news rooms can continue to build products to make it easier to subscribe, to
share news and information through new tools like newsletters and podcasts. i hope that there's just more investment so we see more accountability journalism for local communities. >> my prediction for 2021 is that news room leaders will start to make good on the promises of nurturing diversity in journalism. the wave of changes that started last year i think is going to continue and we'll see editors look for ways to cover and serve their communities. after a year of covering multiple crises, most of which deeply affected communities of color, i would be shocked if rank and file journalists in news rooms continued to accept the status quo. >> she's right about that. the reckoning in news rooms is not over. and 2021 is about making good on 2020 ease commitments for inclusion. other big behind the scenes stories in the media world include the ongoing push to unionize news rooms. nonprofit outlets and the importance of subscriptions of all sorts from sub stack to
local papers. now from reliable information to disinformation, here are two more. >> i think in 2021 trump is going to still wield enormous power online, on facebook and twitter. and i think one of the big questions is going to be what are those social media platforms going to do about trump if he continues to peddle misinformation and stoke hate and anger across the united states, and will trump turn to other alternative social media platforms? we've heard from the likes of parlor. i think for journalists it's going to be if you're covering online misinformation, impossible to ignore trump, because he sets so much of that online misinformation agenda. >> i think in 2021, it's going to be interesting to pay attention to fox news and the challenge they're seeing from the right. outlets like news max, perhaps even a trump tv. i don't think these outlets are
going to challenge fox's dominance, but they're going to have an effect enforcing fox to stay in the righard right with emphasis on right wing programming versus telling the news. >> that is going to be the huge story in the coming months. so will the work of story tellers across stage and screen as the pandemic hopefully recedes and live entertainment hopefully resumes. on the business side, here's two more. >> when it comes to hollywood, film and tv productions were completely rocked by the covid-19 pandemic with numerous productions having to be shut down or put on hold and eventually quarantine bubbles were formed. but with covid-19 numbers on the rise, it will be interesting to see if networks can safely continue to create new content. >> if 2020 was the year where hollywood changed, 2021 is going to be the year to see if the changes become permanent. will more major block busters go to streaming or will we see a
resurgence in movie theaters? will netflix continue to be the king of streaming or will disney take over? those are the questions we're going to have to answer this year, and whatever the answers are, are going to give us a map to hollywood's future. >> thanks to our reporters and editors for the forecasts of the year ahead. thanks to all of you for tuning in. we'll be back with more "reliable sources" this time next week. falling short. america's vaccine rollout falls behind schedule despite promises to vaccinate tens of millions by the end of last year. >> of course, we need to be doing a better job. we are leaving no stone unturned. >> jerome adams is here to explain what went wrong, and denying reality. more and more republicans in congress say they will vote to block joe biden's electoral victory. >> there's no impetus to overthrow an election. it's a scam.