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tv   Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter  CNN  July 25, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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hey, i'm brian stelter live in providence, rhode island, and this is "reliable sources" where we examine the story and figure out what's reliable. this week the tokyo olympics brought to you by nbc. will the networks sink or swim in their coverage? we have brand new audio from a former president that you need to hear to believe. later really important new book. it's about the landsliding
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reporting on the jeffrey epstein case and the court perversion of justice. the woman behind it all, julie k. brown, joins me live in a few minutes. but first the rhetoric around covid-19. if you think about it, life is just one big, long set of calculated risks. crossing the street to the park, taking a car to the store, taking a trip. we all make risks every day. if we didn't, we wouldn't be living. the covid-19 is all about risk. how much risk is acceptable to you? what's your risk tolerance? what about the risk of passing the virus on to others? what's the cost benefit analysis? covid requires constant risk assessments. but those nuances don't always come through in the media coverage. in the argument with public health officials that we've all come to know over the last six months haven't talked about risk assessment, either. quality news coverage and
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careful messaging should help you assess risk and make thoughtful decisions. we all have to think more like risk calculators. for example, the current covid surge in the u.s. is very real but very unevenly distributed. the risk is very low in some places and quite high in other places. for fully vaccinated americans, the risk of serious illness is supremely low. but for the unvaccinated, it is significant. significant risk. people keep saying this is another instance of two americas. and it is. it's almost like we need two kinds of newscasts or two versions of the weather report. the forecast is pretty sunny for the vaccinated, but it's quite bleak in some states for the unvaccinated. this headline sadly says it all. nearly all covid deaths in the u.s. are now among the unvaccinated. are those facts, are these figures reaching people? everybody is making risk calculations. we do it all the time, but in order to do that, we need accurate information. we need reliable data to then
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make risk assessments. eliminating risk is not possible, not during this pandemic. this story is all about minimizing risk. people who are vaccinated have already done that. instead of eliminating risk, it's about minimizing the risk of covid. that's the way the story should be told. we have three guests, including cnn's oliver darcy is also here, but let's turn first to andy slavitt, part of president biden's covid response team and author of the book about how america doomed the coronavirus response. andy, how should this covid concern be framed by the international media? >> well, brian, we all think about risk quite differently. some of us would be willing to go out into the pouring rain without an umbrella, some won't
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carry an umbrella. i think that's what you're talking about. if you carry an umbrella, meaning you get vaccinated, it doesn't mean you may not get a little bit wet, but you're really protecting yourself in a dramatic way. look, this is all an emotional experience for us as much as it is an intellectual one. when we hear about case counts going up, when we hear about parts of the country where hospitals are filling up, we do get empathetic, we do get a fear response, but when you state 100 million americans have been vaccinated, very through have been getting covid breakthrough cases, but some will. some will take wet, they'll take that risks. the more we cut down on risk, the less it will happen, and that's why people are recommending wearing masks and so forth. it is a process we're going through, but it's very unlikely that if you're vaccinated, you're going to get sick, and it's even much more unlikely that something serious will happen to you. that is the dichotomy you speak
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of. >> with that in mind, do you think some of the news coverage has sounded fearmongering, has sounded excess active for vaccinated viewers? >> i think not purposely so, but it does create that impression. as you say, you can't talk to everybody at the same time and everybody's experience at the same time, and, you know, it's not such a good chiron to say this for you and this for you. i give everybody the benefit of the doubt, or most people, the benefit of the doubt during the course of trying to cover something like a pandemic where there is things we don't know, there are things we're just lear learning, there is an odd study here, an odd study there. i think we're always in a situation where it's a little bit too much and a little too little. >> what about the coverage of breakthrough cases, whether at the white house or anywhere else? there are always stories of breakthrough cases that are coming down with covid, they're not getting sick or dying, but they're having a tough few days
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with the flu. are those cases getting too much news coverage? because, again, they create a sense of hyper or panic? >> they do because they surprise us. if you've been vaccinated, you may walk away of thinking, i have a zero chance of getting covid. but that's not true. of the 180 million people who have been vaccinated, small relative to that number, but a large number of people we know will get cases. the question is what is newsworthy about that, or is it something that is expected? and it is expected. it's not that it shouldn't be monitored, because it's important to remind us that this is not a perfect blanket of protection. but it is important for us to -- i'd put it in context. >> right, right. what do you want news outlets to be doing differently in the weeks ahead as it seems like these cases are going to keep growing in these states where they're showing up red on the map. i want to be really clear. i think we should be showing maps of different states and different case counts, because
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it is a very unevenly distributed situation right now. >> look, i think there is probably a counter that would show how many -- if we show breakthrough cases and we really compare that to the amount of cases that happened among unvaccinated people, so people can really see the difference. we've been hearing about a vaccinated case in isolation. if you ever a chiron next to you, or someone at cnn did, it shows people in that comparison. in this community there have been 50 breakthrough cases and 4,000 other cases are helpful for people to see, because that is reality. that's data we don't all have access to, but it's that kind of thinking, i believe, that will be helpful. then one final thing. i think we all ought to -- we are all anxious for the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, but i think the media as a whole, lumping them into a category of people that are
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defiant or stupid or some other thing is probably not helpful. it only ceases to alienate people further. we ought to try to understand that group of people better if we really want to bring them into the dialogue and participation process. >> right, no vaccine shaming, except for for the misinformation producers. andy, thank you so much for being here. now from accurate information to the scourge of misinformation. with me is dr. nicole baldwin, a pediatrician in cincinnati, ohio. you might have seen her at the biden town hall here on cnn earlier in the week. doctor, you asked the president this question. let's watch and then talk about it. >> what is the white house doing to combat medical misinformation and restore america's faith in science? >> what we're doing is, number one, to restore america's faith in science is listen to the
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scientists. >> then biden talked about facebook and about fox. were you satisfied by his answer? do you think the biden white house is doing enough, doctor? >> i was actually disappointed that he didn't give a more concrete answer to how they're planning to hold these individuals and these platforms accountable for the misinformation that they're spreading. so while i appreciate that he wants to leave science to the scientists, we really need a better plan for how we're going to hold people accountable for this misinformation they're spreading. >> what kind of people are you talking about? >> oh, goodness. so we know that there are 12 individuals that are spreading 65% of the misinformation that people are seeing online. so them as well as, you know, we're seeing conservative media, we're seeing elected officials
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that are putting out false information but is misleading the public and, truthfully, causing harm. >> you're a republican. you pointed that out on twitter after the town hall. how do you explain to other republicans that some of the news sources are literally making them sick? >> first of all, i'd like to clarify that i am a republican on my voter registration card. that does not necessarily lump me into a category, so i want to be clear about that. however, i think what's important is that for anyone who remains unvaccinated, we know that them hearing from their friends, their family members, their coworkers who have already been vaccinated, that's what's going to help move the needle. i think each of us has a responsibility to talk with our friends who maybe have
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questions, and that is what we know can help change their minds. >> let me ask how you do that as well with social media, with tiktok. you've been making these videos, talking to people for months. tell me about the value there. is it that it's an intimate technology, you know, someone watching on the phone and it's like face to face? what is it about tiktok that's worked for you? i think we lost her just at the worst time. that's okay. we'll try to get the doctor back. in the meantime, let me tell you about a follow-up to a story we told you about this time last week. remember i was talking about facebook and a hash tag called vaccines kill. it was a hash tag right there on the platform, easy to find, and you could pull up all this misinformation about the vaccines for all to see. why was this sitting out here for everybody to see. by the end of the day, we logged back onto facebook and it's been
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gone. the hash tag has been blocked. it's yet another example of the game of whack-a-mole where nobody wins, nobody has fun doing it, where you end up finding misinformation on these platforms, reporters talk about it, it gets taken down and the misinformation moves to another place. that's a follow-up from last week's show. now let's turn to right wing media, as the doctor was saying, and whether there's been any change in tone on fox news, for example. you probably heard this week about sean hannity and other hosts urging vaccinations, or at least telling people how to get information about where to get vaccinated. fox news kept reading off the url.vaccines.gov, the vaccination website, and this was happening at the same time some gop lawmakers did a better job of telling the truth about vaccines. you probably saw the town hall as well, biden was talking about the fox host changing, having an altar call on this issue. but how much really changed? did anything really change this
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week? let me bring in cnn's oliver darcy for more on that. oliver, we've been writing about this in the "reliable sources" newsletter and trying to look at skepticism because there wasn't really a change in attitude or tone on fox this week, was there? >> no. sane hannity, for instance, got a lot of praise for saying in a 30-second clip that he is pro-vaccine. but like you pointed out, a couple days later, he walked that back and said to viewers, i'm not actually telling you to get a vaccine. what you see in right wing media is this anti-vaccine rhetoric, whether it's someone pushing disinformation of vaccine on his show, or the rest of the fox media, talking about biden going door to door to give you a vaccine as though it's creepy or humanitarian. and they've instituted a vaccine
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pretty similar to a passport. that's the coverage you see in the media. >> to get into the fox building, there is a vaccine concept but then the hosts are against it. let's look at what sean hannity did this week. he did come out there pretty boldly, do your research, talk to your doctor, take it seriously. he got so much press for that, days and days of attention for a little snippet on fox news. but then later in the week, this is what hannity was saying on the radio. >> first of all, i'm not urging people to get the covid-19 vaccine because i'm not a doctor. that is not what i said. i said to take it seriously. it can kill you. i said to do a lot of research. >> oliver, what happened here? >> all i think about, brian, when i see that clip where he says i'm not a medical doctor, i'm not telling you what to do, where was this sofrt of thinkin back when fox was producing
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hydroxychloroquine every 30 seconds? we know vaccines were safe, they're effective, they were developed under the trump administration, and yet you see this sort of, i'm not a medical doctor, i can't recommend you actually get one, do your research. i he's not very enthusiastically promoting vaccines there, and i just wish fox would promote vaccines as much as they did these other miracle drugs under the trump administration. >> that weren't miracle drugs at all. that's the bottom line. this is an interesting tension, right, because there is a lot of people out there saying, hey, even if it's belated, even if fox is belatedly coming around, it's better late than never, welcome. i think we need to follow up in a month. let's see what these talking heads are saying in a month. let's see if this is a real sustained change or not, because so far it's not. coming up, nbc poaching one of espn's stars riat the time o
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the olympics. we're going to analyze with general carl better than seen president trump talking about election fraud. there's an america we build and one we explore. one that's been paved and one that's forever wild. but freedom means you don't have to choose just one adventure. you get both. introducing the wildly civilized all-new 3-row jeep grand cherokee l ♪ ♪ i dont hydrate like everyone else. because i'm not everyone else.
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narcissism is a personality disorder. it is not a term to throw around lightly. it exists around policy, not politics. yet sometimes the only way to understand politics is through psychology. when i hear people on tv confused, perplexed about donald trump's promotion of the big lie. when i hear commentators saying, this doesn't make any sense, why is he doing this? well, it does make sense when viewed through the prism of narcissism. it's not political. it's psychological. and to give credit where it's due, i keep hearing political reporters talk about trump's delusions. not just lies, delusions. google that word and you'll see lots of references to mental health or lack thereof. so what are the downstream
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effects of all this? where are we heading as a country? you've probably noticed that trump has found at least three ways to reach people after being banned from twitter and facebook. he's releasing lots of statements which are shared in red and taken seriously on far right tv. he's given lots of interviews for books that are coming out all the time, and he's giving lots of speeches that are carried live on news max and one america news. and they're not fox, by the way. in onn land, election rigging is still a daily theme. imagine that, right? it's been months and months and months, and it's still a top story on channels like oam. and what trump calls the fraud is the biggest issue among the gop base. listen to him call out the quote, unquote rhinos who don't get that. >> a lot of the rhinos don't realize it yet, a lot of the leaders, guys like mitch mcconnell, they have no idea how big of an issue this is.
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this is the biggest issue with the republican party and the republican voter. b when i get up and speak, all they want to talk about is the election fraud because it was the crime of the century and people are dying and our country is going to hell because of a rigged election, and it's a shame. >> on one level trump is right that this is the animating issue of the gop right now. one man's narcissism wreaking havoc with an entire political party. with me now is carl bernstein, the legendary investigative journalist and cnn political analyst. i find myself, carl, have a week of trump delusion headlines wondering where we're heading as a country. where do you see us heading? >> i think we need to slow down a bit and deconstruct some of the things that you've just laid out there. the first thing is i'm not a psychiatrist, and god knows all this may have a degree of narcissism, but when you're
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talking about trump, we're obviously talking about a kind of delusional madness such as general milley was talking about that is on a scale and a scope that we ever never experienced in an american president in our history. i think we need to calmly step back and maybe look at trump in a different context. he is our own american war criminal of a kind we've never experienced before. what he has done -- >> you just said war criminal. what do you mean, war criminal? >> i did. in international law, there have been, quote, crimes against hu humanity. i think what we're talking about, trump's crimes as an american war criminal in his own country that he has perpetrated upon our people, including the tens of thousands of people who died because of his homicidal
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negligence in the pandemic, putting his own electoral interest above the health of our people when they were slaughtered during this pandemic. looking at his actions in terms of fomenting a coup in which to hold onto office in which the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff has now compared trump -- not the press, not reporters comparing trump to hitler, but rather the head of the american military comparing him and his movement to brown shirts, to the right stag fire. this is a huge wake-up call to this country when general milley, the head of the american military, has said this. it fits as a piece with something so extraordinary in our history, it's not political. trump is not just political, he transcends the political, and we need to start looking at his crimes in that context. >> you're going to get heat for talking about war crimes,
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because it's not as if the icc is setting up a panel or anything, taken any action. >> i want to be careful in using -- in trying to say we need a new context, a war against both our people in terms of what the effects of his policies and selfishness -- if you want to use the word narcissism -- brought, okay. it is something in himself we ever never seen in a president before. it's not just about impeachable offenses, it's about a different kind of crime in which the h humanity of the people of the united states was relegated to the floor by the president of the united states who uplifted only his own narrow political, financial and personal interests above that of our people, of our country, of our constitution. all i'm doing is saying, whoa. let's look at trump's crimes in a different context.
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yes, war crimes. these were crimes against our people. >> let's go a little bit deeper, carl, as you stay with me. let me bring in ruth bengot. she is the author of a book called "strong men c: mussolinio the present." tell me what carl says factors into what you study every day, ruth. >> we do need a different frame to look at trump, and that frame, i thought, was always authoritarianism and strong man rule. trump was one of many strong men who had criminal records. they were criminals. mussolini had criminal records, and he was under investigation when he came into office, so
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governance is not about public welfare or any normal presidential goals, it's about keeping immunity and amassing as much power as possible. so trump is highly unstable, deeply effective but he's also crazy as a fox. and he has many personality traits as many of these leaders i've studied, megalomania, only i can fix this, but they become obsessed with humiliating, controlling and dominating everyone around them, and what better domination game than to make millions of people believe in an alternate reality that benefits you by depicting you as infallible, i am your voice, and ideally keeping you in office. >> you're saying something really interesting about the big lie. the big lie is a power trip. it's a power move. every time he tells his fans to
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believe that the election was stolen from him, he's gaining power because they're all believing that lie together, right? or saying they do. >> yes, it's the ultimate power trip. the other thing he did, and every step of the way he was just confirming, which is why i wrote the book. the trump white house was very similar to the governing structures of many autho author authoritarians. they create these inner sanctions with sycophants and families, there's always families in there. he will repeat his lies to the public, and he did the same with the gop and civil service. trump wasn't there very long, but they can begin to believe their own propaganda, and that's where the delusional can come in. >> so then i come around back to carl on where are we going? last night trump said, in my opinion, there is no way they
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win elections without cheating. in other words, he's saying no democrat can ever hold office without cheating. these are the crazy lies that he's spreading every night, and though we're not airing them on cnn, nbc or abc, there are a lot of people. carl, where are we going? >> i think we have to realize that this movement and this madman, this authoritarian d demagogue, have been accepted by the political parties. the political party of the mcconnell and mccarthy are enthralled by donald trump and this movement to disenfranchise the american voter who may vote as a democrat. this is an authoritarian, demagogic movement that is one of our political parties in the movement at the top. we need to start looking at our country as journalists,
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especially, to see how did this happen here? we need to take the focus off trump of his psychology and all the rest and look at his movement and how it has seized tens and scores of millions of american voters who have embraced his lies and his pathology and these war crimes. >> the downstream effects of the delusions. carl and ruth, thank you both. when we come back to "reliable sources," a surreal start to the olympics with the press sometimes the only spectators in the stands. can the olympic bystander nbc draw a crowd? the ratings goal. that's after the break. to help manage hunger and support muscle health. try boost today.
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will nbc be one of the winners or the losers of the summer olympics? that's one of the questions as the games get underway after a one-year delay in tokyo. nbc universal shelled out billions of dollars for a decade's worth of broadcasting rights. nbc is known for its olympic coverage. but this year and in the next couple weeks, there are several hurdles ahead, beginning with staging a dramatic show when there are no crowds in the stands and when there are intensive covid-related precautions in tokyo. we've already seen big advertisers like toyota drop out of the games. it is also curiosity about whether nbc is going to be able
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to use these games to promote its streaming platform, peacock. here's what we know this weekend. the numbers are in for the opening ceremonies. the ratings from nielsen are in. you can see there nbc says about 17 million people tuned in to the opening ceremony broadcast. that is down dramatically from the 2016 olympics in rio. it's not a surprise the range is down. they're down on all events as people watch on streaming, et cetera. but they're down more than anyone expected. let's talk to the media correspondent over at "insider." claire, tell us how to view live event ratings in a streaming world. how much do they matter nowadays? >> they matter a lot because advertisers put $1.3 billion behind the olympics, and they want to see what they paid for. they want the viewers. obviously there has been a huge decline in traditional tv viewing.
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nobody expects there to be the same number of people viewing as there were in 2016. but i just texted an advertiser and i asked them what they thought so far, and they said, look at these numbers, this is not good. it's the lowest number in 33 years. i'm sure if that continues, madison avenue will be looking for blood. having said that, nbc won't just be judged on the advertising performance, they'll be judged also on whether this is a big success for peacock, which is their big entrant into the streaming arena. launched last year, they were hoping to launch it with the benefit of olympics. so, you know, how many people sign up to peacock, how many people just watch on television or through the nbc app? there's a lot of different places to watch the olympics, i have to say. also there's different channels to see the games. it can feel a little bit confusing at times as to where to go and what to watch.
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i think that's an issue. the other problem is, a common problem to all sports, in that you can watch the social media clips, and tokyo is -- there's a 13-hour time difference, and that could result in folks saying, you know what, let me just see who won, let me just watch the highlights. that's the problem with every single sports event. but then you have this kind of the audience saying the super bowl was down, the grammys and the oscars and a lot of events have been affected by the pandemic this year, so i think we have to give nbc almost the benefit of the doubt, a couple more days, and see where the audience hits, but i think they'll be hitting the panic buttons if it's all 30% down. >> it sure is strange to see the broadcast with no crowds in the stands. it does affect the television coverage because you're used to hearing people cheering.
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you don't hear that and that's, of course, way out of nbc's hands. to your point about the confusion, i find it quite confusing to know when and where and how to watch. i picked up my comcast remote and said "olympics." it gave me all these strange options. what we're not seeing is that synergy that we can imagine somewhere where you can actually watch anything anywhere at any time. we'll get there, but we're not there yet. >> yes, i think we need a little hand holding about what's the best to watch. obviously they have highlight shows and i've been watching that. >> yes. there is a myriad of challenges for nbc, but if there's anything that can unite people, it is these games. claire, thank you so much for being here. >> sure. more from claire in a few minutes. in the meantime, for the latest on the ratings, the coverages, you can get it for free at reliablesources.com. up next here on the program,
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a perfect storm for conspiracy theories. dogged reporter jeffrey epstein turning julie k. brown, after this. and let you see any doctor. any specialist. anywhere in the u.s. who accepts medicare patients. so if you have this... consider adding this. call unitedhealthcare today for your free decision guide. ♪
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with at&t business... you can pick the best plan for each employee and only pay for the features they need. the biggest bombshells are sometimes the result of a single determined reporter, one person's persistence. take the case of jeffrey epstein. investigator miami herald reporter julie k. brown looked at every aspect of the jeffrey epstein story, from the attempts at softening the investigations and mostly with the cases reopening. now brown is out with a new book called "perversion of justice" which touches on the challenges facing reporters. you were on a cold case, something the rest of the media missed. what are the lessons for the media in your new book? >> i think since this story happened, it was over a decade
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ago that epstein was first charged, that the world has changed a lot, thankfully, and i think the media is starting to recognize, you know, that these kinds of stories need to be covered in a different way than they had before. you know, that women should be listened to, that they are, you know, to be believed, really, when it comes to these kinds of allegations. >> do you feel like -- i know that one of the stories within your book that i really was struck by is what it was like inside the "miami herald," the lack of resources. that's not the fault of the editors, it was really the fault of the hedge funds and the bankers and the owners and the infrastructure. so what's the local news message you want to share? >> well, i think that the general public isn't aware of how important local news is to our community. reporters that live in their own
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neighborhoods and who work in these small towns are watching your government leaders and making sure that they're not stealing your money or that they're not doing other corrupt practices. and once these papers disappear and the local journalists disappear, i think that the community will be more prone to having corrupt leaders. and so that's one reason, for example, why we need local newspaper reporters and local news. >> it also lets conspiracy flourish. the lack of real news reporting on the ground let's conspiracy theories flourish. you say epstein is the kind of story where conspiracy theories festered and festered. do you see any solutions to that other than local news? >> i think elected leaders have to do more to make sure that there are rules that prevent
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prosecutors, for example, from sealing information. i think there is a huge problem still with the story about information that we aren't -- hasn't been made public. and i think as long as you're hiding the truth, there is going to be conspiracy theories festering out there. >> right. this is your work on the "miami herald" website which had such an incredible impact. now there are many other reporters covering epstein, covering the fallout, and i saw you quoted thsaying you're thinking about another story. rather than following the pack, you may want to find something else that no one is covering. is that the highest value add you have as a journalist? >> i covered how i had a stage editor tell me when you see a pack of journalists running, go the other way. the point is that the story isn't always with the pack, the story sometimes is the story
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that isn't being told. and i think that that's why this story resonated so much, because it really hadn't been told in this way before. so, yes, i kind of think there are other stories to be told. >> and the new book is "perversion of justice." julie, thank you very much for writing it and for coming on the program. >> thanks. when we come back here, what is going to happen on "jeopardy"? who will the new host be? we're going to handicap the choices, coming up.
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it is one of the biggest jobs in television, one of the most be loved shows on all of television. it is "jeopardy." this week, reading rainbow host levar burton is going to have his shot as the guest host. he's been a fan favorite. his fans have been cheering for him, and now he has it. a lot of people have filled in, including sanjay gupta and anderson cooper. we've seen talent from other networks, robin roberts, george stephanopoulos. the new season starts in september and the producers need to pick a host. let's talk about it and why
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"jeopardy" matters with oliver darcy and claire atkinson. oliver, do you know who it's going to be? >> that's the million dollar question right now, brian. it's such an important job. we really have no idea who it's going to be. like you said, burton is a fan favorite. ken jennings is also a fan favorite and had high ratings at the start of the show, when they started doing guest auditions. it's going to be interesting to see who the producers go with for their final selection. >> i'm told they're going to pick every day because they're going to start taping in august. when alex trebek passed away, truth, fact, knowledge, all the things we care about in the news business. i feel like there's an affinity for "jeopardy" for that reason. claire, this is also an important show for broadcast television? >> yeah. i feel liesh "jeopardy" is one of the shows loved by everybody. the final episode with alex
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trebek rated 14 million viewers. that's pretty astounding in broadcast television. all the chatter about the hosts can only help interest in the show. >> more interest and curiosity for the new season. claire and oliver, thank you. our version of final jeopardy is after the break. and strengthens it against dryness for softer, smoother skin you can lovingly embrace. renew the love for your skin with dove body wash. this is the greatest idea you'll ever hear. okay, it's an app that compares
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we strive to be a reliable source. earlier in the hour i said toyota pulled its advertising
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from the television broadcast of the olympics. i described it incorrectly. toyota only pulled ads in japan. that decision does not apply to the u.s., and you're going to see lots of car commercials during the olympics on nbc and its platforms. thanks to joshua and the other people who let me know. yes need to know when we get it wrong so we can get it right. on that note, follow me and we'll see you right back here this time next week. avoidable surge. the deadly delta variant spreads further with unvaccinated americans bearing the brunt. >> we have the tools to end this epidemic. >> will enough americans get the message that vaccines save lives? i'll speak to dr. anthony fauci and the governor of a state battling one of the lowest vaccination rates, arkansas

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