tv Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter CNN October 3, 2021 8:00am-9:00am PDT
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a veteran capitol hill reporter. plus, "the new york times" journalist that exposed the house of cards. ben smith will join me about talking about the rapid collapse of ozy media. and battling cancer and month of chemotherapy, all while still meeting deadlines five times a week, her inspiring story is ahead. first, facebook back on the hot seat. this time the conversation is about children and the damaging effects of platforms like instagram and facebook are having. this conversation is largely known by a whistle-blower who leaked journalists to "the wall street journal." he released his own findings that the platform is affecting the mental health of teen users. there were many other revelations in the series and now the whistle-blower is expected to testify at a senate hearing in the days ahead. first, that person will share they're side of the story, their experiences inside facebook on
"60 minutes" tonight. the highest-rated newscast, in america, so this will make a lot of news. how is facebook dealing with these revelations and whistle-blower and what changed, what concrete change or changes is facebook willing to announce and share and commit to? with me now is mike clegg, vice president of global affairs at facebook, so the top spokesman and alongside mark zuckerberg dealing with the compound issues that have been on the news. nick, thank you for coming open the program. i suspect you're here to preprebut the story on "60 minutes." i know you will say that facebook is not the primary cause but are you willing to acknowledge facebook is a contributor, it's pouring gasoline on the fire in front of us? >> obviously for a platform that has, what, almost a third of the world's population on us and
social media is what it says on the tin, it's social, people sk expouzing their views and feelings worldwide. our j.b. is amplify the good, and that's what this is all about. but the study you showed earlier showed some teens, if they're feeling bad about themselves already, dealing with sleep anxiety, body issues, for some of them some of time going on social media can make them not feel great about themselves because they're comparing themselves to others. i think in many ways, parents of teens or indeed any teens that might be watching this program, that's not wholly surprising. it's what we always said, external research always said, and we do that research so we can then try to act and mitigate it. we're never going to be able to eliminate the basic human tendency to compare yourself to
others. the i remember many years ago -- you may remember this -- the research showing i think women, 70% of u.s. women even in minutes of reading fashion magazines felt depressed, so the psychological an that poj cal tendency to compare yourself to others and sometimes feeling worse is not something that will change. what we can change is our products. that's why, for instance, we announced we will give parents of teens new optional control to supervise what their teens are doing. we'll also introduce new tools to nudge teens away from dwelling on particular kinds of content over and over again. i use as a good example a company doing exactly what i hope people expect we should do, not pretend everything is perfect on social media, it isn't, but research the minority instances where it's not working out for people and try to fix it as much as we can on our own apps. >> there are a couple different topics we can go through. let's continue on this issue about instagram for teens.
for teenage girls, is the world better with instagram in it, or is it worse? >> the vast majority of teen girls and boys who have been covered by some of the surveys you refer to say for the overwhelming majority of them, it either makes them feel better or it doesn't make very much difference one way or another. the thing that -- i think everyone is quite rightly focusing on, and i don't think it's intuitively surprising if you're not feeling great about yourself already, that then going on to social media can actually make you feel a bit worse. and here's the interesting thing again is that -- >> we're talking about girls trying to kill themselves because they're addicted to these platforms and what they're seeing on the platforms. >> no, i think the research you were referring to earlier is -- first teens were asked on a measure, 12 measures, do you suffer from anxiety, sleeplessness, food issues, body image issues and so on.
then those teens who said yes to any of that were then asked, and do you feel better or the same or worse on those 12 counts when you go on to instagram? and on all counts, the people who said either together it made no difference or it made them feel better outweigh those, the minority who said it made them feel worse. to are those who made them feel worse, particularly when it came to body image issues for teenage girls, we want to understand what we need to do to help them in those instances, and that's why some of the things i mentioned to you about providing parental supervision -- >> so when research, as revealed and exposed by "the wall street journal," why not release this research to the public before it gets leaked by a whistle-blower? >> we release a huge amount of research. we have 1,000 ph.d.s working at facebook. they publish or or involved in thousands of peer reviewed academic papers, academic conferences. i think 400 papers this year alone. we run i think the world's
largest covid survey in cooperation with two universities, maryland university -- university of maryland and carnegie mellon. we have an industry-leading project with a number of academics to look into how social media was used in the run-up to the u.s. elections. in fact, last week i announced that we are investing $50 million as an initial sum to fund research into augmenting virtual reality. we do a huge amount of research, share it with external researchers as much as we can, and do remember, i'm not a researcher, but researchers will tell you that there's a real difference between doing a peer reviewed exercise in cooperation with other academics and preparing papers internally to provoke an informed maternal discussion. i'm sure at cnn, by the way, there's internal research how different demographics react to your program. some of it will be published and some internal.
facebook is no different. >> will you all continue -- there's been questions about whether if they're going to clamp down on research now some of the research embarrassed the company. will you commit to continuing this research? >> yes, and i think this is really important. i think many companies, i suspect in our position, would just say well, maybe we should just not ask ourselves these difficult questions because it causes so much grief. we're not going to do that. we're absolutely not going to do that. we will continue to ask ourselves these difficult questions. i personally think that some of the assertions made over the last week, that we commissioners researched, which raises questions which we deliberately brush under the carpet has literally got it back to front. >> how? >> if we don't want to address those questions, we wouldn't commission the research in the first place. we do it precisely so we can work out in the minority of cases where people are not having a good experience on our platforms what we can do. look, we do that across the board. i often read that it is assertive that facebook is awash
with hate speech. in fact, what we've done over the recent years, we now have 40,000 people working on this. we invested $13 billion into research and technology to bear down on that. the prevalence of hate speech is as low as 0.05%. we're never going to get it down to zero but i think that's a good example where we use research and technology and investment to actually deal, to mitigate the bad while amplifying the good. >> you're arguing the media coverage on facebook is getting it wrong. that we're portraying fins on facebook that are actually being minimized? is that what you're saying? >> no, i think where some of the comment is fair criticism, we need to be not defensive but open and acknowledge we haven't got everything right. of course, we haven't gotten everything right. there's no perfection in social media as much as in any other walk of life. then what we have to do is address that and act on it. which is why for instance last
week we referred one of the episode of "the wall street journal's" series something called crosscheck, an internal mechanism where we imply checks to different accounts because we felt there was legitimate criticism is there. >> i hear what you're saying. a part of me feels like i'm interviewing the head of a tobacco company right now. a part of me feels like i'm interviewing the head of a giant casino that gets rich by tricking their customers and making them addicted. the big tobacco comparison is everywhere now. how do you feel about those big comparisons to big tobacco? >> i think they're profoundly false. >> why? >> because i don't think it's remotely like tobacco. social media apps are apps. people download them on their phones. why do they do that? it has to be a reason why a third of the world's population enjoys using these apps. they do it because they like
exchanging their views, their feelings, their experiences -- >> and i admit i enjoy using them too, but i admit that. but i always feel it in terms of addiction. don't you feel the addiction? >> that's why we need to make sure people are not being drawn towards bad experiences. that's why -- and i gave you a very good example earlier, and i think in the past it is through there was more hate on facebook than there should have been. we applied a huge amount of resources. let me give you a simple reason why this is such a misleading analogy, the people who pay our lunch are advertisers. advertisers don't want their content next to hateful, extreme or unpleasant content. we have absolutely no commercial incentive, no moral incentive, companywide incentive to do anything other than the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible, and that's what we do day in and day out. >> i have a question for you, have advertisers withdrawn the last couple of days because of
the facebook whistle-blower? are you seeing damage to the bottom line of the business? >> not to my knowledge. but in the past there have been moments where some advertisers said they're not happy with the way things are playing out on the platform and then we engage with them. as we did last summer, we were i think way, way ahead of the rest of the industry by bearing down and identifying hate speech and then, by the way, holding ourselves to account. then along with our financial reporting, every three months we report on all of the content we've taken down, how we identified it and so on and we're doing something which no one else is doing in the industry, because in a sense why should people believe in a sense our data, people who want us to be the judge and jury of our own performance. we're committing that data, those reports, to an independent audit. no one else is doing that. no one else has set up an independent oversight board to hold us to account. so we accept transparency, we accept criticism, we accept where criticism is fair, we need to act on it. i think the one thing that's
deeply misleading is we commission research and immediately brush it under the carpet because we don't like the implications of that research because somehow we don't like bad or unpleasant content on our platform. of course we don't. but we will bear down, we're never going to eliminate it. i promise you there will never be a teenager who doesn't have a good experience in their lives that cannot commiserate it. we will always be very open about that. >> i am with you on that, social media brings a lot of benefits. but there's a fear among a lot of folks, including people who want to believe you, it's become a monster you can't control. facebook doesn't have control over what it's created. is there any accuracy to that fear? >> i will be quite open with you, i think if you have a platform as i said earlier which is used by so many people around the world -- i think every day there are just messages, 150 billion messages conveyed on our
platform all of the time, even with the most sophisticated technology, which i believe we deploy, even with the tens of thousands of people we deploy to maintain safety and integrity on our platform, you're right, brian, we're never going to be on top of this 100% of the time because this is an instantaneous and spon entertainous form of communication, where billions of human being can express themselves as they want, when they want to each other. i think we do more than anyone else in the industry. i think we do more than any reasonable person can expect us to do. >> you might be doing more than any other company and it still might not be enough. these platforms are rewiring our brains. we're not built for this kind of connectivity around the world and it scares the bejesus out of a lot of people. and that is why we'll have more senate hearings. but is there any personal believes you want as an answer to this? >> i think regulation would help and let me give you an example
where regulation would help on an issue raised earlier, research. one of the fundamental problems we have with research is the data most interesting to research is the most sensitive data. the most sensitive data, quite correctly, is subject to the most privacy and data protection controls. that balances out the risks we can take with people's privacy in order to provide data to researchers is something that's a real difficult balance. if there was to be in congress a law that says under law, facebook, you can take x, y, z risks on privacy in order to provide more data to researchers, that would be enormously helpful not just to us but tiktok, youtube, twitter, all of the other operators in the space where research is necessary and clearly where it's much better where you can have external research to have safe, privacy protected access to our data. >> about "the wall street journal" findings and internal research, you came out and said
there's information in the journal's series was inaccurate. "the journal" says not of facebook cases cited a single error in our reporting. instead of the spin they should address the public directly and release all of the research we based our reporting from that they claim we misrepresented. will you continue releasing all of the data "the wall street journal" based their reporting on? >> as i said earlier, i doubt cnn or any other company that does discussion would randomly dump documents from the outside world. that's not something any reasonable company could be expected to do, which is external research -- >> okay, you're not. >> we have shared. we have shared and we also shared with external researchers plenty of data, and we will continue to do so.
>> this whistle-blower went to "the journal" apparently, "60 minutes" trying to call out facebook, which they believe are real problems. we see "the new york times" this weekend, it will accuse facebook of contributing to the january 6th riot. your response, i guess a preview of your response to that. >> if i think the assertion is january 6th can be explained because of social media, i just think that's ludicrous. the responsibility for the violence of january 6th and insurrection on that day lies squarely with the people who inflicted the violence and those who encouraged them, including then-president trump and candidly many other people elsewhere in the media who were encouraging the assertion that the election was stolen. look, i think these people had false comfort to assume there must be a technological explanation for the political polarization in the united states. >> interesting. you think it's too easy to say
it's facebook's fault? >> i think it would be too easy to suggest with a tweet to an algorithm somehow the polarizing u.s. politics would evaporate. i think it dissolves people of asking themselves harder questions about historical, cultural, social and economic reasons that led to the politics with he have in the u.s. today. look, i think researchers say the same thing. if you look at research published i think just a few weeks ago by some stanford researchers, they looked at 12 countries, including the u.s., across europe and north america and australia and new zealand to trace the rise of polarization over the last 40 years and they found in many -- half the countries, about six of the 12, polarizations actually declined even as social media use has gone up. the u.s. is quite unique among those 12 countries seeing a much higher increase in polarization over the past four decades. i think simply saying it's got to be because of some social media apps people use i think is woefully simplistic.
>> but it's a factor, it's a factor. >> sure. >> that's where i come back to the original connection, are you willing to acknowledge you contributed to this in some form? >> of course the way people exchange information now takes place online. of course, we as one of the largest social media platforms have a responsibility to understand where we contribute to negative and extreme content, hate speech, misinformation, so on. and i have explained to you already some of the i think really successful things we've done to bear down on hate speech. we worked with fact checkers on a scale no one else does in the industry to identify misinformation and deprecate it. we make sure that clickbait and other content is there to rile people up and engage them and get them hooked on using social media shows much, much lower down our newsfeed. so you're right, we need to take our responsibility, and we take our responsibilities very
seriously. but i think a sweeping assertion of the violence that happened january 6th can be explained primarily, secondarily or any other way by social media is a woefully simplification of the much wider divisions in society which have been brewing for a very long time. >> nick, i'm glad you're here and i'm glad you're answering the questions. i wonder if you're going to be doing interviews more often? will zuckerberg, sandberg? there's data they will stop apologizing and taking on the questions, just keep on keeping on. is that the new plan or will you all continue to give interviews? >> look, my responsibility and the company, amongst other things, is to deal with the difficult policies. i oversee, amongst other things, the company's policies. how elections perform on our platform, hate speech works. it's quite right i'm here to ns afor those but i'm bart of a team and part of a team that, of course, answers to mark zuckerberg. but i hope you'll find i'm an adequate surrogate on some of these issues. >> i think you're wonderful and we have to see other executives
as well. tara swisher wants an hour with you, nick. she thinks you're avoiding the tough questions. >> i don't think i've been avoiding the tough questions here. i don't think i avoid the tough questions. but i need to get on the danger of making sure we amplify the good and minimize the bad on social media in exactly the way i described. i think criticism -- with success comes responsibility. with success comes criticism. we should be humble and open enough to accept the criticism where that's legitimate but i hope people will also accept we're entitled to be forthright in pushing back at sweeping assertions which are simply not borne out by the research. it's simply not borne out by our research or anybody else's that instagram is bad or toxic for all teens. that's absolutely not what the research shows. i think it's very -- i think it's worrisome and, therefore, misleading and should be challenged for parents and families across the country to hear sweeping headlines like that and i think we're entitled to say hang on a minute, that's really not the case. >> nick, thank you very much for
coming on the program. >> thank you. we went a little long as you can imagine but we have a lot more coming up this hour, including fox news celebrating a major milestone. but someone's missing from the happy birthday montages, and i'll tell you who. up next, the white house's greatest gripe of news coverage of covid. the latest complaint is vaccine coverage of mandates. do they have a point? (burke) smart dog. with farmers crashassist, our signal app can tell when you've been in a crash and can send help, if you want it. get a whole lot of something with farmers policy perks. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪ (vo) unconventional thinking means we see things differently, so you can focus on what matters most. that's how we've become the leader in 5g. #1 in customer satisfaction. and a partner who includes 5g in every plan, so you get it all. ordinary tissues burn when theo blows. so dad bought puffs plus lotion, and rescued his nose. with up to 50% more lotion
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alright, let's see what we can adjust. ♪ we'd be closer to the twins. change in plans. okay. mom, are you painting again? you could sell these. lemme guess, change in plans? at fidelity, a change in plans is always part of the plan. with vaccine mandates taking hold, some of the media coverage was missing the mark. on right wing media, fox, et cetera, opinion polls are siding with the 23% of the american
adults that are at this point refusing to get at least one dose of the covid-19. it's a clear minority of the u.s. population but for some reason these hoax, these stars think they have to side with the small right wing minority. they might be more accurately described as right wing hostilities towards disease prevention. that's the better banner, against disease prevention. maga media extending the length of the pandemic of the but somehow left in the mainstream media are also failing to capture what's happening with vaccine mandates, that is the headlines that hype the minority that say they've been fired because they refused a vaccine without pointing out tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people have gone right along with the mandates. the mandates are what they needed, that little judge to get vaccinated, to get protected, to protect their families and communities. with me now is juliette kayyem, harvard school professor and former staffer for "the new yorker."
they had bones to pick with the media's coverage this year. i have been hearing it. in fact ron claim, chief of staff, retweeted you about coming on "reliable sources" today. what do you think the white house is trying to convey? what's the complaint about the news coverage? >> i think the white house is right in this case and i have been critical of the white house. man dates should have come sooner. let's be clear. there's a thing k5called a denominator. when you have a headline, 1,600 are holdouts -- and remember those holdouts don't hold by the deadline date, 600 out of 16,000 is a very different story than 600 out of 1,200. what i found is there are 17 major companies that this was mandated by the end of september. the media reported 30% holdout. that's a win because the win is
airlines and jetblue have put in mandates. i think those companies will have challenges but those companies had already done contingency plans for those challenges. this was a good week from the m perspective of not just the white house but, of course, how we get those mandates to work over time simply to get more vaccinated than fewer of the that's our stanand standard, yo want more vaccinated, not fewer. >> why do you think the tucker carlson minority are standing with that number? i don't actually get it, why don't they want to be with the giant majority of america who's done the right thing? >> because that minority of people, the 23% overall or .6% that are not getting vaccinated with the mandate are their base so there's no point going against their base. it is the people who sort of
view freedom as a sort of self-absorbed, self-centered right. there's no community interest. there's no us in the united states. this is the group. the more they can animate them, they do two things. one is they keep that support. but they also feed a narrative that i think a lot of us got sucked into that the resistance that doesn't always exist -- that doesn't exist actually does. these are not significant numbers, right? 26% of a company. then they give a narrative, oh, my god, this country is divided about vaccine mandates. it's not divided. i'm looking at these numbers. this is what i do for a living, i help the companies get to the finish line. do not blink, these companies are not blinking. and they're get -- it's not only a success corporate story, this is so good for all of us, it really is, get the private sector engaged in a community to
help all of us. >> suzanne, how does this relate for former president donald trump? you wrote that trump is still watching. how does it relate to that? >> i relate in a lot of ways. first of all, the maga media, as you term it, they play to the trump base and anti-vaccine base are the same base. interestingly, that's one of the reasons why you are seeing donald trump do essentially nothing to promote the vaccine that many advisers believe was actually the one bright spot in terms of his administration's initial response to the pandemic, supporting the effort to quickly develop the vaccine. but you don't see donald trump making public service announcements urging people to get the spot. when he did mention it in his rally, there were boos. this is not something that his base wants and he and tucker carlson and all of the rest are extremely sensitive to it. number one, what we're having essentially right now is not just a plague of unvaccinated, but actually of red america, the trump base.
i think most important thing to understand. the other thing is that our politics is so broken right now, you really do have a situation where parts of the trump base and at times trump himself are essentially rooting for american failure in the pandemic because that's identified with rooting for joe biden's failure. >> for biden, yes. you pointed that out in your column, they decided biden's a failure and now they must find a way to get to that conclusion and reinforce it the next three years until the election. trump wants to get back on twitter, pressing the cord to get back on twitter. does that tell us he's absolutely positively running? he just needs twitter to run? >> remember, i think he just needs twitter. psychologically, hard to say. but he's spent four years in a constant dialogue, instantaneous feedback with the public, with his supporters on twitter. then he was abruptly unplugged from it. donald trump's statements right now, he barrages those of us who
are on his mailing list constantly with these sort of bizarre email statements but they're definitely resonating much less and breaking through much less than his twitter feed used to. and i imagine for donald trump, attention is an intox capital for him. >> juliette, in one sentence, should donald trump be back allowed on twitter? >> can i have a word? no. at this stage, quickly, the radicalization that trump sort of unleashed, whether it's being pro-pandemic or pro-insurrection is something if you're twitter and you're just looking at yourself as a corporation, right, as a public citizen in many ways, i see no incentive for them to get him back on twitter because the radicalization flows from that platform. we've seen, look, i know he's not in our frame. he's in other people's frame. but the fact he's not able to hit -- get with so many people
so often is a benefit, a benefit for this country. i have to say, i heard nick before, there's no shame for a social media company to be pro-democracy. that's not a problem. we should support that. so twitter should keep him off. >> i would be very surprised if he prevails in court. but, hey now that i said it out loud, it's on the record so it will be used against me if he ends up back on twitter. but i would be surprised if a judge rules in favor. juliette and susan, thank you both. "snl" is back on the air and taking swipes at president biden. we'll tell you how to record congress and the chaos. and a look at the claps of ozy media. the reporter who started it all, ben smith, joins me next. but i know what time it is. [whispering] it's grilled cheese o'clock. when we found out our son had autism,
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we know the media loves a good horse race, but does that dynamic weigh in on the coverage of d.c. now? with all of the ups and downs this week, it's hard for anyone to keep up, even the reporters who are sboezed to cover it. we're getting detailed coverage of any response, efforterance but are we missing the broader story about this incredibleability of spending being proposed? where me is charlotte author from "time" magazine and jonathan cone, senior correspondent for huff post and author of the ten-year war, a book about obamacare. jonathan, i wanted to talk to you now because the battle for obamacare, ten-year war as you call it, feels like we're seeing a similar focus on d.c. now and
similar drama coming out of capitol hill. what's your critique of the news coverage of the past week? >> the politics are eerily similar. i think my biggest critique was the overreaction to what happened this week. there was a lot of drama on capitol hill. there were votes that were going to happen, not going to happen. then all of a sudden we had headlines, agenda hanging by a thread, president biden's presidency in doubt. to me, this looked like a pretty normal process and negotiation trying to put together a very ambitious piece of legislation. remember the aca, there were many near-death moments where it looked like this would fall apart. this does not feel like one of those moments for me. >> charlie, what about you, your number one critique of the coverage thus far? >> listen, i agree with jonathan that this is actually pretty normal, and all of these hand-wringing headlines kind of undersell the fact this is just how the sausage gets made. this is how legislation is
decided. and, frankly, there are all of these -- there's a narrative that it's democrats dividing over this. i actually this this is just democrats deciding how they're going to actually get this done. frankly, i also think that everybody seems to be missing the bigger picture of what $3.5 trillion over ten years actually could mean to american families. even if the number is smaller than that, we're still looking at the potential of a massive investment in a social safety net that would be the largest investment in childcare and in climate change, and in paid family leave, in a generation. i sort of worry that everyone is kind of missing the big picture about what the potential outcome could be here. >> jonathan, is that true? is the media missing the legislative forest from the individual trees? >> i'm 100% with charlotte on
this. it's maybe how little attention we've given over the past few months to these potentially transformative pieces of legislation. charlotte mentioned a couple, childcare, paid leave. every other country in the world has a paid leave law. we don't. we could get one. this can be transformative to hundreds of thousands and billions of people who are elderly or disabled, and can't get home care and they end up in nursing homes. that's not even to mention the profound change in policy on climate change, which is really, you know, an existential crisis for the planet. there's a lot in this bill, and we probably should be talking a lot more about it. >> let's talk about why it is the way it is. jonathan, what are the structural reasons in the media why there's so much more focus on what joe manchin just said a second ago versus what he may end up ripping out of the bill? >> yeah, yeah. look, i think we all now in general process stories and the media -- especially the
washington media, do tend to focus more on process stories. that's always been the case. this particular bill is so hard because it's so many things, it's hard to focus only on one and it's competing in a media environment where we're talking about the pandemic, afghanistan, abortion, so many stories. i also think strangely both parties for very different reasons have not been focusing on the substance. i think democrats in part because of how they were scarred with the obamacare fight and so many others, they want to move along as fast as they can. if they don't get bogged down in sites like knocking down fox news argument on policy, they probably they that's all to the good. republicans are trying to play to their base. frankly, what gets their base riled up is immigration, critical race theory, mask mandates. they're not going to get riled up about policies which actually most of them probably support. >> interesting. charlotte, what about you, is it structurally the media now
versus say 30 years ago is so twit eri, is so -- there's actually so much content, is it the saturation of news coverage and so every little itty-bitty detail seems important? i'm almost saying is there too much news coverage, which is a weird thing to ask? >> yeah, i do think it's possible that on a story like this one, there may be too much news coverage. listen, i'm as guilty as the next person, but i also think, you know, so you essentially get every beat of this covered at every moment. the vote is delayed, the vote is in jeopardy, they're still deciding. that might be too much information for most people. i think most people are like, hey, call me when you figure it out and let me know what's in the big. i think that, fankly, is also part of the problem here is because they're still figuring it out, it's very hard to cover the impact of a bill that isn't
hammered out yet, where there's still a tremendous amount in fluch about how much money they're going to spend over the course of ten years. what's going to stay in, what's going 0 fall out. it's sort of like tasting a kite that isn't baked yet. we have a general sense of the ingredients, we have a general sense what it's going to taste like but it's very hard to present that to the general public because there are just so many unknowns. >> i really prefer the cake-making analogy to the sausage-making analogy. as we talk about this, let's just make cakes from now on. at least it doesn't sound so gross. charlotte, jonathan, thank you both for being here. now to a digital hall of mirrors that's been exposed. a start-up media company called ozy media is shutting down after "the new york times" expose alleging massive deception by the company's founders. ozy media appeared to be a success, claims to have tens of millions of engaged users. it held large outdoor festivals
with live music and big-name guests and comedy performances. earlier this year, bbc journalist katty kay was even lured away to join the company. it was headed by a lauded media personality, charles watson, once a political analyst here on cnn. it seemed like ozy was just a big mirage, as revealed in ben smith's reporting in "the new york times." he laid this bare in an article sunday night and the dominos fell all weekend long. here's one example, in 2019 ozy boasted having 50 million monthly visitors, imagine each dot is a million. yet the tracking data we have available to us shows it only ever had a tiny fraction of that 50 million. so the data was not able to back up ozy's boastful claims. what was going on? was the company just faking it until they made it? was there actual fraud here, a criminal case? those are all big questions now that the company is shutting down. employees were told on friday that it's over, that some of them will be laid off in the days ahead.
so we invited carlos watson to come on the program to address this. he didn't respond. ozy really hasn't responded to anything all week long. but the stories continue to pile up and it all began with ben smith's column this time last week. let's bring ben in, media columnist for "the new york times." ben, why did you decide to look into ozy in the first place? >> you know, i think a lot of us who work in online media did sort of feel that the jump between ozy claims and the real numbers, but i think there's a lot of hazy claims made about digital media. i think cnn puts its best foot forward, "the new york times" puts its best foot forward. you can probably find fault within all of that. the goldman sachs, youtube executive on the call with goldman sachs, suggested there was more to it. >> that was the beginning.
i thought the headband, jeff horowitz was wearing his headband in every video. >> i think that's the new thing you were supposed to do but i can't pull it off. >> i think you were pulling it off fine. i know carlos watson and everyone seems to know carl carlos watson. do you believe this is actual fraud, or was it somebody boasting, trying to be a star by boasting the numbers up like many people do? >> i can't suggest his motive, i think his partners at times lied to their employees, lied to their advertisers, and certainly an order of magnitude beyond the kind of puffery that's sort of common in media and let's say business forever, but really to a much, much more extreme degree. >> were they attempting to, you know, credibility by association, by booking the dr.
anthony faucis of the world? i think you were on the show once. by booking well-known people, is it like saddling up to success and pretending to be successful? >> the audience that really ate ozy up was too, the billionaire executives and ozy executives. i think you have been in conversations with those at the very, very top of the american per mid-a pyramid and breathe that very thin air up there and they're like why can't news have less conflict and messiness be just having bipartisan conversations across the aisle, in which no one is ever made uncomfortable, particularly not billionaires and advertising executives, and i think ozy delivered very, very fully on that promise, and, of course, that's not content anyone really particularly wants to consume in the real world so i think they had a problem building that nonbillionaire audience. >> then they had to start paying for promotions, paying for
people to watch their videos, create a facade that all comes tumbling down gupta. >> i was shocked by how fast it happened. part of it is things just happen faster now. i think part of it was advisers and their investors felt misled. pretty hard to come back from that. >> no recovery at all. what does this tell us about digital media writ large and will there be other ozys? >> i don't think it says much about digital media. this wasn't an exaggeration of what everybody was doing. this was a company boasting of a massive audience. i think these things pop up in all sorts of industries. i think it does expose how little attention so-called sophisticated investors pay when they're going with their gut feel about a founder, with their instincts and who else has
already joined the club. an old friend of carlos' was the first person in the door. i think a lot of other investors thought, cool, and didn't look much deeper. >> can you preview your next column for us? do you have one coming out on this tonight? >> i do have one coming out tonight but i need to write it so i can't preview it. >> good answer. ben, thank you for coming on the program. thank you. >> sign up for our nightly sources newsletter. you can sign for free at reliablesources.com. up next, a few of the white house illuminated pink for the start of breast cancer awareness month. after the break, meg kennard shares the amazing story of her fight against that disease which has not stopped her from reporting for the associated press. hear from her next.
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not missing a reporter beat. it's a story of perseverance. diagnosed with stage three khan self, a.p. politics reporter meg kinnard has not let it slow her down. despite surgery and months of intensive chemotherapy, she's still a must-read, filing stories four or five times a week. this story starts with meg deciding to get a second opinion on a lump she first discovered during a self-exam nearly four years ago, a decision that she says saved her life. meg kinnard is with me now. politics reporter for the a.p. by day and breast cancer awareness advocate by night and the rest of the time. how are you feeling? how are you doing, meg. >> brian, it's good to be with you. i'm feeling really well. i'm about halfway through my radiation treatments that i'm gettingality md anderson cancer center here in houston. so far, so good. a little fatigue, a little pain,
but all in all, i'm feeling well. >> what do you want people to know who are watching? what do you want to get awareness about? >> there are two prongs to the message i would like people to hear. one is take care of yourself. get the screenings that we're supposed to get and sometimes put off for a variety of reasons. aside from that, if there's something that you notice that you feel is going on that seems a little questionable, and even if you get that screening and you're not satisfied with the answer or the resulted from it, push for something further. we are our own best advocates. there's really nothing more important than our own health. make sure you keep pushing if you get an answer that really doesn't satisfy you. >> has this experience, this pain changed the way you view reporting? you're still pumping out stories every day? has it changed the way you view journalism at all? >> maybe somewhat. but honestly, my work, i love
it. i really enjoy it. it's been a way to keep myself centered, keep my mind engaged and keep pushing through. cancer treatment is no joke. it is not easy. there are many difficult pieces to it. i'm fortunate that i have an employer like the associated press that has given me flexibility to keep doing my job from infusion centers to radiation treatment waiting rooms and everywhere in between. for me i have found a lot of solace in that because it does keep me focused on something aside from the personal journey on which i am right now. >> absolutely. meg, i hope your message helps others. i think it already has. i hope it continues to help others as well. thank you for being here. >> of course. thank you for having me. i really appreciate it. you'll probably hear a lot about fox news this week. the network is turning 25 and running lots of commercials celebrating its birthday. you won't hear nihonest assessment on fox. fox wasn't always the political
beast it is today. as the first co-host of the morning show that became "fox & friends" told me, it was not political at all. i wasn't political and neither was the show it was pop culture sprinkled with the day's news. the network evolved or devolved into the beating heart of the gop, a heart q with clogged arteries and weak muscles. it brought us stories about the military and middle america, a portrayal of the usa that seems stuck in a time warp. shep smith narrating a llama chase. that was fun. for all the fun, there's so much darkness in fox's history. you won't see roger ailes in retrospectives, his abuse of women, his leg cam, his paranoia, his rage is what translated into the network that exists today. full of rage, anger, the white lash on tv often delivered with a smile.
ailes also brought us donald trump. executives might say that merely holding a mirror up to america's divisions, but the research is clear, fox is not just a mirror. it's an accelerant. there's a new book coming out on tuesday, it's called "the brainwashing of my dad" about exactly what you think. for the families who feel they have been torn apart by fox, this week is not a happy anniversary. that's it for this edition of "reliable sources." we'll see you back here next week. left turn. progressives in congress hold the line on the president's priorities. >> our position is exactly the same as the president's. >> forcing the speaker to delay a planned vote for the second time. is the left the new power bloc in democratic politics? the woman leading the charge, house progressive caucus chair pramila jayapal will be here.