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tv   Reliable Sources With Brian Stelter  CNN  July 10, 2022 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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we're live here in new york and this is reliable sources where we examine the story behind the story. we figure out what is reliable. this hour, elon musk wants to break up with twitter, but can he? if he walks away, who will stand up to by the social media
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giant. plus, weeks after the supreme court's ruling on abortion, is it still a top story in key states? we will speak with top editors in texas and georgia about that anymore and later, what is the fine line between informing and overwhelming you? we will talk about that with melissa, coming up, but first, how to decipher debates about disinformation. one of the dominant stories of our time, is a dramatic drift toward a choose your own reality , people are swimming or perhaps drowning in a sea of information, some of it straight up disinformation. meaning something that is made up, on purpose, designed to deceive you. disinformation is a real thing. a real problem. but it is almost impossible to have a conversation about it. this quote from the ap explains why, as trust breaks down polarization and anxiety increases, creating opportunities for people pushing their own alternative facts. in the case of disinformation, the term, the real throwing --
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the real thing, that term has been missed used, disinformation has become yet another untouchable problem in washington dc. that and it just happen by accident. it happened in the pursuit of power. some progressives have over used the term disinformation, way overused it. some conservatives have rejected the term altogether even while spreading bs, let's show some specific examples of this. president biden, he has had it bad enough lately without people lying about him. here is the recent bilateral facebook post claiming biden was facing impeachment amid high gas prices, that claim was given a hard know, a pants on fire, but there is those sorts of claims every day. there was a viral video shared by anti-biden commentators falsely claiming the medal of honor was affixed backwards. the video was bs. this stuff happens seemingly every day, it has become part of the background. it is like humidity, it is
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always there. public and politicians are targets of disinformation, and so are basically ever made trees -- ever major story in the news. there's been a copious amount of disinformation about abortions, some experts are worried about abortion misinformation and intentional disinformation will only increase and make it harder for people to receive care. there are national security applications to disinformation all around the world, that is why the u.s. department of homeland security recently tried to create an advisory board and called it a disinformation governance board but that board quickly collapsed, it came under fierce criticism including from fox and right wing media, the government did a horrible job of explaining what the board was supposed to do, and so it put it on pause, which the government speaks for it is going away and will never come back. so if the government can't even have a real conversation about disinformation, can't even have an advisory board to talk about it, that is a tough situation to be in. i thought paul barnett said it
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best, he is a deputy director at nyu, he told the times, we are basically at this point, unable to have a calm discussion about the problem. there is a weird circular looping around effect, the problem itself is helping make us unable to talk about the problem. think about that. the disinformation problem is making it harder to actually talk about the disinformation problem. now that sounds like a challenge. let's take it on. nina is the researcher who briefly led the disinformation governance board before it collapsed, she is the author of books like how to lose the information war and the new book, how to be a woman online. nina, welcome to reliable sources, thank you for coming on. >> thank you for having me. >> you have had time to process what went wrong this spring when you briefly were the executive director of this board and then had it all fall apart. let's start with what was the goal, what was the department of homeland security trying to do?
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>> well, the disinformation governance board was a body that was meant to advise the many parts of the department of homeland security that were working on disinformation. to bring best practices to bear, and to make sure that we were up with the latest research , the latest trends, in disinformation and countering it and make sure that work was being done in a way that protected freedom of speech, protected civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy. what the republicans and frankly some on the far left as well, spun, was that this disinformation governance board was going to be a ministry of truth. there is no absolutely no foundation for that, in fact, the disinformation governance board was never meant to police speech, it was not going to police speech and frankly, brian, i have written and researched about government efforts to do just that, i am against them just like many americans are, and if that were part of the job description, i
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wouldn't have taken the job. >> the sympathetic view, to you, is that the disinformation board was the victim of disinformation. is that how you feel? >> it absolutely was the victim of disinformation. all of these narratives, that the disinformation governance board was going to be this ministry of truth and all of the harassment and disinformation that was directed against me, was based on that falsehood. based on that falsehood that was knowingly peddled by many people in the conservative media ecosystem and on capitol hill. >> that is true, if that is true, what the heck was the homeland security department doing? why didn't they defend you? why didn't the government explain what the heck it was doing? >> yeah, i have a lot of misgivings about the way things went down and i think the first thing to point out, brian, is that there was a disproportionate focus on me, given my level of power within the department. i was not allowed to speak on my own behalf, and frankly, all the communications decisions
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that were being made about how to talk about the board remade above my pay grade, and above my level of decision-making. i was the executive director but there were a lot of people that were involved that didn't take advice frankly that i had given them. and i had hoped that i would see things go down differently. >> even just the name. it sounds overwhelming, and any pr professional would say don't call it that. they were dumb mistakes made. >> right, that belies the fact that it was meant to be an internal governing mechanism, governing how the department of homeland security did its work on disinformation, not governing the internet. that was one of the reasons that i ended up making the choice to resign, right? i felt like the government had just rolled over, to the critics, who had completely spun this narrative out of control based on absolutely nothing and reality and the fact that they weren't able to defend me, the person that they had chosen, the experts that they had chosen to lead this
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board and safeguard this work. it didn't feel like it was worth it. >> and you are about to have a child and i want to ask you about that in a moment. these critics, there were many of them, they were incredibly loud. you are just a giant liberal, could never be appropriately hired for this job because he posted disinformation on twitter yourself. >> well, so there is a lot of things to unpack in that. first let's start with the idea that anybody would be someone, anybody on the political spectrum would want to be policing speech. again, at the colonel of that criticism is the idea that this board would be policing speech which wasn't going to do. if that was the case, there would be no person nonpartisan enough particularly in the counter disinformation sphere, who would appeal to everyone in not roll. but, i did not post this information, the folks that are honing in on tweets that i sent in 2016, when i had fewer than 1000 twitter followers, that
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you know, i was just sharing information about a presidential election as it was happening, as millions of other americans were doing, using their right to freedom of speech, that wasn't disinformation, it was sharing news. other people honed in on tweets that completely were stripped of context. the one that conservatives love to amplify was a tweet that they claimed that made me seem like i was calling the hunter biden laptop disinformation when in fact i was just live tweeting a debate. saying the exact words that then candidate biden and president trump were saying during a debate. totally stripped of context. people didn't want to look further into the context. >> so then, what ... >> i have researched ... >> you believe you were the right hire, the government screwed up with this thing, now the question is now what, was the new york times writes that this was an unresolvable problem, there is nothing washington can do because republicans can not even agree with what disinformation is?
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>> i don't think it is an untouchable problem, we have seen other countries with highly polarized media environments, for example, the united kingdom do really good work on this topic but what we need is for our politicians to recognize that this is a democratic problem. it knows no political party, it is a democracy as an ultimate victim. we need those who are frankly benefiting from the political use of disinformation to recognize that they are putting the national security at risk and the democracy at risk. someday, disinformation is going to come for them as well and nobody wants that. we want people to be able to agree on facts and make well- informed choices at the ballot box. ultimately that is what is at stake here. until we come to that reconciliation in washington, it will be extremely difficult to do this work as my own experience has shown. >> when you say make informed choices, do you mean vote for democrats?
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>> no, absolutely not! >> that is often the criticism. that is the rights criticism. disinformation is used as a weapon to promote liberal agendas. >> that is not true. we have seen and i have pointed out on twitter over the past week, disinformation that has been used by the democrats as well. we need to get back to a point where we are all you know, putting the truth forward and that people want to know what the truth is. in my case, people didn't want to know what the truth was about me. they were told i was the enemy and they were happy to do no further research in that regard, and continue to badger me and my family, rather than uncover my research, my writing, which has much more nuanced views and advocates for things like information literacy, certainly not policing speech which again i do not agree with. >> you have a newborn at home, what has this been like for you, as you know, going through parenthood and seeing yourself destroyed basically from the right-wing media? >> it was a pretty scary couple
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of weeks. i was in my last trimester of pregnancy, it should have been a very exciting time and instead, my husband and i were making sure that our home was secure, it was not the end to a pregnancy that i had hoped, luckily the little guy is doing just fine. people were not only disparaging and defaming me online, they were attacking my family and some people including marjorie taylor greene said that she felt sorry for my unborn child, that is a ridiculous place for our national discourse to be in, and again, i have advocated for all sorts of solutions to disinformation but i think one of the things that we really need to get back to is a common humanity. i am a person on the other side of my twitter avatar. i have a family, i have a life. i went into public service with a real desire to help the country and so i think we all need to think about that, next time we are having these anonymized arguments on social media, there are people on the other side of the screen, and the more that we can get back
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to that humanity in the politics and political discourse, i think the better our democracy will be. >> humanity, that is the word. thank you for coming on the program. good to see you. >> thanks for having me. sonic let's continue this conversation with our panel, national correspondent with the washington post and lauren, a business reporter with the new york times. the big overarching question here, i don't know if any of us can answer it, are there any actual solutions to the disinformation dilemma that she lays out that we can't even talk about the problem in the same way? >> honestly, i feel like when i listen to british media, i feel like i am getting reality. i don't feel that in the states. >> you think it is an american problem? interesting. >> i think it is more exacerbated here. there is a shared reality of what the facts are in britain. i listened to it during political cycles, presidential cycles came in and i feel like i am getting what is really
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happening. >> maybe we are more broken in the states here, then elsewhere? >> i think so. >> philip, how does that register with you? >> i can't speak to the bbc world service. you know, i think one of the disadvantages the u.s. government here, it is uniquely disadvantaged by the fact that the first amendment prescribes what it can and cannot do. that is both useful and important, it is important to have the government not be able to draw those lines. i think a key subtext that you just had, is who decides what that disinformation is. that is the nutshell here. if the government is saying this thing coming across from overseas is disinformation, that is the government making a judgment call, it may be accurate but it is the government weighing in on speech. not necessarily within our borders. be cause of that disadvantage it allows bad-faith actors to use that as an argument, as exactly what the case is for this board. even if it wasn't, because people understand that as something that the government ought not to be doing.
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>> all of this flows downhill from the distrust problem. a lack of trust in all institutions including the media, we can talk about disinformation without talking about trust, a lack of trust. >> i think the statement about marjorie taylor greene, has multiple campaigns on someone who is trying to so distrust, picking up on what donald trump did, i think that is important sometimes. >> lauren, you are up after the break. we have brandy reporting about elon musk and twitter. what is going on with that deal. plus the scoop about a me too moment for world wrestling entertainment. what will be revealed, next? boost® high protein also has key nutrients fofor immune support. boost® high protein.
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i will tell you what he said in private to his fellow moguls. on friday night he tried to back out of his deal to buy twitter. he has been laying the groundwork for doing so, for many weeks. he has been complaining about the proliferation of bots and spam accounts, on the platform that he said he wanted to buy. remember, he agreed, in writing, to go with that twitter take over but now as of friday night, he is trying to back out. well, he was at sun valley, this hush-hush conference on friday and saturday, and he spoke on stage at a session that was treated as off the record, but i am told by a source who was in the room, he did talk more about the bots problem, apparently according to the source, musk doubled down on his claims about bots all across twitter, he said nobody believed, this is paraphrasing but he said nobody believes twitter's claim, that bots are under 5% of the total usage on twitter. so, he apparently went on about the deal, there are some headlines that you will see out there saying he avoided the
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subject but i am told he did talk about twitter, he dribbled down on his decision to try to back out of the deal and he is claiming it is about bots. let's analyze that and more. there accidents and -- claire atkinson back with me. just remind us how this started, because musk originally said he was going to fix the bots problem, the same problem he now says is stopping him from doing the deal. >> there was an interesting series of events, where at the same time the tech market dropped off the cliff and that includes the value of tesla which is his main source of wealth. all of a sudden, he got really concerned about the bots, and implied maybe that would be a reason why he might want to back out of the deal. he would kind of throw daggers out there, and then walk away and we never quite knew what his intention was. the official launch to where we got to on friday was his lawyer sent twitter a letter and said we think you are withholding information that we need to close the deal. that started a 30 day window,
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for them to rectify the column. what happened on friday was his lawyers alleged that they did not share sufficient information, and in our mind, that gives musk the ability to walk out of the deal now. >> twitter says no way, show us the money, we will go through this and see you in court. >> s. >> is the bots thing just an excuse, philip? >> it is really hard to say. elon musk is an eccentric character. i am sort of fascinated by the repercussions of this announcement, that it very quickly became entangled in american politics, he became seen as the savior, this was a leftist elitist organization and here comes this libertarian conservative to come in and take it over, and everyone got excited about that. >> republicans were thrilled. >> is donald trump going to come back? no.
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so that i think is fascinating. that remains. >> last night on stage in alaska, he said he is another bs artist. >> he is going to lash out because he has more money which is sort of his go to. i think that is unresolved. i don't know why he did it. it had substantial repercussions that now remain unresolved. >> claire, what is going to happen to twitter? if he can get out of the deal, if it takes months or years, he may have to pay a $1 million breakup fee, but what happens to this munication's platform that you might love it or hate it but he is one of the most important tools in the world. >> what happens to the employees or the advertising revenue, how do they keep moving ahead, we have been talking about this since april, and here we are in july, and those employees still don't know who the boss is going to be, who will own it, and i think if you are considering advertising on the platform, you want to know, is this brand suitable, what are their rules, what are they doing about policing miss
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info, how will it be run in the future. until they know the answers to those questions, why put my dollars there. i think that is a big problem. >> there is, to be fair, a problem with bots. we don't know how big it is. he claims it is bigger than twitter says. i suspect that he has a different experience on twitter than the average user. he is overwhelmed by bs replies and spam and all of that. the average user, maybe not so much. he has an unusual experience on twitter and that might be affecting this. we will put the headline on the screen, musk had twins last year with one of his top executives. why so much baby drama with elon musk? >> he stated this weekend that he believes that the world has a problem with population growth, and that he is doing his part. >> we need more people? >> we need a lot more babies. >> he is doing his part by having lots of babies. i think the heart of the discussion is that we, the
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nation seems to love talking about the world's richest man. and he loves everybody talking about him. he loves to say and do things that keep him in the spotlight for whatever reason, whether it is you know, talking about populating mars or putting chips, computer chips in people's brains, which is something that they are exploring at one of the companies where he met the lady who had the babies, and so, you know, i think almost the twitter bit was about staying in the conversation and the same way that donald trump loves to stay in the conversation. >> they are attention hackers. much more of the panel in a moment. we will turn to two top editors in states way outside new york and dc, to find out what their readers care about most right now, plus does watching the news, reading the news, make you feel powerless? we are joined with ideas for what newsrooms can do, to change that. i don't get t it. yeah. maybe this will hehelp.
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let's face it, there is a glaring gaping disconnect in this country, between what the media covers most and what the public cares about most. you can see it in this new polling from monmouth university, the biggest concern facing families by a mile, is inflation. and other related concerns about the economy. gas prices, inflation, the economy, all topping this list. this is really important data, it gives the sense of what is on people's minds, as they think about this midterm year. but, is there a difference and
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why is there a difference between press coverage, and the public's priorities? let's get a perspective now from outside the beltway, beyond the beltway, editor in chief, kevin riley is with us, and dallas morning news executive editor, patrice, is here. thank you both for coming on. i find myself thinking about the january 6 hearings, which is coming up again on tuesday. undoubtedly important. we learn more about the attack at every hearing. and yet, if we asked the average american, they are not as focused on the hearings for example as the economy. what do you here in dallas and around in your community, and how do you try to make sure your front page is reflecting the public's priorities? >> we are in texas, so national headlines will come from texas all the time. i think for us, it is really striking that balance, as you mentioned, inflation. that is huge here. as well as what is happening with reproductive rights and gun sales. mass murders, we had one very recently here. so we try to make sure that we know we are making these decisions on what we put online
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and what we put on the front page that is reflective of all of the significant issues playing out here. >> you mentioned reproductive rights, we are several weeks since the supreme court ruling on abortion. we look at the poll and we will see 5% of people think that is the top concern they have. people can juggle and have multiple concerns at once and many do but do you sense that abortion is a top issue for your readers? >> if you look at the number of people here, who have gone out and protested, you know, who are concerned about these rights, we saw a lot of younger people out protesting this issue, and so if you think about connecting with voters down the road, these are the people who we need to get to come out and vote. i do think it is an issue but again, i think at the end of the day when you are adding up your budget and looking at how you will spend your money, what is going to drive you out to the polls and what are you most concerned about at the moment. >> kevin, do you buy into what i am saying about this disconnect that the press might focus more on january 6, for example, then on pocketbook issues that americans care about the most? >> i think you are right in an important way. if you talk to people any pay
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attention to the polling, the economic issues are always at the top of their list. when they are standing at that gas pump filling up their car and seeing how much it costs, that is on their mind. it is something they live with every day. i still think in the case of the atlanta journal-constitution in georgia, we have to bring some of those bigger issues like the january 6 hearing, like the abortion decision and other things home to our readers and our digital users, because let's face it, the january 6 hearings, a lot of the characters are from georgia. i think ultimately, voters in georgia will care a lot about some of the role these folks have played and they will come back to this. it is different in day-to-day life when people are just trying to get to work, get their kids to school, get to the grocery store, of course economic issues are at the top of the list and we have to pay a lot of attention to that. >> i think we think often about programming and writing for news junkies, versus maybe more casual consumers, i know you are relatively new to texas, what has surprised you as a new
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texas resident about that. >> i think at the end of the day what we have learned is that our audience can pretty much we can see what the audience is interested in and how they want to consume the information. one of the things we try to do quite often and they tell us this is let's break down these issues in ways that we can relate to, helping them understand five reasons why they should care about reproductive rights. they should care about gun sales, how do you bring that home to the dallas community and that is how we try to approach all of our coverage. >> are you sensing news fatigue , this is something that researchers keep finding, that folks are so exhausted by new stories. is that true in texas? >> absolutely, that is true. we see that across a number of issues, but again, what can you do to really show them, this week, you know, the interesting story that made national headlines was the lady, the mother who was pulled over in an hov lane. >> let's put that headline up.
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explained that story to the viewers. it is amazing. >> absolutely. we had a mother who was in a hurry to go get one of her children from school, i think preschool and she was pulled over kind of in just a random check of the hov drivers and she said i actually do have 2 people in the car, my baby, and so the officer kind of looked at her and said what are you talking about and her explanation was with everything going on with roe v wade, my baby is considered a living human being. he of course pulled her over, she had a ticket but they explained to her, she probably could fight it. her take on that is the governor has come out and said this is a massive victory for life and so my baby is living. that will be something that will play out in court. >> a lot of sites are now rewriting your story, but you all had it first, you will deserve credit for that one. >> absolutely, yes. >> i know both of you think a lot about trust in the media or lack of trust in media. kevin, what is the most important thing you are trying
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to do to regain the public's trust? >> i think the best thing we can do is let people know and get a peek behind the curtain about how we do things. our political reporters do a podcast and in that podcast, called politically georgia, which people can get through services, they explained why are we doing this story. another thing we do, particularly when we do political profiles is we have done with herschel walker who has come across many complicated difficult issues in this campaign, we always run a box along with that, on our website, in print, that tells people here why we are doing the story. we have a responsibility, and i think if we keep working at things like that and tell people, here is why we are doing what we are doing, we gain trust plus we remind people, brian, that we live here. we are not national media parachuting in, but we go to church with you, our kids go to school with your kids, we come
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to the ballgame with you, we have been invested in this community. the more we emphasize that, the more people believe us. our own research tells us that. we are more trusted than national media outlets. >> thank you very much. good to see you both. >> thank you. >> up next, wwe ceo, vince, reportedly paying millions and millions in hush money payments. why is this story not getting more coverage? we are going to get ininto it, next.
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mission control, we are go for launch. ♪ um, she's eating the rocket. ♪ lunchables! built to be eaten. ♪ the need for follow-up stories, three weeks ago, vincent stepped down as wwe ceo following allegations of sexual misconduct. it turns out now there is a lot more to the story. the wall street journal breaking the news this week that he paid hush money, $12 million to women who had made allegations against him. $12 million in payouts. that is a big swoop in the wall
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street journal. now there is probably more to come. there is an investigation that he has pledged to cooperate with what is it -- but it is an important example. let me bring back claire, lauren, and phil. the wwe is a big media company. people appreciate how important it is in the media, it is a content creation machine. what do you think are the applications of this revelation? >> you would have to wonder while her >> josh: whether it is peacock, fox, netflix had a biopic of vince in the works which i read is now canceled. what are they thinking? are they thinking this will just go away. the wall street journal is already on its second story about vince mcmahon, coercing a colleague into sex and having to pay another couple of million dollars, to the lady and then she exited, i think you know,
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the question is, does anybody care? this is a brand that operates in the wrestling ring. >> that is cynical. >> it is all about bad behavior. >> in 2017, this is what -- this would've been breaking news. >> the silence is pretty deafening. you also have to wonder, what exactly is this investigation that the board is doing, the board is made up of vince mcmahon's daughter, stephanie mcmahon. and her husband, and also erika, who is the ceo of boston sports so you kind of wonder where this is going, stephanie was yukking it up last week. >> you are being a realist. i appreciate it. >> i am asking the questions.? let me be a realist about another story. gas prices coming way down in the last couple of weeks, there was so much attention with gas prices on the rise. we focus on the bad news when it is happening. is the media going to focus on the good news of prices going lower? >> one of the tweets that got
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the most attention was the back- and-forth between jeff, and somehow everyone is quiet this weekend. i think that people tend to focus on the bad news, and certainly the folks are tweeting about it so they are trying to push the fact that it is down. some people will say the price got too high, they have obviously been blaming companies. we will see how they gain traction. >> look, people want to understand why bad things are happening. people sort of take why good things are happening for granted. people want to understand, why am i paying so much at the pump? item -- biden wants them to care. it is just to your last segment, what people care about is driving it. >> boris johnson under incredible pressure and now stepping down, what is the media there? >> i think the question people are asking now is who is going
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to be the next prime minister of britain and who will get to influence how the conservative party votes on that topic. in years gone by, they would have a huge influence in that whether it was tony blair or margaret thatcher, you know, the view was they could put their thumb on the scale, and really influence how the british population voted. i don't think that is true anymore. the newspapers, you can still find 12 newspapers on a stand in the uk but not as many people are reading them. websites are more influential, the biggest one is bbc followed by the daily mail, which gets something like 25 million readers. and so, to what extent do the press parents really have an influence on how politics plays out in the uk? >> philip, the stunning assassination of japan's, shinzo abe, a country where gun violence basically doesn't exist. was it difficult this week for the american media tia to convey just how different the
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gun landscape is between japan and the u.s.? >> i think it is difficult simply because it is almost literally night and day. i actually have the numbers here, the number of guns owned in the united states per million people is about 1.2 million. americans own about 1.2 million guns for every 1 million people. and the japan, it is just staggering. the number of gun homicides, about 58 per million, in a japan, it is .007. it is absolutely starkly different. that may have helped play a role in his death where security wasn't prepared for something like that. maybe it is hard to convey because it is just literally almost the exact opposite situation. >> i am glad you made charts to show this on washington we have to show people those numbers. to the panel, thank you everybody. we have more coming up including an interview with box publisher, melissa bell, she is challenging the journalism world to help people feel empowered, and not so powerless.
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not threatened by the state. they're right, and that's a global story. hold the line. we'll be back this time next week for more reliable sources. holiday heartbreak as the nation reels from the july 4th massacre. >> if you're angry today, i'm here to tell you be angry. i'm furious. >> questions about why a man with so many warning signs was able to buy guns and how future killers could


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