Sunday, September 13

Christine Brennan & Gary Belsky on if the NFL is getting a free pass from journalist, Rep. Barbara Lee on the anti-war voices in the media, Tim Arango discusses how to find the truth about ISIS.

Christine Brennan & Gary Belsky on if the NFL is getting a free pass from journalist, Rep. Barbara Lee on the anti-war voices in the media, Tim Arango discusses how to find the truth about ISIS.

September 14th, 2014
12:45 PM ET

Should media air ISIS propaganda? Dan Rather, Jeff Greenfield weigh in

As the Islamic terror group ISIS releases video showing the beheading of another Western hostage, Dan Rather and Jeff Greenfield discuss whether news organizations should be giving airtime to these videos. Does it serve a public interest or is it giving the terror group the publicity that they want - or both?

"This is the first social media war," Rather said. "In the way the Vietnam War was the first television war, this is the first social media war. ISIS has proved to be very adept, very talented, if you will - you always hope evil won't be - in ratcheting up the hysteria, ratcheting up the image of their influence far beyond what their actual military capabilities are."

Greenfield said the existence of the videos "tends to force, I think, our policymakers into taking decisions they might not take absent the emotional punch of those pictures. They tend to maybe say more than what reality lets them say."

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September 14th, 2014
12:43 PM ET

Web Exclusive: Former diplomat Daniel Benjamin says media outlets are "hyperventilating" over ISIS

In the above video, Daniel Benjamin, the State Department's most senior counterterrorism adviser during President Obama's first term, tells Brian Stelter that media outlets have been overstating the threat that ISIS poses to the U.S. homeland.

Benjamin was quoted in The New York Times this week saying that public discussion of the threat has been a "farce."

"I do think ISIS is a very serious challenge," Benjamin told Stelter. "But the public debate has really lost touch with reality."

"We've had a lot of people from Congress suggesting that there were plots in the offing that are completely unrealistic. We've had senators talking about bombs that will destroy whole cities, cities in flames. We’ve had governors talking about ISIS operatives streaming across the southern border. And we've had an awful lot in the media about simply preposterous plots about spraying Ebola all over transit systems, about cities being honeycombed with sleeper cells. And yet, at the same time, those senior-most officials in the government who deal with counterterrorism have said time and again there is no imminent threat."

With regards to media outlets, Benjamin said that "the argument that it’s not that titanic a threat is not really a great sell on the airwaves, so we've had competing talking heads who have been trying to top each other with outrageous scenarios. And I'm afraid that this is the way the market goes in reporting on terrorism all too often."

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September 14th, 2014
12:40 PM ET

Tim Arango on the risks of reporting on ISIS

New York Times Baghdad bureau chief Tim Arango tells Brian Stelter about his experience reporting from Iraq and the perils journalists face when trying to cover ISIS.

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September 14th, 2014
12:25 PM ET

Where are the anti-war voices on TV?

Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against the use of force authorization in Afghanistan in 2001, talks to Brian Stelter about why we hear so few anti-war voices on cable news.

Lee said that in her experience, voices of dissent are rarely "called to be on the media and in the press to have these kinds of discussions."

"I think it is, in many ways, derelict, because we are here to make sure that people know what is going on, that they understand the issues, that they know what the crises are about, so they can really understand what the solutions could be. But if they the only have one point of view, that's the point of view they take and embrace."

Asked about polls that show Americans are "increasingly concerned that ISIS represents a direct terror threat," Lee suggested news organizations are partly responsible: "The media has really focused on a lot of the very terrible things that are going on."

"I think it is important... that we not allow fear to settle in."

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September 14th, 2014
12:20 PM ET

Do TV contracts block NFL reporting?

USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan and former ESPN The Magazine editor Gary Belsky talk about whether television network business relationships with the NFL impact those networks' news reporting about the league.

Here's how Brian Stelter introduced the segment: "Are sports journalists too soft on the leagues they cover? Or, to put it another way, how did TMZ obtain the Ray Rice elevator video, but not ESPN?"

"Any time the NFL is the story, the networks' coverage of the story is very closely watched, because ESPN, CBS, NBC, and FOX all have multi-billion-dollar contracts to carry NFL games. Their news divisions have to cover the news, but their parent companies have to protect their investments in football."

The questions are legitimate, as Stelter and CNNMoney's Frank Pallotta wrote on Thursday. But it's important to note that there has been a lot of aggressive reporting about the NFL by the big networks.

Belsky said he attended high-level editorial meetings at ESPN for eight years, and not once during discussions of big investigations "was there after a consideration of not approaching it or not doing it" due to league relationships.

Stelter said there's plenty of room in the "media ecosystem" for both insiders like ESPN and CBS and outsiders like TMZ.

Brennan added that "there are young journalists out there, being pumped out of schools today, that so want to break these stories. I'm not at all concerned about that. I just think that when you get close to a team and a league and have been around too much, it's almost like every sports editor should switch beats, because anyone who gets too comfortable - and I have seen it in all my years of covering sports - it's just time to break that up and make everybody uncomfortable again. They will do better journalism."


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September 14th, 2014
12:18 PM ET

Inside the locker room: two ex-NFL players on media coverage of sports scandals

With NFL stars Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson in the spotlight for off-the-field violence, former players George Martin and Chris Kluwe talk about how player misconduct is handled in NFL locker rooms.

Some highlights:

  · Kluwe: the media can become perceived as the enemy "if you let it." But "anytime someone says this is a distraction - well, you're a professional athlete. It's your job not to be distracted. That's why you're out on the field."

  · Martin: with the assault in the elevator, Ray Rice's now-wife Janay was "literally victimized." And now, with the widespread broadcast of video from the elevator, "she's having to relive that over and over again quite figuratively."

  · Martin: "We're all talking about the two videos that exist, but what would happen if neither video existed? Would there be a reaction at all?"

  · Does the media tend to believe the worst about athletes? Martin: "I think there is a tendency to over-sensationalize and overdramatize the negative."

  · Kluwe: "The fact [is] that the vast majority of NFL players are guys who take care of their business, they do good charitable works, and then they go home to their families and they never have an issue with the law or with the league."


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September 7th, 2014
12:42 PM ET

An interview with Chuck Todd as he takes over "Meet the Press"

Brian Stelter talks to new "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd about the future of his storied Sunday morning program and the problems with political journalism.

Related: Stelter's CNNMoney story with more details from the interview


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September 7th, 2014
12:42 PM ET

Red News/Blue News: Press panic over ISIS?

In the above video, Brian Stelter assesses media coverage of ISIS and asks whether the press is provoking panic about the terror group's intentions and abilities.

Stelter also spoke with Ron Fournier of National Journal and Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation magazine.

In a column earlier this week, Fournier quoted one of his readers who remarked, A decade ago, we all hopped on the bus so the White House could take us to war. Now it seems like maybe we're driving the bus."

Stelter shared some overheated comments from news anchors and commentators and said he can't help but wonder whether some "are letting their fears get the best of them."

"Bottom line," he said, "we journalists cannot let fear-mongering get in the way of facts."

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September 7th, 2014
12:40 PM ET

Two former press secretaries on Obama's response to ISIS crisis

Ari Fleischer, who was President George W. Bush's first press secretary, and Bill Burton, who was a deputy press secretary for President Obama until 2011, join Brian Stelter to discuss President Obama's handling of the threat posed by ISIS.

"The press has a tendency to push the White House and the President to act faster than they might, and you see it in the questions that get asked in the briefing room, you see it in the conversations that happen on the talk shows," Burton said. "But one of the defining characteristics of this president is that he is not - he does not let his policies get dictated by those sorts of things."

Fleischer and Burton seemed to be on the same page about the media's saturation coverage of certain stories.

"The press is always interested in the next biggest story, and they do try to push in the direction of controversy and bigger news for them to cover. There is a bit of self-interest in what the press asks," Fleischer said.

"I do think that in the modern media - and this has been the case for maybe a decade - news spikes up with so much drama, so much more than it used to," Fleischer continued. "And then it comes right back down again and the press goes on to the next spike. It's as if everything has to be a driver of the news, and everything has to be a lead story, as opposed [to] there are multiple stories going on at one time and they can go up and down in relevance, but they all remain important."

"The press just hypes whatever is hottest," he added.

Burton said Fleischer made an important point. Earlier this summer, it was immigration. Now, it's ISIS. There's an "ebb and flow of big issues all the time," he said.

"They seem like they're the biggest issues on Earth and then they just go away," Burton said - in the media, that is, not in real life.

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September 7th, 2014
12:30 PM ET

Islam's battle of ideas

Foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal reacts to last week's "Reliable Sources" segment with radical cleric Anjem Choudary.

Here's how Brian Stelter set up the segment:

This is all part of a battle of ideas, one that's going on every day in the Muslim world.

You know, every week here on "Reliable Sources," I ask you to send me a message on Twitter and on Facebook, to let me know what you think of a show. And I heard from a lot of you last Sunday after I invited Anjem Choudary, a radical Muslim cleric. Some of you said I should feature a more moderate Muslim voice to demonstrate that Choudary does not represent Islam.

So that's what we're doing here. I invited back to the show a guest from early this summer, Rula Jebreal, and then I showed her some of what Choudary had to say. She was disgusted by it. And here's what she told me.


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