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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES
NSA Leaker Lands in Moscow; Interview with Glenn Greenwald; Paula Deen Dropped by Food Network
Aired June 23, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CNN breaking news.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: He has put himself at the epicenter of the NSA leak story, granting interviews, making a video, painting a picture of an anguished American trying to do the right thing. But Ed Snowden has just arrived in Moscow and that changes the media narrative dramatically, indelicately, irrevocably. Snowden leaving Hong Kong soon after U.S. authorities charged him with espionage.
We have not seen him. We have seen pictures of the Moscow airport. We presume he's gotten off the plane.
Let's go now by phone to CNN correspondent Phil Black in Moscow.
And, Phil, we don't know this for a fact but I presume that Ed Snowden could not have gotten on that flight without the Kremlin's approval. Does that seem a reasonable assumption to you as someone who covers that country?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, I'm not sure about getting on the plane but certainly once he gets off the plane and where he moves around from here, that is something that certainly the Kremlin will be spending --will be taking a very close look at, and we'll be playing a very key role in determining just how Russian authorities respond to this. There is potentially a complication for this, to the degree to which the Kremlin is able to intervene.
What we understand is that he's arrived on a plane here and witnesses who were on that plane say they saw a dark car pull up alongside it on the tarmac. They saw luggage put directly into the car and they believe they saw him head off in that vehicle itself. We are now also seeing around this same airport where I'm standing now officials from the Ecuadorean embassy here in Moscow.
So if there is some sort of diplomatic intervention here for officials for Ecuador or according to some Russian news reports, Venezuela, where (INAUDIBLE) one or both of these countries could be an intended final destination for Edward Snowden, then the ability of the Russian authorities to actually intervene, to stop him, to intrude upon diplomatic soil, stop him in a diplomatic car and so forth, that becomes much more limited under the circumstance.
KURTZ: I should make clear that there are reports that Snowden is just doing a stopover in Moscow, that he is headed to another country where he will seek asylum from these U.S. criminal charges. That could be, as you said, Ecuador, it could be Venezuela, it could be Cuba. We do not know at this hour.
But if Snowden is not immediately whisked to the diplomatic sanctuary of one of those embassies, Phil Black, is it not possible that Russian authorities, he's carrying those four laptops with lots of classified U.S. information, will try to debrief him? Will try to perhaps get access to some of this material and in so doing could complicate relations with the United States?
BLACK: Yes, indeed. It's certainly a very complex situation diplomatically. You would think on some level even from the position of self interest Russia would be very interested in talking to Edward Snowden, knowing what he knows and perhaps seeing what he's in fact carrying with him, what information, what hardware and so forth.
But now, we believe and it does appear to be so. We have the involvement of diplomatic missions here in Moscow from other countries. Certainly Ecuador, seeing from what I'm seeing here at the airport right now, perhaps Venezuela as well. Then it becomes a very complex, diplomatic situation. The relations of all of these countries could in some way be significantly affected.
KURTZ: So from the point of view of the Kremlin, Russian authorities have to be very careful not only to avoid antagonizing the United States by creating a temporary home for a guy who is in effect a fugitive from American justice but also in its own relations with countries like Ecuador or Venezuela, where Snowden might be headed, is that correct?
BLACK: Yes, that's right. Russia has always played a fairly noncommittal role as there has been speculation that Edward Snowden could head for Russia at some point. This could be a country where he could perhaps (INAUDIBLE) to extend beyond the reach of the United States. Russia has always said if he made an asylum plea here, if he made a claim for political asylum, that they would consider that on its merits. They have not simply -- they have not indicated one way or another.
I can tell you there are some Russian politicians here that have been making a lot of noise, saying that the Russian state should protect Edward Snowden in some way. They describe him as a political activist, saying that he's being politically persecuted and so forth.
But these are very specific Russian politicians. This is not the Russian government itself. The Russian government has played a fairly straight line and has not issued any formal statement, not issued (ph) any official reaction --
BLACK: -- to the fact that Edward Snowden is now perhaps on Russian soil. It's not technically -- if he's still air side at the airport, if he is in diplomatic residence, he is still here in Russia although perhaps not technically. In any case, Russia the government has not responded to this publicly as yet.
KURTZ: All right. CNN's Phil Black in Moscow, thanks very much for joining us. I can't be struck by the irony of some Russian politicians complaining that Snowden is being persecuted for releasing information when certainly there's a long history that has gone on in Russia and the predecessor state of the Soviet Union.
Let's go now to the White House, CNN's Dan Lothian.
Dan, there's no escaping the fact at this throws a wrench into whatever the White House planned to do this week. How much of a distraction is this latest twist and turn and a leak investigation creating for President Obama.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, know, the White House will always say the president is not distracted by all the controversies around him. But, yes, you're right.
Look at this week, the president is preparing -- well, by tomorrow, he'll be preparing to head overseas on Wednesday to Africa. It's an extended trip that the president will be taking there with his family. Also on Tuesday, the president will be focusing on climate change.
So, these are big issues that the president was hoping to really focus on this week and now the administration is trying to get Edward Snowden back to this country, something that they were fairly confident they could do in getting him back from Hong Kong. A Justice Department source telling my colleague Joe Johns that in fact they thought they had met all the requirements of the extradition treaty that the U.S. has with Hong Kong.
But that late Friday, they did get some additional questions and that the U.S. was in the process of answering some of those questions. They say that they did have this provisional arrest warrant, but Snowden was not picked up.
So, they have a lot of concerns, even though conversations we are told continue between officials here in the U.S. and officials in Hong Kong.
KURTZ: Hong Kong officials I think clearly wanted to get off the hot seat and had a rather technical interpretation of whether the U.S. had met the extradition request. Therefore, they say there was no legal barrier to Snowden leaving Hong Kong to go anywhere. Of course now we know that he has landed in Moscow.
And finally, Dan, could this actually help the administration in this sense, some were feeling that the White House Justice Department were coming down pretty hard on a whistleblower who acted out of conscience. If public opinion turns against Ed Snowden for now going to Moscow and wherever else, could that help the administration make the case that this guy is a law breaker who needs to be brought to justice?
LOTHIAN: Well, I think, you know, from a public relations point of view, when you look at the polling, I think the president has a lot of the American people on his side. It seems like the majority of Americans do support the surveillance programs that the administration has been employing in order to go after terrorists and as we heard this past week from officials testifying, that in fact they had been able to thwart 50 or so terror plots using these kinds of programs.
So I think from that standpoint, the administration does feel like it has the support of the public on this issue. But, you know, there's this whole other issue that comes up now with Russia. You were talking about that with Phil Black. This is a country that the United States has had a difficult relationship with, especially over the last few years, as officials here have been trying to get the Russians to apply more pressure on Syria. Russians have been reluctant to do that.
We heard from Senator Chuck Schumer earlier on "STATE OF THE UNION" saying that he believes that Putin and Russia were aiding and abetting Snowden. He said Putin never misses the opportunity to poke the U.S. in the eye. So, he believes this will be harmful to the U.S./Russia relationship and says there could be consequences.
KURTZ: I'm going out on a limb and say this will not be helpful to the U.S./Russian relationship, of course, (INAUDIBLE) estranged.
CNN's Dan Lothian at the White House reporting for us this morning -- thanks, Dan.
KURTZ: Joining us now to talk about this fast-moving story: here in Washington, David Zurawik, television and media critic for the "Baltimore Sun."
And in New York, Emily Bell, who is director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and a former digital director at London's "Guardian."
And, Emily, it's your former newspaper that broke a big chunk of this story. But to the extent that Ed Snowden has been painted by the media, at least by some elements of the media, as a man who was acting out of conscience, the fact that he is now in Moscow could very dramatically change that media narrative, could it not?
EMILY BELL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, I think that one of the things which will be frustrating about this story is how initially the focus was on the surveillance techniques about our phone records being collected, about the PRISM, if you like, arrangement whereby large caches of data were being taken and scrutinized. And now, the focus is entirely on the persona and the movements of Ed Snowden. As you say, that's going to be where we see, I think, a really laser-like focus of the media in the next week.
It's a shame really because the story needs to be taken very much in two parts, one of which is Ed Snowden and the other of which is actually the substance of what he revealed, which is a serious and substantial story that goes to the discussion.
KURTZ: That is exactly right. And, David Zurawik, Snowden himself has complained in the video interview that he did with "The Guardian," that, you know, I'm just a guy who is in the office, watching happened and felt like this is something that it's not our place to decide, the public needs to decide.
But it's hard to argue that given the dramatic turn of this story, the guy fleeing first to Hong Kong, next to Moscow, next to somewhere else we do not know at this hour, that there's not -- that that's not going to be the dominant story line here.
DAVID ZURAWIK, BALTIMORE SUN: Howie, absolutely. When I was preparing for this over the weekend, I thought I have to emphasize, we need to focus on the issues involved and not the person.
And then when this happened this morning, I thought -- forget it, this is now a flight, a chase, a story. You know, does the Bronco on the Los Angeles freeway. Or flight to freedom, we make ABC made-for-TV movies about this kind of thing. The media cannot not go with this story line.
And then you factor in Russia now, I mean this is unbelievable. It's beyond catnip. I mean, this is heroin for the media.
KURTZ: It's an international spy thriller. Emily, it occurs to me what while I'm sympathetic to the notion that the media like to reduce these stories to personalities and we should focus on the enormity of what Snowden has disclosed and continues to disclose. He gave an interview in which he talks in some detail about U.S. government hacking of Chinese mobile phone companies, as well as prestigious university in Beijing, Snowden has by his actions made this more and more about him and of course the debate about his motivations in doing this have to be altered as reporters and commentators cover this by the fact that he is on the run.
BELL: Yes, I think that's right. I mean, this is -- David is right, this is choreographed as if from a spy novel. And from the moment that he pops up in Hong Kong and self disclosed, which in itself was a really dramatic thing for a leak to do in such a very calm and considered way, that his motivations and his persona have become absolutely fascinating. And this is not necessarily, if you like the way to kind of dampen that speculation.
But having said that, once the DOJ issued charges against him last week, this is kind of almost an effort that at some point, there were going to be charges and then the question becomes, well, how does he get to a safe haven? Who will have him? How does that happen?
But it couldn't have really been done in a more dramatic way. He disclosed himself on a Sunday and again this is happening on a Sunday when, again, it's a quiet news day. If you want a story to really roll, do it on a Sunday morning.
KURTZ: We have experienced that the last three weeks here on RELIABLE SOURCES with new developments every Sunday.
But, you know, in an online chat with "The Guardian," David, and I'm fascinated by the fact he's an international fugitive and giving online chats. You know, he's not exactly hiding out in a media sense, Snowden complains "the mainstream media seemed far more interested in what he says in what I was like at 17 or what my girlfriend looks like rather than the program of suspicionless surveillance in human history," the largest such program, he says.
There has been a lot about his girlfriend and the --
KURTZ: At the same time by making these videos and doing the online chats and fleeing most recently to Moscow, he has made it about him and his motivation.
ZURAWIK: Absolutely, Howie. You know, that's self-serving what he's saying there.
And even he's been working with this filmmaker, Laura Poitras, who's really an outstanding filmmaker. So this is -- who did the interview who was on the Internet with him. That's a very sophisticated kind of messaging and a very smart use of the new media world in which we live.
This guy puts himself at the center of the story, sculpts an image to some extent of himself for himself, and then complains when we focus on the image. So, he's not innocent in this.
KURTZ: That's a very fair point. And, Emily, as a former staff member at "The Guardian" is it not a coincidence that Ed Snowden decided to deal with "Guardian" columnist Glenn Greenwald and the newspaper, the U.S. edition of a paper that is British? I know he shared some of his material with "The Washington Post".
But talk a little bi about the role of "The Guardian" in breaking and continuing to break stories in this realm.
BELL: Well, two things. One of which is Glenn has been a really fierce scrutinizer of national security issues, and particularly the conduct of the Obama administration. So if you were looking for the kind of channel to get this sort of material out, then Glenn Greenwald is somebody who you would expect to take it seriously, know a great deal about it and be able to distribute it.
But "The Guardian" has a recently long kind of history of disclosing really astonishing stories. Very recently in the last two or three years phone hacking.
KURTZ: Phone hacking is a classic example. We will talk to both of you later this hour. I've got to get to a break.
When we come back, more on the media coverage of this remarkable unfolding story.
KURTZ: Breaking news this hour. You're looking at a picture of Edward Snowden. He's the NSA leaker, of course. He landed about two hours ago in Moscow, leaving Hong Kong where authorities said the U.S. had not completed an extradition request in the proper fashion. We don't know if he's headed to a third country. There are reports he may be headed to an embassy in Russia.
And joining me now to talk about the coverage of this fast-breaking story with lots of blanks to fill in is Amy Holmes, the anchor of "Real News" on "The Blaze," and Michelle Cottle, Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast."
And, Michelle, I have a feeling that the media, some elements of which have been sympathetic to Ed Snowden as a guy who was blowing the whistle, was acting out of conscience, revealing these documents about U.S. government surveillance, may be about to turn on this guy.
MICHELLE COTTLE, NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST: Well, even when he was being portrayed as this conscious-driven hero, there was a little bit of question as to kind of what was really behind this. Whether or not he stays in Moscow or moves on, there's going to be some question now about whether he really was just in this to not only get attention but also to cause some trouble for the U.S. It has nothing to do with kind of freedom of information.
KURTZ: Some commentators were kind of outraged that espionage charges were filed against this guy, although clearly Ed Snowden knew he was breaking the law, broke the law and said he was prepared to accept the consequences.
AMY HOLMES, THE BLAZE: Right.
KURTZ: How much does this story change, just the mere fact that he's in Moscow, whether for six hours, six days or six weeks?
HOLMES: Well, I think you're right that it will change the way the progressive left and libertarian right have lined up behind this young man. I think it was always question about going to Hong Kong as taking responsibility.
Taking responsibility would be sitting in your front yard in Hawaii when the authorities arrived to take you away. But I think going to Moscow does certainly complicate that narrative of Mr. Snowden being a hero of civil liberties.
But interestingly it also debunks conspiracies that he might have been some sort of Chinese spy if he's in fact fleeing Hong Kong.
KURTZ: Why have the left, many people on the left and the libertarian right -- the phrase that you use -- why have they united behind Snowden? Usually, they don't agree on much of anything.
HOLMES: Well, they don't agree on much of anything, but they do agree on opposition to the surveillance state and that President Obama enlarging the NSA program. Critics on the left certainly were critics during the Bush administration and now, you know, I think out of principle they have to look at the current situation and, you know, voice their opposition. Libertarian right has always been opposed to the Patriot Act and some of these more intrusive government methods of surveillance.
KURTZ: It seems to me that Snowden has done this leaking, whatever his motivation, but he has used everything from a video interview that he did with Glenn Greenwald to an online chat with "The Guardian", to try to get his side out, to try to mold his image, to portray himself as somebody who wasn't doing this for money, he doesn't hate America.
But now that he is in Moscow, it's going to be a lot harder for him to cast a narrative that portrays him as a good guy, I think.
COTTLE: Well, I think you're right. Whatever he's doing there, there are certain hot button places and topics. And Moscow is going to be one of these. Maybe he --
KURTZ: It's not the middle of the Cold War, but clearly the U.S. --
COTTLE: No, but --
KURTZ: -- and Putin still have an adversarial relationship.
COTTLE: You have -- you have an awful lot of people who still view that kind of thing as just automatically a bad sign, you know?
So I think he has been very media savvy. This is not a kid who did something and then wanted to go underneath the radar. He has been, as you say, very aggressive about kind of managing his image. And this is going to put a kink in it.
But, you know, he's got the WikiLeaks legal guy traveling with him. He's not doing this on his own. He's got a lot of support system here.
HOLMES: And also undercuts that his own testimony that the reason that he went to Hong Kong is because he said this was a bastion of free speech and Democratic institutions. Clearly, that's not the case about his next destination.
KURTZ: Well, Snowden said in that "Guardian" video interview, "I think the public is owed an explanation of the motivations behind the people who make these disclosures that are outside the democratic model, because when you were subverting the power of government, that's a fundamentally dangerous thing to democracy." But he is now fleeing the democracy and he's now fleeing the country.
HOLMES: To a country with rigged elections and, you know, a state that actually moves very heavily against political opposition.
KURTZ: OK. So let me take the other side just for purposes of discussion. Is it unfair for us, and I know commentators will do this, to pile on him and say that now he just seems to be a self interested guy trying to save his own butt when, you know, nobody wants to go to jail, nobody wants to deal with the consequences of this, but of course he took it on himself to do this and to do it in very public fashion.
Remember, he exposed himself. He came forward. If he hadn't done that, maybe we still wouldn't know what the leaker was.
COTTLE: As we were talking about, he's not a guy who quietly did this in the name of, you know, civil liberties or whatever and then went off to hide somewhere. I mean, he wanted his name out there. He wanted these interviews done. This is a guy who screams somebody look at me, I want attention.
Whatever his motivation was at its core, he also wants all this attention.
HOLMES: And even lawyers who represent whistleblowers in reading about this case have come out and said that going to the media should be your last resort, not your first resort. And in his case, you know, leaking first to "The Washington Post" and also to the "Guardian" was his method to get the news out here.
He had other resources. But now we're seeing that in fact it doesn't appear that he's willing to take responsibility and he's running the other way.
KURTZ: Let me get a break.
If you're just showing us, Ed Snowden, the NSA leaker, has landed in Moscow of his whereabouts are unknown at this moment. Whether he's headed to a third country, also unknown at this moment.
We'll continue this conversation on the other side.
KURTZ: Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, is in Moscow at this hour. He landed about two hours ago. We don't know whether he was headed to a third country but he was accompanied by a staff member from the group WikiLeaks. The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange two days ago putting out a statement saying that the group was trying to broker an asylum deal for Snowden in Iceland. However, the reports at this hour that Snowden might be headed to the embassies of Ecuador or Venezuela to seek asylum with one of those countries or it could be some where else, we don't want to overstate what we know.
Amy Holmes, what does this do for the Obama administration, which is trying to extradite Snowden, which went with the espionage charges? It had been on the defensive over what Snowden disclosed, this massive surveillance of phone records and emails and Facebook chats and everything else. And now the focus is on this international chase.
HOLMES: Right, which is certainly exciting for this young man's short life. He's already created quite a lot of controversy.
But what I think is interesting at news that a WikiLeaks employee is accompanying him, because I think that really complicates the story of whether or not WikiLeaks is a journalistic enterprise or an activist one. And we know that that certainly very much under decision when it comes to Bradley Manning --
KURTZ: Well, at the very least, it's a hybrid. HOLMES: Exactly.
So, I think WikiLeaks has tried to have it both ways. They should have the protection as a journalistic entity but then also be activists. And, you know, with Julian Assange being a foreigner, that gets to the Espionage Act and cooperating with him in revealing this information.
KURTZ: Ironically Assange himself, seeking asylum in an embassy because he is wanted on unrelated sexual assault charges, unrelated, I say, to the massive document dump of U.S. State Department cables that he orchestrated a couple of years ago.
Again, come back to the Obama administration, which was very much on the defensive. People using the word "scandal," because it had kept this information about the extent and the magnitude of the surveillance.
And now they can kind of put on -- the Justice Department and the prosecution can put on their police hats and say we're just trying to bring this guy to justice; he broke the law. And, look, he went to Moscow; that tells you something, they can say, about his motivation.
COTTLE: This is an opening for them and I can't imagine that they will miss it. I mean they have been on the defensive. You know, this guy made a kind of a cute, sympathetic, young, civil libertarian face. Now they're going to jump on this and, as you say, question his motives, talk about espionage and just kind of focus on the justice element of this. It's crazy not to.
KURTZ: Were the media helping to build up Edward Snowden as a bit of a hero or an anti-hero and is that now going to change?
COTTLE: Oh, sure. Any time you have a good face of question -- and the kind of government overreach or government snooping issue was already hot and the media gets really into that, you know, with the AP leaks and stuff like that. So this is a good opportunity for the Obama administration to change the narrative to something kind of more serious and kind of grimmer.
KURTZ: All right, CNN will stay on this story, which seems to be changing almost by the hour.
Amy Holmes, Michelle Cottle, thanks very much for joining us.
And when we come back, we'll divert to The Food Network, pulling the plug on Paula Deen after she blows off the "Today" show rather than addressing allegations that she used racial slurs in the workplace.
What about her video apology?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KURTZ: Breaking news this hour: NSA leaker Ed Snowden is in Russia. He got off a plane in Moscow a couple of hours ago; he has not been seen since by reporters staking out the scene there. And we don't know if he's headed to another country's embassy, but we will stay on this story and we will return to it in just a few moments.
But first, Paula Deen was one of The Food Network stars until a lawsuit by a former manager of her Georgia restaurant accused her of using racial slurs.
Deen acknowledged having used the N word a long time ago, as she described it, but was fuzzy about the specifics. The celebrity chef agreed to answer questions on the "Today" show, where she's made numerous appearances, but on Friday she was a no-show.
MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: At one point she asked to speak to me. And I spoke to her late afternoon on the phone yesterday and we talked about the fact it would be an open and candid discussion, no holds barred, all questions within the bounds of what we would talk about, her people, her publicity people have told us that she's exhausted and will not be showing up.
KURTZ: Hours later Deen posted a video, in which she said she was sorry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY COOK: I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I've done. I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: But those words came too late. The Food Network announced it was not renewing her contract.
Joining us now in New York, Adam Buckman, media reporter for TVHowl and the Xfinity TV blog.
And Marisa Guthrie, who covers the media for "The Hollywood Reporter."
And Marisa, the 10,000-calorie question, I suppose, is did Paula Deen deserve to lose her job at The Food Network or is the network just running from controversy?
MARISA GUTHRIE, "The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Oh, yes, look you can't admit to dropping the N word in 2013 and think you're going to hold on to your job or your corporate sponsors. I mean, she may have her supporters, as all the people lining up at her restaurant, you know, indicates.
But her corporate sponsors and The Food Network needs to appeal to a broad swath of the public, and they can't afford to alienate those people.
KURTZ: Adam Buckman, Paula Deen is sort of a mini-cottage industry. Three shows on The Food Network, cookbooks and the like.
Would things have been differently if she had apologized immediately rather than let this drag out, lots of publicity and then blowing off the "Today" show as she did?
ADAM BUCKMAN, TVHOWL.COM: Well, to answer that question, you have to kind of decide just how toxic the N word is in of itself. And then really today, there's really few words more toxic than the N word. And apologies, I guess if I were a PR person or counseling her, I might have said put out a written statement and disappear for a while.
Here you are, the queen of Southern cooking, you know, using the N word. It just doesn't fly. And it's just very difficult to get out from under that sort of -- in an immediate way by issuing a video apology. I think that in this case she needed to step away from it for a while and maybe try and make a comeback sometime in the future.
KURTZ: Did she hurt her cause, Marisa, by agreeing to be interviewed by Matt Lauer and then not showing up and having the "Today" show do what we just saw, explain that she was -- had cancelled at the last minute, dragging the story out, getting more attention to it and then only belatedly later that day, which was Friday, making that video apology?
GUTHRIE: Yes, it revealed or showed that she didn't really want to answer questions. She did what a lot of people have done who don't want to answer questions: they make a video and post it so that everything is on their terms and there are no tough questions to be asked.
And, you know, she -- her representatives may have said to the "Today" show that she was exhausted, and she may have actually been exhausted.
But it just feels like an excuse that, you know, you don't want to confront something. And so I think that that hurt her even more.
KURTZ: My problem, Adam Buckman, is that we don't know precisely from this lawsuit how many years ago she said this, how repeatedly it was used. There was also some talk about having a bunch of black waiters at a wedding that she was planning, an idea that was dropped.
But in a deposition, talk about not helping herself relating to this suit, when she was asked about the N word joke, she said -- Paula Deen said, "Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. I can't myself determine what offends another person."
That, I think, made her sound less than sensitive.
BUCKMAN: Well, I think most of us would disagree or hope that we would be more capable of knowing what would offend or be sensitive to other people.
And in that statement she certainly reveals a lack of sensitivity, almost an old-fashioned kind of narrow-mindedness that again might have fed into The Food Network's decision to drop her because here's a personality not exactly behaving in public statements or in depositions as we expect kind of the modern-day person who's in the media and in the public eye to behave or to talk about these issues.
To just sort of pawn it off as I don't know who would be offended by calling somebody a racial slur is to really, I think, condemn yourself to the past and not be seen as somebody who would be -- who would have continued popularity in the present.
And finally, Marisa Guthrie, if you're a celebrity chef, you go on TV, you're creating an image about yourself. It's not just about the cooking; she's also been criticized for too much high fat recipes and of course she herself developed diabetes.
So what I'm hearing from both of you is if you do something in your private life or your personal conduct as she's an employer of a restaurant -- in a restaurant that mars that image, then you become toxic, to use a strong word?
GUTHRIE: Absolutely. And, look, she was able to keep these attitudes -- I mean, they have been swirling around her for some time, obviously, as the lawsuit indicates. But she was able to keep these attitudes under wraps as she built this $17 million media empire. So she knows that -- she knows what offends people and she knows that it was wrong.
KURTZ: I still find it sad.
Marisa Guthrie, Adam Buckman, thanks very much for weighing in this morning.
Ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES, back to the Ed Snowden story, "Guardian" columnist Glenn Greenwald joins us on the latest whereabouts of Ed Snowden.
KURTZ: Breaking news this hour. NSA leaker Ed Snowden is in Russia. He got off a plane at the Moscow airport a couple of hours ago, has not been seen since, could be headed to another country's embassy, could ultimately be headed to a third country to seek asylum from U.S. espionage charges.
And joining me now by phone from Rio de Janeiro is "Guardian" columnist Glenn Greenwald who broke many of the exclusives that Snowden was able to provide with the documents that he took from the NSA and has worked closely with him.
Glenn Greenwald, good morning.
GLENN GREENWALD, "THE GUARDIAN": Good morning, Howard. KURTZ: You've said to me and in other interviews this isn't ultimately about Ed Snowden, it's about the surveillance state and the magnitude of U.S. surveillance that he exposed.
But by going to Moscow, and I understand that it's probably not his final destination, isn't there a very real chance now that the media, some elements of which have been sympathetic to Snowden, are going to turn more hostile?
GREENWALD: I think that's true, although I hope it isn't. I mean he's a human being, he's 29 years old, he just turned 30. He's obviously trying to avoid being put in prison for the rest of his life for something that he believes firmly was his right to do as an American.
But I hope the media will continue to focus on the much bigger issue, which is what has the U.S. government been doing in the dark in building this massive spying apparatus and how has it been lying to the American people about what it's been doing when answering questions from their representatives in Congress?
KURTZ: That is an important part of the story. And yes, we can all understand, Glenn, somebody trying to stay out of prison for the rest of his life, but this is a guy you have gotten to know quite a bit who knowingly broke the law, who seemed at first like he was prepared to face the consequences.
After all, he went public. He -- you didn't reveal his identity, he revealed his own identity. And now by going first to Hong Kong, now to Moscow, next we don't know where, doesn't it look like he's just trying to save his own skin?
GREENWALD: Well, let's be clear. He's going to be facing serious consequences, no matter what happens. He had a life in which he was living in the United States, as an American citizen his whole life. He had a long-term girlfriend in Hawaii, a stable, lucrative career, all of which he gave up in order to bring to light what he believed is serious wrongdoing on the part of our highest political officials.
And he's now, no matter what, at best going to spend the rest of his life on the run from the most powerful government on Earth.
So there's going to be very serious consequences to him either way. But as McClatchy this morning just reported, the Obama administration has been unprecedentedly aggressive and vindictive when it comes to punishing whistleblowers. And he knows that that's the political climate that he faces if he comes back to the United States. And I think it's entirely understandable why he doesn't want to do that.
KURTZ: But when Snowden tells the "South China Morning Post" through a story published today that the U.S. has hacked Chinese mobile companies and a top Beijing university, he begins to be painted as somebody -- fairly or unfairly, he begins to be painted as somebody who's out to hurt America.
GREENWALD: All I can tell you is I know that he has in his possession thousands of documents which, if published, would impose crippling damage on the United States' surveillance capabilities and systems around the world. He has never done any of that.
He could -- if his goal were to harm the United States, there were all sorts of things he could have done from uploading those documents on the Internet to selling them to a foreign intelligence service.
He instead came to two newspapers, meeting with ours, and said I have a lot of documents that I think the public should know, please carefully vet them and publish only what the public should know without harming national security. That has clearly been his goal from the start and we've honored those wishes.
KURTZ: My time is short. I have to ask you whether you're concerned, if public opinion and the media environment turns against Ed Snowden, whether you as somebody who's worked closely with him will be tarred almost as a kind of co-conspirator.
GREENWALD: Well, the Obama administration has flirted with that theory with other reporters, David Gregory all but endorsed it when I gave him an interview with him earlier on "Meet the Press."
So, sure, it's an issue. But it's not going to constrain me or deter me in any way. I believe in the First Amendment and the freedom of the press guarantee in it.
KURTZ: All right. I need a brief answer.
Do you know, and of course can you tell us, where Ed Snowden is ultimately headed?
GREENWALD: I'm not going to -- he's my source, so I just can't talk about what his intentions are with regard to where he's going.
KURTZ: All right. I guess we'll have to find out for ourselves as we see the events unfold. Glenn Greenwald, thanks very much for checking in by phone.
GREENWALD: Thank you, Howard.
And our panel rejoins us now.
And David Zurawik, you heard Glenn Greenwald defend his source and talk about how he is doing what he sees as the right thing but at the same time doesn't want to spend the rest of his life in prison.
But that, I think is going to be the question being asked by those of us in the media, which is if this is an act of conscience and he comes forward, doesn't he undermine his own case by turning himself into an international fugitive?
DAVID ZURAWIK, TV CRITIC, "BALTIMORE SUN": Well, Howie, yes, but I'm so glad Greenwald's voice has been added to this because some would say, oh, he's somewhat self-aggrandizing and he's put himself in the middle of this narrative and now it's an irresistible narrative. But even what Greenwald said reminds us, this is a guy who has just turned 30, who is in the middle of this thing, who maybe also looks like a guy who just doesn't want to spend the rest of his life in jail.
And this administration is pulling all -- is holding nothing back in punishing anybody who leaks any kind of information.
Another thing with Greenwald that I'm so glad we heard, let's not forget what this administration has been, doing trying to criminalize the press getting information, Howie.
KURTZ: I agree that that's a very important story that we've talked about in the context of the subpoenas for the AP and James Rosen and FOX News.
But right now we have the Justice Department really having no choice other than to go after somebody who worked with the NSA as a contractor, who took a lot of classified documents out of there, whether espionage charges are warranted are not; I'll leave it for the lawyers to decide.
But Emily Bell, since you worked for "The Guardian" and know the British media culture quite well, is there any danger now if again public opinion and media commentary turns against Snowden, that "The Guardian" will be tainted in a way, working with -- for working so closely with somebody who's now seen as an unsympathetic character?
EMILY BELL, JOURNALIST: No, I think "The Guardian's" focus has been all along, as Glenn was saying, on the importance of the stories and shedding light on surveillance techniques.
It's really that that's the interest of the brand; that's the interest of the U.S. edition, which is based here. And really the vast majority of the coverage, you know, you're picking out bits of the film interview and the Q&A, but the vast majority of "The Guardian's" coverage has actually been about the surveillance programs themselves, their legality and what the consequences there are.
BELL: And I think that's a pretty clear line.
KURTZ: Let me get a find word from Amy Holmes on whether this story will now focus on what Ed Snowden reviewed or this global chase that is -- all seems like a made-for-TV movie.
HOLMES: I agree that having Glenn Greenwald's voice in this, I think, was important to refocus on the NSA wiretapping, phone record logging, aspects of this case.
But I think it's inevitable that by going on the run that the story is going to be about Ed Snowden, his character, his motivation, this international chase, where is he now. So it's probably going to turn into like "Where's Waldo?" at this point when it comes to -- KURTZ: Interesting point. We've had Greenwald on this program for three straight weeks now, so his voice has certainly been part of our media discussion.
Emily Bell in New York, David Zurawik, Amy Holms, thanks for coming by this Sunday morning.
Still to come, a false report and an arrest warrant for New England Patriots player and "Vice" magazine's suicidal photo spread. The "Media Monitor" is next.
KURTZ: Time now for the "Media Monitor," our weekly look at the hits and errors in the news business.
Aaron Hernandez, the New England Patriots player, remains under investigation in the death of a friend, with police even searching his home. But on Friday morning, some news organizations went too far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBIN ROBERTS, ABC NEWS: Breaking news we were just talking about in the murder case linked to an NFL player. As we said, an arrest warrant has been issued this morning for Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots.
RICK (PH), FOX NEWS: Sources telling FOX 25 in Boston that Hernandez is being charged with obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: That was flat wrong. No arrest warrant has been issued for Hernandez. ABC did not correct the mistake on the air and even online the network never retracted the report, just updated it, a spokesman told me, to reflect that the warrant had not in fact been issued.
FOX, which as you heard, attributed the initial report to its Boston station, told viewers about two hours later that it can't confirm the arrest warrant and then later that there were conflicting reports.
Why do networks keep jumping the gun when an arrest would quickly be made public anyway? CNN and other news outlets were criticized -- and rightly so -- for reporting on a nonexistent arrest in the Boston marathon bombing. It seems that some organizations still haven't learned that lesson.
There are bad media ideas and then there are truly horrible ideas. "Vice" magazine apparently thought it would be interesting to have models re-enact the deaths and suicides of prominent female writers such as Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath.
The spread includes one woman pointing a gun at herself, another facing a noose and a third kneeling down before an oven.
But the close was so fab what was billed as a fashion spread. Magazine now regrets its terrible judgment, saying, "We will no longer display last words on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended."
A "Vice" spokesman told RELIABLE SOURCES that the reason the photos were taken down was in response to the reactions mainly in the United Kingdom from the public and mental health groups out of concern that the photos glorified suicide.
But it's too late to pull this pathetic spread from the magazine itself.
Finally, a word about me.
You may have read somewhere on the Internet that after 15 years of anchoring this program, I'll be moving on from CNN to become a media and political analyst for FOX News. It has been a privilege to occupy this chair and I will have more to say about this on my final program next week, which, of course, is a little tease designed to get to you tune in next Sunday morning.
That's it for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm Howard Kurtz. You can always check us out on iTunes on Mondays and download our podcast. Just search for "Reliable Sources" in the iTunes store.
We are back here again next Sunday morning, 11:00 am Eastern, for another critical look at the media. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley begins right now.