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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES

The Crash of Flight 214; Social Media Explodes in Crash Aftermath; Reporters Under Fire

Aired July 7, 2013 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: I'm Candy Crowley in Washington.

You are looking at live pictures provided to us by KGO. That is the San Francisco airport. And I believe you are looking at members of the National Transportation Safety Board, we call it the NTSB, walking across that runway where that plane crashed so spectacularly.

Two people dead in that. All in all, 307 people on board.

We are awaiting a news conference by the National Transportation Safety Board.

So far as we know, they have begun some preliminary looks at the data recorder, for instance, those black boxes, as we call them, have already been shipped to Washington. They are already downloading some of the data so they can know a little bit at this point.

But what we also know is that the NTSB doesn't dribble out information it gets bit by bit. It tends to collect it and look at all of it before it gives you their kind of big picture story.

We do know some things that are happening, that happened as those, what must have been terrified passengers, came down on that plane. They said that there was absolutely no announcement that, in fact, something was about to take place, and they felt that they were coming in too low.

We have had our Richard Quest report to us that some of the data that he has seen suggests that that plane came in at too steep an angle and was traveling too slowly. So, lots of hints about what happened, but it isn't over until the NTSB issues its report.

A short while ago, I did speak with NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman, who joins us from the crash site in San Francisco.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Deborah Hersman, thank you so much for joining us.

I know that you will look at everything, but I also know that when investigators get on the scene, some things catch their attention. What has caught your attention?

DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: Well, you know, when we went out there last night and took a look at the aircraft, I will tell you, you can see the devastation from the outside of the aircraft -- the burn-through, the damage to the external fuselage. But what you can't see is the damage internally, and that is really striking.

And so, I think when we look at this accident, we're very thankful that we didn't have more fatalities and serious injuries, and we had so many survivors. It's really very, very good news as far as a survivable accident, which many accidents are.

CROWLEY: And was it miraculous, or was it the result of something that so many did survive?

HERSMAN: You know, I would say much of this is the result of the hard work of the aviation community, taking accidents, taking lessons learned and plowing them back in, whether it's the design of aircraft or training of crew members, and even passengers.

And we can't stress this enough. Many accidents are survivable. It's about knowing where those exits are and listening to the flight crew in an emergency situation. Very important.

CROWLEY: And let me ask you. I hope you heard our Richard Quest, who reported that the flight data that he's seen shows a plane that is coming in too steep, the angle of it, and too slowly for that runway.

What does that tell you?

HERSMAN: Well, you know, we're going to have to corroborate a lot of information, the radar data, the ATC information, and the flight data recorder parameters, and also interview the pilots, which we hope to do in the coming days. It's really important to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together to not just understand what happened but understand why it happened so we can prevent accidents like this from occurring in the future.

CROWLEY: Sure, I can understand that it would be less important that the pilot may have been coming in at too steep an angle and at too slow a pace -- and you need to know why is that so?

HERSMAN: Sure. And you know what? Stabilized approaches have long been a concern, safety concern for the aviation community. We see a lot of runway crashes, either landing short or landing long, runway overruns, runway excursions -- a very significant threat in the aviation environment. We want to understand what was going on with this crew in this airplane so we can learn from it.

CROWLEY: On this plane and on many planes, are there not redundant systems that would have flaps, if everything were working well, that would have flashed saying too steep, too slow? Wouldn't there have been -- wouldn't that have been in place?

HERSMAN: Well, you know, there are a lot of systems to help support the pilots as they come into airports, especially busy commercial airports like this one at San Francisco. There has already been a discussion about that glide slope being out of service, but there are a number of other tools available to the pilots, some less sophisticated, like the lights, the precision approach lights that they were talking about that show you if you're too high or too low coming in, but also some things that are more technologically advanced, like things on this airplane that can give you GPS information.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: I want to now bring in CNN's Rene Marsh, who has the latest with the flight recordings -- Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Candy. We know at this very moment they're at the NTSB lab, and we know that simply because the NTSB has shared pictures online of the actual flight recordings inside of the lab. So, we're working to turn that around for you.

But I can tell you that the analysis of the data that is happening as we speak, they're trying to pull that data off. That's already happening. On the flight data recorder, that holds information like altitude, the speed, the position of the plane. And the cockpit voice recorder is capable of picking up things like the background noises and any warning signals that may have gone off, Candy.

CROWLEY: What else is critical to these investigators as they try to figure out what went on?

MARSH: Well, we know that they're also going to look at things like human performance, specifically those four pilots who were on board. They're going to be looking at their training. Did they follow all of the procedures? Any possibility of fatigue?

Because remember, this flight was more than 10 hours long, an international flight. They're also going to look at blood and alcohol tests. And the flight crew will also be interviewed as well.

Additionally, it will be very important to look at the mechanics of the plane. Was everything working correctly?

CROWLEY: Can you tell us about the two fatalities?

MARSH: Right. We know that they were two 16-year-old girls. They were reportedly found on the runway, but there are still so many questions. Exactly where were they seated in the plane? Did their positioning play a role at all in their death? Were they strapped in?

These are all critical questions that you can bet the investigators are going to try to get to the bottom of so that they can paint a fuller picture of what may have went wrong here on this flight -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Rene Marsh following the NTSB investigation for us. Thanks, Rene. I want to now bring in our Richard Quest, because, Richard, you earlier when we spoke have found out some fairly important information that certainly leads one to believe at least one of the causes of this crash. Tell us about it.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes. This is (INAUDIBLE) this coming in too steep. If you compare the trajectory, you can see there is a much steeper rate of descent down to the runway and, indeed, much slower.

Now, that is not the whole of the whole equation. It's not the way.

And Deborah Hersman was talking exactly about that. They might not have had a glide slope because the LAX (ph) was inoperative in 28 left, but there was a barrage of other tools. So, they will really need to understand, why did the pilots make this particular descent and this particular approach on this particular flight?

And then I think it's really what this investigation is going to be about. It will fall into two distinct areas. It will fall into the nature of this flight and what lessons have been learned after the crash that happened about the passengers on the ground. Because Deborah Hersman's quite right when she points out, as you might expect, that modern aviation has become so reliable that when you do what's known as a survivable accident, as it was, the goal is now to focus on how you get as many people out in as best condition as you can.

CROWLEY: Richard Quest, thank you so much for your expertise on this issue. And we appreciate the information.

I want to now bring back in our Rene Marsh.

Rene, I know you have been following the march of these black boxes from that plane, and presumably, that runway back to Washington. What can you tell us?

MARSH: Right. Well, Candy, we can tell you we spoke about this right off of the top, that they're in the lab. And here's the proof here. We just pulled these pictures down from the NTSB's twitter feed.

So, this is a real-time look here at this photo as we show it to you. You're looking at one of the investigators pulling out these flight recorders out of those brown paper bags there. And this is a process that is happening as we speak. They are downloading critical, critical information. Information, we're talking about the beginning, the middle and the end as it relates to how this all unfolded, how it came to be that this plane had to make this crash landing.

That that you're looking at on your screen there, that is going to be so critical in this investigation -- Candy.

CROWLEY: And there is -- first of all, black boxes are not black. Second of all, what is it in these -- there's more than one recorder. One records data, the sort of thing Richard was just talking about, altitude and all of that.

And the other one is what -- is what?

MARSH: Right. One does record -- there are two different boxes that we're talking about there. You see two of them there. They're both located in the tail section of the plane, and you know, one might think while panic broke out off of this. You can see with your own eyes, they are pretty much intact and we got word from the NTSB that they are in good shape.

So, what do you find on these things? Well, on the first one, which we said is the flight data recorder -- well, that is going to give just information about the plane. What was it doing? How fast was it going? How high was it? What's the altitude? What position was the plane in?

So, that's going to be critical because they're going to want to analyze the flight path of the plane. That paints a picture.

Then, the other box that we're talking about here, that is the cockpit voice recorder. Well, that will be critical because you're going to maybe pick up voices of the pilot minutes before this crash landing happened. If there was some sort of warning signal or sound that went off, you may hear that. You may hear any other background noise that was going on at the time of the approach, even leading up to this.

And again, you know, they are so, so painstaking when it comes to putting the pieces together. So every little tiny piece of evidence is going to fit together in a nice, big puzzle to at the end of this all give us a full picture, hopefully, of what went wrong -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Thanks so much, Rene Marsh. On the left, those are the black boxes. On the right, that is a picture of what is left of that plane after that horrific crash landing.

The pictures on the right are live. The pictures on the left are off Twitter. So, we bring you all venues here as we are covering this story, which we will continue to cover, by the way.

We are awaiting a news conference by the National Transportation Safety Board. We, of course, will cover that live.

Right now, though, we're going to go to break. And after the break, we are going to RELIABLE SOURCES for a look at how the plane crash story unfolded on social media, including tweets from survivors as they raced away from the wreckage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN AVLON, CNN HOST: You're looking at live shots from the San Francisco Airport from our affiliate KGO. The devastating crash. And more information coming in by the moment. We're waiting on a press conference from the NTSB and CNN will stay on this story nonstop in the coming hours.

But, first, welcome to RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm John Avlon of "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast."

Coming up, we go to Cairo for a reporter's take on the Egyptian uprising and crackdown on the press.

And later, a never before seen interview with journalist Michael Hastings, who died tragically last month.

But, first, the incredible impact of social media in the immediate aftermath of the San Francisco jet crash.

By the way, we are, again, awaiting that NTSB press conference in San Francisco and we'll bring it to you live as soon as it happens.

But, first, joining me here in Washington: Jackie Kucinich of "The Washington Post," Josh Rogin also of "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast", and Errol Lewis, anchor of "Inside City Hall' on New York 1.

So, one of the things we saw in the aftermath of the Boston bombing is citizen journalists driving the story ahead of where traditional media can go. The real focus on this was Samsung executive named David Eun. I'm just going to read you one of the tweets he sent immediately after the crash and then some video he took. It is astounding.

Here's the tweet he sent, "I just crash landed at SFO. Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I'm OK. Surreal."

And then, I mean, this is real time. Someone, it is a victim of a crash landing, a devastating crash landing, immediately takes to social media, just sends out the word before it's even on the radar of national media.

Then, as he escapes from the plane, he turns back with his iPad and takes this video. We're going to show you. It's extraordinary stuff.

All right, we're going to have that video in just a second, but it really does raise questions for all of us about what the role is for traditional media. If citizen journalists can always get there first on the front lines and we are reacting to that, what is the role right now, Jackie, of traditional media?

JACKIE KUCINICH, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think it's a filter, I think it's a vet. Because you have people in the moment, they're taking pictures, they're tweeting what's going on, but there is a -- there definitely is a role for gathering all of that and making sure that the story, what is actually happening is happening before their eyes, because you can't necessarily know when you're right there at the moment.

AVLON: With a filter through the fog of war. Before Errol weighs in, I want to play that video from Samsung executive David Eun in the immediate aftermath of the crash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID EUN, SAMSUNG EXECUTIVE: We just crash landed on my flight from Seoul to SFO. The plane hit the runway really hard on the landing, and we skidded to the side. I thought we were going to flip over.

Everyone seems to be OK, a little shaken up. I don't have shoes on, hit my head pretty hard, but I think I'm OK. As much as I fly, you don't think about this kind of stuff happening. Anyway, everyone seems to be OK but shaken up. Uh, wow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Errol, I mean, this is perhaps the most dramatic example I can think of, of the revolution that's taking place in information. What is, when you see something like that, how do we help get the message out? What are the long-term implications of this revolution on the ground?

ERROL LOUIS, HOST OF "ROAD TO CITY HALL" ON NY1: Well, I think where we are is, you know, a staple. If any of us had to go and cover this story, we'd get there and you would do an MOS, man on the street. Who was there? What did you see? Someone would tell you secondhand and you'd have maybe a shot, if you were doing TV, of someone shaken up telling you exactly what you just saw.

Now you can get it in real time. So, it's sort of man on the street on steroids, which is great! I mean, this is what we've always wanted is to be able to sort of see it as it happens and see it from reliable people.

In this case, you know, it's almost picture perfect and very much at odds, by the way, with some of the subsequent tweets. Because minutes later, people were tweeting photos of a plane that was, you know, badly disabled from a different angle, raging fires, you know, obviously deadly, and a very different kind of a take. So, you get not one but multiple sort of eyewitness accounts.

AVLON: Josh, that's a great point Errol makes because this actually does cut through the fog of war, it does cut through the misinformation because you get these indelible examples in real time.

But let's add perspective to this conversation, because perspective is always the thing we have least of in our media cycles today. It crashes. This gets wall-to-wall coverage. It is horrific, it is startling, but the fact is that crashes are dramatically less frequent than they were just a few decades ago.

We looked up, and the NTSB does records of investigations. These are for plane crashes as well as helicopters. There were 45,000 investigations of this nature in the 1970s, just under 20,000 last decade. So, is part of what's driving the coverage the fact that this is more of a horrific novelty as well as the fact that we can document it better than ever before?

JOSH ROGIN, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NEWSWEEK/DAILY BEAST: Sure. So, before, these investigations were conducted over years. Now they're conducted in minutes. Investigators as they go back will use the social media record to put back together the timeline of events to find out what really happened.

No longer will investigations be held only by officials. Now they're going to be crowd-sourced. And also, we're going to have so much real time evidence to go back to and look at.

AVLON: I mean, and that crowd-sourcing of an investigation -- I mean, it really is power to the people. I mean, you know, the wall is breaking down.

Here's a question -- I mean, part of what's happening also is, though, is that people are looking to private networks to try to isolate themselves, and journalists are getting their news from actual non-journalistic sources.

Sheryl Sandberg had originally been on the site and takes to Facebook to declare her involvement. That is now news. She doesn't write it for a news outlet.

Jackie?

KUCINICH: It's interesting how people use these to let people know they're OK. That's what you see as you scroll through the tweets. You were saying, there were people seeing this that were in the terminal who tweeted, I think we may have just seen a bunch of people get hurt and potentially killed. So, it is -- it's fascinating and it's another thing that social media that we couldn't have predicted when this came, this became a thing.

AVLON: Well, one other aspect of the revolution is reporting during breaking news. And I believe we have Al Tompkins from the Poynter Institute on the phone.

Al Tompkins had a piece up today about the various resources that exist online that can help reporters report in that fog of war of breaking news.

Al, are you joining us?

AL TOMPKINS, POYNTER INSTITUTE (via telephone): Hi, John.

KUCINICH: How are you, al? Tell us a little bit about some of those resources that exist that helped you report the story in real time.

TOMPKINS: Well, the big thing for you to know is that I'm sitting here at my kitchen counter in St. Petersburg, Florida, and I was able to very quickly flip on, for example, broadcastify.com, which is a global police scanner, and was able to listen in real time to the very first dispatch of the fire and rescue squad and then listen as they arrived on the scene and started to assess the scene.

Then, I flipped on to Geofeedia. And when I went on to Geofeedia, one of the things that you can do with Geofeedia is start looking in real time at tweets, at photos on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, YouTube. And one of the things that you can do is scroll across the map on Geofeedia and start seeing what people are tweeting and posting in terms of photos and so on.

That's the first place I saw the David Eun photo. On the screen right now, you're looking at the feed that I recorded in real time while the story was unfolding. And the interesting thing about Geofeedia is that you can actually define the area that you want to monitor in real time and scroll over each one of those posts.

So, each one of those little posts coming up right now is me scrolling over to see what people are tweeting at that moment.

AVLON: It is extraordinary, al. I mean, this really is the rise of citizen journalism and crowd-sourcing investigations, as Errol said moments ago.

Was the information you're getting in real time accurate? Is this a reminder of that old adage that all of us are smarter than some of us?

TOMPKINS: Well, it was accurate, but not necessarily true. People were seeing things and they were interpreting what they were seeing, and I believe that is the real value of journalists, is not just to tell us what is going on, but what does it mean and what does it not mean and just sort through all of these photos to figure out what they actually mean.

Because I have to tell you that initially, there was a lot of misinformation about what eyewitnesses said they saw. They said they saw it cartwheeling down the runway. Well, that didn't happen, not really. It didn't cartwheel down the runway.

AVLON: Thank you, Al. Al Tompkins from Poynter Institute. Thanks for joining us with an amazing reminder that the resources that are out there for journalists and breaking news.

Another reminder, that we are awaiting an NTSB news conference. CNN will bring that to you as it happens.

But after the break, as the revolution unfolds in Egypt, some journalists become targets themselves. We'll go to Cairo, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AVLON: You're looking at live shots from KGO in San Francisco. We are continuing to keep an eye on developments there and will provide updates throughout the day.

But first, we go to Ben Wedeman in Cairo.

Ben, I want you to walk through people at home the video you took of your camera being confiscated by the military police. Explain what occurred and what happened afterwards.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. What happened was we were doing a live shot. We started by trying to do a live shot between four armored personnel carriers of the Egyptian army that had just been deployed out there. And the officer said, no, no, you can't do it here, go away, go away. So, we walked a bit up the road.

And once we started again, I had my back to him, so I didn't know sort of what was going on when he brushed by me, grabbed the camera, this army officer, and then yanked it away. Clearly, they didn't want anybody taking pictures of the soldiers in the street, the armored personnel carriers.

Anyway, afterwards, I told him, well, we'd like to have our camera back, which also included footage from an entire long day of running around some very dangerous spots in Cairo. He said just to wait a few minutes. So, we went and had a cup of tea by the Nile, enjoyed the cool, sat and rested.

And a few minutes later, our colleague, Sarah, went, got the camera back, and off we went. It was -- looked more dramatic on live television than it was in reality. Over my years in Cairo, I've had a lot of encounters with the authorities, and usually, they end up amicably.

AVLON: But, Ben, just, we're hearing reports not just of journalist harassment and the closing of some news bureaus, but incidents of sexual assaults, some on journalists specifically.

What are you hearing and seeing on the ground in Cairo in that regard?

WEDEMAN: Well, sexual assaults on women in Tahrir Square, unfortunately, is something that goes back many, back to basically the time of the revolution. There is that famous incident with CBS correspondent. Lara Logan. Unfortunately, Tahrir Square, when it's crowded, doesn't just attract idealists and revolutionaries. It attracts really some of the less savory elements of society, and they see this as an opportunity to prey on people who are here doing serious work.

AVLON: Ben, thank you. Please stand by. But first, joining us now for an Egyptian journalist perspective is Shahira Amin, independent journalist and former deputy head of Nile TV English. Shahira, first key question, I want your take on is do you consider this a coup?

SHAHIRA AMIN, JOURNALIST: Well, it's increasingly looking like it is a coup, seeing the tanks deployed on the streets of Cairo, the mass arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, taking some channels off the air, the Islamist channels, Al Jazeera. The offices were raided. It is increasingly looking like a coup. Of course, the youth revolutionaries say that this is the peoples' movement, that it's their uprising, but I think that, OK, it is a rebellion by the people.

They were very frustrated with president, ex-president Morsy's performance in that one year, the dire economic conditions, the lack of security, the high inflation, all of that. But I think it was very much driven by the deep state. And when I say the deep state, I mean state security, I mean, Mubarak loyalists and probably the intelligence, police and the military.

AVLON: Shahira, as press freedom is cracked down upon, always a hallmark of a coup, is social media on the street among younger Egyptians playing the same role to get the true story out outside of the state-sanctioned venues as it did in the 2011 initial Arab Spring?

AMIN: Well, there is a very lively debate on social media networks, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to verify the authenticity of a lot of the stuff that we're getting on Facebook and Twitter. I remember that there were videos posted of some department stores and factories up in flames. And when I called that department store, it turned out that it was business as usual there. Also, there was the rape of a Christian woman by some Islamists chanting, and that turned out to be a very old video that had been posted to stir up sectarian strife.

AVLON: Thank you, Shahira, and Ben, thank you for joining us on RELIABLE SOURCES. Now, we are waiting on an NTSB press conference. But ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES, Britain's "Observer" publishes an alleged scoop about the NSA that went viral before it had to be retracted. So, here's the question, why did the paper base its report on single unreliable source?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AVLON: We are awaiting an NTSB news conference on the crash of Flight 214. CNN will bring that to you live as soon as it happens. These are photographs from KPIX.

But now, where in the world is Edward Snowden? That parlor game kept the attention of news outlets this week as several nations considered Snowden's request for asylum, including Venezuela, Nicaragua and now Bolivia. Britain's "Guardian" newspaper broke the original Snowden story, but things took an odd turn this past week when its sister paper "The Observer," ran a front-page story that claimed European officials reached a secret deal with the NSA to turn over private data to the USA.

That sure sounds scandalous, but here's the thing. The article based its claims on a single, very unreliable source, conspiracy theorist named Wayne Madsen, whom reporter Jamie Dower never even spoke with. Not surprisingly, the article was eventually retracted, but now not before it made the rounds on the internet, even receiving a Drudge Report link.

So what does it say that a paper as reputable as "The Observer" would base its scoop on such a shaky source? Joining me from Los Angeles, Michael Moynihan, columnist for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast," who helped debunk this story. Michael, tell us a little bit about what drew your attention when you saw Michael Madsen being the sole source in this story?

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN, COLUMNIST, "NEWSWEEK/DAILY BEAST": Well, you know, I have come across Wayne Madsen in the past. I mean, he pops up on these television networks affiliated with government propaganda, ministries like Iranian press TV and Russia today. So, when I saw that name, I did a double, probably a triple take to wonder if "The Guardian/Observer" was actually using the source that I've come across so many times.

Now, keep in mind that Wayne Madsen is not just a journalist with sort of strange or extreme views. I mean, these are very extreme views. I mean, he's a 9/11 truther. He believes that the attacks in Norway, the terrorist attacks of Anders Breivik, were carried out by Israel. That the "USS Cole" was bombed by Israel, he has strange views about president Obama, et cetera. So, when I saw that, I started reading the piece and said, good God, this is the only source in this piece. Do they not know who he is or did they not use Google?

AVLON: Well, it sounds like the definition of an unreliable source. What was "The Observer's" response when they retracted it? I understand "Salon" did a reposting and that's who got the Drudge link, and they were reluctant to take the piece down entirely. Why?

MOYNIHAN: Yes, yes. I mean, essentially what happens is "The Guardian Observer" pulled the piece fairly quickly. I mean, this was -- you talked a lot about social media on the show today. This was a social media response. I was one of the ones leading the charge, this kind of filters back to "The Observer." They pulled the piece, you know, but here's the thing that should also be mentioned is they're a print newspaper. So, that had actually gone to the printer.

The people that read "The Observer" or the Sunday edition of "The Guardian" got their print edition, the first printing of that, with a big picture of Wayne Madsen on the front, so they were already done. "Salon," who sort of cannibalized the story, because a lot is aggregating other people's scoops, had posted this, got that coveted drudge link, which you know, provides enormous amounts of traffic, and didn't take the story down.

But did post a note that said, well, you know, "The Observer" is looking into the source here, but we're keeping this up. And at the time, the only thing I can imagine is that you get all this traffic and that's what people are after.

AVLON: And that's the larger cost here. Briefly, as we do the autopsy of a conspiracy theory that gets mains mainstream, what are the costs and incentives that may be out of whack for people reposting this?

MOYNIHAN: The incentives are, of course, that "The Guardian" had this cover story revealed, it was a revelation. Now, even if you looked at the story and trusted what this guy was saying it was based on publicly available documents. Nothing was revealed here. But in the sort of sweepstakes of trying to get clicks and get involved in this NSA story, you know, people are putting out stuff that might not be true, might have to be walked back. But the problem is, is this sort of seeps into the groundwater.

And we've seen this with Madsen in the past, who has made a claim that "The Guardian" picked up in 2002 about Venezuela and about the coup against Chavez that's made its way into academic books. I wrote a piece about this and traced how this infected actual journalism, because people say they don't see Wayne Madsen later.

They say "The Guardian," who is a very reputable newspaper, a very good newspaper and "The Observer" is also. So, that is ultimately the problem here is you get these people who are trolling for clicks and hits and viewers, and ultimately, it gets the stamp of quality of a real newspaper, and then you know it filters out.

AVLON: I want to bring in our panel here on this conversation, because one of the real problems of our time is policing hyperpartisan media or looking at the ways that conspiracy theories get mainstream and seep into the groundwater, as Michael said. I mean, what are the cautionary tales about some of the re-postings we see and what we know as journalists largely working in digital, that there is an incentive sometimes to post the salacious, the fundamentally untrue because of confirmation biased rather than selling something a bit more sober? Let's start with Errol.

ERROL LOUIS, HOST OF "ROAD TO CITY HALL" ON NY1: Look, this is journalism school first semester 101. If you don't have two independent sources, you don't have a story. And the reality is, I think what we don't do enough of is really teach people what goes on in a newsroom, when there is a lot of competitiveness, when there is a lot of energy running through the room, there is a desire to break something big.

People's emotions take over and they throw all of their training to the side. And unless there's an editor or a publisher or somebody there, you know, senior newsroom leadership is what we call it to say, wait a minute, don't do this, you know? It's better to be right than to be first sometimes. If you can't do that, you're not really running a newsroom.

AVLON: I mean, it is basic, but one thing about the rise of partisan media, Jackie, is that confirmation bias can slide towards conspiracy theories and that can go around the world before the truth gets out.

JACKIE KUCINICH, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Again, that's why due diligence is so important. That is why -- I mean, I know we can say, it's so fast, there's too much information. End of the day, due diligence matters. People don't remember -- people remember your big scoops. They remember them more if they're wrong.

AVLON: Yes, very quickly, Josh.

JOSH ROGIN, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSWEEK/DAILY BEAST": I would put a silver lining on this and say that the up side is that now the news business is self-correcting. This story only lasted a day and you had sharp guys like Mike Moynihan out there pointing out where the story went wrong. So, they get out fast, but they get solved faster and allow reporters to operate a newsroom that is high- pressure. AVLON: And again, social media leads the charge. It ends up being, there is a crowd source correction as well, but only if people pick up on it and the danger is that there are enough dupes out there that these things do end up getting put in the history books and treated as official documents as Michael Moynihan pointed out.

I want to thank, Michael, for joining us from Los Angeles. We are still awaiting a news conference on the crash of Flight 214. CNN will bring you that live as soon as it happens. But first, let's go to CNN's Rene Marsh. We're going to go to break right now, awaiting that NTSB press conference momentarily.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AVLON: You're looking at pictures from KPIX. We are awaiting a news conference on the crash of Flight 214. CNN will bring you that live as soon as it happens, but first, let's go to CNN's Rene Marsh. Rene, tell us about the status currently of the flight recorder, which has been recovered and was tweeted out just a few minutes before.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, John, and we do have those pictures so, whenever we can re-rack them and put them up. There you see it. So, this is at the NTSB lab here in Washington, D.C. You see an investigator there unpacking what is called those flight recorders, again, John, very, very critical as far as this investigation goes.

You're seeing two recorders. Here's a closer shot on the table there. One of them is the flight data recorder. That is going to hold information like the altitude, the speed, the position of the plane. And then there is a second one. That is the cockpit voice recorder. That is capable of picking up background noises, kind of gives a little bit of color as to what was going on as this crash landing was about to happen minutes before.

Perhaps if there were any warning signals going off, investigators would be include into that as well. So, we do know as we speak that they are downloading information, the data off of those recorders. Back in San Francisco, you mentioned that we are waiting for that press conference. About an hour ago, I got word that they are in their first operational meeting. So, perhaps that's why we're seeing a delay here with this press conference -- John.

AVLON: And Rene, those two orange flight recorders that were just on the screen a second ago, they hold the data that will tell us what happened, why this flight which had been going across the pacific effortlessly failed at the last moment upon landing, this inexplicable failure to complete its flight.

MARSH: You know, it will be a part of the big picture here. I mean, every single piece of evidence that they collect is really going to contribute to painting the full picture. But you have to believe that, yes, this will give them a lot of critical information. It won't give them everything. They still need to look at other critical pieces of evidence like the crash scene, where did things fall in relation to each other, how close were they to each other, which piece fell off of the plane first. They're looking at the damage patterns. All of that comes into play. So it's not any one piece of evidence. It is everything on the whole. But again, this is pretty critical and you saw it's in pretty good condition those flight recorders. So they shouldn't have any problems pulling data off of that.

AVLON: That will help us bring together the mosaic of what actually heard. Thank you. I want to bring in Miguel Marquez who is in SFO standing by. Miguel, we're awaiting that press conference. What do we hope to learn from that press conference?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we hope to learn a lot. My guess is that they will give us an idea of how the investigation will go forward. There is a team from South Korea coming in here to work with NTSB on this investigation. So there may be some of that. We do understand that it is everybody from the political set locally to national law enforcement and investigators who are now meeting and they will give us a read out from that meeting.

But the investigation seems to be focusing or at least our look at this seems to be focusing on the engines. Passengers say they heard them power up just before impact. The CEO of Asiana Airlines saying that as far as he knew there was no problem with the engines and the pilot gave no emergency warning to passengers on that plane as well. The engine on the left wing of that plane disappeared.

We don't know whether it exploded, fell off just shortly before that impact or if it was intact and somehow just ended up back in the water. We also know that the instrument landing system here at SFO on that runway was out of service at the time and whether or not that played into that. I doubt that these investigators will get this far into the weeds at this upcoming press conference, but we will certainly press them and ask lots of questions.

AVLON: Before we go to break, are we expecting the mayor and other local leaders to be at the press conference?

MARQUEZ: We expect the mayor at least. We're not entirely sure who else will be there. We know that everybody from NTSB on down is meeting right now and we expect several members, but we don't know exactly.

AVLON: Thank you, Miguel. After the break, a never before seen interview of the late journalist, Michael Hastings and his wife about reporting and their life together.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AVLON: We're keeping an eye on developments in San Francisco and we'll provide updates throughout the day. We're waiting for the press conference as well, but first, when Michael Hastings died suddenly last month, our generation lost one of our brightest and most uncompromising voices. His death inspired a number of tributes as well as a boat load of debunked conspiracy theories.

In the tradition of outlaw journalists before him, Michael Hastings followed a story without fear of favor. His tenaciousness was legendary, but so was his capacity for friendship. He took his work seriously, but never himself.

Last summer Michael and his wife, Elise Jordan, sat down with my wife, Margaret and me, with Elise permissions, we're airing excerpts of this never before seen interview today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AVLON: Michael, what you may be best known for is your "Rolling Stone" piece, the runaway general, that had I think the unique and still controversial of ending up, leading to the resignation of a general during war time. As you look back on that piece, any regrets, any thoughts about places you would have done differently?

MICHAEL HASTINGS, JOURNALIST: I wish I had a few thousand more words because I would have really unloaded on what I knew, but no, not at all. I think what I reported there and it was later confirmed is that there was a bunch of simmering tension between the White House and the Pentagon. And the comments what the general said to me when he was criticizing President Obama, criticizing the vice president, got at this larger issue of who should be in charge of the military, who should be deciding this policy, and how these sort of even personal relationships can have huge impacts on major policy decisions because of this tension for months, it was in total disarray.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So neither of you had any idea of what the consequences of the peace would be at the time you were writing it?

HASTINGS: I figured that it would be talked about on cable news for a couple of hours. I think I brought a suit with me just in case there was any TV interest. But I had no idea that -- I thought he would not be fired. I didn't realize the depth of the animosity and how much anger there was at the White House at him for pushing the policy to escalate in Afghanistan in 2009. That's where the anger came from. The white house did not want to escalate in Afghanistan. General McChrystal they felt boxed him into that position.

AVLON: You wrote your first book about a girlfriend of yours at the time who was killed in the war. How much have you spoken about that?

ELISE JORDAN, JOURNALIST: We've spoken about it a fair amount. I met him as a friend when he was going through the aftermath of this tragedy and I got to see just how horrible and just how sad you were. But the incredible process that you went through in terms of mourning and then meeting her and being open to --

HASTINGS: I was very fortunate to have fallen in love with an amazing woman. She was killed in a very horrible horrific way in Iraq. This is another reason why we can have this sort of intellectual conversation about Iraq and I can throw these numbers out there, but at the end of the day, nothing that anyone is ever going to tell me really is going to change my mind about how I feel deeply about the war because of this traumatic experience to see what happened to her family, her friends and loved ones.

The name of the book I wrote in her honor, I lost love in Baghdad, and I feel blessed that she would have me. And I think the fact that she was able to sort of get past that is to me -- I feel pretty lucky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AVLON: One final note. It's been misreported that Michael was working on a piece about Joe Kelly at the time of his death. In fact his final unfinished story was about CIA Director John Brennan and Elise is now working on finishing that story on Michael's behalf. That's it for this edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. I'm John Avlon. Candy Crowley in the "STATE OF THE UNION" starts now.