Return to Transcripts main page


The Bergdahl Backfire; Hillary's Big Book Blitz

Aired June 8, 2014 - 11:00   ET


BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Good morning from New York. I'm Brian Stelter and it's time for RELIABLE SOURCES.

And today, there is one obvious lead story. It provides a textbook example of red news and blue news, the way in which the news you get is so sharply skewed by the politics of people who deliver it.

When the president walked out to the Rose Garden last Saturday afternoon for this photo-op, I, you, we, couldn't help but feel a swell of patriotism. Our only prisoner of war, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, was finally coming over after five years of Taliban captivity. Members of Congress sent out tweets to celebrate.

And then, there was this the next morning.


SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He served the United States with honor and distinction.


STELTER: The White House PR operation really failed on this one. The suspicious circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance, even the claims that he had been a deserter, have been known for years. And yet, there was no acknowledgement of that from Susan Rice.

After the prisoner swap, this story got personal and political fast.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: But it is Robert Bergdahl, the father, who is also engendering some controversy. He has learned to speak Pashtu, the language of the Taliban, and looks like a Muslim. He's also somewhat sympathetic to Islam, actually thanking Allah right in front of the president.


STELTER: Thank you, Bill O'Reilly for demonstrating how to conduct a smear campaign against a military family.

Now, it went on and on like that. Many of those congressional tweets I mentioned, many of them from Republicans, they were deleted.

Here's how some of O'Reilly's opponents on MSNBC did try to muster a defense.

Let's play Ed Schultz.


ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC: Prisoner exchanges are common place in armed conflict. In fact, in 1985, Ronald Reagan gave 1,500 missiles to Iran in exchange for prisoners. What do you think? You do the calculation, folks. Do you think that 1,500 missiles are a little bit more dangerous in hands of those folks than five guys who are going to be on probation in Qatar?


STELTER: But it just kept coming back to Bergdahl and his family. I mean, we saw red news/blue news play outside in one network.

Here again from MSNBC resident conservative, Joe Scarborough.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Any good father who would tell their son to father their conscience and leave men and women on the line.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC: And he's a bad father?



STELTER: I confess I almost threw my remote control at the TV at one point this week. You know, by the end of the week, FOX News was asserting that Bergdahl converted to Islam and, quote, "declared jihad in captivity." That has not been backed up by other sources. And, frankly, I'm only bringing it up here because we're a media show devoted to pointing out media missteps.

We will get to the media coverage in a moment. But, first, let's tackle the administration's missteps. How did the president wind up on the defensive again?

Let me ask three excellent guests. Matt Lewis, senior contributor to "The Daily Caller", Ryan Lizza, "The New Yorker's" Washington correspondent and CNN commentator, and Gloria Borger, CNN's chief political analyst.

Thank you all for joining me.




STELTER: Gloria, let me start with you what you wrote on earlier this week. You said, "Years of internal deliberations have gone into this moment where this prisoner swap occurred."

So, why did the White House so mismanage this PR situation?

BORGER: Well, I think that's the good question we don't know the answer to. In talking to people at the White House, what I can tell you is -- I think the Rose Garden appearance, that triumphant Rose Garden appearance --


BORGER: -- that we're talking about that, that kind of struck a bad cord. I think the White House was thinking that they were going to get pushback on the national security side. Why do a swap for five prisoners?

So, what they were trying to do with that White House appearance was put a human face on it. Was to say, look, Sergeant Bergdahl has a mother. He has a father. They haven't seen him in five years. And so, let's put a human face on it.

Instead what that seemed to inspire was a lot of vitriol about the apparent circumstances in which he left his post and they weren't ready for that kind of a firestorm.

STELTER: Matt, you have been recapping, collating all of the conservative reactions on Twitter the last few days. What do you think the White House should have done differently?

LEWIS: I think the president is PR 101 says you under-promise and overachieve. I do think had President Obama essentially done what David Brooks did on Friday in his column, which is to basically say, look, there are problems surrounding, you know, his -- you know, we don't quite know what happened. There are questions that linger. But it is our policy to bring our men and women home. And he left it at that.

Had he avoided the Rose Garden ceremony, he would have been in much, much better shape.

LIZZA: I think what the White -- two things the White House did wrong. I think, one, they kept this among a very small circle of aides and often with a small circle, the less outside views to sort of vet the PR process and the policy process. So, they may have had blind spots here.

And then, second, I think what they really didn't anticipate, they did not anticipate Bergdahl's fellow soldiers coming forward and making some pretty tough accusations against him. That was sort of organized by a Republican operative. I think that's one thing that they didn't expect at all.

BORGER: And I also think the White House did not expect sort of the public outcry from the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee saying, you know, it was outrageous that she had not been told in advance.

LIZZA: I just think -- they must have known. I mean, they obviously knew this was not going to be swallowed easily by either the public or the press, right? They knew they were giving up five Taliban soldiers.

So, I don't think -- I doubt anyone was sitting in the White House saying we're going to get Bergdahl back and everyone is going to love this story. It's going to be -- you know, it's going to be great. It was an awful sort of hold your nose deal, right?


LEWIS: But they were trying -- but what Gloria was saying I think early on is indicative. They thought this was going to be a win.

STELTER: Let me play a clip of Susan Rice being interviewed by CNN's Jim Acosta on Friday, as she was asked about the two different situations that you mentioned, Ryan -- one about Benghazi and one about Bergdahl.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Are you being upfront with the American people or are you being guided by talking points too much when you go on these programs?

RICE: Jim, I'm upfront with the American people and I will always do my best on behalf of my country and I do my best to tell facts as we know them. In the case of Bowe Bergdahl, for me to condemn him without any opportunity for him to have the chance to tell his side of the story without any due process that we accord any American, that would be inherently unfair. Similarly with Benghazi, as has been recounted on many occasions, I provided the best information that the U.S. government had at the time.


STELTER: I guess Susan Rice should never appear on another Sunday morning television show. Is that right, Gloria?

GLORIA: No. You know, she should go on and she should be armed with the facts and I think that she tried to defend using the words honor and distinction because we don't know any different. What we do know is this is somebody who volunteered to serve his country.

And so, you have to give Sergeant Bergdahl that at the very least and you have to leave the rest to be discovered.

STELTER: I want to put up on screen some graphics from FOX News on Friday. One banner said "Bergdahl converted to Islam." A lot of this was based on reporting from a secret document obtained by a private intelligence company that has not been proven from other sources that the U.S. government has not corroborated.

Ryan, when you saw this report on Thursday, when you read about is it, what was your reaction to it?

LIZZA: Look, I want to say, first of all, that James Rosen, the reporter who wrote the original story, I've known him for a long time and I think he's a very good reporter. I was one of his most vocal defenders over an issue of controversy that he was involved in last year.


LIZZA: But this report does not meet the bar -- I've been a journalist for 17 years. And the sourcing on this report, I can't think of an outlet I was ever associated with that would have reported this. This is hearsay from terrorists passed through an ex-felon and then to the American people.

STELTER: Let me add one more detail to that about what it's like to be in captivity. I want to share a story from 2006 that I wrote on my blog, TV Newser, at the time. Here's the headline, Steven Olaf, forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint on video.

Steven Olaf were FOX News employee, Steve Centanni and his producer, they were taken hostage for several weeks in Gaza. They appeared to convert to Islam on video. They said that they did it at gunpoint, under threat of death and later, of course, said it was untrue.

For FOX to go off on length talking about this idea of him converting to Islam without knowing strikes me as particularly unfair given that situation in 2006.

BORGER: Yes, and, by the way, this is somebody who was probably trying to save his life. And none of us can stand here, not one of us can say what we would do in the circumstances in which we felt that we were threatened every single minute.

STELTER: This is one of those stories that could be talked about for days and is being talked about for days, and yet I think sometimes it needs fewer hours of coverage because there's so much we don't know. There are so many answers that we don't have.

And as a result, you see something like on FOX. You see the claims about jihad and about Islam that seem way out ahead of where we actually are.

LIZZA: Yes, because what happens with all political stories now is they get filtered almost 100 percent through folks as cultural and political biases.

LEWIS: Well, there's also the fact that we need content, that people who are out there getting paid and more and more outlets that we need to keep uncovering something new.

BORGER: By the way, the White House was aware of everything. In this kind of a situation, I think you have a presidential decision that was made and was controversial and what they want to do was put a face on it to kind of downgrade the kind of controversy they were going to get and that didn't work.

STELTER: Gloria Borger, Matt Lewis, Ryan Lizza, thank you all for joining me.

LIZZA: Thanks, Brian.

LEWIS: Thank you.

BORGER: Thanks.

STELTER: Now, I have to fit in break here. But I want to keep this discussion going. So, as I mentioned, I have a reporter standing by who covered Bergdahl's case for "Rolling Stone" years before rest of the other media caught up. He is fired up about slant of coverage this week and so I am. We will tell you why right after this.



Before we go any further on this Bergdahl story, I have to say something about the press's role here. This story is not just about whether he deserted. His actions may have been deplorable. We have to wait and hear his side of the story.

But it's not just about him. This story at its heart is about ending wars that have defined the first 14 years of this American century. It is also about facing the moral and legal consequences of holding so many prisoners for so long at Guantanamo Bay.

Here's something to keep in mind, something I wish the press have made more clear this week in coverage. I fact checked this with the State Department on Friday. These five Taliban prisoners, they were released partly because the Obama administration concluded it could not press charges against them. It did not have evidence to put them on trial.

We, the public, had turned away from Gitmo. We've definitely turned away from Afghanistan. But the press can and the press should pull us back. The press should encourage us to pay attention to these issues.

I think the media has an educational role to play here. As President Obama said on Monday, this is what happens at the end of wars.

But sometimes that's hard to see when you watch TV and all you hear is -- well, fear-mongering, news accounts that don't include all of the context here are incomplete. But they are worse than that. They are misleading to the people that are watching and reading them, which brings me to something else that's been misleading. Reporters pretending they discovered something brand new about Bergdahl's disappearance, because a lot of what you heard in the last week was actually first reported years ago by "Rolling Stone" magazine.

In this 2012 article by acclaimed writer Michael Hastings, he talked about a lot of these issues. Unfortunately, Bergdahl did not get a lot of press attention when he was in captivity. In fact, we talked about that. We called his case under covered here on RELIABLE SOURCES back in February.

But Hastings, he was on it. Unfortunately, he died when his car crash in Los Angeles last year. But he had a partner on this story, a former infantryman named Matthew Farwell.

Farwell was deployed to Afghanistan for 16 months. He helped Hastings with a lot of reporting about Bergdahl and I spoke with him earlier about the press' role.


STELTER: Matthew Farwell joins me now here. Thanks for being here.


STELTER: You called this the most important story you've ever written. Why is that?

FARWELL: And probably ever will write.

Well, it deals with eternal themes. I mean, war, captivity, problems, and because we wrote it at a time two years ago, Michael Hastings and I wrote this for "Rolling Stone," nobody covered it. Nobody cared. And people were being shut up by the White House about it. And --

STELTER: Tell me what you mean about that. How were they being shut up?

FARWELL: One of my White House sources was in charge of coordinating the getting the press to not write about this story.

STELTER: To not talk too much about him. What were the reasons for that? I would think it might be because they were concerned that it would affect the negotiations that were under way.

FARWELL: Officially, that's the story, but because it reflects badly on the military and on a failed war in Afghanistan.

STELTER: You're saying that the White House and the Pentagon as well tried to keep the story of Bowe Bergdahl's captivity quiet.


STELTER: So, what did they say to you? Did they try to do that to you and Michael Hastings as well?

FARWELL: Oh, absolutely. I mean, we're still being investigated by the FBI. STELTER: It's interesting to think how this story you wrote two

years ago with Michael Hastings hasn't ended. It's still something that's ongoing. It's still being talked about.

FARWELL: Right. And we agonized about it.

And, you know, Michael and I both considered it the most important thing we'll ever right. And we had a real hard time doing it because the kid was still in captivity. We didn't know if it would help or hurt him and we sat with his parents for 6 1/2 hours.

His parents came to my brother's funeral in Idaho. We have an emotional bond with these people. I love the Bergdahl family. They're great people.

I don't know Bowe, you know? I hope to meet him one day. And I'm not sure how that will go because I'm a former infantryman. And, you know, we'll have some issues, talk about Paktika.

But the Bergdahl family is a great family. They're an all- American family and all of this stuff that's been coming out about them is disgusting.

STELTER: So, I think you're referring to people like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity who have raised questions about the beard, said that he looks Muslim.

When you've heard those comments, how have you reacted?

FARWELL: Well, I thought that they are racist first of all because I have Muslim friends. Muslims can be good Americans as well. But Bob Bergdahl is the most Christian man you'll ever meet. And he grew the beard because his son was being held hostage by the Taliban and by the Haqqani Network, and he was trying to get better treatment for his son.

STELTER: This is where I hone in on the point about the public and press not being aware enough of Bowe Bergdahl's status for five years.


STELTER: We heard so much this week from pundits who have suddenly decided they know what happened.


STELTER: But where were they during these five years?

FARWELL: Exactly. And the other thing that should be brought up is the fact that the soldiers in his unit were under a blanket gag order -- a nondisclosure agreement that they were all forced to sign.

STELTER: That's a very important point, so that they wouldn't talk about circumstances of his disappearance. FARWELL: Right. They were literally on the tarmac at Bagram

signing this paper, saying they wouldn't talk about it. So, they could go home.

And now, they're finally free to talk. We got quite a few of them to talk two years ago. But to not be able to talk about your deployment for five years, that's ridiculous. That's awful.

STELTER: For many years, we heard about a disconnect between the press and military. Do you sense that disconnect and what is the significance of it, if so?

FARWELL: Yes. I mean, absolutely. There's not only a disconnect between the press and the military and I'm a former infantryman. I spent five years in the Army as a soldier, you know? I pulled the trigger on people in Afghanistan.

But there's not only a disconnect between the press and the military, there's a disconnect between the American public and the military.

STELTER: It has bothered me for years that there aren't more reporters in Afghanistan.


STELTER: CNN has a bureau. The other networks sort of have bureaus. They don't always have full-time correspondents in the country, even though we're still fighting a war there.

FARWELL: Right. And there aren't many independent reporters that are off base that aren't embedded with U.S. forces.

STELTER: Interesting, too. It's not enough to be in Kabul. You also have to be with the troops you're saying?

FARWELL: No, no, no. I'm saying that you have to not be with the troops. You have to be independent.

Look at Matthieu Aikins. He's a "Rolling Stone" reporter. He's written for "Harpers" before. He wrote a great story for "Rolling Stone" that won a Polk Award earlier about war crimes committed by U.S. Special Forces. And how much press coverage did that get?

But he's completely independent. He doesn't buy any line that anybody gives him. And the rest of the people show up to a press briefing at 10:00 a.m. and go eat omelets in the Bagram airfield, you know, dining hall. They're completely craven and they are reliant on the military for their news.

STELTER: The quote from President Obama that I thought was the most important one of all, I'm trying to pull it up so I don't botch it. He said at that press conference earlier in the week, "This is what happens at the end of wars."

FARWELL: Exactly. And I -- STELTER: To me, that's also the missing context in the past

seven days.

FARWELL: Well, and that's one of the things I want to say too. When Michael was writing that article two years ago, he included the line that it is with Bowe this war is likely to end.

At the time I was, like, dude, I don't know. It turned out he was really, really prescient. And, you know, I miss Michael. I wish he were around to talk about this because I'm a poor substitute, frankly.

STELTER: I wish he was here to see Bowe return. I think he would do a hell of an interview with him. Maybe you will.

FARWELL: Too early to tell.

STELTER: Yes, I agree with you on that 100 percent.

Matt, thanks for being here and sharing this story.

FARWELL: Thank you very much for having me.


STELTER: Coming up next, did Hillary Clinton's aides have a secret meeting with "The New York Times" to complain about unfair coverage? The answer to that question right after this.


STELTER: T minus two days until you can read Hillary Clinton's new memoir "Hard Choices", if you're so inclined. But the political press has already devoured it and many that read it think it's another chapter of a Clinton presidential campaign.

So, now, it's time for all of her TV interviews related to the book. They begin this week with ABC, which released this snippet to preview Diane Sawyer's primetime interview.


DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: You would release your medical records if you run for president?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I would do what other candidates have done, absolutely.

SAWYER: And what would you like to say to Karl Rove about your brain?

CLINTON: That I know he was called "Bush's brain" in one of the books written about him and I wish him well.



STELTER: After Diane Sawyer, Clinton talks with Robin Roberts on ABC's "Good Morning America". And then it's Cynthia McFadden of NBC News, Jane Pauley of CBS, Christiane Amanpour in a town hall format here on CNN, and Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren of FOX News.

Expert interviewers. Every one of them. But did you notice something in that list? All of the interviews except for Baier are women.

So, you might ask is that a coincidence? I doubt it.

You might also ask, would we notice if all of the interviewers were men? That's a fair question. But I think we should notice if that were the case.

The fact of the matter is that an A-lister like Clinton, whether woman or man, Democrat or Republican, can effectively pick and choose who gets the interviews, because everyone wants the interview. That's why media reporters scrutinize the selection and so do political reporters.

So, let me bring in two of them right now.

Mark Leibovich, back from last week. He's the chief national correspondent for "The New York Times Magazine." And my cubicle-mate at "The Times", Amy Chozick. She's now a political reporter there and she's on the Clinton beat.

Thank you both for joining me.



STELTER: Amy, let me start with you on this almost all female lineup of interviewers. Is it a conscious choice on the part of Clinton's aides or is it a coincidence?

CHOZICK: As I told you before, as a woman covering Hillary Clinton, I hadn't even noticed that the whole lineup was female until some other media organizations pointed it out. And I think there's nothing unusual in choosing Christiane to discuss a book about foreign policy, or Diane Sawyer for that matter. But I think you have to look at the lineup and the context of the broader rollout of this book.

You know, the first excerpt came to "Vogue" on Mother's Day, and it was very nice, warm excerpt about Hillary Clinton's mother, Dorothy Rodham, and how she was excited to become a grandmother. And this week, we saw "People" magazine story and Hillary Clinton is posing in the kitchen, ala Martha Stewart.

So, I think when you look at it in the broader sort of, you know, array of things that she's doing around the book, it does sort of make sense. STELTER: Mark, we talked last week about whether the press is

taking Clinton's bait by talking about this book before it comes out. Here we are back this week talking about it. Are we falling for their PR strategy?

LEIBOVICH: No, because the Clintons have a built in PR strategy. I mean, they're the Clintons and people are going to cover them. I mean, I think this is clearly a very, very staged rollout. I think it looks like a presidential campaign more and more every day.

I mean, at the very least I hope this will put to rest the Clinton world's claim that they should be treated like a private citizens, because -- you know, frankly, it seems very much campaigning to me. And I think that's how it's going to play out.

STELTER: Amy, do they claim that? Do they say because they're not in office right now, they should be treated more like private citizens?

CHOZICK: Yes. I think that's the general response is that she's not in office and should not be scrutinized like someone in public office. They have also come up with coordinated response to the attack this is a campaign book. They said did you call Geithner's book a campaign book? Did you call Gates a campaign book?

So, they're already prepared also to respond to that kind of criticism, that this book tour is ort of a pre-campaign.

STELTER: Was there any news in "People" magazine cover story that came out? That was sort of the wave of coverage of the book that came out this week.

CHOZICK: Well, it shows how low our bar is for news, because people had said, she addresses the Monica Lewinsky issue in this interview and then, of course, basically she says, "I moved on. We need to all look at the future and I'm not going to talk about that."

STELTER: Mark, do you agree? Was there no news in this cover story?

LEIBOVICH: I didn't see it. I completely agree with the low bar thing.


LEIBOVICH: I also think that the point that Gates and Geithner didn't get that question is completely preposterous, because I don't think they're thinking very seriously about running for president.


LEIBOVICH: Maybe I'm wrong. And maybe we should be asking them that, but I'm saying that with some sarcasm, I must admit.

STELTER: I can hear it in your voice.

LEIBOVICH: Yes, sorry.

STELTER: There was a story this week, Amy, about a so-called secret summit between you and your editor and some Clinton aides. They were apparently complaining about unfair coverage. Is that true?

CHOZICK: I'm not going to be able to confirm or talk about any meetings.

But I would just say that this is part of the broader point that there this is all this narrative about Clintons and the press. And I just find it interesting, because compared to what? Like, the Obama White House has such a good relationship with the press?

STELTER: Well, let me ask you this. To me, that sounded -- a meeting, if it happened, sounded like a normal part of the journalism process. You talk to your sources all the time.

Is that fair to say?

CHOZICK: I would say that, generally, yes, people often send their representatives into "The Times" and I'm sure CNN and every other media outlet to discuss coverage, voice their complaints and try to get something better out of it.

STELTER: With this book rollout, what do you expect to happen after this -- these waves of television interviews that we have seen? Is this going to have a lasting import for her?


I think that this -- I think that these interviews could be what breaks news. People who have seen the book have told me there's nothing sort of earth-shattering. Mark wrote a very humorous column anticipating nothing much in the book.

But I think that she could break news in the ABC interview with Diane Sawyer, in the CNN town hall with Christiane. So, we will definitely be watching that.

LEIBOVICH: There's basically two ways that you could look at this.

On one hand, you can go with cliche that she's reintroducing herself to the American public. You could argue that she never left. On the other hand, is she giving the American public an early jump- start, if she runs for president, to get sick of the whole Clinton drama again?

Now, that's -- again, who knows how it will play out. But it does seem like this has been a very, very carefully calculated media strategy, which is generally how they proceed.

STELTER: Mark Leibovich, Amy Chozick, thank you both for joining me.

CHOZICK: Thanks. Brian, I miss you. (CROSSTALK)

STELTER: I miss you all too at "The Times," but I at least get to read you every day.

LEIBOVICH: I feel left out. I mean, I miss you guys too.


CHOZICK: We miss you too, Mark.

LEIBOVICH: All right. Great.

STELTER: Coming up here: the power of a live television picture. Look at this from CNN's Ivan Watson in Istanbul, Turkey, last weekend.

Right after the break, I'm going to talk to him about what this was like to be on air while being interrupted and harassed by police.

Stay tuned.


STELTER: If you were live on television and a crowd of police officers started to push and shove and harass you, how would you handle it? What would you do?

Watch Ivan Watson here in Istanbul last weekend. He calmly narrated while Turkish authorities interrupted his live shot on CNN International.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Often, you get clashes erupting, demonstrators throwing rocks, bottles and police cracking down with their use of force as well.

So -- excuse me. We're -- I think I'm getting -- I think we're -- I'm being -- OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a minute. May I see your passport?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I see your passport? OK. Can I see your passport?



WATSON: So, Errol, we're now being checked. OK. (CROSSTALK)

WATSON: ... card right here.

Anyway, this is my press card. It allows me to work -- it allows me to work in Turkey.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is your passport?



STELTER: Technically, Watson wasn't detained, but he was held by the police for about half-an-hour.

A few days later, the prime minister of Turkey disparaged him as a flunky and as an agent of the West.

The Committee to Protect Journalists say these comments are irresponsible and they have a -- quote -- "chilling effect" on the press.

Harassing and kicking a reporter on live TV also has a chilling effect.

So, what were they thinking and what was he thinking?

Let's ask Ivan Watson, senior international correspondent, joins me now.

Thanks for joining me.

WATSON: No problem, Brian.

STELTER: What was it like in that moment? How did you stay so calm?

WATSON: I have said this before, that, as the police were coming around me, I'm accustomed to having security forces in many of the countries I have worked with -- in hassling me.

So, the treatment really wasn't that rough. I was kneed in the posterior. The difference is that it happened on live television, and so that, of course, created a media ripple, not only in the media, but online as well. It made front-page news here in Turkey, and it was picked up around the world.

And perhaps that's why the Turkish prime minister felt he had to address this speaking on national television in the Turkish Parliament in front of a cheering crowd of Parliament members from his Parliament, and that's where this went from being an isolated, perhaps, incident, as some of the prime minister aides had assured me in private, to being a much bigger issue, because Prime Minister Erdogan took this much -- one step further.

He didn't just insult me, calling a CNN bootlicker or idiot. He went further and said that I was caught red-handed and that I was basically acting like a spy. And that is a very serious accusation that has some very dangerous implications and potential consequences here in Turkey, Brian.

STELTER: It also seems like a page from an old playbook, which is to is to blame the press for your own internal political issues. Am I right about that?


And we have seen this in many countries around the world. It happens in the U.S. sometimes, where the press is blamed for the message. The difference here is, these allegations were patently absurd, almost laughable, except that they were being made by the most powerful man in the country and against a journalist, me.

I have been accredited with a yellow press badge from the prime minister's office for 12 years in Turkey, first as a journalist for National Public Radio, then as a correspondent for the last five years for CNN. The prime minister and his entourage know me personally. I interviewed him. I was invited with a television crew on his private jet in 2009 to accompany him on a campaign tour, one-on-one interviews on his campaign bus, the same going in 2010, again invited on his campaign bus for exclusive one-on-one interviews.

So if I am, in fact, a spy, as the prime minister alleged falsely in the Turkish Parliament, then that would suggest a major security breach by the Turkish security forces, since I have also been in one- on-one interviews on camera with the president of Turkey, as well as the Foreign Ministry of Turkey, during my five years as a resident correspondent for CNN here in Turkey.

STELTER: So, after years of covering Turkey, you're moving on to Hong Kong, right? What are your reflections on covering Turkey?

WATSON: I have been deeply in love particularly with the city Istanbul for more than a decade here. I fell in love with this city, Brian, on my first ride from the airport to the center of the city.

And it's really an incredible, historic, rich, cultural place. It's been very sad to see the neighborhoods that I love behind me, the streets behind me turned into an urban battleground again and again over the course of the last year, to see civilian bystanders who are not part of the political clashes, simply living in these neighborhoods, suffering the effects of tear gas that wash through their windows, being frightened by riot police storming through their streets, by demonstrators hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails in the streets.

It's been a very sad thing to see. And it's also sad to be just a couple weeks away from moving to the next chapter in my career in Hong Kong with such a very bitter and unfortunate taste in my mouth.

STELTER: Ivan Watson, thanks for joining me on this.

WATSON: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: I want to end this segment with a statement from top executives at CNN.

Here's what they say: "We have said repeatedly that we stand unequivocally by our reporting from Turkey and by our reporter Ivan Watson, a journalist of the highest integrity. We find his recent work in Turkey to be brave and commendable."

I have to squeeze in a break here. But we're going to take a turn coming up. And I want to introduce you to one of the most powerful people in Hollywood. You're going to want to hear his predictions about how we will all be watching TV in the a near future.

So, stay tuned.



Netflix was in the news every day this week. It got into a very public fight with Verizon over who is responsible when the streaming TV show you're watching starts to slow down and buffer.

And there was this big new PricewaterhouseCoopers report -- let's put up the headline on screen -- predicting that revenue from sites like Netflix will overtake the U.S. box office in just three years. Most importantly, if you're an "Orange Is the New Black" fan, like I am, the second season of the show premiered on Friday and got a whole lot of media coverage. It has become the biggest hit on Netflix.

Think about this for a moment. At the heart of basically every media business story of this era is the seismic shift from live, linear, scheduled viewing to taped, on-demand, on-your-schedule viewing. That's the future, and no company is doing more to move us toward that on-demand world than Netflix.

So, this week, I went out West to the company's Silicon Valley headquarters and sat down with one of the most powerful men in media, the man who picks and chooses which shows show up on Netflix.

Meet Ted Sarandos.


STELTER: There was healthy skepticism last year when "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black" were premiering. I would even say scorn in some corners when they premiered.

Do you feel vindicated now?

TED SARANDOS, CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER, NETFLIX: I think it was a likely -- it was a likely bet that an Internet DVD-by-the-mail -- by- mail company who has been streaming for a few years was not going to launch TV shows that mattered right off the bat.

And I would said it would have taken us several years to get to the level of original programming that we have achieved in our first -- in our first year.

STELTER: It sounds like you were a bit of a skeptic as well this time last year.

SARANDOS: No, I was cautiously optimistic.

STELTER: But you could see why there were so many skeptics.

SARANDOS: Yes. I could absolutely -- definitely could respect why someone would give some pause before they would declare victory on it.

STELTER: By having an around-the-world launch, doesn't it make it more of an event for Netflix?

SARANDOS: Absolutely, a global event, vs. -- and it's not just a launch of a U.S. show that some people in some pockets of the world are interested in.

"House of Cards," by the way, in China is an enormous hit. I talked to Kevin Spacey recently, who talked about doing a live show in Macau. And he said that he does a show regularly there, and he's always well-received, but this time he was like Elvis, and people just love him because they love Francis Underwood.

STELTER: Netflix has said that "Orange Is the New Black" is actually more popular than "House of Cards." How do you measure that?

SARANDOS: In that case, just more -- more people watching the show. There's more people watching the show for more hours than "House of Cards."

They're both a very successful show, but "Orange Is the New Black" is the largest one.


STELTER: And that's Netflix counting the streams by itself, not from a third party like Nielsen?

SARANDOS: Correct. Correct.

STELTER: By choosing not to release ratings, you're also making a statement about how people's viewing habits are changing, that people aren't watching at the same time.


STELTER: They're watching on their own schedules.

SARANDOS: That's right. And like I said, and we value that viewing equally a year later

or the night we go live. So, for some people who really love "Orange Is the New Black," believe it or not, there's a lot of them that will watch all 13 hours in the first 13 hours of availability when it comes on.

And we -- but for the vast majority of the people, they will watch at their own pace whenever they want and at whatever pace that they want. And that's the beauty of all the episodes.

STELTER: So, bingeing is not actually that significant?

SARANDOS: Oh, no, bingeing -- well, it depends on how you define bingeing, yes.

STELTER: I guess I mean people who watch the moment it's available right that same weekend.

SARANDOS: And, I mean, you have to imagine -- first of all, you have to narrow it down to number of people who have 13 hours on their hands and don't need to sleep much.

And the thing that we know for sure is that hardly anyone is going to watch one episode and wait until next week and watch one at the exact same time and watch -- wait another week and watch one again.

STELTER: So, regardless of when people are going to watch, they're not going to watch the way the broadcast networks trained them to for Netflix.

SARANDOS: Exactly.

And the more we talked about ratings and compare our shows to television shows, then the more they are going to think about it in that light.

STELTER: What conventions would you most still like to change right now?

SARANDOS: Oh, I mean, the -- it's mostly all different flavors of waiting.

STELTER: Waiting.

SARANDOS: Waiting.

STELTER: For what?

SARANDOS: I think that there's so much built into the -- we're going to string the audience along for several weeks, so that we can sell ads and that we can promote our shows.

And I think that all -- every kind of flavor of that should go out the window, as we have conditioned the universe to expect instant gratification by the Internet. So, I have never heard anybody say that, you know, it would be great if I put in my question in Google and waited a week for the answer to come back.


SARANDOS: I don't think that the sexiness, lure of anticipation is anywhere near as good as the satisfaction of watching it.


STELTER: You can watch much more of my interview with Ted Sarandos on, on demand, of course.

Up here next on RELIABLE SOURCES: an answer to the question that's been on the mind of so many news media watchers. Will Lara Logan being coming back to CBS News?


STELTER: And finally this morning, a couple of media moves you should know about.

Let's go back to the RELIABLE SOURCES archives for this first one. Five weeks ago on the program, I asked this question.


STELTER: Is Lara Logan ever coming back to "60 Minutes"?


STELTER: CBS did not have an answer at the time, but now we know the answer is yes.

This week, the network confirmed that Logan is back at work now, seven months after taking a leave of absence and apologizing for her story about Benghazi that was full of holes.

So, how will Logan and CBS regain the trust that was lost? Well, still no answer to that question.

Also this week, news about a former CBS Newser, Sharyl Attkisson. She resigned in March and accused her bosses of shying away from hard- hitting investigative stories that challenged the Obama administration. You may remember, we talked to her here on RELIABLE in April.

The conservative Heritage Foundation started a news Web site this week. They call it The Daily Signal, and Attkisson is on board. Her title there is senior independent contributor. The Daily Signal says it wants to combine accurate reporting and conservative analysis.

It's part of the proliferation of outlets that combine news and a point of view.

Now, that's all for this televised edition of RELIABLE SOURCES. But we're on demand, of course, on and on the spiffy new CNN app. Check out all of our media coverage on the RELIABLE SOURCES blog.

And grab your remote, set your DVR for next week, because we will be right back here next Sunday at 11:00 Eastern time.