tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC January 11, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
see you tomorrow night right here 6:00 p.m. eastern. if you can't watch live, set your dvr, follow me on twitter @greta, facebook, behind the scenes videos and more. "hardball" with chris matthews starts right now. trump meets the press. this is "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews up in new york. on a very busy, very intense news day. president-elect donald trump held his first news conference today since july, actually. he unambiguously denied unverified allegations which u.s. intelligence had already called disinformation about his dealings with russia. trump called the reports fake and phony. well tonight at the half hour, we're going to present a "hardball" special report on donald trump and the media. there it is. and the strategy we saw today from him in the press conference. while trump was speaking today, his nominee for secretary of
state, rex tillerson, was being grilled by senators over tillerson's own ties to russian president vladimir putin. that's also coming up tonight on "hardball." we begin, however, tonigh with donald trump's meeting the press himself. here's what me s he said reportt russia gathered compromising material about him, which u.s. intelligence agencies, in fact, have marked already -- did in fact mark already as disinformation. not intelligence. >> i saw the information. i read the information outside of that meeting. it's all fake news. it's phony stuff. it didn't happen. and it was gotten by opponents of ours, as you know, because you reported it and so did many of the other people. it was a group of opponents that got together, sick people, and they put that crap together. >> trump also answered questions about russia's hacking after months of rejecting intel suggesting russia orchestrated the attacking. here's what he said today. >> as far as hacking, i think it
was russia, but i think we also got hacked by other countries and other people. >> trump continued to speak hopefully about improving relations with russian leader vladimir putin. >> if putin likes donald trump, i consider that an asset, not a liability. because we have a horrible relationship with russia. he shouldn't be doing it. he won't be doing it. russia will have much greater respect for our country when i'm leading it than when other people have led it. you will see that. >> first, a recap tonight of events on those reports that the russians were in possession of compromising information about donald trump. last thursday, the cia and other intelligence agencies briefed president obama and leaders of congressional intelligence committees on russia's efforts to influence the 2016 election campaign. included in the briefing materials was a two-page attachment cited as disinformation describing material that was being circulated to hurt trump. well last friday, ltsame agencies briefed presidenelect
trump at trump tower in new york but did not give him nor brief him at that time on the two-page memorandum. the agencies had already marked as disinformation. the agencies did, however, submit the attachment, the two-page attachment on the disinformation to trump's office in washington which was fitted to receive classified information. then yesterday, cnn reported that the president-elect had been presented with the embarrassing information describing it as intelligence. well, following the cnn report, the website, buzzfeed, published a 35-page memorandum setting forth all the salacious charges, themselves, that the intelligence officers had pointed to in their briefing materials as disinformation. but again, had not given to trump on that friday briefing either as a document to read on site or in an oral presentation. we should note nbc universal is an investor in buzzfeed. nbc's kristen welker was at trump's press conference today. she joins me now. a strong, i thought confident denial of trump of any of the salacious material, even
intelligence, as he called it, not a bad word for it, crap. >> right off the bat, chris. we didn't know. he was going to address it, but his press secretary, sean spicer, addressed it. called it garbage. then he took the podium, knocked it down. he went a step further and he targeted intelligence officials. he accused them of leaking this information which is something that hasn't been corroborated yet. so, again, opening up this new rift with his intelligence community. important to point out as you said at the top, today was the first day that he acknowledged what the intelligence community told him which is that russia was behind the hacking in the 2012 2016 election. we couldn't pin him down on whether or not he was going to keep the sanctions president obama put in place and couldn't pin him down on what happens next with russia or if he trusts his intelligence community. this is fundamental to national security and you have a lot of people looking at this situation, chris, and they're concerned that it could ultimately impact national security. i asked him that very question. i said are you undermining national security by having this war of words with your intelligence community?
and he sort of dodged that question. but pointed to the fact that he's trying to get to the bottom of -- >> reasonable question, maybe you can answer it, but whoever leaked it didn't leak the fact that material was last disinformation. anybody who put it out was probably trying to hurt trump. now, there's a number of suspects you could say. the eight members of the congress in the senate, leading and ranking members and chairmen of the intelligence communities. eight suspects there. you might go with the democrats perhaps because they don't like trump. you might. you could cite somebody in the white house. the likely suspect trump, unfortunately, went to again and again was u.s. intelligence. why is he focused on u.s. intelligence as his enemies? >> well, i think that first of all the initial findings by these u.s. intelligence officials was that putin was trying to swing the election for him and he felt as though that was in some way casting a cloud over his historic victory. so i think that's -- >> i get it. >> -- part of it but these leaks, chris, they're getting under his skin. it's important to underscore, as you say, it could have been anyone who leaked this information. we're being told there was disinformation about hillary clinton as well.
>> it was a louszsy leak, they didn't get the whole story out. they made it look like this was intelligence when it was, in fact, described by the sbenls x intelligence experts as disinformation which unfortunately got out in the public uncorrectly labeled. anyway, that's what it was. kristen welker, great reporting. president-elect donald trump refuted information reported on media outlets that suggested russia had compromising information about him. let's watch him. when i lead our country, i'm a very high-profile person, wouldn you say? i am extremely careful, i'm surrounded by bodyguards, i'm surrounded by people and i always tell them anywhere, but i always tell them, if i'm leaving this country, be very careful because in your hotel rooms, and no matter where you go, you're going to probably have cameras. you better be careful or you'll be watching yourself on nightly television. does anyone really believe that story? i'm also very much of a
germ-o-phobe, by the way. >> nbc's ken dilanian joins us with the latest on what we know. run through this sequence of events, right? >> you got it right, chris. >> started with a briefing for the members of the intelligence committee and for the president of the united states and the next day, this past friday, where the president apparently, we're told, he was never handed any kind of attachment about his, perhaps, alleged misbehavior by some group pushing this stuff around. nor was he told about it. >> yeah, that's what we understand. he was not orally briefed about it but it was included in material that supported the briefing and this is the compartmented version -- >> given to whom? >> it was given to his transition office. >> okay. >> our understanding. we believe it was also shown to gang of eight, senior leaders in congress, to your point about who may have leaked this beyond the intelligence community. >> why didn't they tell whoever they were leaking it to, cnn, whoever else, why didn't they mention this was under a heading of disinformation? not as intelligence gathered by either u.s. or trusted intelligence agencies like the brits. it wasn't. >> this is an old washington game, isn't it? that story -- >> hurt somebody with an
incomplete leak. incomplete leak. >> it's a shame because there are legitimate questions about trump's connections to russia, alleged ker ed connections, he there aren't any, that members of congress have been investigating. could this be obscured because of this? >> journalists go by what they know and what they can discover and usually with two sources that's credible. is there any reason to believe that this packet of stuff, this so-called dossier, distributed around for obvious political purposes is true? >> at this point, there's to reason to believe that and we're told, actually, by intelligence sources that most of it's been debunked. >> when -- who do you think put it out? do we know who was pushing this story? pushing this 35-page memo around that got to buzzfeed? >> yeah. we confirmed that a former mi-6 british intelligence officer who worked for a private firm was involved and was hired to do this and was talking to russian sources and repeating stories that he heard from russian sources. >> to believe it, you'd have to believe the person who typed this memo up, you'd have to believe the british intelligence
ex-officer and have to believe his russian sources and have to believe the whole thing wasn't cooked up as opo, just negative stuff to hurt somebody. >> salute hi. >> that's a lot to believe. ken dprks ilanian. thank you so much. he'll be back on our show in a half hour about trump and the media. donald trump today also took jabs at the democratic national committee and clinton campaign based on information of the clinton campaign from wikileaks. here he goes. >> the democratic national committee was totally openen to be hacked. they did a very poor job. they could have had hacking defense which we had. we talk about the hacking. hacking's bad. and it shouldn't be done. but look at the things that were hacked. look at what was learned from that hacking that hillary clinton got the questions to the debate and didn't report it. that's a horrible thing. >> joined right now by the managing editor of bloomberg politics, john heilman and the
"washington post," two great reporters. how did trump do today? first time he's met the press in months. >> look at the polling we saw in the last few days, trump's approval rating is falling right now and concerns by americans about the big question, is he presidential? when will he start acting the way they think the president should act? that's not every american but a lot of them. i can't imagine that anything that happened today made any progress for him in that area, that any american who saw this press conference, which was a melee -- >> yeah. >> -- in a lot of ways that a lot of americans walked away saying, oh, yeah, he's starting to make the transition of being more presidential now. >> these are the same people who ld those same pollsters they weren't going to vot for trump. now they're saying, of course, i don't like the way he's behaving. sneaky, sneaky, they go out and like him. >> again, i always have to remind people, of course, hillary clinton won the popular vote and his approval rating is at 35% according to recent polls. >> i'm talking about the state-by-state polls that had him losing. michigan, pennsylvania, ohio.
>> right now he's the president of the entire country. >> i know. >> we've never seen a president-elect -- >> do you trust the people -- >> -- whose honeymoon started -- >> do you still trust polls? >> yeah. >> do you really? >> not all of them, not in every instance. chris, it seems to me you generally do not see presidents-elect swooning in their -- >> that's my judgment and yours but not the general public's yet. we don't know yet. let me go to robert costa. trump i spoenoticed is very goo finding the weakness of the opponent whether he's short or sweats or drinks water during speeches or something he finds about a person and hones in on it. today he hit buzzfeed, tied cnn to buzzfeed. he knew he found somebody that had information out there that shouldn't be going out there and blamed the press for it. your thoughts? >> chris, it wasn't just about his opponents, this news conference, it was about his allies. i watched it from here at the capitol. a lot of republicans this morning were on edge about the story coming out of russia and this intelligence dossier. they wanted to hear -- >> it's not an intelligence
dossier. it did not come out of intelligen community. it was listed, marked clearly, to the pple who leaked it as disinformation. just that. >> correct. i agree. my misstatement. they were also on edge, chris, about the financial questions swirling around the president-elect. could he separate himself from his business? they wanted to hear some answers and they seemed to rally to trump in the hallways here at the capitol later in the day, feeling confident that the president-elect had at least answered questions on those two fronts. >> was that a deflection by him? he's really good at that. do you think in going on the offense, trashing buzzfeed, trashing cnn i think a bit unfairly there, it wasn't fake news, they made a mistake or two there. the question is, is he smart now? because once again we're chasing a rabbit instead of chasing the fact he basically said today, i'm keeping my entire empire in the family. >> it was typical trump, though there was an intriguing question from a breitbart reporting about whether, quote, fake news is a term that was used, needs any kind of reform. it was put on a plate for trump
in the form of a question of whether he should go after the press in terms of policy. trump seemed to resist that question. didn't engage with it in a serious way. in terms of recommending anything. so he hit the press but he didn't go further than hitting it. >> john, he goes to bed tonight, is he happy about today, way he handled it? >> i'm sure he's happy. that's a -- how trump wants his press conference to go. he revels in that kind of environment and i think the things that i see and that many other people see as chaotic, he sees as -- >> not answering your question tonight, is he going to get away with that with the press? >> he's going to try. again, i saw something today, i thought this is what trump press conference in the east room are going to look like. anybody who thinks suddenly there's going to be some transformation, going to stop tweeting -- agai to go bk this question, whether americans will like that or not, i don't know. i don't think it's going to
change. >> presidents don't let you raise your hand anymore. they have a list of names. john heilman, i miss you. please come on again a lot. robert costa, my favorite. thank you, sir. from bucks county, pennsylvania, robert costa and the "washington post." coming up, trump's pick to be secretary of state also faced tough questions today. both democrats and republicans also about his ties to russia. and marco rubio was leading the way grilling tillerson over vladimir putin and the deaths of some of putin's political opponents including some press who died. we'll see. also, plus a dramatic second day of test moimony from turn's pick to be attorney general, john lewis took the stand today to make the case against jeff sessions. is it enough to derail sessions' nomination? coming up at the half hour tonight as i said, a "hardball" special report, trump and the media. the president-elect held his first press conference since winning the election today and a wild, often intense affair. we'll get a deep look at trump's strategy toward the media and the media's role in covering the upcoming, yes, it is, trump
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...what you love. ensure. always be you. on twitter earlier today donald trump lashed out at intelligence agency, accused them of leaking information to take a shot at him. he asked "are we living in nazi germany?" he defended that hyperbole at a press conference today. >> i think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. i think it's a disgrace. and i say that and i say that and that's something that nazi germany would have done and did do. i think it's a disgrace. that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public. >> maybe he's talking about the big lie. anyway, we'll be right back after this. eat more fiber. flax seeds. yogurt. get moving.
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. welcome back to "hardball." donald trump's nominee for secretary of state exxonmobil's rex tillerson today told florida senator marco rubio that he's unwilling to say today whether he would advise trump to repeal president obama's sanctions against russia for interfering in the 2016 election. rubio also pressed tillerson on potential war crimes committed by the russians. >> is vladimir putin a war criminal? >> i would not use that term. >> in aleppo, mr. putin has directed his military to conduct a deaf statie devastating campd schools, markets, not only assisted the syrians in doing it, his military targeted schools and markets and other civilian infrastructure. it resulted in the death of thousands of civilians. he used battlefield weapons against vcivilians. when said and done, an estimated 300,000 civilians were killed. you're still not to say vladimir putin and his military violated the rules of war and conducted
war crimes in aleppo? >> those are very, very serious charges to make. and i would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion. >> mr. tillerson, do you believe that vladimir putin and his cronies are responsible for ordering the murder of countless dissidents, journalists and political opponents? >> i do not have sufficient information to make that claim, but i am not willing to make conclusions on what is only publicly available or been publicly -- >> none of this is classified, mr. tillerson, these people are dead. >> marco rubio said late today he's not sure how he'll vote on tillerson and if he votes against the nominee, he could derail this. joining me right now, a member of the foreign relations committee, senator chris coons, a democrat from delaware. what's rubio up to? i know he sounded like a hardline neocon today. basically taking the hardline hawki hawkish position on the middle east, very, very tough on a fellow republican. is he showboating or actually
going to vote against this nominee? >> chris, i think senator rubio is sincere. there were many senators, republican and democrat, in today's nine-hour-long confirmation hearing for rex tillerson including myself who pressed him hard on his relationship with vladimir putin, his view of russia, whether or not he understands russia's illegal annexation of crimea and its actions against civilians in aleppo to be violations of international order, the rule of law. and in too many cases he simply said, i need more information before i can comment on that. >> how about you, are you going to vote against him? >> i haven't made up my mind yet, chris. i have been reflecting on a number of answers that he gave that were positive, but really different from what president-elect trump has said both in the campaign and recent days. and i've frankly been reflecting on if not mr. tillerson, who else might president-elect trump choose? he conducted a sort of "celebrity apprentice" review process to come up with a nominee for secretary of state and seriously considered rudy
giuliani and john bolt ennen and i tried to imagine how they would have fared intoday's confirmation hearings. >> they would have delivered the goods for the neocons, certainly those gentlemen. why is russia the focus, why is it the exclusive domain of debate? what is it about russia? >> because they carried out a sign cyber attack on our election, threatening our nato allies in europe, undermining our western european allies and engaged in i think also war krcrimes in syri. it's an assertive russia under vladimir putin. >> trump clearly sides with tillerson and against you. he thinks there's a hope for some kind of alliance with putin. what do you think? >> an alliance i think would be overstating it. what mr. tiller said today, i would agree with this point, was that russia is our adversary but there are certain areas where we could be partners. nuclear nonproliferation. fighting against terrorism. working to improve some of our
relations with the rest of the world. i think we're going to face a very difficult menu for president-elect trump. he's got problems from north korea to the south china sea. from global warming to the real challenges containing iran. and i don't think there's going to be a lot of bandwidth for them to focus -- >> last question, we were able to get along with stalin in world war ii, carried the load in fighting the nazis, able to get along with kruschef. should we always be trying to get along with the russians? to some extent? >> of course, chris, it is possible that we could reach some agreement that would make our world more safe and would reduce conflict, but that cannot include turning a blind eye to their annexation of crimea or crimes in syria. >> chris coons on the ton relations committee. joining me right now, richard grinnell, former spokesperson at
the u.n. under george w. bush and adviser now to the trump transition. your reaction to the back and forth, colloquy on the floor, the attack by marco rubio. do you think it's sour grapes by rubio, the guy, the nominee now, or actually the president-elect called little marco, is this personal? >> no, i don't think so. you know, look, senator rubio is extremely passionate about these issues and i think it came through and what we saw from rex tillerson today is swucomeone ws extremely judicious, who is not getting intel briefings and wants more information. i think we should be applauding that. >> do you think he's naive to be saying things like i don't know, i don't know, i don't know, to every question put to him about the questions about war criminalization and that kind of thing? is he -- every single question that's been put to him today, to be able to say i don't know, i don't know, i don't know. he is the nominee for secretary of state. >> right, no, i think that's an overstatement. i mean, he won everyone over on his answer on crimea, he says russia is a threat. i think it was proof today that president-elect trump doesn't
want a rubber stamp as secretary of state. rex tillerson was his own person. he answered the questions honestly, but remember, chris, here, he is not getting intelligence briefings. so he's not getting all the specific information yet. and so what he wants to do is he wants to slow down, get the right information, be thoughtful about this process. i thought his comments about sanctions was extremely helpful. >> okay. >> to politicians who were in washington, d.c., trying to put out sanctions, but to have somebody like rex tillerson who has been on the receiving end to educate about u.s. sanctions versus global sanctions, i thought that was a great exchange. >> great having you on, richard grinnell, thank you so much, you're on the transition team. still ahead on "hardball," our special report tonight, trump and the media, after an oftentimes contentious first press conference, rather intense, i'd say, as president-elect. what's donald trump's strategy with regard to the media? what's coming up at the bottom of the hour? this is "hardball," well, where the action is. they guarantee
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when we return, a "hardball" special, trump and the media. we saw him today in his news conference attack some members of the press. what's his strategy? and what should the media -- how should it respond in we'll get into all of that in our "hardball" special coming up in a minute. you're watching "hardball." s, and you're talking to your doctor about your medication... this is humira. this is humira helping to relieve my pain and protect my joints from further damage. this is humira helping me go further.
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tonight on "hardball," we bring you a special report right now on the stories that broke last night. as well as the president-elect's reaction to those reports today. the idea is to examine the relationship between the press in this country and the people in power who they cover. in his press conference today, president-elect donald trump criticized the website, buzzfeed, and also singled out c cnn. provoked a heated exchange with jim acosta of kcnn who attempte to ask a question. here's what happened. >> i think it's a disgrace that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public. as far as buzzfeed, which is a failing pile of garbage, writing it, i think they're going to suffer the consequences. they already are. and as far as cnn, going out of their way to build it up, it's a disgrace and ai think they ough
to apologize to start with. >> mr. president-elect -- >> go ahead. go ahead. >> since you're attacking our news organization -- >> not you, not you. your organization is terrible. >> you're attacking our news organization. can yoo you give us a chance to ask a -- >> go ahead. she's asking a question. don't be rude. don't be -- no, i'm not going to give you a question. i'm not going to give you a question. you are fake news. >> it should be noted nbc universal is an investor i the website, buzzfeed. we got that on the record. trump also took a moment to praise other outlets that showed more discretion in what they published yesterday. here's trump on that point. >> i want to thank a lot of the news organizations for some of whom have not treated me very well over the years, a couple in particular, and they came out so strongly against that fake news and the fact that it was written about by primarily one group and one television station.
there were some news organizations with all that was just said that were so professional, so incredibly professional, that i've just gone up a notch as to what i think of you. okay? >> nbc's ken dilanian joins us now with the latest on what we know about those reports. i get from trump, it's not anger, it's righteous indignation playing that card pretty well, he's accusing cnn who introduced the notion of this story without giving any of its contents. it was not delivered to him in person as you and i talked about but delivered to his office in a classified manner, appropriate manner. but they were somehow in basketball terms using an alley-oop play, somehow cnn was setting up buzzfeed to do the dirty work. that seems to be what's driving donald trump. or is he simply trying to smear cnn be the behavior of -- >> what is right? accusing cnn or alley-oop play,
buzzfeed wouldn't have done it if you didn't introduce the topic? >> intelligence reporting is hard, chris, and this was highly classified information. the fact that a summary of this dossier was included in a classified compartmented briefing that went to trump, that went to president obama, went to senior members of congress, that was a really hard get. when nbc nice scrambled to confirm that last night, it was difficult for us as well. we knew we had to be careful about it and, you know, cnn did not publish the 35-page list of urrius allegations. buzzfeed did that. so, so -- >> why didn't -- well, if you'd gotten it, i'll ask you as a matter of tradecraft, would you have noted it said at the top disinformation, not intelligence, disinformation, and that the person who gave this stuff to cnn, you don't know whether it's a senator, a congressman, a member of the staff, we don't know who did it, that they didn't note that when they gave this out. they had to have given it out orally or redacted it. i'll give cnn credit, they wouldn't have put this out if it
was identified, tagged, marked, clearly as disinformation. i believe cnn would have listed it that way and reported it that way. whoever gave it to them didn't tell them who it was. >> i think that's a fair assessment, i think they looked at it and said it's significant this is included in a classified intelligence report, why is it being transmitted this way, not some other way? that's the question i still have. >> ken dilanian, you're the pro. joining me right now, hallie jackson, a reporter with nbc news. she's outside trump tower. she was there today. give us your sense about having watched trump now, covered him, it can get very frictional. >> reporter: yeah. >> he seems like he's got the high ground tonight because he caught buzzfeed leaking -- putting out all these stuff that really turns out to be basically disinformation, not intelligence. >> reporter: right. i mean, listen, what happened today, right, the president-ele president-elect's, if you want to call it a performance or showing behind that podium at his news conference is going to go a long way with the people who elected him into office.
the supporters who came out and voted and put him there. they love to see this. donald trump doesn't lose anything, chris, you know this, by going after the media. to sort of show that as president, he is not changing, he's still the same donald trump, he's still going to go after, you know, cnn and buzzfeed and media outlets that he doesn't like. that essentially scores him brownie points with the people who want to see him be combative like that. now, flip side, and i noticed you played some of these sound bites right at the beginning of this segment, chris, at the same time, he complimented the media. you had his incoming press secretary, even vice president-elect pimike pence coming out with tough talk against reporters and sort of hundreds of journalists seated in front of them in the room and donald trump came out and praised some of those members of the media. even during the questioning, right, some questions he dismissed as being, you knows, he didn't say dumb or stupid but that was sort of the implication. others he praised. . he'd been waiting, for example, that whole press conference for a question about the affordable care act, if you listened to
what he had to say and it was this interesting strategy of lifting certain members of the media, putting other members of the media down. again, it's not new, right? we have seen this again and again from donald trump. i expect that come, you know, eight days from now, nine days from now, when we're sitting in that briefing room and donald trump eventually holds his first press conference at the white house, it will be very similar. >> okay. thanks so much, hallie jackson out in front of turump tower. let's bring in our panel, nbc's katy tur. she's been there since day one. gabe sherman, msnbc media analyst, "new york magazine." andrew sullivan, columnist with the "new york magazine" himself. hugh hewitt, msnbc contributor. i have to make this point, starting with you, katy, who's right, who's wrong, in this kerfuffle, this episode? >> donald trump is cherry picking when he wants to praise the media. we have to be very clear about that. for him to come out and say the news media that did not report
this, singling out -- >> the salacious material. >> now we've risen in his esteem because of that and wants to thank us and congratulate us for doing our jobs. >> so you don't want the pat on the head. >> no, i don't. tomorrow there could be a report that nbc comes out with that he does not like. >> okay. >> and he will call it fake news regardless of whether it is scurrilous or regardless of whether it is disinformation. he's picking and choosing. >> gabe, you cover the media and i think the new term, it's an easy one to reach for if you want to trash somebody, fake news. there's a difference. why don't you delineate it? bernstein got a couple stories wrong, bringing down the nixon administration, something about what was actually said at a grand jury, what they thought was going to be said, you know what i mean? >> yeah. >> so mistakes are made even when there's a 9 o%, the 95% probability that you're right. assumptions are sometimes made. cnm made an assessment this was handed to trump. it wasn't done that way. it was given through the office. your thoughts. >> what's so damaging about this whole episode is it allows trump to sort of as katy mentioned,
gives him an opening to score a political point which is the media is somehow biased or out to get him. i think it's especially important in the trump -- incoming trump administration that the media is a fierce crusader for what is true and what we can prove and that is why buzzfeed airing an unverified dossier is so damaging because we don't know if it's true and trump thrives in a culture where we don't really know whathe facts are. he can just sayn the one hand or on the other, and the media needs to say, no, there are things that are true, there are things that are accurate, and these facts will hold donald trump accountable. >> i'd like to have known what the cnn reporter's question was, by the way, we could have talked about what it meant. buzzfeed's editor in chief ben smith was on "meet the press daily." here's how he defended his decision to release those documents. >> i think there was an -- when you would be the gatekeeper for information, you would say to your audience, trust us, we're keeping things from you, we have lots of secrets we're not
telling you, but you should trust us. i think you could say that was a good era or say that was a bad era. that is not the present day. when you have an object that is in play, that is having consequences for the way our elected leaders a erers acting to ask the question of why should i suppress that? there are then good reasons. once it emerges as it did last night in the public conversation that there is this secret document floating around full of dark allegations we will not repeat to you, that i feel like in this era you have to show your readers what that is. >> andrew sullivan, what do you make of that defense of putting out this information, even if this gentleman didn't actually believe it was true? >> i think it's pathetic. it's not what you do when you're a journalist. you verify what's true and what you can really prove. there are some things you don't put out there. i don't agree with julian assange who's now apparently the best friend of donald trump. >> yeah. >> that, in fact, everything should be transparent. that everything should be out there regardless of whether you vetted it or not. we have a job.
our job is to figure out what's true or not and insofar as that is being blurred, insofar as trump is trying to equate fake news wit good journalism that might have made a mistake, he's trying to create a post-truth environment in which he can just bewilder us and disorient us so the truth, itself, is the victim. and truth is essential. the 1st amendment is first for a reason. >> let me go to hugh because it seems to me that even if you deal in opinion journalism which i do as well, you have to deal with a fact-based mentality. you have to say, i'm never going to say something on the air i don't believe is true. at least from my perspective. to put out a barrel of stuff that's marked as disinformation for the public to sort of enjoy, for the enemies of that particular person, trump, to giggle over and try to exploit and generally this is my day, is certainly not journalism. i'm not sure what it is. >> i agree with you on that,
chris, i want to agree with andrew sullivan. i called ben smith this morning, he wouldn't come on my program to discuss it because it really is indefensible. excuse me, i have a little laryngit laryngitis. we've been waiting for months to talk to donald trump about his finances. they finally declared the details about the trump trust that was put together, thee-person, don jr., eric, rizenburg, they have to act in unanimous -- a chief compliance officer, 30 deals that got struck out, how he would not take prosts out of people staying in his hotels, elaborate white paper put together by a bunch of other people. dlfs there was a lot of news to be made today, a lot of serious news. what buzzfeed did was to throw the shiny object out there, make a nefarious allegation of an inappropriate relationship with russia which is mccarthyism for clicks. it was wrong and destroyed an important news media cycle. when we come back, i want to talk about three things trump has done very well and nobody knows it better than katy tur who's sitting with me.
one, he attacks journalists, attacks the messenger. bring the bad news about him, correctly, usually or not, you get nailed by him personally in your face. number two, change the object. hugh talked about the glistening object, the rabbit. he releases a rabbit, we chase it and don't chase the big news, his finances. third, punishment. we saw that today. he was like a mother superior in school saying you kids were good today, i'm going to give you a good star. these other two, they're the bad ones, they're going to go stand in the corner. our special report, trump and the media, will continue after this. this is "hardball." you totaled your brand new car. nobody's hurt, but there will still be pain. it comes when your insurance company says they'll only pay three-quarters of what it takes to replace it. what are you supposed to do? drive three-quarters of a car? now if you had liberty mutual new car replacement™, you'd get your whole car back. i guess they don't want you driving around on three wheels. smart. with liberty mutual new car replacement™,
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so call your doctor to see if myrbetriq may be right for you. visit myrbetriq.com to learn more. we'll get back to our special report in just a minute but today was day two of the confirmation hearings for jeff sessions. donald trump's nominee to be attorney general. and today witnesses on both sides made their cases for or against his confirmation. one of the most poignant came from civil rights icon, hero, i'd say, georgia congressman john lewis. >> it doesn't matter how senator sessions may smile, how friendly he may be, how he may speak to you, but we need someone who is going to stand up, speak up and speak out for the people that need help, for the people that
have been discriminated against and it doesn't matter whether they're black or white, latino, asian american or native american, whether they're straight or gay, muslim, christian, or jews. we all live in the same house. >> well, we'll be right back with our special report, trump and the media. right after this. over their professional lifetime. see? uh, it's a girl. congratulations! two of my girls are toms. i work for ally, finances are my thing. you know, i'm gonna go give birth real quick and then we'll talk, ok? nice baby. let's go. here comes tom #5! nothing, stops us from doing right by our customers. ally. do it right. whoo! look out.
i lost my sight in afghanistan. if you're totally blind, you may also be struggling with non-24. calling 844-844-2424. or visit my24info.com. >> i don't even think this is fake news. i think it's just fake. i would take the "news" word right out of it. >> the buzzfeed memo is total complete garbage. >> i want to bring your attention to a few points on the prort published in buzzfeed last night. it's frankly outrageous and highly irresponsible for a left-wing blog that was openly hostile to the president-elect's campaign to drop highly salacious and flat out false information on the internet just days before he takes the oath of office. >> welcome back. those were some of the president-elect's closest allies condemning buzzfeed, the news organization, for their decision to release that 35-page dossier
of unsubstantiated allegations, probably false, about donald trump. they weren't the only ones. buzzfeed came under harsh criticism by a number of news organizations today. we're back with katy tur, rick stang stengel, hugh hewitt. ben bradley, the great editor of all times at the "washington post" who broke the watergate story with the help of woodward and bernstein once said "to edit is to choose." it seems when you're given a pile of stuff that's salacious and could be career destroying, at least reputation destroying for anybody, including a president-elect, you decide whether it's true or not. you don't act in reckless disregard. >> yes, i wouldt -- reckless disregard. we'll get to that in a second. i woul not he published it. it wasn't a news story, it was something included in an intelligence briefing. i'd like to know why that is. >> but it wasn't included as
intelligence, it was included as an addendum described in the papers as disinformation. >> which is another reason not to publish it. if it had been something like the pentagon papers, you do that. what concerns me more is what some of the panelists have said already. the president-elect has talked about narrowing libel laws in this country. it's very hard under the first amendment to libel a public figure. it's almost impossible to libel a president. the reason that speech is protected is because we have to speak truth to power. >> is this truth? >> this is not necessarily but this will go into what he might do to the press during the course of his presidency, which is worrying. >> let me start with katy about the tactics he used. you've been sympathetic with his situation today but let's go with the larger questions. personal attacks against yourself and other journalists who cover him day to day, he engaged in sleight of hand where he takes a glistening object and shifts away from what is the fundamental question from today which is is he going to
disentangle himself from trump enterprises and he punishes people, openly today punish ago cnn reporter like a nun in schools "you're not going to ask a question." meanwhile patting on the heads of reporters he likes today or says he likes so he's engaging in all his tactics today. >> tactics makes it seem like there's a strategy at hand. i think this is just inherently donald trump. he has got a thin skin and he's out for revenge when he wants to get it. he calls himself a counterpuncher and this is what we're seeing. by going after reporters, but by going after reporters personally, calling them names, calling organizations names, by lifting one up as he tears another down, what he does is creates an alternate universe where he can say this is where the truth is. this is my truth and this is the only truth that matters and that is what he was able to do today and what he did so successfully during the campaign. he was able to paint the media
as this elite target, this elise force that was not out there for anybody but themselves and their own special interests and not out for the american public and by undercutting us, he took away all of the ability to hold him up to facts, to hold him accountable for what he said because he made us people who were never telling the truth. >> unintentionally, gabe, he didn't make us a pac. he's basically saying there are good people and bad people. he didn't accuse the press, going back to joe mccarthy was mentioned by hugh, he didn't go to the jackal pack, what do you make of his tactics generally? >> today especially was fascinating because it was a divide-and-conquer strategy. i was at the press conference this morning and by singling out zzfe and cnn he tried to play to the other members of the press corps and it was effective and i thought by donald trump standards he was calm, confident, jocular, mixing it up with reporters and fundamentally he did not answer the substantive questions about his finances and conflicts of
interest. so from trump's standpoint it was a total victory. >> let me start with the other people, everybody is getting short. it's a busy night tonight. hugh hewitt, andrew sullivan, did trump win in this battle between him and the press and how he wants to look? >> only in this regard did he lose -- he wanted to talk about his finances today, chris, because there was this elaborate establishment of a new trust for the trump organization. i've been waiting weeks to see it. it has a lot of detail. it makes sense to me, he met the bar but there are some critics like laurence tribe at harvard who say he did not. the emoluments clause, it was a good day of news for him and buzzfeed did a did service to the media today. >> andrew. >> we do not know if he has any financial connections with russia and today he said he would never release his tax returns treating the media and free press with contempt. we still don't know if his campaign had any contact with russian officials. those are the two most important questions by divide and conquer
and by throwing up a bunch of distractions and by ruling all immediamedia fake news. that's the authoritarian, that's the tyrannical impulse that propel this is man who doesn't understand what a liberal democracy is all about. >> well said, thank you. we'll be right back after this. in a world that needs a hero, justice is spelled b-o-x. say hello to a powerful tool that gives you options to fit your budget. ♪ oh, i'm tied to this chair!
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struggle between the president and the press. >> i think you're right. that's it for our special report tonight, trump and the media. gabe sherman, andrew sullivan, hugh hewitt and rick stengel. tomorrow, former cia director leon panetta will join us. "all in" with chris hayes starts now. tonight on "all in" -- >> don't be rude, you are fake news. >> donald trump finally meets the perez. >> well, i'm not showing the tax returns, they're under audit. >> announcing a conflict of interest plan full of props and catch phrases and essentially signifying nothing. >> they do a bad job i'll say "you're fired." >> tonight, the single-most important development from the trump newser. and the guests who say it could lead to a constitutional crisis. plus, the president-elect's feud with his own intelligence agencies escalates. >> that's something nazi germany would have done and did do. >> reporter: the