S1: The following program may contain explicit language.
S2: It’s Monday, June twenty ninth. Twenty twenty from slated for the gist. I’m Mike Pesca. And one thing you didn’t think the Taliban was lacking in was motivation, fervor, dedication to craft. But now you would be wrong. Even the Taliban mujahideen rebels driven by 13th century philosophies could use a little economic incentive to continue on their business of Taliban.
S1: Apparently, according to reporting in The New York Times and The Washington Post, the Russians were paying the Taliban to kill Americans. I just can’t quite get my mind around how these conversations might have gone. Hey, Taliban man do want to kill some American soldier? Yeah. Where are the Taliban? That is what we do. Are you sure you don’t want to kill an American soldier? What part of Taliban don’t you understand? Right. You got like three things anyone knows about us. We pine for the caliphate. We hate kites and we try to kill American soldiers. What divide? Make it worth your while. It is already worth my while. Maybe I should be Gallito at this point. Our Taliban fighter just agrees to the cash bonuses. I mean, why not? You know, I guess that wasn’t the most common takeaway from the New York Times reporting duplicated by others that the intelligence community has briefed the Trump administration about Russian agents putting bounties on the heads of American soldiers. But it is an interesting side note, is it not a more than interesting side note? The Trump administration has done nothing really to rebut and sidestep the charge. Chris Christie on ABC this week. His answer consumed entirely off. Well, it can’t be true. Is it The New York Times?
S3: Let’s remember something. The New York Times breathlessly George reported about about Russian collusion. That’s right. I think you’ve got a Pulis are over it. And as it turns out, Bob Mueller then says there was no Russian collusion. He also added. I’m not surprised that you want to believe what’s written in The New York Times.
S1: Lock, stock and barrel and end with the slam dunk.
S3: But I think we’ve seen from the the Mueller investigation and The New York Times, Pulici Prize-Winning reporting how how valid they really are.
S1: And many stories given another day to report this unbelievably serious charge that the president knew about bounties on the heads of service, members of U.S. personnel. Spokesperson Kelly McCann, 80, said the president wasn’t briefed, though she wouldn’t say if it was put in the intelligence reports that don’t formally constitute a briefing. And when asked, OK, you deny he was briefed on it before? What about now? McEneaney said this.
S4: I’m telling you this, that there is no consensus in the intelligence community and that the dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community exist.
S1: But then sensing this was not the slam dunk she needed, McEneaney entered her press conference on this long and winding press critique, which ended with a mike drop.
S4: And I really think that it’s time for The New York Times to step back and ask themselves why they’ve been wrong, so wrong so often. The New York Times falsely claimed Paul Manafort asked for polling data to be passed along to old people like Derek Pascha before having to issue a correction. In June of 2017, The New York Times falsely wrote All 17 intel agencies had agreed on Russian interference hacked before having to issue a correction that it was only four agencies. In twenty seventeen February that year, New York Times published a story claiming Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence, which even James Comey said was almost entirely wrong. New York Times New York Times published a column in March of twenty nineteen by a former Times executive editor that asserted the Trump campaign and Russia had an overarching deal that the quitte of help in the campaign against Hillary for the Kwoh of a new pro Russian foreign policy. That’s what we call the Russia hoax, which was investigated for three years with taxpayer dollars before ultimately getting an exoneration in the Mueller report. It is inexcusable the failed Russia reporting of The New York Times. And I think it’s time that The New York Times and also The Washington Post can back their Pulitzers.
S1: It is, by the way, overarching, not overarching. That’s really the only thing I have to say other than that. Perfect. Glad that’s where we are on the show today. I spiel about the desire for Trump to go. Not soon, not in January, but now. But first, 40 years ago this month, CNN debuted on cable screens throughout America. Wow. The cable screens that took this weird idea concocted by a meglio maniacal millionaire named Ted Turner. Originally, it wasn’t clear that there was enough actual news to warrant 24 hours worth of coverage. I would say there are still often isn’t that clarity of necessity. Yet CNN helped. Make sure that there was enough news. It’s all part of the fascinating and largely forgotten story of the creation of the genre that would come to define and possibly destroy us all up all night. Ted Turner, CNN, and the birth of 24 hour news. Author Lisa Napoli. Up next.
S5: The rapper Chuck D has called rap music the CNN of Black America. The British comedian Ian Stone says that Stand-Up comedy is the CNN of the arts. But what about the CNN of CNN? CNN was started 40 years ago. The story of its inception is told in up all night. Ted Turner, CNN, and the birth of 24 hour news. Its author, the author, Lisa Napoli, a veteran of not only MSNBC, a 24 hour cable news channel, but Marketplace, a 10 minute every day radio program, joins me now. Hello, Lisa. Hey there. Was it harder to work for a 24 hour news channel or a 10 minute a day radio program?
S6: It’s all crazy. It’s all crazy. And I actually worked for the longer marketplace. And I also have worked at NASA, at CNN, too. So I’ve worked. I can’t hold a job. Did you start.
S7: Did you work in terms of receive recompense at CNN?
S6: Yes, I did, as a young person. I was an unpaid intern, but that gave way to a grand job that paid some, you know, paltry salary. When I got out of school, it was just the logical place to head up. Yeah. What year was that? That was 1984 that I moved to Atlanta and I was working for what was then called Headline News. CNN Headline News. It was CNN two for a while, right? Yeah. And I think it had just changed over to CNN Headline News when I when I showed up at that time or from the time of its inception.
S5: Are there any people who were on the air then who are still on the air?
S6: Richard Roth? I don’t even think he was on the air back then. He he worked his way into an on air position. And Jenie most who asked, you know, God is right. She’s the best. She is the best. She she was there, too. But I’m trying to think. I don’t watch CNN, so I can’t really tell you anything about anything modern about CNN. Fortunately, you know, we age out in this business and there are very few people who who would still be allowed to be on the air anywhere after that long. Right. Sadly.
S1: And then plus the fact that when CNN started, Daniel Schorr was already a long in the tooth. Senior correspondent. Just the demographics are going to work against you.
S6: Exactly. Exactly. Yes. So although there are many young people who started their careers there, who went on to great things like Katie Couric wasn’t on the air. And, you know, you know, it happened to her, but she was behind the scenes, so. Yet the younger demographic has excelled and moved on.
S5: All right. So if we tell the story of 24 hour cable news, we could select different starting points. Let’s start with Kathy Fiscus. Who is she? How did she play into this story?
S6: So I started writing this book, looking at CNN. But then I realized, as you always find when you write a history book, that you have to go further back in time. And Kathy Fiscus was the subject of what I believe is the very first television live shot in 1949. She was an unfortunate little girl who fell down a well in her neighborhood in San Marino, California, and sending the flurry of the press corps, such as it was back then to this site in search of the rescue operation. And basically what happened was a local television station decided to cobble together the goods so that they could broadcast this rescue operation live to the very few number of televisions that were in operation in the area at the time. So I just thought that was really interesting to look at where it all began. But back then, it was it wasn’t obviously possible. And they made it happen. And they showed that people were willing to tune in. They they pulled up in front of appliance stores and begged the appliance store salesmen to keep the TV set on all night because they wanted to watch what happened.
S1: Yeah, and the Czech the Czech news media, even with didn’t cover it. And there were headlines blaming those cold Czechs not for caring about the fate of a girl. I don’t know. Six thousand miles away.
S6: Yes. I had a feeling you’d like that, because as long as there have been electronic media, as we used to call them, there have been critics of electronic media and critics of what is covered and what is not and what is news and what is not. And that’s why I really wrote this book. I mean, the fact that I had my first job there 100 hundred years ago is for 40 years ago is not the real point. It’s that we’re always quibbling about what makes news is human interest story, news. And what you think is news is maybe different than what I think is news. And that’s, I think, a fascinating conversation to have today.
S8: Right? Well, that for most of my career. And we knew each other when I was at on the media. And you would come on and do commentaries and probably guest host from time to time. But I think back then, the fulcrum of debate was along that line between triviality and seriousness. And the fulcrum has since absolutely moved to the point where it’s now between truth and lies. Essentially, this means a couple of things. One, it means that Genea most who I revere, you know, maybe she was once seen as just to take her as an example. Not a very important part of the news gathering business. Now, I would say no one really bats an eye at the presence of Genea most, and she probably serves an excellent function in terms of humanizing actual true stories. But the other thing is that in a way, that debate isn’t a wrong debate. It’s not an improper debate. It’s just not the most urgent debate to have now. But you can still debate. You can still debate. If this stuff if Ted Turner’s vision of giving us so much news that they couldn’t even fill up the schedule. We could still talk about if that is no longer going on, because I think when you watch the news, a lot of times you can make the case that most of this stuff actually isn’t newsworthy.
S6: Oh, my God. Most of it’s not news. Yes. If it is just people shouting at each other. Right. It’s just that’s why it is so interesting to me. It isn’t that more modern debate that you’re talking about that is essential and important and obviously dominating the headlines. But, Mike, you can’t tell me that it is an interesting that the people who started CNN 40 years ago, and I know you do think it is interesting. That’s why I was so happy to talk with you. The people who started it 40 years ago did not understand how they were going to fill the time, even though they were hot to trot to start this this 24/7 news channel. And they didn’t start it with a political agenda or any idea what the hell they were going to put on the air. They just knew that there needed to be something other than just that half hour nightly newscast. So we went from 22 minutes of news in the nightly news served up by three white guys at the networks to 24 seven. And what the heck do you put on for 24/7? You have to put on authors like me and commentators and political people shouting. And what’s happened is that that’s devolved and it’s screwed up our political process and screwed up our entire expectation or altered our entire expectation of what news is.
S7: Yeah, it’s it’s literally when you think about it, 50 times the amount of news. And so this is why early on, as you chronicle, you know, Ronald Reagan would give a pretty boring 17 minute speech. And the genius of Bernard Shaw, who was an early anchor and very good at his job, would be to make it sound important. Right?
S6: Right. Well, and what we what we now expect is that if anybody I mean, forget about this president, that’s a whole other conversation. But if any dignitary is anywhere that we will be able to turn on any device near us and watch it and see it immediately, it’s not even a question. Is it interesting? Is it good? Is it going to be newsworthy? What is newsworthy? Oh, somebody’s speaking here. Here he is. But it really I think it’s really important, especially kids today should understand and people who see cable news as a polarized force, which it is, and to look at its roots and to look that it didn’t start that way. It started as a way to give more voice to the voiceless, whatever that meant. Back 40 years ago.
S7: So, so far in this conversation, we have even mentioned the name Ted Turner, which would no doubt appall Ted Turner. This thing was all his vision. There are elements of what CNN was in the beginning and I guess eventually became that are direct reflections of him, for instance, 24 hours. I mean, you could have had cable news and not done anything between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and five a.m. and no one would have cared except Ted Turner was a night owl and he used to watch TV at night and he used to get mad that there was only a test pattern on instead of, you know, some programming. And Ted Turner was also he was also fascinated, I think, by the possibility of technology. And if technology offered a chance to do something, he would not stop and say, well, should we do something? So what else about Ted Turner and Ted Turner? Mindset is directly in the DNA of CNN.
S6: Well, that’s what’s so interesting is there’s very little that was that the ground in the groundwork of CNN from Ted Turner besides his money and his, you know, the sweat equity that got that money. But there’s one main thing that did happen over time, which was he banned the word foreign because he as he started to expand internationally, he realized there is no foreign. You know, if you’re watching CNN and another country, it’s all international news. It’s never foreign news. But what’s so interesting, Mike, is that Ted Turner really didn’t start CNN because he had any grand ambition or vision about the news. In fact, he for years said that he hated the news. Basically, he turned it over to a bunch of journalists who many of whom had not penetrated the network system or were too young to even hope to have penetrated the network system, which was the only place you could work in TV broadcasting at that point. And unless you were working at the local level and those people came up with this. Blueprint for CNN. This whole idea that news would unfold before your very eyes. Not that it would be served up and well packaged segments like Jenie Most does so brilliantly. I find that really interesting and maybe it is reductive and old, but it is a fascinating thing that Ted Turner is now known for. You know, if people even remember who the man is that he was associated with Jane Fonda, Jane Fonda had nothing to do with Ted Turner when he was creating this. It was basically a bizarre accident of timing and opportunity and technology, mostly that inspired him to start CNN. He wanted to play around with new technology.
S7: Some media mavens are driven by the lust for power. Some want to influence a political agenda. I mean, Rupert Murdoch had a lot of the ego maniacal and has a lot of the ego maniacal tendencies that Turner does. But he also definitely wants to influence politics. And so, for instance, he’ll run The New York Post as a loss leader because he thinks it’s influences politics. Ted Turner is not like that. In fact, I guess now he’s seen more on the liberal side of things, but definitely in his personal affairs and maybe even literally in his politics in 1980 when this started. I don’t know that that was true.
S6: It was absolutely not true. He he met his second wife at a Republican Party function, and he really wasn’t. Yeah.
S7: Barry Goldwater. But you say he was just there to meet girls.
S6: Yeah. Exactly. Right. But, you know, even even still, you know, a lot of people wouldn’t even have gone in the first place even if gorgeous women were going to be had it. But but he. He what? That’s what’s so fascinating for me about him. And, you know, my last book was about the making of the McDonald’s fortune and the woman who gave it all away. And Ray Kroc is like Ted Turner didn’t come up with anything great. He just saw something interesting and ran with it and was unafraid to invest in it. You know, Ray Kroc situation was different because Ted Turner had the money and he had access to money. He had better access to money than most people do. It wasn’t like he was new, incredibly rich, but he leveraged the way Murdoch did himself in order to build CNN. And he and he believed in the mission. But it wasn’t that he wanted. You know, I’m sure that many people watch CNN every night and or don’t watch CNN and scream at it and think that it was born with an agenda. It absolutely was not.
S7: So here’s the big question that I that I have. Even after reading your book, which is sometimes great ideas or ideas that become great entities like CNN of extremely important entity, they get there because of it’s just such a good idea. Can’t lose. And sometimes they get there because of execution. OK. You know, you can’t execute a terrible idea was a good enough idea. But the difference between it and its competitors is how well it’s executed. Usually it’s a combination. But I wonder I mean, you emphasize so many of the fits and starts and how much chicken noodle leave the news was in the beginning and all the, you know, sets that almost fell down or hours of programming that almost didn’t begin to happen. And like trying to stage a fake debate with Jack Anderson that absolutely blew up in their face. Daniel Schwartz, pants lighting on fire. I wonder if this was a case where this was something like 90 something percent brilliant, visionary idea and only, you know, a very small percent the actual execution of that idea?
S6: Yeah. What I think is so interesting is the obstacles that he had to overcome to something that we think we take so for granted today as just intractable, indelible force of society. But yes, it was maybe that’s the flaw in writing this book, is that it wasn’t a burning desire.
S7: It was really, as you say, after 40 years, you know, things change. But also where you aim the aircraft carrier, two degrees, maybe in a little while it will have turned 180 degrees or 270. So here’s my question. Other than the technology and the basic premise that Americans will watch nay be fascinated by a 24 hour news channel. Were there. Was there anything in the ethos of CNN, even from the inception that influenced this CNN of today?
S6: Well, I mean, I think the idea that it was the alternative, that it was populated by people who weren’t from the establishment, people who were willing to come to Atlanta at the time was the headquarters. And that was revolutionary. That you’d have a media outlet that would be headquartered outside of New York, that, you know, the TV elite or the media elites in New York. And I think that that has stayed with it in the sense that it’s still I mean, I don’t know, I haven’t dwelled the halls there, so I don’t know how people feel. I think now it’s a prestige to. Be there, whereas when many of us went to work there in the early days, we were kind of, you know, well, we’ve got a job. It’s not ABC or NBC. But we got a job. But they hired women, anchors and women of color. And they had a very prominent as you pointed out before, Bernard Shaw was a black man from ABC. He left the network. Right. You know, he’d risen to a terrific position, especially since the networks were very, very white bread at the time. And he left that job to come to CNN, which, of course, you know, he became a superstar. So he was a real deal. Big J journalist, as we used to call them back in the day and had a wonderful career there. So, yeah, it was an interesting time for hiring because also they used to say the news was the star. So it wasn’t about gorgeousness or, you know, it was really people who had backgrounds in the news. So they were serious about it.
S5: Up All Night is the name of the book. Ted Turner, CNN, and the birth of 24 hour news. A lot of Bill Tush content. If you are a fan of Tush, I would have like more space Flip Spiceland, but I guess it didn’t overlap with the early era. I’m just going 80s hardcore CNN on you right now. Wow, I’m impressed. Lisa Napoli is the author. Thanks so much, Lisa.
S7: Thank you so much.
S1: And now the spiel.
S2: There is a tendency to look at the blunders, failures, lies, cruelty and horrors of the Trump administration and conclude.
S1: My name is Leiter. It all ends now. Well, maybe without the Wyatt Earp part, I get it. He’s bad. He’s the worst. Not Jackson. Vanderpump is the worst or Spike. Seltzer is the worst. Are Goodell is the worst. I mean, I literally think he’s the worst president. Sure. There were some other slave owner presidents, but all of them were slave owners. Enslavers, as we say now, who were elected in a time of legal slavery in many places, accepted slavery in terms of rejection of the norms of acceptable society. Those men did not deviate as much as Trump does every day. They did not appall the conscience of their times like Trump does today. And when we say he’s the worst, we sometimes couch it like worst in a generation, worst in our lifetimes. He’s much worse than that. I heard someone on one of the Sunday shows saying that he has the lowest chances of re-election since George H.W. Bush. Oh, what a bold pronouncement. He’s the worst of the last four presidents, way back to the guy who actually didn’t get elected. Great insight. Take Trump’s joke or his admission that he wanted to slow down testing because the numbers make him look bad. A case could be made, I think, for that remark being the worst thing a president has ever said. What are the other contenders for the worst thing a president has ever said? Some of them are things like notorious statements like lies. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, but all those lies, or at least self-serving if the public were to believe those lies. Maybe you could argue the rest of the president’s agenda would get passed. Not so with the. I tried to slow down texting so it wouldn’t look bad. Other presidential statements, you have total reversals like Woodrow Wilson’s vow to stay out of the Great War until he supported it. I was at least a policy choice. You have Nixon’s racist and anti-Semitic rantings, but they were meant to be secret. You have Reagan’s. We begin bombing in five minutes. That actually was a joke. You have LBJ talking about his nut sack. That was actually one of the greatest things the president has ever said. The best interpretation was that this the best was that Trump was joking about committing an act of malfeasance so as to obscure his failures regarding the hundred thousand plus Americans who have died. That’s the best interpretation. And we’ll forget about this statement by August because he’ll surpass it in awfulness. So I get why there is a temptation to put a stake in the ground and say this must end and ad now.
S6: This and this has now been slow, but it doesn’t end now and it won’t end now.
S1: It can’t end now, calls on who who Trump supporters to turn away. Republicans in the Senate to change their tack. They won’t work. They fall on deaf ears. They’re nonstarters. The other night on MSNBC, Chris Hayes had a segment titled Chris Hayes Calls on Trump to resign. Hayes target his argument to Republicans and had on former Republican governor of New Jersey Christine Todd Whitman, who agreed with Hayes this week, I think has put it into focus.
S8: He is incapable of doing what needs to be done here for the country, and it is a matter of public safety at this point.
S9: That question. I mean, he is incapable. And Chris, don’t forget. Not only is he refusing still to take this as seriously as he should. He is trying to and getting the Republicans. No, I’m saying we’re going to do away with Obamacare entirely.
S1: OK, that first our very first argument from Whitman, why Republicans should turn against him. That’s actually an argument they would hear as, oh, yeah, that’s why we want to stay with him. It underlines the folly of the project of making fair minded Republicans rise up in revolt. Ninety something percent of all elected Republicans still think scrapping Obamacare is a good idea. There is no bill of particulars that can be articulated or emphasized that changes the fundamental dynamic. He’s awful and dangerous, but the forces who could do anything about that before Election Day will not. They can’t be roused to change him. Any new argument is pointless or even farcical. Here’s John Bolton on CNN, laying out why he’s so concerned about a second term.
S10: Once he no longer needs a re-election, once he no longer needs the people to come out and vote him in. There’s really no limit on what he might do in a second term.
S1: OK. You were in the room where it happened, I hear. What’s your informed concern, having been privy to the POCs? That is Trump.
S10: I can give you an example. One of the liberal justices on the Supreme Court may may leave. And and he may be advised by some of his closest advisers that the balance of the court would be a great legacy for him.
S1: Oh, yeah. That’s the big worry that Donald Trump will appoint Zephyr Teachout to the Supreme Court. I wake up sweating over that one. The point is, here’s a new reason to convince you that it’s urgent that we rid ourselves of Trump immediately. Well, the new reason doesn’t go anywhere. Roughly 100 percent of the audience was on board years ago or will never be on board. There’s an election and that is it. There was an impeachment. It failed. Many more people will die of corona virus. That is true. That’s the argument to get us to do something before Election Day. That will compelling convince the likes of Deucy DeSantis and their legions of dunces in denial. Come on, Trump could come out and criticize the G.R. you for paying too high a price to kill service members. They’re terrible negotiators. He could do that. There was literally no amount of insanity that he could say or foolishness that he could follow that will make the urgency of his removal any more urgent. It’s maximally urgent. And anyone who could do anything about it before Election Day is quite sadly, maximally indifferent. So when we say the greatest chance of losing since George H.W. Bush. Here’s some polling from the past. Let’s remind ourselves, couple weeks ago, couple days ago, June 25th, 20 20, New York Times front page Trump trails Joe Biden 50 to 36. Let’s go back to 1992, June. Twenty third front page New York Times. George H.W. Bush leads Bill Clinton 32 to 24. 30 percent said they’d vote for Ross Perot. Trump is, in fact, in far worse shape at this point before an election than any incumbent since LBJ, who by this point in 1968 decided not to run. You have to go back to Herbert Hoover to find anyone as damaged as Trump. And yet Trump still very well could win because these times are extraordinary, because the campaign will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen, because we’re not only forecasting an election, we’re attempting to price in the chance that the election is a fair one. In other words, Trump’s ouster is a 100 percent urgent and very, very unknowable. And there’s nothing to be done about that until we vote November.
S2: And that’s it for Today Show, Margaret Kelly produces the gist she remembers in 1980. Turning to CNN and growing bored and switching to Commander USA is groovy movies. The Night Flight. USA. Daniel Shrader, just producer, is appalled to find out that the Bravo Network at one time really did air, ballet and opera. What a waste. Alicia Montgomery is the executive producer of Park Hassin. Let me try. I can’t come up with a witticism for everyone. Quiney to mentioned in the credits, there are more people who do it than just Margaret and Daniel. So I want to thank Alicia for coming to our meeting today, for being a member of the team. And. All right. She was a sucker for make me laugh, but only when Kepa data cracked wise. The gist, may I remind you of the New York Times article on Friday that misidentified the Jurassic Park actor who played the business man behind the theme park. Here’s Richard Allen Burrow. Not David Attenborough. Also, The New York Times in a picture caption in an article on Saturday about a German league sequestered competition during the pandemic misstated the given name of a player on the NBA, Washington Wizards. He is John Walsh. Not Kevin Wall. Kevin Wall. And finally, an earlier version of a New York Times article misspelled the name of a Brazilian cocktail. It’s a cup, huh? Not a cup of, ya know, till day over the edge. If those Pulitzer’s back, you monsters were desperate. You, Prue. And thanks for listening.