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tv   After Words  CSPAN  November 24, 2014 12:00am-1:01am EST

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write it open it is the possibility of people responding it's the letters to friends and identify those that might read the work even if across centuries they enjoyed the conversation. and for me, writing this book i can't think of a more important conversation to be having. it's too strange to be processed alone. and so i want to thank everyone that picked up the book and read it and decided to join the conversation. i want to thank the judges national book foundation, peter who has been an advocate for the
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hunt for faculty and kicked my ass when it deserved kicking and to the mentor since before they joined the corps and to the marines i served with in the community of the veterans writers who are essential to the end of the non- veteran writers that were equally essential pointing out the blind spots that i do know did as though i had and to my wife jessica who offered a tremendous love and support and the rest of the crew that told the folks at penguin especially to one of my earliest supporters the earliest supporters in the publishing world and to my family, to my grandfather and my grandparents
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and all of you here tonight thank you so much. [applause] >> redeployment, that's amazing. thank you for your service in the country and you're welcome to the national book award. [laughter] congratulations in fact to all of the winners and to all of the judges and i would just say to the finalists and anyone else out there associated with any book here that doesn't take home a prize i know it is difficult not to think of yourself at least somewhat as losers think outside of the literary world all of us are considered losers. [laughter]
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i have determined this time this evening and i would like to thank the national book award for inviting me. in fact i'm feeling so happy i would like to buy all of you a drink on the balcony. okay. they can buy you a drink but i will get the next. the official after party is upstairs and the unofficial party is me and gerald brooks with a bottle of wild turkey. thank you everybody. ♪ i've been told the winners should go over there. the winners should go over there ♪
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next on booktv afterwards with guest host "washington post" national reporter nia henderson. this week stonewalled by fight for truth against the forces of obstruction, intimidation and harassment in obama washington. and if the in it the former cbs news investigative reporter presents her account of the opposition that she says she encountered while trying to report on the administration's at least policies. the program is about one hour. >> host: welcome. so great to have you here today and tell us about your book stonewalled. the title is my fight for truth against the forces of obstruction, intimidation and paragraphs meant in obama's washington. why did he want to write this book lacks >> guest: some people approached me with it and it's something i'd been thinking about the state of journalism
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and the things happening in the industry. some of it because of my experience at cbs to decide that not all specific to cbs. i attended investigative reporting conferences and notes with other investigative reporters, friends, local news reporters and it seemed as though there were some common themes that signaled trouble as far as i was concerned and i thought that it would be interesting if not insightful. >> what is the trouble? you talk about the journalists themselves maybe not wanting to deal with the stress again on the corporations and government. >> guest: there is a great deal on the part of the producers to turn up great investigative stories. that's what we do. but i notice in the past couple of years other reporters have observed may be less of a desire on the part of the gatekeepers and managers to take on those
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tough issues whether they precede them to be political issues were even topics that go after certain special interests that are protected for one reason or another or corporate interest in some cases. so all of that i argue in the book is resulted in what they see as the narrowing slice of what they want to put on the news at night and then you have peace newscasts on a given night with much the same not only because they are ten stories going on in the whole planet on any given night, but i argue that that the similar decision-making processes are used at each of the networks to decide what should be in the news and may be importantly what doesn't get on the news. >> i imagine the decision-making process that the executive is making has to do with the viewer, right and how do they play into that, what they'd rather see a story you talked about for instance how they bumped it for a different story.
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and i think you said they used the word weather porn. is that the network for executive? >> guest: it's certainly the type of story i was doing for most of the 20 years i was encouraged such as the government watchdog reporting has proven to be by long-standing polls the only thing the public likes about the news media that is one thing they see as contributing something of the value. so the idea that they didn't seem to want the the stories at least not for the last couple of years signaled to me and my producer there was something other than just viewer interest at play. also when i discussed in the book that there were some of these hot button issues we were investigating at first certain network managers liked the stories and the delights which would go off and they wouldn't want them they were widely popular among the viewers.
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they were told they would dominate the website and attract all kind of traffic. so i do not think that the decisions were made exclusively or holy in regards to what they wanted to see. there were other factors at play >> host: is there a difference between what you have seen on the point outlets approaching the investigative reports? >> guest: there are similarities but again i've compared notes with some of my colleagues at the investigative report conferences and my acquaintances and friends and they describe similar pressures and trends. so i've concluded that there is something happening in the industry by think most reporters will tell you these stories are harder fought to get on television and many of them don't read one line that i used
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in the book as people think that a lot of effort goes into putting great stories on television and they would be surprised to know how much effort goes into keeping some of them off. that is the story that i am trying to tell. >> host: that is a special breed of journalists that want to do this kind of work. >> guest: i think it begins as everybody doing the beach report i always had as many reporters do that extra step of curiosity a always have another question or two and people in the thread you've often find a more interesting story and wanted other one that other people do not have, so i was never really assigned to be an investigative reporter it was just an outgrowth of the reporting that i did i think i fell into it. >> host: and this book is largely about what you have done under obama's tenure with the
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controversy under the over the bush administration and clinton as well. >> guest: and i contrast the reception that the story got and even the republican targeted stories got as recently as last year i want it investigated wanted investigated in the reward for doing a story of the fundraising into hypocrisy and the promise that they wouldn't operate and yet we caught them down in key largo with the big-money donors and undercover cameras. those stories when i do them are well received. no one calls me a liberal mouthpiece when i do those stories or accuses me of being a tool of nancy pelosi or whoever i would be a tool of that i noticed that when in the same breath i do a story that is in precinct after the other side or leads to the obama administration all the forces come out to claim that i am therefore a conservative and all of a sudden i've got these ideological things going on, and
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i think that to me reveals the bias of those making the judgment and there is a record that shows that covers both political parties and often no political party at all but the idea that they have to put a label would dig deeply says something about how they feel inside. >> host: and your angling and you've certainly been embraced by conservatives but you've also -- this book has done very well. it's on "the new york times" best seller list, congratulations on that. what is it like now to be sort of the conservative star if you will. >> guest: if it helps people put a label on me it doesn't bother me. it doesn't bother me that it's
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true people if that's what they want to do it doesn't matter to me so i don't mind at all. i've point out that i've been on cnn, msnbc and only they ask in my looking for a job at fox. nobody asks whether i deny being a conservative within are you looking for a job on msnbc and again i think that reveals the bias of people asking the question they assume if you do reporting in this administration you have to be a conservative because who would do such a thing. >> host: you think that there is a liberal leaning strain among the folks that are reporters. what do you think that has been for the coverage over the last six years? >> guest: i wouldn't argue the point that exists but over the
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course of my 20 years i didn't have a big problem with that. i had bosses i knew to be liberal leaning and conservative leaning but agreed to bosses that were able to keep their personal life opinion out of their story judgment which is what we have had to do and most did that quite well. i think the problem is when you have a few gatekeepers and we had about for a couple of years at cbs news. they can't keep their ideologies out of the decision and they if they can get the whole look of the newscast even when the ground-level reporters are trying very hard to put the stories on television that are fair. >> host: it is sort of rooting for the establishment or the corporate interest. >> guest: i think so. all i can tell you is i detected less of a desire than i have ever seen to after the powers
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that be because when we sensed they didn't want certain stories going after certain political interests we offered to stories that had nothing to do with politics and investigations that have to do with taxpayer issues, charities that were accused of wrongdoing, consumer fraud stories, business fraud stories at the end they didn't want any of them from us so we felt like we were at a loggerhead with the broadcast longer had the broadcast that didn't take almost anything that we offered unless it was a controversy that was kind of being covered by everybody else. you probably know what i'm talking about. the e-mails say can you match it and the huffington post says this. i can't tell you how many times, not that those are not a very legitimate reports to look at. but every good reporter that i look at and there are many want to do their own reporting and the reason they are hired as
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they have their own sources and expertise and they can turn up the story is as good as the ones in "the new york times" if not a better but they are telling them copy the paper and we hate that. we all hate that. >> host: and you've are being paid to uncover things that are not being reported elsewhere. ..
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hopefully there will be a change when bush comes in and things will be better and more transparent. and bush came in and i don't think things are more transparent. in fact probably a little worse. so obama comes in and we say, he promised things would be better. he put out an edict that said freedom of information requests are supposed to be appeared erring on the side of giving information. there was a great hope for maybe the ability to have more tools to do our jobs better, and then to find, i think that's general agreement because reporters said 0 so from the "new york times --"
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>> so, that's the foundation for what i'm about to say, but i would just tell you there was the pushback which has always existed. every administration has its own form of trying to stop negative stories, of course. particularly aggressive and perhaps aggressively directed at me, and i know other reporters who do this reporting because i've spoken to them. it was a daily thing. believe they must have meetings because of the way, probably twice a day meetings, contacts made by people at the white house which surprised people in the public. they'll e-mail me, e-mail my boss, e-mail colleagues, they will call my boss, they will get their surrogates involved, such as media matters on the web to prison their talking opinions do social media campaigns. before you know it there's a movement trying to controversialize any story they don't like, the reporters who are covering it, the whistle blowers telling the truth from inside the government. even if they were once loyal obama administration employees
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they're now discredit and it's a very aggressive campaign that i think more so than whan i experienced under the other two administrations. >> as you laid out, clinton came in promising a certain amount of transparency, bush did, too, obama, and the fact there isn't obviously sets up a sort of pattern for whoever comes nebraska. >> guest: i think, and i heard other reporters say the same thing. we're all in the same mindset. be interested to hear what you think. eave administration is going to be tighter than the last. the federal bureaucracy and politics who are whatever reason seek to get more powerful to covet information, they somehow think they open the public's information and forget that's our information and act like you're asking to see some sort of corporate proprietary secrets, and i think it's our job as the press to provide the tension that doesn't let that get out of balance. we're supposed to say, no, that is our information. that belongs to the public. here's our freedom of
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information request. here's awe lawsuit bus you didn't answer it. you don't get to choose which reporters cover your stories, which they do. and i dope think we provided as good a balance we should have and the more we give us as the press, the harder it is for us to get those rights back. those are hard-fought, and once lost, i don't know how you go back and -- no matter who is in charge next. >> host: is the public on our side in terms of -- like you said there have been letters that we submitted in 2013, complaints about photo sprays and when the white house has events in the oval office and don't let reporters in or just release still photos. is it too in the weeds for the average joe to have sympathy with reporters who don't hold in very high regard? >> guest: i think a lot of
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people pay no attention but i do think people car. people consider themselves apolitical or obama supporters, they overall do believe the press has role to play in providing that natural tension with government or whoever the powers that be are, that we're supposed to question authority and instead the dynamic i argue has been turned into question those who question authority. in other words, if a reporter reports something you don't like, discredit the reporter. if a who iser blower blows a whistle in the government, discredit the whistleblower and all the attention and skepticism is turned on the wrong side and that's a well-orb straighted effort that has been somewhat successful. >> host: in this book you lay out a number of controversies and incidents that you covered the first being "fast & furious." self times in the book when you talk about this, a., you make the argument that perhaps reporters didn't want to engage as much because of whatever reasons or in the network
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didn't. talk about how you came to the "fast & furious" scandal, what it was and what the reaction was from the white house and from cbs. >> guest: "fast & furious" came as a tip, an anonymous letter sent to my producer, a copy of a letter, actually, that senator grassley, who deals with whistle blowers-sent to the department of justice, asking whether that's crazy sounding program whereby federal agents were facilitate delivery of assault weapons into the hands of mexican drug cartels. grassley was asking if this was true and i could tell from the tone of his letter, he had whistleblowers telling him this. i piqued ours interest. grassley wouldn't return my calls so i was stuck with a letter and no context. but my producer and i began finding sources and contacts. one thing led to another. we were able to talk to enough people that we believed this to be true.
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we hat excellent source. the first story had nobody on camera by name making the allegations but we had plenty of reliable offcamera sources. after the first story, which is in quite an important story and the evening news producer at the time, executive producer, led the show with it, which is unusual, and let it go what is a really long time in television news, something like five minute. he said write the store the way it needs to be made. >> host: usually you have two and a half minutes. >> guest: that cooperate be done that way. after the story, it was an incredible reaction, a pushback from the administration saying all these people were liars, which we now know they were telling at the truth and my report was wrong but we know it's correct. i knew my sources were good. they were internal memos somebody leaked to me with government officials from atf e-mailing eye public relations
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government officials in atf saying thank goodness nobody else is picking up the story and let's bring out positive press to drown out the story, which told me we're on to something. so we were on a roll. i finally got a very brave sitting atf federal agent, john doddson to blow the whistle on camera by name, so became undeniable after that. but after a couple of weeks, when it looked like the story -- i never thought it was the story that would lead to the attorney general of the white house. seemed like a phoenix, arizona, gun story of some kind. as it looked as though it was going higher, and as the allegations that the department of justice had cleared wire tapps in the case and knew about and it perhaps it was white house knowledge, interest in the story at cbs stopped, at least among the key people that decide what to put on television. now, the story kept going, and we kept digging up a lot of information. long before the story -- it had
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way more to be uncovered but the interest fell off and that was a pattern i describe in a number of stories whereby initially the stories were very welcomed, and applauded internally, and then, as i say, the light switch goes off. >> host: is the light switch- -- in your systems does it have to 0 do with -- so it's just an investigative report of some point hat "fast & furious" and then at some point it becomes -- you have darryl issa bringing the attorney general behalf congress and there are hearings, and at some point he is held in contempt. is that part of the reason or what is your sense? >> guest: i would argue it didn't become partisan because the attorney general is called into a hearing. how would you not call the attorney general in for a hearing. the doesn't answer a subpoena, how do you not consider contempt? >> host: is it -- >> guest: not only is it seen as
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partisan, it is spun as partisan. this is a deliberate campaign -- not that it wouldn't be seem to some degree they way anyway -- but a deliberate campaign in my opinion to spin these stories in a negative way that the reporters controversialize, darryl isis cyclize, the story companyized. the whistleblower is controversialized. the affects of the story are so damaging. they acknowledge they were walking guns and gave false information to congress. the president stepped in with executive privilege to withhold documents. why if this is a story that wasn't important. the story had its merit but was successfully controversial yaized, including nbc cbs but managers who sometimes had ideological issue they couldn't deal with properly on their own, in my opinion, or had other reasons they wanted to avoid the story. i can tell, having been in the business for 30 years, my produce ander and now when
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something is up. the trajectory of a story like that, you could not follow its natural trajectory. >> host: at some point, you talk about in the book, katie couric e-mails you and ask you whether you have an interview with eric holder, she is friends with eric holder and his wife and that doesn't happen, but after that, it sort of disappeared. >> guest: that's when i noticed. very excited about the story. they had cleared two additional stories i had already conducted some exclusive important interviews for, yes, katie contacted me and asked, had i asked holder for an interview itch said,ey, he wasn't going to do one. she asked, can she ask? i said, terrific, me a he'll do an interview with her but she didn't do the interview, and after that week, the stories that were already planned, one was cut entirely and the one they did air was cut done,
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drastically, and that's when the appetite was over. >> host: at some point their stories in the times, i think, that they're suggesting that holder was exonerated, you point out. >> guest: it took long time but the inspector general investigated. this is another what i see as a tactic. i'm always watching for these things maybe more 0 than others. not about, can you prove the president of the united states knew it. or eric holder personally knew everything, and otherwise it's not a story. that's kind of how the press treated it. we have to prove the president signed a confession or eric holder -- or it's not a story. no. the people who perpetuated this and were found guilty by the inspect or general's office, something like a dozen employees of mismanagement, improper behavior, were operating under the obama administration, on behalf of eric holder, under the president of the united states. it's still important whether eric holder read his briefings on it or not. he denied, even though he was sent direct briefings on "fast &
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furious" by more than one of his top aides, i didn't read the briefings, don't remember reading the briefings. let's accept that at face value he didn't properly oversee agents that were running a cross-border, international gun-running organization, for over a year. he just didn't notice or know about it. that's fine. but still, think it's a huge story and i think some of the press bought into the idea you have to prove a certain level of involvement by a certain official or else it's a knopp story. >> host: and there was the sort of framing of "fast & furious" by folks in the liberal press that, oh, well, started under bush. that was something you heard. >> guest: well, and there's some truth to the idea that -- i was first to report this -- i learned fairly quickly on after "fast & furious" that an earlier operation called wow pied receiver" had been tried under bush and abandoned because it was so cycle. the bush administration, just
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department, u.s. attorney's office, according to my sources, saw this as potentially perilous because the guns had been walked, didn't want to bring the cases to trial. >> host: much smaller. >> guest: smaller operation but same idea and one of the same fires under bush and obama when this happened, the programs happened under two different administrations. then when president obama came into office, they were apparently looking for gun cases to bring and they picked that one up and started to reprosecute it, and the process learned that the guns had been walked in this inappropriate fashion and discussed it. so even as the justice department wag tilling congress it never happened under any administration there were internal memos showed they were talking about gun walking and how the public will understand this if it comes to light there was an element of that in the bush administration, which i reported. i think what was interesting about that is i had a manager who was on my side, thought "fast & furious" really should be getting more attention, and he advised me, you know,
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whenever you try to pitch these stories, mention the bush connection every time, and maybe they'll run more of these stories. that was the mentality. we knew that the people that were keeping it off the air would be happier and more anxious to go after the bush angle than they would be the obama a angle. >> host: and another of your reports looked at green energy. we know that as part of the stimulus package that obama passed, a lot of money went to green energy and plans to retrofit buildings and give money to these green energy companies that made sew already panels or battery operated cars, and it became part of the 2012 campaign, i remember, with romney pointing to a particular businesses that went belly up, solyndra was one. got 535 million in loan guarantees and went bankrupt. talk to me about this story. this investment, in these green
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energy companies and what you found out. >> guest: i didn't cover solyndra. i tend to, when there's a big story and looks like it's pretty well covered, i'm not worrying about that but if i fine an angle i think has not been widely covered or if the network brings in i start digging. green energy, other examples that seemed to be wasteful spending in which we should have known in advance or did know in advance, it was proven, that the money was probably going to go down the tubes and there was potential conflicts of interest and so on and it was $90 billion in the stimulus. and more money had been given under bush prior to that, which i looked a little bit at that as well. a lot of money had gone into the green energy initiatives. i didn't see any of these stories as for or against green energy. had nothing to do with that. everybody -- everybody wants green energy to work. not a question. i saw this as a taxpayer funding
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issue, and i had kind of specialized in doing those stories for many years. people appreciate and like the stories especially when the government is low on money and you can point to these areas of waste. so i started digging around into reports of these companies that got a lot of tax dollar and was shocked what they showed what had not yet been widely reported. if you look what the companies report to the federal government when they're required to tell the truth, it's completely different than the press releases issued by them and the government. i went down that road and started reporting on green energy issues. there was so much to report and be uncovered on many different levels, and the first story i did was again very well-received by the ceo of cbs news and everybody all the way down thought it was terrific. we want as many of those stories as you can do, and i had many more that were in the lineup to investigate. and that was it. there was incredible pushback from the white house. they were horribly sensitive
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about it. oversensitive about it. >> host: let's remember. this was a time when obama was touring some of these factories, battery operated cars and trying to tout the success of the stimulus package and this investment in these cars and solar panels that were going change the economy and change our dependence on fuel and things like that. >> guest: that's right. and i argue, so i play something in the book called substitution game. i argue, and die believe this, if you had had bush and cheny instead of obama and biden attending these groundbreaking ceremonies for big corporate people who got a lot of tax money and some cases made political donations to them, that then later were to be found fairly quickly to be both belly up by the thousand of millions of dollars after getting taxpayer funding, they can you would have seen all over the news the clips of bush saying, this factory is going to be full of a thousand workers making cars, and then you'd see the
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empty factory and show the contrast. fair enough. but nobody was doing that with these really stark and obvious examples that happened in the obama administration. so i was digging into that because i thought it was a great story. but i detail a lot of it in the book. it dried if fast, after loving the story, there was no more. >> host: this question of, what do you have against green energy comes up. >> guest: right. we suspected -- my producer and i and a few others trying to help get these stories on television, would think, what is it they don't like about the story? they would never say we don't like the story -- your store is conservative. we don't like you. they would just say there's no time. that's not interesting. these other nebulous things. so we would try to think what they don't like we concluded, and i think it was proven rightfully so, that one hoff the main gatekeepers the executive producer at the time just thought the public would be soured on green energy if they're authority their money was being waisted and that
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seemed to be confirmed by a manager who overheard a conversation in new york, when one manager was trying to get pat -- how it was told to me -- the executive producer to run some of the stories i was sending notices around about because they were incredible story. the answer from pat was, what's the matter, don't you support green energy? and that said it all to me. they just -- she couldn't get outside of her head and understand these were not storied about green energy and you have to trust the public to make -- or allow the public to make up their own mind. you don't censor a story or topic because they might draw the wrong conclusion about something you care about. >> host: you mentioned with the gun-running stories where you would try, i put push in there, then maybe that makes it mow palatable to folks at the network. did you figure that out with green energy. >> guest: when the person advised met to do that with "fast & furious" i refused.
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i have mentioned it sinks then, done a whole piece and will mention it again but i'm not going town naturally work it into a story -- >> host: you felt like. >> guest: when appropriate,eyment i'm not goes to contrive a story. with green energy i can't think of a way they would have accepted. in fact one over -- of the stories turn down would have been perfect. a producer found the story and i won't tell the story but unions -- this is a story some democrats were would -- were upset because money had gone from the stimulus to support companies that were actually owned by koreans who had brought in korean workers and i believe it was michigan instead of hiring locals for the jobs that locals say this is supposed to be helping stimulate our economy. so the local unions objected, wrote a letter to their democratic congress people and the president and were worried about this '. we got undercover video of the korean nationals working in the factories. we had i thought ha terrific story.
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they didn't want that but i thought that was good from the sense of it's not a democrat versus republican story that can't call it a conservative story. it's actually some democrats raising issues with other democrats, and i have stories of republicans doing the same things. sometimes they're the best story but they didn't want that story either. >> host: you're no longer at cbs. what is their reaction? officially seems to be no comment. >> guest: all i have hear -- other reporters told me they're quietly just saying disparaging things about me but i kind of expected that. don't think everybody is doing that. a few key people are. i got quite a bit of support from people who know what i say is drew some of them are quote fed in the book, and i got a really nice e-mail this week from somebody i didn't know very well, who said he thought it was good something positive was coming from the ugliness, as he called it. so impleased with the reaction. i thought it would be a bumpier ride.
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>> host: another thing you cover in the book is benghazi in this incident where two americans are killed, one of whom is an ambassador, ambassador stephens, on september 11, 2012. right in the middle of a presidential campaign, becomes a topic of debates and really fights in some ways over wording, terrorism and terror, whether or not obama called it terrorism. talk to me about benghazi, your experienced there, and also the world at cbs -- the role that cbs seemed to play in having this administration about something obama said and not going with it. >> guest: four americans were killed and again that wasn't a story that i dove in on myself but about three weeks in, cbs asked me to start digging around because they sensed something more was there we needed to look at. a lot of reporters were covering it so as a team we started digging, and our producer and i got a lot of important, i think,
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advances and guests on the story. it was clear almost immediately that the administration was hiding information because thaw wouldn't answer simple questions like when did the event end, they weren't saying there were two. >> host: what caused it -- >> guest: what about the security. so many unanswered questions, and then initially like the other stories as i described, cbs was very resecondtive and very pleased with several weeks of stories we did that were digging deeply and starting to felt at the heart of -- get something answers to questions that every step i think it made the administration's response look worse. so as we were doing i think a better and better josh in getting more sours, again -- not republicans. i was using democratic sources in the administration, documents from the obama administration. it wasn't a phony republican scandal. these were in some cases life-long democrats giving information because they thought something had gone drastically wrong. again the light switch went off.
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as this got to be more and more sensitive and as the election got closer and the pushback became stronger, a republican phony scandal and conservative reporting, they really didn't want more of those stories at some point, even though i thought much more had to be done on that story. so i published a lot on the web. i didn't stop investigating. my producer and i published a lot of on the web and kept going. >> host: is the idea here that there's this presidential election going on, we don't want to put our thumb on the scale in any way? >> guest: you mean cbs? >> host: right. >> guest: i don't know what conversations they had. they never said anything like that to me. they just said they thought the story had been so well-covered, what else was there left to say? they never said things like that. maybe they had discussions among themes like that, maybe they told themselves that. orbited, they took other action is would argue that did put their thumb on the scale and you referred to one of them. we had unbeknownst to me at the time when i was covering
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benghazi, we had a clip inside cbs from our "60 minutes" correspondent steve croft who convocated an interview next day, september 13th, or september 12th, with president obama, in the rose garden, and we never aired the clip but a it became very relevant several weeks later in the clip, steve croft said to the president, something like, mr. president, today you avoided using the word terrorism or terrorist act temp the president says, right. steve says, why is that? the president says something about it's too early to tell. put aside the fact that already we now know in documents they did tell the libyans that terrorism was responsible so the president is giving a different story. at the time it wasn't a question of what wording what used. that was raised later and you may remember in the debate with romney and romney said at the president you didn't call this a terrorist attack, implying there was a coverup and the president
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said, yes, i did, and check the tape. >> host: the rose gadden ceremony and candy crowley says the president is right. >> guest: we had a tape that would have proved romney correct and the president by his own admission wrong because he said he did avoid using the term. we sat on that clip up didn't know it existed until several weeks later when somebody leaked it out and talked about it right before the election. what is worse, not only do we not reveal that clip, i and another correspondent at different times in covering benghazi were directed be the new york managers to use a different part of the interview were provide evidence with the context we we are told to use that gave the opposite improgress that the president actually said the opposite of what we now know he said. i thought we had been a party to directing a anywhere enough a specific direction, intentionally giving the impression that something had happened that had not happened at all, and sat on a clip that
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was directly relevant to the news, again, shooting our own selfs in the foot because that's something we could have generally given value added to the viewer, something we had exclusively and we didn't use. >> host: in those moments when you've see this going on, again, cbs has not commented on the book or what you've say -- but in those moments, what do you do? are you nervous about being a troublemaker? what is your interaction with your bosses? >> guest: it's never a comfortable place to be but clearly i'm not too worried about being labeled a troublemaker because i continue doing these things. but i wasn't alone. when we found oust what the clip said, the friday before the election, another reporter brought it to my attention, read to me on the find and we both knew it had to be published and should have been published already. and several of us, not just me but a couple others, got together and contacted our managers and worked with them
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and they immediately agreed, nobody denied we had made a really big mistake. i argued it was clearly intentional and really bad and nobody denied that, and we all just tried to figure out how to publish it quickly so that at least we could see, that we published it prior to the election and we post evidence it the sunday night before the election. >> host: in many ways, maybe too little too late because a lot of this had already gone on. >> guest: my main concern -- it was my home, and at some point i thought i would work there the rest of my career, and i really did have cbs' protection in mind, that i'd been there during watergate, new i questions were asked later we'd have to toe show as soon as possible this came tower attention we took the proper actions to rectify it. that was important to me, that unless we published quickly and before the election, because i thought if the president wins, and it comes out afterwards, surely it would because people were talking about it inside
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cbs -- it would look as though we perhaps affected the outcome of the election or tried. if we published it before it would be harder to say we had some sort of outcome on an important issue in the election. so we did get it published. felt good we did a. yes, it was tense and awkward to talk to our bosses about something like this but had to be done. >> host: and another big story, health care and the launch of this web site which, as we all remember, didn't go well for the white house at all. what do you make of -- first, talk about the general coverage of it, and then talk about your own coverage. >> guest: i think the press was asleep at the switch. i include myself. didn't look in the when it was being developed because when i finally did start looking into it -- i was assigned to three weeks in, cbs came to me said please start taking a look. when i started looking, there were so many warning signals. congressional hearings,
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testimony, evidence, security tests that didn't get conducted, so many red flags we didn't report on. we did mostly i think positive stories about how this is going to help so mean people. >> host: why is there a blind spot? so much else going on, too technical, web site, how hard to build a web site. >> guest: why do you think? idon't know. i think, again, we took the administration's word for it, that -- >> guest: bingo. so, i argue in the book that there's this trend -- and i don't understand it -- that we often are taking, whether it's a corporation or a government, whatever administration, they issue something and i think it used to be that most of us knew to say that's what they want to us report. let verify it, let's look nor facts and make sure it's true. and i started hearing the last couple of years at cbs, more often than i ever had, a manager or a colleague would say, well, the government says this, let's
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see what the government says, as if that was the final word and that was the truth we accepted. and i think by and large people wanted -- there was a -- people want health care to work, people think health care should be changed in the country. >> host: or there wasn't the sense that broken part was going to be this web site. right? maybe it would mess up in terms of the different states and the expansion and those sorts of things -- >> guest: totally unexpected but there were signs. there were signals when you look back in hindsight, maybe if we had been looking closer. who knows. maybe we would want have caught that but three weeks in there was a recognition we needed to do stronger report aring. all the networks got on it, newspapers did. some good reporting done, and then the light switch went off. so we have almost done -- i haven't carefully monitored the network since but after a certain point, no matter how important i thought the stories were, that we continued to dig up, my producer and i, didn't
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want them, and they d -- >> host: this is after the web site got fixed. >> guest: right. after the webs was fixed when, for example, it was considered a very big deal for a short time that something like four million people were losing their insurance. you remember that. the whole controversy over if you like your insurance, you can keep it. that was rightfully so a big deal. then when i went to them and said, gosh, i found evidence with the help of people who support obamacare and insiders who pointed out it was in the cbo projections and that something like 13 million, not four, 13 million more would were going to get bumped off work insurance. said this is at least as important because we're talking about more than three times the number of what you thought was important last week ask they subtly were like, let's wait until that happened. i'm like, wait until it happens? so, my producer and i went off and discovered it was already happening. so the people are already losing work insurance. we came back and said we haven't
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examples on the record. it already has happened. well, you know, no final for that in the program. it was really stunning to me that you can bring them really important issues. more people were paying attention to according to polls, for during this time period, not just the web site but the whole issue, than was it's typhoon or something that killed so many people. so we were just not covering any developments once the light switch went off. >> host: and you -- cbs is different from fox news and msc because you have 30 minutes every night. right? you have the morning show as well. but that's 30 minutes of tightly edited, curated news. but you're -- >> guest: at the very night -- i have this example in the book. the same day a poll showed how many people were interested in
12:50 am a huge percentage of the american public. we were puttingn stories largely the same stories the flee networks, not even mentioning important hearings with developments on both pro and con testimony. i'm not saying you have to skew the story one way or the other. they just weren't reporting on at out all, even when it remained a major issue in the eyeses of most americans. >> host: talk a bit about -- you begin the book with really this kind of hard rowing experience -- maybe freaky or weird or creepy. >> guest: creepy. >> host: where your having these odd occurrences with your phone, you suspect that maybe you're being spied on, that someone is tapping your phone, the verizon folks -- seem to have a lot of faith in verizon to help you, and they do -- >> guest: they can never fix anything. >> host: they come out on new year's day.
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talk about that. this is how you begin the book, scene-setter. >> guest: in hindsight things look clearer. i certainly never thought i was being surveilled or monitored by the government. weird things were happening, yes, burt i didn't it was connected to a surveillance effort. the only rope i thought at all is because people came to me in the fall of 2012, people connected with and familiar with government -- said your benghazi reporting is good but you're probably being monitored because of it. monitored? these aren't crazy people. these are decent sources. i was like, what do you mean? and over time one of them able to connect know a phone circumstance -- forensicses expert -- has to be the right kind but an expert was able to look in the computer and identify a long-term monitoring and surveillance that hat gone on my cbs laptop commuter that
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included key stroke monitoring, activation of my site so they can listen to audio. they had all my passwords. looking through my benghazi files. >> host: at some point the computer turns on -- >> guest: so in retroexpect expect the experts think this may be why during the nighttime, my computers were turning on, people were starting to warn me maybe you're being surveilled. and i said my computers come on by. thes and i thought it was a normal thing. one said what you're describing is not the normal updates and handshakes that computers do. this is something different. so one thing led to another and ultimately i had three separate computer forensic exams, each of which confirm not just on my cbs laptop but in any home apple desk top computer a highly sophies tick indicated remote interruption effort ongoing for quite some time. >> host: some critics said she ah hasn't been fully open about this. she hasn't essentially released a report with names on it that
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say this is what happened. these are my experts and this is what they say. is that something you feel like that's a fair criticism. >> guest: there is some of that. i have some information in the book which we're comfortable with releasing, and the name of money expert. but no while the investigation is going on there won't be reports. i'm following my attorney's advice. i'm not doing there is prove to critics who will never be convincees of anything, even if they see someone signed a confession. people can believe it or not if they want to doesn't matter to me. i'm telephoning you my experiences. and on a separate level i want to be sure that who did this does not simply surfing -- sulk off into the night unnoticed. i know what they did and i want to expose it and if people want to disregard it, they're free to. i just simply tell what iodism what think and what the forensics sid as much as i can in the book and you're free to believe it or just think it
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never hand. >> host: part of a larger story a lot of us have been having about government surveillance of everyone. but also part of a sliver of that is the white house's interaction with journalists and investigating leaks. talk about that a bit? this is a part of the book as well. last chapters. >> guest: again, for those who think, how crazy the government could be in your computer -- the first commuter forensic exam concluded it was software proprietary to a government agency so that raised that specter specifically. for anyone who thinks its silly i say you haven't been paying attention to the news. now we have the context we didn't have during my initial incident. since then we know that the government has overreached in my opinion, pretty far in its happening of the press, the government -- handling of the press. the government acknowledges its perhaps overreached in surveillance of private citizens
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just as my sources said to me when they originally came to me. i think it's very serious matter when you have people worried about making phone calls and communicating on e-mail because they assume they're being watched. let me ask you this if you don't mind do you kind of assume your communications could be monitored whether it's the phone or computer? >> host: i do. if it's the government or its if a my bosses at work, i think there is that expectation. >> guest: i always did, too. and your bosses have a right to at any time. that's what was in the back of my mind. but the idea that now the government just kind of does, i will tell you i have conversations with members of congress who will tell me on the phone, they don't want to say certain things because they assume the phone calls are being monitored. we know the government acknowledged looking at phone recorded of members of congress and their staff and the intelligence committee, i believe it was. so, where does it end if everybody starts being afraid? reminds me of russia. if everything is afraid everything they say is something that could be monitored or used against them or found out about,
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it just changes the whole tone of the way you do business and how you think and what you can report. >> host: that trend coming just as people seem freer than ever to post all sorts of things online, on facebook, twitter, and be very open about their private life. >> guest: i think that's one reason why a lot of people have told me -- this has been revealed -- they're not so worried. i say that in the book, that people have said i have no secrets. i haven't broken any law. i don't care if the government looks at me. and i think, well, it doesn't matter whether you have done anything wrong you may trust today's government. do you trust who is going-door you know who will be the charge tomorrow? do you trust that nobody outside the government you crust will have access to your information? do you trust even though you have downing in someone might make an effort to make it look as if you have done something wrong? again their culture today where people give up so much of their privacy, maybe they're novelty as worried about it as i think they ought to be. i do think journalists are
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concerned. >> host: where do you think journalists should be looking now? you're on investigative journalist. maybe you roll give away too many secrets but there are stories out there that you feel like the press is ignoring. >> guest: i think press certainly isn't ignoring terrorism but there's a lot more to be reported and uncovered about the steady match of terrorism which i think our counterterrorism experts think is coming here. europe next and then us. that's what i was told. i think the immigration story has been well-covered. some aspects of itself but not others. >> host: you think the press certainly the political press, might cover the politics of it more than the nitty-gritty -- >> guest: absolutely. i think it's been well-covered, the positive aspects of the contributions the illegal immigrants have made to the country and a good part of them being here, the people who have come here and become good citizens and made contributions and served in wartime, the unfair things that happened to
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them. those have been well-covered. i don't think it's been as well-covered the perils that come with that. almost as with we don't want to say it could be a bad thing or there could be bad repercussions when everybody knows there could be and they're dealing with it. if a been on the border to do these stories and to cbs 3 decreed credit we did a consider story that had to do with these issues but that issue deserves more coverage. and then just say in general, medical stories, huge variety i think we have not well-covered in my opinion, partly because the pharmaceutical industry buys so much advertising in the media has so much, i believe, influence this. a story in the book about the sales department calling an executive producer and commenting on stories he was having me do about a stat continue lowering drug because of it affecting business.
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we should be covering more pharmaceutical issues. >> host: in advice for young journalists. you have been in this business for a number of years. it's changing all around us. day by day it feels like. any advice for young folks? >> guest: it's tough. if you don't do what the bosses want when they want you to do something that you think is not quite right, will you ever gift the next job? it's hard to say what to tell somebody to do. but i think there's room for people to follow a story, to a place where it's going, don't lead it, follow it, try to resist the temptation to let others take you into a place where you can tell they would like it to go and make your point and make your argument that this is where the story really goes, and i think there's a lot of outlets, as mess mystic -- pessimistic we aren't going back to the world where people got their news from three stations but something new will be born. it has to work itself out so people can separate the real
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from not. but there's plenty of great reporting -- the networks and pointline and hbo size and project censored and center for public integrity. you have to fiend and it people will find new ways to find the truth about issues they care about. just not the same way they did before. ...


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