CBS News President David Rhodes today provided an update on 60 Minutes‘ interview with Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who says she had an affair with Donald Trump. Of the highly anticipated sit-down, Rhodes said, “The only reason that it hasn’t run [yet] is that there’s still a lot of reporting to do. The encounter between Anderson Cooper and Stormy Daniels was accompanied by conversations with attorneys and documents, so we have to run all that down.”
Rhodes has not seen the interview and noted it’s been reported that there will be injunctions trying to prevent 60 Minutes from running it. “I haven’t seen such an injunction and I can’t imagine what the basis for that would be,” he said. He added, “One of the things I love about this program is that it’s the only show on television where in pretty close succession you can present an interview with (Saudi Crown Prince) Mohammad Bin Salman and Stormy Daniels. We have incredible range.”
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In Jerusalem at the INTV conference — and on his first trip to Israel — Rhodes also addressed such topics as covering the current U.S. administration and the era of so-called fake news.
Of keeping tabs on the Beltway, Rhodes said, “Not to be naïve about it but, I think some of this is overblown. One of our White House correspondents says the real challenge of covering this administration is separating the important from the interesting. The tweets are interesting, but in the end not particularly important.”
He continued, “There are important things happening and we try to cover those things but some of this is a distraction. It’s not new, there is too much in our news industry in the U.S. lamenting that it’s never been like this and it’s totally different, a little bit of an argument that the standards need to be different. That’s a mistake. We want to project continuity about our standards and practices. By the way, it has been worse and that’s really important to note.”
Rhodes pointed to a recently declassified FBI file on late 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer. “The only reason they bothered to look into (him) was because his reports on the Vietnam War were unfavorable to the Pentagon. I think it’s easy to forget that at that time, that kind of thing was routine.”
Speaking to the issue of fake news, Rhodes pointed to polling that CBS did after the violence in Charlottesville last summer. “If you dug into the surveys behind the people who support the President, in the comments some of those said ‘I disagree with him, I think he’s wrong about race or Charlottesville, but I hate the news media so much that I’m with him.'”
He added, “Trying to find out why people feel that way is important. Social media has amplified fake news in equal measure with authentic information, it’s really disgusting.”
Rhodes noted that immediately after the Las Vegas shooting in October last year, there were clips putting forth conspiracy theories on YouTube juxtaposed against CBS’ reporting. “Not to assign bad faith to any one company, but there is not a strong enought effort to clean that up. Usually they take items down or say after the fact that they’re taking them down. I’ve yet to meet somebody who left a job in journalism to go be a content moderator. The platforms are not doing a good enough job sifting through true and false.”
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