This is why President Donald Trump calls it “very fake news.”
In an interview Monday, CNN host Brian Stelter confirmed conservatives’ worst assumptions about the Clinton News Network when he admitted on the air that he’d let celebrity anti-gun teenager David Hogg get away with making false statements in front of millions of viewers.
That was bad enough, but considering his show is called “Reliable Sources,” his rationalization was even worse.
The admission came when Stelter appeared on CNN’s “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” to defend the media’s wall-to-wall coverage of the latest anti-gun hysteria in the wake of last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Cupp, a rare conservative at CNN, asked if liberal TV networks were going too far in letting anti-gun high school students dominate the post-Parkland debate. In his evident eagerness to defend the mainstream media’s use of the students, Stelter gave his own game away.
Stelter admitted that while interviewing Hogg, the Stoneman Douglas student who has emerged as the most visible face to the current anti-gun movement, he had deliberately decided not to challenge some of Hogg’s misstatements. He just wanted to avoid breaking the flow, he said.
“There were a few times I wanted to jump in and say, ‘Let’s correct that fact.’ And at one of the times I did and other times I did not,” Stelter said. “There’s always that balance, how many times you’re going to interrupt?”
Besides, he added, Hogg and his fellow anti-gun activists from Florida — such as Emma Gonzalez and Cameron Kasky — are just too darn passionate for reporters to do their jobs.
“I think we have to recognize where David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez are coming from. There has been an increase in the lethality of mass shootings in recent years in this country,” Stelter said. “And so I can see where these students are coming from saying, ‘This is getting worse.’”
Check out the Stelter statement to Cupp here:
Well, aside from the basic duty of journalism to set the record straight as much as possible, there were a couple of other things wrong with the way Stelter presented his case on Monday.
More importantly, Stelter let Hogg slide on a number of statements about Loesch that were a good deal more egregious than her job title. Hogg claimed Loesch doesn’t care about the lives of police officers, doesn’t really care about mental health, and cares only about American politics insofar as the NRA “owns” politicians who help it.
It was a cascade of calumny that barely stopped short of calling Dana Loesch a muderer in her own right, but Stelter never blinked an eye.
Now, granted, these lies were coming from the mouth of misinformed, more-than-a-little-bit ignorant 17-year-old — Hogg said he learned about gun control for debate class, for Pete’s sake. No thinking American who watched could have taken them for anything but nonsense.
But does anyone think Dana Loesch could have sat on “Reliable Sources” and spewed that kind of bile about, say, Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer without being challenged? Or that Stelter would have let a pro-gun rights teenager like Stoneman Douglas junior Kyle Kashuv make statements like about Hogg himself with nary an objection from the host?
Of course not. What Stelter was actually admitting on Cupp’s program was that “journalists” of the CNN variety have no problem at all allowing their interview subjects to run fact-free, as long as they are running in the liberal direction favored by CNN.
Brutal and disturbing as that is, there’s a sad little side note to the whole affair. Newsbusters noted that when Stelter conducted the interview with Hogg, he was joined by former CBS anchor Dan Rather, who left the network in disgrace for his efforts to smear President George W. Bush right before Bush’s re-election.
As commentator Jonathan Tobin pointed out on National Review in September while reporting on one of CNN’s bungled attacks on the Trump White House, it was Rather’s “fake but accurate” attempted hatchet-job on Bush in 2004 that set the tone the kind of coverage Americans can expect from the media in the Trump era.
Brian Stelter admitted this week that he let the opinions of the interview subject determine whether he corrected misstatements of fact.
And in the Hogg interview, those opinions just happened to agree with Brian Stelter, CNN management and the whole mainstream media complex.
And Dan Rather was there to give his blessing on the whole thing.
Is it any wonder Trump and conservatives call it “fake news”?
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.