News and Analysis

Brian Stelter Can’t Handle The Truth From A College Kid, But He Wants Your Trust With The News
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 09: CNN anchor and correspondent Brian Stelter speaks during a press event at CES 2019 at the Aria Resort & Casino on January 9, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 11 and features about 4,500 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 180,000 attendees.
(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

The University of Chicago is hosting a “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference this week featuring the likes of Anne Applebaum of The Atlantic and CNN’s Brian Stelter. That is not doing much to increase belief amongst the public that the Fourth Estate is all that interested in bolstering democracy or combatting disinformation.

As The Daily Wire covered on Thursday, Applebaum dismissed the story regarding Hunter Biden’s laptop and his foreign business dealings as “totally irrelevant” to the presidential election even if it was not “disinformation.” Of course, potentially unethical business ventures acquired only because of Hunter’s dad’s position in the government, with speculation that the “Big Guy” even benefited himself, are highly relevant.

But Stelter’s appearance may have topped Applebaum’s. On Thursday afternoon, a college freshman asked the CNN anchor about his network’s own “disinformation” regarding several major news stories over the past few years. After joking about heading out to lunch, Stelter dismissed the premise behind the question as a “popular right-wing narrative” before glibly hiding behind his colleagues’ actions on the war front in Ukraine as evidence that CNN acts in good faith and is a trustworthy news source.

NewsBusters’ Nicholas Fondacaro flagged the clip, tweeting, “Freshman Christopher Phillips CALLS OUT Brian Stelter and CNN for being a ‘purveyor of disinformation.’ He points to the Russian collusion hoax, Jussie Smollett, the smears of Justice Kavanaugh and Nick Sandmann, and their dismissal of Hunter Biden’s laptop.”

Phillips also asked if the “canon of journalistic ethics is dead or no longer operative” while noting that “all the mistakes of the mainstream media, and CNN in particular, seem to magically all go in one direction.”

“Are we expected to believe that this is all just some sort of random coincidence or is there something else behind it?” Phillips posed to Stelter.

“I think my honest answer to you — and I’ll come over and talk in more detail after this — is that I think you’re describing a different channel than the one that I watch, but I understand that that is a popular right-wing narrative about CNN,” Stelter responded.

“I think it’s important when we talk about shared reality and democracy, all these networks, all these news outlets have to defend democracy, and when they screw up — admit it,” Stelter added.

Of course, the irony in Stelter’s answer is that he did not “admit” that CNN botched and incorrectly reported the stories that Phillips mentioned. He simply dismissed them as part of a talking point contrived by the Right. He did not even attempt to justify his network’s reporting, other than saying that the college student was watching a “different channel” than the one he had seen.

Stelter’s response continued.

“But when Benjamin Hall, the Fox correspondent, was wounded in Ukraine, the news crews at CNN and The New York Times stopped what they were doing,” Stelter said, referencing the Fox News journalist who suffered injuries while reporting in war-torn Ukraine. “They tried to help. They tried to help them get out of the country, they tried to find the dead crew members.”

“That’s what news outlets do,” Stelter boldly declared before partially addressing a previous question. “That’s how they actually do work together, to your question about sharing those kinds of connections and trust, we don’t talk about it enough though. We don’t share that reality about how that happens.”

While the actions taken to help Hall and others wounded in Ukraine might have been noble, it does not exactly secure confidence that CNN will make a more concerted effort to report the truth any time soon. Furthermore, it does not provide any proof that CNN will give stories that originate with “conservative” news outlets any more credence, rather than dismissing them out of hand as they had done in the past with stories like Hunter’s laptop.

“In regards to the regime, I think you mean President Biden?” Stelter continued in answering Phillips’ question.

“The last time I spoke with a Biden aide, we yelled at each other,” Stelter said, as if that were proof he was a member of the adversarial media. Keep in mind that this is the same guy who asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during an interview for advice on what the media gets wrong in covering the Biden administration.

Nonetheless, Stelter continued, “So that’s the reality of the news business that people don’t see, that people don’t hear. They imagine that it’s a situation that it simply is not. But I think your question, it speaks to the failure of journalism to show our work and show the reality of how our profession operates. We have a lot of work to do, I think.”

In short, Stelter’s response is not an admission that his network pushed around-the-clock fake news on some of the biggest stories since 2016. No, the real tragedy, in Stelter’s mind, is that the American people just don’t understand how the news business works.

Despite not addressing any of the fake news mentioned by the student, the CNN star wants you to believe that the legacy media is full of staunch defenders of democracy and they can prove it — like that one time he got yelled at by a Biden aide or something.

Stelter, what a guy. He can’t give a college freshman’s question a straightforward answer, but he wants you to trust him to deliver the news without bias.

Following the incident, Phillips tweeted, “thank you @brianstelter for taking my question and having a conversation with me afterwards, but i am STILL wondering: if CNN is truly unbiased, WHY is every mistake they make an overstep in favor of democrats and against republicans??”

It is a good question and one that Stelter has yet to answer.

The interaction can be seen here:

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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