News and Analysis

‘Call Out GOP Extremism,’ Brian Stelter Tells Associated Press
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Brian Stelter attends the 12th Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at American Museum of Natural History on December 9, 2018 in New York City.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN’s Brian Stelter had a request for the world’s largest news organization: “Can you call out GOP extremism?” And The Associated Press’ leader said that as the nation moves closer to the 2022 midterm elections, her news organization would hyperfocus on the 2020 election and its aftermath.

Stelter asked Julie Pace, executive editor and senior vice president of The Associated Press, to name the biggest stories of the year “beyond the pandemic, if that’s possible.” Pace immediately said the biggest story of 2021 was “the January 6th insurrection.”

“As we push into 2022 and beyond, I think that’s something you’re going to see us really focus on,” said Pace of The Associated Press, whose content is republished by 15,000 news outlets worldwide. She said she was interested not only in “the event itself, but I think what it also symbolized about threats to democracy and what is happening in the United States … We want to be really clear with people about the threats that we are seeing to democratic institutions. We want to try to amplify who is behind them, expose the money and the forces, the powerful forces that are behind these efforts, because I think this is one of the great, kind of, challenges of our time right now.”

Stelter asked whether AP would paint the Republican Party as extremists trying to crush American democracy — and Pace appeared willing to do so. “Can you be full-throated about the reality? Can you call out GOP extremism for what it is?” Stelter asked.

“I think we have been extremely clear when we talk about, for example, the realities of the 2020 election,” Pace replied. She added that “every time we wrote a story,” the AP journalists would insist that 2020 “was a free and fair election,” devoid of electoral quirks.

Stelter then challenged the editor-in-chief of Reuters, Alessandra Galloni, if her news wire has “a democracy beat? You have lots of political reporters, but we need democracy reporters?” Stelter had maintained that newsrooms should put reporters on “a democracy beat,” covering Republican voter integrity measures and election concerns as an all-out assault on representative government since at least the May 16 episode of his show. “The most important dividing line in American politics right now isn’t between Democrats and Republicans. It’s between Republicans versus democracy,” said Stelter’s guest, Ari Berman of the far-Left Mother Jones magazine.

Stelter expressed the need for this new reporting focus after House Republicans voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from its fourth-highest leadership position — a vote that Stelter’s colleague, Dana Bash, called “existential, not just for the GOP; it is existential for democracy.” She did not explain how the democratic vote threatened democracy.

Months later, Stelter sketched out a Manichean alternate reality in which only news outlets that meet his approval can stop Republicans from using misinformation to foment a second civil war in the United States. As this author reported at The Daily Wire:

CNN’s Brian Stelter dedicated his Halloween monologue to predicting a dark, dystopian future in which insults from Fox News personalities and Republican politicians lead to “bombs in newsrooms” of honest news outlets, like CNN. The only thing that can prevent a full-blown civil war, Stelter said, is the power of genuine “news sources” like CNN.

CNN may have a less altruistic reason to hype the January 6 D.C. riot: The ratings-starved network enjoyed the highest ratings of its four-decade history on January 6. CNN has covered or referred to the one-day riot on virtually every ensuing day of 2021. Yet CNN attracted just 585,000 viewers in prime time earlier this month, making it the 17thnetwork on basic cable. Meanwhile, conservative competitor Fox News celebrated its sixth year as the number one network on basic cable.

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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