Fired CNN Anchor Frets About How Trump Might ‘Punish’ Media If He Wins
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14: Brian Stelter talks about his new book "Network of Lies" at 92NY on November 14, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Mendez/Getty Images)
Jason Mendez/Getty Images

Former CNN media reporter Brian Stelter expressed his concern during a Tuesday evening interview on his old network, telling “CNN NewsNight” host Abby Phillip that he expected media to be “punished” if former President Donald Trump returned to the White House.

The former “Reliable Sources” host was reacting to comments made by MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow about a second Trump term — namely that she worried Trump “plans to build camps” for his critics and political enemies.

Stelter referred to Maddow’s claim as “speculative non-fiction” but argued that it was reasonable to think that Trump — who has long had a contentious relationship with the press — might do something to retaliate against outlets with which he had a particular beef.

“We use the words that Trump and his allies have said, and we use them to talk about the future. Jail, of course, is an extreme part of the spectrum. Imprisonment is an extreme part,” Stelter said.


He went on to argue that a second Trump administration might use other government offices to exact revenge on media outlets — in much the same way as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had targeted conservative groups during former President Barack Obama’s administration.

“But think about IRS audits. Think about government pressure on media companies. Think about other forms of government interference. There are a lot of pressure points and frankly, Rachel Maddow is not the only member of the media thinking about this,” Stelter continued. “I’ve talked to the heads of news organizations, CEOs, and media companies that are thinking this through, not in dramatic fashion, not because they’re afraid of going to jail, but because they want to know what could Trump do to use his power in the second term to punish the media.”

Stelter was among the first let go when now-former CNN chief Chris Licht took over in the wake of Jeff Zucker’s abrupt exit from the network, and prior to that had often found himself at odds with the Trump White House.

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