Stelter Whines Trump 'Misused' Term 'Fake News,' But So Has He

Appearing as a panel member on Tuesday's CNN Tonight to discuss President-elect Donald Trump's press conference in which he accused CNN and BuzzFeed of peddling "fake news," CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter whined about the term "fake news" being "misused" and "exploited" by "partisans on the left and right" as he declared that he agreed with the Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan that "it's time to retire the term."

He similarly fretted on his Reliable Sources show a couple of weeks ago that the term "fake news" has been "redefined" and "exploited" to mean "whatever you disagree with" rather than stories that are intentionally made up to "trick" readers.

Although it may be the case that Stelter has changed his mind on how the term should be used, he also has a history of employing those words loosely to refer to news sites with which he disagrees politically. In recent months, he has included both NewsBusters and Breitbart in discussions of "fake news."

On Tuesday, reacting to Trump's "fake news" charge against CNN, Stelter bristled: "Both Donald Trump and his aides today purposefully misleading people about this, I think, trying to confuse the matter. And I think that's what Trump is trying to do with this tweet, you know, calling CNN and BuzzFeed again 'fake news.'"

After fellow panel member and correspondent Jim Acosta injected, "misuse of the term," Stelter continued:

Fake news is a very specific term. Now, I will acknowledge that this has changed in recent months -- but three, four months ago, this term was sort of used in academia and in the media to describe stories that are written on Facebook trying to trick and hoax people. These are stories designed to deceive. It's actually a very specific definition.

Now, partisans on the left and right have misused the term, exploited the term, and, I think -- as Margaret Sullivan wrote in the Washington Post this week -- it's time to retire the term "fake news." It's being misused. But Donald Trump knows CNN is not fake news. He knows better than this, and yet he continues to tell people.

Back on his January 1, Reliable Sources show, during a segment with the Daily Beast's John Avlon, after showing clips of several on-air media personalities saying the words "fake news," Stelter bemoaned:

I wanted to show that because "fake news" -- the term has been exploited. It's been misused. It's been everywhere. It's turned into something more than just the original definition, which was stories that are written by people who are designing, trying to trick readers. This is on Facebook, mostly from scam artists and profiteers trying to trick people with hoax stories. Well, now fake news is whatever you disagree with. It's been exploited. It's been redefined.

Avlon worried that such behavior is "hugely dangerous," and soon added:

And the pushback right now, Brian, that you pointed to is particularly insidious, people saying, "You know what, let's expand that definition to anything we disagree with." So therefore we can't possibly say what's true and what's false because everything comes with a different perspective and bias and spin. And that's incredibly dangerous. Our job, at a core, is to separate fact from fiction, you know, and the second people try to push back in blurring those distinctions

Relevant transcripts follow:

#From the Tuesday, January 10, CNN Tonight:

11:06 p.m. ET

DON LEMON: It didn't really address what was inaccurate in the reporting, just saying it was a "disgrace" and that it was "fake news," although it is not.

BRIAN STELTER: Yeah, he's talking about that BuzzFeed document, this 35-page memo that was posted by BuzzFeed. He is conflating what BuzzFeed was doing with what CNN was doing. Look at his tweet from a couple of minutes ago here. The President-elect is willfully misleading people at every turn on this topic. And so are his aides.

Kellyanne Conway on Anderson Cooper's show earlier this evening saying that CNN linked to the BuzzFeed story, That's just not true. You can go and check on CNN.com -- you'll see it's not true. Both Donald Trump and his aides today purposefully misleading people about this, I think, trying to confuse the matter. And I think that's what Trump is trying to do with this tweet, you know, calling CNN and BuzzFeed again "fake news." We saw this 12 hours ago on his twitter feed and again tonight.

JIM ACOSTA: Misuse of the term.

STELTER: Fake news is a very specific term. Now, I will acknowledge that this has changed in recent months -- but three, four months ago, this term was sort of used in academia and in the media to describe stories that are written on Facebook trying to trick and hoax people. These are stories designed to deceive. It's actually a very specific definition.

Now, partisans on the left and right have misused the term, exploited the term, and, I think -- as Margaret Sullivan wrote in the Washington Post this week -- it's time to retire the term "fake news." It's being misused. But Donald Trump knows CNN is not fake news. He knows better than this, and yet he continues to tell people.

LEMON: Well, fake news is when you mislead someone on purpose. And, as you said, they are willfully misleading people. That would be actual fake news.

#From the Sunday, January 1, Reliable Sources:

11:50 a.m. ET

BRIAN STELTER: You mentioned fake news. Everybody is talking about fake news. Let's take a look at that.

WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC: -fake news-

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: -fake news-

GERALD RIVERA, FNC: -fake news-

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -fake news-

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC: -fake news-

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: -fake news-

BILL O'RELLY, FNC: -completely phony story-

STEVE DOOCY, FNC: We're doing great here on this real news show..

(Geraldo Rivera laughs)

STELTER: That was Geraldo at the end there.

JOHN AVLON: That was the joke, right?

STELTER: I wanted to show that because "fake news" -- the term has been exploited. It's been misused. It's been everywhere. It's turned into something more than just the original definition, which was stories that are written by people who are designing, trying to trick readers. This is on Facebook, mostly from scam artists and profiteers trying to trick people with hoax stories. Well, now fake news is whatever you disagree with. It's been exploited. It's been redefined.

AVLON: That's hugely dangerous because I think, to point, the key criteria is "designed to deceive." And how we got here, frankly, it did bridge from partisan news which, all of a sudden, gave people the ability to self-segregate themselves into separate political realities. But what fake news did as it snuck in this fall and had an impact on our election. It did something truly insidious. It took our diet of confirmation bias and it accelerated with click bait. And that poisoned our political conversation with what is frankly propaganda.

STELTER: You're saying you want to believe it because it reaffirms your biases, and you can't resist clicking on it because it's so interesting.

AVLON: It's so salacious that, you know, Hillary Clinton might have, you know, committed some nefarious act you hadn't heard of before. But the problem is, obviously, that starts to get in the water, and that's what we're dealing with right now. And the pushback right now, Brian, that you pointed to is particularly insidious, people saying, "You know what, let's expand that definition to anything we disagree with."

So therefore we can't possibly say what's true and what's false because everything comes with a different perspective and bias and spin. And that's incredibly dangerous. Our job, at a core, is to separate fact from fiction, you know, and the second people try to push back in blurring those distinctions...

CyberAlerts 2016 Presidential Russia Conservatives & Republicans BuzzFeed CNN.com Daily Beast CNN Reliable Sources CNN Tonight Video Fake News Jim Acosta Breitbart NewsBusters Brian Stelter Don Lemon Donald Trump