CNN's Brian Stelter has a very elastic definition of the Trump-Fox News relationship. When President Trump says something nice about Fox News, that is proof that Fox is something akin to state-run TV. When President Trump voices his displeasure with Fox, it is proof that Trump wants it to be "an organ of the White House." That's what Stelter told At This Hour guest host Fredricka Whitfield on Wednesday as Trump tweeted his displeasure with the network.
Stelter began by declaring that "It's like he's lending credence to all the critics who say that Fox is state-run TV." Stelter, who is one of those critics, then added, despite his own previous comments about Fox, that this is just another Trump attempt to silence journalists. "This once again shows a lack of appreciation for journalism. Of course, normally he's attacking this channel or other channels, but increasingly the president is also attacking Fox. I think with his re-election campaign on his mind, he's thinking about Fox and trying to keep the network in line. He wants to quiet the journalists on the network."
Later in the segment Stelter made another head scratching statement: "Look, just after the DNC woman was on Fox this morning, a White House spokesman was on Fox. So, the idea even of having two different people from two different parties is something is an anathema to the president." CNN might not be the best source to criticize Trump for this, because according to a MRC study, 82% of CNN's interviews with members of Congress are with Democrats and 81% of their questions reflect the Democratic agenda.
Stelter wasn't done contradicting himself, adding, "Often times these are impulsive tweets often. I don't want to read too much into them." Stelter has a bit of a hobby of reading a lot into Trump's tweets. He has on more than one occasion spent an inordinate condemning Trump's Twitter typos, arguing that if "When someone can't get the little stuff right, it makes you worry about the big stuff." Stelter better hope the same logic never applies to him for in one instance, while condemning Trump's typos, Stelter mispronounced Marine Corps as Marine Corpse. Just last week, a CNN chyron had a typo in a segment where Stelter was condemning Dancing with the Stars for casting former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Ironically, the word that was misspelled for part of that segment was "credibility," something Stelter doesn't have when it comes to non-stop attacks on the network that routinely cleans CNN's clock in the ratings.
Here is a transcript for the August 28 show:
At This Hour with Kate Bolduan
11:46 AM ET
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: Did Fox News just lose one of its most faithful viewers? President Trump taking to Twitter to accuse the network of, quoting now, “heavily promoting Democrats.” He said that on Twitter then went on to tweet this, “The new Fox News is letting millions of great people down. We have to start looking for a new news outlet. Fox isn't working for us anymore.” The response came after a Fox News interview with the DNC communications director. CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter is here to discuss. Alright, so what is so under his skin?
BRIAN STELTER: It's like he's lending credence to all the critics who say that Fox is state-run TV. He's actually saying he believes that, and he wants the network to get in line and to be even more loyal to him. This once again shows a lack of appreciation for journalism. Of course, normally he's attacking this channel or other channels, but increasingly the president is also attacking Fox. I think with his re-election campaign on his mind, he's thinking about Fox and trying to keep the network in line. He wants to quiet the journalists on the network. He doesn't want to see Democrats interviewed on the network, he doesn’t want see that. He wants to see his friends and his fans, the Jeanine Pirros of the world, constantly and he does promote them on a daily basis, but does also feel the need to target Fox and this is his most blatant admission yet, but that he views Fox as an organ of the White House.
WHITFIELD: He doesn’t want to see Democratic strategists either. Donna Brazile is a fairly new hire, who is now on Fox. She had her own explanations as to why she took that job, trying to inform the viewers of her point of view and how instructive that would be. He doesn't like that either and he’s naming names.
STELTER: No, Donna Brazile and he's complained about Juan Williams, Shep Smith today. Look, just after the DNC woman was on Fox this morning, a White House spokesman was on Fox. So, the idea even of having two different people from two different parties is something is an anathema to the president. Often times these are impulsive tweets often. I don't want to read too much into them, but I think he's trying to work the refs, he’s trying to work the refs as he often does, trying to pressure Fox to only talk about him in favorable ways. By the way, I did ask Fox for comment on this. Normally, CNN has in the past, MSNBC they come out and defend their hosts, defend their anchors and say that it's unacceptable for the president to attack news outlets. Fox has declined to comment. I think that's because they're in this bind where they know their viewers are loyal to Trump, and they know their shows are as well.
WHITFIELD: If there is indeed a change, what's the credit or blame if there is indeed a change of their approach?
STELTER: I think Fox, like other networks, is thinking about covering the Democratic primary, trying to cover the Democratic primary and when the president turns on his favorite channel and sees them talking about his possible rivals, he turns to his Twitter feed.
WHITFIELD: Per usual. Brian Stelter, thank you so much.