CNN's Stelter Lumps NewsBusters in with 'BS,' 'Fake News' Headlines, Sites

In a pre-recorded piece aired on New Day Saturday, CNN's Brian Stelter included images of two NewsBusters articles (here and here) as he complained that many people were fooled by "BS" and "fake news," with many sharing such material with others through social media during the 2016 presidential election.

As the CNN media analyst fretted that Donald Trump's campaign had benefited from "fake news" articles, Stelter did not take the time to inform viewers of what he found to be "fake" about the NewsBusters articles that were authored by our Matt Philbin and contributing writer Christian Toto.

Setting up the report, co-host Victor Blackwell lamented: "Dozens -- and that's probably a conservative estimate there -- of these fake news stories were shared online during the 2016 election season."

Co-host Christi Paul added: "And, as CNN Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter shows us, they may have been read and believed by millions of voters."

Stelter began his report by fretting that "fake news" benefited Trump as he ran for President:

Did the spread of fake news on the Web help elect Donald Trump? We may never know for sure, but researchers are asking the question because made-up, false stories are polluting people's Facebook timelines and Twitter streams.

As articles from several websites appeared on screen, two NB articles were among the group -- "Hypocrisy: Net Frets About Bannon; Gave Catholic-Hating Podesta a Pass" and "Amy Schumer: Trump Voters Weak, Clueless KKK Members." As Stelter did not specify his problem with either article, a similar article regarding Amy Schumer, albeit with a different headline, had appeared at the Huffington Post.

After recalling that "Even President Obama is raising the alarm," Stelter referred to an article from one of the other websites which falsely claimed a protester was paid to disrupt Trump rallies. Stelter:

These problems are not brand new, but they're becoming a lot more prevalent. Here's an example -- a story claiming a protester was paid $3,500 to make trouble at a Trump rally. This went viral in the campaign. It looked like an ABC News story, but the URL reveals it's a fake registered to a domain in Colombia. It was a hoax which tricked Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and Trump's son Eric, who shared it on Twitter.

He then recounted a couple of other false stories which came from other websites:

The Pope endorsing Trump? Fake. Fox's Megyn Kelly fired for backing Hillary Clinton? Fake. Clinton linked to crimes by Anthony Weiner? Fake, but that one was tweeted by retired General Michael Flynn, Trump's pick for National Security Advisor.

After a clip of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg downplaying the problem of "fake news," Stelter continued:

Others disagree. These fake sites are easy to set up and profitable for the creators. Every time we click and share, they make more money, but we are worse off. Now, Facebook and Google are banning fake sites from making money off their ad networks. It's a first effort to choke off some of the revenue. The bigger challenge, providing more BS detection tools without threatening free speech.

As articles from several websites appeared on screen, the NewsBusters article about Amy Schumer appeared while Stelter spoke the words "providing more BS detection tools" before being replaced by a false article from another website about Hillary Clinton getting divorced.

As the report was nearing its conclusion, the same two NewsBusters articles briefly appeared among articles from other websites as Stelter warned:

The root problem is that some people want to believe the lies. That's why the responsibility isn't just Facebook or Google or Twitter's. We all have to get a little smarter about what we share.

After the pre-recorded report concluded, there was a segment in which Stelter appeared as a guest along with Matt Masur of Venturetechnica LLC.

There was still no explanation for why either NewsBusters piece was included among "fake news" articles as of this post's publication. Late Saturday afternoon, NewsBusters executive editor Tim Graham demanded that Stelter issue a correction and emphasized that all of us at NewsBusters take issues of accuracy seriously (despite what Stelter may consciously or erroneously think and opine to viewers):

Below is a complete transcript of the pre-recorded report from November 19's New Day Saturday on CNN:

8:32 a.m. ET

VICTOR BLACKWELL: Dozens -- and that's probably a conservative estimate there -- of these fake news stories were shared online during the 2016 election season.

CHRISTI PAUL: And, as CNN Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter shows us, they may have been read and believed by millions of voters.

BRIAN STELTER: Did the spread of fake news on the Web help elect Donald Trump? We may never know for sure, but researchers are asking the question because made-up, false stories are polluting (Two NewsBusters articles briefly appear on screen next to articles from several other websites) people's Facebook timelines and Twitter streams.

JOHN OLIVER [on HBO'S Last Week Tonight]: -this cesspool of nonsense-

GERALDO RIVERA [on FNC'S Fox&Friends]: -bogus stories-

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [on CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello]: It's horrible.

STELTER: And getting worse. Even President Obama is raising the alarm.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA CLIP #1: If we are not serious about facts and what's true and what's not-

PRESIDENT OBAMA CLIP #2: -then we have problems.

STELTER: These problems are not brand new, but they're becoming a lot more prevalent. Here's an example -- a story claiming a protester was paid $3,500 to make trouble at a Trump rally. This went viral in the campaign. It looked like an ABC News story, but the URL reveals it's a fake registered to a domain in Colombia. It was a hoax which tricked Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and Trump's son Eric, who shared it on Twitter.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR DAN GILLMOR: We have an epidemic of false information racing around using social networks as the accelerator.

STELTER: The Pope endorsing Trump? Fake. Fox's Megyn Kelly fired for backing Hillary Clinton? Fake. Clinton linked to crimes by Anthony Weiner? Fake, but that one was tweeted by retired General Michael Flynn, Trump's pick for National Security Advisor. Now, staffers at social media giants are doing some soul-searching. Though Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Trump's election is not his fault.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK: You know, personally, I think the idea that, you know, fake news on Facebook of which, you know, it's a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way, I think, is a crazy idea.

STELTER: Others disagree. These fake sites are easy to set up and profitable for the creators. Every time we click and share, they make more money, but we are worse off. Now, Facebook and Google are banning fake sites from making money off their ad networks. It's a first effort to choke off some of the revenue. The bigger challenge, (One NewsBusters article is briefly shown on screen) providing more BS detection tools without threatening free speech.

GILLMOR: Suddenly, they have these, I think, these social, societal duties to help us not be faked out all the time. And yet, I don't want the terms of service of one company or two or three companies to have more influence than the First Amendment.

(The same two NewsBusters articles are briefly seen again before being covered by articles from other websites)

STELTER: The root problem is that some people want to believe the lies. That's why the responsibility isn't just Facebook or Google or Twitter's. We all have to get a little smarter about what we share.

GILLMOR CLIP #1: We have to be relentlessly skeptical of absolutely everything.

GILLMOR CLIP #2: We have to go outside of our personal comfort zones, and read and watch and listen to things that are bound to make our blood boil.

 
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