Wink, Wink: Cuomo, Stelter Try to Tie Conservative Media, Trump to CNN Bomb

That’s right, NewsBusters readers. According to two of CNN’s top personalities on Wednesday afternoon, you have contributed to our coarsening American discourse and tacitly deserve blame for the bombs sent to, among others CNN and former Presidents Clinton and Obama.

While reporting from outside the evacuated Time Warner building, CNN hosts Chris Cuomo and Brian Stelter asserted without evidence on those behind the bombs and heavy usage of the word “but” that it’s the President and “right-wing commentators” and “outlets” who should look at themselves in the mirror.

 

 

Cuomo started by suggesting there’s a “larger context” that must be considered since “your tone...matters” even if the person behind the bombs had no political motivations.

With that, Stelter was off and running, trying to have it both ways and cover himself by asserting that “there's no need, no reason to assume motives, to assume anything at this point” to only then insert that keyword “but” before launching into how the right’s responsible (click “expand”):

[B]ut we do know what all of these targets have in common. These are all targets that have been criticized mercilessly by right-wing outlets, by fringe groups on the internet and by some right-wing commentators. And already there's an awful rush to claim it's a false flag operation, figures like Rush Limbaugh, who have a lot of power, who have a lot influence, who have a lot of fans who are out there saying awful things. But as you said, it’s a matter of leadership, presidential leadership and I think it is worth noting after five and a half hours, our colleagues are allowed back in the building here, the president of CNN, Jeff Zucker, has just came out with a pretty strong statement about presidential leadership and about the President's comments earlier in the afternoon that may have left a lot to be desired. Here is Zucker’s statement. He said and he wanted to share this after talking with staff here: “There is a total and complete lack of understanding by the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media, the President, and especially the White House Press Secretary should understand their words matter.” And then the statement concludes: “Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.” So, Zucker saying there needs to be a wake-up call to the White House, not just about attacks against CNN, not just about rhetoric against this network, but against the media writ large because, as you mentioned earlier, John Brennan happens to be an NBC commentator. This could have happened at NBC today or CBS or other networks. Thankfully, it did not. There’s no indication of other suspicious packages at other media companies, but this is — it has to be a wake-up call and Zucker is communicating that through a statement just now. 

Cuomo agreed, rhetorically patting the media on the back for “our need to check power” and suggesting that he’s never been chided so harshly and — you guessed it — Trump’s to blame.

“So, there is something about the reality that the talk creates action. Now, for the President, he’s got a great opportunity tonight. He's having another rally,” Cuomo added, again trying to blame Trump for the bombs.

Cuomo and Stelter then smeared conservative media for overwhelmingly being responsible for our country’s worsening discourse, assigning no blame to the left or thinking about how they’ve conducted themselves (click “expand”):

CUOMO: [T]here is a fascination in the media now with exaggeration and I can’t tell how often fringe outlets take — well, you I can tell because you cover it and you know it better than anybody. But the idea of lying, twisting what is said to make you an unamicable factor in American society. It’s not just you're wrong, it's not just you're inaccurate, it's you're a bad person, you're not American and there are a lot of these outlets do that and they're almost all exclusively on the right and the far-right fringe. That’s something that you have to assess, at this point, if you want to take a look objectively at why are things as hot as they are. 

STELTER: Right. The issue is dehumanizing other people because you think they're on a different side than you. It is one thing to criticize coverage to complain about bias. It's another thing to suggest a figure is evil or a network is evil because you don't agree with what they do. Unfortunately, that's the territory we are in these days, but I would also add this is also about the other figures that have been targeted. This is about the political figures targeted. I think it’s important to note it wasn't just CNN today as you’ve been saying. It was other outlets as well. But all of it goes back to the rhetoric that comes from the top and I think that is why you saw Lara Trump today sending out a fundraising e-mail saying we need another wake-up call to the media. Ah well, that e-mail came out two hours after this scare. That may be inappropriate language.

CUOMO: Well, it’s definitely inappropriate language. It’s that Trump is given a forgiveness that is unusual in politics....[S]o now he's in a box because now he saying we need civility when he goes out of his way to be uncivil. So now he's going to a rally tonight where the rally he’s been at for the last few days, he’s been calling for hatred toward exactly the groups and individuals that were just targeted. 

Offering another nudge, nudge, Cuomo reiterated: 

Does that remove any responsibility for those who did this? Not at all. You made your own choices when you decided to do this. Hoax or not, but we’re going to see what he does tonight, but when he comes out and says, we need to be civil, there is no apology needed to say it doesn't ring quite true.

Despite Stelter’s insistence that he’s not blaming Trump, he spent nearly 10 minutes blaming everyone from Trump to conservative media for Wednesday’s violence (click “expand”):

Just one more point to make about that. Oftentimes at these rallies, you hear chants of         “CNN sucks,” chants of “fake news,” chants “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton. Everytime that happens, he could tamp it down or he could cause it to get louder and oftentimes he wants it to get louder. Every day, our political leaders, not just President Trump, who we're not blaming, obviously. We're not talking about blaming an individual other than the perpetrator, but every day, political leaders can make things better or worse. They can make things hotter or cooler. And we haven’t seen anyone making it cooler lately. 

Later, Cuomo concluded this monstrosity of a segment against a portion of the American populous by lecturing viewers that “how you treat each other matters” and blamed — wait for — conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh for perpetuating negativity on America as his source of fame and success. Eye roll.

Former CIA and FBI official Jeff Beatty was brought onto talk about the devices found and the investigation, but he couldn’t help and take a swipe at Trump (click “expand”):

[J]ust to follow up on something you and Brian were saying and something that the governor of New York, your brother, had said, even Jeff's reporting on the President's comments. We have an opportunity today to step back from the precipice and I hope that CNN and other major media outlets will challenge our leaders in both parties to issue a joint communique, a congressional joint resolution, to condemn, as Governor Cuomo said, call for civility, and condemn hostility and I hope that we seize this moment to do that, and I hope somebody gives him a deadline. So by tomorrow night, we want to see you all gathered around a table, reading from a joint communique. So that's my man in the street take on this.

So, to recap, it’s the people who bring you the latest liberal media bias, whether that be here at NewsBusters or with our friends such as Conservative Review, the Daily Caller, Townhall, and the Washington Free Beacon who have created a culture of incivility and that CNN (or anyone on the left) have little to nothing to do with that. Classy.

To see the relevant transcript from October 24's CNN Newsroom, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom
October 24, 2018
3:43 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS CUOMO: Then you have this larger context, which even if everything that happened here today at CNN and everywhere else has nothing to do with the political climate, let's make that assumption for the sake of argument., it's international, it's random or done by somebody who’s just not of their right mind, it's still scary enough to give us a moment of pause to see how our leaders react and see what it reflects about our mutual recognition about where we are and what needs to change. I want to bring in Brian Stelter right now because you’ve looking at this and, there was, of course, instant examination of what the President would say. The vice President went out first this morning in a tweet and the president following saying “I agreed wholeheartedly.” People thought he should have come out first. I’ve been slow on hyperexamination because I believe one of the graces of this moment is it gives you a chance about realizing how you approach things and how your tone is matters.

BRIAN STELTER: Yes and we — as you just said, there's no need, no reason to assume motives, to assume anything at this point, but we do know what all of these targets have in common. These are all targets that have been criticized mercilessly by right-wing outlets, by fringe groups on the internet and by some right-wing commentators. And already there's an awful rush to claim it's a false flag operation, figures like Rush Limbaugh, who have a lot of power, who have a lot influence, who have a lot of fans who are out there saying awful things. But as you said, it’s a matter of leadership, presidential leadership and I think it is worth noting after five and a half hours, our colleagues are allowed back in the building here, the president of CNN, Jeff Zucker, has just came out with a pretty strong statement about presidential leadership and about the President's comments earlier in the afternoon that may have left a lot to be desired. Here is Zucker’s statement. He said and he wanted to share this after talking with staff here: “There is a total and complete lack of understanding by the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media, the President, and especially the White House Press Secretary should understand their words matter.” And then the statement concludes: “Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.” So, Zucker saying there needs to be a wake-up call to the White House, not just about attacks against CNN, not just about rhetoric against this network, but against the media writ large because, as you mentioned earlier, John Brennan happens to be an NBC commentator. This could have happened at NBC today or CBS or other networks. Thankfully, it did not. There’s no indication of other suspicious packages at other media companies, but this is — it has to be a wake-up call and Zucker is communicating that through a statement just now. 

CHRIS CUOMO: I mean, look, we have some of the things that are just demonstrable as fact and then you have some things that are suggestive. Demonstrable as fact, our job has changed and I’m not talking about the evolution of our need to check power, but the security. I've been in riots where I’ve had less security that we now have at shots on a regular basis because there's a real threat. Sometimes, joking around, I say they're protecting the situation to keep me from people who are going to come up, but look, even in this mood, in this urgency of this “oh my God. This could have been bad, we should readjust.” There's still people walking about saying Cuomo communist, CNN communist. Where do you think they got that? Where do you think that came from? Nobody ever said that to me pre-Trump. So, there is something about the reality that the talk creates action. Now, for the President, he’s got a great opportunity tonight. He's having another rally. 

STELTER: Another rally, right.

CUOMO: And he said we need civility. We only know what he shows, okay? He's the leader. Tone comes from the top very often. What will he do tonight and what does it mean? You can say CNN was targeted because of what it does. But if that's true, then there should be a lot of other people targeted because there is a fascination in the media now with exaggeration and I can’t tell how often fringe outlets take — well, you I can tell because you cover it and you know it better than anybody. But the idea of lying —

STELTER: Right.

CUOMO: — twisting what is said to make you an unamicable factor in American society. It’s not just you're wrong, it's not just you're inaccurate, it's you're a bad person, you're not American and there are a lot of these outlets do that and they're almost all exclusively on the right and the far-right fringe. That’s something that you have to assess, at this point, if you want to take a look objectively at why are things as hot as they are. 

STELTER: Right. The issue is dehumanizing other people because you think they're on a different side than you. It is one thing to criticize coverage to complain about bias. It's another thing to suggest a figure is evil or a network is evil because you don't agree with what they do. Unfortunately, that's the territory we are in these days, but I would also add this is also about the other figures that have been targeted. This is about the political figures targeted. I think it’s important to note it wasn't just CNN today as you’ve been saying. It was other outlets as well. But all of it goes back to the rhetoric that comes from the top and I think that is why you saw Lara Trump today sending out a fundraising e-mail saying we need another wake-up call to the media. Ah well, that e-mail came out two hours after this scare. That may be inappropriate language.

CUOMO: Well, it’s definitely inappropriate language. It’s that Trump is given a forgiveness that is unusual in politics. I think he benefits. I often say the book that someone like you should write will be that Donald Trump, the luckiest man in the history of the game, because he benefits from things that were there in place before he got there and he’s exacerbated them. He's symptomatic, though. He’s not the cause, disaffection with politics, low expectations for integrity, low expectations for integrity and truthfulness and honor from those in public service. A culture that has become increasingly negative, that's become more comfortable because of social media, using insults as a proxy for insights, as I always say, but it’s just magnifying and he has harnessed that. He uses it, so now he's in a box because now he saying we need civility when he goes out of his way to be uncivil. So now he's going to a rally tonight where the rally he’s been at for the last few days, he’s been calling for hatred toward exactly the groups and individuals that were just targeted. Does that remove any responsibility for those who did this? Not at all. You made your own choices when you decided to do this. 

STELTER: That’s right.

CUOMO: Hoax or not, but we’re going to see what he does tonight, but when he comes out and says, we need to be civil, there is no apology needed to say it doesn't ring quite true. 

STELTER: Just one more point to make about that. Oftentimes at these rallies, you hear chants of “CNN sucks,” chants of “fake news,” chants “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton. Everytime that happens, he could tamp it down or he could cause it to get louder and oftentimes he wants it to get louder. Every day, our political leaders, not just President Trump, who we're not blaming, obviously. We're not talking about blaming an individual other than the perpetrator, but every day, political leaders can make things better or worse. They can make things hotter or cooler.

CUOMO: There's no question about it. 

STELTER: And we haven’t seen anyone making it cooler lately. 

CUOMO: Yeah, right, because it works. You know, it works. If you look at it organically, negative ads always work best in campaigns. Him attacking his opponents. 

STELTER: But it doesn't work for the families us walking by right now, does it? It doesn’t work for a lot of these folks who are walking by. They just want to make sure they're safe. 

CUOMO: That's true. That's the benefit of an exigency. If there’s a silver lining to what we lived through here this morning is that thank god, nobody was hurt, but you gives another chance to examine. And sometimes words become things. Words become deeds. Not that he means this and actually, I would assume the President doesn't think anybody is going to act on it. He thinks it's entertaining. He thinks it works with his base. 

STELTER: He likes reporters a lot, sometimes.

CUOMO: But today is one of those moments where you got to look and say what you say matters especially in a position of leadership. How you treat each other matters. So now we have that, this culture argument, which is going to go on and we'll see what he does tonight. We saw Rush Limbaugh came out of the box hot, blaming this on Democrats, saying they did this. You know, same kind of thing with the caravan. There is an echo effect and there’s an exigency on driving negativity. It works for guys like him. It’s how he stays popular, stoking the fuel, you know, fueling the fire of people who want to stay outraged. That's his choice. Everybody has a choice to make about how they do their job. So let's leave one problem and get to another they're trying to solve right now. Let's get to Jeff Beatty because be's worked on these types of investigations, specifically what we were talking about earlier. Jim Sciutto reporting the anthrax scare that we lived through many years ago. He was involved with those investigations and Mr. Beatty, thank you for joining us and what does your experience inform you to in terms of what they're going to be doing now? 

JEFF BEATTY: Well, I would like to share with you the intelligence officer perspective of this, which raises two important questions. But first, just to follow up on something you and Brian were saying and something that the governor of New York, your brother, had said, even Jeff's reporting on the President's comments. We have an opportunity today to step back from the precipice and I hope that CNN and other major media outlets will challenge our leaders in both parties to issue a joint communique, a congressional joint resolution, to condemn, as Governor Cuomo said, call for civility, and condemn hostility and I hope that we seize this moment to do that, and I hope somebody gives him a deadline. So by tomorrow night, we want to see you all gathered around a table, reading from a joint communique. So that's my man in the street take on this. 


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