That’s a wrap for CNN host Brian Stelter. The Reliable Sources host who ineptly attempted to play the role of objective media critic — at CNN of all places — was fired on Thursday.
At NewsBusters Stelter was the subject of many a blog because he so often exposed his leftist bias in his copious criticisms of Republicans and news outlets (like Fox News) that refused to carry water for Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
His run as a CNN anchor encompassed the entirety of President Donald Trump’s “criminal presidency” and he spent those years questioning not only the sanity of Trump but also his “cult” following of supporters. He did this all the while asserting his objectivity, even once insisting to former White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway: “I’m not on a side of the [political] aisle.”
Stelter’s political savvy was questionable at best. The CNN anchor told Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti : “I don’t know if it’s a good thing that star power and TV savvy is required for the job, but I think it is….and looking ahead to 2020, one reason why I’m taking you seriously as a [presidential] contender is because of your presence on cable news.”
Here is a quick montage of Stelter’s ludicrousness by NewsBusters’ media editor Bill D’Agostino:
The following is just a sampling of the voluminous output of Stelter’s liberal bias in his stint as anchor of CNN’s Reliable Sources:
GOP Headquarters Firebombed and Trump Is to Blame?
“So the Arizona Republic getting so many death threats over an endorsement [for Hillary Clinton] is an example of how overheated the rhetoric is. Another example out of North Carolina today, the firebombing of a local GOP office. We have no idea who has done this. We don’t know if it’s a Republican, a Democrat, a movement. No idea. Could be some core of extremists, some sort of radical. Hopefully we’ll get more information soon. But that kind of action is unacceptable. And we need to have the temperature come down on all sides right now. Unfortunately, Donald Trump is the lead in terms of raising the temperature at this moment in time.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Newsroom, October 16, 2016.
Liberal Bias Is Just Conspiracy Nonsense
“Corrupt media. In Trump’s world, journalists are really just Clinton campaign workers in disguise collaborating with her in an attempt to rig the election. This is not just false, it’s ludicrous and it’s damaging....What are the consequences of this conspiratorial talk?”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, October 16, 2016.
Blasting Trump as “Authoritarian” Strongman
“He is entertaining up at that podium — I love watching these rallies for that reason. On the other hand, John, I talk to international correspondents who say to you, ‘This is exactly what authoritarians do. This is what strongmen do. This is what happens in authoritarian regimes.’ I think we need to start using those words on TV, at least, to discuss the possibilities before us.”
— Host Brian Stelter to former Fortune editor John Huey on CNN’s Reliable Sources, December 4, 2016.
Will Dictator Trump “Deny Reality on a Daily Basis?”
“Will President Trump deny reality on a daily basis? Will he make up his own false facts and fake stats? What will the consequences be? Will reporters give up trying to fact check? Is that the goal? To wear us down, to wear us out....Do Trump’s allies want to silence skeptics in the media, destroy the press or maybe support an alternative press that presents an alternative reality that's more favorable?...Do citizens in dictatorships recognize what’s happening right here right now? Are they looking at the first two days of the Trump administration and saying, ‘Oh, that’s what my leader does?’ What should we learn from them today?”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, January 22, 2017.
Trump’s “Poisonous” “Dangerous” Attacks on the Press
“[Jeffrey] Lord and I were just debating how effective the president’s anti-media attacks are, and we’re in agreement, they are effective. But let’s recognize how poisonous they are as well. Every single president disputes some news coverage of their presidency, but no president until now gets up at a rally and calls news outlets fake. No president gets up at a podium and says the things we’ve heard from this president tonight. It’s nothing new from him, this was really a copy-and-paste speech, as you all were just talking about. But it is insidious, it is poisonous, and I think for the journalists in this room – just trying to do their best work – it is disappointing to continue to hear the president taking this tone.”
— CNN host Brian Stelter on CNN’s live coverage of the White House Correspondents Dinner, April 29, 2017.
“You think about some of these words [from Donald Trump], some of these tweets, some of these campaign rallies back last year as – as poison, as a form of poison that has entered into the bloodstream. What I’m really interested in now is how is that poison affecting the body politic, how is that poison affecting the consumers, because it’s not something any of us were seeing or covering five years ago.”
— CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter on the Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith’s April 26, 2017 podcast of Newsfeed with Ben Smith.
Really Reaching for a Scandal
Host Brian Stelter: “But journalists also recognized there are big scandals going on.”
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway: “What scandals going on? Name them. I want to hear about. No, you can’t get away with that. What are the, quote, big scandals going on? Please, name them for me.”
Stelter: “When you look at this president’s rhetoric, his demagogic behavior when it comes to the media – ”
Conway: “His rhetoric is scandal?”
Stelter: “Yes....you don’t think that his words against the media are poisoned, Kellyanne, actually hurting the country on a daily basis?”
— CNN’s Reliable Sources, July 23, 2017.
Psychoanalyzing “Crazy” “Racist” Trump
“It’s usually after the microphones are off, of after the stories been filed, after the paper has been put to bed, people’s concerns and fears and questions come out. Questions that often feel out of bounds, off limits, too hot for TV. Questions like these: Is the President of the United States a racist? Is he suffering from some kind of illness? Is he fit for office?...My impression has been since President Trump’s inauguration, there’s been a lot of tiptoeing going on. His actions have been described as un-presidential, as unhinged, and sometimes even crazy.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, August 20, 2017.
Stelter Sermonizes: “We’re Pro-Truth”
“We’re not anti-Trump...We’re pro-truth. We’re pro-honesty. We’re pro-decency, and this is a tough moment in American history for people that support facts and decency.”
— Host Brian Stelter to Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway on CNN’s Reliable Sources, November 5, 2017.
“Is Now the Time” to Start Talking About Trump’s Mental Stability?
“Look at the New York Daily News this morning. A column calling the President a madman. Saying that he is truly unhinged....Eugene Robinson’s column in The Washington Post. People are saying we have to talk about his health now before it’s too late. Eugene Robinson saying: ‘How long are we going to pretend that President Trump is fully rational? How long are we going to ignore the signs he’s dangerously out of control?’ And here is MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough raising the same point...That’s the question. I’m going to ask you, Jeff Greenfield. Is now the time?”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, December 3, 2017.
Let’s Just Say It, Trump is Nuts
“When a President of the United States threatens North Korea by invoking the size of his nuclear button, it is fair to ask about his fitness. If a leader of another country were to do the same thing, I think many commentators, many reporters will conclude that he is not well. This past year has been full of reasons to question his fitness. President Trump promotes conspiracy theories. He shares racist videos on social media. He live-tweets Fox News shows that mislead him while he derides real reporting as fake news. He calls for the prosecution of political opponents. He insults people for fun. He says so many flat-out false things that journalists can barely keep up.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, January 7, 2018.
Brian is Just Jealous of Their Ratings
“You and I have covered Fox News for years. Is it appropriate to call the channel a news channel?”
— Host Brian Stelter’s question to NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik on CNN’s Reliable Sources, December 17, 2018.
When Hannity Wins, America Loses
“Let’s be honest. This week, Sean Hannity won. And the rest of America lost. The pro-Trump media led by Hannity has circled the wagons around President Trump. They’ve distracted people about the truth involving Trump’s Russia ties and they’ve done everything possible to destroy faith in Robert Mueller’s probe. And look, Hannity won, it worked.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, February 4, 2018.
Conway Cuts Too Close to Home for Stelter
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway: “Did you just you say something that a lot of people on your side of the aisle are not willing to say?”
Host Brian Stelter: “I’m not on a side of the aisle. That’s an offensive remark.”
— CNN’s Reliable Sources, May 20, 2018.
Do We Need an Emergency Broadcast System for Trump?
“From your perch, running the Washington Post, observing President Trump and having to cover this story everyday, is this a form of a national emergency? Are we living through a national emergency? And if so, how in the heck should journalists be covering it that way?”
— CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter to Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron at the Aspen Ideas Festival, June 27, 2018.
Trump Stoking a Worldwide “Hate Movement” Against the Press
“The President, with his back up against the wall, is saying journalists are dangerous, sick, enemies of the people....He’s shouting some of these attacks nowadays. And there’s certainly been a newfound focus on how he whips up his crowds against the press corps. More and more I think ‘hate movement’ is the proper term for what’s going on. President Trump is not just telling his fans to ignore what we report. He’s telling people we are the enemy. Trump and some of his allies are promoting a hate movement against the American press.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, August 5, 2018.
Always Assume Trump Is Lying
“Is it time for newsrooms to think of new ways to convey Trump’s lack of credibility?....Because he says so many things that are bogus....He tells us all these lies, he spreads all these falsehoods....but he’s done nothing to earn your trust and everything to squander it. The President is constantly lying and spreading conspiracy theories everyday....Should there be a bug in the corner of the screen that says, ‘Warning, the President’s probably misleading you again’?”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, August 26, 2018.
Presidential Talent Scout Brian Stelter Eyes Avenatti
“I don’t know if it’s a good thing that star power and TV savvy is required for the job, but I think it is. And by the way, I think President Obama also had a lot of TV star power and that helped him pre-Trump. But Trump is more evidence of this. And looking ahead to 2020, one reason why I’m taking you seriously as a contender is because of your presence on cable news.”
— Host Brian Stelter to Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti on CNN’s Reliable Sources, September 16, 2018.
Trump’s “Criminal Presidency?”
“After you and [Bob] Woodward exposed Watergate you said [Richard] Nixon was a criminal president and it was a criminal presidency. Is the Trump presidency a criminal presidency?”
— Host Brian Stelter’s question to CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein on CNN’s Reliable Sources, December 9, 2019.
Worried We’re Not Hyping Democratic Field Enough
“We are talking about...a number of history-making candidates. It is incredible to see the number of women running, the number of people of color running for president already on the Democratic side and yet I kind of feel this is being taken for granted. Should we, in the press, be talking more about the historic nature of this early primary season?”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, February 3, 2019.
Trump Lies Everyday, He Has to Be Guilty!
“You’re going to hear this from the right for the next days and weeks to come, that the press has made all of this up to take down President Trump. But the press is just following a trail that Trump created. He has proven time and time again that he cannot be trusted. He is so dishonest that even America’s allies don't know what to believe....Maybe every time he said no collusion more than 231 times so far, maybe every time he said no collusion he was telling the truth. Maybe that’s what Mueller found. If so it would be a relief for the country. But Trump’s daily deceptions have given this country ample reason to be suspicious. That’s why there is so much noise.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, March 24, 2019.
Trump Isn’t Being Called “Crazy” Enough
“News outlets use words like ‘erratic,’ ‘volatile,’ ‘unstable’, but rarely are the words and actions covered as a whole, rarely do they take it to the next level....What he just said seems crazy....When you watch a broadcast nightly newscast, how often do you hear about just how far off the road Trump is? Not often enough. Yes, they do note the daily madness, but they rarely connect the dots between the freak-outs.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, August 25, 2019.
How Can Anybody Support Trump? We’ll Ask a Cult Expert
“The word ‘cult’ has been popping up more and more. Think back to two weeks ago on this program, Anthony Scaramucci talked about his claim that Trump supporters are in a cult. Just last week, Dan Rather said he thinks for Trump seems increasingly cultish. And this weekend in The Washington Post, Trump critic and Republican strategist John Weaver said, the GOP is ‘not a party anymore in the traditional sense; It’s a cult.’ But none of them are mental health experts. Steven Hassan is. He’s out with a brand-new book called The Cult of Trump. He has firsthand experience escaping the Unification Church back in the ’70s....You say the President is using mind control, but how is that provable?”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, November 24, 2019.
End Is Near for Trump “Cult”
Host Brian Stelter: “Dan you tweeted something that might be related to this. You said the other day, ‘I have covered many cults. Some end with a bang, others with a whimper, but they invariably end. The question is how much damage they leave in their wake.’ Is Mitch McConnell part of the Trump cult?”
Former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather: “Yes. I think the short answer is yes. And I’m not the only one making this observation that increasingly President Trump’s support seems cultish. It’s all about him it’s not about the policy, it’s not about the standards of politics....These cults generally don’t end well. People will say it’s too much to say it’s a cult. But I don’t think so.”
— CNN’s Reliable Sources, November 17, 2019.
Journalists Not Anti-Trump Enough
“Do you think journalists are going to look back years from now and regret not doing even more to speak out about this lying and deceit?”
— Host Brian Stelter to CNN’s The Lead host Jake Tapper on CNN’s Reliable Sources, November 24, 2019.
Should Networks Even Air GOP Convention Full of Trump’s “Lies?”
“What we are going to see in the next few days is a truth imbalance. Because if we’ve learned anything from the Trump years, it’s that there’s a real likelihood, there’s a real forecast of lies coming fast and furious from the President and, sadly, from many of his allies, in these speeches, in these videos, in these events that we are about to witness….Which is going to put news outlets in tough positions about when to interrupt, when to fact check and how?...There are discussions in newsrooms about how to handle what is likely to be a stream of lying.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, August 23, 2020.
Take the Car Keys From Donald Trump
“Picture all of us Americans in a car together. President Trump is the driver. And he is trying to drive us off the road. He is trying to crash the car. In this analogy, the car is our democracy. It is old, it’s got a lot of miles on it but it’s still running, strong….The driver, ever since 2016….wants to go off-roading or he wants the car all to himself or he doesn’t know where he’s going. Something’s going on with the driver. He’s trying to crash the car. But all of us are along for the ride.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, August 2, 2020.
Debate Moderator Must Withstand Trump’s “Blizzard of Lies”
“The moderator Chris Wallace says he wants to be as invisible as possible tonight. So that means the blizzard of lies is about to begin. And as in a blizzard, it’s going to reduce visibility, people are going to get numb. And it’s going to be up to Joe Biden to shovel the you-know-what. I mean, when truth is losing, when truth is lost, Trump is winning.”
— CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter previewing the first presidential debate on CNN Newsroom, September 29, 2020.
“Racist” Rush Limbaugh “Will Always Symbolize Division”
“A pioneer of conservative media and a deeply polarizing figure….Critics blasted him for racist, sexist, and other offensive speech….A conservative media icon whose legacy will always symbolize division.”
— CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter on CNN live coverage within minutes of the announcement of Rush Limbaugh’s passing by his wife Kathryn on his syndicated radio show, February 17, 2021.
Sucking Up to Psaki
“What does the press get wrong when covering Biden’s agenda, when you watch the news, when you read the news, what do you think we get wrong?...You were a CNN commentator in between your time working with the Obama administration and now working for Biden. What did you learn here? What did you take from CNN and how does it apply to your job now?”
— Host Brian Stelter to White House Press Secretary and former CNN colleague Jen Psaki on CNN’s Reliable Sources, June 6, 2021.
Trump Supporters Like Deadly Jonestown Cult
“These citizens in other countries sometimes email me, and say you know why doesn’t the American media just call out Trump for what he is? Call Trump fandom for what it is? Sometimes they use the word ‘cult.’ I know that’s a sensitive word, doesn’t come up a lot in American news coverage, so I wanted to put it to an expert, an unfortunate expert. Congresswoman Jackie Speier started out her career in politics working for a lawmaker. She was on a fact-finding mission to Jonestown. She sadly knows firsthand the weight of that word: Cult. She was able to escape with her life. Others were not able to that day. So I wanted to hear her thoughts about the comparison, the notion of the cult of Trump.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, August 1, 2021.
CNN Is Not Biased, Just “Pro-Decency”
“When you’ve got a propagandist [Donald Trump], a demagogue running for President, then becoming President, and taking pretty clear anti-democracy positions, I think the idea was understandable that anchors….talked about democracy, talked about truth, talked about decency. I don’t think it’s partisan to be pro-democracy, pro-decency, pro-truth.”
— CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter at a September 13, 2021 Lehigh University event hosted by former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden.
Why Should We Treat Republicans Fairly When They Are Radicals?
“I want to dive right into your argument about what both-siderism is and why it’s failing the public….Is it that we’re treating Democrats and Republicans equally and ignoring GOP radicalism, is that the heart of the problem?”
— Host Brian Stelter to Los Angeles Times columnist Jackie Calmes on CNN’s Reliable Sources, October 24, 2021.
Annoyed By Fox News’ “Smothering Patriotism” That Tore Families “Apart”
“[Fox News] network is turning 25 and running lots of commercials celebrating its birthday.….The network evolved or devolved into the beating heart of the GOP, a heart with clogged arteries and weak muscles. It’s the network that brought us…..smothering patriotism after 9/11, and a portrayal of the U.S.A. that seems stuck in a time warp….Full of rage, anger. It’s the whitelash on TV….For the families who feel they have been torn apart by Fox, this week is not a happy anniversary.”
— Host Brian Stelter reporting on Fox News’s 25th anniversary as aired on CNN’s Reliable Sources, October 3, 2021.
Showing Both Sides of Abortion Debate = “Misleading”
“Think about this in the coverage in the last couple days….All these split screen images. One person who’s cheering, another person who’s jeering. I see tears on one side and then I see celebrations on the other. That 50/50 split, isn’t that actually misleading, isn’t that actually distorting?...New CBS polling….Only nine percent of Americans say it should be completely illegal in their state.”
— Host Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources, June 26, 2022.