CNN's Stelter: Media 'Need' to Start Calling Trump an 'Authoritarian' 'Strongman'

CNN’s Brian Stelter took his anti-Donald Trump bias to new heights Sunday during his show Reliable Sources, where he argued that the media had to start referring to the president-elect as an authoritarian. “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,’” he claimed, “I think we need to start using those words on TV, at least, to discuss the possibilities before us.

What you do in an authoritarian regime is you delegitimize the press,” he continued, as he asked former Fortune editor John Huey if he could see Trump cracking down on the press. Huey agreed and said that Trump practices “the classic techniques of a demagogue.” And according to him, one of the techniques is “to create the idea that someone out there is the enemy.

And he started with Mexicans, he moved to Muslims, and sometime in the middle of the summer he really started to focus on the media,” Huey explained, while praising Stelter for being, “one of the first people to pick up on that.” Come to think of it, Hillary Clinton’s claim that Trump’s supporters were a basket of deplorables falls into that narrative.

Huey continued to smear Trump by surmising that, “So these are demagogic techniques and you can look at them very seriously because they do smack of authoritarianism.” He went on to mock Trump reminding that panel “This is the first president-elect we've ever had who is in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. So there are elements of promotion here.

The CNN host had George Washington University professor and former CNN Washington Bureau Chief, Frank Senso, on the program where Stelter inquired, “Frank, is that what you tell your journalism students, that this is the prime time to become a journalist because there's a lot to investigate?” Senso then ranted:

Well, yeah. I tell them it's an important time to become a journalist, even though journalism itself is under siege, even though the media as we know it is so fractured and disaggregated, that's going to continue. But we're going to need people who are truth tellers. We’re going to need people who are story tellers. We’re going to need people who are go out on all platforms and convey real information, not fake information, not phonyed information, not distorted information.

But that’s what the media had been peddling for decades, including CNN. Stelter himself tried to spread fake information when he claimed NewsBusters was fake news site. And Stelter tried to distort information when he tried to discredit an Associated Press investigation that exposed how Secretary Clinton gave special access to her foundation donors. 

Transcript below:

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CNN
Reliable Sources
December 4, 2016
11:07:04 AM Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: He’s [Donald Trump] certainly showing cable news and SNLs relevant. John I take Salena [Zito]'s point, at it’s partly entertainment. 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. What you do in an authoritarian regime is you delegitimize the press. Do you see some of that happening, John, in the weeks since Trump was elected?

JOHN HUEY: Well, I've see a continuation of what he's been doing since the very beginning. The last time I spoke to you, I was stressing the concept of a demagogue and the classic techniques of a demagogue. And one of those is you have to have a scapegoat. You have to create the idea that someone out there is the enemy. And he started with Mexicans, he moved to Muslims, and sometime in the middle of the summer he really started to focus on the media. And you were one of the first people to pick up on that and also the election rigging. The media was part of the election rigging.

Tell the Truth 2016

So these are demagogic techniques and you can look at them very seriously because they do smack of authoritarianism. But actually, to the point about entertainment, these rallies really have the feel of shock jock or a wrestling events. And this is the first president-elect we've ever had who is in the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. So there are elements of promotion here.

But, I think it would be foolish to look at them in that entertaining light. I think there are serious attempts -- one other point, quickly, the reason he is settled on the media over the Mexicans and the Muslims is the media poses a real threat to him. I mean the media are the people who investigate his charitable giving. They're the ones who look at what we can learn about his tax returns. They're the people who cover the fraud trial of Trump University. So it's very much in his interest to discredit the messenger for those messages.

STELTER: Frank, is that what you tell your journalism students, that this is the prime time to become a journalist because there's a lot to investigate?

FRANKO SESNO: Well, yeah. I tell them it's an important time to become a journalist, even though journalism itself is under siege, even though the media as we know it is so fractured and disaggregated, that's going to continue.

But we're going to need people who are truth tellers. We’re going to need people who are story tellers. We’re going to need people who are go out on all platforms and convey real information, not fake information, not phonyed information, not distorted information.

And I think the point John was making before is part of also what I tell these students, which is what you're seeing here which is really something that everybody, everybody needs to pay attention to is, if Donald Trump is trying to inoculate himself in advance, like giving himself a vaccine, to prevent the illness that's going to come when the media turn on his tax returns, if they get a leak on it, when they look at some of the business dealings as he's talking to foreign leaders.

I mean, there are all kinds of stories that you can imagine that have already been written, some of them, and what he's trying to do here is, as I say, sort of inoculate himself by demonizing media, so, “Don't believe anything they say.” So what I'm telling those students and others and news consumers very importantly is understand what the media's job is with everybody and the media need to do their job fairly with everybody, which is to hold them to account.

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