CNN Guest Shoots Down ‘Hysterical’ Media Whining Trump Silent with Press

Each weekend, CNN airs another edition of Reliable Sources where “ridiculous figure” and host Brian Stelter labels President Donald Trump an authoritarian dictator and whines about his war on the media, but on Sunday things were a little bit different. Yes, Stelter continued to bemoan Trump, but this time he got pushback from The Baltimore Sun’s media critic David Zurawik. “One of the things that surprises me about the coverage so far of Trump, is it's a constant friction,” he argued while noting that the media’s complaining has reached a near “hysterical” level.

“It's supposed to be that way. A push and pull and back and forth between the presidency and the White House [Press Pool],” he continued, explaining that it was normal for a president and the press to have a little tug-o-war, “That's what makes the Saturday Night Live skit with the podium that moves such brilliant satire, because that's literally them butting heads and pushing back against one another.”

He eventually lamented that the media’s reaction to the White House’s pushback was over the top. “But with Trump, the thing is, that people have taken it to this extreme thing and almost gotten hysterical about it every time they push back,” he said.

The reason this came up for discussion was because Stelter had taken umbrage with the President refusing to talk to the press in recent days:

Just halfway through his first 100 days in office, something has changed. Is the President becoming press shy? Let's look at numbers. It's been 25 days since his last press conference. It's been 13 days since his last TV interview and three days since he used Twitter to take a swipe at the press. It's actually been longer than that. When you look at his tweets in terms of his actual tone, his tenor attacking news outlets. He has changed his tune. So this week the White House seemed to be limiting his availability to the press. Allowing photo ops but discouraging questions.

Stelter followed that up with a clip of ABC’s Jon Karl shouting questions at the President during a photo-op while Trump sat there in silence. Speaking as though he were Trump’s White house Zurawik explained the situation to his host, saying: “Look, if I was him right now and I looked at this I’d say: ‘Look, every time we engage the press, we are attacked. We're shredded. Let's let the press go on its own for a while and see how they like it. Why engage at that level if we're going to get pounded?’”

“It's not the worst war on the press. He hasn't even done what Obama's done. It might be that, but not yet,” he continued to say. But the CNN host didn’t seem to like that explanation, cut him off, and reminded his guest that Trump once called the media “the enemy of the American people.”

“Well, actions are what matter isn’t it in this world,” Zurawik shot back, “When somebody names a reporter an aider and abetter and a co-conspirator as President Obama did in getting a subpoena on [Fox News’] James Rosen, that's a lot worse.” The media critic also recalled that Obama threatened a New York Times journalist with jail time for a majority of his presidency.

To round out that set of comments, Zurawik seemed to take a jab at Stelter, stating: “And look, it is bad. It's awful. I wouldn't defend that or anything Trump does but words are not actions like that Brian.”

Although Zurawik didn’t directly tie Stelter to the “hysterical” media he most certainly falls under that label. He once described Trump’s election as a “national emergency” because the Russians were exploiting him. And on more than one occasion he has argued that the media “need” to declare Trump an “authoritarian.” 

Transcript below: 

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CNN
Reliable Sources
March 12, 2017
11:01:03 AM Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: Just halfway through his first 100 days in office, something has changed. Is the President becoming press shy? Let's look at numbers. It's been 25 days since his last press conference. It's been 13 days since his last TV interview and three days since he used Twitter to take a swipe at the press. It's actually been longer than that. When you look at his tweets in terms of his actual tone, his tenor attacking news outlets. He has changed his tune. So this week the White House seemed to be limiting his availability to the press. Allowing photo ops but discouraging questions. Does all of this add up to a White House trying to contain and control the message or is it shield from, you know, the tough questions we have about issues like, well, that claim about wiretapping. Take a look at this, from ABC’s Jon Karl. He was trying to shout to President Trump in a meeting with some of the nation’s top CEOs.

11:03:51 AM Eastern

STELTER: I wonder, David Zurawik, if some viewers watch that Jon Karl exchange and think “Jeez, journalists are being rude trying to shout at the President.” How do you interpret these exchanges?

DAVID ZURAWIK: Well, you know, when I saw that, I actually thought “Oh, it's the Ronald Reagan playbook he's going to. What a change for him.” But look, well Brian, one of the things that surprises me about the coverage so far of Trump, is it's a constant friction. It's supposed to be that way. A push and pull and back and forth between the presidency and the White House [Press Pool]. That's what makes the Saturday Night Live skit with the podium that moves such brilliant satire, because that's literally them butting heads and pushing back against one another.

But with Trump, the thing is, that people have taken it to this extreme thing and almost gotten hysterical about it every time they push back. Look, if I was him right now and I looked at this I’d say: “Look, every time we engage the press, we are attacked. We're shredded. Let's let the press go on its own for a while and see how they like it. Why engage at that level if we're going to get pounded?”

I mean, that's a reasonable thing for him to say. And you know this thing, Brian. When we say: “Oh he's the worst war on the press ever.” You know, I wrote about that last week. It's not the worst war on the press. He hasn't even done what Obama's done. It might be that, but not yet. So..

STELTER: You're talking about actions not words. We have not had a living president call the media the enemy of the American people before.

ZURAWIK: Well, actions are what matter isn’t it in this world? When somebody names a reporter an aider and abetter and a co-conspirator as President Obama did in getting a subpoena on James Rosen, that's a lot worse. Or when they threatened James Risen from The New York Times for SIX YEARS with jail, that's a lot worse than calling him an enemy of the people. And look, it is bad. It's awful. I wouldn't defend that or anything Trump does but words are not actions like that Brian.

STELTER: You’re reminding me of that nursery rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, words will never hurt me.” 

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