Stelter Gets Schooled on Media Activism and ‘Ignorance’ of Guns

On Thursday’s edition of HLN’s S.E. Cupp Unfiltered, host S.E. Cupp and her panel continued their multipart deep-dive conversation to get to a solution for mass shootings. The day’s conversation entailed the role of the media and whether or not they were helping the situation. Included on the panel was CNN senior media reporter Brian Stelter, and while he was defending media advocacy and their “humility,” he was embarrassingly schooled for it.

Stelter was the first person Cupp looked to for answers and one of her first questions was a very important one. “Do you think, that the media has been doing a good job by in large? Obviously, I showed some of the worst by in large do you think the media has done a good job covering this story,” she wondered. This question came after she played clips of MSNBC hosts saying the GOP and the NRA had blood on their hands.

I think a lot of journalists, a lot of television anchors, a lot of reporters are trying to advocate for change. And I think you might say they are trying to advocate for more gun control,” Stelter explained, knowing Cupp was a conservative and NRA member. “I think they would say they are advocating for more safety of some form. How we are going to get to a safer world, to a safer country in this case.

Stelter admitted that journalists were becoming greater political advocates during the first year of President Trump. But according to him, they were “advocating for truth and for decency,” and he brushed off criticism by saying it only appeared to be anti-Trump. It was interesting that he was making that claim since CNN’s gun town hall from the previous night was lacking both truth and decency.

But what we’ve seen now is this advocating for a safer country. And from there we can debate if they’re doing it in the right way or whether they’re crossing the line,” Stelter argued.

 

 

Cupp then turned to senior producer Andy Levy, who immediately pushed back on Stelter’s assertions. “I get a little confused when anchors and journalists who have claimed a pretext to objectivity are nakedly advocating for change,” he said. “They’re not embarrassed they’re making factual errors because they are convinced their cause is just. And that is a really, really dangerous thing, to me, for a journalist to be doing.

Podcaster Dave Smith chimed in and declared that many in the media had “exposed” themselves as gun control advocates. “I mean, on MSNBC some of the clips you see they’re out there just posting every congressman and how much money they take from the NRA. And this is on shows like Meet the Press, brought to you by Boeing,” he quipped.

“You know Brian, I’ve been saying for years, I can't name another single issue about which the media knows so little and yet is so vocal,” Cupp told Stelter as she asked if “shouldn't we have gun beat reporters?” Stelter agreed, but he bizarrely claimed we’ve seen “a lot” of “humility” from the press when it came to admitting and learning the stuff they didn’t know about guns.

Levy was taken aback by Stelter’s very generous depiction of the media and took a swipe at their ignorance. “I have to say, I have not seen a lot of this humility from the media about not knowing their stuff about guns. I think there is -- it's not that they're not embarrassed that they make factual errors, or are factually ignorant about guns, they just don't care,” he expertly pointed out.

Levy’s point was a fantastic one. Right after the shooting, ABC, CBS, and NBC all reported that the Parkland school shooting was the 18th of the year. And they also falsely claimed that the GOP and Trump passed a bill making it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns. And then their first reports were rebuked, none of them corrected their reporting.

The relevant portions of the transcript are below, click expand to read:

 

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HLN
S.E. Cupp Unfiltered
February 22, 2018
5:04:39 PM Eastern

(…)

S.E. CUPP: Brian, I'm very curious, what have you thought about the media coverage over the past week?

BRIAN STELTER: I was hoping you would not start with me, but that's okay.

CUPP: I'm starting with you because I know you're an expert on this and I know you’ve been thinking about it, and watching everything, and putting it together in your mind, and I'm just curious what you make of this week of media coverage on this school shooting?

STELTER: Two Americas on full display. This is the kind of week we see two Americas. And you see that reflected in the news coverage and in the incendiary comments you just played from the left and from the right. I think a lot of this comes from fear. Why are there folks on TV talking about blood on your hands, why are they on TV saying the press loves mass shootings, it’s because these are such scary events. These kinds of killings in schools and because the idea of gun violence, the idea of these murders is just so frightening. I think in this environment where people's stress levels are very high, you see how some of these comments-- these irrational comments get said.

However, we need more people on television trying to bring the temperature down. That, ultimately, is part of the solution.

CUPP: Do you think, that the media has been doing a good job by in large? Obviously, I showed some of the worst by in large do you think the media has done a good job covering this story?

STELTER: I think a lot of journalists, a lot of television anchors, a lot of reporters are trying to advocate for change. And I think you might say they are trying to advocate for more gun control. I think they would say they are advocating for more safety of some form. How we are going to get to a safer world, to a safer country in this case. I think we’ve seen journalists in the last year of the Trump administration advocating for truth and for decency. Sometimes it comes off as anti-Trump in the minds of some people. But what we’ve seen now is this advocating for a safer country. And from there we can debate if they’re doing it in the right way or whether they’re crossing the line.

CUPP: Andy, what did you think? What did you make of the coverage?

ANDY LEVY: What confuses me is that, you know, I’m fine with advocates advocating for stuff. I get a little confused when anchors and journalists who have claimed a pretext to objectivity are nakedly advocating for change. On either side. You know, it doesn’t matter what the issue is. And I just think, you know, a lot of this fear that you correctly talked about. I think that fear is being stoked by a lot of people in the media on both sides. And you see it a lot. You see people yell, you know— They’re not embarrassed they’re making factual errors because they are convinced their cause is just. And that is a really, really dangerous thing, to me, for a journalist to be doing.

(…)

DAVID SMITH: But there are so many journalists and they’ve exposed themselves that they are—yeah, they are gun control advocates. And they feel that that is the route to safety. And man they have exposed themselves over this last week. I mean, on MSNBC some of the clips you see they’re out there just posting every congressman and how much money they take from the NRA. And this is on shows like Meet the Press brought to you by Boeing. It’s like, why are we only doing this for this one group? Because you’re activists.

CUPP: You know Brian, I’ve been saying for years, I can't name another single issue about which the media knows so little and yet is so vocal. I get asked all of the time whether or not I know journalists who know anything about guns. And I know very, very few. If we're going to have a gun beat, and I think we should, because school shootings, gun violence, a problem in this country, shouldn't we have gun beat reporters?

STELTER: Absolutely and I think you identified a problem in the American media with regard to expertise. In this case about guns. It applies in other areas as well. Religion is another topic that does not get enough specified beat coverage. What we need from journalists, and we have seen a lot of it, is humility. To know what you don’t know and try to find out the answers. Where I get concerned is when we get out the broad brush. And I'm guilty of it too like everybody else.

(…)

LEVY: I have to say, I have not seen a lot of this humility from the media about not knowing their stuff about guns. I think there is -- it's not that they're not embarrassed that they make factual errors, or are factually ignorant about guns, they just don't care. That is the sense that I have gotten a lot of, and it's easier to yell "We have to do something" than to educate yourself. But it seems to me journalists job is to educate people who are watching not to confirm their biases.

CUPP: This is not a media bashing block, I'm just as concerned about these conspiracy theories.

(…)


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NBDaily Events Parkland School Shooting Guns Media Bias Debate Double Standards Cable Television HLN (formerly CNN Headline News) S.E. Cupp Unfiltered Video Andy Levy S.E. Cupp Brian Stelter