Stelter, Cupp: Trump Is Making the World a ‘Darker’ Place for Journalists

During an appearance in New York on Monday, CBS journalist Lesley Stahl raised eyebrows when she claimed that President Trump had admitted to her he was out to protect himself from factual reporting with his combative stance against the press. But she had sat on the quote and didn’t say anything about it for two years and a 60 Minutes interview later.

During Wednesday’s S.E. Cupp Unfiltered, CNN senior media reporter Brian Stelter and HLN host S.E. Cupp bought into Stahl’s questionable claims and used them to bash the President as a beacon to authoritarian dictators the world over.

So what I've been saying for 18 months is confirmed,” Cupp self-righteously declared. “President Trump's war on the media is intentional and the goal is to create confusion and sow distrust.” She suggested Trump said it “point blank,” but her evidence was Stahl’s account. “Yep, he said it. He wants you to be confused. And it's worked,” she proclaimed. “So basically, according to Lesley Stahl, Trump has admitted to manipulating people. How insulted should voters and viewers feel,” she asked Stelter.

Stelter was amused by her use of “insulted” for how Americans should feel. “I think insulted is exactly the right word. Because that is what it is. He's trying to pull the wool over people's eyes and according to Stahl, he admitted it,” he asserted. “This was only a few days after he was elected, by the way, before he even took office. That’s was before he started using the term fake news.

All of this discussion about how Trump supposedly had a long-term, maniacal plan to discredit the press raised questions about the validity of the claims. Mainly, if the plan was so important to keeping Trump protected from the truth, why would he spill the beans to Stahl? But such serious questions weren’t important enough for the pair because they needed to slam Trump as a dictator, a CNN staple. And Cupp led the way:

 

 

Well, let’s be clear. Trump isn't manipulating people because he thinks the news is biased. He's manipulating people because he thinks the news is true. And that's dangerous. It’s not just an assault on Democracy here, it reverberates around the world. Some of the despots who have invoked Trump's “fake news,” quite literally the worst people on the planet: Syria’s Bashas ai-Assad, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte.

Cupp then displayed the Newseum’s “world press freedom map,” which purports to show how free the press is by country and wondered if Trump was damaging the world. “Yes, he's been changing that map, he’s been making it darker. We saw that in data from 2016 versus '17 versus this year. In fact, the effects of his rhetoric are being felt more abroad than they are here,” Stelter said as he praised the American press for ‘rising to the occasion’ and downplaying their embarrassing failures.

It's kind of like a hurricane that sits offshore; just churns the water and erodes the sand. It doesn't happen right away. It takes time for the effects,” Stelter chided. “But when the hurricane passes, the sun comes out, you see there's no more beach and you realize that everybody suffers. That is kinda what his rhetoric does. It's a slow acting sort of erosion that causes damage to the press.

When they finally got around to asking why it took so long for Stahl to share her account, Stelter’s speculation didn’t pass the smell test. According to his “educated” guess, CBS was trying to stay on Trump’s good side so they could get another interview. “Now, it's 18 months, I think maybe they've given up and maybe they think, ‘you know what, so what, now we're going tell what happened.’ That’s my theory.”

But Stelter’s educated guess didn’t seem so educated seeing as the original interview had Stahl hounding the then President-elect. And since then, they’ve had another 60 Minute segments critical of the Trump administration, most recently was their Stormy Daniels interview. And that’s not to mention their normal CBS newscasts.

Of course, this was just another opportunity for them to take more shots at the President with claims that cannot be verified.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read: 

 

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HLN
S.E. Cupp Unfiltered
May 23, 2018
5:34:09 PM Eastern

S.E. CUPP: So what I've been saying for 18 months is confirmed! President Trump's war on the media is intentional and the goal is to create confusion and sow distrust. Earlier this week, 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl revealed that during a meeting with then President-elect Trump, he told her point blank.

(…)

CUPP: Yep, he said it. He wants you to be confused. And it's worked. Many of you, like me, are probably wondering why did Lesley Stahl, one of the leading journalists of our time, the first journalist to interview Trump after the 2016 election, why did she hold on to this nugget for the better part of two years? Beats me. Now, the White House has yet to comment the story but that didn't stop the President from tweeting about witch hunts and unhinged conspiracy theories this morning and assailing the free press last night.

(…)

CUPP: Here to discuss, is CNN senior media correspondent and the host of CNN's Reliable Sources, Brian Stelter. So basically, according to Lesley Stahl, Trump has admitted to manipulating people. How insulted should voters and viewers feel?

BRIAN STELTER: I think insulted is exactly the right word. Because that is what it is. He's trying to pull the wool over people's eyes and according to Stahl, he admitted it. This was only a few days after he was elected, by the way, before he even took office. That’s was before he started using the term fake news.

So, the President’s gotten what I would call “better” at this, better at this abuse of the media. But even back then he was being told by Stahl, “knock it off, this is not good, it's not healthy.” I think, for the audience at home, don't fall for it has been the advice for a while. And especially true today, when according to Stahl he's admitting to it. Don't fall for it, refuse to be confused. Because there's a lot of people who benefit from confusion, whoever is in power, they always benefit from confusion, not just Trump. Refuse to be confused.

CUPP: Well, let’s be clear. Trump isn't manipulating people because he thinks the news is biased. He's manipulating people because he thinks the news is true. And that's dangerous. It’s not just an assault on Democracy here, it reverberates around the world. Some of the despots who have invoked Trump's “fake news,” quite literally the worst people on the planet; Syria’s Bashas ai-Assad, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. This map that we’re showing right now is from the Newseum’s world press freedom map. I know you’ve been to the Newseum. I’ve been to the Newseum. I've looked at this thing in awe. Do you think Trump has been changing that map?

STELTER: Yes, he's been changing that map, he’s been making it darker. We saw that in data from 2016 versus '17 versus this year. In fact, the effects of his rhetoric are being felt more abroad than they are here. We have a very vibrant press in the U.S., journalists have risen to the occasion. There's the been some mistakes but there's been a lot of great reporting. The real effects of his rhetoric are felt overseas. It's kind of like a hurricane that sits offshore; just churns the water and erodes the sand. It doesn't happen right away. It takes time for the effects. But when the hurricane passes, the sun comes out, you see there's no more beach and you realize that everybody suffers. That is kinda what his rhetoric does. It's a slow acting sort of erosion that causes damage to the press.

CUPP: Yeah. Why do you think Lesley Stahl held onto that?

STELTER: I have a theory about that.

CUPP: Oh, good.

STELTER: It's kind of cynical though. So let me tell you. Lesley Stahl has the first interview, as you mentioned, post-election. Then 60 minutes doesn't get an interview for over a year. They were in negotiations with the White House trying to get Trump to sit down. Obama did a 60 Minutes interview pretty much every year. So, they had high expectations. They thought Trump would agree to an interview last fall, he never did. Now, it's 18 months, I think maybe they've given up and maybe they think, “you know what, so what, now we're going tell what happened.” That’s my theory.

CUPP: So, you think they were hoping to get more access to him. And that could have complicated things.

STELTER: That’s a guess. I have to admit, it's only a guess but it's an educated guess, having covered 60 Minutes and covered this would for a while. I think it's possible she felt there was no reason at this point not to share what she experienced in that private meeting. But I agree with a lot of people who have said, “wait a second, why didn’t you tell us about this 18 months ago.”

CUPP: She's a journalist, it had to have, you know, thrown up red flags in her mind, raised her own -- sort of the hairs on her arm, that's basically chilling to her very existence.

STELTER: Yes. You would think so. And I'm glad -- I guess better late than never, it's one of those cases. Better late than never.

(…)

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