Stelter Blames Synagogue Shooting on Fox News Coverage of Caravan

It’s no secret CNN has a great disdain for Fox News and right-wing media in general, so it was no surprise that during Sunday’s so-called Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter and his panel (made up of largely liberal and anti-Trump commentators) blamed both for the political violence and death from the past few days.

Only one, the Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis, dared to admit that blame for the super-heated rhetoric, hate, and violence belonged on all sides and called out the cable news hate machine.

The program began with Stelter touting the good people trying to comfort and give aid to those touched by the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “But then there are these darker forces as well,” he warned. “We have to look closely at the poison being spread sometimes on television, sometimes out of the mouths of political leaders and oftentimes on ugly, dark corners of social media.

Soon after, Stelter drew viewers’ attention to internet posts the shooter made and tried to tie it to right-wing media:

He posted, “I noticed a change in people saying ‘illegals’, that now say ‘invaders’. I like this.” What’s he talking about there? He's talking about the migrant caravan. He’s talking about the migrant caravan portrayed by far right-wing media as an invasion.

The first panelist Stelter called on was Weekly Standard founder and anti-Trumper Bill Kristol who railed against Fox News helping to cause the shooting with their “their coverage of the caravan and the danger of these immigrants.” “I'm blaming the management of Fox and the investors in Fox and some of the other talent who are decent people at Fox for saying nothing,” he decried.

Can we talk about the fact he's helped create an environment that made this possible,” Kristol chided the President as he ripped into right-wing media in general as non-conservative.

 

 

Stelter then turned to Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan and praised her analysis of the Democratic bombing targets from last week, disgustingly suggesting it “reads like a list of Sean Hannity’s pre-broadcast crib notes.” After Stelter asked her point-blank if she blamed people on the right like Hannity for the violence, she said we needed to call like it was:

SULLIVAN: Well, I think they have a share of sort of this revving up of hatred without regard for what its affect might be and without much regard for the truth. I mean the way things are being pitched on Fox and in pro-Trump right-wing media is dangerous, and it's destructive. So I think we need to call it what it is.

The only one to deviate from the anti-right talking points was The Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis who balled them up and threw them in the trash. “We have a megaphone and we're all responsible for helping create and foster what is a very toxic, political environment right now,” he argued.

Lewis called out politicians and cable news who had “perverse incentives” to “gin up anger and anxiety and passion for ratings” and for elections. “Same thing with websites, with clicks and tweets,” he added.

“The only thing I would add is, tomorrow it could be Sean Hannity who is targeted or a Republican congressman who is targeted,” Lewis worried possibly citing the panel’s focus on Hannity. “I think all the cable networks engage in this sort of fostering this anger and this toxic environment.”

Stelter didn’t want to hear it and asked Lewis if he was drawing a “false equivalency between Fox and others?” “No, I don't think it's a false equivalency. I think that it is an equivalency,” Lewis declared before tearing into the media again:

I think we have a pervasive problem that has to do with our politicians who have perverse incentives to gin up anger and a toxic environment. And I think we have a media environment that needs ratings. Cable new is very toxic.

I do think that in this case there's a problem on both sides. We had a Republican congressman a year ago who was shot. This is a problem. This could happen tomorrow to a Republican politician,” Lewis cautioned.

Stelter might argue that he didn’t accuse Fox News directly, but the focus of the conversation was on Fox and their host. Stelter kept it on track, had tweets about Fox News queued, and named no other right-wing media outlet.

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

CNN’s Reliable Sources
October 28, 2018
11:00:48 a.m. Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: You know, there are so many good people in the world. So many good people responding to these crimes right now. But then there are these darker forces as well. And what we all have in common, what we all share is this country but it’s also a poisoned social media environment. We have to look closely at the poison being spread sometimes on television, sometimes out of the mouths of political leaders and oftentimes on ugly, dark corners of social media. So that's something we're going to examine here in the hour to come.

I want to make one more point before we bring in the panel, and that is to take a look at the suspect in Pittsburgh's post on Gab. Gab is this version of Twitter. It's an alternative to Twitter. It's become very popular among hate groups and bigots because you can post pretty much anything on there no matter how ugly. So this is what the suspect posted six days before the shooting.

He posted, “I noticed a change in people saying ‘illegals’, that now say ‘invaders’. I like this.” What’s he talking about there? He's talking about the migrant caravan. He’s talking about the migrant caravan portrayed by far right-wing media as an invasion. Five minutes before the shooing he posted on Gab, “HIAS”, this wonderful Jewish refugee agency, it “likes to bring in invaders,” he says, “that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in.”

We know the suspect in Pittsburgh was deeply anti-Semitic. That was the root of his evil. But then he was also deeply anti-immigrant, talking about this invasion that's not actually happening. And yet who's been telling him it's happening? That’s a part of this conversation we have to have today.

(…)

Bill, if I can get started with you, President Trump mentioned you by name at a rally yesterday. You've also been outspoken about some of the problems in right-wing media as it relates to some of this.

(…)

BILL KRISTOL: Well, what about this? Can we talk about the fact he's helped create an environment that made this possible. And incidentally, Fox News and other – I hate to even call it conservative because for me conservative is a good tradition – by right-wing media, parts of it, have made this much more acceptable. Their coverage of the caravan and the danger of these immigrants.

(…)

KRISTOL: I'm blaming the management of Fox and the investors in Fox and some of the other talent who are decent people at Fox for saying nothing. This has been going on for a long time. If you watch Fox in prime time – I don’t, but you read about it and see clips – it’s really appalling.

(…)

STELTER: Margaret (…) you said look at all these targets, this reads like a list of Sean Hannity’s pre-broadcast crib notes. That was the way you put it in your Washington Post column. Again, are you blaming the Hannities of the world?

MARGARET SULLIVAN: Well, I think they have a share of sort of this revving up of hatred without regard for what its affect might be and without much regard for the truth. I mean the way things are being pitched on Fox and in pro-Trump right-wing media is dangerous, and it's destructive. So I think we need to call it what it is.

STELTER: Matt Lewis, let me get you in here. Your perspective on this. Of course, your a CNN commentator, also a Daily Beast analyst, and you wrote about the media’s role – some of the blame to go around. How are you taking this conversation about Fox's role in particular?

MATT LEWIS: Well look, I agree with everything that's been said and I think look we're all responsible. We have a megaphone and we're all responsible for helping create and foster what is a very toxic, political environment right now. And I think our politicians have perverse incentives to gen up their base for elections. I think cable news has incentives to gin up anger and anxiety and passion for ratings. Same thing with websites, with clicks and tweets.

I agree with everything that we've said so far today. The only thing I would add is, tomorrow it could be Sean Hannity who is targeted or a Republican congressman who is targeted. And while I agree with the condemnation of what Fox has done in terms of ginning up this anger over the caravan, I think this is a much more widespread problem. I think all the cable networks engage in this sort of fostering this anger and this toxic environment. And that's sort of where I would take it. I think this is a much bigger problem. It has to do with media. It has to do with perverse incentives --

STELTER: But are you drifting into a false equivalency situation? A false equivalency between Fox and others?

LEWIS: No, I don't think it's a false equivalency. I think that it is an equivalency. I think we have a pervasive problem that has to do with our politicians who have perverse incentives to gin up anger and a toxic environment. And I think we have a media environment that needs ratings. Cable new is very toxic.

There is some good stuff on there, don’t get me wrong. I was just watching Fareed Zakaria. I thought that was a really intelligent thoughtful show, but by and large cable news is toxic shout fest. I think it contributes to the anger that we have in America right now, and I do think at the risk of sounding like Donald Trump in Charlottesville where I think he was wrong, but I do think that in this case there's a problem on both sides. We had a Republican congressman a year ago who was shot. This is a problem. This could happen tomorrow to a Republican politician.

(…)

NB Daily Mail Bombs Pittsburgh synagogue shooting Immigration Conspiracy Theories Political Groups Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Cable Television CNN Reliable Sources Video Matt Lewis Maragaret Sullivan Bill Kristol Brian Stelter Donald Trump

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