It’s a new year, so CNN media reporter Brian Stelter decided to dedicate a lot of Sunday’s Reliable Sources (the first episode of the year) to starting things off on the right foot by trying to improve the liberal media’s trust with the public. Unfortunately, he was only interested in improving it with only half the country. The left half to be precise. Throughout the program, he queried his ample supply of liberal panelists to understand how the media could improve in their eyes going into 2020 and beyond.
“But let me level with you since it’s the start of a new year here,” Stelter began. “I thought about leading off this program with President Trump's insults against Democrats, his latest slur against Elizabeth Warren, his new ad blasting Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. But then I thought, that’s precisely the problem.”
According to Stelter, “[f]raming Democratic policies and campaigns through Trump's shots and smears is one of the things that is wrong about political coverage.” Speaking with Obama-bro Dan Pfeiffer a short time later, Stelter argued that “[t]he idea that if everything is framed or refracted through Trump that’s going to hurt the Democrats.”
“Are reporters repeating some of the mistakes made in 2016 already? Is sexism creeping into the coverage,” Stelter asked the viewers.
To get the answers to his inane questions, Stelter recruited former Hillary Clinton spokesperson Karen Finney and former Bernie Sanders press secretary, Symone Sanders. Asked about what she was worried the liberal media would pull going into 2020, Finney told Stelter the media should not be “afraid to call things out for what they are”. And as her explanation went on, it was clear she meant the media should call Trump’s supporters racist and sexist more often.
Stelter agreed and asserted “[t]here was not enough talk about racial resentment during the 2016 campaign.” He even admitted: “that is a regret I have personally.”
Both Sanders and Pfeiffer whined about how the media were covering covered Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). They claimed the media were falling into Trump’s trap of talking about her lack of Native American heritage and about the DNA test, even though Warren put the results of the test out herself. Stelter just nodded along.
In the midst of an interview with columnist Connie Schultz about the possibility of her husband, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), possibly running for president, Stelter wanted to know: “Do you have critiques of how Dems are covered in the mainstream media?” Schultz feared the media would repeat their follies from 2016:
What I worry about is we're going to do what we did in 15/16. I'm not blaming the media solely for what happened in terms of elevating Donald Trump in the minds of voters but we certainly were engaged in that at a level I’ve never seen before. And we got really enamored in this quotable nonsense that he was engaging in.
In the later portion of the show, Stelter again repeated CNN’s institutionalized lie suggesting the Trump/Fox News relationship was unprecedented, while ignoring Obama’s cozy relationship with the liberal media. “Is that the other part of this anti-Trump conversation we have to include,” he asked of Atlantic editor and faux Republican David Frum.
Frum was quick to declare Stelter’s question a “false premise” and seriously argued that Trump received positive press. “Relative to the truth, the prestige press in this country has a pro-Trump bias. Relative to the truth, Trump gets easier coverage than he deserves,” he spat.
That tied into a ridiculous question Stelter asked of New York Times columnist Frank Bruni a couple minutes beforehand: “But this idea that news coverage of Trump is negative, is too negative what – where does the truth lie in there?”
But as the Media Research Center found throughout 2018, broadcast network coverage of President Trump was often over 90 percent.
So, Stelter’s concern for how DEMOCRATS feel about the media and his thoughts for how to make THEM better represented through the press, proved he and CNN had dug in and were content with being a partisan outlet.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
CNN’s Reliable Sources
January 6, 2019
11:01:22 a.m. Eastern
BRIAN STELTER: But let me level with you since it’s the start of a new year here, I thought about leading off this program with President Trump's insults against Democrats, his latest slur against Elizabeth Warren, his new ad blasting Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. But then I thought, that’s precisely the problem. Framing Democratic policies and campaigns through Trump's shots and smears is one of the things that is wrong about political coverage. So, let's start with a different kind of conversation today. Not about Trump but about the Dems. Now that Democrats have retaken control of the House, Pelosi has been all over television talking about that. And Warren has been on TV too jump-starting the 2020 race in Iowa with a series of events. Are reporters repeating some of the mistakes made in 2016 already? Is sexism creeping into the coverage?
STELTER: What are you concerned about or keeping a close eye on in the news coverage of the Dems retaking control of the House and beginning 2020 campaigning?
KAREN FINNEY: Well, first of all, thank you so much. It is so great to be here and so great to be with CNN. I think a couple things, and one that you mentioned, I mean, we have to really think about language and the language that we use. (…) I think part of it is not being afraid to call things out for what they are. (…) So much of the coverage of polling focuses on the “what” and not the “why”. The best example of it I can give you from 2016, where many journalists admitted they missed it, was the fact that polls were saying people had economic anxiety. What people were missing is what was driving that economic anxiety was fear of change, was about racism, was about sexism. And so, that whole conversation was really missed on the national level in terms of how -- what that meant for the country and how the candidates were being covered and perceived.
STELTER: Interesting. There was not enough talk about racial resentment during the 2016 campaign. We focused on a lot of economic anxiety and not about racial anxiety. And that is a regret I have personally. Symone, what about you? I know there’s a lot of distrust of the press on the left. We talk a lot about distrust of the media on the right. But also on the left. What do you think are the main reasons are the main reasons why liberals who are passionate about these campaigns sometimes distrust the national media?
SYMONE SANDERS: You know, I think part of it comes from -- a lot of times the things happening on the ground are not, in fact, what people are talking about on cable news. Because often times there is a disconnect between a number of the pundits pontificating on cable news and the people who are actually doing the work.
STELTER: Health care, health care, health care. And Dan, that brings us to this Trump fact I was talking about earlier. The idea that if everything is framed or refracted through Trump that’s going to hurt the Democrats.
DAN PFEIFFER: Right. I think Trump's political superpower, to the extent he has one, is to move the conversation towards topics that animate his base and do nothing for Democrats. He brings up the caravan and the media brings up the caravan in the run-up to the election. He talks about Elizabeth Warren, calls her Pocahontas, we have a conversation around a very impressive accomplished Senator with a strong economic message around this DNA test as opposed to who she is and what kind of president she would be.
11:19:12 a.m. Eastern
STELTER: I know all about the right’s criticism of the press but there’s criticism from the left as well. And I wonder, do you have critiques of how Dems are covered in the mainstream media?
CONNIE SCHULTZ: Well, I certainly -- What I worry about is we're going to do what we did in 15/16. I'm not blaming the media solely for what happened in terms of elevating Donald Trump in the minds of voters but we certainly were engaged in that at a level I’ve never seen before. And we got really enamored in this quotable nonsense that he was engaging in.
11:41:06 a.m. Eastern
STELTER (to Frank Bruni): But this idea that news coverage of Trump is negative, is too negative what – where does the truth lie in there?
11:43:34 a.m. Eastern
STELTER: Trump also has a booster network. He has booster outlets, cheerleaders that are unlike anything we've seen before in terms of the amount of coordination and collaboration that exists between the White House and these pro-Trump outlets. I mean, David Frum, is that the other part of this anti-Trump conversation we have to include?
DAVID FRUM: No. I think the question is a false premise. Relative to the truth, the prestige press in this country has a pro-Trump bias. Relative to the truth, Trump gets easier coverage than he deserves. The surest way onto the op-ed page of a prestigious paper is to come up with some angle to explain why something the President has done is less crazy or dangerous than it seems. Networks like this one give a lot of air time to people that would normally be working for the Home Shopping Network who wouldn't be on at all.
STELTER: You can be nicer than that. Hold on, you’re saying we’re grading Trump on a curve that the coverage is on a curve.