The liberal media got burned by Jussie Smollett’s apparent hate crime hoax because they wanted to believe the cartoonish image they concocted for Trump supporters and conservatives. The media ate it hook line and sinker and ran with it without the facts. But on Saturday, CNN media reporter and host of the so-call “Reliable Sources” program, Brian Stelter tied to distance the media from their shame.
During CNN Newsroom’s eight o’clock hour, Stelter joined host Ana Cabrera by phone and downplayed ABC’s gushy interview with Smollett. “I think in retrospect, that Good Morning America interview which allowed him to tell his side of the story, that just made things worse for him. Perhaps the questioning was not tough enough on Good Morning America,” he said.
“Not tough enough,” was a massive understatement. As NewsBusters news analyst Kristine Marsh discovered, Robin Roberts’s interview was such a joke, she never referred to the attack as “alleged” at any point.
Earlier that evening, Stelter, called into CNN’s S.E. Cupp Unfiltered to discuss the Smollett case. There, he noted that from the beginning the accusations drew political connotations:
Because sources close to Smollett said these two attackers said, “this is MAGA country” and that they were Trump supporters. This became part of them and polarizing on day one. I wish it wasn't, but that is the reality. And that adds a layer to the story that makes it even more troubling. Obviously, again, we have to wait to see what Smollett is going to say now.
Of course, there was no admission that that was why the media were eager to spread the apparent lies without waiting for the facts.
He then decried how certain people were trying to have the case “weaponized”. “And when you’re looking at those random websites all over the web spreading information, you can end up, I think, having – This story was able to be weaponized in many different ways,” he huffed.
Perhaps by “weaponized” he meant “used to call out the media for their anti-Trump supporter bias”, because that’s exactly what was triggering S.E. Cupp herself.
In what could easily be described as a Saturday night meltdown, Cupp took to Twitter to lash out at Trump supporters for being “giddy” about being vindicated. “The giddiness among Trumpsters over the Smollett news is gross,” she spat. “This story is awful. He allegedly abused police resources, exploited raw divisions in this country, and made it harder for every victim of a hate crime to report. This is sad no matter your politics.”
Cupp was playing to the lowest common denominator of CNN’s liberal viewership and got ratioed hard for it. “I’m HERE for the ratio. From you clowns? Bring it,” she demanded of Trump supporters at one point. At another point, she lashed out at The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra and suggested he was sexist for mocking her.
Claiming “Trumpsters just proving my point all night”, Cupp admitted this was “the first time” she had commented “on Smollett, lamenting his awful, inexcusable exploitation of hate and division, and call out their giddiness over this awful, inexcusable exploitation. And they respond with... giddiness.” It’s a real insight into her mentality because it meant the first time she talked about an apparent hoaxer was to attack the people he was smearing.
The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:
February 16, 2019
8:19:07 p.m. Eastern
ANA CABRERA: Brian, you're our media expert, I’ll give you the last word. How does he use the media, perhaps, going forward?
BRIAN STELTER: I think in retrospect, that Good Morning America interview, which allowed him to tell his side of the story, that just made things worse for him. Perhaps the questioning was not tough enough on Good Morning America. But ultimately, this is not about the media or about politicians or activists, or other people that might have been fooled. It is about Jussie. And I agree with what everyone else has said, this is about why he might, and so far we don't know, why he might have made this up. It just boggles the mind, Ana.
CNN’s S.E. Cupp Unfiltered
February 16, 2019
6:49:38 p.m. Eastern
S.E. CUPP: Brian, let me start with you. I'm sure, like me, you have been following this over the past week or two. As has the country, this story has fascinated us. What’s your reaction to this awful, awful news?
BRIAN STELTER: Well, now the ball is back in Jussie Smollett’s court. A spokesman for the Chicago Police Department tells me they did reach out to Smollett’s attorneys last night, after receiving new information from those two men that had been questioned by police. What I was told by the Chicago PD just now, was, “we need to talk to Jussie Smollett as soon as possible. We need to ask him additional questions.”
Thankfully, S.E., I think the question is, what is Smollett going to tell police? Is he going to cooperate with this investigation? Those are open questions. But because, from the very beginning, there were political connotations to this story, that were undeniable. Because sources close to Smollett said these two attackers said, “this is MAGA country” and that they were Trump supporters. This became part of them and polarizing on day one. I wish it wasn't, but that is the reality. And that adds a layer to the story that makes it even more troubling. Obviously, again, we have to wait to see what Smollett is going to say now.
CUPP: From inside, how do you think the media -- you know, the media had to cover this and had to cover this, you know, cautiously and responsibly. How do you think, on the whole, the media has done as a job?
STELTER: Strong, high quality news organizations have tried to be very careful all along on this story. But because TMZ said, just two hours after the alleged attack, that it was a Trump supporter attacking, a political connotations. I like I said, became part of it since day-one. And when you’re looking at those random websites all over the web spreading information, you can end up, I think, having – This story was able to be weaponized in many different ways. But at its heart, it is still a mystery. [Inaudible] and orchestrated this. Why? There was a rumor out there a few days ago that he did this because he was afraid he was being written off the show Empire, they were going to kill off his character. Well, the studio, Fox, Fox denied that was the case. So, the motive here is still a mystery at the heart of the story.
CUPP: Brian Stelter, thank you.