Be HARSHER!: Stelter Claims Sharpiegate ‘Coverage Actually Helped Trump’

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CNN media propagandist Brian Stelter kicked off Sunday’s so-called “Reliable Sources” by decrying his colleagues in the liberal media for not being more hostile to President Trump during the “Sharpiegate” snafu. He demanded they stop helping Trump with the language they use and frame it as another episode from an unstable president.

Stelter began the segment with a 1984 reference arguing that Trump’s reference to an outdated projection for Hurricane Dorian was the latest in a wicked plot so he could trick the public. “So that when he says 2 plus 2 is 5, you'll believe him,” he suggested.

That suggestion came from the same man who’s been pushing a conspiracy theory that the President was suffering from a mental illness, without evidence. He even had a pair of nutty shrinks on his show to push his narrative.

To play up the theatrics, when Stelter declared that “the banner on-screen should say, “The President misled the public about a hurricane for a week.” That’s the big story,” the chyron changed to what he wanted.

Then, with a suggestion he was telling the “truth”, Stelter claimed “much of the news coverage actually helped Trump. He doesn’t realize this but, a lot of the coverage minimized how serious this episode was.

Stelter demanded that the media “forget about the sharpie” and stop using “things like doubling down, he was tripling down, he’s quadrupling down” to describe what Trump was doing:

But this is how language helps Trump. “Doubling down”, it sounds strong, like he's winning a fight, but this mess really just exposed his weakness. So, instead of double down, we should probably be saying, “he dug his hole even deeper.” Or, what if the lead of his story said, “Trump continued to confuse people spreading bogus information”? That would be a lot more accurate than saying “Sharpiegate day six.”

 

 

Of course, Stelter had his own prescription for what the liberal media’s narrative, or “frame” should be. “This Alabama story was about the President failing a basic geography test,” he said. That’s right, the narrative was that Trump didn’t know how to read a map.

Now, I don't want to suggest that Trump is incapable of reading a map. But isn't that the obvious question here? Did he see these maps, did he understand what they showed,” he insidiously wondered. “When you think about it that way, the media actually lets Trump off pretty easy. Most of the coverage is not showing this spasm of tweets through the frame of his instability, questioning his critical thinking skills.”

Stelter revisited his silly 1984 reference by reading a quote from the novel. “Now, how will this end? Hopefully not like the end of 1984. ‘The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their essential, final command.’ Now, in real life, we are not going to ignore what our eyes and ears are telling us,” he self-righteously proclaimed.

“But Trump proves every day that his words can't be believed. So, how are we supposed to evaluate his claims about, say, negotiating with the Taliban, when his comments about a hurricane emergency imply that he couldn't read a map correctly,” he finally chided as he brought out his panel.

It’s unclear what Stelter meant by that because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban had made statements acknowledging the meeting was to happen and got called off. But, of course, Trump was just a distraction from a terrible week for the lying liberal media. During his show, Stelter ignored a Bloomberg reporter who lied about “anti-Semitic” comments from a DOL official.

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

CNN’s Reliable Sources
September 8, 2019
11:00:49 a.m. Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: But first, a reality check here. To understand why the President is posting cat videos, actually celebrating his own ignorance about Alabama and Hurricane Dorian, we have to go back to the beginning of the week, when the President gave away a key line from his re-election playbook. He said here, our real opponent is not the Democrats, it's the fake news media.

Everything comes back to that. We're going to be talking about this every week until the 2020 election. And it is exhausting. It's exhausting the way Trump smears the press day in and day out. But it's obvious why he does it. It is key to his re-election campaign. The less you believe real reporting, the more you might fall for his unreality.

So that when he says 2 plus 2 is 5, you'll believe him. Now, 2 plus 2 is 5, that is, of course, a reference to George Orwell’s 1984. It's a book that came to mind this week as Trump tried to convince people that his faulty Dorian forecast was right. This whole embarrassing episode has me thinking a lot about language. As NBC's Al Roker said, “where will this end?” Where will this end? Trump has even politicized the weather report, so where will this end?

This daily attempt to deny reality, to destroy trust in media, all while manipulating the levers of government to make a lie retroactively true. Because, that's what's going on here. The Alabama mess was not a small story, some trivial distraction. No, the banner on-screen should say, “the president misled the public about a hurricane for a week”. That’s the big story.

Truth be told, much of the news coverage actually helped Trump. He doesn’t realize this but, a lot of the coverage minimized how serious this episode was. I see this happening all the time. The words we use, the framing we choose treats the absurd and the aberrant like it's reasonable, like it's normal.

Take the term “Sharpiegate.” It's a funny term, I admit. But it indicate that Trump getting the facts wrong in an emergency is just a joke. And his campaign agrees. I mean, you saw they're selling official branded markers now. But this was not a joke to the folks in Alabama who saw Trump's tweet saying Alabama will most likely be hit “much harder than anticipated.” That’s what he said.

(…)

So, this is not Sharpiegate. Forget about the sharpie. This is lying about a hurricane gate. He shared incorrect information about Dorian's path once, twice, three times last Sunday. And when TV networks pointed this out, he wasted the week trying to claim he was right. And here on TV, we said things like doubling down, he was tripling down, he’s quadrupling down.

But this is how language helps Trump. “Doubling down,” it sounds strong, like he's winning a fight, but this mess really just exposed his weakness. So, instead of double down, we should probably be saying, “he dug his hole even deeper”. Or, what if the lead of his story said, “Trump continued to confuse people spreading bogus information?" That would be a lot more accurate than saying “Sharpiegate day six.”

No matter how much Trump complains about the media, we have to make sure we're getting these frames right, making sure we're getting this language right. This was not a controversy the way these websites said. That's another word that helps Trump by flattening everything into a debate. There was nothing to debate here. This was not a controversy.

Here's how I would frame it. This Alabama story was about the President failing a basic geography test. At the time he warned Alabama that Alabama might get hit, at the time of that tweet, this is the forecast his own government released at 11:00 A.M. This is the most up to date forecast at the time of Trump's tweet.

And look at this track. It turned out to be spot-on with Hurricane Dorian, right up the coast, just as forecast. Fantastic work by government forecasters at the National Weather Service.

Anyone who can read a map knows what this shows. No one looked at this and thought that Alabama was going to be at risk. Now, I don't want to suggest that Trump is incapable of reading a map. But isn't that the obvious question here? Did he see these maps, did he understand what they showed? When you think about it that way, the media actually lets Trump off pretty easy. Most of the coverage is not showing this spasm of tweets through the frame of his instability, questioning his critical thinking skills.

Most of the coverage is not conveying just how appalled scientists and forecasters are. Most of the coverage is not asking, as Al Roker did, “where will this end?” Most of the coverage is not asking, who the heck misinformed the President.

Now, how will this end? Hopefully not like the end of 1984. “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their essential, final command.” Now, in real life, we are not going to ignore what our eyes and ears are telling us. Trump wants us to follow his sharpie. He wants us to think he's doubling down. That's why reporters have to think so carefully about the words we use and the frames we choose.

Because by the time the damage is fully known and quantified by like a week-long embarrassment like this, most people have moved on to the next storm. In this case, Afghan peace talks. But Trump proves every day that his words can't be believed. So, how are we supposed to evaluate his claims about, say, negotiating with the Taliban, when his comments about a hurricane emergency imply that he couldn't read a map correctly?

(…)

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