Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter began Sunday’s show with a lengthy monologue in which he pontificated from the left and played psychologist, discussing how many in the media are “tiptoeing around Trump’s instability.” After declaring “he is getting worse,” Stelter claimed with a straight face that the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts are just not anti-Trump enough and as vicious as CNN and MSNBC are.
The CNN host noted that “some prominent figures...are pleading with the press to take this more seriously.” Stelter seemed to agree, complaining that while “all of these stories are covered in the moment, individually, by reporters,” “rarely are Trump’s actions covered as a whole, rarely do news outlets take it to that next level.”
Stelter proceeded to imply that these broadcast network newscasts are too soft on Trump for this TDS sufferer: “When you watch a broadcast nightly newscast, how often do you hear about just how far off the road Trump is? Not often enough.” Perhaps Stelter has not paid that much attention to the nightly newscasts like NewsBusters (and specifically Rich Noyes) does.
During a package on the August 8 edition of ABC’s World News Tonight, congressional correspondent Mary Bruce teed up 2020 Democrats to call President Trump a white supremacist. Following the mass shooting in El Paso, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel claimed that President Trump “can inspire some to mass murder” as he reported from Germany for NBC Nightly News.
Stelter’s notion that the networks do not paint President Trump as “far off the road” is ludicrous. Earth to Brian and his bosses: Sorry, but not every news oulet thinks (or needs to think) like you all at CNN do! It’s safe to say they want the networks to go from 90, 91, 92, or 93 percent negative coverage to 99 or 100 percent.
Stelter spent the rest of his opening monologue discussing “concerns about the President’s well-being.” He read aloud a piece written by The Atlantic’s James Fallows “saying if Trump were a CEO or an airline pilot or ‘in virtually any other position of responsibility, action would already be underway to remove him from that role.’” Stelter decided to read aloud from Fallows’s piece despite previously raising questions about the decision of “some folks” to “dream about the 25th Amendment.”
But anyone who’s been conscious in the Trump era would already know obsessed Stelter has been with declaring Trump mentally ill, unstable, or worse.
Stelter concluded by stressing that “there are ethical questions about even having this conversation at all.” This Zuckerbot appeared all too eager to throw those “ethical questions” aside as he declared “we can’t tiptoe around it anymore.” In an effort to further the narrative painting President Trump as mentally unstable, Stelter proceeded to introduce two psychiatrists in a now-infamous segment Stelter chalked up to derailing due to technical difficulties in his earpiece.
Maybe instead of psychoanalyzing President Trump, psychiatrists should examine members of the media, including Stelter, who seem to have a severe case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. If anyone has gone “far off the road” in the age of Trump, it’s the media.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of Reliable Sources is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CNN's Reliable Sources
11:01 a.m. Eastern
BRIAN STELTER: But first, the story that’s playing out every day on our TV screens and Twitter feeds. He is getting worse. We can all see it. It’s happening in public. But it’s still a very hard, very sensitive story to cover. I’m talking, of course, about President Trump; about his behavior, about his instability, the contradictions, the lies, the complete rejection of reality. Some prominent figures, including the husband of Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, are pleading with the press to take this more seriously. On Friday, George Conway said Trump is decomposing before our very eyes. He said “Republicans need to face up to the fact that the President…is mentally unstable and psychologically unfit.” Now, Conway seems to think it’s narcissistic personality disorder. Others have other concerns. Anthony Scaramucci is out there saying mental breakdown. What makes them so worried? Well, stuff like this. This summer has been chocked full of examples; Trump making racist remarks about Baltimore, making racist comments about the “Squad,” repeating ridiculous claims about voter fraud, denying things you can hear with your own ears, like calling Meghan Markle nasty on tape and then claiming he never said it. He’s been bragging about visits to hospitals in Dayton and El Paso. He did once mix up Dayton and Toledo, two different cities in Ohio. Then there’s cancelling a planned trip to Denmark over the Greenland dispute. And remember, back in June, he attacked Nancy Pelosi and Robert Mueller while at a World War II cemetery. He’s been retweeting conspiracy theories about Jeffrey Epstein. The list goes on and on, but the list is necessary in order to cover the big picture of what’s going on. Look, all of these stories are covered in the moment, individually, by reporters. News outlets use words there like erratic, volatile, unstable, but rarely are Trump’s words and actions covered as a whole, rarely do news outlets take it to that next level. Okay, what he see…what he, what he just said seems crazy. What does that reveal about him? We rarely see it go to that next step. Now, I get the Trump opponents have been saying he’s sick since before Election Day. I think some folks throw out terms like cognitive decline way too casually. They dream about the 25th Amendment. But it is possible to have a fully fact-based conservation about this. In fact, it’s not just possible, it’s necessary. Look at the New York Times this week reporting that some former Trump aides are “increasingly worried” about his behavior. Most people who cover this world for a living know that. I spent the week talking with major media figures at networks and newspapers. There is definitely a widespread recognition that Trump’s behavior is getting worse in type and in frequency. It seems he’s acting more erratic more often. I mean, calling his Federal Reserve Chair an enemy and comparing him to the communist leader of China, sending the markets into a free fall, come on. Of course, the President is always going to have a choir to back him up, to rationalize the irrational, to make excuses or to say, hey, he was just kidding. His Fox fans pretend that Trump’s worst episodes didn’t happen at all, or they, you know, they blame the media for bad coverage. But let’s talk about that coverage, everywhere but Fox. When you watch a broadcast nightly newscast, how often do you hear about just how far off the road Trump is? Not often enough. Yes, they dote…they, they do note the daily madness, but they rarely connect the dots between the freak-outs. Now, I do think CNN and MSNBC are better about putting the ugly reality right front and center in banners and in stories, but there’s not really a vocabulary for this. There’s not really a format for covering it. I mean, look, it’s…it’s comfortable and natural to lead a newscast with, say, Trump wanting to buy Greenland. We have a format for that. We know what to do. We know what to put in the banner. We know how to do it. It’s a lot harder to cover concerns about the President’s wellbeing, because it’s really a series of questions that no one is able to answer. Why does he make it all about himself even after, for example, visiting a hospital after a massacre? Why does he lie so often? Is there a method to the madness or is something wrong? Is he suffering from some sort of illness? It’s…see it’s questions, questions and then just more questions. No satisfying answers and here’s what happens every time. Take Megan McArdle’s newest column for The Washington Post, she says: “I’m not Trump’s doctor, and I don’t know what’s wrong with him.” There’s that understandable aversion to diagnosing someone off the TV and that aversion sometimes shuts down these conversations. But McArdle said she doesn’t need a diagnosis to know she should be worried. And maybe that’s the point. Here’s James Fallows making a similar point for The Atlantic, saying if Trump were a CEO or an airline pilot or “in virtually any other position of responsibility, action would already be underway to remove him from that role.” So, something’s wrong. There are lots of theories about what it is. There are some doctors who think they know. There are others who say we shouldn’t speculate. There are ethical questions about even having this conversation at all. But we can’t tiptoe around it anymore. We’ve got to talk about this. So let’s…let’s talk about it. Let’s do it.