Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway volunteered for another one of those 20-minute bickering sessions with Trump-hating CNN anchors. In this case the CNN show was Reliable Sources and the host was Brian Stelter. Trump aides can barely finish a sentence without CNN interrupting and talking over the talking points.
MRC’s Brent Baker pointed out the highlight of this fight, near the end, as Conway continuously mocked the CNN brand as Stelter kept insisting Trump was in a “credibility crisis.” Conway asked Stelter to “own” their image as an anti-Trump network, which he ludicrously denied:
KELLYANNE CONWAY: You're a very prominent person there. Just say, you know, we're doing better in the ratings, we're getting better ad revenues because we're one of the more anti-Trump than down the line outlets. Just own it. I think it's OK to do that.
BRIAN STELTER: We're not anti-Trump, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: Your panels are six versus one.
STELTER: We're pro-truth. We're pro-honesty. We're pro-decency, and this is a tough moment in American history for people that support facts and decency.
CONWAY: Excuse me. We've had many tough times in American history.
CONWAY: But you know, Benghazi didn't happen because of a tape.
Conway began by noting how the "Facts First" network doesn't want to focus on the employment picture under Trump, or the 54 record highs on the stock market, or the booming consumer-confidence numbers. Stelter insisted CNN's economic reporters were covering that, and she argued she wasn't seeing it much on TV. Stelter said the public doesn't give Trump credit:
STELTER: The American people are not giving him credit, according to the polls.
CONWAY: Yes, they are. It depends how you ask the question. You have the voice going through all of your promos saying CNN, the most trusted name in news, what evidence do you have of that? I've seen polling numbers to the contrary.
Back in August, Mediaite editor Colby Hall asked why CNN is still using that motto:
[W]hat is their source to even theoretically support such a claim? We doubt it exists. The last study we found that could even technically bolster this claim comes from a 2002 Pew Study. Yes, that is 15 years old.
In fact, most of the recent studies of trustworthiness in news, don’t just fail to support CNN’s claim, they appear to directly belie it, evidenced by a recent study put out by the University of Missouri. As you can see in the chart below, CNN is right in the middle of the pack, just a touch below CBS....
This is just one survey, but a more recent 2014 Pew Report suggests a similar standing for CNN who clocks in at ninth overall, behind broadcast news outlets like ABC, CBS and NBC, but ahead of its competitors MSNBC (15th) and Fox News (21st.)
Hall also noted CNN did not return phone calls asking for evidence to back up their ancient motto. About five minutes in, Conway started the needling that CNN should try "owning" their current reputation as a Trump-hating network:
STELTER: The approval ratings are shockingly low. It's a problem not just for you and me but for the nation that this president is not trusted by the American people.
CONWAY: That's wrong. You know what's a problem for this nation, that you refuse -- CNN used to be a place where people can tune in and get the news all day long. Now they get spin and people's opinions. CNN should own it. Why not say "It's in our commercial interest at CNN to be anti-Trump. We're profitable if we're against the president, most of our viewers are against the president." Just own it. Don't you think that would be more profitable for CNN?
STELTER: I guess you just want everybody to be like Fox News, state-run media.
CONWAY: Stop being jealous of Fox News, Brian, and their ratings. It would help if you drop the jealousy a little bit about Fox News. The fact is that we need a media that covers the facts. The fact is consumer confidence is at a 17-year high, that's relevant to the forgotten man or woman that Donna Brazile admits was being ignored.
Conway correctly accused CNN of being obsessed with Russia-and-Trump-rigged-the-election narrative, and when she started talking about the DNC and the Clinton campaign and their Russian dirt-digging, Stelter shot back: “I think viewers see what you're doing, pivoting. When I say Russia, you say Clinton. It's part of the strategy. Would you agree?”
She replied: “The reason that we're still talking about it is because of the DNC, because Hillary Clinton has done a book tour that you're considering nonfiction, not fiction. They're still talking about the 2016 campaign.” (CNN somehow didn't find it boring to conduct the 38-minute Anderson Cooper interview full of sour grapes.)
Stelter mocked her: “Jab, jab – you just love to beat on Hillary Clinton. It's boring. It's outdated. It's history.”
Later, she hit her point again: “ You can't have it both ways, Brian. You can't on your network constantly talk about Russia, Russia, Russia, which has everything to do with the 2016 campaign and then the minute I touch the soft underbelly of this nonsense, you accuse me of wanting to talk about the campaign.”