OH PLEASE: Brian Stelter Lamely Denies CNN Aims Daily to Make Viewers 'Pissed'

CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter submitted to an interview on Vox's podcast The Ezra Klein Show, which was meant to be a sober liberal salon, but then it got a little testy (around minute 13). Klein must have surprised Stelter when Stelter tried to claim only Fox tries to make its viewers "pissed" as a business model. Klein wasn't having that at all. 

EZRA KLEIN: I think cable news goes in the direction of already knowing what works -- like let's make em pissed -- and some, I think, goes in the other direction. I think there are some people who do this really well. My friend, Chris Hayes, really does a lot of great work on his show. I think you do really great work on your show. But I do think the incentives here are rough. 

BRIAN STELTER: And a lot of what you're describing, let's be honest, a lot of what you're describing is Fox. You're talking about talk shows on Fox, pro-Trump talk shows on Fox. 

KLEIN: No I'm not! I'm describing CNN just as much. I'm describing MSNBC, too. No, I think the ideology -- 

STELTER: The idea we're going to make our viewers pissed -- that is a Roger Ailes business model that was established 20 years ago. Nobody at CNN or MSNBC was thinking about that the way he was. 

KLEIN: But you all -- we all -- followed it. Do you think CNN keeps people's blood pressure down? I don't. 

STELTER: I watch CNN a lot, and my blood pressure was fine the last time I went to the doctor.

This is something from Stelter, who loves describing Trump as a mentally unfit authoritarian. He's not channeling the audience's Trump hatred at all! No, all the attempts to terrify the viewer about the country going into the toilet, that's ALL Fox News! 

STELTER: The business model of titillate and terrify, right, titillate and then terrify over and over again, I see that more visibly on Fox. than I do anywhere else. 

KLEIN: I agree with that. No, no, look. I think Fox is in a class of loathsomeness to itself. But I do want to separate here the ideological dimensions of this, which is where I think Fox really goes into a new place, and just the need for things to be conflict-driven. I mean, when CNN has those nine people on the screen, I mean, they're looking for a fight. 

STELTER: I think they're just looking for a variety of voices on a big breaking news event, so that you can go in lots of different directions.

Stelter is a company man, and we can see the loyalty in that. But he's not admitting that usually at least eight of the nine people on the panel are channeling the audience's hatred of Trump. They don't go in "lots of different directions." 

A few minutes earlier, Stelter was touting how CNN got rid of Crossfire, but could have a show called Ceasefire. When asked near the beginning of the show what is cable news, Stelter admitted:

STELTER: These days, cable news is primarily a 24/7 talk show about politics and other stories. I say politics first, because you know, especially in the past three years, all things Trump has been the focus... 

Cable news has had to evolve. That's why there is no longer a channel called Headline News, now we call it HLN. There's less of a need for headlines, and more of a need for talk about the news, analysis of the news. I think that's the change we've seen in cable news. 

Klein shot back: "That sounds a bit damning, 24-7 talk show about politics and other stories. I mean you say there's a need for that, but is there, or is there just a market for that?"

Stelter replied "It's a way to learn about politics, and a way to have our national debate in real time." 

Again, CNN isn't usually a place you go now to see people "debate." They really can't stand conservatives having much of a space to talk. We can always ask for Rick Santorum or David Urban to get a little more time. But they are vastly in the minority. 

Brian Stelter Ezra Klein
Tim Graham's picture


Sponsored Links