The CNN show Reliable Sources is supposed to be about the state of journalism, but it always begins with a Brian Stelter commentary, a weekly call for journalists to get tougher, always tougher, on that lying President Trump. The shadow of potential war with Iran only made Stelter double down. But he insisted now that patriotism demands a tough questioning of Trump, because “lying seems to be this government’s specialty.”
BRIAN STELTER: As many people have pointed out this week, a crisis like this one is precisely when credibility is needed the most -- and Trump doesn’t have it.
Reporters need to avoid being cynical. We have to avoid being cynical we have to question everything, especially with memories of the leadup to the Iraq War. Journalistic values demand that skepticism, and patriotism demands it.
Let’s talk about patriotism for a minute. Don't be fooled by the propagandists who are going to tell you to wear blinders in the days and weeks and months ahead. They're already starting to do this. They're starting to tell you just rally around the flag. But it is patriotic to ask for evidence. It is patriotic to question official accounts, to wonder if the public is being manipulated into a wider war. It is patriotic to ask -- as Fox’s Tucker Carlson did the other day -- Who's actually benefiting from this? It is patriotic to hold our leaders accountable.
There's nothing wrong with skeptical questions to government officials in war time. But that's only half the equation. Stelter's avoiding the question of whether America's enemies are getting skepticism. Because Erin Burnett flunked that class. She didn't ask her Iranian guest skeptical questions. She was the one wearing the blinders. Shouldn't all warring governments face skeptical questions, and not just ours?
The P-word here that applies most to CNN isn't patriotism. It's partisanship. Its analyst corps is stuffed with former Democratic officials. Its anonymous sources are remarkably partisan against Trump -- but you wouldn't know who they are, because their identities are hidden.
But Stelter insisted newsrooms were stuffed with patriots.
STELTER: But you are going to hear otherwise and you already are. It is already starting.
PETE HEGSETH, FOX NEWS: To me, I bemoan the fact, especially since the Iraq War, it feels like patriotism as largely dead among our journalism corps. Where is the home team for a lot of these people?
Pete, patriotism is alive and well in America's newsrooms. But I suspect that kind of talk is going to keep up. If this gets worse, if more missiles fly, the Americna press the Americans are under more pressure to rally around the flag, to toe the line, and to save their questions for later. But, now is the time, right now, to insist on evidence and accountability.
The "home team" for the Old Media is the Democratic Party, and that's why Republicans face tougher questioning than Iranians. When the questions were about the failures of Benghazi a few years ago, skepticism wasn't patriotism. Stelter was all about chiding the media for being overly aggressive. Questioning Hillary Clinton was a....."witch hunt."