CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter typically opens his show with a big commentary on the world of media -- and even in 2021, he often obsesses over Trump. On Sunday, he worried out loud about President Biden's "metastory," and he's upset that Biden is unpopular despite a supposedly terrific economy, and that somehow, Biden has COVID under control. Stelter complained "some partisan outlets favor feelings over facts."
Then Stelter often brings on a panel to discuss the theme of his commentary. On Sunday, one panelist was Chris Arnade, who Stelter touts as someone who's talking to the common folks across America. Arnade says the Democrats are "toast" in 2022. Arnade bluntly said life isn't normal under Biden, and Stelter bluntly replied that this is counter-factual.
CHRIS ARNADE: People are angry. COVID's still here and it's a friction that's mucked up life and inflation's here. And that's another friction that's mucked up life. And so, you know, Biden was elected to bring things back to normal and things aren't normal. It's as simple as that. And so, they connect that to the president.
STELTER: Right, and that's what I mean about feelings over facts. It's completely understandable that people go with those feelings even if the facts show us a rebounding economy. If people don't feel and see it themselves, they don't -- they don't -- they don't give anybody credit for it.
How can he argue that Biden promised an end to the pandemic, and it isn't ended? What is "feelings over facts" is the idea that the press isn't telling people about massive Democrat bills being passed. Stelter's upset about the credit, that the voters aren't recycling the talking points back to the press and giving Biden good approval ratings.
Almost everything Stelter said in this reflects a massive lack of self-awareness on CNN. As if they are not a partisan news outlet that mostly channels feelings and didn't spend the Trump years channeling a spirit of chaos and crisis. And the economy? As we wrote in our book Unmasked, 31 Dow Jones records were set in Trump's first year in office, and overall in 2017, the Dow Jones average rose more than 25 percent. The network "news" shows routinely ignored these facts.
Our Brent Baker captured the spirit of Stelter's opening on Twitter.
CNN’s @BrianStelter rued: “Progressive quarters of the press are gripped w/ alarm abt whether they’re hearing about the Democrats’ wins, whether they’re hearing about bills passed and victories achieved or whether Joe and Jane consumer are mostly hearing about ‘Let’s Go Brandon’” pic.twitter.com/HLMByPOa5v— Brent Baker (@BrentHBaker) November 28, 2021
For Stelter, there are no "crises." The only crisis is that Biden isn't getting enough credit for everything that's going right. A "reliable source" would be a pro-Biden source. His "news judgment" and media criticism are all about what helps the Democrats, and Democrats are doing badly, then don't blame the facts. Blame feelings.
STELTER: It doesn't matter if your packages arrive on time and if gas prices start to come down, if you see stories all the time about things going wrong, if things feel uncertain, they feel chaotic -- and one reason why it feels that way is because some partisan outlets favor feelings over facts.
This Fox banner sums up the network's met story about Biden. It says quality of life is collapsing under Biden. Says who? Other banners refer to Biden's economic train wreck and crises, always plural, multiple crises on his watch.
This weekend, Biden is saying his solutions are working. Here's his tweet saying: shipping containers are moving and goods moving quickly out of ports, his Twitter account says. But no one believes he wrote this tweet and barely garnered any news. In any way, by the time that crisis recedes, Fox will be emphasizing a new emergency.
But this isn't just about the anti-Biden media. Progressive quarters of the press have been gripped with alarm about whether people are hearing about the Democrats' wins, whether they are hearing about bills passed and victories achieved or whether Joe and Jane Consumer are mostly hearing about let's go Brandon, mostly just laughing at Biden.
The poll numbers have been a real focus. This focus group by the center left group Third Way found that Virginia voters could not name anything the Democrats have done except defused that we passed an infrastructure bill. That is the quote from the report. The meta story is Biden has not changed anything, has not fixed anything.
Folks on TV cover the daily dimensions of the Build Back Better bill and every other story under the sun. But the overall narrative is they are all fighting in D.C. and we are not benefiting. Is that a right-wing narrative? Maybe. It certainly helps the right wing. It's always easier to condemn than create. It's always easier to mock than make.