I don’t spend much time on CNN’s Brian Stelter these days, mostly because I find him boring and not all that interesting. Plus, Kurt Schlichter and Sister Toldjah seem to have that beat covered anyway (see An Old Criticism of Trump Comes Back to Bite Brian Stelter in the You-Know-Where). Yet, this latest episode struck me as worthy of discussion, both because of its comedic aspects and the fact that I think it speaks to a deeper issue that plagues the media bubble.
Yesterday, on Reliable Sources, Stelter decided to appear pants-less on his own show. This was part of some weird segment centering on “humanizing” the news industry.
Here’s the clip. Viewer discretion is advised.
really humanizing the news 😂 pic.twitter.com/zF3j2tgNVH
— Watchdog (@LibWatchdog) March 7, 2021
I’m not sure what producer thought doing this was a good idea, but maybe that producer should take a few weeks off. This is the kind of thing that, if it gets suggested in a production meeting, should be shot down with laughter and mockery, not actually turned into a segment. Of course, we have to leave room for the possibility that this was Stelter’s idea. That wouldn’t surprise me.
Regardless, not only is this spectacle absolutely cringe-worthy, it does nothing to make TV news hosts seem more human and down to earth. In fact, I think it has the opposite effect, presenting them as privileged, lazy figures who operate in a way most people simply can’t afford to during the current pandemic.
Remember, these are the same people who have spent the better part of the last year lecturing you on how necessary job-killing lockdowns are, suggesting you want to kill grandma if you want to reopen schools and get back to work. Yet, unlike Stelter, normal people can’t just throw on a suit jacket and talk about Trump’s Twitter account for a living while chowing down on GrubHub orders every day. They have to actually go out into the world and produce something. Money is a finite resource that must be meticulously managed. That’s the stark contrast that is presented by this Reliable Sources piece, even though it clearly doesn’t mean to.
And besides, it only takes a few seconds to throw on some basketball shorts. I’m certain that the world was not going to end if Stelter didn’t appear on TV to riff on Trump’s Twitter account being banned within two minutes of it happening. If one didn’t know any better, it’d be reasonable to suspect this was all a parody.
Regardless, our mediasphere is full of people like Stelter, completely lacking in self-awareness, showing no ability to sense their delusions of grandeur. There’s nothing to “humanize” about the news because those that populate the news industry are not nearly as important as they pretend to be. No one is putting them on a pedestal except themselves.