Brian Stelter Cannot Bring Himself to Criticize the Media/CNN Over Fake Whip Story

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Brian Stelter should just change his job title to ‘FoxNews Critic’.

How easy it must be to cover an entire industry but be expected to really only concern yourself with one outlet. It was with a modicum of curiosity that when the false news last week flared about Border Patrol agents supposedly whipping immigrants crossing into the country what the reaction would be from the foremost media critic in the land. After all, here was a story spread far and wide across the media landscape and it was completely fabricated, so certainly someone charged with covering the press would be full of condemnation.

Riiiiight.

What is remarkable is that as many in the press pretend that this kind of widespread falsehood is rare, it arrived mere weeks away from the last outburst of rampant inaccuracy. Recall, it was only earlier this month when so many news outlets detailed how hospitals were overrun with Ivermectin poisonings. Yet as the press has proven to be recidivists in regards to delivering fake reports Brian Stelter is mostly unmoved.

On his Reliable Sources broadcast Stelter was joined by his ward, Oliver Darcy, as they discussed the false border-whips story. Sort of. They…covered the issue of the press getting the story enormously wrong, but condemnation was in short supply. Listen as they go just far enough to say they addressed the issue, without too much in the way of harsh criticism.

It takes some remarkable mental gymnastics to take a look over the behavior of the media in regards to this story and ultimately come away praising the media complex for eventually getting around to an accurate portrayal. This impotent assessment of the performance of journalists is remarkable for a number of reasons.

First off, where were the beloved fact-checkers on this story?! Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen these warriors for truth covering innocuous stories like the accuracy of pictures from The Met Gala, or whether Bath And Body Works recycles candles. Where was the network’s own fact guru, Daniel Dale, on the matter? He was nowhere to be found correcting the record, but this is probably a good thing. He was, after all, one of those who checked in on that false Rolling Stone story and managed to find conservatives who called out the fakery as being just as guilty.

Next, they manage to lay the bulk of the blame for this false reporting on social media. Because those irresponsible souls were the ones to initially hype the alleged whipping of migrants this means that somehow…the press was compelled to misrepresent the facts…?! That is not an excuse by any measure. News outlets have an actual standard to vet the facts when reporting. Additionally, these are the same souls who demean social media and blogs as not being ‘True’ journalists; so how is it that these seasoned professionals could fall prey to the false hype made by those who are beneath them? It is a childish argument.

An Islamic Shariah law official whips a man convicted of gambling with a rattan cane watched by people inside a mosque compound in Banda Aceh, Aceh Province, Indonesia, Friday, Sept. 19

But finally, after affording all manner of excusals, this dynamic pair never once addressed the fact that it was CNN at the forefront of this fake story. Throughout the week various personalities were pushing the ‘whips on the border’ angle, even after the story was disproven. Erin Burnett pushed the myth, April Ryan brought it up at a White House press briefing,  Victor Blackwell had to be corrected by a Democrat lawmaker on the air, and even by Friday John Harwood was still claiming the whipping took place.

And of course, Chris Cuomo had to take it farther than anyone, invoking the charge of slavery when covering the story.

And there it is. All the reason for this tepid reaction to a massive media problem is because his home network was among the most guilty behind this horse-whipping myth. If Brian started to get too stern about the journalistic ethical problems with this story it would require he get stern with his own network. As a result, the false narrative gets little more than a finger-wagging from Stelter and Darcy, and ultimately they congratulate those in the press for eventually getting around to doing their jobs properly.

While this is of little surprise from this partisan source, it bears remembering this reaction next time we see Stelter becoming livid over something taking place at Fox. It is important to note how Fox is never granted these contextual excuses, and never will they be described with euphemistic framing, such as “a faulty media narrative”. That kind of soft-pedaling is saved for the “serious“ news outlets, especially when they commit serious journalism infractions.