Every time I think Brian Stelter cannot outdo himself, he does.
When last we left you, CNN’s chief media correspondent was sneering about President Trump’s return to the White House.
Despite CNN spending days trying to “prove” Trump was on his deathbed, the president’s show of strength in leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center several days after being diagnosed with the Wuhan virus was “not a real show of strength,” an uptight Stelter proclaimed at the time. It was a “performative show of strength,” he claimed. The kind you see that comes from “autocratic regimes.”
Fast forward to this week, where Stelter made a rather stunning admission in his Monday newsletter regarding what he believes are the mainstream media’s and social media’s roles in covering Trump. Here’s how he framed it in a tweet promoting the newsletter:
East Coast news companies and West Coast tech companies are increasingly being put in the position of protecting the public from the American president's dangerous, democracy-eroding lies. https://t.co/IKLyEAP8bD
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) October 12, 2020
In his newsletter, he bolded the “protecting the public from the American president’s dangerous, democracy-eroding lies” part – because apparently he really believes it’s the MSM’s (and Twitter’s and Facebook’s) role to actually keep readers from being able to read about what dishonest “fact-checkers” like himself, Oliver Darcy, and Daniel Dale view as a “democracy-eroding lie.”
As we’ve seen all too often, though, what these clowns view as a “lie” from Trump is oftentimes anything but. To them, a Trump “lie” basically boils down to anything that makes Joe Biden (or another Democrat) look bad, anything that makes CNN (or another news network) look bad, anything that proves Democrats and the media wrong on the various anti-Trump conspiracy theories, and/or anything that proves Trump is showing smart leadership at times no one else seems to be willing to step up to the plate.
Stelter expanded on his position here:
I admit, “protecting the public” feels like a very strange thing to write in this letter. News outlets and tech firms are not in the “protection” business – to the contrary, viewers and users typically benefit from being introduced to diverse and different points of view.
But news segments and social media discussions can cause harm. Sometimes do cause harm. The president’s bogus words – specifically about imaginary election “rigging” and Covid-19 “cures” – are clearly, measurably harmful.
To say this is a dangerously stupid position for Stelter to take would be quite the understatement. Reporters are not supposed to be in the business of “protecting the public” from what politicians, candidates for higher office, and the like say. Period.
If they want to do fact checks, fine. If they want to include a note about putting something in context, fine. Let readers and viewers see the original comments and read/watch the fact checks and contextual links if necessary in order to decide for themselves.
But to keep it from them altogether? No. That is not – I repeat – not the media’s job:
You aren't "protecting the public." You sanitize the news in a way that benefits your preferred candidate. Stop trying to delude people. https://t.co/UzDPzYcYi3
— Sister Toldjah 😁 (@sistertoldjah) October 12, 2020
Yes of course. Isn’t censorship ALWAYS framed as protecting the people? https://t.co/527p6NgUxj
— SilentKnight (@TimSaun19653093) October 12, 2020
You aren’t “protecting” anyone. Your censoring and covering up views you disagree with.
— Lady L. North (@LadyLNorth) October 12, 2020
If he really wanted to be honest, what he should have said in his newsletter is this: “But news segments and social media discussions [that we in the media don’t like] can cause harm.” Because that’s what all of this really boils down to.
The irony here is that in advocating that the MSM shield readers and viewers from Trump’s words, it’s Brian Stelter himself who is “eroding democracy.” A better title for him would be something like “chief media propagandist” or “chief minister of disinformation” because that’s exactly what he’s turned into over the years.