For the first time ever, I decided to observe the antics on Brian Stelter’s Sunday morning program on CNN, Reliable Sources. I hated to add to his paltry numbers of viewers, but I figured this would be a good time to catch his spin on the impeachment farce. And I was not disappointed because what I observed confirmed that those people live in an alternate universe!
For starters, here are excerpts from his introduction, with my comments spliced throughout:
Stelter: …. First, the “eyes” have it. Impeachment and Iowa and competing for attention. Trump’s trial in the Senate is expected to end in the coming days, and will end in a whimper not a bang as GOP senators say the proper remedy is at the ballot box not in the form of removal from office. The news coverage reminds me of Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog. Just as in Bill Murray’s 1993 move, Groundhog Day, we’re going to be reliving this political dynamic every day for 133 days until Election Day.
Me: At least he reflected the correct Republican belief that the election is the place to resolve the issue, but the “whimper not a bang” comment tells us where his sympathies truly lie – he and the rest of the Democrat media were hoping and working collectively toward a “bang” – the removal of “the evil Drumpf” from office. He’s also correct about reliving the acquittal daily from now until election day, but not to the Democrats’ political benefit as he thinks it will. In fact, it will be to the President’s benefit as people reflect on the Democrats’ impeachment farce.
Stelter continued: So, what have we learned from the Senate trial? Well, for one thing, stonewalling works (as he pointed to a Politico headline that said, “’We did’ give in to Trump stonewalling, House impeachment manager says”). For another thing, those leaks coming from John Bolton’s forthcoming book … well, they did stoke pre-order sales, but they didn’t change many senators’ minds (as he pointed to a NY Times headline that said, “Trump Told Bolton to Help His Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Book Says”).
Me: That’s how the Democrats and their lickspittle media view due process rights and executive privilege – they call it “stonewalling.” And the House impeachment manager’s spin that they supposedlyl “gave in to stonewalling”? What that really meant was that they circumvented due process and rushed to impeachment. Nobody but their rabid base forced them to do that; they could have gone through the courts to access executive branch witnesses but chose not to. And citing the fake news NY Times story on the Bolton book? Stelter knows that was based on hearsay, too, as the Times doesn’t have the manuscript in hand, and the DoJ and White Chief of Staff’s office have officially stated that the content of that article was bogus.
Stelter continued: But we learned a lot of things. We learned that the Democrats were pretty effective at counter-programming talking points by going on TV (point to a screen containing six TV news programs). They were all over Fox News, actually, trying to win in the court of public opinion even though they were losing inside the Senate chamber.
Me: Counter-programming talking points? That’s one way of spinning it, Brian. In truth, the Democrats were spinning their own false impeachment narratives through the media echo chamber for the last 3 months, including on Fox News where they were able to filibuster without interruption, as this article detailed. That last phrase gave away the store, too, “trying to win … public opinion even though they were losing” in the Senate. In the absence of any evidence of impeachable crimes, the Democrats’ only hope was putting sufficient political pressure on a handful of weak-kneed Republicans to vote with the Democrats on overturning Senate precedent by voting on new witnesses and conducting new investigations. Stelter was essentially admitting that the President’s legal team destroyed the Democrat impeachment managers’ case.
Stelter: We also learned, speaking of Fox, that right-wing media – same outlets that fed Trump those Ukraine conspiracy theories that led him up to the impeachment cliff – those same outlets also kept him from falling off (as he pointed to a CNN Business headline that said, “The right-wing media roots of impeachment” and a BuzzFeed News headline that said, “Republicans’ Conspiracy Theory – Ridden Counterprogramming To Impeachment is Working”). They protected Trump and pressured GOP senators to stick to party lines. That’s was what this was all about (as he pointed to a Fox News Sean Hannity chyron that said, “Sean’s Message to Mitt Romney”).
Me: Fox News is right-wing media? Absurd. Among major networks, they are the closest thing to balanced reporting, but even Fox has been drifting leftward over the past three years. The Ukraine “conspiracy theory”? Stelter apparently ignored Patrick Philbin’s debunking of the Democrat-media claim that it is a “conspiracy,” as detailed here. It was laughable that Stelter pushed a BuzzFeed headline, too, given that Buzzfeed’s fake news article on the fake Steel dossier got the whole Russian collusion mess rolling. Buzzfeed has ZERO credibility! And Fox News/Hannity are “pressuring Republican senators”? The House Democrats did all of the convincing necessary for Republican senators to recognize the hyper-partisan impeachment for what it was.
Stelter continued: At the same time, they focused on Joe Biden – they focused on the Biden family. Media scholar Nicole Hemmer explained this so well in a recent op-ed [in the NY Times, of course!]. She said it’s all about scandalizing and minimizing. They minimize Trump’s conduct, and they scandalize his opponents over and over again. That’s why on right-wing radio, you’ll hear all about the Biden crime family, and you will keep hearing it for as long as Biden is on the campaign trail. (Pointing to a headline from The Hill, “Graham vows, Biden, Ukraine probe after impeachment trial”), Lindsey Graham said, “this is just the beginning of oversight of the Bidens.”
Me: Citing Hemmer’s editorial is completely ridiculous! “Scandalizing and minimizing”? Good grief, what do Hemmer (and apparently, Stelter) think that CNN and the rest of the legacy media have been doing for the past three years? They scandalized everything about President Trump, running with leaked false information to endlessly spin new “gotcha” stories in their echo chamber while not investigating any real criminality by Democrats and Deep State operatives. Two years of investigating a false Russian collusion story. Castigating the 2018 Nunes memo as being “fake” while championing the Schiff memo as the “real truth” when the reality as PROVEN to be exactly the opposite. Bleating endlessly that there was no FISA abuse (all a “rightwing conspiracy theory”) only to be PROVEN by the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s report that there was indeed massive FISA abuse, and that legacy media heroes like James Comey and Andrew McCabe are facing legal jeopardy therefrom. Stelter apparently hasn’t read about the “Biden Five” in Peter Schweizer’s new book, either; their nepotism and corruption is astounding as Schweizer detailed in 45 pages plus dozens of referenced sources! His own network hasn’t even bothered to look into Biden corruption as detailed in the book. I am gratified to know that at least Lindsey Graham is talking about investing Ukraine and the Bidens because the leftwing media want to continue to cover it all up in order to aid Biden’s campaign (although whether he’ll deliver on that statement remains to be seen).
Stelter continued: So, what have we learned? We learned that two Americas are co-existing, uneasily in two totally different information universes. What you learned about Trump and Biden depended on what you read, and what you read depended on what you ultimately cared about most. Democrat Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) wrote about this [once again, in the NY Times, of course]: “This trial in so many ways crystallized the completely diametrically opposed threats that Democrats and Republican sees to the country. We [Democrats] perceive Donald Trump and his corruption to be an existential threat to the country. They perceive the deep state and the liberal media to be an existential threat to the country. That dichotomy, that contrast, has been growing over the last three years, but this trial really crystallized that difference. We were just speaking different languages, fundamentally different languages when it came to what this trial was about. They though it was about the deep state and the media conspiracy. We thought it was about the president’s crimes.”
Me: Damn straight that there are “two completely different information universes.” There is the universe of fake news from CNN and the rest of the legacy media, as has been exposed for all Americans to see through the debunking of serial false allegations against the President these past three years, and then there are the independent media who have been instrumental in investigating and disproving the claims in those fake news stories. “Donald Trump and his corruption is an existential threat,” according to the Democrats. Well, they had a chance to prove that during the Senate impeachment trial and failed to deliver the evidence. How many other allegations against the President over the past three years turned out to be nothing-burgers? Allegations aren’t proof of anything. The Democrats are good at claiming that just the “seriousness of the allegations” are enough to remove their political enemies. Thank God President Trump fights back against that nonsense. According to Stelter, Republicans believe the “deep state and liberal media” to be the existential threats to the country. No, that doesn’t go far enough; we believe that the Democrat Party – as presently constituted – in league with the Deep State and Democrat-run legacy media are the real threats to the country. And more evidence supporting that premise is evinced with each passing day, with each new IG report, and with each new exposure of corruption and criminality by independent journalists.
Stelter: Let’s begin to talk about it with an “incredible selection of panel guests,” beginning with CNN columnist Jill Filipovic, CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, and legendary ABC News journalist Sam Donaldson. Sam, your reaction to the end of the Trump impeachment.
Donaldson: Well, we knew it would be this way; there’s no surprise here. I think from the very beginning Nancy Pelosi was right: let’s not have an impeachment which is going nowhere thanks to the Republican senators; let’s have an election and put all the effort into that. I think no one is going to be surprised by what happens this coming week. They’re going to vote, they’re going to acquit him, he’s going to trumpet it that his victory is sincere and complete, and the people watching Fox will believe that, and the people not watching Fox won’t believe it. And that’s where we are.
Me: Donaldson displays his leftwing bias, too. He parrots the Democrat Party line. Sam, the impeachment is “going nowhere” because the House managers presented no evidence of impeachable offenses while insulting senators and accusing them of participating in a cover-up. That is the Democrat narrative, Sam!
Stelter: Same as it ever was. So Julian Zelizer, is that what the history books are going to say?
Zelizer: Well, it’s going to say two things. One, it’s an important chapter in the imperial presidency. We see how aggressive a president can be if we want to go there, and at the same time we’re going to see where partisanship has brought the Republican Party. In the end, this is a story not just about President Trump, it’s about the Republicans in the Senate who lived with this, they accepted this, and ultimately, they protected the President, and we will remember that 100 years from now.
Me: Another guy who trumpets his leftwing bias. President Trump’s is an “imperial presidency”? Yet another unfounded allegation that the Left repeat in their echo chamber. The President operates from within the limits of the Constitution unlike his predecessor. Prove it otherwise, Julian (you can’t). And the rest of his comments are focused on the Republican senators having to “live with this.” That won’t be a problem at all; the real political problem is for the Democrats going into November. They are the ones who pushed a hyper-partisan impeachment and tried to weaponize the Constitution’s impeachment clause for Democrat political gain.
Stelter: What are the top media take-aways in how this trial has been covered?
Filipovic: I think one thing that I’m troubled by is discussing this as if it’s kind of a both sides problem. You have a right-wing media apparatus, you have a liberal media apparatus, and what you believe depends on where you get your news. I’m not sure that’s right. I think we have a propaganda apparatus, and I think we have a media apparatus that is trying to tell the truth and tell the whole story. And what I think is particularly fascinating is how much that rightwing propaganda apparatus has become so deeply intertwined with Trumpism. That it not only primed the audience for Trump to rise to power, but it’s now repeating the kind of Trump-Roy Cohn playbook of lie, disseminate misinformation … like the quote you had up on the screen … you know, minimize, deny, and essentially project what you’re doing on onto someone else. And to see how tremendously effective that has been – to see not only rightwing media but now also Republican senators and Republican politicians also jump on board – it’s terrifying. And I don’t know where we go from there to come to this kind of universal national agreed-upon truth.
Me: Now we get to a true leftwinger, a thirty-something likely brainwashed in college and lacking any real perspective or critical thinking skills (I probably have kids older than she is). First of all, she paints the dichotomy as “rightwing versus liberal media.” A dead giveaway right there! Since she insists on using “rightwing”, the correct comparison is “leftwing,” not liberal. That’s what leftists have done for 30 years years – obfuscating the political reality through control of the political terminology used to compare Republicans versus Democrats (in this case, “liberal” sounds less extreme than “leftwing”). And who could possibly find a dime’s worth of difference these days between the editorial pages of the NY Times and Washington Post versus The Nation, Rolling Stone, and New York Magazine these days? Then she goes on to claim that “rightwing” media is nothing but a “propaganda apparatus.” I wonder what Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson would say about that comment? Ridiculous on its face. She is a CNN contributor, a network known for purveying nothing but Democrat agit-prop. I wonder where she picked up the phrase “the Trump-Roy Cohn playbook of lie and disseminate misinformation”? That’s nothing but a leftwing smear – one among thousands from her ilk over the past three years (Roy Cohn was a Joe McCarthy confidant, and the smear is virtue-signaling to fellow leftists in the media and academia, in particular). She then claims that it’s “terrifying” that Republican senators have figured out that the Democrats were trying to perpetrate an impeachment nothing-burger on the country for partisan political purposes – about which we not only were informed by the “rightwing” media but also were able to observe first-hand over the last three months (and especially over the last two weeks).
Stelter: But do you think Chris Murphy has a point when says, “look, everybody’s afraid of something in this situation. Democrats are afraid of President Trump. Republicans are afraid of what they think is the Deep State and the media conspiracy. That is real; Murphy’s right, isn’t he?
Filipovic: I think he’s absolutely right, but I think when you look at which fears are legitimate. To me, Democrats are looking at, you know, we have a president who I think honestly [while grinning from ear to ear] it’s quite hard to deny has done some serious acts of wrongdoing in office. And then you have Republicans who are essentially fear-mongering about this kind of invented Deep State and liberals that are undermining our values and immigrants who are coming in and we need to build a wall. There’s so much of them trying to win on the politics of fear of change. Whereas Democrats are looking at the state of the country and saying, “how can we make sure that our Republican maintains its values, how can we make sure that we live up to our obligations to our Constitution.” Those are two really, really different things, and yes, both sides fear something, but those fears are not equally legitimate.
Me: Filipovic is right in there with the Democrats in alleging “acts of wrongdoing” by the President and insinuating that those acts are proven and also common knowledge. B.S.! Allegations aren’t evidence of anything, Jill, no matter how many times you repeat them in the leftwing Democrat-media echo chamber. And Republicans are “fear-mongering” about the “invented” Deep State and the rest garbage in her sentence above? Perhaps she needs to have a private conversation with Sharyl Atkisson and Carter Page about the Deep State, or the angel moms whose children were killed by illegal aliens, or the average Americans who are tired of LGBTQ activists destroying traditional American culture and Judeo-Christian values in service of their personal politics. But then leftists like her live in a bubble and have no direct contact with people who have experience these tragedies and travesties. She belief that the fears of conservatives are “not equally legitimate” is a personal insult to me. What has she ever done in service of her country? I am still faithful to my oath taken as a midshipman at the US Naval Academy and later as a naval officer 50 years ago. She can pound sand.
Stelter: In that environment, what’s your advice for the press?
Donaldson: Well, the press has to keep doing their jobs. The press has to find facts. Many, many years ago, the Herald-Tribune in New York was a newspaper for the Republicans. It took the facts and said they mean this, and the NY Times took the same facts and said no, they mean that, and they had an argument. Today, we still have journalists that look for facts, occasionally make a mistake, try to put them out to the public and say, please, look at these, use them. And then we have Fox and Alex Jones, and we have Facebook – non-journalists putting out the same type of propaganda based on nothing. So there is no equivalency, and I’m just saying to real journalists to keep fighting, keep going, and don’t be afraid.
Me: He’s living in a dream world, as the legacy media of old aren’t the legacy media of today. In his era, personal politics were suppressed by many journalists even though biases could be discerned in people like him by carefully reading what they wrote and listening to what they said over time. In this era, “journalists” wear their leftwing politics on their sleeves and virtue-signal constantly, whether in their product or in their public statements. By the way, one does not have to go through a leftwing journalism school to become a credentialed journalist. That’s a dirty little secret that the Left have tried to suppress. Thankfully, regular Americans with different educational backgrounds and life experiences have stepped in to fill the vacuum left by legacy media personnel who have abrogated their reporting responsibilities in favor of advancing their personal leftwing politics.
Zelizer: The press is very relevant. In the gap between the House voting on impeachment and the end of this trial, a lot of the news came out of the media. And they shut down the information-gathering process. That’s what happened; they didn’t want to hear the information. But the Parnas interviews, the stories about Bolton reminds us that the press still plays that Watergate media role, and we shouldn’t forget that even with all the dysfunction we see every day.
Me: Another ridiculous statement and parroting of the Democrat party-line on impeachment! The information-gathering process was not “shut down.” The traditional roles of Congress regarding impeachment were upheld despite frantic Democrat-media efforts to change the rules and the process. The House is the investigating body, and the Senate sits as a jury in judgment of the case as presented by House managers. And that’s what the Republican senators ultimately decided.
It was the House Democrats who shut down the information-gathering process by refusing to allow due process during their impeachment inquiry and refusing to issue lawful subpoenas and litigate those through the courts. And then they handed the baton to Democrat senators to try to warp the Senate’s historical impeachment rules and process to suit their partisan political ends.
These leftwingers on CNN are nothing if not persistent in their collective delusions. I won’t be watching Reliable Sources again any time soon. Except for sampling what the lunatics think, it’s a complete waste of time.