Is there any media reporter who acts so much like his own employer’s PR department as CNN’s Brian Stelter?
Well, WaPo‘s Erik Wemple, maybe. Even when he’s criticizing his pub (wink! wink!), he remembers to call it “otherwise spectacular.”
But for today, the award goes to Stelter, who slung mud at undercover self-described “guerrilla journalist” James O’Keefe, who plans to release 100 hours of raw CNN audio on Thursday at 10 a.m.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Naturally the network is on pins and needles.
Who better to smear O’Keefe than Stelter? It’s Wednesday. In other words, a good opportunity as any to suck up to CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker.
Even the headline is damning. In it, Stelter calls O’Keefe a “conservative provocateur.” Translation: A clown and not someone to be trusted no matter what the material is.
In graph two, Stelter takes another dig at O’Keefe, writing, “‘This is all legally recorded information,’ he said, declining to be more specific.”
Wait…is O’Keefe supposed to release his material to Stelter before the scheduled dump?
Would WaPo‘s Robert Costa reveal contents of a story he planned to break to a media reporter before breaking it?
O’Keefe is being cagey. Why would he be anything else?
Stelter takes his first real stab at him by declaring his behavior “shady” and his statements “exaggerations” and not facts. He wrote, “O’Keefe, who uses undercover stings to trap his targets, has a reputation for shady tactics and exaggerated statements.”
Full disclosure: In the fall of 2015, I covered an O’Keefe press conference at the National Press Club. I, too, found time to make fun of what turned out to be a real shirt-show. Some of his aides were not happy about my story — one was so angry that he called to tell O’Keefe, who was visiting The Daily Caller offices, to get the hell out of there immediately. O’Keefe was relaxed and amiable even after reading my piece.
Now let’s get back to suck-up Stelter. He went on to discredit O’Keefe’s “so-called exposés” that Stelter says have relied on “misleading editing techniques.”
You can almost hear Stelter’s lips forming into a pucker as he writes this next sentence.
“Given his track record, many consider O’Keefe discredited, and not a serious journalist,” he wrote.
Stelter obviously regards himself as a serious journalist despite being what The Hollywood Reporter‘s Michael Wolff called a “ridiculous figure” for his TV lectures.
Stelter told O’Keefe that he usually targets liberal news organizations. So why CNN?
There’s this: CNN never bothered to explain why a network anchor blatantly compared President Trump to Adolf Hitler at a November award’s dinner while the network’s own Zucker watched on. At the banquet, Zucker even bid a few thousand dollars on two artistic photographs of former President Obama. So, yeah, it’s hard to imagine why anyone might think the network leans left.
Stelter mentioned O’Keefe’s report last fall that got two associates of Hillary Clinton‘s campaign canned after they at least contemplated inciting violence at Trump campaign events. The DNC, as reported by Stelter, said the events were only “hypothetical.”
One thing is for certain: Stelter’s piece is a pre-emptive hit job on O’Keefe.
But don’t worry, CNN.
You can count on Stelter — supposedly the network’s media watchdog — to carry your water.