On A Polka Dot Sofa Somewhere In The Midwest–If it’s Sunday, it’s time to watch another episode of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with the obviously biased, President Trump-hating host Brian Stelter.
Stelter claims to cover the media, but he comes at it with a clear, left-leaning POV. Which makes the show less about journalism and more about the host, who one of my Italian-leaning readers – Luigi Giovanni — colorfully describes as the “hefty, hard-left, hysterical Humpty Dumpty.”
I’m curious about the exact circumference of Stelter’s large watermelon head after a screenshot I captured from last week’s show, but that can be broach another time. I think it would make for a fantastic math problem for CNN host Jake Tapper’s dog, who has his own Twitter feed.
I already know Trump Counselor Kellyanne Conway, who can be a walking SNL character in her own right, treated Stelter like a child on today’s episode, so I’m anxiously awaiting that segment.
Promos indicate Brian is going to address “The Weinstein Effect” with Ronan Farrow, who broke open a pandora’s box of casting couch perversion in The New Yorker.
But first, it’s time for Brian to kick Trump in the teeth. A new poll reveals that most Americans don’t trust Trump: 33 percent trust him; 65 percent don’t.
“This would be devastating for any White House,” Brian says gravely.
“Kellyanne, thanks for agreeing to be here,” he says gruffly.
“Hi Brian!” she chirps wearing her usual perma-smile, my pleasure,” as if they attend each other’s birthday parties. Kellyanne looks good – her blonde hair is set in soft waves and unfrizzed. Forest green is a good hue for her.
At this point, the camera zooms with terrifying microscopic precision into Brian’s large head for God knows what reason, but it’s so goddamn funny. Even he looks like he might break into laughter.
“So Brian, I think that’s the usual hyperbolic opening to one of the CNN segments, but let me tell you about the numbers that matter to Americans – the 1.5 million jobs created on his watch, the 54 record highs in the stock market closes”…blah blah blah.
This when the bickering starts and never ends.
HIM: “But what are you doing about credibility?”
HER: “Well, that is credibility.”
HIM: “It’s not.”
HER: “It is. Maybe not to CNN.”
Kellyanne goes in for the kill: “You have the voice going through all of your promos saying CNN that CNN is the most trusted name in news. What evidence to you have of that? I’ve seen poll numbers to the contrary.”
Brian eyes her like he’s got her, but does he? “You’re talking about CNN instead of President Trump,” he says.
HER: “No no no…I’m happy to talk about President Trump but you interrupted me.”
HER: “The credibility crisis exists in the other party now.”
HIM: “You know, I stopped taking Donna Brazile seriously when she lied and when it was revealed that CNN fired her for giving debate questions to Hillary Clinton.”
Kellyanne grows sympathetic to Brazile: “I think that’s very unkind to Donna Brazile.”
Brian wouldn’t relent. BUT HIS APPROVAL RATINGS ARE SHOCKINGLY LOW.
Kellyanne: “You know what’s a problem for this nation, that you refuse, CNN used to be a place where people can tune and get news all day long. Now you get spin and people’s opinions. I think CNN should own it. Brian why not say look, it’s in our commercial interests to be anti-Trump…just own it. Don’t you think that would be more credible for CNN?”
Brian counter-slams, saying, “I guess you just want everybody to be just like Fox News. State run media?”
Kellyanne pops him in the nose: “Stop being so jealous of Fox news and their ratings. [Hah hah hah, Brian laughs.] I think that would help if you dropped the jealousy a little bit about Fox News. We need a media that covers the facts.”
Brian raises a ludicrous cancer analogy. He says this is like a doctor walks in and says you have cancer and it’s spreading throughout your body but the good news is your legs still work and your legs still work. He says he wants to treat the cancer – which he absurdly thinks is some poll about how many Americans trust Trump.
Kellyanne actually makes sense. She says she knows a lot of people with terminal cancer and she’s not going to take Brian’s asinine analogy seriously.
I’m going to sink to Brian’s level for a second and say Brian is a cancer for CNN.
Brian and Kellyanne argue about a whole bunch of other stuff for awhile. It’s actually hard to hear what either of them is saying.
“Just Jab jab jab,” Brian says, interrupting her. “You just love to beat on Hillary Clinton. It’s boring. It’s history. Let’s talk about the building behind you.” (Kellyanne’s backdrop is the White House.)
At one point Kellyanne hilariously says “Facts first, Brian!”
One last question for Kellyanne: “Will President Trump see the White House doctor and will he release the results of his physicals?”
“I don’t ask the President about private matters about his health,” she replied.
“It’s not a private matter,” Brian says in his best hall monitor voice. “All Presidents disclose their medical records and their physicals when they’re in the White House.”
Kellyanne tells Brian that CNN’s rating are not as high as other networks.
“Then why are you here Kellyanne?” he shoots back at her. “If you want to take a shot at me, why are you here?”
This is when Kellyanne tells Brian a tragic truth: “I’m always happy and …I’ll go home and watch the Philadelphia Eagles and take my kids to something fun today. But you will go on Twitter the rest of the day as you’re hold your precious daughter [she pronounces it duuu-aww-ter) and you will see what people said and how anti-Trump CNN viewers are.”
Brian severely furrows his brow as Kellyanne gives him shit about “facts first.”
After they are finished breathlessly arguing, Brian plops this whopper of a lie on the table: “We are not anti-Trump, Kellyanne,” he says, flatly bullshitting any viewer who is watching his program today. “We are pro-truth and pro-decency.”
It’s time for the first panel: Politico’s Eliana Johnson in a bright red frock and Spectrum News anchor Errol Lewis, who looks pulled together in a white shirt, red tie and dark suit with subtle stripes.
Honestly, I have no idea what Errol said. It’s not that he wasn’t eloquent. But it didn’t capture my attention and I’m not rewinding this shit again.
The program finally shows a full gut shot of Brian, and despite the dark suit, which encourages a slimming effect, he’s ballooning.
“I’m not sure how those approval numbers are going to impact the 2018 election because the economy is performing well as Kellyanne said,” Johnson says.
She says something Brian won’t like: Trump has a “pretty good grip” on the party,” she says. “It does seem to me he has rebranded the party in his own image.”
Next up: How pro-Trump media has been trying to discredit Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
And hallejuella, it’s halftime. I can breathe. Just 30 minutes more and I’m free.
“We see right-wing media rallying around the president,” he says, noting that these outlets deny Mueller’s probe.
Brian takes a quick shot at Fox News host and Trump lover Sean Hannity.
“He should resign immediately tonight,” Hannity says of Mueller in a clip.
[HA HA HA Brian thinks this is funny.]
The second panel has arrived. We still have Johnson along with with NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik and Poynter’s Indira Lakshmanan. Lakshmanan is also in red. She has a complex necklace that looks like it has marshmallows hanging from it.
“Rupert Murdoch has always wanted to have a close personal relationship with the president of the united states and he’s found he’s able to do that with President Trump,” says Johnson.
Has Politico tried to land interviews with Trump?
“I think every mainstream media outlet tries to sit down with the president,” she says. “… The President and I don’t go way back as he does with some of these [Fox News] guys.”
It shouldn’t surprise me at this point that Brian gives all the best segments the shortest range of time. But it’s so damn irritating.
Woody Allen‘s maybe non-son Ronan Farrow is on the program, and he’s got a juicy-sounding looming blockbuster about Pervy Weinstein. And who doesn’t want to hear more about THAT?
Instead, we have to suffer through Brian’s regimented Fox News bashing and a Rupert Murdoch yaaawwwnnner.
The topic at hand is “The Weinstein Effect” and all the leches who have and will be exposed.
“You’ve gotta be really careful with this reporting,” says Farrow, who’s listed as a contributor to The New Yorker after NBC gave him the shaft on his sexual misconduct blockbuster. He’s dwarfed by the others at the table. He’s also cagey and not spilling much info.
“I will say there is certainly more to say about why this has stayed quiet as long as it did,” Farrow says. “I’m not going to get into the details.”
Did Ronan think there would be a domino effect?
“This is a seismic change in culture in real time and it opened up a vein that was right there under the surface, incredibly painful, and we’re seeing the effects of that,” he says.
Brian asks, “Has NBC apologized to you?”
Ronan totally peacock blocks him on that.
“I don’t want to become the story right now,” he says.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t want the limelight later. “There may be more to say about that later,” he says. “I certainly respect the question. I don’t want to get into private communications about that.”
(Translation: Look for someone like HuffPost freelancer Yashar Ali to report about Farrow’s tattered relationship with NBC soon because Farrow will sing like a canary. He already has. It’s just a matter of time until he shares more.)
It’s now 11:48 a.m. and Brian has waited at least 30 minutes to get to anything intriguing after getting beaten up by a woman (Kellyanne).
“We need to make sure that our own house is in order,” Indira Lachshmanan says. “We need to be honest and transparent about what’s happening in our own industry as well.
“What was it like for you?” Brian asks Folkenflik about covering his own boss who acted like a slimeball with women but not to the level of Weinstein or Anthony Weiner, whose first day of prison starts Monday.
“It’s obviously a disappointment,” says Folkenflik of Editorial Director Norman Oreskes, who is no longer with NPR. “In recent days, I’ve spoken to nine women, …each with instances which are not as severe that Ronan has been reporting on …and yet add up to an insidious pattern.”
The show ends on a real downer. Brian announces that there have been more than 115 layoffs in New York, DC, LA and Chicago because of publications shutting down.
DNA Info and Gothamist are no more. The newsroom unionized and a week later the publisher pulled the plug.
Errol Louis, who is also a CNN political commentator, and his pinstripes are back.
He says when local stations ask for money, it’s not for the tote bag. “It’s tremendously important,” he says, noting that our local papers are “thinner” and “smaller” and corruption will go unchecked.
And that’s a wrap.