CNN’s gossip girl doesn’t have pigtails or an obscenely short dress. He’s balding with blue eyes and in varying degrees of 29-year-old angst about what people think of him. As a former weight-obsessed guy who once blogged about his every calorie and morsel he ingested as he ventured from grossly overweight to remarkably slimmed down, his looks are not far from his mind.
Neither is his access to his boss.
The network’s resident new media it girl Brian Stelter found himself in an embarrassing snafu Friday as he “accidentally” tweeted an insulting remark about Wolf Blitzer, 67, a colleague more than twice his age. Stelter repeatedly and rather defensively claimed he had cut and pasted the remark for Twitter’s direct messaging system. But he said it wasn’t from him and not something he’d ever say online or off.
As Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren asked in a subsequent post on her Gretawire blog late Friday night, why cut and paste something like that?
“Stelter travels from DC to NYC and back…and reads the internet. Wolf has crisscrossed the world and interviewed world leaders,” she wrote. “…PS. Steltzer’s excuse is terrible. Accidentally? Even if his excuse were true, why was he cutting and pasting this trash? People sure can be nasty.”
Van Susteren’s bluntness effectively rightsized Stelter.
“CNN’s Brian Stelter has been in the business about 5 days and not traveled the world (just read the internet) and he dares to insult Wolf Blitzer, who has been in the business years and has traveled the world and interviewed world leaders?” Van Susteren, a former CNN correspondent, said on her blog Friday night.
Stelter’s office behavior assumes a different tone. According to Mirror sources in New York’s Time Warner Center, he often strolls into CNN President Jeff Zucker‘s office for regular gossip sessions to snuggle up to the boss.
“Stelter was already known as being backstabbing and duplicitous,” said a veteran CNNer working not far from Zucker’s office on the 5th floor. “He’s like a 16-year-old girl. He’s always in Zucker’s office gossiping about everyone and Jeff eats it up.”
Someone else who munches on everything Stelter does: Mediaite‘s Evan McMurry. Watching Stelter trade tweets with his little buddy is downright endearing as McMurry happens to “cover” his show every week from his knees.
But not everyone is buying what happened here.
“How anyone buys his excuse is dumbfounding,” a longtime journalist told The Mirror. “Greta is exactly right. What was he planning to do with the copy and paste about Wolf? You copy and paste to send the text verbatim somewhere. So where was it going and why?”
The Mirror requested a comment from Stelter. Specifically, who did he intend to send the remark to and why?
Instead of offering me remarks, he directed me to WaPo’s rarely reported Erik Wemple Blog. As he explained to Wemple, who really is the worst and drove the now defunct TBD Allbritton website into the ground, Stelter apparently had a huge technological brain fart.
“I was using Twitter via text, which requires a D and the username in order to send it via DM,” he told WaPo.”I pasted it in and hit send, but without the D and the username, and that’s why it was a DM fail.”
The explanation is Stelter was DM-ing a mystery source and trying to “prove a point/win an argument” by reminding the person of what he or she had previously told him. Let’s get this straight — Stelter’s conversation partner previously insulted or praised Wolf? Was Stelter reminding the person that Wolf is the worst or that Wolf is the best?
Hmmm… hard to say.
Our veteran CNNer on the fifth floor said Stelter’s behavior is not playing well with the employee masses.
On the other hand, a perk of buttering up the boss is that Stelter gets treated differently from the other talent.
“NOBODY likes him here because he gets special treatment,” said the source. “He had Jeff make him a fucking reporter during the Amtrak derailment and also went right to him to ask if he could do a weather report. Even got his dinosaur buddy from the NYT hired as a contributor. His wife once took a photo of herself in front of his own poster. She’s as narcissistic as him but at least she’s watchable. Brian has a massive ego for someone who royally sucks.”
From the sounds of it, Stelter’s office fan club has a lonely membership of one: Zucker. Which could certainly work for awhile.
“Wolf wasn’t the first CNNer he’s been obnoxious about,” said the network source. “This is just the first time he got caught. But nothing will happen because Wolf is classy and won’t complain while Jeff is about the only person here who thinks Brian should even be on television.”