The Mirror

We Watched CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ So You Don’t Have To


Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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CNN’s Brian Stelter took the bait Sunday morning and spent the bulk of his one-hour media program “Reliable Sources” talking about President Trump’s “tweet storm” against the fourth estate.

He zoned right in on the ridiculous video that Trump tweeted Sunday morning. In it, Trump wrestles a guy with a CNN logo emblazoned on his face to the ground.

Here’s a thought – what about completely ignoring it as a non-story?

His balding head shinier than ever, Stelter asked rhetorically, “Is this President trying to impersonate Hugo Chavez?”

He obviously thinks he is. So why ask it in the form of a question?

Stelter expression remained stern for much of the show. There will be one fake laugh today. No smiling. No joking. After all, with all the crap Trump has been giving the media as of late, there is nothing funny about Trump bodyslamming CNN in a wrestling video.

“…This is exactly the kind of language that leaders use when they are trying to undermine the press,” he continued.

Stelter spent 90 minutes scouring Twitter for reaction to Trump bodyslamming CNN.

“This is day six of President Trump’s tweet storm,” he said gravely.

You’d almost think that discussing Trump blows up CNN’s ratings.

Stelter had questions. Watch out when that happens.

“Who knows which outlet will be next?”

“Who is going to speak up?”

“Where is Paul Ryan?”

“Where is Mitch McConnell?”

“Are GOP leaders going to speak up about this attacks against the media?”

Honestly, who fucking knows? But Stelter will keep asking the tough questions.

“This President continues to demean the media. Are GOP leaders going to continue to support him?”

Stelter turned to crusty Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post to make sense of this insanity.

And boy is Bernstein, with his impressive white, wavy Washington mane, angry, highly offended and deeply worried about the state of the media.

“First, it’s not just anti CNN…it’s anti-freedom of the press,” said the man who became famous for breaking the Watergate story. ”It’s a definitive statement from the President of the United States. …This is an index of his state of mind, visually. It’s disturbing. There is nothing lighthearted about it.”

Bernstein likes the word disturbing. It’s almost disturbing how much he uses it.

Stelter assured viewers that he’s going to take an hour to “unpack” all that garble that just came out of Bernstein’s mouth.

New York Mag’s Olivia Nuzzi appeared in front of a faux scene of Washington, D.C.

She talked about Reddit, the site that originally published the Trump bodyslamming CNN video. “I don’t recommend  it,” she said frankly, referring to the site, not the video.

Right-wing radio host Ben Ferguson was piped in as the show’s only opposing voice. He was on the phone because of some video fuck-up in Dallas.

“When I saw it, I initially laughed. …I don’t think it incites violence,” he said. “I think you people are stretching when you imply that. Wrestling is fake. Everyone knows wrestling is fake.”

He pleaded – no begged —  Stelter to have just an “ounce” of humor.

Sorry, Fergy. Not happening.

Stelter, who apparently has eyeballs, said he’s seen some of the “trash” in his coworkers’ inboxes. He didn’t really want to hear what Ferguson had to say. He wanted him to say, you’re right, oh, Brian, you’re so right.

“Ben you get hate mail that sometimes threatens your life,” Stelter said, pushing him to have some humanity. “And that’s what’s happening to folks at CNN right now.”

Ferguson, who fully resisted Stelter’s death lecture, said everyone is exaggerating this and making a big deal out of nothing.

“What he does for seven seconds can hurt people,” Stelter told Ferguson.

The Baltimore Sun’s humorless sourpuss David Zurawik, also balding, stressed that he couldn’t disagree more with Ferguson. “I think the most dangerous thing you can say is oh, have a sense of humor. Let’s just laugh at it. You can kill someone in seven seconds,” he says.

He told Ferguson this is NOT funny. This is not a time to say “Ho Ho Ho.” (Not even Santa laughs like that, but I’ll let this terrible moment pass without further comment.)

Zurawik’s voice grew louder and louder and LOUDER. There is absolutely no internal volume control going on here, which I think may be more dangerous than the idiotic wrestling video.

“If he thinks The Washington Post, CNN or the New York Times is going to be afraid, he’s in for the rudest awakening of his life,” he said dramatically.

Blah blah blah. Bernstein had more to say on the matter.

When Ferguson interrupted him, he pushed back, “Can I finish please? Can I just finish?”

Actually, no. Ferguson’s video still isn’t working. He’s still on the phone. And he has something else to blather on about how the media’s goal is to take down this White House. He said a portion of the media has a “genuine disdain” for the President.

What does Poynter’s Kelly McBride think?

“Well, I honestly think we’re spending a little too much time on it here,” she said.

Translation: Brian, your show sucks.

McBride thinks we need to be focusing on the stories like health care, taxes, trade and climate change – YAAAWWWN.

Not to worry. Soon she’s back on message: “I’m completely offended by this clip.”

Because at least four people on Stelter’s panel (including him) need to be incredibly outraged.

Like a schoolmarm, McBride, with red glasses and short, brushed back, smooth dark hair, further scolded Stelter, saying, “I worry that the way you guys are yelling at each other no one is listening to you.”

That was the show’s first 22 minutes. Now we go to a commercial break to learn more about Mesothelioma.

The show returns and now Stelter is going to look at the pro-Trump media universe.

After he mentions every outlet from Fox News to Newsmax, Drudge, and InfoWars, he stressed that The National Enquirer has become pretty pro-Trump. Which is actually old news. The National Enquirer endorsed Trump’s candidacy. Stelter said Trump has “weaponized” The National Enquirer.

Zurawik – my least favorite panelist – has a lovefest with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski’s Friday shitshow performance, which came after Trump tweeted that there was blood coming from Mika’s chin when the couple visited Mar-a-Lago. He also called them both crazy and dumb. “When Scarborough and Mika talked about that on Friday,” he said awkwardly, “First of all, I thought they responded with restraint and power and authority.”

He just loved it. I mean, L-O-V-E-D it. He admitted to watching it twice – not just live, but also the replay!

He urged Scarborough to reveal his sources because he said Trump will keep lying.

Zurawik keeps getting LOUDER and LOUDER. Please someone turn down his volume.

McBride came out with a fun fact: “Now, Joe and Mika, they don’t actually do any original reporting.”


Where did this Mean Girl come from?

Surely NBC and Joe and Mika would object to the notion that their show has no news.

Stelter took a moment to go inside his brain to his internal fantasyland where he imagines what the world would be like if pro-Trump outlets like Breitbart News and InfoWars didn’t exist.

Hmmm. Ok, that was fun. Let’s break for commercial.

At 11:33 a.m. it’s time to discuss CNN’s failure this week when the network had to part ways with three journalists for majorly screwing up a big story concerning a Trump associate and Russia. The story was later retracted.

“Well, one thing that CNN didn’t do is they didn’t say exactly what was wrong with the story. They didn’t provide details,” McBride said. “…The President and all of his supporters will dismiss it as already a false story.”

McBride said we don’t know the story was false. We just know it didn’t meet CNN’s standards.

Bernstein looked absolutely constipated listening to Ferguson discuss CNN’s situation and a “conservative provocateur” whom Stelter won’t name. He’s referring to James O’Keefe, whose operation, Project Veritas, goes on undercover missions to record people saying compromising things.

“Look, I don’t think it’s taking advantage of anybody,” Ferguson said. “I think you should say the same thing you say on the air off the air.”

Stelter shakes his head back and forth “NO” while Ferguson is speaking.

To be fair, Ferguson absurdly said O’Keefe recorded a “junior staffer” so he has some say so on what happens on a show. What junior staffer has any power anywhere? O’Keefe is still weirdly not being named.

“I said JUNIOR STAFFER,” Stelter said, interrupting him, like Ferguson is dense for not having a better understanding of what a junior staffer is.

Nuzzi also looked pained. At one point she appeared to take a deep breath out of exasperation.

Stelter said the mystery man (O’Keefe) was “cherry picking” the CNN staffers who said CNN covers the Russia story for ratings and other things that made the network look crappy.

Ferguson disagreed on the “cherry picking” front. Which made Stelter crazy — he wouldn’t let go of that … because O’Keefe and Co. were OBVIOUSLY cherry picking, he says emphatically. Again, he refused to name O’Keefe – almost as if the order came from above: WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT SAY THE NAME JAMES O’KEEFE.

Next up: press access at the White House.

There are 15 minutes left.

Nuzzi pushed for more transparency and on camera briefings. “Any opportunity to question this White House on the record on camera we need to take,” she said.

Finally at 11:48 a.m. Zurawik totally screwed up and uttered O’Keefe’s name. Oops!

Stelter broke for another commercial, barely responding to his thought.

The show winds to a close on a ridiculous note of Bernstein declaring that every American should be incredibly disturbed about the disturbing statement made by such a disturbing President.

“We can’t do too much navel gazing here….” Bernstein said.

Stelter interrupts him to make what appears to be a joke: “Except on this show, Carl..ha ha ha ha ha.”

“I don’t think that’s what we’re doing,” Bernstein continued, nonsensically, not cracking so much as a single giggle.

Damn it. Did I miss something funny here?

The show ends with Zurawik kissing CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s ass for the daily fighting he does with this White House.


And another question from Stelter about Trump’s World Wrestling video: “Is this a violation of Twitter’s terms of stervis?” Yes, he said “STERVIS” when he clearly meant “service.”

Nuzzi appeared to be a voice of reason.

She said it’s hard to not see the video Trump tweeted as funny. She also says it’s serious.

“You see this video and you want to laugh at it,” she said. “ …But it’s serious. I think we need to be able to hold those two thoughts in our hands at once.”