The Mirror

We Watch CNN’s Terrible Media Show So You Don’t Have To


Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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A COZY GRAY SOFA IN RAINY D.C. — It’s time for a review of your least favorite show on cable TV — “Reliable Sources” with biased media host Brian Stelter.

His tie is askew today. From where I sit, it leans left.

Brian talks about the Anita Hill hearings 27 years ago and says, “It may be tempting to think that a lot has changed since this day, since Anita Hill sat down to testify. And certainly some things have. But America seems [AWKWARD PAUSE] even more divided along gender and partisan lines. Nowadays the media environment is even more complicated, more of a mess.”

Okay, he’s 31. Where was he during Anita Hill’s hearing against Clarence Thomas in 1991?

Right, Stelter was 6 and all engrossed, I’m sure. In between Sesame Street and Scooby-Do, no doubt he was tuned into the hearings.

His pauses are unnerving — meaning, dramatic and unnecessary. Now I can’t stop perseverating on them.

Ding. Ding. Ding. It’s time for the “all-star” panel.

It’s Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the NYT, lefty NYT columnist Charles Blow, a CNN commentator who wrote a memoir about abuse he suffered as a child and  a man who cries racism if you’re white and don’t sit next to him on the Acela, and Rachel Sklar, creator of The List, a network for professional women.

Abramson was in the hearing room back in 1991, sitting across from NYT’s Maureen Dowd.

“This has so many eerie parallels,” she says. “…the parallels where Anita Hill’s identity was leaked out to the press.”

Abramson, who lost the support of her newsroom 2014 and was fired and replaced by Dean Baquet, says what’s different is there was no Fox News back then. There was also no social media, both of which she says intensifies the atmosphere.

“This has touched a nerve,” she says. “Every woman in America has a similar experience from their teenage years, that they haven’t thought about. It was traumatic…This has just lit a match for them.”

Hmmm…WTF? I thankfully don’t have an experience like that. But I’m sure she knows what she’s talking about when she says every woman has had an experience like that.

Sklar recites what President Trump infamously said on an Access Hollywood bus in 2005. But before she does, she asks Stelter for permission to say the word “pussy”, which he readily gives her.

“Anyone who has been grabbed by the pussy, you don’t forget,” she says, reciting what Trump told then-host Billy Bush when he said that when you’re famous you can do anything you want, including “grabbing women by the pussy.”

During this segment the CNN chyron is alarmingly this: SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE #: 1-800-656-4673.

Blow insists there is a “huge developmental difference between a freshman and a senior.” I’m sure no one knows a freshman female in high school who has dated a male senior. I seem to remember a few of my freshman classmates dating older classmen and multiple guys on the Rugby team.

Next up, Brian will dish about “smears” that have been perpetuated about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavenaugh’s accuser Dr. Christina Blasey Ford.

Brian talks about Ford in a “you” format.

“Try to put yourself in her shoes. You’ve lived with this trauma for years. You’ve kept it a secret. …You thought about going pubic but you decided not to…but then you’re name started to leak out. Reporters started to knock on your door. … Now, if you’re Ford, you’re living in a hotel, you’re staring down death threats. …The president is tweeting about you, casting doubt on your story. …Maybe you turn your TV off in disgust. …You’re a private person, not a public person. You’re not used to people talking about you.”

Okay, he says, let’s step out of her shoes.

Deep sigh of relief. Brian is done standing in women’s shoes and doesn’t know Dr. Ford any better than the rest of us.

He brings up stories about reviews of her teaching, which were fake and about a different teacher. He also raises the issue of Ed Whelan, a Kavenaugh supporter and conservative strategist who suggested that a different man was responsible for Ford’s allegations. He eventually apologized and retracted his idiotic comments.

“HE’S THE HEAD OF AN ETHICS CENTER!” Brian yells in his best Oprah voice.

Here comes another strange pause.

“Its gonna be [PAUSE PAUSE PAUSE] another intense week ahead,” he says, stating the obvious.

The next all-star panel is here. It’s — damn it — shouty Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik and New York Mag’s Olivia Nuzzi. They’re talking about the NYT story on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The piece reported that he’d wear a wire at the White House to implicate Trump. Fox News journalists like Judge Jeanine Pirro said that maybe Rosenstein is looking to get himself fired. Other hosts said Rosenstein was looking to trap the president into firing him, which they feverishly urged him not to do.

Nuzzi’s wearing plain, sensible navy today. She matches Zurawik, who is wearing a visually pleasing deep blue and white striped tie. I’m quite certain they didn’t pre-plan their outfits. But that’s the only way in which those two compare. Zurawik is a SHOUTER. Olivia talks at a normal volume.

“I don’t think there’s any reason to lend weight to Judge Jeanine’s claims,” she said. “…We have to trust that the writers and editors at the New York Times are doing their jobs and not being used as tools.”

Olivia says we must take Fox News seriously because hosts like Sean Hannity “advises the president on a regular basis.”

Zurawik says “this” Judge Jeanine is an “INSANE CHARACTER.” He says she should be back in the 1940’s taking gossip tips. [Over in the other TV square, Olivia starts laughing at Zurawik, but it’s unclear if she’s sympathetic to what he’s saying or thinks he’s senile.] He’s incensed that we have to listen to Judge Jeanine at all.

New topic: The daily White House press briefing, which has all but become extinct.

Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents Association and a journalist  at SiriusXM, is on the program to discuss. His hair is sticking straight up today, making him look a little crazy. Maybe he went haywire with the hair gel.

But he speaks seriously enough that his hair doesn’t get in the way of his words.

“It is not the end all or be all of our work,” he says of the briefing, but explains that it helps and has “real value.”

The WHCA has taken its complaints to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who usually treats members of the media like a sub species with snide remarks. So whether she has heard them or not, the issues have fallen on deaf ears.

Basically the White House could give two shits about what the media wants. But the communications department does dole out incredible interviews when you least expect it — like the one recently given to two Daily Caller reporters who got a substantial sit-down in the Oval with Trump.

Brian concludes the program by offering advice to all news outlets to release the entire tape instead of just 13 minutes, which is what NBC did with its interview between Trump and Lester Holt, allowing Trump to tweet that NBC had “fudged” the interview that seems to clearly say that the president fired FBI Director James Comey because there was never any collusion between Trump and Russia.

Speaking of fudge, we’ll unfortunately see the host right back here next week.