Brian Stelter

“I must have killed more men than Cecil B. De MIlle.”

— The Waco Kid, aka Jim, from the film, “Blazing Saddles”.

by Harry Caines

When I look back at many of the polemics I entered for submission to cachevalleydaily.com and Utah Politico Hub regarding Donald Trump over the past four years, I must admit that I have allowed hyperbole to run amok. 

So intense was my disdain for Trump as a man and as a politician that I relegated my weekly column to become nothing more than an amalgam of frothy magniloquence. Different subjects, same hypothesis.

Trump sucks.

With that level of consistency, it is vexing to me that CNN never asked me to be a paid panelist.

Do you remember CNN? Unless you are stuck in an airport for an insufferably long interval of time, you most likely do not have CNN in your optical purview. 

CNN, an acronym for Cable News Network, is supposed to be the mature sibling in the cable news family. The reliable middle child that would take Dad into the spare bedroom after Mom died. It was the undisputed sorvan between the wonky, intellectual liberals on MSNBC and the party-on-Saturday-pray-on-Sunday right-wing firebrand personalities that were endlessly in our face on Fox News.

In the realm of American television journalism, CNN was the rock in the sea of sensationalism. The pillar of integrity of the Fifth Estate. The Standard, as a proper noun.

Yeah, umm, that’s sarcasm. None of that was actually true. CNN has been the source of many journalistic blunders going back as far as the Gulf War. It was only on a scale with MSNBC and Fox News that CNN looked legitimate. 

No more.

Since Donald Trump came to dominate the lives of every human that has voluntarily subserviated their will to social networking via modern technology, CNN has been fixated with reporting every detail—newsworthy or not, substantiated or not, contextual or not—that can shed a negative light on Donald Trump. A healthy allotment of these stories had important veracity to them. Too many did not.

Brett Kavanaugh? CNN went live with a guy who once saw Kavanaugh drunk on a college campus. “The Crucible” for the 21st Century. 

Nicholas Sandmann? That MAGA hat-wearing thug has the audacity to intimidate a Native American elder! Except that is not what happened. The anti-Trump narrative fell apart in under 24 hours.

The Caravan? A hoax created by Trump to scare people…except when migrants showed up at the border and started dying. CNN went from laughing at Trump for calling what was happening at the southern border a crisis to having their personalities blaming Trump for the death of children who tried to cross into the United States. 

Michael Avenatti? Stay hot!

The Mueller Report? Obviously, the evidence of collusion was hidden in Al Capone’s vaults.

Make no mistake in your discernment if I am defending Donald Trump’s character or his presidency. I am not. This column is to define the scope of CNN’s incompetence and a complete dearth of journalistic values. In opposing Trump, CNN has become Trump. 

The worst of CNN comes from a show that should feature the best that journalism has to offer. Since 1992, CNN has aired a weekend show entitled “Reliable Sources”. The show’s aim is (was) to review and critique media coverage of big stories that transpired during the previous week. It was non-partisan and often turned a skeptical eye on its own network. Then Brian Stelter became a host in 2014.

In the Era of Trump, Stelter has used the platform of “Reliable Sources”, as well as guest appearances on other CNN shows, to defend journalists when they make glaring mistakes reporting negative news regarding the president and/or Republicans. Instead of being an ombudsman, he is an apologist. He is a propagandist for CNN news director Jeff Zucker, a man who does not hide his vitriolic loathing for Trump, nor his own political aspirations as a Democrat.

Stelter took one of the best shows anyone that loves the First Amendment of the United States Constitution could watch and metamorphose it into nothing better than the nightly news that is presented to North Koreans. 

The coup de grace that may have completely and irrevocably destroyed any semblance of professional journalistic ethos “Reliable Sources” once held happened this past Sunday. Stelter had on as a guest Dr. Allen Frances, former chairman of psychiatry at Duke University. The discussion was on whether mental health professionals should publicly comment or diagnose Trump. This is a subject I believe is actually worthy of intellectual debate. After stating emphatically that comparing Trump to mentally ill people is an insult to mentally ill people, here is what Dr. Frances said about Trump’s mental stamina during the interview:

Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, Mao in the last century. He may be responsible for many more million deaths than they were.”

That’s right! #worsethanhitler is not enough carnage for those who oppose Trump. We have to add on the body counts of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and all those mercenaries Arnold Schwarzenegger wasted in the movie “Commando”. 

And, of course, Stelter pushed back immediately on Dr. Frances. 

Yeah, that’s more sarcasm. You should have seen that one coming. 

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Crickets. Bueller? Bueller?

Stelter let the comment stand and moved on. As of the time this column was submitted to my editor, Stelter has offered, via Twitter, an explanation of why he did not push back

Stelter said did not hear the comment. 

That is a lie! Or, at least a wild embellishment to hide his being caught allowing a pathetic statement to go unchallenged. If technical difficulties disallowed him from hearing a man with a long history of comparing Trump to Hitler compare Trump to Hitler, Stalin, and Mao on live television, he should have immediately addressed the issue on air during the next segment. 

In my expert opinion, Stelter had no problem with the comment, so he let it stand. Once the criticism of this egregious faux pas rolled in, Stelter hid behind the veil of Twitter to offer a laughably spurious excuse a full day later.

From now on, when a purportedly hard news show host allows such ludicrous comments to go unchallenged, let them forever be branded #worsethanstelter. 

Like or loathe Trump, the media should be better than both he and his critics. Currently, an American that wants unbiased accounts of what is going on in the world has few places to turn to on television. What is defined as news in 2019 is usually contrived so as to fit the narrative of a prejudiced audience with a wanderlust towards media outlets that spew bile at ideological enemies.

This is the unfortunate world we occupy. This is CNN.


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