What is the job of a “media reporter?” Is it to be a critic of the media, or is it to be a cheerleader for media outlets you like? When it comes to the left-leaning activist masquerading as a media “critic” at CNN, Brian Stelter, the answer is definitely “cheerleader.” Instead of being a balanced, unbiased critic of the mainstream media, Stelter is often a groupie for his side, with criticism mostly reserved for Fox News and anyone who dares show any conservative bent.
Stelter, the host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, is one of the first prominent Millennial anchors of a cable news program. His ascent to CNN has been meteoric. While in college at Towson University, he started a TV news blog called TV Newser. According to a NY Times profile, that blog was widely read by TV executives and personalities.
After college, Stelter scored a gig writing on media for the Times. Then, a little over three years ago, at the tender age of 28, he was hired by CNN to take over Howard Kurtz’s Reliable Sources. A New Republic profile written shortly thereafter highlighted Stelter’s big flaw: “Stelter, who has three televisions in his living room, has done the improbable: He has alchemized TV fanboyism into an actual career on television.”
That fanboying, and bias toward his childhood idols, clouds Stelter’s judgement to this day. His on-air commentary, written pieces, and daily email read like a defense of favored news personalities, instead of objective criticism. Much of it comes from a leftist bent.
If you are one of Stelter’s chosen crushes, there is nothing but praise. If you have an alternative view of news events, you are to be scorned.
Stelter’s biases have never been more prevalent than since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the president. Those biases go back further, though. During the 2016 campaign for the presidency, The Hill’s media reporter Joe Concha wrote a scathing piece highlighting Stelter’s partisan bias.
Concha said that Stelter was “Exhibit A” for the notion that “even Internal Affairs/media reporters are compromised, biased and even dishonest.” Stelter earned that scorn for his constant attacks on any media outlet that dared report on Hillary Clinton’s health issues during the 2016 campaign.
Concha realized the truth about Stelter: A partisan bias to his reporting is just Brian being Brian.
Stelter holds his greatest scorn for voices outside the traditional mainstream of journalism. Of particular note is his obvious disdain for talk radio hosts like Mark Levin, the editor-in-chief here at Conservative Review, and Fox News.
Stelter went on a weeks-long campaign against Levin, when the talk show host methodically laid out how the Obama administration seemingly used the power of the government to spy on 2016 Republican presidential candidates, most notably Trump. Stelter falsely claimed that Levin said that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower. It is now known that Levin’s piecing together of evidence available in public media reports was correct, that in fact the Obama administration unmasked the names of Trump campaign associates in intercepted communications. Stelter has never issued an apology or correction to his reporting.
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NewsBusters has a comprehensive collection of Stelter’s greatest hits. In the past two months that has included: No mention of a CNN retraction on a Russia collusion story on Stelter’s show; calling any criticism of Stelter’s crushes in the news media by conservative critics “anti-journalism” and full of “resentment and hatred;” and labeling Donald Trump a “fascist” way back in the beginning of July before it became the in thing to do.
More recently, Stelter started the new trend of calling into question Trump’s mental state. This has happened both on his weekend show and when he was a guest on a panel where discussion of Trump’s mental state descended into Don Lemon defaming Ronald Reagan by saying the former president had Alzheimer’s while in office.
Media critics like Stelter, who are more cheerleaders and fanboys of their colleagues instead of sober critics trying to stop media bias, are one of the reasons I started the WTF MSM!? email here at Conservative Review. When the media’s own gatekeepers are unwilling to exhibit a critical self-awareness it falls on the rest of us to keep an even closer eye on them.
As Joe Concha said, Stelter “is Exhibit A” when it comes to “partisan” journalism.
Editor's note: This article has been corrected to note that Brian Stelter attended Towson University, not the University of Maryland. We regret the error.
Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC. If you see something you’d like him to cover, tweet him @robeno.