CNN’s Stelter reaches peak zero

· January 23, 2019  
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CNN host Brian Stelter at the 2016 Turner Up-front
Slaven Vlasic | Getty Images

Credibility gone …

Stelter gonna Stelter … In Monday’s newsletter I explained how CNN significantly changed its reporting on the incident between Native American elder Nathan Phillips and students from Covington Catholic High School. After these updates, CNN had not issued an editor’s note explaining what had changed.  I wrote to CNN’s vice president of communications, Barbara Levin, about this and have not heard back, nearly 48 hours later.

While Ms. Levin has not answered my inquiry, someone at CNN has talked to the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple. Here’s what Wemple had to say about what went on:

A CNN source told this blog that the digital operation worked feverishly to update the story highlighted above. As more information became available, the site adjusted the story. Policy at CNN.com is to publish an editor’s note when the updates shift the story in fundamental ways, according to the CNN source, though the team didn’t step back from the hurly-burly to do so. Management at the site has concluded that it should have done so, and a note is in the process of being drafted.

That note was added to CNN’s reporting after Wemple’s report, which he noted in a tweet after publication of the story. Here’s the editor’s note:

Editor’s Note: This article and headline have been updated several times since its first publication to add additional reporting regarding witness accounts, statements and other details.

Really? It’s been “updated multiple times?” How does that rise to the standard that CNN editor-in-chief Meredith Artley laid out in a recent Recode podcast? Artley said, “We need to actually do better about showing our work … Dial up the efforts to be transparent about when we get things wrong or when we change things, why have we done that.”

So how does this relate to Brian Stelter? He decided to weigh in on the crisis of “hot take” journalism in his newsletter last night. Here’s how he described “How the web stories changed:”

As more camera angles and more info became available, how did news outlets respond? WaPo’s Erik Wemple took a look. He says “CNN put an editor’s note in its early Covington story. Washington Post and New York Times stand behind initial accounts…”

Go ahead. Click that link in Stelter’s writing.  It goes to the Washington Post story I linked above, where Wemple takes CNN to task. But Stelter chose to use a quote from a Wemple tweet that was published after the story.

I took a screenshot of Stelter’s text and Wemple’s article and tagged both Wemple and Stelter. That’s when I learned, from Wemple, that Stelter was quoting his tweet and not the story. Wemple agreed with me that using the language “update” in his tweet would have been better. He also agrees that the editor’s note at CNN is “pretty limp.”

Stelter knew EXACTLY what he was doing. He was trying to paint his employer’s lack of integrity in a positive light. It’s why he’s CNN’s media cheerleader more than he’s its media critic. Maybe, just maybe, Stelter should stop the nonstop criticism of President Trump and other Republicans and take a look inward.


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Author: Rob Eno

Rob Eno is the editor of Blaze Media’s WTF MSM!? newsletter.