Helter-Stelter in a Misinformation Swelter

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Last week, the internet laughed in unison at the announcement that CNN (of all networks) was creating a special team dedicated to “covering misinformation.”

“I’m hiring 3 people for a new CNN team dedicated to covering misinformation,” CNN Business Managing Editor Alex Koppelman tweeted. “What do we mean by covering misinformation? Really it’s about covering reality: The uses, abuses, and distortions of it, the people twisting it, and the effect that has on all of us. We already do a lot of important work on this; we want to do more.”

Seriously, they were just begging to be laughed at.

Nevertheless, the network seems determined to assume some moral high ground on misinformation. In fact, CNN correspondent Brian Stelter visited an 8th grade class in New York City in which their teacher, Barbara King, was teaching her students how to spot misinformation.

It’s not clear whether she used the Russian collusion hoax (promoted endlessly by CNN) as an example.

Stelter’s visit was immortalized in a segment on his show, Reliable Sources.

“We’re going to learn the various types of misinformation,” King can be seen informing her students in the segment. “They’re called satire, false context, imposter content, manipulated content, and fabricated content.”

“Barbara King wants to arm this eighth-grade class with the tools they will need in a world full of information saturation. And there is a lot to learn,” Stelter tells viewers in a voice-over. “Just imagine trying to make sense of all of this as a teenager.”

“As the web becomes even more of a wild west every day, the students here at PS-207 in Queens, New York, know that they need these lessons,” Stelter said. “The goal is to equip future generations of savvy news consumers.”

As much as this is already laughable, it gets worse. Stelter’s sanctimonious crusade against misinformation was already the epitome of hypocrisy based on, well, his entire career up through this point in time. But he lacks the self-awareness to be spewing his self-righteous virtue-signaling against misinformation while he’s continued to defend a story after it had been debunked.

Related: CNN’s Mary Katharine Ham’s Epic Viral Rant Against Her Network

NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg claimed that Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch refused to wear a mask despite being asked to by Chief Justice John Roberts because Justice Sonia Sotomayor has diabetes and is therefore at high risk.

Shannon Bream of Fox News later claimed her sources at the Supreme Court refuted the story. Stelter, however, called the NPR story “well-sourced” and accused Fox News of basically covering for Gorsuch. “So the NPR audience comes away believing one thing and the Fox audience comes away believing the opposite.”

After all three justices cited in the original story refuted the NPR story, Stelter scoffed, claiming that NPR “stands by its reporting” and dismissed the situation as a “masking dustup.”

Stelter continues to defend the original NPR story. “Gorsuch and Sotomayor jointly put out a statement denying any tensions, but that’s not what was reported. Then Roberts released a statement refuting Totenberg’s claim saying, ‘I did not request Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask,’ so NPR’s public editor chimed in saying Totenberg merits a clarification, not a correction. Totenberg, though, stands by the reporting. So does NPR,” Stelter said on his show Sunday. He also praised Totenberg as a “terrifically good, reliable reporter.”

You know, Brian, when you’re trying to position yourself as the slayer of misinformation, maybe doubling down on a story that has been debunked is not the way to go.


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