News & Politics

CNN's Interview with Glenn Beck Is a Perfect Example of Everything That's Wrong with the MSM

CNN's Brian Stelter in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

On Sunday morning, talk radio star and CEO of The Blaze Glenn Beck stormed off a CNN interview with “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter.

The particular question that prompted Glenn’s departure was about layoffs, but the entire interview has a lot more to it that explains what made the talk giant angry enough to leave in the first place.

There isn’t too much analysis on Twitter of the interview overall, but it’s well worth watching every minute of it. Stelter wants to know why people won’t listen to the media and this interview is an almost perfect example of how the media gets things wrong.  It is condescending, unnecessarily combative, and full of deliberate mischaracterizations, inaccurate paraphrasing, interruptions… every worst thing.


There were so many individually frustrating moments, but probably the most key exchange was contained in the following brief excerpt:

BECK: Well, first of all, you have to recognize the mistakes of the past. I can’t take this border issue, because I wasn’t allowed into anybody’s circle after my audience raised $3 million, and we risked everything to go down to the border, and we brought churches together, we actually fed the homeless. I was mocked for bringing them soccer balls, which people now say is a good thing, because at least they have soccer balls at summer camp. And on the other side, no one in the media would even listen. No one would listen when I said —
STELTER: Glenn, that’s not true. There was lots of coverage —
BECK: I had DHS people coming —
STELTER: I remember you going to the border in 2014. Obama policy might have been ugly. It’s a lot worse now.
BECK: Was there this kind of coverage —
STELTER: Of course not. There weren’t as many kids in jail.
BECK: Of course — oh, stop it. Stop it.
STELTER: Stop what? There were not as many kids in jail.
BECK: You’re telling me — so, it’s the number. So, what’s the number, Brian, that we care about putting kids in cages? What’s the number that we start caring about when we’re separating families?
STELTER: The more there are, the more we care.

That was an objectively ridiculous exchange on Stelter’s part. He’s absolutely committed to not saying the media covers stories differently with Republicans in office than when Obama was president. So committed that he turns it into an absurd discussion about the quantities of horror, a gross calculation on anyone’s part.

What’s particularly striking is that the purpose of the segment is ostensibly Stelter’s frustration at not being able to reach Trump voters with facts, news, or criticism, and then he did the exact thing that Glenn says is the reason for that problem.

It is definitely the case among Trump voters that they do not want to hear about Trump lies, and won’t listen to anything contradictory to or critical of him. But the answer to Stelter’s specific concern — that people won’t listen to media outlets like his — is perfectly exemplified here, where he does the exact thing he is criticizing. He ignores as wrong or irrelevant anything that puts fault on the media, because he’s unwilling to entertain the idea of wrongdoing on their part.

The media is its own Donald Trump!

Members of the press self-adulate, and are deaf to anything that goes against them. Stelter is being that which he criticizes.

Glenn Beck is trying to point this out to him, and trying to make him understand that it hurts everyone when the media does that. It runs counter to their own objectives. It’s self-defeating. And Stelter does it as Glenn Beck is pointing it out. It’s fascinating to watch. And terribly annoying.

Glenn gets right to the heart of it:

“This is why people who don’t necessarily even support Donald Trump are saying, ‘you know what, I’ve baked in the lies. I’ve baked in the lies. I know. I got it. I got it.’ But the journalists now are like saying, ‘well, two can play that game.’ Neither one of you are self-aware enough to know that there is justice and mercy. One’s arguing justice, one’s arguing mercy, or they say they are, but they’re not. All they’re doing is playing politics, and the American people are tired of it. Who is talking about an actual solution on this? Who’s actually done something? Who’s actually consistent and cared when it was a Democrat in office and cared when it’s a Republican in office? You know? Those people exist around the country, and they’re watching you two, the media and Donald Trump, playing this little game back and forth, and they’re sick of it. They don’t want to hear about it from either side.”

So very accurate. If CNN wants Trump voters to accept criticism or correction of Trump, they have to accept criticism and correction of their own problems, like disparity in coverage that is right in front of their faces.

In 2015, the ACLU blasted Obama over detaining families at the border. Did CNN blast him? Do you remember a big national conversation about it like there has been for the last week?

A conversation, let us recall, that began when pictures of detained children went viral — pictures taken during the Obama administration.

Think about that. This current furor began not over quantity but over disturbing photos, and those photos were from the Obama administration, taken then, and available then. But the reaction is obviously different, especially in the press.

So the new attention began not because of how many children were detained but rather because of what people assumed was callous and indecent behavior by the Trump administration. That’s how it started. It was only after the fact that people began to attribute the outcry to the “zero tolerance” policy and count the number of children detained.

And that furor, as Glenn so correctly points out, was absolutely warranted. It’s good. We as Americans are better for it. The separations are being addressed. People are more aware of what happens at the border. That’s good. Good job.

But that doesn’t change that the press and CNN did not do this when it was Obama in office. Both things can be true. The Trump administration deserved to be raked over the coals, but so did the Obama administration. Brian Stelter should admit that the ball was dropped.

Just like it was dropped with Bill Clinton, as folks in the #MeToo movement have lately been acknowledging.

It is frustrating and troubling when Trump partisans point to this media disparity and conclude only that Trump is being treated unfairly and fail to express concern over the actual policy. It’s as if their only concern is that Trump gets a pass on anything Obama did. Instead, they should realize that neither administration should get a pass. Getting a pass is not what we do in America. Or it shouldn’t be. And the media shouldn’t let anyone slide.

Of course, that was only one small part of the interview that was infuriating. Stelter’s hostility, contempt, and deaf ear extended to every single exchange.

BECK: Because it’s all about ratings. Because this is all about ratings. This isn’t about ratings. This is about saving our country, bringing us together. Stop dividing us. I mean, you — I can’t —
STELTER: So, to be clear, you think that I’m dividing the country for ratings by booking you?

He knew what Glenn was saying but he decided to play dense. Because that’s what he was doing: playing. He was literally playing for the crowd and ratings BY pretending to be outraged about being accused of playing for the crowd and ratings.

The entire thing is a perfect example of what is so utterly disingenuous and infuriating about the media. What a terrible performance by Stelter. Shameful, even.

Glenn finally stormed off in frustration, but not for lack of trying. I might have stormed off a lot quicker than that. A truly awful job by Brian Stelter of CNN.