CNN’s Brian Stelter Slams Fox News Over Caravan Coverage, But CNN Misinformed Viewers

News & Politics

In a recent interview on the PBS interview show The Open Mind, CNN media analyst Brian Stelter plugged his anti-Fox News book, Hoax, with the usual talking points about how CNN is so remarkably superior to Fox and so incredibly professional, and the PBS host, Alexander Heffner, helped him at every turn.

Heffner asked if there was something in all of his investigations of Fox that even surprised himabout either the depth of how they tolerate misinformation or, you know, the lack of backbone on the part of Murdoch and shareholders at Fox?”

 

STELTER: Well, there’s a level of cynicism that I was not prepared for because, as someone who works at CNN — of course another cable news channel — I work with people that take their jobs really seriously and care deeply about what they do. Obviously, we make mistakes, and we’re held accountable for those mistakes, and that’s the way it should be. But at least there’s an effort to get to the truth and report as accurately as we can.

Now, compare that to Fox and Friends, which is a really, really important show because it informs and misinforms the President on a daily basis. And at Fox and Friends, you have words in the banner — sometimes inaccurate words — going straight to the President’s head and then his Twitter feed and then all of our feeds and all the way around the world, and there’s not a set of checks and balances. There’s not a sense of “You must uphold journalistic integrity,” and Fox and Friends producers admit all of this to me, confessional style, and I quote them in the book at length saying things like this, they would say, “We’re not practicing what we preach — we’re telling other people to believe this stuff, but we don’t believe it ourselves.”

This sounds like that liberal worker bee somehow trapped inside Fox News who would be an eager and willing anonymous source for Stelter….and there’s certainly a level of cynicism in that enterprise.

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Heffner then cited the “caravan” of potential illegal immigrants parading toward our southern border as a horrific Fox News/Fake News story, with the cynical Murdoch drones are giving Trump “ a megaphone for bigotry. There is more absorption of that reality now, Brian, that that rhetoric is the origin of authoritarian conduct.”

Enforcing the immigration laws = “authoritarian conduct.”

Stelter talked about a “narrative” that was not news. “This narrative starts on Fox and right-wing media, jumps to Trump, he starts talking about an invasion, and then it becomes a big talking point for the last three weeks of the campaign. And yet the GOP still suffers losses in the midterm elections, and some journalists have regrets for the way they covered the so-called caravan. And I think there were lessons learned from moments like that. Whether those lessons will apply now in 2020 remains to be seen although I do think there’s been an attempt to challenge the President’s extreme law and order rhetoric.”

But who was “reporting as accurately as we can”? Not CNN. On the contrary, CNN’s morning show, New Day, gave viewers a more distorted picture and cited misinformation in contrast with Fox which gave more coverage to key problems that attract illegals who scam the system.

Fox viewers were informed that most caravan members were single men, while CNN emphasized women and children. Fox also predicted many would cross the U.S. border illegally in spite of being offered asylum in Mexico, and would be authorized to stay in the U.S. for years to pursue asylum claims even though an overwhelming majority of claims are rejected in court.

The small number of right-leaning guests who appeared on CNN to present such information were likely to be confronted with misinformation and liberal spin.

As ACU’s Matt Schlapp debated CNN host Alisyn Camerota, he argued that illegals sometimes exploit children who are not even their own to scam Border Patrol agents into setting them free in the U.S., leading Camerota to mockingly asked him, “Do they also get a luxury car?” and then press him to answer her obviously sarcastic question.

(The use of DNA testing on the border eventually proved Schlapp’s point that fraudulent claims about family relationships really do happen.)

Camerota went on to misleadingly claim that only three members of a previous caravan had received asylum without recalling hundreds actually entered the country, and many still remained. She also repeated a false claim that illegal border crossers are not really breaking the law as long as they apply for asylum after getting caught, even though liberal law professor Jonathan Turley had previously called out CNN for spreading such misinformation. She has parroted this misinformation several times.

She also claimed that 89 percent of asylum seekers attend their asylum hearings even though, in recent years, about 50 percent of illegal asylum seekers who were released into the country never bothered to apply for an asylum hearing.

The show also cited questionable studies to claim illegal immigrants have a low crime rate, and tried to undermine reports that hundreds of caravan members had criminal records by repeating discredited claims that then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was a liar.

CNN host John Berman repeatedly cited statistics showing illegal border crossings were much greater 20 years ago without clarifying that, back then, it was much easier to deport mostly Mexican nationals whereas in recent years Central Americans have been more able to avoid deportation by exploiting legal loopholes.

In his book, Stelter also suggests Fox was misleading viewers by suddenly showing interest in the caravans that had been held for a number of years even though, during the Trump administration, CNN has mangled coverage of problems that it did not acknowledge during Obama administration like birth certificate fraud, temporarily keeping detainees in cage-like facilities, losing track of unaccompanied children who were handed over to illegal immigrant family members, complaints about conditions in detention centers, and transferring money from FEMA to ICE.

New Day‘s weekend edition even fretted over the deportation of a new father without ever informing viewers that he was being extradited to Mexico to face homicide charges.

Stelter just glossed over CNN’s fact-challenged coverage to bash a rival network that was actually more accurate and informative on the issue.

This episode of The Open Mind was sponsored in part by the Angelson Family Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. You can fight back by letting advertisers know how you feel about them sponsoring such content.

Relevant transcripts follow:

PBS

The Open Mind

October 5, 2020

ALEXANDER HEFFNER, HOST: As someone who has intensely scrutinized media and, specifically, Fox, what was the most revealing anecdote you feel that you exposed in the book that would maybe even surprised you about either the depth of how they tolerate misinformation or, you know, the lack of backbone on the part of Murdoch and shareholders at Fox? What surprised you the most?

BRIAN STELTER: Well, there’s a level of cynicism that I was not prepared for because, as someone who works at CNN — of course another cable news channel — I work with people that take their jobs really seriously and care deeply about what they do. Obviously, we make mistakes, and we’re held accountable for those mistakes, and that’s the way it should be. But at least there’s an effort to get to the truth and report as accurately as we can.

Now, compare that to Fox and Friends, which is a really, really important show because it informs and misinforms the President on a daily basis. And at Fox and Friends, you have words in the banner — sometimes inaccurate words — going straight to the President’s head and then his Twitter feed and then all of our feeds and all the way around the world, and there’s not a set of checks and balances. There’s not a sense of “You must uphold journalistic integrity,” and Fox and Friends producers admit all of this to me, confessional style, and I quote them in the book at length saying things like this, they would say, “We’re not practicing what we preach — we’re telling other people to believe this stuff, but we don’t believe it ourselves.”

I had one of the Fox hosts say to me that we started a program for Trump — we started to make programming choices based on the fact that he was watching. That is something that is new in American media. We didn’t have this between MSNBC and Barack Obama or between NBC and George Bush. This is new — this is different– and because so much of the information is low quality or completely untrue, it affects all of us, even if you or I never watch Fox, we are still affected because the President is misled, and this is true whether 

(…)

HEFFNER: And during the ’16 campaign, there was that attempt to parse words, you know, but let’s interpret his intent, not what the words actually say. And I think the problem with that, Brian, was those who were so accustomed to talking points on TV forgot that really rhetoric is the starting point of authoritarianism. And those talking points in the ’16 campaign — as they further escalated through the ’18 election, the caravan, illegal immigration scare tactics, you know, the riot tactics — it seems as though there is more of a realization about the harm of covering ’16 when there was the failure to say, “These aren’t your average talking points, you know, let’s not just give Donald Trump a megaphone for bigotry. There is more absorption of that reality now, Brian, that that rhetoric is the origin of authoritarian conduct.

STELTER: Yeah, look at the caravan in 2016, as you said. This narrative starts on Fox and right-wing media, jumps to Trump, he starts talking about an invasion, and then it becomes a big talking point for the last three weeks of the campaign. And yet the GOP still suffers losses in the midterm elections, and some journalists have regrets for the way they covered the so-called caravan. And I think there were lessons learned from moments like that. Whether those lessons will apply now in 2020 remains to be seen although I do think there’s been an attempt to challenge the President’s extreme law and order rhetoric.

(…)

CNN

New Day

October 22

7:24 a.am.

MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: If you come to the border today with a child — it doesn’t even have to be your own child — you will get entrance into our country — you will jump the line in front of immigrants in this country — family members who are waiting in line–

CAMEROTA: And will you get — just to fact check it — will you get a luxury car?

SCHLAPP: What did you say?

CAMEROTA: Will you get a luxury car given to you?

SCHLAPP: You get all kinds of — what the Democrats want to do in every one of these things is

CAMEROTA: Matt, will you get a luxury car?

SCHLAPP: You get ObamaCare, you get a telephone, you get all kinds of things. I don’t know about a car — I haven’t heard about a car, but, I mean, you get all kinds of programs.

CAMEROTA: Matt, you don’t get a Rolls Royce — you don’t get a luxury car — George Soros doesn’t meet your at the border handing out millions of dollars.

(…)

October 23

6:03 a.m.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The migrants are more than 1,000 miles from America’s border with Mexico, and the individuals who have spoken to CNN — largely women and children — say they are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.

(…)

October 24

6:09 a.m.

CAMEROTA: They’re thousands of miles away from our U.S. border. If they’re traveling at 20 miles a day on average, it will take months at that pace to get to the U.S. border. This actually is not a problem.

(…)

JOHN BERMAN: Just one last point on the facts here, which is the President trying to create the notion that this is a crisis, and I’ll just hold up my favorite chart, which is the immigration chart … but you can see the trends here. You can see it. This is 2000 — that’s how many illegal border crossing arrests there were in 2000, and then, way down at the bottom, is where we are today. It’s historically low here.

(…)

CAMEROTA: The last caravan that came in, we have it, CNN reported, the last caravan that came when there was all the hue and cry about that, three people from that caravan were granted asylum.

(…)

CAMEROTA: What we have heard from the immigration folks is the vast majority do show up for their court cases because they do want to be able to stay here legally and go through the process of becoming asylum seekers or citizens. So that is a meme that is not true that they just vanish into the night. That’s not what the vast majority of them do.

(…)

7:07 a.m.

BERMAN: There are those thousands of migrants who are a thousand miles away plus from the United States. They’re not demanding to be let in — they’re coming to apply for asylum.

(…)

October 26

6:28 a.m.

BERMAN: And I will just note again, if you’re going to call this a national emergency, this number down here is the number of arrests at the border in in 2018, near the historic low — it’s at 396,000 right now — it was less last year, but this is not a high number, especially when you consider in 2000 it was 1.6 million. And that’s what the President is now going to declare a national emergency.

(…)

November 1

6:13 a.m.

BERMAN: Okay, can I pull out my chart? And also, if you look at the chart here of arrests and illegal border crossings, you know, we’d have to put 15,000 troops here in 2000 when 1.6 million people were coming over the border. We are near a historic low right now with illegal border crossings.

(…)

November 2

6:09 a.m.

CAMEROTA: They say — it’s just hard to know what’s true in here, okay? So one of the things they say is over 270 individuals along the caravan route have criminal histories, including know gang membership. But, Abby, they give no source for how they know this. That’s an awfully specific number, but they don’t say where they came up with this — who is telling them this. And the reason that they have lost the authority, I think, for us to believe them is because Kirstjen Nielsen — the head of Homeland Security — said something like this on June 17: “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border, period.” That was what she tweeted out on June 17, so, you know, millions of people and their own lying eyes, were told that they were wrong. So when they put out this so-called “fact sheet,” it doesn’t ring necessarily true to people.

(…)

8:03 a.m.

CAMEROTA: They say in it, “270 individuals in the caravan route have known gang histories.” They give no source. We don’t know how they would know that, but we have journalists embedded with them and know that there are lots of mothers and children who are coming and fleeing. And here’s why it is hard to believe them. The Department of Homeland Security — Kirstjen Nielsen — told us June 17, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border, period.” That was not true.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Let’s just stop saying things were not true. Let’s just call them bald-faced lies. They lie.

(…)

BERMAN: And there are some things that are just provably false — many things provably false with what he said that are lies. He said that only three percent of people who are asylum seekers —

CAMEROTA: — asylum seekers show back up. It’s actually 89 percent show back up.

(…)

November 26

6:00 a.m.

JOHN BERMAN: U.S. Border Patrol agents deployed teargas on Central Americans seeking asylum — this includes women and children — during an incident near one of the world’s busiest border crossings. Mexico says 39 people were arrested after a peaceful march devolved into chaos. Some 500 migrants rushed the border from the Mexican side in Tijuana, overwhelming police blockades.

(…)

7:00 a.m.

CAMEROTA: U.S. Border Patrol agents used teargas on Central Americans seeking asylum, including women and children, in an incident near one of the world’s busiest border crossings. Mexico says 39 people were arrested after peaceful protests devolved into chaos. Officials say many migrants rushed the Mexican side in Tijuana, overwhelming police blockades and forcing a border shutdown. …

BERMAN: So, moments ago, President Trump threatened to shut down the border permanently if this incident or ones like it continue  He also used this incident to argue for his border wall, although it’s hard to see what difference a wall would have made in this situation.

(…)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They went under that car bridge, overwhelming several Mexican police barricades, and then up toward several areas of the border. That’s when members of the Customs and Border Patrol fired teargas cannisters and pepper balls — or pepper bullets — at them. Many of these individuals were women, children, some men. CPB says they were also throwing projectiles at some of their officers as well.

(…)

CAMEROTA: As unfortunate as this incident is, I’m not sure that it proves that we need a border wall. In fact, it’s the opposite. The border worked. Border security worked. So however many people rushed the border — 39 were arrested, they are going to be deported — no one reached the border. So shutting down the border worked. And it also proves that we don’t need a — I think — a border wall because the migrants made an effort — they went out of their way to go to the Tijuana entrance because the rest of the border was considered to hazardous, to dangerous to cross, so they went an extra hundreds of miles to the port of entry of Tijuana because they considered that the easiest. So, in other words, the system is actually working.

(…)

8:00 a.m.

RODNEY SCOTT, BORDER PATROL: I kind of challenge that this was a peaceful protest or that the majority of these people were claiming asylum. We ended up making 42 arrests — only eight of those were females, and there were only a few children involved. The vast majority of the people we’re dealing with are adult males, similar to what we saw the first wave of the caravan that came up about a week or so ago. The group immediately starting throwing rocks and debris at our agents, taunting our agents. Once our agents were assaulted and the numbers started growing, we had, you know, two or three agents at a time, initially facing hundreds of people at a time. They deployed teargas to protect themselves and to protect the border.

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