CNN’s laughable “media critic,” Brian Stelter, who has distinguished himself and embarrassed his field—supposedly media ethics—by devolving into a mere shill for CNN and a dependable scourge of Fox News, may have hit a new low yesterday. I say “may” because its hard to make qualitative distinctions in the murk at the bottom of the barrel.
Stelter brought on the former chairman of the Psychiatry Department at Duke University, Dr. Alan Frances, apparently because he has a raging, Level 5 case of Trump Derangement. This is sufficient qualification for a national news media platform now. No enlightenment necessary, no reasoned analysis, just good, old fashioned, bat-shit Trump hate, with plenty of spittle and that wonderful “Is he going run off on all fours biting people?” suspense. On Stelter’s show with the doctor was Bandy Lee, who defied her profession’s rule against diagnosing political figures from afar throughout the 2016 campaign, saying that she was “obligated to break [the rules] in times of emergency,” thus evoking eleven rationalizations by my count. That’s right, Lee and Francis were the representatives of the psychiatric profession CNN’s “media ethics” authority decided would give a balanced assessment of the practice of psychoanalyzing the President.
Dr. Frances pretended to criticize his professionally irresponsible colleagues like Lee for assisting in the resistance’s Plan E, trying to illegitimately apply the 25th Amendment allowing a disabled President to be removed from office. Oh no, he said: doing this was just plain wrong:
“Well, I think ‘medicalizing’ politics has three very dire consequences. The first is that it stigmatizes the mentally ill. I’ve known thousands of patients, almost all of them are well-behaved, well-mannered good people. Trump is none of these. Lumping that is a terrible insult to the mentally ill and they have enough problems and stigma as it is. Second, calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for having elected him and even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist… Now, it’s absolutely impossible, you can bet the house that the Congress, that Pence, that the cabinet will never ever remove Trump on grounds of mental unfitness. That will never happen. Discussing the issue in psychological name-calling terms distracts us from getting out to vote. The important thing is to get Trump out of office.”
Is that your expert opinion, doctor? Simply wanting to defeat the President is all it takes to get on CNN, apparently.
Ah, but it was within those ellipses that the doctor really came through, saying,
“Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, Mao in the last century. He may be responsible for many more million deaths than they were.”
Now there’s the kind of off-the-charts hate and hyperbole you don’t get every day, even on CNN, or in Trump’s wacky tweets. Is telling the public that the President is a mass murderer, and not just that, but a worse mass murderer than Hitler, Stalin and Mao combined a catalyst for violence? Oh, I know its not as dangerous as referring to people who barge over our borders to take advantage of our nation’s wealth and benefits as “invaders–that’s like putting guns in maniacs’ hands!—but still: a wee bit inflammatory, you think? Even a bit unfair, mayhap? Unsubstantiated, even?
Here’s Stelter’s next question: “But I’m not talking about name-calling. I’m talking about asking questions that are really uncomfortable. Not saying we have the answers, I’m saying we need to bring it up.” Yes, he focused on Dr. Frances’s rant-closing remark about how psychological name-calling won’t beat Trump. That stuff about the President of the United States being a mass murderer like the world has never seen?
After getting criticized on social media for his incompetence, partisan bias and hackery for permitting a guest to make a fact-free accusation like that, Stelter said,
“I agree that I should have interrupted after that line. I wish I had heard him say it, but I was distracted by tech difficulties (that’s why the show open didn’t look the way it normally does, I had two computers at the table, etc). Not hearing the comment is my fault.”
How convenient that the most outrageous statement in the doctor’s rant just happened to be the one Stelter didn’t hear! Do you believe that? Stelter is a serial liar, hack, weasel and ethics dunce, and that’s not name-calling, that’s a certifiable diagnosis, as these links prove. Allowing such vicious fantasy to go on the air unchallenged would merit a reprimand, an official apology and a suspension on a real news network, which some of you older readers may remember, like you remember passenger pigeons. (I also find it interesting that after this fiasco lit up the conservative blogs and websites, CNN transcript service broke down . Now I get this message:
“The page isn’t redirecting properly. Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.”
Boy, CNN is having a lot of convenient technical issues…
Just imagine how these people will be behaving once the Presidential campaign starts in earnest. It’s certainly a relief to know that a media watchdog like Brian Stelter will be refereeing it all, fairly, competently, honestly.
You can sleep soundly.