CNN's Stelter: Journalists "Standing Up" To Trump "Not Anti-Trump, They're Pro-Democracy"

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CNN's Brian Stelter said Donald Trump is delivering his "biggest lie" by questioning the integrity of the election process and alleging a "conspiracy" of a rigged election. Stelter, a media critic and host of the Sunday show Reliable Sources, said reporters who are "standing up" to Donald Trump are not anti-Trump but "pro-democracy."

"Donald Trump's biggest lie is about the election itself, the integrity of the election," Stelter declared Sunday on his CNN program.

"He is alleging a massive conspiracy, thereby creating a massive challenge for the news media," Stelter bemoaned. "Trump has been planting seeds for over a year, warning supporters not to trust the government, the polls or the media, because it's all rigged, he says."

"This is the whole ball game, and this is what I really want to say. I'm proud that journalists are standing up, individually, speaking up in ways that we rarely see. They're not anti-Trump. They're pro- democracy," Stelter said.

Full transcript of his monologue, via CNN:

STELTER: Donald Trump's biggest lie is about the election itself, the integrity of the election.

He is alleging a massive conspiracy, thereby creating a massive challenge for the news media. Trump has been planting seeds for over a year, warning supporters not to trust the government, the polls or the media, because it's all rigged, he says.

In April, he started saying this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But the system, folks, is rigged. It's a rigged, disgusting, dirty system.

(END VIDEO CLIP) STELTER: That was a response to Ted Cruz winning delegates in that convoluted primary process.

But, as we all know, Trump prevailed, so I guess the system wasn't disgusting after all? Well, guess again. In August, Trump began to talk about the general election being stolen from him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And I'm afraid the election is going to be rigged. I have to be honest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: The subtext here is that Trump is a winner, and he can't possibly be a loser, unless it's somebody else's fault.

So, he kept planting more and more seeds, like right here on Sean Hannity's show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)

TRUMP: And I'm telling you, November 8, we better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it's going to be taken away from us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: The first couple of times that he said this, it was news. It was very disturbing news. It got a lot of attention.

But, over time, the repetition, Trump's lies about election rigging, have become a form of background noise, more of the same. And this is a propaganda technique, whether Trump knows it or not.

If you say something often enough, if you plant enough seeds, people start to wonder, will my vote matter? Will it actually count?

Now, you probably didn't hear this next Trump seed, because it's from Monday of this week, just one day after the second debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Even the polls are crooked.

We have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And everybody knows what I'm talking about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: "Everybody knows what I'm talking about." He's in the suburbs of Philadelphia there. Now, if you read right- wing Web sites that wrongly claim there is widespread voter fraud in places like Philadelphia, then you might know what Trump is talking about.

But that remark, "We have to make sure the election is not stolen from us," mostly escaped scrutiny.

CNN only played the clip once up until now. Now, the anchor who did play it, Brianna Keilar, to her credit, did not let Trump supporter Peter King dodge her question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I don't know if there's no evidence or not. I'm just saying I do know there have been instances in the past where there have been voter...

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, there isn't.

KING: No, there have been instances where there have been serious allegations of voter fraud.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: He's talking -- he's talking about widespread voter fraud that would swing an election in a state where polls show he is down considerably. I mean, what he is saying has no basis in reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Brianna is right, and we need to keep saying it.

We, as a country, cannot allow ourselves to become numb to this. We, as a media, cannot shrug it off as old news, because the real danger here is that, when Trump lies to his supporters about the others who are trying to steal the election, some of his supporters believe him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our lives depend on this election. Our kids' futures depend on this election. For me personally, if Hillary Clinton gets in, I, myself, I'm ready for a revolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Mike Pence was on stage, and he did try to temper her concerns. Watch what he said to her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a revolution coming on November the 8th. I promise you. There's...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are we going to do to safeguard our votes?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: So she said there, "What are we going to do to safeguard our votes? "

This is the whole ball game, and this is what I really want to say. I'm proud that journalists are standing up, individually, speaking up in ways that we rarely see. They're not anti-Trump. They're pro- democracy.

Julie Pace, writing for the AP today, says: "Trump's claims about vote-rigging made without evidence undercuts the essence of American democracy."

Ashley Parker, writing for "The New York Times," says: "We haven't seen a candidate from one of the two major parties try to cast doubt on the entire democratic process and system of government since the brink of the Civil War."

Now, I know Trump supporters claim to dismiss those sources, so that is why conservative journalists have to play a role here, and conservative commentators, too.

On the day after President Obama's reelection, Sean Hannity accepted the result.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": And, tonight, the 2012 race for the White House has been called in Obama's favor. And the voice and the will of the people were heard and felt last night.

America wanted Barack Obama for four more years. And now we have him.

By the way, good look with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Let's remember that sound bite. Will Hannity accept the results if Clinton prevails three weeks from now? Will he?

What is happening right now is a test. It's a test for our voting system, run by the states, by the way, not the federal government. Our voting system is run by Republicans and Democrats, with thousands of volunteers and layers of oversight.

When there's voter fraud, when it rarely happens, it's investigated. So, it's a test for our system. But what's happening is also a test for journalism. There is a lot the media can do to instill confidence in our election system.

This might include phone banks or online tools on Election Day giving people easy ways to report possible fraud or voter intimidation. This should also include frequent reminders that voter fraud is rare and that it is investigated and prosecuted. I think, right now, in this dangerous moment, we have an obligation to

you, the audience, because, actually, Trump has peddled this stuff before. On the night President Obama was reelected, Trump threw a tantrum on Twitter.

And he said: "This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy."

The next day, he tweeted four words that we have all come to know. Listen to this. He wrote, "We have to make America great again."

Mr. Trump, think of your children. America is great partly because everyone accepts the results of elections, for decades in the past and hopefully for decades to come. Inventing a conspiracy theory is no way to make America great again.


Trump tweeted Monday morning: "Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!"


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