Stelter: Trump A "Conspiracy Theorist," It's Up To "Us" To Call Out Nonsense

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CNN's Brian Stelter, commenting on "Pizzagate," slams Present-elect Donald Trump as a peddler of "conspiracy theories."

"President-elect Trump is many things," the CNN media analyst declared. "To his voters, he's a beloved figure. But one of the things he is, is a conspiracy theorist. During the election, he latched onto a number of theories, including, for example, saying that thousands of Muslims were cheering in New Jersey on 9/11. No evidence at all for that. He's also in a few different cases tweeted out links to clearly fake news stories. Now, that hasn't happened in recent days. I would say it's been about a week since he tweeted something that was clearly false. He said there were millions of illegal votes that didn't happen."

Monday on CNN:

CABRERA, CNN: Joining me now, Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources."

Brian, you've been talking a lot about fake news during the election, after the election, especially with Donald Trump now our president- elect. What do you make of this suggestion we just heard from Flynn's son that until something is proven false, we should assume it's true.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's suggesting that if I can't guarantee that every light in the sky is not a UFO, then all the lights in the skies must be UFOs. It's a very strange path to go down.

But this entire conspiracy theory ludicrously strange. It would be laughable were it not for the real-life consequences, as witnessed yesterday. You know, this man in North Carolina apparently felt compelled to drive up to Washington with the guns in his car in order to investigate this idea for himself. This idea that there were secret tunnels involving a child sex predator ring underneath a pizza place. Again, it just sounds funny, it sounds ludicrous until you realize someone actually bought into this enough to show up with weapons yesterday.

CABRERA: But depending on who is peddling this fake news does matter. When it's somebody in a very high-profile position, even President- elect Donald Trump has been known to peddle some conspiracy theories --

STELTER: Yes, and also tweet out these news stories.

CABRERA: Then others don't know necessarily who to believe. And as media, we have responsibility to call a spade a spade, to point out when something's fake, but is that enough?

STELTER: Yes, President-elect Trump is many things. To his voters, he's a beloved figure. But one of the things he is, is a conspiracy theorist. During the election, he latched onto a number of theories, including, for example, saying that thousands of Muslims were cheering in New Jersey on 9/11. No evidence at all for that. He's also in a few different cases tweeted out links to clearly fake news stories. Now, that hasn't happened in recent days. I would say it's been about a week since he tweeted something that was clearly false. He said there were millions of illegal votes that didn't happen.

To see in this case Michael Flynn's son tweeting about 'Pizzagate' in a very serious way, it goes to show the people in trump's orbit or in his aides' orbit do latch onto these outlandish theories. 'Pizzagate' is an anti-Clinton conspiracy theory that's taken on a life of its own online.

Even today you have people saying this incident yesterday must have been fake, a setup, this man that showed up with the weapon must have been an actor. You can convince yourself of just about anything when you want to believe a conspiracy theory. I think it's up to the rest of us, most people, most Americans who know this stuff is nonsense, to say so and to refuse to be confused by it.

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