CNN's Stelter: "Trump Is Poisoning The American People"; Media Is Flawed With "Few" Mistakes

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CNN's Brian Stelter lamented the state of the media after President Trump has "infected" the American people with his poison during a panel discussion on how reporters "survive attacks on journalism" at the Aspen Ideas Festival this past week.

"President Trump is poisoning the American people, a subset of the American people that have been infected by the poison, it is getting worse every day and we're going to reckon with the consequences for decades," he said.

"I think Trump's pretty weak right now and we're going to get through this, it's an aberration," Stelter also said.





"Trump is trying to destroy our news organizations," he said. "That has never happened in our nation's history as far as I'm aware.

Stelter acknowledged that the media is flawed and makes mistakes, "which are few and far between," but complained an "incredible amount of journalism" is being dismissed by a segment of the population.

The CNN anchor wondered if 20 years from now people will look back and label this period an "emergency" and that no one stepped up to call the state of media in the U.S. an emergency. He also wondered if the Trump-era will instead be seen as an "aberration" if the country gets through his presidency.

"I think we have to ask ourselves is this an emergency? What should I, what should we be doing differently? If this is a crisis, what should we be doing differently? Will we be proud of ourselves in 20 years? Was this an aberration or was this the start of something new and very troubling? And then how are we going to win people back?" Stelter asked.

Stelter wonders if we need "need new news organizations" and "new anchors" since people on the right and left are tuning out current outlets. Stelter also expressed concern about the "rage and anger and fear" on the left. He even said that there are people on the left who don't think the media is "taking on Trump enough."

The CNNer dismissed how people dismiss "certain kinds of facts," that they don't "want to hear it" or "believe it," citing the "great example" of the treatment of migrants who have entered the country illegally. He said people argued on the validity of pictures from inside centers holding children that were separated from their parents. Some of the pictures were from 2014, the Obama era, but "most of them weren't" he said.

"Those kinds of fake news claims or attacks have such a hold on people," he said. "And not just on the right. I'm really concerned now about the rage and anger and fear on the left and how it's actually causing a lot of folks on the left to tune out these organizations. It is not just people on the right that have media criticism. A lot of folks on the left because they don't think we're taking on Trump enough."

BRIAN STELTER: Find me when Nixon, a criminal president, actually used the word 'enemy' to describe us (the press) in public. Even Nixon knew not to go that far. ... He did not use the rhetoric that President Trump uses in public.

President Trump is poisoning the American people, a subset of the American people that have been infected by the poison, it is getting worse every day and we're going to reckon with the consequences for decades.

I don't mean to be the pessimist. I actually -- some days I am very optimistic. I wake up glass half-full a lot of days. And I think Trump's pretty weak right now and we're going to get through this, it's an aberration.

Other days I wake up and I think how are we going to win people back? Every single day he's beating the you-know-what out of the press. Not just CNN but many, many outlets, tarring the nation's news media, along with other institutions.

I find myself wondering in 20 years when will look back will we think this was an emergency. Why didn't we step up and say this is an emergency? Now, many of us do call it a crisis. There is a crisis of credibility for the White House. There's also a crisis of credibility for the press. We're clearly flawed and I do not think we should pretend we're not flawed, we do not make mistakes. But rather than hang on to the mistakes, which are few and far between, there's this incredible amount of journalism being produced everyday that's being dismissed by a segment of the population.

I take your point about the headlines, why people hate the media. There's always been that theme. There's always been an ability to dismiss unpleasant or unwanted news. But it's been supercharged and lit on fire and fueled now by the boss -- by the president -- and that's clearly what's different and that's clearly what is the threat.

I think we have to ask ourselves is this an emergency? What should I, what should we be doing differently? If this is a crisis, what should we be doing differently? Will we be proud of ourselves in 20 years? Was this an aberration or was this the start of something new and very troubling? And then how are we going to win people back? Sorry to be the pessimist. ...

STELTER: We almost always should not be the lead story. I should not be the top of the broadcast and am usually not. But the attacks on institutions in general matter a lot and have to be acknowledged. And I think there's so much more frustration with the press now is because the press means a million different things. There's a million different news outlets which means there's a million different medias which means your media might not be your media and as a result we can all hate some form of media because we all have outlets that we love and outlets that we might not love.

So I think that's made this more intense and it makes me think about it's hard to get certain kinds of facts through to a certain audience. How do we do that? What do we do differently? Maybe we need new news organizations. Maybe we need new brands. Maybe we need new anchors. I don't know. New people to try to break through to a part of the country that doesn't want to hear it or doesn't want to believe it. And the great example last week at the border was the folks who told reporters they didn't believe the pictures or those pictures were from the Obama years. A couple of them were, most of them weren't.

Those kinds of fake news claims or attacks have such a hold on people. And not just on the right. I'm really concerned now about the rage and anger and fear on the left and how it's actually causing a lot of folks on the left to tune out these organizations. It is not just people on the right that have media criticism. A lot of folks on the left because they don't think we're taking on Trump enough.

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