Brian Stelter, aka ‘Humpty Dumpty,’ finds himself facing hostile C-SPAN callers over his dishonesty

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CNN host Brian Stelter was probably not counting on the welcome he got in an appearance on C-SPAN to promote his new book.

The “Reliable Sources” host found himself on the receiving end of stinging criticism Tuesday over his own reporting and that of his network. Callers to C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” slammed him and CNN for “distortions or misinformation” and even referred to Stelter as “Humpty Dumpty,” the nickname given to him by Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

(Image: C-SPAN screenshot)

One caller from North Carolina lambasted Stelter over a CNN chyron during coverage of last week’s rioting in Kenosha, Wis. During a live report on the unrest that had followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, CNN national correspondent Omar Jimenez appeared on screen with buildings burning in the background. But at the bottom of the screen, the network announced: “Fiery but mostly peaceful protests after police shooting.”

“We all know you’re not reliable,” the C-SPAN caller said, calling Stelter “Humpty Dumpty” and “a stooge.”

The CNN host appeared to think the insult was funny and, after C-SPAN cut away from the rest of the call, Stelter, who has also been mocked as the media’s “hall monitor,” addressed the chyron incident after commenting on the nickname.

“I really do appreciate the caller’s point about the chyrons. These are the graphics on the bottom of the screen. They’re known as chyrons or banners,” Stelter explained.

“I think that CNN banner the caller mentioned that said there were ‘fiery but mostly peaceful protests.’ That banner was probably a mistake. I don’t know who wrote it, probably a young producer who’s trying their best under deadline in a breaking news situation … That kind of thing becomes easily criticized and probably not the right banner to put on the screen,” he added.

Stelter suggested the caller watch CNN “for a day” so he could fairly judge about the “totality” of the network, urging him not to decide based on “its worst mistake made during the day.”

But Stelter was confronted again by another caller who called out the bias against President Trump by the network and its anchors.

“You guys always talk about how many times Trump has lied. I’ve calculated that with your chyrons – you know, I don’t know if there’s any journalists left at CNN – but if I were to estimate, 300 different distortions or misinformation that we get out of CNN – and you have to watch it at the airport, which is harsh – but if you added all that up to 46 months, it comes out to be 300,000-plus distortions of truth,” a caller from Minnesota said.

“So my thing here is that you guys, this is how low you’ll go. It’s that you went out and made lies and defamed a child and then you had to settle out of court, pay this child for distorting information about this young individual,”  he continued, referring to Nick Sandmann, the Covington (Kentucky) Catholic High School student who recently settled a multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit against the network.

“I would say that if anything is happening at CNN and anybody who buys your book, it’s really just one of those things that’s dividing our nation,” the caller said.

“I don’t believe in dividing our nation. It hurts our great nation, so CNN really is the enemy of the truth,” he said. “That’s my opinion. Thank you.”

Stelter responded that he was “grateful” for the call but went on give a jab at Trump for the “radicalization” against the mainstream media.

“I’m grateful for the call, and I know that you’re not the only person that feels this way,” he said.

“There’s been a process of a radicalization that’s happening in this country, with media bashing that is absolutely unprecedented. You know, 20, 30 years ago conservatives talked about media bias and there were some really valid points to that critique. It is absolutely true that lots of journalists are based in New York and Washington, they’re based in big cities, they have liberal leanings,” he acknowledged.

“Mainstream newsrooms are built so that that bias doesn’t seep into the news coverage and yet, sometimes it does. I absolutely acknowledge that,” Stelter said. “I think it’s different to talk about things as if they’re enemies. No American is the enemy of another American. No news outlet is the enemy of America.”

Stelter’s embarrassing beat down on C-SPAN prompted more roasts on social media as Twitter users weighed in on the criticisms. Stelter addressed all the attention, claiming the calls were “sensational” while noting that Trump had apparently retweeted one of the reports.

 

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Frieda Powers

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