Brian Stelter pushed a false claim Monday morning that establishment media was “really careful” with its reporting of the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax.
Stelter, a far-left pundit for the anti-Trump CNN, regularly spreads conspiracy theories to advance his radical agenda. Last April, Stelter told his audience Fox News controls the actions of President Trump. In June, he spread a bizarre conspiracy about First Lady Melania Trump’s disappearance, even though he knew a CNBC reporter had seen her at the White House a few days earlier.
Following the unraveling of Empire star Jussie Smollet’s claim about being assaulted by two homophobic, racist Trump supporters last month in Chicago, Stelter is now spreading falsehoods in an effort to defend the media’s appalling coverage of the case.
Appearing on CNN’s basement-rated New Day with co-hosts John Avlon and Alisyn Camerota on Monday, Stelter said of the Smollett case: “There was a rush to judgment, I think it was mostly in the celebrity press and among activists and among Twitter people. I think it was a really careful reporting by news organizations. But it all gets lumped in together at the end of the day.”
It makes sense for Stelter to muddy the waters like this. After all, the Smollett hoax comes fresh on the heels of the media’s starring role in the Racist Covington High School Hoax, the Brett Kavanaugh Serial-Rapist Hoax, and most of all, the imploding Trump Colluded With Russia Hoax.
Unfortunately for Stelter, his shameless spin is easily exposed as such by countless tweets, headlines, and statements made by his fellow journalists and pundits — including four high-profile staffers at CNN.
CNN anchor Don Lemon said the following on a popular podcast: “One, he has to deal with discrimination as a black man,” said Lemon, “then, on top of that, he has to be gay — and then, fame — fame is not natural — When something happens to you and it’s controversial, everyone is coming for you, and so I knew everyone would be picking apart his story.”
CNN’s April Ryan still hasn’t deleted this tweet: “This attack on @JussieSmollett is a hate crime and should be treated as such!”
— AprilDRyan (@AprilDRyan) January 29, 2019
CNN’s Ana Navarro did finally delete this tweet: “I saw Jussie Smollett in Miami last week. I can’t believe this happened. It is sad, disgusting, and deplorable.”
And then, in CNN’s own reporting on the story, a headline blared: “‘Empire’ actor victim of racist and homophobic assault.” Any attribution to police or Smollett was relegated to the text. Anyone who shared that CNN link was putting out the narrative that A) it was an established fact that the attack occurred and B) it was an established fact that the attack was a hate crime.
There are countless other examples:
PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor: “We have to do better as a country. This is disgusting,” she wrote in a tweet.
A tweet from New York Post staff writer Zachary Kussin (now deleted): “I also hate when cops investigate this kind of blatant shit as a ‘possible hate crime.’ This is obviously a hate crime.”
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) January 29, 2019
Here’s a January 29 story in GQ titled: “The Racist, Homophobic Attack on Jussie Smollett Is Far-Right America’s Endgame.”
Karen Attiah is an editor for the Washington Post:
Regarding the heinous attack on @JussieSmollett, yet another reminder that Trump’s ascendance and the resulting climate of hate has meant that lives have been increasingly at stake since 2015.
Smollett could have been killed by those thugs screaming MAGA. Let that sink in.
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 29, 2019
Brian Latimer is a producer for the AP and NBC News:
The people who say LGBTQ Americans should be thankful they don't live somewhere like Saudi Arabia need to pay attention to the details of this story.
America is not safe for queer people — especially if they are POC.
— Brian Latimer (@briskwalk) January 29, 2019
Nightline producer Ignacio Torres in a now-deleted tweet: “Jussie Smollett Beaten in Homophobic Attack by MAGA Supporters, ‘Empire’ Cast Getting Armed Guards https://t.co/XYXpgNIcnO”
BuzzFeed’s Ryan Schocket:
Jussie Smollett was called homophobic and racist things. They put rope around him, POURED BLEACH on him, beat him, and said, "This is MAGA country."
These are the people our president is emboldening. This is what that red hat stands for. https://t.co/0VleA1zSTu
— Ryan Schocket (@RyanSchocket) January 29, 2019
Los Angeles Times editor Lisa Fung:
Yes,'It’s just another f*cking day in America.' But @leedanielsent also says of Jussie Smollett attack: 'We have to love each other regardless of what sexual orientation we are. Because it shows we are united on a united front…' https://t.co/Z2WrLz7L6Y https://t.co/Z2WrLz7L6Y
— Lisa Fung (@lfung) January 29, 2019
Daily Beast senior writer Kevin Fallon:
People in MAGA hats recognized and then beat and poured bleach on Jussie Smollett, calling him that “faggot” from Empire.
Anyone who thinks supporting You Know Who isn’t tantamount to providing artillery for weaponized bigotry needs to take a hard look in the mirror.
— Kevin Fallon (@kpfallon) January 29, 2019
This last one is especially ironic because as Stelter spread his lie, he did so in front of John Avlon, who used to run the Daily Beast. Naturally, Avlon said nothing.
Stelter also said nothing when Vox’s Liz Plank appeared as a guest on his weekend show Reliable Sources and offered the same excuse about the media’s Smollett coverage. She claimed no one in the media treated Smollett’s allegation as true (see the above tweets), even though she herself, on at least three occasions, retweeted others who treated the allegation as true:
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) February 17, 2019
Here Plank is, personally, on CNN lying about her own irresponsible behavior regarding her role in using retweets to spread a hoax.
Moreover, those who did dare to express a healthy skepticism about Smollett’s sketchy allegation, like Donald Trump Jr., were attacked as “conspiracy theorist” by the media.
Stelter’s lying is to be expected, but it’s still important to set the record straight when fake news tries to gaslight all of America.